Genesis 24:52-26:16 ~ Matthew 8:18-34 ~ Psalm 10:1-15 ~ Proverbs 3:7-8
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Old Testament - Rebekah and Isaac meet and marry in today's readings! Below is Italian painter G.B. Castiglione's oil painting titled "Meeting of Rebekah and Isaac" circa 1640:
Before the meeting & marriage - I love the very opening verse 52 in Genesis chapter 24 today: "At this reply, Abraham's servant bowed to the ground and worshiped the LORD." This just made me think - when was the last time that I actually bowed to the ground and worshiped the Lord? I have to confess it was a long time ago. This may sound strange, but one time I was listening to the David Crowder song "Deliver Me" and for some reason I literally fell to the ground, bowed, and worshiped God. It was an experience that's hard to forget. But why is it so hard for me to get back down on the ground and worship God once again? When was the last time you bowed to the ground and worshiped the Lord?
Genesis chapter 25 has a lot going on in it today! We read about Keturah, the death of Abraham and the descendants of Ishmael. In verse 19 we begin reading about Jacob and Esau. Jacob we will read about for a large portion of the remainder of Genesis - there is actually not that many chapters we will read about Isaac. In verse 34 we read this about Jacob & Esau: "Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate and drank and went on about his business, indifferent to the fact that he had given up his birthright." Below is Dutch Baroque Era painter Hendrik Martensz Sorgh's beautiful "Interior with Jacob and Esau" painting from the year 1662 (the bright foreground almost takes away from the background with Esau swearing off his birthright):
In Genesis chapter 26 we can see where the old adage, "like father, like son" could have come from. Isaac like his father Abraham told foreigners that his wife was his sister. However, the artist Raffaello captured verse 8 from King Abimelech's perspective in this painting from the year 1519 below: "But some time later, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out a window and saw Isaac fondling Rebekah."
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Genesis chapter 25 titled "The Principle of Divine Election" is at this link and commentary on chapter 26 titled "Isaac Walks in His Father's Steps" is at this link.
New Testament - Matthew's readings in chapter 8 today are powerful in so many ways. The first section of our readings focuses on the costs of following Jesus. And I do think that we all probably realize that there are some costs associated with faith. However, there is also eternal reward, which outweighs all the temporary costs we might have to pay in this life. In some ways, I do ask myself this - are we really participating in a true faith if there are no costs associated with it? I have heard and read books and listened to speakers about how faith can bring us health & wealth & happiness. And I know there are many times when this is true (see our Proverbs reading today for a good truth to this) - but I do think these would be dangerous goals of faith in and of themselves - we could end up serving health, wealth and happiness as mini-gods of our own design if we're not careful. We could find ourselves following our own plans rather than God's Perfect Will for our lives.
Our faith must simply be about following Jesus and God's Perfect Plan & Will for our lives and accepting the costs - and the benefits - that come along with this Walk. What are the costs in your life of following Jesus? Do you believe that suffering might be part of the package in this life of following Jesus? I do believe the costs are all worth it - no matter what they may be. Here's a really really heavy question to put out here... but I think it is something that at some point we need to ask ourselves. I hope you don't mind this blog bringing this question to you if you've never asked this of yourself before... :)
The question is this: Are you willing to die for your faith? This would be the ultimate cost in this life for any of us. Our life. And it may well be that this cost will never be asked of you. But - many people in our world today are indeed paying this cost of their lives for their faith in Jesus. There have been martyrs throughout the centuries, and there still are martyrs in our world today. Certainly, as we proceed through this gospel of Matthew we will see that Jesus is willing to die for his faith. So, again, it's a tough question - but are you willing to die for your faith? I think if you can get to an affirmative answer to this question between you and God, you will be able to more readily accept all other "lesser" and temporary costs that will come your way in this life by following Jesus. And you will know without a shadow of a doubt that the costs are well worth the reward of an eternity spent with God. Will you follow Jesus no matter the cost?
Psalms - Psalm 10 is a prayer for rescue from attacks from the proud and wicked. Wisely, you'll note that this Psalmist is not taking punishment into his own hands - but asking God for punishment. We would do well to remember that punishment is the Lord's... For some reason much of this Psalm reminded me way too much of our world today - and I realized that not much has changed over 3,000 years! Verse 4 in particular rang true to me about much of our world today: "These wicked people are too proud to seek God. They seem to think that God is dead." Only about 100 years ago the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche uttered those exact words - "God is dead." And I know that this viewpoint of many expressed in this Psalm 3,000 years ago, and 100 years ago by Nietzsche, is still a viewpoint of many in our world today. What a sad thing. What can we do in our lives today to show the world that God is not dead? How can we live our lives to demonstrate that God is alive? Let us share with this hurting and dying world with all that we are that God is not dead. Obviously, He Lives. What are you doing with your life today to show others that He Lives?
Psalm 10 verse 1 also stood out to me today: "O LORD, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide when I need you the most?" Have you ever felt like this? I know I have. However, I also have realized later on that just when I thought God was no where near me, he was actually as close as could be taking care of me. Even though it may have seemed that God was "hiding" from me, he was actually right there with me all along!
Proverbs - Today we read this in Proverbs 3:8 (just after the verse on fearing the Lord and turning away from sin): "Then you will gain renewed health and vitality." I think this is so true. I have been a much healthier person - mentally, physically, spiritually, etc. - since I came to faith in Jesus. Through God's wisdom and grace, I have been able to discern what is healthy for me and what is not. I have let many bad habits go. How about for you? Has your faith brought you renewed health and vitality? Are there some areas in your life where you still have room to turn some bad habits over to God, and to let them go? Will you do so this year? Will you pray to God for renewed health and vitality in those areas of your life where you need God’s grace and healing?
Worship God: Today's readings in Matthew Chapter 8 about the costs of following Jesus, remind me of the awesome new song "Lead me to the Cross" by Chris and Conrad. Here they are performing the song recently on K-LOVE live:
Have you been led to the Cross? Click here and be led!
Please join me in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." Proverbs 3:7-8 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you won't be wise in your own eyes. Pray that all you do today brings glory to God, and not to self. Pray that you will truly be healthy in your body and soul through your following Jesus and by shunning evil.
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: Based on our readings in Matthew today, do you believe there is a cost to following Jesus? Is it worth the cost? Are there any limits to the cost of following Jesus that you couldn't agree to? Would your life be too much? At the same time, we see in Proverbs today that in addition to costs, faith brings benefits - renewed health and vitality being two mentioned in today's Proverb. Is it fair to say that faith brings with it both costs and benefits? Do you think that the benefits outweigh the costs? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!