Archive for January, 2020

God’s Promises are True (Genesis 46-47)

January 31, 2020

Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.” Genesis 46:3-4

In chapter 46 Jacob is reinserted in the narrative of Scripture.  Jacob is now 130 years of age.  Imagine living 130 years?  God has included part of Jacob’s journey in Scripture, but there is so much we do not know.  In chapter 47, as Jacob shares his story in overview with Pharaoh, he summaries his life:

And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.

Brothers and sisters, I am messed up after reading this.  Is this how Jacob really lived his life?  Is this how God had treated Jacob?  You and I need clarity here, because if not we need to turn in our Bibles and find another God.

Here is the clarity:

  • Jacob did have some evil days.  But they were of his own making.  The Bible is clear, Gal. 6:6-7, we reap what we sow.
  • Jacob had many and I mean many good days because of the kindness of God. God had favored Jacob in-spite of his blunders.
  • When Jacob operated in his self, it was days of evil.  But when he operated in his new life (Israel) the blessings of Heaven fell upon Him.

Brothers and sisters, God’s promises are always true.  It is not that I need to question God’s faithfulness, no I question Jacob’s and my occasional lack of faithfulness.  The Psalmist speaks words that we need to read this morning:

Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
    on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

20 Our soul waits for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
    because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
    even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:18-22

This day, I have to confess: The days of my life have been 52 years and my God has made them full and filled with righteous because of Jesus!!!

Where do you stand with God today?

God’s Timing Pt. 2 (Genesis 44-45)

January 30, 2020

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation; be in constant prayer.” Rom. 12:12

The above Scripture must have been Joseph’s strategy as he followed the journey set before him by the Lord.  As we come to chapter 44 it is hard to restrain the joy of what we know was coming.  But for Joseph and his brothers the issue was still in the balance.

Paul writes:  “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.”  Rom. 12:17

Watch closely how this plays out before us:

  • Joseph’s brothers recognize and repent of their sin, 44:16.
  • Joseph’s brother (Judah) offers to take the full weight of the punishment that is required.
  • Joseph brothers must have been in shock when Joseph said: “I am Joseph!”

Joseph lived out Romans 12:17.  He knew everything that happened was used by God to bring about deliverance for his people.

Brothers and sisters, God’s timing is perfect!  The journey God has you on is set up by God. If we follow His plan His way, the end will be the will of God.  There is a passage of Scripture that speaks to how we are to follow His plan His way.  The test is Phil. 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness[d] be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Here is God’s plan:

  1.  Learn to trust God every step along your journey, 4:4.
  2. Find your joy in Christ alone as you walk the journey, 4:4.
  3. Seek God’s wisdom along the way, 4:5a.
  4. Expect God to work it out every day, 4:5b.
  5. Pray about everything, all the time, 4:6.
  6. Claim His peace every day, 4:7.
  7. Believe in truth and reject the “what if’s” of life, 4:8.

As we live this way, it will be said: “God did it!”

God’s Timing, Pt 1 (Genesis 42-43)

January 29, 2020

And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  Genesis 45:5

Nine years had passed between chapters 42 and chapters 43.  Joseph was now 39 years old.  It had been almost 22 years since Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers.  According to Scripture the world was in year two of the great famine.

Joseph’s brothers came to him.  He recognized them, but they did not recognize him.  I want to point out 4 observations from this scene before us:

  • Joseph had kept God’s vision in the forefront of his mind and heart, 42:9.
  • Joseph love for his brothers had truly  continued , 42:24.
  • Joseph tested his brothers to see if they had changed, 42:43.
  • Josephs heart was pure and tender before the Lord, 42:31.

At this point our reading plan stops, but I could not stop reading.  I wanted to know how everything turned out.  I will save most of the story for tomorrows blog.  But I have to ask, why didn’t Joseph try to get even with his brothers?  Here is a profound answer:

Joseph knew God was in charge of his moments in life.

  1. If God allowed these things to happen, there would be a glorious end to what was happening, Romans 8:28.
  2. If Joseph’s brothers sinned against him, he was not to sin against them.  Check out Romans 12:14-23:

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Father, I want to have the attitude and wisdom Joseph evidenced as I face life’s difficult moments.  I want to overcome evil with God.  Father I realize your delays are your way of working behind the scenes to prepare the soil, remove the road-blocks, and to set up the finish line of Your will.  I trust you Lord in all things in this day.  Walk along side of Your people in leading them to trust You in all things. I ask this in Jesus Name. 

