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Thanks for such a great blog. I hope you continue on through the year. How GREAT is our God!!!

This is a great blog.
I think that jacob wes with

Hi Mike

Thanks for making scripture so much clearer to us. I think that once we have reached a certain maturity in Christ and we have scripture in our heart we can start to make decisions "on our own" because we can line it up with what the Bible says.I think having the Holy Spirit as our guide will aid us in all decision making as well. Big decisions still need to be prayed about though.
Genesis 35:11-12 stood out for me. It still amazes me how awesome our God is!

"Trust in God, and tie up your Camels"

This is a tricky balance to achieve. You have to believe in yourself and your abilities without trusting in yourself!

For me, the key has been to realise that my abilities and gifts are God given, and are there to be used.

For me, this year, I am seeking to nurture my connection to God by maintaining simple spiritual disciplines consistently. I already go to church each week, and I think that local fellowship and worship with other (imperfect) believers is reallly important. Daily bible reading is key and this blog has helped me so much in this simple discipline. And I am know working on reinvigorating my prayer life and have been doing some structured prayers (from the Divine Hours) to give me a new format in which I will have the freedom and consistency to pray. Following God is a journey and I need to always work at staying on track.

When God called Jacob to go to Bethel...Jacob ordered his household to get rid of their gods,purify themselves,change their clothes...until now,Jacob had allowed himself to be the object of strife between his wives,tolerated household gods,etc.Looks like Jacob now changed his outlook on life and decided to clean up his act.
Jesus cleared up some issues concerning how our attitude towards other humans means more to God than trying to keep the Law without discerning the spirit behind it.For example,leaving work early because we have fellowship,driving aggressively in traffic because we want to get to fellowship on time,putting others down because they don't act/dress as "righteous as we do.God has called us to be a light unto the world....not to use Him as an excuse for bad behaviour.God never intended for His day of rest,the Sabbath to be a burden,or punishment yet the Pharisees added some extra rules and regulations....then proceeded to plan another's fall based on their biased view of God's law....I have heard of a christian employer forcing his employees to go to church....well,Jesus never did that.He had authority but used it in accordance to God's will.....May our walk with God serve as light and not a stumbling block to others.
God bless you all

How do you go about planning things in your life? In what ways do you invite God into the process of planning your life? And in what ways, or at what times, do you simply make decisions based on your own knowledge or common sense? What is the foundation of your own knowledge or common sense? Is it the Bible? Is it God? Do you suppose with the foundation of God and the Bible in our lives, that we may not need to take every single decision throughout our day to God in prayer because we are operating (generally speaking) from a biblical godly worldview? How do you balance taking things to God for guidance and making decisions on your own?

We talked about this in Bible Study last Monday. The foundation of my own knowledge or common sense is based on the Bible, but I have to say that this is for now. I can still get confused by the voices I hear: is it me? Is it God? Is it satan? I'm not 100% sure yet! Sometimes I do feel that it's God saying something to me, but the next time I can be confused. That stupid satan is so slick & sly, he knows how to make me stumble and fall. I was glad to hear from somebody that my development and knowledge is growing so fast and that the Holy Spirit in me is huge ... that way I know I can trust on my comment sense. Which yes ... is not always easy when satan is working his way through. A few weeks ago I was not sure what to do about signing my contract, a couple of conditions were worrying me. I started praying for wisdom and asked friends of mine to pray with me. Then one of my sweet friends ;) said to me "Sometimes I believe that God lets us make a decision on our own, whether right or wrong, to teach us something new...so I believe if you truly seek God in your decisonyou really can't go wrong no matter what you do. God will honor what ever you decide". That was such a Godly answer that I keep that in mind forever. I used to have struggles in finding a balance when to God for guidance and making decisions on my own. Somehow I think that that will always be hard sometimes. Even my pastor struggles with that time to time, he admitted that. Because satan will always, till the end, try to push you over the edge. So now I taught ( I teached ... LOL) myself to read for 'instructions' in the Bible and be aware of the fact that God MAY talk or give a sign. But I will NOT go and LOOK for the sign. I know there are people that LOOK for a sign and find a sign in everything. I don't go and do that, that will only confuse me. Besides that, I mostly find out about the sign waaaaaaaaaaaaay after the thing happened. I'll be like "Ohhhhh look at that! My dream 2 weeks ago was a sign for that thing that happened a week ago". LOL Yes ... that's me!

