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Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

OYB January 24

  • Julie Ferwerda
    Are 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 23
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Today’s One Year Bible (NLT) Reading

Genesis

48:3-4 Jacob said to Joseph, "God Almighty appeared to me...and said to me, ‘I will make you fruitful, and I will multiply your descendants... And I will give this land of Canaan to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.'" Here is where the "Promised Land" came into the picture. Thought the Israelites are now living in Egypt, Canaan was their Promised Land from at least 260 years before they arrive. Talk about promises a long time in coming! As we move through the first five books, we will discover the different levels of Promised Land, and how it applies to us today.

48:19 But his father refused. "I know, my son; I know," he replied. "Manasseh will also become a great people, but his younger brother will become even greater. And his descendants will become a multitude of nations." Here we see God stirring the pot again, changing the status quo. Why?

Commentary: Ephraim was not the firstborn, but he had this position in God's view: For I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn (Jeremiah 31:9). This shows how the idea of "firstborn" in the Bible is often a position of pre-eminence, not necessarily meaning "first out of the womb." David had the position of firstborn, even though he was the youngest son (1 Samuel 16:11 and Psalm 89:27). Jesus has the pre-eminent position of firstborn (Colossians 1:15), though this does not mean Jesus is literally the first "born" creature of God, because Jesus was not created.

Jacob prophesies over his sons:

49:5-7 Here we see that Jacob did not approve of the scheme of his sons to kill the men of Shechem and he put a curse on their descendants.

49:8-12 Judah. Check out all these Messianic prophecies

  • Your brothers will praise you (Messiah brings salvation)

  • You will defeat your enemies (Messiah defeats both earthly enemies and spiritual enemies)

  • All your relatives will bow before you (Judah's offspring, Messiah)

  • Judah is a young lion ("Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5)," Messiah)

  • The scepter will not depart from Judah (Messiah will reign forever)

  • Until the coming one of whom it belongs, the one whom all the nations will obey

  • He ties his foal to a grapevine, the colt of his donkey to a choice vine (Messiah rode the donkey into Jerusalem announcing peace between Yahweh (Father God) and man)

  • He washes his clothes in wine because his harvest is so plentiful (I believe the wine is symbolic for Messiah's blood, so that He might have a great harvest of souls for His kingdom)

49:16-17 Dan.

Commentary: Dan did judge his people. The tribe of Dan supplied one of the most prominent of the Judges, Samson (Judges 13:2). But Dan was a troublesome tribe. They were the tribe to introduce idolatry into Israel (Judges 18:30). Jeroboam set up one of his idolatrous golden calves in Dan (1 Kings 12:26-30), and later Dan became a center of idol worship in Israel (Amos 8:14). Some think the serpent by the way refers to the idea that the Antichrist comes from the tribe of Dan (based on Daniel 11:37 and Jeremiah 8:16). Dan is left out of the listing of tribes regarding the 144,000 in Revelation 7:5-8. But Dan is the first tribe listed in Ezekiel's millennial roll call of the tribes (Ezekiel 48). This is a remarkable sign of God's redemption.

Study more about the fulfillment of these prophecies for each son.

49:18 Commentary. The Hebrew word here for salvation is "yeshuwah." At this point in the prophecy, when Jacob is so near death, he calls out for God's salvation. He calls out for Jesus!

Matthew

15:33 The disciples replied, "Where would we get enough food here in the wilderness for such a huge crowd?" Hello? We've already been down this road. Do we need some "Focus Factor?" But if I'm honest, I am no different. I will see God do something just as amazing as multiplying bread, and the very next obstacle, I'll fret again. Exasperating, this unbelief etched in human nature! A huge area of application of this for me is finances. God has always, always faithfully provided for me, even sometimes miraculously. Yet the next time the financial picture looks grim, I fret again. God owns everything, and just like our National Treasury, He can manufacture money any time. And then I worry He won't come through with a little bread and fish. I can be such a bozo sometimes.

16:4 Note He brings up the sign of Jonah again. Hmmm. Must be important. We'll study more soon.

