Thursday, February 28: Exodus 1- Sanctity of life.

I saw in the Hebrew midwives a reverence for life. When ordered to interrupt the birth of Hebrew women so that male children would die the midwives refused. They treated each to-be-born child with the identical dignity, doing what they were trained to do to foster healthy live births for both girls and boys.

My mind flashed back a month or so to the 40th anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision by the US Supreme Court. I don’t mean for this blog to become political, but I couldn’t help making some connections. Our government like Pharaoh has deemed it acceptable to kill innocent pre-borns. God will deal with this as He wills. My hope and prayer is that the Church, God’s people, will follow the lead of the midwives acting on behalf of the pre-born in order to save their lives and to do so in an manner that upholds the dignity and sanctity of all life from conception to the grave.

These two midwives did what they could to preserve life… may all who call Jesus Lord do the same.

Think about it…

Lord, what can, should, must I do to uphold the dignity and sanctity of all life… from conception to natural death? … Amen.

 

 

Wednesday, February 27: Genesis 50- The haunt of sinful deeds vs. the gift of forgiveness.

Immediately after Jacob’s death Joseph’s brothers grow afraid that Joseph will retaliate for all the evil they perpetrated against him (15). They go so far as to make up ‘last words’ from their father for Joseph to forgive them.

Joseph almost seems surprised by their actions. Long ago He apparently forgave them. His reply shows incredible faith and healing, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children" (19-20).

What a contrast of reactions and inner dialogue. For years the brothers have been haunted by what they did. Joseph seems at peace with all that happened. The difference I surmise is forgiveness. Joseph forgave his brothers and in that act was released from any need for vengeance or retribution. Forgiveness allowed him to truly move past this sins and evil committed against him.

Such is the power of forgiveness…

Thoughts and questions fly in rapid succession.

  • Am I harboring any grudges?
  • Have I released those who have sinned against me?
  • Have I forgiven myself after I sought the forgiveness of God and others for sins I have committed?

When I forgive I too can have the peace that Joseph found! The same can be true for you.

Think about it…

Lord, You taught us to pray, ‘Forgive us our sins, AS we forgive those who have sinned against us…’

What a gift You have bestowed upon us… the gift of forgiveness and being forgiven.

Thanks be to God, forgiveness is a gift of the cross. Praise You Jesus… Praise You Father and Spirit… Amen.

 

 

Tuesday, February 26: Genesis 49- Going out in style.

Death is not something I think about very much, yet today’s chapter is the account of Jacob’s death. Shortly before he dies he calls his sons to his side and blesses each one. I am intrigued by this… giving a unique word to each child before breathing his last.

In my profession I see people and families at the time of death. Some families are tight, others not so much. Some survivors know they were loved and feel the blessing of their parent who is being buried, others not at all. Some survivors are loaded with guilt; others live the remainder of their life trying to gain approval of the parent who has died.

Gravesides are a mixed bag of feelings and emotions.

No one can be certain how another person will process and handle death of a loved one. Jacob could not be certain how his sons would handle his death. But what I appreciate in this snippet of Jacob’s life is that he had a specific word for each son shortly prior to his death.

Jacob knew his sons and he spoke individually and directly to each one of them.

My heart hopes this was not the only time he spoke personally to each son. My heart hopes that this was the culmination of his life poured into theirs. But these thoughts and hopes are beyond the information provided by scripture.

This scene is instructive for me as a father… it along with my meditations drive me to ask questions of myself.

Am I speaking personally and encouragingly into the lives of my children, all my children, not just my sons? (I wondered if Jacob ever spoke a blessing to his daughter Dinah?)

Do I have a plan to give a final word to each of my children as my life draws toward its earthly end? No one can be certain when their time will come, accidents happen. But barring an unexpected and untimely end do I have a plan?

Am I paying attention to each of my children as an individual so that I can speak personally to each?

These are the meditations of my heart today.

The Lord has blessed me with a cherished wife and great kids, am I pouring into them as a husband/father living for Jesus should?

If you have special someones, are you???

O God, teach me what it is to have a Father’s heart like You Father have. Teach me Jesus what it is to love my bride as You love your bride the church. Teach me Holy Spirit to be the counselor and encourager that You are to those of us who are part of Your family. Teach me O God, teach me… Amen.

 

 

Monday, February 25: Genesis 48- Telling what God has done.

