Help, I’m Married to a Stranger: Genesis 49:29-31

marriage counseling

“Bury me with… Leah.” -Jacob, Genesis 49:29-31

“The primary problem is… learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.” -Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Ethics, Duke University

Married to a Stranger

It’s impossible to know what your spouse will be like tomorrow, or next year, or next decade. Because life will change him, or her. Finishing school changes him. Age changes her. The hirings, and firings, and battles at work change him. Where she lives changes her. A loved one dying changes her. Having kids changes him. You can’t really know who you will be married to, in the future, because they’ll change.

It’s inevitable: at some point in your marriage, you’ll find you’re married to a stranger. It happens to every one of us.

It happened to Jacob right away. Continue reading

The Consequences of Calling Your Own Shots–Genesis 49:29

God and selfishness

Jacob said: “I am about to be gathered to my people.” -Genesis 49:29

Jacob was about to die. He found himself in the same position every single one of us will find ourselves. Jacob was about to be gathered to his people.

And of course, so will you. The question is: Where are your people gathered?

I Have A Confession

I have a confession to make. I have this tendency–I tend to change my worldview to accommodate my own selfishness. Reflecting back I realize I had a desire for personal glory in a variety of arenas. At various times those areas in which I sought my own honor included work, running, hang gliding, and basketball–to name a few. At my core, Continue reading

Joseph, Jesus, and the Key to Your Choices: Genesis 49:22-26

Make Good Choices Jesus Joseph Genesis 49To see the previous post from Genesis, go to Can God Use a Sinner Like You, or Like Me?

Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.
With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.
But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel

Genesis 49:22-24

Joseph

Joseph endured a difficult life. Described as “archers” in this passage, Joseph faced arrows of persecution from his own siblings–they plotted to murder him, then they settled for selling him into slavery. So he was separated from his family, while he served as a slave in Egypt. Then he was falsely accused of rape by Potiphar’s wife, after which, he was tossed into a dungeon–for years.

Jesus

Jesus was another who was committed to living his life God’s way, no matter what arrows flew in his direction. He loved people, all people, including promiscuous women, prostitutes, and thieves–even when it brought brutal criticism. Although on the surface he looked as ordinary as anyone else, he healed, and helped so many, it was impossible to write it all down. (John 21:25) And though he did all these things, things no one else could do, he never bragged. The religious leadership of his day hated him. Over and over they tried to catch him in a verbal ambush, but Christ answered so cleverly and completely they eventually stopped trying. Several times they tried to kill him, but they couldn’t until his time came. His dream was to make a way for us to go to heaven, but it meant he had to die. He did it anyway.

You might be asking yourself, “How? How did Joseph and Jesus live this way?” The source of power for both Joseph and Jesus is revealed by Jacob in our text. They were both able to live the way they did “because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel…”

Your Choices

You have access to that same source of power you know.

Those decisions you’ve made the last few years that haven’t worked out for you? The ones that made you say, “Yea but…”

“Yea but she seemed like such a nice girl.”

“I know but he was so good to my five year old daughter.”

“Yes but she was so much fun to party with.” Continue reading

Can God Use a Sinner Like You, or Like Me? Genesis 49:8-12

Jesus Judah Sinners WelcomeRead Genesis 49:1-28

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come, and the obedience of the nations shall be his. -Genesis 49:10

A Sinner and Strays

I know a single mother who’s made mistakes–big mistakes. She battled drug and alcohol addiction for decades. She’s had multiple men in and out of her life. She struggled mightily at times as a single mother.

But there is this one thing about her– Continue reading

Steve Jobs, Jesus, and Anger: Genesis 49:5-7

Steve Jobs Jesus and Anger

Read Genesis 49:1-28

“Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords are weapons of violence.
Let me not enter their council,
let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
and their fury, so cruel!”

