Monday, January 31, 2011

January 31- The Passover Picture

January 31, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Exodus 12:14-13:16; Matthew 20:29-21:22;
Psalm 25:16-22; Proverbs 6:12-15

Exodus 12:14-13:16

Recently it has been reported that Facebook is the largest photo storage site on the planet.  Over 10 billion photos have been uploaded to Facebook.  Why do you think that is?  Well, it could be because human beings love images of themselves. We like to see ourselves and our loved ones.  We want other people to be able to experience us. Pictures represent our emotions and are a physical representation of who we are.  Pictures reveal our relationships. They reflect the people and things that we love.  It's like show and tell without ever having to do the telling part.

God loves pictures, too.  He wants representations of Himself and His emotions out there for the world to see.  That is why He implemented Passover.  God didn't use a camera.  He used a ceremony to picture Himself.  As Exodus 13:16 says,  "It is a visible reminder that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt with great power."

Passover is more than just an event showing God's power to free the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.  It is a picture of how Christ (our Passover Lamb) died for our sins.  Our sin kills the innocent lamb. As we brush the blood of his sacrifice over the doorposts of our life, death passes over us.  We are brought into eternity to live forever with God.  The bitter herbs eaten in the meal of Passover represent our sin.  The bread with no yeast is the body of the Lord, which had no sin in it.  The Israelites were to eat the unleavened bread, just as we partake of the bread of life which is Christ, who knew no sin.  Jesus is our Passover.  This ceremony pictures the Messiah, who would deliver the whole world from the bondage of slavery to sin.

Lesson:  Christ died to free us from sin. 

Have you partaken of Christ?  Have you eaten the unleavened bread of His sinless life, tasted the bitterness of your own sin, and brushed the blood of the sacrificial lamb over the doorposts of your heart?  Have you been set free from the bondage of this world?

Matthew 20:29-21:22

Usually conquering kings would ride into the territory they had conquered on a horse.  The horse is the animal of war.  Horses are uniquely designed to have courage in conflict.  They are also incredibly fast and determined animals.  Donkeys, on the other hand, are slow.  They plod along at their own pace.  They are considered pack animals that can carry the weight of the world. 

Jesus rides into Jerusalem as the King of the Jews on a donkey.  He is carrying the weight of all of the world's sin from past, present, and future on his sinless shoulders.  He comes in peace, offering forgiveness to those who hear his call. Certainly this is a clear picture to the nation of Israel that the Messiah comes in humility to earth before he returns in triumph for his earthly reign. In the book of Revelation Jesus is seen riding a white horse prepared for judgment and war (Revelation 19:11). It will be very different the next time he comes to earth.

But this time as he enters Jerusalem in this humble fashion, he gets a royal welcome.  The common people spread their cloaks and robes on the ground and proclaim, "Hosanna in the Highest. Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord."  This is a declaration that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah who saves.

Matthew points out that these incidents concerning his triumphal entry, clearing out the Temple, and healing people are all fulfillments of Old Testament prophecies.  Here are the Scriptures fulfilled:
  • Isaiah 62:11
  • Zechariah 9:9
  • Psalm 118:25-26; 148:1
  • Isaiah 56:7
  • Jeremiah 7:11
  • Psalm 8:2
Lesson:  Jesus came the first time in peace. We are in that time of peace. Next time he will come in jugdment.

Have you heard his call?  Do you claim him as Messiah?

Psalm 25:16-22

Rescue me from trouble, O God.

Proverbs 6:12-15

How can you tell who is wicked?  Well, here's some of the things the wicked do... they lie, make signs to friends secretly behind people's backs, plot evil, stir up trouble.  The wicked will be destroyed.

What did you see today?  Why not share?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

P.S.  Congrats!!!! You finished the month of January.  Don't give up now.  The story is just getting going.  Let's see what February will bring to us!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30- Never Forget

January 30, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Exodus 10:1-12:13; Matthew 20:1-28;
Psalm 25:1-15; Proverbs 6:6-11

Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world. 
~ Susan Lieberman

Exodus 10:1-12:13

As a young mother I found myself contemplating what traditions we would have in our home for special occasions.  I wanted our children to have a reference for what was important to our family.  When they were young, I created a construction paper tree that I taped to the sliding glass door in our kitchen.  I also cut out various colored construction paper leaves.  Each day for a couple of weeks prior to Thanksgiving I would hand the children a leaf and have them write something for which they were thankful.  By the time Thanksgiving rolled around we had a beautiful tree filled with colorful leaves representing all that we could thank God for.  It was a picture of our gratitude.  It was something to help the kids never forget what God had done for our family.


Today God is also creating a picture for the children of Israel.  The plagues were designed to be a life-altering reminder and an eternal symbol of judgment against following other gods.  God considers our intimate relationship with Him a marriage.  Egypt represents an adulterous wife.  She's been playing around with many men.  Let's just say, the bridegroom is a very unhappy!  Here are the final plagues:
  • Locusts-God mentions that the Israelites will be able to tell their children and grandchildren about all that God did in Egypt.  Gee, we are still talking about it today!
  • Darkness for three days- This would be a very scary plague.  Imagine the heaviness of no light.
  • Death-the firstborn male, both human and animal, will die.  Nothing is more devastating than the loss of a child.  This is the final blow to a culture that rejected the one True God.
God now begins the process of setting up traditions for the Jewish people.  From here on out, God builds a calendar for the nation of Israel.  Within this calendar there are days of worship and celebration designed to remind them of their God and what He will accomplish on earth throughout history. The celebrations and feasts are pictures of Christ and His work on earth.

The calendar begins in the month of April and the first commemoration is the Passover Feast.  This feast is a reminder of what God did in Egypt by passing over the homes of the Israelites when He punished the Egyptians with the death of their firstborn sons. We will discuss tomorrow how this feast pictures Christ's work on the cross.

Here are the rules for Passover:
  • Chose a lamb on the tenth day that will be sacrificed.
  • It must be a one year old male.
  • Sacrifice the family lamb on the fourteenth day of the month.
  • Take the blood of the lamb and smear it on the outside doorpost of your house.
  • That night eat the roasted lamb with bitter herbs and bread without yeast.
  • Have no left overs of the meat.  Burn what is not eaten.
  • Wear traveling clothes as you eat.
  • Wear sandals and carry a walking stick.
  • Eat quickly.
  • When God sees the blood He will pass over your home and not bring death to your firstborn.
Obedience to this ritual insured the life of the Israelites during this final plague.

Lesson:  God wants to have a monogamous relationship with you.  He gets upset if you cheat. He creates pictures and symbols to remind us of the truth about Himself.


What did you learn from this story?

Matthew 20:1-28

Here we go again, people.  Are you starting to pick up on Jesus' ideas?  Today he tells a story to illustrate the fact that..."the first shall be last and the last shall be first."  This story is of the man who hires workers to work his fields.  He hires people at 9, noon, 3 pm, and 5pm.  Guess what?  The people hired at 5 pm get the same wages as the people hired at 9 am.  What is God's point?  First, He's in charge and can do as He pleases.  Second, He determines rewards based on faithfulness (aka. faith in him).  Also, for the nation of Israel, the Gentiles who come later in the story are included in the family of God.  The Gentiles will be in the Christ's universal church along with Jewish believers in Christ. These are important lessons that Jesus wanted to teach. Jesus then reiterates that he will suffer and die in the future, but will be raised from the dead.

Next, James and John's mother provide Jesus with another great teaching opportunity.  She comes and requests that her two boys be seated at Jesus' right and left in the Kingdom of Heaven. I LOVE THIS WOMAN!!!!  What a great mom.  Of course, she wants a good position for her kids.  Jesus' response is that she really does not know what she is asking.  Christ is revealing to his Jewish believers that there is a kingdom program of which they were unaware. In their mind, Christ was going to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies of ruling on earth from Jerusalem immediately. Jesus is teaching that there is a mystery kingdom where his faithful followers suffer for his name and follow him in humility before the day of honor in his earthly kingdom. That is why he keeps calling it the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus will be ruling from Heaven during this mystery kingdom of the Church age.

In the mystery kingdom there is a different lesson: To be like Christ one must be a servant to others, rather than be a leader who lords it over others, and to receive honor in the kingdom of heaven one must be willing to suffer. Honor = Suffering in the Kingdom of Heaven during the Church age.  Jesus states that it is up to the Father to bestow positions of honor in the future kingdom of Christ's reign on earth.  Here is the Principle of Opposites- To be great, you must be lowly.  To have a high position, you must be a servant.  Jesus came to serve, suffer, and succumb to death, a death that he did not deserve.  He is our example of greatness. Jesus' humility and perfect obedience to God's will position him to inherit all of creation. We are to follow him in this.

