Inspirational Image of the Day

G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

This much, O heaven — if I should brood or rave,
Pity me not; but let the world be fed,
Yea, in my madness if I strike me dead,
Heed you the grass that grows upon my grave.

If I dare snarl between this sun and sod,
Whimper and clamour; give me grace to own,
In sun and rain and fruit in season shown, The shining silence of the mercy of God.

Thank God the stars are set beyond my power,
If I must travail in a night of wrath,
Thank God my tears will never vex a moth,
Nor any curse of mine cut down a flower.

Men say the sun was darkened: yet I had
Thought it beat brightly, even on Calvary:
And He that hung upon the Torturing Tree
Heard all the crickets singing, and was glad.

Genesis 30:14-43 (TLB)
The Story of Jacob [5] - Jacob’s Flocks

One day during the wheat harvest, Reuben found some mandrakesMandrake is a leafy plant whose roots look peculiarly like a human being. This gave rise to a peasant superstition that a woman who ate mandrake was more likely to conceive a child. (See the illustration below.) growing in a field and brought them to his mother Leah. Rachel begged Leah to give some of them to her.

But Leah angrily replied, “Wasn’t it enough to steal my husband? And now will you steal my son’s mandrakes too?”

That evening as Jacob was coming home from the fields, Leah went out to meet him. “You must sleep with me tonight!” she said; “for I am hiring you with some mandrakes my son has found!” So he did. And God answered her prayers and she became pregnant again, and gave birth to her fifth son. She named him Issachar (meaning “Wages”), for she said, “God has repaid me for giving my slave girl to my husband.” Then once again she became pregnant, with a sixth son. She named him Zebulun (meaning “Gifts”), for she said, “God has given me good gifts for my husband. Now he will honor me, for I have given him six sons.” Afterwards she gave birth to a daughter and named her Dinah.

Then God remembered about Rachel’s plight, and answered her prayers by giving her a child. For she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. “God has removed the dark slur against my name,” she said. And she named him Joseph (meaning “May I also have another!”), for she said, “May Jehovah give me another son.”

Soon after the birth of Joseph to Rachel, Jacob said to Laban, “I want to go back home. Let me take my wives and children—for I earned them from you—and be gone, for you know how fully I have paid for them with my service to you.”

“Please don’t leave me,” Laban replied, “for a fortune-teller that I consulted told me that the many blessings I’ve been enjoying are all because of your being here. How much of a raise do you need to get you to stay? Whatever it is, I’ll pay it.”

Jacob replied, “You know how faithfully I’ve served you through these many years, and how your flocks and herds have grown. For it was little indeed you had before I came, and your wealth has increased enormously; Jehovah has blessed you from everything I do! But now, what about me? When should I provide for my own family?”

What wages do you want?” Laban asked again. Jacob replied, “If you will do one thing, I’ll go back to work for you. Let me go out among your flocks today and remove all the goats that are speckled or spotted, and all the black sheep. Give them to me as my wages. Then if you ever find any white goats or sheep in my flock, you will know that I have stolen them from you!”

“All right!” Laban replied. “It shall be as you have said!”

So that very day Laban went out and formed a flock for Jacob of all the male goats that were ringed and spotted, and the females that were speckled and spotted with any white patches, and all of the black sheep. He gave them to Jacob’s sons to take them three days’ distance, and Jacob stayed and cared for Laban’s flock. Then Jacob took fresh shoots from poplar, almond, and sycamore trees, and peeled white streaks in them, and placed these rods beside the watering troughs so that Laban’s flocks would see them when they came to drink; for that is when they mated.

So the flocks mated before the white-streaked rods, and their offspring were streaked and spotted, and Jacob added them to his flock. Then he divided out the ewes from Laban’s flock and segregated them from the rams, and let them mate only with Jacob’s black rams. Thus he built his flocks from Laban’s. Moreover, he watched for the stronger animals to mate, and placed the peeled branches before them, but didn’t with the feebler ones. So the less healthy lambs were Laban’s and the stronger ones were Jacob’s! As a result, Jacob’s flocks increased rapidly and he became very wealthy, with many servants, camels, and donkeys.

Notes on the Scripture

There is a lot of “Bible story” in the history of Jacob, and not a lot of theological content; so we will have long readings, in the easy-to-read Living Bible translation, and not a lot of commentary.

It is a bit shocking to see all the trickery and superstition among the ancestors of Christ. Jacob is practically a con man! Once again, this illustrates the understanding of morality that first came to human beings through the law of Moses.

G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

Holy Spirit, divine Consoler, I adore You as my true God, with God the Father and God the Son. I adore You and unite myself to the adoration You receive from the angels and saints.