I was impressed by Jacob, as his life ebbed away, he made sure to recount the blessing of God to his son Joseph and Joseph’s two sons. It sparked in me the thought of passing on God’s story to the next generations. Have I told my children lately what God has done for me? Should God grace me with grandchildren and even great grandchildren, will I plan opportunities to tell them what the Lord has done in my life. Have I done all I can do to pass on the torch of faith in the Lord God Almighty -Father, Son and Holy Spirit- the next generations?

As long as I have breadth I have opportunities to do so. And so do you…

Lord help me tell Your story in winsome ways to my family, my seed and all who would come after them. That You name will be praised in the life of my family. I pray in Jesus’ name.

Lord, I pray for my children and those who come after them that they might know the Lord and serve You all of their lives… May it be so Lord, Amen.

 

Saturday, February 23: Genesis 47- Prospering in hard times .

After introducing Joseph’s family to Pharaoh, the heart of the chapter describes the extent of the famine and the hard times it produced in Egypt. By the end of the famine the people were reduced to servitude to Pharaoh, with Pharaoh owning all money, land and livestock.

Then comes a stunning verse, verse 27, Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.

Even during the years of famine and drought, Israel prospered. That can only be attributed to the gracious hand of God. It was not Israel’s brilliance, ingenuity, work ethic, or any other human factor. It was due to God’s providential hand.

I sat and considered this.

I can hear some TV preachers shouting that God wants His people to prosper even in bad times.  That it is ordained for the people of God to have plenty even while others are in want! Even writing this makes me ill. That’s not it at all! I probably shouldn’t have even written this since it might plant bad Bible understanding in reader’s minds.

A better, more faithful to the whole of scripture, place to go is, that God works His salvation plan and no circumstance can thwart God’s plan of salvation. Israel needed to be preserved, so that the Messiah could come from her loins. God was preserving Israel. Nothing, not even a horrendous 7-year famine, could undermine God’s salvation. So in the midst of the famine, God preserves Israel.

What about me in the 21st century? Where do I connect in the story?

In our time God’s plan and purpose is to make disciples of all nations. So a connection I see is that God will preserve and prosper His church so that they can complete His plan of discipling all peoples of the earth. It is not about my personal prospering, it is about moving ahead in accomplishing God plan of salvation.

My thoughts flip.  How am I using the health (preservation) and material resources (prospering) that God has provided me to advance His plan of world discipling? How am I advancing God’s kingdom and reign and plan with my life?

Lord, we are almost one sixth through 2013.  Iis there more You would have me be doing to advance Your agenda of witnessing to the name and salvation found in Jesus to the ends of the earth? Open my eyes to what You would have me do for You. Amen.

 

Friday, February 22: Genesis 46- Honoring the Lord.

Just as this chapter gets going there is a pause, a space for thanks and honoring of the Lord. Verse 1: So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

It has been years since Jacob has seen his son, his son who he thought was dead. In a time of haste and hurry to be reconnected with his lost son, Jacob pauses to offer sacrifices to his God. Jacob pauses to thank his God.

When a blessing comes your way… when God graces you with some gift or kindness, do you pause to thank Him? That’s the question that flooded my thoughts as I meditated on this verse.

Lord, help me to develop a grateful, thankful heart… a heart which pauses repeatedly to thank and praise You for Your many blessings. This I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

Thursday, February 21: Genesis 45– The Weaving…

As I thought about Joseph and his response to this brothers (see verses 4-7), I recalled a verse from Corrie Ten Boom, titled 'The Weaving':

My life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me,

I cannot choose the colors

He worketh steadily.

Oftimes he weaveth sorrow,

And I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper

And I, the underside.

Not till the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Shall God unroll the canvas

And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver's skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern he has planned.

Lord, I pray for the wisdom, maturity and eyes of faith –eyes like Joseph and Corrie- to trust that what You are weaving through my life will bring You honor and glory, will advance Your kingdom and proclaim Your love to the ends of the earth.

This I pray in the name of the God, the Great Weaver, and Jesus Christ, His One and Only Son, my Lord. Amen.

 

Wednesday, February 20: Genesis 44- Taking responsibility.

Judah is a man of his word. The unthinkable happened and Benjamin, who apparently stole from Joseph, is sentenced to life long slavery in Egypt. Judah who gave his word to his father to protect Ben, steps up and offers his life and servitude for Benjamin’s! What amazing love, what amazing honor to the Father. Judah offers himself in Benjamin’s place!

