~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Genesis 48:1-49:33 ~ Matthew 15:29-16:12
Psalm 20:1-9 ~ Proverbs 4:20-27
Old Testament - Today in Genesis Chapter 48 we read about Jacob blessing Manasseh and Ephraim. One thing I thought about when reading this chapter and the next chapter was how cool it was that blessings had so much importance and significance back in these days. And I wonder - do we have blessings today that are as significant? Do fathers bless kids or grandkids these days? Maybe so... I guess I just haven't noticed it in my family... :) I do think there are still some "blessings" today that hold some incredible significance today. Wedding vows come to mind and the blessings that come from the pastor/priest/minister during this time. Church ceremonies or sacraments come to mind - Communion, Baptism, Funerals, etc. And then certainly above all else, there is the amazing and eternal blessing we receive from Jesus himself - the free blessing and free gift of salvation. What else is there today that I'm missing? Have you been "blessed" by others like we read about in today's 2 chapters? Have you "blessed" others? Please share in the Comments section below if you are willing. Thanks!
In Genesis chapter 49 we read about Jacob blessing his sons - and these are some very accurate blessings he gives! As we will see as we continue through the Bible this year. Perhaps Predictions or Prophecies might be the better term for Jacob's blessings in this chapter. Verse 10 is awesome - "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from his descendants,
until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will obey." This verse can apply to 2 descendants of Judah - King David and then ultimately and eternally Jesus Christ. In verse 22 we read this about Joseph - ""Joseph is a fruitful tree," And this is certainly true, as his descendants will include Joshua, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samuel the prophet.
New Testament - In Matthew chapter 16 verses 11 & 12 stood out to me today - "So again I say, `Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.' " Then at last they understood that he wasn't speaking about yeast or bread but about the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees." And I wonder today - are there false teachings that we should beware of today? I believe there are... and there have been times in my life where I have bought into false teaching's. How can we know if a teacher is false? That is a great question. I would say that each of you are doing an amazing thing to help discern whether a teacher is false by reading the entire Bible. I believe the Bible to be the ultimate truthful teaching that we can read - and thus, if you come across teachers that differ radically or go against the teachings of the Bible, you probably need to be wary. Don't get me wrong - every pastor / minister / priest is going to have some different takes or views or interpretations of the Bible. By slight degrees... If there are major differences, then you should be worried. In addition to knowing the Bible relatively well, the key to discerning false teachers will be the Holy Spirit. If you are getting bad "gut feelings" (hopefully coming from the Holy Spirit) over and over again about a teacher, there might be an issue. Pray to God about this and ask for his guidance. I can't believe I actually went down this path of false teachers here in this post... :) It's a sensitive issue! I'd say don't freak out about this and start wondering if your pastor is a false teacher.... :) But, be aware. I do believe there are still false teachers out and about today.
Psalms - Psalm 20 is a prayer for a king as he goes out into battle. Maybe another way to read this Psalm, personally, is as a prayer for yourself as you go out into battle against a sin or a struggle in your life. And this verse 5 then is for you as you go into this battle - "May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory, flying banners to honor our God.
May the LORD answer all your prayers."
Proverbs chapter 4 verse 23 holds so much truth... "Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do." Check out yesterday's posting below for tons more reflections on why it is so critical for us to guard our hearts....
We would do well to obey the teaching of verse 24- "Avoid all perverse talk; stay far from corrupt speech." I have found it sometimes far too easy to be pulled into perverse talk - even if I didn't start it. I think we really need to be aware of situations where talk amongst our peers or friends is going in the wrong direction and to realize that we need to get ourselves out of these situations as quickly as possible. Sure, try to do it gracefully. Try to change the subject if you can. But if not, just excuse yourself and get out of Dodge... Avoid it. Stay far away from it...
Verses 25 & 26 are powerful as well and bring up a question I'd love feedback on - "Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe." One thing that jumped out at me in these verses is the ideas of setting goals. Are you a goal setter? I honestly am not really. I mean, I kind of set short-term goals - work projects, ministry projects, etc. But I don't really sit down and write down any big lifetime type goals. Part of my thinking on this is that I want to be as flexible as possible - if Jesus calls me to do something, I don't want to be hung up on some other goal... :) But, I'm not sure if this is the best thinking. This Proverb verse kind of makes me wonder if setting goals helps us keep looking straight ahead? If goals help us mark out a straight path for our feet? And to stay on it? So, let me know in the Comments section below if you are a goal-setter? And to the extent you can share how you set goals? How often? In writing? How often do you check back in on your goals? Do they make a difference in your life? In your spiritual life? I am really curious on this one... I am thinking I might need to be setting some goals here! :) Thanks.
What verses or insights jumped out for you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!