Posts Tagged ‘Destiny’

Genesis 37:1-14 DIARY OF DREAMER  

I imagine that this is the extended diary Jacob kept about the story of his son, Joseph, extrapolated from the Biblical narrative with my reflections. 

Favouritism or Favour? 

Diary of Joseph: I am here for a higher purpose. A calling. My destiny. I had my 17th birthday yesterday but the atmosphere at the special meal that was prepared with the family was strained.  

Leadership 

My father insists on thrusting me into leadership positions with my brothers and they resent it. He presented me with a coat of many colours recently, indicating that he has chosen me to bear the family blessing before he dies. This means – a double portion of the inheritance, management of the family business and spiritual leadership in carrying forward the promises God has given our family. Quite an honour which I will carry willingly and with a sense of responsibility. 

Is this favouritism from my father or favour from God? I am the firstborn son of Rachel but not the oldest son of our family.  

My brothers say my father shows me favouritism. Does life favour those with beautiful coats? Do the sons of Rachel get an unfair advantage in life because of the family line?   

My family carries the promises of God for blessing. We are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and my father Jacob, but still we are terribly dysfunctional, stumbling over our faith and relationships with eachother, morally questionable, and in need of saving. We have no unfair advantages because of the family tree. We don’t have exclusive rights to achieving anything of worth. 

I refuse to live below my potential. My brothers may think it is because I am the favourite son but I can choose to be squashed by their negativity or stand firm on my beliefs. I choose to embrace the favour of God, even above the favour of my family. 

Contrasts 

Strange. I am loved and favoured by my father, but hated and dishonoured by my brothers to the point where of late, they refuse to even greet me. When they do speak, they remind me that I am only 17 years old. They are all adults, rough men with little faith in God and they do not respect my father for his lack of leadership back in Shechem. They are consumed with what has happened in the past. 

Shechem  

Yes, my sister was raped and my father did nothing. He even managed to entertain the idea of marrying her off to the perpetrator. Yes, my brothers stepped in and overreacted dreadfully, murdering every man in the town of Shechem, and then looting and enslaving every woman and child.  

My father was shocked and bitterly disappointed by their actions. I think they were too. They really needed and wanted some form of discipline for their criminal activity and to be encouraged to repent. Their guilt tracks them like a hungry bear and they long to get it off their trail. Their corrupted past pollutes their present and ultimately their future. 

Elusive Forgiveness 

Sin eats away at my brothers from the inside and they have not been encouraged to repent. They have become lawless with a gang mentally. I have become a target of their inward hostility. They are so continually looking for circumstances and other people to blame for life that they have no time to pursue God’s purposes. 

With my older brothers becoming too unpredictable and untrustworthy, my father insists on reports of their activities every day. No wonder I am regarded as a spy. 

My Dream 

In the middle of all this tension, during the last few nights I have had a dream from God and then another to confirm it. It was a remarkable dream: me and my brothers were out in a field binding sheaves of grain. Suddenly my sheaf stood up and the sheaves of my brothers gathered around my sheaf and bowed down to it. Then the Sun and Moon and 11 stars bowed low before me (Genesis 37:7,9). Leadership is obviously my inheritance. I claim it. I will not surrender to the negativity of my family’s dysfunctional attitudes. 

Life is not dependant on a father’s favouritism or a fancy coat but on the favour I already have with God. I will co-operate with the dreams I have from Him. Here I stand.  

Surprisingly, when I shared my dreams with my brothers, they did not see that God was speaking at all, but somehow thought I had concocted a story to rub salt into their wounds. Such bitterness. 

I expected my father to confirm my dreams speaking about leadership in the family. Instead, he rebuked me strongly, much to the delight of my brothers. This only caters to my brother’s animosity.  

Serving My Brothers

This is obviously not going to be easy. It seems that I may need to approach this in another way. I know that the greatest leaders are there not to serve themselves but to be a servant to others.  It seems that those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Matthew 23:11-12).  

I guess if God wants me to lead, then I will lead in His time and in His way and with a desire to serve my brothers. But I refuse to bring my belief in the favour of God down to the level of the negativity of my brothers. I choose to lift my experiences to the level of my belief in the dreams God has given to me. 

Diary of Jacob: I have pondered on Joseph’s dreams ever since he left to find my other sons. He was so willing to go to his brothers and serve them despite their dislike of him. Have I done the right thing in sending him? 

