Happy Ever After

Bible:

Now Isaac had returned from Beer-lahai-roi and was dwelling in the Negeb. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening. And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, there were camels coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel and said to the servant, “Who is that man, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into the tent of Sarah his mother and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Genesis 24:62-67 ESV

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV

Reflection:

Cinderella was treated as the lowest servant in her own home, doing all the hardest work, dirty and dressed in rags. When the king gave a ball for his son, it didn’t seen as if she’d be able to go, but her fairy godmother gave her a coach with horses. She also gave Cinderella a beautiful gown with glass slippers. When the prince met her at the ball, he fell in love with her. Cinderella had to leave the ball at midnight, but she left one glass slipper behind. The prince decided he would only marry the woman whose foot fit in the glass slipper, and that’s how he found Cinderella.

Abraham’s servant found Rebekah, not by using a glass slipper, but by finding the young woman who would be kind and helpful to a stranger. She would be the one to give him a drink and to water his camels, which was a big job. This story isn’t a fairy tale. It wasn’t magic that helped Eleazar find Rebekah, but rather God. He brought Rebekah to the well at the right time so Eleazar would find her. She was related to Abraham, believed in the true God, and was willing to move far from her family to live in the land God promised Abraham’s family. These qualities made her a good wife for Isaac. The promised Savior would come from Isaac and Rebekah’s descendents.

Isaac now had a suitable wife, but would he be happy with her? Would he love her? Oh, yes. Isaac was still sad about losing his mother, and Rebekah gave him comfort and happiness. God was good to Isaac to give him so much happiness in his marriage. God gave him more than he might have hoped or dreamed of!

God also gives us more than we could possibly hope for. Jesus, the promised Savior, came to die for us and set us free from sin. He rose again from the to give us life forever with God. Any blessings we have in this life come from God, and anything we look forward to in the future is a gift from God. Knowing the love of God in Jesus is beyond our wildest dreams!

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all the good things you give us, especially life with you through Jesus our Savior. In His Name, Amen.

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First Things First

Bible:

Rebekah had a brother whose name was Laban. Laban ran out toward the man, to the spring. As soon as he saw the ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and heard the words of Rebekah his sister, “Thus the man spoke to me,” he went to the man. And behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring. He said, “Come in, O blessed of the Lord. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.” So the man came to the house and unharnessed the camels, and gave straw and fodder to the camels, and there was water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. Then food was set before him to eat. But he said, “I will not eat until I have said what I have to say.” He said, “Speak on.”

So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become great. He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male servants and female servants, camels and donkeys. And Sarah my master’s wife bore a son to my master when she was old, and to him he has given all that he has. My master made me swear, saying, ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell, but you shall go to my father’s house and to my clan and take a wife for my son.’ I said to my master, ‘Perhaps the woman will not follow me.’ But he said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and prosper your way. You shall take a wife for my son from my clan and from my father’s house. Then you will be free from my oath, when you come to my clan. And if they will not give her to you, you will be free from my oath.’

“I came today to the spring and said, ‘O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now you are prospering the way that I go, behold, I am standing by the spring of water. Let the virgin who comes out to draw water, to whom I shall say, “Please give me a little water from your jar to drink,” and who will say to me, “Drink, and I will draw for your camels also,” let her be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master’s son.’

“Before I had finished speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came out with her water jar on her shoulder, and she went down to the spring and drew water. I said to her, ‘Please let me drink.’ She quickly let down her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I will give your camels drink also.’ So I drank, and she gave the camels drink also. Then I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor’s son, whom Milcah bore to him.’ So I put the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her arms. Then I bowed my head and worshiped the Lord and blessed the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me by the right way to take the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. Now then, if you are going to show steadfast love and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand or to the left.” Genesis 24:29-49 ESV

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Philippians 3:7-8a ESV

Reflection:

Have you learned to have good manners? Probably you’ve learned to chew quietly with your mouth closed. You might have been taught to give up your seat to an elderly or disabled person on the bus. When you get a birthday or a Christmas gift, do you send a thank-you note? These are all good manners.

In the Middle East now and in Bible times, hospitality was really a big deal. Rebekah’s family was honored to welcome Abraham’s servant. The meal they were to eat together was very important. But Eleazar did something unexpected, something that didn’t show good manners in that culture. He insisted on talking about business before they ate. This would have been very surprising to his hosts. They would have understood that Eleazar had something extraordinary to tell them.

