GENESIS 33-50 & MATTHEW 21-28
Jacob has made it and is ready to return home to the Promise. Just one small problem, Esau, you remember the brother who vowed to KILL HIM. Yep, Jacob is going home finally and what lies before him is the consequence of his past sin. Isn’t that a bummer? Let’s be real, God can you just take care of all that mess I made please? Can you just make it all go away as if I never deceived, hurt, or stole from my brother? At last Im returning to my promise but the only thing Im facing is hardship and hatred because of THOSE THINGS I DID. Please, Im sorry, I was wrong, I understand now So, can you just FIX IT. Sound familiar? How many times do we find ourselves praying these same words? This is exactly what it is like when we are dealing with our past mistakes. We have these amazing encounters with God, He changes our hearts and attitudes about things and we bask in the glory of His goodness and teaching but want to run from the responsibility of making our wrongs right. Truth is that in the wake of our sins and bad choices we leave a trail of broken relationships and BIG OLD MESSES. Like Jacob, we run and hope that time will heal the hurt that we have caused or that the problem will just GO AWAY. Also like Jacob, on our way to our promise God will always bring us back to confront our past, to heal, reconcile, and speak a better word over our past so that we can move forward in our FUTURE FREE.The key for our life is to deal with things immediately. Deal with our mistakes when we make them. Seek forgiveness and freely give forgiveness on the spot. Acknowledge our mistakes, correct them, and fix what the problem was in the first place. If not, we will always face Esau because HE WILL always be the barrier between us and our promise. Now what I LOVE is that God met with Jacob and spoke destiny over him before Jacob faced down his past. THIS IS KEY! Allow the Lord to speak over you and remind your soul who you are. Your past DOES NOT DEFINE YOU but if you do not free yourself from it, your past WILL HAUNT YOU!
Jacob did not wait for a miraculous deliverance from heaven to rescue him from Esau. Jacob set out to make the wrong HE DID to his brother right. He sent caravans of gifts before him to meet Esau and said, These come in the name of YOUR SERVANT JACOB! These extravagant gifts to Esau were a way for Jacob to share the blessings that he stole from his brother. The Hebrew says that Jacob told Esau to please take the blessing that has been brought to you. In other words, I cannot give you back that which I stole from you but I can give you the fruit of that blessing. Jacob did all that he could to bring restoration, he sought the Lord for wisdom, he sent gifts to compensate for the blessing he stole, and he acted in humility toward his brother. In the end Esau received his brother and somewhere along the way Esau forgave. Maybe when he saw Jacob and his limp, Esau saw a cripple and felt compassion for his brother. Who knows what changed his mind. I just think, why did God put Jacob's hip out of socket. Never made sense to me. Sure when we meet with God we emerge changed but why physical ailment from THE HEALER. Then I think, Esau and four hundred men coming to meet the GREAT DECEIVER who stole everything from him that he vowed to kill and then in the distance Esau sees Jacob limping in complete humility. God works in mysterious ways and saves our lives in so many ways that we never even know about. Esau is so forgiving and invites Jacob to come and live alongside him in Seir but Jacob refuses his offer and moves on in PEACE. Pay attention here because this is important, just because reconciliation and forgiveness happens does not mean we have to continue in that relationship. Just because relationships are restored does not mean that we have to blindly trust again. It is ok to restore and place DISTANCE between you and the other party. That is wisdom. It is all a matter of the heart. Forgive, make things right and then exercise wisdom. Sometimes the best outcome for lasting peace is distance.