Wow! That's a lot of names in Genesis! :)

In Matthew - about Jesus being a threat - yes, absolutely, Jesus is a threat to people today. It's funny, but you can talk about "God" in front of pretty much anyone...because everyone has their own picture of who God is in their own mind (whether right or wrong). But bring up the name of Jesus...and that's a whole different ball game!! Think about it! People who don't believe in Jesus, will sqirm when His Name is mentioned...but you can say God all you want...you can't change who Jesus is...there's power in His name! You can't change God either, but it's so much comfortable to hear "God" because everyone has their own belief on who or what THEIR God is. So I say, speak HIS Name! He is our only hope!!! Ok - I'm rambling...does this make any sense?? LOL!

Planning and decision making is a difficult place for me to be! LOL! I'm very much a planner but I always question my decisions! I'm also very...uh...compulsive...with some things...even to an extreme, yet other things I can just do on a whim. I am learning to let my yes be yes and my no be no! I am learning also to let God in the little things in my life. Like it is easy to ask God for guidance with big decisions...jobs, house, life changes....but even the little things...like shopping and eating...I know I make wiser decisions if I let Him guide me! If not, I'd probably buy every pretty pair of shoes I see and eat oreos for he rest of my life! HA HA HA! :0) Common sense is completely thrown out the window where shopping and eating are concerned! I definitely need God!

It's important to let God help you plan you daily life. I think getting into the Word each day is the best way to invite Him in to guide you. I personally have found this One Year Bible journey to already be a habit for me. I look forward to it and I know God is changing me through it. Being in His word daily does help me to live differently. I seem to know more of what God would expect of me and I make wiser choices because of it. I feel him guiding my thoughts and actions.


“ Based on my reflections in Proverbs above, how do you go about planning things in your life? In what ways do you invite God into the process of planning your life? And in what ways, or at what times, do you simply make decisions based on your own knowledge or common sense? What is the foundation of your own knowledge or common sense? Is it the Bible? Is it God? Do you suppose with the foundation of God and the Bible in our lives, that we may not need to take every single decision throughout our day to God in prayer because we are operating (generally speaking) from a biblical godly worldview? How do you balance taking things to God for guidance and making decisions on your own? “

I usually don’t make any major plans about anything without praying about it first and seeking the Lord’s will in my life. For example, recently I retired from my job after 30 years service. Retirement is a major life change. I prayed a lot about because I didn’t want to make a major mistake and do something I might regret later. I believe the Lord gave me a series of signs during the past year that I felt gave me the green light to move ahead with those plans. Of course there is always the possibility that I made the wrong decision but if I am wrong then I will find out soon enough and I will have to live with it. Right now though I am seeking the Lord’s will about what to do next because I feel that He has something else planned for me.

I think “common sense “ is common to man which is why it is called that. Granted though some people don’t even seem to have that. However, “common sense” is different from the spiritual discernment and spiritual guidance that comes from the Holy Spirit. Having a biblical worldview can enhance our common sense or heighten it maybe but I know people who have what you might call “common sense “ about some things but certainly not a biblical perspective or spiritual discernment about the things which are most important in life. Basically I just try to follow biblical principles when that is clear in the Holy Scriptures and when in doubt I pray.

“ Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

- Proverbs 3:5 ( KJV )

GENESIS 35:1-36:43

I like the spiritual leadership that Jacob exhibited in his home with his family ( 35:2 ).
Before God would confirm the Abrahamic covenant with Jacob it was required that they put away from among them their idols which some members of his family had brought back from Mesopotamia. Jacob made sure they did. Later in the history of the Israel his descendants would fall once again into idolatry. So God renewed the covenant with Jacob ( 35:9-12 ) as He had done with his father Isaac. God changed Jacob’s name to Israel ( 35:10 ) and from then on the nation was called by that name. Jacob and his family were supernaturally protected by God for as the Scripture says “…the terror of God were upon the cities that were round about them…” ( 35:5 ) which means that these people were afraid to attack Israel. I believe that Israel today is under divine protection as well. Though Israel is plagued by terrorist attacks by her enemies there will come a day when that terror will be returned upon their own heads and they will not be successful in destroying the state of Israel. God’s mighty hand is upon this nation.

MATTHEW 12:1-21

It’s somewhat ironic that the Pharisees were accusing Jesus, he who created the heavens, the earth and everything in it in six days, rested on the seventh day and made it holy, of breaking the Sabbath Day. Jesus used the opportunity to reveal who He is, that is, “…Lord even of the Sabbath Day ” ( v.8 ).

