Daddy blog

I started this blog when I was following the Life Journal Bible reading plan on YouVersion. (I've since completed that plan.) At that time, YouVersion didn't provide any way for people to respond to my notes, other than to "like" them. So this blog is here to remedy that problem. You may comment on my notes here in the comment section.
I also have a general blog.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Don't do it the wrong way, but when God calls, do it!


Exodus 2:11-15 Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?” Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!” When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.

Exodus 4:10-14 Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.” So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.

O: First, Moses was filled with zeal an indignation at the mistreatment of his people, but then he took the law into his own hands and had to flee -- human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. He then spent many years a beaten man, quietly in exile in Midian.

Then suddenly, God calls him from the burning bush. Moses balks, giving excuse after excuse, even when God gave him miracles to prove that He was backing him up. Finally, God gets angry with him and tells him that his brother Aaron will be his spokesman.

A: There are many lessons to learn from this.
  1. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. (James 1:20) Sometimes when I see injustice, I am tempted to use unrighteous means to deal with it. I must not do that.
  2. When God calls us to action, we must obey. Stop giving excuses.
  3. Even a great man of God like Moses was imperfect. Therefore, we should not let our imperfections prevent us from following God.
P: Father, help me to clearly see how You want me to deal with situations. May I not give in to human anger, but follow Your directions and commands.

Incidentally, there is this curious passage in Exodus 4:24-26. Why did God try to kill Moses after He had appointed him? And why did Zipporah's circumcision of their sun stop it? A popular theory is that Moses had given in to his Midianite in-laws' pressure not to circumcise his son, in spite of knowing that God wanted it. So before he could be God's representative, he had to take care of this, but he resisted, so God had to discipline him.

Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Joseph's blemish


S: Genesis 47:13-26 Now there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. So when the money failed in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence? For the money has failed.” Then Joseph said, “Give your livestock, and I will give you bread for your livestock, if the money is gone.” So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the cattle of the herds, and for the donkeys. Thus he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock that year. When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is gone; my lord also has our herds of livestock. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh; give us seed, that we may live and not die, that the land may not be desolate.” Then Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every man of the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. So the land became Pharaoh’s. And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end. Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had rations allotted to them by Pharaoh, and they ate their rations which Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their lands. Then Joseph said to the people, “Indeed I have bought you and your land this day for Pharaoh. Look, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass in the harvest that you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh. Four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and for your food, for those of your households and as food for your little ones.” So they said, “You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.” And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have one-fifth, except for the land of the priests only, which did not become Pharaoh’s.

O: Joseph is one of the few people in the Bible other than Jesus who seemed to have no sin. But if we examine the narrative closely, we see that he enslaved the people of Egypt as a side effect of his successful attempt to save them from starvation. Ironically, it also set the stage for the Israelites' own slavery later -- once people got used to the idea that the whole population of Egypt was enslaved, it wasn't too hard to go from that to the extra-hard slavery the Israelites would then experience leading up to Moses' time.

God did not record any reprimand on him for these things, as Joseph was a man of his times and didn't realize that what he did was wrong. But it does go to show that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Nobody's perfect -- except Jesus Christ. That's why all of us cannot earn our own salvation -- we all have sinned, we all need Jesus to save us.

A: Since we have all like sheep gone astray and turn to our own way, we need to repent and come to the foot of the cross for God's forgiveness and grace bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. Nobody's perfect, even wonderful people like Mother Theresa needed Christ's saving blood.

How do we do this? There is a short booklet available in many languages called The Four Spiritual Laws that summarizes this truth from the Bible. Here's the book in English, and here's the book in many other languages.

P: Father in Heaven, thank You for providing Your perfect Son to save us from our imperfection and to bring us to eternal life with You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Long Road To Freedom


S: Genesis 42:6-24 6 Now Joseph was the ruler of the country, the one who sold grain to all the people of the country. Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. 7 When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger to them and spoke to them harshly. He asked, “Where do you come from?” They answered, “From the land of Canaan, to buy grain for food.”
8 Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9 Then Joseph remembered the dreams he had dreamed about them, and he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see if our land is vulnerable!” 10 But they exclaimed, “No, my lord! Your servants have come to buy grain for food! 11 We are all the sons of one man; we are honest men! Your servants are not spies.”
12 “No,” he insisted, “but you have come to see if our land is vulnerable.” 13 They replied, “Your servants are from a family of twelve brothers. We are the sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is with our father at this time, and one is no longer alive.”
14 But Joseph told them, “It is just as I said to you: You are spies! 15 You will be tested in this way: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not depart from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 One of you must go and get your brother, while the rest of you remain in prison. In this way your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If not, then, as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 He imprisoned them all for three days. 18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do as I say and you will live, for I fear God. 19 If you are honest men, leave one of your brothers confined here in prison while the rest of you go and take grain back for your hungry families. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then your words will be verified and you will not die.” They did as he said.
21 They said to one other, “Surely we’re being punished because of our brother, because we saw how distressed he was when he cried to us for mercy, but we refused to listen. That is why this distress has come on us!” 22 Reuben said to them, “Didn’t I say to you, ‘Don’t sin against the boy,’ but you wouldn’t listen? So now we must pay for shedding his blood!” 23 (Now they did not know that Joseph could understand them, for he was speaking through an interpreter.) 24 He turned away from them and wept. When he turned around and spoke to them again, he had Simeon taken from them and tied up before their eyes.

