August 30 – Weekend Passage

Genesis 31

Jacob Leaves Secretly for Canaan

31 Now Jacob heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, “Jacob has taken away all that was our father’s, and from what belonged to our father he has made all this wealth.” 2 Jacob saw the attitude of Laban, and behold, it was not friendly toward him as formerly. 3 Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.” So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to his flock in the field, and said to them, “I see your father’s attitude, that it is not friendly toward me as formerly, but the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength. 7 Yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times; however, God did not allow him to hurt me. 8 If he spoke thus, ‘The speckled shall be your wages,’ then all the flock brought forth speckled; and if he spoke thus, ‘The striped shall be your wages,’ then all the flock brought forth striped. Thus God has taken away your father’s livestock and given them to me. 10 And it came about at the time when the flock were mating that I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the male goats which were mating were striped, speckled, and mottled. 11 Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am.’ 12 He said, ‘Lift up now your eyes and see that all the male goats which are mating are striped, speckled, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.’” 14 Rachel and Leah said to him, “Do we still have any portion or inheritance in our father’s house? 15 Are we not reckoned by him as foreigners? For he has sold us, and has also entirely consumed our purchase price. 16 Surely all the wealth which God has taken away from our father belongs to us and our children; now then, do whatever God has said to you.”

17 Then Jacob arose and put his children and his wives upon camels; 18 and he drove away all his livestock and all his property which he had gathered, his acquired livestock which he had gathered in Paddan-aram, to go to the land of Canaan to his father Isaac. 19 When Laban had gone to shear his flock, then Rachel stole the household idols that were her father’s. 20 And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing. 21 So he fled with all that he had; and he arose and crossed the Euphrates River, and set his face toward the hill country of Gilead.

Laban Pursues Jacob

22 When it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled, 23 then he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him a distance of seven days’ journey, and he overtook him in the hill country of Gilead. 24 God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night and said to him, “Be careful that you do not speak to Jacob either good or bad.”

25 Laban caught up with Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen camped in the hill country of Gilead. 26 Then Laban said to Jacob, “What have you done by deceiving me and carrying away my daughters like captives of the sword?27 Why did you flee secretly and deceive me, and did not tell me so that I might have sent you away with joy and with songs, with timbrel and with lyre; 28 and did not allow me to kiss my sons and my daughters? Now you have done foolishly. 29 It is in my power to do you harm, but the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, ‘Be careful not to speak either good or bad to Jacob.’ 30 Now you have indeed gone away because you longed greatly for your father’s house; but why did you steal my gods?” 31 Then Jacob replied to Laban, “Because I was afraid, for I thought that you would take your daughters from me by force.32 The one with whom you find your gods shall not live; in the presence of our kinsmen point out what is yours among my belongings and take it for yourself.” For Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.

33 So Laban went into Jacob’s tent and into Leah’s tent and into the tent of the two maids, but he did not find them. Then he went out of Leah’s tent and entered Rachel’s tent. 34 Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddle, and she sat on them. And Laban felt through all the tent but did not find them35 She said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is upon me.” So he searched but did not find the household idols.

36 Then Jacob became angry and contended with Laban; and Jacob said to Laban, “What is my transgression? What is my sin that you have hotly pursued me? 37 Though you have felt through all my goods, what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two. 38 These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried, nor have I eaten the rams of your flocks. 39 That which was torn of beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it myself. You required it of my hand whether stolen by day or stolen by night.40 Thus I was: by day the heat consumed me and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes. 41 These twenty years I have been in your house; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters and six years for your flock, and you changed my wages ten times.42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had not been for me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the toil of my hands, so He rendered judgment last night.”

The Covenant of Mizpah

43 Then Laban replied to Jacob, “The daughters are my daughters, and the children are my children, and the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine. But what can I do this day to these my daughters or to their children whom they have borne? 44 So now come, let us make a covenant, you and I, and let it be a witness between you and me.” 45 Then Jacob took a stone and set it up as a pillar. 46 Jacob said to his kinsmen, “Gather stones.” So they took stones and made a heap, and they ate there by the heap. 47 Now Laban called it Jegar-sahadutha, but Jacob called it Galeed. 48 Laban said, “This heap is a witness between you and me this day.” Therefore it was named Galeed, 49 and Mizpah, for he said, “May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other.50 If you mistreat my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no man is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.” 51 Laban said to Jacob, “Behold this heap and behold the pillar which I have set between you and me. 52 This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass by this heap to you for harm, and you will not pass by this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. 53 The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac. 54 Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his kinsmen to the meal; and they ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain. 55 Early in the morning Laban arose, and kissed his sons and his daughters and blessed them. Then Laban departed and returned to his place.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

Satisfaction Guaranteed?

Genesis 30.

Another day in the drama which is Jacob’s life…his love-at-first-site romance with Rachel has turned into a complicated soap opera where relationships serve only to further the selfish ambitions of the actors involved.

