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Showing posts from March, 2018

Matthew 7:15-8:27 #eebc2018

This passage wraps up the Sermon on the Mount and includes verses that belong with Matthew 7:1. 7:1 is the well-known "Judge not, lest ye be judged" passage, but didn't say that in a vacuum. He also didn't just drop it as a one-liner. Instead, He preached that as part of a sermon that also includes Matthew 7:19-20 which tells us that we will know people by their fruit.The difference? Fruit is clear and evident, it's not a judgment based on fleck of dust but on repetitive evidence seen in actions. If you are 'evaluating' someone based on what you think it means that they wore that kind of clothing, you're in the wrong. If you are judging someone as sinful because they are an abusive spouse, then you're probably judging the fruit rightly: it's bad fruit. They are in need of repentance.Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount by highlighting the importance of putting what He has said into practice. If we do not follow-through and actually do somet…

Genesis 45:1-46:7 #eebc2018

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers in this passage, and then sends for his father to come to Egypt. He provides for the practical needs of the elderly and smaller children to travel and works to reunite his family.Jacob is, naturally, a bit unsettled by all of this. After all, he has believed Joseph is dead for two decades. He determines that he will go down and see Joseph before his death.But on the way, he makes an important stop. At Beer-sheba, he makes sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. This is the first time in a while we have seen Jacob offer sacrifices. One might think Joseph's apparent death had put a hold on Jacob's relationship with God. (It is impossible to be certain, as we don't have all the details of the last 20 years.)Here, though, he takes the step back. In this incident, it is Jacob's actions that bring him back into a relationship with God. He offers sacrifices and then God speaks to him. God gives him permission to go on down to Egypt an…

Genesis 43:16-44:34 #eebc2018

Joseph now has his brothers in his power. Consider the opportunity for revenge. Consider the opportunity to take everything they have ever done wrong and jam it right back down their throats.Is that not a temptation for us sometimes as well? When we're right and we know we are right? It may have been years--after all, for Joseph it has been at least 2 years, and likely many more. Genesis 37:2 has Joseph at 17 years old and he enters Pharaoh's service at 30 (Genesis 41:46). Given that specific ages are usually mentioned to highlight when the events around them happen, that would suggest a gap of 20 years or more for Joseph, since the famine comes along seven years after he starts working for the Egyptian government.Twenty years have passed, and now Joseph has all the power. It's like the dream of every kid who was an outcast of some kind in high school: at the reunion, nobody will pick on me anymore! They'll see I was right and they were wrong! Joseph could have slapped…

Genesis 42:29-43:15 #eebc2018

We pick up the Joseph narrative with his brothers on their way out of Egypt. Well, all of them but Simeon are on the way out of Egypt. Simeon is imprisoned in Egypt as a hostage to ensure the rest of the family are not spies. On the way home, the brothers have discovered that the money they paid for grain has been returned to their sacks. In other words, they really only end up trading a brother for food.Which may have been a good trade...However, they get home and Jacob is not pleased with the results. He questions his sons about why they gave Joseph so much information, why they have brought him so much trouble. Part of this is because none of them recognized Joseph. Had the famine been shorter, they would have had a different problem. At some point, Simeon needs to get out of prison. That might have been simpler for them, but it still would have required a return to Egypt. Joseph successfully put his brothers in a bind where they will have to revisit him, where he will have another…

Matthew 6:25-7:14 #eebc2018

The Sermon on the Mount continues. Matthew records Jesus preaching about anxiety and worry. He also speaks of judgment, hypocrisy, and seeking.It is the connection of these three things that I would recommend you consider today. It is important that we not take the whole teaching of the Messiah and treat it like a collection of fortune cookie sayings. None of Scripture should be chopped up into one-liners. We do not do Proverbs justice when we do that, and it's even worse with the Sermon on the Mount.So don't look at this as separate areas. Rather, see the way in which the Master connects these ideas. Each of them are valid on their own, of course, but they were not delivered stand alone.How do they relate?First, Jesus commands us not to worry. That's right, read it again in Matthew 6:25. It's a command. When Jesus says "Do not worry," He is not giving you sage advice. He's giving you a command to obey. He then goes on to give you some reasons and support…

