Sunday, July 31, 2011

Exodus 5

Sometimes, complete obedience to God can really wreck your reputation, your relationships, your day and even your job.

Lord, I thank You for the opportunity to obey You, the times You have allowed me to choose between You and what is easier and more palatable to do,  the circumstances which seem right to man - but are wrong for Your child.  You have blessed me with situations which make no earthly sense to walk through; but You called me to them and through them.  In those times, I knew what it was to follow You rather than logic, to obey rather than cave to man's verdicts and judgments.  And, I learned so much about You, Your faithfulness, Your creativeness, Your attention to detail, Your passion to hear our prayers that they may be answered.  God, You are my God.  I praise You for the many years which seem quite miserable in the description, almost silly when trying to explain; but I received You.  I experienced what You would do for one of Your children, I think because I chose to wait - and not always patiently nor contently (Thank You) - on You.   Who am I that You would incline Yourself to me?  Thank You.  Please help me to be strong enough to always  choose Your way, Your words, Your timing.  Let me bring You glory, even if it costs me my reputation, my relationships, my day, my life.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Exodus 4

Moses has no trouble speaking to the Lord, even as he says he has trouble speaking.  The Lord gives him signs to perform which do not require speech, just a display.  It seems to me that Moses is holding back, that he doesn't want to go and do what the Lord has instructed him to do.  What's he holding on to?

Later, Moses is almost killed as he begins his journey with his wife and son.    Zipporah, Mrs. Moses, responds to the threat on her husband's life with circumcising their son.  Probably not my knee-jerk response to the situation.  

She is a Midianite.  Midian was a child of Keturah and Abraham.  Moses was from Jacob's line.  I would imagine that circumcision was a well-known procedure in each of their cultures.  Given Zippy's response of immediate circ'ing, it seems the ritual was known and perhaps one that had even been discussed in their home, perhaps even recently.

Why would this not have been done previously?  Would Moses or Zippy have withheld this God-ordained ceremony from their child?  Would the fact that Moses had been circ'd have anything to do with why he wasn't married in Egypt?  What was wrongly believed or held onto?

God, please show me what I am holding onto that needs to be discarded, where I am delinquent in obedience to Your word - which I know is disobedience.  Reveal to me what I am wrongly believing, even defiantly clinging to.  May my heart be fully yours, my thoughts completely yielded to You and my response be 'yes' and immediately so.  You alone are worthy of the glory, honor, praise and obedience of Your creation.  May it be so in my life.

Friday, July 29, 2011

exodus 3

I read my scripture from and listen to one of their audio files reading it to me at the same time, (and Pandora is playing one of my favorite instrumental stations in the background, too).  Often, as I do this, one or more of my kids sits in the room with me working on school work.  

This morning, my son listened with me and remarked, "It's funny that Moses is worrying about who he is to talk to Pharaoh when he is talking to GOD.  It seems he's more respectful or worried about Pharaoh than he is about GOD."  Ouch.  Help me, Father, to always be more mindful of You than anyone, thing or circumstance I encounter.

Moses was working for another doing his job in solitude.  God met Moses on the west side of the wilderness.  Lord, please meet me in the dailyness of my work, help me to have eyes to see and a willingness to respond to You in the west side of my wildernesses.  I want to respond.

God warns Moses that Pharaoh will only "comply" under compulsion.  When God is encouraging compliance in oppressors, that same wave of "motivation" can splash on the faithful ones He is liberating.  God, give me heart and vision for the liberating.  Help me to be first-response-compliant to You and love You and others well in the splash zone of testings.  You are good, God, and what You do is good.  I praise You.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Exodus 2

A baby boy born alive with a death sentence on his head.  An infant who is given up by a slave, then taken up by a princess, who is raised in the royal court, who then holds court on another, who takes that life, who runs for his own, who serves and protects strangers as he disappears from the scene of suffering for years.  

He was recognized as an exceptional child - but not a firstborn, a Hebrew, a murderer; all of which he was.  And an Egyptian, which he wasn't ... not completely ... well, it was complicated.

A path that I would not select for the one to head up the Israel-exodus committee. 

God's ways are not mine. 

But God is sovereign over all things, dubious references and resumes included. 

And what of all the time this young man had before he was "useful" to God?  Was it wasted in the palace, the homicide, the running away, becoming an alien in a foreign land?  God is still sovereign over that.  God defines what is "useful" to Him, as well. 

I am challenged that God's path is not the expected one.   Man's protocol does not define nor bind God.  Classic God example is Christ, who is risen from the dead. Man's plan is that dead folk stay dead.  The Lord is just so exotically Himself.