The Perfect Timing of God (Genesis 41)

January 28, 2020

14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. Genesis 41:14

Question:  How is your life going this week?  For me it is fast and furiously going by.  I suspect, if each of you would blog a response we would have so many different answers.  Let’s take a moment and go back in time to the days of Joseph and ask him at the beginning of Genesis 41, about how his life is going?  Maybe these would be his responses:

  • Growing up, I was the apple of my dad’s eye.  I was his favorite son, Gen. 17:3.
  • Growing up, God became real to me.  I even had dreams, 17:5-11.
  • Growing up, my brothers resented me and eventually took out their resentment by selling me off as a slave, 17:14-23.
  • As a young man, ages 17-30, I lived live as a slave.

In this moment, I can imagine looking in Joseph’s eyes and seeing a sparkle that one does not usually see in people who have a hard life.  Stephen gives us insight to Joseph’s life during those years:

“And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him 10 and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household.  Acts 7:9-10

The events in chapter 41 remind us of God’s perfect timing in our lives.  At the right moment, God brought Joseph out of the pit.  It was truly the perfect time:

Joseph has matured in his faith and he is ready for what God wants to do in his life.  Notice how Joseph gives glory to God:

Vs: 16 “God alone has wisdom.”  

Notice how Joseph follows God’s directions:

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.”

The visions that God gave Joseph 13 years earlier are now coming to pass.  Joseph is ready to do God’s will.  At the end of chapter 41, we ask Joseph again, how is your life going?  His response is, just ask my children.

Look here comes Manasseh, who’s name mean’s “I have forgotten my past.”  God delivered Joseph from the pit.  But wait here comes Ephraim, who’s name means, “God has made me fruitful.”  God had delighted in Joseph’s present.

Father, may all who read this live lives trusting in your perfect timing to transform us into the very person who will be fit to do your will.  Oh that we would follow with a zeal to know and do your will every step of the journey.  Father, if we cannot see your hand, we truly trust your heart.

Joseph a man of principle and problems (Genesis 39-40)

January 27, 2020

But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Genesis 39:8-9

Question:  Did anyone wake up with problems on your mind today?  I wonder, how will you deal with your problems today?  The answer hinges on the principles you live by.

In our focal text, we are continuing to walk along side of Joseph.  I propose to you that Joseph is both a man of principle and a man with problems.   First, lets focus on his problems:

  • Here is a guy to whom God had said, you will lead your people.
  • Here is a guy who the enemy was trying to take out.
  • Here is a guy who was sold into slavery and was placed in Potipher’s house.
  • Here is a guy who was being tempted by Potipher’s wife.

In this moment I want to pause and move forward to Joseph as a man of principle:

  • Joseph could have given into this woman by simply rationalizing the fact that he was a slave and he had to do what he was told.
  • Joseph chose to follow his principles.

You ask, what were his principles?  How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

Joseph was a man in whose top principles were these:

  1. He was a servant of the Most High God.
  2. He believed any sin was high treason against the Most High God.

Now we know why God favored him to overcome every problem he faced.  Brothers and sisters, our God will favor us, if we have the same principles in our lives.  Here is how Paul wrote about this in Colossians 3:23-24

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Father, may all who read this take the long-view of their journey.  I pray for all that read this will be or will become people of principle with God.  Father thank you for giving us timeless principles to live by and thank you that they are timeless.

An Important reminder (Genesis 36-37)

January 24, 2020

10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” Genesis 37:10

One of the first O.T. hero’s of my faith was Joseph.  His story captured my heart from the earliest of days.  His story of moving from a pit to a palace has made such impact on my life.

His story has the following outline:

  • He was a man who had a destiny given by God.
  • He was a man who had an enemy after one thing: destroy God’s destiny.
  • He was a man who would not be denied what God had put in his heart.
  • He was a man in whom God used to deliver an entire nation.

 

For me Genesis 37 is a good reminded: Be careful how you live your life:

  1.  Our destiny is always in jeopardy.

Sin is the cancer that will hinder the destiny God has for you. Jospeh’s brothers hated him for being one who ratted them out.  Joseph’s father loved him the most which led his brothers to have resentment and hate.  His brothers hate led to their wanting to kill him.  Their bitterness led to his being sold into slavery.

2. Our destiny is to always be protected.

Each family member needs to pray for each other and to lift up each other.  We either make or break the dreams of others in our families.  Had Reuben not protected his brother, death would have come.  Sin pulls us apart.  Christ pulls us together.

3. Our destiny is in the hands of God.

Be aware, what you consider as an obstacle could be God’s setup for your destiny.  Jospeh had to got to the pit before he could get to the palace.  Be assured, God has a plan for you and be assured Satan has a counter-plan.  Together with God nothing can stop you if you follow faithfully what God has placed before you.

