Spiritual Rants: January 18, “Dysfunction At The Junction” Daily Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Genesis 37:1-38:30 Matthew 12:22-45 Psalm 16:1-11 Proverbs 3:27-32

Old Testament:   Genesis 37:1-38:30

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Genesis 37:1-38:30  Dysfunction At The Junction

Summary:  

Joseph was Jacob’s favorite so he gave him a “varicolored” coat. Joseph had two dreams which indicated that his whole family would bow down to him.

His brothers were duly offended and plotted to off him but sold him to traveling traders instead who were headed for Egypt. They killed a goat and put the blood on his varicolored coat to show Jacob so he’d think Joseph was dead.  Actually, he was being given a free ride to Egypt.  Joseph ended up staying with Pharoah’s chief executioner, Potiphar.

Judah was one of Jacob’s sons who had three sons.  The first two sons were so evil in God’s eyes that He had to personally remove them both. Tamar, his first son’s wife legally had the right to his second son but God removed him, too.  Judah didn’t want to have to give up his third son so he refused to give him to Tamar.

Judah encountered Tamar in the village but didn’t know the woman he had the hots for was Tamar.  She was dressed as a woman of low morals.  Judah ended up getting her pregnant but left his cell phone behind.  OK, it was his signet and staff that he left behind.  So when he wanted to kill Tamar for fooling around, she showed him his cell phone . . . er, uh . . .  signet and staff.  Tamar subsequently had twins named Perez and Zerah.

In Chapter 37, we begin the story of Joseph.  Joseph was Jacob’s favorite since he was born when Jacob was very old. To show it, Jacob gave him a “varicolored” coat. Yes, this is the famous “coat of many colors” and namesake of the famous Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat play (v. 3).

Joseph had two dreams which he would have been better served to keep to himself but being young and a little arrogant he shared them with his entire family. Unfortunately, the dreams indicated that his whole family would bow down to him. This would normally cause dysfunction in a family but in this dysfunctional family it caused supreme dysfunction as the brothers tried to figure out how to off him (vv. 5-11).

The brothers came up with the idea of killing him, throwing him in a pit and blaming a wild animal (vv. 18-24). Reuben, the eldest son and namesake of the famous sandwich, had a modicum of sense (though he did sleep with one of his father concubines cf. 35:22). Reuben said no, let’s just throw him into a pit. Reuben was planning on rescuing Joseph out of the pit. They took a break for lunch and lo and behold some descendants of Ishmael were coming down the street. Judah, who also had a slight modicum of sense, said let’s sell him instead of killing him (vv. 25-28). So they did. (They got 20 pieces of silver for him, 10 less than Judas got.) Reuben was gone when all this was going down and wasn’t too happy when he found out. They killed a male goat and put the blood on his varicolored coat to show Jacob (vv. 29-35).

The descendants of Ishmael (v. 27) dumped him in Egypt with Potiphar, Pharoah’s chief executioner (v. 36).

When we come to Chapter 38, we ask, “Can this family be more dysfunctional?” OK. Perhaps. But maybe not.

Judah was one of Jacob’s twelves sons who, himself, had three sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah. Er more appropriately should have been called Error. He was so bad that God had to er-ase Him, personally (v. 7). That meant that the law would kick in and Onan was duty bound to provide a heir for Er. (Get it? An heir for Er?) Onan didn’t like the law and didn’t want to do it so . . . well, you can read about it (v. 9).  He aborted so to speak.  God wasn’t happy and offed him, too (v. 10).

At this point, Judah was afraid to lose another son so he told Tamar to hang on a while (v. 11). Actually, Judah was afraid that if he married off his third son, Shelah, that he would die like his first two sons.  Tamar knew what Judah was up to so she went into the village and posed as a woman of the evening by covering her face (vv. 14 -15). Judah came to town to do business not knowing he was doing business with his own daughter-in-law (v. 16). (Dr. Phil . . . paging Dr. Phil!) He said he’d send along payment so the disguised Tamar asked for his picture license ID and a credit card to hold till the goat arrived. (OK, so it was his signet ring and his cane but you get the idea, v. 18.) Good ole Judah got Tamar pregnant. He was going to pay the goat but no one was in town to receive it (v. 20).

About three months later, when it appeared Tamar was p-g, righteous Judah ordered her killed. Then, Tamar, showing she was as big a wise guy as any of the patriarchs, pulled out his license and credit card. Judah was fried (vv. 24-26). Tamar wasn’t. Tamar had twins (Zerah and Perez, vv. 28-30).

New Testament:  Matthew 12:22-45

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Summary:

A poor demon possessed a man who couldn’t see or talk and was brought to Jesus.  Jesus cast the demons out of him.  The dumb religious leaders said Jesus got His power from Satan.  Jesus countered with, “No, that won’t work.  Think about it.”  Satan wouldn’t undo his own evil.  Another possibility, Jesus suggested, is that God’s kingdom was on the move.

