Spiritual Rants: January 24, “Reverse Blessings” Daily Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Genesis 48:1-49:33 Matthew 15:29-16:12 Psalm 20:1-9 Proverbs 4:20-27

Old Testament: Genesis 48:1-49:33

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Genesis 48:1-49:33 Reverse Blessings


Towards the end of Jacob’s life he blessed Joseph’s two sons born to him in Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim. Though Ephraim was the younger, Jacob blessed him over Manasseh.

Then Jacob blessed each of his sons individually with Joseph getting the major blessing. Jacob asked to be buried in Canaan, the land of his promise.

In Chapter 48, Jacob was getting near the end of his life (v. 1a). Joseph went to visit him with the two sons born to him in Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim (v. 1b). Ephraim was the younger but Jacob blessed him over Manasseh (v. 14). Jacob had finally learned the lesson that God’s ways are not always man’s ways (Is. 55:8, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the LORD.) Notice the pattern of blessing throughout Abraham’s family,the younger was blessed over the older: Isaac was blessed over Ishmael, Jacob was blessed over Esau, Joseph was blessed over Reuben, and Ephraim was blessed over Manasseh.

In Chapter 49, Jacob blessed each of his sons individually showing an intimate knowledge of each one (vv. 1, 28). Joseph, of course, got the major blessing (vv. 22 – 26). Jacob asked to be buried alongside Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Leah (vv. 29-32). He asked to be buried in Canaan the place of his promise of a great nation (v. 30). Jacob was 147 years-old (cf. Gen. 47:28) when he died (v. 33). It took Jacob almost a lifetime to learn to deal with his many trials and infirmities but in the end was truly a man of faith.

New Testament: Matthew 15:29-16:12

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A lot of lame, mute, and blind Gentiles came to Jesus for healing. They then recognized that He was Messiah of Israel.

Jesus then fed 12,000.

The religious leaders asked for a sign. Jesus said they would only get the sign of Jonah.

Jesus warned the disciples about bad, yeasty teachers.

Matthew 15:29-16:12 Bread And Fish Tales

A lot of lame, mute, and blind people came to Jesus for healing (vv. 29-31). They may have been Gentile crowds (cf. Mk. 7:31-37). He healed them and they recognized that He was Messiah of Israel. They worshipped Yahweh, “the God of Israel” (v. 31).

The crowds had been together for three days so He again felt He needed to feed them since they weren’t even remotely close to a Captain D’s (v. 32). He asked the disciples what they had in the way of victuals (vv. 33-34a). The answer came back seven loaves and a few small fish (v. 34b). This was a little better than the last time in that he had two more loaves of bread and maybe like one more fish (cf. Mt. 14:13-21). On the other hand, there were only 4,000 instead of 5,000 men to feed not to mention women and children (possibly 12,000 altogether). So that would still only be like .0105 pieces of bread each (if there were 18 slices of bread in a loaf) and .00025 pieces of fish. There were only seven baskets instead of 12 baskets full left over this time (v. 37).

Here come the religious leaders again giving Jesus a hard time (Matt. 16:1). This time they are asking for a sign. (Did they miss the whole bread and fish thing — twice?) Jesus says they can see the sky at night and know what the weather will be the next day but they can’t see what’s going on in their own time (v. 3)? In case they missed it the first time He had told them (12:39-41), Jesus tells them that the only sign they’re going to get is the sign of Jonah being in the fish’s belly for three days and three nights (v. 4). He was talking about being in the ground Himself for three days and three nights. He may have also been hinting that Israel, in rejecting their Messiah, was no better than evil, rotten Nineveh.

The disciples were concerned because they had forgotten to go grocery shopping (vv. 5-7). Jesus told them to beware of the yeast of the false teachers (v. 11). The rather intellectually-challenged disciples thought Jesus was talking about bread. Jesus reminded Him that He was able to feed them, proven by the feeding of the 9,000 (5K plus 4K men, not counting women and children, vv. 8-10). He said He was talking about yeast not bread, that is, the microscopic fungus consisting of single oval cells that reproduce by budding, and are capable of converting sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Then the disciples caught on that He was talking about the icky teaching of the bad teachers that can spread through people and cause them to bloat up with evil and be bad people (v. 12). He wasn’t talking about baking.