Lesson:  Your behavior matters.  Serve others if you want to please God and be rewarded in heaven.  Be faithful where you are.

How have you served others this week?  Who have you put ahead of yourself lately?

Psalm 25:1-15

This is a wonderful psalm.  I like to circle the verbs, i.e. show me, lead me, remember, forgive.  I love verse 14 that says, "Friendship with the Lord is reserved for those who fear him.  With them he shares the secrets of his covenant."  This reminds me of God sharing many secrets with Moses, Daniel, and Abraham.  He is also sharing with you and me because this Bible is the book of His secrets revealed!

Proverbs 6:6-11

Laziness leads to poverty.

What did you see today?  Please share.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Saturday, January 29, 2011

January 29- The Plagues

January 29, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Exodus 8:1-9:35; Matthew 19:13-30;
Psalm 24: 1-10; Proverbs 6;1-5

Plague- N. A widespread affliction or calamity, especially one seen as divine retribution.

Exodus 8:1-9:35

Today Moses and Pharaoh play an extended game of chicken.  The problem for Pharaoh is that God is on Moses' side of this game.  Pharaoh is destined to have his heart hardened.  God is determined to judge Egypt.  Remember that Egypt represents the world in this scenario. Egypt is polytheistic and does not acknowledge the One True God of Israel. In this judgment against Egypt we see a foreshadowing of God's judgment of all who reject the way of righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ. In the book of Revelation we see a similar set of plagues upon the earth used to judge the wicked at the end of time (See Revelation 16). The plagues are a result of God's determination to judge those who hate Him. In this game we see that even in great suffering, some people will rail against God rather than turn to God in their time of trouble and sorrow. Ultimately, rebellion against God results in judgment. This game of chicken is a game that Pharaoh is destined lose. All who hate God are destined for judgment like Pharaoh and Egypt. This event is an illustration of a spiritual truth.

Here are the plagues:
  • The first plague is the plague of frogs.  I don't know about you, but I think frogs are kinda cute. Well, not really. This game of chicken starts with frogs. Pharaoh does not agree to let the Israelites go, so....here come the frogs. Pharaoh then asks Moses to pray for them to go away.  Moses prays, the frogs die. Pharaoh still does not release the Hebrews.
  • The next plague is gnats.  Aaron uses God's staff to stir up the dust.  It becomes swarms of gnats.  Same scenario on praying, ending, hardening.  No release of Israelites.
  • Flies are the next plague.  The process is repeated. (By the way, because the frogs died and because frogs eat gnats and flies, this scenario is very understandable.) Moses keeps praying for this hardened man.  God has more judgments in store.
  • Destroying most of the cattle, sheep, donkeys, and livestock is the next plague.
  • Next, God sends boils onto people. This had to be so painful.
  • Then, there is a hail and lightening storm, which leaves Egypt in ruins.
The only explanation for the Pharaoh not giving in, even after all of this destruction, is that God has a hand in Pharoah's stubbornness. Any normal person would have cried "chicken" by now.  God says in Vs. 16 that the purpose of the plagues is for His Power and fame to spread throughout the land. Egypt was a polytheistic culture that worshiped many idols/gods.   Every person in Egypt carried around amulets, idols, and superstitious objects in which they put their faith. This experience was God's way of judging that error. It was also an opportunity for people to turn to the One True God.

You may feel that this is a harsh thing for God to do. Remember that His harshness is a message to all people of all times that He alone is God.  To worship mulitple gods that truly are not God is to doom yourself to an eternity apart from the Creator.  With this in mind, the plagues could be considered a loving act, an urgent warning, and a sign of things to come for those who chose to ignore the real God of the Universe.

Lesson:  God is the only god in the universe. He judges cultures and nations that do not recognize Him as the Creator God alone. Even His judgments are an opportunity for repentance.

Do you have a personal relationship with God?  Can you wrap your mind around God using a group of people to teach a lasting lesson for all of humanity?

Matthew 19:13-30

The disciples are acting like a posse today.  They are "handling" people who get to close to the Lord. They want Jesus to act like a celebrity. In their minds he is famous and powerful. Let's see if Jesus buys into the idea of celebrity.

Jesus tells them to let the little children come to him and do not hinder them.  He does not need to be handled.  Their attempts to treat him like a rock star are thwarted by Christ.  He is humble and accessible to everyone. Jesus' actions condemn our culture of self promotion through social media and our worship of celebrities. It condemns the modern tendency to make our best and brightest mega church pastors into Christian celebrities. Even though he was God in human form, Jesus did not elevate himself above others. The lowly and humble were his "type".  Little children were worthy of his love and attention, although they had no power in society.

A man comes to Jesus, calls him "good teacher," and asks what he must do to get into heaven and have eternal life.  Jesus challenges him to acknowledge that only God is good.  Therefore, the man must think that Jesus is God.  Christ then lists some of the Ten Commandments and says that these must be followed.  The man, filled with either pride or ignorance, believes that he has never broken any of the commandments.  Knowing the man's heart and that the man has an idol that he puts above God, Christ challenges him to sell all of his possessions, give them to the poor, and then, come and be his disciple.  At this the cocky young lad becomes down cast and leaves.  Jesus found his weak spot- his possessions.  They were an idol to this young man. Are your possessions more important to you than God?

Jesus then explains that it is very hard for a rich person to give up relying on their own works and wealth in order to rely on God alone.  The disciples cry out, "Who, then, can be saved?" Jesus answers that with humans it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. 

Peter says that the disciples have given up everything to follow Christ.  Christ acknowledges that the disciples will sit on twelve thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel in the Kingdom of God.  Note that this promise will be fulfilled during Christ's earthly reign during the millennium. He also adds that anyone who has given up family, friends, or possessions in order to follow him will be rewarded 100 times over. 

Then Jesus confirms a spiritual principle found from Genesis through Revelation:  The least will be greatest and the greatest will be least. 

Lessons:  Salvation is only possible through Christ. Christ is accessible to all people. To be great in the afterlife, you must sacrifice in this life. Your sacrifice is tied to putting God first, rather than yourself first. Be willing to follow Christ at all cost.

Do you believe what Jesus is saying is true?

Psalm 24:1-10

This psalm asks the fundamental question that the young ruler asked, "Who can stand before the Lord?"  The answer is given, those whose hearts are pure.  This is only possible with God just as Jesus said. It is only through Christ's perfect life, sacrificial death, and miraculous resurrection that the debt is paid for our sins. Faith in Christ renders us pure of heart in God's eyes.

Proverbs 6: 1-5

Do not co-sign a loan.  That is not wise.  Do not be responsible for another person's debt.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Friday, January 28, 2011

January 28- Why, God?

January 28, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Exodus 5:22-7:25; Matthew 18:21-19:12;
Psalm 23; Proverbs 5:22

The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.
 ~C.S. Lewis

Exodus 5:22-7:25

Why, why, why?  Hey Big Guy, we are suffering here!  You have not rescued.  Things have gotten worse.  What are You doing?  Can you hear Moses' complaints to God? Can you relate to his anger at God? We all have the whys in our lives. Moses has his neck on the line as the leader who has approached Pharaoh.  Moses wants answers.  Here is what God says:
  • I am the Lord, but did not tell my name to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Vs. 2-3
  • I gave a promise to give them the land of Canaan. Vs. 4
  • I am aware of the Israelite suffering, and I plan to fulfill my covenant with them. Vs. 5
  • I will redeem you from slavery with mighty acts of judgment. Vs. 6
  • I will make you my own special people. Vs. 7
Moses tries to tell the people this, but they are too discouraged to listen.  This exacerbates Moses' insecurities in his own ability to communicate.  He gets angrier. God tells him to go to Pharaoh again and say let my people go. Moses protests,  "I can't speak!" God demands that he do it.

Moses records his genealogy to confirm that he is a Levite.  The Levites will become the priests of the nation of Israel. 

Now Moses gets answers to the "whys." God comes to Moses and says that He is going to make Moses like God to Pharaoh and Aaron will act as a prophet to Moses.  God tells Moses His plan.  God intends to harden Pharaoh so that God can multiply His miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt.  He intends to crush Egypt with a series of disasters as a means of judgment against them.  Moses was 80 years old at this time. This tells you that God can use each season of our lives for good. God is confiding in Moses.  Moses is one of the few people who gets to hear the "why" from God Himself!  This is amazing.

