February 8, 2011

Today you should read Genesis 28:10-22

In this passage we see a wonderful picture of God’s communion and connection with us. Jacob was traveling when he came to a place called Luz, which means separation. Jacob may very well have felt separation from God. How often do we, even though we are Christians, feel separated from God? When life’s circumstances hit us or we hit a dry spell in our walk with the Lord it can feel like there is a wall laid smack between us and God. If you remember from the previous chapters Jacob has just stolen his brother’s birthright and blessing and is now sent away because his brother is ready to kill him. I don’t know about you but if I were Jacob I would feel separated from God at this point.

So, Jacob decides to camp in Luz. He has a dream of a ladder or staircase where angels are coming down from heaven and going back up. At the top, Jacob sees God who proclaims that He is with him, that He will protect him, guide him, and that He will make him a great nation. There is nothing like hearing God speak to you that really breaks that feeling of separation. Think back to a time you felt separated from God… what broke that feeling in your life? Most of the time it is when you hear God or see Him at work in your life.

Jacob wakes up early the next morning, re-named the place Bethel, which means House of God, and then began bargaining with God. It seems that Jacob had not yet put his full faith and trust in God as evidenced by his plea. He only asks God to watch over him and take care of his physical needs.

How often do we beg God to provide some small need and then we worry He may not come through even though He has already promised to bless us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places? (Ephesians 1:3) Jacob makes an oath that if God would do these things for him, then he would follow Him as his God, and give a tithe of all his possessions.

Again, God has already promised to be with us and to never leave us or forsake us. God’s faithfulness is not dependent on ours. Aren’t you glad this is the case? Imagine if it were. What would that look like in our lives?

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

February 7, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 27:1-28:9

It’s amazing how fast things can turn bad. When you read Genesis 27, you read of an extremely dysfunctional family. It’s hard to believe this is only one generation removed from Abraham and Sarah!

We see the deceitfulness of Rebecca. As parents, we need to remember the danger in picking favorites and the example we set to our children in our actions. Our kids are always watching – even the little ones. They are much more apt to do what they see than what they hear.

We observe the wimpiness of Jacob. He was such a “momma’s boy.” Where did Isaac mess up? Did he fail to spend much time with Jacob – to teach him how to be a man?

All of this comes to a head when Jacob deceives his father (I wonder where he learned that?) to steal the blessing from it’s rightful owner – his brother Esau. Jacob had already swindled him out of his birthright, which entitled him to the lion’s share of the inheritance and the right to lead the family – now he steals his blessing – the transfer of God’s anointing on the family for the future. Talk about adding insult to injury!

We must remember that our decisions have consequences…Galatians 6:7 tells us, “Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.”

All of this reminds me of the consequence of our decisions. People for generations have said that life is a series of chances… I don’t believe it! Life is a series of choices and each one builds on the other. Choose well – your life and the lives of others around you depend on it.

Posted by: Tim Parsons

February 5, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 26

Abimilech is the Philistine king. Let’s be honest. He probably deserved to be duped twice, right? But by the same family? This is priceless.

“Like father, like son” gets taken to a whole new level in today’s reading. Poor Abimilech, minding his own business, encounters Isaac and falls into the same trap Abraham set for him in Genesis 20. Check out the similarities between these accounts.

From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”
Genesis 20:1-3 ESV

So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance. When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I thought, ‘Lest I die because of her.’” Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”
Genesis 26:6-10 ESV

It probably never crossed Abraham’s mind that Isaac would do the exact same thing he did. But there is a strong message here: your kids often inherit BOTH your good and your bad.

Isaac was an incredible man of faith. He loved God and served him throughout his life just like his daddy. He also lied to Abimilech, just like his daddy.

What I take away from this story is that it is important for parents to not only tell their kids about past successes, but intentionally tell them about past failures. Teach your kids the consequences of your past mistakes. Be honest with them. Don’t just try to be the perfect, never-failing hero to your kids. Maybe the most heroic thing you can do is to help them avoid the painful mistakes you’ve already made.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6 ESV

Questions For Application
1) Have you witnessed your kids make the same mistakes you’ve made?
2) When was the last time you took the time to explain some of your life mistakes to your kids?
3) How can you more effectively live out Proverbs 22:6?

Posted by: Todd Thomas

February 4, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 25:19-34

At Catalyst this past year, Andy Stanley said, “appetites are never satisfied.”

Think about it…was there ever a time you ate and you weren’t hungry again? I know for me within the hour I’m asking my wife, Sara, “when are we eating next?” There is only one word in our vocabulary when it comes to our appetites – more!

So, the first question I have to ask is, “what do you have an appetite for and how many times are you asking for more? We have an appetite for money, education, material things, progress, greater responsibility, respect, growth, fame, achievement, sex, and the list goes on and on.

Well, what does this have to do with Jacob and Esau?

Has it ever crossed your mind that all throughout scripture the Bible reads, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?” If Esau had not sold his birthright do you realize that all throughout scripture the Bible would read, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Esau?” Think about what Esau forfeited…he forfeited being the heir in Abraham’s godly line that would bring forth the nations.

It was a MEASLEY cup of stew! I mean c’mon now, if it were Fort Knox, a private island in Fiji, or an MLB contract with a hundred million dollar signing bonus maybe – but a cup of stew? What was Esau thinking?

Now, before we jump the gun and give Esau all sorts of criticism and ridicule I want to explain two concepts I learned at Catalyst this past year.

1) Impact Bias: This is an appetite that is actually normal, but because your brain tells you otherwise it magnifies your desire to be filled. In reality your appetite is a 2, but your brain tells you it is an 8.

2) Focalism: This is when your brain focuses on one thing and blurs everything else based upon your desire for that “one” thing.

V. 31 – Who would throw away everything God had promised them for a bowl of stew? His appetite ruled his mind.

V. 32 – Impact bias kicked in and the result was focalism. Esau was so overtaken by his present appetite that he was willing to trade anything for it.

V. 33 – Esau gave the lineage away over a bowl of stew. (He forfeited his birthright – a double portion of everything Abraham owned as well as being in the line of God’s chosen people).

V. 34 – Esau despised his birthright.

So what are the lessons we learn about appetites?
1) God created appetites, but sin destroyed / distorted them
2) Appetites are never fully satisfied
-As a result there is always a desire for more
3) Appetites always “whisper” NOW and never LATER
-It is important to manage our appetites
-If we constantly give into every appetite we have we will LOSE it all

Questions to consider:
1) What if Esau had someone in his life to re-frame “in the moment” what he was about to forfeit?
+Who do you have in your life that is helping you re-frame and get biblical perspective? This is the purpose of discipleship…Are you in discipleship? If not, why not? Is it pride, fear, or rebellion against someone sharpening you?

2) What is your stew? What are you trading for the blessing of God?
+Randy Alcorn says, “anything that is taking place of God is a God-substitute and it is idolatry!”

3) Is there anything in your life that you are craving more than God? If so, why? And how will you set proper priorities?

My encouragement for you today is this, let the Gospel of Jesus Christ stir up within you an appetite to KNOW Christ and make Him KNOWN – and to only be SATISFIED in Him!

Good quotes from Andy Stanley:

“What is true of Esau is true of you! You have no idea what God wants to do through you – You must Re-Frame and Re-Frain – so that you do not give up what God desires for you.”

“Do not trade your future for a bowl of stew – what is your stew?”

Posted by: Zach Monroe