Re: Verse reading–2 Samuel 13-18 (day three)
“O Absalom, my son, my son!”  The last thing on one’s agenda is often the command to affirm the sacred duty of living in the presence of others.  That command is sometimes explicit: “Love your neighbor as yourself”;  “Love the foreigner as yourself”.  It is sometimes implicit: “Confess your sins to one another.”  Behind every sorrow, every anguished cry, every story of isolation, every act of hiding, lying, envy, and murder–behind it all–lies the failure to affirm the sacred duty of living in the presence of another person.  Only God can teach us that.  Until we learn, anguish will be the language most fluently spoken in this world.

Two Voices

Re: Verse reading 2 Samuel 13:1-2, 20-22,30-37, 2 Samuel 14:21-24, 2 Samuel 15:7-14, 2 Samuel 18:6-15, 33 (day two)

2 Samuel 12:13
Rape. Murder. Hate. Manipulation. Betrayal. Rebellion. Revenge. Death. David’s life proves that the face of sin is ugly, horrifying. Yet the Enemy continues to whisper, “you will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). “As long as it’s just a small sin, it’s not that big of a deal. Even the greatest pastors sin yet still have God’s favor. As long as I ask Him after, God will forgive me. I’m only human. At least I didn’t do what she did. Everyone else is doing it. I’ll do it just this once so I’ll know what it’s like.” “You will not surely die” echoes across humanity. Perhaps by pondering David’s story our hard hearts will hear the warning. “Look, the Lord will come with fire…to execute His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire. For the Lord will execute judgment on all flesh with His fiery sword, and many will be slain by the Lord” (Is 66:14-16). No. It’s not a misprint. The Lord will slay those who persist in rebellion. He will put an end to sin and to all who embrace it. However, there is hope for those who would reject sin and cling to Christ in faith. They will hear another voice saying, “The Lord has taken away your sin; you will not die” (2 Samuel 12:13).

Absent father

Re: Verse reading–2 Samuel 13:1-2, 20-22,30-37, 2 Samuel 14:21-24, 2 Samuel 15:7-14, 2 Samuel 18:6-15, 33 (day one)
According to some recent studies, 40% of American children grow up in a home without a Dad.  The emotional and spiritual cost is high.  To society.  To individuals.  Not less, perhaps, when the Father is present physically, but absent emotionally.  Our RE Verse reading for this week (Thank you FBC for your willingness to read scripture in unity) is the tragic story of David’s relationship with his sons.  Was it busyness?  Was it guilt from the affair with Bathsheba?  What eroded his moral authority?  What made him hesitant to lead?  The scripture never says.  It does report that first Amnon and then Absalom challenged their father’s expectations and authority without any effective response from him.  Impotent with rage.  Filled with remorse.  David helplessly stood by as his family collapsed into crisis.  “He will turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children.”  (Malachi 4:6)  Please God!  Before it is too late.

Last moments and best

Re: Verse reading–Genesis 47:27-31, 48:1-2,8-19, 49:33, 50:1-6 (day seven)
“Then Israel bowed in worship at the head of the bed.”  (47:31)  By now they are regularly calling him Israel.  Jacob was his old name.  It meant “cheat or schemer”.  Years of learning the mercy of a sovereign God have now given him a new heart and a new name.  Israel meant “God- conquered” (sarah=to struggle, el=God)  See Genesis 32 for this amazing turning-point story.  As Jacob struggled with the God of grace, he was conquered by Love.  He became a new man.  Now at the end of life, his new natures shines.  He is calm, trusting.  He sees the future with hope and confidence.  He worships God (at a time when many are tempted to become distracted and self-absorbed).  Strange irony.  Jacob was never more ALIVE than on the day of his DEATH.  Will this be true of me?  You?  Will your last moments be your best, the highest expression of a life changed by God?

Preparing for death

Re: Verse reading–Genesis 47:27-31, 48:1-2,8-19, 49:33, 50:1-6 (day six)
“When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called his son Joseph and said to him. . .’do not bury me in Egypt.’ ” (47:29-30)  It is a time that will come for every one of us.  The time to die.  “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or, if due to strength, eighty years.”  (Psalm 90:12)  Notice Jacob’s absence of avoidance?  Both culturally and spiritually he is prepared.  No fear.  Calm preparation for the next steps.  As a Pastor, I hear the stories, (and deal with the consequences for the family) of people who refuse think/talk about death.  Too fearful.  Too depressing.  Believers have a greater opportunity.  We write our wills.  We speak to our children and friends of our wishes.  We do not fear death.  We prepare for it.  “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven”, said Jesus. (Matthew 6:20)  It is a day that comes for everyone.  Are you prepared?


Re: Verse reading–Genesis 47:27-31, 48:1-2,8-19, 49:33, 50:1-6 (day five)
“I know, my son, I know.  He too will become a people, and he too will become great.  Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.”  (48:19)  It  was an unexpected move.  A departure from tradition.  The oldest son normally received the greater blessing and, with it, the responsibility for leadership in the family.  Jacob, however, favored Ephraim over his older brother.  We do not know how Jacob received this insight, but we do know that he was convinced that God had made this choice.  God does not govern according to our expectations. He chooses and calls according to His free and sovereign will.  Believers learn to trust His judgment.  Strange that Joseph resisted.  God made the same declaration over his life– the younger son to whom his brothers would bow.  What about you?  Open to God’s choice?  Even when it’s contrary to your expectations?

God’s Choice

Re: Verse reading–Genesis 47:27-31; 48:1-2, 8-19; 49:33; 50:1-6 (day four)
Joseph had been separated from his family.  What his brothers meant for evil, God meant for good.  Now he was in high authority in Egypt and had provided food in time of famine for his family.  God’s purpose was fulfilled.  Now, Jacob was about to die.  He wanted to bless Joseph’s sons according to God’s instruction.  When Joseph brought Manasseh and Ephraim to Jacob, he placed the boys in the proper position to receive their grandfather’s blessing.  But God had other plans.  Jacob blessed Ephraim, the second born, as if he was first born.  Joseph was sure there was a mistake…but Jacob was certain.  It was God’s plan.  God looks on the hearts of men.  It is not the one who has a right or the privilege, God looks for the man whose heart is completely His!  “Lord, cause me to be the man you would have me to be.  May my heart be completely Yours!”


Re: Verse reading–Genesis 46-50 (day three)
“Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger.”  Over Joseph’s protestations, Israel went against the custom of his people.  He had not forgotten his own deceptively-obtained blessing of the firstborn.  That deception had come with a high price: Life on the lam, a wife he was deceived into marrying, family turmoil, and the terror of encountering his older brother many years later.  Yet God shaped Israel into the father of twelve tribes as he wrestled with God through that turmoil.  As Israel crossed his hands to break with custom, he did so as one who had come to know something true about life.  Israel knew that custom gives order and place to a people, but wisdom, which comes from God, sees a future that custom cannot.

The Blessing

Re: Verse reading–Genesis 47:27-31; 48:1-2,8-19; 49:33; 50:1-6 (day one)
“Then he blessed Joseph…” Joseph? But his hands were on Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. How was he blessing Joseph if his hands were on Joseph’s sons? The blessing that a father gives is never just for one generation. Pouring wisdom, love and discipline into a child is a kind of investment that is reaped for generations. But Joseph’s blessing that day was as much practical as it was spiritual. In a great act of favor, Jacob gives his blessing, his inheritance, not to Joseph himself which would then be split in two for the boys. No. Jacob adopts Joseph’s sons as his own so that Joseph received two full shares of his father’s blessing/inheritance. That’s how it is with a father’s favor. It is as unfair as it is lavish. That’s how it is with our Father’s favor. When He places His hand on your head, it is unfair — you will receive far more than you deserve, and it is lavish – the generosity is astounding. But He doesn’t place his hand on your head because of you. He places His hand on your head because His favor has fallen on His Son in whom He is “well-pleased.”

Last will and testament

Re: Verse reading–Genesis 47:27-31; 48:1-2,8-19; 49:33; 50:1-6 (day one)
Jac0b is 147 years old.  He has learned much.  God has been patient with this scoundrel turned saint.  Now he has one final wish.  “I want to be buried in the land that God promised my fathers”, he tells his son Joseph.  I want a memorial service that will remind my family what I believe and my hope for the future–that God will eventually return the sons of Israel to Canaan and fulfill the promise made to Abraham.  Sadly, our generation regards a “last will and testament” as having mainly to do with money.  For Jacob it was more.  It was one last opportunity to declare his faith in God and to  encourage his family toward it.  Joseph would later follow his example.  (Genesis 50:25)  What about you?  Are you using every opportunity to clearly communicate your faith in God to your family.  In life?  In death?  What is in your last will and testament?