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365 Challenge

Filtering by Tag: Character

God's plan and death due to excess foreskin?(Exodus 4-7)

Wesley Skinner

The is so much mystery wrapped up in the Exodus, none weirder than the near death of Moses before his wife touches his feet with his son's foreskin! What's up with that?! Let's start by looking just before that section. 

 "22Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son,a 23and I told you, “Let my son go,a so he may worshipb me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.'"

God's plan from the beginning was to kill the firstborn son of pharaoh!  What a picture of the gospel! For His chosen people to be set free it will take the death of the firstborn son!

Now back to the super weird verse about circumcision. The sign of the covenant God made with Abraham was circumcision, with this covenant Abe would be blessed with innumerable offspring, have a relationship with God and be given a land of his own. A land that is to be holy, set apart for God's people. So much so that later on when Moses strikes a rock instead of speaking to it, he is not allowed to enter. God will even allow a generation of faithless Hebrews to die before giving the land to their offspring. Enter Moses on his way to this promised land,  he may be God's chosen person to lead Israel out of Egypt, but God still expected him to be obedient in all areas of faith and practice. And according to Gods covenant with Abraham, Moses' son should have been circumsized. 

Other random observations: 

Exodus 5:2- Pharaoh- 'who is The Lord?'- demonstrates Pharaoh doesn't know God.  

Exodus 5:20,21- Obedience is met with hardship. Israelites first reaction is to blame God. This becomes a pattern...

Exodus 6:2-5- this one is really interesting, God reinforces his name not Elohim, but Jehovah. He gives a fuller revelation to Moses than the patriarchs.

Exodus 6:15- one of the ancestors of Moses was the son of a Canaanite woman.  

Exodus 7:5- The signs were so the Egyptians would know God.

Exodus 7:10-13- The magicians staffs also become snakes but Moses snake eats them.
 

 

How should we respond to friends who are suffering?(Job 2-7)

Wesley Skinner

Understanding Job has always been a struggle for me. It's really confusing because job's friends give him a lot of seemingly good information and advice, yet God rebukes them. Recently, I have started thinking maybe that is the problem. Maybe their role as friends was not to give advice. 

Oddly enough, I have been to a lot of funerals. One that sticks in my memory often, was for a close relative's husband. He died in a tragic accident at work. I was with her at the hospital as she went back to view his body. She was, understandably, inconsolable. I remember being there with her and thinking, I should say something, but in times like that, there usually are no helpful words. They had twin little girls and in the days to follow I heard person after person tell her, 'she had to be strong for those girls'. It made me angry every time. Allow her to grieve! If you want to help, stop talking and be there for her. Help with the girls in her time of mourning, but don't add unnecessary stress to a person who's life has just been turned upside down!

This gives me new perspective on the book of Job. Why do we think we always have to say something? What can you say to a person who has lost everything? In the middle of tragedy, do you really think making a person think something they have done, might have caused the problem is a good idea?! Is that helpful in that moment?

I think the reason we feel a need to talk in these times is because our culture tells us that any emotion that is not happiness is wrong and needs to be corrected. But that is not a Biblical truth at all! We are to be joyful at all times, and Job demonstrated joy in the midst of sadness. Joy and happiness are two different things. One is an emotion based on circumstance, the other is a truth anchored and strong regardless of circumstance. We find all kinds of different emotions in the Bible: joy, sadness, righteous anger, laments, happiness, suffering, hope, fear, peace... Jesus was not always happy. Very famously "Jesus wept." Jesus mourned. Jesus righteously drove out the money changers. Jesus marveled. Jesus was sorrowful. All without sin. 

I think I'm learning that emotions are ok. Even ones that make us uncomfortable. And that sometimes, it is better to not talk. Even if there might be some truth to what you are saying. Know appropriate time and place. I can't learn this fast enough!

Job has a bad day(Job 1-2)

Wesley Skinner

Imagine things are going well for you. You are obedient to God and see him bless you. You worry about nothing except the salvation of your children. It's easy to worship God in good times, but what about bad? This is Satan's proposition to God. 

God: job is righteous, have you considered testing him?

Satan: he is righteous in good times, but he will deny You in bad. 

Isn't this the age old question? Why do bad things happen to good people? Job gives us a case study, only, God tips His hand from the beginning. We see God tell us, Job is being tested because God believes in him. So we know the why, now we get to see how he responds. 

Job has a bad day. The worst. One servant after another delivers the messages to him, his livelihood(livestock), his wealth(camels), and his legacy(children) are all taken away. Job demonstrates the proper response, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” And Job fell down in worship. Everything was taken from Job except his joy. Joy rests in the Giver not the gifts. How would you respond in the face of devastating loss? Would your faith waiver? If so, you may be worshipping the gift not the giver. 

