OYB January 15
Julie FerwerdaAre you ready for change in 2009? Grab a One Year Bible (NLT), commit to reading it daily, and join Julie Ferwerda on an extraordinary adventure that will transform your life as you experience its relevance in a fresh, understandable way. In addition to 20+ years in Bible teaching ministry, Julie is a professional speaker and writer. Her works have appeared in publications such as Focus on the Family, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Brio, and Revolve Biblezines & Devotional Bible (for teens). She's also the author of "The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love," and also the upcoming book, "One Million Arrows for God: Raising Your Children to Change the World." Learn more at www.JulieFerwerda.com.
- 2009 Jan 15
31:19 Rachel stole her father's household idols and took them with her. This is the first mention of idols in the Bible. It seems ludicrous to me that false gods are already showing up, but I did a little research and Jacob actually lived a couple thousand years after creation, and 500 years after the flood, so we've covered a lot of ground of history in just 31 chapters! When the stories are all crammed together in a few chapters, it almost seems like it all happened in a short time.
Here's something to think about. We are quick to judge Laban for having household gods, and we are quick to judge Rachel for stealing these gods from her childhood home. But this cycle has continued for thousands of years since, and I'm positive that anyone who breathes is guilty. What are household gods? Anything kept around a home that members of the family put before God.
For instance, were there things your parents turned to first for comfort, hope, meaning, pleasure, relief, satisfaction? If they came ahead of turning to God for those things, then your parents had household gods, too. Now think about which gods your parents used that you "stole" from their home? Scattered around my childhood home were the gods of food, alcohol, TV, smoking, time, appearance, adultery, and money. I brought at least five of them along with me into my adult home. But there are so many more: household decorations, cars, recreation, people, romance, hobbies, sports, porn, prescription drugs, etc.
Remember that many of these are not bad in themselves and some are things God created for us to enjoy, but even good things can become bad when they become the object of our devotion. And equally important to remember, probably no home anywhere is 100% free of idols. It is a process for the Christian home, getting rid of them and reducing their hold on our hearts. But God expects us to acknowledge our divided hearts, repent continuously of those things pulling us away from Him, and to be always working toward ridding our homes of these deterrents. That is what sets a godly home apart-intent to rid ourselves of idols.
31:32 But as for your gods, see if you can find them, and let the person who has taken them die! Interestingly, Jacob spoke a curse on his wife, and she did die young. Coincidence? I don't know. But perhaps God allowed us to read Jacob's curse because it has a significant message for us today. Perhaps He wants us to learn early on that there is a costly price to pay for knowingly harboring idols, which usually appear in the form of addictions. Even if our idols don't take our physical life, they will always be the death of the dreams and plans God has for us, and clinging to them may cost us our health, relationships, peace, joy, future, and blessings. He is a jealous God-jealous for our affections.
I'm reminded of something Oprah said awhile back. The turning point for her of rejecting the God of the Bible she was taught about as a child was when she heard that God is a jealous God. She said, "Why would I want to believe in a God who is jealous of me?" Sadly, Oprah and many others have twisted so many things about the character and nature of God. He is never jealous OF His creation. He is jealous FOR His Creation. He wants to be the main course, not the leftover.
10:28 "Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell." I used to think that Christian martyrdom was a thing of the past, but then I found out that there have been more Christian martyrs in these past 100 years than in all of history combined! In fact, currently, an average of 171,000 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith per year, and it's estimated that there have been between 70-100 million in the past century!
Internalizing the truth of this verse is going to become an important part of living in the last days. You will hear me talk about "Papa" a lot in the coming days. Papa (my earthly hero from India and the founder of Hopegivers International) has been asking God all his life to grant him the honor of dying a martyr's death. This is the mentality of so many persecuted Christians in many parts of our world, but what has happened to American Christians? We love our ease, comfort. We don't want anything hard or painful. But the Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12, "Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." If we are not facing some form of persecution in the course of our lives, we must ask the obvious question: Am I living a godly life in Christ Jesus?
10:32-39 The cost of following Jesus clearly means that we must love God so much that we are willing to give up anything and anyone who stands in our way of being devoted to Him properly. Household gods, people, family-if they demand we give them loyalty over God, we must choose God. However, don't make the mistake of interpreting this to mean that you are to use your faith as a weapon against your family. I have some family members who joined a cult and misapplied these scriptures. What He is saying is that our friends and families who reject God will turn against us for our extreme devotion to Him.
Do you ever feel like God has forgotten you? Do you feel He is not paying attention to your prayers? How should you handle this? When David felt abandoned, he chose to trust God anyhow, and to remember God's track record of goodness. We must remember that having a relationship with God is exactly that. It's a relationship with a person, and not a cosmic vending machine. God has a will and a plan, and we sometimes have to be patient.
How true and how we wish young people could get this. But they need living examples. They need godly adults who have chosen this path so they can see by our example that it truly is delightful, satisfying, happiness, and life to follow the ways of godly wisdom!
Questions for personal reflection:
What does "take up your cross" mean? You will see Jesus say it more than once.
What does Jesus mean by saying you will lose your life if you cling to it, but you will find it if you give it up for Him?
Have you ever faced any kind of persecution? If you were faced with dying for your belief in Christ, what would you do?