Jesus made the same offer for you and me and the world… although the stakes for Jesus were a bit higher. We had, in fact, sinned –not just apparently sinned- and our sin was against God in heaven and our punishment eternal death. Yet, Jesus to honor His Father and out of love for us, stepped up and took the penalty that we deserved. Jesus died in our place.

Judah’s offer sparked thoughts of Jesus action… as I sat with the Lord and His Word this morning. And I find myself blessing and thanking the Lord in response to this meditation.

Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me Bless His Holy Name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not ALL His benefits…

He forgives my sins and heals my diseases…

He leads me in paths of righteousness…

He restores my soul…

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…

Thanks be to Jesus who took my penalty, forgave me all my sins and clothed me in His own righteousness!

Alleluia! Amen.

 

Tuesday, February 19: Genesis 43- What is God up too?.

This chapter ends leaving plenty of questions and resolving none of them. If feels like a strange place to pause my reading and this is multiplied since I know the story.

Life is lived like this, however. Life is lived one day at a time and most of the time we do not know the outcome of the situations we find ourselves in. Life is full of ambiguity and uncertain endings. And with that, for me at least, wondering about what God is up to and wondering how things will turn out.

I stopped and reread my last sentence.  Before my eyes are two different ways to live. One understands God to be involved in life and the other does not need God to be involved.

Which way do you you live life? Do you leave room for God or have you shut Him out of life?

Whatever situation you find yourself in, are you your solution? Work harder, make the right contact, apply for the right job, go to the right school, find the right soul mate… you catch my drift. Are you the master of your destiny or is there room for the workings of Almighty God in your life?

I prefer to live with God at the core of my life. This doesn’t absolve me from living wisely or give me a get out of jail free card. But it does give me someone to seek and counsel with when I am perplexed or uncertain. It does provide me with a ‘due north’ for my life from which I can orient my thoughts, aspirations and character.

Are you walking with God or are you doing it alone?

Jesus, be the center and source of my life. To You I surrender all, that I may walk with You all the days of my life! Amen.

 

Monday, February 18: Genesis 42- Living with guilt.

I found myself hearing this account through the ears of Joseph’s brothers. As Joseph plies them with questions, they had some interesting comments among themselves. They said to one another, "Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that's why this distress has come upon us." Reuben replied, "Didn't I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn't listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood" (21-22).

For years they have lived quietly with the guilt of killing their brother. In this situation the guilt breaks the surface of their lives.

Later as they are traveling home they have a strange reaction to finding the silver in their sacks. “What is this that God has done to us?” (27) they exclaim. As if they are being punished not blessed. Again, guilt drives their response.

Most of us carry guilt for things we have done that were wrong. We may not show it to others, but it lives in us and in those quite moments or connected moments, it explodes in to the conscious portion of our lives!

On of the great gifts of God through Jesus is that God not only forgives our sins, He takes away our guilt and shame by lavishing on us His audacious love.

Do you know the love of God the Father through believing and receiving Jesus Christ, His Son? Think about it…

Lord Jesus, praise for saving me, offering salvation, forgiveness and a clean slate to all who put their faith in You. May the world know the peace only You can give. Amen.

 

 

Saturday, February 16: Genesis 41- Thirty years of learning.

Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (46).

Thirty years is a good chunk of time and for those 30-years Joseph has been undergoing the training and testing of God to prepare him for his God-ordained works of service.

Okay, so half of those years were his primary growing up years. This is true. But those years, under our parents, are a critical time of ours and is very much part of God’s preparation plan for our works of service. Young readers listen up, your character is forming.  Pay attention to whom you are becoming.

I think for a while about Joseph’s next 15 years of training.

He learned tact.  Oh, he learned this trait by failure when he blurted out about his dreams,  inappropriately, to his brothers and parents.

He also learned to pay attention to dreams… not a trait for everyone, but as we see now, God was certainly preparing Joseph to come to the aid of Pharaoh.

He learned personal integrity. Again, this was a difficult learning when Potiphar’s wife accused him unfairly of sexual assault.

Along the way he learned leadership. This blossomed in prison –yeah, prison!

