February 12, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 30:25-43

The book of Genesis can be summed up in one word: “trickery”.

As you flip through the pages of the Bible’s preamble, you continually find stories of swindling and dishonesty. Adam, Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, and more . . . they all experienced it. Some were the swindlers, some were the swindlees (Serah made up that word). Many suffered real pain by these mischievous people.

The second half of Genesis 30 exposes the sinful heart of Laban. Jacob is ready to leave and start his own life with HIS family. The birth of his son Joseph impresses upon Jacob’s heart that it is time to move on. Laban agrees to let Jacob go. After all, Jacob made him rich and it’s time to repay the favor, right? Nope.

Laban, choosing to be a double-dealer, schemes to prevent his son-in-law from pursuing his own goals. Since Laban’s success was due to God’s blessing on Jacob, he tried to force Jacob to continue working for him. But with God’s help, Jacob was always one step ahead of Laban.

Jacob ends up living a full life; his son Joseph becomes one of the most important men in biblical history, and another son, Judah, is in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Laban may have thought his trickery was a great idea at first, but he lost in the end.

This story in Genesis 30 points right back to the one in Genesis 3 where Adam and Eve are in the garden of Eden, enjoying their lives and the beauty of God’s majesty.

Enter The Swindler.

His name is Satan, and he will do anything it takes to ruin God’s creation. He tricks Adam and Eve and they fall prey to sin. The damage is done and it seems like the devil’s victory. But is it?

“He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15b

The greatest trickster of all time cannot prevail over the God of the universe. When Christ suffered and died, he crushed Satan’s head through the cross and resurrection.

Genesis is actually better summed up in these 8 words: “the beautiful unfolding of the story of redemption”.

Food For Thought
1) Don’t swindle a swindler — it rarely works out well in the end.
2) Integrity matters; its absence led to Laban’s downfall.
3) Rejoice in Christ! The greatest of Satan’s schemes couldn’t keep him from saving us.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

February 11, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 30:1-24

What is your first reaction when things don’t go as you planned? Is it to get upset and brood? Maybe it is getting frustrated and taking out your anger on the closest door or wall. Or are you the type of person when you don’t get what you simply manipulate your circumstances to obtain what it is you desire?

This is exactly what Rachel is doing throughout this passage. Verse 1 makes it clear that she is barren, unable to conceive children. The desire to have children becomes overwhelming to her and demands Jacob to give her children or else she will die.

Verse 2 is interesting in that Jacob is outraged at Rachel for asking something of him that he has no control over. Now what is the problem here? Well what do you think? Is it wrong to want to have kids? Is it even wrong that Rachel was so emotionally upset that she asked Jacob to give her kids? Is it wrong for Jacob to get upset with Rachel because she is demanding something of him of which he has no control?

Whether it was right or wrong one thing is true – instead of going to the Almighty God and Creator of the universe in prayer Rachel and Jacob do things their own way. Not once did Rachel think, “I should probably pray to the One True God who gives life.” And not once did Jacob lovingly guide his wife to seek God’s face and ask God to open her womb that she may bear children – Jacob just got mad. Neither, Rachel or Jacob sought God in prayer to ask for children. And this begs the question…

Am I like Rachel and Jacob? If I can’t get what I want when I want it do I just come up with some manipulative plan to obtain it without ever consulting the God of the universe?

And if I am how does this reflect the foundation of my faith? What does this say about my prayer life?

For me at least it reveals that my faith still needs to grow. And I need to take prayer much more seriously. When I read this passage I think to myself, “Cmon Rachel just pray to the One True God who gives life and see what happens.” “Cmon Jacob, I mean dude let’s be honest – you’ve experienced some pretty amazing things – do you not believe God can’t give you the desires of your heart?”

Yet so often in my life I desire things that may be completely and utterly selfish, all the while, asking God and not getting them and than because “I” think “I” should have it “I” just go out and come up with a plan to get it.

I must repent and believe that whatever I want it is God who is in control of it and He has my best interest in mind if He chooses to withhold it. I must also remember to run to God in prayer before jumping ahead and doing my own thing.

Today’s Lessons:
1) God is sovereign over all things
2) Pray that your desires line up with God’s desires
3) Instead of coming up with your own plan – Trust the God of the universe to give you what you need when you need it.

