Wednesday, 30 April 2014
Summarizing Jacob's Journey to Haran
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Write titles for each of the episodes described in the Genesis 28:10-31:55

28:10-22                    Hey Jacob!  Here I AM – the GOD of your Fathers!

29:1-14                      Jacob falls for Rachel and meets Slippery Laban

29:15-30                    Payback – Jacob the deceiver is deceived

30:1-24                      Dueling Sisters – Jealousy in action   

30:25-43                    Slippery Laban is outfoxed – so you think you can cheat God

31:1-21                      Laban & Sons: “We’ve been had!” 

                                    Jacob & Family:  “Were out of here!”

31:22-55                    God lets Laban know: “You touch Jacob and you’re toast!”

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Posted on 04/30/2014 9:56 AM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 30 April 2014
Focusing Daily on God
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To what extend does Acts 13:1-3 set an example we must follow, to what extent does it offer a good example we may follow, and to what extent is it a unique event?  To what modern situation is it relevant?  Support your opinion with Scripture.

I don’t think this passage provides us with anything that we HAVE to do.  It would be a good idea for to DO this in our daily walk with God.  But I think that He leaves the choice up to us. 

See Revelation 3:20 -- Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

I don’t think that this should be restricted to just situations where a church is going to pick leaders or select people for certain jobs.  This should apply to any situation where a person or a group of believers wants to know God’s will.

 

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Posted on 04/30/2014 8:08 AM by Larry G
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Tuesday, 29 April 2014
JACOB'S JOURNEY -- Genesis 28:10-31:55
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“In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel; as a man he struggled with God.”

                                                                                    Hosea 12:3

One of the great puzzles of Scripture is why God favors some people and not others with an intimate relationship with Himself.  One of the great marvels is how that favor affects the character of the person in question.  Jacob, the next link in the chain of God’s plan, lived both the puzzle and the marvel as an example for us. 

Genesis 28:10-22

10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it." 17 And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." 18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you."

Genesis 29

1 Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. 2 As he looked, he saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep lying beside it, for out of that well the flocks were watered. The stone on the well's mouth was large, 3 and when all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place over the mouth of the well. 4 Jacob said to them, "My brothers, where do you come from?" They said, "We are from Haran." 5 He said to them, "Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?" They said, "We know him." 6 He said to them, "Is it well with him?" They said, "It is well; and see, Rachel his daughter is coming with the sheep!" 7 He said, "Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered together. Water the sheep and go, pasture them." 8 But they said, "We cannot until all the flocks are gathered together and the stone is rolled from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep." 9 While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 Now as soon as Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, Jacob came near and rolled the stone from the well's mouth and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel and wept aloud. 12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's kinsman, and that he was Rebekah's son, and she ran and told her father. 13 As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister's son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, 14 and Laban said to him, "Surely you are my bone and my flesh!" And he stayed with him a month. 15 Then Laban said to Jacob, "Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?" 16 Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah's eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. 18 Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, "I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel." 19 Laban said, "It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me." 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. 21 Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed." 22 So Laban gathered together all the people of the place and made a feast. 23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he went in to her. 24(Laban gave his female servant Zilpah to his daughter Leah to be her servant.) 25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?" 26 Laban said, "It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years." 28 Jacob did so, and completed her week. Then Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to be his wife. 29 (Laban gave his female servant Bilhah to his daughter Rachel to be her servant.) 30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.

Jacob's Children

31 When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, "Because the LORDhas looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me." 33 She conceived again and bore a son, and said, "Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also." And she called his name Simeon. 34 Again she conceived and bore a son, and said, "Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." Therefore his name was called Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, "This time I will praise the LORD." Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.

Genesis 30

1 When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I shall die!" 2 Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?" 3 Then she said, "Here is my servant Bilhah; go in to her, so that she may give birth on my behalf, that even I may have children through her." 4 So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. 6 Then Rachel said, "God has judged me, and has also heard my voice and given me a son." Therefore she called his name Dan. 7 Rachel's servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. 8 Then Rachel said, "With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister and have prevailed." So she called his name Naphtali. 9When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Then Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, "Good fortune has come!" so she called his name Gad. 12 Leah's servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 And Leah said, "Happy am I! For women have called me happy." So she called his name Asher. 14 In the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, "Please give me some of your son's mandrakes." 15 But she said to her, "Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son's mandrakes also?" Rachel said, "Then he may lie with you tonight in exchange for your son's mandrakes." 16 When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, "You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son's mandrakes." So he lay with her that night. 17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, "God has given me my wages because I gave my servant to my husband." So she called his name Issachar. 19 And Leah conceived again, and she bore Jacob a sixth son. 20 Then Leah said, "God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will honor me, because I have borne him six sons." So she called his name Zebulun. 21Afterward she bore a daughter and called her name Dinah. 22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son and said, "God has taken away my reproach." 24 And she called his name Joseph, saying, "May the LORD add to me another son!"

