Open my eyes..

I was drawn to reading through Gen 16 -21, the story of Hagar and Ishmael.

To give my lovely readers a background, Hagar was Sarai’s house help. Sarai was married to Abram. God promised Sarai & Abram a child; the child was not forthcoming as Sarai had expected. Sarai drew up this plan – to have Abram meet with Hagar to ensure there is continuity in the family line. As hoped, Hagar had a child, Ishmael. Events turned out that Sarai could not stand both son and mother anymore therefore she sent them away from the house. Abram gave them the essentials – water and bread, for the journey.

Ishmael was a teenager at this time. Without a clue to their destination, overwhelming exhaustion, deep frustration, lack of water and seeing no hope for the future especially for the teenager, Hagar pulled over somewhere. She placed Ishmael under a tree and walked as far away as possible to avoid seeing her dearly beloved son as he dies of hunger and thirst.

Being a mother myself, I strongly believe she would have done all she could to fend for her son, looking and possibly begging passers-by for food and or water; checking and scanning around for wells. Talk about exhausting all options?

Sitting and awaiting the death of her son, she cried out to God. It must have been a heartfelt prayer of few words, “God help us”.  There and then, her eyes were opened to see a near by well.

How come she did not see this  particular ‘near by’ well until after the prayer and surrendering to God?

Truly, there are such times in life we give up on issues after several “failed” attempts and hacing exhausted all options. Perhaps, if we could have prayed for our eyes to be opened and/or asked specifically for direction; we would have come through as winners.

Lovely reader, take a moment, to ask God to open your eyes to see, to inspire you in the specific steps to take in those challenging areas of life.

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Selfish Manipulative  Request?

I have read Mark 10:35-39 quite a few times in the past but it recently dawned on me that these guys were selfish and manipulative – my opinion.

“And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come unto Him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire.

And he said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?

They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.”

James and John are two among the twelve disciples of Christ. If they both took the sides of Christ, what happens to the other ten? Why did they think they ought to be the opportuned? I kept pondering on these questions and arrived at my opinion.

Christ answered, “… to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.” I will say that is a diplomatic answer but how else could He have answered? Or tried to explain that all the disciples should qualify to sit at either side?

I feel uncomfortable with some prayer points I hear nowadays e.g. “my miracle will be greater than yours” particularly if the second person referred to is a Christian like me. Why should I compete with my fellow brethren? Should we all not be in one mind? Why should I scheme for positions in the church? Could this be  the reason why Christ gives us “diplomatic” answers?

The Audacious Five

Anytime I read about the Zelophahad’s daughters, who I tagged the “audacious five”, I get excited in my spirit and I will tell you why.

After the Exodus of Israelites, God instructed Moses to divide the promised land among the families of Israel according to the number of names. These were identified by the male head of each family.

Zelophahad, one of the heads, had no son and he died before the land allocation. His family was not mentioned and therefore could not partake. However his daughters reasoned among themselves and were not going to accept a loss. They were Israelites and therefore deserved a piece of the land not withstanding their Father’s death. Hence they approached Moses and made a demand. Moses checked this with God, God approved it.

But they could have said, “indeed Moses operated strictly under God’s instruction and thus we ought not go challenge him about our share. Let us keep mute and try marry into the other tribes so we could partake “. I think this would have been very polite of them. But again, they would have lost out.

It reminds me of the Canaanite lady who approached Jesus for her daughter’s healing (Matt 15:21-28). Despite an initial rebuff from Jesus, she pressed further and it was said of her to have had such a great faith!  Finally, her request was granted. Same applies to the audacious five- they had faith their request would be granted afterall they were Israelites!

We, as believers, have an inheritance in God (Romans 8:17). We have the right to make a demand on this for our names are written on them. “What inheritance?” you may ask. I can write a couple but please go through the word of God.

1. Psalm 34:20 the Lord guards the bones of the righteous and none of them is broken

2. Psalm 127:2 he gives his beloved sleep

While making the demand, remember Mark 11:24 tells us that if we asked for anything in prayer we should believe we have received and it will be ours.

 

My wish.

