~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Genesis 31:17-32:12 ~ Matthew 10:24-11:6
Psalm 13:1-6 ~ Proverbs 3:16-18
Old Testament - Today's Genesis chapter 31 readings take us through Laban's pursuit of Jacob and his family and Laban & Jacob's treaty. Verse 42 jumped out at me in today's readings as Jacob spoke to Laban - "In fact, except for the grace of God--the God of my grandfather Abraham, the awe-inspiring God of my father, Isaac--you would have sent me off without a penny to my name." I like seeing that Jacob is realizing that the grace of God has blessed him! I wonder if sometimes in our lives the grace of God is blessing us, and we don't realize it? Do you ever have those moments when you look back on a day, or a week, or even a year and realize that God's grace was so there - and yet... you didn't realize it at the time? Can we try to live more like Jacob in this verse - and recognize awe-inspiring God's grace more and more frequently in our lives? And can we give praise to God for this ever-present grace available to us?
Bible.org's great commentary on Genesis chapter 31 is at this link.
In Chapter 31 we see Jacob preparing to met his brother Esau. And - we see Jacob praying to God an awesome prayer! Verse 10 is beautiful - "I am not worthy of all the faithfulness and unfailing love you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home, I owned nothing except a walking stick, and now my household fills two camps!" Do you believe that God has been showing faithfulness and unfailing love to Jacob in our readings? Do you believe that God is showing faithfulness and unfailing love to you today?
New Testament - Matthew chapter 10 closes out today with what might be considered some hard teachings of Jesus. I think what jumps out in my mind of reading these teachings is that while Jesus is certainly the Prince of Peace, he also has come into a world that is full of darkness - and the darkness fights against Jesus' light. So, if we decide to align ourselves with Jesus, and his eternal goodness and light, the darkness will also then fight against us - just as it fights against Jesus. As students and servants of Jesus, we will face the same persecutions that Jesus did. And while this is certainly true, think about the alternative - not following Jesus.... and not walking in the light of God's love. I'd much rather spend 1 day in Jesus' light than 1 thousand days elsewhere...
Verse 38 is the first mention of the word cross in the gospel of Matthew - "If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine." What strikes me about this verse is that Jesus is teaching that we do have a cross to bear. We just do. And we then have a choice to make of whether we will take up the cross and follow Jesus. So, now may be a good time to ask yourself - what is your cross in your life? Do you think you know what it is? If not, will you ask Jesus to reveal to you what your cross is? And then, will you bear it daily? And will you follow Jesus daily?
Matthew 11 starts off with an interesting question from John the Baptist to Jesus - "Are you really the Messiah?" I read an interesting commentary that said this is the beginnings of where we see that people are starting to wonder if Jesus is really the Messiah, because he hasn't overthrown the Roman government "yet". Many in Jerusalem were expecting a Warrior-King Messiah that would free the Jewish people from the oppression of Rome. And Jesus' ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing was bringing up the questions of, "are you really the Messiah?" People were starting to wonder... Instead of the Warrior-King, they are seeing a Suffering-Servant.... not what was expected. And what do you personally believe the answer to John's question was and is - is Jesus the Messiah?
Psalms - Psalm 13 is thought to be a prayer by David for recovery from a grave illness, based on verse 3 - "Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die." Yet, even in the midst of this serious illness, David amazingly proclaims in verse 5 - "But I trust in your unfailing love." How about us? When we are sick or in the midst of a very challenging or sad situation, do we trust in God's unfailing love? Always? No matter what is going on around us?
Proverbs - I love Proverbs chapter 3 verse 17! "She (wisdom) will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying." Amen! What a great choice of words - delightful paths and satisfying ways. Do you believe that wisdom will lead you down delightful paths and that wisdom proves to be always satisfying to you?
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!
The intensity of Jacob’s flight from Labon’s household can be picked up by the 18th verse of chapter 31, He drove the flocks in front of him… Shepherds, at least Middle Eastern shepherds didn’t drive their sheep, they led the sheep. Note, The Lord is my Shepherd…He leadeth me.“ Jacob was relying on stealth and speed to protect him from his father-in-law and not the promise of God. I think it was difficult for Jacob to really believe that what God had said to him and given him as a promise. Jacob was a man who had incorporated deception and use of his skillful tongue to weave him in and out of situations, trying to obtain control, thus the words that came out of his mouth, which were not founded on truth predisposed him to not be able to believe in the Words of God.
The same principal applies to us today, if we are not dealing in truth in our own lives, it is very difficult to near impossible to believe the Words of God. When Laban catches up to Jacob’s party of travelers, the conversation between the two give a window into the lives of two men who lived by deceit and manipulation. They are not listening to each other, they try to anticipate the others intent and speak out of turn and off topic of what question was askd by the other and they don’t answer the accusations each brings up. When the topic of household gods are brought up, Rachel gets in on that dance of trickery.
And what about those household gods? Why were they taken from Laban’s home? Was it a way to get back at her father, or was the woman Jacob loved attributing powers to them? Both Laban and Jacob mention call out the name of God but not as their God. He is the God of my ancestors, the God of Nahor and Isaac, but not their God. Is there this duality, this double mindedness of gods and a Big God of all the other little gods operating in both households? Do I have unseen household gods in my home as I call on the creator of the Universe to get my prayers answered. Who do I call on first when I am in trouble, feel put upon and pulled from every direction, or is God my last resort after I have called on the other gods in my household?
As Jacob approaches his home country, the guilt he has for his former behavior toward Esau is manifested by the unease and danger he feels when he hears that Esau and an army of 400 men are coming to meet him. Guilt, real or false, will take over our imaginations and cause us to mentally picture every punishment we think we deserve And along with that punishment we will mentally construct 50 million ways to remedy and take away that guilt.
I too like Mike became stuck on the take up your cross statement of Jesus in verse 38 of the 10th chapter of Matthew. Within the context of verses 32-39, it seems that this cross is the fall-out one will experience when you align yourself with Christ in the midst of an unbelieving family, and in some cases in the midst of a believing family if you don’t believe like they do.
34"Don't imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! No, I came to bring a sword. 35I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36Your enemies will be right in your own household! 37If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.
I find that chapter eleven is both and encouragement and a warning to me. If what I think Jesus should be doing doesn’t happen, I should not dwell in doubt but change my expectation. John the Baptist was in prison. He had done carried out the assignment God had given him. He baptized Jesus and seen the Holy Spirit enter Jesus and heard the voice of God. Yet he was in doubt because he was stuck in the prison cell waiting for the overthrow of the Roman government, that wasn’t happening. So he found himself saying, “Jesus, are you the one?” What do I do when what I want God to do on my behalf is not done? Will I stand, after having done all to stand?
I believe, help my unbelief. This is the cry that seems to be in the heart of the psalmist David. Two-thirds of this Psalm seems to be questioning God and where He is in the affairs and life of the speaker, and the last one-third acknowledges the speaker’s trust in the one true God. This is “me” in time of crises. “God do you care? Are you here, there, anywhere?” But then something rises up within me and I can proclaim with certainty that I know that God is with me, sometimes.
Ah, this is the place where Wisdom is personified as a woman, I love it. Well to be truthful on the other side of the street lives folly, also a woman. Smile!
Grace and peace,
Posted by: Ramona | January 15, 2005 at 02:54 PM
We are right in the middle of another discourse by Jesus, Matthew 9:35-10:42. Matthew 10:38(NAS) "And He who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." It is demanded of followers of Christ to be allegiant to Him, even to death. Yes, follow Him everyday!
I like Matthew 11:5 because it is basicly Jesus telling John, His credentials of "being The King." v11 "the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them."
Psalm 13:5-6 "(5)But I have trusted in Thy lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. (6) I will sing to the Lord Because he has dealt bountifully with me."
So we are to give God ALL the praise when He delivers us out of sicknesses, darkness, and troubles. I always try to give God the praise for everything going on in my life no matter the situation.
Posted by: BJ Hewitt | January 15, 2005 at 03:19 PM