I give You my heart and I offer my ardent thanksgiving for all the grace which You never cease to bestow on me.

O Giver of all gifts, I beg You to visit me with Your grace and Your love and to grant me the gift of holy fear, so that it may act on me as a check to prevent me from falling back into my past sins, for which I beg pardon.

Grant me the gift of piety, so that I may serve You for the future with increased fervor, follow with more promptness Your holy inspirations, and observe your divine precepts with greater fidelity.

Grant me the gift of knowledge, so that I may know the things of God and, enlightened by Your holy teaching, may walk, without deviation, in the path of eternal salvation.

Grant me the gift of fortitude, so that I may overcome courageously all the assaults of the devil, and all the dangers of this world which threaten the salvation of my soul.

Grant me the gift of counsel, so that I may choose what is more conducive to my spiritual advancement and may discover the wiles and snares of the tempter.

Grant me the gift of understanding, so that I may apprehend the divine mysteries and by contemplation of heavenly things detach my thoughts and affections from the vain things of this miserable world.

Grant me the gift of wisdom, so that I may rightly direct all my actions, referring them to God as my last end; so that, having loved Him and served Him in this life, I may have the happiness of possessing Him eternally in the next.

All this I ask in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in whom I have all faith,

1 Corinthians 15:50-55 (ESV)
What Happens after We Die?

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

Notes on the Scripture

In this passage from one of Paul’s greatest works, his first Epistle to the Corinthians, he write a wonderful and powerful poetic prophecy of our eternity.

Christians are often rather hazy on exactly what will happen to them after they die, and indeed, there is not some sort of specific blueprint of the afterlife in the Bible. We know that a day will come when Christ will judge all of the people in the world, forgiving all who have died in His grace and bringing them into heaven. But what happens to our bodies? Will we look the same? Will it be “us”?

Here is one question about the afterlife, at least, to which we have a firm answer. Our bodies are perishable and will decay when we die. Our flesh cannot inherit the kingdom of God, because the kingdom of God is a kingdom of that which cannot perish. We shall be changed.

The victory of Christ over death is the central tenet of Christianity. Christ promised us eternal life, if we would believe in Him; and most Christians see the miracle of Christ’s resurrection as the linchpin miracle that proved He was “the real thing.” But the resurrection of Christ’s body was a special case, brought about so that others could see Him and touch Him, to know that it was really Jesus. The rest of us will not be resurrected; the eternal life we will find in heaven is a different thing from the physical resurrection of Christ.

So this is what we know. We will have a spiritual body that will be better than the earthly body where we live now. (And I, for one, can see some room for improvement!)

We always have some fear of death, because we do not know exactly what will happen at the moment we die. But we should be at peace, for God has promised that He will take care of us. Change always makes people uneasy, even nervous. But Christ has proven to us that He is victorious over death, that death will have no “sting” for us. We are going to know a peace and joy we have hardly been able to glimpse during the best moments of our lives.

G-MM™: Meditation Moment

The Free Press WV

Almighty God, heavenly Father, who makes it possible for me to work and who gives every creature its food, declaring your glory and showing your handiwork in the heavens and in the earth; Deliver me, I pray, in my work, from coveting material goods, from falling into the temptation of serving mammon and putting money in the forefront of my life. Help me to perform the work which you have put at my hand, in truth, in beauty, and in righteousness, with singleness of heart as your servant, and to the benefit of my fellow men as well as myself; for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lived and died only to serve us.

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
Know Peace in Your Life

At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Notes on the Scripture

This passage is a wonderful moment of Christ’s love and peace. He combines the messages of how we should come to Him as children with the message that, when we do, we will find peace and rest.

The burden of living can become terribly heavy. We are weighed down by worries about money, health, marriage and love, family members, politics, crime — we all know how difficult life can be for us, and for others. We have adult worries; children, who are (hopefully) shielded from most of the cares of the world do not yet have to shoulder such burdens, and we think of them as playing, carefree, on a warm spring day.

But Christ tells us that if we come to him with the innocence of children — if we set aside all the sordid lessons we have learned and think we need in order to meet ”harsh reality“ — He will protect us. Because Christ’s burden is light, ever so much lighter than the weight we take onto ourselves.

Because, what is the burden of following Christ, really? We are all going to die — it isn’t like we will succeed in beating reality. So, how taxing is it simply to love the God who gave us all we have? Is it really so very difficult to love other people and forgive them, or to stop lusting after someone else’s spouse, or to tell the truth?

The kicker is that studies have repeatedly shown that Christians live longer and happier lives than atheists and agnostics. We will not find heaven on earth by following Christ, but life itself is better; and best of all, we will find heaven — in heaven!

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