Jacob's Prosperity

25 As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, "Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country. 26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, that I may go, for you know the service that I have given you." 27 But Laban said to him, "If I have found favor in your sight, I have learned by divination that the LORD has blessed me because of you. 28 Name your wages, and I will give it." 29 Jacob said to him, "You yourself know how I have served you, and how your livestock has fared with me. 30 For you had little before I came, and it has increased abundantly, and the LORD has blessed you wherever I turned. But now when shall Iprovide for my own household also?" 31 He said, "What shall I give you?" Jacob said, "You shall not give me anything. If you will do this for me, I will again pasture your flock and keep it: 32 let me pass through all your flock today, removing from it every speckled and spotted sheep and every black lamb, and the spotted and speckled among the goats, and they shall be my wages. 33 So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come to look into my wages with you. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, shall be counted stolen." 34 Laban said, "Good! Let it be as you have said." 35 But that day Laban removed the male goats that were striped and spotted, and all the female goats that were speckled and spotted, every one that had white on it, and every lamb that was black, and put them in the charge of his sons. 36 And he set a distance of three days' journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob pastured the rest of Laban's flock. 37 Then Jacob took fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks.38 He set the sticks that he had peeled in front of the flocks in the troughs, that is, the watering places, where the flocks came to drink. And since they bred when they came to drink, 39 the flocks bred in front of the sticks and so the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. 40And Jacob separated the lambs and set the faces of the flocks toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban. He put his own droves apart and did not put them with Laban's flock. 41Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob would lay the sticks in the troughs before the eyes of the flock, that they might breed among the sticks, 42 but for the feebler of the flock he would not lay them there. So the feebler would be Laban's, and the stronger Jacob's. 43 Thus the man increased greatly and had large flocks, female servants and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Genesis 31

1 Now Jacob heard that the sons of Laban were saying, "Jacob has taken all that was our father's, and from what was our father's he has gained all this wealth." 2 And Jacob saw that Laban did not regard him with favor as before. 3 Then the LORD said to Jacob, "Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you." 4 So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was 5 and said to them, "I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I have served your father with all my strength, 7 yet your father has cheated me and changed my wagesten times. But God did not permit him to harm me. 8 If he said, 'The spotted shall be your wages,' then all the flock bore spotted; and if he said, 'The striped shall be your wages,' then all the flock bore striped. 9 Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me. 10 In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled. 11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, 'Jacob,' and I said, 'Here I am!' 12 And he said, 'Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.'" 14 Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, "Is there any portion or inheritance left to us in our father's house? 15 Are we not regarded by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and he has indeed devoured our money. 16All the wealth that God has taken away from our father belongs to us and to our children. Now then, whatever God has said to you, do." 17 So Jacob arose and set his sons and his wives on camels. 18 He drove away all his livestock, all his property that he had gained, the livestock in his possession that he had acquired in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac.19 Laban had gone to shear his sheep, and Rachel stole her father's household gods. 20 And Jacob tricked Laban the Aramean, by not telling him that he intended to flee. 21 He fled with all that he had and arose and crossed the Euphrates, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead. 22 When it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled, 23 he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him for seven days and followed close after him into the hill country of Gilead. 24 But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him, "Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad." 25 And Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen pitched tents in the hill country of Gilead. 26 And Laban said to Jacob, "What have you done, that you have tricked me and driven away my daughters like captives of the sword? 27 Why did you flee secretly and trick me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre? 28And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? Now you have done foolishly. 29 It is in my power to do you harm. But the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, 'Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.' 30 And now you have gone away because you longed greatly for your father's house, but why did you steal my gods?" 31Jacob answered and said to Laban, "Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force. 32 Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live. In the presence of our kinsmen point out what I have that is yours, and take it." Now Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them. 33 So Laban went into Jacob's tent and into Leah's tent and into the tent of the two female servants, but he did not find them. And he went out of Leah's tent and entered Rachel's. 34 Now Rachel had taken the household gods and put them in the camel's saddle and sat on them. Laban felt all about the tent, but did not find them. 35 And she said to her father, "Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the way of women is upon me." So he searched but did not find the household gods. 36 Then Jacob became angry and berated Laban. Jacob said to Laban, "What is my offense? What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me? 37 For you have felt through all my goods; what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two.38 These twenty years I have been with you. Your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flocks. 39 What was torn by wild beasts I did not bring to you. I bore the loss of it myself. From my hand you required it, whether stolen by day or stolen by night. 40 There I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41 These twenty years I have been in your house. I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night." 43 Then Laban answered and said to Jacob, "The daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day for these my daughters or for their children whom they have borne? 44 Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I. And let it be a witness between you and me." 45 So Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 And Jacob said to his kinsmen, "Gather stones." And they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. 47 Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. 48 Laban said, "This heap is a witness between you and me today." Therefore he named it Galeed, 49 and Mizpah, for he said, "The LORD watch between you and me, when we are out of one another's sight. 50 If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see,God is witness between you and me." 51 Then Laban said to Jacob, "See this heap and the pillar, which I have set between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm. 53 The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us." So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac, 54 and Jacob offered a sacrifice in the hill country and called his kinsmen to eat bread. They ate bread and spent the night in the hill country. 55Early in the morning Laban arose and kissed his grandchildren and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned home.

