“Reality … Before ‘Reality TV'” January 15

 

Reality ... Before "Reality TV" - I would be the first to admit that reality TV is, well, ... real! But when we read some of the stories in the Bible, we've got to admit that nothing much has changed when it comes to human nature. If we were watching a dramatized version of today's reading what might it sound like? Check out today's post to see. But God didn't include these stories just for entertainment value. They are for our benefit, so we might be encouraged and have hope to persevere when things are difficult or seem unfair or we don't understand the why's.I would be the first to admit that reality TV is, well, … real!

But when we read some of the stories in the Bible, we’ve got to admit that nothing much has changed when it comes to human nature. If we were watching a dramatized version of today’s reading what might it sound like? Check out today’s post to see.

But God didn’t include these stories just for entertainment value. They are for our benefit, so we might be encouraged and have hope to persevere when things are difficult or seem unfair or we don’t understand the why’s.

How might God be using the things we least want to remember about our past or we least want to embrace in our present circumstances in the most miraculous ways? It might be our family, how we’ve been sinned against, or something we did or didn’t do.

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 29 & 30
Psalm 8.1-5
Proverbs 3.13-18
Matthew 10.21-42

 

Reality … Before “Reality TV”

 

Genesis 29 & 30:

Love, Deceit, & God’s Plans

 

The Bible is full of stories about love, sex, rejection, envy, jealousy, fidelity, adultery, immorality, scheming, deceit, greed, thievery, contention, even murder (and that’s the short list)!

Reality TV has nothing on our spiritual ancestors, or us, for that matter!

If it wasn’t for the love and mercy and patience of God, He might have given up on the human race a long time ago. Instead, He has carefully carried out the plan He has had since before the beginning of time—to send His Son to rescue us from ourselves.

 

Leah, Rachel & Their Manipulative, Deceitful Father

 

In chapter 29 Jacob has been working for his Uncle Laban for seven years for the right to marry his daughter, Rachel. But Rachel has an older sister, Leah, who is still unmarried.

Imagine for a minute that you are Leah. Apparently, she wasn’t considered beautiful in that culture. Verse 17 says her eyes were “delicate.” The NASB says they were weak.

“And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face.”

The word translated “delicate” or “weak” probably meant pale and may have been considered a blemish. But the comparison to Rachel says it all, “… but Rachel was beautiful of form and face.”

The desire to look beautiful is nothing new. Even the serving women in Moses day had bronze mirrors (Ex. 38.8). Leah probably felt the sting of comparison and the desire to have someone love her like Jacob loved her sister.

I wonder how she felt as Rachel’s wedding date neared, being the older sister and still unmarried. Now imagine: the wedding party is going on, the wine is flowing, people are singing and dancing.

And her father comes to her with a plan.

22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place and made a feast. 23 Now it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her (29.22-23).

As we’ll see in the next few verses, Jacob didn’t have a clue who was waiting in the marriage bed.

Imagine how that conversation between Leah and her father might have gone: Continue reading

“Favoritism, Impatience & Birthrights” January 13

 

Favoritism, Impatience & Birthrights - Isaac’s and Rebekah’s twins, Jacob and Esau, are grown now. Isaac’s favorite is Esau, a hunter and man’s man. Jacob, it seems, was a mama’s boy and homebody. Their favoritism led to manipulation and deceit that would, eventually, split their family apart.

In today’s reading the first cracks appear as Jacob manipulates his impatient, impulsive brother. In the process, Esau throws aside his birthright. His behavior has a great lesson for us as believers in Christ.

Also, read about “God Our Righteous Judge,” the blessings that come from “Honoring the Lord in Our Giving,” and about spiritual and physical healing in “Unless the Father Draws Him.”

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 25 & 26
Psalm 7.6-8
Proverbs 3.9-10
Matthew 9.18-38

 

Favoritism, Impatience & Birthrights

 

Genesis 25 & Genesis 26:

The Death of Abraham

 

In these two chapters we see Abraham’s remarriage to Keturah after Sarah’s death and the record of other children. We also see Isaac and Ishmael reunited by Abraham’s death. It appears that their love for their father was greater than any differences they might have had.

We also see the confirmation of God’s promise to make Ishmael the father of twelve princes. Ishmael and his twelve sons were the forefathers of many of the Arab peoples. Ishmael plays an important part in Muslim tradition, where he is considered a prophet. While there are differences of opinion about Keturah’s identity, her sons were probably the forefathers of other Arab tribes.

 

Parental Favoritism

 

In Genesis 25.19 Isaac and his family take center stage in the Genesis narrative. We see God using barrenness again to work His purposes. After twenty years Isaac prays for God to open Rebekah’s womb and God answers with the conception of twins. When the pregnancy is difficult, Rebekah prays and asks God why. He answers:

Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger” (25.23).

As the sons grow up they are very different. Esau is a hunter and outdoors-man while Jacob is a homebody. And sadly, Isaac and Rebekah each have a favorite (25.28). Even though, God will use all of this for His divine purposes, we can see from their story some of the problems favoritism causes.

Tomorrow we’ll read more about the consequences of favoritism. If there are similar issues in your family I would encourage you to study these passages carefully and prayerfully, seeking Gods help and wisdom.

But favoritism wasn’t the only family issue.

While Ezekiel 18.20 tells us that each person is responsible for his or her own behavior, we also see in Scripture that children learn from their parents. And in chapter 26.7 Isaac tells Abimelech’s men that his wife is his sister, just like his father Abraham did. So while we’re not responsible for their choices, we are responsible for the example we set.

 

Selfishness, Impatience & Birthrights

 

But for now let’s look at chapter 25.29-34,

29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom.

31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”

32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”

33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.”

So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

The writer of Hebrews had this to say about Esau:

12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears (Heb. 12.12-17).

I don’t know about you, but, on the surface, that sounds pretty harsh to me. What was it that Esau did? Or does it go deeper, to who he was?  Continue reading

The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime?

 

This Election ... the Most Important in Our Lifetime?

 

The Most Important Election in Our Lifetime?

 

Almost everyone I talk to is disgusted and disheartened about the condition of our nation, the election, and the candidates.  Social media is full of disparaging comments, photos, and videos asking the question, “Is this the best we could come up with?”

The temptation for many of us is to turn away from the whole process, but could this be the most important election in our lifetime?

 

My Old Testament reading today was from Jeremiah 9 & 10. As I was working on today’s daily post, I found myself looking once again at truths that speak to us and to this election. The daily post kept getting longer and longer so I’m sending it out late and separately.

 

Jeremiah 9 & 10:

Sin, Lies & Politics

Jeremiah  is often called the weeping prophet. He was heartbroken over the spiritual and moral condition of his nation. In chapter 9 he said:

Oh, that I had in the wilderness
A lodging place for travelers;
That I might leave my people,
And go from them!
For they are all adulterers,
An assembly of treacherous men.

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies.
They are not valiant for the truth on the earth.
For they proceed from evil to evil,
And they do not know Me,” says the Lord.

We don’t use bows and arrows today, but we have all seen them. We understand how the bow is loaded with the arrow and then pulled back and fired at the target. In fact, the bow’s sole purpose is to launch arrows.

This was a picture of people whose lives were characterized by lies. Just like the bow is known for shooting arrows, so these people were known for a life of deceit. Jeremiah goes on to say,

“They weary themselves to commit iniquity” (9.5).

In our nation, it seems like every day there are new allegations and demonstrations of ungodly behavior on the part of one or both of our candidates … everything from cover-ups and deleted emails to so called “locker room talk.”

And, at least in one party, it appears systemic. Even those connected to the candidate “weary themselves to commit iniquity.”

If you can believe the most recently leaked emails, (even the writers aren’t denying their truth, only attacking the source), the political elite have contempt and disgust for people of faith.

Like many of our politicians, the people of Jeremiah’s day thought they were so wise (9.12). Perhaps, like today, they thought the religion of their fathers was for the weak and the unenlightened. We shouldn’t be surprised. 1 Corinthians 1 says:  Continue reading