The hurricane Sandy recovery need continues on the East Coast. Nazarene Compassionate Ministries is there serving. Donations can make a huge difference as workers race against the arrival of winter…
In today’s reading the family dysfunction continues. Favoritism toward children is handed down to the next generation. Jacob favors Joseph and this does not work to Joseph’s advantage in the long run. His brothers hated him for it and they couldn’t wait to get the best of him. Joseph doesn’t help himself by appearing arrogant in the way that he shares his dream. Jealousy overtakes the brothers and they plot to destroy Joseph.
Why does this stuff happen in believing families? We should be a willing to trust that God is in control. God will take care of us. We don’t have to worry about someone else getting an advantage over us that God cannot overcome. Jacob should have learned from his own experience that favoring a child leads to so many problems that are so difficult to resolve. Nonetheless this stuff still happens on a regular basis even in Christian families today. Sometimes home is the hardest place to learn new patterns of living.
The good news is that God was creative enough to work out his plan and even bless Joseph beyond measure despite this bad beginning. Has your family experienced brokenness in relationships? Reflect on the unique role that you may have played in your family dysfunction. Ask God to show how you might be part of the solution going forward. Commit to obeying his leading. The Biblical story shows how difficult it can be to work out family relationship complications. But nothing is impossible when everyone cooperates with God. Sometimes others may refuse to cooperate and still give us a hard time. Sometimes that’s because trust is low based on past experience. We can have peace knowing that we have done all that we can. We may need to be patient with others praying for them and for opportunities to show our love to them. Given time, it’s amazing what God’s love can do. Always remember that. God can show you how to live with integrity and do your part to avoid these entanglements in the future. This allows you to make the most of your present and future despite the failings of the past. This brings peace as well. In the end, God’s love can redeem every broken place in our lives. And that is good news.
If your family has mostly been free from this kind of problem give thanks to God. Let the strength of your family be a blessing to all those around you!
Pray. Read. Reflect. Respond! Engage the Word today! And don’t forget to celebrate on Sunday at 10:30 AM at NewHope Community Church of the Nazarene!
Today’s ETW reading is from Genesis 27 & 28. In it we follow the sad developments in a dysfunctional family. Rebekah wants the best for her son and she’s willing to betray her husband and his other son to get it. The Brady Bunch this ain’t. Jacob follows his mother’s lead and deceives his brother, stealing a blessing meant for him. What a shameful act. How sad when family members begin to see each other as a means to an end.
Jacob misinterprets his apparent “success” and continues on with the pattern of selfish manipulation, even in his just beginning relationship with God. The truly amazing thing is how God chooses to work through this mess to bring about good things. God chooses to work with Jacob as the blessed son and comes to him through a dream. It is a glorious sight: a great ladder or staircase going up to the sky with angels ascending and descending on it. If this isn’t awesome enough, next the LORD is standing right next to Jacob! If you’ve studied the Bible all your life you notice a lot of theological things going on here. Jacob was no theologian. If you have developed a deep reverence for God as holy and worthy of worship for his own sake, regardless of what he might or might not do for us, then you see this as a powerful vision of God’s faithfulness, a deeply reaffirming blessing. You would be filled with awe and realize how significant it was for God to visit you in such a personal way. You would feel unworthy but thankful and mark this down as one of the great moments of life. Feelings of doubt would melt away. But if that’s you, Jacob isn’t like you. Not yet.
Jacob’s latest adventure in missing the point is to think it’s all about the place where God appeared. Truly it becomes sacred because God was there, but Jacob thinks it’s the ground itself. And instead of a deep and maturing appreciation for the holy, Jacob thinks that his obedience is up for the bidding. It’s almost like: “Well, God, I see that you’re really interested in blessing me and for the most part I think that’s really cool and all. But let’s not be too hasty here. I’ve got some really important things going on right now. The most important thing is me surviving and being comfortable. Sooooo…if you’re really interested, keep me safe on my journey. Make sure I’m well fed and clothed. And IF you manage to get me back to this place, I will make you MY God. I’ll even start putting you first financially. I’ll tithe. See there, God. I’ve made you an offer you can’t refuse!”
Do you try to cut “deals” with God in times of crisis? At the time we probably don’t realize how foolish it looks. But it’s about as selfish as it could possibly be. But our God is so gracious, so determined to work out his ultimate plan, that he sometimes works with us and our ridiculous manipulative ideas about him. Jacob’s schemes catch up with him. God doesn’t shield him from that. But he also gets an opportunity at redemption. He gets an opportunity to grow up, make things right, and truly be blessed. Jacob learned some important lessons the hard way (See Genesis 29-33 for the full story). But we can learn from him that God does not exist to make us comfortable. We exist to experience the joy of loving relationship with him. If we finally lay down our schemes and accept the grace he offers us in the way he offers it to us, we will find the peace we seek. Let God examine your heart. Come just as you are, admitting how much you need God. Confess and turn away from old manipulative ways. Receive forgiveness. Enter into holy friendship with God. Begin to live in new ways in the strength God provides. God says, “Yeah, let’s make a deal. You give me all your sin and selfishness. I’ll give you a new heart and show you a new way to live and change your world.”
One thing’s for sure. The Cubs won’t be in the playoffs in 2012. Are they making brilliant moves that secure a better moneyball future? Or, did they scramble to look busy since this year was in the tank and they had no idea how to get a great deal done? I’m really hoping for the former and trying hard not to see the latter. Reaction runs from mixed: Yahoo! Sports to mortified: Greenberg
Tuesday’s 1-hit wonder outing didn’t do much to change anyone’s sense of the future.
Part of me wonders if Soto and Dempster could have been enough. They must have seen some promising Vizcaino x-rays!
But at this point I’ll trust the Epstein magic and ride out 2012 with Rizzo-fever. He’s the symbol of a Theo-future that might be…could be…it…
In a not-so-stunning discovery, archaeologists found the back office of the Mayan Google Calendar! Along with beautiful paintings depicting the social position of the scribe who probably worked here, we have something like Tables and Rules for Finding the Date of Easter Day from the Book of Common Prayer. Only this is to find which moon god is ruling at a given time: jaguar, skull, or woman. Evidently, if the King leans over at his birthday feast and wants to know which moon god will be ruling when he’s 48 you’ve got to be ready to answer. This scribe was good to go. And it turns out, we are too. The calendar can span some 7,000 years into the future. So go ahead and make those Disney New Year’s plans after all. Er, unless of course the Mayans were wrong… Naaaaah. Couldn’t be, right? We only trust the dark predictions of ancient societies which caved in on themselves or terminally depressed Reformation era visionaries who never actually mention the end of the world! But Disney World does close right after the fireworks so plan accordingly.
I’m glad Jesus predicted a wonderful new world where heaven is united with a renewed earth. But he said we don’t have to wait until then to get the party started. He said the Kingdom of God was at hand, so we should repent of our worrying and believe the Good News! By worry we cannot add a single moment to ANY calendar. And by following Jesus we can live an eternal reality where the Kingdom comes and God’s will is done on earth as in heaven…