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Posted on 04/29/2014 7:59 AM by Larry G
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Tuesday, 29 April 2014
Why fast today?
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What do you think should be the role of fasting in your life?  In your church’s life?  Why?  (Optional: See 1 Samuel 7:6, Ezra 10:6, Matthew 6:17-18, Acts 14:23.)

I thinking fasting is a good idea.  I know that for me often my stomach is my god; people say that I spend a lot of time thinking about food.  That’s where my heart is; that’s where the focus of my life is.  But if I want to focus on seeing things from God’s perspective, I need to shift my focus.  That means that I need to quit thinking about food.  This makes sense.  The idea shouldn’t be to “humble” ourselves, to put on a show, but actually to help us focus on God, on Jesus.  This is relevant to me personally and also to the church.

1 Samuel 7:6

When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the LORD. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, "We have sinned against the LORD." And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah.

Ezra 10:6

Then Ezra withdrew from before the house of God and went to the room of Jehohanan son of Eliashib. While he was there, he ate no food and drank no water, because he continued to mourn over the unfaithfulness of the exiles.

Isaiah 58:1-14,

1 "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. 2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 3 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?' "Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. 4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself ? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, 10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. 11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. 12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. 13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, 14 then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Matthew 6:17-18

17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Acts 14:23

23 Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

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Posted on 04/29/2014 7:58 AM by Larry G
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Monday, 28 April 2014
The Point of Fasting
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Once the Spirit had spoken and the missionaries were prepared to leave, the believers fasted, prayed, and laid their hands on the two men (13:3).  What was apparently the point of these actions?

I think they fasted so that they could focus on worshipping God.  It says in several places in Scripture, that we are supposed to be self-controlled so that we can pray.  I think that eating is something that we spend a lot of time thinking about doing.  Often our stomachs become our gods.  When we fast, we deliberately choose to forsake those gods, food and our stomachs.  Fasting enabled them to concentrate or devote their energies toward worshipping God and communicating with Him and coming to an understanding of what He wanted.  …

--The concept of separation may explain references to the laying on of hands in Acts and the Epistles as well. The gesture was included in the ceremony that separated seven gifted men from the rest of the early Jerusalem church for the task of overseeing the distribution of food to those in need ( Acts 6:3-6 ). Similarly the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch laid their hands on Saul and Barnabas in order to "separate" them for their ground-breaking mission work ( Acts 13:3 ). In view of the critical nature of the tasks for which the imposition of hands set people apart, Paul naturally wanted Timothy to avoid laying hands on people too quickly as a precaution against putting people in charge of tasks for which they were not qualified ( 1 Tim 5:22 ; cf. Heb 6:2 ).