I do not have the time to even get into all of Joseph’s story. Man oh Woman every time I think of good ol Joe I bust out in song, DON'T STOP BELIEVING, yep some good ol Journey for the win. I mean if ever there was a life journey that lived this song it was Joseph! Again he is one of those men that I love and wanna punch in the face at the same time. His life is a constant reminder to me that I HAVE NO EXCUSES. I love him because he challenges me to TRUST beyond my natural ability that God never leaves me. I wanna punch him because he challenges me to not get bitter and angry over deliberate wrongs done to me but rather TRUST beyond my natural ability that God is in the middle of it all. Just a side note earlier in the scripture when Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, was born, mama wanted to name him son of my TROUBLE but daddy wanted to name him son of my RIGHT HAND or JOY. I think this is a perfect picture of our life with God. SORROW and JOY all intertwined together and all God ask of us is, you got it, come on, DON'T STOP BELIEVING just HOLD ON TO THAT FEELIN. Joseph understood this all throughout his life. He could have gotten real bitter at the jealousy and hatred his brothers had for him but Joseph understood that if you choose bitterness you cannot hear the words of the Father speaking forgiveness and love and you will relinquish promises. He CHOSE to trust God. Joseph could have at many different points of his journey gave into depression, rejection, and bitterness but he CHOSE not to allow his circumstances to dictate his life. Joseph had the ability to take any circumstance he found himself in and make it EXCEPTIONAL. How? He centered his life around the goodness and faithfulness of his God. See we tend to live in a place where we think we have certain rights and that our lives should be a certain way. Joseph had a heart set on the truth that regardless of where we find ourselves God is in control and has a plan. He understood that whatever his life looked like today, he had the great opportunity to represent God. Everything about Joe’s life was God centered so no matter what life brought hIm, he excelled. We should learn to trust God in every season of our life and stop trying to plead our case so much. In the end God brought everything full circle blessing Joseph all along the way. His life may not look like much of a blessing but God used Joseph to save an entire Nation. Genesis is rounded out with this beautiful story of Joseph and it is full of lessons but one of the greatest things we can take away from this is the truth that, No matter what life may look like, our God is always working just DON'T STOP BELIEVING….
Matthew is full of beautiful teachings and displays of the Kingdom. Jesus is in the business of not only TALKING about the Kingdom but WALKING it out for all to see. This is a very important key to living a life that speaks louder than our words. When it comes to our faith, we have to understand that what we do actually matters. We can say a whole lot and stand on top of soap boxes all day but if our everyday life does not back up what our mouths declare its HOGWASH! Ask yourself this question, Do the people in my day to day life, you know those closest to you, encounter the same man or woman that my mouth declares me to be? Or if Im really honest, Does the projection of myself differ GREATLY from my true self? These are hard questions to ask but GOOD ones if you are serious about being a representative of the Kingdom. In today’s culture a hypocrite is a dime a dozen. Do you know that a TRUE HYPOCRITE is someone who knows what is right but deliberately does the wrong thing and just SLAPS GOD’S name all on it. It IS NOT someone who, in their heart desires to honor the Lord but just makes a mistake. Hypocrites are deliberate in their actions and sadly are a dime a dozen. It is as old as time apparently.
Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.
Jesus was like HEY LISTEN UP my disciples, those who desire to be like me and live this life out to the fullest. The teachers of the Law, or the RELIGIOUS teachers, talk a good game but in their hearts it is a LIE. Listen to what they are saying BUT please for the love of MY FATHER, DO NOT ACT LIKE THEM. You see what we do actually does matter despite all the false religious jargon out there today. Jesus does care about what we do with what we learn. WHY? Because He wants us to be AUTHENTIC in our walk and TRUTH BEARERS in our talk. God is not interested in our show or our pretense of holiness, He is interested in making us like Him. He desires for us to show up and allow the REAL us to emerge so that He can speak into our reality and call forth our divine nature. It is in the place of AUTHENTICITY that God does His best work in us and others see the BEAUTY of our creator. When we are willing to embrace God’s word, not just repeat it, but actually allow it to transform us, we are walking art, living stories, a beautiful melody that people love to experience. When we are clanging symbols, bull horns, deceptive shouts that declare one thing but display another, people throw out their tickets and write bad reviews. God gets a bad name and people are pushed farther away from LOVE. Let us take a cue from our RABBI JESUS and purpose in our hearts to be BEAUTIFUL ART and not COPY CAT REPLICAS. You know the kind of ART that holds value because of it’s substance and creator rather than ART that may look authentic but upon closer viewing it is FAKE! Don’t know about you but when Jesus examines my life, I know He may see flaws, but I hope He holds a painting of my journey and says, “Thats my girl…real, authentic, faithful LOVE that did her best to honor Me and our Father…PRICELESS!”