TO BE CONTINUED …

Pastor Ross  

Adult and child

MATTHEW 19:13 – WHY WE BROUGHT OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST TO BE BLESSED

As Christian parents, Julie and I decided to bring our children to Christ to be blessed moments after they were born. I remember clearly in that miracle moment following the births of our children, lifting them up to Christ for His blessing. We still bring our children to be blessed in prayer.

Matthew 19:13 says, “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could lay His hands on them and pray for them.”

What I love is that children were received by Jesus. He was more than willing to take time and pray for them.

At the very beginning of their lives, the spiritual prayers of righteous people are important for their lives. James 5:16 (NLT) says “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Laying His hands on these children was a way of identifying with them in order to symbolize the bestowal of blessing from God and dedication to God (Genesis 48:14; Numbers 27:23).

As I was reading the POSB commentary recently on this passage, I was prompted to think of the reasons why we bring our children to Christ to be blessed.These six reasons express the deepest prayers I have for my own children, even though they are now adults with children of their own.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE WE BELIEVE THAT CHRIST IS THE ONLY SAVIOUR OF THIS WORLD, not science or technology or medicines as wonderful as they may be.We believe that their only hope in this world is through relationship with Christ. Jesus made it clear. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but through Me” (John14:6).

1 Timothy 2:5 says “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”

We bring our children to Christ because we have personally experienced what it means to become born again into the family of God ourselves and know the reality of Salvation and new life in Him. We want them to be blessed with new life in Christ.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE HE WANTS TO BLESS THEM, then and now. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus says, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”

 

We refuse to allow them to grow up neglected, ignored, by-passed, and pushed aside, given no direction and left to fend for themselves. We care enough to want the best for them, too.

We want them trained up in the ways of God, not squashed by the world’s values by being left unrestrained to express whatever sinful desires they like and indulged to the point of being totally selfish.

Because they belong to God, He wants the best for them. I want so much for them to look outside themselves and acknowledge that they need the help of God for the challenges they face in life. He wants to bless them with guidance.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST SO THAT THEY WILL HAVE GOD’S PERSPECTIVE CONCERNING THEIR IDENTITY AND FUTURE. He knows them better than they know themselves. They are unique and God has a unique destiny and purpose for them. We want them to learn that they are created by God for a purpose and that they make a difference in the world for Christ.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST SO THEY LEARN TO BE PEOPLE OF FAITH IN GOD AND BELIEVE IN HIS WORD, not simply look towards the popular opinions of the media. I don’t want the world and its influences to shape their thinking.

 

The TV and social media might be useful in their lives but I don’t bring them to the TV or computer to be blessed. I believe in helping them to shape their spiritual values and beliefs on what the Bible says. And this will be a blessing.

We want them to grow up with discernment about what is sin and not simply embrace the world’s popular values. We refuse to contribute to them becoming weak spiritually and feeling as if they have to accept anything and everything the world offers. We don’t want to leave them struggling to swim and sink in the cultural assault of a valueless society.

We are not so preoccupied with life that we don’t see our responsibility and the importance of raising our children in the ways of the Lord.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST TO BE BLESSED WITH HIS LOVE: that they know God’s love and learn to love others, which incidentally, is not necessarily accepting the lifestyle choices of others.

 

  1. WE BRING OUR CHILDREN TO CHRIST BECAUSE THEY BELONG TO GOD and although He entrusted them to us, we want to acknowledge that they are His, which is why we raise them according to the principles of the Bible.

 

In Isaiah 64:8 (NLT), Isaiah sees a people that have deliberately chosen to be shaped by the world’s values, and he says “Yet You, Lord, are our Father.We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.”

The invitation is that we might bring our children to Christ that they may be crafted with a distinctive identity and future, not in our image but in the design and purpose of God for their lives.May the blessing of the Master Potter uniquely shape the lives of our children with His blessing, to be all they were intended to be.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 18:11 – THE LOST THING

Animated Film by Shaun Tan

Matthew 18:11 – THE LOST THING

Sometimes we discover that not everything fits into the secure boxes in which our perspectives are housed. Our curiosity is not simply drawn to those things that are easily explained but mostly to those things that defy conformity.

The dull colour palette of our everyday existence with signs that seek to direct us away from exploring anything that doesn’t line up, go on the rails, or that challenges the design is different to the unboxed, unfettered and unexplainable world around us, waiting to be explored by those fearless enough to take a step of faith.

In a city signposted, clear and functional, all meaning is predefined and presumed. What if we know we just don’t fit into this world of predetermined answers?