Sermon Recap for March 25

Well, we had a technology blunder for the morning sermon. We had made some adjustments to the audio setup in the sanctuary, and while that explains the lack of audio recording, apparently the gremlins got the video, too. I’m not sure why. I didn’t push that button, Jim didn’t push that button…So, for lack of a recording (you could watch the AM sermon, but unless you are a great lip-reader, you won’t learn much. It’s very quiet), morning is gone. Here is the evening:

Matthew 5:13-6:24 #eebc2018

Here we are in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is teaching His disciples, a message which opened with the Beatitudes and now goes on to talk about the disciples and their relationship with the world. The Sermon on the Mount deals with that subject at length, as well as the matter of the disciples' relationship with God.It is these two areas that we often think are in conflict, but Jesus makes clear that they are not. In fact, your relationship with God is interdependent with your relationship with the people around you. That is not to say that people should be your boss--only God is your God, not anyone else. But if the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-12 started you thinking that your relationship with God would be better if you just ducked away and never interacted, that thought should be cut off by the next two paragraphs. We are to be salt and light, clear to the world and affecting the world around us.After all, salt doesn't do much if it is not with other items. And…

Genesis 41:38-42:28 #eebc2018

Joseph is now the top dog in Egyptian agriculture. Well, probably Anubis was the top dog, but he was more a jackal-headed mythological guy. There has been some pushback in the historical world about Joseph and the lack of definite recording of anyone as a true "second-in-command" or grand vizier or prime minister in any part of Egyptian history that would fit the description of Joseph. There are a couple of possibilities that would explain that, but the simplest one is this: Joseph is made "second to Pharaoh" in the realm of agriculture/disaster preparedness. That does not put him in charge of the military or the religion or many other tasks. In a modern sense, that would make him like the Secretary of Agriculture in the US Cabinet.Except that he would have the power to execute you if you did not do what he said. That is not a power we want any single government official to have. Joseph had it, but we do not know if he misused it any. Scripture does not give us all…

Sermon Recaps!

Well, it’s been a bit chaotic around here and I am somewhere around 3 weeks behind in writing tasks. As I catch up with those, I’ll get the rest of the sermon videos edited. Microsoft’s newer video editing software was just not working out for me, so I had to shift to a different piece of software. It takes longer and has a learning curve…Anyway, enough excuses. Here’s the audio player:You can click through and find any sermon you’d like here.There’s the video from Sunday morning, March 18.

Genesis 41:1-37 #eebc2018

Joseph is still in prison. It's been two years, and he's still in prison. (A minor note: figure the "years" in Egypt are based on astronomical observations, so it's a fairly precise "year." Other cultures used a lunar year, which did not sync up perfectly and required adjustment. So there's a reason it's wise to avoid nailing a year number to the text.)How long have you been in prison? How long have you been serving where you never wanted to go? Are you ready for a breakthrough into something different?Are you prepared for it to be a disaster of major proportion for you to get it? Let's not get too caught up in the "Be Like Joseph" rhetoric as we read this: be faithful where you are, but realize that Joseph's ascension to great renown required a pretty harsh event for others. Do not be so convinced of your own delusions of grandeur that you require others to suffer for your sake.And that is how this chapter unfolds: Pharaoh has…

Genesis 39:19-40:23 #eebc2018

Joseph is off in Egypt. He started as a slave but now it's gotten worse: he has been whisked off to prison for allegedly assaulting Potiphar's wife. He's an innocent man, but that does not stop the legal system from letting him languish in jail.While he's there, though, he makes the best of his bad situation. Joseph steps up to take care of his fellow prisoners, God grants him grace in the eyes of the prison warden, and Joseph becomes one of the top leaders in the prison. It should be clear that 2nd millenium BC Egyptian prisons and the rules about them were quite different from anything modern, so be careful about applying an understanding of "impossible" to this. While he is in this role, Pharaoh gets angry at his chief cupbearer and his chief baker. So, both are sent to the prison that Joseph is both in charge of and imprisoned in. Joseph is made responsible for them, and they are in captivity for an undisclosed amount of time. Now, a few words are due her…

