New Patch On An Old Coat

NEW PATCH ON AN OLD COAT

Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” Jesus said to them, “No one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results.” Matthew 9:14,16

         Don’t mix the new with the old. This is the principle behind Jesus’ words.

         An old cloth shrinks considerably over time because of repeated washings. The new cloth is something that has not yet shrunk. Cut a patch out of it and get it wet, and it will shrink, pulling and tearing the old fabric.

         So what doesn’t mix, according to Jesus? Religious rituals of the past and new faith in Him. Jesus came to do something entirely new by fulfilling the Law, something we couldn’t do with a pile of good works. The Law was meant to show us that we couldn’t keep it. It was not meant to turn us into kiss-ups that try to make God happy with our rule keeping. Continue reading

The Parables Jesus Told

THE PARABLES JESUS TOLD

I love a good story, especially if related by an exceptional storyteller. If he loses enough inhibition to bring life to the characters, utilizing a wide range of inflection for the character’s speeches, the stories will not only be captivating but memorable. I have to believe that Jesus was a perfect storyteller because we are still talking about each of his stories thousands of years later.

Jesus spoke in parables to fulfill prophecy. Matthew explained by quoting from Psalm 78. All these Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables, and He was not talking to them without a parable, so that what was spoken by the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.” Matthew 13:34-35 Psalm 78 speaks of Israel’s rampant unbelief in Yahweh ~ in spite of the fact that He rescued them repeatedly from their enemies. God spoke openly to them, displayed His power with signs and wonders, but they missed the point that God wanted a relationship with them. He wanted to be their God but they rejected Him. Many centuries later, Jesus spoke in parables to bring judgment on Israel’s collective hardness of heart. Only those who had a true relationship with Jesus would understand its meanings.ICES_parables_jesus

While Jesus did perform miracles and gave many signs and wonders to prove that He was God, he spoke most often in parables to fulfill another prophecy, this one from Isaiah. “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; and you will keep on seeing but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull; and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes…” Matthew 13:14-15

What does that mean for me if I’m about to jump into the language of Jesus as found in His parables? It is possible for me to hear them but not understand them. Unbelief skews the message and makes it impenetrable.

I’m going to jump into the world of Jesus’ stories. I will have nothing to write, nothing to share, if the Spirit of God does not give personal understanding in the context of our relationship. This morning, I’m praying this prayer. Join me so that each of us may be more than hearers, but people of understanding. The end result will be a full disclosure of this private language between Jesus and us ~ as well as exponential growth in our heart’s affection for our Savior. Let the stories begin.

Lord, I confess that I am spiritually blind unless You open the eyes of my heart. If there is anything that will compromise my ability to understand Your stories, would you reveal it to me? I want Your words to transform the complete landscape of my heart. In Jesus name, Amen

Joseph’s Bones Weren’t The End of Joseph

JOSEPH’S BONES WEREN’T THE END OF JOSEPH

Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.” So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt. Genesis 50:25-26

         This is the last devotional from the book of Genesis. I could cry over the sadness of leaving this rich book. I could also cry over the joys that have been revealed about God.

         Life does not begin and end with me. Live begins and ends with God. Though I may lie in a grave, life associated with me is far from over if I’m God’s child. My faith, and all the promises of God that I embrace for myself and my family, live on. Fulfillment of God’s covenantal blessing over my people will unfold long after I’m gone.

         The promises God made to Jacob and his descendants, realized through Joseph and his descendants, are still coming to pass today. Thousands of years later, Joseph’s life and the choices he made matter. He is not only a teacher when I review his story, but he is also a catalyst for the coming redemption of Israel. His coffin hold the remains of his mortal body but heaven and earth feel the present effects of spiritual activity associated with Joseph’s faith.

         Genesis reveals the narrative themes of scripture. Creation. The Fall. Redemption. Restoration. Not only are these revealed in the overall storyline of the book, they are evident in the individual stories of God’s chosen leaders. I can see this pattern in my own life, can you?