16:5-12 Commentary: Jesus impressed the importance of being on guard against false teaching (of the Pharisees and Sadducees). Here as always, leaven (yeast) is a picture of corruption, especially that of an insidious (sinister) nature. It is so easy for people to get their assumptions, interpretations, and improvements into God's Word, present company included. The problem is, then it becomes false doctrine. "The Church" back then, and The Church now are characterized by many false teachings and corruption, and we must always be on guard and test everything against the whole counsel of Scripture. You must even check everything I say against scripture. In my zeal to put all the pieces together, I am not immune to these mistakes.

Questions for personal reflection:

  • Has God ever made a promise to you? Share with "the group" what it was and if it was fulfilled or if you're still waiting on it.

  • Can you think of any "false teachings" you learned in church that injured your faith as a child or even now? How did you discover the truth? Was it a process getting free of the old lies you believed?

Julie's Testimony Time: This was going to be short today, but a testimony came bursting forth to demonstrate God's amazing plans for His children. One awesome full circle God brought about in my life started when He awakened me in the night in the spring of 2000, just to give me a promise. 2 Samuel 7:11. "I will also give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you..." I did have some severe oppression going on in my life at that time from a few mortal enemies, some of them my own relatives, and I also was at a place in my life where I felt completely displaced, homeless, and battle-weary.

When God gave me this promise, I wrote it down (remember?), because I had absolutely no idea what He meant or how He was going to fulfill it. Was it a literal home? A spiritual home? How would He deliver me from my enemies?

This is where I have to get personal, because you won't understand the meaning of the fulfillment unless you understand part of what I was dealing with. As I shared before, I lost a significant amount of time with my children through divorce custody issues. It was a very painful situation for me as a mother, having my home empty so much of the time, a sad reality that would throughout the following years.

In 2003, three years later, it looked as if part of this promise was going to be fulfilled when God arranged a long list of circumstances (don't have time to put it all down) for Shucks and me to build a home in the country. Seriously, like 10 miraculous things happened to make this event a reality, and we saw God's hand. Was this the house He promised to establish for me?

In late 2006, while living in my "new home" we built in the country, God led me to begin a working relationship with the orphan ministry, Hopegivers International, where I began a new phase of life,  investing indirectly into the lives and spiritual formation of thousands of orphans in many different countries. Then God did a strange thing. He asked us to sell our home, the one we felt He had established for us, and to use the money to build an orphanage in Haiti for the furtherance of the Gospel. Right about the same time, I had a friend who is a missionary in the Middle East to Muslims, tell me that God gave her a vision of me surrounded by hundreds of children, including my own two daughters,  in "my home."

Putting this amazing puzzle together (because I haven't been able to list all the details), God took my earthly home (not the building), empty of the children I love so much, built an earthly structure to give me the opportunity to give it back so He could establish a lasting spiritual home where I am investing eternally into children worldwide. The orphans have become my bounty of spiritual offspring, establishing a lasting spiritual home for eternity. I also believe part of my friend's vision means I will one day have the full relationship and presence of my children restored in my life, perhaps working with me for orphans or other children He leads me to invest in.

So you see, when God gives you a promise, you don't really know what it means until He fulfills. Abraham had no idea what God's promise looked like for a barren old man who desperately wanted to see his legacy continue. That's why he sinned and conceived Ishmael. Joseph had no idea what the promise looked like from Pharaoh's prison. David had no idea what the promise (to be king) looked like from tending sheep and running from a hostile enemy for 15 years in a desert. They all had to wait and see, and in every case, it was always better than they dreamed. I'm confident that I haven't even seen the full breadth of this promise God made to me yet. It may take my whole life to see it fully developed!

2 important applications for you: I am not special. God will give you promises too if you are paying attention. He WANTS to give His children promises, to give them hope, vision, and passion for living in the dry and discouraging days of this life. Secondly, I believe His promises usually come from an area of weakness and longing in our lives. A promise is no good if it is not something we long for and need, from an area of pain, disappointment, loss, weakness, and lost dreams.