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  • Deceived

    Genesis 27-29:30


    Our reading for today contains a pair of stories that revolve around lies and deceit. We have Rebekah working with Jacob to deceive Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing he intended for Esau. Later, we have Laban acting deceitfully in giving Jacob Leah instead of Rachel to be his wife. While we generally consider lies bad, in each of these instances they expressly serve God’s greater plan. God tells us about Jacob’s receipt of Esau’s blessing in Genesis 25:23 and his marriage to both Rachel and Leah steps towards the fulfillment of God’s promise in Genesis 28:14. In an age where information feels so readily available, where everyone demands the right to know what’s going on, these stories can challenge us. We don’t want someone to have a plan that we’re not in on, especially not one involving us. The reality we see on full display in these chapters still applies to us today, God has a plan that involves each of us. That plan might involve deceit and manipulation, it might not. The stories of Jacob, Esau, Leah, and Rachel challenge us to have the humility to pray, “God, I trust your plan, even though I don’t know or see how it’s working.” Because ultimately, we know that God plans for us to join Him in the New Creation because of Jesus’ sacrifice.


    Today’s B.I.B.L.E. Takeaways:

    Blessings from God

    We see God’s blessings through Isaac in our readings today, especially in Genesis 28:3.

    Instructions for Us

    These stories can push us to trust God and His plan even during things we perceive as deceitful and wrong. Jacob also gives us an example of how we should react to the presence of God in Genesis 28:16-22. Where do we find the presence of God today? In His church, with His people, in His Word, and at the altar.

    Biblical Connections

    These chapters show us the fulfillment of some of the earlier promises and prophecies in Genesis, as well as pointing to the continuation of God’s ultimate promise and covenant through Jacob in Genesis 28:14.

    Laborious Understandings

    These passages do not contain any particularly difficult-to-understand passages.

    Enjoyable Passages

    What an incredible blessing and promise we witness in Genesis 28:15, a blessing and promise that we receive in the Holy Spirit even today!


    Topics to Pray About:

    • Thank God for the blessings He brings into your life.
    • Confess to God times when you don’t trust that everything is going according to His plan.
    • Ask God to walk with us and bring us to worship Him where He promises to be.

    In His Service,

    J. LeBorious


    1. Keep

      Genesis 25-26

      These chapters showcase God’s commitment to the promise. He renews and reminds Isaac of the blessings and relationship that God promised to Abraham for both him and his descendants. Abraham’s death did not extinguish this promise, the promise that God ultimately fulfills in the person, life, and work of Jesus Christ. This promise precedes God’s exhortation in Genesis 26:24-25 of a life walking in God’s commands and statutes. Today we live in the Gospel, knowing that through Jesus’ sacrifice we no longer fear eternal condemnation. This knowledge can overwhelm us, leading us to the conclusion that our actions do not matter at all. God does allow us to suffer consequences, both good and bad, in this life and in our relationships. As we live our lives, following God’s law will yield blessings for us and ignoring God’s law can result in broken relationships and broken lives.


      Today’s B.I.B.L.E. Takeaways:

      Blessings from God

      In today’s reading, we again see God blessing Isaac in Genesis 26:12-14. God’s mercy toward Abimelech and his people also shows us God blessing and protecting His creation.

      Instructions for Us

      We can learn from the example in Genesis 25:21 that God works through prayer and go to Him with our needs of this life. Genesis 26:4-5 also encourages us to “obey [God’s] voice and keep [His] charge, [His] commandments, [His] statutes, and [His] laws.”

      Biblical Connections

      Here we see Isaac connected to Abraham’s early life through the character of Abimelech, who really doesn’t seem like such a bad guy.

      Laborious Understandings

      These passages do not contain any particularly difficult to understand passages.

      Enjoyable Passages

      I always get excited when I notice passages like Genesis 25:21, getting to hear and see stories of God answering the prayers of His people.


