The cast of characters in Genesis 37 shows us the nuances of personality types and the moral culpability of us all. These lead us to the sovereign grace of God and to finding mercy in Jesus Christ.
When we meet Jacob, we can ask him what it was like to wrestle with God. Except all of us at some point in our lives wrestle with God: some of us wrestle for our children, some for our marriages, some for our careers. Eventually, we have to come to terms with the fact that He is God, and we are not.
It's easy for us to think that only special religious places can be zones of access to God. But as Jesus taught us, his worshippers are to worship him in spirit and in truth. So even a desert road with a few rocks can be the house of God. God can even meet us in a dream on the road to nowhere.
Through the story of Isaac and Jacob we see that God blesses the world through broken individuals and broken families. That is encouraging!
Does God test us today? The word "test" has so many connotations. The truth is that we are constantly being refined by life and by God's loving fatherly care.
We come to the story of Abraham in Genesis and we find a command, a blessing, and then an action. The hard part for us is to believe that it is actually the case that to center our lives on God, to commit our lives to God, is indeed good.
Different cultures have different ways of greeting. This passage enters into some cultural issues. Behind that is a deep, Christian need for connection and community that we all long for.
We need relationships with each other. The greetings Paul has here reflect his friendships and his gospel partnerships. How do we have such relationships? What is the source of healthy friendships?
This true understanding of how God uses gifts from us to release fresh spiritual blessing into our lives is as old as the hills and as different from the prosperity gospel as can be.
We live in a time where some are very wealthy and some are struggling. We live in a time where much of the Western church seems to have a superficial spirituality. How much of that is due to our captivation by the idol of materialism?
There is an open door, and the name of that door is Christ. But in order to go through that door you can't be trying to go through another door too. Jesus is the only way, and there is a choice that has to be made. You may think you're losing something, but once you go through the right door, Christ and everything else is yours.
Baptism makes no sense if you don't believe in the resurrection. Baptism is a form of dying and rising to new life. There are those who hold to traditions like baptism or membership in a church as the things that save them. But what truly saves you is a living faith in Jesus.
Here Paul lists several spiritual gifts in a bit of a hierarchy. The key is the significance of the clarity of the gospel. The most important thing is that people understand it, so he lists the speaking gifts first. All of this needs to be understood in the context of love, submission to one another, and reverence for Christ.
We can become passionate in the church about secondary, non-essential issues without considering the damage that can be done by wounding the conscience of another Christian. We sometimes judge others who disagree with us about these things, and instead we need to have our passions rightly ordered around the centrality of Christ and the gospel.
We need contentment and rejoicing in what gifts God has given us, rather than wishing we had something else. Make the most of what God has given you, and know that it's all going to fit together in a beautiful orchestra according to God's design and His tune.