The Key to Blessing Your Family: Genesis 48:15-16

Blessing Family God's Path

Read Genesis 48:15-16.

Jacob Blesses His Family

“May the God before whom my fathers
    Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God who has been my shepherd
    all my life to this day,
the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
    —may he bless these boys.”

Genesis 48:15-16

How to Bless Your Family

An independent filmmaker told me a story recently about a shoot he did, here in Southern Oregon, just a few months ago. One day they were scheduled to film at the top of Mount Baldy in the Applegate Valley. It’s a very remote location, in fact, the director and his wife found themselves ten feet from a mountain lion a few weeks prior to the shoot, when they first scouted the area (fortunately the mountain lion fled).

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Love Like Jesus–Love the Unlovable: Mark 2:16-17

Love Like Jesus -- Socialize with Sinners InfluenceWhen the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:16-17


How Jesus Loved People

Jesus loved people by spending time with them, in spite of their sinful lifestyle.


How to Love Like Jesus

There’s a blog I follow called Not Ashamed Of The GospelNot long ago, they posted a three part series about a ministry which reaches out to sex industry employees. I couldn’t help but notice there weren’t many comments offered on the last post in the series, An Insider’s Look — “Awkward!” I think for most people, that post was just too hot to handle.

Finally, one person posted and as best as I could tell he used scripture to infer this post about the sex industry ministry was an example of ungodly men perverting the grace of God.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to comment.

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You’re Dying and What to do About It — Genesis 48:1-15

To read the previous post on Genesis, go to Joseph and Israel, Jesus and the Jew.

Read Genesis 48:1-15

Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed. (Genesis 48:1-2)

Then he blessed Joseph. (v.15)

 

You’re dying and what to do about it

It seems apparent, Jacob knows he is dying. So here he is, on his death bed, knowing he is dying, and what does he do?

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Love Like Jesus — Forgiveness and Paralysis: Matthew 9:1-7

Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home.

Matthew 9:1-7


How Jesus Loved People

Jesus loved the paralytic by forgiving him.


How to Love Like Jesus

Years ago I was a one man information technology department for the fire department where I worked. My primary job was that of firefighter but in the evenings at the fire station, and on overtime down at headquarters, I would purchase computers, install software, and program databases.

As the de facto department expert, I often had co-workers ask me questions about their personal computer purchases. I remember one time my friend, Michael Milligan, asked me if he should buy a PC or a Mac. I explained (in a most eloquent manner) how the PC is less expensive, and how you can right click, and why it has more flexibility if you want to upgrade, and how there’s a bigger selection of software available.

Well Mike patiently listened, nodding to indicate his understanding and agreement.

Then he went out and bought a Mac.

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Still Waters: Psalm 23:2

My son Gabe and I planned a trip to Howard Prairie Lake in the mountains of Oregon, East of Ashland, on Saturday, October 13. When we woke that morning it was windy, cloudy, and rainy. We actually stopped to buy rain gear on the way up. We never could have anticipated what God would do on that day. It was spectacular. Gabe was fortunate enough to capture it in this photograph. (If you click on the picture you’ll see the full size original)

I couldn’t help but share it with you.

God is truly good to us.

Naturally this picture brought to mind Psalm 23, verses 2 and 3, He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.

Samuel said to Saul in 1 Samuel chapter nine, “…stand thou still awhile, that I may show thee the word of God.” (v. 27)

If you want your soul restored,

If you want to experience God’s still waters,

Slow down enough to carve out a still and quiet time in His word.

I think the pace of life can kill your opportunity to be led by His still waters. If you’re too busy to spend time with God, then you’re too busy.

Love Like Jesus — Touch: Luke 5:12-13

While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.


How Jesus Loved People

The life of a leper was one of isolation. The law demanded he live alone. His clothes were to be rent, his head bare, and wherever he went he was to announce his defiled condition to those around him by shouting, “Unclean, unclean!” (Leviticus 13:45-46)

There was also a law against others touching a leper. Most people would find it revolting anyway.

But Jesus reached out his hand, and touched him.


How to Love Like Jesus

A friend who does counseling once told me a patient of his came back to visit him a few years after her counseling sessions had ended. She was doing extremely well and credited my counselor friend with her improvement.

“What was it that made the difference?” he asked, “The wisdom I shared? My insights into your family life perhaps?”

“No,” she replied. “It was the hugs.”

A few years ago I read a fascinating article about the power of physical touch. Patients touched by their doctor perceived their visits to have lasted twice as long as patients who weren’t touched. Students who were touched by their teachers were twice as likely to volunteer in class. The human touch can ease depression. The human touch can improve relationships

In a Cal Berkley study, touches among NBA teammates were measured. Among all NBA teams who do you suppose touched the most? The top two were the Boston Celtics and the L.A. Lakers — the last two NBA champions at the time of the study.

Interesting.

(To learn more see the New York Times article on touch)

I love living in the information age. I love email, and Facebook, and Twitter, and Youtube. I love it. I feel blessed to live in an age when all this is available. But I also know I can have a tendency to become immersed in what I’m doing on the computer or on my phone, to the exclusion of real life face to face interaction with human beings.

It puts me at risk of neglect for showing people love through touch.

And touching, appropriately of course, is one of the most effective ways of communicating love to others.

Imagine with me what Jesus’ touch must have meant to the leper from our story. Picture living in a society where it was illegal to touch a leper — illegal. Put yourself in the leper’s shoes and think what it would be like to shout out, “Unclean, unclean,” so people could stay clear of you, and completely avoid any possibility of touching you. It’s hard to think of someone who would crave the touch of another human more. Disregarding man’s law, Jesus reached out and touched him.

I want to encourage you to get in the habit of physically touching those you love. And to be on the lookout for those who will be encouraged by your touch — you know who they are.

Jesus’ touch accomplished great things in the leper.

Your touch can accomplish great things too.

Love people like Jesus did.

Touch.

Joseph and Israel, Jesus and the Jew: Genesis 47:28-31

Israel ChristianityJacob lived for seventeen more years after he arrived in Egypt. When he was 147 it was near the time for Israel to die. He called his son Joseph to him and said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.” I’ll do as you say, Joseph answered. “Swear to me,” Jacob said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on his staff.

Putting a hand under another person’s thigh was the custom for swearing an oath.

Joseph and Israel Interestingly, Jacob, also called by God, Israel, cared for Joseph for his first seventeen years, and now we see Joseph care for Israel for his last seventeen years. We also see Joseph promise to carry Israel from Egypt, a picture of the world, into the promised land, a picture of heaven. Jesus and the Jew This speaks to an important issue often discussed in this season of campaigning and debating before our presidential election: the nation of Israel. Even as Joseph remained tied to Israel, I believe our greater than Joseph, Jesus, remains tied to Israel. The name Israel is used more than 2,300 times in the Bible. Compared to 380 times for the word sin, or 280 times for the word love. (Bridges for Peace) God made multiple covenants with Israel. We’ve seen a number of them throughout this study in Genesis. (Genesis 12:2-312:6-713:14-1715:7-2117:822:17-18) And there are plenty more throughout scripture. Ishmael was promised blessings as well and his descendants received them. Truly Ishmael has become a great nation just as God promised. (Genesis 17:20) And the descendants of Ishmael, the Arab nations, are not only great in number, but are among the richest in the world. God does not break His covenants. (Psalm 89:30-37) He didn’t break His covenant with Abraham regarding Ishmael, and He won’t break His covenant with Israel. I’m often amazed at the political expectations put on Israel today. Israel has less land area than 22 counties in the United States. (Israel land area,  List of U.S. counties by land area) Whatever source you use to determine Middle East land area, Israel comprises only a fraction of one percent of all the land in the Middle East. This combined with the long narrow shape of their country makes their borders barely defensible right now. “Land for peace” is the political cry we often hear regarding Israel’s borders. But removing territory and narrowing Israel would only make them more vulnerable, and would almost certainly lead to more attacks. I was on a tour bus once with my wife Kathy in Mexico City. At one point our tour guide referred to the “North American invasion.” “North American invasion? What North American invasion?” I thought to myself. After the tour I did a little research and discovered the United States currently possesses California, Nevada, Utah, and much of New Mexico and Arizona as a result of an invasion of Mexico. Can you imagine giving those states back? And that’s not even representative of what’s being asked of Israel. A more accurate portrayal would be if we were to give Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska to Mexico, virtually cutting our country in half. Would you trade that land for peace? For those looking for perfection from Israel, keep in mind, throughout scripture, everything God has ever done has been in spite of sinful rebellious people. Our greater than Joseph, Jesus, is not done with Israel. She’s still an integral part of God’s plan and the scriptures plainly exhort us to support her. (Numbers 24:9, Psalm 122:6, Zechariah 2:8, Joel 3:1-3, Romans 11:1-36) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and Israel.