      Topics to Pray About:

      • Thank God for the blessings He brings into your life.
      • Confess to God times when you don’t walk according to His commands.
      • Ask God to step into our lives and keep us from sin.

      In His Service,

      J. LeBorious


      1.  — Edited

        Rebekah

        Genesis 23-24


        Our reading for today begins with the death of Sarah, the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac. Following her death, Abraham purchases land so that he can bury her body and sends his servant to find Isaac a wife. In these two stories, we see Abraham’s confidence in God’s work and promise. He purchases land from Ephron the Hittite to bury his wife, committing to the Promised Land in a dramatic way by ensuring that Sarah and his remains would both rest in the land God had led him to. Then, rather than arranging a politically advantageous marriage from among the Canaanites, Abraham burdens his servant with the responsibility of finding Isaac a wife from among people who know God – his own relatives. This approach to marriage diverges in two major ways from our modern day understanding. First, marriage forms the basis for the love of husband and wife contrasting the modern view that romance and emotion are precursors to marriage. Second, Rebekah is Isaac’s first cousin once removed. The closeness of Isaac and Rebekah’s bloodline comes from a different time and a different culture. The attitude towards the commitment of marriage represents an institution God formed for mankind that still speaks to our relationships in this time and in this place.


        Today’s B.I.B.L.E. Takeaways:

        Blessings from God

        Our readings today show a blessing from God as He provides a wife for Isaac who faithfully knew the one, true God.

        Instructions for Us

        The lesson we can draw from today’s reading comes from the attitude Abraham, Isaac, and Rebekah have toward marriage. God wants lifelong faithfulness and a vow before Him to form the foundation for marriage, rather than just how we feel about a person. This demands permanence from a marital relationship.

        Biblical Connections

        This passage draws some connections between the different nations and families that run through the Old Testament.

        Laborious Understandings

        The most difficult challenge in understanding these chapters comes from the radical difference between our culture today and the society of Abraham’s time.

        Enjoyable Passages

        I enjoy the story of Genesis 24 and generally find Old Testament narratives fun to read; however, no single verse jumps out at me from these passages.


        Topics to Pray About:

        • Thank God for marriage and for upholding His promise to Abraham.
        • Confess to God times when you don’t respond to blessings by recognizing their source as in Genesis 24:27
        • Ask God to uphold marriage in our society and our world.

        In His Service,

        J. LeBorious


        1. announced an event
           — Edited

          Oct
          31
          Sunday, October 31st  •  5–8 pm
          1. Pray for Debbie May’s safe return from Minnesota.
            1.  — Edited

              Testing

              Genesis 20-22


              The chapters for today show us a transition for Abraham’s character and relationship with God. In Genesis 20, we witness Abraham repeated an earlier mistake. He takes matters into his own hands regarding his safety before Abimelech, lying about his relationship with Sarah and leaving her exposed to adultery. God steps in to prevent this, reproving Abraham through Abimelech in Genesis 20:9-10. Abraham does not sin because he acts to secure his safety, rather he sins by breaking God’s commands demanding honesty and protection of his wife. For a modern-day example, avoiding dangerous parts of the city at night does not communicate a distrust of God. Lying to the police to gain their protection at the expense of others they protect, that does. Sinning at its core says “God, I don’t believe that you actually have my best interests at heart, so I’m going to take another path.” Our story continues from there, and we see God follow through on His promise of a son. I have even heard it suggested that God used the experience with Abimelech to prepare Abraham for fatherhood. The concluding chapter for today demonstrates the shift in Abraham’s character referenced earlier, where Abraham’s trust in God has progressed to the point of willingness to sacrifice Isaac, confident that God could step in, raise the dead, or provide a new heir.


