Monthly Archives: January 2022

Unreasonable Demands

Genesis 49-50

Jacob told Joseph he wanted to be buried in Canaan with Abraham, Sarah, and Leah. That wasn’t an unreasonable request considering Joseph’s position and wealth. So when Jacob died, Joseph and the family, along with a group of Egyptians took his body to Canaan and buried him there with fanfare.

Joseph, when he was dying, said he too wanted to be buried in Canaan. His request wasn’t entirely reasonable at the time. He acknowledged that, and asked that WHEN they were able to leave Egypt, he’d like them to take his bones. He knew his family didn’t have the means to make that happen right then. In fact, it took about 400 years before they were able to take Joseph’s bones out of Egypt.

I’ve heard of people who make outlandish requests of loved ones concerning funerals, ashes, or distribution of stuff after they die. I’ve known people who go to great lengths and expense to fulfill last wishes, too.

Why? Do those facing death have such a need for control? Do they think they’ll be forgotten if they don’t continue to pull strings after they’ve gone? Do the remaining loved ones think the deceased are watching them to be sure they obey them?

Here’s what I believe Scripture teaches: absent from the body, present with the LORD. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

It doesn’t say present with Grandma. It doesn’t say present with a telescope pointed at Earth.

We sometimes place unreasonable demands on our loved ones. And we make them feel guilty if they don’t do exactly what we, or some deceased loved one, tells them they must do. Sometime it’s just not feasible.

Friend, the things that happen to your body and your stuff after you die will be up to the living. You won’t know. You won’t even care. You’re going to have enough on your mind for eternity to think about who is feeding your cat.

If you are facing death, let me take some pressure off. Let go of trying to control your loved ones. Love them today. Gift them today. Make memories for them to have when you are gone.

And, if a deceased person has placed unreasonable demands on you – let it go. If you must, honor them in some other way. Trust me – they really don’t care right now.

A Benevolent Master

Genesis 47

Submitting ourselves into God’s hands is a process. He reveals an area of our lives we need to turn over to Him and when we do, He blesses us! But before long He lays His finger on another area of our lives we have yet to submit to Him. And He’s always faithful to bless us when we lay that part of our lives at His feet.

I see that truth demonstrated in Joseph’s dealings with the people during the famine here in the book of Genesis. He didn’t start out by making them slaves. Yet gradually, as they submitted one thing at a time, they become totally dependent on Pharaoh for everything. They gave up their money, their flocks, their land and family, and finally themselves.

But in doing so, they received everything they needed in their lives. They became willing servants to a benevolent master.

Do you see the comparison? The Apostle Paul often identified himself as a slave or servant of Jesus. Is that where you are in your own walk with the Lord? Or are there areas in your life you’re still holding onto, reluctant to give up control?

Let me urge you today to submit that person, or dream, or attitude, or activity to the Lord. The blessings far outweigh your struggle to remain in control. Give your “self,” your family, your health, your plans, your pride to God and become a willing slave to The Benevolent Master.

Don’t Be Ridiculous

Genesis 44

The other day I was having lunch with a friend, and she picked up the tab. I wasn’t expecting that. I argued for a minute, but she held the bill. I thanked her, and she paid for lunch.

It looked like Benjamin would have to be a slave as punishment for stealing a silver cup. Knowing how devastated their father would be at the loss of his youngest son, all ten brothers volunteered to give up their freedom and become slaves, too.

Joseph the governor of Egypt (whom they didn’t realize was actually their long lost brother), insisted that because Benjamin was “guilty,” Benjamin would have to serve his own punishment.

Then Judah, one of the brothers responsible for selling Joseph into slavery, offered himself. The punishment had to be paid, and Judah wanted to take on that punishment for Benjamin.

It’s a picture of grace, isn’t it? Unlike Benjamin who was actually innocent of stealing that cup, you and I are guilty. We are sinners. We have disobeyed and dishonored God more times than we could count. The wages, or the just punishment of sin is death.

We deserve to die an eternal, painful, unrelenting death for the sins we have committed. But Jesus stepped in, picked up the bill, went to the cross where He died, and paid our death sentence.

Now, wouldn’t it have been ridiculous for me to go to the cashier at the restaurant the other day and pay my portion of the bill after my friend had already paid it? No one in their right mind would do such a thing.

It’s as ridiculous for anyone to pay their own death sentence, too, because Jesus has already paid it in full! I had to accept my friend’s generosity at the restaurant. And because I did, I was able to walk out of there without it costing me anything.

If you haven’t accepted what Jesus has already paid, I urge you to do that today. It would be ridiculous not to.

Death at the Hand of God.

Genesis 38

Does God lie in wait to take out evil people like an army sniper? That seems to be the case with Judah’s sons Er and Onan. Scripture is very clear: these were bad men – and God killed them.

So are we to assume this is God’s MO? That if you are bad enough He just mows you down, gives you cancer, or a bullet in your head?

Yes. And no.

God wants us to know death is a part of the curse handed down because of Adam’s sin. God causes death for every human being because all have sinned and the wages of sin is death. But common sense – and life – tells us there are some very evil people in the world living to a ripe old age.

So no, God doesn’t make it a habit of killing sinners, Aren’t you glad? We don’t know why God chose to kill Er and Onan like He did. And He doesn’t owe us an explanation. But what happened to them is not a blueprint for God’s dealing with people.

In fact, Scripture repeatedly shows us how patient God is with us sinners, how quick He is to forgive a repentant heart, how He longs to save whosoever believes. Look at how many chances God gave the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Read in the New Testament what Jesus did for sinners when He went to the cross.

