My Shepherd All My Life Long

January 26, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love | Leave a comment

Genesis 48:15-16.  This passage recently caught my eye in my devotions.  The background for it is interesting.  Joseph’s brothers and his father Jacob had recently moved to Egypt, and Pharaoh was to meet them.  Joseph warned them that when Pharaoh asked their occupation not to say they were shepherds but to say they kept livestock (Gen 46:33-34).  But guess what?  As soon as Pharaoh asked the anticipated question, they answered with the dreaded word (47:3)!  They were shepherds; their father was a shepherd, and they couldn’t remove themselves from being shepherds.  In other words, being shepherds was their entire life experience.

So when Jacob was old and near death, he decided to bless Joseph’s sons.  It is not the blessing that caught my eye as much as the description Jacob used of God.  “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless these boys.” (48:15-16 ESV)   This man who was a shepherd all his life, this man who was over 140 years old, looked back and said God was his shepherd all those years.  What a tender thought!  He knew what a shepherd was; he knew how a shepherd cared for his sheep, and he knew how God had cared for him.  This casts Jacob, who was a deceiver in his earlier life, in a different light than I usually see him.  In spite of his sinful ways, he had a dynamic relationship with God.

I wonder if David had recently read this portion of Genesis when he penned his most famous song, Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd.”  And, centuries later, when God walked on this earth, he used the same imagery when he called himself our Good Shepherd (John 10).

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God Hears, Remembers, Sees, and Knows

January 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love, Security and Assurance | 2 Comments

God’s people thought he’d forgotten and abandoned them.  They were suffering in slavery, and the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were long forgotten in their experience.  But the text says, “During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help.  Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.  And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.  God saw the people of Israel – and God knew.”  Exodus 2:23-25 (ESV)  The very next words begin the famous story of God calling Moses through the burning bush.

I love that string of verbs with God as the subject.  God heard; God remembered; God saw; God knew.  Isn’t that powerful?  Whatever situation his people are in, God hears; God remembers his covenant; God sees their struggles and God knows.  He knows both the situation his people are in and what he is going to do about it.  In the Exodus story, he had already put the pieces in motion by saving Moses’ life, by raising him with both the culture of royal Egypt and the God of the Hebrew people, and by moving him from Egypt to Midian.  When he appeared to Moses, God told him, “I have surely seen . . . and have heard . . . I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them” (3:7-8).  Later when Moses’ first attempt failed and he again doubted himself, God reminded him, “I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel . . . I have remembered my covenant.” (6:5)

Wherever you are in life, God hears his people; he remembers his covenant; he sees what is happening; he knows.  Rest in that comfort.

Best Books of 2012

January 15, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Posted in Books and Movies | Leave a comment

Here are my favorite books of those I read in 2012.  The books that I have already reviewed in this blog have links to the post where they were reviewed.

Fiction: I read a lot of fiction this past year, most of which I enjoyed tremendously.  Books like Delirious Summer by Ray Blackston, which was a great light-hearted laugh; Last of the Breed by Louis L’Amour, a tremendous adventure; and a reread of the 100 Cupboards trilogy.  But certainly my favorite fiction read of the last twelve months was The Chiveis Trilogy by Moody Bible Institute theology professor Bryan Litfin.  It was not only a fun adventure and romance, but also a thought-provoking theology about life without God’s Word.

Our favorite family read-together books were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Peace Like a River by Leif Enger.  Once we got into the last one, it was hard to keep my daughter out of it on days we couldn’t read together.  It was that good in parts.

Nonfiction:  Even though Killer Angels is rightfully considered fiction, I put it here as one of the best because the history in it was so carefully researched, and I learned a lot from it.  In the category of Christian Nonfiction, Joseph Stowell’s Radical Reliance gets the best book nod.

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