Category Archives: 1-Year Bible

January 22, 2021

Genesis 44:1-45:28

They broke bread together the night before and in the morning Joseph’s brothers will be on their merry way, but little do they know that they’re still being tested. Joseph has his house steward plant a silver cup in the sack of his youngest brother Benjamin, and then overtakes them on their journey, in his quest to retrieve his cup and capture the culprit. The sons of Jacob deny any part in any of this, so much so that we read in:

Genesis 44:9 (NKJV) “With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.”

The steward finds the silver cup in the sack of Benjamin.

Genesis 44:13 (NKJV) “Then they tore their clothes, and each man loaded his donkey and returned to the city.”

Why did Joseph do this? It’s obvious to see that he was testing his brothers to find out if there was any conviction, any change of heart, any love for their father or each other after all these years? Would they allow Benjamin stay in Egypt as a slave, essentially doing the same thing to him as they had done to Joseph 15 years earlier?

Miraculously, Joseph discovered that something HAD changed. All the brothers were repentant and Judah begged that he’d be taken as slave in Benjamin’s place, his heart could not bear the thought of the pain it would cause his father, Jacob to lose another son, who yes, he favored.

They had passed the test. Joseph could no longer restrain himself, and he revealed his identity to his brothers. I’m blown away with Joseph’s words in:

Genesis 45:5 (NKJV) “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.”

Joseph almost softens the blow of conviction by telling his brothers, not to feel bad about what they did; that it was all part of God’s plan to save lives. Joseph goes on to say in:

Genesis 45:7–8 (NKJV) “And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”

Joseph embraced his brothers and and wept on their necks (Genesis 45:14-15). He harbored no bitterness and had completely forgiven them. Wow! How many of have not forgiven people who have done far less to us?

How was Joseph able to forgive like this? By the strength that God gives, and by the plan that God has. 

Joseph saw the Providence of God even in the Pit and the Prison which led to the Palace. God help us to see the same truth for all of our lives, we’re in His hands and nowhere else, and He will take those tragedies to victories, He will make a message out the mess, He will grant a testimony through all of our testing, and He really does make beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3).

I’m elated when I consider how Jacob must have felt in hearing the news that not only was his son Joseph alive, but he was, “…a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler through all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 45:8). The Bible says Jacob’s heart stood still when they told him; but the shock developed into determination, he would make the journey to see his son…who in one sense hd been raised from the dead.

Joseph  is a typology of Jesus in many ways, hated by his brethren, victorious over temptation, sold for silver, and especially in the fact that He saved the world, but I love what we see in this section, how he is revealed to his brothers (the sons of Israel) the second time around. Jesus will be made known to the Jews, at His Second Coming.

Matthew 14:13-36

After the beheading of John the Baptist, Jesus departed by boat to be alone with His Father. He felt the deep pain of the passing of a loved one, again.

But it was difficult for Christ to be alone, especially during the day. When the people found out He was in their proximity, they came to Him, and He saw them, had compassion for them, and healed them. As the day wore on, the crowd  had not eaten, so the suggestion from the Apostles was to send the people away. But Jesus chose to feed them Himself, which He did, with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 measly fish. He fed 5,000 men, plus women and children. 

Jesus goes on to walk on water (symbolic of all enemies under His feet) and He even empowered Peter to walk on water, who took that step of faith and prevailed when he kept his eyes on Jesus (teaching us that if we step out of the boat and stay focused on God, we also can walk supernaturally and defy demonic gravity).

There are innumerable lessons to learn in all of this, but the most important point is having a firm understanding of who this is.

Who can make everyone whole – even perfectly well? (Matthew 14:36)

Who can feed the world?

Who can walk on water, empower me/us to walk on water, and still the storm in a sliver of a second?

Jesus proves who He is, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Lord and compassionate Lover of our souls. Let’s react with the same response the Apostles had – recognition and adoration. We read in:

Matthew 14:33 (NKJV) “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’”

Psalm 18:37-50

David is praising God for the way He has defeated his enemies and fulfilled His promise to make him king. It was a word he heard as a young man, when no one else believed in him, not even his dad, but God did, and God anointed him through the prophet Samuel promising that one day he would be king (1 Samuel 16:1-13).

The prophet pointed to that destiny, but the path didn’t. David’s path of preparation was dirty, dusty, demonic, and diabolic; it led to the double-edged sword of doubt and discouragement, deep, deep depression, and even despair. 

Had God changed His mind? No, He hadn’t, and in His perfect timing God’s dream for David came to pass. This Psalm praises Him for that.

Can you imagine the day when we look back with that same perspective? (Joshua 23:14; 1 Kings 8:56) One day my Christian friend, one day.

Psalm 18:46 (NKJV) “The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.”

Proverbs 4:11-13

How awesome it is to be taught and led by God’s wisdom in life; to walk, run, and win this race we’re in. God help us to hold tight to these truths.

Proverbs 4:13 (NKJV) “Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

January 21, 2021

Genesis 42:18-43:34

Joseph changed his mind and decided to restrain (imprison) only one of his brothers, allow the others to go home, and if they returned to Egypt with their youngest brother Benjamin, then they could trade safely in the land. Joseph was testing his brothers, he also wanted to confirm that they hadn’t done the same thing to Benjamin, that they had done to him.

The brothers interpreted this as punishment for their sin against Joseph 13 years earlier.

Because of the fact that we are created in the image of God, unrepentant sin has the capacity to haunt us for the rest of our lives.

When Joseph heard them having this conversation, acknowledging their sin, aware of  God’s hand of justice and discipline,  he turned himself away from them and wept (Genesis 42:24). Tears of deep pain were still there after all these years.

God gave Joseph wisdom and used him to make these guys deal with their sin and think this one through. Even the fact that he returned each man’s money to him brought fear to their hearts (Genesis 42:28). When they told their father Jacob he said something interesting in:

Genesis 42:36 (NKJV) “And Jacob their father said to them, ‘You have bereaved me: Joseph is no more, Simeon is no more, and you want to take Benjamin. All these things are against me.’”

I can’t say I blame him for what he said, it DID appear as if things were off track, but they weren’t, God was working behind the scenes in part of a bigger plan that went beyond the family but included them. Joseph was alive, Simeon and Benjamin would be fine, and these things were not AGAINST him, in all reality, in all these things God was for him! (Romans 8:31).

