Friday, June 29, 2012

Fri.’s Devo - The Big Picture

Read Gen. 45:1-8
Today Joseph finally makes himself known to his brothers.  I wonder if this is how it will be when Jesus makes himself known to his Jewish brothers in the end of time.  The Jews, like Joseph’s brothers have no idea that their younger brother has become the “savior” of their world and is famous to everyone but them.  His brothers were speechless while Joseph drilled them with questions about his father.  When they came closer and looked deeper they could recognize him.  He immediately tried to rid them of their guilt and explained the plan of God to them.  Isn’t that just like Jesus to cover our sins and reveal the big picture to us.  Then he revealed the plan for their future.  The famine would last 5 more years so they must bring their father and their families to the land of Goshen where there is good pasture land and they will be close enough to Joseph that he can take care of them.  Goshen means “drawing near”.  Then he turns his attention to Benjamin, his only full brother and they embrace and weep.  Benjamin is a picture of the New Testament church.   It didn’t immerse on the scene till after Jesus died.  Jesus died so that she would have 5 times the blessings of the Old Testament.   Benjamin was related by blood on both sides and the church will be completely related to God by the blood of Jesus.  The Jews didn’t crucify Jesus it was God himself who did that for the world.  Is. 53 says that it “pleased the Lord to bruise him”.  God could have called 10,000 angels to rescue Jesus if it hadn’t have been his plan from the foundation of the earth.  (Rev. 13:8)  Joseph tried to get this point across to his brothers that it was God’s plan that he was sold by them so that he could go ahead of them and prepare a place for them to live and be preserved.  Jesus has gone ahead of us to heaven to prepare a place for us that where he is we might also be.  (John 14:2,3)  He has also prepared a Goshen for us here on earth where we can be provided for if we draw near.  
Thank you Lord for you eternal plan for us.  May we take comfort in You.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thurs.’s Devo - The Final Exam

Read Gen. 44:1-34
There was one more test Joseph had to do before he could reveal his true identity to his brothers.  He commanded his steward to put the grain and their money back in their sacks and his own silver cup in Benjamin’s bag.  Then they were sent home.  Joseph gave them time to clear the city good before he sent his servants after them.  They accused them of stealing the silver cup.  They were flabbergasted!  They assured him that they wanted nothing of the lord’s silver or gold and whoever took the cup they could put to death and the rest of them would be his servant.  Then they set out their sacks so they could examine them.  They were so sure of their own innocence.  When they got to the last sack which was Benjamin, they found the cup.  Exasperation!!!  They reluctantly went back to Joseph’s house and bowed down before him once again.  Joseph was waiting for them.  They came back humble and repentant.  They knew that this was God’s way of punishing their past sin.  When Joseph told them that all he wanted for retribution was Benjamin as his slave, Judah spoke since he had promised his father to bring him back alive.  He told Joseph the whole story (leaving out their part in Joseph’s life) and begged him not to take Benjamin.   Joseph never planned to carry out the judgment, he was only looking for a response that would reveal their hearts.  Their response did reveal their heart.  They had learned their lesson and were willing to protect the object of their father’s heart above their own lives.  
Trials come to make us strong and to reveal our hearts.  Sometimes it looks like we are being tested in the same areas so we think we must not have passed the test last time.  But that might not be the case.  We will be tested over and over in the places where we are weaker to make us stronger.  The test gets harder and harder but as we keep responding in the right way, the results become easier and easier to pass.  I compare it to going around a mountain and climbing higher each time.  You still have the same scenes but you are at a higher level now and you have a clearer perspective.  
Lord, thank you for your tests that reveal our hearts.  May we be willing to protect the object of your affection, your Son, with our very lives.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wed.’s Devo - Lunch with Joseph

