Ever been in a situation where it got tough? Ever been in a situation where it got ugly? Ever been in a situation where you were the victim? Ever been in a situation where you were part of the group who learned about it?
What happened? What was the response? Did anyone do anything? Where did you turn? What did you do?
Would you be willing to turn to God for wisdom? Would you allow Him to direct your steps? Not every situation deserves the same response or reaction!
So who has got your back? Will you let God have your back? Will you be obedient to what He prompts you to do? To respond? To react? To say? Don’t try to do it your own way! Do it God’s way! Some may respond in ways outside of God’s will! Some may go beyond what is reasonable! Some may make things worst.
The power of forgiveness will be the key to getting out the other side. Without forgiveness, you end up in a place where you are taking the poison and expecting it to impact the other person. So consider the response! Consider what needs to be done! But so that you don’t drive yourself crazy, make sure that forgiveness comes into the picture. (Remember: Forgiving others takes away their power over you and that as you forgive others, God will forgive you!)
Today’s reading raised all these questions to mind. Today’s reading is more severe than what I would hope most people would ever have to be exposed to. Let’s check it out…
Dinah Defiled by Shechem1Now Dinah, Leah’s daughter whom she bore for Jacob, went out to look at the daughters of the land.2When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her and raped her.3But his soul clung to Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, and he loved the young woman and spoke reassuringly to the young woman.4So Shechem said to his father Hamor saying, “Get me this girl for a wife.”5Now Jacob had heard that he had defiled his daughter Dinah while his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept quiet until they came in.6Meanwhile Shechem’s father Hamor went out to Jacob in order to speak with him.7Jacob’s sons had already come in from the field when they heard, and the men were deeply grieved and furious, because he had committed a vile deed in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, which ought never to be done.8But Hamor spoke with them saying, “My son Shechem—he’s very attached to your daughter. Please give her to him for a wife.9Intermarry with us. You can give your daughters to us, and you can take our daughters for yourselves.10You can live with us, and the land will be open to you: live in it, move about freely in it, and settle down in it.”11Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “Would that I find favor in your eyes! Whatever you say to me I’ll give.12Set the dowry and the presents as high as you like and I’ll give whatever you say to me. But give me the young woman as a wife.”13But Jacob’s sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully as they spoke, because he had defiled their sister Dinah.14They said to them, “We can’t do this thing—give our sister to a man who is uncircumcised—for this is a disgrace to us.15Only by this will we consent to you: if you will become like us, by circumcising every male.16Then we’ll give you our daughters and take your daughters for ourselves, and live with you, and become one people.17But if you don’t listen to us and be circumcised, we’ll take our daughter and leave.”18Now their words seemed good to Hamor as well as Hamor’s son Shechem.19So the young man did not hesitate to do it, since he delighted in Jacob’s daughter. Now he was honored above everyone else in his father’s house.20So Hamor and his son Shechem came into the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying:21“These men are enjoying a peaceful relationship with us and they are living in the land and moving about freely in it. As for the land, look, it’s spread out on both sides before us. We can take their daughters to be our wives, and we can give our daughters to them.22But by this did these men consent to us, to live with us and to become one people—when all our males are circumcised as they are circumcised.23Their livestock and their possessions: won’t they be ours? Only let us consent to them so that they’ll live with us.”24Now everyone who went out of the gate of his city listened to Hamor and to his son Shechem, and every male was circumcised, every one who went out the gate of his city.25Then on the third day while they were in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came against the city undisturbed and killed every male.26Hamor and his son Shechem they killed with the sword, then took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left.27Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and plundered the city because they defiled their sister.28They took their flocks, their cattle and their donkeys, those that were in the city as well as those that were in the field.29All their wealth, their little children, and their wives they captured and plundered, as well as everything that was in the houses.30But Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You’ve brought trouble on me, making me a stench among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites. I am but a few men—they’ll gather against me and strike me—then I’ll be destroyed, my household and I.”31But they said, “Should he treat our sister like a prostitute?”–from Genesis 34
Jacob learns about it and is concerned. The brothers wanted to stand up for their sister and protect her.
If and when we respond, will it be out of obedience to God? will it be out of fear of others? or will it be out of an emotional reaction or response?
Remember whose got your back! Why not make sure you are all on the same page? Why not get the group, the friends, the family, the team together and make sure you are all on the same page.