Eventually the brothers were forced to return to Egypt with Benjamin, they had to eat. When they arrived they were to dine at the home of the Prime Minister of Egypt, Zaphnath-Paaneah, they had no idea it was their brother Joseph.

O Lord, please help me to know that You’re working all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Even when I look at some of the particulars of life personally and nationally, I can easily get discouraged, so please Lord, help me to lift my eyes to You and trust You knowing that You’re working something glorious behind the scenes.

Matthew 13:47-14:12

It’s a sobering thought to realize that life will end one day, and there really is an “end of the age” (Matthew 13:49). At that time there will be a separation of the saints and the aints, the good and the bad, forever ushered into heaven or hell (which is a holding tank for the Lake of Fire – Revelation 20:15). Have you been caught by Christ? Are you truly a Christian? Are you sure? Is their fruit? Jesus shared this parable to reveal the fact that heaven and hell are real places – a beautiful promise, and an epic warning.

The new and old of Matthew 13:52 may be in reference to the Old and New Testament.

When Jesus returned to Nazareth (His own country) they were astonished at His teaching and they had heard about His miracles, but He was not esteemed because they knew Him and his family so well. By this time Joseph, Jesus’ step-dad, had passed, but His mother, brothers, and sisters were all there – normal folk. Another example of that old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”

Jesus said:

Matthew 13:57b (NKJV) “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”

As a result of their doubt they limited God and what He wanted to do in their souls and city. We read in:

Matthew 13:58 (NKJV) “Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”

May it never be said of us.

What a tragedy to see the way the great prophet, John the Baptist died. He was arrested because he was bold enough to call the king out for his sin. He was then beheaded because of a sensual dance from Herodius’ daughter and a prideful vow from Herod – combine that with the hatred of the king’s wife who resented the righteous correction, and it led to what appeared to be a withering defeat and shameful death of the man who at one time was the Lord’s leader in Israel. But we need to be careful not to view things through the temporary lenses of humanity. John the Baptist finished his race – and he won. He prevailed in victory, was welcomed home to glory, undoubtedly hearing those words we all long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” May we never forget, it’s not how we die, it’s how we live…to the very end; and death for the Christian is not really death, it’s only a departure to glory.

Psalm 18:16-36

David was hated and chased by Saul for close to 10 years. King Saul maliciously spread lies and slander about David, turning many people against him. I can’t even begin to imagine how horrible it was for David on the run (though innocent) living in caves for close to a decade, not to mention the intensity of the Spiritual warfare he experienced.

This Psalm teaches me that there will be those who hate me and the enemy is too strong for me (Psalm 18:17). God will deliver me, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t be required to fight. God will arm me and teach me to fight spiritually just as He did David (Psalm 18:29, 32-34; 2 Corinthians 10:4).

Don’t lose heart my friend, even though you’re going through very trying times.

If you would only look up, you’ll be able to rise up and fight, with those Spiritual weapons God has provided for you. The Lord will give you the victory and fulfill His plans for your life…just as He did with David.

Proverbs 4:7-10

Again, we have the invitation, the calling to take this class, to learn God’s lessons of wisdom. Have you responded? Have you enrolled? Do you have a heart for the Proverbs? For the Bible? 

It’s the principal thing with many promises – for the humility of wisdom will lead to promotion, honor, grace and add life to your years, maybe even years to your life.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

January 20, 2021

Genesis 41:17-42:17

Pharaoh revealed his dreams to Joseph who, by the Spirit of God interprets his dreams. There would be 7 years of great abundance followed by 7 years of extreme famine.

A quick word on dreams, a word you’ll find 109 times in the Bible. Most dreams we have are not a message from God. As a matter of fact “they” say that everyone dreams 3 to 5 times each night some people even more. Most of the dreams we have are forgotten, but some are remembered, and it is possible that God may communicate to us in a dream. Personally, over my 31 years as a Christian, I can say that God has definitely spoken to me a handful of times in very vivid ways through dreams, they’ve been unforgettable. But the usual form of communication between God and mankind is His Word, the Bible, so don’t put too much weight in dreams. We read that warning in:

Jeremiah 23:28 (NKJV) “‘The prophet who has a dream, let him tell a dream; and he who has My word, let him speak My word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?’ says the LORD.”

Dreams are as chaff in comparison to God’s Word – but – there are times when God speaks through dreams.

Joseph has been prepared for this moment all his life and he not only interprets the dream, he offers wise counsel to Pharaoh who is so impressed that he immediately promotes Joseph second only to him! We read in:

Genesis 41:40–41 (NKJV) “‘You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.’ 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’”

Overnight Joseph was blessed with wealth, a world-saving work, and a wife, who would give him children. This 30-year-old in Egypt has come a long way from that 17-year-old back in land of Canaan (Genesis 37:2). In 13 years he’s grown wise beyond his age, and the trials and excruciatingly hard times of life were the tools God used to shape him for such a times as this.

In the names of Joseph’s sons we see how a person is not limited to and defined by our past, as a matter of fact, Christians can look back at our blunders and hard times with forgetfulness, and look forward to a future of fruitfulness (as we keep in mind that God is with us – in everything).

I always smile, and sometimes laugh whenever I read:

Genesis 42:1 (NKJV) “When Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, ‘Why do you look at one another?’”

Why do you just stand there looking at each other? Get to work! Get some food!

I can’t even begin to imagine the thoughts that were flowing through Joseph’s mind when he saw his brothers. I’ll bet he knew this day would come. I wonder if he had it all planned out from the beginning in how he would deal with them? In retrospect, I’m glad he didn’t let them off so easily, they needed to be tested, they needed to deal with it, and search their hearts. Had they learned anything from the immeasurably terrible sin of selling their brother into slavery? Joseph needed to find out.

Matthew 13:24-46

In this section we have the parables of:

The Wheat and the Tares

The Mustard Tree

The Woman’s Leaven

The Treasure in the Field

The Pearl of Great Price

Pastor Chuck Smith once said that we shouldn’t teach on the parables until we’ve been a Christian at least 20 years. The reason for that counsel for Christians is because parables are not always as simple as they seem. Not everyone agrees on the meaning of all of them.

