Thursday, July 27, 2017

Block 76 Barsabbas

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“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:14
When you think of all of the important men of the Bible, does the name Barsabbas make your list?  Probably not.  His name is similar to Barnabas; it’s similar to Barrabas, yet Barsabbas shared none of their notoriety.  In fact, the only disciples that were less known than Barsabbas were those who were never called by name in the Bible.  Even less remarkable than Matthias, Joseph Barsabbas is the disciple that was NOT chosen to replace Judas Iscariot.
Like Matthias, Barsabbas had been an avid follower of Christ, sharing His ministry from His baptism to His death and resurrection.  Yet, when the apostles cast lots, Barsabbas was rejected, and Matthias was chosen to become one of THE Twelve. We’ve all faced our share of rejection in our lives, but imagine how Barsabbas must have felt.  Do you imagine that he questioned himself, “Why didn’t God choose me?”  “What does Matthias have that I do not have?”
Although he was not chosen to be one of the twelve, Joseph Barsabbas was “chosen of God.”  So are we.  Rather than feel sorry for himself, Joseph Barsabbas could rejoice with Matthias’s leadership role because he knew that God had chosen him to play an equally important supporting role.  Just like us.  Not being chosen as one of the twelve changed nothing for Barsabbas.  He was still expected to continue his discipleship, leading others to know Jesus Christ.  Just like us.
Our lives will be filled with road bumps and disappointments.  Like Barsabbas, we must remain focused on the prize — eternal life with our Lord in heaven.  But first, we, like Barsabbas, have much work to do first. So why wait?  Let’s get to it!

I chose The Lost Ship block to represent Barsabbas.  On the surface, it appears that he lost the opportunity to serve as one of the twelve apostles, but we know that he was chosen for a different purpose.


Block 75 Matthias

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“ us which one of these two you have chosen.”  Acts 1:24
A lot of mystery surrounds the thirteenth disciple.  Here’s what we know:  Matthias is short for Mattathias which means “Yahweh’s gift.”  Matthias was not mentioned in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, or Luke), but in the Book of Acts, Matthias is introduced as a follower of Christ who was baptized by John.  Matthias was one of two followers whose names rose to the top as applicants to fill the discipleship left vacant when Judas committed suicide after he betrayed Jesus.  These two men were selected from 120 followers in the candidate pool.  Peter had described the qualification of the replacement disciple as one who had followed Jesus’ ministry from the time of His baptism through His crucifixion.  Peter and the other apostles knew the two candidates well and had a tough choice to make.  After praying together, hey cast lots, and Matthias won their vote.  This is where we have a disconnect between what we know and what we don’t know (for sure).
After his appointment to the group, Matthias began his ministry, possibly in Cappadocia, possibly in Judea, possibly in Ethiopia.  He was later martyred for his faith, possibly stoned by Jews in Jerusalem, possibly blinded and eaten by cannibals in Ethiopia.  One source says Mattias died of old age in Jerusalem.  What can we take away from all this confusion?  Matthias seams to be fairly unremarkable, yet he was chosen to become the replacement apostle. 
Similarly, not all of the ministers God chooses to preach, shepherd, and administer sacraments are remarkable.  In fact, most are unremarkable, like Matthias.  The world, in general, may not be able to recall where they served, or how they served.  But the flock that these ministers serve will forever be impacted by their ministry. 
We, like Matthias, may be completely and utterly unremarkable, but we may never know the extent of the impact we have on others.
I chose Anna’s Choice Quilt block to represent Matthias who was the apostles choice to replace Judas.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Block 74 Ephraim

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“Pride goes before destruction.” Proverbs 16:18
On his deathbed, Jacob adopted Manasseh and Ephraim, Joseph’s two sons so they might receive shares of Jacob’s inheritance.  In this way, Jacob was able to give a double portion of inheritance to Joseph’s sons, an inheritance typically given to the oldest son.  When he adopted Joseph’s sons, he placed them before his oldest son, Ruben, who had disappointed him very much.  On his deathbed, Joseph positioned his sons, Manasseh (Joseph’s oldest) on Jacob’s right and Ephraim on his left.  But before Jacob delivered his final blessing, he crossed his arms and laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head and his left hand on Manasseh’s head.  Joseph thought his father was confused, so he quickly switch the hands on his sons’ heads.  Jacob removed his hands, crossed his arms again and continued with his blessing. 
Jacob promised that Manasseh would become ancestor to a great nation, but Ephraim would become ancestor to an even greater nation.  As such, Ephraim received the blessing that was reserved for Jacob’s first-born son.  True to his word, Ephraim’s tribe was the strongest tribe of the northern kingdom.  Joshua, one of Ephraim’s descendants, was chosen to lead God’s people into the Promised Land.  Indeed, Ephraim became ancestor to a great nation.  The first temple was built by Ephraim’s tribe, and the tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant stored there.
But the tribe was not without flaws.  They, too, failed to drive the Canaanites out of the Promised Land.  Although they were valiant warriors, the Ephraimites often demonstrated pride and selfishness. Their pride got the best of them when they challenged a southern tribe in civil war and lost 42,000 warriors.  Pride and jealousy can easily get the best of us as well.  We should always remember that excessive pride can lead to destruction.  Luckily, like the tribe Ephraim, God loves us despite our failings.  He will continue to guide us to repentance so that we may be in harmony with Him.

I chose a variation of the Grandmother’s Pride block to represent Ephraim, who was chosen as his grandfather’s favorite.  Ephraim’s tribe demonstrated pride and selfishness.

Block 73 Manasseh

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“God is fair and just.” Psalm 25:8
So if Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son, then why was he the only son who was left out of his father’s deathbed gifts of inheritance?  Typically, the eldest son received his father’s blessing and a double portion of the inheritance.  But sometimes, fathers justified deviating from the norm.  That’s exactly what happened in Joseph’s case.  Because he was Jacob’s favorite (but not firstborn) son, Jacob wanted to give him the double portion, but knew that this could prove to be problematic with the other brothers.  So Jacob devised a way around the expectation.  Before he died, Jacob adopted Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and gave them each a portion of the inheritance —essentially dividing Joseph’s double portion between the two.
Manasseh was born in Egypt to Joseph while Joseph was estranged from his family.  The name Manasseh means “makes to forget,” and it is believed that Joseph chose the name because he hoped that Manasseh would help him forget all of his troubles that he had endured at the hands of his brothers.  Even though Manasseh was Joseph’s first born, he did not receive Jacob’s right hand and blessing.  That was given to his brother (see Block 74 Ephraim).  Manasseh was given land that was split by the Jordan river.  The two sides were almost completely disconnected and difficult to lead.  Both sides had great natural water resources, so both sides were very valuable to the northern kingdom.  Both sides also controlled and defended mountain passes that were important for trade routes. The land west of the Jordan was Canaan.  Manasseh was expected to conquer the Canaanites, but he was hesitant to go into battle, because he was afraid of defeat.  Although God was disappointed in Manasseh, he did not punish him.  Several generations later, when Manasseh’s last surviving great-great grandson (Zelophedad) died in the desert before entering the Promised Land, Manasseh’s great-great-great granddaughters petitioned Moses  to inherit their deceased father’s land.  Moses conferred with God and developed rules that would allow the property to remain in the family.  What nerve these girls had!  These great-great-great granddaughters were perfect examples of women who stood up for what is right and were rewarded for their efforts.  

I chose the Fair and Square block to represent Manasseh, whose female descendants were treated fairly by God (through Moses).