         I am praying for you as I finish writing today. You are meant to see redemption in every area of your life ~ then restoration. To see God create, only to be defiled from sin, is to live bitter. Despair results from living in a storyline that is unfinished. Like Joseph, we are to wait for God to redeem what is broken. We wait for God to promote us on the other side of captivity. Yes, we faint under the ‘waiting’, but God will give us the grace to be tenacious in our faith. Just like Joseph. They bruised Joseph’s feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true. Psalm 105:17-19 Captivity never has the last Word for anyone determined to prevail in the promises of God.

To You, God of Joseph, be all the glory. To You, my God, be all honor and praise. In Jesus name, Amen

Knees To The Earth

KNEES TO THE EARTH

And Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons; [they] were born on Joseph’s knees. Genesis 50:23

Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and be bowed himself with his face to the earth. Exodus 48:1 

         Ron and I are blessed enough to have my two grandsons nearby. I was there at the time of, or just after, their births. What priceless moments they were, as I witnessed the beginning of two new lives and imagined, with spiritual imagination, what they would be in the hands of a powerful God.

         Joseph’s great grandsons were born near to him and placed on his knees, a sign of ownership and investment. Just after blessing them, he lowered himself prostrate to the earth as a way of consecrating them to God.

         How much heart and soul do I invest in the lives of my children and grandchildren? More and more as I get older. When they sleep under my roof, it begs an invitation to go in and pray over them, then speak scripture over them. The cries before God seem to have a theme. “Remember them. Keep them close to You. Reveal Yourself to them. Teach them to hear Your voice. Deliver them from all evil. Make them wise as Daniels. Fashion their tongues to be sharp swords of Your truth.” How will they prosper in this darkening world without investments of prayer on their behalf? Continue reading

Genesis 50/20 Vision

GENESIS 50/20 VISION

Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:19-20

         I’ve been waiting for get to this verse the whole time I’ve in Genesis. It’s taken two years. Oh, for me to have a Genesis 50/20 perspective on all things done against me, from the petty to the catastrophic. Oh, for my initial reaction to be confidence in God’s redemptive power instead of anguish.

         There is no evil that wins in my life if I press in to seek redemption. No evil done against me takes God by surprise. Ever. He saw it ahead of time and planned long ago how to wield authoritative power in order to transform it from a ‘Calvary’ to a ‘resurrection’. To seek it, to expect it, to believe it, is my dilemma when it appears my life has been taken from me. This describes the ultimate battle for faith.

         Does this mean that I don’t feel the pain of betrayal? Does this mean that my right to cry out from the pit (as Joseph did) is spiritually unbecoming? Not at all. Continue reading

My Response When Others Grovel

MY RESPONSE WHEN OTHERS GROVEL

The brothers sent a message to Joseph, saying, ‘Your father gave this command before he died. Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ‘ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servant of the God of your Father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Genesis 50:16-17 

         Joseph is seeing the fulfillment of his childhood dream. The brothers are bowing down to him and pledging to become his servants. Forty years earlier, God had given him a dream that showed every brother prostrate before him. Without stopping to think twice, he had shared it with his brothers. Perhaps he had gloated as he related it. Children do. Whatever his posture, it got him thrown into a pit and sold into slavery. But here’s the thing ~ What Joseph felt then and what he feels now are two completely different things. As a child, it was a fairy tale to think of subjects bowing down to you. As an adult, one refined by God through excruciating events, it is a tragedy to see brothers groveling. He has been in their shoes, loves them, and does not want to see them suffer.

         It’s quite amazing how I can see the same event differently, depending on what stage of life I am in. As a young woman, I heard others predict that God would bless me with notoriety and influence. While it was hard for me to believe it, part of me dreamt it was true and made it all about me. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity for serving others, something God always intends when He confers a position of influence, I thought of what it would be like to be influential. I desperately lacked mentoring. Continue reading