Old Testament In a Year: January 31 – Genesis 33, 34, 35

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Genesis 33, 34, 35
Focus Verse: Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” – Genesis 35:3

When Jacob fled from the wrath of his brother Esau, God saw his distress and answered him.

What has you afraid? What are you running from? Who or what is in your past that you want to leave behind? It’s probably not an angry brother. It might be a drug addiction or an eating disorder or an abusive relationship. Whatever has you in distress, talk to God about it. He will hear you and answer you. No stress, pressure, pain, or failure is too negative for Him to hear about, and nothing is too difficult for Him to handle.

Wherever Jacob went – from his father’s house to Padanaram, from Padanaram to Canaan, from Canaan to Bethel – God was with him.

Wherever you go – from your parents’ house to college, from college to an overseas adventure, from an overseas adventure to your first job – God will be with you. There is no place so secret, He cannot find; no place so distant, He cannot reach. There is no valley so low, He cannot journey through it with you. There is no mountain so high, He cannot climb it with you. There is no unknown so great where He will not guide; no depth so dark that He will not shine. Go anywhere, God says, and I will go with you. Walk, and I will walk with you. You will not grow weary. Run, and I will run with you. You will not faint. Fly, and I will fly with you. You will have wings like eagles.

Everything God did for Jacob, He can do you.

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Women of the Word: Judith and Basemath

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Jacob and Esau were brothers, twin brothers at that, but they were as different as hot and cold. One area in which they were different was in their choice of marriage partners. Jacob married the daughters of his uncle, Leah and Rachel. Later, he was also given their servants, Bilhah and Zilpah, as partners. Genesis 26:34 tells us that Esau married Judith and Basemath. Judith was the daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath was the daughter of Elon the Hittite.

Jacob’s wives were pleasing to his parents, Isaac and Rebekah. But Esau’s wives were not. Genesis 26:35 says that Judith and Basemath “were a source of grief” to them. Talk about a classic case of in-law discord. They were such a grief that in Genesis 27:46 Rebekah said, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women.” She was so disgusted with them that she didn’t want Jacob to follow his older brother, Esau, and marry one of them. Rebekah would not have considered her life worth living if both her sons married Hittite women. This is one reason why Isaac and Rebekah sent Jacob away to Laban. They didn’t only send him away to keep him safe from Esau’s wrath. They also sent him away to keep him from marrying a Hittite woman or any Canaanite woman for that matter. Before Jacob left home, Isaac explicitly told him, “You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.”

It should be noted that Esau later married another woman. When he saw that Judith and Basemath did not please his parents, he wed Mahalath. She was the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebaioth. There’s no word on how she fared with Isaac and Rebekah. But back to the women at hand: What did Judith and Basemath do to cause such grief to their in-laws? We aren’t told. But we can learn from them to live in such a way that we are a joy, not a grief, to those around us. Continue reading

Old Testament In a Year: January 30 – Genesis 31, 32

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Genesis 31, 32
Focus Verse: Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” – Genesis 31:3

“I will be with you” is a recurring theme in God’s communication with Jacob, his father Isaac, and his grandfather Abraham. It is also a message that He wants to get through to you. Wherever you go, God will be with you. Whatever you do, God will be with you. Whoever you face, God will be with you.

Because God will be with you, you do not have to be afraid.

He is on your side. He will do you good.

God overlooks your unworthiness to shower you with His steadfast love and faithfulness.

I will be you, God says, through the good and the bad. Trust this before you trust your fears. Do not merely repeat it as a feel-good cliché, but believe it as a promise that cannot be broken. I will be with you. Through times of storm and times of peace, through the difficulties of life and the drudgeries of life, I will be with you. Even when you cannot hear My voice or see My hand at work, I will be with you.

I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. Not for any reason – doubt, disobedience, pride, wandering. Not now. Not ever.

Old Testament In a Year: January 29 – Genesis 29, 30

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Genesis 29, 30
Focus Verse: So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. – Genesis 29:20

When you do what you do out of love, hard becomes easy and long, dark nights appear as short, bright days.