The concept of separation may also explain why the imposition of hands occurs so frequently (although not invariably) in connection with the coming of the Holy Spirit or with the giving of the gifts that the Spirit distributes ( Acts 8:17-19 ; 19:6 ; cf. 1 Tim 4:14 ; 2 Tim 1:6 ). Since God's Spirit is the Spirit that sanctifies or sets apart (hence the term "Holy Spirit"), it inevitably separates those on whom it falls from the world around them. Moreover, by the gifts it distributes, God's Spirit separates some from others within the church for special tasks.

There is a sense in which the idea of separation for a special purpose, so clearly visible in many instances, binds together all the occurrences of the phrase. Even in the context of formal blessings and astonishing miracles, the imposition of hands signifies the separation of a person, a people, or even a bodily part ( Mark 8:25 ) as the recipient of an unusual manifestation of God's grace.”   (Taken from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theological Terms)

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Posted on 04/28/2014 7:51 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 24 April 2014
More about Knowing God
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What lessons for our lives does Genesis 25:19-28:9 teach us about God’s justice, mercy, sovereignty, or unearned grace?

God will do what is right for everyone.  He sees what we do and He warns us about the consequences when we go against hIs will.  He is kind and patient with us even though we don’t deserve it, even though we often work at cross purposes with Him; we defy Him.  He watches over us and provides for us even though we continue to be sinners and defy Him.  But even though we oppose Him, His plan will still stand; He has remained committed to us.  We must also remember that He is ultimately in charge of everything; He is the ultimate reality.  He chose the times and locations in this physical world in which we would exist—not us.  He places us in time and space and He knows how we will decide, but He doesn’t force us to decide one way or another.  He absolutely respects our freewill.  He is also kind and merciful eventhough our actions would dictate that we deserve neither.  But He, the One and Only God is committed to us.  He loves us.  Why?  Maybe it’s because…that’s how He is.

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Posted on 04/24/2014 9:39 AM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 23 April 2014
God is not Mocked!
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Isaac inherited his father’s tendency to deceive when threatened (Genesis 12:10-20; 20:1-10).  He also plays favorites with his sons contrary to God’s stated plans. 

What principle does Galatian 6:7 state?

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

To paraphrase this, don’t kid yourself.  We cannot ignore God and go against His will and expect that things will turn out.  We cannot violate the third commandment; we must take Him seriously. 

How does Isaac experience this with regard to deception and favoritism (Genesis 27:18-40)?

Deception may have been part of Isaac’s modus operandi and his wife, Rebekah saw this.  So what we see here is the development of a “tit for tat” way of life in this household.  Deception is how this family rolls; it is how this family operates and it creates conflict bigtime!  Isaac’s favoritism of Esau feeds into Rebekah’s favoritism of Jacob.  Ultimately it sets both brothers against each other to the point where one wants to kill the other.

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Posted on 04/23/2014 9:34 AM by Larry G
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Tuesday, 22 April 2014
THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD'S LOVE
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Why is it important for us to keep in mind two important truths: God did not cheat Esau or his descendants out of their ultimate inheritance; and also God’s decision to fulfill his promise to Abraham and Isaac through Jacob was not based on Jacob’s human virtue.  How are these truths relevant to us?  (See Romans 9:13-16, Ephesians 2:8-9)

Romans 9:13-16

13 As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." 14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 

Ephesians 2:8-9

 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

The inheritance referred to has to do with receiving God’s blessing—becoming children of God.  This could only happen, if the Messiah came.  We are all sinners, including Abraham, Isaac, Esau, Jacob…everyone.  God chooses how He will bring about His Will; and we must remember that His will is going to be done; it’s going to happen.  He has decided who will be His children and who He will save.  His decisions are not based on our goodness because we are all fallen; we all sin; we are all engulfed in this; and all of our efforts toward being good amount to nothing.  We don’t have a chance of acting righteously unless He is living in us, unless we let Him live through us.  All we actually want to do, all we do is to run away from the One who created and maintains us and we do things that will lead to our ultimate destruction.  But here’s the bottomline—GOD IS SOVEREIGN.  It’s His way or no way.  The only one who can cure what really ails us is the one who made us; and finally—we can count on God to do what He says He will do.  So the big take away from this is that GOD LOVES US INSPITE OF THE FACT THAT WE DON’T LOVE HIM!

