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Goal setting and Proverbs....

I think that your desire to stay flexible so that you can answer God's call--whatever it is--makes sense. I also think that you can set goals and remain available to shift course if He lets you know that you're in the wrong direction. I once heard that it is easier to guide someone who is in motion--like a sailboat--because it's just a matter of slight redirection. If you're sitting still it's harder to get moving. I'm not much of a sailor...but I have found that God reveals Himself to me as I am moving towards what I think He wants for me, even when I'm wrong. Then He puts me back on course...

Also, above all, God is my goal...following Him is my pursuit...then whatever happens along the way should fall into place:-)

Just my 2 cents.

Mike-
I agree with you on the need to be aware of false teaching. Don't feel bad about taking the space to mention it.

Amy

Goal Setting:
Last year I wrote down three priorities and put them in a prominent place in my bedroom, where I see them first and last thing each day. Its scientifically proven somewhere that although many people set goals, few review them frequently, and something like ten percent review them daily. Science also says you are most likely to accomplish goals if you view them daily.

My priorities were very general, but when I had a decision to make about how to spend extra time- I already knew what I had decided. I did very well with the 3 priorities- all things I had wanted to spend significant time on in the past- but this year- I will try to set more specific goals under the priorities.

I have gotten way off the Bible part here... (one of my priorities was the OYB), but as far as setting goals (planning) yet being available for God - I couldn't reconcile these two in my brain when I was just out of college- but somehow I get it now.

To tie into Proverbs and yesterdays posting on the condition of the heart- I think its all about motives. As we get to know the Lord better - and I have been fairly resistant at times, I believe our goals fall more in line with what God has for us.

Don't get the idea either that goals have to be so intense all the time. Last year I set various goals about bringing my lunch to work a certain amount of days per week... well guess what- I started to get healthier and learned to cook more- who would have known? I agree with the above poster about a ship in motion. It seems like if you put one foot out the door God often comes along and straightens out the path a bit.

By the way- I didn't finish the OYB last year - but I got the habit of reading the Bible everyday. So sometimes your goals have these larger benefits you might not immediately see- even though the goal itself does not seem of earth shaking proportion.

Amy

Genesis 48:49:33

What does it mean to bless someone? What is a blessing? Words take on different meanings as time goes by. Unless you have access to a dictionary like the multi-volume Oxford Dictionary of the English Language, when we look up a word we usually get the most current contemporary usage of that word. A dictionary doesn’t define a word it just records how it was used. We the people define how a word is used by the way we use it. Has the words, “bless,” blessed,” “blessings,” evolved over the course of time to something different than how we envision or use it today?

I ask that because I’m not sure if man has the power to bless and or curse. Are the blessings that Jacob bestows on Joseph’s two sons in chapter 48 and the blessings on his twelve sons, the blessings we have recorded in our understanding? Truthfully some of the things spoken about those “boys” didn’t appear like the blessings I’ve come to understand. Since I look at the Word of God as the final authority, that means I need to change my thinking of what it means to be blessed. Unfortunately I didn’t see the issue I would be having with this word “bless” until after coming home from work. My school has an electronic subscription to the OED (Oxford English Dictionary); however, I have to be in school to access it or I can use the library code assigned to me from home, but I don’t remember the code ‘cause I’ve never tried to do any research from home through the library.

Looking up the Hebrew word translated “Bless” in verses 3 and 8 of chapter 48, I find the transliterated word, Barak pronounced as, baw-rak'. The definitions listed are: to bless (I just love when the same word is used to define the word); kneel—Its use by other Hebrew writers have used the word to mean: to be blessed, bless oneself, be adored, to cause to kneel, and hold on to your hats, to praise, to salute and are you ready, to curse. In the Kings James the Hebrew word Barak has been translated in English bless, 302 times; salute, 5 times; curse, 4 times; blaspheme, 2 times and to see the others go to Crosswalk.com. So what does it really mean to bless? I have learned the hard way that I cannot shape and mold God’s Word to fit my needs and understandings; I need to shape me to fit the Word of God. The Word is the measuring rod, I am not, and neither is our culture and traditions.

In the Book of Numbers there is a prophet for hire, Balaam, who is engaged by one of Israel’s enemies as she wonders in the dessert to curse Israel at least three times. Although hungry for money, the prophet cannot curse Israel and it is not because he doesn’t have the inclination and desire to do so. He can’t do it because of God.

Numbers 23: 5 Then the LORD put a word in Balaam's mouth, and said, "Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak." 6 So he returned to him, and there he was, standing by his burnt offering, he and all the princes of Moab.

7And he took up his oracle and said:
"Balak the king of Moab has brought me from Aram,
From the mountains of the east.
"Come, curse Jacob for me,
And come, denounce Israel!'
8 "How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?
And how shall I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?

From my understanding of this passage, and this story covers more than one chapter, one cannot bless nor curse whom God has not blessed or cursed. So what Jacob spoke out as blessings regarding Ephraim and Manasseh and his twelve sons either were the imaginations of his own mind or the very Words of God by means of a human vessel. A prophet’s words are deemed true if they come to pass, and in the case of this blessing, Jacob had taken up, temporarily, the role of a prophet. In pondering this I’ve come to understand why there is such an emphases on genealogies in the Bible. God is laying out the proof that his Words never fall to the ground.

Although I don’t see this in the English Christian Bibles I am currently looking at (I’m tired so I’m not looking at to many of them), in the Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures, known as the Jewish Bible in English at the eight verse of chapter 48 there is a big change in how Jacob is identified. In the Tanakh Jacob is no longer called Jacob but he is referred to as Israel for the rest of the 21 verses. However, in the very first verse of chapter 49 the text goes back to using the name Jacob. My prayer is that I will get greater understanding of what all this “stuff” means, and then sometimes it can just be what it is.

Some other things I noted in this. Jacob loved Rachael more than he loved Leah or did he. Was there a special bond created after the death of Rachael? I ask this because I’ve taken note of something: Jacob wanted to be buried at the burial site of his grandfather and father, the cave in the field that Abraham bought from the Hittite. This cave held the bodies of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca. It was the site where he buried Leah, but not Rachael. Think on that.

I also need to make a correction and offer up an apology from a previous post I made. I made the statement that Jacob gave instructions for his burial only to his son Joseph. Obviously that statement was not true and for that I apologize for not doing a better job in looking up scriptures and trying to use an imperfect memory.
Matthew 15:29-16:12

Jesus again feed a multitude. This time he feed at least 4,000 men, not including woman and children. The reason stated was because the crowd had been with him for three whole days and he felt “sorry for these people.” Again he takes a small amount, meant to be one person’s lunch (for the fish think the size of sardines) and feed the entire crowd. Whatever we place in Jesus’ hands no matter how small will be multiplied to take care of the needs of a multitude.

Asking for a sign that God is who He is; asking for a sign to prove Jesus is who He said He is, is not looked upon kindly by Jesus. I think this is because of things like yesterday’s Psalm 19. 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge.

The Apostle Paul declared in the first chapter of Romans that, 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Jesus would not give them a sign to prove who he was because all they religious leaders needed to do was to look at the scriptures they loved to read that pointed to Jesus.

This choice the Far-to-sees and Sad-to-sees made to not believe in Him, led Jesus to warn the disciples to “Beware the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Like the religious leaders, the disciples failed to listen, although they heard, to the symbolic meaning of yeast throughout the scriptures, which is sin. When the yeast was searched for and swept out of the house before the Passover festival, that represented the sweeping away of sin out of one’s life and household. How many things have I failed to comprehend after reading and studying it in the Word the very things I stumble over looking for understanding and answers?
Psalm 20:1-9
This prayer of David appears to be a benediction over those who gather in the temple for worship. A note that states, this Psalm is for the director of the choir to be sung, precedes the Psalm. How wonderful to hear from trained voices an invocation for God to respond to my cry when I’m in trouble.

Proverbs 4:20-27
The reader or hearer of this final section of the fourth chapter of Proverbs is petition to listen carefully, not just to hear. This is an intense listening, an interactive listening probably like those hearts Jesus talked about in the Parable of the Sower, the hearts that had good seed implanted and when on to produce a 30, 60 and 100 fold return. The writer stated that there is a benefit that will give life and health to all those who take up this disciplined listening.

We are warned to guard our hearts because the heart is the central motivating factor of the body, mind and spirit. Jesus said, Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. There then is no such thing as the ‘slip of the tongue.” Something can’t slip out if it wasn’t there to begin with. The writer warns further to have clean conversations with oneself and with others. We are to keep our eyes focused on the straight path and to walk in it, avoid the evil footpaths.

Stephen Sondheim did a musical called Into The Woods, based on Grimm’s Fairy Tales, to bring to life the consequences of bad choices and dwelling on the words, “I Wish.” One of my favorite scenes in the musical is the scene when the wolf is singing about devouring Little Red Riding Hood (for those who don’t know this is the “knowing” kind of devouring, I hope you understand my gist), while the girl in the Red Cape sings to a counter melody how grandma and her mother have warned her from straying from the path. The wolf sings out, “you don’t know how it feels when you’re talking to your meal,” I love this little scene because to me it epitomizes accurately the danger of walking down the path “Into The Woods,” and some of us don’t have a woodsmen to kill the wolf and remove us from its belly. But all of us have the ability to call on Jesus when we find ourselves in the dark, dank belly of a cavernous canine.

Grace and peace,
Ramona

Update on my previous posts (see above)

P.S. Regarding To Bless, Blessed, Blessing.

God has a sense of humor and loves Words because He seems to always use play-on-Words in His Word.

I wrote about the Hebrew word translated Blessing (NLT) in verse three and nine (bless). Well, down in verse twelve, Joseph took the boys from their grandfather’s knees (NLT) that word knees is a variation of the word Barak pronounced as, baw-rak', In fact the Hebrew word for knee comes is rooted in Barak.

Berek is Hebrew for knee and is pronounced, beh'-rek. It is defined as knee and, weak from fear (figuratively)

This is just a thought and I welcome any and all input, could Blessing have something to do with submission, meaning that a person is blessed based on how much of themselves they submit to God. So when you bless someone or someone blesses you what they are really asking or “praying” is that one’s life is in subjection to the will of God for that person. “Before I formed you in your mother’s womb I knew you and appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:9) Hmmm! A BIG HMMMM! (My mind is going one hundred miles an hour)

Grace and peace
Ramona

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