A Call to Reform Rescue Organizations…

For the past several weeks, I’ve been looking into getting a rescue dog.  Ideally, I’d love to get a 5-7 year old female English Mastiff to be a “friend” to my male.  To keep him company when we are gone.  And to provide a good home to a dog who needs one for its remaining years.

So with this in mind, I started looking into rescue organizations.

I’ve never considered a rescue dog before so I had thought you just call these people up and they give you a dog that is in desperate need of a forever home.

Boy, was I WRONG.  And I mean 100% WRONG.

You start with a 3-5 page application.  These applications ask for personal references, for a veterinarian reference, for a letter from my landlord, how I will feed the dog, what I will feed the dog, how will I exercise the dog, will I train the dog, what if the dog chews things, etc.

Then they require a home visit.  So they will come to my home and inspect it and make sure it’s suitable for a large breed animal.  One organization even said they would bring along a large breed dog so you could “see how one fits” in your home.

Seriously?

All this I could probably deal with.  But the one think I can’t deal with is the cost: Anywhere from $250 (this is for 7 year old dogs or older) to $500!

In my mind, this is outrageous!  That’s half the cost of a puppy!

I just want a companion animal for my other animal.  I’m willing to take the dog for the rest of its life and all the vet bills that entails when it does die (which could be anytime with these big breeds).  And I’m willing to love it and cherish it until it’s last breath.

What I’m NOT willing to do is pay outrageous amounts of money and be subject to the organization’s whims about whether or not I’m a suitable “parent” for a large breed dog.

It just sickens me.  It absolutely does.

The definition of rescue is: “to free from confinement, danger, or evil; save, deliver” according to Webster’s.

No where in this definition do I see a caveat of “upon approval”.

Solution:  there should be an exemption for previous large-breed owners.  Yes, I understand the needs of a large breed animal and what all that entails.  And I have understood this for the last 11 years and I continue to understand their needs with my male.

I am just frustrated.

For example:  I found a 6 year old female mastiff and emailed about her.  The organization did not have their fees listed so I inquired.  This is what I got back as a response:  “We ask for a minimum donation of $350 but many people donate more.  Our dogs are up-to-date on all shots, on heartworm prevention, are microchipped, and any pre-existing conditions are treated.”

Then I was told they were going to spay this 6 year old mastiff.  I inquired if this was really necessary.  She is 6 years old and apparently was underweight and in rough shape when they got her.  Is it truly necessary to spay a dog who’s been through menopause and put her through a surgical trauma because of your rules and regulations?

Needless to say, I didn’t hear back on that one yet.

I think microchipping in unnecessary as is the case of spaying this poor old mastiff.  And then these costs are passed on to me.

I think all of this is ridiculous and I refuse to pay $500 for a mastiff who could get sick and die at any time.

I don’t mind a small fee.  Say $100.  But no more.

I’m tired of paying the penalties for all those bad dog owners out there.  Who get these big dogs and can’t keep them.  And this is the minority.  I’m tired of the majority paying the penalty for the minority (are you listening, US government?).  I just am.

My dogs are complete members of the family.  They are loved so much I can’t even put it into words.  I provide a home and I take my dogs whenever I move.  They are with me until their last breath.

And I refuse to be patronized by someone who is guarding against the bad owners out there.

Just give me a dog that needs a home and quit requiring 1000 hoops to jump through.

And if you are approved, you are not guaranteed the dog you want.  In some organizations, you get what you get.

Overbearing, far-reaching, arrogant, and pompousness in my opinion.  As if I’M the lucky one instead of the dog.

And I’m tired of it.

It is cost prohibitive to get a rescue dog.  Period.

And I don’t know why people even rescue dogs unless their inner drive to save one is stronger than all of these aforementioned factors.

The whole process needs to change.  Along with the attitudes I am receiving through emails.  I see no gratefulness from these rescue organizations for people like myself who want to take one of their dogs.

I am a good dog owner.  So quit treating me like I’m a horrible person, I’m lucky to be getting one of your dogs, and how I don’t know anything about big dogs.

Treat me how the dog would treat me:  lovingly, compassionate, and in need of a friend, a home, a family, and a safe environment.