Here’s my take:

The Wheat and the Tares – In every congregation there are those who are saved and those who are not. In the beginning stages, and from a superficial standpoint, it’s hard to tell the difference. But eventually their true nature will be exposed, even if it’s after death – the wheaties will be blessed in God’s eternal barn, but the tares will be bound and burn forever. This is the truth about the Kingdom of God.

The Mustard Tree – Jesus seems to describe an abnormally large growth for an herb tree. If we use parabolic consistency we’ve seen the birds to be bad (Matthew 13:4). What Jesus is saying here about the Kingdom is the church will grow vast, so big, that bad birds (tares) will rest in her branches.

The Woman’s Leaven – Leaven is usually symbolic of sin in the Bible, and just a little bit of leaven can permeate the entire loaf. Jesus warned us of leaven (see Matthew 16:6; Mark 8:15) as did Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 5:6 (see also Exodus 12:15). In the church there will be tares and wheat, birds in the branches, and leaven in the loaf.

Perhaps Jesus was speaking of the religious leaders of His day – there they were in the midst of God’s people.

But Jesus sees the people who would believe, which helps us understand the next 2 parables.

The Treasure in the Field – This is one of my favorites. We’ve already seen that the field is the world (Matthew 13:38) and here we have a man finding a treasure in the world. The treasure is the church, the believers, the treasure is you. So what did our Lord do? He sold all He had, He left His throne, came to earth and paid the price for the whole wide world, in order to have that treasure (you and me) forever. It’s an illustration of (John 3:16).

Some people mistakenly consider Christ to be the treasure that Christians somehow buy, but salvation is not earned by works or purchased by us – no – we were purchased by Him (1 Corinthians 6:20).

The Pearl of Great Price – This is similar to the previous parable. God’s people are the pearls He looks for and purchases. The beautiful thing about a pearl is that it’s simply a dirty grain of sand or a parasite, or some other irritant that has made its way into an oyster, mussel, or clam. As a defense mechanism, a fluid is used to coat the irritant. Layer upon layer of this coating, called ‘nacre’, is deposited until a lustrous pearl is formed. This is what Jesus does for us! He covers us with His righteousness until He produces a pearl of great price.

Psalm 18:1-15

This Psalm written and sung when God had delivered David from all of his enemies! Imagine that!

God gets all the glory and yet David teaches us how to make sure we have that same victory, by crying out to God (Psalm 18:6).

When you first cry out to God and call on the name of the Lord, you will be saved and that’s the first step.  We then spend the rest of our lives talking to God, turning to God, and trusting Him every step of the way. We are no match for our enemies, but they are no match for Him!

This Psalm is a powerful presentation of the way God defeats the devil.

Psalm 18:6 (NKJV) “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.”

What should our response be to the way God hears our cries (our prayers)?

To love Him…something David determined to do:

Psalm 18:1 (NKJV) “I will love You, O LORD, my strength.”

Proverbs 4:1-6

May we always see the Proverbs for what they are – the perfect wisdom from our heavenly Father to us, His children whom He loves.

May our heart retain these words, may our lives live these words, and may we lay hold of wisdom in our hearts and never let go.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

January 19, 2021

Genesis 39:1-41:16

As you read through this portion of Joseph’s life, the one truth that stands out, is how the LORD was with him through it all, and blessed him in spite of his circumstances.

While he was a slave in Potiphar’s house we read:

Genesis 39:2 (NKJV)The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.”

Genesis 39:3 (NKJV) “ And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand.”

While he was a prisoner, God gave him favor, and we read:

Genesis 39:21 (NKJV) “ But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”

Genesis 39:23 (NKJV) “The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.”

Even the New Testament commentary on the life of Joseph offers the same summary:

Acts 7:9 (NKJV) “And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him.

It’s comforting to know that no matter what we go through in life, as God’s people, He’s with us through it all, blessing in His ways, and working out His plans (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).

Although we know it’s all grace, we also know that we all will be tested/tempted, and it sure helps in life to pass those tests! Joseph was tempted in one of the most difficult areas of life, he was tempted sexually. He was handsome and well built; no doubt Potiphar’s wife was stunningly beautiful, but Joseph held to his integrity and did not cave in to sexual sin. We read his perfect reasoning in:

Genesis 39:9b (NKJV) ”…how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

He passed the test, which led to more tests. He was cast into prison, even the dungeon (Genesis 40:15).

God showed him favor in prison as well and Joseph was promoted to the point that we read in:

Genesis 39:23 (NKJV) “The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.”

Joseph was blessed by God, gifted as an administrator, and even gifted by God in the interpretation of dreams. His accurate interpretation of the dreams of Pharaoh’s butler and baker led to an eventual audience with the human ruler of the world, as God was about to bring Joseph’s dreams to pass. It took 13 long years for that 17-year-old to see his dreams come true, but with God, it’s not about time, it’s about timing. Let’s learn from Joseph, be patient, be faithful, don’t lose heart – that we may see God’s plans for our lives unfold.

Matthew 12:46-13:23

As we read the account of Jesus’ unwillingness to go with His mother and brothers, it’s important to know that at this point, His brothers didn’t believe in him (John 7:5), and even His mother Mary thought her son was taking this a bit too far. We read in:

Mark 3:21 (NKJV) “But when His own people heard about this, they went out to lay hold of Him, for they said, ‘He is out of His mind.’”

It’s also important to know that we must love God more than anyone else. This means that we must be busy about His business (our Father’s business – see Luke 2:49). Our family may not always understand, but our family has now been extended to those within the body of Christ.

May God give us wisdom on how to honor our parents, love our siblings, and do all that He’s called us to do.

We now begin a section of Parables by Jesus. Parables, are in one sense, “An earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” The people weren’t getting it, they weren’t understanding the simple straightforward message. This is Jesus’ attempt to make it even simpler. The people (especially the religious leaders) had closed their eyes and hardened their hearts and God wanted them to understand, to turn, and be healed.

The parable of the Sower, the Seed, and the Soils is the perfect way to begin.

The Sower is Jesus, the Seed is God’s Word (the message), and the Soils represents the condition of the recipients hearts. We have four types of soils/hearts represented:

1. The hard heart

2. The shallow heart

3. The crowded heart

4. The healthy heart

The hard heart is not open, they therefore don’t understand the Bible, so the enemy comes and takes away the seed that was sown.

