Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday, July 31 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is  2 Corinthians 3; Psalm 131; Nehemiah 5-6
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 39

Joseph’s Success in Egypt
39 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. 3 Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. 5 It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the Lord’s blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field. 6 So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” 10 As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her. 11 Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. 12 She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. 13 When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. 15 When he heard that I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled and went outside.” 16 So she left his garment beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; 18 and as I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”

Joseph Imprisoned
19 Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me,” his anger burned. 20 So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22 The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. 23 The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made to prosper.

I so, so, so love the story of Joseph.  As far as I can see, it is one of the most clear and obvious cases in the Bible where things that seemed terrible when they happened turned out for the good, as Tiffany said on Tuesday.  This story can give each of us hope and courage that when things happen that are "bad" or difficult to go through and we don't understand why, God has a plan.  God had a BIG plan for Joseph and Joseph had to go through some terrible things to get where God needed him to be.  He must have thought, first in the well, and then when sold as a slave, and then when imprisoned... "Why me, God?"    What have I done to deserve this?  Or even if not so much the feeling of persecution, there would have been plain old fear of death and "What's going to happen to me now?" each and every time.  I'm sure his prospects looked extremely dim in all of those places.  And yet, God had a plan and when we look at the story today, we can see how each of those hard times were necessary to bring Joseph to where God needed him to be.

When we compare the first part of the chapter with the last, we are forced to a very significant conclusion: God was with Joseph every bit as much in the prison as He was in the penthouse. In verses 2 and 3 we are told that the Lord was with Joseph as he worked for his master. We are told the same thing in verses 21 and 23 regarding God’s presence with him while in the prison. Again, in verses 2 and 3 it is recorded that God prospered Joseph and made him successful. This same statement is also made in verses 21 and 23 when Joseph was in the prison.  Deffinbaugh says the following with regard to this chapter:

God is present as much with His saints when they are suffering as when they are peacefully prospering. More than this, a man can prosper as much in times of affliction as in times of affluence and ease. God does not grow hot-house Christians. He causes our roots to grow deep in the soil of adversity in order that we may better know and serve Him.

We dare not forget that this time of adversity was designed for Joseph’s good as well as for the good of his kinsmen. Let me suggest three ways in which Joseph’s time of service to Potiphar was profitable to him. In these three areas, and no doubt in many others, we see that the hand of God was good and gracious in this time of affliction.

First, the service to Potiphar was beneficial to Joseph in that it prepared him for the important task which lay ahead, that of serving as the second highest official in the land of Egypt. If one were to know that such a position of power and responsibility was 13 years in the future, how would one best prepare for it? Surely it would be necessary to learn the Egyptian language, as Joseph did (42:23), as well as their culture (cf. 43:32). There were no language schools, especially for foreigners like the Hebrews. In the providence of God we can now see that this experience was, for Joseph, Potiphar’s Prep School. Here he learned the language, culture, and political interworkings of the nation, incidentally but not accidentally.

Second, Joseph’s imprisonment by Potiphar, while unpleasant, was probably the answer to his prayers. Knowing that day after day this woman persisted at trying to break down Joseph’s resistance, I would imagine that one of his most oft-repeated and earnest supplications was, “Lord, protect me from this woman.” And that is precisely what those prison bars did. His imprisonment was the answer to his prayers. Those bars and chains (cf. Psalm 105:17-18) in no way hindered God’s plans for Joseph, but they did keep Potiphar’s wife from him, the very thing he sought, unsuccessfully, to accomplish on his own. How frequently the answers to our prayers come wrapped in a different package than we expected.

Finally, it was in this prison that God had planned for Joseph to have an appointment with a man who would introduce him to Pharaoh and his position of power. Who would ever have thought that a job interview would have been conducted in such an unlikely place. But it was in that prison for political figures (verse 20) that Joseph was appointed to meet with the cupbearer of Pharaoh, the man who would someday tell this ruler of Joseph’s unusual ability to interpret dreams. Humanly speaking, to avoid imprisonment would have meant breaking an appointment which would lead to an incredible future.

The necessity of suffering and adversity is everywhere taught in the Scriptures, particularly that of suffering which is undeserved or results from righteousness. It is to be viewed as a part of the normal Christian life and expected as a result of righteous living.

