Read 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
I 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.
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
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
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.
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
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.”
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).
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.
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)
Read Genesis 47:7-12
Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.
Great Men of God:
He was intimidating. He was a bad to the bone long haired biker who loved to party. Skeeter Jackson was up to his eyes in the biker culture and I’m not talking about Bikers for Christ.
John Webb was a clean cut, responsible, hard working man. He was everything opposite of Skeeter Jackson. And Skeeter’s life represented everything John was opposed to. But in spite of that, John reached out to Skeeter. He did his best to gently show Skeeter Christ’s love.
In our text we see Jacob bless Pharoah. He blessed him even though Pharaoh was exceedingly different from Jacob culturally. He blessed him even though Pharaoh was different from him ethnically. He blessed Pharaoh even though he was different from Jacob religiously.
Billy Graham was like that. I recently read the book The Preacher and the Presidents. Over the course of his lifetime, Billy Graham had friendships with nearly every President of the United States, regardless of their politics or religious beliefs.
Jesus loved and blessed other people, without regard for who they were as well. Jesus blessed adulteresses, corrupt tax collectors, and prostitutes. He loved zealots and skeptics. He blessed Jews and Gentiles.
All great men and women of God seem to do that.
All great men and women of God seem to have that one thing in common: they have a way of loving people without regard for differences. And they consistently bless people regardless of how others view them.
The Rest of the Story:
Skeeter Jackson’s story didn’t end in the biker culture. As a result of John Webb’s tender overture on Jesus’ behalf, Skeeter made a decision for Christ. Immediately afterwards he lost his desire for alcohol and drugs. In a short time he turned his life around completely. Skeeter Jackson was a new man in Jesus.
Shortly thereafter, John became a firefighter. After awhile he encouraged the regenerated Skeeter to apply, and, with John’s help, Skeeter became a firefighter too.
A few years after that a skinny kid from Chicago became a firefighter for the same department there in the Rogue Valley, in Oregon. He was assigned to Skeeter’s crew, and, more than anyone else, Skeeter influenced him to give his life to Jesus Christ.
That skinny kid was me.
So love people who are different from yourself. Bless people who are shunned by others.
See people the way John saw Skeeter, the way Jacob saw Pharaoh. See people the way Jesus saw the prostitutes and the tax collectors.
See people the way God sees people.
Find and focus on the good in people then love them, and bless them.
Become a great man or woman of God.
Insider Look at Christian Outreach to Sex Industry Employees on NotAshamedOfTheGospel.com
To read the last post on Genesis, go to Ready to Die.
Read Genesis 47:1-6
Joseph’s family are now with him in Egypt, and while that’s good, he still has a big frog to swallow. He has to present some of his family members to Pharaoh and gain permission for them to settle in Egypt, in the land of Goshen.
So Joseph goes to Pharaoh and tells him his family is in Goshen. He chooses five of his brothers and he presents them to Pharaoh.
What’s your occupation? Pharaoh asks.
Your servants are shepherds just as our fathers were, they reply. And we’ve come to live here for awhile, because the famine is so bad in Canaan we have no pasture for our flocks. So please, let your servants settle in Goshen.
Pharaoh says to Joseph, Your father and your brothers can settle anywhere you like. Put them in the best part of Egypt. Let them live in Goshen. And if any of them have special talent with livestock, put them in charge of my herds.
Today is the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. While I was still a firefighter I traveled to New York City, after the towers were attacked, with a group of Christian police officers, firefighters, and dispatchers to see what we could do to help. I spoke with many firefighters who experienced the loss of family and/or friends when the twin towers were taken down. (There were so many killed, very often firefighters had to choose between attending the funeral of a fellow firefighter who was family, or one who was a friend, because they were held at the same time) I attended funerals where Mayor Giuliani addressed the crowd. I spoke with forensics specialists who collected gruesome evidence at ground zero.
I’ve given this terrible tragedy a lot of thought over the last eleven years. And I’ve not just thought about 9/11, but I’ve also given considerable thought to our country’s leadership during that tragedy, and the leadership to come in the 2012 election.
I’ve come to a conclusion.
Egypt had a tragedy with the potential to kill more than we lost on 9/11. A seven year famine could have been devastating. However through God’s intervention with His servant Joseph, Pharaoh and Egypt escaped this famine relatively unscathed. But in spite of his success, can’t you just hear the criticisms that must have come from the people?
Pharaoh didn’t handle it right. He shouldn’t have given the best of the land to Israel and his family. He shouldn’t have given them positions of authority over Pharaoh’s flocks. That land and those job positions should have been given to Egyptians. This only happened because Joseph is so well connected.
The Coming Election
Just a few minutes ago I came across a video about how 9/11 was an inside job. How President Bush knew. How it was all a part of Bush’s effort to usher in the new world order. (I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, so I won’t dignify this video by posting a link)
The last few months of the presidential race, I’ve seen both sides meet out huge doses of negative campaigning.
On Twitter and Facebook I see my friends and family lambasting the opposition, either Republican or Democrat, Romney or Obama, depending on their political leanings.