Jesus then explained that no one could insult the Holy Spirit by dissing His work.  The reason is that His work is to show Jesus is God and the Savior.  So anyone who disses that would not be able to go to Heaven (cf. Jn. 14: 6, Jn. 16: 18 -11).

Our mouths represent our hearts so the religious leaders were in big trouble.

Jesus believed in a literal Jonah apparently.  He said He’d be underground the same amount of time that Jonah was in the fish.

The whole nation was like a man cleansed of a demon.  If they don’t turn to God for help, they’d be filled with even more demons.

Matthew 12: 22 -45    Dumb Leaders

A poor man who couldn’t see and whose mute switch was stuck on on was brought to Jesus. It was the work of demons so Jesus healed him. The dumb religious leaders again hassled Jesus saying He could do it because He got power from Satan, the king of demons. Jesus responded with a saying popularized by Abraham Lincoln, “a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” In other words, why would Satan undo his own work? Duh. Another alternative, Jesus suggested, was that the kingdom of God was moving toward them (vv. 22 -29).

What is the “unpardonable sin”? It’s called “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.” Well, actually the unpardonable sin and blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cannot technically be actioned in this age. But back then, when the Holy Spirit worked to show Who Jesus was and someone denied it, it was “unpardonable” in the sense that they couldn’t go to heaven. Today if someone denies the work of the Holy Spirit in convicting them of their sin it results in the same thing (vv. 30 -32; cf. John 16: 8-11). The unpardonable sin is actually rejection of Jesus as Savior. If someone does that, they can’t go to heaven. (John 12:48, “There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.”)

Jesus then warns everyone to watch their mouths. What we speak reflects what we believe. The bad religious leaders who were rejecting Jesus were showing what was inside of them (vv. 33 -37).

Was Jonah a whale of a tale or a tale of whale? Jesus affirms the latter. He is asked for a sign and He says the only sign will be the sign of Jonah who was in the belly of a really big fish (Lit. Heb. gadol dag, “a great fish,” Jonah 1: 17) for three days and three nights. Coincidentally, Jesus was in the earth for three days, too. The leaders and Israel were going to be in really big trouble because in the story of Jonah, the city of Nineveh repented. Not only that, but the Queen of Sheba (Queen of the South here but look at 1 Kings 10:1-13) bowed to the wisdom of Solomon but the leaders were acting stupidly. They represented the nation of Israel who were rejecting Jesus (vv. 38 -42).

Further, Jesus compared the nation to a demon possessed man who after being cleansed by Jewish exorcism (see 12:27) and going back to religion (“swept” and “in order”) then has the demon come back with seven of his buddies. He was worse off than before, the same direction the nation of Israel was headed (vv. 43 -45).

Psalm 16:1-11   Are You Right-Handed?     A Psalm Of Trust  By David

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Psalm 16:1-11  Are You Right-Handed?

There are several psalms we would call psalms of trust or confidence, possibly eight of them.   We have already seen two in Psalms 4 and 11.  Why are these in the psalter?  Because it’s good for us to affirm our trust in the Lord every so often.

Have you ever felt like the Lord was shortchanging you?  You weren’t getting treated properly?  Every other Christian was being blessed more than you?   Here’s what you have forgotten:  the Lord is good.  As David puts it, “I have no good beside you” (v. 2b).  James said, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17).  The Psalmist wrote (possibly Ezra) in the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, “You [God] are good and do good” (Psa. 119:68a).  When we forget that God is good, we open ourselves to pity parties.

David understood that God was good and that was why he took refuge in Him (v. 1, cf. Ps. 62:8).

“Saints” in the NT are literally “holy ones” (v. 3, cf. 1 Cor. 1:2).  Anyone who has been made righteous in Christ is a saint, a holy one (cf. Rom. 5:19).

David doesn’t associate with pagans (v. 4).  He sure won’t worship with them (v. 4b,c).  We shouldn’t either!  Why go to a meeting of cultists and risk being contaminated by their teaching?  If you are up to it, you can always share your faith them, though (cf. 1 Pet. 3:15).  We also should never be “mismatched” with unbelievers (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14 HCSB).

There was just a gigantic national lottery winner.  The winnings were supposedly well over a billion dollars.  But I guess there were three winners that had to divide it up and then pay around 40% to the government.  Dang.  There’s always somethin’.  What’s left then?  A “lot,” I guess.

But David already had his “lot” (v. 5b).  We don’t have to win the lottery as Christians.  We already have!  We have eternal life in Heaven and it didn’t cost us a thing (cf. Rom. 6:23).  “The lines have fallen” to us already in “pleasant places” (v. 6) and we have a great inheritance (v. 6b, cf. Eph. 1:11).

When is the best time to memorize the Word?  Right before you fall asleep at night.  You’ll remember it better.  Usually it’s right there when you wake up in the morning.  David thought about God when he couldn’t sleep at night (v. 7b).