I’m pretty sure the dog doesn’t care about what I’m feeding it; as long as it’s fed.  It doesn’t care about how it’s exercised or trained; as long as it is.  It doesn’t care about what my home looks like; as long as there is a home.  It doesn’t care about my past experience, who will be it’s vet, or how long I have lived in my home.

All the dog wants is a family to love it till the day it dies.

So quit with the bureaucracy and the red tape and give the dog what it wants–not what you want.

And if the dog could talk, it would simply say:

“SAVE ME!!!!!”

Drive Thru History

Drive Thru History is a video series that teaches history and how God’s word fits into it. The Series is broken down into:  Holy Land, Ancient History, and American History.

We got the entire Ancient History series from our local library, which includes “East Meets West…”, “Greece and the Word…”, “Turkish Delight”, and “Rome if You Want To…” from our local library.

Drive Thru History
Drive Thru History

We follow the host, Dave Stotts, on location to where history actually happened.  Each video has 3 episodes each approximately 30-40 minutes in length.  We see the underground caves in Cappadocia where Christians hid in order to worship.  We learn all about Paul and see how he fits into history. We visit the Colosseum in Rome and the Temple of Delphi in Greece.

He took us into the Hagia Sophia, an ancient church that is now a museum.  I loved this part because when we studied this in history I searched the library for pictures of the Hagia Sophia and came up empty.  In this video, he actually goes inside the church and shows us an early mosaic of Jesus that scholars speculate may have been the model of what Jesus looks like in art for centuries to come.

We get to visit Biblical locations without actually “visiting” them.  Great stuff!

The host, Dave Stotts, does a superb job of mixing the facts with funny antics my kids enjoy.  He makes fun of his rental cars, picks a fight with the pretend Roman soldiers at the Colosseum, and talks to turkeys and camels.  My kids love the outtakes at the end. Hilarious!

This is a great series I would highly recommend to bring a visual aspect to history.  Visit their site http://www.drivethruhistory.com/ for detailed descriptions of the videos as well as clips.

You can also order on Amazon and read reviews (all were 5 stars–that’s the first I’ve seen on Amazon!).  I cannot say enough about this series that is sure to entertain and teach–something us homeschooling parents constantly strive for!

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 15, Day 5: Genesis 17:9-27

Summary of passage:  God tells Abram and his descendants to keep his covenant and the covenant of circumcision as a sign of the covenant.  Every male that is 8 days old must be circumcised including foreigners and adopted.  This is to be an everlasting covenant. Any male who is not circumcised will be cut off from his people.

God renames Sarai “Sarah” and says he will bless her with a son and she will be the mother of nations and kings will come from her.  Abraham laughed (who would laugh at God?  Don’t think God appreciated this) and questioned God (again) since he and Sarah are so old.

God calls the son Isaac, meaning ‘he laughs’ and says He will establish His covenant with Isaac.  And He will bless Ishmael as well who will be the father of 12 rulers and will be a great nation.

But Sarah will have a child by this time next year.  Then God left.

Abraham circumcised all the males in his household, including himself who was 99 and Ishmael who was 13.

Questions:

11)  Deuteronomy 30:6:  God will circumcise our hearts so that we may love him with all our heart and soul and live.

Ezekiel 44:7:  People who are uncircumcised in heart and flesh desecrate God’s temple.

Romans 2:28-29:  Paul explains that what matters is the heart.  Circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, and not by laws.

12a)  You are circumcised when you accept with faith in Jesus and accept what he did on the cross for our sins.  For Christ took our sinful nature to the grave for us and we were raised anew with Jesus though our faith in the power of God.  We are now alive with Christ and free.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To fully trust in God and give Him the control over my life.  To listen more and truly hear Him when He speaks.  To quit holding things back from Him.  Attribute:  Faith.

13)  Verse 21 “…by this time next year.”  Abraham circumcised all males in his household as God had commanded.

Conclusions:  Admittedly, I didn’t even read the passage until question 13 where we were asked about the passage.

Faith made you part of the covenant but circumcision was an outward sign of this covenant and if you rejected it, you rejected the covenant.  Cutting away of the flesh reminds those that they should put no trust in the flesh.  Baptism is the same thing: an outward sign that your heart belongs to Jesus.

Rejecting both is not necessarily rejecting God for all we need is faith.  But when we truly believe, our actions reflect our beliefs.

Sarai means “my lady or my princess.”  Sarah means “a lady or princess” so now she is princess to the world.

