Friday, January 27, 2017

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: A Wife for Jacob

14 And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode with him the space of a month.

15 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thou therefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be?

16 And Laban had two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.

17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.

18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter.

19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me.

20 And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her.

22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.

23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her.

24 And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid.

25 And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?

26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.

27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years.

28 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also.
Genesis 29:14-28, KJV

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: A Wife for Jacob

Our Scripture for today is perhaps one of the most interesting passages. Though it is a rather lengthy portion of Scripture, I have included it all for your convenience. Jacob has arrived in Haran and providentially goes to the same well that Abraham's servant went to years before. Just as in the case of his mother, Rebekah, who was bringing sheep to the well to be watered, who should appear but Rachel? One look at his beautiful cousin, and Jacob was smitten.

After meeting his Uncle Laban, Jacob determined that this is where he wanted to stay. Laban, however, would not hear of Jacob working for him without earning wages. Imagine Laban's surprise when Jacob responded, "I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter."

Jacob, the deceiver had certainly met his match in his uncle, for Laban had a secret that he did not bother to disclose to Jacob until it was too late.

We are told that Jacob served Laban seven years for Rachel, and his love was such for her that it seemed as though it had only been a few days. After the seven years were fulfilled, Jacob demanded that Laban give him Rachel as his wife.

What did Laban do? Secretly (for the bride was veiled) Laban gave him his daughter, Leah, instead. It was not until the next morning that Jacob discovered that he was married to Leah instead of Rachel. How did Laban respond? He said that in his country he could not marry the younger daughter before the elder. However, he said, "If you fulfill her week I will also give you Rachel if you agree to serve me another seven years."

Fourteen years of service! However, Jacob so loved Rachel that he agreed to Laban's terms.

Let's take a step back for a moment and think about this. Where was God in all of this? God had plans to build the nation of Israel through Jacob. He allowed the scheming of Laban, who was not a believer in God, to fulfill His own plans.

This certainly created an interesting life for Jacob. He now had two wives--one whom he loved and the other whom he did not love. Can you see problems in this between the two sisters? Of course! Yet God worked His will through them.

Let us remember that God uses the ordinary events of life to fulfill His will. Nothing we do is too little for God. If we are His children, then He is advancing His perfect will though us. However, if we are not a believer, He is still working His will through us! God is God, and He rules over all of heaven and earth. Nothing we can say or do will prevent His perfect will from happening.

Of course, for us, the end of our life will be determined by our serving God or not. If we love and serve Him, accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Lord and Savior, we will be ushered into His glorious kingdom forever. If we are not believers, the end of our life will bring eternal punishment. Rejecting Christ has eternal consequences.

Now is the day of salvation! Come to Him now while you still can!

It is a sobering, but necessary choice!

God Bless You,
Linda 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Jacob, Leah and Rachel: Deja Vu

1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.

2 And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stone was upon the well's mouth.

3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and they rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again upon the well's mouth in his place.

4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren, whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we.

5 And he said unto them, Know ye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him.


10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother.

11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.

12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son: and she ran and told her father.
Genesis 29:1-5 and 10-12, KJV

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: Deja Vu

As we read through the verses shown above from Genesis 29, we cannot but help to feel a sense of deja vu. This brings to mind the occasion of Abraham's servant looking for a wife for Isaac. He stopped at the well in Haran and who should happen to come to the well at the same time? Rebekah was just coming to water the sheep.

Now we return to the same well several years later. Jacob has just arrived from a long journey from the land of Canaan and who should just happen to be coming with her sheep? Rachel! Jacob quickly discovered that this is his cousin, Rachel. It was practically love at first sight, but we will leave that for the next devotional.

We, as believers, live a rather interesting life. Life seems to go on day after day with not much of a change in our circumstances. Yet, just as in the case of Jacob, one trip, one new job, one new circumstance and everything in our life suddenly changes. At least it seems as though it is a sudden change, but is it really? Who orders and controls our lives? Who brings about these circumstances that result in a sudden change in our life. God!

What a great comfort we have in knowing this wondrous God we serve. We do not have to be afraid of our outward circumstances, for we know that God controls all things. Did Jacob realize this? He certainly had a miraculous encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. Often the Lord Jesus appeared during Old Testament times as a Theophany or, in the case of Jacob, in a dream. 