O: It was a long road from Joseph's brothers throwing him into the well and selling him into slavery till now, the fulfilment of the vision God had given him of them bowing down to him.

He recognized his brothers, as they were pretty much the way they were the last time he saw them, while they didn't recognize him because he was so changed -- from a teenager in desert nomad's clothes, he was now a man of high authority in Egyptian dress. They were further flummoxed by the fact that he spoke only Egyptian to them, using an interpreter, so they didn't realize he was a Hebrew. (Incidentally, I've seen many adaptations of the Joseph story to video/film, and many of them good, yet not a single one of them showed Joseph using an interpreter!)

So this gave Joseph the opportunity to overhear his brothers' possible remorse about the way they had treated him. But he still wasn't sure, hence the elaborate test he laid for them at this point.

There was no indication that he received any assurance that everything would work out for the best all those years he spent in slavery and in prison. Yet Joseph remained faithful to God and that enabled him to be in the position he was now in, with his brothers bowing down low before him.

Even at this point, the Long Road to Freedom wasn't over. Joseph could have taken revenge on his brothers right there and then. However, that wouldn't have been continuing on the long road to freedom, for although he was Prime Minister, he still wasn't free until he could wholeheartedly forgive his brothers. So Joseph continued to stay faithful to God, and saw this through to the end.

A: As David wrote in Psalm 37, we should not be envious of the prosperity of the wicked. We should not let that keep us from continuing to be faithful to God.

This doesn't mean that it will be easy to stay true to God's principles  Even Joseph after his years-long commitment to following God found it hard to forgive when his brothers appeared before him. But he didn't give in to the temptation to get revenge. Instead, God allowed him to test his brothers so that it would be easier for him to finally forgive them, as we will see in the chapters following this passage.

The road to freedom may be long, but it is worth it. Keep on following God!

P: Father, when we feel unjustly treated, help us to remember that You are still in control. In Jesus' name, amen.

Picture credit: Avi Katz

Here's a theory about Joseph being the famed vizer of Egypt, Imhotep. (Note: I haven't investigated myself if his claims are correct or not.)

Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Making reasonable accommodations with people with different beliefs


Jacob and Laban setting up Galeed S: Genesis 31:51-53 (AMP) And Laban said to Jacob, See this heap and this pillar, which I have set up between you and me. This heap is a witness and this pillar is a witness, that I will not pass by this heap to you, and that you will not pass by this heap and this pillar to me, for harm. The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, and the god [the object of worship] of their father [Terah, an idolator], judge between us. But Jacob swore [only] by [the one true God] the Dread and Fear of his father Isaac.

(NET) “Here is this pile of stones and this pillar I have set up between me and you,” Laban said to Jacob. “This pile of stones and the pillar are reminders that I will not pass beyond this pile to come to harm you and that you will not pass beyond this pile and this pillar to come to harm me. May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor1, the gods of their father, judge between us.” Jacob took an oath by the God whom his father Isaac feared. Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain and invited his relatives to eat the meal. They ate the meal and spent the night on the mountain.

1. The God of Abraham and the god of Nahor. The Hebrew verb translated “judge” is plural, suggesting that Laban has more than one “god” in mind. The Samaritan Pentateuch and the LXX, apparently in an effort to make the statement monotheistic, have a singular verb. In this case one could translate, “May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” However, Laban had a polytheistic world view, as evidenced by his possession of household idols (cf. 31:19). The translation uses “God” when referring to Abraham’s God, for Genesis makes it clear that Abraham worshiped the one true God. It employs “god” when referring to Nahor’s god, for in the Hebrew text Laban refers to a different god here, probably one of the local deities.

O: Uncle Laban was a polytheist -- he did not follow the One True God alone like his relatives Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So when he made this treaty with Jacob, he invoked other gods. Jacob did not make an issue of this, but simply made his oath by the One True God.

A: We Malaysians live in a pluralistic culture and even in our own families as Chinese or Indian Malaysian Christians, we have people who follow other gods.

We have to make reasonable accommodations with them, while maintaining our own faith of following only the One True God. It is not winsome to throw our monotheism in their faces. We also see this example given by the apostle Paul, when he dealt with the Athenians in a culturally sensitive manner in the discourse of the Unknown God (Acts 17:16-34) and also in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

We shouldn't needlessly offend people who have different beliefs from us.

P: Father, give us wisdom when we are faced with these situations. In Jesus' name, amen.

Picture credit: I found the picture at Bible Lessons for Kids blog, but the picture is actually from Sweet Publishing under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Note: this is using the SOAP method. For more information, see this page (not written by me.)