Consider how God called Jacob to that and how they all came together…
Rededication at Beth-El1Then God said to Jacob, “Get up! Go up to Beth-El and stay there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”2So Jacob said to his household and to everyone who was with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods that are among you. Cleanse yourselves and change your clothes.3Now let’s get up and go up to Beth-El so that I can make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and has been with me in the way that I have gone.”4So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods in their hand and the rings in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak tree near Shechem.5Then they journeyed, and the terror of God was on the cities that were around them, so they did not pursue Jacob’s sons.6Then Jacob arrived at Luz in the land of Canaan (that is Beth-El), he and all the people who were with him.7He built an altar there and called the place El-Beth-El because God had revealed Himself to him there when he fled from the presence of his brother.8Then Rebekah’s nurse Deborah died, and was buried below Beth-El, under the oak—so it was named Oak of Weeping.9God appeared to Jacob again, after he returned from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him.10God said to him: “Your name was Jacob. No longer will your name be Jacob, for your name will be Israel.” So He named him Israel.11God also said to him: “I am El Shaddai. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and an assembly of nations will come from you. From your loins will come forth kings.12The land that I gave to Abraham and to Isaac— I give it to you, and to your seed after you I will give the land.”13Then God went up from him at the place where He had spoken with him.14Jacob set up a memorial stone in the place where He had spoken with him—a stone pillar—and he poured a drink offering on it and poured oil on it.15Jacob named the place where God spoke with him Beth-El.
Rachel’s Death in Childbirth16Then they traveled from Beth-El, and while they were still a distance from entering Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth, but her labor was difficult.17While she was struggling to give birth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for this is also a son for you.”18Now as her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-Oni, but his father named him Benjamin.19Then Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).20Jacob set up a memorial stone over her grave. (It is the memorial stone over Rachel’s grave to this day.)
Israel Returns to Isaac21Then Israel journeyed on and set up his tent beyond the tower of Eder.22While Israel was living in that land, Reuben went and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard about it. Now Jacob had twelve sons.23Leah’s sons were Jacob’s firstborn Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.24Rachel’s sons were Joseph and Benjamin.25The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s female servant, were Dan and Naphtali,26and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s female servant, were Gad and Asher. These are Jacob’s sons, who were born to him in Paddan-aram.27Then Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre of Kiriat-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed.28Now Isaac’s days were 180 years.29Then Isaac breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his peoples, old and full of days. So his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.–from Genesis 35
You are better than that. You can’t live in the past with what others have said, but rather you need to live in the present as God is calling you! When you come to Him and receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you become a new creation, the old is gone and the new is come. When you are transformed from who you were to who God is calling you to be.
The old way had a reason. The old way had a purpose. The old way had a season. The new way is better. Jesus’ way is better! It moves from a physical thing to a matter of the heart!
Consider what we read in today’s reading from Acts…
Jerusalem Council Rules on Circumcision1Now some men coming down from Judea were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”2When Paul and Barnabas had a big argument and debate with them, the brothers appointed Paul and Barnabas with some others from among them to go up to Jerusalem to the emissaries and elders about this issue.3So they were sent on their way by the Antioch community. They were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and they were bringing great joy to all the brothers and sisters.4When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the community and the emissaries and the elders. They reported all that God had done in helping them.5But some belonging to the party of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the Torah of Moses.”6The emissaries and elders were gathered together to examine this issue.7After much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God chose from among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the message of the Good News and believe.8And God, who knows the heart, testified to them by giving them the Ruach ha-Kodesh—just as He also did for us.9He made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts through faith.10Why then do you put God to the test by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples—which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?11But instead, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the LordYeshua, in the same way as they are.”12Then the whole group became silent and were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were describing in detail all the signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.13After they finished speaking, Jacob answered, “Brothers, listen to me.14Simon has described how God first showed His concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for His Name.15The words of the Prophets agree, as it is written:16‘After this I will return and rebuild the fallen tabernacle of David. I will rebuild its ruins and I will restore it,17so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord— namely all the Gentiles who are called by My name— says Adonai, who makes these things18known from of old.’19Therefore, I judge not to trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God—20but to write to them to abstain from the contamination of idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what is strangled, and from blood.21For Moses from ancient generations has had in every city those who proclaim him, since he is read in all the synagogues every Shabbat.”