The life and death of Joseph(Genesis 38-51)

Wesley Skinner

Joseph is one of the most interesting characters in all of Genesis. He is the poster child for a rags to riches story and demonstrates more character than the rest of the patriarchs, yet it is not through his line that Messiah will come. 

To recap: Joseph's father, Jacob(Israel), had one true love, Rachel. Rachel had trouble conceiving and Israel had children born from his other wife(Rachel's sister) and the two maid servants. When Joseph was born of Rachel, he was Israel's favorite. His brothers knew it and grew jealous. It didn't help that Joseph didn't know when to keep his mouth shut. Joseph has two visions from God showing his family bowing down to him, so of course, he immediately discloses all. When his brothers see the opportunity, they decide to sell him into slavery. 

Joseph is bought by an Egyptian official and we see a trend begin, everything Joseph does, God blesses and Joseph quickly ascends to positions of influence. 

Joseph's character is on display as he ignores sexual advances from his master's wife and ultimately runs out when he finds himself in a sticky situation(see last blog). Potiphar's wife lies about the incident and has Joseph thrown in prison. In prison we find the same narrative, God blesses Joseph, he ascends to a position of influence and interprets a dream for the cup bearer to pharaoh. 

Fast forward a few years, pharaoh has a dream, Joseph is brought to interpret and pharaoh makes him second in command. This is huge because famine is coming to all the land and by the position of influence Joseph is able to relocate and provide for his family. Preserving God's chosen people and setting the stage for God's next big event. "The Exodus"

One of my favorite verses occurs at the end of Genesis. Genesis 50:20 "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." Joseph's brothers finally come to apologize and Joseph realizes something profound, it's a truth found, not just throughout Genesis or the rest of scripture, but an insight into the character and purposes of God that transcends time. Joseph realizes that all the crap he went through served a greater purpose. And that if we look at life as a series of separate events, we miss the bigger picture of what God is doing. Life is not compartmentalized. Everything that we do, everything that happens, God is using to write a story much bigger than ourselves. A story that started at creation and includes us, but transcends only us. The story of God's glory written throughout history. The purpose of man. The glory of God. 

 

Don't try to resist sexual sin, flee!(Gen 39)

Wesley Skinner

Anytime I get to talk about sexual temptation, Genesis 39 is my go to. Joseph is more concerned about honoring God than what other people might think of him. That's integrity. 

In Genesis 39, Joseph is employed by Potiphar, an Egyptian official, and Potiphar's wife continues to make sexual advances to Joseph. Now, before we go any further I have to put this out there, Potiphar was an Egyptian official, she was probably much younger than him and hot. So don't give me any of that, 'it was easy for Joseph to not give in to temptation because the girl wasn't hot' , rich, shallow, godless people have trophy wives. Potiphar was likely no exception. 

So what do you learn from Joseph? 

1. Don't put yourself in easy situations to sin. This is the first thing I talk to with students about boundaries, either in a relationship or personally. Your far more likely to give in to temptation when you're isolated than not. In a dating relationship, be careful where you spend your alone time. Third wheels and public places help keep your hands where they should be.  

2. Honoring God is paramount. Joseph acknowledges sleeping with Potiphar's wife would be a violation of the trust his master had given him, but Joseph was more concerned with how it affected his relationship with God. 'How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?' If your concern is only for yourself, it is easy to sin. But if you think about how it affects other people and ultimately if it honors God or not, a simple thing becomes more significant. Integrity, character. Because even if no one knows, God does. 

3. Flee from sexual sin! Joseph knew that it was better to run away and face the consequences than to stay in the place of temptation. When you are tempted, get out! Don't just think you can resist and fight the temptation, leave. And I mean leave, physically. If it's at home alone when temptation comes, get out of the house. If you are in a danger zone on a date leave that place, get around people, or at least not in an environment that leads to going farther. This might make you a weirdo, but you have honored God and respected the other person.  

Later in scripture we see Jesus make statements like, 'if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out', I don't think he actually means pluck out your eye, but we need to take radical steps to avoid sexual sin. The story doesn't end well for Joseph, he did the right thing and got thrown in prison, but he honored God and ultimately this may have been God way of getting Joseph into a position of influence later on in Egypt. 

4. Men need to take responsibility for sexual purity. This seems unnatural in some ways because today, men as the sexually aggressive ones. Being a man is not about having sexual exploits to brag about, it's about having character. Men need to be the ones to stop things before they start. In a dating relationship a man will honor his girlfriend and respect her. He is responsible for guarding the purity of that relationship. So men, step up and take responsibility!