The shallow heart is willing to live the Word as long as their circumstances make their Christianity convenient (there’s no depth to their commitment). When the trying times come, they fall away.

The crowded heart is receptive and deeper, but they have so many other things vying for their attention and affection, that this person becomes unfruitful.

The healthy heart hears the Word, understands it, and goes on to live it, bringing forth moral and ministry fruit for the glory of God.

Psalm 17:1-15

This is another Psalm of David, the gifted writer and mighty warrior who experienced heavy, heavy spiritual warfare. This Psalm is a song and a prayer of David’s that God would keep him, and even keep him blameless in the midsts of the attacks of the enemy.

A few verses that stood out to me this time around are:

Psalm 17:3b (NKJV) “…I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.”

Psalm 17:8 (NKJV) “Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings,”

Proverbs 3:33-35

O Lord, in light of these verses please help me to be just, humble, and wise.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

January 18, 2021

Genesis 37:1-38:30

The life of Joseph is a wonderful lesson on the providence and sovereignty of God. We’ll be able to track his journey from the pit to the palace and even the prison along the way.

It begins with the favoritism of his father. Sadly, Jacob had received this model from his parents, who also had favorites and loved one child over another (Genesis 25:28). God help us as parents never to have favorites, for we see the hatred it produced:

Genesis 37:4 (NKJV) “But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.”

Got Questions had this to say about the coat (tunic) of many colors, “As to the coat of many colors itself, the most common outer garment of this type was nothing more than a long cloth with a hole in its middle. After draping the long cloth over the shoulders, a rope or a belt was fastened around the waist. Some expositors argue that this particular coat was especially valued because sleeves were sewn into the garment. Others believe the coat was ornamented by many colors. The real issue, of course, has nothing to do with colors or sleeves. Jacob presented the special coat to Joseph as a sign that Joseph was esteemed above his brothers. The coat signified Joseph as being Jacob’s choice as the future head of the clan—an honor normally bestowed upon the firstborn son.”

Joseph’s dreams probably should have been kept to himself, but hey, he’s only 17-years-old; maturity is necessary in order to keep a secret. God was showing him the future to encourage him through the hard times. We’ll see later that Joseph had the ability to interpret dreams, so he may have understood something special was on the horizon, maybe even the details about his destiny.

His brother hated and envied him for his dreams (Genesis 37:3, 5, 8, 11). His father rebuked him, but at the same time kept the matter in mind.

But then the day of “opportunity” came, their pure hatred led to a plan to murder their brother Joseph. God providentially intervened and Joseph was sold into slavery instead. His brothers deceived their father into thinking that Joseph had been mauled by wild beasts (in one sense he had been). O the terrible grief and guilt this would bring to the family for the next thirteen very long and hard years.

As we journey through the Old Testament it will be  impossible to mention all the types and shadows of the coming Christ, but we can mention a few.  Warren Wiersbe said this about Joseph, “As you read the life of Joseph, you see in him a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph was greatly loved by his father (Genesis 37:3; Matthew 3:17), hated and envied by his brothers (John 15:25; Mark 15:10), plotted against, sold as a slave, arrested unjustly, and made to suffer. But he went from suffering to glory and became the savior of the people who had rejected him.”

Genesis 38 seems a bit out of place from our perspective. The next twelve chapters will focus on Joseph, why do we have this horrible story about Judah and his family? 

Judah marries a non-believer. His wife dies. Two of his sons are struck dead by God for their wickedness. He rejects his responsibility to his daughter-in-law of the levirate marriage. He then goes in to a woman he thought was a prostitute (but it turned out to be his daughter-in-law Tamar). When he finds out she’s pregnant through prostitution he’s about to burn her, until he discover that he’s the father! Wow! And the Messiah would one day come through this lineage of Judah and Tamar (Matthew 1:3).

This is how it all went down, it’s just the truth, and another story of stunning grace.

Matthew 12:22-45

The religious leaders now sink to demonizing Jesus saying He casts out demons by the ruler of the demons. Jesus reveals the fallacy of their accusation by the simple fact that a house divided against itself cannot stand. If only they would have been honest in their assessment, they would have discovered that the finger of God had come upon them.  By casting out demons, God was plundering the goods of the strong man (Satan) because He was/is infinitely stronger!

When Jesus speaks of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and describes it as the unforgivable sin, (Matthew 12:31) He’s referring to the way the religious leaders were resisting the witness of the Holy Spirit who was trying to show them and point them to Jesus. Keep in mind that the only unforgivable sin is the rejection of Jesus Christ (and hence resistance of the Holy Spirit). If anyone comes to Christ any sin can be forgiven.

These people who professed to be believers were producing no fruit. They weren’t saved, they were snakes, who couldn’t say anything good, because their hearts were so bad (Matthew 12:35) – but the day will come when they will given an account for every idle word (Matthew 12:36).

It’s rather ironic how they wanted a sign from heaven and there He was right in front of them, casting out demons, healing every disease with ease, even raising the dead. Why would anyone ask for a sign to see while their eyes are closed? We should never demand signs from God for He’s already given us the witness of creation and conscience, as well as the Living Word (Jesus) and the written Word (the Bible). 

But Jesus did leave us with the sign of all signs, the resurrection of the dead (which Jonah was a picture of). Who else has defeated death, gutted the grave, and conquered the coffin? No one else! The resurrection is the sign for us to see that Jesus is the Way.

Since a greater than Jonah is here and a wiser than Solomon, why don’t they repent? Why won’t they listen?

In Matthew 12:43-45 Jesus teaches us that if a demon is cast out of a person, that person then needs God to come into their lives, which is what happens when we become a Christian – the Holy Spirit lives within us (1 Corinthians 6:19). If a person doesn’t take that opportunity to ask the Lord into their hearts (Ephesians 3:17) the enemy will return with more intensity, and things will get even worse.

Psalm 16:-11

In this Psalm we see David’s devotion to the LORD and not other gods (Psalm 16:4). The LORD is his goodness (Psalm 16:2), the LORD is his portion (Psalm 16:5) and David determined to follow Him and live in His presence.

Psalm 16:11 (NKJV) “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalm 16:10 is an amazing prophecy quoted by Peter in his sermon on the resurrection of Jesus Christ because it did NOT apply to David (Acts 2:31-32).

Psalm 16:10 (NKJV) “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”

Proverbs 3:27-32

In this section we have five prohibitions (”Do not…”) things not to do.

Aren’t you grateful for the clear commands as well as the secret counsel God gives to us so freely? (Proverbs 3:32).

Thank You Lord!

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

January 17, 2021

Genesis 35:1-36:43

The patriarchs built altars to commemorate and remember their special times with God.  It’s wise to have tangible ways to ensure those special times are not forgotten, where in one sense, God has spoken to you loud and clear, for we are a terribly forgetful people.

It had been twenty years since Jacob fled to Haran from Beersheba, and it was there in Bethel that God appeared to him, promising to bless him, be with him, and to bring him back. It took a couple of decades but God kept His promise to Jacob as stated back in:

Genesis 28:15 (NKJV) “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 spoken to you.”

It’s beautiful to read the exhortation of Jacob to his family as he took steps to “clean house” in preparation for a new beginning:

Genesis 35:2–3 (NKJV) “And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. 3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.’”

This reminds me of Joshua 24:24-25. Someone once rightly said, “The Christian life is simply a series of new beginnings.”

As we go forward in the narrative, it will be important to distinguish Israel from the other nations. We therefore read, once again, that God changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 35:10). THIS is the family through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed…it would be through the nation of Israel.

It’s tough to read of Rachel passing while giving childbirth (Genesis 35:19) and the pain she experienced in the process (she called her son Ben-Oni = Son of my Sorrow). But for God’s people, death is simply a departure from earth to heaven (did you catch what we read there in Genesis 35:18? “…as her soul was departing”). Paul the Apostle said the same thing when he was facing death:

2 Timothy 4:6 (NKJV) “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.”

In light of this, Jacob changed his son’s name to Benjamin, which means Son of the Right hand, the place of power and honor.

This chapter also records the death of Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse (Genesis 35:8) who may have been a nanny to Jacob; and Isaac, Jacob’s father who passed away at 180 years of age (Genesis 35:28). It must have been a tough time for Jacob to lose a friend, a wife, a father, but isn’t it beautiful the way the Bible describes Isaac’s death as being “gathered to his people.” We look forward to seeing God and all our loved ones who have died in faith. This is why Paul the Apostle calls it the “Ministry of Reconciliation,” in 2 Corinthians 5:18.

In Genesis 35:22 we read about Reuben’s fling with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, we could have sped read right by considering it insignificant, but this single act of sexual sin would cost Reuben his birthright (see Genesis 49:3-4; 1 Chronicles 5:1; Galatians 6:7-8). We better consider the cost before yielding to temptation, it may be more expensive than we would have ever imagined.

In Genesis 36 we have the genealogy of Esau who we read three times, was the father of the Edomites (Genesis 36:1, 8, 43) God wanting to make this distinction very clear, Esau was the father of the Edomites, and Jacob was the father of the Israelites.

We read in Genesis 36:12 a name that would eventually be a nemesis to Israel. Amalek was the father of the Amalekites.

Matthew 12:1-21

The Pharisees were very “sacrificial.” They invented hundreds of rules and regulations in their human attempt to keep the Law. They appeared to be “holy,” but most of them did not know the Lord. They confronted Jesus for allowing His disciples to pluck heads of grain on the Sabbath Day, they even plotted to destroy Jesus for healing a man on the Sabbath. This group may have been sincere when they first started, back in the second century B.C. but my how they drifted away. God help us to make sure that we not only start well, but finish well.

The disciples were hungry; the man had a withered hand – a hand he could not use (how hard that must have been) and here were these Pharisees claiming to be godly men without an ounce of mercy or compassion, for the hungry or the handicapped. They had elevated their distorted interpretation of the Bible (their traditions) over truth (see also Mark 7:1-13).

Back in Matthew 9:13 Jesus told them to, “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.’” We read something similar here in Matthew 12:7, they were supposed to know by now; both are quotations from Hosea 6:6. Apparently the Pharisees refused to do their homework, to go and learn, they were completely unteachable.

Jesus gave them Scriptural examples of how there may be times when human need supersedes the letter of the Law, and more importantly Who He is – He is greater than the Temple, He is Lord even of the Sabbath.

Can you believe they formulated legislation that prohibited healing on the Sabbath? When the man with the withered hand was healed, they should have rejoiced for him and acknowledged their Messiah, instead they plotted against Him how they might destroy Him! Wow, the hardness of man’s heart.

Jesus repeatedly asked these self-righteous religious leaders a very simple question, “Have you not read?” (Matthew 12:3, 5) Often times the reason people formulate strange doctrines is simply because they have not-truly-read the Bible.

Psalm 15:1-5

Psalm 15 is all about integrity. Not that integrity saves us, faith in Christ does, but if we want to enjoy a life lived in God’s presence (tabernacle), integrity is the key.

People of integrity walk uprightly (Psalm 15:2a).

People of integrity work righteousness (Psalm 15:2b).

People of integrity speak the truth in their hearts (Psalm 15:2c).

People of integrity do not gossip or talk negatively about others behind their backs, or receive slander spoken against their friends (Psalm 15:3).

People of integrity esteem the godly (Psalm 15:4a).

People of integrity keep their word, even if it costs them (Psalm 15:4b).

People of integrity cannot be bought (Psalm 15:5a).

People of integrity shall never be moved, while all others are extremely vulnerable (Psalm 15:5b).

Proverbs 3:21-26

As we saturate ourselves in the Scriptures and treasure God’s wisdom, it will bring life, grace, safety, and firm footing – we won’t slip and we will sleep.

How wonderful His wisdom is to me!

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

January 16, 2021

Genesis 32:13-34:31

The last time Jacob saw his brother, Esau had it in his heart to kill him for taking away his blessing and birthright (Genesis 27:36, 41). Now Esau is on the march to meet Jacob with four hundred men! Jacob forms three different droves of family, with distance between them to meet Esau with certain gifts and certain words in his attempt to appease his brother. It grieves our heart to see the way Jacob separated his family, and even the way they were separated, revealing Jacob’s favoritism. We read Jacob’s reasoning back in:

Genesis 32:8 (NKJV) “And he said, ‘If Esau comes to the one company and attacks it, then the other company which is left will escape.’”