Each of the major players (Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Laban) are looking for satisfaction…we could call it meaning or significance or fulfillment…whatever. They are pursuing things, relationships, that they believe will give them satisfaction. And like a mirage, the closer they get to it, the less satisfying it is. The story feels very earthy with nary a mention of God. Everything seems very ordinary. And we’re tempted to ask the same question we asked last week, “Where is God in all this mess?” He’s still at work… through the mess…to bring about His purposes.

Even in the ordinary, the extraordinary is going on. We see God’s extraordinary grace at work in the provision of twelve children. He even remembers Rachel. Each child is a gift from the LORD. We see His extraordinary grace at work in providing exceedingly for Jacob to the chagrin of Laban. We see His extraordinary grace at work because through this very messy situation He will bring about the nation of Israel who will carry forward His redemptive purposes. Our day-to-day activities may seem very ordinary, but when God is at work it’s always extraordinary.

Jacob and crew are neck deep in the mess that they’ve created…many of us are in the same boat. We are neck deep in the messes we’ve created. Can’t blame anyone else. Some of us are still looking for satisfaction in things or people that cannot satisfy…anytime we attempt to find fulfillment, satisfaction, meaning in life apart from a relationship with Jesus, it’s a mirage. It’s destined to bring disappointment, despair, depression. Just ask Robin Williams. World famous comedian. Academy award-winning actor. All around good guy…but it wasn’t enough. Any pursuit that doesn’t have a kingdom focus…“seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”…will leave you empty. But one that starts there…“and all these things will be added to you” satisfies at a soul level. You may feel like you’ve blown up your life, made such a mess of things that you wonder whether or not there is hope this side of eternity. The good news…there is. God is not done. He’s not done with Jacob’s story, and He’s not done with ours. He can and does work through our messes. Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Laban. His grace abounds. And we can experience His grace knowing His amazing love for us.

May we be a people, who, in the midst of our messes, is able to trust Jesus to work through our messes to bring about the incredible destiny He has for us, and may that spur us on to love and good deeds, finding satisfaction in Him and loving in crazy ways.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

August 23 – Weekend Passage

Genesis 30

 

The Sons of Jacob

30 Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.” Then Jacob’s anger burned against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” She said, “Here is my maid Bilhah, go in to her that she may bear on my knees, that through her I too may have children.” So she gave him her maid Bilhah as a wife, and Jacob went in to her. Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me, and has indeed heard my voice and has given me a son.” Therefore she named him Dan. Rachel’s maid Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. So Rachel said, “With mighty wrestlings I have wrestled with my sister, and I have indeed prevailed.” And she named him Naphtali.

When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took her maid Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “How fortunate!” So she named him Gad. 12 Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah said, “Happy am I! For women will call me happy.” So she named him Asher.

14 Now in the days of wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.” 15 But she said to her, “Is it a small matter for you to take my husband? And would you take my son’s mandrakes also?” So Rachel said, “Therefore he may lie with you tonight in return for your son’s mandrakes.” 16 When Jacob came in from the field in the evening, then Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. 17 God gave heed to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Then Leah said, “God has given me my wages because I gave my maid to my husband.” So she named him Issachar. 19 Leah conceived again and bore a sixth son to Jacob. 20 Then Leah said, “God has endowed me with a good gift; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.” So she named him Zebulun. 21 Afterward she bore a daughter and named her Dinah.

22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb. 23 So she conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.” 24 She named him Joseph, saying, “May the Lord give me another son.”

Jacob Prospers

25 Now it came about when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my own country. 26 Give me my wives and my children for whom I have served you, and let me depart; for you yourself know my service which I have rendered you.” 27 But Laban said to him, “If now it pleases you, stay with me; I have divined that the Lord has blessed me on your account.” 28 He continued, “Name me your wages, and I will give it.” 29 But he said to him, “You yourself know how I have served you and how your cattle have fared with me. 30 For you had little before I came and it has increased to a multitude, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I turned. But now, when shall I provide for my own household also?” 31 So he said, “What shall I give you?” And Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this one thing for me, I will again pasture and keep your flock: 32 let me pass through your entire flock today, removing from there every speckled and spotted sheep and every black one among the lambs and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and such shall be my wages. 33 So my honesty will answer for me later, when you come concerning my wages. Every one that is not speckled and spotted among the goats and black among the lambs, if found with me, will be considered stolen.” 34 Laban said, “Good, let it be according to your word.” 35 So he removed on that day the striped and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats, every one with white in it, and all the black ones among the sheep, and gave them into the care of his sons. 36 And he put a distance of three days’ journey between himself and Jacob, and Jacob fed the rest of Laban’s flocks.