Steve Jobs’ Anger at Apple

I love apple products. I bought an Apple IIC when they first came out (to this day I can say that was the best keyboard I ever set my fingers upon). I love my iPhone. I love to Face-time with my family when we’re away from each other. I even love Apple commercials, especially the one where the girl throws the hammer at the big screen with Big Brother talking. Steve Job’s penchant for perfection resulted in some amazing products and some incredible marketing. But he also had an anger problem.

In 1985 Jobs’ boss, John Sculley, who was then the CEO of Apple, decided to remove Jobs from his position as head of the Macintosh division. When Sculley gave Jobs the news, Continue reading

Sex and Your Future–Trading Forty Five Minutes for 1,000 Years: Genesis 49:1-28

Read Genesis 49:1-28

Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.” Genesis 49:1

Living Life Like James Bond

I have a friend, Kent, whose life was a little bit like a James Bond movie–at least for a couple of years. When he was in his twenties, he used to deliver Top Secret documents to a government location he won’t permit me to disclose. He traveled with a Halliburton attache case handcuffed to his wrist. He carried a 45 Colt in a shoulder holster, and a 38 Smith and Wesson on his ankle for backup. He was a nice looking guy and, not surprisingly, women found his secret agent persona attractive. Several female flight attendants made themselves sexually available to him. He decided to take them up on their offers. He was married at the time.

Continue reading

Genesis 4:9-15 — “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

“My Brother’s Keeper” by Ronnie T. Tres Reyes. Top Five finalist, 2008 Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office “Isang Pitik sa Charity” photo contest. Reyes describes his photo: “Taken one chilly night outside a McDonald’s along Mindanao Avenue in Quezon City. For over a year, this five year old boy has been taking care of his baby brother every night on the steps of the restaurant. Sometimes he lies on the concrete and allows himself to be the baby’s bed and source of warmth.”

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Genesis 4:9

Am I my brother’s keeper?” (v. 9) Cain’s insolent answer to God’s question reminds us of the same condition of heart found in Pharaoh when he said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him…” (Exodus 5:2) The difference is that Pharaoh didn’t have a direct awareness and communication with God like Cain did. Given the level of direct communication that Cain enjoyed with God, it’s hard to believe that Cain could answer God with such hardness of heart. But that’s one of the consequences of sin. Cain committed the first recorded murder, and his sin had the effect of hardening his heart toward God, causing him to question. Questioning God’s ways is no more rational than not obeying God in the first place. Listen to what God said to Job and his friends when they questioned Him:

“Who is this that darkens my counsel

with words without knowledge?

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?

Tell me, if you understand.

Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

Who stretched a measuring line across it?

On what were its footings set,

or who laid its cornerstone—

while the morning stars sang together

and all the angels shouted for joy?

“Who shut up the sea behind doors

when it burst forth from the womb,

when I made the clouds its garment

and wrapped it in thick darkness,

when I fixed limits for it

and set its doors and bars in place,

when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;

here is where your proud waves halt’?

“Have you ever given orders to the morning,

or shown the dawn its place,

that it might take the earth by the edges

and shake the wicked out of it?” (Job 38:2-13)

“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?

Let him who accuses God answer him!” (Job 40:2)

Lord please keep our hearts tender toward You, keep us from questioning Your will, help us to give thanks in everything. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Lord, please keep our hearts tender toward others, keep us far from the way of Cain. (Jude 1:11)

Am I my brother’s keeper?” (v. 9) The way of guilt is to deny responsibility. The truth is that God has in fact made us our brother’s keeper. God tells you and I that each of us should look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4) Notice that Philippians 2:4 instructs us to take care of our own responsibilities as well as those of others. Taking care of ourselves, our own family, our own brothers and sisters in the Lord, and also others, it’s all part of God’s plan for you and for me. Matthew Henry writes that caring for others is, “a great duty, which is strictly required of us, but is generally neglected by us.”

The church is God’s instrument to minister to the poor, the sick, the lonely, and the old of our world.

You are the church.

Love God.

Love people.


“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:34-40


References:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

Ray Stedman

C.H. Spurgeon

Matthew Henry