He learned patience. Patience is never an easy skill to learn… kidnapped, imprisoned, being forgotten for another 2 years… patience…

At this point I began to think about the lessons I have learned in life. I then, intentionally, offered them back to the Lord to be used in whatever works of service he would have for me in the remaining years of my life.

How about you?  What life skill offering will you make to the Lord?

Lord, thank You for all the lessons of life…the positive ones and the difficult ones. Lord, I lay them at Your feet.  Use me in whatever way You know to best further Your kingdom and Your will. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.

 

Friday, February 15: Genesis 40- Forgotten.

This account seems poised for a happy ending and Joseph getting out of prison. But then the last sentence appears, The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him (21). To be forgotten…few feelings are as empty as being forgotten.

It happened to Joseph and it happens to most of us somewhere along life’s journey.

Our friends or family members may forget us, but God never forgets about us.

I don’t presume to know what Joseph went through emotionally when he realized that the cupbearer forgot about him. But if I had to guess, I’m sure he was bummed and depressed. Hopes dashed.

I’ve read the story and I know God did not forget. God was simply waiting for a better time, the perfect time to bring Joseph from the confines of prison into his calling to save the people of Israel.

I am reminded as I read this story that God’s timing often requires us to wait before we see the salvation He will bring. “Remember this,” the Lord says to me, “You are not and will never be forgotten by Me. Ever!”

Lord, my heart cries, Hallelujah! Thanks be to You, Lord God. You are with me. You remember Me. I rest in this in all circumstances of life. Amen.

 

 

Thursday, February 14: Genesis 39- Is it enough to live honorably or would the Lord have us do more?.

Just because you are honorable does not mean everything will go smoothly in your life. That at least is one of the lessons I hear in Joseph’s life. An honorable man, he is sold into slavery by his brothers. His Egyptian owner sees value in him and over time he rises to head slave but a lie fabricated about him lands him in prison. Life isn’t always fair! There is injustice in the world and sin and meanness and…

Joseph’s life reminds me that I (we) live honorably before God in order to please God. This may or may not result in earthly reward, but it certainly reaps a heavenly reward!

My thoughts pin-balled back to the thought about ‘injustice, sin and meanness’ in our world. Could it be that in addition to living honorably, God desires for us to get involved in righting the injustices we see in this world? Could it be that God would have us live in a manner that our lives lived honorably would help mediate the sin and meanness in our world?

The question that this chapter sparked in me goes like this, “Is it enough to live honorably or would the Lord have us do more? Would the Lord have us live radically, serving His causes of righteousness and salvation in this world?”

Now that is something to chew on…

Lord God, this is a big question, one that I dare not treat lightly.  Open my eyes to Your truth on this. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

Wednesday, February 13: Genesis 38- God sees and knows what's going on.

This chapter is another OT soap opera. Anyone who thinks that the people of God were righteous wonderful people is probably shocked to read this account. It begins with Judah and his son marrying Canaanites… forbidden. It involves wicked children and refusing to have sex and then illicit sex with prostitutes and... It is a sordid tale.

Contemplating the story though Judah’s eyes, I thought about how our sins committed in the shadows are often brought out in the open. God sees and knows what’s going on.

I also marvel at the great patriarchs of the faith. They are every bit as human and spiritually frail and sin-filled as the next person. Imperfect yet chosen by God! Just like you and me.

This is not a license for sloppy living, rather it is a testimony to God and His grace, abundant immeasurable grace. Thank God for grace!

Yes, thank You, Lord God, for grace abundant and immeasurable. God, were it not for Your grace, I would be dead in my sins and cut off from You. I bow and praise You. Thank You! Thank You! Amen.

 

 

Tuesday, February 12: Genesis 37- Who does this sort of thing?.

How evil is the heart of man? What brothers do this kind of thing? Who sells a brother into slavery?

I am stunned how evil the human heart can be. Violence, rage, murder, mass-murder, mayhem, war, ethnic cleansing, extortion, insider trading, rape, incest, muggings, robbery, bullying… I could go on for days listing the news stories of our world.

Oh, how we need a Savior.

And even those whom God has called and grace are capable of evil and violence just as any human being is.

God, thank You for creating a way out of our mess. Thank You for Jesus…

Show me, teach me how You designed humans to live, so that my life might be a light pointing to You and Your grace… so that my life might bring You honor and praise. Holy Spirit live within me and bring healing to my sin-riddled heart that I might not sin against You or others. Oh, Father, may the good deeds You strengthen me to do cause people to see You have praise You. In Your Name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.

 

 


Monday, February 11: Genesis 36- Promises kept; promises never made.

The Lord is a promise keeper. He promised that He would give Esau many descendants “too numerous to count” (see Genesis 16:10) and as we read today we see the makings of that nation. God keeps His Word. Reading the Bible and hearing all of God’s promises, know this: God keeps His promises!

During my time with the Lord, I also wondered why Israel and Edom (the descendants of Jacob and Esau) don’t get along. The brothers seemed to have patched up their differences, so why all the animosity? As I pondered this, I recalled the many accounts where people made covenants and built altars to signify their covenants. In particular I thought about the time when Israel, under Joshua, captured the Promised Land and two tribes wanted to live on the east side of the Jordan. After the conquest they build an altar as a reminder that they were brothers…

It hit me….Esau and Jacob never made any kind of pact or covenant. They never gave their word to each other that they would remain brothers. Hmmm… maybe they never really patched things up? Maybe by not making a covenant and building an altar as a witness to the generations, their sons missed the reconnection and harbored bitterness against their cousins. We will never really know. But one thing we do know is that they never confirmed, in any way, that they were brothers and they would live in peace with each other. Our world today is unstable, in part, due to this lack.

When we reconcile with others, let’s make sure people know we have reconciled so that the differences we once had do not continue to fester…

Promises kept form significant bonds!

Oh, God, thank You for keeping Your Word even when I do not keep mine. Praise be to You, Lord God. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.

 

Saturday, February 9: Genesis 35- .

When I read verse 2, So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes…” I wondered about times of purposeful spiritual cleansing… times when we intentionally look into the ‘closets of our lives’ and root out the things from our old pre-Christ way of living. I wondered if it isn’t healthy to do spiritual spring cleaning; clean up and wash off the parts of our lives that get soiled from life.

This week the season of Lent begins and I thought, well, Church tradition thinks times of spiritual cleansing and ‘spiritual spring cleaning’ are useful. Hmmm maybe I should pay more attention to this.

But I certainly don’t have to wait for particular Church seasons. Like Jacob maybe particular calls of God should be set in motion by spiritual cleansing before action?

This certainly deserves continued thought…

For today, it seems I should spend some time in self-examination and confession. How about you?

Lord Jesus look into my life and where tentacles of my pre-Jesus life still exist please show me that I may bring them to the cross for burial and destruction. Where living in this world has soiled me, show me that I might confess and be cleansed…

In and through Jesus I pray. Amen.

 

Friday, February 8: Genesis 34- Two wrongs do not make a right.

I grew up hearing this proverb. It was instilled in me by my family. From a very young age I was taught that I am responsible for my actions. When actions against me are wrong, I am still responsible for my response.

This chapter disturbs me on many levels. The rape committed by Shechem. The lying by Jacob’s sons. The murders by Simeon and Levi. Wrong… wrong… wrong and the cumulative result… WRONG!

God, what am I to learn from stories like this where I see no redeeming value?

I sat with text open, thoughts tumbling in my head…

Out of the haze a few worthwhile thoughts emerged.

Every one of us is capable of ugly sin. Even the ‘best’ of us is capable of atrocities. This is a big reason why I need to stay close to the Lord, develop relationships with people who know me and see past my fa├žade, and work to keep my life in check.

I know the end of the story and I know that God can bring some good out of even this bad. This is not at all meant to infer God wanted or prompted these wrongs. No. But even out of the worst of horrors God can work for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

These are two morsels I can chew on throughout the day…

God even in the worst times of life, if I sit and pay attention I can find You. Thank You for always being present. Always. Amen.

 

Thursday, February 7: Genesis 33- Facing our fears.

For twenty years Jacob has been carrying the pain of hostile separation from his brother. After stealing Esau’s first-born blessing, Jacob fled to his uncle where he established his adult life, married and had children. For 20-years Esau’s fury plagued the back of Jacob’s mind.

I’ve been there. O maybe not with the intensity of Esau and Jacob, but I’ve been there. You have ‘words’ with someone or some other falling out. And then you avoid seeing the other person. I know some people who have stopped going to a favorite restaurant because the person they are/were at odds with frequents that restaurant. I know people who have left churches so they could avoid someone they had an argument with.

Jacob moved out of the country to get away from his brother!

Life has a way of causing those avoidance tactics to fail… what will happen when you meet? Will sparks start to fly again? Possibly. Will time have healed some of the wound? Maybe. You will not know until you meet.

In Jacob’s case his brother’s fury had subsided, at least in measure. I notice Jacob didn’t move next door to his brother.

We can live voiding the other person, while carrying the anxiety of what will happen if we meet. We can contort our lives in order to avoid the other person. Or we can face the situation.

I am not going to say one size fits all. But I will offer another perspective. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry..., (Ephesians 4:26). I have found that facing the brother I have hurt or been hurt by is usually a better option. Forgiveness is a powerful gift.

Think about it…

Lord Jesus thank You for forgiving me… help me to forgive others. As You taught us to pray, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Amen.

 

Wednesday, February 6: Genesis 32- Good marching orders for today and everyday.

I was drawn in as I began to read, so many God-touches and God-incidents. I don’t recall seeing the chapter in this light before.

The account bursts from the first verse. The angels of God meet Jacob as he heads out from his father-in-law. I don’t believe I have ever met an angel and I certainly have not met one where I recognize him to be an angel. God is connecting with Jacob. God is reaching out. God is with Jacob as he begins the next major chapter in his life. After this meeting Jacob develops his first meet-Esau-strategy, send messengers ahead to Esau.

They return with what is interpreted as scary news. Esau is coming with 400 men!

Jacob prays, he cries out to God. We learn through this prayer that God has told Jacob He will bless him. After this pray Jacob sets in motion all the gifts he will send to Esau in hopes of pacifying and disarming Esau’s anger.

That night Jacob is alone and God and they hold there famous wrestling match. God blesses Jacob with a new name, Israel.

I saw in this story the way God reached out to Jacob and Jacob reached back to God. Jacob and the Lord were connected, they maintained an active relationship.

This seems to be emphasized over and over throughout the biblical stories so far. Those who God chose lived lives connected to God and God directs their paths. I believe it is not coincidence that Jacob developed and honed his meet-Esau strategies after meetings with the Lord!

The connection to my life seemed obvious… stay connected to the Lord. Listen for and ask for God’s guidance in times of decision. Obey God’s directions, promptings and leadings and step out faithfully.

Sound like good marching orders for today and everyday…

Lord thank You for being a God who connects, a God who reveals Himself, a god who lead, guides and directs. Lead me today and all my todays I pray. Amen.

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 5: Genesis 31- God's hand of mercy.

Jacob had enough and with his family’s consent fled secretly from Laban and headed home. Driving herds and traveling with young children, three days head start didn’t provide much safety. In 7 days Laban and his men caught them. What will happen? Will Jacob be massacred? Taken back to Laban’s as captives, what?

Either of those were legitimate options except God stepped in. The night before their meeting God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream at night and said to him, "Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad" (24).

From a human point of view Jacob did what he could to escape the clutches of Laban, but he was caught. We can only do so much to help and save ourselves. Truthfully it is rarely if ever enough.

God provides the escape. As with Noah who built an ark at God’s command, and Moses at the Red Sea God shows up just in time to save His people. Laban who does not worship the Lord has a dream and in it God says, “Watch it Laban. You are angry but do not do anything to Jacob!” So God saved Jacob from the wrath of Laban.  Jacob would not have even known about God’s saving act had Laban not mentioned it when they met (verse 29).

I began to wonder how many times God has saved my skin and I do not know it. God often does his work in the quiet.

I think about my life… meeting my wife, getting my various jobs, having children and family, watching over my children, 100,000’s of miles driving on roads and highways, mission trips to Nigeria, Nicaragua and Juarez, Mexico… my list goes on and on. And how many times did God step in to save me without me ever knowing it.

I wonder, I meditate, and I thank God for the seen and unseen times His hand of mercy has watched over and protected me…

I hope you can and do, do the same…

My protector, redeemer, God and friend I praise You. I worship You. I thank and adore You. I pledge my life to You as a thank offering for all You have done in my life.

Praise You Lord God Jehovah! Amen.

 

Monday, February 4: Genesis 30- What a messed up family.

Wow God where are you in all this… sibling rivalry and wage deception? We humans are messed up. From the word go, we spiral into problems! The two sisters waged a pregnancy war vying for Jacob and honor. The battle over birthing baby boys is sad and yet almost comical at times. Buying nights in Jacob’s bed with aphrodisiacs (mandrakes). Giving servants in your place so your husband will sire children, hopefully sons, with them in your name. It is bizarre. This is the stuff of daytime soap operas, reality TV and Maury Povich! And all of this is happening in God’s chosen family.