The story of The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan, explores our inner world and is an invitation not to lose that which is extraordinary, creative and fun-loving, that which is beyond explanation. It is an invitation to find a place for the expression and fulfilment of our human spirit, to discover our inner journey. So here are just a few random thoughts on this brilliant story…

YOU WILL NEED THE EYES OF A CHILD TO SEE THE LOST THING

You will need the eyes of a child to see the Lost Thing; to see that part of you that does not belong, does not conform, does not feel at ease or fit in with the surroundings of a world which concerns itself with other matters of limited importance, because it is the trust of a little child that truly understands how to give full expression to your purpose. Only the eyes of a little child can see the Lost Thing.

THE LOST PART OF US NEEDS A PLACE TO BELONG

The Lost thing has tentacles and an iron shell for protection, drawers and doors that contain secrets and at the end of the day, after playful interaction and masterfully innovative projects, it is still there, asking without words, “Where do I really belong?”

THE LOST PART OF YOU CAN NOT BE EXPLAINED

Along the way we try to find people who might know something about our plight, to explain this odd nowhereness feeling we have that no-one really notices. It’s big to us and sometimes friends will try to find the exact answer from a psychological, scientific point of view, identifying the lost part of our life from empirical evidence and careful observation and experimentation, as if there is something wrong with us, but in the end the textbook doesn’t help and they encourage us not to think about it. “Some things are like that,” they say. “You just have to live with it,” and so we don’t mention it again and take our Lostness home with us.

YOU’RE LOSTNESS CAN NOT BE CONTAINED

But it gets in the way at home and so you have to hide your Lostness in the back shed where you go to be alone and feed your thoughts. It’s better when you don’t share this Lost Thing you feel with anyone else. You are kind of happier keeping it to yourself but you know you can’t keep it in the shed forever. It’s too big for the shed. This isn’t the right place for it to find it’s true potential. It really is a dilemma.

It doesn’t belong at home or in the emptiness of beurocracy or places devoid of imagination where people sit in the darkness of disinterest or in the rush of things to do.

THERE IS HOPE

Then comes a still, small voice and you are given a sign of hope. It points you to a long and narrow way through the city to a place you would never know existed unless you are actually looking for it.

You find a door, reach out in faith and turn the key and it whirs and eventually someone opens it up to a wide world that you knew somehow, even with your Lostness, must exist. There is colour. There is creativity and you are in awe. You have found the purpose of the Lost Thing and it belongs here, where you are free to express who you really are. Your life has meaning and purpose. What was lost has been found.

Oh, you can’t enter fully into that place of belonging yet, but that “Found Thing” can. That inner part of you that was lost has finally found a home, a place to express the full realisation of your potential.

And somehow I hear the voice of Jesus gently saying “Don’t ever lose the childlike humility of responding to Me and My purposes for you. I came to give you life and life to the full. The Son of Man came to save that which was lost”

Pastor Ross

Doorway Face in doorway.jpg

 

Genesis 31:1-13 – LEARNING FROM A TOXIC WORKPLACE 

Toxic Workplace by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Morguefiles.org

Toxic Workplace by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net and Morguefiles.org

He has been bullied into working for them for many years. Now he overhears his co-workers making derisive comments about him in a private conversation. Jealous of his success, the boss’ sons accuse him of prospering at their expense. They attack his character. Even though they don’t work directly with him it seems his reputation has been tarnished (Genesis 31:1,2).

Their loss is not the forfeiture of wealth but of relationship with Jacob. He is, afterall, a gifted businessman who has worked hard in the company for many years. They grumble about him, ostracize him and criticize him rather than embrace him and what he has to offer.

I can learn much from Laban’s sons and Jacob’s toxic workplace. If jealousy is allowed it’s way, it will fester and rule over my life. It will mislead my motives and prejudice my perspectives. The murmurings of malice will begin to spill venom into my speech.

The noxious taste of envy has already soured in Jacob’s mouth. Deceptive half-truths and distortions have shadowed his family history. Lies and malicious rumours now dog his own steps and bite at his heels, stripping away pieces of his reputation.

“Am I willing to be bullied by the limiting attitudes of others?”

Laban & Sons is a toxic workplace. If we reverse the curse of their poisonous bullying we can find some positive principles for a healthy workplace environment. If only Laban and his sons would…

  1. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY AND ENCOURAGE OTHERS (instead of play the Blame Game)

The company hasn’t made a profit this year and Jacob becomes an object of false blame, a scapegoat. Surely a healthy workplace culture depends on a boss who takes responsibility and encourages his workers to succeed in their endeavours.