Yet, what did Jacob understand about God? Did he have the comfort of knowing that God was leading and guiding his life? How often do we take our Bibles for granted? God so wondrously reveals Himself to us in the pages of His Word, and yet we are too busy with the things of this world to take time to spend with God. Imagine that--when we pray to God, we are ushered right into the very throne room of God. 

We have the wonderful opportunity, when reading God's Word, to have a sort of bird's-eye-view of the lives of the Old Testament saints. In other words, we get to see the bigger picture. Let us take that same view and apply it to our lives today. Let us not get caught up in the day-to-day humdrum of life, but let us, rather, look to God and understand that He is guiding and directing even our seemingly ordinary lives.

Truly, nothing about the life of the believer is ordinary! It took the death of God's own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to provide His people with a perfection before God that is not their own. The blood of Christ has covered the debt of their sins before a holy and righteous God. They are bought with a price and precious in the eyes of God.

Go, today, as a precious child of God and live your life to the honor and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

God Bless You,,
Linda

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: Jacob at Bethel

10 Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, I amwith 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 spoken to 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!”
Genesis 28:10-17, NKJV

 Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: Jacob at Bethel

I realize that this series of devotions is on Bible couples, but we do come to a complex situation with Jacob, because, in the end, he finds himself (literally) with two wives instead of one. You can imagine the difficulties that could arise in such a situation, and indeed that 
was certainly the case with Jacob. So how did Jacob end up in such a situation? In order to answer that question, we must regress.

As a review, you will remember that Jacob has a twin brother, Esau, who was born first, and thus had the birthright of the first born son. God, however, had prophesied that the older would serve the younger. Through the deception of Jacob and his mother, Rebekah, Jacob did receive the blessing of the oldest son. 

When Esau learned of this deception, he determined that when his father died, he would kill his brother Jacob. On learning this, Rebekah urged Jacob to leave. Using the excuse that he needed to find a wife, she and Isaac urged him to go to the land of Mesopotamia and look for a wife among his relatives.

That is where we find Jacob in the passage shown above from Genesis 28. It was certainly a turning point for Jacob. While on the way, he stopped for the night. Using some rocks as a pillow for his head, he lay down and slept. During the night, he dreamed a dream. A ladder was stretched to heaven and on it angels were ascending and descending. God stood above the ladder and spoke to Jacob, saying,

"I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall 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 spoken to you.”

In other words, God was reaffirming his covenant that He had made with Abraham and Isaac, with Jacob. Jacob, upon awakening, realized that this was, indeed, and ephiphany for him. Jacob poured oil on the ston, built an altar there, and called the name of the place, Bethel, which means literally, house of God.



What a time Jacob had, but we will leave that for future devotions. Do we have epiphanies  our day? Yes, we do. Most of the time, we really do not comprehend these special times until later. In looking back on our lives, we see specific points where our lives took a drastic change.



Does God control these special times? Yes! What a comfort for us, as believers, to understand that God leads and guides us in all of the events of our lives. As Christians, we each have a specific work or duty for the Lord. Many times we do not come to the point of doing that work until much of our life has already passed. Yet, in looking back, we can see how God has prepared us for that time throughout all of the days of our lives.



What an amazing God we serve. Jacob was correct to name the place where he was at, Bethel. Indeed, he had come to the very house of God and now understood that God was leading and guiding in all of the events of his life. 



Little did he know that God would use he, Leah, and Rachel to build the nation that would become known as the nation of Israel. 


Let us, this day, bow down before the Lord our God and thank Him for the many ways He guides and directs in our lives each day. By His grace, may we be used mightily to advance His kingdom here on earth.

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Parable of the Dragnet

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, 48 which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, 50 and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
51 Jesus said to them, “Have you understood all these things?”
They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”
52 Then He said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”
Matthew 13:47-52, NKJV

Parable of the Dragnet

As Jesus continued speaking with the disciples, he again used a very common illustration in this parable to teach them a profound and sobering Biblical truth.  Several of the disciples were fishermen so they certainly understood the concept of casting out a net into the sea and dragging in fish. Were fish the only thing caught in their nets? No, often other debris or unwanted fish were also caught in the net. The contents of the net were spilled into the boat where the fishermen quickly separated the good fish from the unwanted fish and other debris.

Jesus told the disciples that the angels, like the fishermen, would have the job of separating the wicked from among the just at the end of the age.

Three things come to mind to me as I think of this parable. First, we are reminded that God does not separate the wicked from the just right now--that will not happen until the end of the age. Second, the job of separating the wicked from the just has not been given to us. Thirdly, the time will come when God will separate the wicked and the just. Only the true believers will be ushered into heaven to live with Christ forever.

As believers, God has given to us the task of living among the people of this world. Even in the church, though all may profess to believe, often there are those who are worshiping with the true believers who do not actually have faith in Christ. Why does God allow this? God commands that we separate from the world in our thinking and in the goals we have for this life. No longer should we, as believers, be consumed by the things of this world, but rather, we should be seeking to learn more and more about Christ. By God's grace, we should be seeking the things above--the things of heaven--rather than the things of this earth. But, we are left to live among the people of this world that we might be a testimony to them of God's working in our hearts and lives.

Second, as we consider our task while on this earth, it is not our job to separate the wicked from the just. Because we do not know the heart of man, that would be an impossible task for us. Only God knows our hearts, and therefore, only God, through His angels, can correctly separate the righteous from the wicked. Let us, then, pray for our friends, neighbors, and relatives that Christ would be known to them, but let us not be overly consumed with the goal of trying to identify God's true people from those who truly do not love Him. 

May we remember the third teaching from this parable. Christ will return, time will end, and the righteous and wicked will be separated forever. God, who alone can look on the true heart of man, will righteously separate the wicked for punishment, and the righteous will live with Him forever. Let us not take the long-suffering of Christ as an excuse to believe that Christ will not actually return. He will, indeed, return, and when He does, time will cease forever.

These are sobering thoughts. What profound truths Jesus taught to His disciples by using such simple illustrations as in the parable of the dragnet. May we, in this the 21st century, take these same parables to heart and apply their truths to our hearts and lives today.

We may pretend that we are true believers and deceive our fellow man, but Christ knows our heart of hearts. May our hearts be pure before Him. Only Christ can take a heart of stone and turn it into a heart of flesh. Let us turn to Him today so that at the end of the age He will say to us, "Welcome, my good and faithful servant."

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pearl of Great Price

45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:45-46, NKJV

Pearl of Great Price

Jesus told parables or stories to help the disciples understand some great spiritual truths. Such is the case in this story of a merchant who sought beautiful pearls. One day, he found it--the most beautiful pearl he had ever seen. He sold everything he had just so he might buy this beautiful pearl which was actually priceless to him.

What truth was Jesus trying to teach to His disciples? The disciples were not scholars--they were common people with common occupations. Just as we are often consumed in our day with discovering that one thing that will set us apart from every other person--that one thing that will bring to us unlimited riches, so were the people of Jesus' day.

We joke about winning the lottery, but how many of us in our heart of hearts really believe that winning the lottery will bring us untold happiness and joy? Imagine that--no debts and more money than we can possibly earn in a lifetime.

Jesus knew the hearts of the people. Was He really saying to them that their happiness as well would be untold if they found that great pearl that was priceless? No! Jesus was saying this, "Imagine that merchant who buys and sells pearls. One day, the merchant found the most beautiful pearl--priceless. He was so overcome with surprise and joy that he sold everything he had to obtain it. That man," Christ continued, "Is like the one who finds the kingdom of heaven."

Now Jesus had their attention. How could that be? How could the kingdom of heaven be like that priceless pearl? Jesus was using a simple illustration to teach to them the true value of heaven. 

How many of us are like those people--spending our lives searching for that great thing that will make us rich and famous? Is that really the true secret of happiness and joy? No! Jesus was showing that nothing on this earth can compare to the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, let us not, as the people of this world, set our affections on the things of this world. 

True joy only comes from Christ and is not dependent upon our circumstances. In Christ, we have more than anything this world can offer, for in Him our sins are forgiven and we have an eternal life with God. In Christ, we have the kingdom of heaven.

May we, as believers, reach out to Christ to provide everything we need for joy and peace. And, when we reach the end of our days on this earth, may we find our coffers to be filled with heavenly treasure. Nothing else will matter!

May you, this day find the pearl of great price: the kingdom of heaven.

God Bless You,
Linda

Tiime to Begin Again!

After a period of over 3 months, I think it is time to being again. I apologize for the lengthy period of no new devotions, but it has been a difficult time of seemingly one illness after another. I would like to continue with the series I began on the Parables of Jesus. After that, I would like to renew my series on Bible Couples. With that in mind, please let me know if there are specific Bible couples you would like to read about.

Thanks for your continued support.

God Bless You,
Linda