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!

Romans 11:1

Related Links: The Peace of Jerusalem Notes: Even as Joseph promised to take Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land, our greater than Joseph, Jesus promises to do the same for you personally. Yes we’re in the world, but like Joseph, Jesus won’t leave us here. He’ll take us to the promised land, to the place He has prepared for us. But even as Israel had to ask Joseph to take him to the promised land, you have to ask Jesus to do the same for you. You have to ask Him to take you. God has provided a way for you to go, from here, from the world, to heaven, to be with Him. This is God’s truth. As I’m typing these words I’m serving as God’s agent to share His truth. But in the end, it’s up to you. God will never compromise your free will to chose Jesus Christ and life, over a rejection of Christ and death. So you can decide. You can decide right now. Christ and life? Or rejection of God’s offer and death? What do you have to lose?

Choose life.

[Image via MmMmMmMatt – Creative Commons]

Love Like Jesus — Give Like Jesus: Luke 5:4-11

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

Luke 5:4-11


How Jesus Loved People

I love that story. Jesus was and is so generous. Jesus had the power to give — so He gave.

Jesus loved people by giving, materially.


How to Love Like Jesus

The last verse in our text says, “…they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” So we see Jesus didn’t give indiscriminately. He just finished speaking to a crowd of people, and almost certainly there were those in the crowd who were in need, but Jesus didn’t give to them. He only gave to those who would respond by leaving everything, and following Him.

Do you think I use Jesus’ approach? Do you suppose when I give of myself, materially, or my time, or my energy, I do it to encourage people to follow Jesus? So often the answer is no! How I have erred on this point. Too frequently I give so people will follow me.

I think many of us give out of a desire to attract people to ourselves. We think to ourselves, “If I help him move, he’ll think I’m a good guy.” Or, “If I pick up the check, he’ll think I’m generous.” Or, “If I make a great dessert, they’ll think I’m a great cook.” It’s human nature to think this way.

But think this through with me: Everything you and I have is God’s anyway, nothing is my own. My money, my time, my energy, my life, it’s all God’s. I’m just managing everything for Him. Doesn’t it make sense then, I should manage in a way that draws people closer to God and to His Son?

This conflict between giving to attract followers to ourselves vs. giving to attract followers to Jesus is relevant to anyone who blogs or tweets or speaks or writes for God’s kingdom. When we look at our number of followers or friends or subscribers or page views, are we looking out of an interest in drawing people closer to Christ? If you are, that’s a good thing. Jesus advocated numbering the 100 so the shepherd knew he was missing the 1. Tracking numbers out of concern for gathering sheep to Christ’s sheepfold is good. But we’re in error when we track numbers out of a desire to see how our followers have grown. Looking at his numbers to gratify himself was what David did when he numbered the men in his army. David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” (Matthew 18:12 vs. 2 Samuel Chapter 24)

Anytime you give anything, it’s important for you to ask yourself the question, “Am I doing this so people will follow me? Or am I doing it so people will follow Jesus Christ?”