We now have a Mexican Stand-off of Miracles.  Moses goes to Pharaoh to make his request.  Pharaoh says no.  Moses does a miracle. Then the Egyptian magicians are able to do them, too.  The stand-off miracles are:
  • the staff turns into a snake (Moses' snake eats the magicians' snakes)
  • turns water into blood (the whole Nile river and all water that is presently being used), but so do they
Pharaoh's heart is hard as predicted.  One week passes and the Egyptians are digging wells next to the Nile to get drinking water.

Lesson:  This is God's story.  He picks the bad guys and the good guys.  We do not often get the whys from God immediately. There is drama and suffering.  There are protagonists and antagonists in His story.  He is a good story teller.  He is in control.

Where do you fit in the story of history?  Are you one of the good guys?

Matthew 18:21-19:12

Here is the million dollar question. Peter asks, "How often should I forgive a person?"  He thinks he is being generous when he suggests seven times.  Jesus responds that it should be seventy-seven times.  Why does Jesus say this?  Is that the real number? No. His point is illustrated in the subsequent story of the king who forgives debt.  We are all debtors/sinners in this story.  God is the gracious king who forgives our incredibly large debt.  We are required to forgive the small debts/sins that are committed against us as we act in appreciation for the forgiveness of our large debt.  Mimic God. Be like Him.  He forgives. So should you and I.

I am not suggesting that forgiveness is easy.  It is something done with total reliance on God.  Jesus gives us this story so that when we consider forgiving someone else, we focus on how much God has been generous and merciful towards us. He wants us to imitate His mercy. This is another part of being a Christian that requires obedience and humility.

After Jesus heals more people, he is asked (again by the religious teachers who are all caught up in rules) if divorce is allowed.  Jesus takes a teaching moment to go back to the Garden of Eden and remind them that the Bible says that man and woman were intended to become one flesh and form their own family.  As one flesh, they were not to be separated because God actually joins them together and sees them as a unit. They then bring up a contradiction. Moses allowed divorce in the Law. Jesus explains that this provision was because of their hard hearts/sinfulness. 

Jesus emphasizes the seriousness of divorce, except for in the case of adultery.  Jesus tows a hard line here. The disciples cry out that it would be better not to marry under such hard rules.  Jesus does not deny the truth of their statement.  What is his point? 

Marriage is a sacred symbol. Jesus is showing us that marriage is a dramatically important symbolic act.  It represents more than our earthly needs and desires. It is a picture of God and his bride (the Church).  Both are to be faithful in their relationship.  Nothing will tear God from his bride.  They are one unit in intimacy. 

Do you realize this about marriage?  Have you ever realized Christ's opinion about this? If you have been part of a divorce this is not designed to make you feel guilty. All of us have been touched by divorce in some way.  God's grace covers those who have been touched by divorce. That does not change the teaching that Christ felt compelled to give to the world.

Psalm 23

Shepherd's psalm.  Jesus is our good shepherd who leads us into God's presence.  Think back on Moses, the shepherd, being chosen to take his people into the Promised Land.  Moses is a type of Christ. Do you realize that Jesus puts up with our complaining and moaning just like Moses did for the Israelites?  Jesus will successfully bring his sheep home, in spite of difficulties and the evils of this world.


Proverbs 5:22-23

It is possible to be held hostage by sin.  You can die from lack of self-control.  Be wary about sexual sins.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January 27- The Reluctant Leader

January 27, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Exodus 4:1-5:21; Matthew 18:1-20;
Psalm 22; Proverbs 5:15-21

You must do the thing you think you cannot do. 
~Eleanor Roosevelt

Exodus 4:1-5:21

It's pretty much a running joke in volunteer organizations that if you miss the meeting where the officers are being elected, you will become the president of the organization.  Leadership is a tough assignment. A leader must have vision, patience, determination, the will to face obstacles, and the ability to shepherd people.

Today God asks Moses to become a leader. Moses is not thrilled. As a matter of fact, Moses protests persistently.  Here are his objections:
  • They won't believe me.
  • They won't do what I tell them.
  • I'm not a good speaker, never have been.
  • Please send someone else.
Moses seems to understand people. He is hesitant to put himself in the difficult position of leadership.

God's response to Moses' objections are:
  • He turns Moses' shepherd's staff into a snake.
  • He makes Moses' hand leprous and then heals it immediately.
  • He turns water from the Nile into blood.
  • He says to Moses, "Who makes mouths? I will help you speak, and I will tell you what to say."
  • He says, "Your brother, Aaron, is a good speaker.  He can speak for you."
God was not in the mood for Moses' protests and was intent on Moses being his chosen servant for this task. After these miracles, Moses agrees to the task. He asks Jethro for permission to take his family and return to Egypt. Moses makes sure to take God's staff.  He no longer considers it his shepherd staff.

God reminds Moses that He (God) is going to harden Pharaoh's heart so that he will not let the people go. God calls the nation of Israel his firstborn son. Note: Remember this picture about Israel being God's first born son. God then tells Moses to tell Pharaoh that God will kill Pharaoh's first born son because of his stubborn refusal to let the Israelites go free. Does God's sovereign intervention in hardening Pharaoh's heart surprise you? How do you grapple with God's sovereign hand in history?  Do you have the humility to accept it? God is in control. This does not always seem easy or good, initially. It takes faith to accept this.

Later on the journey to Egypt, God approaches Moses to kill him because he has not circumcised his son. Does God's anger offend you? Remember that circumcision was the outward sign that one believed in the promised Messiah and also believed that God would fulfill His promises about the giving the Israelites the Promised Land. Moses had neglected this very important ritual. We can only guess as to why Moses had neglected to circumcise his son. Perhaps he did not want to stir up controversy with his wife over circumcising his child. Remember that Moses was a foreigner in the land of Midian. He was a Hebrew and just as in Egypt, his culture and worship of God was different than the people with whom he lived.

The practice of circumcision was and continues to be very controversial in many cultures. Some cultures see circumcision as a repugnant mutilation of the male genitalia. It could also be considered a humiliation.  Zipporah, Moses' wife, circumcises her son in order to prevent the death of her husband. Her words reveal that she is not happy about this. Being a Midianite, circumcision was not part of her culture. She is not pleased with the necessity of this ritual and calls Moses a "blood smeared bridegroom." Bad day in the marriage. This statement by Zippora represents what many cultures do not accept about Jesus Christ. Jesus is a blood stained bridegroom. The humiliation of Christ's death on the cross is a hindrance to some people accepting Jesus' deity.

Does God's anger against Moses surprise you? Does God seem overly harsh to you? We see that Moses is being held to a high standard. As a leader of the chosen people who will bring the Messiah into the world, obedience to God is huge. Moses is learning an important lesson here. God is also showing us that Moses is not a perfect man. But Moses is a humble and teachable man and this is what all good leaders need to be, humble and teachable before God.

Again, God uses regular sinful people to do His work on earth, but they must be willing to learn God's ways in humility. Moses must learn obedience. You and I must learn obedience.


Moses and Aaron present the situation to the Israelite leaders and they are on board.  Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh and request that all Jews be allowed to go into the wilderness for a three day festival to the Lord. Pharaoh's response is, "I don't know the Lord and I will not let Israel go." No surprise here! God hardened his heart like He said He would.

This situation angers Pharaoh and he withdraws straw from the Hebrews, but still requires that they make the same number of bricks each day. Straw was a necessary ingredient in brick making. With their lives getting harder because of what Moses had done, the Israelite foreman says that God will judge Moses and Aaron for causing this situation. Proof that being a leader is tough! The complaining and conflicts have started. People are presuming that God is not leading Moses, but that Moses is making these decisions on his own.

Lessons:  God is sovereign. God expects obedience. God is strong when we are weak. God has the ability to harden a heart. God does miracles to convince people of His existence. Being a leader is tough. God's ways are above our ways.  Sometimes we don't understand the "why" in a situation, but we must trust God anyway.

Can you accept God's sovereignty?  This is God's story.  Do you like it?  Do you like Him?  What do you think of Moses?

