Do you realize the benefits? Do you realize the strength? Do you realize the consequences when you aren’t? Do you understand what to look for in order to be? Do you realize how much it will help keep unity? Do you realize how much it will help build strength? Do you realize how much it will help with direction and helping 1+1 > 2? Do you realize the blessings that come from being equally yoked? Do you realize the power of join equally yoked? Today’s reading starts in Genesis 24 where Abraham is looking for a wife for his son Isaac.
‘Abraham was now a very old man, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. One day Abraham said to his oldest servant, the man in charge of his household, “Take an oath by putting your hand under my thigh. Swear by the Lord , the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.” The servant asked, “But what if I can’t find a young woman who is willing to travel so far from home? Should I then take Isaac there to live among your relatives in the land you came from?” “No!” Abraham responded. “Be careful never to take my son there. For the Lord , the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and my native land, solemnly promised to give this land to my descendants. He will send his angel ahead of you, and he will see to it that you find a wife there for my son. If she is unwilling to come back with you, then you are free from this oath of mine. But under no circumstances are you to take my son there.” So the servant took an oath by putting his hand under the thigh of his master, Abraham. He swore to follow Abraham’s instructions. Then he loaded ten of Abraham’s camels with all kinds of expensive gifts from his master, and he traveled to distant Aram-naharaim. There he went to the town where Abraham’s brother Nahor had settled. He made the camels kneel beside a well just outside the town. It was evening, and the women were coming out to draw water. “O Lord , God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.” Before he had finished praying, he saw a young woman named Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham’s brother Nahor and his wife, Milcah. Rebekah was very beautiful and old enough to be married, but she was still a virgin. She went down to the spring, filled her jug, and came up again. Running over to her, the servant said, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.” “Yes, my lord,” she answered, “have a drink.” And she quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and gave him a drink. When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.” So she quickly emptied her jug into the watering trough and ran back to the well to draw water for all his camels. The servant watched her in silence, wondering whether or not the Lord had given him success in his mission. Then at last, when the camels had finished drinking, he took out a gold ring for her nose and two large gold bracelets for her wrists. “Whose daughter are you?” he asked. “And please tell me, would your father have any room to put us up for the night?” “I am the daughter of Bethuel,” she replied. “My grandparents are Nahor and Milcah. Yes, we have plenty of straw and feed for the camels, and we have room for guests.” The man bowed low and worshiped the Lord . “Praise the Lord , the God of my master, Abraham,” he said. “The Lord has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my master’s relatives.” The young woman ran home to tell her family everything that had happened. Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, who ran out to meet the man at the spring. He had seen the nose-ring and the bracelets on his sister’s wrists, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man had said. So he rushed out to the spring, where the man was still standing beside his camels. Laban said to him, “Come and stay with us, you who are blessed by the Lord ! Why are you standing here outside the town when I have a room all ready for you and a place prepared for the camels?” So the man went home with Laban, and Laban unloaded the camels, gave him straw for their bedding, fed them, and provided water for the man and the camel drivers to wash their feet. Then food was served. But Abraham’s servant said, “I don’t want to eat until I have told you why I have come.” “All right,” Laban said, “tell us.” “I am Abraham’s servant,” he explained. “And the Lord has greatly blessed my master; he has become a wealthy man. The Lord has given him flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, a fortune in silver and gold, and many male and female servants and camels and donkeys. “When Sarah, my master’s wife, was very old, she gave birth to my master’s son, and my master has given him everything he owns. And my master made me take an oath. He said, ‘Do not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. Go instead to my father’s house, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son.’ “But I said to my master, ‘What if I can’t find a young woman who is willing to go back with me?’ He responded, ‘The Lord , in whose presence I have lived, will send his angel with you and will make your mission successful. Yes, you must find a wife for my son from among my relatives, from my father’s family. Then you will have fulfilled your obligation. But if you go to my relatives and they refuse to let her go with you, you will be free from my oath.’ “So today when I came to the spring, I prayed this prayer: ‘O Lord , God of my master, Abraham, please give me success on this mission. See, I am standing here beside this spring. This is my request. When a young woman comes to draw water, I will say to her, “Please give me a little drink of water from your jug.” If she says, “Yes, have a drink, and I will draw water for your camels, too,” let her be the one you have selected to be the wife of my master’s son.’ “Before I had finished praying in my heart, I saw Rebekah coming out with her water jug on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water. So I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ She quickly lowered her jug from her shoulder and said, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’ So I drank, and then she watered the camels. “Then I asked, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She replied, ‘I am the daughter of Bethuel, and my grandparents are Nahor and Milcah.’ So I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her wrists. “Then I bowed low and worshiped the Lord . I praised the Lord , the God of my master, Abraham, because he had led me straight to my master’s niece to be his son’s wife. So tell me—will you or won’t you show unfailing love and faithfulness to my master? Please tell me yes or no, and then I’ll know what to do next.” Then Laban and Bethuel replied, “The Lord has obviously brought you here, so there is nothing we can say. Here is Rebekah; take her and go. Yes, let her be the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.” When Abraham’s servant heard their answer, he bowed down to the ground and worshiped the Lord . Then he brought out silver and gold jewelry and clothing and presented them to Rebekah. He also gave expensive presents to her brother and mother. Then they ate their meal, and the servant and the men with him stayed there overnight. But early the next morning, Abraham’s servant said, “Send me back to my master.” “But we want Rebekah to stay with us at least ten days,” her brother and mother said. “Then she can go.” But he said, “Don’t delay me. The Lord has made my mission successful; now send me back so I can return to my master.” “Well,” they said, “we’ll call Rebekah and ask her what she thinks.” So they called Rebekah. “Are you willing to go with this man?” they asked her. And she replied, “Yes, I will go.” So they said good-bye to Rebekah and sent her away with Abraham’s servant and his men. The woman who had been Rebekah’s childhood nurse went along with her. They gave her this blessing as she parted: “Our sister, may you become the mother of many millions! May your descendants be strong and conquer the cities of their enemies.” Then Rebekah and her servant girls mounted the camels and followed the man. So Abraham’s servant took Rebekah and went on his way. Meanwhile, Isaac, whose home was in the Negev, had returned from Beer-lahai-roi. One evening as he was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming. When Rebekah looked up and saw Isaac, she quickly dismounted from her camel. “Who is that man walking through the fields to meet us?” she asked the servant. And he replied, “It is my master.” So Rebekah covered her face with her veil. Then the servant told Isaac everything he had done. And Isaac brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah’s tent, and she became his wife. He loved her deeply, and she was a special comfort to him after the death of his mother.’—Genesis 24
Do you realize the short term benefits? Do you realize the long term benefits? Do you realize the joy it will bring? Do you realize the pain it will prevent?
Today’s reading continues into 1 Chronicles 19 where we see how having the wrong advisors can impact your future? Do you realize the importance of doing what is right even when it isn’t easy? Do you realize the importance of doing what God plans and purposes for you? Let’s catch up what happens in 1 Chronicles.