Some people may find this message discouraging, but let's not forget that no matter what happens in our lives here on Earth, when we are believers and followers of Christ Jesus, our final home in Heaven will be all and more the reward than we could ever begin to hope for or imagine.  Joseph ended up as 2nd-in-command of an entire country, with the opportunity to save not only the people of the country he had been brought to as a slave, but his own nation as well.  We can't know all the opportunities God has in His plans for us, but we can be sure that His plan is always better than our own.  It's just that we can't see the whole picture.

Happy Thursday!

Tomorrow's scripture focus:  Genesis 40
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  2 Corinthians 4; Psalm 132; Nehemiah 7-8

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wednesday, July 30th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Nehemiah 3-4; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 2
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 38

Genesis 38 English Standard Version (ESV)

Judah and Tamar

38 It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah. There Judah saw the daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shua. He took her and went in to her, and she conceived and bore a son, and he called his name Er. She conceived again and bore a son, and she called his name Onan. Yet again she bore a son, and she called his name Shelah. Judah was in Chezib when she bore him.
And Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. But Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord put him to death. Then Judah said to Onan, “Go in to your brother's wife and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his. So whenever he went in to his brother's wife he would waste the semen on the ground, so as not to give offspring to his brother. 10 And what he did was wicked in the sight of theLord, and he put him to death also. 11 Then Judah said to Tamar his daughter-in-law,“Remain a widow in your father's house, till Shelah my son grows up”—for he feared that he would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went and remained in her father's house.
12 In the course of time the wife of Judah, Shua's daughter, died. When Judah was comforted, he went up to Timnah to his sheepshearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite. 13 And when Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” 14 she took off her widow's garments and covered herself with a veil, wrapping herself up, and sat at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that Shelah was grown up, and she had not been given to him in marriage. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a prostitute, for she had covered her face. 16 He turned to her at the roadside and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He answered, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.” And she said, “If you give me a pledge, until you send it—” 18 He said, “What pledge shall I give you?” She replied, “Your signet and your cord and your staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her and went in to her, and she conceived by him. 19 Then she arose and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.
20 When Judah sent the young goat by his friend the Adullamite to take back the pledge from the woman's hand, he did not find her. 21 And he asked the men of the place, “Where is the cult prostitute who was at Enaim at the roadside?” And they said, “No cult prostitute has been here.” 22 So he returned to Judah and said, “I have not found her. Also, the men of the place said, ‘No cult prostitute has been here.’” 23 And Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, or we shall be laughed at. You see, I sent this young goat, and you did not find her.”
24 About three months later Judah was told, “Tamar your daughter-in-law has been immoral. Moreover, she is pregnant by immorality.” And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.” 25 As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “By the man to whom these belong, I am pregnant.” And she said, “Please identify whose these are,the signet and the cord and the staff.” 26 Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not know her again.
27 When the time of her labor came, there were twins in her womb. 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.” 29 But as he drew back his hand, behold, his brother came out. And she said, “What a breach you have made for yourself!” Therefore his name was called Perez. 30 Afterward his brother came out with the scarlet thread on his hand, and his name was called Zerah.
Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon:  The Skeleton in Judah's Closet
Accompanying Keith Krell sermon: God's Dirty Laundry

I read through both of the above sermons but just didn't get around to getting my own thoughts put down, so here are some thoughts from Deffinbaugh:
Historically, this chapter had much to teach the ancient Israelites. To begin with, this event underscores the necessity of a sojourn in Egypt. Spiritual purity was essential for the purposes of God to be realized. Judah, the son through whom the Messiah would be born (Genesis 49:8-12), was so carnal that he was willing to marry a Canaanite woman, to have a heathen for his closest companion, and to enter into an illicit relationship with a cult prostitute. Something drastic had to be done, and the exile in Egypt was God’s remedy. There, living among a people who detested Hebrew shepherds (43:32; 46:34), even if the Hebrews were willing to inter-mingle and intermarry with these people, the Egyptians would not even consider such a thing. Racial bigotry, if not religious piety, would keep the people of God a separate people. While the sojourn in Egypt was in many respects a bitter experience, it was a gracious act on the part of God. Those Israelites who had gone through the exodus experience could begin to sense this as they read this account.

No Israelite could take this record seriously without a deep sense of humility. Israel’s “roots,” if you will pardon me for saying so, were rotten. They could not look back upon their ancestry with any feelings of smugness and pride. There were too many skeletons in the closet for that. Instead, they must acknowledge that whatever good had come to Israel was the result of grace alone....