Esau had been blessed over the past twenty years, so his anger had subsided and his heart had changed. He was happy to see his brother Jacob, and in an amazing display of grace, they didn’t even have to hash things out in a long drawn out debate or conversation. God worked it out. 

Every once in a while, God genuinely works things out like that, and love covers a multitude of sins.

Proverbs 10:12 (NKJV) “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”

The previous night Jacob wrestled with God until the breaking of day! (Genesis 32:24) As a former wrestler myself, who left six-minute matches thoroughly exhausted, I can’t even imagine begin to imagine what it would be like to wrestle all night long. But Jacob did just that, he was a fighter. Of course this was one of those wrestling matches, similar to a father and his little boy – dad was playing with His kid but simultaneously teaching him. In the end, Jacob shows his resilience  “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” So God blessed him by changing his name and touching his hip, Jacob would limp for the rest of his life and therein have a perpetual reminder of his need to lean on the Lord.

I’ve heard many different meanings of the two names over the years, but the ones that seemed to make the most sense in my assessment is that Jacob means, “heel catcher and conniver,” while Israel means, “Governed by God.” (Big difference) We see God change names frequently in the Bible, it’s His way of stimulating some sort of new beginning that would go beyond a changed name, but a changed life.

The story of Dinah, Shechem, and the Shechemites is heartbreaking all the way around. It goes to show the depth of depravity and how there really is no easy answer to such sin. Jacob seemed as if he was open to his daughter marrying the man who raped her and then mingling with the people – that’s not right. Jacob’s sons, on the other hand (Dinah’s brothers) deceived the citizens of Shechem and murdered, not just the offender, but all the men. That’s not right either.

God doesn’t condone their action; He’s simply recording the history of a very fallen, broken, and wicked world.

Matthew 11:7-30

Although John the Baptist had his doubts, Jesus lifts him up and commends him as the greatest prophet under the Old Covenant, most likely because of the fact that he was the forerunner to the Messiah. But then Jesus begins to open the door into something new, the New Covenant, and Jesus says something fascinating about all Christians in this context:

Matthew 11:11 (NKJV) “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Benson explains, “That is, in the gospel dispensation, when fully opened, understood, and enjoyed in all its privileges and blessings, is greater than he — for Christ’s ministers, and even His real people in general, under the gospel, were to receive superior supplies of the Spirit, and know many important truths respecting our Lord and His kingdom which had not been revealed to John himself.”

Jesus exposes the hard heart of the religious leaders of the day – they weren’t open to the message of either John or Jesus, even though they had such different approaches and styles of ministry. John was more of an ascetic and they criticized him for that, while Jesus was in the midst of the people and they criticized him for that.

Another reminder, it’s not the Sower or the Seed that’s the problem, it’s the condition of the Soil.

It should absolutely amaze and astound us that the cities (citizens) who saw our Savior in Person did not repent. They will receive a greater condemnation than those who didn’t have such a wonderful witness.

The religious leaders had placed heavy burdens upon the people, they were guilty of absolute legalism. Jesus’ heart ached for the people who were being crushed by the innumerable amount of man-made rules and regulations, so He invited the people to Himself with some of the most wonderful words in all the Bible.

Matthew 11:28–30 (NKJV) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

When the religiously weary come to Jesus, He will give us rest. Rather than bearing the yoke of others, we get joined to Jesus, we learn from Him. He’s not legalistic or overbearing, He’s gentle with us, He’s humble, and we will find rest for our souls (salvation and freedom). With Jesus helping us through life His promise is (relatively speaking) it will actually be easy-growing.

Psalm 14:1-7

There are positional atheists and practical atheists. The positional atheist says with his lips, “There is no God.” The practical atheists says in his heart, “There is no God,” and his life reflects that. The symptoms of practical atheism range anywhere from evil works, to evil worry.

How foolish to say in our heads or our hearts, “There is no God.”

One day God will make believers of everyone, but for some it will be too late.

Proverbs 3:19-20

God created this amazing universe, the earth, the heavens, the waters of this world – all by His wisdom…and just think, He offers that same wisdom to us! What can WE DO with God’s wisdom? We can’t make a world but I’ll bet we can make a difference in this world! (for good)

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

January 15, 2021

Genesis 31:17-32:12

After 20 years of life with Laban, Jacob doesn’t trust him in the slightest, so he takes his family and runs away. This is a good example of doing the right thing the wrong way (yes that is possible). Eventually Laban finds out and catches up to him. Did Jacob actually think he could run away from his problems? 

But God went before Jacob and protected him by warning Laban in a dream as he shares in:

Genesis 31:29 (NKJV) “It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful that you speak to Jacob neither good nor bad.’”

Laban had the ability and was no doubt persuaded he had the right to judge Jacob, but God commanded him to stand down, and once again we see God’s protection over the nation.

Both men were upset with each other, and both men had valid points. They eventually declared a truce, which is better than a war, but not as good as simply dwelling together in unity (Psalm 133; Ephesians 4:3).

The whole concept of stealing someone’s god has always puzzled me. We’re not sure why Rachel stole her father’s idol; apparently it was special to her, which is huge a red flag indicating something common (even in the lives of God’s chosen people) secret idols in their hearts. John the Beloved warned us of this in:

1 John 5:21 (NKJV) “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

God repeatedly revealed to Jacob that He was with him, even allowing him to see the angelic realm (Genesis 32:1-2) but Jacob’s fear refused to fade. Jacob’s scheming was the story of his life (his name means heel catcher, conniver, and even deceiver). It’s hard to say you trust God when all along you’re trying to trick man. It’s not really possible to be a believer in God and a manipulator of people simultaneously. Jacob needed to change.

Warren Weirsbe said this about Jacob, “He saw the army of angels protecting him, but even that didn’t encourage his faith. One minute Jacob prayed for God’s help, and the next minute he devised some new way to appease his angry brother. He reminded God of His great promises and then acted as though God had never spoken. This is the conduct of a believer who needed to be broken before God. He prayed to be delivered from Esau (Genesis 32:11), but his greatest need was to be delivered from himself.”