Matthew 18: 1-20


I love the disciples.  They are so human.  As part of a small group, they have a very honest and typical question. They wonder, "Who among us is going to be the greatest in heaven?"  Power plays are the norm in any organization. These men are vying for leadership positions. Jesus is aware of this and yet he loves them. Jesus is aware of our sinful tendencies, too.  Here is how Jesus answers their question. "If you want to be great in heaven, do this":
  • Be humble (teachable) like a child.
  • Don't hinder a child or a teachable person from coming to belief in me.
  • Don't be a person who tempts other people or children to do evil.
  • There is a hell, so avoid evil and tempting others to evil.
  • If a person sins against you, go talk to them.  If they won't listen, take witnesses to testify about the problem. Avoid the person if they refuse to listen.
  • Gather with other people to pray.  I, Jesus, am present when you do this.
There, in a nutshell, is how to be great in heaven. This is how to be a leader. This is what Moses will learn as he steps into a leadership position for Israel. It is about humility and obedience. This, of course, is diametrically opposed to our natural tendencies to get ahead and step on the heads of others to rise to the top of the pile.

Psalm 22

I like verse 27: "The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. Every nation will bow down before him." Jesus will be the perfect, earthly leader one day. He will be the greatest example of how humility makes a person eligible for leadership.

Proverbs 5:15-21

Drink water from your own well!!  Share your love only with your wife.  We could say, share your love only with your spouse. The Lord sees clearly what every person does and examines our lives.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26- You Got a Problem?

January 26, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Exodus 2:11-3:22; Matthew 17:10-27;
Psalm 22:1-18; Proverbs 5:7-14

And remember, no matter where you go, there you are. 
~Confusius

Exodus 2:11-3:22

Have you ever had a bad day?  A day where it was just one problem after another?  No matter where you went, you were still there? This is what Moses is experiencing.

Moses is not happy.  He has grown up as an outsider in Pharaoh's palace.  His mother nursed him as a baby and Moses has always known that he is a Hebrew.  In his world, Hebrews are slaves.  As he gets older, Moses is no longer happy acting as if he is an Egyptian. His desire is to identify with the nation of Israel.

One day Moses sees a fellow Hebrew get mistreated by a harsh Egyptian master.  In righteous anger, he kills the Egyptian.  We are beginning to see that Moses is compelled to help those who are downcast and mistreated. He is identifying with his people and becomes distressed when he sees two Hebrews arguing.  He corrects them. They retort that he is not their leader,  and as a matter of fact, he is a murderer.  Shocked that this is known and afraid that he will get killed by the Pharaoh for murdering an Egyptian, Moses flees to Midian. Pharaoh did want to kill Moses because he had killed an Egyptian. It was wise of Moses to flee.

Now Moses has another problem.  He is a fugitive stranger in a strange land.  A kind man named Jethro, who has seven daughters, invites Moses to live and work for him after an incident where Moses once again helps those who are in need of rescuing. Moses helped Jethro's seven daughters when they were chased off by shepherds as they attempted to water their flocks. Moses not only stopped the evil shepherds and rescued the girls, he also personally watered their sheep.

Moses is a type/shadow of Jesus Christ. Here are some ways that Moses' life reflects what Christ would accomplish on earth.
  • Moses identified with and loved the nation of Israel.
  • Moses had a heart for the downcast and the poor of spirit.
  • Moses sought justice and rescued those in need.
  • Moses was a shepherd.
  • Moses will lead his people to the Promised Land.
Jethro, also called Reuel, gives Moses his daughter, Zipporah, in marriage.  Moses begins a new life in a foreign place. He is once again an outsider.

Moses becomes a shepherd. One day the Angel of the Lord (preincarnate Christ), after getting Moses' attention with a burning bush, introduces Himself to Moses as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This scares Moses.  God tells Moses that He is distressed at the treatment of the Hebrews. (So was Moses) God intends to use Moses to go to Pharaoh and lead the Hebrews out of Egypt and into the land promised to the Hebrews.

Moses protests that he is not a leader. God says that He will be with Moses.  Moses asks what is your name?  Who shall I say sent me? 
God says, "I AM the ONE WHO ALWAYS IS.  Just tell them, I AM sent you." Vs.14  (NLT)
It is significant that God defines Himself by this name. The Hebrews will now refer to God as YHWH or YAHWEH or THE LORD.  This is important because God is telling us that He is eternal, meaning He is the only thing that has always existed and will always exist. This is a hard concept to wrap your mind around when you live in the material world. Before the universe was created, God was.

In Genesis 1 and in John 1, we read that Jesus Christ shares this eternal quality with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus has always existed. The Bible is the story of how this eternal God came to mankind to restore fellowship and provide eternal life for His creation. This is how we can be in God's presence as His beloved family forever. This is the story of how that happens. Moses is a significant character in that story.

God tells Moses that he is to go tell the Israelite leaders that the God of the Hebrews is going to rescue them.  He is also to tell Pharaoh that the Hebrews need to go into the wilderness to worship for three days.

God prophesies that the Pharaoh will not let them go until he is under heavy pressure.  God is going to use the opportunity to strike Egypt and use miracles. Then God tells Moses that as the Jews leave Egypt they will plunder Egypt and receive freedom and new wealth.

Lesson:  God allows us to have bad days, even bad years and bad decades.  The Jews had some bad centuries in Egypt, but God's plan all along was to rescue His people from evil and take them into the Promised Land. He has the same intention for you and me. God uses the hard times to bring about His good purposes (Romans 8:28).  God knows the past, the present, and the future because He is the great I AM. We can rest in the knowledge that He loves us and is a God of justice. Our great rescuer will save us.

Do you have the patience to work through the problem days knowing that God works all things for good? How can you practice this?

Matthew 17:10-27


The disciples ask why the teachers of the Law insist that Elijah comes before the Messiah. Jesus confirms that Elijah does come before the Messiah and has already come and he suffered. This is a bit confusing, but Jesus is clarifying that Elijah does come before Jesus' second coming to earth before the end of time. For now, Jesus teaches that John the Baptist was a type/shadow of Elijah, who came to prepare the way for Jesus' first coming to earth. Jesus indicates that Elijah will be coming again to set everything in order before the end of time.

Most of the Jews at this time, including Jesus' disciples, are unaware that Jesus will be coming to earth at two different times for two different purposes. Although their scriptures indicated that the Messiah would suffer and die (see Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and Daniel 9: 24-27), most Jews only focused on the many prophecies of the Messiah restoring an earthly kingdom in the Promised Land (See Daniel 7 as one example of this).

After this, Jesus rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith and he rebukes a demon out of a boy.  Their lack of faith prevented their ability to help the boy. Please note that in the book of Acts, after the disciples have received the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus, they are able to cast out all manor of demons and indeed, they have the faith of a mustard seed to accomplish great things for God.

Jesus speaks openly to them again about his inevitable death and resurrection.  Peter asks if they must pay taxes. Surely he is thinking that with their great Savior in hand, he will begin to rule over Jerusalem as prophesied in the Old Testament and now they will not have to pay the authorities the Temple tax. Jesus says that in order to not offend others, they will pay.  Jesus is teaching that he does have authority, but the time is not right for Jesus to set up his earthly kingdom. That will come later. For now, his disciples are to not offend the order of things.

He has Peter go fish to find the money.  Peter catches a fish that has enough money in its mouth to pay both his and the Lord's share.  Jesus wanted Peter to have some skin in the game.  Jesus let some of Peter's effort be part of this miracle. He lets Peter act on his faith and see results. This is an important lesson to Peter and the disciples. It is an important lesson to you and me.

Lesson:  We are part of the gospel process.  Jesus is encouraging his followers to let their faith make a difference.

How has your faith made a difference in someone's life?

Psalm 22:1-18

Jesus quotes this Psalm on the cross.  If you have ever wondered what went through his mind and how he felt at his death read these words.  I am sure that King David had no idea that he was writing the words of his descendant, who would die for mankind.

Proverbs 5:7-14

Stay away from prostitutes.  Sexual immorality will cause all manner of problems including disease, loss of wealth, and loss of reputation.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

January 25- The End of the Beginning

January 25, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Genesis 50:1-Exodus 2:10; Matthew 16:13-17:9;
Psalm 21:1-13; Proverbs 5:1-6

"And the Lord formed a man's body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life. And the man became a living person." Genesis 2:7 NLT

"So Joseph died at the age of 110. They embalmed him, and his body was placed in a coffin in Egypt." Genesis 50:26 NLT

Genesis 50:1- Exodus 2:10

Today we finish the book of Genesis.  You did it!! You finished the first book of the Bible.  Congratulations!  As J. Vernon McGee points out in his bible commentaries, this book started with the creation of life in a perfect garden and ends in a coffin in Egypt.  The reality of all of our lives is that since the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, we all die as a result of sin. Genesis means beginnings and the beginnings of this great story show us how mankind faltered in faith and severed their relationship with God because of their sin. But God is faithful and His purposes have always been to restore what was lost.

For the book of Genesis to begin with creation of life and the material world and for it to end with Joseph, who is a shadow/type of Jesus Christ, dead in a coffin, is a great picture of what Christ will do in order to restore our fellowship with God. The price for sin is death. It is Jesus' death that pays the price for our past, present and future sins. The image of Joseph in the coffin will be followed by the image of the nation of Israel as slaves for 400 years, before being rescued and led towards the Promised Land. This, too, is a picture of how mankind is enslaved by evil.  Fear not, though, God is our rescuer.  Just keep reading, my friends! It all works out in the end.

The good news is that for those who love God and are called according to His purpose, our destiny is to get back to our own Promised Land.  The Christian life is a life rescued from slavery to sin, to life lived in the Promised Land of fellowship with our Creator. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to live in a spiritual land of milk and honey as God provides our every need. We are even promised a new heaven and a new earth for eternity (Revelation 21 and 22), where we will live in perfect harmony with God and humans.

But just as the Bible is the story of the Jewish people and their difficult journey to connect with God, our journey can be as sordid, twisted, and as in need of grace as theirs.

Before Joseph dies, he accomplishes the greatest act of his amazing life.  He once again acts as a foreshadowing of Christ when he forgives his brothers, who sold him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph's brother's were greatly afraid because once their father Jacob/Israel died, they were sure that Joseph would get his revenge. Certainly, they lived in fear of his great power to destroy them. But what they find instead is that their brother is a person of great faith, wisdom, and perspective. Like Christ who had the great power to destroy his enemies, but instead, prayed on the cross that God would forgive his enemies, Joseph forgives his brothers and declares that God had a purpose in all of the Joseph's suffering. Jesus knew that God had a purpose in his suffering, too. Joseph is a foreshadowing of Christ's wisdom and humility in suffering.

How is it that Joseph is able to forgive?

PERSPECTIVE

It is because Joseph can see his life circumstances in light of God's eternal purposes. This means that Joseph trusts that all things work together for good for those who love God (Romans 8:28). He knows that all of these trials served to test his faith in God and mature him as a person. The heat of persecution conformed him into the image of God because of his faith in God. Joseph's relationship with God led him to act with grace and humility.

In Genesis 50:19-21, we see the supernatural results of a life lived by faith. 
But Joseph told them, "Don't be afraid of me.  Am I God, to judge and punish you? As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil.  He brought me to the high position I have today so that I could save the lives of many people.  No, don't be afraid. Indeed, I myself will take care of you and your families." He spoke very kindly to them, reassuring them.  (NLT)
The trials in your life can serve the same purpose if you trust God in your trials and tribulations. Do you turn to God when life gets tough? Do you ask him to give you wisdom and perspective when you are suffering or do you blame God in your trials?  Humility in suffering is a sign of true faith. Let God mold you and shape you through testing. He tests you because He loves you and wants you to conform to the image of Christ. Jesus was humble in suffering. Through this and many other acts of faith,He earned the right to inherit the earth and rule the universe.

Lesson:  Our suffering is for a purpose. God will make something beautiful of the messiness of our lives. God's job is to judge people.  Leave that to Him.

Who have you forgiven through the power of God lately?  What beautiful thing has God made of your mess? What perspective do you have on your suffering?

Exodus 1 & 2

As the book of Exodus begins, the Israelites have become a mighty nation within a nation.  Their numbers are so great that the new Pharaoh, who did not know Joseph, decides to kill all Hebrew male babies under the age of two.  Please note that in the Bible infanticide and abortion as a means of population control are ALWAYS seen as evil.  More than that, it is seen as the height of evil. 

The godly Hebrew midwives refuse to obey the government law to kill infants.  As a result of their act of civil disobedience, the world received a child named Moses.  This is his story.

Moses is another shadow or type of Christ in Scripture.  If you remember in the New Testament, Herod attempts to kill all Hebrew male children under the age of two.  Moses' birth story is a shadow of what was to come.

Moses was put in a basket and lowered into the Nile river to prevent his death.  He is saved out of the water by Pharaoh's daughter.  Like Noah before him, who was also saved out of the water, this is a picture of Christ's future death and resurrection which saves us from judgment and eternal death.

In Scripture, water is a symbol of God's judgment. Water was used to judge the earth during the Great Flood. Water is used in Christian baptism as a symbol of death. As a person is lowered into the water in baptism, they are identifying with Christ's death and the judgment on sin that his death covered. As a person is raised out of the water in baptism, it represents resurrection and new life free from the judgment that has been paid by Christ's death. When we see baby Moses floating safely along in a basket, which represents Christ, in the Nile River, which represents judgment and death, we are seeing a symbol of the righteous avoiding the judgment of sin by resting in the work of Jesus Christ. Just as Noah floated through the judgment waters of the Flood in the Ark, which represented Christ, you and I can float away from the judgment of  God by trusting in Jesus. Christ will protect us because he has paid the penalty for our sins.

Moses' name means "drawn out of the water." Indeed, it is significant that this rescuer of the nation of Israel will be drawn up out of death into life by God. God arranges for Moses to be nursed by his own mother! God's provisions are miraculous.

Lesson:  God is sovereign and involved in the details of our lives.  Moses' life was a picture. Your life is also a picture that God is painting. How have you rested in Christ and been drawn up from judgment into grace?


Matthew 16:13-17:9

Today in the book of Matthew Jesus is ready to establish the foundations of his teachings.  Today we get to the bottom of it. 

Jesus asks his disciple who do they think the Son of Man is?  By the way, this name, Son of Man, is a reference to the Messiah (promised Redeemer Child of the world). Peter is the disciple who speaks up and forms the basis for the Christian faith. Here is Peter's confession in verse 16, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God."

Jesus commends Peter for this statement of faith.  Upon this rock/foundation, this confession of who Jesus is, the whole Church is built.  Jesus is the Messiah.  He is the one promised in the book of Genesis and through him the Serpent's head is crushed.  Eve finally gets her promised child.  Jesus tells them not to tell anyone this truth yet.

After Peter's confession of faith in him as Messiah, Jesus begins to speak plainly about the future.  He says he will suffer at the hands of the Pharisees and Sadducee's and will die. After three days he will resurrect. Jesus is stating what the picture of Noah and Moses portrayed so many thousands of years before. Although the Messiah's death is predicted in scripture (Psalm 22, Isaiah 53), the disciples do not understand this yet. Peter pulls Jesus aside to rebuke him for saying these things. Peter believes that Jesus has come to immediately set up an earthly kingdom in the Promised Land. He does not understand God's true plan.

Jesus has a blunt and harsh response to Peter's rebuke. Jesus calls Peter "Satan" and tells him to get away.  Remember, Christ's death is the key to redeeming mankind's sin.  Peter's suggestion is satanic in that it suggests that Christ not die, but instead take the earth as his kingdom without first redeeming the earth through his death.  Christ came to die.  That is his purpose.  Peter does not "get it," yet.

Christ then teaches some key points about being one of His followers:
  • Put aside your ambition.-Vs. 24
  • Shoulder the cross (be willing to suffer and die, this may also means dying to your will and living for God's will).-Vs. 24
  • Follow my example.-Vs. 24
  • If you try to keep your life, you will lose it.-Vs. 25
  • Lose your life and you will gain eternal life.-Vs. 25
  • Jesus will come in the end with the angels and judge every one's deeds -Vs. 27
Christ is teaching that humility to God's will is key to a life of faith and to receiving eternal life with God. Does this remind you of how Joseph approached life and faith?

Christ decides to pick three disciples in order to have them be witnesses to his eternal nature.  Peter, James, and John are given the privilege of seeing Christ's deity, while he was still on earth. Christ just said that some of them would live to see him in his kingdom. Peter, James, and John see what Christ will look like transfigured in his kingdom. On the mountain Jesus transforms into the pure light and energy that is his essence.  Moses and Elijah, two key shadows/types/pictures of Christ in the Old Testament, are present at the Transfiguration.