PSALM 15:1-5

This Scripture points to the future millennial reign of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem: “ Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion “ ( Psalm 2:6 )…and beyond to the New Jerusalem in the new heavens and new earth: “ Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God “ ( Revelation 21:3 ). His eternal kingdom will marked by the righteousness of those whom He has redeemed and dwell in it.

PROVERBS 3:21-26

One of the benefits of being wise is that it will help keep us from getting ourselves into dangerous situations which we are prone to blindly walk into ( v.23 ). The Lord will deliver us from the hands of wicked men and see that we are not judged with them ( v.25 ).

I don't consult God enough. God should not be asked to micro-manage my life, but I need to pray about daily issues more than I do.

I would like to sit down at night and think ahead one day, than a week, then a month, then a year. Ask God about major issues and ask for guidance on what paths to take. I am just too sporadic about doing this process.

If I am not sure, I will strike down certain paths - trusting that the Lord will bring me back or change my direction as per his will.

I an very interested in seeing how others deal with their "vertical" connection.

To Mike's question about decision making I have been training myself as per Paul's admonition to Timothy, "train yourself to be godly", to "pray as if it all depends on God, but to work as if it all depends on me." I rememember J.I. Packer, author of Knowing God teach this in a systematic theology class many years ago. I think this adage has merit in that Paul says something to that effect in 1 Corinthians 15:10 "But by the grace of God I am what I am and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, once quipped, "That God gave us a lot of leading when He gave us a brain." Granted our brains are messed up too with sin but we are told to keep on renewing our minds (Romans 12:1-2)'that you may be able to test and approve what God's will is."

On another note, I also love Matthew 12:21 "in his name will the nations put their hope." So many well intentioned mega church pastors today are declaring that 'the local church is the hope of the world.' I am a pastor, have been for just over 20 years of churches over a 1000. I can't honestly say that I believe the local church is the hope of the world. I have yet to find one verse to that effect. I do read that Christ in you is the hope of glory in Colossians 1:27 in a section where Paul speaks about the church. I agree with George Barna's recent comment in his latest book, Revolutionaries, "that if the local church is the hope of the world then the world has no hope." Shocking to be sure, but worth reading the book to find out why he makes such a daring statement. I think as usual Barna is speaking in the extreme but I do believe that today's verse reminds us where the focus in our local churches needs to be and that's on Jesus Christ, the hope of the nations--all the ethnic groups of the world. I sometimes wonder if we haven't shifted our hope from Jesus to well organized churches with high powered 'hot communicators' and efficiency has become the ruling value of the day in some of our churches not Jesus. I sometimes wonder if people in my own faith community are trusting more in me, our staff, and in our well run church than they are in the Lord Jesus. That thought haunts me.

Genesis 35-36:43

AND GOD said to Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. And make there an altar to God Who appeared to you [in a distinct manifestation] when you fled from the presence of Esau your brother. [Gen. 28:11-22.]
(Genesis 35:1 AMP)

Seven chapters back and twenty years previously, Jacob found himself at Bethel having his first encounter with God. Now God is sending Him back. No matter how prosperous you get, no matter how much God works things out in our lives for His good purpose when we are the called (Romans 8:28) we always must go back to our foundation, or Bethel. When Christ gives the message to John in Revelation He tells the church at Ephesus in spite of all the things they are applauded for, they need to turn back to their first love. (Rev. 2:1-4)

No matter how many passages of scripture we memorize,; no matter how many committees we find ourselves on in our churches; no matter how many folk we bring to Christ if we move from our Jerusalem, the place where we first encountered God, without God, Himself, telling us to move on, we will not be spiritually connected to the One who holds and has purposed our lives.

Notice that God calls Jacob out of the place he had purchased and told him to return to Bethel, "The House of God". God has called us to separate from the world, to be santified or set apart for his service. It was interesting that Esau seems to have voluntarily removed his family, flocks and heards out of the land that Isaac had blessed Jacob with. It wasn't necessary for Jacob to do anymore trickery to get what God had promised him. Perhaps Jacob "Israel" has turned a corner and is no longer a deceiver, but rather takes his petitions before the Lord.

I really like verse 21 of Matthew 12: "the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers." The name of Jesus is sweet, signals hope and offers healing to all. Paul tells us in his epistle that "at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow..." This tells us that there is also power and authority in the name of Jesus. "There is no other name under heaven, given among men wherby we must be saved." This reminds us that there is salvation in the name of Jesus.
"Jesus is the sweetest name I know!"