Matthew 4:12-5:12 #eebc2018

John the Baptist was arrested. Mark 6:17 tells us that Herod had him imprisoned for preaching about immorality in the palace, and then later has John executed. Immorality is not good in the leadership of a nation. That's not the main part of the section, but that's still a relevant lesson.The passage under review deals with Jesus calling His first disciples. Matthew highlights that this ministry opening in Galilee was a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy that a great light would dawn on the people of that region. It's the first part of Isaiah 9, where we often jump ahead to "For unto us a child is born...."It is worth taking note that Jesus begins by preaching. Note that 4:17 highlights the message of the Lord as one of repentance. While His preaching also involves grace and mercy, we cannot miss that the opening message of Jesus is to repent! After beginning this preaching, Jesus calls specific men to Himself. These men will be His disciples, and they will be …

Matthew 2:16-4:11 #eebc2018

We're into Matthew and seeing the tail end of the Christmas story here. The Magi have headed back to their homeland (Persia, but not the point here). Joseph and Mary have fled with Jesus to Egypt. Herod, living in fear of the "born King of the Jews," uses his authority to call for the death of all the boys in Bethlehem that could possibly be this new king. This is a common theme in ancient history--and it never does work out right. All that happens is the death of innocent people. There's a lesson here: you cannot stomp out the will of God. There is not enough blood to spill, and if you think that more violence will bring you control, you are wrong.The next step in the narrative is John the Baptist. John preaches in the wilderness, declaring the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven. He calls out religious fallacies and political nonsense. He speaks very little of hope and peace and a great deal about judgment. Eventually, this costs him his freedom and then his life. What…

Genesis 38:1-39:18 #eebc2018

Genesis 38 does not start off well. It does not end well.  And, honestly, the stopping point at Genesis 39:18 isn't a particularly happy moment, either. These narratives demonstrate the use of sexuality as a weapon. For Judah, Onan, and Shelah, it was an economic weapon: Onan declined his responsibility to his brother, Er, and Judah kept back Shelah as if the problem had been Tamar in the death of Er and Onan. It wasn't. Both of these men died because of their own sin--Er being the first person recorded as being "put to death" by YHWH for his evil behavior. Onan's sin is debated these days, and his death is given as the reason to avoid masturbation or birth control, though neither are rightly condemned from this passage. This is explicitly about his decision to serve his own needs.Also worth noting is this: Genesis is not speaking about the morality of what is called "levirate marriage." That is, this passage is not about the whether or not the cultural…

Genesis 37 #eebc2018

The Joseph narrative starts here. Joseph was born back in Genesis 30:22-24, but here he actually starts being a participant. He does not start off all that well---he's the youngest of the family and also the favorite of his father.
Joseph is not portrayed well here. He's seventeen, old enough to be working with the family flocks, but rather than staying with the work, he heads home to tell his father that they were not working the way should. Now, there is actually no telling what he said or whether it was true---he could have been acting like a Schrute and being picky. Or he could have been honest.
But we know this from v. 4: he does not get along with his brothers. The brothers specifically involved were the sons from Bilhah and Zilpah, so those would have been: Dan, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.
Joseph does not help his relationship by sharing his dreams with his brothers. He has been dreaming about the future, and in his dreams he is the top dog. Many times, this gets preach…

Genesis 36 #eebc2018

We start with the family records of Esau. We find that he was no more willing to stick with the one-man/one-woman ethic of creation than his brother was. This was an unfortunate development in history that honestly is indefensible. Esau takes his large family, his many wives, and relocates to the mountains of Seir. Tradition holds that his offspring, the Edomites, were some of the first inhabitants of the valley that has become the city of Petra. A name worth noting in Esau's records is found in 36:4: Basemath, daughter of Ishmael, has a child named Reuel. that name will come back in Exodus 2:18. I would suggest that these are not the same Reuels, but that it becomes a family heritage name.The remainder of the chapter traces the lineage of Esau into the times of the Edomites. Some of the exploits and events of their history are there, but it is obviously abbreviated, especially in comparison to the lives of Jacob and his offspring.What, then, do we do with this? After all, the pri…