  1. ENCOURAGE CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION (not Workplace Inflexibility and Oppression)

“Are the results of my changes welcomed or does the boss think that I am trying to take over?” A healthy workplace encourages creativity and innovation.

  1. BE INCLUSIVE AND BUILD HEALTHY WORK RELATIONSHIPS (instead of playing Power Politics and Bullying) 

“There are unwritten laws and expectations. Workplace politics! All you have to do is tow-the-line and not challenge the status quo; do things my way; make me look good; stop trying to get any credit; stay within the limits I set; submit to my demands no matter how unreasonable they may be.”

“Am I willing to challenge those who legislate rules in favour of their autocratic leadership style and bigotry?”

It is often the few, like Laban and his sons, who have the loudest voices and they market their ideas in the cauldrons of power in order to coerce others to become a puppet of their political correctness. Jacob could well ask,

“Am I destined to ape the morality of those I admire the least?”

Building healthy working relationships without autocratic power-mongering and bullying, is the sign of a healthy workplace environment. 

  1. INSPIRE SUCCESS (not being Threatened by it)

“Does my workplace culture remain fluid and open to new ideas, inspiring success rather than being domineering and repressive?”

In educational institutions as well as political arenas, workplaces as well as neighbourhoods, there are authoritarian, arrogant, narcissistic personalities, who feel a strong need to control or dominate, and who use bullying as a tool to conceal their shame and boost their self-esteem, demeaning others in order to feel empowered; the Laban & Sons of our world. We can choose to refuse a bullying culture.

Finding purpose and fulfilment in life will involve overcoming the obstacles, the barriers, brick walls, roadblocks and hurdles ahead. If I am to seek the direction and the courage I need to move forward in my life, I will find myself disentangling myself from toxic environments and toxic people.

Jacob has faith in the promises of God for his life, but having purpose and privilege in being involved in that which has eternal value does not make it easier for him to find the courage he needs to face his detractors; those who dislike him; critics or cynics; and those who say disparaging things about his faith and play the bully in the name of tolerance. 

Jacob is no innocent, perfect man. He’s under pressure, and obedience to God will often involve going against the flow. He is learning not be bullied by the restrictive attitudes of others. Once, he had his manipulating mother to push him past his problems using deception, but now he will find other allies and a different courage inspired by faith instead of fear. The invitation he gives us is that of pursuing your God-given destiny.

It’s time to become a returnee and brave the journey to the land of promise. But will he be prepared to lose his job to pursue his destiny? What about you? 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 30:25–35 -PLEASE RELEASE ME, LET ME GO! 

Speckled. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

Speckled. Image by Ross Cochrane using Paint.net, FilterForge, and Morguefile.org

I hear the old long-playing (LP) record droning on even today, and my Dad’s voice singing above it, “Please release me, let me go…To waste our lives would be a sin…” I watched my Dad waste his life in work that promised him a management position but kept him waiting on meagre wages until he was too old to care.

Jacob wants out. He says to Laban, “Please release me so I can go home to my own country.” Home to my own country. I have a promise to pursue. Let me explore it’s implications before I am too old to care.

Laban is a wealthy business person but spiritually bankrupt. God and Jacob are his good luck charms. As God unfolds His truth and reveals His character even to Laban, Laban understands it only through the eyes of potential fortune. “Please listen to me,” Laban replies. “I have become wealthy, for the Lord has blessed me because of you. Tell me how much I owe you. Whatever it is, I’ll pay it” (Genesis 30:27-28 NLT). 

So you finally admit it. All of a sudden you want to get generous and give me what is owed. No, old man. It won’t work. Not this time. You don’t want me to stay because I am your much-loved Son-in-law, husband to your daughters. All you want is to accumulate more wealth. Watch it uncle, your greed is showing.

Jacob is willing to leave with nothing. The promises of God are more reliable than yours, uncle. All my life I have heard my mother, my father, you and your daughters persuading me to be involved in your plans for my life. I have played the part of a deceiver and been deceived. I have always felt like a sheep in a pack of wolves, but this old lost wether is not willing to be taken by you this time. I have already worked for you for fourteen years, Laban. But I have heard the voice of the Shepherd calling me home, words of destiny in the silence of my heart. If I stay it will be at the request of His voice alone.