Father God, Holy One of Israel, Your timing is terribly perfect and patient.  You are not bound by my heritage, my gender, my education, my economic circumstances,  my screw-ups, the opportunities I have slaughtered, the secrets I want to leave buried in the sand, my exoduses from unpleasant situations, my identity nor my complications.  As hard as it is for me to comprehend and walk in confidence regarding, You have me where You want me.  All the time.  I can't surprise You nor can I throw You a curve ball.  What is or isn't is completely under Your sovereign grace, wisdom and power.  Give me eyes to see, knees to bow before You, a heart to worship You and give You glory in the palaces, deserts and all places in between which You provide me.  I love how You are You, like no one else!

Exodus 1

The new Egyptian king did not know Joseph.  He was afraid of what the Hebrews would do or not do to his kingdom.  He oppressed them, they prospered.  Egyptians dreaded the Israelites.  The Egyptians dealt ruthlessly with their perceived enemy.  

As a believer, the world does not know me or other children of God.  The regular folk can be afraid of  the mere culture of Christianity - they do not know.  The enemy tries to oppress; however God's ways are for abundant life and His child prospers - perhaps not in the currency of man - but blessings cometh.  And as the soul-deep contentment permeates the life of the oppressed believer, outsiders can dread dealing with a Christ-follower - they just do not know nor do they get it.  The followers-of-other-gods can even perceive an adversary in the God-faithful and choose to deal harshly with those same God-faithful ones.  They do not know.

Lord God, if it had not been for You, I would not know. I thank You and praise You for Your gracious love towards me.  Yet, if I didn't know,  I could be afraid of Christ's culture.  In the past, I have been ashamed of how You have been represented, perhaps I have been part of the oppressing.   I am so sorry.  Let me not barter in the marketplace of man's ways; but let me walk in Your ways, all my days, revealing and reveling in Your peace which permeates all problems, predicaments and passions.  I want to be part of those that help others to know You.  To recognize You and to respond to You.  You are already at work in other's lives - may I join You and Your efforts?  Please help me to spread Your message of Peace, Faithfulness and Salvation to those who do not know.  Oh, that all would know.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Genesis 50

Am I so faith-filled that I would make sure my bones were in the promised land?  Am I so determined to be in relationship with my Lord that I would make burial arrangements just to be closer to His promises?  I know the physical disposition of my body doesn't matter; but just how hungry am I for God's word to be fulfilled in my life, my legacy?  How desperate am I to be full of faith in my actions and plans?  Where do I plan in faith?  God, teach me the faith and planning of a promised land burial.  Give me vision to look beyond the next five minutes, five years to the eternal.  Let me live with You and still look forward to You.

Receiving grace is a challenge to those who who have failed in it.  Joe's bros. struggled after all those years, probably during them, too.  I am reminded that we were told that we would be recognized, known, identified by our love.  Lord of Grace, please help me to give and receive grace graciously and let my mind land trustingly on Your sovereignty and not other's pettiness, evil and negligence.  God, please help me to defeat the performance mentality in my life and those You bring to my life.  And may they know me by my love - the outpouring of Your love.  To the praise of Your very great Name.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Genesis 49

I wait for your salvation, O Lord.

In the middle of his last act of parenting, this aged, frail father cries out to his Lord.  He realized the end of his earthly journey was close and faithfully states that he is expecting God's salvation. 

I don't know if it was for himself, for the men he called sons, the generations of the nation coming from him or prophetically for Christ.  Maybe some combination of all. 

I am encouraged, with all that Jacob was giving out, that he is parked in expectancy of His Lord's provision of preservation, deliverance, rescue, redemption.  Lord, may I never do anything without expecting Your salvation.

One other little personal kind of encouragement is that it is Jacob who calls his sons, Jacob who blesses, Jacob who desires to join his fathers, mothers and his wife Leah and Jacob who dies.  He was Jacob for his childhood, his young adulthood, his weddings, his children's births, his fathering.  How strange it must have been to have a different name so late into his life.  I am blessed that it is the individual name who closes this chapter, not the national name.  I love God's attention to details and individuals.  I praise You, Father, that You are the God who sees me, the One who knows my name and the One who lifts up my face.  Only You.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Genesis 48

Israel puts the younger ahead of the older, just like how he had manipulated his own blessings way back when.  Joseph responds to the wrongness of this arrangement - but receives his father's rebuke and reassurance. After all of the turmoil in the family and the conduct of the brothers, I am not certain who would have stood in line for the blessing of the firstborn; but  Joseph is the only firstborn who did not deceive him., and he is Rachel's first son, too.  Ironically Joseph did not need any tangible goods from Israel to make him richer, either; but this ensures Joseph's part, his double part in the heritage of Israel. 

My head is just a flitter with all these details. 

Why bless as Israel did? The blessing was the father's to give.  Just as my Heavenly Father blesses as He chooses.  Israel chose to bring the younger ahead of the older - kind of backwards; but it was his call.  In God's Kingdom, His ways often seem counter-intuitive to our methods and logic.  To go up, you go down.  Serving is the leader's way.  Sacrifice that you may have.  Die that you may live. 

