Sunday, January 06, 2008

Day Six: Genesis 26-30, Job 31-36, Matthew 16-18

Key Points:
  • When we devise ways to make God's plan happen by our own means, we are asking for trouble. Jacob's story highlights the trouble with thinking that we know how to make God's plan happen better than He does. I'm reminded that waiting on God is sometimes just as spiritual as moving forward.
  • God continues to bless the line of the patriarchs, even though they seem so dysfunctional. I don't think this is permission to live however we want and expect God's blessings - I think it is a reminder of how God is faithful to His promises despite our own sinfulness. God had promised to bless Abraham and his descendants because of Abraham's strong faith, and God keeps His word. I'm also encouraged that God can use anyone - even those with very weird families.
  • Today's reading in Job started with Job's final words about his own good deeds and then turned primarily to the words of the young guy in the story, Elihu. Elihu states that he has been silent up to this point because he didn't want to assume on his elders, but listen to them in respect to his youth (real wisdom in that for me as a young leader - knowing when to speak and when to listen is sometimes hard). Elihu takes Job's friends to task for assuming that they know the mind of God, and then he takes Job to task for assuming that he is blameless and sinless before God. I think both points are very well made. We are in dangerous waters when we assume we know what God is doing (when we don't) - I've written and talked about this at length before. We are also in dangerous waters when we assume our good deeds eliminate our need for God. Even in Job's case (where he had lived a good life and tried to honor God in all his ways), he still at his core was a sinner in need of grace. Bottom-line: we don't deserve anything from God just based on our own goodness. Everything He has given us has been by His grace.
  • This Matthew passage is very powerful. I am always intrigued by the Transfiguration in Matthew 17, especially because it comes directly after the passage where Jesus talks about His death. The message to those early disciples would have been clear (as it is today): the glory comes after the cross. I love the power and glory displayed in Jesus at the transfiguration.
  • Jesus' teaching in Matthew 18 are some of the most challenging teachings to live out in our daily lives: handle conflict by taking our issues directly to the people we have a problem with, go hard after those who are far from God, and show mercy to others in the same way that God has shown mercy to us. Life-changing stuff...


bryanw said...

dysfunctional is only one of the terms I came up with for Abrahams decendents, I'm starting to think they were MORE immoral then most the world today!!!..but it shows that God did give up on imperfect people..which is good news for me.

Job 34:14-15 hit a core for me....knowing there is a promise from God not to destroy us...this verse really opened my eyes to the brevity of this world and the true power of God ( I imagined him holding his breath and all of this disappears!) It was a new picture for me to picture my every breath as taking in a breath from God, very powerful.

When Jesus told Peter to go fish and pull the coins out of the first fish's mouth to pay his taxes was another example for me that God always provides, not always free, though...Peter had to work to obtain the money, but he was faithful and trusted Jesus..the key!!

T Buss said...

Reading through Job, I get the feeling that Job has not sinned, therefore questions why he is being "punished." He states over and over that he wants God to just tell him what he did wrong because he doesn't know... Was he really without sin?

Hallam Fam News said...

I thought it was interesting to see the contrast between the comments of Elihu and the actions of Jacob. Elihu makes this *really* long statment about how God handles evil men and people who do deceitful things, and yet that doesn't seem to be the case in Jacob's situation - he takes Esau's blessing, he sleeps with several different women, he builds his flock of sheep in a shady way, and still Gen 30:43 says that Jacob becomes "exceedingly prosperous." This is not what Elihu said happens.

This contrast all serves to remind me that God is totally in control. He chooses be his own desire, we don't cause by our actions.

I'm always challenged by Matthew 18. Direct communication when someone has wronged you is hard to do.