He Brought Us This Far – Let’s Keep Going

Today’s Passage – Exodus 13 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 3 – 4Proverbs 24Psalms 116 – 120)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Isaiah 51:11

Read the “0124 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Quit Griping!

“[Is] not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For [it had been] better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:12-14)

It is human nature to be fearful, struggle in our faith, and to doubt what God is doing in our lives. The Israelites had been marvelously and miraculously delivered from their bondage in Egypt, but now they faced the obstacle of the Red Sea in front of them, as well as a huge army of pursuing Egyptians behind them. This was certainly a great test of their faith. God had promised to deliver them from Egypt and to bring them into the Promised Land, in Canaan. So far, God has kept his word. So far, He has overcome every obstacle and come through for Israel time and again in keeping his promise. But can they trust Him to deliver them in this next great challenge? YES! God had brought them this far, and He would continue to work until He finished what He started. We can trust God to finish what He started in us today as well:

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6)

Let me give you an illustration of this principle at work in our church recently. As many of you are aware, our church has been in a building project for many years now. Soon after we built our last addition, God revealed to us that we needed to add more nursery and fellowship space. We have been praying, planning, and preparing, as well as saving for this project for a decade now. [Note – It is extremely difficult and expensive to build anything in New Jersey.] We have had several different design plans drawn up, and much discussion and consultation has been done with architects, engineers, township officials, etc. Last year, the time finally came to present our final plans to our township’s planning board. I, for one, was a little apprehensive. Will they refuse to let us build? Will they require something that will make it impossible for us to afford the addition? We were afraid of all kinds of things that never came to pass. Somewhere along the way, going into the meeting, the Lord convinced me that He brought us this far, and He was going to see us through. I remember thinking to myself, “why would God brings us all of this way, only to shut us down?” He wouldn’t. God had brought us to this point, and He was going to see us through until the end, just like He did with the Israelites. The planning board passed our project unanimously, and they even worked with us to make the project a little easier.

Don’t listen to that voice of negativity inside of your head that’s telling you “it’s impossible; it can’t be done.” Don’t listen to the naysayers who are always murmuring and complaining, and doubting God. Listen to God. Find out what He wants you to do, trust His Word and His will, and keep moving forward. Stick your toes into the Red Sea of whatever obstacle you are facing, and watch what God will do.


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Sin Stinks

Today’s Passage – Exodus 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click hereto view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 15 – 16Proverbs 22Psalms 106 – 110)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Proverbs 27:15

Read the “0122 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “Did Pharaoh have a Choice?

“And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 7:21)


“And they gathered them together upon heaps: and the land stank.” (Exodus 8:14)

There are a few thoughts that came to mind from these three chapters of Scripture this morning. First, notice in the above verses the results of the first two plagues upon the people of Egypt. These plagues were delivered by God to the people of Egypt through Moses because the Egyptians had enslaved the children of Israel and had flatly refused to submit to God and then let them go. In the first plague, the waters of the Nile River and then all of the fresh water sources were turned to blood, killing all of the fish. In the next plague, the frogs came out of the water in droves and covered the land and even got into people’s homes. Notice also in Exodus 8:7, the “brilliant” Egyptians magicians while trying to prove that they had just as much power as God did, duplicated the plague, producing even more frogs, and complicated the problem even more for the people of Egypt.

When God finally called off the plague, the frogs died. They gathered all of the dead frogs and piled them up “in heaps.” All of this death that was result of these initial plagues caused Egypt to stink. Here we see that the wages of Pharaoh’s sin not only caused a lot of death in Egypt, but it also caused a very unpleasant stench. There would be more death to come as well as many cattle would die (Exodus 9:6) as well as many other “men and beasts” (Exodus 9:26). Sin produces all sorts of negative results. Sin stinks! It causes nothing but devastating and unpleasant consequences for everybody involved.

Another thought that came to mind from this passage is that the magicians who worked for Pharaoh did have power, but their power was limited. They could imitate some of the miracles that God wrought through Moses (Exodus 7:11), but most of them they could not. The magicians were also powerless to undo what God had done, and even acknowledged to Pharaoh the far superior power of God.

