Genesis 39-40

Joseph is the best. His character is so striking to me. He stays obedient to the Lord and humble in his status. The beautiful wife of a wealthy man repeatedly throws herself at him and he “kept out of her way as much as possible”. 

Is this our response to sin? The Bible tells us often to flee from sexual immortality and temptation. Joseph does exactly that, yet still gets accused and convicted of a crime he steered clear of committing. Yet, “the Lord was with him  and caused everything he did to succeed”. 

Joseph’s story reminds me to go to extreme measures to avoid sin. Jesus emphasises this as well, using strong hyperbole to suggest we do whatever it takes to avoid sin. Because sin is ruthless. It’s life-taking. It talks us into horrible things, it ruins beautiful relationships, it lies, cheats, hides, strangles, spreads and roots deeply. 

Is there an extreme measure you need to take in your life to avoid sin’s temptation? A job you need to quit, a relationship you need to end, an activity you need to walk away from? Do it. 

Are you already taking steps to shake free of sin and yet still feel it’s cold grip around your life? Be encouraged, God is near to you, sees your obedience and will reward you. He’s with you, even when you’re in the bottom of a cell, feeling forgotten. Stay meek, relying on the Lord to defend you. 


-Carly 

Genesis 37-38

I have to be honest. I’m struggling with this passage this morning, because these stories don’t feel like outdate, ancient history, folklore anymore. Last night, our Syrian friend showed us his family book. It is in lieu of marriage certificates. There are 4 pages allotted in the book for wives and 17 for children. We urged him to rip a few of those pages out. 

God is incredible. People are always asking for miracles to prove His existence, but I dare say our existence is miracle enough. He has done an unfathomably good job with mankind, all things considered. Every time we submit to His design and allow Him to work through us, we become part of a miracle. Again I say, God used this messed up family?! Yes, yes He did. 

To Tamar, Judah says, “she is more righteous than I.” That’s right. And this bold, prostitute disgusted gal was welcomed into the line of Jesus. 

God was about to do something unthinkable and revealed it through the immature, braggy Joseph.

We might not be mature enough to handle a sneak peek in to what’s to come, but we can rest in the goodness of our Lord. 

Praise God for the miracle of your own salvation! Praise Him for every good you’ve received and every good others receive from you.

As we prayed for our dinner guests, last night, after sobering conversation intermixed with laughter, card games and American comfort food, I looked at their horrifying situation and my heart remembered this song: 

“God will make a way when there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me. He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side. With love and strength for each new day, He will make a way.”

-Bethany

Genesis 35-36

Something I love about the Old Testament is that even the boring chapters are meaningful. As tempting as it is to sweep over long lists of names in the Bible, there’s usually something there. Chapter 36 is a list of Esau’s descendants, which bridges the storyline between Jacob and Isaac, and Joseph, who we will read about tomorrow.

It also shows us the origin of nations that later become important enemies of Israel.

How is Esau responsible for this? In chapter 26, he defied his parents and married pagan women (Hittites). This might have been a short term move to intentionally upset his parents, but it had long, irreversible consequences.

Take some time to reflect on how you make decisions. Do you anticipate what the outcome will be? Do you make impulsive decisions, good or bad, out of emotion?

Let’s be prayerful people, slow to anger and quick to listen to other’s advice.

 

-Carly

 

Genesis 33-34

Jacob is rolling’ in to town a successful, fruitful man. The favor of God is clearly upon him. Unfortunately, having it doesn’t mean he knows what to do with it. 

In 33, he is cautiously reunited with Esau. Esau has every right to be upset, but instead is gracious and hospitable. Jacob doesn’t trust or accept his brothers agreeableness and their relationship remains unrestored. 

In 34, Dinah gets swept away by some locals. This story gets gnarly and ends horribly. Her brothers slaughter a city of unsuspecting people! Jacob laments, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Caananites!” 

I’m not pretending to know exactly what should have been done in that situation, but I do know God’s command, in cases of rape, in Mosaic Law, is for the man to protect and provide for that girl the rest of her life. Shechem would have, seemingly, been all about that. 

