April 9th Genesis chapters 41 – 42

In today’s chapters we see an example that Joseph gives to us even still today. Joseph’s brothers had taken his family, freedom, stability and just about everything else away from him. Oh how most of us would have been planning our brother’s demise the entire time in captivity; but not Joseph. Joseph had been elevated to the second most powerful person on the planet and when his brothers show up in need, he instead, shows grace. Notice, if you will, the passage screaming Jesus as we read. This is an amazing type of Christ; look at these couple of things:
#1. Jesus, second only to the Father – Joseph, second only to the king.
#2. Scorned,delivered and left alone by those closest to him – Jesus in the garden as the guards took Him.
#3. Joseph elevated to a great position after his humility and given authority – Jesus had all authority given to Him of the Father after He rose from the dead.
#4. Joseph showed grace when none was Given – Jesus has done the same (Romans 5:8)

Is His Word not amazing?

April 8th Genesis chapters 38-40

There are many interesting things going on in today’s three chapters but we are only going to look at two of them insomuch that my blog isn’t longer than the actual text!

First off we see in the actions of Judah, a sad representation of mankind and our view on sin, shortcomings and that of others.  Judah was very quick to judge Tamar for what she had done and he was genuinely appalled at her actions; but yet with no afterthought of his own actions, even if Tamar were not involved.  I have noticed in my own life that others people’s sin seems so much more severe than my own; have any of you noticed that in your own life or perhaps in the life of the church?  We have a unique way, as fallen man, to overlook our own shortcomings, mistakes and outright sins while other’s are magnified.  We can so easily justify our own sin while there we give no excuse for others.  I have talked with men who have justified adultery due to the fact that their wives did not satisfy them and, in their own mind, they feel that they have a “pass” for their actions.  There are also people who justify holding their tithe back because God has not blessed them as much as He has others in their finances.  I have heard many times, after a heated argument the phrase “well I just got mad.”  What kind of justification is being mad for an occasion to sin?  When Jesus said to turn the other cheek He was also talking about (it is a Jewish idiom) not returning an insult to someone who had insulted us.  No excuse, no justification.  Judah was put face to face with his own hypocrisy.  The difference in him and Tamar is that Judah was chasing after a prostitute to meet a lustful need while Tamar was trying to gain an heir insomuch that someone would be there to take care of her after Judah had died because Judah had not supplied her with a husband.

The other thing that I want us to take note of is in the story of Joseph.  Even while sold in bondage God’s hand was on Joseph; it is interesting  that it was not because Joseph was special, although he was obedient even in the life that had been dealt him, but that God was going to be glorified through Joseph.  Joseph would not only save the nation of Israel and his brothers, he would also preserve the line of the Messiah and he himself, unknown to him, would become a type of Christ for people to see even two thousand years later.  We may be going through hard times or situations, but we never know what God’s plan is for the future or what He will do in our lives if we are obedient.  Joseph was able to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” before it was ever even mentioned.  When Joseph did this; God, even in the worst of circumstances, gave to Joseph all of his needs and even a lot of wants.

Sometimes we need to really focus on the Word that God spoke when He said: “Be still and know that I am God.”

I sure hope God is showing His blessing in your life as you are daily in His Word.

April 7th Genesis chapters 35 – 37

Although today’s reading is on Genesis chapters 35-37 I would like to focus on this weekend’s reading.  In Genesis chapter 32 we see the rest of the story in the life of Jacob and his attitude toward God. 

In our last post we saw that Jacob wanted God to be his “Burger King” God; you know, a “Have It Your Way” kind of relationship.  But in chapter 32 we see how God changes Jacob and what circumstances that God used in which to do so.  We see that Jacob is alone with God at this point in his life and we need to remember that even though it has only been a few chapters, twenty years have passed.  Jacob, the trickster has just received his bachelors, masters and his doctorate in true trickery from his uncle Laban.  As my father told me once “there is always a bigger fish in the sea.”  Jacob found out that he wasn’t the master trickster after all and it cost him twenty years of his life.  Jacob, in these chapters is never mentioned to pray again since his Bethel experience (twenty years).  He has made a pact with God, decided his own path and, in his own mind, has become prosperous due to his trickery.  If God hadn’t intervened in Jacobs life, I don’t believe that he would have ever received the picture of true saving faith.  God does what ever it takes to get us to realize our desperate need for Him and in the life of Jacob, that took quite a bit of turmoil.

We see that Jacob is running form Laban, who probably would have killed him if it were not for the dream that God had given him, and at the same time, the brother that he had scorned is coming toward him from the other direction.  Jacob has no where to go and I am sure that he remembers the reason that he left in the first place; his brother vowed to kill him.  Jacob’s bag of tricks has suddenly become empty and there he is alone, afraid and frantically trying to save what family that he can.  If all of this isn’t enough a “man” shows up and wrestles with him until the break of day dislocating his hip.  Jacob, for the first time in his life realizes his need for a savior.  He cries out “Bless me!” And the man (who obviously was God) blesses him.  Jacob was not seeking after God, as none of us do as it says in Romans 3:11 “There is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God”  God was seeking him out and working in his life that Jacob might call on Him.  Romans 5:8 states “But God showed His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”  Jacobs false religious experience in Bethel didn’t give him life changing, true saving faith.  But in Jacob’s Peniel experience Jacob comes to God as we all must come to him; Jacob comes to Him in brokenness of Spirit begging God for deliverance.