‘Some time after this, King Nahash of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun became king. David said, “I am going to show loyalty to Hanun because his father, Nahash, was always loyal to me.” So David sent messengers to express sympathy to Hanun about his father’s death. But when David’s ambassadors arrived in the land of Ammon, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, “Do you really think these men are coming here to honor your father? No! David has sent them to spy out the land so they can come in and conquer it!” So Hanun seized David’s ambassadors and shaved them, cut off their robes at the buttocks, and sent them back to David in shame. When David heard what had happened to the men, he sent messengers to tell them, “Stay at Jericho until your beards grow out, and then come back.” For they felt deep shame because of their appearance. When the people of Ammon realized how seriously they had angered David, Hanun and the Ammonites sent 75,000 pounds of silver to hire chariots and charioteers from Aram-naharaim, Aram-maacah, and Zobah. They also hired 32,000 chariots and secured the support of the king of Maacah and his army. These forces camped at Medeba, where they were joined by the Ammonite troops that Hanun had recruited from his own towns. When David heard about this, he sent Joab and all his warriors to fight them. The Ammonite troops came out and drew up their battle lines at the entrance of the city, while the other kings positioned themselves to fight in the open fields. When Joab saw that he would have to fight on both the front and the rear, he chose some of Israel’s elite troops and placed them under his personal command to fight the Arameans in the fields. He left the rest of the army under the command of his brother Abishai, who was to attack the Ammonites. “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then come over and help me,” Joab told his brother. “And if the Ammonites are too strong for you, I will help you. Be courageous! Let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. May the Lord ’s will be done.” When Joab and his troops attacked, the Arameans began to run away. And when the Ammonites saw the Arameans running, they also ran from Abishai and retreated into the city. Then Joab returned to Jerusalem. The Arameans now realized that they were no match for Israel, so they sent messengers and summoned additional Aramean troops from the other side of the Euphrates River. These troops were under the command of Shobach, the commander of Hadadezer’s forces. When David heard what was happening, he mobilized all Israel, crossed the Jordan River, and positioned his troops in battle formation. Then David engaged the Arameans in battle, and they fought against him. But again the Arameans fled from the Israelites. This time David’s forces killed 7,000 charioteers and 40,000 foot soldiers, including Shobach, the commander of their army. When Hadadezer’s allies saw that they had been defeated by Israel, they surrendered to David and became his subjects. After that, the Arameans were no longer willing to help the Ammonites.’—1 Chronicles 19
Let’s continue to hear about David and what happens we do or don’t align and obey God’s direction. Today’s reading continues into 1 Chronicles 20.
‘In the spring of the year, when kings normally go out to war, Joab led the Israelite army in successful attacks against the land of the Ammonites. In the process he laid siege to the city of Rabbah, attacking and destroying it. However, David stayed behind in Jerusalem. Then David went to Rabbah and removed the crown from the king’s head, and it was placed on his own head. The crown was made of gold and set with gems, and he found that it weighed seventy-five pounds. David took a vast amount of plunder from the city. He also made slaves of the people of Rabbah and forced them to labor with saws, iron picks, and iron axes. That is how David dealt with the people of all the Ammonite towns. Then David and all the army returned to Jerusalem. After this, war broke out with the Philistines at Gezer. As they fought, Sibbecai from Hushah killed Saph, a descendant of the giants, and so the Philistines were subdued. During another battle with the Philistines, Elhanan son of Jair killed Lahmi, the brother of Goliath of Gath. The handle of Lahmi’s spear was as thick as a weaver’s beam! In another battle with the Philistines at Gath, they encountered a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in all, who was also a descendant of the giants. But when he defied and taunted Israel, he was killed by Jonathan, the son of David’s brother Shimea. These Philistines were descendants of the giants of Gath, but David and his warriors killed them.’—1 Chronicles 20
How much will you trust God? How much will you believe Jesus? Will you stay or will you go? Will you stand or will you run? Will you do what is right or reject the idea? Let’s catch up in today’s reading from John 6.
‘Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?” Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what will you think if you see the Son of Man ascend to heaven again? The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) Then he said, “That is why I said that people can’t come to me unless the Father gives them to me.” At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God. ” Then Jesus said, “I chose the twelve of you, but one is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, one of the Twelve, who would later betray him.’—John 6:60-71
It’s not about what we can do in our own strength. It’s a matter of doing what we do in spirit and in truth. It’s important to know the truth for the truth will set us free. It’s also important to lead in truth and in love. Will you take hold of the truth and not allow fear of man to keep you from doing what God is telling you is right? Let’s take hold of what happens today and the impact of it in Galatians 2.
‘But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? “You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.’—Galatians 2:11-21
So let’s live for God! Let’s allow the power and the promises of Jesus be our purpose. Jesus came to make a way that we couldn’t have made ourselves. Jesus came that we may have life and life more abundantly. Jesus came to give Himself in order that we could be saved and reconciled back to God. So how will you choose to live? How will you respond if the people from your past question your new life? Will you stand firm on the rock of Jesus Christ? Will you share your testimony of transformation – how the old is gone and the new is come? Will you share that the joy of the Lord is your strength? Will you share that you are born again? Will you have bold faith?
Today’s reading concludes in Psalms 16 – let’s close meditating on all it has to say.
‘Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge. I said to the Lord , “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them! Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods. Lord , you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.’—Psalms 16