It is true Israel’s downfall does eventually come through idolatry introduced by Canaanite marriage. It’s also true, that Gentile women (in the line of Jesus), are sometimes exceptions. 

God’s ways are higher than ours. He knows perfectly, defines black and white rules and owns all the gray areas. 

To this day, God’s people struggle to walk the line between “befriending the world in order to bless them” and “staying separate from the world to avoid contamination”. Good thing we can ask Him! 

Bring Him your choices and conflicts. I definitely need to stop impulsively assuming I know best. Let’s stay humble and submit to His Spirit’s leading to know how to love our neighbors!

-Bethany 

Genesis 31-32

“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “It is now Israel, because you have struggled with both God and men and have won.”32:28

These chapters were long and full, I’ll keep it short and sweet today. Can you relate to this story? Is God wrestling with you about something?

Notice, he decides that he isn’t going to change Jacob’s mind. Jacob is persistent. Where in your life do you need more persistence? Are you fighting for the right things?

 

-Carly

 

Genesis 29-30

“She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.” (29:35)
I love this: “When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless.” (29:31) He has always been an advocate for the unloved. In the telling of the birth of her children, we get a peek into her heart’s process. 

She knew this was the blessing and favor of God to conceive, but her thankfulness was all in hopes to be loved by her distracted husband. Eventually she comes around to being truly thankful, no matter the circumstance and attitude of Jacob. She may not have his love, but she is loved by God and therefore praises Him. This is the child, Judah. He will become the line of promise leading to Jesus.

Things continue to be heated among Jacob and these ladies. Through this strife and jealously, we meet the sons of Jacob who will become the twelve tribes of Israel. 

We will continue to read about these 12 guys and their major dysfunction in Genesis. As you may remember in Kings, these tribes split and war and make horrible choices. Then, *Spoiler Alert* in Revelation 21, when a future glorious kingdom is introduced, we see a “New Jerusalem” and who are the gates named after?? These bozos! 

Keep that in the back of your mind as you go forward. God uses us and partners with us, despite ourselves. He keeps His promises and expands His glorious rule no matter what. Why should we share in His glory? Why should these guys have the gates of heaven named after them? Because He loves the unloved, gives grace to the humble, and is most glorified by what He is able to accomplish through us, His broken vessels. 

Through years of youth ministry I never cease to be floored by how God transforms lives. Completely, utterly, inside-out change. Sometimes, He even lets me be a part of it! When I look back, I can’t deny He has also fundamentally transformed me. He has used a sassy, uncoordinated gal from SE Portland to change the trajectory of people’s lives and I haven’t the slightest idea how. Kind of like how He used a dysfunctional family to be the beginning of His chosen instruments on earth. 

Don’t excuse these guys. You’ll read stories of some pretty gnarly stuff they’ll do. Don’t try to reason it out, like they’re righteous and doing righteously. God is patiently starting a movement that continues today. 

I am thankful for His church. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” (1 Peter 1:9) We are a holy, international nation. His special possession. He has made us beautiful and able to declare His praises! 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

-Bethany 

Genesis 27-28

I always thought this story was so weird. Imagining Rebekah costuming her son up to trick her for poor, elderly husband…so dysfunctional. I also always thought it was weird that Isaac didn’t just call his sons into the room, take back his blessing from Jacob and reword it to Esau.

Back then, a person’s word was their bond. It was as important as written, signed document. Isaac’s blessing was an irrevocable, formal oath.

Still today, our words matter. I can think back years ago, when someone older encouraged me spiritually. Their words washed over me, affirmed me and directed me into the person I am today.

But, like anyone, I can also quickly recall insults that were hurled at me. Those shaped who I am today, too.

We’re at a point in history where words mean very little. People deny what they say, whether or not an internet video of it reappears. My husband has the sharpest memory of anyone I know. He rarely forgets a word I speak, for better or for worse. I speak frequently and often carelessly. Our relationship has caused me to think through what I say to him.

Be mindful of what you say today. Is there someone you need to affirm? Do it wisely. Do you need to guard your tongue more? Ask God for self-control. Let’s be people whose words are reliable.

 

-Carly