I hear people say they want to be inspired by God’s Holy Spirit when they create their blog post, or their music, or their movie, or their book. I know I certainly want that. If you’re like me, and want the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, it’s important to remember the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus Christ. (John 16:13-14)

So as much as possible when you show love by giving, love as Jesus loved by giving as Jesus gave. Focus on those who you think will respond by drawing closer to Christ.

Speaking of the Holy Spirit Jesus said,

He will not speak on his own… He will glorify me…

John 16:13-14

Prepare Yourself for What’s Ahead: Genesis 47:14-27

To see the previous post on Genesis go to Financial Feast and Famine.

Read Genesis 47:14-27.


Joseph’s Choices and Consequences

So here we see Joseph, after his preparation for these years of famine that have come upon Egypt and Canaan. And now he’s experiencing the consequences of that preparation. You know, God gives us the freedom to make choices, but He doesn’t give us the freedom to choose the consequences of our choices. That’s just the way His universe works. If you jump off a 100 story building, that’s your choice, but you don’t get to choose whether or not you’ll experience the consequence of gravity. That’s how it is with everything. A whole lot of pain can be avoided if you can just understand that one principle.

Because Joseph chose to prepare for the famine, the consequences of his choice put him in a position to receive tremendous blessings:

He collects money from those in Egypt and Canaan, in payment for the grain they were buying.

When the money ran out, he gathered up livestock as payment.

When the livestock ran out, he exchanged land for payment.

Ultimately he received 20% of their crop production every year.

Everything listed above was on behalf of Pharaoh. But he also found himself, personally, in a position to establish his family, the Israelites, in the land of Goshen, where they acquired property, and became fruitful, and grew in number.


Individual Choices and Consequences

Often times, wisdom is simply doing now, what you will be glad you did, one, or seven, or ten, or thirty years from now. Joseph was able to receive all these blessings, and enjoy all these benefits, as a result of his preparation according to the leading of God’s Spirit, beginning seven years before.

Any individual living in Egypt or Canaan could have done the same, on a smaller scale. They could have recognized the time of plenty, and they could have anticipated a time of economic correction. They could have saved their grain. They could have put themselves in a position to receive great blessing during the time of famine.

But they chose not to. And they had to live with the consequences.


Your Choices and Consequences

Preparing for hard economic times is important. But infinitely more important is preparing for eternity. Every single one of us will die. And we know this time on earth is the briefest of time compared to our eternal life on the other side of the door of death. David asked God, “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days…” And the answer came, …the span of David’s years was as nothing before God. “Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure,” David said. (Psalm 39:4-5)

As important as it was to prepare for the seven years of famine, it was only seven years. When it comes to preparing yourself for death we’re talking about eternity. There is no more important preparation to be made. Not for school, or for marriage, or for work, or for retirement. Nothing compares in importance to your preparation for eternity.

Nothing.

So prepare for it. Right now. Recognize you’re a sinner. You’ve made wrong choices in your life. Those wrong choices alienate you from God. There’s no way to save yourself. But God provided a way. He sent His Son to die on your behalf, to pay for your wrong choices. He says, yes, if you insist, you can spend eternity in hell, but it will have to be over my Son’s dead body!

God doesn’t want that!

He wants to spend eternity with you. He wants that so bad He sacrificed His Son to provide you a way, a path, to get you there, to get you to heaven, to spend eternity with Him.

So do it. Ask Him. Ask God to forgive you for your wrong choices. Tell God you know you’re a sinner. Tell Him you know you need a savior. Tell Him you accept the sacrifice His Son Jesus made on your behalf. Tell Him you’re opening your heart up to receive His Son into your life. Tell Him you’re giving your life over to Him.

Surrender yourself to God.

And live…

…for eternity…

…with Him…

…in heaven.

Do it now.

He’s waiting.

Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.

Matthew 14:30-31