“And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: so there were lice upon man, and upon beast. Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.” (Exodus 8:18-19)

And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.” (Exodus 9:11)

The devil is certainly a very shrewd and powerful being, but he “ain’t got nothin’ on God.” God is infinite in everything He is, including in power. If you want to be on the team that doesn’t “stink,” and wins every time, you will want to be on God’s team.


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Excuses

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Today’s Passage – Exodus 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 13 – 14; Proverbs 21; Psalms 101 – 105

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8

Read a previous post from this passage – “Expect Opposition

Read the “0121 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.” (Exodus 4:1)

“And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but Iam slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)

“And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.” (Exodus 4:13)

It has always amazed me how our human nature kicks in when we are asked to do something, even when we are asked by God. There is something inside of us that immediately begins to reason that it cannot be done, or should not be done. We begin to figure out ways to get out of doing it. We don’t come right out and say that we don’t want to do it, at least not initially. We just say that it can’t be done, or shouldn’t be done, or that it will be way too difficult. Most projects get shut done by negativity before they even get off the ground.

Moses did the same thing here in Exodus 4. The first excuse that he gives is that the people will not listen. Basically he is telling God that it can’t be done. This is really nothing more than unbelief when it comes to things that God calls us to do. If it is truly of God, He will bring it to pass. All we need to do is obey Him. The results are up to Him. God does not need advisers, He needs obeyers.

The second excuse that Moses offers is really the root of the problem. I know that it is the same thing that often keeps me from fulfilling God’s will. Moses says that he is not the man for the job, that he is not able to do it. Now he is no longer doubting God’s ability or anybody else, he is merely doubting his ability to do what God asks him to do. This is not necesarily bad. We need to realize that we can’t do the work of God in our own power or ability. It can only be done through the power of God. What Moses needed to do (and what we need to do) is believe that if God asks us to do something, He will also equip us to do it. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) We truly can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us.

Finally, Moses is exasperated. He just doesn’t want to do it. He tells the Lord to send somebody else. God finally convinces him to do it, but he certainly was not a willing servant initially. If we refuse to be obedient to the calling of God He may just choose somebody else, but we will miss out on the blessing of being used of God. Know this, though, that if God asks you, you are the man (or woman) for the job. Don’t refuse Him. Stretch your faith. Allow Him to show you what you can do in His strength when you are yielded to His will.


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Graduation Day

Graduation Day

Today’s Passage – Genesis 48 – 50 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 9 – 10; Proverbs 19; Psalms 91 – 95)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 119:105

Read the “0119 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.” (Genesis 49:1)

I remember when I was a young person attending school. At the end of every school year there was an awards ceremony and they would give out various awards for attendance, academics, athletics, and even some for attitude. I didn’t receive many awards as a child, I was what you might call “exceedingly average” in just about every area. Looking back on my school days, I can only recall receiving three awards: two in intermediate school, and one in college (the first time I went to college – not Bible school). However, I remember that every time I attended one of those awards ceremonies, or a commencement exercise, I would always feel two things. First, I would feel regret for not having applied myself more that year. I would realize that I could and should have done more; I should have worked harder; I shouldn’t have goofed off so much, wasting valuable time. The second thing that I would feel is motivated. I would determine that next year was going to be different for me; next year I was going to do better; next year I would be up there on the stage getting some kind of award. The only problem was that my weaknesses in character always outlasted my bursts of motivation.

You may be wondering right now what all of this has to do with the passage that we read in Genesis this morning. Well, here is the connection. Every time I read chapter 49 in Genesis, I am reminded of these award ceremonies. Except, here it is the one who is graduating to Heaven that is handing out the awards. Jacob is about to die, and he calls all of his children together to pronounce a blessing upon some. Unfortunately, he also will be pronouncing a curse upon others. Can you imagine the last words that you hear out of your father’s mouth before he dies being words of regret, rather than words of praise. I know well what it feels like trying to live a life that is pleasing to a father. I spent a good deal of my young adulthood trying to receive “attaboys” from my dad by achieving sales and success in the business world, which was his life. I think every child desires to please their father; at least most do. I cannot imagine the hurt I would have felt had my father said words of regret about my life at his passing. These sons of Jacob had all ran out of time. The time to live a life that would be worthy of being blessed by their father had passed.