Incredible that in Chapter 18 we see Sarah laughing as well at God and then she denies it! Good thing God is so merciful and gracious not to get angry about this lack of faith and stuck to His plan!

Interesting to ponder:  God blessed Ishmael because Abraham asked him to and Abraham asked him to because Abraham didn’t have faith enough to believe there would be another child.  I wonder how the world would be different today if Abraham hadn’t of asked God to bless Ishmael.

We as men have no idea how much our decisions and consequences of those decisions can affect others, do we?  Great lesson here for us all.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 15, Day 4: Genesis 17:1-8

Summary of passage:  God appeared to Abram when he was 99 and said He was going to confirm His covenant with him.  Abram fell face down and God told him he would be the father of many nations.  God renamed Abram Abraham, which means father of many. God will make Abraham fruitful and kings will come from him.

This covenant will be between Abraham, God, and all of Abraham’s descendants and God will give Abraham and his descendants Canaan forever and God will be our God.

Questions:

9a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  No.  I think it means to be blameless/perfect before God, which we achieve when we repent of our sins and God forgives us.  We are then righteous in His eyes through Jesus Christ our Savior and the Holy Spirit.

One commentary said the word blameless here means “whole” so God wanted all of Abram, a total commitment to Him like God was giving to Abram (and to us).

b)  Walk before God, which means to know God and who He is.

10a)  Abraham will be the father of many nations; he will be fruitful; kings will come from him.  God gives Abraham the whole land of Canaan to him and to his descendants and this covenant God makes with Abraham’s descendants as well.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God clarifies by saying in verse 8, “The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession…”  This would be the land Abram is occupying now and possession is something you hold physically.

c)  Forever

Conclusions:  I’m not sure what to conclude nor am I sure what to get out of this besides God confirming His covenant YET AGAIN with Abraham.  I guess this speaks to man’s unending wavering, self-doubt, low self-esteem, and need for confirmation and affirmation.

Sometimes I just wish God would have created us a bit stronger.

Yet it had been 13 years since God had spoken to Abram so at times he surely must have thought God had forgotten so here God is again giving a powerful reminder with a new name.

I’m still waiting for my reminder…

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 15, Day 3: Genesis 16:7-16

Summary of passage:  Hagar ran away and the angel of the Lord found her near a spring in the desert.  The angel asked Hagar what she was doing.  She replied she was running away.  The angel told her to go back to Sarai and submit to her and that he would increase her descendants infinitely.  He told her she would have a son and she was to call him Ishmael (God hears) for God has heard of her misery.  Your son will live in hostility against his brothers.

Hagar tells the angel that he is the God who sees her and she has now seen Him.  Hagar returned and had Ishmael.  Abram was 86 years old at the time.

Questions:

5a)  For many reasons.  Probably because she was forced to bear a child for Abram and Sarai and give the child up.  Then she probably had an attitude afterwards either out of anger or superiority towards Sarai over the whole thing so she began to despise Sarai.  Sarai in turn mistreated her.

b)  This question is speculation in my view.  We are not told specifics here.  In fact, I tend to think the opposite.  I imagine when she returned home and submitted, she was treated better, especially after she told Abram she had just spoken to Jesus!  I would hope at least Abram would step up here and realize God has a plan and a heart for Hagar so he should as well.

I believe God stepped in BEFORE her problems increased.  I believe had she kept going she would have had problems like I mention in part c.  She could have ran out of water in the desert, ran into some thugs, turned away from God, or even died.  But God did not allow this.

c)  Abram’s blessing on Ishmael who pleaded with God to bless him (Genesis 17:18).  As a result, God made Ishmael too into a great nation.  Also, God.  She might have lost God if He had abandoned her instead of gently guiding her back.  She might have fallen in with the unbelievers like Lot did.  She could have lost her life as well in the desert.  When we flee from God, we pay the ultimate price–death.

6)  Jesus for Hagar says “You are the God who sees me” and in Isaiah it was the “angel of his presence”.  We know it is not God because we are told no one has ever seen Him (John 1:18; 1 Timothy 6:16) so it makes sense it would be Jesus.