Israel's eyes were dim; but his spiritual perception was acute.  He knew who, how and when to bless.  He even made sure to do a preemptive blessing on Joseph's children - so the other brothers had the blessings left for them.  No cheating or misdealings were to be done here.

I can wonder if God sees me or remembers my predicament; but when I submit my heart to my loving Father, I am reassured that He knows who, how and when to pour out His blessings and mercies.  I know He is Omni-Sovereign and Omnipotent.  He knows who to lift up and who to let down.  He puts leaders in power and power in servants,  He is worthy to receive sacrifices and fills the empty.  Abundant life of His choosing is for those who lay their right to life down to Him.

Like my Heavenly Father who is patient and self-controlled in His timing, Israel waited until just the right time to give the blessings to Joseph.  I an trust my Father's timeline and disbursement decisions, as well.

Lord God, my Father, please help me to trust You more in Your divine allocations, holy timings and list of recipients.  May I be deeply and soul-ishly pleased to know You and to be Your daughter more than anything You could give or take away from me, more than anything You ever do for another, more than anything I could ever dream or imagine.  Only You can make me content.  Father, I receive Your all-consuming satisfaction, may I turn it back to You in praise and glory of Your great, loving and Fatherly Name.  Father really does know best.  I thank You.

Genesis 47

I had never noticed that Joseph enslaved the Egyptians as a result of the famine.  No wonder they are jealous/insecure about the prosperous Israelites later on.  And the price of the grain was so steep - bags of silver.  And Israel was provided for by God through Joseph. 

What challenges me is Jacob, he enters and blesses Pharaoh then exits and blesses Pharaoh.  This reminds me of Genesis 27 where Isaac speaks the blessing on his son Jacob the Poser, "Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, And of the fatness of the earth, And an abundance of grain and new wine;  May peoples serve you, And nations bow down to you; Be master of your brothers, And may your mother's sons bow down to you (curious that these previous two particular phrases are spoken to him). Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you."

Jacob, in keeping with his personal blessing and the Genesis 12 God-promise, is a blessing.  He blesses the one that blessed him.  He blesses the one who allowed him to continue in the abundance of grain and new wine.  He was served and Egypt honored him.  Jacob, in coming and going, blesses.  Lord, I want to be a blesser, too.  Give me Your words to impart, eyes to see where You are working and people to bless.  Holy Spirit, please reveal to me where the God-promises are being kept in my life.  Let me celebrate You wherever You are stirring.

Even in this new place, Jake's family is set apart, helping them to remain distinct.  They could have done anything as an occupation; but they were shepherds.  An odious thing to people they did not live among nor were expecting to live among; but God made them shepherds because it was important later...  Lord, grant me heart and vision for the latter things for which I must participate in today.  Keep me hagios - regardless of prior use, totally set apart for Your use.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Genesis 46


God saw and spoke to the rejected Hagar there, 
Abraham called on the Name of the LORD, the Everlasting God
                 and planted a tamarisk tree there, 
Isaac built an altar and called on the Name of the LORD after the LORD
                 spoke to him there,
Isaac's servants found water for themselves there,
Israel offered sacrifices to the God of his father and that same God
                 was his as the LORD spoke to him in visions there.

Purpose, promises, precious words spoken from the Most Holy God to His creation at Beersheba.  Needs seen, needs met.   Calling.  Answering.  Worship.  Devotion.  Assurance.  Acceptance.  Hope.  Sustenance.  Refreshment.  Laying down.  Getting up.  Personal.  Relational.  Private.  Real.

Lord God, help me to sit before You, call on Your very great Name, plant a forest of righteousness, build altars, offer myself as a living sacrifice, and receive Your words, visions and revelation at "our" Beersheba.  May I faithfully and consistently tend to the place from which the Living Water is drawn.  I recognize I don't understand all that I ask with this prayer; but I trust You to show up, speak and give me understanding.  May I steward well what You entrust to me.  You are my Beersheba.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Genesis 45

Joseph tells his brothers what to say to their dad - not one part mentions what they did to him.  It seems that Joseph perhaps is trying to distract from those events by telling of the great work of their God in his position.  Oh Lord, that I could forgive so cleanly, genuinely and winsomely.  I know, it's not forgiveness if it is not complete.  Lord, help to me have a default setting of thorough forgiveness and grace.  And may it bring You glory.

Give no thought to your possessions, for the best ... is yours.

This challenges me as God's call says to lay down what I treasure, die to myself daily and carry my cross (still not sure what all that means); but what He offers me in exchange for the dailyness of diligence is the best.  Himself.  Lord God, may I daily submit to Your call and purpose for my life.  May I be quick to go where You direct and travel lightly.  Let my heart have no affiliation, no allegiance, no affection that You do not authorize.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Genesis 44

Judah pleads with many words for Benjamin.  He tells the whole story, the "I gotta tell you that so I can tell you this" to a surprisingly patient overseer (lol).  I am encouraged as I am one to use many words to convey what I mean.  