The principal theme of this chapter is divine providence, which draws the entire section together; God is at work bringing about His purposes through men who are actively pursuing sin. In chapters 37 and 39 and following, God is providentially at work to fulfill His promise to make the descendants of Jacob a great and mighty nation (cf. 35:11), and at a time when these brothers were only intent upon diminishing their numbers. In chapter 38 God is at work, providentially assuring the fulfillment of His promise to provide a Messiah through the descendants of Judah (49:8-12).

Ideally, God’s sovereign power and all-wise and loving purposes are accomplished through obedient servants. But when His children go their own way, God’s infinite power is channeled through unwilling, disobedient men and women, who, in spite of themselves, achieve God’s plans. This they do unknowingly and unpleasantly.

Who would ever have thought that there was any chance of the messianic line continuing through Judah from the initial events of this chapter? Here was Judah, the ancestor of Messiah, taking a Canaanite wife, failing to keep his promise to his daughter-in-law, and propositioning a prostitute, who would just have well been a part of a pagan religious cult? In spite of all of Judah’s sins and in spite of Tamar’s impatience, Perez, the forefather of David and of the Savior, was born. Who but God could have brought such a thing to pass?....

Nothing could be further from the truth than thinking that God is somehow limited by man’s sinfulness.

The doctrine of the providence of God is one of the most comforting truths in all of the Bible, for it assures me that what God says, He will do, even if I am found to be actively resisting it. If the promise of eternal salvation were not dependent upon God’s character and His power, Who can bring about His will in spite of man, what kind of promise would it be? I might just as well quit now and avoid the rush. But if God’s promises are sure (as they are, Philippians 1:6) then I can diligently work for these goals, realizing that I cannot lose, even when I am faint of heart or go my own way through disobedience or rebellion.

At this point many are frightened by the implications of the sovereignty of God. They fear that Christians will conclude, “Why bother to obey God, to struggle against the desires of the flesh, or to fight the spiritual warfare? After all, if God’s will is going to be done whether I obey or not, why obey?”

There is the danger of God’s sovereignty and my security tempting me to complacency. That is why this problem is addressed in Scripture (Romans 5:19-6:23). But the danger does not disprove the doctrine. Many Christian heresies are the illogical misapplications of biblical truth. In the book of Romans, for example, the expression “God forbid” is an indication that this is the case. The principle is valid, but the application is not. Thus, when Paul teaches that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20), we recognize this doctrine to be true and one that is illustrated in Genesis 38. But to conclude from this that one should therefore sin in order that grace might abound even more (Romans 6:1) is an improper extension of a biblical principle. Some have been inclined to reject the doctrine of God’s sovereignty because of what some have done with it practically. It is the practice which should be condemned, not the doctrine.

Since much of what God does in this world is through His providential guidance, it is vital that we understand its implications for Christians today. The first is that godly living is necessary for the glory of God. Had we not been given the divinely inspired account of the sale of Joseph into slavery, we would not have imagined that it was part of God’s eternal plan. At best, unbelievers would have considered the outcome of the incident good luck or mere coincidence. You see, when God works providentially through disobedient men and women, not only are the instruments unaware of the hand of God, but so are the onlookers.....

In chapter 39 we are told, “Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand” (verse 3). Why could this be said of Joseph’s master but not of his brothers nor of the Midianite traders nor of Hirah nor Tamar? It was because God was working through men in spite of themselves. Joseph gave a clear testimony to his faith in God; his good work and divine blessing verified his faith in the God of Israel. Judah did not witness to Tamar as he was bargaining over the price of her services. Hirah probably never learned that Judah was to play a part in the purposes of God.

The point is this: while God can accomplish His purposes without man’s cooperation by His providential working in this world, He can best be exalted and proclaimed to unbelievers through those who trust in Him and obey His will. Lest we be tempted to be lax in our spiritual lives, convinced that God’s will will ultimately be done anyway, let us remember that God desires to be glorified in His saints (cf. Genesis 49:3; II Thessalonians 1:10,12).

The second implication stemming from the doctrine of God’s providential rule is that we Christians must view every circumstance through the eyes of faith. Judah did not realize at the time that God’s promises were being fulfilled through his act of immorality. Joseph did not fully know that his sale into slavery was going to bring about the deliverance of his brothers and father. There will be many times in the life of the Christian when it will appear that everything is falling apart at the seams. Tragedy, disputes, divisions, and heartache will afflict us so long as we are in these mortal bodies. We, too, must trust that in these times of adversity there is a God Who does work providentially in our lives.