The next verses are about David but also about Jesus.  Verse 8 is a great one to memorize.  The Lord is always with us (cf. Isa. 41:10; Zeph. 3:17; Matt. 28:20).  Jesus knew He would survive the crucifixion because He was close to the Lord and would not be “shaken.”  The Lord was at the right hand of David, God was at the right hand of Jesus, and Jesus is now at the right hand of God.  To be “at the right hand” means Jesus is now in a place of honor (cf. Eph. 1:20).

On the other hand (pun intentional), in this context, since Jesus had God to His right, He would ultimately  survive the crucifixion and not be abandoned to the land of the dead, Sheol (v. 10, see Sheol No).  The same is true of us.  Do you believe that God is near you (cf. Isa. 41:10; Zeph. 3:17)?

God would allow Christ’s body to sit in a grave and decay (v. 10b).  He would be resurrected (v.10 is quoted in Acts 2:27, 13:35).

Verse 11 is another great memory verse.  It speaks of Christ’s ascension to live with God.  We, also, have ascended with Christ, spiritually speaking (cf. Eph. 2:6; Col. 2:12, wherein we were resurrected with Him spiritually to be ascended with Him to Heaven).

There will be “fullness of joy” and “pleasures forever” (v. 11b, c) in Heaven.  Are you going?

Proverbs 3:27-32  Don’t Mess With People

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Verses 27-32 contain a bunch of negative prohibitions beginning with “do not.”  They are

  1. do not refuse to do good to others when you can, unless you absolutely can’t  (v. 27)
  2. do not inconvenience someone that you owe just to mess with them  (v. 28)
  3. do not mess with those that are close to you  (v. 29)
  4. do not mess with a guy just for fun  (v. 30)
  5. do not pattern yourself after anyone who specializes in messing with people  (v. 31)

God doesn’t like jerks (v. 32a).  He loves those who want to do what He wants them to do aka “the upright” (v. 32b).

Choose Life: Scripture: Matthew 12:31  NASB    “Unforgiven”

“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.”   Matthew 12:31

If you think you have committed blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, you can relax.  There is no such thing.  Well, there’s nothing like that anymore.  You could only commit that sin while Jesus was on earth.   Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit meant that you were insulting the Holy Spirit by not accepting His work.  His work was to show Who Jesus was (John 16:14).  He was the Messiah, God, and the Savior of mankind.  The Holy Spirit showed that through the working of Jesus’ miracles.  So if you rejected the work of the Holy Spirit, you’d be rejecting Jesus.  You could only do that while He was here.  So now you’re out of luck. You’ll have to quit feeling sorry for yourself for having committed the worse sin ever.

However . . .

. . . if you think you have committed a sin that God can’t forgive, you should be worried.  There actually is one sin that Jesus can’t forgive. It’s similar to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  It’s the one unforgivable sin.  The only thing that Jesus can’t forgive is rejection of Him.  Rejection of Christ will get you thrown into the lake of fire aka Hell forever (Rev. 20:15).  So here’s the deal.  Don’t do it.  Don’t reject Christ.  Any other sin is forgivable (cf. 1 John 1:9; 2:1).

Are you rejecting Christ today?  The Holy Spirit will convict you of that (cf. John 16:8-9, in those verses, “He” is the Holy Spirit).   Trust Him for your salvation and for the forgiveness of all your sins!

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

Fun Application:

If you have trusted Christ for salvation, you don’t have to worry about committing anything akin to the “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.”  You have the Holy Spirit living inside of you and when your body gives out, there is nowhere else for the Spirit to go except to Heaven.  And it just so happens that the Holy Spirit is bound to your spirit so they have to go together (cf. Rom. 8:9, 16).  In other words, you will get sucked up to Heaven whether you want to go or not.  And believe me, you will want to go!

Here is what the Bible says about how you can know you are going to Heaven (no fine print, no caveats):
1) Admit that you are a sinner and have offended God (Rom. 3: 23).

2) Believe that Christ took the penalty for our sins that we deserve
(Rom. 5:8).

3) Personally trust Christ
(Rom. 10:9b, 10a).

4) You can absolutely be sure you are going to Heaven
(1 John. 5:13; John 5:24)

Some people today would like to put an unbiblical burden on others today.  They would say that you have to do something good for God before you can know that you are saved.  But the Bible never says that.  What it does say is, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1John 5: 13).  I italicized the word “know” to emphasize it.  It doesn’t say “hope” or “guess” that you have eternal life.  It says “know.”

The word for know in the original Greek language that the Bible was written in is ginosko.  It means know absolutely for sure.  Here’s how one translation puts it, “These things I write to you in order that you may know with an absolute knowledge that life you are having, eternal life, to you who believe on the Name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:13 Wuest).

Once you have that squared away, you need to move on (see my blog Getting Off Square One).

Move on today by praying and continuing to read your Bible.

You’ll be blessed if you do!

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:  Dysfunction At The Junction

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