Letter to Diaspora Communities22Then it seemed good to the emissaries and elders, with the whole community, to choose men from among themselves to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent Judah (also called Barsabbas) and Silas, leading men among the brethren,23and this letter along with them: “The emissaries and the elders, your brothers, To the Gentile brothers of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings!24Since we have heard that some from among us have troubled you with words disturbing to your souls, although we gave them no such authorization,25it seemed good to us, having come to one accord, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul—26men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.27We therefore have sent to you Judah and Silas, who themselves will report to you the same things by word of mouth.28It seemed good to the Ruach ha-Kodesh and to us not to place on you any greater burden than these essentials:29that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. By keeping away from these things, you will do well. Shalom!”30So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch; and when they had gathered the whole group together, they delivered the letter.31The people read it and rejoiced over its encouragement.32Judah and Silas, prophets themselves, encouraged the brothers and sisters with a long message and strengthened them.33After spending some time there, they were sent off with shalom by the brothers and sisters to those who had sent them.3435But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and proclaiming the word of the Lord with many others.
New Teams Strengthen Communities36After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s return and visit the brothers and sisters in every city where we have proclaimed the word of the Lord, to see how they are.”37Barnabas was planning to take along John, called Mark.38But Paul was insisting that they shouldn’t take him along—the one who had deserted them in Pamphylia, not accompanying them in the work.39A sharp disagreement took place, so that they split off from one another. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.40But Paul selected Silas and went out, being entrusted by the brothers and sisters to the gracious care of the Lord.41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the communities.–from Acts 15
Do you realize the power of forgiveness? Do you realize similarity between the words pardon and forgive? As a noun “the action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense”. As a verb “forgive or excuse (a person, error, or offense)”. Do you realize the power Jesus was given when he was a mad and had as the son of God and has today? Do realize the power that was provided when He gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice on the cross for eternity? Nothing was held back from Jesus! He wasn’t just able to heal the physical, but He was able to break chains in the supernatural as well. He heals more than just the physical, He heals the spiritual side of us too. He is the ultimate physician so that we are able to bring to Him all of our needs! Let’s see what we learn as today’s reading closes in Matthew…
Authority to Pardon Sins1After getting into a boat, Yeshua crossed over and came to His own town.2Just then, some people brought to Him a paralyzed man lying on a cot. And seeing their faith, Yeshua said to the paralyzed man, “Take courage, son! Your sins are forgiven.”3Then some of the Torah scholars said among themselves, “This fellow blasphemes!”4And knowing their thoughts, Yeshua said, “Why are you entertaining evil in your hearts?5For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?6But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to pardon sins…” Then He tells the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your cot and go home.”7And he got up and went home.8When the crowd saw it, they were afraid and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
A Physician for Sinners9As Yeshua was passing by from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. He said to him, “Follow Me.” And he got up and followed Him.10Now it happened that when Yeshua was reclining at the table in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Yeshuaand His disciples.11When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why does this Teacher of yours eat with tax collectors and sinners?”12But when He heard this, Yeshua said, “Those who are healthy have no need for a doctor, but those who are sick do.13Now go and learn what this means: ‘Mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.’ For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but the sinful.”
Teaching New Ways14Then John’s disciples came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”15And Yeshua said to them, “The guests of the bridegroom cannot mourn while the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.16“And no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch pulls away from the garment and a worse tear happens.17Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, and the wine spills out and the skins are ruined. But they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Compassion in the Shepherd’s Touch18Just as He was saying these things to them, a synagogue leader came and began to bow before Him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come lay Your hand on her and she will live.”19And Yeshua got up and began to follow him, with His disciples.20Just then a woman, losing blood for twelve years, came from behind and touched the tzitzit of His garment.21For she kept saying to herself, “If only I touch His garment, I will be healed.”22But then Yeshua turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” He said, “your faith has made you well.” That very hour the woman was healed.23When Yeshua came into the synagogue leader’s house and saw the flute players and the noisy crowd wailing,24He said, “Go away, for the girl isn’t dead, but sleeping.” And they began jeering at Him.25But when the crowd had been cleared out, He went in and took her hand, and the girl got up.26And news of this spread all around that region.27As Yeshua went on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, “Ben-David, have mercy on us!”28When He went into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Yeshuasaid to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Master,” they said to Him.29Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith, let it be done for you.”30And their eyes were opened. And Yeshua warned them sternly, “See that no one knows.”31But they went out and spread the news about Him all around that region.32As they were going out, a mute man plagued by a demon was brought to Him.33After the demon was driven out, the mute man started speaking. The crowds were astounded, saying, “Never has anything like this been seen in Israel!”34But the Pharisees were saying, “By the prince of demons He drives out demons.”35Now Yeshua was going around all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness.36When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.37Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.38Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest that He may send out workers into His harvest field.”
So, let’s join forces with Jesus! Let’s let Him have our back! Let’s live life a different way!
Let’s do it His Way!