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Posted on 04/22/2014 9:29 AM by Larry G
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Monday, 21 April 2014
Jacob's Moral Virtue and God's Blessing
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By human law, Jacob did not deserve to inherit Isaac’s blessing and God’s covenant.  However, did Jacob’s moral virtue make him deserve it?

Jacob did not deserve Isaac’s blessing; on his own virtue he did not deserve God’s blessing.  He received Isaac’s blessing and the transference of God’s promises to Abraham—but he did it through deceit.  Based on his actions, he did not deserve the blessing.  But God gave it to him anyway.  God had already chosen Jacob and once again, The LORD’s decision was not based on what Jacob would do.  God would have given Jacob the birthright anyway.  Did Jacob have any outstanding moral virtue?  It doesn’t appear that he did; he lied, he connived; and he wasn’t above taking something that belonged to someone else.  He was also manipulative.

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Posted on 04/21/2014 9:24 AM by Larry G
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Sunday, 20 April 2014
The Effects of the Fall on Women
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Examine the effects of the Fall on women:

Sarah (Genesis 12:11-15; 16:1-6; 18:9-15, 20:1-2; 21:8-10)

She is reduced to being a “thing” an “object”  something to be used and disregarded if necessary.  We see that women are just for sex and childbearing.  We also see that women also become jealous of each other and vindictive and cruel.  Sarah doesn’t have faith or trust in God.  She displays selfishness, and concern for only those within their immediate concern. 

Hagar (Genesis 16:1-6; 21:8-21)

Like Sarah, Hagar has been reduced to an object, something to be used; they have no rights.  Like her mistress, she also has lost faith in God, who she thinks doesn’t care about her.  She sees her situation as being hopeless.

Rebekah (Genesis 25:28; 26:7; 27:5-17, 42-46)

She is arbitrary; she picks favorites.  She too is a disposable object and subject to the whims of her husband.  She doesn’t really trust God but schemes and actively promotes her favorite son Jacob.  She is myopic and only sees what she wants and does everything to get her way, without considering future consequences.  She is manipulative and deceitful.

Rachel (Genesis 30:1-24; 31:14-16, 19; 35:16-18)

She is jealous of her sister and in competition with Leah.  In sending her handmaidens to Jacob we also see that she is not above using other women to get her way.  She is capable of being mean and vindictive.  Children to her are a source of power.  We also see that she is materialistic; she covets money and material goods; she is not above stealing.  She dies in childbirth and apparently feels that she is in a helpless, forlorn situation.  But her midwife informs her that she has just given birth to a son and since children, specifically sons, are a source of empowerment, she has just won the battle with her sister Leah.

Leah (Genesis 29:16-30)

She isn’t physically attractive and apparently this is now a desirability discriminator.  She is also an object with little say in how her life will go.  One also gets the idea that she sees her life as without hope, which is why she goes along with Jacob’s schemes. 

Dinah (Genesis 34:1-31)

Her brothers murder the inhabitants of a Canaanite city because they think that they treated their sister like a “whore.”  Did her brothers use whores themselves?  Well, they did know about them and what we have here is a situation involving ownership.  It’s okay for someone to exploit someone else’s sister, but it isn’t okay for anybody to use ours.  This is a common viewpoint in our time, a disturbingly common viewpoint or attitude.

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Posted on 04/20/2014 8:57 AM by Larry G
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Sunday, 20 April 2014
Worshiping the Lord and Fasting
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In your judgment, why were “worshiping the Lord and fasting” (Acts 13:2) both important preparations for hearing the Holy Spirit speak?

“The purpose of fasting is never explicitly stated in Scripture but its connection to penitence, mourning, and supplication suggests a self-denial that opens one to God and to the immaterial aspects of life. Inasmuch as food and drink typify life in the flesh and all its demands and satisfactions, their absence or rejection speaks to the reality of a higher dimension, one in which the things of the spirit predominate. The theology of fasting, then, is a theology of priorities in which believers are given the opportunity to express themselves in an undivided and intensive devotion to the Lord and to the concerns of the spiritual life.”   (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theological Terms)

I think the verse means that by worshipping they were probably studying the scriptures and praying.  When they gave up food at this time, or fasted.  It allowed them to concentrate on spiritual matters rather than this world or their “stomachs”.  In order to hear the Holy Spirit it is necessary that we communicate with God regularly.  We need to get to know Him, how He thinks, and what He wants.  We also need to devote our whole being to this, our hearts, souls and minds.  We need to avoid anything which keeps us from focusing on God.  Then we will be able to hear the Holy Spirit and understand.

