God Running

Slavery, Love, and the Garden of Eden–Genesis 2:8-9

Slavery Love Garden of Eden

(From the Archives…)

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8-9

The Garden

A little trivia to start: The Bible tells us that the land in which God’s garden is located is called Eden, however we are never actually given the name of the garden itself, only the name of the land in which it is located. But one thing’s for sure, the word Eden means delightful, and we do know from the Bible that without a doubt, whatever the name of the garden, God’s garden was a delightful place to live.

Notice that in the middle of His garden God puts both the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “Why?” You may be asking. “Why include the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the middle of the delightful garden? Why ruin a perfect place with a forbidden tree?” The answer is that God desired a meaningful relationship with Adam and Eve, and a meaningful relationship requires a choice.

Marriage and Slavery

Hadijatou Mani is a 24 year old woman from the Sahel region of Nigeria, on the Southern fringe of the Sahara. Hadijatou’s story is the story of someone who wasn’t given a choice. When she was just 12 years old she was sold to a man named Souleymane Naroua. When she was just 13 she was raped by her master and forced to bear his children. Read More

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.” Read More

Top 10 Posts of 2012

Christian life with Jesus Christ1) Love Like Jesus series: The most popular posts of 2012 begin with a series. Jesus commanded us to “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 NKJV) But He never provided instruction as to how we’re to love–or did he? Posts from the new Love Like Jesus series examine every encounter Jesus had with a person or a group, in chronological order. Each interaction is analyzed and a way for you to make application in your own life is provided.

You can check out the top Love Like Jesus post by clicking on Love Like Jesus–Love the UnlovableOr check out the whole series by clicking on Love Like Jesus.

2) Senna Part 2–Teach Us to Number Our DaysOne of the most compelling stories I’ve ever heard is that of Formula 1 race car driver Ayrton Senna. I was surprised to find I’m not alone. Senna Part 2–Teach Us to Number Our Days is one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written. We can learn some valuable lessons from his life. If you’re interested in Ayrton Senna, you might also like Senna Part 1–Senna vs. Prost–Esau Ran to Jacob.

3) Sex and Your Future–Trading 45 Minutes for 1,000 YearsRead More

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– Read More

In God’s Image: Genesis 1:26-27

in God's imageI had a most interesting family matter to attend to. So here’s one from the archives.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:26-27

God said, “Let us…” and “…in our image…” and “…in our likeness…” Obviously us and our mean more than One. It would seem God was referring to Read More

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, Read More

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.

Read More

Why Some People Have One More Than Their Brothers: Genesis 48:21-22

Genesis Baby Boomers Prosperity

Dungeon Below Blarney Castle

Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.” Genesis 48:21-22

Baby Boomer Behavior

Lately I’ve noticed the abundance said and written by twenty and thirty-somethings about how “that miserable baby boomer generation has failed us.”

“They’re greedy geezers.”

“They’re leaving us a great burden of debt.”

“The leaders from their generation are short sighted and selfish.”

“It’s as though they threw a big party and left it to us to clean up their mess.”

And besides all that, “They told us we could be anything we wanted as long as we put our minds to it. I found out recently — I can’t be an astronaut after all.”

Let me just tell you what I think about all these statements, they’re all undeniably Read More

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).

Read More

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?

Read More

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

 

 

Financial Feast and Famine: Genesis 47:12-13

To read the previous post on Genesis go to Becoming a Great Man or Woman of God.


Read Genesis 47:12-13

There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. –Genesis 47:13



Years of Plenty

Kathy and I were so excited. Mortgage interest rates were all the way down to the 6% range, and, if you were willing to accept an adjustable rate, you could get down into the 4s.

I remember saying the words to Kathy, “Money is on sale, we should borrow as much as we can.”

So we did.

We borrowed, and then we borrowed some more. I could hardly believe what our banker was telling us — he almost never said no. We bought real estate, then we bought some more real estate. And our properties appreciated, at a record setting pace.

We were experiencing the years of plenty.


Years of Famine

You might be surprised to learn, if I had a time machine and could go back to do it over again, I’d borrow as little as possible. Why? Because that was the world’s way, and not God’s way.

The world says, “Buy it! Buy it now and pay later! You want this. You need that. Just borrow and get it now.”

“You deserve it!” The world says.

Why does the world relentlessly hammer away with these messages, day after day after day? They do it because it makes them money! They do it because you believe their message, and act on it. They do it because the system is set up for the world to win, and for you to lose. The companies attempting to convince you to borrow want to make money — at your expense.

God, on the other hand, doesn’t need your money. All of your money is His money to begin with anyway. And while the scriptures don’t prohibit borrowing, God does portray it in a negative light. “…the borrower is slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7 tells us. Borrow and you’re a slave to the bank. Borrow and you’re a slave to the credit card company when they raise your interest rate. Borrow and your spirit is a slave to the weight of debt hanging over your head.

Your financial well being doesn’t come from your income, your net worth, or your financial portfolio anyway. Research shows, whatever your range of income, financial well being comes with consistent saving and an avoidance of borrowing and high risk investing. Many financial advisers tell their clients not to pay off their homes, even when they’re able to, so they can write off the interest. But people living with a great sense of financial well being tend to ignore this advice. It turns out (not surprisingly) managing your finances God’s way brings peace. (see Well Being by Rath and Harter)

In our text, in Egypt and Canaan, there was no food. The seven years of plenty are over and now Egypt and Canaan are experiencing the seven years of famine.

You know what? That’s how it always is. Always. No economy moves in a straight line. Every economy has its years of plenty and its years of famine. Any casual student of history knows that. And God’s word tells us how to manage our finances in a way that accounts for these economic ups and downs.

Joseph saved during the seven years of plenty. The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down, Proverbs 21:20 tells us. Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer, we’re told in Proverbs 30:25.

So any time you have the opportunity to save, jump on it!

You can always anticipate a time of famine ahead.

Joseph provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children. (Genesis 47:12)

Manage your financial blessings according to God’s word — and you will too.

 

Notes:

Harvard researchers have determined credit cards provide a psychological uncoupling from the money we spend with them, which of course creates a tendency toward the accumulation of debt. But the current financial system also provides opportunity for saving. Automatic payroll deduction into a savings account also uncouples us psychologically. A short time after it’s in place, auto-deducted savings are out of sight and out of mind, and are more easily maintained. (Well Being, Rath and Harter)

%d bloggers like this: