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I am a bit puzzled by Sarah. On the one hand we are told she is too old to have a child according to normal expectations. On the other hand she is so beautiful the king of Egypt and Abimelech both want her.

Any explanations?

To Andrew B.:
I thought the very same thing! I wondered how she her beauty would astound kings, but then she was laughing cause she heard that she was having a child in her "old" age. But back in this time, people did live a lot longer, so maybe she didn't look old? Or was their idea of beauty really different from what we can imagine?
Any other thoughts?

Regarding Sarah being old. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and yes, the standards of beauty are different in every culture and historical time fame. Take a walk through an art gallery that covers a large time frame, let’s say centuries, and you will see a time-line of the changing standards of beauty. It is this society, the MTV, every household, or at least every tiny village worldwide has someone in it with a television society that has begun to worship “youth” and held it up as THE standard of beauty. We have grown accustom to looking at the outside, ignoring the inside. The world sees everything from the outside in, God sees things from the inside out.

Also if you think that there are no beautiful “old” woman, then you may be operating on assumptions. If you think old equals ugly, then an older woman who is beautiful may be passed off by you as being young or younger. Old and young are all relative terms anyway.

Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all. Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!
(Proverbs 31:29-30 AMP)

Even if people lived longer, the biblical texts points out that both Abraham and Sarah were long past the age of child bearing, though men have the capacity to father a child long into their “old” age. The question for Abraham was did he have the capability physically to father Isaac. Both seem to know that in the natural, without God, no children would be forthcoming.

And God said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai; but Sarah [Princess] her name shall be. And I will bless her and give you a son also by her. Yes, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her. Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said in his heart, Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a son?
(Genesis 17:15-17 AMP)

Looking at the pattern of God we will see that He has this habit of always picking the week, the underdog, the one who in their own strength cannot accomplish anything. In fact, if Abraham and Sarah were able to produce children on their own then God would not get the glory. They were a “sign” and a “wonder” to all those around them that indeed, there is a God above all other gods, a God that can resurrect dead things and dead people.

Thanks Ramona on your comments. I hope that I didn't come across to you that being "old" is ugly. I just mean in our society, you see all the commericals for face creams to look younger and people turning to plastic surgery to look younger. That was where I was coming from in comparing the standards of beauty. I was questioning about Sarah because I know that our society is much different from hers. This is why I enjoy reading the Bible everyday, I learn something new and interesting :) Nicole

Amen Ramona, If Abraham and Sarah were able to have a child on their own than God would not of gotten the glory. I am always astounded by your wisdom. You seem very scholarly and know the bible well. Your wisdom and elequence of speech always impress me, but I know that you will give God the glory for blessing you in this way. Thanks for all your input.

More thoughts on prayer......I believe that it is prayer, speaking to God that actually gets you through the storms of life. You must also be grounded in your faith and know the word well, that way you will know what to pray and have a better understanding of God's truths. I think that journaling and prayer really go hand in hand. If your prayers are answered, that would be an excellant thing to journal about along with your thoughts and requests. It can help you to feel closer to God and more thankful when you go back later and read how your prayers were answered. Another thought on prayer is that I heard it is important to pray out loud, that way your thoughts are not jumbled like mine often are. I know that some don't like to share their requests with a lot of people. Perhaps than a prayer accountablity partner would be best. Someone you can partner with could be someone from church, your small group or bible study. You and your partner should call or email often. Calling is best and more personal.

I hope these suggestions are helpfull and I wish you all a blessed and wonderful day

Speaking of storms in our lives, I have just gone through the death of my dearest friend, my special love, and my partner. After his illness of 2 years and all the hill top
experiences and then the fall to the pit, he went to be with the Lord. I can say from my heart that even thought I am experiencing many physical problems, my spirit is intact. God has always been with me and is faithful....can anyone understand this.......I'm ok on the inside but on the outside I am Doctoring.
Thank you for this wonderful site that is so good for me right now. God is faithful to meet our needs

Thank you for your website. After one week of reading, I am grateful to you for your "ministry"...your site is an encouragement and aid in helping me become more disciplined in my study and meditation of God's Word. I have also enjoyed your links to bible.org Bob Deffinbaugh's thoughts on Abraham, especially regarding the sacrifice of Isaac. I have learned lots and find the scripture to jump off the page. Also, where do you get your artwork? They really enhance and enrich my reading as well. Thanks and God bless you for your commitment. Your site has helped me build my foundation and the eternal perspective that what I do today most definitely counts for eternity. I am constantly amazed at how my daily readings connect with Sunday sermons and where I am in life. There's no doubt in my mind there is a Master Planner who weaves the story of our lives.By the way, journaling really helps me grow because it allows me to visually review all God has brought me through and is a source of meditation.