37 Then Jacob took fresh rods of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white stripes in them, exposing the white which was in the rods. 38 He set the rods which he had peeled in front of the flocks in the gutters, even in the watering troughs, where the flocks came to drink; and they mated when they came to drink. 39 So the flocks mated by the rods, and the flocks brought forth striped, speckled, and spotted. 40 Jacob separated the lambs, and made the flocks face toward the striped and all the black in the flock of Laban; and he put his own herds apart, and did not put them with Laban’s flock. 41 Moreover, whenever the stronger of the flock were mating, Jacob would place the rods in the sight of the flock in the gutters, so that they might mate by the rods; 42 but when the flock was feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger Jacob’s. 43 So the man became exceedingly prosperous, and had large flocks and female and male servants and camels and donkeys.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)

Looking for Love

Genesis 29

In this tangled tale of romance, lies, deceit, love at first sight, spurned affections, costly misguided pursuits…it’s easy to ask, “Where is God in all this mess? Is He still in control?”

This story should serve as a warning for us who claim to follow Jesus of what happens when we live as if His presence and His prerogative have no impact on and really have no business in our lives. We live in the here and now with no thought of eternity. The daily pressures of life have pushed out any sense of connection to the God of the universe. We are missing out on the incredible destiny He has in store for us. A destiny He wants us to realize every day…to play a part in His redemptive plan for the nations, to impact the valley for His kingdom.

So where is God in all this mess? He is still seated on the throne. He is still working out His purposes…even in situations where our bad choices would seem to threaten them. Jacob is at the right place at the right time to be introduced to his kinsman. Although not his choice, God provides the right girl on his wedding night. He doesn’t override Jacob’s decisions…he allows him to make mistakes and reap the consequences. [God is not mocked…we reap what we sow.] God’s presence is evident in His orchestration of events, His love and grace are demonstrated in the boys He gives to an unwanted wife, seeking Leah’s affections as earnestly as she did Jacob’s.

And in our mess…when the world seems to be breaking apart at the seams – war in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Ebola outbreak in Africa, border challenges, unrest in Missouri, the unthinkable in a nearby church, not to mention our own struggles with health or finances or safety or whatever…God is still on His throne. He hasn’t lost control of His world, but He’s allowed us to make our foolish decisions, starting with our initial defiance. Wanting to write Him out of the script, we face the consequences of our own sin and rebellion. But God is still at work. He’s able to bring about His purposes in spite of our transgression. His presence is still with us. His love and grace demonstrated in His relentless pursuit of us…pictured so perfectly on the cross, price was no object in securing what He desired.

So whether you feel like you’ve been duped like Jacob, spurned like Leah, pursued like Rachel or came out on top like Laban, the gospel is good news for you. God’s not done. He delights to bring life from death, order from chaos, beauty from ashes, to restore what the locust has eaten. He’s a God who can and wants to transform your life.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

August 16 – Weekend Passage

Genesis 29

Jacob Meets Rachel

29 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the sons of the east. He looked, and saw a well in the field, and behold, three flocks of sheep were lying there beside it, for from that well they watered the flocks. Now the stone on the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, they would then roll the stone from the mouth of the well and water the sheep, and put the stone back in its place on the mouth of the well.

Jacob said to them, “My brothers, where are you from?” And they said, “We are from Haran.” He said to them, “Do you know Laban the son of Nahor?” And they said, “We know him.” And he said to them, “Is it well with him?” And they said, “It is well, and here is Rachel his daughter coming with the sheep.” He said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.” But they said, “We cannot, until all the flocks are gathered, and they roll the stone from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep.”

While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. 10 When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. 11 Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted his voice and wept. 12 Jacob told Rachel that he was a relative of her father and that he was Rebekah’s son, and she ran and told her father.

13 So when Laban heard the news of Jacob his sister’s son, he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Then he related to Laban all these things. 14 Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh.” And he stayed with him a month.

15 Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” 16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face. 18 Now Jacob loved Rachel, so he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” 19 Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than to give her to another man; stay with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.

Laban’s Treachery

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, for my time is completed, that I may go in to her.” 22 Laban gathered all the men of the place and made a feast. 23 Now in the evening he took his daughter Leah, and brought her to him; and Jacob went in to her. 24 Laban also gave his maid Zilpah to his daughter Leah as a maid. 25 So it came about in the morning that, behold, it was Leah! And he said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served with you? Why then have you deceived me?” 26 But Laban said, “It is not the practice in our place to marry off the younger before the firstborn. 27 Complete the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you shall serve with me for another seven years.” 28 Jacob did so and completed her week, and he gave him his daughter Rachel as his wife. 29 Laban also gave his maid Bilhah to his daughter Rachel as her maid. 30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and indeed he loved Rachel more than Leah, and he served with Laban for another seven years.

31 Now the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. 32 Leah conceived and bore a son and named him Reuben, for she said, “Because the Lord has seen my affliction; surely now my husband will love me.” 33 Then she conceived again and bore a son and said, “Because the Lord has heard that I am unloved, He has therefore given me this son also.” So she named him Simeon. 34 She conceived again and bore a son and said, “Now this time my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” Therefore he was named Levi. 35 And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation (www.lockman.org)