Read Gen. 43:19-34
Jacob’s sons arrived at Joseph’s house and his steward answered the door.  They explained the whole money-in-the-sack thing and he excused it and told them that God put that money in their sacks because he their money.  (Phew!  That was easy.)  Then he went and got Simeon and brought him to them and took brought them into Joseph’s house.  He gave them water, washed their feet and gave their asses food.  That is Middle East hospitality, just not something usually done to an Israelite by an Egyptian.  They were told they would eat lunch with him so they set out their present of the best fruit of their land to present  to him when he arrived.  Then they bowed again to him.  He asked them how they were and how their father was.  Then he saw Benjamin and asked if he was their brother.  When he found out he was, he blessed him then had to leave to cry again.  After he had composed himself, he came back and seated them according to their birth order.  This was disconcerting to them.  Then they were served their food and Benjamin was given 5 times as much as the others.  Five times their amount is pretty noticeable.  But, somehow they managed to drink and have a good time.  
Have you ever fretted about something, but when it happened it ended up being no big deal?  I think that happens a lot.  They were so afraid of what was going to happen when they got to Egypt that it robbed their peace.  God had it all under control.  Sometimes we are afraid of what God is going to do when we come and confess our sins but he is just waiting restore to you what you lost (Simeon was restored to them),  to bless you,  give you a cup of water (refresh you), wash your feet (clean up your walk), and give strength to your ministry.  Then he invites us in to eat and drink with him (have fellowship with Him).  
Lord, thank you for the ministry of reconciliation!  What a joy it is to fellowship with you!    

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tues.’s Devo - Unresolved Guilt

Read Gen 43:1-18
The famine is still going on and Jacob and his sons are out of the corn they got from Egypt so Jacob has to send them back to get more corn.  Judah reminds Jacob that they need to take Benjamin with them or he is not going.  He promises to bring Benjamin back alive and to be responsible for his life.  I would say that these brothers have learned about taking care of one another and laying down their petty jealousies.  No doubt Benjamin had replaced Joseph in Judah’s affection.  
Reluctantly, Jacob agrees to send Benjamin with him but insists on sending the Pharaoh the best fruits of their land to win his favor.  They also took double the money and off they went.  Don’t you know that Joseph was like the father in the prodigal son’s story waiting and looking for their return!  They stand before him and he sees Benjamin, his little brother who he hasn’t seen for years.  How moving for Joseph!  He immediately told his servants to go kill some meat and take these men to his own house because they were going to eat with him that day.  What should have been an honor only made the brothers scared because they held such unresolved guilt.  When you have a sin that you don’t deal with, it becomes a stronghold in your life and everything is seen through the filter of that sin.  They held such guilt over what they had done to Joseph because they refused to confess it to their father.  If they had they could have been free and they wouldn’t be living looking over their shoulder for judgment.  Because they had this guilt they couldn’t see the blessing of the money left in their bags, only the guilt of having it.  If you have something you have not confessed to your father, God, then do it now because it will plague you until you do.  Unresolved guilt will turn your blessings to curses.   
Thank you for being a merciful God who loves to forgive our sins and cover our nakedness with the blood of your son.        

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mon.’s Devo - Instant Rebate!

Read Gen. 42:18-38
In the three days Joseph had devised a plan.  He told his brothers that one brother would stay in prison and the others could take the corn back but they had to bring the youngest brother back with them when they came back.  Then he would release the other brother.  They conversed together in Hebrew, not realizing that Joseph could understand since he had spoken Egyptian the whole time he was with them.  They reasoned that all this was happening to them because of what they had done to Joseph years ago.  They probably retold their part in it and their remorse.  Their sin had finally caught up with them.  Rueben, the oldest reminded them that he tried to stop them but they wouldn’t listen.  Joseph couldn’t take it and finally had to excuse himself and find a place to cry.  When he returned he took Simeon, probably because as the next oldest he was most responsible for what had happened to him.  He bound Simeon and took him away then had their sack filled with corn and put each man’s money back in their sack and gave them food for their way home.  On the way home they realized they had their own money in their sacks.  I bet they thought they had just left the Twilight Zone.  They were accused of being spies, sent to prison, mercifully brought out of prison, given food to make it home and now had all their money restored.  And one of them was still in prison.  How crazy does it get?  When they told everything to their father all he could think about was Benjamin.  There was no way he was sending Benjamin back to that crazy man.  No telling what he would do being as unpredictable as he was.  Rueben offered his two sons as collateral and Jacob still wouldn’t send Benjamin so Simeon had a long time to sit in prison and think about his sin.  
God is not concerned as much about our comfort and our time as he is our character.  He has our whole life to conform us to his image and will do whatever it takes to break us.  
Lord, help us to repent, bend, give up, whatever we need to do to reach the place that we are abiding in you and you in us.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fri.’s Devo - A Dream Come True