Being obedient to God truly is for our own good and for His glory.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 39
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Nehemiah 5-6, Psalm 131, 2 Corinthians 3

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday - July 29 - Tiffany

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Nehemiah 1-2; Psalm 129; 2 Corinthians 1
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 37

I may have mentioned my love for VeggieTales before. The creator's of VeggieTales take the story of Joseph and turn it into the Ballad of Little Joe (it's a Biblical western).
Larry the Cucumber plays the everly-optimistic "Little" brother of the 11 french pea brothers. He is honestly slightly obnoxious in his dream telling.  And his father is slightly obnoxious in showing off Joseph and his fine robe.
Which makes one feel a little sympathetic towards the 11 brothers and their feelings toward Joseph.

There are 2 brothers that VeggieTales overlooks somewhat (they do have limited time after all) is Reuben and Judah.
Initially the brothers plot to just kill Joseph and put him out of their lives.  That wouldn't have gone along very well with God's plans or Joseph's dreams. I'm not sure what went through Reuben's head or heart that made him speak up, but he did. He convinced his brothers to throw Joseph in a pit, so that "he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father." (verse 22)

And then there is Judah. Oh Judah. His name is so similar to Judas, and he just wants to make money. Hey, Jude, we all think money is nice, but selling your own brother?! But he convinced his brothers to sell Joseph, to rip up the robe, and deceive their father further.

Not the greatest beginning to one of the greatest biblical stories, is it? A young man who has always been the favorite, now sold into slavery.

And yet, God has a plan. Joseph is a great Old Testament example of the New Testament proclamation found in Romans 8:28: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[a] for those who are called according to his purpose.

While it isn't specifically mentioned in chapter 37, Joseph does love God. And God had a calling on his life. As we will see in the chapters following, God used all these things that could have harmed Joseph for good.

 Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 38
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Nehemiah 3-4; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 2

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday, July 28th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Ezra 9-10, Psalm 128, 1 Corinthians 16
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 36

Just realized this passage accidentally got skipped, so I'm adding in this post.

Genesis 36 English Standard Version (ESV)

Esau's Descendants

36 These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). Esau took his wives from the Canaanites: Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite, and Basemath, Ishmael's daughter, the sister of Nebaioth.And Adah bore to Esau, Eliphaz; Basemath bore Reuel; and Oholibamah bore Jeush, Jalam, and Korah. These are the sons of Esau who were born to him in the land of Canaan.
Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household, his livestock, all his beasts, and all his property that he had acquired in the land of Canaan. He went into a land away from his brother Jacob. For their possessions were too great for them to dwell together. The land of their sojournings could not support them because of their livestock. So Esau settled in the hill country of Seir. (Esau is Edom.)
These are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir.10 These are the names of Esau's sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Basemath the wife of Esau. 11 The sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, Gatam, and Kenaz. 12 (Timna was a concubine of Eliphaz, Esau's son; she bore Amalek to Eliphaz.) These are the sons of Adah, Esau's wife. 13 These are the sons of Reuel: Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah. These are the sons of Basemath, Esau's wife. 14 These are the sons of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon, Esau's wife: she bore to Esau Jeush, Jalam, and Korah.
15 These are the chiefs of the sons of Esau. The sons of Eliphaz the firstborn of Esau: the chiefs Teman, Omar, Zepho, Kenaz, 16 Korah, Gatam, and Amalek; these are the chiefs of Eliphaz in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Adah. 17 These are the sons of Reuel, Esau's son: the chiefs Nahath, Zerah, Shammah, and Mizzah; these are the chiefs of Reuel in the land of Edom; these are the sons of Basemath, Esau's wife. 18 These are the sons ofOholibamah, Esau's wife: the chiefs Jeush, Jalam, and Korah; these are the chiefs born of Oholibamah the daughter of Anah, Esau's wife. 19 These are the sons of Esau (that is, Edom), and these are their chiefs.
20 These are the sons of Seir the Horite, the inhabitants of the land: Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 21 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the chiefs of the Horites, the sons of Seir in the land of Edom. 22 The sons of Lotan were Hori and Hemam; and Lotan's sister was Timna.23 These are the sons of Shobal: Alvan, Manahath, Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. 24 These are the sons of Zibeon: Aiah and Anah; he is the Anah who found the hot springs in the wilderness, as he pastured the donkeys of Zibeon his father. 25 These are the children of Anah: Dishon and Oholibamah the daughter of Anah. 26 These are the sons of Dishon: Hemdan, Eshban, Ithran, and Cheran. 27 These are the sons of Ezer: Bilhan, Zaavan, and Akan. 28 These are the sons of Dishan: Uz and Aran. 29 These are the chiefs of the Horites: the chiefs Lotan, Shobal, Zibeon, Anah, 30 Dishon, Ezer, and Dishan; these are the chiefs of the Horites, chief by chief in the land of Seir.
31 These are the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites. 32 Bela the son of Beor reigned in Edom, the name of his city being Dinhabah.33 Bela died, and Jobab the son of Zerah of Bozrah reigned in his place. 34 Jobab died, and Husham of the land of the Temanites reigned in his place. 35 Husham died, and Hadad the son of Bedad, who defeated Midian in the country of Moab, reigned in his place, the name of his city being Avith. 36 Hadad died, and Samlah of Masrekah reigned in his place. 37 Samlah died, and Shaul of Rehoboth on the Euphrates reigned in his place. 38 Shaul died, and Baal-hanan the son of Achbor reigned in his place. 39 Baal-hanan the son of Achbor died, and Hadar reigned in his place, the name of his city being Pau; his wife's name was Mehetabel, the daughter of Matred, daughter of Mezahab.
40 These are the names of the chiefs of Esau, according to their clans and their dwelling places, by their names: the chiefs Timna, Alvah, Jetheth, 41 Oholibamah, Elah, Pinon,42 Kenaz, Teman, Mibzar, 43 Magdiel, and Iram; these are the chiefs of Edom (that is, Esau, the father of Edom), according to their dwelling places in the land of their possession.
Accompanying Bob Deffinbaugh sermon: Jacob, Joseph, Jealous, and a Journey to Egypt
Accompanying Keith Krell sermon: A Hairy Tale