Don’t we all need to be delivered from ourselves? The three enemies we war against are this fallen world, these fallen angels (the devil and his demons), and my fallen nature – and of three – the greatest enemy is me.

Matthew 10:24-11:6

Lots of bullet points in this section.

If we’re faithful disciples of Christ, we will actually be like Him. The world hated Him, they will therefore hate us as well, but don’t let that strike you with fear or stop you from preaching. (Matthew 10:27).

The hostile world hates the message of salvation so it inevitably and eventually leads to persecution, but don’t be afraid! Fear only God!

Matthew 10:28 (NKJV) “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Matthew 10:29-31 are some of the most comforting passages in all the Bible. God is so sovereign that not a single sparrow falls to the ground apart from our Father’s will. If such is the case for every single sparrow, such is the case for every single son, or daughter, for you are infinitely more valuable than the birds of the air…as a matter of fact, God knows the very number of your hairs. Wow! Every single 100,000 of them (on average).  I wonder if the Lord shared this with us because worrying causes hair loss? Don’t worry, He’s watching over you as if you were the only one to watch.

Don’t let anything stop you from being bold and obedient in your faith. Preach the Gospel. Confess Christ openly. Don’t hold back because you think it will promote peace – that’s not the kind of pseudo peace we should be interested in. Please, don’t be obnoxious in your witness, but do speak the truth, just do it in love (Ephesians 4:15), even if it creates friction in the family (Matthew 10:35).  

A healthy Christianity means there are no rival thrones in our hearts, we must love God more than anyone else, we must love God more than ourselves (which is why we take up our cross), and we must be willing to lose our lives for Christ’s sake. (Matthew 10:37-39)

Jesus closes His teaching in this section with an encouragement to serve, and a reminder that even what may be perceived as the smallest and most insignificant form of service (giving a child a cup of water) is registered in heaven and will one day be rewarded. (Matthew 10:42)

John the Baptist had been imprisoned, and it had been quite some time since the day he saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus. Time and trials have a way of ebbing away at a faith founded in experience, and it can happen to even the best of men. John was wondering why it was taking so long for the Messiah to do His thing. Jesus’ response was simply to say that the sign’s of the Christ were clearly manifested and, “John you’ll be blessed if you’re not offended at My timeline.”

Psalm 13:1-6

David asks the LORD four times, “How long?”

For David it was around 10 years.

For Joseph it was 13 years.

For Abraham it was 25 years.

For Moses it was 40 years.

Wait on the Lord, even in the most trying times. My heart goes out to David as he writes in: 

Psalm 13:2b, “…having sorrow in my heart daily.”

Some of you are there. We all go through those seasons of life. Please don’t stop believing, don’t stop doing the right thing, for the day will come when God will reward your long obedience – it happened to David and it will happen to us – the” how long” will become a deep and meaningful song.

Psalm 13:6 (NKJV) I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Proverbs 3:16-18

O the benefits of wisdom – not always binding precepts but beautiful principles, often leading to a long life, riches and honor, good pleasures and peace; not just the fruit of the day but a tree of life granting us happiness!

Proverbs 3:18 (NKJV) “She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who retain her.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

January 14, 2021

Genesis 30:1-31:16

Up to this point Jacob has had four children through Leah, and Rachel is fuming. Jacob was right, not in his anger, but in his theology, his anthropology, God alone is the giver of life.

As a quick side-note, polygamy was practiced back in these days and culture, but from the beginning, it was never God’s intention. 

Again, it’s difficult for us to fathom, but Rachel gives her maidservant to Jacob in order that she might have children on her behalf, and sure enough, Bilhah gives birth to Dan and Naphtali. I’m fascinated by the meaning of each of the names of the sons of Jacob, and what a story this is, but underneath it all, I can’t help but see God’s pure grace covering such a dysfunctional family.

Finally, Rachel gives birth to Joseph. The Bible says, “God remembered Rachel, and listened to her.” (Genesis 30:22). Not that God ever forgets us, it’s simply that He answers our prayers according to His perfect will and timing. It may “seem” like He forgets us during our difficult days, but He never, ever does (Isaiah 49:15). May that encourage you today.

The Bible says in: 

Romans 8:31 (NKJV) “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Laban, Lucifer, and maybe even the circumstances of life were against Jacob, but since God was for Him, God was working out His plan for Jacob and his family; it was evident that the LORD was blessing through Jacob (Genesis 30:27), so Laban asked Jacob to stay with him…and he did, all together it totaled twenty years.

Some say there was a science to the multiplication of Jacob’s flock, but most say there’s no explainable science behind it – it’s just the Lord who chose to bless Jacob and multiply his livestock.

Fallen human nature tends to envy when others get blessed and such was the case with Laban and his sons. Circumstances were beginning to dictate that it was time for Jacob to go back to the land of promise, and then the LORD clearly confirmed it:

Genesis 31:3 (NKJV) “Then the LORD said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.’”

It helps even more in discerning the will of God, when our wife is in complete agreement, and I love their response in:

Genesis 31:16b (NKJV) “…now then, whatever God has said to you, do it.”

A word to us all!

Matthew 10:1-23

In Matthew 10 Jesus calls His Twelve Apostles by name, gives them power, and sends them out; but before they go He teaches them (and us) many things about this type of ministry.

We don’t simply go anywhere, to anyone, we go where Jesus sends us; the Apostles were sent first to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. This was God’s order (Romans 1:16) for many reasons. Jesus wanted to identify with Judaism because He was the coming Messiah they should have been looking for – the whole world needed to know that. This was not some new religion, this was rooted in the monotheistic beliefs of Abraham and Moses. The Jews held to the Scriptures and under the old covenant, they should have been in right relationship with God, ready for the Gospel, so Jesus sent the guys to them first.

Jesus taught His Apostles to trust God for provision and to be aware of the fact that in all reality, they were sheep among wolves, so they would always need the Shepherd, His wisdom, and a heart to be as harmless as a dove, which speaks of being holy, blameless, and innocent.

In verses 11-15 we get a glimpse of the hospitality they would need as they traveled from village to village. They weren’t to jump from one place to another (searching for better accommodations). Imagine having an Apostle stay at your house. Those who receive their message receive peace, but those who don’t receive a clear and heavy warning:

Matthew 10:15 (NKJV) “Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”

Jesus warned of coming persecutions from authorities and even division among families. Jesus told them in advance because He didn’t want them (or us) to lose heart when we experience these things. May we never split or quit – that’s the only way we lose, “…he who endures to the end will be saved.” (22b)

In v. 23 we have another example of how God’s Word can speak of different ages in a single sentence. Warren Wiersbe comments, “Some of these instructions applied mainly to the Apostles (vv. 5–15) and some to those serving just before the Lord’s return (vv. 16–23). However, spiritual principles are here for all God’s servants.”

Psalm 12:1-8

It was true then and it’s true now, the godly man and faithful person are rare commodities in this fallen world (Psalm 12:1). It makes me want to be one, that much more.

This Psalm highlights the way people use their tongues as weapons against us. Ranging from trash talk behind our backs, to manipulative flattery in our face, they say their tongues are their own, that they can say whatever they want (Psalm 12:4) and they do, shooting from the hip of hardened hearts…but one day they will give an account for every idle word (Matthew 12:36).

Contrast man’s wicked word to God’s pure and perfect Word:

Psalm 12:6 (NKJV) “The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”

God promises to keep, preserve, and protect His people. (Isaiah 54:17)

Proverbs 3:13-15

The formula for happiness – clear as day – learn (gain) God’s Word (will), and live it out, day by day, and moment by moment. This is wisdom, the application of God’s Word. Wisdom is better than winning the lottery, than having all the gold, silver, or rubies (of highest value in Jewish eyes) in the world – listen to what he says:

Proverbs 3:15 (NKJV) “…and all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.”

Wow! That statement stops me in my tracks, it rocks me in a world of endless materialism. Help us Lord.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

January 13, 2021

Genesis 28:1-29:35

Isaac and Rebekah are well aware of their Godly ancestry and destiny, so they send their son to Haran that he would not marry any of the daughters of Canaan. The Bible clearly forbids believers to marry non-believers (2 Corinthians 6:14) for their non-believing spouse has the powerful potential to turn their heart away from the Lord (that’s what happened to Solomon, 1 Kings 11:4).

Isaac realizes the blessing truly has fallen to Jacob so he blesses him volitionally (Genesis 28:3-4). 

In a futile attempt to please his parents, Esau takes as wife a daughter of Ishmael his half brother, but when someone is in the flesh, they make all the wrong moves.

The LORD appeared to Jacob in a dream revealing the “connection” and intervention between  heaven and earth. The LORD confirmed to Jacob the Abrahamic  covenant of land and descendants, and how through him, “…all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This of course is a prophecy of Jesus Christ.

In response, Jacob built an altar, he didn’t want to forget this dream. He renamed the city Bethel, which means “House of God,” and in Jacob-fashion He made a deal with God, promising to give the LORD a tithe of his possessions if God would be with him, keep him, and provide for him so that he would return to his father’s house.

What a crazy story of Jacob and his two wives, but often our stories are. Jacob arrives in the land asking for his uncle Laban. The men know Laban and point out the fact that his daughter, Rachel, was approaching as they spoke. For Jacob it was like love at first sight. Initially I thought it was wrong that he kissed her on their first date (Genesis 29:11) but then I noticed that his uncle kissed Jacob when he saw him (Genesis 29:13) so I gave Jacob the benefit of the doubt (but I still wonder).

The formation of this family (keep in mind Jacob eventually becomes Israel) is flooded with grace.

Every husband should  be inspired by Genesis 29:20 but I wonder if Jacob’s love at this point was eros (erotic) and not agape (divinely unconditional, true love).

Genesis 29:20 (NKJV) “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.”

Jacob got a strong dose of his own medicine, when his uncle Laban deceived him by getting him drunk and slipping in the older sister, Leah, as wife (Genesis 29:25). Imagine that! But no worries Laban said, just serve another seven years and I’ll give you my younger daughter also. More than likely Jacob didn’t have to wait until the seven years were over to receive Rachel, but he DID work the full term for his second wife.

Why did Jacob love Rachel so much? Genesis 29:17 informs us that Rachel was beautiful and had a nice figure. I doubt that those are ever ingredients or factors of true love. Love is something rooted in the lover, not in the object of love, and how awful it is when a husband does not love his wife – such was the case for Jacob toward’s Leah – the Bible says in:

Genesis 29:31 (NKJV) “…the LORD saw that Leah was unloved…”

What a heavy indictment of a husband!

It’s heartbreaking to see the way Leah hoped that with the birth of each child her husband would love her. Thankfully, by her fourth child she lifted her eyes to heaven rather than her husband (Judah’s name means “praise”) and she was able to praise the LORD.

Matthew 9:13-18

Another day in the Ministry of the Messiah. He healed a woman with a twelve year flow of blood, He raised a 12-year-old from the dead, he healed two blind men, he cast out a demon, and I’m sure there was much, much more. It’s no wonder we read in:

Matthew 9:33b (NKJV) “And the multitudes marveled, saying, ‘It was never seen like this in Israel!’”

They should have known this was the Messiah!

In reading this section we clearly see the power of Christ, but we also see the factor of faith. The woman, the father, the blind men all had at least a mustard seed of faith (if not more) and Jesus honored that. Notice His teachings on faith:

Matthew 9:22 (NKJV) “But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.

Matthew 9:28b (NKJV) “And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord.’”

Matthew 9:29 (NKJV) “Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith let it be to you.’”

In verse 35 we have the three-fold ministry of Jesus articulated in order, teaching, preaching, and healing.

Jesus looked out at the people and was moved with compassion. They were weary and scattered like sheep having no shepherd (how does a sheep survive without a shepherd?). In response, He asked his disciples to pray for more laborers – something still needed today – people who truly make themselves available, and are willing to work for God sacrificially.

Psalm 11:1-7

Don’t fly away like a bird – pray and trust the Lord. He’s testing us and working in our lives…but O the fate of the non-believer! (Psalm 11:6)

Proverbs 3:11-12

Even though it hurts, I’m glad that God doesn’t leave me to myself, He disciplines me, and deals with me validating my legitimacy as a son, and even proving His love. (see also Hebrews 12:5-11)

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.