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Exceedingly Great Reward
by R. Marie Thompson
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...the Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward." Genesis 15:1

"But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its farthest regions, And said to You, You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:8-10

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.Psalm 103:10

For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:14

I think today's snack has turned into a full course meal! Appetizer, meat, potatoes, vegetables, bread, and even a little desert. The above verses are the verses that He led me to as I prayed and asked Him about today's word. Well, all but the one I haven't shared with you yet. The one that has been on my heart to share for weeks now!

So, lets start with Genesis 15 as it was the first verse He brought to my attention in answer to today's asking. Here we have an amazing, wonderful promise directed to Abram, "Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward." He speaks directly to Abram and says,' I AM your shield, your exceedingly great reward.' He is saying, "Abram, you don't have to worry, you get me! I'll protect you. I'm all you'll ever need because He is the exceedingly great reward." Abram doesn't even get it. Go look. He doesn't even acknowledge what God is saying to him. He just starts in with the woe is me.' What will you do for me. I have no heir, no descendents.' I'm sitting there thinking, "Hum, I would love for God to say that directly to me."

So as I notice all this and I'm thinking, 'Lord what do you want me to share today? Is this it, or is there more? I start thumbing through looking? All of a sudden these words in Isaiah catch my eye, 'The descendants of Abraham my friend.' Here is is speaking to the descendents of Abraham and He again is saying, 'You are my servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away. Fear not for I am your God ... " So them I'm thinking, Yes! I can really grab hold of this promise. Now it has my name on it. I'm a descendent. (Grafted in, but a descendant nonetheless!) So, I'm now thinking this is all kinda cool and again asking, 'Is this it. Is this what you want me to share? Or, is there more?" I start thumbing through.

Next place He stops me. Psalm 103:10 'He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. I keep reading, thinking, hum, maybe? Are you going to let me? Is today? Then I hit verse 14. 'For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.' At this point, your probably going, Huh? Me, I'm going, YES!!!! I get to share what has been on my heart to share but now its even more! I get to take you back to the garden! I promise it will make sense in few minutes.

Okay, so here it is Genesis 3:21-24. Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever'-- therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way , to guard the way to the tree of life.

As a foster parent I am blessed to be able to have the responsibility to care for some amazing, little blessings. I am single and only have little ones under five so as you can imagine there are times when I have to use certain measures to be sure that they are safe and protected. For example. I have a gate that goes up between the living room and the kitchen when I am fixing dinner. If I leave the room then my little guys are sure to follow. Crawling or toddling they are right there, but its not safe for them. They could get burned, scared for life. Its just not the place for them to play. So they get trapped into the high chair or the gate goes up. Either way they don't always like the measures I take to keep them safe from the harm that could effect their future.

So many people think that when God put Adam and Eve from the garden that it was to punish them or that it was motivated by anger. It wasn't! It says that first He clothed them. He took care of their shame! Their nakedness! He provided for them because He loved them! It says that, He acknowledged that because they had eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that measures had to be taken,... 'lest they put out their hands and take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever...' He didn't put them out of the garden in anger or as a punishment. It was because He loved them and it had to happen out necessity,(like my gate) to keep them safe from something far worse. It had to happen so that they, that we, don't live forever separated from Him. Psalm 103 'He has not dealt with us according to our sins...He remembers that we are dust.' In Isaiah He is telling the descendents, us, that 'He hasn't cast us away.' He was motivated not by a need to punish sin but by that moment when he held that dust in His hands and He started molding and forming it into a man. He remembered the moment He breathed into Adam and he took his first breath. He remembered how His heart was full of this thought, "Indeed it was very good!"

His motivation has always been the same. To make a way because of His love for His creation! He put them out of the garden to protect them from a worse fate--to live forever separated from Him. Both Father and Son endured the moment when God had to turned His back while Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me." for the same reason, to make a way so that we wouldn't have to spend eternity separated from Him. He made a way so that we could know how awesome being is His presence is. After all, God Himself is our exceedingly great reward!

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Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Acts 13:38


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