Ephraim and Manasseh

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph's sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. Hebrews 11:21

Joseph went through a great deal of trouble because of his brothers. In the end, though, Jacob got to see Joseph and his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. It's interesting to note that he blessed Joseph (the youngest) before he blessed Joseph's brothers. When Jacob himself was being blessed by Isaac, he fooled his father. Now he put his hands on Manasseh's and Ephraim's to bless them even though Joseph tried to switch his hands. Jacob corrected Joseph and told him he knew what he was doing. Ephraim, the younger brother, got the right hand blessing, "his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations." Once again, the younger child got the greater blessing.

According to Rabbi Parashat Vayehi, "I suggest to you that when Jacob is blessing his grandchildren he is also blessing every Jew in every generation. Jacob's blessings on his sons were specific to them. But the blessings to his grandchildren speak to every one of us. This is why the blessing of Jacob to his grandsons was chosen as the blessing we bless our sons with every Friday night. To our daughters we bless them to be like Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, and Leah our matriarchs. But our boys we bless them to be like Menashe and Ephraim, because their blessing was an eternal one to every future Jewish child."

"May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh." Jacob had faith that those two grandchildren would do great things. Do you have great faith that your children and grandchildren will do great things? Do you bless them to be great?

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A Greater Blessing

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. Hebrews 11:20

If you're like me, you're probably scratching your head at this particular verse (and others to follow). Jacob and Esau had been warring with each other even as they were coming out of the womb!

In Genesis 25:33 we read, The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." Even before the blessing was pronounced, God said that the older would serve the younger. Isaac blessed both boys even though the older (Esau) was given a lesser blessing, which wasn't a typical practice. Isaac passed down the blessing because he had faith that the promises given to Abraham (nations as numerous as stars in the sky) would be fulfilled.

Even though Isaac was deceived by Jacob, Isaac didn't rescind the better blessing and pass it on to Esau. God was working through Isaac's imperfection to bless the younger son, Jacob (later named Israel). He can and does work through our imperfections as well.

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Some Trust (guest devotional)

"Some trust in chariots and some in horses." Psalm 20:7

Some trust in their 401Ks, some trust in their beauty, some trust in their talents, some trust in the military, some trust in their political party…

"But we will remember the name of the Lord our God…they have bowed down and fallen, but we have risen and stand up right." Psalm 20:8

Sometimes life makes you feel like you can’t stand up right. Betrayal of a friend or coworker, sickness, grief, economic predictions of doom…whatever you may be facing…

I learned from a dear friend in Sudan, who said to me, "There are many things I could worry about, but I choose to trust God instead." So simple. It’s a choice—so hard when faced with the tragedies she faced. Do you desire to rise and stand upright? Remember to call on the name of the Lord our God.

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Abraham and Isaac

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. Hebrews 11:17-19

When you first read the story of God coming to Abraham and telling to offer up his son as a sacrifice, you're puzzled by it. For one thing, why would God do ask such a thing? and Why would Abraham attempt to do such a thing? But of course we've read the entire story and can see what God was doing. Even as I read it a dozen times, I'll always pause when he lifts the knife to slay his son. How difficult that must have been for him to do that. What kind of faith did it take to do that? It's something we hope we're never faced with.

We Abraham and Isaac as a "type." Fast forward many many years and we see another Father offering to sacrifice his son for an ungrateful people. It boggles the mind why the Father would do that to His Son and why the Son just took it. Quite frankly, at any moment during Jesus' time on earth, He could have called a host of angels (and several additional hosts on standby) to come and sweep Him away. This time, though, the Father allowed His Son to be bloodied and killed.

And for what?

Yeah, for you and me.

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Just Passing Through

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-17

This world is not my home I'm just passing through
my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
the angels beckon me from Heaven's open door
and I can't feel at home in this world anymore   Albert E. Brumley

How "at home" do we feel down here? Are we longing for something better, something more satisfying? Are you okay with being an alien or a stranger? Are we homesick for our heavenly home?

I've said it a dozen times in this space and I'll say it a dozen more: as the world increases in its hatred towards truth and vibrant moral values, those who have the truth will be persecuted. Or, as we disagree more with what is displayed as truth, people will become hostile towards us. I don't want that necessarily, but we shouldn't be disappointed in the least if we are.

We in the West have been sheltered against the persecution that exists in the world. As an example, Muslim acts against Christians and Jews go unreported by a biased media. However, anything committed against Muslims gets broadcast in headlines. Of course it's not fair. No one said it would be.

So, again I ask the questions: How "at home" do you feel down here? Are you longing for something better, something more satisfying? Are you okay with being an alien or a stranger? Are you homesick for your heavenly home?

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