It is one of those times I am reassured of God’s love.

My daughter and I boarded a 4 hour plane en route to Sydney after spending a week with my childhood friend. Quite unusual of my daughter, she was cranky on the plane. Btw, she did not have a separate seat hence she was on my lap all through the journey. Oh, it was such a stress!

On the same plane was a family who had their 8 month old son in a car seat; the mother was very relaxed and so was the son. For some reason, it never occurred to me that I could carry a car seat on a plane and that I could buy an additional seat (people perish due to lack of knowledge). What a mighty relief it would have been if I was not ignorant.

I had a 2 hour connecting flight to my final destination that same day so I made a quick wish. I wish I could have a whole row to myself and also have the privilege to bring my daughter’s car seat in. I forgot the wish soon as I made it.

Just as we boarded, the official asked,”would you like a whole row to yourself?” My eyes almost popped out! I think I must have shouted “YES“. Then she went on, “if your buggy is detachable, you can take the car seat with you!”. These phrases “Oh my! Really? God bless you” all came out in a rush.

Could that have been a co-incidence? I believe strongly it was God at work.

“I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!” Is 65:24

PS: ” thank you” to the three lovely women and the lady who helped me on the journey from Edmonton through to Sydney.

Nehemiah’s response.

Three men voiced out their unhappiness and anger because Nehemiah showed interests in pursuing a good act. A bit absurd, isn’t it? The three got together to scheme how they will threaten, frighten and bully Nehemiah till he chickened out. Let us take a clue from Nehemiah’s response to every scheme.

Scene 1:  “But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us.”What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”

Response: “I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” 

Lesson: He did not engage in a feud. And there was no reason to give a more detailed answer because he knew they were distractions. So why waste his resources?

Scene 2: “When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble–burned as they are?” Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, “What they are building–even a fox climbing up on it would break down their wall of stones!”

Response: “Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their own heads. Give them over as plunder in a land of captivity. Do not cover up their guilt or blot out their sins from your sight, for they have thrown insults in the face of the builders. We rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart”.

Lesson: He prayed. He had the opportunity to say, “Sanballat and Tobiah, how dare you insult me? Do you not realise I have the authority of the King to do this work?”, “Are you quick to forget who I am –the King’s cupbearer who is on a sabbatical leave just at the moment?”.

Scene 3:“But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.

Response: “But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat”. 

Lesson: Correct application of faith with works.

Scene 4: Nehemiah’s men became weary and fearful. They displayed the ‘cannot do’ mentality. Also our enemies said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.” Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, “Wherever you turn, they will attack us.”

My imagination kicks in right here. I imagine that on every corner or street Nehemiah and his men were, they heard “the enemies will attack! the enemies will attack!  the enemies will attack!”  Words are powerful and if often repeated become engrained in memory.

Response: “Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.”

Lesson: A strategic action. Each guard had his family with him and that would ginger him up to protect his guard post with all his might! He encouraged his men, empowered them with positive words and reminded them that God was with them.

Scene 5: “When word came to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab and the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall and not a gap was left in it–though up to that time I had not set the doors in the gates– Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me;”

Response: “So I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you? Four times they sent me the same message, and each time I gave them the same answer.” 

Lesson: He had a purpose, he was focussed and time conscious. 1. He could have met with them with the intent of telling them off. 2. He could have rephrased his reply the second, third and/or fourth time.

Scene 6: “Then, the fifth time, Sanballat sent his aide to me with the same message, and in his hand was an unsealed letter in which was written: “It is reported among the nations–and Geshem says it is true–that you and the Jews are plotting to revolt, and therefore you are building the wall. Moreover, according to these reports you are about to become their king and have even appointed prophets to make this proclamation about you in Jerusalem: ‘There is a king in Judah!’ Now this report will get back to the king; so come, let us meet together.”

Response: I sent him this reply: “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.”

Lesson: Nehemiah rebuffed Sanballat. He was not one to be blackmailed. He was not jittery for there was no need to be. Nehemiah knew it was all a scheme.

Nehemiah concluded, “They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.” But I prayed, “Now strengthen my hands.”