“Early in the morning Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it and named the place Bethel…Then Jacob made a vow: ‘If God will be with me and watch over me on this journey, if He provides me with food to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God. This stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house, and I will give to You a tenth of all that You give me'” (Genesis 28:18-22, HCSB).
Jacob was on a journey to Haran and at the end of one of the days during his journey he stopped and camped outdoors.
That night God appeared to Jacob in a dream of a stairway that started from where he was and reached to heaven. Angels were ascending and descending the stairway. In the dream God transferred to Jacob all the essential elements of the covenant He had established with his grandfather and father, Abraham and Isaac.
“Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven…Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you” (Matthew 6:1, 4, NLT).
When we practice the spiritual disciplines of giving, praying, and fasting we are cultivating a quality of life that helps us develop an authentic relationship with God.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit…I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” (John 15:1-2,5, HCSB).
These verses contain the last of seven “I am” declarations made by Jesus in John’s Gospel. “I am” is an allusion to God’s name by which God identified Himself to the Israelites: “God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart'” (1 Samuel 16:7, HCSB).
In 1 Samuel 16:1 God told Samuel to go and anoint David as the new king over Israel. From biblical descriptions, David and Saul had contrasting appearances. Saul was tall and striking in appearance while David was a young boy with a ruddy appearance.
“Come, let us all go to Gilgal to renew the kingdom. So they all went to Gilgal, and in a solemn ceremony before the Lord they made Saul king” (1 Samuel 11:14-15,NLT).
Saul was the first king of Israel. He was the son of a wealthy landowner and became king unexpectedly and rather reluctantly.
In these verses Jesus tells the parable of the dishonest manager. Although difficult to interpret, the parable of the dishonest manager can teach us a valuable lesson in developing spiritual maturity.
In the parable Jesus described a dishonest manager who mishandled the business affairs of his boss and knew he was about to be fired. But the business manager possessed a capability best described as acumen. Acumen is insightfulness–the keen insight one uses for making quick and accurate judgments. “Shrewdness” is the more common word we use to describe this capacity but usually carries a more negative connotation that acumen doesn’t.
“This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught the things about Jesus accurately, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained the way of God to him more accurately. (Acts 18:25-26, HCSB)
Apollos was from Alexandria, Egypt, a city of great learning. However, his knowledge of the gospel of Jesus was deficient since he apparently was a disciple of John the Baptist.