All the values and manners of his culture, as good and important as they were, were things Eleazar set aside. He saw God at work, answering prayers and working out his purposes in amazing ways. Nothing else mattered. Eleazar couldn’t help talking about it. He was eager to see everything through to the end.

We can see God working out his greatest wonder of all–the wonder of his love for us. This love came through Jesus, who came to us on earth and died for us. Jesus’ death gives us forgiveness and life with God forever. Whatever else we have that we value, whatever good gifts God gives us, nothing is so amazing as the love he shows us through Jesus. In the end, nothing else really matters if we have God’s love in Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for working in amazing ways, and especially for sending Jesus to save us. In His Name, Amen.

A Prayer is Answered

Bible:

Before he had finished speaking, behold, Rebekah, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, came out with her water jar on her shoulder. The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. Then the servant ran to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water to drink from your jar.” She said, “Drink, my lord.” And she quickly let down her jar upon her hand and gave him a drink. When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough and ran again to the well to draw water, and she drew for all his camels. The man gazed at her in silence to learn whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not.

When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, and said, “Please tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” She said to him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor.” She added, “We have plenty of both straw and fodder, and room to spend the night.” The man bowed his head and worshiped the Lord and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” Then the young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. Genesis 24:15-28 ESV

Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me. Psalm 86:3-7 ESV

Reflection:

It may be hard to imagine now, but there was a time not very many years ago when there were no cell phones. If you wanted to call somebody, you had to call the phone they had in their house. If you go back in time a few more years, there were no answering machines either. If you called someone who wasn’t home, the phone would ring and ring, but no one would answer. You’d have to try to call again later.

God hears us when we call in a way that is more like today’s cell phones. He always hears our prayers, and he always answers them. Abraham’s servant prayed to God, and before he even finished speaking God had sent the right young woman for Isaac to marry! This was an amazing answer to prayer.

Sometimes, though, it seems as if when we pray it’s more like the old days. It’s as if we call God, and he’s not there, and there’s no answer to our call. Or perhaps it seems as if we leave a message and he doesn’t get back to us. This happens because we can’t see God’s full purposes for our lives, or what is best for us. That’s when God helps us trust that even so, he keeps his promise to hear and answer our prayers.

God saw our greatest need for help long before we could even call on him in prayer. He saw that our sinful disobedience had separated us from him. He sent Jesus to answer a prayer we couldn’t even pray. Jesus died on the cross to win our forgiveness and make us God’s children. Because of Jesus, we know that God is our heavenly father who listens to us whenever we call to him.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for hearing our prayers. Help us always remember that we can call to you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A Faithful Servant

Bible:

Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. And he made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time when women go out to draw water. And he said, “O Lord, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham. Behold, I am standing by the spring of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” Genesis 24:10-14 ESV

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8 ESV

Reflection:

Brad was in the school choir. It was a very good choir, and gave concerts in different places. For their spring concert the choir was planning to sing an especially beautiful song, which had a solo part. Several people tried out for the solo, including Brad. But he didn’t get the solo. His friend Angelo got it instead. Brad was disappointed, but mostly he was glad to be in the school choir and able to participate in such beautiful music. It didn’t matter so much that he didn’t get the solo.

Abraham’s servant was named Eleazar, and before Abraham had any sons, Eleazar would have been the heir to Abraham’s wealth. Was he disappointed to see himself replaced by Abraham’s son as the heir? He might have been, but he still served his master faithfully. He took his mission to find a wife for Isaac very seriously. It was obvious how much he cared about his master and wanted to serve him well, even though he wasn’t the heir.

The reason Eleazar was so faithful and loyal is found in the Bible reading. During his years with Abraham, he had come to know the true God, and to know that he could go to God in prayer and look for God’s mercy and help. Knowing God in this way was so wonderful that he was happy to play his own part in God’s purposes, even if his part was a small one.

Jesus is God himself, but for our sakes he became a servant. As a human being he emptied himself of the power and glory of God, and came to live among us and die on the cross for our sins. Because of this, our Heavenly Father calls us his children. Knowing God in this wonderful way helps us to be faithful to serve God and others, even in small and humble ways. Jesus works in us to help us serve others, and gives us his love and forgiveness always.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, Thank you for serving me by dying for me. Please work in me to serve others. Amen.