Posted by: Zach Monroe

February 10, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 29:21-35

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, ~Philippians 2:3. The Bible is very clear about how we treat others. Is it wrong to want things for yourself? Not necessarily but if getting them comes at the expense of others then you will do damage to yourself and those around you.

In the first part of Genesis 29 we see a deal made between Jacob and his uncle Laban. Jacob wanted Rachel as his wife and agreed to work for Laban for seven years in exchange for Rachel’s hand in marriage. Honestly this seems pretty fair right? Jacob loves God and he is willing to work. In today’s society it’s just nice to find a guy who loves God, but, if the guy has a job you have hit the jack pot. Unfortunately, when it came time for Laban to hold up his end of the deal things got a little messy.

In today’s reading we see Laban deceive his soon to be son-in-law by giving him the wrong daughter in marriage. Let me just say that as a man this is pretty low to go back on your word but, as a father this is even lower. I wonder if Laban ever thought about how Leah would feel when she realized that her new husband did not want her but instead wanted her younger sister. How about Rachel? She had been looking forward to spending the rest of her life Jacob only to find that she will never be his first.

Why would Laban do this? Selfish ambition! By pulling this trick Laban ensured that he would get seven more years of labor from Jacob and both of his daughters would be married. Laban had the perfect plan. He knew he was deceiving Jacob but it was going to be a win-win for everyone right? No, Laban’s actions had brought about hurt that would cause the two sisters to envy and compete with one another and would eventually spill over into the life of Joseph.

The sin of selfish ambition manifests itself in many different ways in our lives but, if it goes un-dealt with and un-repented of, the by-product is almost always self justification. In Laban’s eyes he was just doing what was best for everyone but, in reality, he was doing what was best for him.

Today, ask yourself, do I make decisions based on what will benefit me? If so, how? With your wife? Kids? Friends? If you are not sure ask them how they perceive you. Finally, if the answer is yes to any of these questions repent before the Lord and ask forgiveness from anyone that you have hurt. Meditate on Philippians 2:3.

Posted by: Chad Wiles

February 9, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 29:1-20

God is sovereign over your situation…

In this chapter we see the last leg of Jacob’s journey…we see God’s sovereignty in the directing of Jacob…and, we see the deep love that Jacob had for Rachel that made waiting for her seem like a privilege.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”:

For today’s application I want us to see, understand, and more deeply trust in the SOVEREIGNTY of God. I just think it’s amazing that Jacob ended up where he did!! Was it a coincidence that Jacob’s journey led him directly to a place where the shepherds knew Laban and Rachel? Was it luck that Rachel came approaching while Jacob was still there? The answer is no. God knows what He’s doing.

Don’t miss the specifics here… it’s something that WE all must grow in. First, God’s timing is perfect. Jacob didn’t arrive any earlier or any later than God’s perfect timing. God’s sovereignty ordained it like that. So, whether we are growing impatient with a situation in our lives or whether we are wishing that God would slow down a certain situation in our lives…remember, God is sovereign and His timing is perfect. Sometimes we think,…”did God make a mistake?” “Is he hearing my prayers?!?” “What is he doing!?!” Believe me… He has heard you, but His timing is better than yours. You can trust Him…wait on Him…stay on the journey…He knows what is best and His timing is perfect.

Second, we see God’s sovereignty in the PEOPLE that God placed around Jacob. The shepherds at the well were ordained by God to be there and to point Jacob in the right direction. The people that God places in our lives are not there by coincidence. God has placed them there. Whether they are mentors, lost people, or simply people that God uses for a momentary reason in our lives…. God has placed them there to get our attention, to direct us, to speak truth to us, for us to WITNESS TO or, simply for us just to love. Don’t discredit or look past the people that God has placed in your life. They are there for a reason…what’s the reason?

Overall, God directed Jacob with the right people in perfect timing. This reflected that God’s hand was on Jacob’s life, just as it was promised in Genesis 28:15. God kept His promise to Jacob. Let’s not forget that in Genesis 28:20-22 Jacob made a vow that the Lord would be his God. Think that tied into God’s direction in His life? So…give God the reigns, trust Him for direction and timing, and make Him your God… He knows what He’s doing.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione