Spiritual Rants: January 10, Daily Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Genesis 23:1-24:51 Matthew 8:1-17 Psalm 9:13-20 Proverbs 3:1-6

Old Testament:   Genesis 23:1-24:51

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Genesis 23:1-24:51     The Perfect Match

Summary:   Sarah died at age 127.

Abraham sent one of his servants out to find a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant acted like he had a drinking problem. Rebekah solved it and so confirmed she was the one for Isaac.

In Chapter 23, Sarah dies at age 127.  That seems pretty good.  (Organic food and no meds.)  

Abraham needs a place to bury her.  So he bargains up  from $0.00 (v. 11) to $3,294.00 (vv. 15-16, if a shekel is half an ounce and silver is $16.47 an ounce).  Abraham didn’t want to take anything from Ephron, the Hittite and paid him for the cave he wanted as well as the field.  Ephron would have to had paid dues to the authorities (cf. Ryrie) if he sold only the cave so Abraham paid for the field where the cave was located. Later Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob were also buried in the same cave (cf. 25:9; 49:31; 50:13).  

Abraham wouldn’t take the field for free.  David was the same way (cf. 2 Sam. 24: 24; also cf. 1 Tim. 5:17 -18; 1 Corinthians 9:9-14).

In Chapter 24, Abraham was about 140 years old and figured it was a good time to get his 40 year-old son a wife (cf. Gen. 25: 20).  He sent his servant out to find one for him (v. 4).  The servant used the “fleece” technique later popularized by Gideon (cf. A Wooly Situation).  He prayed and asked God to point out the right girl by asking her for a drink and if she answered, “Take a drink and I’ll water your camels, too” (vv. 13-14).

A girl named Rebekah turned out to be that girl.  She was Abraham’s grandniece (cf. v. 48).  She was something, beautiful, a virgin and a great worker!  Abraham’s servant had ten camels who could have consumed up to 40 gallons each!  She would have to draw all that H2O by hand (v. 20).

The servant gave the girl the present of a ring and gold bracelets worth about $6,422.85 (v. 22, 5.25 ounces of gold x current gold price of $1223.40 an ounce).  He asked if he could have lodging at her house.   She said she had some straw for the camels and a room at her Dad’s place (v. 23).

Her brother Laban seemed to be in charge of the household at her family’s household.  His eyes lit up when he saw his sister’s new jewelry (v. 30).  We will find out what kind of a guy Laban is in chapters 29 – 30 when Rebekah needs a wife for her son, Jacob.

The servant told the family his story, how he met Rebekah and was searching for a wife for his master’s son (vv. 33-49).  After they heard the story, both Rebekah’s father and brother agreed that the whole thing sounded like it was from Yahweh.  So they said, “Yeah, you can have the girl” (v. 50-51).

(More on this story tomorrow.)

New Testament:  Matthew 8:1-17

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Matthew 8:1-17   An Officer And A Gentile

Summary: Jesus healed a leper, symbolic of His ability to cleanse sins. Then he healed the son of a military commander over a hundred people. The officer said he knew Jesus could do it because He had authority over all things just like he had authority over a hundred soldiers. Jesus said He wished He had seen more people with this kind of faith, especially out of His own people, the Jews. Then Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. It was a good thing because then she made them all dinner.

After a great sermon like the Sermon on the Mount, you would expect the crowd to follow Jesus around.  They did (v. 1).  A leper came to him for healing.  Jesus said He’d heal him if he wanted to be healed.  Are there some people, really, who want to stay sick?  Yes, there are.  Jesus was having the man check his own heart.  There would be quite a change coming in his life.  Jesus healed him . . .  immediately (v. 3).  Jesus didn’t want the man announcing the kingdom before He did so He told him to show himself to the priest as was the Mosaic custom (cf. Lev. 14:2-32) and to shut up about the whole thing (v. 4).

Leprosy is symbolic of sin.  Some people may want to wallow in it.  Others come to Jesus and want to be cleansed.  If they ask Him, He will cleanse them immediately (cf. John 5:24; 1:12).

There is a second healing in this chapter.  A Gentile officer of an hundred men in the Roman army told Jesus he understood authority and that he understood that Jesus had authority over sickness.  He said his servant was tormented by his sickness (v. 6).  Jesus offered to come to the man’s home and take care of things but the centurion said he knew that Jesus could just “phone it in” (v. 9).  Jesus was amazed by this Gentile’s faith saying that He hadn’t even seen that kind of faith in any Jew (v. 10, cf. the other time Jesus was amazed, Mark 6:6).  Jesus predicted that many Gentiles would come to faith (“come from east and west”) but many Jews would be chucked into “outer darkness” aka H-E double hockey sticks (v. 12).  The end result was Jesus told the centurion to go home.  He did and found that his servant was healed at the moment that Jesus told him to go home (v. 13).  Jesus heals us the moment that we trust Him.  We’ll see another  long distance healing of a Gentile, the Syrophoenician woman’s daughter, in Matt. 15:21-28.

In a third miracle of healing in this chapter, Peter’s mother-in-law had her health restored.  She was in bed with a fever (v. 14).  But she was needed to make food for everyone.  A woman never gets any rest!  Jesus touched and her fever absconded (v. 15).  Many came to Him that night that were demon-possessed and ill (v. 16a).  He took care of all of them (v. 16b).  Matthew points out that all these healings were a fulfillment of Isaiah 53: 4.  This does not mean that anyone who trusts Christ for salvation will automatically be healed physically.  Matthew is saying that Isaiah was fulfilled here in the healings.  Peter uses the same verse to refer to Jesus’ healing us of sin for all time (1 Pet. 2:24).  Jesus may heal now or may choose not to heal.  But anyone who comes to Him for salvation after the cross will not be turned away (cf. John 6:37).

 

Balancing The Books, Pt. 2  Psalm  9:13-20   A Psalm Of Thanksgiving By David

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Psalm 9:12-30

We finish up Psalm 9 today.

Yesterday, we saw that David was writing praise to God, basically he was praising God because He was going to subdue His enemies as well as protect David.

Someone on Facebook just asked if I remembered the neighborhood bully.  I said I did and then the bully’s sister posted, surprised that her brother was a bully.  If you want to be a good Christian, there will be those who will bully you (cf. 2Tim. 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”).  Jesus was bullied.  Big time.  So were the apostles. And ages before, here is David being bullied.  Expect it.  The unrighteous do not like the righteous.  Remember Cain and Abel.  It began way back when.

David asked God for protection from those who wanted to bully him to death (v. 13).  He asks to be guarded from death (v. 13c).  And you thought you were being bullied?

David wants to live to so he can continue to praise God (v. 14).  More talionic justice (v. 15, see A Cush On You).

Yahweh will balance the books (v. 16).  The wicked and their entire countries will end up in Sheol, the holding tank for the dead at that time (v. 17).

On the other hand, God won’t forget those who are being abused and need help (v. 18).  At least he won’t forget them forever.  Righteous people get abused and God sometimes allows it for their betterment.  The apostles were all martyrs.  Joseph was thrown in a pit.  So was Daniel, a lion’s pit.

David asks God not to allow his enemies to have their way (v. 19).  This would include demons nipping at us in our day.

He wants God to express His power in such a way that mankind knows Who’s Who (v. 20).

Proverbs 3:1-6    Spiritual Heart Surgery

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Remember Proverbs is a book of advice from a father to a son (v. 1).  Honoring your parents usually results in a longer life (v. 2, cf. the fifth commandment, Exod. 20:12).

Being kind to people will yield rewards (vv. 3-4).  Remember that the next time you are in traffic or stuck on the phone with customer service.

Verses 5-6 should definitely be stored in your heart aka memorized!  I learned these the first day I was saved.  These verses summarize the Christian life:  think about God all the time and trust Him alone.  Don’t trust yourself.  He’ll show you what to do (cf. James 4:13-17).

Remember the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9).  The antidote is to trust God with all your heart.*  Confess all your sin and get the gunk out of your heart and then fully and completely trust God.

That’s spiritual heart surgery.

*Your heart is your inner being, mind, will, and emotions.

 

Choose Life: Scripture: Genesis 24:14  NASB    “Three Lights Of Guidance”

” . . . now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’—may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.”  Genesis 24:14

Abraham’s servant basically put out a “fleece” to try to make sure he picked the right gal for his master’s son, Isaac.  He had been given a great responsibility and he didn’t want to mess it up.  Gideon put out a sheep or goat’s wool in Judges 6 to try to determine God’s will.  He put out a dry fleece and asked God to make it wet in the morning if going to battle was His will.  God made the wool wet.  Then, to be sure, he put out a wet piece of wool and asked God to dry it.  He did again (cf. Judg. 6:37-40).  We call this method of determining God’s will, “fleecing.”  It’s not a good thing to do.  But both Gideon and Abraham’s servant lived in a time before all believers had the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them (cf. Rom. 8:9).  They also didn’t have the Old Testament or New Testament Scriptures.  The servant’s method worked, though.  He found the perfect mate for Isaac.

How should we go about this today?  I would propose we use the three lights of guidance.  When boats come into shore, they usually look for three lights in the harbor put there to keep them from running aground on reefs or rocks.  If they can line up three lights in the harbor and set a straight course, they can come to shore safely.  Here are three lights that can help us run the straight course of God’s will in our life when we line up all of them.

1)  The Scripture:  what does God’s word say about what we want guidance about?  Are we asking God if we can marry a woman who is already married?  That is not God’s will.  Neither is stealing, lying, murder.  You get the idea.  Scripture is light number one.

2)  The peace of the Holy Spirit:  If you are asking God about something and you don’t have the peace that comes from the Holy Spirit, it is not God’s will (cf. Rom. 14:23; Col. 3:15, “let the peace of Christ rule [“act as an umpire,” Wuest translation] in your hearts”).

3)  Circumstances:  You can’t usually walk through a wall.  What are your circumstances?  If you don’t have money to fly to Paris then it’s not God’s will for you to go to Paris.  Of course, you could always pray for the funds!

You can use these principles to find God’s will for you in a spouse.  The Scripture says don’t marry a non-Christian (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14).  If you are uneasy and don’t feel comfortable with your intended, perhaps you need to reconsider.  On the other hand, if you have God’s peace, you could proceed.  Thirdly, if the girl or boy doesn’t like you, maybe that’s a sign that the circumstances aren’t going your way.  It’s not God’s will for you to marry that person.

When all else fails, put out some lamb’s wool and check it in the morning.  JK.  Hopefully, you can see from the above that that would be an immature thing to do.

But in everything, TRUST God.  We can’t possibly know what the future would hold with any given person.  But God does!  Trust Him.

And if you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application:

I learned the “three lights of guidance” method of determining God’s will when I was first saved.  I have found it be a very reliable guide.

Do you have any decisions coming up that you have to make?  Try using the three lights of guidance to help you.

Here is another helpful verse, Rom. 14:23, “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.”  The passage is about food that was offered to idols but that doesn’t matter.  If you have grave doubts about a decision you are about to make, you should probably think some more until you get more of a peaceful feeling.  Of course, anything that is objectively stated in the Bible trumps any feelings you might have.

And whatever you do, you always want to act in faith, as this verse says.  Anything not done in faith, is sin.  Only faith pleases God (cf. Heb. 11:6).

I hope you find the three lights of guidance to be as much of a help as I have over the years.

I think you’ll be blessed if you use it!

The purpose of Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog:   An Officer And A Gentile

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