I'm sorry, I don't know how to do it otherwise, I simply think with the words.  Many times,  I don't even know where I will end until the process of words has run its course.  Often, that's how the Lord speaks to me.  It is truly how I think, how I reason.  

I have prayed for brevity; but it hasn't come.  Judah's speech reassures me.  His boldness challenges me.  His passion inspires me.  Thank You, Father for this sweet embrace in word form.  You love like no other!

And again, I am moved that it is Judah who initiates taking the place of a beloved in responsibility, slavery and perhaps death.  What a precious gift to Benjamin, Joseph, the other brothers and ultimately his father.  A lion called Judah.  Sweet Jesus, thank You for Your unmatchable, unfathomable gift of taking my place.  You are the Initiator of Grace and You are the One who completes grace.  I praise You.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Genesis 42

Twenty plus years have passed since Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers.  They immediately land on the conclusion that this present hardship is a result of their past sin.  I wonder if this is how the previous years were lived, too.  

Reuben stands out to me, as he references his impotent attempt to salvage his brother's future.  I wonder what thoughts decorated his mindscape those twenty years.  How many 'If only, I had ... ' or 'I should have ... ' did he wrestle with?   Reuben had tried to manipulate the evil the others planned; but he had not taken a firm, clear stand against it.

Lord God, I confess I have several 'If only's' and 'I shoulda's' in my history; but I know that You are Lord over my past, present and my future.  I choose to lay those  situations at the foot of Your cross as well as yield my theoretical thoughts to You.  Guide me in wisdom, forgiveness and reconciliation that I may glorify You in every thought, word, action and interaction; even today.  Strengthen me that I may confront evil directly and clearly, that I would be useful to You to rescue those whose souls are in distress.  God, I fear You; I want to live Your way and make You famous in my life.  Even today, Lord.

Genesis 41

Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph ... The name of the second he called Ephraim, "For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction."

Joseph was sold when he was 17, he was 30 when he began his service to Pharaoh and the people of Egypt.  Thirteen years of slavery and conviction life.  Thirteen years of integrity and faithfulness in the face of extremely unfair circumstances.  It appears that Joseph's appetite for the God of his fathers has only increased.  He sought to be fruitful in his afflictions.  

Lord, I want to walk that closely with You that I am fruitful in the land and times of affliction and blessing.  I want to always realize that it is You who makes me fruitful, who strengthens me, who gives me purpose - even when circumstances are not fair or reasonable.  Grow me up in You that I may seek You harder and more devotedly the older I become.  Help me to be pleased to yield to You, despite the cost. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Genesis 40

Joseph saw the men in his care were downcast asked them why.  He did his job; but he also cared about them.  He directed them to God as the interpreter of dreams; but he yielded himself to be a tool for God's words to them.  Joseph had the courage to give the dire truth to the baker.  Joseph didn't hedge or falter, he spoke the meaning plainly.

The conduct of Joseph again draws me in - he was respectful and responsible; but he also invested in the people he was around.  He could have done his job without inquiring after the two men.  He could have missed their sadness because he did not know them well enough.  But Joseph did know them, he did have concern for them and he cared enough to speak the truth to them.  

Father, help me to invest better in those You entrust to me.  Help me to know them well and to be concerned - even when it's not convenient or comfortable to me.  Grant me the holy chutzpah to speak Your truth, especially when it is hard.  Help me to steward people and Your truth graciously and to Your glory.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Genesis 39

...The LORD was with Joseph...His master saw that the LORD was with Joseph...the LORD caused all Joseph did to succeed...the LORD blessed ... for Joseph's sake....In prison, the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor...because the LORD was with him.

Previously, one of Joseph's big brothers, Judah had been the one to convince the brothers of the idea of selling Joseph into slavery rather than killing him.  Then, Judah leaves the family and begins his own family with a Canaanite wife. The LORD puts to death Judah's two wicked sons.  Next his wife dies.  Judah has certain obligations to Tamar, the widow of his son; which he neglects to perform. 

It appears that Judah's story unfolds in tandem with Joseph's new arrangements.  Judah had the LORD with him; as we see the LORD puts to death the his boys.  We also see the prompt gift of the twins to Tamar (after all the stories of barrenness in the heritage of this family).  Despite all the wrongness of Judah's personal choices, he still had success in the familial fashion.  Judah even experienced God's favor with the one he wronged as she was granted favor with children, his children and in the divine lineage, too.  Some pretty promising circumstance and some really lousy choices. 

Joseph had the LORD with him, despite the wrongness of his circumstances - Joseph walked in that divine favor and maintained his integrity.  Some horribly unfair circumstances and some incredible virtue.

The response of the two men to their situations brings to mind again the question ... no, the demand of the response to God.  The LORD is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving, all-righteous and holy - with or without my belief or assent to that fact.  As I do believe those qualities are just some of His, how am I going to respond to God as I experience unfair circumstances?  Great opportunities?  Temptations?  Questionable scenarios and unsure outcomes?  

I am confronted with the fact that it's not the circumstances which I must address.  It is God who requires my response.   My Lord God claims and deserves my reply to Him through my life, my scenes, my outtakes.  I pray that through my life, I will constantly and (prayerfully) consistently choose to receive that which He has for me and walk in integrity, honor and loving obedience to Him.  Despite the circumstances.  Lord God of All, keep my eyes and heart on You.  I am desperate for this, everyday.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Genesis 38

Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

Judah had not been honest nor honorable in his dealings with Tamar.  When he was caught, he owned his unrighteousness.  He hadn't been right; but he didn't lie nor try to cover up his indiscretions.  Reminds me of Psalm 16's famous line, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."

Lord, I need a transparent heart before You. I don't want to be a secret keeper, it's too hard and time-consuming.  I can't afford to coddle pride and arrogance in my relationship with You; but I am so prone to try to make myself look better.  Help me to receive and submit to Your instruction, an honest rebuke, a fair correction and the internship of righteousness You have arranged for me. Help me to own what I do and respond rightly to You and others.  Please stop me from  participating in the spiritual, cultural or physical opportunities which are not pleasing to You.  Please help me to be a safe-person for anyone needing to share their secrets.  God, heal Your people.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Genesis 37

Then he (Joseph) dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers...

Joseph's brothers hated him for being loved more than any other child of their father.  Joseph had already shared one dream with his brothers and they hated him even more for that.  So he has another dream which is as bold as the first one and he pitches it out to them.  Does anyone anticipate this will end well?

Joe could not help any part of his placement in the family, nor could he change his father's affections - even if he had the maturity and wisdom to engage Jacob in conversation about it; but he could control what he said and to whom he spoke.

Throwing the second dream out to the brothers after the response he received from the first (and probably anything else he ever said to them, ref. Genesis 37:4) just seems like a bad idea to me.  I know, I know the rest of the story; but some of these (I am not certain if only two or all of them were complicit in the Dinah-defense - maybe even Joseph?) are the brothers who defended Dinah in that horrible fashion and one of them violated his step-mom.  With the actions and reactions that this family had in their history, why add fuel to the fire with this latest dream?  Why instigate what was smoldering already?  

This passage brought to mind Matthew 7:6, Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.  I know that poor Joseph did not have the New Testament available to him, but the common sense and integrity he shows later should have been whispering to him something at this age.

My challenge is to be careful and prayerful about sharing what God reveals to me that involves others.   Not that I ever wish to be careless with something from my Heavenly Father; but if something has potential to hurt, I want to steward that very well.  Think, pray, submit before I speak, post, text, email, comment, answer.  

Lord, help me to grow up in You that I may navigate Your trust as Your map says.  I don't want to hurt or cause harm, nor do I want to experience it; help me to love You and others well that I may serve You and others rightly.  Please help me to be an emissary of peace, Your peace, wherever I go.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Genesis 36

Genesis 25, the LORD's response to Rebekah regarding her pregnacy:

Two nations are in your womb;
And two peoples will be separated from your body;
And one people shall be stronger than the other;
And the older shall serve the younger.

Genesis 28, Isaac's blessing to Esau:

Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling,
And away from the dew of heaven from above.
By your sword you shall live,
And your brother you shall serve;
But it shall come about when you become restless,
That you will break his yoke from your neck.

Genesis 36 tells of all of Esau's sons.  The nations of people who began with him. 

True, Esau had frittered away his birthright, had tried to please his parents by marrying someone from the family (after marrying a couple which drove his parents mad) and had begged for a blessing after he's had his stolen.  He could have had a very sad, unforgiving, angry or tragic life, could have played the victim,  could have been stuck by his circumstances and what people said about him - even the LORD.

Esau had children, he had a family.  He grew up and he prospered.  His end was much better than his beginning as a young man.  He was not defeated by what had occurred in his life.  He didn't quit because his forecast was not as brilliant as his brother's.  He appears to have lived a full and generous life, even to the point of having some reconciliation with his brother. 

I can't pretend to know the meaning and ramifications of the divine words spoken regarding Esau and his brother.  But, maybe the yoke Esau threw off was one of unforgiveness towards his brother.  Perhaps that is what allowed Esau to flourish under the circumstances and "done-wrongs" by his brother.

My challenge from this is no matter what God is doing in my life, He is still doing big things in other's lives.  And vice-versa, no matter what He does in other's lives, He is still working in mine.  Don't let one person's prophecy or ministry or life shut someone else down.  Don't get so caught up in one person's life, work or situation that I neglect to live out my own.  I am encouraged here to work to live my own life, and encourage others to live their own. 

Father, let me walk in the contentment borne of a well-lived, loving-well and quick to forgive life; help me to spread that soul-ish satisfaction throughout my life, all to the praise of Your very great Name. 