Peter, ever the leader with a great idea, suggests they build Tabernacles to worship and honor him. God's voice speaks and says this is my Beloved Son in whom I am pleased.  Listen to Him! Terrified, the disciples fall on their faces. 

Jesus, true to his merciful personality, tells them not to be afraid. When the three look up, Jesus is back to normal.  He tells them not to tell anyone about this until he has been raised from the dead.

Lesson:  Jesus is the Messiah. His death redeems the world. Death to self is to be practiced by anyone who follows Christ.  Humility is key. Jesus is God.  People who die physically still exist as evidenced by Moses and Elijah being on the Mount.

Have you professed Jesus as Lord?  Have you accepted death to self without bitterness?

Psalm 21:1-13

This psalm is a picture of Christ as the Victorious King.  He receives his heart's desire. His days last forever. He is clothed with splendor and majesty. He captures and destroys all his enemies. You, O God,  receive praise for Your Almighty power. Here is how Christ's second coming to earth manifests itself.

Proverbs 5:1-6

The immoral woman (prostitute or sexually active woman outside of marriage) is to be avoided.  Sexual immorality is a big deal in the Bible. Why?  Sex is a picture. It represents God's intimacy with those He loves.  He does not like His pictures defiled.  Sexual immorality takes one down a crooked path that leads to death.

Lesson:  Do you realize that your sexual behavior represents something greater than yourself? God thinks behavior matters. Your life is a picture. 

How do you apply the idea that you are in an intimate relationship with God?  Do you realize that your behavior reflects that relationship?

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 24- Deathbed Confessions

January 24, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Genesis 48:1-49:33; Matthew 15:29-16:12;
Psalm 20:1-9; Proverbs 4:20-27

Kathleen Murphy was standing vigil over her husband's deathbed.  His pale lips began to move, "Kathleen, I have something to tell you."  "Go to sleep, my dear," she replied, gently.  "No.  I have to confess that I slept with your sister, your best friend and your mother." Stroking his hand gently, Kathleen replied, "I know, dear.  That's why I poisoned you."  
~Irish Joke

Genesis 48:1-49:33

People say that if you want to know the truth about someone wait until you are at their deathbed. Today Jacob is on his deathbed and we see that although he started his life by grabbing his twin brother's heel and living his life deceitfully to get ahead by relying on his own strength, he ends his life by walking closely with his Creator, claiming God's promises, and prophesying about the future.

Jacob calls Joseph's boys to him and blesses them before he dies. Following the Biblical pattern, the younger son, Ephraim, is given the spiritual blessing.  Ephraim and Manasseh become part of the twelve tribes of Israel, rather than Joseph being one of the tribes.  This is because the tribe of Levi will be the priestly tribe and will not own land. This addition of Joseph's sons as heirs makes the division of the Promised Land still divided by twelve. 

Jacob then prophesies about the future of each of the twelve tribes.  I am only going to focus on his prophecy to the tribe of Judah.  Through the tribe of Judah will come the Redeemer Child of the world promised to Even in the book of Genesis. Here is what Jacob predicts:
  • Judah is a lion. Note: Christ is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Vs. 9)
  • The scepter does not pass from Judah's line.  All nations will obey the king forever. (Vs. 10)
  • He rides a donkey and is a king who comes in peace. Note: Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey. (Vs. 11)
  • Has dark eyes and white teeth.  (Vs. 12)  I love this!
Jacob requests to be buried in the cave in the field near Mamre in Canaan. This is where Abraham and Isaac are buried. Leah is buried there, but Rachel is buried in Bethlehem.  It is important to remember that Jacob is exhibiting faith that he will be resurrected from the dead in the Promised Land.  He then lays down and dies.

Lesson:  Someone's life may start out lacking faith, but God can work through a person and sanctify their spirit.  In the end, the person can be changed by God. 

How is your life reflecting sanctification?  Have you ever changed your ways?

Matthew 15:29-16:12

As we begin in Matthew today Jesus is on a hillside healing everyone. This is causing the people to praise the God of Israel.  Jesus feels sorry for the crowd. He is a man of deep compassion and empathy.  As a result, we have another feeding miracle.  This time he feeds 4000 people.  Have you ever been on a long road trip and there was no food available for miles?  Do you remember the desperate feeling of hunger?   What a great way for Jesus to show his love and the nature of his relationship with us by feeding our needs.  Food is the ultimate comfort.  Christ knew this.  It is also a great means of fellowship.  It is also a symbol that through Christ we are spiritually fed. He knew this, too. What a wise teacher, friend, and Savior.

Again we have the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to ask Jesus for a miracle to prove His deity. I don't know how they missed all these healings.  Are those not enough?  Jesus tells them that the only miracle he will do for their benefit is the miracle of Jonah.  This is a reference to His resurrection. 

Jesus then warns his disciples to beware of the false teaching (yeast) of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  They are confused by his use of symbols at first, but then they get it.

Lesson:  Jesus is our compassionate Savior.  He cares about our needs.  He meets our needs.  His words are the bread of life that sustain us. Beware of false teaching on earth.

Do you rely on Christ to meet your deepest needs?  Do you realize that as you study God's Word you are being fed spiritually? 

Psalm 20:1-9

May God respond, send help, reward your gifts and offerings, grant your heart's desires, and answer your prayers.  Verse 7- we boast not in weapons, but in the Lord our God. Give Victory, O Lord!

Proverbs 4:20-27

Words of wisdom bring life and radiant health to those who discern their meaning.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 23- Land of Goshen

January 23, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Genesis 46:1-47:31; Matthew 15:1-28;
Psalm 19:1-14; Proverbs 4:14-19

Have you ever heard the expression "Land of Goshen"? I have, and I have never known what it meant. Apparently, it means place of peace or a place where they believe in God. Today we will see that after all of the turmoil and the guilt trips they have experienced, Jacob's family finally settles in a place of peace called the Land of Goshen.

Jacob prepares to leave Canaan with his whole family and head down to Egypt to live with Joseph.  Before he leaves he goes to worship and sacrifice to God.  God shows up in a vision at night and tells Jacob to not be afraid.  God intends to be with Jacob and his family in Egypt and is going to make him a great nation.    A total of seventy family members (Israelites) settle in Egypt, not including the wives.

Jacob has an emotional reunion with Joseph, meets Pharaoh, and blesses the Pharaoh. The Israelites are shepherds, but shepherds are despised in Egypt. Pharaoh puts Jacob's family in charge of his livestock and gives them the Land of Goshen in which to settle. They will live in their own territory, separated from other Egyptians.

Meanwhile back at the palace, Joseph is managing a national crisis. As the famine worsens, Joseph's prior planning prevents poor performance. The plan to store grain in the abundant years ends up causing Joseph to purchase the whole land of Egypt, including the livestock, land, and people, for Pharaoh.  This is a complete power grab. Joseph sets up farming communities and they are to give 20% of everything to the Pharaoh. Only the priests are exempt from this law. 

Jacob dies in Egypt at the age of 147 years. He makes Joseph promise to not bury him in Egypt, but instead put him with his forefathers in the land of Canaan, the Promised Land.

Lesson:  Prior planning prevents poor performance. Joseph is an example of prudence and wisdom.  God is true to His promises. The Israelites are in a strange land, but God is caring for them.

How can you reflect wisdom and prudence in your life?  What promise of God's can you claim?  Do you live in the land of peace because of your relationship with God?

Matthew 15:1-28

The Pharisees come to Jesus and ask him why he doesn't follow their traditions. He counters with the question why do they break the Law and commandments because of their traditions. He calls them hypocrites and then quotes Isaiah 29:13: 
"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away.  Their worship is a farce, for they replace God's commands with their own man-made teachings." (NLT)
The disciples come and tell Jesus that he is offending the Pharisees.  Jesus says don't worry about it.  God uproots all bad trees.  The Pharisees are simply blind guides leading the blind.  Then the disciples ask for an explanation on how it is that one is not being defiled by what you eat.  Here is a very important new teaching by Christ:
  • Food simply passes through your body and cannot defile you.
  • Evil words come out of you and come from an evil heart.  This is what defiles a person and makes them unclean in God's mind.
  • Here is a list of behaviors that reflect an evil heart:  1. evil thoughts 2. murder 3. adultery 4. all other sexual immorality (sex outside of marriage) 5. theft 6. lying 7. slander
  • This is what defiles a person, not unwashed hands or the food we eat.
  • Jesus is subtly pointing out that everyone is defiled and needs a Savior. Following rules is not a means of salvation.
A Gentile woman then approaches Christ to see if he will cast a demon out of her daughter. Jesus tells her that he has come to the people of Israel only.  Remember, the prophecies are that Jesus will come to his own people first.  Jesus is fulfilling the Scriptures.

