Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 14 Jan 18:
1. Genesis 27:1-10 – Rebekah and Jacob sinned against family to steal the blessings God had already promised. Christians often sin when they think they have to make God’s promises happen through their own efforts.
2. Genesis 27:13 – Family members become idols when we put them ahead of God.
3. Genesis 27:13 – “His mother said to him, ‘Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.’” Rebekah led her child into sin against God while rashly and flippantly calling the curse upon herself, but God holds all accountable for their part in sin – Jacob would not be able to blame his mother. Also, Rebekah’s willingness to shield her son from the punishment of sin would not protect his character from being corrupted and tarnished from sin — you can’t handle filth and not get filthy. She may have thought that she was acting in Jacob’s favor by securing his earthly prosperity through deception, but in reality, she was contributing to his separation from God and his potential downfall. As the saying goes, “When someone loses their fortune, they have lost nothing; when someone loses their health, they have lost something; but when a person loses their character, they have lost everything.” Ironically, they were trying to steal what God had already promised. Sin will never bring us closer to our goal, and we cannot have what God has not given without a curse.
4. Genesis 27:18, 19 – “’Who are you, my son?’ Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn.’” Pay attention: The culminating point in Jacob’s life will be when God challenges Jacob with a similar question — “What is your name?”, another way of saying, “Who are you?”. Jacob’s life and character will be defined by deceit until Jacob wrestles with God and changes the course of his life. In big or small ways, people often live a lie, trying to be something God never intended them to be or trying to do things God never intended or in ways God never intended. You will never be who you are supposed to be until you humble yourself completely before God, own the truth of you, and live the truth of Jesus.
5. Genesis 27:20 — “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” Jacob was so deep in sin that he even claimed that God had supported him. He not only misrepresented himself, he also misrepresented God. Many people use religion to deceive other people about their sins.
6. Genesis 27:26 — “Come near and kiss me, my son.” The kiss was a deep form of intimacy and trust. Jacob defied all trust in his deceit and demonstrated complete callousness. Similarly, Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. A sinner is completely untrustworthy even to those closest to them.
7. Genesis 27:41 — “Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’” Proverbs says, “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22) We add the sorrows through our sin and unfaithfulness. Jacob’s blessing had already been promised by God at Jacob’s birth – “The older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23) However, Jacob could not wait for and trust in God’s timing and God’s ways to bring about that blessing. He thought he could steal what had already been promised and gifted to him by God. Therefore, Jacob induced many unnecessary sorrows for himself and many others. He could not enjoy his blessings but rather lived fearfully and painfully. God says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) However, when Jesus taught throughout the cities, villages, and synagogues, he observed that the people were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36) Solomon observed, “See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” (Ecclesiastes 7:29) Too many Christians are living fearful, painful, harassed, and helpless lives, unable to enjoy God’s blessings because they have “sought out many schemes” – attempting to earn what has been given to them by grace, and pursuing many worldly goals that God never intended them to pursue. They have denied themselves the restful soul, the light burden, and the peace that transcends understanding by choosing to live by the flesh, by seeking personal kingdoms rather than the Kingdom of God, and by getting caught up in the worries of the world. Though they have the Good Shepherd, they live as “sheep without a shepherd” because they are not following the Shepherd but rather wandering off on their own paths (often in the name of the Shepherd) expecting the Shepherd to follow them and continue to bless them along their way. Though they have full access to the Living Water that takes away all thirst, they have instead “hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Therefore, they live in dry lands and thirst needlessly. Are you harassed today? Did your ‘blessings’ come with sorrows? Perhaps you have loaded unnecessary burdens upon yourself by doing things your way for your purposes rather than denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Jesus. Perhaps in some areas of your life you are a builder laboring in vain. (Psalm 127:1) Do you feel like there is not enough time in the day to do all the things you need to do? Well, God has given you all the time you need to do all the things He wants you to do without losing your joy and peace. If you find that you have drifted away from the Good Shepherd, return to him in your weariness, and he will give you rest (and don’t try to earn what he has given you or it won’t be restful).
8. Genesis 27:41 — “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” Just like the story of Cain and Abel, hate, jealousy, bitterness, and un-forgiveness caused one brother to want to kill another. Interestingly, Herod who sought kill Jesus, was an Edomite, perhaps fulfilling the prophecy in verse 40.
9. Genesis 28:1 – God intends for His people to marry other followers of Christ.
10. Genesis 28:3 – God intends for His people to multiply and become great communities in Christ.
11. Genesis 28:4 – Throughout the Bible God’s earthly blessings include children, land, His presence, and His provision.
12. Genesis 28:8, 9 – “So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth.” Esau’s resentment towards his family drew him deeper into sin, further away from God, and closer to the ungodly world.
13. Genesis 28:15 – “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Despite his deceitfulness, God continued to bless Jacob based upon God’s integrity, not Jacob’s. Aren’t we all grateful that God’s fidelity does not depend upon our fidelity? God will discipline Jacob, but He won’t abandon Jacob.
14. Genesis 28:16 — “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit, and God is at work all around us, but many Christians cannot perceive His presence. Can you?
15. Genesis 28:20, 21 – “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.’” Is your fidelity to God conditional, based upon His blessings to you? Does God have to do something for you before you will obey Him and follow Him? Pray for a love for God that doesn’t depend upon His blessings, that doesn’t change in good times or bad times.
16. Genesis 28:22 – “And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” The principle of tithing is found throughout the Bible, but in tithing, we must never forget that it is all God’s.
17. Proverbs 14:2 — “Whoever walks in uprightness fears the LORD, but he who is devious in his ways despises him.” Your actions reveal what you really think about God.
18. Proverbs 14:4 — “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” What is your ox? Have you invested in the capacity to produce, or have you only invested in products that do not add a capacity to produce more for you? Many people buy cars, but few people buy the factories that make the cars. Many people play video games, but few people build and sell video games. What do you produce?
19. Proverbs 14:34 — “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Revival is the only hope for our nation. It must start with the church; it must start with you.
20. Psalm 5:3 – “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” Start your day the right way, rededicating yourself to God, and then keep your eyes open to see what God is doing, prepared to join Him in His activity. One of the best things you could do this year is commit to beginning every day with prayer and Bible study.
21. Psalm 5:4 – “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.” Don’t let sin hinder your relationship with God. He can forgive your sin, but He cannot tolerate it. He cannot bless sin. God hates sin. He will deal with it.
22. Psalm 5:5 – God does hate some people.
23. Psalm 5:7 – “But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.” We can approach God because of His steadfast love, not because of our own merit. We are unworthy apart from Jesus who covers us over with His righteousness.
24. Psalm 5:8 – “Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.” We cannot know the way; we must be led by the Holy Spirit. Only God can make our way straight.
25. Psalm 5:11 – “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice.” Taking refuge in God requires obedience to Him.
26. Psalm 6:1 – “O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath.” This is what we want from God; are we willing to give this type of grace to others?
27. Psalm 6:8, 9 – “Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my plea.” When persecuted, don’t try to take matters into your own hands. Turn to the Lord, and wait on Him to deliver you. God will hear your prayer and do only what is very best. Again, you cannot know what is very best from your very limited perspective and understanding. God knows what you cannot know. God can do what you cannot do. When you try to act from your perspective, you only add to sin and make matters worse. Be patient and persevere through persecution. Trust and obey and watch what God will do. When He sees you through, you will grow in faith and have more strength to follow Him than you did before.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 14 Jan 18: Focus on following God’s lead today. Don’t just act – pray and wait. When in doubt, test your thoughts with the standard of God’s word before you act. Obey what you know, and continue to pray for more insight. Be very careful not to act on emotions or ‘common sense’. Remember, feelings are often very misleading. Gut feelings and intuition can be very valuable, but only where they are aligned with God’s word. God will never lead you into sin or ask you to do ‘good’ things in bad ways. (Psalm 5:1-8)