~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Genesis 37:1-38:30 ~ Matthew 12:22-45
Psalm 16:1-11 ~ Proverbs 3:27-32
Old Testament - Today in Genesis chapter 37 we begin the incredible last portion of the book of Genesis where we read about Joseph! This portion of the story that starts in today's readings will carry us through the rest of the book of Genesis and will set the stage for the exodus from Egypt. Below is an image of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" from a modern day play of the same name (which I've heard is good - but I've never seen it - can anyone offer any reviews in the Comments below?) -
In chapter 37 today we read about Joseph's dreams and how these dreams make his brothers jealous. A couple of things came to mind to me today as reading through this. First is that it is clear that God does some communicating through dreams in the Old Testament. We've already seen this in our previous readings - via a dream Abimelech had or a dream Laban had. And here we see some powerful prophetic dreams that Joseph has. My first question I had was whether Joseph should have shared these dreams with his family? And I asked this question because I wonder if sometimes we also maybe get an insight or what we believe to be a word from God - and if we should share these things with others? Or keep them between God and ourselves? I don't have an easy answer on this one... If you have some thoughts on this, please post up in the "Comments" section below. The other thing that came to mind for me here is what role do dreams play for us today? Does God still communicate to people via dreams today? I know this might be going out on some fringe thoughts or theology here... but, if anyone has some Christian perspective on dreams, I'd appreciate it. I'm just curious. I honestly have had some dreams in the past that have scared me in big ways... and honestly helped me set my life on a better course back when I had them. Below is a painting from 1853 by Emile-Jean-Horace Vernet of Joseph's brothers in today's readings putting goat's blood on his coat -
Actually, while I am on this tangent of dreams, let me share this. I did used to have nightmares periodically. However, when I started reading the One Year Bible each night before going to bed a few years ago the nightmares basically went away. Seriously. I honestly believe because of the Light & life giving power of the Word of God that the nightmares went away. Just a little testimony here for you on the power of reading the Bible each day. It is spiritual food and nourishment and protection for you in ways that you may not consciously realize. For me, there has been maybe a time or two in recent years where a nightmare has still come to fruition - and I don't remember the details of the nightmares, but somehow I know that in the midst of my dream I called out the name of Jesus and the nightmare stopped immediately! I am not kidding. I don't know how I got myself to call out Jesus' name in the nightmare, but I am so thankful that I did! Maybe this is something that prayer brings - or maybe this is something that happens when we really understand and believe in the all-powerful name of Jesus? If you suffer from nightmares, my two prescriptions are to 1. read the Bible before going to bed, 2. somehow someway say the name of Jesus in your nightmare. Pray about this before you go to bed. Maybe this will help you do this in your dream. I hope so! Below is a painting from 1630 by Velasquez Diego of Joseph's brothers presenting his bloody coat to their father Jacob from today's readings -
Genesis chapter 38 brings us the story of Judah and Tamar. Keep in mind that Judah, Tamar, and Perez from this chapter are all part of the genealogy of King David and Jesus as we see in Matthew chapter 1 verse 3 - "Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron." Verse 24 stood out to me in this chapter as sad irony - "About three months later, word reached Judah that Tamar, his daughter-in-law, was pregnant as a result of prostitution. "Bring her out and burn her!" Judah shouted." This verse reminded me quite a bit of a recent teaching we read about from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 7 verse 3 - "“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Is it possible that we too are sometimes like Judah? Condemning others for sins that we ourselves commit too? Even if we don't commit the same sin as someone else, should we instead leave the judging and condemning to God? Below is a painting from 1650 from the school of Rembrandt of Judah and Tamar from today's readings -
New Testament - Jesus' teaching in Matthew Chapter 12 verse 30 stood out to me in today's readings - "Anyone who isn't helping me opposes me, and anyone who isn't working with me is actually working against me." This is a really really powerful verse if you think about it. And I think we then need to ask ourselves - are we really helping Jesus? Are we really working with Jesus? Are we really being obedient to Jesus' teachings for our life? And if not, are we then actually working against him?
Jesus' teaching on the sign of Jonah in this chapter is awesome! In verse 40 he prophesies his death, burial and resurrection - "For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so I, the Son of Man, will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights." And then the following verse is just so powerful and convicting - "The people of Nineveh will rise up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. And now someone greater than Jonah is here--and you refuse to repent." Do you believe that Jesus is greater than Jonah? And greater than Solomon? (as we read in verse 42) Do you understand Jesus' teachings? Are you repenting?
Psalms - Today we read Psalm 16, which I absolutely love! I could probably share with you some thoughts on just about every verse in this Psalm. Verse 1 tells us - "Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge." Do you believe that God will keep you safe if you come to him for refuge? And verse 2 is so true - "I said to the LORD, "You are my Master! All the good things I have are from you."" Everything good thing in our life - absolutely everything good thing in our life - comes from God. Do you believe this? Verse 3 reminds me to rejoice for and pray for pastors and spiritual mentors - "The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them!" Do you appreciate your pastors / ministers / priests and spiritual mentors? And do you appreciate other godly people you know too? Are they true heroes? Do you pray for these folks regularly? If not, will you?
And verse 11 is a powerful closing to this Psalm 16 and perhaps a prayer for us to pray fervently - "You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever." Do you want to be shown the way of life from God? Do you want to be granted the joy of God's presence? Do you want the pleasure of living with God forever? Have you prayed to God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit to give you these things in your life? Will you pray this prayer?
Proverbs - Today we read Proverbs chapter 3 verses 27 and 28 - "Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it's in your power to help them. If you can help your neighbor now, don't say, "Come back tomorrow, and then I'll help you."" How often do we say to ourselves when we think about serving the poor – “oh, I’ll maybe do that in the future.” Is this similar to saying “come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you” as this Proverb tells us? Can you help your neighbor now? Do you regularly volunteer with ministries or nonprofits that serve the poor? Do you consistently give offerings of your finances to ministries and/or nonprofits that serve the poor? Are the poor your neighbor? Should you be helping them today? Is it in your power to do so? Will you not wait until tomorrow? Will you get your hands dirty now to help your neighbor during their time of need?
Comments from you & Question of the Day - Back to my comments on dreams and how reading the Bible and proclaiming the name of Jesus has brought forth Light into my sleep - have you experienced the Bible or the name of Jesus doing powerful things in your life? Has the Bible or the name of Jesus freed you from addictions? Does reading the Bible make you a calmer person or more grounded person if you read it the morning? Basically, do you believe that reading the Bible changes things in your life? Does the name of Jesus change things in your life? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!