Read Gen. 42:1-17
…Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Canaan there is a famine going on.  Jacob hears that there is food in Egypt and sends his sons (all but Benjamin) to go buy some.  He was very protective of Benjamin since he was all that was left of his relationship with Rachael.  In Egypt it was Joseph’s job to oversee the selling of the corn.  His 17 year-old dream came true as his brothers came and bowed down before him to ask to buy some of Egypt’s corn.  
Remember his first dream was that their corn bowed down to his and now they are bowing in need of his corn.  Joseph immediately recognized them but they didn’t know him.  He spoke roughly to them asking where they were from to confirm his suspicion that they were his brothers, and God reminded him of his dream.  He needed to test them before revealing himself to them so he accused them of being spies scouting out the land.  They tried to  plead their innocence explaining that they were all brothers with the same father and there were 12 of them, but one had died.  When Joseph still accused them of being spies they spilled more of their story.  They explained that they had a younger brother who remained at home with his father.  Now Joseph had them.  He had gotten them to give him enough information to use to test them to see if they had changed.  He told them he was going to hold them all in prison and send one of them home to fetch the younger brother, then he would believe them.  So for 3 days he held them in prison.  On the 3rd day he brought them out.  (Ever notice how on the 3rd day everyone resurrects:  Jonah from the whale, brothers from prison,  Jesus from the grave?) 
Lord, let this remind us that everything you say in your Word is true and will happen in your timing.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wed.’s Devo - The Butler and the Baker Revisited

Yesterday we read about the butler and the baker.  They had offended the king somehow and were thrown into prison.  The job of the butler is to make sure the king does not get poisoned and is attended to.  He drinks whatever the king is given first to see if it is poisoned.  So every day he lays his life down for his king.  The job of the baker is to bake the food the king will eat.  He is in a good position to poison the king.  We are all either the butler or the baker.  Our sin offends God and sends us to our own prison.  There we must decide our allegiance.  The butler, who chose to give his life for his king is a type of the person who choses God.  He lays down his life for his king and drinks the cup he is given.  In the end he will be restored to the place God has reserved for him… at his throne, attending God.  The baker stands for the one who rejects God.  Whatever his sin was in the Bible, it cost him his life.  He will face eternal damnation and his body will be food for the vultures.  In the end there will be 2 feasts: the marriage feast of the Lamb and the feast of Leviathan where the birds will eat the flesh of the wicked (Rev. 19:17-18)  
God is restoring dreams to his people.  Dreams are usually figurative and need interpretation and if you ask God, he will tell you what they mean.  God has used dreams in my life to give me direction, show me what he is doing throughout the earth so I can pray, and give me insight about questions I have asked him.  
Lord, I pray that you would restore dreams to my readers and that they would grow in their knowledge of you.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tues.’s Devo- The Butler and the Baker