Today's contribution:

"First, I can certainly attest that the storms do come! It is vitally important that we face those storms with Christ as our foundation. However, I don’t think we can “sav[e] for a rainy day” with respect to our faith. We establish the foundation of our faith in Christ, but our faith cannot truly grow, develoop, and deepen until we face the storms. Just as a muscle cannot grow without resistance, faith cannot grow unless it is challenged. Praise God for the storms we face - and overcome through Him! (James 1:2-3)"

I was wonndering about Issac and the insight and faith that his Dad must of poured into his life. As we read today in Psalm I will thank you, LORD, with all my heart. I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. This must have made a huge impact in his life. I wonder what was going through his mind? Any thoughts about Issac and his actions?

Genesis 20:1-22:24

Mike thanks for the link to Bob Deffinbaugh’s article, Final Exams. I had read the article before but as we folks do so easily I had forgotten about it and his insights and wisdom about Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac had escaped my memory.

Mark thank you for bringing to light a question many of us have probably thought about but maybe were too timid to bring it up in “good” company. What was Isaac thinking? I think we would like to think he strengthened himself like a “man” as his father tied him up, placed him on the altar with the wood under his body and raised the knife to plunge into his body. I think I would be screaming my head off and asking my father, “Are you CRAZY?” I think I might have wrestled with some serious father/son issues after I got down. Or maybe after hearing the voice of God and seeing the ram in the bush, I might have contemplated the wonder of it all, then yelled at my father.

These are just my rambling thoughts and have not been endorsed by anyone, not even me.

Grace and peace,

Here are my thoughts on Matthew 7:24-27. In a short devotion format :-)

Interesting passage, yet quite a simple passage to see Jesus "MAIN POINT". Most of the time you hear people say we need to be founded upon the ROCK which is JESUS which is True, but that is not the SPECIFIC principle Jesus was teaching here. Jesus was teaching what makes a person have a solid foundation or an unstable foundation or what makes one a "wise man" or a "foolish man". Which comes down to ONE thing, which is whether we DO what we hear or not. Let's look at the difference between the "Wise Man (Rock man)" and "Foolish Man (Sand man)".

WISE MAN (built house on rock) HEARETH these sayings and DOETH THEM.
1. Rains descended
2. Floods came
3. Winds blew
4. Beat upon that house
It Fell NOT.

FOOLISH MAN (built house upon sand) HEARETH these sayings and DOETH THEM NOT.
1. Rains descended
2. Floods came
3. Winds blew
4. Beat upon that house
GREAT was its FALL.

What is the difference, again as you can see, the only difference is one was a DOER of what he heard and the other was NOT A DOER of what he heard.

They both heard same thing, had the same set of circumstance, but one fell one did not, because one was a DOER of the WORD the other was a HEARER ONLY.

James 1:22 says, "But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves".

These scriptures makes it quite clear that were deceived and in for a great (big) fall if we think hearing alone will benefit our lives. You can hear all the Bible, Studies, Devotions, Sermons, Christian conferences, Christian Workshops, etc. But if there is NO application you are not on a good foundation.

I will say here that, that should not be a discouragement from hearing (learning) as it is the first step to being a DOER. I can't DO what I don't hear. So we need to HEAR! Then we need to DO! I personally don't do 100% of what I hear (even though I should), but thank God I DO a lot of what I hear, that DOING is where my foundation in Christ is established.

Just for the records I am NOT talking about "good works" but BEING DOERS OF GODS WORD, there is a difference.

If Gods Word clearly tells us something then our goal should be to DO it. So do you want a to establish a Firm (Solid Rock) Foundation then start putting God's Word to practice in your life. I promise you God who cannot lie will bless your life!

I appreciate all your hunger for God's Word!

This One Year Bible group is exciting!!!


Pastor Jim,
Can you elaborate on the difference between "good works" and "being doers of God's word?"

Righteousness, Righteousness, Righteousness--Seek God's Righteousness, and He will Be the God that protects us!
That is what I am hearing from Him.
I live in a rural town in NYS. I attend a Non-Denominational church on a regular basis. I teach Children's Church once a month, on a rotation with four other teachers. I volunteer at our Welcome Center once a month also. Periodically, when a job that is good for me comes along, I am called to do it. I love to serve the Lord. Building up Treasures in Heaven, so I can have a crown to lay back at Jesus' feet. I get through storms by trusting the Lord. He has really put me to the test in this area. I used to be a worrier and fretter when a problem came along, but, Jesus has taught me that is foolishness, and wait and trust on Him and the situation will surely work out. If I take this attitude, It always does. If anybody out there, has this problem, try trusting Jesus. He works.

I have encountered a problem with the Director of Childrens Church and I have been wondering if the Lord really called me, as the frustration level was extremely high this past month. Then as I was reading Matthew5:19 B
But whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus spoke to me in this verse. I believe He thinks I am doing a great job, and I came to the conclusion that if Jesus says I am doing a good job, and He wants me to do this, then the things that were bothering me are not important. The only thing that is important is that Jesus said, Good Job, Deb.
Also this Sunday in church we had a Prophet speaking. And he said something that also spoke to my heart. He said there are 8 giftings, and if the Lord has given you one, and has asked you to use it, you had better use it! When he said that, My heart said, "Okay Lord, I got the point." :-)

Well looking forward to sharing the Bible with everybody.
God Bless each one of you this week, and may your Knowledge and Wisdom be increased.