“Let me take my wives and children, for I have earned them by serving you, and let me be on my way. You certainly know how hard I have worked for you and how your flocks and herds have grown under my care.” This is business language and he still speaks of his wives as the commodity that he has earned by his work for Laban. Not a romantic bone in his body. You’ve had a good deal. I’ve got Rachel even though you tricked me. We are even. Now feel a little pain yourself. Maybe even enough pain to agree to a deal before I go.

“You had little indeed before I came, but your wealth has increased enormously. The Lord has blessed you through everything I’ve done. But now, what about me? When can I start providing for my own family?” (Genesis 30:29-30 NLT).

“What wages do you want?” Laban asks again. (Genesis 30:31 NLT).Finally, old man. I knew you would get to a deal, but this time you’ll have to do things my way even though one day you may wish you had let me go. “Jacob replied, “Don’t give me anything. Just do this one thing, and I’ll continue to tend and watch over your flocks. Here’s the deal, uncle. Take it or leave it. “Let me inspect your flocks today and remove all the sheep and goats that are speckled or spotted, along with all the black sheep. …” (Genesis 30:32 NLT) Let them be a part of a different flock and take them away to be looked after by your men.

Let’s start with a clean slate; with a flock that consists of only single coloured animals. Let me look after that flock. Most of the sheep are pure white and most of the goats a dark chocolate-brown. You’ll get a good deal, uncle. You can keep all your existing flocks. But this time there’ll be no room for deception. No cheating! So uncle, here’s the deal. I get all those born from your pure, plain coloured flocks that are spotted and speckled as well as any black sheep that are born from your flock (Genesis 30:32). “Give these to me as my wages. In the future, when you check on the animals you have given me as my wages, you’ll see that I have been honest. If you find in my flock any goats without speckles or spots, or any sheep that are not black, you will know that I have stolen them from you.” Take the deal! I’ll trust God and you trust in your greed. 

“All right,” Laban replies. “It will be as you say.” Jacob, you’re a fool. What are you trying to do? You know that plain sheep produce far more plain coloured animals than speckled ones. You’ll only end up with a few animals, if any. You really will need some divine intervention. So Jacob and God go into partnership.

“Please release me, let me go … to waste our lives would be a sin” (Engelbert Humperdink). The story of Jacob invites me to be released from my own deception and the sin that so easily entraps me and to make a fresh start. We are to be released from wasting our lives and from allowing others to govern our lives instead of God. We are to take the risk of faith with nothing but hard work in our hands, and live in the expectation that God “is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20 NLT). “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all Your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NLT).

Pastor Ross

GENESIS 29:1 – A FRESH NEW BLANK CANVAS

New Fresh Canvas

New Fresh Canvas

The sun lifts the vibrance of the earth after the rain as the palette is prepared afresh. The old, muddied colours are discarded, scraped off and replaced by a spectrum of blues; sapphire, indigo and azure and brilliant reds, yellow ochres, whites and graded skin tones. Once more the canvas is placed on the wooden supports of the easel. What will emerge?

The descriptive strokes begin, rich with latent possibilities, warm and intense. There is no agreement as to which colour must be used. The variations are endless. The music of light is not restricted by set measures and an infinite spectrum of miscible timbres can be created; dynamic descants conducted by the skill of the artist. A rhythm begins as each stroke forms melodic harmonies, silent sequences, impressions only perceived and interpreted by the eyes and heart.

For Jacob, life becomes a canvas, paintbrush, palette and a set of imaginative possibilities which must be explored with brilliant strokes of colour. The raw ingredients of creativity bring “what could be” into existence and somehow eject doubt and any unrealised intentions of the past. A creative space on which to paint something innovative, fresh and original is an exceptionally satisfying prospect. He mixes the palette with renewed purpose and anticipation. Jacob’s deception with his brother and father has muddied his thinking, but God steps in to give clarity and instead of running away from his problems Jacob begins to run towards his destiny. The portrait is yet to emerge.

He leaves his home in Beersheba in disgrace yet his steps are now buoyed with blessing. He had tried to use deception to obtain God’s promise but in the process stains his family relationships. His brother hates him and wants him dead. His father sends him to Haran to escape Esau’s wrath with the excuse of finding a wife, and in doing so he retraces the steps of Abraham of old. He is yet to learn the important lessons in integrity along the way.

Jacob now stands where Abraham had once entered the land and where Lot and Abraham had separated. He is still far from Haran yet his dream of a stairway to heaven and the promises of God have revived him for the journey ahead. Fresh new colours on his palette.