Read Gen. 40:1-23
The story of the butler and the baker are a picture of two types of people: one that is chosen and the other that is not.  They both offended the king and are thrown into prison and put under Joseph’s charge.  One night they both had a dream that was perplexing to them.  When Joseph came to see about them in the morning they were noticeably sad.  When Joseph them why they looked so forlorn they told him that they both had dreams that needed interpreting.  Joseph was familiar with dreams and knew that God had the interpretation of all things so he asked them to tell him their dreams.  The butler went first.  He had dreamed he saw a vine that had 3 branches.  As he looked at this vine it budded, blossomed and brought forth ripe grapes.  He was holding the Pharoah’s cup so he squeezed the grapes into the cup and gave it to the Pharaoh.  Joseph instantly knew the interpretation.  The 3 branches stand for 3 days.  In 3 days the butler will be back in the palace and have his job back.  Then, Joseph asked him to remember him and tell the Pharaoh to release him since he is innocent.  
When the baker saw that the butler had gotten a good interpretation he was eager to tell his dream.  He dreamed that there were 3 white baskets on his head.  In the top basket there were baked goods for the Pharaoh and the birds came and ate them.   Once again God gave Joseph the interpretation.  The 3 baskets were 3 days and in 3 days he will be brought out of prison and hung on a tree.  The birds will come and eat his flesh.  
In 3 days both dreams came true, only the butler forgot to mention Joseph.  Tomorrow we will discuss what this all means.  
Lord, thank you that you know the future and your ways are always higher than ours.  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mon.’s Devo - Joseph: A Type of Jesus

Read Gen. 39:21-23
Joseph is thrown in prison for something he did not do… “but the Lord was with Joseph”.  God showed mercy on Joseph in prison and continued to shower his favor on Joseph.  He became the keeper of the prison’s right-hand man and he prospered even in prison.  
Joseph is such a great picture of Jesus.  He was wrongfully accused of being full of demons, being an enemy of the synagogue and a deceiver.  He was despised and rejected by the very people he came to give life to.  (Is. 53)  One of his own disciples sold him like Joseph’s brothers did him.  Jesus had to learn obedience by the things he suffered just like Joseph.  Jesus refused to defend himself just like Joseph.  Isaiah said of Jesus that it pleased him to bruise him because he was the offering to God of all who would sin after him.  Joseph paid the price for what his brothers and Potipher’s wife did to him.  But in the end, God said he would hear the travail of Jesus’ soul and it would satisfy his wrath for sin.  The knowledge that he possessed would justify many and he would share in the reward of strong and deliver many.  Joseph did that very thing when he arose from prison.  He used the knowledge God gave him to preserve a nation from famine.  Both Jesus and Joseph went to prison to lead people out of captivity.  Joseph redeemed a cupbearer; Jesus redeemed the world.
Lord, thank you for redeeming us from ourselves.  May we spread your redemption to a blind and lost world.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fri.’s Devo- Joseph’s Slow Ascend to the Throne

Read Gen. 39:1-20
Meanwhile back to Joseph…  Last time we read about Joseph he had been sold by his brothers to Ishmeelites who sold him to Potiphar who was an officer of the Pharaoh.  He was captain of the guard which meant he was important, rich, and out of town a lot doing the Pharaoh’s bidding.  The blessing of the Lord was on Joseph and God gave him favor in Potiphar’s eyes so he put Joseph in charge of all his house.  The anointing God placed on Joseph caused everything he did to prosper and he acquired much more wealth for Potiphar.  Potiphar trusted him completely and didn’t even keep account of his affairs.  But God had bigger plans for Joseph.  Potiphar’s wife became interested in Joseph and when Joseph didn’t return her affection she got desperate.  One day she found herself alone in the house with Joseph and grabbed his robe and begged him to be with her.  He left without his robe and ran out of the house.  She was so humiliated that she made up a lie that he had tried to rape her and when she screamed he left without his robe.  She kept the robe for insurance and waited for her husband to return to tell him.  When Potiphar heard what his wife said Joseph had done, he had him thrown into prison.  Now, how can this be God’s plan? …but it was.  Somehow, God had to get Joseph to the palace and in the meantime he had to prepare Joseph to be the next ruler.  Many times we do not see the things we go through as tests to prepare us for our destiny.  The greater the destiny; the greater the tests.  James says to count it joy when you encounter trials because it is God’s way of making you perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  God had to test Joseph with another’s wealth and wife to see if he would take them for himself or remain faithful.  He remained faithful.
Lord, help us to remain faithful to you no matter what the test.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thurs.’s Devo - Tamar’s Retribution