Psalm 20:1-9   Double, Double, Toil And Trouble    A Royal Psalm Of David

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Psalm 20:1-9 Double, Double Toil And Trouble

Psalm 20 is a royal psalm.  That means it’s about the king.  King David.  No, King Jesus.  OK, it’s about both.  Jesus will sit on David’s throne eventually (cf. Psa. 110:1; Matt. 22:42-45).  Specifically, it was David’s prayer before going to battle.  Psalm 21 is his thanksgiving after winning the battle.

Wouldn’t you like the Lord to always answer your prayers (v. 1)?  He promises to always answer your prayers if you are ‘fessed up (cf. Psa. 66:18-19).  Here’s one of those promises:

“’Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.  ‘Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. ‘If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it'” (John 14:12-14).

Here’s another one:

“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him” (1 John 5:14-15).

I see it.  Do you see it?  There’s a catch in each one of those promises.  The first one says, “If you ask in my name.”  In other words, if you ask for something Jesus would ask for.  That’s the catch.  You have to be a disciple.  You have to want to do what Jesus wants you to do.

There’s a catch in 1 John 5:14, too.  Do you see it?  You have ask according to God’s will.  That’s kind of the same catch as in John 14.  You have to want the same things God wants.

If you want the same things God wants, He will answer you in the day of trouble (v. 1)!  He’ll send you help from Heaven (v. 2, cf. Dan. 9:20-21).  Here David says that God will help him from out of Zion which is in Israel.  Israel was to prepare herself before battle (cf. Deut. 20:1-5).  Marshall Foch, the commander of the Allied forces in World War I said, “Battles are won the day before” (Wiersbe).  I just watched a movie, A Bridge Too Far.  That battle in World War II was lost the days before it.  We must learn to “wait on God” before we make our decisions (cf. Psa. 34:17; 37:34; James 4:13-17).

In the Old Testament, the Jews sacrificed meal offerings, which were grain not roast beef with mashed potatoes.  It did represent an entire meal, though.  They looked forward to Christ as the supreme offering.  He is the One who enables us to be victorious (v. 3, cf. Eph. 5:2).

Here’s a great verse.  “May He grant you your heart’s desire.”  Wouldn’t you like the Lord to grant your heart’s desire?   He will.  If your desires line up with His.  See verse 1 above.  So make your desires line up with His!  That’s what’s best for us all anyway.

If we do try to follow His will, He’ll give us victory over our problems (v. 5).  We’ll be partying and putting up banners (v. 5b).  The psalmist expresses his desire that we’ll be blessed by having our prayer requests answered (v. 5c).

David confesses his trust in the Lord to help him win the battle in verses 6-9.

He knows the Lord will save him and answer from Heaven (v. 6a, b).  Jesus is at His right hand (cf. Psa. 16:11; Rom. 8:34).

I went to tiny Butler University.  Their basketball team made the final game two years in a row.  They played a bunch of teams with bigger gyms, more expensive equipment and facilities, whose coaches were paid more.  But most of the team trusted the Lord and were born-again.  It is better to trust the Lord than equipment, big gyms, horses or chariots (v. 7).  David won and so did Butler, well, until the final games.  As I recall, David also beat Goliath as an underdog without much equipment (1 Sam. 17:49).

David won (v. 8).  He exhorts the entire nation to call on the Lord when in trouble (v. 9).

Do you trust the Lord when you’re in trouble (v. 1, 9)?  You can wait till He turns the heat up some more, but it’s best to just go to Him at first (cf. Prov. 3:5-6).  If you wait to go to Him, it could just be double, double, toil and trouble (yeah, I just quoted Shakespeare’s Macbeth).