Friends, can you remember a time in your life when you came to God broken in your sin?  Is there a moment in your life when you realized that you could not do it on your own?  A time when you stopped making deals with God and just plain old gave Him your life?  There are so many who have had a Bethel experience and go on through life believing that everything is going to be OK when it is not going to be OK.  Matthew seven talks about the MANY who will come to Him in that day and say “Lord Lord” did we not prophesy in your name and do great and mighty works?  and He will say depart from Me for I never knew you.  Oh I beg you to take to heart what the scripture says that we are to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.”  Have you had a life changing experience in Jesus Christ?  If not, would you consider it?  An emotional or religious experience will not give a person citizenship in the Kingdom.  Jesus said that there is a Narrow gate and a narrow way and there are few that find it.  But there is a wide way and wide gate; and Jesus said that there would be many who would take that path.  That path, the religious path, leads to destruction.

April 4th Genesis chapters 27-29

Yesterday we talked a bit about Esau and his attitude toward the things of God and his birthright.  Today we will look a bit closer at his brother Jacob.  First off the name Jacob actually means “trickster” which is why Isaac said “Is he not rightly named” in these chapters.  God blesses Jacob greatly during his life although Jacob is a liar, a cheat and a trickster.  God had mad a promise to Abraham and fulfilled it in Jacob, not due to his attitude or his actions but according to the promise of God.  This is a picture, in my mind, of us in Christ; Although I am a sinner and a liar by birth, arrogant and self serving I am still considered a child of God.  I am in favor with God the Father by way of His Son Jesus Christ, not by my actions or attitudes.  God’s work in us for His kingdom is not based on our righteousness, but on our relation with His Son.  When we begin to think that we have the favor of God due to our own actions or attitudes we are greatly mistaken.

As we looked today in Genesis chapter 28 we see Jacob’s true heart toward God.  Look at these verses once again as we dissect them together:  (Genesis 28:20-21)

 “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going,and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.”

Jacob enters into a self made contract with God that so many people still do today.  Sadly it is even preached by many popular so called “Christian leaders” today.  This is the beginning of the “prosperity gospel.”  Jacob makes a vow that he will allow God to be his God if God were to meet all of his self serving stipulations.  Jacob demands:

#1  Bread to eat       #2  Clothes to wear      #3 An ending destination       #4  Peace in life

Jacob has it all figured out being the trickster that he is.  We so often have this view of God today as we say “God, you owe me because I have called you my God!” as if we were entitled to anything at all!  The most chilling part of this self made covenant is found in the very beginning of his statement  “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going.”  What Jacob is saying is “Don’t even try and change me.  I will do what I will do and no one will tell me different; I am my own man!”  So many people think that they can come to God, accept a free gift of salvation and demand that there is no change in their life.  This, my friends is a false, evil perversion of salvation and it leads to destruction.  This attitude is as if we are doing God some kind of favor by claiming His name but refusing to repent of sin.  Jacob then, in the following verses adds, a little something to sweeten the pot and offers ten percent back “to all that you give me.”  Boy I bet God was so excited at this deal that Jacob offered up.  It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?  But how many have we seen who have made an unspoken agreement with God that is just about the same:  I will show up once a week to worship services and allow You to be my God.  You then , will meet all my needs and my comforts.  If you do this God, I may even throw twenty bucks in the plate (well, if I am not on vacation or home watching the game).  But leave me in “this way that I am going!”

Jacob in later chapters has a rude awakening as to the character of God and to his own personal shortcomings.  At this point in Jacob’s life, he has become religious but has not obtained a faith that can be described as saving faith.

 

April 3rd Genesis chapters 25 and 26

Today we see the struggle between two brothers and an argument over a birthright.  This, today, seems foreign to us because it is indeed just that.  But I am going to take a couple of minutes to try and put this “birthright” into perspective.