Deffinbaugh points out that the primary purpose of this chapter has already been realized.  God would command the Israelites to destroy all the Canaanites except the descendants of Esau - so they had to know who they were.

That is not to say there is no value in this passage for us today.

We see here that, though Esau had no regard for spiritual things, he was a man of character.  He had graciously received Jacob back upon his return from Haran, and when prosperity necessitated it, he moved away to allow Jacob to use the land (36:6-8).  In fact, if God had elected one of the twins based on their likeability, He may very well have chosen Esau.  But God's election is not based on our likeability or our works - and we see this in the example of Jacob and Esau.

We also see, that though Esau was not elected by God, he was still a recipient of common grace as seen by the prosperity he enjoyed in his lifetime.

Krell makes some other points.  Not only did this record protect the Edomites, it also was a record of God fulfilling His promise to Esau - giving him his own identity, nation, and history.  God is faithful and can be trusted to keep His promises.

This record also showed that Jesus was not born through the family line of Esau.  It was very important to keep track of all the genealogies to show which ones were included and excluded from the line of Jesus.

The record also shows us that everyone counts in God's eyes.  Everyone is made in His image, and He cares for each of us.

Krell also describes four principles we can learn from this passage.

First, success by the world's standard does not equal a family blessed by God.  Esau lived for short term gratification, trading his birthright for a bowl of red stew (which we are to be reminded of by the use of Edom, which means red, in v1), taking more than one wife, and taking Canaanite wives all of whose names had something to do with beauty or sensuality.  Esau's children were strong leaders and succeeded according to worldly standards, but had nothing to do with God. We need to take care to teach our children what is truly important in life, and to live that way ourselves.