I think the lesson here in Genesis is that all of us will die at the hand of God. Some will die young, others will live to be 100 years old. Our deaths won’t have as much to do with whether or not we were good or bad, as it will have to do with God’s Sovereignty.

Death will end life on Earth for all of us unless Jesus comes back first. That is His Sovereign will.

I see Er and Onan dying in their sin, because I believe had they repented we would be reading about that. That makes me want to warn us all. Because we are going to die.

My prayer is that we will be ready to die by accepting the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus. Your death could come today. My death could come today.

The question is: are we ready?

He Has Been With Me

Genesis 35

Obedience isn’t a guarantee everything in life will be easy. Jacob was a changed man. Where before he lied and cheated to get what he wanted, now he is a man who wanted to obey God. He got rid of all the idols and moved to Bethel because that’s what God told him to do. Then he moved from Bethel to Ephrath because that’s what God told him to do.

But on the way his beloved Rachel died. His eldest son Reuben slept with one of Jacob’s wives. Jacob was obedient – and life was still hard.

So if life isn’t easier, if good things don’t always happen for obedient people, why bother? I think Jacob tells us why in Genesis 35:3. Listen to what he says:

We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.

That’s the blessing of obedience – God’s Presence! If you say that’s not enough, you haven’t experienced God’s Presence!

The Voice of God

Genesis 31

Have you ever thought, “Well, if God spoke to me like He spoke to Laban, I’d know exactly what He wanted me to do and I’d obey like Laban obeyed. How could I say ‘no’ to the voice of God?”

It’s true that God doesn’t speak audibly to people today, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hear His voice. In fact, we can hear it any time of the day and night. He wrote down His Words for that very reason.

You just need to read it, memorize it, spend time hearing His voice in the pages of the Bible.

You want Him to tell you what to do? It’s in there. You want Him to tell you how to think, what to believe, what your attitude should be? It’s in there.

If you think God is silent, that just means you aren’t listening, or perhaps sin is preventing you from hearing His voice. But don’t think for a minute God is not trying to get your attention.

Read the Bible. God is speaking loud and clear.

Our Birthright

Genesis 25

How seriously do you take your birthright as a child of God, a co-heir with Jesus? We read how easily Esau gave up what was his in order to not “starve” (which I would bet was a gross exaggeration to begin with). Esau gave up the blessing in order to satisfy a physical longing, sold something eternal for something temporary. The man would get hungry again a few hours later. But the blessing was gone forever.

What does our birthright look like? Eternal life for one. Forgiveness of sin. A relationship with God. The Presence of God. His strength and power and grace and mercy.

Yet sometimes we get hungry for something else.

We know we shouldn’t encourage that friendship with a married co-worker, but “he understands me.” We know we shouldn’t look at porn – but it’s harmless. It’s not like I’d actually do those things. One drink, one compromise, one thought or dream can’t hurt. So what if I don’t read my Bible today, or if I skip church once in a while?

We shake our heads at Esau and think “What a fool he was to sell his birthright for soup.” But maybe we should spend less time looking at Esau and more time looking in the mirror.

Do you value what is yours by God’s grace and through the blood of His Son, Jesus? What does that look like in the choices you make every day? If it’s worth something you you – it’s worth protecting.

Is It A Lie?

Genesis 20:1-18

Is a half-truth a whole lie? Abraham and Sarah were brother and sister. So was it so bad that is how he introduced her to the king? Was the tiny detail about a wedding important if it meant the difference between life and death?

Abraham didn’t lie exactly. He just didn’t tell the whole story. What’s the big deal?

In our age of situational ethics, we may applaud Abraham for doing the safe thing. We may say in this instance it would have been foolish for him to admit Sarah was his wife and take the chance of being killed because of it. Besides – what is truth anyway? There are certainly no absolutes. What is true for you doesn’t have to be true for me.

Well, my friend, that kind of thinking is anti-God. Our Holy, Unchanging, Creator God has a lot to say in His Word about Truth – and nothing He says hints at situational truth – or multiple truths for that matter.

So yes. A half-truth is a whole lie as demonstrated here in Genesis. And a lie is a sin that comes with a death sentence. You may read this chapter and say that Abraham got away with it, so God must not think it was a big deal. But did he get away with it? There were consequences even though you and I might think he got off easy.

The bigger lesson here is the grace of God who can forgive your lie, too. That’s the truth.

Why The Tree?

Genesis 1-3

We can question why God placed that tree in the middle of the garden knowing it represented sin and separation from Him, when He created us to fellowship with Him. We could, as some do, accuse God of playing a sinister game with the victims of His creation.

Or we can recognize and be thankful for the fact that He created us with dignity, intelligence, the ability to choose to do the right thing. Yes – He knew given the choice, we would sin. But He didn’t leave us hanging.

He did what needed to be done so that when we do the right thing – when we choose Jesus – He looks at us through the perfection and holiness of His Son.

Right form the start God began painting a picture of His plan to redeem us. He placed a tree in the center of the garden. Then He very clearly said that tree was the difference between life and death. Choose wisely, He warned.

There is another tree in the center of your life. God very clearly tells us it’s the difference between life and death. I’m sure you know that tree is the cross of Jesus. And I want you to hear God’s clear warning:

Choose wisely.

Today is the first day of 2022. I hope you know Jesus as your Savior and have made Him the Lord of your life. But if you haven’t, today would be a great day to do that. Begin this year with a clean slate, a pure heart, forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ who died on a cross to save you.

That’s why the tree. Choose wisely.