Genesis 20

Thank You Father, that even when I blow a decision, You can still protect me.  I recognize that I can't rely on that protection and so make bad choices all the time; but when I do screw up, thank You for watching over me.  Lord God, help me to learn my lessons the first time.  Help me seek You and, if necessary, wise counsel when faced with unexpected or fearful opportunities.  Lord, help me to speak a word of caution if I hear a loved one planning what seems to me to be a disaster.  Let me receive wise direction from others when I am poised to jump the shark of reason and obedience.  Grant me wisdom and perseverance to walk through this life as who I am and not someone else - no matter who tells me differently.  You define me, Your Word, Your grace, Your love, Your plan; not some man-plan conceived in fear.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Genesis 35

So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.  Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone."

Today, I am Bethel - where God dwells through the Holy Spirit.  

What do I need to let go of, bury deep in the ground, leave behind?    

How can I better pursue godliness?  Purity?   

What changes do I need to make in order to go up and worship the Lord God in increasing holiness?  

Lord, You are the God who answers me, please grant me wisdom in these matters, today.  Teach my heart, my hands and my tongue to build altars to You.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Genesis 34

Dinah went out in an unfamiliar land.  She was a newcomer to the area, she didn't know the customs, nor the cautions, nor the characters.  This did not end well.

As a follower of Christ, I am looking for my home in a distant place and time.  I am often unfamiliar with this world; increasingly, I am unaware of the customs and the cautions.  The longer I am in pursuit of the True, the less I am knowledgeable about the present.  Customs, habits, T.V. shows, dress codes, conduct, music.  I am growing more out of touch with what is "in" by the  week - and I don't think it is so much related to getting older ...  I think it's that these things no longer interest me, compel me, lure me as they once did.  I digress, however.

So, as a believer, I am an alien in this place.  Like Dinah, I don't know the lay of the land, the landowners and the landmarks.  My caution from this text is to not act at the whim of my curiosity - but rather at the direction of my God.   I am not home here; I am in the camp of the enemy.  Curiosity without God can be very dangerous.  

Where am I wandering away from God's camp and protection in my life, in my imagination?  What safeguards do I need to ensure my interest in the world around me - even innocent perusing - does not step beyond the boundaries of my Lord's fence-line?

Also, Jacob refused to let Esau or his boys have anything to do with his entourage.  I wonder if what Jacob feared from Esau was any worse than what actually happened.  

Where are my fears driving me to make a godless decision?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Genesis 33

Previously, Jacob fled his home after he had nose-dived from grace with his dad and brother, (Genesis 27).  Twenty years later, Jacob sensed that he had fallen from favor in Laban's camp, (Genesis 31).  On Jacob's exodus to his family's homestead, he begins to receive favor from the Lord.  Now, Jacob desires to be regarded by Esau with favor.  

Favor is better than manipulation.   

Than fear.  

Than cheating.  

Than worry.  

Than unrighteousness.

Than anything I can do for myself.  

Favor is grace.

Seek favor.  Respond to favor.  Give favor.

El 'Elohey Yisra'el - El 'Elohey me,  Thank You for Your favor.  Thank You for Your redeeming grace to one that does not deserve.  I confess I want to work things out for myself, I am prone to manipulate details to suit my comfort, I react with fear and worry rather than faith.  I choose grace.  i choose Grace.  Strengthen me and train me to receive Your grace and favor for today.  May I not stray from the path of Your provided grace. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Genesis 32

And Jacob said, "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, 'Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,'  I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. But you said, 'I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.'"

Absolutely inspiring words by Jacob.  His first overtures to speak to his God, and he speaks in faith acknowledging his meager estate and unworthiness before God,  asking God to do what He had said and to deliver him.  Jacob takes his fear and his situation to God. 

The timing is interesting, in that only after Jake has so responded to God, he gets a new identity and walks in a new way.  He is not who he was ....  a cheater and a runner, fearful from the fallout of his dealings with others.  And he's not perfect confident and bold, either.  But he's personally engaging with God, obeying and starting to seek God's way.

Father, I recognize my utter unworthiness to have access to You; but I praise You for Your provision of grace which allows me You.  I bring my fear and my situation to You.  I seek Your divine plan for me; You have called me Your daughter, You allow me to serve You, please direct my steps, my heart and my response for Your glory's sake.  Holy Spirit, let my walk be distinctively different from the ways of my past, my conduct reflect Your essence and my life echo Your blueprint. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Genesis 31

Laban said, "This heap is a witness between you and me today."

This heap of messed up family, deceptions, insecurities and issues, it's a witness for sure.  It's still a witness.

Jacob runs away from this scenario in fear, just as he ran away from his parent's home - without confrontation, repentance or resolution.  Jacob has lived twenty years being cheated and is on his back to where he cheated others.

This hits me in two ways. ... One is to walk in integrity and keep short accounts.  I dread confrontation; but a quickly and honestly dealt with situation is much less pressure and pain than one I am haunted by.  Whether I am the offender or the offended, may I have eyes to see it, humility to address it and grace to pursue it to the glory of God - not me.  Lord, grant me heart to see a thing through and not run away from it, (as I am wont to do).

Secondly, is that God knows all things.  Even when we have been less than honorable in the past, He knows our motives today.  He allowed Jake to stay 20 years in the mess; but He blessed Jake as Jake worked hard and rendered honest service in the employ of a cheat and liar.  God knows what really goes on in lives and hearts and He can tell the story when it's appropriate.  God can make sure the story is never forgotten, too.  So, I can be confident that when a personal matter or a public event, like a court case, don't go the way I may have expected them to, that God is never tricked, manipulated nor bound by mortal's jurisprudence.  Lord, I acknowledge again that You are Lord over all.  You reign and I don't; but I can trust You in the times where things don't make sense and they make me crazy.  Your plan trumphs all others.  May You be glorified in my response.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Genesis 30

Rachel wanted children so desperately that she claimed she would die if she did not have them.  Perhaps, Rachel was subject to a cultural standard that children established the woman's value.  Sadly, it appears Rachel believed that about herself, too.  

When children failed to materialize for her, Rachel has the "Sarah-solution" of offering her maid-servant to her husband.  

Lord God, I know that I have wanted a thing or two as badly as Rachel sought children - things which I just knew would fulfill me perfectly.  In Your wisdom, those things have remained elusive and I thank You for those mercies.  Let me never forget who I am because of Who You are and what You have done.  Please help me to not believe what the world says about me; but what You say. I don't want to conform to this world; Holy Spirit, transform me.  Let me press in and grow in intimacy with You, Lord, in the giftings of Your denials.

Father, I would have thought that the Sarah/Hagar story would be part of the heritage of this family.  That at the mere mention of 'surrogate motherhood,' Abraham's grandson would rebuke the woman soundly; but that wasn't the case.  Help me, Lord God, to allow You to use my history for blessing and not the prostitution of anyone.  Help me to walk in the truth of life You have for me and to teach liberty to my children and any other You bring my way.  

May I be content in Your dealings with me, useful right where You have me and still on the altar of living sacrifice.  Please help me to never want a thing, a person, an experience more than You.  You are Enough!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Genesis 29

When Abraham sought a wife for Isaac, he sent some serious dowry gifts with his representative.  Laban was privy to that transaction.  

Now, years later, Laban finds the son of Abe, who is single and of marriageable age, on his proverbial doorstep. Scripture doesn't say that Jacob left with any tangible items - it seems he ran like a thief out of his daddy's domain or in an urgent fashion, at least - and no bride-price gift is mentioned.   Jake doesn't mention why he is in the area.  Wonder what Laban is thinking ...

Jacob's stay is negotiated at a month into the new relationship with his relatives.  The matter of a wife is brought up and a deal is struck.  As the contract comes due, Jake prepares to receive his bride and finds he has been deceived at the marriage; too late to object to the fulfillment.  

I wonder why Jake wasn't forthright in his mission, why didn't he tell Uncle Laban that Father Abe had sent him back home to fetch himself a wife.  Did  Jacob intend to bide his time until his momma called for him?  Initially, did he plan to obey his father by taking a wife from there?  What was he thinking? Was he scheming?  Given his crafty background, why was Jacob not prepared for the duplicity Laban handed him?  Or was he?

And what on earth did Laban tell Leah?  How on earth did he subdue Rachel during that time?  Did either daughter resist this or were they both complicit in the cheat?  

What a filthy mess of dysfunction, deception and cooperation.  What a wedding gift.  What a reputation.  What a bunch of baggage.

Lord God, I thank You that You are not a God who shows favortism to one over another.  Lord, I thank You that You have allowed this messed up situation to be made known to subsequent generations, and that You are the Redeeming One.  I praise You that no one's deceptions and cheating can detour Your plan.  And, my heart breaks for the brides, their children and even, the groom.  Lord, I thank You that Your plan is for one man and one woman to marry and have children.  Your wise plan for exclusivity and monogamy provides shelter and protection unto itself.

Lord, help me be a wife who loves You best of all, who honors her husband, who has her family's best interest at heart, and chooses the craggy, narrow, oft'times precipitous path of selfless love, integrity, honesty and holiness.  Keep me from participating in anything duplicitous, anything which betrays a trust You have given me to keep and anything which is wrong (even if it is merely a thought - for even a thought can take root or offer a stronghold to the enemy of my soul).  I trust You Lord, help me to live that out in word and deed, that I may bring You much glory. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Genesis 28

And behold ...

Oh Lord, that I would behold.  Grant me vision, hearing, understanding and a heart that I would behold. 

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 ...

After the Jacob's dream, the promises he received from God and the majesty of the place, Jacob seems to restate the covenant as if it's his to make.  "If God ... and if God ... then He will be my God," loosely translated.  

Does this young man not yet get that God is still God with or without his assent.  Had he not heard the story of Abe and Isaac on the mountain!  

And what about the tremendous promises God had made him?  Was being in the "alpha" position so important to Jake that he had to set the terms, even to the extent of losing some major perks from the Perk-Granting God?  I don't understand his response. 

Oh Lord God of Heaven and Earth, I thank You for Your promises and Your perks.  I acknowledge that if Heaven's spyglass were turned to my life, the same observations could be made about me.  You are God.  You are my God.  And You are God in Heaven, here am I on earth; let my words be few.  Please stop me from trying to redefine Your promises, from setting the tone and stage for Your glory and from attempting to let You be my God.  May I never stray from being Your daughter and serving You.  Oh, that it would be a faithful service.  May I behold You and Your glory, may I receive from Your hand, Your mouth, Your plan just what You give and may I be gracious always. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Genesis 27

Now then, take ... , and go out ... , and ... , such as I love, and bring it to me so ... that my soul may bless you before I die.

I thank You my Heavenly Father that You did not require me to do anything before You blessed me.  Please help me to bless freely those that You give me to bless; let me not require a list of to-do's before I approve another, according to Your example. Please grant me contentment and rest in You that I may not try to grab a blessing intended for someone else or in faithlessness pray away a blessing You supply through difficulties.  Father, unlike Jacob, let me receive all of Your blessings for me, in Your time and manner.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Genesis 26

Genesis 20  Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah ... Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, "What have you done to us?  You have done to me things that ought not to be done."  Abraham said, "Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. "

Genesis 26  So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," for he feared to say, "My wife," thinking, "lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,"  ... So Abimelech called Isaac and said, "Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, 'She is my sister'?" Isaac said to him, "Because I thought, 'Lest I die because of her.'"

Abe had received a specific promise from the Lord regarding his and Sarah's essential importance in the biological line of Isaac before he journeyed to Gerar and lied.  He also had witnessed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  God's word, His promise, His power and Abe is inspired to lie.

Abe's deception was influenced by his belief that "there is no fear of God" in Gerar.  The challenging part was that the Gerar's king received words from God and he immediately acted on them, in faith.  

Years later, we see a similar deceit played out in the same kingdom.  Abe's son operates out of fear and dread after he receives those words of promise, blessing and posterity from the LORD God:  Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father.

Why do the godless folk conduct themselves more honorably than those chosen by God?  How can we let fear, dread, pessimism have a greater influence on us than the Word of the Lord and our history with Him.

Lord God, help me to seriously and viably take You at Your Word.  Please help me  let You frame and filter all of my life, my children's lives and those in my circle of influence.  Keep me from walking in response to fear, planning with consideration of terror and expecting the influence of anxiety.  May I respond to You, plan according to Your direction and expect You.  May I be strong and courageous, true and honest, faithful and obedient to the praise of Your Name!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Genesis 25

Abraham gave everything he owned to his son Isaac.  But before he died, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them off to a land in the east, away from Isaac. ... His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah. ... Isaac loved Esau ... but Rebekah loved Jacob. ... Jacob replied (to Esau), “... trade me your rights as the firstborn son.” ...  So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob. ... He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.

Father God ...
Someone will always have more than me.  Someone will always have less.  Grant me contentment in all things and wise words  to share which encourage satisfaction.

Someone will appear to walk in greater favor than me; someone will seem to have less favor  than me.  Keep my eyes on You and let me listen only for Your grace to me.  Help me to stir that same gladness in others.

Sometimes, I will have to work with one whose existence truly complicates my thought-life and challenges my prayer-life.  Lord, no one enters my life apart from Your plan; let me stay focused on You and not my emotions, thoughts or preferences.

The attention one receives does not reflect the entire story of another, or me.  Lord, grant me supernatural understanding that I may engage in truth, love and spirit with the person and not the perception.

A person's values and priorities are expressed in their appetites.  Holy Spirit, let my desires reflect You.  May I never compromise spiritually to gain physically.

The decisions people make may bring great or grave consequences; but people are still people.  Unique and in need of God.  Lord Jesus, You showed perfect love and grace in response to sinners; let me follow Your divine example.  May I receive what You offer me, too.

Lord God, I praise You for You are the One who knows each of us, Who sees each of us and knows us by name.  You alone are the One worthy of praise and honor and glory and majesty.  

I confess, I am sometimes unsettled by what I perceive one  has and another lacks.  I struggle when I see or experience some of the scenarios these verses remind of.  Help me, inspire me to respond lovingly, honorably and with integrity when I do pass through these opportunities.  May I bring You glory in each encounter.  Purify my desires and passions that I may not trample Your grace, malign Your Name or show contempt for the gifts You have blessed me with.  Heal me of insecurity, Father, and use me to heal others, if it pleases You.