This explains why Jesus the Christ could do what He did for us. He stooped low so we could be lifted high, was shamed so we could be glorified, hurt so we could be healed, rejected so we could be redeemed, experienced sorrow so we could experience salvation, and was afflicted so we could receive His amazing grace.

His sacrifice was brutally painful. But it was joy, not drudgery, because of the love He has for us.

Pure, unselfish love. Love that was crucified on the cross and buried in the grave. Love that could not stay buried, but rose again. Love that ascended. Living, eternal love.

Old Testament In a Year: January 28 – Genesis 27, 28

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Genesis 27, 28
Focus Verse: Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. – Genesis 27:38

Your Heavenly Father is not limited in the number of blessings He has.

You don’t have to look at the blessings of others and wonder if your Father has reserved a blessing for you? He has.

You don’t have to cry or plead for your Father to bless you. He is ready and willing to bless you immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine. You may not be experiencing many blessings at the moment, but it won’t be long before you do.

Trust that your Father has an abundance of good things stored up for you. And the best of those good things is that He will always be with you and will keep you wherever you go. You already have the greatest blessing that you will ever receive from Him – the blessing of His presence. Your Father will not leave you – not now, not ever.

Old Testament In a Year: January 27 – Genesis 25, 26

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Genesis 25, 26
Focus Verse: Because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” – Genesis 26:5

You do not exist for yourself alone. What you do not only affects you, but it also affects those beside you, in front of you, and behind you. Your actions have a ripple effect with positive consequences or negative consequences continuing to impact others even after you are gone.

Consider Abraham. His obedience to God not only caused him to be blessed, but Isaac and all of his descendants were also blessed because of Abraham’s obedience. What’s more? All the nations of the earth are blessed because of Abraham’s obedience. What’s even more? You are I are blessed today because of Abraham’s obedience. Through Jesus the Christ, Abraham’s blessings come upon us.

What if Abraham had not believed the promises of God? What if Abraham had not obeyed God’s voice or kept His commandments? Abraham’s unbelief and disobedience would not only have adversely affected him, but also Isaac, me and you, and millions of others. One man’s belief and obedience paved the way for God to be with, bless, and multiply all of us.

So, before you doubt – believe. Before you act – think. Before you speak – listen.

You are not only believing, thinking, and listening for yourself, but also for countless others who are impacted by what you do or do not do.

Old Testament In a Year: January 26 – Genesis 23, 24

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Genesis 23, 24
Focus Verse: But he said to me, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked, will send his angel with you and prosper your way. You shall take a wife for my son from my clan and from my father’s house. – Genesis 24:40

God has brought you this far. You have walked with Him and He with you. When yet another impossible situation arises, do you think He will leave you then? Fail to make a way for you again?

No. The Lord who loved you, will love you still. The Lord who made you promises will keep each one of them; what He said He would give you, you will get.

He will send His angel before you to guide you through uncharted territory. Believe this will all your heart. Do not wait for the entire path to be revealed. Just take one step at a time. Trust that He will rightly lead you. It is impossible for Him to lead you wrong.

Believe that God will grant you success and prosper your way. He will. Believe that God loves you with steadfast love. He does.

Women of the Word: Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis

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Three more women who Paul sends greetings to in Romans 16 are Tryphena, Tryphosa, and Persis. Verse 12 reads:

Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord.

Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.

It is obvious what these women were known for. All three of them were hard workers for the Lord. As they were, so should we also be. Continue reading

Old Testament In a Year: January 25 – Job 41, 42

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Job 41, 42
Focus Verse: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. – Job 42:2

Nothing is too hard for God. When you recognize that all power and wisdom and majesty belong to Him, then it will be easy for you to believe that God can do all things.

Omnipotent is His second name.

He can do anything and everything. No one can stop Him. No one can prevent His plans or His purposes from coming to pass. This includes the plans and purposes He has designed for you. Not even your mistakes can prevent them from being accomplished in your life.

Whatever God wills, He executes. When God thinks, things happen. When God speaks, the nonexistent comes into existence.