Proverbs 4:20-27    Eating Your Heart Out

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I wish I had paid more attention to verse 23 in my early years.  Maybe, then, I wouldn’t have had six heart by-passes!  Of course, to “watch over your heart” should be taken primarily in a spiritual sense.  But it also has reference to our physical health.  In our country, there is junk food all around and couches to sit on while playing Xbox games and watching cable TV or binging on Hulu and Netflix.

A good disciple aka learner will be focused spiritually and physically, too.  If you don’t guard your heart, you could kick out prematurely and not be able to serve the Lord as long.  If you listen to Solomon, you’ll live longer (vv. 20-22; cf. Exod. 20:12, notice the promise).

Exercise doesn’t do much for you (cf. 1 Tim. 4:8).  But it does do a little good for you.  It can make you feel better and keep you healthier longer.  Being spiritual does a lot more for you, eternally.  So exercise a little bit and read your Bible and pray a lot.

Keep your head in the game and be focused (v. 25-27, see commentary from January 21 on Proverbs, Keep Your Head In The Game).

The devill prowls around looking for someone to have for lunch (cf. 1 Pet. 5:8).  He eats your heart first.  So stay focused and guard your heart.  Sorry this sounded so much like a slasher movie but it got your attention, didn’t it?

Choose Life:  Scripture:  Matthew 16:11   NASB    “Yeee-East!”

“How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”   Matthew 16:11

Pastors are supposed to care about everyone in their flock.  One of the biggest concerns should be protecting their people from bad doctrine.

Jesus tells us why.  The reason is that bad teaching is like a yeast.  Yeast in bread is a good thing.  It causes the bread to rise and makes it taste good.  Yeast in a teacher is a bad thing.  Jesus says it spreads and causes a fellowship to be filled with  ideas that hurt the sheep.  Actually, it’s more like a mold.  And that’s not a good thing.  Mold festers and spreads.  And is green.  Ugh.

What was the Pharisees’ mold?  It was legalism.

There is a natural tendency in humans to try to prove their worth to God.  The Bible tells us that though we were originally created good (cf. Gen. 1:27, 31) afterward we “fell.”    We were tainted in body, spirit, and soul.  We can no longer be pleasing to God in and of ourselves.   The sin of Adam and Eve has been passed to all human beings (cf. Rom. 5:12).

So legalism is an attempt to appeal to God by doing things we think are good.

The Bible tells us it doesn’t work that way.  The way it works is we are supposed to wear Christ’s righteousness (cf. Rom. 4:5; 13:14; see Zech. 3:3-5 for an illustration and the blog You Can’t Touch This!).

When we wear Christ’s clothes, we can please God.

What are you wearing today?  Are you wearing moldy garments?  If you are, you need to change your clothes and “put on Christ!”

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

Fun Application:

Here is teaching that is spreading across the country right now like yeast . . .  or maybe more like a cancer!  It says that you have to clean up your life before you can trust Christ!  It also says you have to do good works to prove that you are saved.  If you haven’t done anything for the Lord, you might not be saved (they say)!  Wow.  Maybe they all had kids in Cub Scouts where you had to do a good deed as soon as you joined to be able to turn your bobcat pin right-side up!  (Sorry for mocking, but c’mon!)

One of their proponents once asked me what would happen if Christ asked, “What good thing did you ever do for me?” and a person had no answer.  Could you be saved if you had never done anything for the Lord?

I said, “How could God keep someone out if all they had was their faith in Christ?”

Of course, these are all hypotheticals.  But the truth is that the only thing that redeems a person’s life is Christ’s death on the cross and a person’s trust in Him.  If someone trusts Christ, that person is wearing Christ as a garment that covers that person’s sins (cf. Rom. 4:5; 13:14).  And if a person’s sins are covered, he/she is allowed entrance into Heaven.

The end of the matter:  Wear Christ’s garments and go out and do something for the Lord in the power of His Spirit.

Do it today!

If you do, you’ll be blessed!

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:  Bread And Fish Tales

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