The woman persists saying that even the dogs get crumbs from the master's table. She is claiming his deity and exhibiting faith. Jesus loves faith in God and he loves persistence. This woman has both!  He commends the woman's faith and tells her that her daughter has been healed.

Jesus has compassion and although he is sticking with God's plan to go to the people of Israel first, he is demonstrating that God is the Father of all people on earth. His salvation knows no boundaries. Gentiles are grafted into the olive tree. (See Romans 11)

Lesson:  Defilement comes from an evil heart.  Jesus points out that we need saving. Jesus demonstrates that God saves all people groups.

Does your behavior reflect a good or bad heart?  Do Jesus' teachings comfort you or bother you? Have you accepted Christ's salvation in your life?  Do you persistently ask God for his healing and blessing in your life?

Psalm 19:1-14

The heavens tell the glory of God.  Everything in nature speaks of God's creative mind and brilliance.  God's laws are:
  • perfect
  • trustworthy
  • right
  • clear
  • pure
  • true
  • more desirable than gold
  • sweeter than honey
  • a warning
  • a reward
Vs. 14 "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O God." 

NOTE:  This is exactly what Jesus was just talking about in the book of Matthew. Remember that Jesus scolded the Pharisees for breaking the Law, but keeping their own man-made traditions.

Proverbs 4:14-19

Avoid evil people.  Wickedness is darkness and righteousness is light.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Saturday, January 22, 2011

January 22- Snuggies

January 22, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Genesis 44:1-45:28; Matthew 14:13-36
Psalm 18:37-50; Proverbs 4:11-13

Snuggie- (noun) A sleeved body-length blanket made of fleece material designed like a bathrobe, but meant to be worn backwards.  - Web definition

Genesis 44:1-45:28

Sometimes you read a story and you get a warm feeling inside. Maybe there is a character that you particularly love. Maybe the story is tragically beautiful. Whatever the reason, the story is like a Snuggie. You know what a Snuggie is, right?  It is a robe and a blanket all wrapped up in one amazing garment. Well, anyway, back to the story. When you read this type of story, you feel happy, warm, and peaceful.  Kinda like putting on a Snuggie and cuddling on the couch in front of the fireplace with cup of hot chocolate during a snowstorm.

Today's story is like that for me. Joseph's story is a Snuggie story. He is a tragic, kind figure. He is handsome and capable, noble and selfless, bruised and mistreated. Joseph is a picture of Christ.

Rather than recount the story, I am going to list ways that Joseph is like Christ. Some of these we have already gone over, but it is worth repeating. Here are ways that Joseph is like Jesus:
  • He is the favored son of his father.
  • He is mistreated by his own people and left for dead.
  • He is sent into the world (Egypt).
  • He is blessed by God in all he does.
  • He requires His people (his brothers in this case) to confess their sin.
  • He weeps over their sin and brokenness.
  • He tells his people (brothers) that you did not do this, God did this in order to save you.
  • He does God's will in a sacrificial manner.
  • He provides salvation for his people (family).
  • He forgives them their sin.
  • He tells them not to quarrel. (be at peace).
  • He fulfills a prophecy (dream).
  • His people proclaim...He is still alive!  This is a picture of resurrection.
  • His people bow low to him and worship him.  He is their leader and they follow him.
  • He provides for his people the best that the land has to offer. (A picture of new heaven and new earth).
Joseph is my favorite character in the Bible besides Christ. He is such a warm and fuzzy guy. May God give me the grace to develop the ability to love God and to love people the way Joseph and Jesus do. God, make me a warm and fuzzy person.

Lesson:  Love God. Help people. Get perspective on suffering.

Matthew 14:13-36

Jesus is sad after the news of John the Baptist's death. He goes off to be alone for a while, but the crowds follow him.  He is ruled by his compassion for others, so he stays with them and does miracles. Finally, he provides for the crowd (remember how Joseph provided) by doing the 5 loaves and 2 fish miracle. After that, he walks on water and scolds Peter for not having enough faith to stay up on the water with him.

After the water walking incident, the disciples worship and tell him, "You really are the Son of God!" Jesus heals EVERYONE that needs healing and seeks the Messiah's help by coming to him. If you seek him, you will find him, if you seek him with your whole heart.

Do you need something healed in your life?  Have you gone to Jesus with your pain and suffering? 

Lesson:  Jesus controls the universe.  He is able to heal you.  He allows pain and suffering for a variety of reasons. Jesus also experienced pain, suffering, betrayal, rejection, dysfunction, and death. He could have avoided it, but he chose not to. Suffering is important. It is a process. Jesus can relate to your life and give you perspective on your suffering. THIS IS ONE OF THE MAIN POINTS OF THE BIBLE.

Psalm 18:37-50

Here is a psalm about warrior Jesus, who will defeat his enemies in the end.

Proverbs 4:11-13

If you live a wise life, you won't stumble when you run.  (Although I hate to run, I like this illustration.)

What did you notice today?  I want to hear from you.

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Friday, January 21, 2011

January 21- The Guilt Trip

January 21, 2011

Scripture Readings:
Genesis 42:18-43:34; Matthew 13:47-14:12
Psalm 18:16-36; Proverbs 4:7-10

Out damn'd spot...Who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him?
 ~Lady Macbeth

Genesis 42:18-43:34

Have you ever done something wrong and then felt guilty about it? In Shakespeare's famous play Macbeth, Lady Macbeth derides her husband for feeling guilty for murdering King Duncan in order to secure the throne, but later while sleep walking through the castle she sleep talks and reveals that she, too, is plagued with guilt over their sin.

In today's reading Joseph's brothers are plagued with guilt over what they did in the past to their brother.  Having gone to Egypt in order to buy grain for their family, Joseph speaks harshly to them and tells them that he will keep one of the brothers while the rest go back to their home to retrieve the youngest brother.

Joseph overhears as the brothers talk in their native tongue about why this is happening to them.  They say that it is because of what they did to their brother Joseph.  They recount how they saw his terror and anguish and heard his pleadings, and yet did nothing to help him.  They are remorseful and guilty.  Joseph is overcome with emotion and leaves the room to cry.  The wounds are deep from this abusive situation.


Joseph comes back and announces that he will keep Simeon, but the brothers should not return unless they have the younger brother Benjamin.  They pay for some grain to get home, but Joseph has the money put back in their sacks.  The brothers leave on their guilt trip.


At home Jacob refuses to let Benjamin leave.  Time passes and they are all starving, so Jacob relents and allows Benjamin to go to Egypt.  Both Reuben and Judah, out of guilt, offer to sacrifice their sons or themselves if anything happens to Benjamin.  Jacob is resolved that even if he never sees Benjamin or Simeon again, he will bear the anguish of the loss.  He prays that God Almighty will have mercy on them.  He also advises that they take gifts to the governor in Egypt. Here we go on another guilt trip back to Egypt.

Once they are back in Egypt, the brothers are fearful when they learn that they will be eating with Joseph.  They bow low before him and offer their gifts.  Joseph asks about their father and then sees Benjamin, gives him a blessing, and rushes out of the room overcome with emotion.

The brothers are shocked when they are seated in order of age at the table and Benjamin is given five times the amount of food than the others.  Joseph does not eat with them because Egyptians despise Hebrews. They feast and drink, freely.

How would you treat your siblings if they had thrown you in a pit, ignored your cries for help and then sold you into slavery? 

Lesson:  Joseph is one of the most Christ-like figures in the Bible.  If I had one millionth of the grace, faith, wisdom, courage to feel sad,  and perspective that Joseph had I would be a fortunate person.

Matthew 13:47-14:12

In this final parable Jesus once again pictures the Kingdom of Heaven as a fish net that drags in both good and bad fish.  They are separated at the end of the age by the angels who throw the ungodly into the fire. With this final parable Jesus asks the disciples if they understand.  They say that they do.

Back in his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus goes to teach in the synagogue.  The local townspeople ask, "Isn't that Mary's son?"  They also wonder aloud what makes him so great. This is a sarcastic statement.

Jesus tells them that a prophet is never honored in his own town or in his own family.  As a result of the lack of faith in Nazareth, Jesus does very few miracle there.  Notice how Jesus is not phased when people do not believe in Him.  He simply moves on.  His parables have indicated that everything will be settled at the end of time.  No reason to freak out now. He has perspective.