              Today’s B.I.B.L.E. Takeaways:

              Blessings from God

              In these chapters, we see God showing mercy to Abimelech in Genesis 20:6. Then, God follows through on His promise and Sarah gives birth to Isaac. After Isaac’s birth, God shows mercy again to Hagar and Ishmael. Finally, God blesses Abraham and Isaac by providing the sacrificial lamb, foreshadowing His provision of Jesus as the sacrificial lamb for all the world.

              Instructions for Us

              Today’s readings teach us a simple concept that is exceedingly difficult to implement; that is, trust God enough to follow His instructions – even if those instructions don’t look like the direction you want to go.

              Biblical Connections

              This passage foreshadows the coming of Jesus as the ultimate sacrificial lamb.

              Laborious Understandings

              These chapters don’t contain any particularly difficult concepts to grasp. Admittedly, if the story of Abraham and Isaac had gone differently, we would have something to talk about here, but it didn’t so we don’t.

              Enjoyable Passages

              Genesis 22:8 and its connection with God providing our sacrificial lamb has always been a notable passage for me.


              Topics to Pray About:

              • Thank God for Christ, the ultimate sacrificial lamb.
              • Confess to God those places in your life you defy Him, taking matters into your own hands.
              • Ask God to provide.

              In His Service,

              J. LeBorious

              1. Edgewater , today I am praying our thoughts focus on good things. I am praying we will think about the positive, honorable, and things worth praising God. I am praying we will not be sucked into all the negative, vile, and hurtful thoughts around us. Today I am praying our minds are filled with praise and thankfulness to God.
                1. Impossible

                  Genesis 17:15-19


                  Today’s Scripture readings from Genesis tells us more about Abraham’s life and we see God doing incredible, seemingly impossible things. God promises to bring Abraham and Sarah a true born son despite the reality that both were well beyond the age for having children. Then the impossible things of God take a darker turn. God warns Abraham about the fate of Sodom, and we think to ourselves “it’s impossible that God would destroy a city.” We hear Abraham ask for God to spare the cities for the sake of even ten righteous people, and we think to ourselves “it’s impossible that there aren’t ten righteous people in the city.” Finally, we witness God destroying Sodom and turning Lot’s wife to dust, and we think to ourselves “it’s impossible for God to turn someone to salt.” The core issue for all of these “impossibilities” is our framework of thinking. It isn’t impossible for God to destroy a city; God punishes sin in His justice. It isn’t impossible for there to not be ten righteous people in the city; there aren’t ten righteous people on Earth without God’s mercy. It isn’t impossible for God to turn someone into salt; God can do whatever He wants – it’s the advantage of being almighty. This passage interrupts our perception of reality that we think we control and reminds us of our all-powerful God who hates sin.


                  Today’s B.I.B.L.E. Takeaways:

                  Blessings from God

                  Here we see God promise Abraham an impossible blessing, a biological son with Sarah. This reminds us of another miraculous birth when Christ was born of the virgin Mary. God works miracles for His people and blesses us in ways that seem impossible.

                  Instructions for Us

                  We can learn to pray for miracles in this text today from God’s promise to Abraham. When doctors may say “it would take a miracle for a recovery,” we continue to pray because our God regularly deals in the impossible.  We can also apply this understanding to our lives today, God does take sin and unrighteousness incredibly seriously. We have confidence that we are forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice; however, we still should fear and respect God and His will for our lives.

                  Biblical Connections

                  This passage begins to establish the nation of Israel that God promises will come through Sarah. In addition, the story of Sodom becomes an allusion throughout the remainder of the Scriptures as an example for wickedness and its consequences.

                  Laborious Understandings

                  The story of Sodom brings God’s punishment of sin into reality and that can cause us a lot of strife. We frequently prefer to imagine God as a nice old grandpa or a teddy bear that comforts us. We forget that He is all-powerful and cannot abide by imperfection. We forget that Jesus had to become human and die to atone for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God – because otherwise we’d be no better off than Sodom. The other difficult passage here comes in Genesis 19:30-38 because we read this story and think about how wrong that part of the story is on so many levels. And it is. People are messed up, that’s not a new phenomenon.