7a)  We are called to submit to others out of reverence for Christ for when we do our sanctification is increased  (see post HERE where I posted on this last year).  For it’s not our circumstances God wants to change.  It’s our heart.

b)  Personal Question.  My response:  These kind of questions annoy me, mainly because my answer is “I don’t know.”  I believe the goal of studying the Bible is to internalize Truths, God’s word, and Him more and more every day.  But the results of this is often so subtle to be unseen (especially by our critical selves!).

It’s insanely hard to self-evaluate because I for one always lean towards the negative.  I just always think I can do better.  But I know God sees me through His eyes and I’m infinitely better than I am through my eyes.

So my answer:  these passages haven’t affected me THIS week.  But I don’t feel bad about that.  For I am in this world for the long-term, not the short-term.  And I know I will be changed.  I just can’t see it.  But God can.

8a)  86

b)  10 years

c)  To “help” God out.  We get impatient and do things on our time instead of on God’s time so we do things we shouldn’t which can yield disastrous results as with Ishmael.  It can hurt those around us instead of help.  It shows God that we don’t trust Him enough to act and it pains His heart.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  First, to not do anything immoral.  Abram’s actions was borderline immoral I believe. Just because it’s okay in the culture to do something doesn’t mean you should.  Just because it was okay to have a substitute wife didn’t mean Abram should have.

Second, to not be so easily influenced by others ideas with a desire to please them. Abram should have exerted his authority here and he didn’t.  He allowed Sarai to make the decisions.  And we see the results.

Lastly, to not try to circumvent God and help Him out for the last thing God needs is our help.  To have the trust and the faith that He will do it.  He is the Alpha and the Omega. We are merely an epsilon or a phi.

Fun Fact:  This is the first time in the Bible where someone (Ishmael) is given a name by God before birth.

Musings:  I am wondering here what the repercussions would have been had Hagar been caught and it had been discovered she was a servant.  I’m wondering if she was considered property of Abram like slaves were and if she could have faced death or execution or her hand cut off or some other punishment that we would consider cruel nowadays.  Did she even have the freedom to run away?

We are told Hagar is a maidservant so I’m unsure if that would be the equivalent of a slave and property.

But in Genesis 21:10, Sarah calls her a “slave” woman and scholars say when Abraham sent her away he was giving her her freedom and also disavowing her of any claim to his inheritance under Mesopotamian law.

One law of Hammurabi states that if a runaway slave is caught out in the open then the captor is entitled to a reward upon return of the slave.  But it appears from my readings that slaves were not treated as harshly as say slaves were in America.  They were merely returned.  They might have been marked in some way as well.

Fascinating study on Hagar HERE.  Some Jews believe Hagar was Pharaoh’s daughter and some Muslims believe she had royal blood as well.  For me, all speculation since we are not told.  But interesting nevertheless.

P.S.  Could you tell I had fun here?

Conclusions:  I just want to re-emphasize my point from 7b.  Seven days is a short time to have a specific situation arise where you submitted or any other question that asks how you have applied something from the Bible THIS week.  Granted, I believe we submit every day.  We submit to God’s will and not ours as well as submitting in our human relationships.  If you are married, you probably submit in some way every day. Even if it’s as simple as you putting the kids to bed instead of your spouse when all you want to do is go to bed yourself.

I’m gonna make a confession:  I usually never answer the Sixth Day’s questions.  Why? Because I don’t like them.  They always ask what I have learned this week and how did I apply it or how can my group pray.  Usually, I just can’t form this into words.  I know I have learned but what exactly I’m usually not sure.  And how does it apply?  Sometimes I don’t know.  I just don’t know God’s word in-depth enough to think of concrete examples.

And how can my group pray?  Sometimes I don’t even know how to pray!

But like I said, I know I have soaked something into my core, a little more of God, a little more Truth, a little more of Jesus and I know I will apply this throughout my daily life. It’s just specifics I usually can’t give.

I just pray and pray generally, something like God, do your will or God, mold me or God, let these passages sink into my core and change me.

For in my heart I know God’s big enough to take care of the specifics.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 15, Day 2: Genesis 16:1-6

Summary of passage:  Since Sarai had had no children, she told Abram to sleep with her Egyptian maidservant, Hagar, so she could have a family through her (as was the custom the child would be considered Sarai’s).  Abram agreed and after 10 years of living in Canaan after Egypt Hagar conceived.