But greater still, God has a destiny for all around you.  Helping them to their destiny is a big part of God’s plan for your life!!!

How did you do it? (Genesis 33-35)

January 23, 2020

Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone, Genesis 35:3

A couple of days ago one of our brothers installed a new drink counter in our fellowship hall.  A shout out to brother Howie for a great job.  I stood and watched him for a few minutes and was amazed at the ability he had to do the job perfectly.  Then I thoughT about Tony Padgett who built the counter.  My brother has amazing ability to take wood and create amazing things.

Here is what I took away.  The wood had no ability on its own to create anything.  But the wood in the hands of a skilled carpenter can become what it never could on its own.

This same truth applies to Jacob all those years ago.  It was God who pulled Jacob through life.  In chapter 35 Jacob gave testimony before his entire family and servants of God’s goodness in his life.

Think with me back to what we have already studied about Jacob’s colorful life:

  • Jacob’s birth was a miracle from God.
  • Jacob’s early days was a miracle in that his brother did not kill him for his constant deceit.
  • Jacob’s days away (20 years) from home truly was in day in and day out a miracle from God.

Take time this morning and reread chapter 35 to gain an even better understanding of God doing it all in Jacob’s life.  Here are truths that I realize in my own life:

  1. God is always faithful.
  2. God never changes.
  3. Even when I am unfaithful, God is faithful still, II Tim. 3:13.
  4. In our darkest days God will be faithful.

Brothers and sisters, how do others do it?  They do it the same way we are to do it, by faith in our faithful God!!!

Psalm 106:48 English Standard Version (ESV)

48 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!”
    Praise the Lord!

Here is the song I finished my devotion time with:  ALL THE WAY MY SAVIOR LEADS ME
  1. All the way my Savior leads me,
    What have I to ask beside?
    Can I doubt His tender mercy,
    Who through life has been my Guide?
    Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
    Here by faith in Him to dwell!
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well;
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well.
  2. All the way my Savior leads me,
    Cheers each winding path I tread,
    Gives me grace for every trial,
    Feeds me with the living Bread.
    Though my weary steps may falter
    And my soul athirst may be,
    Gushing from the Rock before me,
    Lo! A spring of joy I see;
    Gushing from the Rock before me,
    Lo! A spring of joy I see.
  3. All the way my Savior leads me,
    Oh, the fullness of His love!
    Perfect rest to me is promised
    In my Father’s house above.
    When my spirit, clothed immortal,
    Wings its flight to realms of day
    This my song through endless ages:
    Jesus led me all the way;
    This my song through endless ages:
    Jesus led me all the way.

Jacob’s Mess and God’s Favor (Genesis 31-32)

January 22, 2020

Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed. He divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and attacks it, then the camp that is left will escape.” Genesis 32:7-8

Jacob’s life has always been a great mystery to me.  I have taught through his life and drawn so much from God’s work in his life.  Just yesterday I wrote about “Jacob’s mess and God’s favor.”

Twenty years had past since that terribly day when Jacob deceived his father and brother.  This deception drove a wedge between he and his brother, so off Jacob ran and for 20 years he walked in the same patterns.  In chapter 31 we discover how difficult it had been for Jacob.  The deceiver was being deceived over and over again by his uncle.

Had I been around in those days and had Jacob sought me out for pastoral counseling, I would have said, Jacob look for familiar patterns in your life.  I believe he and I would have together spotted 4 obvious patterns:

  • Jacob was a man of fear, 31:31.  Over and over he operated out of fear.
  • Jacob was a man of the flesh.  Jacob was always trying to figure the easy way.  Even when Esau was coming to him, Jacob was trying to find his own way to appease his brother.
  • Jacob was a man who was fighting.  He would not give up.
  • Jacob was a man of faith.

The last pattern is one that is covered up in most of Jacob’s story.  However, chapter 31 reveals God’s hand on Jacob’s life in every part of his journey.  God spoke to Jacob and said, it’s time to go home.  God gave him direction and God protected him from his uncle.  In 31: 42 Jacob gives witness: “If God had not been on my side…”

If Jacob and I would have discovered these patterns together, I would have directed him to the following counsel:

  • Walk in faith and not in the fear, II Tim. 1:6-7.
  • Walk in faith and not in the flesh, Gal. 5:16.
  • Walk in faith and cease fighting God, James 4:6-7.

If you are like me, I need daily inventory with God so that I can truly understand what are healthy patterns (so I can strengthen them in Christ) and so that I can understand what are not healthy patterns (so I can crucify them to Christ).

This morning I sang that old Hymn: I need thee every hour.  Here is one stanza from the song.  I believe it fits well with what we have studied:

I need Thee every hour,
Stay thou nearby.
Temptations lose their pow’are
When thou are nigh.