                  Enjoyable Passages

                  There isn’t a ton here that you would want to paint on a wall. I think Genesis 18:3-5 is a pretty cool example of dropping everything to offer worship and service to others.


                  Topics to Pray About:

                  ·       Thank God for His incredible mercy.

                  ·       Confess to God that you forget aspects of His power.

                  ·       Ask God to work miracles in your life.

                  In His Service,

                  J. LeBorious


                  1.  — Edited

                    Trust

                    Genesis 14-17:14


                    Our readings today tell us more about Abram’s life. We see him taking care of Lot, interacting with Melchizedek, and entering a covenant with God. Abram trusts God. God counts that as righteousness to Abram. That’s one theme that these readings resonate with. When Abram trusts in God, God blesses him with victory, with a promise, and with a covenantal relationship. His trust in God leads him to tithe to Melchizedek, a priest of God. In this action, Abram physically demonstrates his trust by surrendering his wealth. Alternatively, when he takes matters into his own hands with Hagar, it results in strife and conflict between Sarai, Hagar, and Abram. This thread of trust in God runs through the entirety of Scripture. Here we witness the unchanging character of God that calls us righteous today because of our faith in Him and in His Son.


                    Today’s B.I.B.L.E. Takeaways:

                    Blessings from God

                    In these chapters we see God blessing Abram with victory in battle and with the promise of a son. We also see God promise to walk with Abram, now Abraham, and his descendants in Genesis 17:5-8. The covenant found here finds its ultimate fulfillment in Christ and points us to the Savior.

                    Instructions for Us

                    Abram provides examples for us to follow today. First, he tithes to Melchizedek. We can follow this example by giving regularly to the church to praise God and to communicate our trust that He will take care of us. Second, Abram has faith in God that God credits to him as righteousness. We can follow this example by deeply rooting our lives in faith.

                    Biblical Connections

                    This passage begins a covenant that binds Israel throughout the Old Testament, a covenant that Jesus references in His ministry on Earth, and a covenant that He fulfilled on Calvary’s cross. These chapters also see the beginning of several of the people groups that we will come across in the rest of the Old Testament with Hagar as their matriarch.

                    Laborious Understandings

                    This text contains plenty for us to grapple with. We see Abram engaging in slavery following his battle in Genesis 15:24, we see God instructing Hagar to return to Sarai in Genesis 16:9, and we see a reference to the wrath of God in Genesis 15:16 that will be doled out to the Amorites later. We struggle with the way people relate to each other in slavery, in abusive relationships, and in war. We struggle with God’s willingness to interact within these broken relationships that humanity operates in, praying that He would come down and repair them.

                    Enjoyable Passages

                    I have always found Genesis 14:18-20 fascinating because the Bible doesn’t tell us much more about Melchizedek until Hebrews extensively uses him as an archetype for Jesus. I also love Genesis 15:6 which points us to a relationship with God based on faith, not based on our worthiness.


                    Topics to Pray About:

                    • Thank God for all the ways He blesses you.
                    • Confess to God the parts of your life you don’t trust Him with.
                    • Ask God to bless you and to lead you to bless others.

                    In His Service,

                    J. LeBorious

                    1. It saddens me that so many generations have suffered under Abram and Hagar’s union.
                  2. posted an announcement

                    Last Chance

                    If you are planning on attending our Men's Retreat next weekend (October 1-2), you have to sign up by tomorrow (Friday, September 24). Payment is not due until the day of the event; however, we need to provide a final count to the retreat center tomorrow. This event will provide an incredible opportunity to be deeply rooted in faith and to relax and unwind with your brothers in Christ. The $139 cost covers our housing and all of the meals while we are there. If you have any questions, comment here or reach out to Pastor Josh.
                    1. Wish I could make that weekend work.
                    2. I’ll be there