Thursday, January 26, 2017

January 26, 2017 – Genesis 41-42 -God protecting His people

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Genesis 41-42. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read His Word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

What Does This Passage Say?
  • Joseph has been in prison for a considerable amount of time. He has gone from being his father’s favorite son, to being sold by his brothers, sold by his cousins, and enslaved in Potiphar’s house. However, God has been with him. Both Potiphar and the prison warden have seen God’s hand upon Joseph and elevated his position and responsibilities. But, he remains in prison.
  • Until, Pharaoh himself started having dreams. Pharaoh had two dreams. The first was seven healthy cows being swallowed by seven sickly cows. The second dream was seven thick and luscious grains being devoured by seven scorched grains. These two dreams frightened Pharaoh, and no one could tell him what they meant. That is when the cupbearer remembered Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams.
  • So Joseph is called for and Joseph tells Pharaoh he cannot do it … but God can. Joseph tells Pharaoh that the two dreams he had are the same … and they mean there is going to be seven good years followed by seven bad years … seven years of famine. Joseph recommends that they prepare for the bad times during the good times. Pharaoh likes this idea so much that he chooses to put Joseph in charge of preparing for the bad years.
  • To prepare, Joseph charges a tax on all the people … he collects grain. It is during this time that Joseph marries and has two children of his own, Ephraim and Manasseh.
  • After the seven good years’ famine begins to spread across the land. This famine wasn’t just in Egypt, it extended all the way up to Joseph’s homeland and made an impact on his own family. Desperate and hungry, his brothers, 10 of them, make the trip down to Egypt to buy grain from the only nation that is prepared.
  • Unknown to them, the man who is in charge of this entire system is their brother they sold into slavery some twenty years before. He immediately recognizes them … and he has to know if they have changed. So, he accuses them of being spies. But they deny it and they even reveal who they are to him, indicating that Joseph’s whole brother Benjamin is still alive. After three days Joseph was ready to send them on their way.
  • Before he could do so, he wanted to make sure he would one day see his brother again … so he forced Simeon to stay behind and be held in prison. Then he had their sacks filled, their money put back in, and sent them on their way. On their return trip, they found the money in their sacks, and when they showed their father, they were all frightened … frightened because they didn’t know what their future held … they didn’t know if they would get Simeon back … and frightened that they may lose Benjamin in the process. With food on their tables, Jacob had a dilemma on his hands … go back and get Simeon and risk losing Benjamin, or wait it out.

What Does this passage Teach?

  • Our reading today reminds us that God has a plan and purpose. God had selected Abraham and his descendants to bring Jesus into our world. He allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery to be the one to save his family from drought. In this time of drought, they found relief in their own brother in Egypt. God’s plan is still working out, but so far, the mission of bringing Jesus into our world is still on. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

January 25, 2017 – Genesis 38-40 - God's At Work

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Genesis 38-40. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read His Word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

What Does This Passage Say?
  • This is perhaps one of those passages of Scripture that remind us the people that God used to tell His story were flawed. One of Jacob’s sons, Judah, moves out from his family and marries a Canaanite woman. They had three sons. The oldest marries, but God saw him as wicked, so he dies without producing offspring. The second one, follows the customs of the day and marries his brothers widow. He knows that any children born to him will not be his own, but will be his brothers (odd structure for us today), so he does not produce children. This displeases God. The third son, Judah refuses to give to Tamar. So, Tamar dresses as a shrine prostitute, disguises herself and sleeps with her father-in-law. This affair ends up with her pregnant, producing two sons, Perez and Zerah. Because of the payment Judah gives her, she is protected from punishment. This story is a brief interlude from the story of Joseph.
  • Now we are back to the story of Joseph. He is now in the land of Egypt, where he has been sold in to slavery and purchased by one of Pharaoh’s officials. Potiphar likes Joseph and even sees that God has blessed him. So, Potiphar trusts Joseph with more and more responsibility, until he puts him over his entire household. Not only has Potiphar noticed Joseph, so has his wife. She noticed his physical attributes and desired him sexually. Joseph was an honest man and true to God. Every advance that she made he refused. One day, she trapped him, and because of his rejection, she cried foul, and this forced Joseph to be thrown into prison. I am convinced that Potiphar knew what kind of woman he was married to, and his anger was more directed to her than to Joseph. However, his only option was to send Joseph to prison.
  • Joseph has now found himself in prison. A very similar scene plays out in prison as it did in Potiphar’s house. God is with Joseph, and the guards give him responsibilities, until he is caring for the entire prison. It is during his rounds he encounters two more of Pharaoh’s officials … his cupbearer and his baker. They have both been thrown into prison and both have had bad dreams Joseph reveals that he can interrupt dreams so both share them with him. Joseph’s dream telling comes true, the baker is killed and the cupbearer is restored to his position. Sadly, for a time Joseph is forgotten.

How Can I Apply this Passage to my Life?

  • In the story of Judah and Tamar two sons are born to this odd couple. Perez and Zerah. Both of these boys are mentioned in Matthew 1:3. Matthew 1:3 happens to be a portion of the genealogy of Jesus. That means that one of these two boys (Perez) is a direct ancestor of Jesus. Jesus is a descendant from this sordid affair. Friends, it is a reminder … not only is God a God of forgiveness, He can also do some amazing things, like save the world, though sinful people like you and me. What sin do you hide in your past? Remember, it isn’t too much for God to not be able to work with. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24, 2017 – Genesis 35-37 – Catching Up

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Genesis 35-37 . Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read His Word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

I want to say thank you to everyone who has shared condolences with my family after the recent passing of my uncle. During this time I was unable to write the daily Bible reading thoughts. I appreciate the understanding during my time away. Thank you.

What Does This Passage Say?
  • In my time away we have missed a lot of material. So, let’s do a quick recap. Abraham and Sarah end up having a child, and as God announced they named him Isaac. When Isaac was around fourteen years old God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to Him. Perhaps confused, Abraham is obedient and did just as God asks … and right before he finishes the task, God provides a ram to replace Isaac. It is on the heels of this that Sarah passes away.
  • Following these events, when Isaac is around forty years old Abraham sends ones of his servant back to his homeland to find a wife for Isaac. The servant is led by God right to Abraham’s own people where He selects a young girl named Rebekah for Isaac. The servant then takes Rebekah back to the promised land to marry Isaac. With this stage of life complete, Abraham passes away and is buried in the tomb next to his wife Sarah.
  • Isaac and Rebekah end up having two twin boys. These twins are at odds with each other, even in the womb. The youngest one, Jacob is loved by his mother and the oldest is loved by his father. Out of weakness, Esau, the oldest, gives up his birthright to the youngest. Out of trickery, Jacob, the youngest, and his mother trick Isaac into blessing Jacob instead of Esau.
  • With this trickery, Jacob is fearful that Esau will kill him so he flees … where he ends up at his uncle Laban’s house. It is here he falls in love and commits to working seven years for his uncle Laban’s youngest daughter, Rachel, hand in marriage. Again, trickery is at play. When the seven years are up, Laban’s oldest daughter Leah has not been married, so he tricks Jacob into marring her. Upset and still in love with Rachel, Jacob agrees to work another seven years for Laban for her hand in marriage. Now Jacob is married to two sisters, but to only one woman he actually loves.
  • While living in his father-in-law/uncle’s house, Jacob’s two wives compete with each other for children … but struggling with infertility at times, with both giving their maidservants to Jacob as surrogates/wives. Through these four women, Jacob fathers twelve sons and one daughter. These twelve sons will go on to be the foundations for the twelve tribes of Israel.
  • During this season of life, Jacob has bartered a deal with Laban that has made him wealthy, and he knows it is time to return to the promised land. There is just one problem … how will Esau greet him. God is obviously at work here, because not only has Esau forgiven Jacob, he welcomes him with open arms. The restoration of the family is complete.
  • Now, in the middle of this return, as Jacob is preparing to meet up with his brother, Jacob has an odd encounter with a stranger … and angel of the Lord. This stranger wrestles with Jacob throughout the night and Jacob holds his own. Because of his wrestling with God, Jacob earns a new name … Israel, because he had struggled with God and man and overcome (Genesis 32:28). 
  • For the most part that catches us up, all be it for a few small stories.
  • In our reading for today, God speaks to Jacob/Israel and gives him instructions for where to set up his home. This spot, Bethel, was the place where Jacob meet God and his flight away from Esau and where he wrestled with God on his return to the Promised Land. It was here at Bethel that God established His covenant through Israel like He had done with Jacob’s grandfather Abraham. Because of what happened, Jacob worshiped God here.
  • The rest of chapter thirty-five and all of thirty-six serve as a transition for us. They reveal to us the deaths of Rachel and Issacs as well as the family trees of Jacob and Esau. While this is a lot of names, there is a lot of valuable meat in these names. There may be times later in our reading that a group will pop up … such as the Edomite’s … and you can know they are the descendants of Esau. Let me challenge you to not just glaze over reading these names.
  • Now in chapter thirty-seven we are introduced to one of the youngest sons of Jacob, the oldest son of Rachel, and the son that Jacob really loved. The remainder of Genesis revolves around Joseph’s story. Joseph is well loved by his father and all his older brothers know it. They are jealous of the special treatment he gets … plus he doesn’t help family relations much. You see, he has dreams and these dreams depict his brothers bowing down to him and honoring him. This upsets his brothers. So, one day, while they are out tending to their father’s sheep, Joseph shows up with some food and they decide to take action against him. Instead of killing him, they sell him to some Ishmaelite’s (remember the genealogy listing we just spoke about, this name should strike a chord, these are cousins, they are the descendants of their great-grandfather Abraham, through his son Ishmael). These Ishmaelite’s in return sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt. At the end of the day, Jacob believes Joseph is dead … something he mourns greatly over. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

January 18, 2017 – Genesis 19-21

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Genesis 19-21. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read His Word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

What Does This Passage Say?
  • The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a favorite of many Christians. It tells the tale of a righteous God bringing fast and swift judgement on a wicked people. Sodom and Gomorrah make up two cities out of five on a plain. They are wicked as evidence when the two visitors (angels) arrive at Lot’s house. They want to take these men and have sex with. This wasn’t women showing up but men.
  • Because of this sin, God is ready to destroy the city, but because of His conversation with Abraham, He first sends in these angels to get Lot out. Lot and his family escapes and all would have gone well if his wife hadn’t looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. How this was done or what it looked like we are not sure. The sin of the city did have its influence on Lot and his daughters. Instead of just turning the men away, he was willing to offer his daughters so they could rape them. His daughter’s minds were warped enough to sleep with the father to preserve their family lines.
  • On the heels of this event, Abraham picks up and moves his household and herds once again. This is the life of a nomadic shepherd. The region he moves into is governed by king Abimelech. Like before, he is worried for his own life because His eighty-nine-year-old wife is beautiful. So, he tells everyone she is his sister. Abimelech takes her and marries her as his own wife … think of this more as a political alliance than a physical marriage.
  • And remember this … she is supposed to be with child … Abraham’s child. To preserve the promise and the genealogy of Jesus, God comes in and saves the day and restores Sarah back to Abraham with no physical consummation taking place.
  • With the linage protected, Isaac is born. But his birth is going to disrupt the family. Ishmael was fourteen years old when Isaac was born, and possibly seventeen when Isaac was weened. His attitude and his mocking brought distress to Sarah … so she pleaded with her husband to send him away. Abraham did not want to do this, but God confirmed that Ishmael would be blessed and that God had a plan for him. And God did not forget Ishmael or Hagar, taking care of them as they left the safety of Abraham’s home.
  • Our reading concludes with a treaty of peace and good will being established between Abimelech and Abraham. This foreigner, was now fully accepted in the land.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January 17, 2017 – Genesis 16-18 – Contrasting Redemption and Sin.

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Genesis 16-18. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read His Word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

What Does This Passage Say?
  • After Abram had been in the Land of Canaan for ten years with no offspring, his aging wife decided she was not going to be the woman to give birth to the promised son. So, Sarai gave her maidservant Hagar to Abram. Abram and Hagar conceived and this roused the jealousy in Sari. This jealousy caused Hagar to flee. It was while fleeing, no destination in mind, that God appeared to Hagar. This is the first physical manifestation of God we find in the Bible.
  • While this coming son, a revelation to Hagar in a day and time with no ultrasounds, would not be the promise, God would bless her and him. To this Hagar responds with obedience by returning and with praise towards God.
  • Thirteen years after Ishmael was born God once again approaches Abram. Perhaps the thirteen years of silence was God’s discipline for taking matters into his own hands. Perhaps it was just His timing playing out. Regardless, God comes before Abram and reconfirms the covenant He made with Abram when He first called him.
  • In renewing the covenant God reminded Abram that this was all conditional based upon his ability to walk with the Lord be blameless. In confirming the covenant God also gave Abram a name change … Abram means exalted father … Abraham means father of multitudes. Abraham was going to be the father of many nations. Not only did Abram receive a name change, so did his wife Sarai to Sarah.
  • That day, God also reminded Abraham that he would still bear another son … this son would be the child the promise went through, not thirteen-year-old Ishmael. To mark His covenant God gave Abraham and all the males in his household the sign of circumcision.
  • Bible Scholar and Professor James Smith writes in his commentary, The Pentateuch, page 140, about circumcision … 
That the identifying mark of the Hebrew male should be on his sex organ is most appropriate. Far from being disreputable, this was the most sacred part of his while body. Thus if this, the most private of body parts, was dedicated to God, so must be his whole person. With this organ man became, in a special sense, a co-worker with God in producing godly offspring. In circumcision the sexual act was dedicated to God’s glory. When the wife became one flesh with her husband she too became sexually dedicated to the glory of God.
  • This covenant, marked by circumcision was an everlasting covenant with the purpose of bringing redemption into the world though Jesus Christ.
  • Our reading takes a drastic turn. Sometime after God’s announcement to Abraham, He appears as three visitors before him. Even though the visitors arrive at an inopportune time, Abraham is willing to roll out the red carpet, sending Sarah to bake bread and a servant to butcher a calf. During this discussion the Angle of the Lord declared Sarah would have a baby … which she heard from inside the tent … and laughed.
  • So far, the conversation is good … but it is about to turn ugly. As the visitors were about to leave, the Lord declared His intent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. This scene creates a graphic contrast … in Abraham God is creating a new nation, a nation that would bring redemption and holiness into the world, a nation that was to model what walking with God was supposed to look like … in Sodom and Gomorrah, God was about to destroy a people who did not exalt God, who did not honor Him in the way they lived, people whose lives were marked by sin.
  • When Abraham hears God’s plan he pleads for God to change course. He successfully does so, the only problem is, there were not 10 righteous people living there. But God does allow Abraham to rescue his nephew lot from the destruction. This is a stark reminder that sin and righteous cannot co-exist. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

January 16, 2017 – Genesis 12-15 – The Plan is in Motion

Below are my thoughts from the daily Bible reading of the West Side Church of Christ. Today’s reading comes from Genesis 12-15. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read His Word. Also above in the tabs is a link to the Bible reading plan.

What Does This Passage Say?
  • This is perhaps one of the most pivotal points in the entire Bible. In Genesis 3 we watched as man sinned. In Genesis 6 the world was so sinful God decided to send a flood. In Genesis 11 the world had tried to be like God and know the things of God so they created a tower. Sin is nasty part of the human condition. Sin separates us from God. But here in Genesis 12 God puts into motion his plan to redeem all of mankind.
  • God calls Abram to follow Him, to move to a new land … a land God will give to his descendants. If Abram does this, God promises to bless all people on earth through him (v. 3). Basically, God is saying to Abram that one day, one of his offspring will be born that will redeem mankind. As Christians, we know that offspring to be Jesus.
  • Seventy-five-year-old Abram listens and follows God to the promised land. But, he doesn’t remain there. Abram is a shepherd, driving large herds of sheep. Depending on the time of year and the others shepherds, he had to go where the water and grasses were. This causes him to end up in northern Egypt. It is here in Egypt that Abram makes his first mistake in this life of following God.
  • Abram’s wife, Sarai, also his half-sister (different mothers, this is something unheard of in our society, but not uncommon in theirs), was beautiful. Abram knew that sixty-five-year-old Sarai was desirable and men have killed other men to claim their wives. So, he lies. Just as he predicted the king takes her as his wife. But God protects Abram and saves the day and all is restored.
  • When Abram left his homeland, he took his nephew Lot with him. Because Abram had a large herd of sheep and Lot had a large herd of sheep the two separate. Lot took the better land and settled in the region of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was during this time that Lot got caught up in raid and was taken captive by the raiders.
  • It is here that uncle Abram comes in and saves the day. Not only does he and the large number of men born into his household (a good reminder to us that Abram was wealthy) save Lot, but they also save the day for the cities on the plain, returning all that was lost.
  • When Abram returns everything, he meets a king and priest of the one true God. In response to what God had done through him, Abram offers the first recording of a tithe given in the Bible.
  • Because of his faith, God comes to Abram and builds on the covenant. It is here that we are introduced to the protection God is going to give His people. It is here that circumcision is introduced. Its is here that promises to bless this childless couple with multitudes of offspring.

What is This Passage Teaching?
  • There are a lot of themes in these four chapters. But one stands out to me … God promised to world saving work through Abram … and no matter what ways he messed it up … God protected His promise.

How Can I Apply this Passage to my Life?

  • We serve a powerful God. God is a God who protects those He loves. Sometimes we may struggle with this. Sometimes we may wander does God even love me or care about me. Does God get upset with me. Is God ready to write me off. And the answer is no. One theme we are going to see as we keep reading through the Bible is that the people God uses in some amazing ways are really messed up and flawed people. If God could use them, and allow them to tell the story of His Word, then what will He be willing to do through your life. You are never beyond redemption. God loves you and will protect you as often as you need.