Jacob’s Mess and God’s Favor (Genesis 29:1-30:24)

January 21, 2020

29 Then Jacob went on his journey and came to the land of the people of the east. Genesis 29:1

I love how chapter 29 begins, “Then Jacob went on his journey…”  As Jacob rode away from Bethel. the place where God met Him and proclaimed a blessing on his life, it would seem that Jacob would live faithfully before God.

However, Jacob’s journey over the next 20 years could accurately be described as a mess.  Consider some headlines from our text:

  • Relative returns home to discover the woman of his dreams.
  • Jacob works seven years for the dowery for the love of his life.
  • Jacob is deceived by her father and marries the wrong girl.
  • Jacob goes back to work seven more years for dowery number two.
  • Jacob has two wives and two concubines.
  • Headlines, Jacob’s family is growing.  By the 30:24 he has 11 boys and one girl.

I think it is fair to say, Jacob’s life is in some ways a mess.  But at the same time, there is a blessing at work.  God is positioning Jacob to have 12 sons which will become the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel.  In chapter 48, while blessing Joseph’s sons we read the following:

15 And he blessed Joseph and said,

“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
    the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
    and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
    and let them grow into a multitude[c] in the midst of the earth.”

As we will read this year, Jacob’s mess turns into a multitude of a people that would ultimately give birth to our Messiah!

Here is our big deal for Tuesday:  God works miracles even in our mess

It may be that some who read this are in a mess today. If so, cry out to the God who can take you out of the mess and turn your mess into a miracle.

It may be that some who read this are praying for others who are in a mess.  Lift up the name of this person to God with strong faith.  Keep believing and keep praying all through the day knowing that nothing is impossible with Him.

If God has kept you from a mess or has delivered you from a mess, give Him praise today and share His story with others.  Here is song that came flooding into my heart as I worshiped my God today:

“Our God”

Water You turned into wine, opened the eyes of the blind
there’s no one like You, none like You!
Into the darkness You shine, out of the ashes we rise
there’s no one like You, none like You!

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God! Our God!

Into the darkness You shine, out of the ashes we rise
there’s no one like You, none like You!

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God! Our God!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God! Our God!

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?
And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?
Then what could stand against?

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God! Our God!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God! Our God!

And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?
And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what could stand against?
Then what could stand against?

Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God! Our God!
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome in power
Our God! Our God!

 

Running Away or Running Toward? (Genesis 27-28)

January 20, 2020

17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Genesis 28:17

Jacob, where you are headed in such a rush?  Are you running away from something or are you running toward something?  The previous two question would have been my questions to Jacob had I meet him on the road to Haran (28:10).

You remember Jacob?  He was a guy who was the youngest son of Isaac by just a few minutes.  His life was mostly filled with deceit and dysfunction.   His name meant “cheat or deceiver.”  His dysfunction can be seen in how he and his mother together stole the blessing reserved for the oldest son.  3 times in Genesis 27 we read of his mothers directions, “listen to the voice of your mother.”

Genesis 28 begins with Jacob on the road either running away from God’s will or running toward God’s will.  Question: which was it?  Here is what I believe:

In spite of who Jacob was, God was directing Jacob toward His will.

This would be hard to explain without the scene in the night recorded in Genesis 28.  Take time to reread the chapter.

DID YOU DO IT?  YOU WILL FAIL TO GET WHAT IS NEXT IF YOU HAVE NOT.  SLOW DOWN, ITS WORTH IT.  GO BACK AND REREAD THE CHAPTER.

Did you see it.  As Jacob thinks he is running away from something, he is actually running toward God’s will.  God meets Jacob on the road (28:13) and comes down to speak with him.  God had made His own choice to bless Jacob.  Now for Jacob to walk in this blessing, things would have to change. It would take 20 years, but God was working all things out in this man known as Jacob but who would become to be known as Israel.

On this Monday, I remind you of this truth:  Jesus Christ came down those steps (ladder) from Heaven.  We call this, His incarnation.  Jesus was in this place (we call this His life on the earth).  Jesus became our payment for our sins.  He went to the cross spilling His blood so that we could be redeemed.  When we surrender our lives to Christ, we are declared right with God because of what Jesus did.

Jacob’s life proves the great love of God (John 3:16) in meeting us on the road to Hell with the sole purpose of saving us and placing us on a different road!!!  Praise God, I am running toward and in His Will.

Father, I pray that all who read this are walking in the steps you have ordained for them.  May all who are discouraged by the seemingly useless paths there loved ones are walking in, take heart knowing that they will by your grace run right into your will.  May we see it today.