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約瑟的美夢和噩夢

從人的眼光來看,神的應許之子和選民都應該比其他人更興旺才對,但是歷史卻不是如此記載。亞伯拉罕生了兩個兒子,以實瑪利一生就十二個族長,而以撒很辛苦才生出以掃和雅各。以掃的子孫在以東都做王了,而雅各的子孫還在牧羊。神一點都不急,祂也不要我們心急,只要我們專心仰望,事情就會成就。快跑的不一定贏,力大的不一定得勝,因為一切都在神的掌管之中。

雅各一家在迦南定居了,表面看起來一切都安穩了。但是雅各對拉結的一往情深,似乎並沒有因著歲月的流逝而減少,他把對拉結的愛轉移到約瑟身上。拉結生了兩個兒子:約瑟和便雅憫,但是看到便雅憫就讓雅各想到拉結是為了生他而死,所以他對約瑟的愛就更深了。他為約瑟做了一件彩衣,根據當時的習俗,那是給王子或公主穿的,看在其他哥哥們眼中,真的令人生氣嫉妒,因此不跟他說和氣的話,也就是處處和他作對。

約瑟的處境很危險,然而天真的他並沒有絲毫查覺,反而像個小偵探一樣,常常去向父親打小報告,說這個哥哥做了什麼不好的事,那個哥哥又犯了什麼錯,搞得哥哥們也不敢得罪他,有時還得討好他,封他的口才行。

有一天醒來,約瑟很高興地向大家宣佈他做了一個奇特的夢,夢到他們在田裡捆禾稼,他的捆起來站著,哥哥們的捆來圍著他的捆下拜。哥哥們本來己經很討厭他了,這下更恨他了,因為約瑟將來還要管轄他們?受他一輩子的氣?

大家的氣都還沒消掉,約瑟又宣佈他做了另一個夢,夢見太陽、月亮與十一個星向他下拜。這下連雅各都受不了,責備他:「你做的這是什麼夢!難道我和你母親、你弟兄果然要來俯伏在地,向你下拜嗎?」 罵歸罵,雅各卻把這事放在心裡。誰也不知道將來如何,但是有些夢卻是未來之事的預兆。

The Most Famous Story Ever Told (Part 1)

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Luke 15:11-24.  It is the first part to one of the most famous stories ever told.

Luke 15:11-24 (NIV) 
11  Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 
12  The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. 
13  “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 
14  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 
15  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 
16  He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. 
17  “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! ….

On verses 11-24:  This parable is one of the greatest, most powerful pictures of God’s amazing, unconditional love for us.  It is such a well known story that people sometimes assume they already know everything there is to learn concerning it.  At a THRIVE service today I’ll be sharing some lessons I’ve been learning from this passage that I hope will give you a fresh revelation of God’s love for you.   Hope to see you there!

真基督徒的三大記號

我們要省察自己

我們是基督徒,是誰說的呢?是誰承認的呢?自己說我是基督徒的人,若上帝不承認有什麼用呢?「當那日必有許多人對我說:『主啊,主啊,我們不是奉祢的名傳道,奉祢的名趕鬼,奉祢的名行許多異能嗎?』我就明明的告訴他們說:『我從來不認識你們,你們這些作惡的人,離開我去吧!』」(太7:22-23)

一個人做了傳道人,用主的名行了神蹟、趕了魔鬼、醫治疾病、說了方言,他以為他已經做了上帝要他做的工作,當他到主面前,他想:「我一生已經做了那麼多上帝的工作,講道、趕鬼、行神蹟、說預言,這樣有能力的傳道人,上帝一定非常歡喜、接納」,所以他對主說:「主啊,我不是奉祢的名趕鬼、醫病、行神蹟、說預言嗎?」主卻對他說:「我從來不認識你。」「主啊!我認識祢,我是為祢工作的。我是著名的牧師,我是著名的傳道,我做了趕鬼、醫病、傳福音的工作。」主說:「你這作惡的人,離開我去吧!」

除了《聖經》,從來沒有一本書講比這更可怕的事,自以為是基督徒的,自以為是上帝的僕人,自以為是傳福音的,自以為有大能、行神蹟、趕鬼的,而且是奉主的名做這些事,主一個都不認可。不僅如此,主甚至斥責:「你這作惡的人,離開我去吧!」如果這件事臨到我們身上,你只能淒淒慘慘、跺腳搥胸、流下眼淚離開耶穌。這什麼都放下歸向耶穌基督的人,卻不得耶穌基督的認可,他的人生還有什麼意義?

我們要深思:「如果我不是真基督徒、不是真傳道人,卻是一個連耶穌都不認可的人,我要怎樣度過我的永恆?當我走完世上的日子,進入永恆卻不被耶穌所承認,我該怎麼辦?豈不是要進入地獄,永遠受苦嗎?」不要等到那一天,因為到了那一天已經太遲了。如果這句話是從主的口裡說出來,我們就無法修改自己的命運了,因為耶穌的宣告是最高的權柄、最後的權威,你就要永遠離開天父,你的命運就是進到地獄、捶胸頓足。

Because You Are Precious to God, God Searches for You

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Luke 15:1-10.  Let’s go!