Hagar began to despise Sarai (perhaps resentment or now she wants to usurp Sarai’s position since she is carrying an heir or pain that the child will not be considered hers) and Sarai (like woman do) blamed her husband.  Sarai says let God be the judge.

Abram tells Sarai that she can do what she wants with Hagar since Hagar is her servant. Sarai, acting out of her anger and not God’s love, mistreated her and Sarai fled.

Questions:

3a)  Since she herself couldn’t have children she offered her maidservant, Hagar, to stand in her place and give Abram the promised children from God.

b)  Genesis 15:4:  “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.”

c)  Their faith was in they believed Abram would have a legitimate heir from his body but their unbelief came in believing Sarai would be the mother.  Based on both Sarai’s and Abram’s actions, neither believed Sarai could have a child.

4a)  Immediate:  the dissension, anger, contention, and mistrust that arose between Sarai and Hagar so much so that Hagar fled.

Long-term:  Hagar’s son, Ishmael, would be the father of the Arabs–those that surround Israel today and are the founders of Islam (Genesis 16:15).  After Isaac was born, the true son of Sarai, Sarai became jealous of Ishmael and drove both Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 21:8-20).  Ishmael’s daughter would marry Abram’s grandson, Esau (Genesis 36:3).

Today:  Ishmael is the father of all Arabs so the entire conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere stems from this one sin where Abram and Sarai tried to help God out, resulting in “sibling rivalry” between Jews and Arabs all throughout history and to this day.

b)  In the same way as Sarai and Abram did and Jacob did when he stole Esau’s blessing and Moses did when he murdered the Egyptian.  We come up with human solutions that are often sinful (taking another woman outside of the covenant of marriage even though it may be accepted by society) that we think will yield God’s promised results.  And they never do.

Faith is all that is required.  And patience for God to work.  If we remember God doesn’t need our help, we’d all be better off.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This is a hard one because I cannot see the long-term effects of my choices it seems.  I do know I am very impatient and very opinionated and most of the time I speak before I should when I get angry when it would have been better if I had said nothing at all.  Or I act hastily and then regret my decision.  This is seen in the little things of my life.

Conclusions:  Do you think Sarai wondered if she were good enough to have a son?  She obviously had low self-esteem or not enough faith (probably both) in order to offer up her maidservant to her husband.  Yet it shows the love she must have had for Abram; she loved him enough in order to give him a promised child not through her.  How many of us women would do that today?

This mistake I think we all make:  we get impatient and don’t trust God enough to set things right (or we have a mistaken idea of what ‘right’ is).  In this instance though, it was a grave mistake.  A child is a human being and messing around with God’s HUGE promise of creating nations had ramifications that changed history and last until this day.

Personal sin always affects those around you (and others not so close) and invades your relationships.  The profound consequences of the sin here of Abram and Sarai should be a lesson for us all.

End Note:  Apparently, back then Hagar would actually have sat on Sarai’s lap as Abram inseminated her to symbolically show that the child would be Sarai’s upon its birth and that Sarai was only the surrogate mother.  No wonder Hagar was upset!

I was appalled when Sarai blamed Abram for her “suffering” in verse 5.  It was her idea, not Abram’s!  He was probably only trying to appease her!  Which was true:  Abram did appease Sarai–the problem was he shouldn’t have.

As the man and head of the family, Abram should not have agreed to Sarai’s plan so in some sense she does have a right to blame him.  He should have been “logical” when Sarai was “too emotional” to think straight.  (Sound familiar?)  He should have had the faith to wait on God when she didn’t.

Same goes for allowing Sarai to mistreat Hagar (verse 6).  I totally disagree with this.  As the head, Abram should have dealt with Hagar since Sarai was blinded by emotion. Again, Abram deferred to his wife, which only caused more conflict and strife.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 5: Genesis 15:9-21

Summary of passage: Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).

Abram fell asleep and the Lord revealed that Abram’s descendants will be strangers and enslaved for 400 years.  But that God would punish this nation and they will emerge with great possessions.  Abram will die in peace and at an old age.

Then the Lord appeared (many believe) in the smoke and united the pieces, making a covenant with Abram, giving his descendants this land.

Questions:

11)  God says that Abram’s descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and they will be enslaved and mistreated for 400 years (Exodus 6:1; 12:31-36; 40 and most of Exodus tells of God’s plan to free the Israelites from the Egyptians).

God will punish the nation they serve as slaves and afterward the descendants will come out with great possession.  This is shown in Exodus as God punished the Egyptians when Pharaoh refuses to release the Israelites.

In modern history, Egypt as an empire and great civilization no longer exists thanks to Alexander the Great and the Roman Emperor Octavian.  Also, the country of Israel exists today.

Abram will go to his fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age (Genesis 25:7-8).

In the fourth generation, your descendants will come back to Canaan to the land God gives them.

12a)  God as fire:  Genesis 15:17; Exodus 3:2-6 God appearing in burning bush; Exodus 13:21 God leading the Israelites at night as fire; Exodus 19:18 the Lord descending on Mt. Sinai in fire; 1 Kings 18 has Elijah answering the challenge by God coming as fire.  This is God as fire.

God used fire as a sign He accepted sacrifices:  Judges 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26; Leviticus 9:24

God uses fire as judgment:  Genesis 19:24 when He burned Sodom and Gomorrah; Exodus 9:23; Numbers 11:1; Numbers 16:35 where God consumed people in fire.

Fire used to show God’s glory and holiness:  Daniel 7:9; Isaiah 33:13-15

God himself is a consuming fire in Deuteronomy 4:24

God the Son as light: 1 John 1:5, John 3:18-20; John 9:5; Romans 13:12

b) Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m reminded of a Greek myth that tells of how man first received fire.  It was given to them as a gift by Prometheus who was punished by Zeus because Zeus did not want man to have fire.  Prometheus was chained to a rock and forced to endure an eagle pecking at his liver for the rest of his days.

Fire is essential for living and surviving.  We have to cook our food and fire is what has been used for millenia.  Light is essential for seeing.  Otherwise we are blind.

Basically, God is essential for living since He is fire and light.  Without Him we cannot eat.  We cannot survive.  We cannot see.

Man could not exist without fire.  For the Sun itself is a ball of fire from nuclear explosions.  Furthermore, fire changes things.  Look at wood and metals.  Thus, if God is fire and fire changes things, then God changes things, namely us.

13)  Because He wants as many as possible to see the “light” and come to Him; to see His kindness and repent before it’s too late.

14a)  To the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.  This would be from modern-day Egypt to Iraq, which would include Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, and parts of Egypt and Saudi Arabia.  The river in Egypt is most likely the Nile River.  The Hebrew word for the river used here means “large river” so probably the Nile.

b)  Under Solomon (1 Kings 8:65) and possibly under Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25).

Conclusions:  I loved the study of fire in the Bible and I only mentioned a tid-bit of ways fire is used.  It also symbolizes evil, the devil, greed, the Holy Spirit, etc.  Fire changes and purifies.  This I LOVE!  Since God is fire God changes and purifies!  Awesome!

I was also reminded by this SITE where I learned about fire how Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew are much more expressive languages than English and the way fire is used depends on translations and meanings.  These languages have many more meanings for some words than English does.

This is just an interesting ARTICLE on the Promised Land boundaries with maps.  However, this article is propounding a world viewpoint.

Maps of Promised Land:  This was interesting.  I found various maps of the Promised Land the Scriptures used to back up the boundaries.  Here is what I found:

http://www.zionismexplained.org/map/thepromisedland.gif  This Link specifically uses Genesis 15:18-21

http://www.differentspirit.org/articles/boundaries.php  This one shows King Solomon’s boundaries with references.

MAP of Modern Day Israel against Solomon’s Empire in 990 BC.

Another MAP of Modern-Day Israel, showing Gaza, West Bank, and Golan

End Note:  I liked this lesson because it prompted me to learn more.  I spent two days looking up references and finding all these websites.  If I hadn’t of done this, this lesson wouldn’t have had the impact it did on me.  Please see HERE for the spiel this one comment inspired.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 4: Genesis 15:1-11

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).  As Abram awaits God’s arrival, birds of prey come to feed on the carcasses so Abram drives them away.

Questions:

8 )  No.  Justification is being right with God.  We achieve this through faith in Jesus Christ who eradicates our sins and allows us to be clean, right, and thus justified before God.  We are given works by God to do while here on earth that James says proves our faith.

Here’s the crux:  when you are justified you have the Holy Spirit within.  When you have the Holy Spirit, you have no choice BUT to do good works for you are changed and now desire to do good works, which are a sign of your faith and your justification.