Dear CR,
I certainly do understand what you are going through.

When I lost my Mom, I too counted on the Lord to carry me through. I was hurting on the outside, but the inside was hanging in there, simply because of Jesus. I knew Mom was with Him, and she would be okay and I would be with her again, but the next time she will be whole.

She had suffered a stroke 8 yrs before she went home. She couldn't speak in sentences, nor walk, nor use her right hand.

But, first, the Lord sent me to church and saved my soul, and then used me to save my Mom, my sister and my brother and his family.

So when I lost my Mom it was very difficult.

Go through your grief, it is okay. You must go through it, to get out of it.

You must walk through the tunnel to get to the end.

And there will be an end to the constant tears and hurting. It takes a long time, but Those who Mourn, will be Comforted, and the Lord promises that, and He always keeps His promises. I am a Witness to that.

God Bless You CR, and keep your heart and eyes on the Lord and He will comfort You!

"Reading the Bible regularly? Going to church regularly? Being part of a small group or community group or Bible study with other Christians regularly? Praying regularly?"

Yes to all these. In addition, joyful offerings at worship, and fasting (for the right reasons).

During tough times I thank God "in" all circumstances, not "for" all circumstances. And I just flat out believe that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has proven himself a faithful God that will keep his word and who will complete his works.

As to verses, I am in complete agreement with Deffinbaugh on his Abraham analysis.

For me Matthew 7:23 is the interesting verse. The Greek word for "know" used here is "ginosko". It is the Biblical "know" that connotes consumation of marriage, where male and female are together as one. So NO MATTER what you do in Christ's name, unless he knows (ginosko) you in the intimate fashion of marriage - as one. Unless he abides in you, and you in him. then your works are for naught. It is the verse and context I use when talking to Catholics about the concept of "grace vs works" and whether they have accepted Christ into their lives and heart.

Cory (Bald Man) asked if I could elaborate on the difference between "good works" and "being doers of God's word?"

"Good works" in short is man's attempt to earn God's favour by that which he does.

Being a doer of God's Word. (God's Word is God's Will) is acting on the Word of God - Not to earn God's favour but as the result of a changed heart.

Obedience/Doing/Acting is your opportunity to express your love and commitment to God.

His life, received by grace, will result in our doing Gods Word (will)--to be sure.

Praise God I am saved by Grace alone, but because of that great salvation and now being a new creation. My "doing" God's will is the outcome of a changed life.

I like to tell people that God has changed my "want to's"

AMEN for that!

Pastor Jim

Pastor Jim,
I see your distinction. It's the chicken or the egg: One is a striving, and the other is a responding.

Has anyone ever seen a painting of Ishmael and his mother that actually showed Ishmael his true age - a young man of at least 17 years old? Why didn't Ishmael go find the water?
I also found it quite interesting that Ishmael had 12 sons. (How did I miss that before?), like Jacob had 12 sons.....
I love the way the OT and NT readings seem to go together each day!
What a blessing!


You said: >>Has anyone ever seen a painting of Ishmael and his mother that actually showed Ishmael his true age - a young man of at least 17 years old? Why didn't Ishmael go find the water?>>

I have thought about that before. But what you are seeing in those pictures are people's assumptions. I once took a class taught by a Yale Divinity M.Div grad who kept talking about the young child Ishmael in a secular Survey of the Bible class. After about 15 minutes I lovingly (at least I hope I did), raised my hand and pointed out, "Excuse me but Ishmael had to have been about 17 then took him to the scriptures that pointed out the ages of the main characters. There were others in the class who had read the assignment with diligence who concurred. The problem is most folk not only don't read/study the scriptures but those who claim to know them actually read/study what someone else has said about the text and not the actual text. So even if they read the Bible they read it through the glasses of their own past experience or denominational bent.

I am so thankful that God placed on Mike's heart the desire to not only start this Blog but maintain it. (It's easy to obtain but it's more difficult to maintain). Although there are a few of us here who had made reading through the bible a yearly habit, encouraging the practice in a form such as this draws more people to the discipline. Thank you Mike.

You say, "Based on the knowledge that storms will come into our life, what are you doing in your life to build a firm foundation of faith?" I don't hear anything about building a foundation in the verse... I hear it saying that The Word is the firm foundation. The wise man just builds his house on that foundation. Or as Jim is pointing out, being a doer of God's Word.

I'm just worried that someone might think that they need to "Read the Bible regularly, Go to church regularly, Be part of a small group or community group or Bible study with other Christians regularly, or Pray regularly to get a strong foundation.

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