Luke 15:1-2 (NIV) 
1  Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. 
2  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

On verses 1-2:  Jesus’ biggest critics, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, taught that to be truly holy and pleasing to God, you must separate yourself from people who were known to be habitual sinners.  That is why the Pharisees and teachers of the law found it puzzling, disgusting and also a basis for accusing Jesus when they saw that Jesus was hanging out with the very people that the Pharisees and teachers of the law shunned.    Knowing what the Pharisees and teachers of the law were thinking, Jesus will tell, in the verses that follow, some of his most famous parables to show why He the Son of God welcomes sinners and eats with them. 

Luke 15:3-4 (NIV) 
3  Then Jesus told them this parable: 
4  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 

雅各家族在示劍

創世記35章11-12節   神又對他說:「我是全能的神。你要生養眾多,將來有一族和多國的民從你而生,又有君王從你而出。我所賜給亞伯拉罕和以撒的地,我要賜給你與你的後裔。」

從哈蘭到示劍,雅各經過了三條河:幼發拉底河,雅博河與約但河。每經過一條河就過了一個崁,也更接近伯特利,那個他向神許願的地方。雅各在伯特利作夢後許願,「神若與我同在,在我所行的路上保佑我,又給我食物吃、衣服穿, 使我平平安安地回到我父親的家,我就必以耶和華為我的神, 我所立為柱子的石頭也必做神的殿。凡你所賜給我的,我必將十分之一獻給你。」(創28:20-22)

但是到了疏割時,雅各為自己蓋造房屋,又為牲畜搭棚;後來到了示劍,又買地築壇準備定居。正當一切都順心暢意時,雅各唯一的女兒底拿卻出了問題。這時雅各有十一個兒子,只有一個女兒。家裡有許多兒子,只有一個女兒的人都知道,那個女兒必然是全家的寶貝。她跑出去玩時,被當地地主的兒子示劍看上了,而且立刻與她發生性關係。婚姻之外的性闗係就叫行淫,指其是不當的行為。

這件事在雅各家像一顆炸彈,引爆了全家的憤怒。因為底拿是個處女,卻被示劍當妓女對待了。此時雅各的兒子們都長大了,正是血氣方剛之時,雅各隱忍尚未發作,幾個兒子卻都己經如箭在弦上。當地主的兒子示劍來求婚時,他們便想出了一個詭計,叫他們全城的男人都要受割禮。割禮就是割陽皮,在嬰兒出生第八天時,痛神經尚未長到那裡,因此割禮對猶太人而言就沒什麼。但是對於小孩或成人,割陽皮是要痛上大約一週的事情。

Does Following Jesus Mean Hating My Family?

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Luke 14:25-35.  Let’s go!

Luke 14:25-26 (NIV) 
25  Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 
26  “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.

On verses 25-26:  Do I literally need to hate my parents, my wife, my kids, and my siblings in order to follow Jesus?  No.  God calls us to love our neighbours, especially our immediate family (see 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 3:5).  So what does Jesus mean in verse 26?  Here’s what I think Jesus means: to truly follow Jesus means that your number one priority in life is your relationship with Jesus Christ, and that your number one loyalty and allegiance is to Jesus Christ, far above and beyond anyone else in this world.  In fact what I have found in my own life and seen in the lives of others is that when you put Jesus first, it makes you a better lover of your family.  You become a more selfless husband or wife, a wiser parent or child, a better sibling.  In the end, to know and follow Jesus first is the best thing you can do to love your family.

雅各改名為以色列

創世記32章1-2節    雅各仍舊行路,神的使者遇見他。雅各看見他們就說:「這是神的軍兵。」於是給那地方起名叫瑪哈念。

雅各歸心似箭,但是卻有一個很大的隱憂。廿年前他的離開是因為以掃威脅要殺他,因此父母叫他離開。時隔廿年,以掃還恨他嗎?

聖經上說:和拉班分手後,雅各仍舊行路,神的使者遇見他。雅各看見他們就說:「這是神的軍兵。」於是給那地方起名叫瑪哈念。

根據以色列聖經學者的說法,在翻譯時有些原味不見了。例如講到神的使者(天使)God of angels時,天使angels是多數的。雅各看見他們,就說:「這是神的軍兵。This is God’s camp」「神的軍兵」在原文的意思是 “the two camps” or “a pair of camps.”,指的是兩隊。雅各明白,這是神特地讓他看見神在一路上差遣祂的使者在保護他和他的家人。

正如他當年離開迦南地時,神也在睡夢中特別向他顯現,並且讓他看到天使在一路上的保守。當然,學者也有解釋為何是兩隊,他們說因為在每一個地方都有專門管那地方的天使,因此當雅各離開迦南進入哈蘭時,就有不同的天使來交班;當雅各要離開哈蘭,進入迦南地時,天使也要交班。這樣的說話讓人心裡感到很安慰,原來不管我們去哪裡,都有不同的天使會照顧我們。

雅各為人很有計劃,他雖然擔心,卻也很努力地面對自己的恐懼。他先派人去通知以掃他要回鄉了;沒想到打發去報信的人回來說,以掃帶著四百人向著他們來了。這句話弔起雅各極大的恐慌。以掃帶四百個男人來,是何用意?雅各一家都是女人和小孩,根本不是對手啊?