The birthright was considered to be a “double portion” to the oldest son in a family.  According to the Law, even a father could not remove the birthright and hand it down to a younger sibling, although it could be lost for certain sins or given away.  But more than a double portion, it was a leadership position and the one who held the birthright would be considered a priest to the family.  Now we need to remember what the word priest implies; the one who mediates.  Both of these brothers are wrong in their actions, but we will focus on Esau and the opportunity that he had missed, namely, the line to the throne of all thrones, Jesus Christ.  Esau “despised” his birthright and we can quite obviously point out that no one despises a “double portion.”  Esau, like so many today, think nothing of spiritual work or position.  James Vernon McGee says that Esau is like many in our churches today who say “Oh I could never be a deacon, or pastor or what ever it may be.”  We often belittle our spiritual position and spiritual gifts.  Esau should have been excited about the gift that was handed to him, but he was not; he cared about nothing of God or spiritual matters.  We need to be careful and diligent not to trade the magnificent for the mundane.  The line of the throne in heaven was traded for a bowl of stew!  Can you imagine?  But at the same time we can find ourselves trading in so much for so little.  I think of our time: How much time do we waste in social media while we, if I may be quite candid, are biblically ignorant.  How much money do we trade for a shiny new vehicle and at the same time rob form God in the work of missions and the local church.  How much talent do we often waste when there is so much to be done in kingdom work.   It is easy to look at Esau with a bit of disgust, but we need to remember that these things are written for our examples, according to I Corinthians.  At least Esau didn’t have an example to look at as we do.  Let’s focus on not trading the magnificent for the mundane.  

April 2nd Genesis chapters 22-24

If you were to ask me, I would say that Abraham was a man who had some class.  When we look at the purchase that he made to bury his wife Sarah, we see wisdom and someone who was setting for himself a good name.  This is important for the man or woman of God!  Proverbs 22:1 states: “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.”  So often today we see leaders and pastors in the Christian community dealing falsely or less than honestly with the people around them and this destroys any semblance of a witness for Christ; and at what a great cost!  Abraham was the one who would show the world that they had forgotten God, the scripture says.  Abraham needed to handle himself in the correct way in order to do so.  Even though the people wanted to give Abraham the property in which to bury Sarah, he would not allow it.  He did not want anyone to be able to falsely say that he had taken advantage of that community  so he demanded a fair price.  Abraham also did not do a deal with a hand shake, or “word of mouth.”  In yesterday’s post i mentioned that the leaders sat at the city gate in order to judge the people.  This is where all property would be deeded and would change hands.  Abraham was above board in his business ethic and made sure that there were witnesses to protect his word.  Abraham was a man of organization and integrity.  We would be wise to follow in his footsteps in order to protect us from the evil one who always looks for ways in which to get a foot hold.  Remember in Job’s readings when it stated that Satan was “roaming to and fro on the earth…”  Satan is the master destroyer and the spreader of falsehoods; my friends, he does not need any help from us in sloppy or dishonest dealings.  Pastors (if any ore reading this) please don’t expect discounts on goods or services due to your position or your church.  I spoke with a business man just last week who told me that in his conversations with other businessmen they had agreed that churches, and their pastors, were their worst customers.  Since these men are ordained to preach they feel as though every one owes them something he went on to say.  I was so embarrassed that I wanted to distance myself away from being a pastor.  How will we ever reach the lost when always looking to gain something from them?  Jesus, other than when on the cross and thirsty, to my remembrance, did not receive from people, He only gave to them.

Another thing in these chapters this morning that has always puzzled me is the method in which one would swear to an oath.  We will see as we read, that this tradition was not just with Abraham.  I tried to think “why would a man ask for another man to place his hand under his thigh?”  Now I have an idea as to why, but I want to be clear, it is just a thought no research that I have done has found any reason as to why.  But, If someone places their hand under someones thigh while they are seated it makes their faces no farther than 12″ apart.  This would gain someones full attention, even if they had severs A.D.D.  One could not miss a phrase lost in conversation.  It was upfront and personal; and to be honest, too close for me!  I need a personal bubble around me.  At any rate, i may be way off base, but it does make sense.

April 1st Genesis chapters 19-21

In today’s chapters we see the backsliding of Lot which should be a reminder to us all of how easy we can drift away from God when we are not “attached to the vine.”
In the beginning of chapter 19 there is a small phrase that is key and is mentioned in earlier chapters; Lot was “sitting at the gate” of the city. This phrase has lost it’s meaning to today’s culture and it is easy to just read through it and not grasp what is being said. Sitting at the gate of the city is what the leaders of a group of people would do. You might remember that Absolom, the son of David, was sitting at the gate of the city judging the people. This time “at the gate” showed how Absolom began to slowly win the hearts of the people and then went on to usurp power from his father king David. Lot was not only dwelling in Sodom, but he was sitting at the gate of Sodom as a leader. In earlier chapters we see lots journey in the plain in which he lived. It says that “he went even as far as Sodom. This is a picture of human nature and the decline of morality in the life of sin. Lot was on a downward journey in which through the process of time he became deeper and deeper in his sin and depravity. Perhaps as he was sitting at the gate that he thought he might change the people of his new home, no one knows; but either way, the people of Sodom were not changed by Lot; Lot was changed by the people of Sodom. We cannot seperate ourselves from the people of God, dwell in the world, and expect a good outcome. We need to guard our steps so that we do not “Go down even as far as Sodom.” If Lot were to leave Abraham and go straight to Sodom, he would have been appauled! but slowly, he drifted as a person floating on the ocean with no way to know how far, or which difection they are going. This seperation from God and His people is devistating and unforseen. We need to guard our relationships and as Psalm 119:105 states “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path…”
MAy God bless you as you continue in His Word.