Read Gen. 38:13-30
Tamar realizes that she has been lied to about Shelah and she will never have a son to carry on her husband’s name so she decides to fix that.  She hears that her father-in-law, Judah, is going to Timnath to shear his sheep.  Timnath means “thou will withhold” which is exactly what Judah is doing… withholding Shelah from Tamar.  Tamar comes up with a stellar plan and it works.  She dresses like a harlot and covers her face and sets up right where Judah will be passing.  He sees her and feels the need to go in.  He forgot his wallet so he promises her to send her a kid later.  She asks for something to have for insurance that he will pay.  When he asks what she wants, she says his signet ring, bracelets and his staff.  He unwisely gives it to her.  I guess he thinks she won’t be able to do anything with them and they would only mean something to him.  She planned it right when she was fertile and she conceived.  He went on his way and when he sent the kid back by his servant to get his things back, no one had even heard of a harlot there.  Judah didn’t want to look like a fool so he gave up looking for her.  Three months later he hears of Tamar’s pregnancy and is indignant.  He wants to burn her for disgracing their names until she brings out the things she got from Judah and says that the owner of these things is the father.  Judah realizes his sin and spares her life.  She delivers twins but in delivery one of the babies stuck his hand out.  The midwife put a scarlet thread around his hand to label it the first born.  But the other baby managed to come out first.  They were amazed at the breach and named the child Pharez which means “a breach”.  The son with the scarlet thread was named Zarah which means “a rising as the sun”.  The second born speaks of our second birth in Christ.  The scarlet thread is the picture of the scarlet thread of Christ’s blood that ran throughout history pointing to Jesus.  Jesus is the son that rose as the sun in a dark world to bring the light of God.    
Lord, thank you for sending Jesus to be our rising sun.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wed.’s Devo - A Deadly Detour

Read Gen. 38:1-12
Judah traveled to the land of the Adullamites to visit Hirah. He saw a Canaanite woman named Shua and married her.  He had relations with her and produced three sons named Er,  Onan, and Shelah.  If we look at the meanings of the words we find that Adullamite means “a testimony to them”, Hirah means “hollowness”, Er means “awakening, stirring up”,  Onan means “strong”, and Shelah means “a request”.    Shelah was born in Chezib which means “falsified”.  Jacob found a wife for Er named Tamar which means “a palm tree”.  We will come back to these meanings.  Let’s look at the story.
Jacob found a wife for Er but because Er was so wicked, God killed him.  According to Jewish law the next son in line had the responsibility of marrying her and having a child to be raised as the dead son’s child and bare his name.  Onan was next in line but he didn’t want to do that so he made sure his seed fell to the ground.  This was so wicked to God that he took his life also.  Shelah was too young for marriage so Judah told Tamar to go live with her people until he became of age and he would give her a son.  Then Judah’s Adullamite wife died.  Secretly, Judah was afraid to give her his son least he die also.  
Let’s go back over that story looking at the meanings of the names.
Jacob goes to a place where God is going to use as a testimony to others.  He marries a foreign wife that God told them not to do because they were hollow and didn’t possess God.  He produces fruit that is wicked… so wicked that God has to kill two of them.  They both have the same wife and none of them conceive life.  Shelah is the one requested to give life to Tamar but the promise is falsified.  Judah came into this country and brought a curse.  He will have to reap what he has sown.  Tomorrow, we’ll see how that happens.  
Lord, help us to see that going our own way is not going to produce life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tues.’s Devo - Jealousy leads to Murder