在恐慌中,他把自己的人口和羊群、牛群、駱駝分做兩隊,又把給以掃的禮物擺在最前面。雅各很聰明,他要藉著前頭去的禮物解以掃的恨,然後再見以掃的面,希望以掃看在禮物的情面上可以容下這個弟弟。〈箴言〉18章16節說:「人的禮物為他開路,引他到高位的人面前」,又說:「暗中送禮物的挽回怒氣」(箴21:14)。雅各深知送禮解仇之道。

Don’t Miss the Big Thing Because You Were Caught Up in Little Things

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Luke 14:12-24.  Let’s go!

Luke 14:12-14 (NIV) 
12  Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 
13  But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 
14  and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

On verses 12-14:  When you serve others, don’t just serve those from whom you think you can get something back in return.  Serve those who can’t repay you, and in so doing you store up treasure for yourself from heaven.

Luke 14:15-24 (NIV) 
15  When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” 
16  Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 
17  At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 
18  “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ 
19  “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 

雅各成家立業

創世記31章11-13節    神的使者在那夢中呼叫我說:「『雅各! 』我說:『我在這裡。 』他說:『你舉目觀看,跳母羊的公羊都是有紋的、有點的、有花斑的,凡拉班向你所做的,我都看見了。我是伯特利的神,你在那裡用油澆過柱子,向我許過願。現今你起來,離開這地,回你本地去吧。 』」

77歲的雅各來到哈蘭,看到拉結,知道是自己的表妹,找到親戚了,不禁放聲而哭。雅各在井旁,為他母舅拉班的羊群,把石頭轉離井口,飲他母舅拉班的羊群。他的心從一個流浪者的孤單轉為滿心的歡喜,因為他和拉結幾乎是一見鍾情。但他跟拉結見面時的親嘴是當時人禮貌上的問候。

母舅拉班看到來了個身強力壯的外甥也很高興,終於來了個幹活的;更可喜的是,雅各和拉結眉目傳情,看在老人家眼中,心裡就有了底。才住了一個月,拉班就找雅各談判,問他要什麼工價。雅各也不含糊,直就說我要你女兒拉結,我願為她替你工作七年。

這一說正中拉班心懷,立刻答應,乾杯為證。雅各就這樣努力幹了七年無薪工,心裡只有滿滿的愛情。七年滿了,可以和心上人成婚了,不料新婚的第二天早上,發現新娘不是她,是拉結的姐姐利亞。這下真是滿心懊惱,舅舅買一送一,想退都不行了。七天後,舅舅讓他和拉結成婚,條件是再幹七年無薪工。

短短八天內,雅各有了兩個老婆,兩個妾。因為每個老婆都跟來了一個侍女,後來都變成了雅各的妾。這不僅是齊人之福,也是齊人之禍。因為後來雅各逃走被追上後,跟拉班說:「我白日受盡乾熱,黑夜受盡寒霜,不得合眼睡著,我常是這樣。」牧羊之累,還要輪流服侍四個女人,你說辛苦不辛苦。

中東的人娶了四個妻子,並不像華人想的,四個女人來服侍一個男人;相反的,她們每個人都要有自己的屋子,什麼東西都要公平,各有一份;丈夫與每個女人好合的事都要輪流,不可虧待任何一個。所以有一次輪到雅各和拉結同房時,因為拉結想要利亞的兒子拿回來的風茄,就讓雅各那晚和利亞睡。風茄在古時被認為是一種刺激性慾的藥,有增加生育能力的功效。因為神看到雅各不愛利亞,所以讓利亞在生產一事得蒙祝福;而拉結卻一直不孕,因此拉結希望藉著風茄可以懷孕。

Whether In Private or In Public, Be Consistent

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is Luke 14:1-11.  Let’s go!

Luke 14:1-6 (NIV) 
1  One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched. 
2  There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. 
3  Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” 
4  But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away. 
5  Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” 
6  And they had nothing to say.

On verses 1-6: This is now at least the third time recorded by Luke where Jesus heals a person on the Sabbath day, in violation of the Pharisees’ man-made rules regarding what can be done on the Sabbath day.  But unlike the previous two times recorded in Luke, Jesus heals not at a synagogue but at, or on his way to, a Pharisee’s house to eat (v1).  In this case Jesus heals a man from dropsy (or edema), which means that parts of his body were probably very swollen.  Before he heals the man, Jesus, knowing that he was being carefully watched, asks the very question that the Pharisees and experts in the law were wondering about: is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?  Similar to what he did in Luke 13:15-16, Jesus gives his rationale for healing on the Sabbath in verse 5: it does not violate the Sabbath to rescue someone from their plight on the Sabbath day.