You know what’s worse, however, than not receiving words of blessing and praise from your earthly father? Not receiving them from your Heavenly Father. Someday all who are His children will stand before Him and give account for their lives. Some will hear words of praise and will receive rewards; others will not. I want to please my Heavenly Father in my life today so that He will someday say to me, “Well done”. I guess I never got past that desire to hear “attaboy”; only now it is my Heavenly Father that I want to live for. Don’t misunderstand, I loved my dad dearly, and I wanted my life to be a source of blessing to him as well, but my passion in life today is to live for God. I want the same thing for my children. Yes I want to be pleased with them, but ultimately the only thing that matters is if God is pleased with them.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 1:4)


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Bereaved Again?

Today’s Passage – Genesis 43 – 44 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 5 – 6Proverbs 17Psalms 81 – 85)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0117 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s reading passage – “Passed the Test,” and “People Can Change.”

“And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” (Genesis 43:14)

The word, “bereave” (שָׁכֹל – shakol), is a very interesting word. It primarily has the idea of losing someone in death. The Hebrew word has been rendered a variety of ways, such as: “deprived” (Genesis 27:45); “cast their young” (Genesis 31:38; Exodus 23:26); “rob you of your children” (Leviticus 26:22). It has also been translated metaphorically as “barren” in reference to land (2 Kings 2:19; 21). The word carries the idea of being stripped of something that is very dear to you, such as a loved one, and especially a child. The word, “take (Benjamin) away,” is used synonymously with bereave in Genesis 42:36.

In our passage, Jacob did everything that he could to keep his youngest son, Benjamin, from going with his brothers to Egypt to try to buy food for the family. The brothers had a bad track record of losing people that Jacob loved. Joseph had disappeared and was assumed dead back in Genesis 37 after he went to check on his brothers. Simeon was arrested and put in an Egyptian prison after going with his brothers to buy food on the last trip for food (Genesis 42:24). When the brothers came back from Egypt from that trip (without Simeon), they tell Jacob that they can only return for more food if they bring their youngest brother with them. Jacob is furious that they even mentioned to the Egyptian official that they even had another brother. He flatly refuses to let Benjamin go:

“And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me. And Reuben spake unto his father, saying, Slay my two sons, if I bring him not to thee: deliver him into my hand, and I will bring him to thee again. And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.” (Genesis 42:36-38)

At first, Jacob will have nothing to do with taking this great risk in sending Benjamin to Egypt with his brothers for more food. Why? He had been hurt in the past, and he did not want to risk being hurt again in the future. It was only after he had no other choice, when he realized his whole house was going to starve, that he finally acquiesces to let Benjamin go. You know the story: Jacob’s fears turn out to be unfounded as he not only get’s Benjamin back, he gets Joseph and Simeon back as well. But Jacob almost missed out on the blessing of seeing his two missing sons again, all because of his fear of losing a third son.

Bereavement can cause a person to put up barriers and protections that will keep them from experiencing future blessings from God. This may be a weak illustration, but I just talked to a man recently who was reluctant to get another dog because he had just lost one, and he did not want to go through the pain of loss again. Losing a new dog someday will definitely be painful, but does that temporary grief outweigh the joy that the dog will bring through all of the years of its life.

I also know of people who have been burned and hurt by broken relationships who are reluctant to enter into any new relationships. Hurt is real and fears are real, but we cannot let our hurts and fears keep us from the abundant life that God has for us today and tomorrow as we fulfill His will. Jacob was so worried about losing again that he almost missed a big win. Jacob almost missed it. He almost refused to let Benjamin go. But, God would not let him. God allowed Jacob’s situation to become so desperate that he had no other choice. We simply cannot let our grief cripple us, control us, or keep us from moving forward with life; it must be God’s will that guides the decisions we make.