He had better hurry since he is around 75 years old and still has about a 600 km journey ahead. When Abraham’s servant sought a wife for Isaac in Haran, he prayed and was led clearly to Rebekah (Genesis 24:10-67). No doubt Jacob, spending so much time with his mother had heard the story many times, but nowhere are we told that Jacob prays about the outcome of his journey even though this is one of the most important decisions of his life.

As the portrait is painted, what shades and hues will be used to represent his life? Jacob’s stumbling steps toward faith invite me to ask “What is it that needs to change in my life to enable me to be true to the calling of God on my life, to be aligned with all I am created to be, to be more authentic, focused and clear about the challenges of the next step? What image will emerge from the canvas?” 

Pastor Ross

Matthew 16:16-18 – WHEN RUINS COME TO LIFE

Cornerstone - Image by Ross Cochrane

Cornerstone – Image by Ross Cochrane

I regret not taking one of the bricks that day. My overwhelming sense of loss wanted to restore the scattered remnants of lost history. Somewhere deep inside was a sob for a dog and butterflies in spring, scented bushes and silkworms, an old copper full of hot water for the bath, a clothesline and a rusting corrugated iron toolshed, but most of all for the old cottage that held such memories in context. They were all cleared away the next time I came, as if it had all meant nothing, and an apartment block stood in the place of my childhood home. It was time for my life to be built on surer things, for my identity to be found upon a more stable foundation. Time for dreams to mature into destiny.

It is as if my life was one of the lost stones, scattered across the earth, not knowing my purpose in the scheme of things, until Christ began looking through the rubble.

It is the declaration Peter makes about who Jesus is (“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”) upon which Christ begins to construct His Church. But it is also the declaration Jesus makes of who Peter is (“…you are Peter, which means ‘rock’”), upon which He will build. Peter found his own identity that day in words that have reverberated from the pages of the Bible ever since. “Upon this rock I will build my Church.” (Matthew 16:16-18).

Ephesians 2:19-22 (NLT) says “Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself. We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through Him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by His Spirit.” 

Peter the Apostle, squaring his life to Christ, was a stone in the foundations of the Church at Pentecost. Peter’s teaching and preaching of the Truth of God’s Word and the miraculous signs and wonders that followed his ministry were building blocks. In Acts 2:42-43 (NLT) it says “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders.” Peter was an instrument through whom Christ was revealing His truth, and building His Church.

Years passed and somewhere in the scattered ruins of a world gone wrong Christ reached down to touch a peculiar shaped stone from some forgotten, bulldozed cottage. That day He chose me and I found my identity in Him. All followers of Christ are picked from the broken bricks of abandoned sites and mosaic-like arranged to fit; chosen in Christ to reflect something of the architectural beauty of His life; a magnificent expression of faith. Peter himself declares this in 1 Peter 2:5-8 (NLT) when he says “… you are living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple …” 

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:9-17 (NLT) echoes these thoughts “… You are God’s building.   Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful.   For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ … Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?   God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”

The invitation is for our lives to be built on surer things; for our identity to be found upon a more stable foundation; for dreams to mature into destiny; for scattered ruins to be restored in Christ, touched with eternity, infused with His life and divine intention, a magnificent expression of faith. 

Pastor Ross

Genesis 28:18–22 – TURNING A DREAM INTO DESTINY

Dream to Destiny

Dream to Destiny

Approaching the little Baptist Church near the station I can hear the voices that once drowned out the clatter of trains singing their praises again. The pump organ, now gone, for just a moment fills the room again with it’s sonorous tones as worship at full volume rises above the matters of the week. Mrs Young smiles as her head bobs above the music manuscripts, her strong vibrato voice somehow coaxing “Oh for a thousand tongues to sing” just one more time.

I am the ragged young man with long hair and a beard and no shoes who sits in the second front seat on Sunday mornings, and the man wearing a suit and tie always greets me at the door. There he is again, smiling and welcoming me in. I can see it, the photographs of remembrance still evoke the same emotions though the faces are fading in sepia.

We were a Church together with all the seemingly disparate parts meeting as one. We loved eachother. It will be a place I will always remember and return to, marked; a memorial in my mind. It is Jacob’s anointed stone and represents for many a stairway to heaven; access to God. It must be the very house of God; a place where dreams are transformed into destiny.

Nothing has changed for Jacob in Genesis 28, yet everything has changed. He is still running, still in a desert landscape, still propelled to leave home, still rejected by his brother, yet Jacob wants to preserve this moment, this milestone, this inspiring vision for his life, so he takes the stone he rested on, sets it upright as a memorial pillar, then anoints it with olive oil. It will represent that the dream he had of a stairway to heaven and the promises of God have been set apart for God’s purposes in his life. This is his first place of worship; the first place where he has made contact with God in a significant way. He names it Bethel; house of God; a place to meet with God and listen to Him speak. This must be the very house of God. A place where dreams are transformed into destiny.