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Posted on 04/20/2014 5:38 PM by Larry G
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Saturday, 19 April 2014
Why pray?
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What does Acts chapter 12 show about God?  About the church?

The church ultimately will do what God has decided it will do.  In this chapter it appeared that Peter was all but dead.  The highest authority in the land was going to put him to death; rescue looked unlikely or impossible.  But this passage shows that what is impossible for men is not impossible for God.  The church back then and now needs to pray, we need to stay in contact communication with God.  Only then will we be able to understand what is going on.  Only then will we be able to see the ultimate reality of God.  There are other things that this chapter shows.  One is that when God has appointed an individual to do something, He will protect and make sure it happens.  Also God holds people accountable for what they say and do as evidenced by what happens to Herod.  God is faithful; He is sovereign.

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Posted on 04/19/2014 5:34 PM by Larry G
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Saturday, 19 April 2014
Typical Family Life After the Fall
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The scene described in Genesis 27:1-40 depicts typical family life after the Fall.  God told Rebekah His plan for her sons (Genesis 25:23), and she probably told Isaac.  But does anyone in the family accept God’s decision gracefully?  Describe how each person does wrong.

Isaac (Genesis 25:23, 288; 27:1-4)

He disregards what God says about the boys when they were born.  He likes Esau because he brings him things he liked to eat—Esau is the one who helps Isaac worship his every day god (his stomach).  He thinks he can ignore what God has said.  He doesn’t take God seriously, which is in violation of the third commandment.

Rebekah (Genesis 25:28; 22:5-17, 24-46)

She choses Jacob as her favorite. She masterminds the plan to deceive Isaac, going against her husband and other son.  She takes the steps that will set the family against each other.

Jacob (Genesis 25:29-34, 27:11-27)

He takes advantage of his brother Esau, who apparently is no great thinker.  He goes along with his mother’s plan to deceive his father and like his mother is willing to sow seeds of enmity within the family.

Esau (Genesis 25:29-34; 27:34, 38, 41)

He shows how little he valued his birthright and has little regard for God.  At this point, he really doesn’t care about the leadership of the family after his father passes away.  All he cares about is running around, hunting and partying; he also likes women and we are told in other passages in the Bible that he is an immoral person.  He is also vindictive and unforgiving, more than willing to kill his brother.

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Posted on 04/19/2014 8:53 AM by Larry G
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Friday, 18 April 2014
Knowing God
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What part did the believers in Jerusalem have in Peter’s escape from Herod (Acts 12:5)?

They were bystanders.  I know that sounds bad.  But their prayers didn’t cause God   to free Peter.  God had already determined and decreed what would happen.  I think their prayers just helped them see what God was doing and understand the significance of events.  Their prayers allowed them to see things from God’s perspective.

 God saved Peter from being executed by Herod (Acts 12:6-11), but He allowed James to die (Acts 12:2).  What conclusions about persecution, prayer and deliverance can we draw from these facts?

Everything is part of God’s plan.  He has everything worked out.  The persecution causes believers to pray, to go to God.  The praying doesn’t cause the persecution to stop; it doesn’t cause God to deliver us.  Praying, talking to God causes us to start to see things from God’s perspective, to appreciate what He’s doing.  It helps us to get to know Him better and understand Him.  

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Posted on 04/18/2014 5:31 PM by Larry G
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Friday, 18 April 2014
Isaac's Blessing
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Genesis 27:1-40 – 

1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, "My son"; and he answered, "Here I am." 2 He said, "Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die." 5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 'Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.' 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies." 11But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing." 13 His mother said to him, "Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me." 14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. 18 So he went in to his father and said, "My father." And he said, "Here I am. Who are you, my son?" 19 Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me." 20 But Isaac said to his son, "How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?" He answered, "Because the LORD your God granted me success." 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not." 22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, "Are you really my son Esau?" He answered, "I am." 25 Then he said, "Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son's game and bless you." So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come near and kiss me, my son." 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, "See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed! 28 May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. 29 Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!" 30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, "Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that you may bless me." 32 His father Isaac said to him, "Who are you?" He answered, "I am your son, your firstborn, Esau." 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, "Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed." 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, "Bless me, even me also, O my father!" 35 But he said, "Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing." 36Esau said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing." Then he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, "Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?" 38 Esau said to his father, "Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father." And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: "Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. 40 By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck." 