We discussed this James passage last year (see HERE) and my opinion is you can be justified with no good works for all that is required is faith.  There is no “work” we must do to get to heaven and be justified for this is a gift from God.  All we must do is accept Jesus as our Savior and we’re there.

As I have seen in the study of Genesis, everything is a gift from God.  Man does absolutely nothing nor does he deserve what he gets.

9a)  We are all dead unless we accept Jesus as our Savior.  Then we are reborn with the Holy Spirit and only then will be have eternal life.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Life is meaningless without a purpose.  If I didn’t have God, my life would be empty.  It would be full of “busyness”, things to distract me, and an inner peace would not exist.  Working for God’s-given purpose, gives life to the mundane, life to the evil, and life to the dead.

All those diapers are for a purpose.  Those long days at a dead-end job are serving a purpose.  When the most horrific thing happens to you such as the death of a loved one, rape, bankruptcy, abuse, loss of a job and every other evil, unfair thing in life and God is the only thing that remains, you have life–even if all you feel is dead.

10a)  Abram believed in God’s promises and they were all fulfilled.  He was strengthened by these promises and gave glory to God while he waited.  He had faith.  He obeyed.  He acted.  He took steps out of obedience.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The same.  Believe in God, who He is, in His promises, and have faith they will come true in God’s timing.  Have patience.  Give God the glory.  Be strengthened by my knowledge in Him.  Obey God and what He is telling me to do.  Take those little steps of faith.

Conclusions:  I feel as redundant as when I teach my kids their letters but I’ll say it anyways:  Didn’t like this lesson either.  We didn’t once refer to the passage at the beginning, instead exploring Romans and James and we explored James last year.

That being said, I did like re-reading works and faith.  And I did like the reminder we are not dead even though at times I feel dead, indifferent, lost, and immune to the world around me.

My qualm is this:  if this is a study of Genesis, then let’s study Genesis.  If it’s a study of works and justification in the Bible, then don’t bill it as “Genesis 15:1-11”.

End Commentary on Faith and Works taken from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J D Douglas and Merrill C Tenney:

Being made in God’s image, human beings perform works as they live in God’s world. These deeds are based on the condition of the heart.  Works can be done out of evil motivation or even done in order to earn favor with God.  These are unacceptable to Him.

True works arise out of an inner gratitude to God for what He has done for us.  These naturally spring from our faith in Him.  Thus, Paul in Romans emphasized the need for faith in God for good deeds, James stresses that good works are evidence of true faith.  (P. 1532)

I believe the point is this:  you naturally do good works because God dwells inside of you. Works is not a requirement set forth by God in order to be loved, cherished, and accepted by Him.  This is where history went awry in the Middle Ages with indulgences, the Crusades, and earning your way to heaven.

Works is a gift from God that we as Christians just do without thinking.  We’re not trying to prove how Godly we are (for all of us would fail in that realm).  We’re merely following the Holy Spirit and doing what Jesus would do.  Because of our faith in Him.

It’s a simple as that.

Intellectual faith is not what God is seeking; He is seeking faith of the heart.  It’s the difference between saying and doing something.  Many say they are Christians; but is God in their hearts?

Salvation is a gift from God that is by faith alone.  Yet we are created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  It’s a two-fold process.  One, you accept Jesus.  Two, good works are produced.  And if you truly have Jesus in your heart you have no choice:  good works will follow.  A life lived for Jesus.

The notes from BSF of Acts Lesson 27 have a great explanation on the James’ passage.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 3: Genesis 15:1-11

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Again, Abram questions God, asking for reassurances of this promise.  God tells Abram to bring him a heifer, goat, ram, dove, and a pigeon.  Abram cut these in half (except the birds).  As Abram awaits God’s arrival, birds of prey come to feed on the carcasses so Abram drives them away.

Questions:

5a)  In 12:7 the Lord tells Abram He will give this land to Abram’s offspring.  In 15:2-3, Abram asks God where is this promised offspring because without one his servant will be his heir.

b)  God clarifies to Abram that indeed he will have an heir from his own body and tells Abram that one day his offspring will be as numerous as the stars.  God reiterates again that He is the Lord who will give this land to Abram. (Don’t you just want to hit Abram over the head here?  God probably does!)

