Genesis 31:17-32:12 ~ Matthew 10:24-11:6 ~ Psalm 13:1-6 ~ Proverbs 3:16-18
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Old Testament - Today's Genesis chapter 31 readings take us through Laban's pursuit of Jacob and his family and Laban & Jacob's treaty. In this chapter we read about Rachel taking Laban's "household gods", which were worthless idols - and yet both Laban and Rachel were very attached to idols, which was common in pagan religions of that time. Idols were often family heirlooms that were passed down from generation to generation and could sometimes signify that someone would receive their family's estate if they received the idols. People believed idols could bring blessings - and Laban obviously wanted them back. Though, I think he wanted more than just his idols back - I think he also wanted control over Jacob and his family back. In verses 33 & 34 we read: "Finally, Laban went into Rachel's tent. Rachel had taken the household gods and had stuffed them into her camel saddle, and now she was sitting on them. So although Laban searched all the tents, he couldn't find them." Rachel was cunning like her husband Jacob! Below is a fresco painting from 1729 by the Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo titled "Rachel Hiding the Idols":
Verse 42 stood out to me in today's readings as Jacob spoke to Laban: "In fact, except for the grace of God--the God of my grandfather Abraham, the awe-inspiring God of my father, Isaac--you would have sent me off without a penny to my name." I like seeing that Jacob is realizing that the grace of God has blessed him! I wonder if sometimes in our lives the grace of God is blessing us, and we don't realize it? Do you ever have those moments when you look back on a day, or a week, or even a year and realize that God's grace was so there - and yet... you didn't realize it at the time? Will you try to live more like Jacob in this verse - and recognize awe-inspiring God's grace more and more frequently in your life? And can you give praise to God for this ever-present ever-dependable gift of grace that is available to you?
In Chapter 32 we see Jacob preparing to meet his brother Esau. And - we see Jacob praying to God an amazing prayer! Verse 10 is beautiful: "I am not worthy of all the faithfulness and unfailing love you have shown to me, your servant. When I left home, I owned nothing except a walking stick, and now my household fills two camps!" Do you believe that God has been showing faithfulness and unfailing love to Jacob in our readings? Do you believe that God is showing faithfulness and unfailing love to you today? Below is an engraving by the artist Gustave Dore of Jacob praying to God here in chapter 32 (I love this image!):
New Testament - Matthew chapter 10 closes out today with what might be considered some "hard teachings" of Jesus. I think what stands out in my mind in reading these teachings is that while Jesus is certainly the Prince of Peace, he also has come into a world that is full of darkness - and the darkness fights against Jesus' light. So, if we decide to align ourselves with Jesus, and his eternal goodness and light, the darkness will also then fight against us - just as it fights against Jesus. As students and servants of Jesus, we will face the same persecutions that Jesus did. And while this is certainly true, think about the alternative - not following Jesus... and not walking in the light of God's love. I'd much rather spend 1 day in Jesus' light than 1 thousand days elsewhere... How about you?
Verse 38 is the first mention of the word cross in the gospel of Matthew: "If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine." What strikes me about this verse is that Jesus is teaching that we do have a cross to bear. And we have a choice to make of whether we will take up the cross and follow Jesus. So, now may be a good time to ask yourself - what is your cross in your life? Do you think you know what it is? If not, will you ask Jesus to reveal to you what your cross is? And then, will you bear it daily? And will you follow Jesus daily?
Matthew 11 starts off with an interesting question from John the Baptist to Jesus in verse 3: "Are you really the Messiah we've been waiting for, or should we keep looking for someone else?" I read an interesting commentary that said this is the beginnings of where we see that people are starting to wonder if Jesus is really the Messiah, because he hadn't overthrown the Roman government. Many in Jerusalem were expecting a Warrior-King Messiah that would free the Jewish people from the oppression of Rome. And Jesus' ministry of "only" preaching, teaching, and healing was bringing up the questions of, "are you really the Messiah?" People were starting to wonder... Instead of the Warrior-King, they are seeing a Suffering-Servant, which was not what was expected. What do you personally believe the answer to John's question was and is? Is Jesus the Messiah?
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Matthew chapter 11 titled "The Question of John the Baptist" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 13 is thought to be a prayer by David for recovery from a grave illness, based on verse 3: "Restore the light to my eyes, or I will die." Yet, even in the midst of this serious illness, David amazingly proclaims in verse 5: "But I trust in your unfailing love." How about you? When you are sick or in the midst of a very challenging or sad situation, do you trust in God's unfailing love? Always? No matter what is going on around you? Do you trust that God will ultimately restore the light to your eyes?
Proverbs - I love Proverbs chapter 3 verse 17! "She (wisdom) will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying." Amen! What a great choice of words - delightful paths and satisfying ways. Do you believe that wisdom will lead you down delightful paths and that wisdom proves to be always satisfying to you? What if we do not pursue wisdom in our lives - might our paths be miserable and might we be always hungry and never satisfied? Let us ever pursue the wise path of true Delight in our lives!
Worship God: Today's readings in Matthew chapter 10 and 11 today about Jesus remind me of the beautiful Jason Castro song, "You Are:"
Is Jesus the One for you? Click here for the One!
Please join me in memorizing and meditating on two verses of Scripture today: "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you acknowledge Jesus before men in all ways in all of your days.
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: Based on the reflection in Proverbs above on Wisdom, what are some ways that you pursue Wisdom in your life these days? Do you believe reading the Bible for 15 to 20 minutes a day is one way to pursue Wisdom? What are some "delightful paths" (per our Proverb above) that Wisdom has led you down 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!