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Posted on 04/18/2014 9:52 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 17 April 2014
Getting to Trust God
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Compare Acts 12:1-19, 24 to 2 Timothy 2:9.  How does the story of Peter illustrate the statement of Paul?

Acts 12:1-19, 24

1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. 6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. 11 Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating." 12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!" 15 "You're out of your mind," they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, "It must be his angel." 16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. "Tell James and the brothers about this," he said, and then he left for another place. 18 In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed. Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there a while.

 

2 Timothy 2:9

9 for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained.

“when God opens an effectual door, none can shut it, though there be many adversaries; and when he gives the word a commission, there is no stopping it; when it comes in power, it bears down all before it; it cannot be fettered and bound by men, though men may be fettered and bound for the sake of it.”  (Matthew Henry)

It is interesting to note that these believers were “praying”.  But we can see from what happens in Acts 12:14, that they really didn’t think that their prayers would spring Peter from jail.   Did they expect Peter to be saved; did Peter expect to be saved?  We can see by all of their reactions that they were surprised.  Their prayers were not some kind of incantation to get God to do something.  No, God had already told them that they, the apostles, would be his witnesses throughout the world.  The believers at this point are going to God with their fears, with their hope for Peter and God uses this as an opportunity for them to see that He was already effectively working out His Plan.

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Posted on 04/17/2014 4:56 PM by Larry G
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Thursday, 17 April 2014
Did God cheat Esau?
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Did God or Jacob cheat Esau out of an inheritance he deserved?

Genesis 12:2-3

2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." 

Isaiah 53:11

11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

John 3:16

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Acts 1:8

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

The end result is that the Messiah would come through Abraham’s son, Isaac; and the blessing that He would provide would be for all the families on the earth; it would be a blessing for the entire world and that---includes the descendants of Esau.

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Posted on 04/17/2014 9:47 AM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 16 April 2014
The Purpose of Prayer
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FOR YOUR THOUGHT: Does chapter 12 suggest to you that John’s brother died because the believers did not pray for him (12:2)?  If so, why?  If not, why is this fact important?

James did not die because the believers did not pray for him.  He died because it was God’s plan for his life.  His death was part of how God would work to cause the spread of the gospel.  The phrase “the power of prayer” can be misleading.  Our prayers don’t cause God to do something.  They help us to align our minds and thoughts, ourselves with what God is doing.  They help us understand.  That’s important.  Prayer or talking to God helps us to see the reality of what Gods is doing in the world and in our lives.  Also consider that James' "life" did not end; his existence in this timeframe just ended; he continued to exist with the LORD.  

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Posted on 04/16/2014 4:46 PM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 16 April 2014
The man Esau
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Describe Esau’s character and values from the following passages:

Genesis 25:27, 29-34

27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents….. 29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!" (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now." 32 Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?" 33 Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Philippians 3:18-19

18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 

Hebrews 12:16-17

16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

Genesis 26:34-35

34 When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 35 and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

Genesis 28:6-9

6 Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him, "You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women," 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. 8 So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, 9 Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebaioth.

From these passages, it would appear that Esau is a rough and tumble kind of guy; he liked being outside; he was a hunter.  He apparently wasn’t much of a thinker, but rather he was impulse-driven.  As can be seen by his taking multiple wives whom his parents object to, he seems to be a man with a voracious sexual appetite.  In taking Canaanite wives we also see that this individual doesn’t have a problem with immorality in others or himself.  Because he was impulse-driven, he only chose to think about those things that he understood instinctively, like hunger, anger or sexual urges.  We will also see that this man carried a grudge and could hate; he was also capable of passing this on to his descendants.

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Posted on 04/16/2014 9:42 AM by Larry G
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Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Persecution and the Spread of the Gospel
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Why could persecution prevent the gospel from spreading (12:1, 24)?

Acts 12:1, 24

1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. … 24 But the word of God increased and multiplied. 

Persecution actually helped spread the gospel.  It caused the first believers to leave where they were to avoid persecution and as they spread out they told others about the gospel.  The persecution also forced them to rely more and more on God to enable and empower them not only to witness by spreading the gospel but by just giving them the power to just live through hard times.

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Posted on 04/15/2014 4:41 PM by Larry G
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