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Godly Character

Today’s Passages – Genesis 38 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the passages. Click here to view today’s passage on Blue Letter Bible.)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 1 – 2Proverbs 15Psalms 71 – 75)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 89:1

Read the “0115 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “What About Judah? and “God’s Perfect Plan

“And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:7-9)

Joseph was a man of great godly character and is a wonderful picture, or type, of Christ in that regard. He is simply not like other men. He has the ability to say no to his flesh and completely yield to the will of God for his life. This attribute of godly character can be exhibited in many examples from Joseph’s life, but a particularly vivid picture of this is painted for us in the verses above. Joseph, a young, single man, was being tempted in the area of sexual purity by the wife of his employer. Joseph had the perfect opportunity to yield to the the lusts of his flesh, but instead refuses. He says, “NO!” He knew that yielding to Potiphar’s wife’s wishes was foremost a sin against God, and was also a sin against Potiphar, a man that had been very good to Joseph up to this point. How many young men in Joseph’s position would have been able to resist the temptation and say no to this kind of proposition?

Sexual impurity is not limited to just the act of committing adultery with another man’s wife. It is just as wrong for unmarried people to commit fornication regardless of what our very carnal contemporary culture would say. It also dangerous to view images portraying sexual impurity on the internet. It is very difficult for both men and women to say no to their flesh and yield to God in these areas, but it can be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. the Bible says:

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

I realize that the Holy Spirit did not work in quite the same way in the Old Testament time that Joseph lived, but I know this: Joseph had a deep and abiding relationship with God, which is exactly what walking in the Spirit is for the New Testament Christian today. Joseph’s love for God and His will superseded Joseph’s fleshly desires. Joseph did not have “better flesh” than other men; he was not superhuman. He just was in love with God.

Peter wrote about this level of Christian discipline:

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)

Notice two of the seven attributes that Peter states can and should be added to every Christian’s life: virtue and godliness. These are the two that Joseph exemplified in his encounter with Potiphar’s wife. However, Joseph also demonstrated the other five attributes listed by Peter throughout his life. And so can we, if we are walking with and filled with the Spirit of God, and yielded to God’s will. It is not easy to “just say no” to our flesh, but it is certainly not impossible with God’s help.


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The Green Eyed Monster

Envy

Today’s Passage – Genesis 36 – 37 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 27 – 28; Proverbs 14; Psalms 66 – 70

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “0114 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” (Genesis 37:11)

“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,” (Acts 7:9)

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; …” (“Othello” – Shakespeare)

“For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.” (Mark 15:10)

“Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26)

“Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” – (Proverbs 27:4)

You have probably heard the expression, “Jealousy is a terrible thing.” There can be no clearer illustration of this truth than the example given here in Genesis 37. Here Joseph’s brothers are so jealous (envious) of Joseph that they first conspire to kill him, but finally acquiesce to selling him into slavery. What would cause them to envy there brother so much that it would cause them to sin so against him (not to mention against their father)? I believe we can see three ingredients that fueled the jealousy.

1  The Favoritism of the Father – Joseph was one of only two boys that was born to Rachel, the wife he loved dearly; and he was the second youngest of all of his children. Jacob did not attempt to veil his love for this child, either He made it clear to all others inthe family that He had a very special place in his heart for Joseph. He made him a beautiful coat of many colors. The other brothers received no such token of the father’s affection. It is not wrong to treat our children individually, based upon the needs that each may have; but it is wrong for parents to love their children differently. I confess, that at times this can be difficult; but we must strive to assure each of our children that we love them, and that our love for each does not exceed the love of another.

2   The Folly of the Son – I may be off base here; but Joseph did not show much wisdom in his bold declarations of the dreams to his brothers. God had obviously revealed a special plan for Joseph: a plan which involved him being placed in a position of authority over, not only his brothers, but also his father and mother. Maybe it was just because of his honest nature, but Joseph seemed to almost rub it in the face of his brothers.

3  The Finger of God – God obviously had his hand on the boy’s life. He had a special plan for Joseph. God’s hand upon Joseph was clearly evident to his brothers, and I believe this was the real problem. They saw in Joseph something they had lost. Joseph had a purity about him, that we have already seen to be lacking in some, if not all, of his brothers. They saw in Joseph what they should be, and instead of rejoicing in his devotion to the Lord, they attempted to destroy the reminder.