Then Jacob makes this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if He will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me” (Genesis 28:20-22 NLT).

Jacob knows he needs God’s help, so he expresses it in terms of a covenant of commitment. He is saying in effect “Since you have promised these things then I’ll serve You. I commit my life to you”? As a covenant seal Jacob commits himself to paying a tithe. Tithing is a principle that unrolls gradually in the Bible, like a scroll. God doesn’t command him to do it. He isn’t planning to tithe regularly. This is the only recorded time that Jacob intends to tithe, a once-off offering that Jacob wants to make. It declares his trust and dependency upon God who provides and cares for him.

For once in his life Jacob is more concerned with giving rather than grabbing. Tithing won’t save him or ensure that God will bless him with material things. God has already promised to do this. Tithing is not a talisman against evil. For Jacob, it is an expression of his commitment to God, a response of his heart to God’s purposes for his life. My Pastor speaks about it as living the unlived life.

God invites me to respond to Him today; to commit my life to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, entrusting my life into His care; to meet with and listen to God and His purposes; to respond to Him with all my heart; to determine to live a life of generosity and recognise a place of personal worship as the house of God. That’s when God turns my dreams into destiny.

Pastor Ross

If this article has resonated with you, would you please pass it forward to those whose lives you think may also be touched by Words of Life. Thanks and may God bless you.

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it.

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Genesis 27:5-17 – THE STING – HOW TO SHAPE YOUR DESTINY THROUGH DECEPTION

THE STING

My Mum always believed that a little white lie was always acceptable if it brought about the right end. Rebekah went all in for THE STING. Strictly speaking, Esau is her FIRST BORN SON, if only by a few seconds, and as such is entitled to certain privileges. A first-born son in Old Testament times is given the overall LEADERSHIP of the family, the SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY of the family as well as a DOUBLE PORTION of the inheritance. This is his BIRTHRIGHT. This is how it is always done. Or is it? If it’s up to Rebekah, it won’t be.

Romans 9:10-13 says “When Isaac married Rebekah, she gave birth to TWINS. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God.” She was told, “Your older son will serve your younger son.” That had an impact on Rebekah then, and years later it still does.

THE SET-UP

Overhearing a conversation Isaac has with Esau, Rebekah discovers that Isaac intends to secretly give the family blessing to Esau NOT JACOB. Once given it will be binding and irrevocable. Family inheritance, family leadership, spiritual authority. BUT GOD PROMISED REBEKAH THIS WOULD GO TO JACOB!

THE HOOK

When life appears to be going pear-shaped for your children, don’t give up! Manipulate, deceive, badger and lie! If God won’t work things out immediately, do it yourself! At least this is Rebekah’s way of getting things done. Rebekah wants to work out the will of God on HER OWN TIMETABLE in Genesis 27.

There is always a Rebekah, who feels she is responsible, playing God, but in the most ungodly of ways. God said it, I believe it, BUT… Lacking faith in God’s ability to accomplish His promises, Rebekah has her own plan, a STING OPERATION on her blind husband. It’s a long-shot and poorly conceived, but she finds Jacob and gives him an opportunity to earn an Oscar. Not wanting Jacob to be the biggest loser and be by-passed for a leading role in life (Genesis 27:6-7), Rebekah tells Jacob that deception, trickery, fraud, dishonesty, lying and a sting operation is the only way left for her to fulfil the will of God! How twisted is this kind of thinking?

THE STING

She convinces Jacob to bring two of the young goats from the herd and she cooks them in the way Isaac likes. To complete the ruse, she finds some clothes belonging to Esau and puts them on Jacob. Since Esau is hairy, she glues goat skin to Jacob’s hands and neck (Genesis 27:16). She gives Jacob the meat and sends him in to play Esau and receive the blessing from his blind father. Simple. Who will ever know?

I can know God’s will and try to bring it about in the wrong way and in the wrong time. God doesn’t need me to lie and scheme in order to accomplish His purposes for my life. Do I really believe that unless I don’t act now it won’t happen and if I don’t do something God will bypass me? Is a deceptive means to a good ending justified? Is it really up to me to bring about God’s will in whatever way I please? I know I have to co-operate with God, but it seems to me Rebekah’s method is a bit sus.