But think this thing through with me — Remember back to that moment of optimism after “our guy” won the election? How’s that been working for us? After “our man” was in office for awhile, was there any appreciable difference? Time and time again when “our man” is in there, the real tangible changes made have been negligible. Many today maintain that the differences between the parties are rapidly narrowing. The reality is…
…putting your time and energy into politics won’t make a difference.
In a democracy, where we elect our leadership, we will continue to get what we ask for. You and I and the rest of the voting population are responsible for who serves in political office. And the voting public seems to choose leadership that doesn’t change much, time and time again.
In a democracy, the voting population gets what they deserve — every time.
You know what? Pharaoh’s decisions concerning the famine, Israel, and Israel’s family weren’t made because of Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s decisions concerning the famine, Israel, and his family were all a part of God’s divine plan.
God is where the power is for change. So why invest your time and energy into a man?
Here’s my conclusion: Take all the time and energy you invest in the political process and reapportion it into prayer. Because here’s the real solution to effecting change in a democracy:
Because after revival, the voting public will no longer put up with mediocre leadership. They’ll vote in better (not perfect but better) leaders into office. After revival, many of the country’s problems will be mitigated. We’ll see a reduction in corruption, drug and alcohol abuse, broken families, crime, etc. We’ll see these things improve because after revival more people will walk through life closer to Christ.
So stop bashing the other guy, whatever side you’re on, and start praying.
Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival in your family, in your church, in your city, in your state, in your entire country.
Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival in you.
God is where the power is for effecting change.
Read Genesis Chapter 46
To read the last post on Genesis go to Deeper Relationship With God.
Last post we saw Jacob draw close to God when he stopped to make a sacrifice to Him on his way down to Egypt. After he makes his sacrifice, God gives him direct confirmation, that he should go to Egypt and reunite with Joseph.
So Jacob loads up the carts Pharoah gave him, and he and his family, and his flocks and herds, and his entire household travel to Egypt.
When he arrives in Goshen of Egypt, Joseph takes his chariot out to meet his father. As soon as Joseph appears before him, he throws his arms around his father and weeps for a long time.
Then Israel says to Joseph, now I’m ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you’re still alive.
Jesus and Joseph:
Again we see Jesus manifested in Joseph’s life. Israel’s reunion with Joseph after seeing him alive is a picture of the Father’s reunion with His Son Jesus, after Jesus rose from the dead.
Speaking of the Old Testament scriptures, Jesus said, “These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)
Ready to Die:
We also see a dynamic illustrated here for you and for me.
By now you’ve probably heard about the famous Stanford University marshmallow experiment involving four year old kids. One at a time these kids were presented with one marshmallow, and then offered a deal: they could either eat the one marshmallow immediately, or, not eat the marshmallow while the researcher left for a few minutes. If they were willing to wait without eating the first marshmallow, until the researcher returned, they could have an additional marshmallow.
What’s typically discussed is how this experiment proved to be a powerful predictor of success in the adult lives of these subjects as they were followed closely into their forties. Those who were willing to delay gratification were far more likely to experience success in relationships, and in life in general. For instance, the SAT scores of those who waited for the second marshmallow were on average 210 points higher than those who didn’t wait.
But what’s not often discussed, is what the experimenters discovered in the later iterations of this experiment. When I think of delayed gratification, I think of will power. But what these researchers discovered was, the how behind the ability to delay gratification has little to do with willpower. But has much to do with focus. Those who were able to focus on something else, while waiting for gratification, were the ones who were successful at achieving their goal of attaining the second marshmallow, or, later in life, experiencing a successful marriage, earning a degree, or finding success in their career.
The lead researcher made what I thought was a very insightful statement: “We can’t control the world, but we can control how we think about it.” (Read more: Don’t! — NewYorker.com)
I think in today’s world where we’re inundated with news, information, and entertainment, this idea of focus is more important than ever.
You see, our own selfish nature is like that first marshmallow. You just can’t resist it. Trying to use will power to prevail against your selfishness just doesn’t work. Like the kids who were successful in the experiment, the secret to success where selfishness is concerned lies with focus.
When Israel saw Joseph alive, or to put it another way, it was when he turned his focus on Joseph alive, that he said, “Now I am ready to die.” (v. 30)
It’s the same for you and it’s the same for me. When we focus on our greater than Joseph, Jesus, when we focus on Jesus alive, something important happens to us. When Jesus becomes alive to me, like Israel, I become ready to die. I become ready to die to my selfish desires. When Jesus becomes alive to you, you become ready to die to yourself, in a way that elevates God and people above yourself. When Jesus becomes alive to us, we become ready to release our selfishness and put others before ourselves.
You might be asking, How? How do I turn my focus on Jesus alive? The answer is found in prayer. Our focus turns to Jesus’ aliveness, when we ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Him to us.
So before you read His word,
before you pray,
before you sing His praises,
before you take communion…
Ask God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon you,
that you will see Jesus,
in your life.