Envy is a terrible thing. I fight it all of the time in my life. I hear of a preacher being blessed of God in his ministry, and often the “green eyed monster” rears his ugly head. I sometimes have to force myself to rejoice in the victory that God is giving to my brothers. I bet that some of you have this problem as well. God blesses somebody in your life, maybe financially or materially, and you get jealous. Maybe your peer at work receives a promotion, and you don’t. How does it make you feel? Ask God to help you rid your heart of this monster. This green beast does not come from the Spirit of God; he is purely a product of your sinful nature. Don’t allow him to influence you to such an extent that you sin against God and others with your words or actions. The “Green Eyed Monster” needs to be put to death in all of our lives. Remember, God is not a repecter of persons. He loves no one more than he loves you, and He has a special plan for your life, just as much as He has used others.


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Worried Over Nothing

Today’s Passage – Genesis 33 – 35 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 25 – 26Proverbs 13Psalms 61 – 65)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 55:17

Read the “0113 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s reading – “Lead On Softly;“ and “Boys Will Be Boys.

“Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; … Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.” (Genesis 32:7, 11)

“And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.” (Genesis 33:4)

For twenty years Jacob lived with the fear that his brother Esau was going to kill him. His fear of Esau was likely part of the reason why Jacob spent so many years in Padanaram working for his father-in-law in a less than ideal arrangement. But when Jacob finally got fed up with Laban and his in-laws Jacob determined to go back to Canaan and face his brother. For more than two decades Jacob had the fear of his brother in the back of his mind, but all of his worries and fears were for nothing. Not only did Esau not want to kill Jacob, He actually welcomed him in love.

I remember when I worked as a salesman in my father’s wholesale candy and nut business. My job was to service supermarkets, making sure they had enough product, etc. For most of the accounts I took care of, I would need to be in the store at least once per week. Every once in a while, I got backed up and could not get to the stores, sometimes for two or three weeks. I would dread facing those store managers when I was late, and I always imagined the worst-case scenario. In my head, all kinds of bad stuff was going to happen – “the stores are going to be completely empty or a mess,” or “the manager is going to fire my company as a supplier” – but rarely, if ever, did my fears ever prove to be true.

Jacob’s fear of Esau did not go away until he faced him head on, and your fears will not go away either until you face your problems. Don’t allow your problems (or your worry about them) to become larger over time by not dealing with them. Jacob finally resolved his problem with Esau, but it was only after a few things happened:

  1. Jacob could no longer run from Esau. God made Jacob’e situation so unpleasant in Padanaram, that Jacob finally realized that he would be better off going back home.
  2. Jacob spent a lot of time on his knees getting right with God. Much of Genesis 32 records Jacob praying and preparing to face his brother.
  3. Jacob made things right with Esau. Esau was legitimately wronged by Jacob twenty years earlier. Jacob and his mother had deceived Isaac into giving him the blessing that was intended for Esau. Notice in Genesis 33:10 – 11, however, that Jacob wants to make things right. He wants to give the blessing to his brother.

“And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me. Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.” (Genesis 33:10-11)

So if you are worried about something, face it head on, but only after you have thoroughly prayed about it and are willing to do whatever is necessary to fix it.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)


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Perspective

Today’s Passages – Genesis 31 – 32 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 23 – 24Proverbs 12Psalms 56 – 60)

Read the “0112 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “No More Jacob,” and “Following the Will of God.

“And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory.” (Genesis 31:1)

The dictionary would define perspective as “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view” (Apple Dictionary)

In the very first verse of our text today in Genesis 31, we see that Laban and his sons had a completely different perspective or point of view than Jacob did. From Laban’s family’s perspective, Jacob had received all of his prosperity from Laban: that Jacob had actually taken it from him and his other sons. From their point of view, Jacob owed them greatly. However, Jacob had a completely different perspective. He saw things in a completely different way than Laban and his boys. Jacob’s side of the story was that Laban’s family did not have very much when Jacob joined them, and because of the hard work and blessing of God upon Jacob, God had increased both Laban and Jacob tremendously. We know from the text that Jacob’s perspective was right:

” … for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.” (Genesis 31:12)

My point, however, is that Laban and Jacob had completely different perspectives on the exact same set of circumstances. It is like those pictures that were circulating around the internet a while back. The image would be of a dress, and some people would sware that the dress was green, and others were absolutely positive that it was another color. People often see things from different perspectives. 