6)  That Abram knew (and rejoiced) that Jesus would come, that this day (the day Jesus is walking the earth) would come, and Jesus would be the promised Messiah.  And Abraham was glad!  This shows that Abram had faith in God’s words and believed in the promised Messiah!

7a)  Righteousness is by faith alone–always has been and always will be.  If you believe the Lord and believe in Him you are righteous.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Faith is believing in what you cannot see and righteousness is being right with God through faith in Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross.  In believing Jesus is your Savior, you are wiped clean of sin and only when we are free of sin can we be with God and stand before Him–hence, we are “righteous” or right before Him.

c)  He finally believed he would have a son when God told him (again) and he finally believed his descendants would possess the land as God made a covenant (again) with him.

Some might say Abram made a covenant with the Lord when he cut the animals and God passed between them.  I would say no because in verse 18 we are told “the Lord made a covenant with Abram”.  Abram didn’t do anything but receive.  It’s a covenant God made alone with man out of His infinite love and grace for us piddly humans.  God even told Abram to go and get the animals.  It wasn’t even Abram’s idea!

Hence Abram didn’t “do” anything with regards to this covenant to prove his faith.  He merely received.

Conclusions:  This shows that even Abram, a man scholars would argue is the epitome of faith in the Bible, needed reassurance and signs from God in his life.  This applies to us as well.  God helps us even when we don’t know it.  He is there always even when we push Him away.  He picks us up and gives us a push in the right direction (His, NOT ours).

This also shows that it’s okay to question God.  For we, as humans, cannot understand Him and His ways.  It’s okay to ask Him for more clarification, for a sign, for confirmation, for direction, and for help.  Abram wasn’t for sure if the promised seed would be natural born or an adoptee so he asked God for clarification.  Abram wasn’t sure if he would possess the Promised Land and God told him he wouldn’t but his descendants would.

Throughout the Bible, prophets and others have questioned God and He has always answered.

He still answers.  And all we must do is have faith He will.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 14, Day 2: Genesis 15:1-7

Summary of passage:  Abram received the word of the Lord in a vision:  Do not be afraid for I am your shield and your very great reward.

Abram questions God as to where is this promised heir.  God assures Abram he will have a son from his own body and his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. God also reiterates to Abram that He brought him from Ur to give him this land.

Questions:

3a)  A shield is a broad piece of defensive armor carried on the arm; one that protects or defends.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  the devil.  The world.  Things of the world.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That God shields me.  He bestows glory on my head and lifts me up.  He surrounds me with His favor and blesses me.  I am joyful because of Him and His shield.  He helps me and gives me hope.  He is faithful and under Him I find refuge.  I find hope in His word.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Money or prizes.  Rich, fertile land.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Nothing monetary that I know of but definitely turning down personal praise and pride and giving Him the glory, not me.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  I just don’t see this as an invitation from God for me to ask Him for something.  God is giving us Him as His great reward and there is nothing higher.  This is a declarative sentence, not an imperative.  God is not saying, “Hey, you!  What do you want as a reward?”

Not sure what the point of this question is and where the extrapolation is coming from.

Conclusions:  Well, you probably know what I’m going to say by now:  Didn’t like this lesson.  All of this save 3a should be marked personal.  When asked, “What do you ____” that’s personal, don’t you think?

I liked 3c where we looked up how many times God says He is our shield or He is described as our shield.  That was interesting.  The rest I could have done without, especially 4c where I don’t see how God telling me He is my reward can be turned around and interpreted as Him inviting me to ask Him for something.  Just because Abram was confused about what this meant doesn’t mean I am.

It just is amazing to me how much man doubts and even when God himself talks to someone he or she STILL doubts the words.  We have such an amazing, patient God who gently repeats himself over and over again until finally we get it.

It’s here at this point that I can’t wait to ask God why He created us with such doubts, apprehensions, and questioning minds.  God could have created us however He wanted and sometimes all I see in the Bible is fickleness, selfishness, and overpowering pridefulness.

It all comes down to faith and that is the greatest test of all.

He is truly a Father, correcting us, guiding us, punishing us, and kissing our owies as He picks us up. Amazing!

Fun Fact:  This is the first time believe and righteousness appear in the Bible and hopefully we will explore this tomorrow and what it means for us!