Thursday, November 10, 2011

I've just been pondering a lot of things lately and have felt the Lord draw me closer and closer.  Last week in Children's Church, I taught a lesson on Isaac being a good neighbor and peacemaker and the Lord blessing him. It's not one of the most common  stories often taught to children.  In fact, it isn't even in my Beginner's Bible.

Here it is, though, Courtesy of!

Genesis 26

Isaac and Abimelek
 1 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2 The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring[a] all nations on earth will be blessed,[b] 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” 6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar. 7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”
 8 When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9 So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”
   Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”
 10 Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”
 11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
 12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.
 16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”
 17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.
 19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek,[c]because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.[d] 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth,[e] saying, “Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”
 23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”
 25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.
 26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”
 28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the LORD.”
 30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.
 32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33 He called it Shibah,[f] and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.[g]

Later, Jesus talks about what a neighbor is. Often, when I ask children this particular question, they tell me it is who lives next door or across the street. This is true. As Believers and Followers of Christ, we expand that definition, like in the story of The Good Samaritan, and rightly so. (Luke 10, 30-37) However, what about the folks who live across the street and right next door. I must confess that I have indeed not been a peacemaker. I found myself being bitter over a few situations that have arisen, which is NOT Christ-like. The point of the story of Isaac and the wells is to show how Isaac was indeed the peacemaker and while his land was in fact void of water in the wells, by keeping the peace and accepting the treaty with Abimelek, the Lord was able to bless him abundantly. I'm fascinated how the Lord uses His own word and my own gift of teaching to our tiniest disciples to TEACH me.

This, while very amazing, is also quite humbling. In the grand scheme of things what is really important? When Jesus was arrested, He never showed bitterness or anger.  In fact, He healed the ear of a soldier who had come to arrest Him.  He never cried out in pain, anger, frustration, or terror.  He spoke no evil word and not once retaliated.  He was spit upon, whipped, beaten, bruised, called terrible awful names, ridiculed, stripped, made fun of, humiliated, pierced, nailed, hung, and ultimately murdered.  He did no wrong.  It had to come to pass, but it breaks my heart as I ponder what He endured for me, and I can't ever live up to His example.  (Read Matthew 27 for the story of Jesus's betrayal and death to remember.)

So, what is it we must do when it comes to our literal neighbors?  I was so blessed in my previous neighborhood.  It's easy to love those who love you, right?  Now, I must find a way to love someone who does not love me.  I don't know why, really, and my instinct is one of fear- to just avoid the situation all together, but, that's not what Isaac did.  Pray for me today, that I may hear God's voice through His Holy Spirit and find a way.  I SO want water in my well! :0)

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