Krell made an interesting point here...
Esau represents the natural man—strong, capable, independent, able to cope with life’s problems with his own resources. Who needs to depend on God for things when you can take care of it yourself? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their barren wives, represent God’s way of working. He humbles our pride by shutting us up with problems we are incapable of solving—problems like barren wives in the face of promises to make us into a great nation. Then, when we call on Him, He proves Himself mighty to save.
Second, material blessings do not equal spiritual blessings.
To his credit, Esau was not greedy. When he saw Jacob, after their 20 years apart, he declined Jacob’s gift by saying, “I have plenty, my brother. Keep your things.” But it’s possible to be generous, contented people, but still to be living for material possessions, not for God. The danger is that our material prosperity dulls our senses with regard to our desperate need for God. The Lord warned the church in Laodicea, “... you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev 3:17). We American Christians, who have been so blessed materially, need to be careful to become rich toward God by laying up treasures in heaven (Luke 12:13-34).
Third, political power doesn't equal spiritual power.  Esau's descendants quickly became chiefs and kings, long before Jacob's descendants.
In the short-term, the Edomites became chiefs and kings in this world, but in the long-term, Jacob’s descendents would become kings and priests of the most high God. It is so important for you and me to have patience to wait on the fulfillment of God’s program....
God wanted His people to see what results when a man lives apart from Him. From this one man, Esau, an outwardly good man, a likable man, a successful man from the world’s perspective, came the godless nation Edom, which often plagued the people of God.
Fourth, wordly (temporary!) fame does not equal eternal recognition by God.  Esau's descendants quickly rose to power and fame, but they have long since been forgotten.  Jacob's descendants, on the other hand, spent years in lowly employment and even slavery, but the Israelites are here and will be until the return of Christ.
the recognition that counts will come soon, when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21, 23). In that day, real success and failure will be unveiled. Until that time, we should be careful to not make a big deal about earthly success or failure. Only God knows who is truly successful and who is not (1 Cor 4:1-5).
Krell ends his sermon with a powerful challenge:
While we still live, we all have a choice: to join Jacob and his descendants in waiting patiently for God to fulfill His covenant promises to us, as we labor for His coming kingdom, or to look over at Esau, prospering in the world, and join him in the pursuit of secular success. If we succeed by worldly standards but fail with God, we have failed where it really matters. Whether we fail or succeed by worldly standards, if we succeed with God, we will have true and lasting success. You are writing history. Every day you live, the choices you make, the things you say, and the actions you take are becoming a part of history. You are influencing the eternal destiny of others (one way or the other). How you conduct yourself in your marriage, with your children, in your work, and in the community is incredibly important! You are leaving a legacy for those who will follow in your steps (Prov 20:7). I urge you, please live your life with eternity in mind (Eph 5:15-16).

Tomorrow's scripture focusGenesis 37
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Nehemiah 1-2; Psalm 129; 2 Corinthians 1

Monday, July 28-by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Corinthians 16, Psalm 128, Ezra 9-10

Today's scripture focus is Genesis 35

God Blesses and Renames Jacob

35 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 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.” So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.

And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel,[a] because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother. AndDeborah, Rebekah's nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So he called its name Allon-bacuth.[b]

God appeared[c] to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty:[d] be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.[e] 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” 13 Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. 14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. 15 So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.

The Deaths of Rachel and Isaac

16 Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance[f] from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. 17 And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for you have another son.” 18 And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni;[g] but his father called him Benjamin.[h] 19 So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem), 20 and Jacob set up a pillar over her tomb. It is the pillar of Rachel's tomb, which is there to this day. 21 Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.

22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine. And Israel heard of it.

Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. 23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob's firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel's servant: Dan and Naphtali. 26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah's servant: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.

27 And Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had sojourned. 28 Now the days of Isaac were 180 years. 29 And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Scripture: (verses 1-2) "God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 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."

Observation: God calls us to be obedient. God is faithful. God calls us to remember. God's grace covers us when we are following a wrong path.

Application: Even though Jacob and his household were in possession of "foreign gods" God still called him and spoke to him and gave him instructions. God still wanted to be active in Jacob's life. God never gives up on us. Never. God is always faithful and he reminded Jacob of this when He said to Jacob to go where He had appeared to Jacob in Jacob's time of need before. No matter what we have done, God's grace will cover us. Yesterday, our pastor preached a sermon on Revelation 2:1-7. (You can listen and watch the message in its entirety here) and Pastor Ron's main point to take away from the sermon was: "Remember, Repent, and Do". Remember-what God has done in the past and your relationship with Him. Repent-from your sinful ways. Do-things differently. Jacob was asked to do these same things. Remember when God was with him when he was fleeing from Esau. Repent from his foreign idol worship and to purify himself and his household and change (literally) from their old ways. Do things differently ...leave the place where you are comfortable.

Prayer: Lord, your word is so powerful even all these years later. The message connects and repeats and is so applicable to our lives even today. We are so forgetful. We have trouble seeing beyond our current needs and wants and we so often forget the ways you have been with us through the difficult times in the past. Help us to remember the past. Guide our hearts to repentance. Help us to do things different because we know you don't want us to settle for less. Amen.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 36

Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: 1 Corinthians 17, Psalm 129, Nehemiah 1-2