The passage in Proverbs jumped out at me today. I admit to you all that 5-1/2 years ago, I was tied into knots worrying over the "Dread Y2K Bug" I was full of fear and spent hours and lots of dollars planning and scheming for ways to survive the impending doom. My time would have been better spenting reading and obeying God's word: "No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday's just around the corner, Because GOD will be right there with you; he'll keep you safe and sound."

Walk with Emmanuel "God right there with you",

Genesis 33:1-36:43

Although Jacob has wrestled with God and prevailed, although his name was changed to Israel (Genesis 32:28) in the previous chapter to signify his reliance upon God, Jacob gave his brother, Esau, a deceptive answer to a question. He implied that he was heading with Esau back to Seir, the place where Esau had settled. However, Jacob, headed toward Cannon as God had directed him. Jacob meant heal grabber, supplanter, deceiver but God had given him a new name and confirmed it a second time, Israel, but he was still acting like a Jacob. Fear of man will have you acting like the nature God has delivered you from. I heard a preacher say this once, “When we get Saved, we are moved to a new address. However no one can find us there because we are still hanging out at the old address,” something to think about. Am I an “Israel” acting like a Jacob?

Whether God tells Jacob to get rid of the idols within the households in the camp is not stated, but Jacob does just that. This shows that as we walk in our deliverance we can still be carrying elements from our past lives. I don’t know if the terror of God came upon all the towns so that no one attacked them as they traveled because of Jacob’s obedience to God’s command to build an alter and worship, as well as the purging of everything that wasn’t of God, but God clearly subdued the nations around them so they wouldn’t attack. When I cry out to God to subdue my enemies have I done so from a place of cleansing and idol disinvesting?

The deaths of Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, Rebekah and Isaac are recorded and we enter the chapter of names, names and more names: hard names that I can’t pronounce and which have a meaning and reason for being recorded, even if I don’t know why. It is always a good thing to read through the names, no matter how “dry” the reading may seem. I have found some interesting relationships, surprising to say the least, which have explained some rebellious behaviors and or deepened the depths of some heinous crimes. I’ve yet to find any things in Esau’s family tree that has made me go, Hmmm, yet. Although I have taken note of the lists of kings in chapter 36. Kings come and then they go. Their rule may be good or bad but their effect on man is limited by their life span be it a natural death or an assassination. Jesus is the only eternal King that has ever ruled.

Matthew 12:1-21

Jesus ticks off the “religious folks” by breaking their laws. Laws they made out of false reasons to keep folks religious. The religious leaders knew the laws and applied them to ever aspect of their lives and to the lives of others, but the one thing they didn’t know was God who wrote and gave them the laws, they didn’t know the purpose of the laws. You can do all the right things for the wrong reasons, their motivation for keeping the laws were wrong. They had a desire to elevate themselves instead of the Holy God who wrote those laws. They were looking to accuse Jesus of working on the Sabbath so they could charge Him with blasphemy. But because it wasn’t Jesus’ time yet, all their efforts fell short.

Jesus put them to shame by applying rightly the scriptures they knew so well but didn’t know how to use. So their accusation charging the disciples of working on the Sabbath because they took a couple of grains of wheat to feed themselves, because they were hungry, became the charge that embarrassed them. Please note that this was on the Sabbath day, the day that people came to the Temple or the synagogue to here the Word of God discussed and taught. Jesus is called the Bread of Life and bread is made from wheat. I don’t know if I’m going off on a tangent but I just saw this in this reading. The disciples are breaking off heads of wheat to eat because they were hungry, the wheat representing the Bread of Life, Jesus. People were going to the temple to be fed Spiritual Food, yet the religious leaders were symbolically trying to stop the disciples, as well as the people, from feeding off of that “Bread of Life.”

It is a sad event indeed to flock to the place where one is supposed to be fed with spiritual food and find the pantry empty. It has already been stated that the crowds were like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36) The role of the shepherd is to feed the sheep, yet the ones assigned to do that were not doing their job. What is the state of our churches, are people being fed?

Jesus also stopped them from making a second accusation of working on the Sabbath. By not laying his hands on the man with the withered hand, they could not accuse him of being a Sabbath Breaker.
Psalm 15:1-5

The question of who may worship in the sanctuary of the Lord, a psalm of David, is answered by a man who sought God’s forgiveness because he could not keep them the answers without offering up sacrifices to cover his sins. But God said of David, He is a man after God’s own heart. I know that some of us are dealing with the problem of what we desire to see in the men and woman of the Old Testament and what they actually were in flesh and blood. Yet of David, he was a man after God’s own heart. A question to ponder, “What does it mean to be after God’s own heart?