God says “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And My ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT).

THE INVITATION God so patiently gives is for every one of us to believe Him and His promises. Like a father, He longs for relationship with us. He wants to include us in HIS plans, not the other way around. When I simply try to include Him in MY plans, I get it wrong and although He can turn cursing to blessing, He doesn’t condone my sin. Will my impatience with His timetable set into play a series of consequences that will inevitably shape my destiny in adverse ways? He gives every person the invitation and the opportunity to place their trust in Christ and come under His authority for their lives, and to co-operate with Him along the way. Only He knows the beginning from the end. He can shape my destiny based on integrity not a sting operation. He likes to write the end of the story with my co-operation not my interference.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 27:1-4 – DAY OF DESTINY – YOU ARE SO NOT INVITED!

Dear God, You are So NOT INVITED!

Can I really control my own destiny or is it predetermined for me? Can I frustrate fete or the plans of God or am I able to choose what I want for my life? What about Isaac and Rebekah? What about their sons, Esau and Jacob? I mean, none of them will admit to you that they are all trying to bypass and tamper with God’s will, but that’s what they are trying to do in Genesis 27. Can God’s will and purposes be thwarted? This story will be passed down for generations as an example of how the stubborn and hurried choices we make to determine our own future can go wrong, and how, despite our dogged desires, God is still able to accomplish His purposes.

Esau. Skilful with weapons. A sportsman/hunter. A man’s man. A Father’s favourite. Isaac loves his rugged outdoorsman son, Bear Grylls. Jacob, his other son, is a Mummy’s boy. That’s where all the trouble begins. Favouritism.

If Isaac had been reading his diary lately he would have been reminded that God told Rebekah “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son” (Genesis 25:23). Jesus would eventually come from the line of Jacob, NOT Esau. He has spoken with Rebekah about this promise. Isaac knows that Jacob is supposed to receive the father’s blessing. Now he is intending to disregard God’s will. Is he blind? Well, as a matter-of-fact yes, totally (Genesis 27:1), but what I mean is he is making a big mistake!

A little further back in Isaac’s diary and we read that Esau isn’t interested in the family or in a relationship with God. Esau SOLD HIS BIRTHRIGHT to his brother for a pot of stew! (See Genesis 25:27-34 – Bear Grylls and Master Chef.) Irresponsible!, Perhaps he needs to go into the army for a season and learn a little discipline. He is definitely not suited for being CEO of the family business or leading his family spiritually. More suited to taking tourists on Safari. He doesn’t appear to have a spiritual bone in his body.

Isaac is not stupid. He knows the will of God, and he still wants to do things his own way. Hebrews 3:12 (NLT) says “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.” Now totally blind and well over 100 years old, Isaac thinks he’s going to die soon (Genesis 27:2. Understandable (How could he know he would live 40 years more – Genesis 35:28-29)!

He decides to act quickly and covertly to give Esau, not Jacob, the family blessing. Instead of killing one of the flock and celebrating a feast with family and friends, he asks Esau to go out and kill some game and prepare that instead. Then he would bless him and bestow leadership, inheritance and the spiritual responsibility upon him.

But how absent of celebration this blessing will be. How empty and devoid of congratulations! This is like a 21st birthday party without a cake and a mother’s kiss! Without music and laughter! Isaac acts in secret. He calls only Esau (Genesis 27:1)! He chooses a substitute feast and a secret celebration. No personal cost. As if God doesn’t notice! In Jeremiah 16:17 (NIV) God says “My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from Me, nor is their sin concealed from My eyes.”

Esau does not believe in God. It’s worth asking – Can I really send God a “You are so not invited to my destiny” Card and still expect the blessing of God? I know at times I have tried to control God and tell Him what I want Him to do for me as if He is a genie in a bottle. It makes me wonder what other ways I deliberately try to ignore, neglect, disobey and reject God?

Isaac leaves God out of his plans. Can I really expect the blessing of God when I refuse to include him in my decisions? I can’t receive what God wants for my life through the false hopes and dreams of my parents. The blessings of God, the Father, are given to those who are the children of God through faith in Christ. Galatians 3:14 (NLT) says “Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, …THROUGH FAITH.”

The invitation God gives comes in the form of a Covenant promise and a sacrifice. The promise was Eternal life. The sacrifice was paid on the Cross when Christ died for our sins. Christ sacrificed His life for our sins in order to bestow the blessing of Eternal life. He invites you to believe in Him and receive the promised blessing today.

Pastor Ross