Read Gen. 37:12-36
Joseph’s brothers went to Shecem to feed their flocks.  Israel asked Joseph to go see about them and the animals but when he got there, they had gone to Dothan.  Before Joseph reached them they saw him coming and devised a plan to kill him.  They called him “the dreamer” and were out to make sure his dreams did not come true.  Rueben came to his rescue and suggested they not kill him but to put him in a pit to die so that his blood wouldn’t be on their hands.  He planned to come back and set him free.  So, that was the plan.  When Joseph came they took him, stripped his colorful coat off him and threw him in a pit.  Then they sat down to eat.  As they were eating a group of Ishmeelites came into view.  They decided to sell Joseph and at least make some money off him.  Then they saw plan C: Midianite merchants.  They lifted Joseph out and sold him for 20 pieces of silver and the Midianites took him to Egypt.  It must have been Rueben’s watch with the sheep because he missed the whole thing and when he found out what they had done he was livid.  He knew how it would upset his father.  Now they had to devise a plan to tell their father.  They killed a goat and dipped Joseph’s coat in it and sent it to their father asking him to identify it, if it was Joseph’s.  He concluded that Joseph had been eaten by wild animals and was broken hearted.  
Joseph’s brothers had started out in Shecem which means “diligent” and “rising early”.  They ended up in Dotham which means “double sickness”.  Their jealousy had taken them from diligent men to men that were sick in their minds.  Sick enough to kill their own brother and break their father’s heart.  That is what happens when we are jealous over one of our Christian brothers or sisters.  It makes us sick… and it breaks our father’s heart.  The good news is that he ended up in the house of an Egyptian officer named Potiphar.
Lord, help us to see the oneness of the body and how you have given us all different gift so that all may be blessed.    

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mon.’s Devo - Joseph’s Dreams

Gen. 37:1-11
 Isaac had paved the way for Jacob.  He and Abraham had been strangers in the land of Canaan and had to fight for land, wells, and position so that Jacob could walk back in and be at home and accepted.  That is what each generation does for the next… they plow the hard ground for the next one to walk more safely and confidently.  Our forefathers fought wars on our land for us to experience peace and safety.  Now, our generation is fighting wars on foreign lands for us to continue to live in peace.  
In todays readings we get a snapshot into Jacob’s family life.  Joseph is 17 which means “immature”.  He is shepherding with the his brothers that were born to the handmaidens.  They were not treated the same as a son so they probably were very jealous of Joseph’s position in the family.  It doesn’t say what they were doing but Joseph came home and tattled on them.  Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons because Joseph was born when he was old and mellowed.  He treated him differently and all the other sons noticed.  Israel made Joseph a colorful coat which made his prejudice even more obvious.  One night Joseph had a dream and told it to his brothers.  In his dream all the sons of Jacob were binding their sheaves together when his sheaf stood up and all of their sheaves bowed down to his.  They understood that dreams were ways that God spoke and they realized how to interpret dreams.  Dreams are a symbolic language.  They all knew what it meant but hated the interpretation.  They sarcastically asked him if he would reign over them and rule them.  This only made them hate him more.  Then, he had another dream that the sun and the moon and 11 stars bowed down to him.   He told this one to his father and his brothers.  His father had the same question but not with the same attitude.  He believed the dream, where his brothers hated him for it.  
Lord, help us not to be jealous of those you single out to lead over us.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fri.’s Devo - Esau’s Descendents

Fri.’s Devo - Esau’s Descendents  6-8-12
Read Gen. 36:1-43
Names, then and now, are so significant of what is going on.  Esau’s wives had sons whose names meant: “god of gold”, 
“friend of God”,  “hasty”, “occult”, and “ice”.  His son’s went from gold to ice and from a friend of God to the occult.  He went the opposite direction from Jacob in every way.  He dwelt in Seir which means “rough” instead of “the house of God” where Jacob chose to live.  Esau is synonymous with Edom.  His offspring had many famous people like Amelek and Korah - who both brought woe to the children of Israel in later times.  I do not have the discernment to understand what all the names mean and what they mean to us now, but I know it is significant.  I did find verse 24 interesting because it makes you pause and wonder what it is doing in the Bible… seems to be so out-of-place.   Right in the middle of the genealogy of Esau it tells us a fact about one of them.  They found some mules while watching their father’s asses.  The only mules I know that got lost were the ones that Saul had lost when Samuel met him and anointed him king of Israel in (1 Sam. 9, 20) but that was many years later.  One day I'm going to ask God about all these seemingly out-of-place verses.  I'm sure there is a reason.  Esau became a mighty nation just like Israel did.  They had kings and dukes and did not follow God.   One day Israel would look at them and say they wanted a king like they had - and God would give it to them.  God chose Israel’s descendants to be a people set apart for him.  He was to be their king and through them he would show how he loved, protected, provided for, and disciplined his children.  
Lord, we have taken your name and you are our father and our king.  May we walk complete in that truth.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thurs.’s Devo - The Death of Isaac