Everything that the person does to be able to “stand firm forever” (verse 5), means that that person is not concerned about what other folks think or say about them. Example: If you refuse to slander others (verse 3), when you are standing at your front door or in the market place at your job and gossip walks up to you and starts giving you an earful, whether you deflect their talk as gracious as Miss Manners or you stop them cold, they will talk about you. If you lead a blameless life you won’t do it in a box somewhere because people are always watching, you will be called a “goody-two-shoes” and folks will be waiting to see you fall. You can’t run with the crowd and fulfill the last verse in the Psalm. We want everyone to like us. We want to be Holy, but not too holy. I struggle with this all the time. There goes that bible lady…

Proverbs 3:21-26
Insight and good planning can only be done under the umbrella of godly Wisdom. Godly Wisdom or hanging with the Ph.D. wise, the MBA wise, that is the dilemma. Praises of God or the praises of men, we get to choose.

Today you talked about a “habit” of reading the Bible for 15-minutes a day. I started doing this about 7, maybe 8 years ago focusing primarily on the New Testament. I found a daily Bible reading website, http://yob.gospelcom.net/reading.php and made it my homepage. Their plan was to read the New Testament in 1-year. For anyone starting out and is new to the Bible, reading the New Testament is a great way to start. Everyday when I went onto the Internet this page would pop up. It made me take the time to read it because if I didn’t I felt very guilty; as if I was walking away from Jesus, and I would never walk away from my Lord. It wasn’t long before it became a habit to read these passages everyday. If I did miss a day, I felt very weird all day. I used this website for several years and read the New Testament at least six times through it. Last year I thought it was time that I start studying the Old Testament. I found a one year Bible reading plan, printed it out in a way that I could make book marks of each month readings and started in on January 1, 2007. Sometime in March I started reading Deuteronomy and that’s where it all fell apart for me. I never made it past about the halfway point of Deuteronomy. I continued reading the New Testament but I just couldn’t get myself to continue reading the Old Testament. This year I am again trying to read the entire Bible and this blog is working great so far! I’ve set it as my homepage and now I sit, usually in the evening, and read the daily readings. What make’s this blog much better than just reading the Bible is Mike’s commentaries. They add incite and ask the questions that most of the time brings light to the readings and how they still relate to the world today. Thanks Mike!

I’ve never been very good with Psalms and Proverbs so I never read many of them. Today’s Proverb however is wonderful! [21 My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; 22 they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.] This is wonderful advice. I know that my father never read the Bible. He was a Christian and had faith in Jesus, but he never finished the 7th grade and was never a very good reader. But he had lots of wisdom and whether he knew it or not, he always taught me to have sound judgment and discernment. He taught me by example that using sound judgment would always payoff; “they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck”. [23 Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble; 24 when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.] How true! Use sound judgment, never loss sight of where you are but more so who you are. I relate these two versus to that fact that if you keep your eyes on God and use His Word for guidance and in making your judgments of the world, you will always be in safety and will never experience a major stumble. If you are honest and truthful, treat everyone with kindness and respect, don’t extend yourself financially so that you don’t know how you’ll pay the bills, then you can sleep well at night knowing that God is with you and that you are following Him and mimicking Him the best you can. [25 Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, 26 for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.] Again…keep your eyes on God, read and study His word, pray without ceasing, treat everyone with kindness and respect and your life will be as smooth as it can possibly be here on Earth.

These are my beliefs about these versus and part of living a life for God. When I was young my dad use to tell me; “kid…life is how you make it. You can make it tough or you can make it easy, the decision is yours.” I followed his advise and took the steps to make my life ease, but it wasn’t until recently that I came to realize that what I think he meant was, follow the Lord, keep your eyes on Him, and your life will be as easy as it can be while we’re on this planet. What wonderful wisdom he had! Thank you God for such a wonderful, caring and loving father! I have been truly blessed!

Yours in Christ

I read the Bible daily with no planning at all. I purchased electronic PDF versions of the One Year Bible and the OYB prayers (I wish I could find a PDF of the commentaries as well) and carry them around in my PDA. Tonight, for example, I was meeting someone after work but they got caught in traffic ending up 15 minutes late and so I pulled out my PDA and read. This happens to me every day (although not usually all at once).

Jesus said don't take or buy anything but the 12 disobeyed and acquired two swords. When? Perhaps, the planning to kill Jesus was not done so quietly and they committed that sin now out of fear.

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