And yet in the midst of all this drama, God is at work using all this human drama and sibling rivalry to build the family of the patriarch Jacob. 12 sons will come from all this and from them the 12 tribes of Israel.

Some thoughts cross my mind…

One, we humans are a mess… selfish and sin-filled. Our best isn’t all that good. We are a mix of intentions both honorable and not! We need a savior!!!

Two, God brings good things out of our messes. These rival sisters produced the 12 tribes that would characterize the people of God from then on. Romans 8:28 comes to mind.

Three, imperfect as I am, God will still use me. Even though I am not perfect I am still called to faithfulness! God will still use me. After all if he can use this set of characters he can use me too!

God, it seems we should do better, but none the less through us, selfish and sin-filled as I am (we humans are), You will reach the nations with Your name and glory. I am honored to be part of Your salvation plan! Fill me with Your Spirit that I may accomplish all you need for me to accomplish that Your plan will succeed. Amen.

 

Saturday, February 2: Genesis 29- To be loved.

Reading this story slowly, I am stunned by the interpersonal complexities and problems. In present day vernacular these people have ‘issues.’

I found myself particularly wondering about Leah. As an unmarried older daughter with ‘weak eyes’ she seems to be somewhat of an outcast. Her father, Laban, has flocks, so he is a man of means. To not have been able to marry his daughter off says to me that there is something going on. And the way dad deceptively married her off, confirms her ‘unwantedness’ by suitors and probably family. What must it have been like growing up as the ignored child, the one no one wanted? Leah must have carried scars into the marriage.

Jacob does nothing to cure this hurt. Instead he apparently reinforced it. The text reminds us that she was unloved. God opens her womb and she gives Jacob four sons.  Still he doesn’t love her. Leah is doing everything she can to earn Jacob’s love… to earn someone’s love.

As I penned those last words, my thoughts flipped to God. God loved her, which is why he opened her womb. I found myself delighting in how amazing it is to be loved unconditionally by the Lord. We don’t have to earn God’s love. He gives it freely in Jesus!

Not everyone knows this. Too many people think we have to earn God’s love and this is reinforced because we have to earn the love of other humans. How difficult that is… earning ones love. It may work for awhile, but the threat of one false move constantly hangs over us.  Will the other person take back or remove his/her love?

We don’t have to worry about this with the Lord. His love is unconditional.

I sat and pondered the deep, deep love of God for us… as refreshing as a cool stream during a strenuous hike.

Thank you, Lord God, for Your love, so rich and unconditional. What a contrast Your love is to the love of most people in the world around me. What can I say but ‘thank You’. Amen.

 

 

Friday, February 1: Genesis 28- A difference between God and man.

Jacob sets out on a journey during which he will not only find a wife but discover the Lord God personally.

Certainly Jacob knew of the Lord from his parents. I wonder how many times, for example, he heard the story of God providing Rebekah as a wife for Isaac. But there is a huge difference between knowing of the Lord through someone else, even one’s parents, and knowing the Lord personally yourself.

As Jacob sets out on this journey, possibly the first time he has truly been on his own, the Lord wastes no time revealing Himself to Jacob. As I read the account I noticed a significant difference between God and humans. Let me repeat the account, see if you see it.

There above it stood the LORD, and he said: "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven." …

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth" (13-22)

Here’s what I noticed.God gives an unconditional promise. I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you …. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you … I will not leave you....

Jacob on the other hand conditions his promise to God. If God will be with me and will watch over me…

Too many times my promises to the Lord are also conditional. They are conditional in word, ‘God, if you do xyz, then I will do abc’. More often they are conditional because I don’t really follow through. But God’s Word is sure! It is certain. A promise given by God is a promise one can build a life upon.

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, thank You for the surety of Your promises! Thank You for Your word. Thank You for never breaking Your word to me or to anyone else. Your word is Your bond! I praise You for this! I delight in You.

Lord, I confess my allegiance to You and I know also that without Your grace and strength, this promise is not worth the keystrokes it took to make. Only by Your might and power and strength and Spirit can I be a dedicated follower of You. Please send Your Spirit that I might follow You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.