Read Gen. 35:21-29
Jacob buries Rachel and they travel to the tower of Edar which means “a flock” and there they stayed.  While there, Reuben had sex with his father’s concubine which was a huge sin.  It ended up costing him his place as the first-born.  Next we have a list of Jacob’s sons listed by their mother’s names:
Leah: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun
Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin
Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid: Dan and Naphtali
Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid: Gad and Asher
These are the 12 tribes of Israel.  It dawned on me while reading this that Benjamin was motherless his whole life.  Maybe this was why his brothers later were so protective of him. 
Jacob finally made it back to where his father, Isaac was and was able to show him his children and have one last visit with him before he died at the age of 180.  Esau and Jacob buried him.  Isaac was living in the city of Arbah also known as Hebron which means “four giants”.  This was one of Abraham’s favorite places.  He met God at this place.  Sarah, Jacob, and Abner were buried here and later it became a levitical city of refuge.  During the kings it was a place where the kings reigned before Jerusalem was built.  
So Isaac died “being old and full of days”.  I looked up how many men died “full of days” and only a few:  David, Job, and Jehoida.  They were all good men who followed after God so I think that “full of days” means that they fulfilled their destiny.  Lord, we pray that when we die you will say of us that we are full of days. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wed.’s Devo - “Rachels Death; Benjamin’s Birth

Read Gen. 35:16-20
Jacob leaves Bethel, the house of God and travels to Ephrath which means “fruitfulness” but before he can get there Rachel goes into labor and it is very severe and grievous labor.  She is dying as she gives birth to a boy.  When she is told it is a boy she names him Ben-oni which means “son of my sorrow” but Jacob changes his name to Benjamin which means “son of the right hand”.  The right hand had to do with power and inheritance.  Spiritually, Benjamin is a picture of the New Testament Church.  We have been given the power and authority of Jesus to do the things that he did on the earth and greater.  (John 14:12)  Jacob buried Rachel here in Bethlehem.  Which means that Benjamin was born in Bethlehem.  The church was born in Bethlehem when God sent his son to the city whose name means “the house of bread”.  In John 6:30-35 the people came to Jesus and asked for a sign that would give proof that he was the son of God.  They explained that their fathers had given them manna that they would believe.  Jesus responded that Moses didn’t give you that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.  When the people asked for this bread he said,  “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believes on me shall never thirst.”  
Lord, help us to walk in the power of your resurrection and do the greater works that you promised we would do.       

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tues.’s Devo - A New Man and a New Name

Read Gen. 35:8-15
I love it when God puts an unexpected, out-of-context sentence in that has nothing to do with the other ones.  Verse 8 is one of those.  They have traveled to Bethel to the same place God appeared to Jacob before and Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse dies.  This is the only time she is ever mentioned.  Before this we didn’t even know Rebekah had a nurse named Deborah, so this sentence must mean more than what is says.  If Deborah was Rebekah’s nurse then she was the one who delivered Esau and Jacob and nursed them.  She is their second mother.  They buried her “under an oak”.  I looked up that phrase and several things happened “under an oak”:  people were buried, God appeared to people, people saw and talked to angels, sanctuaries to God were erected.  So I think that under an oak had to do with portals to either heaven or the underworld.  They named this one Allon-bachuth which means tree of weeping which showed how much they loved her.  Deborah watched over their first birth, but she had to die before Jacob could experience his new birth.  As soon as she dies, Jacob had an encounter with the Lord and God gave him a new name, Israel.  Israel means “he shall rule as God”.  This is the picture of salvation.  When we get saved we get a new name and it is written in the Book of Life.  Now, he tells him to be fruitful and multiply because he has something to reproduce.  He renews his promise of the land with him and his blessing on him.  Jacob set up a pillar to mark his experience and anointed it with the oil of the Holy Spirit and the wine of the blood of Christ.  Of course, he didn’t know the significance of what he was doing at the time.  
Lord, thank you for our new birth in you.  Help us to discern the times we are living in.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mon.’s Devo - Calling a Nation Back to God

Read Gen. 35:1-7
God called Jacob back to the place he had visited him before - Bethel which means “house of God”.  He told him to build an altar to him.  Jacob’s household had blood on their hands and had turned away from following God with their whole heart.  They had absorbed the gods and religions of the people they had lived among and God was calling them to repentance.  Jacob told his family to put away the strange gods they had accumulated and cleanse their hearts and change their garments.  
Garments were a covering that assumed the shape of the one that wore them.  God told Moses to put holy garments on the priests.  When God was talking to the churches in Revelation 3:4 he said that there were only a few names in Sardis that had not defiled their garments so they would be able to walk with him in white; for they were worthy.  Today our garments are what people first see when the look at us.  Do we reflect Jesus or do we look just like the world.  Are we guarding our minds with Jesus so that we wear righteousness like a cloak?  Are we wearing holy garments?  Apparently, Jacob’s family needed to wash their garments and come clean.   He took his family back to the place God had spoken to him.  They gave him all their strange gods and all their earrings and Jacob hid them under the oak in Shechem.  They buried their past sins and went in pursuit of God.   Because they did this God put an invisible shield of protection around them.  Everyone was afraid to touch or harm them.  Even though they had just killed an entire city and carried everything they had away, no one came after them because they feared their God.  They came to Bethel and built an altar to God in the very place he had been years before when he fled from Esau’s wrath.  Many times, God will call us back to the place where we encountered him and renew our vows to him.    
Lord, may we have a leader in America that will call us back to you and what you have done for us.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fri.’s Devo - The Impulsiveness of Jacob’s Sons

 Read Gen. 34:1-31
Leah had one daughter named Dinah whose name means “justice”.  Her family lived close to the Hivites and one day Shechem, the prince of their country saw Dinah and took her and raped her.  Being a prince in that country meant he could have any woman he wanted so he didn’t consider what he did as wrong.  He decided that he loved her so he asked his father, Hamor to get her for his wife.  That was not the way it was done in Jacob’s family and when they found out that their daughter had been defiled, they were not happy.  Her brothers were ready to fight.  Hamor came out to ask Jacob’s sons for Dinah’s hand in marriage for his son.  He not only asked for Dinah’s hand in marriage but for there to be marriage between his people and their people.  He was willing to pay whatever bride price they came up with.  Jacob’s sons deceitfully told Shechem that if he would have all the men circumcised then they would intermarry.  This sounded like a good thing to them and they agreed.  (I think I would have rather given money!)  Anyway, they went back home and bribed the men of their city with all the wealth of Jacob which would be theirs too if they made a covenant with him, so they agreed.  They all got circumcised on the same day and on the 3rd day when they were good and sore, the sons of Jacob came and killed all the men.  They took Dinah from Shechem and took all their belongings.  They took their wives and their children also.  When Jacob found out he rebuked them for making him an enemy to all the people around him.  His sons had not been concerned with the outcome; they were looking for justice, not peace.  Actually, they were seeking vengeance.  I wonder how it would have ended up if they would have sought peace instead.  
Lord, you say that vengeance is up to you and not up to us.  Help us to not take matters into our own hands, but let you punish our enemies.