January 24

Genesis 28:15 (NIV) 15I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

Jacob had bought his brother's birthright and stolen his blessing. As he fled from his brother Esau, he had an encounter with God at Bethel. There, God promised many things to this rascal. Nothing is really asked of Jacob. True, Jacob valued the blessing but went about obtaining it in an ungodly manner. Once God had expressed the blessing and promises to Jacob, Jacob went about cutting a deal. Allow me to paraphrase it. "OK, if you protect, feed, clothe me, and get me back here safely, tell you what I'll do. I'll give you a tenth and worship you here. Then I'll adopt you as my god." (I use the little "g" intentionally.)

How patient God is with us! Jacob had just been told how blessed he was, in spite of his deceptions, received promises he didn't deserve, and then he talked to God as if God needed him! If we will look deep within our own heart, we will find the same is often true of us and our requests of God. He has given us promises as great as the ones He gave to Jacob, and we still wheel and deal with Him as if He should be grateful for our worship.

Prayer: Oh Lord, open our eyes to who You are and all that You have promised us. Help us to worship and adore You and ask in humble gratitude only the things that are in your will for your glory and honor.

January 24

Matthew 2:19-20, 23 (NIV) 19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead."

23and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."

When Herod the Great died (4 BC), the angel of the LORD spoke to Joseph in a dream. It was the same way God spoke to Joseph about taking Mary as his wife. It was the same way God sent them down into Egypt. We often wonder if we are still in the will of God. We heard from God once and obeyed, but are we still supposed to be where we are? You can trust God that if He changes His plan for you, He can speak again just as clearly as the time He sent you there. It is a good rule of thumb to expect God to reveal any changes in His direction with as clear a leading as you received when He sent you that way. God has no difficulty speaking in a way we will understand. Our problem is most often either endurance or willingness to hear.

Notice that God used dreams to communicate to Joseph. God can work uniquely with each individual. Don't expect God to be limited to using dreams. Don't expect others to hear from God in the manner that you do.

Matthew says their return to Nazareth fulfilled a prophecy that said the Messiah would be a Nazarene. Scholars once thought this meant a Nazirite. We know that cannot be the case, for Jesus drank wine. Nazareth may be derived from the Hebrew word 'Netzor', meaning a branch or shoot. Nazareth may have been a city inhabited by descendents of David who were looking forward to the fulfillment of the promises of an eternal king descended from David. In that sense, the Messiah would be called a shoot of David, a Netzorean.

Further study on netzor– the branch: See Isaiah 11,53; Zechariah 3 and Jeremiah 23:5.