Again, we know that Jacob’s particular point of view in this case was the accurate one according to God, but that does not change the fact that Laban’s sons truly believed that they were right also. They were not, but they thought they were. They could not see things from Jacob’s persepective. Oftentimes, people see things through the lense of what is in their best interest. Jacob was benefiting more than the sons of Laban were from the arrangement that Laban made with Jacob, so they naturally thought that somehow something was amiss; they thought Jacob must have been stealing from them, which simply was not true. 

There are a couple of lessons here that I think we need to learn. First, when it comes to conflicts between two people who are, in most areas, likeminded, there needs to be a sincere attempt to try to understand the other’s perspective: try to see things from their point of view. Oftentimes, if an open mind is kept, conflicts can be easily resolved.

However, when trying to understand people who come from a completely different perspective, a little more care will have to be taken. Christians have a God perspective; especially those believers who are well-grounded in the Scriptures. We see things from God’s perspective (at least for the most part). The lost world and even some carnal Christians have a totally different perspective, partially because of the fact that they have been blinded to spiritual Truth. Satan has blinded them:

“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

The lost world believes that Christians are foolish for believing what we do. They simply do not understand us:

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

As believers, we need to try to understand that the problem is a spiritual one. We are simply living in two different worlds; we have totally different mindsets or paradigms. There needs to be a paradigm shift. We need to pray that God will open their eyes to the Truth of the gospel. If they were to get saved, the problem of different perspectives would be solved. Like you, I get very frustrated watching and listening to the politicians and television personalities who “simply don’t get it.” But, they can’t get it because right now they are blind to the Truth. God needs to open their eyes. We need to pray for them, and compassionately love them and try to preach the Truth to them.


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Surprise!

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 29 – 30 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read –Matthew 21 – 22; Proverbs 11; Psalms 51 – 55)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31

Read a previous post from this passage – “Moving Forward

And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? (Genesis 29:25)

It this passage we see that Jacob who had deceived his father is now being deceived himself. He had left Canaan (Israel) and travelled back to the place where his family originated (near Babylon) in order to find a wife. He arrives and meets a beautiful young lady named Rachel who happened to be his cousin (OK back in those days – really wierd today). He falls in love with her and strikes a bargain with her uncle to work for him for seven years as payment for his daughter. Oh how I wish that we still followed this program today. I have three beutiful daughters and I would have been rich. Anyway, after his seven years of hard labor is completed, Jacob wants his wife. However, when he wakes up in the morning he does not find beautiful Rachel lying next to him in the bed, but instead he sees Leah, Rachel’s older sister. You can imagine the suprize that must have been on his face when he laid eyes on Leah who the Bible describes as “tender- eyed”. That was the phrase you used in Bible days when you wanted to be kind when describing someone who was ugly. Jacob was tricked by his uncle Laban. The deceiver was deceived.

I have two thoughts regarding this passage of Scripture. The first is the principle of sowing and reaping. Jacob reaped deception because he was a sower of deception. In fact, I think we learn in the coming chapters that Jacob reaps a little more than he sowed. We sure have to be careful in our lives because this principle is certainly in effect today as well. The Bible says be sure your sin will find you out; and the way of the transgressor is hard. It will eventually come back to bite you. I have seen this principle often in my life and ministry. Many of the problems that I have dealt with as a pastor have been areas where I have been guilty in the past. However, the principle works for good things as well as bad. Sow some good things in your life and you will reap some good things back. Sow a little mercy toward others and you will reap a little mercy from others. Sow a little kindness, and reap a little kindness; sow a little compassion, and you will reap a little compassion. You get the idea.

The second thought is that you cannot trust the world. Laban was not a saved man, and Jacob was trusting him to be faithful and trustworthy in his dealings with him. Laban is a type of the devil. If you make a deal with the devil or the world for Rachel, you are going to wake up someday with Leah. Satan is a liar, and this world is completely out for itself. Even God’s people can be downright untrustworthy at times; but know this: you can trust God completely. He will always deliver what he promises, and He will always do right. Even when we don’t understand what He is doing, or why; we can be assured that He loves us, and that He has our best interests in mind.


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