John the Baptist has been beheaded by Herod, who was trying to impress his guests at a banquet and promises to give Herodias' daughter whatever she requests.  She requests John's head on a platter.  Herod obviously feels guilty about having beheaded John.  He is now concerned that Jesus is a reincarnated John the Baptist who has come back to haunt him.

Psalm 18:16-36

Christ is blameless.  All the Lord's promises prove true.  This is good to remember when listening to Jesus'  parables. This psalm also gives perspective on how the wicked will be punished in the end. Remember that the bad fish will be separated from the good fish and be burned.

Proverbs 4: 7-10

Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do.

What did you notice today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

Thursday, January 20, 2011

January 20- The Weird Dream

January 20, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Genesis 41:17-42:17; Matthew 13:24-46;
Psalm 18:1-15; Proverbs 4:1-6

Genesis 41:17-42:17

When I was a kid there was a period of time during my childhood when I had a recurring bad dream.  In my dream I saw a young girl from behind walking down a side walk. The grey of the cement was very stark, the green grass next to the sidewalk was very intense, and the silence of the air was thick.  All of a sudden in my dream there is an atomic explosion and the world ends.  I would always get up after my dream and run into my parents' bedroom and jump into their bed.  My poor parents! This happened repeatedly during one year.  The only thing scarier than my dream was my dad's hairy legs once I jumped into their bed.

Today in our reading Pharaoh has a repeated dream.  Joseph, through God's power, is able to interpret the dream and predict seven years of abundance for Egypt and seven years of severe famine for the region.  It is decided that they should have a national program to collect 20% of all crops during the good years to store so that food will be available during the years of famine. Joseph tells the Pharaoh to put the wisest man in charge of the program.  Guess what...  Pharaoh decides to put Joe in charge!! 

Joseph is made the governor of Egypt and is second only to the Pharaoh.  Pharaoh gives Joseph an Egyptian wife and renames Joseph, Zaphenath-paneah.  Boy, that's a mouth full, but it speaks volumes to how Joseph's life has been a witness to the One True God.  This long name means "God speaks and lives."
What a huge statement from the Pharaoh of Egypt!

Lesson: My life should testify to the greatness of the One Who created me.  People should know that God speaks and lives because of how I live my life.

How are you proving that God speaks and lives with your life?

Joseph has two sons from his wife and those boys names reflect both the suffering and comfort that God has brought into Joseph's life.  Manasseh means "to forget." Joseph says, "God has made me forget all my troubles and the family of my father."  Ephraim means "fruitful." Joseph explains, "God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."

Lesson:  God takes us through pain and suffering.  He does not necessarily prevent it or stop it. God uses suffering to develop our character. 

Are you humble enough to let God shape you through trials?

The famine in the land occurs and Jacob and his sons hear that there is grain that can be bought in Egypt.  Jacob sends his sons to purchase grain and they come before the governor of Egypt to bow low before him.  The governor, of course, is their brother Joseph.  They do not recognize him and have no idea that his childhood dream that his family would bow down to him has now been fulfilled.  Joseph recognizes them, asks about his younger brother, and throws the group in jail for three days.

Joseph is beginning to see the hand of God in his life in a new way.  God is slowly revealing to Joseph the reason for his suffering.

Lesson:  God has a broad plan for my life, too. I cannot know all the purposes at this time, but I can trust that God loves me and has a good purpose in all things.

How can you trust that God is using even the hard things in your life for a good purpose?  This takes faith.

Matthew 13:24-46


Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States of America.  Most children in America learn about honest Abe in school. Legend has it that he was mostly self-taught and learned to read by pouring over the Bible by firelight in a one room log cabin. Abe was known as a fabulous story teller.  Perhaps he picked up this talent from reading the words of Christ.

Today we see that Jesus was a tremendous story teller.  As a matter of fact, he spoke ONLY in parables in front of the crowds.  Matthew explains that this is a fulfillment of the OT prophecy from Psalm 78:2 that says, "I will speak to you in parables. I will explain mysteries hidden since the creation of the world."  (NLT)

Let's take a look at the mysteries revealed by Jesus in his stories today.

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares
  • Jesus (the farmer) sows the good seeds that create the Church/all believers (good wheat) in the world (field).
  • Meanwhile, the Devil (the enemy) sows tares/weeds (unbelievers and all who do evil) in the world (field).
  • The righteous (good wheat) and the unrighteous (tares/weeds) are meant to coexist here on earth during all of history.
  • At the end of time (harvest) the angels (harvesters) will separate the righteous (good wheat) from the unrighteous (weeds) and the righteous will be with God forever.
  • The unrighteous (tares/weeds) will be separated, burned, and thrown into a place with weeping and gnashing of teeth forever.
Sometimes, Christ teaches hard truths.  Do you have ears to hear?

Lesson:  Good and evil are going to coexist on this earth and even in the Church.  Only God knows the human heart.  He will separate out good and evil in the end. This is not my job. This is God's job.  There is an eternity of punishment for those who hate God. I can try not to believe this, but this does not change the reality.

The Mustard Seed
  • The Church starts on a simple premise (very small seed), the sacrificial death of Christ (you bury a seed) for the sins of the world.
  • Christ's resurrection results in the growth of the Church/invisible body of believers (largest herb in the garden/like a tree).
  • This Church (tree-like plant) will grow so large that evil (birds) will be able to nest in it. 
Lesson:  God will grow His Church on earth, but false teachers and false teaching will be part of the experience.  This is a warning by Christ for the people to realize.

Christ is no Polly Anna.  Do you have eyes to see false teaching in the Church?

The Leaven in the Dough
  • The Church (batch of dough) has evil (leaven/yeast) added to it by a woman (false prophet). 
  • The evil (yeast) causes the whole Church (batch of dough) to bubble up with sin.
Christ is predicting apostacy in the Church in the end times.

Each parable told by Christ is a warning to the apostles and anyone who has ears to hear that the Church on earth is going to always struggle with evil in its midst.  Believers will cope with false teachers, false teaching, and false believers right up to the end of all history. This is a new teaching, unique to Christ. These lessons are not found in the Old Testament.

How do Christ's stories affect you?  Are you able to discern false teaching when you hear it?  How about New Age Philosophy?  Do you think that fits into a false teaching category?

The Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price
  • The Church is formed by two precious things to God. The hidden treasure in the land are believers from the nation of Israel (the Jews). In the parable, the man finds a treasure hidden in a field. It is so precious to him that he sells everything he owns to buy the land that contains the treasure.  The nation of Israel is always symbolically tied to the land in the Bible. Here is a beautiful picture of those who believe in Jesus Christ from the nation of Israel may not be easily seen from the outside world. They are hidden from view within the land. Jesus is saying that among the Israelites, his true followers are like a hidden treasure. Jesus will sacrifice everything for "true Israel," those who follow their Messiah. His blood will purchase the land that contains the treasure.
  • The Gentiles will also be part of Christ's universal church on earth and the Gentiles are symbolically tied to the sea in Scripture.  In the parable a merchant is seeking beautiful pearls in the vast see. He finds one and then sells everything he has to buy the great pearl. Just as the land contains a small, hidden treasure, the vast sea contains one small pearl of great price. As part of Christ's Church, the tiny group of people from the Gentile nations who follow Christ are of great value to him. Christ gives up everything to purchase our salvation. Notice that a pearl is formed through trials when sand irritates the oyster causing a secretion to cover the irritation. It is the abrasion that forms the pearl. Trials also result in the beautiful character of Christ seen in His Church on earth.
  • Christ (the merchant) is seeking Gentiles to be part of His Church (choice pearl), as well as true believers from the nation of Israel. This is a beautiful parable.
We have been bought with a price, people.  We have been paid for with his blood.  Do you see yourself as a precious pearl in God's eyes?  You are. If you are Jewish by birth, do you see yourself as the hidden treasure in God's land?  If you believe in Jesus as your Messiah, you are, indeed, the treasure for which he gave his life.

Psalm 18:1-15

The Lord is our rock when our whole world is an earthquake. Lean on Him for stability.

Proverbs 4:1-6

Don't turn your back on wisdom. She will protect you. By the way, it is God's Holy Spirit who is wisdom.  Do you turn your back on relying on the Holy Spirit to guide your life?

What did you notice in the Scriptures today?

Blessings,

Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton