Mom is Always Right–Genesis 27 Part 1

I have been married for nearly a quarter of a century.  One of the most difficult lessons I have had to learn is the lesson that my lovely wife is usually–NO practically always right.  I confess I do not always like her approach, but–time bears out that she was on the mark with her assessments. It was the same with Isaac and Rebekah.  Rebekah heard God say–Joseph will rule Esau.  Throughout their lives, however, Isaac favored his burley Man’s man son Esau.  So when it came time to give the final blessing–there was a conflict.
 
Rebekah took the matters into her own hands–she built an elaborate plan to  achieve the right result.  It put Jacob in a bad place–he had to lie, cheat and steal the blessing to achieve God’s plan.  Everybody would lose.  Still, Rebekah was willing to take the shot–to see her son properly blessed. It could have been avoided had Isaac simply accepted God’s plan–but, he didn’t.  In addition, Esau was not a guy that was willing to accept God’s plan in any part of his life–especially as it relates to following God in building a God honoring nation.
 
I am consistently looking to follow the Lord in my life–As time has passed, I have learned that my wife is usually laser pointed on when I am not listening or not following his lead.  What’s more–if I listen, she will identify the key element that I miss and often sees what is best for our family.  It is not easy, I have to admit I am a bit dense…(HA! A BIT!!) and then take her wisdom and pray it through–but when we are aligned–God does amazing things in our lives and the lives of our family.  Thanks God for giving me a Godly wife!
 
God Bless You
Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”

13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”

One Origin, Many Nations, One Goal–Genesis 10

Three groups exited the Ark–The family of Ham, the family of Shem and the family of Japheth.  Through the years that followed, each line developed into nations, peoples and traditions.  One of the remarkable confirmations in archeology is the common flood tradition among the nations of the world.  Whether one is in Africa, China, the middle east or other parts of the world, the tradition of the flood and its aftermath appears in each culture’s history.

When we see the development of the cultures, we also see why the character of one–leaves indelible marks upon the character of those that come after. Ham’s lineage become the Godless, hedonistic cultures, Japheth’s lineage become the European and Far Eastern cultures and Shem’s lineage fill out Israel and the middle east.  Each line fills history with rises and falls, but, all can be traced back to the original 3 brothers.

Knowing this, we should not be surprised that God is as invested now as he ever was–in seeing all peoples and nations restored to a right relationship with him.  God always wanted men–no matter their lineage,to be in relationship with him.  It was that desire, from the beginning, that continued and continues even today to make the “Great Commission” as relevant and important in 2017 as it was on Christ’s ascension.  It was, is and always will be God’s desire that his chosen rise as priests–not kings! That is why Jesus last word before he left was, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

God Bless You

10 This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.

The Japhethites

The sons[a] of Japheth:

Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras.

The sons of Gomer:

Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.

The sons of Javan:

Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittites and the Rodanites.[b] (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)

The Hamites

The sons of Ham:

Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan.

The sons of Cush:

Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteka.

The sons of Raamah:

Sheba and Dedan.

Cush was the father[c] of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10 The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in[d] Shinar.[e] 11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir,[f] Calah 12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah—which is the great city.

13 Egypt was the father of

the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, 14 Pathrusites, Kasluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites.

15 Canaan was the father of

Sidon his firstborn,[g] and of the Hittites, 16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites.

Later the Canaanite clans scattered 19 and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha.

20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

The Semites

21 Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was[h] Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.

22 The sons of Shem:

Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram.

23 The sons of Aram:

Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshek.[i]

24 Arphaxad was the father of[j] Shelah,

and Shelah the father of Eber.

25 Two sons were born to Eber:

One was named Peleg,[k] because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.

26 Joktan was the father of

Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.

30 The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country.

31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.

The Amzing Nature of God–Ecclesiastes 7 Final

The world has spent its life trying to make sense of things.  It has tried to use everything in its little box to explain the things of God.  As each year passes, men attempt to explain the supernatural hand of God by using simple natural explanations–it always ends up foolish.
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Solomon was clear–when we base wisdom on men’s ideas and thoughts, it never comes out well.  Men should walk in reverence to God–the master and creator of all; but, instead–they work to minimize his creation and his influence on daily lives.  All that is necessary is simply to look up and see–the vastness of our universe, the creative nature of our planet, the variance in life, and the unique nature of men.  From that ultra-phenomenal view, we should kneel in awe and reverence to a God that did such an amazing thing, and still cares individually for us.
 
 Solomon’s wisdom led him to see that there are none righteous–all have sinned and will sin.  God, who created men and gave them the ability to choose, knew men would naturally pull away from him.  Still, he loved us and on this very occasion of Christmas–came to earth and filled the gap men’s evil hearts have made.  It always comes back to the most simple thing–fear God, live well and love others.
 
God Bless You
In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these:

the righteous perishing in their righteousness,
    and the wicked living long in their wickedness.
16 Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—
    why destroy yourself? 17 Do not be overwicked,
    and do not be a fool—why die before your time?
18 It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other.
    Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.[a]

19 Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful
    than ten rulers in a city.

20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
    no one who does what is right and never sins.

21 Do not pay attention to every word people say,
    or you may hear your servant cursing you—
22 for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.

Let the Persecution Begin–Acts 7

Steven was on trial for his spreading lies about the Jews.  What his accusers did not get, was that Stephen knew his people, their history and their need for a Savior—While not listed, Chapter 7 is a great summary of the history of the Jews to Christ. What is more, it is a recognition that like the rest of the world, the Jewish nation was simply incapable of following God without the assistance of the Lord himself.

Poor Stephen went there—he called them a stiff necked people—Just as God did when they were roaming the desert.  He was trying to help them to understand that sin is in their DNA; and they would always want to be independent of God.  Well the truth made the Jewish leaders crazy.  They dragged Stephen out of town and stoned him to death—the first public act of Church persecution.  There holding coats for them was Saul of Tarsus—HMMM, a little foreshadowing!

In our culture, We are at a crossroads.  As a nation, we are at a tipping point where we may soon be a persecuted church.  Should that time come, we have to be prepared to stand firm and hold on loosely to what we have.  Like Stephen, we may see the world turn before our very eyes.  If that is the case, we must be ready to sacrifice everything to worship God and follow him closely. If we are ready, like Stephen, then should persecution come, we can be a part of the final victory of the Church!

Help me, Lord to be ready to trade what I cannot keep to gain what I cannot lose! (Jim Elliot).

God Bless You

51 “You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him— 53 you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.”

The Stoning of Stephen

54 When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

57 At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

The Thirty Sayings of the Wise–Proverbs 22 Continued

In the middle of Proverbs 22, Solomon makes a shift.  After thoroughly exploring life from his vantage point, he compiles some of the most profound thoughts for people in his culture and for his time—funny thing though, wisdom continues to be timeless.  The people have not changed much and the principles that make their lives either great or poor really have not changed much either.  When men face life and its challenges, it is safe to say that each journey has its fair share. Some deal with financial crisis, some with health issues.  Many families experience pain and loss outside their control; while others see grief due to the choices of children or parents. Natural disaster, violent crime and stubborn and selfish attitudes were as prevalent in Solomon’s time—as they are today.

 The difference, in large part has to do with how one responds to the attacks of the day.  Make no mistake, we face an enemy—his single purpose is to neutralize and ultimately destroy any and everyone who chooses to trust God and not the world culture.  Like any bully, he will hit hardest those who refuse to comply with his wishes.  The more determined the opposition, the more despicable he becomes.  He attacks health, family and everything one holds dear.  If, when under such heinous attack, we remain faithful; then God will provide and prepare us for the rest of our journey—and he will see us to the end so that he can glorify us–at his side, as his chosen and his beloved.

 To survive, we must listen to the wise—the ones who have gone before.  We must also relinquish all we have to the lordship of God.  When we can finally release everything to his care—nothing held back, then he can begin to restore, protect and lead us to the finish line as champions and victors in a culture that would, otherwise, never allow us to finish the race.

 God Bless You

Pay attention and turn your ear to the sayings of the wise;     apply your heart to what I teach, 18 for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart     and have all of them ready on your lips. 19 So that your trust may be in the Lord,     I teach you today, even you. 20 Have I not written thirty sayings for you,     sayings of counsel and knowledge, 21 teaching you to be honest and to speak the truth,     so that you bring back truthful reports     to those you serve?

Be Watchful and Wise–Romans 16

Sadly, “Men of God” often use their office and influence to meet their personal agenda and personal gain.  Make no mistake, while they are labeled men of God, they are first and foremost MEN. Men are frail and always subject to their personal human nature. Often, they start out well—but, their desire for power or possessions begin to overtake their calling and mission.  Paul had seen many such men in his missionary journeys.  He had warned the flocks in several of the letters to be watchful for such men.

Sadly, many who are influenced by self-ascribed prophets are taken in by their eloquence or their promise of worldly gain for those follow most devoted.  In many cases, the leaders measure the devotion by the amount of treasure expended for the furtherance of the gospel. Their talks all center around the prosperity to be gained by giving more. Very little discussion is centered on knowing Christ or following his leadership—It is always how one can enjoy worldly wealth by faithfully sharing their earthly goods for the great ministry.

In our day little has changed.  There are still several preachers and evangelists who still work a crowd and gladly accept their gifts of faith to build a temple to their ministries.  While several that sacrificially give resemble the widow and her mites, the pastor and evangelists wear custom suits, drive luxury vehicles and travel the world to further the mission.  God tells us to be watchful—do not be taken in by those whom would use your offerings and devotion for their personal power and gain.  We vote with our feet.  If we walk by faith and follow God closely, we will be able to discern the truth and will be able to distinguish the true shepherds from those that are simply wolves in shepherds cloth.  Be courageous—stand with those who stand with him.

God Bless You

 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

21 Timothy, my co-worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my fellow Jews.

22 I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord.

23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings.

Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings. [24] [e]

25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from[f] faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Grin and Bear It–Romans 15 Part 1

What a crazy thought…The simple act of biting your lip is an act of worship to our Lord.  Paul was a very outspoken guy, he had trekked on 3 missionary journeys across Europe and Asia.  In each of those journeys, he had opportunities to see the best and the worst of the family of Christ both in the Jewish and Gentile world.  Yet, as he was wrapping up his guide to following Christ–in Rome, he focused on this major theme—People are weak, they will disappoint you—So if you want to be like Christ, then bear with them. 

No ministry in the family of God is more personal or more Christ like than the ministry of accepting people as being flawed.  Then working with them and encouraging them to be like Christ.  People respond to patient encouragement.  Think of Jesus—he literally spent three years pouring into the Apostles—they heard all his sermons, saw all his miracles and saw him at his best and most vulnerable moments.  Still, on the day of his crucifixion, they scattered like mice and hid.  After he rose, he met up with them, did not judge them—but prepared them for what became the tool that changed the world.

We are to be like him.  We are to bear with each other, recognize the frailty of men and patiently encourage and drive them to a right relationship with him.  Alcoholic’s Anonymous gets it—they offer regular times to meet, they always listen and encourage—without judging, they take life one day at a time and they move people to sobriety.  Hi, My name is Mike and I’m a sin alcoholic.  It has been ___ minutes since my last sin…(WELCOME MIKE!!!) Jesus said it best, “Let he who is without sin—cast the first stone!”

God Bless You

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”[a] For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.