Archive for January, 2021

What Would You Have Done?

January 29, 2021

1But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? Genesis 50:19

In recent days I have grown weary of hearing people foolishly comment, “this is what I would have done.” Brothers and sisters, everyone has faith when it comes to the hypothetical. But when it comes to the moment when faith is required, many times we are surprised at our responses.

In Genesis 50, it is revealed to us that Joseph’s brothers had not really bought into Joseph’s forgiveness of their sins. In their minds Joseph had been waiting until his father died. They believed the hammer of judgment would fall as soon as their dad died.

When he died, the guys quickly put together a plan. They sent a letter to Joseph saying that Dad said to forgive them. Now we really do not know if dad said this or not. What we do know is that they were afraid of what Joseph could do if he chose to want to get even.

I am almost afraid to ask this question because it is a hypothetical question. But here goes: What would you have done if you had been in the place of Joseph? Here are some options: make them feel shame, punish them with banishment from the family blessings, put them in prison, make them serve you, or forgive them.

Joseph chose, all those years ago, the God response. What is the God response? Paul enlightens us with the God response in Ephesians 4:32:

32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Joseph knew he was not God (50:19) and he knew that God had placed him in the earthly position to judge their sin. Joseph chose the God response in both forgiving them because they repented and caring for them as restored servants of the Lord.

In the book of Proverbs we are reminded that death and life are in the power of the tongue. You and I can be used of God as ministers of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:19) or ministers of doom (crucifying people that Jesus wants to restore).

2 questions:

  1. Is there someone in your past that you are holding in prison because you have not forgiven them?
  2. Are you being held in prison by someone who will not forgive you?

If you are a Christian, it is time that you forgive them. You serve a God of reconciliation not a god of retaliation.

If you are a Christian who has repented of your sin. You are free, come out of the prison that others have made for you.

God Almighty (Genesis 46-48)

January 28, 2021

And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me,” Genesis 48:3

The closer one gets to God the more clearly one can see God as He is. I believe it is this way in the life of every true Christ-follower. When I overview the life of Jacob I see a guy who was growing in his understanding of God. When we first meet Jacob, he is a young man filled with a strong-will, self-motivation, and a sinful disposition toward deception. He had his own plan for his life.

However, there came the day when God met him in the night (Genesis 28:10-17). On that night there was a conversion that would take Jacob a life-time to understand. The Scripture does not paint Jacob in the light of a perfect man of faith. In fact Scripture points out the struggles of Jacob. Jacob confesses before Pharaoh of the struggles in his journey (Gen. 47:9).

But Scripture is also clear that Jacob grew to understand the almighty power of God. At the end of Jacobs life, he gave an amazing testimony of God’s power in his life. Here is what Scripture records that he 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.”

Jacob came to know the God of his father and grandfather. Jacob experienced God’s care as a shepherd cares for his sheep. Jacob had been redeemed by God. Jacob would die as a man who knew God.

Brothers and sisters, I must ask; what have you discovered about God in your journey of life?

I have discovered so much about El Shaddai. There is no God that compares to Him. This day I have been moved to deepen my worship of God. I have been encouraged to walk even closer to God. I have been filled with anticipation for His return. I have increased in my longing to lead others to know this God.

Take a moment and look up Isaiah 44:22-23 and answer the following questions:

  1. What have you learned about God in the last month?
  2. What changes do you need to make so that you can make Him known in the market place?

How do I get through all this stuff that is happening in my life?

January 27, 2021

 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. Genesis 45:7

One of the hardest questions anyone can ask is when they ask a “why” question that seems to have no answer. Can you imagine Joseph in a prison telling his story to his cell-mates? Can you hear the prisoners comments? I imagine hearing their comments. One man says, if you serve the one you call God-Almighty, why has He put you through all this mess.

In Genesis 45 I believe we are brought to understand how Joseph got through all the stuff that was happening in his life. When Joseph said, “God did this,” he was not blaming God, Joseph was praising God for how this all turned out.

I find that many times people end up in a tough place because of all that has happened in their lives. Counselors make a fortune in simply helping people to unlock the deep recesses of their hearts and minds concerning what has happened in their lives. As I consider Joseph’s viewpoint, I realize there were things in his life that lead him to see God and live correctly. Here are three things that I have come to realize:

  1. Joseph followed God as His Almighty Lord and Savior, 43:2.
  2. Joseph received insight from the All-knowing God, 45:4-7.
  3. Joseph’s heart and mind had been transformed by God. He loved his brothers, 45:8,11.

Brothers and sisters, God has not changed. God offers you the same relationship He offered Joseph. He offers you the same type of insight that He gave Joseph. God will transform every heart that is surrendered to Him.

Questions:

  1. Where do you stand in your walk with Christ today? Are you close, slipping, or somewhere in the middle of the road?
  2. Where do you want to be with God today? Take time to read Matthew 6:25-33 and write down what God says to you.

He Knows what He is doing (Genesis 41-42)

January 26, 2021

32 And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. Genesis 41:32

Last week, while we were having our evening meal with some friends, Sherry noticed that our dishwasher was leaking. I immediately got up and got down beside the dishwasher to check it out. One of my friends said, pastor don’t quit your day job. Yes, it is true, there are many things I do not know how to do.

However, when it comes to God, He knows exactly what He is doing because He is God. This truth is illustrated for us in the life of Joseph. At the approximate age of 18 (Genesis 37:25-28) Joseph was sold, by his brothers, into slavery. I am sure Joseph wondered, at the age of 19, what was God doing. God had given Joseph a vision of the future earlier in chapter 37. In that vision God has said that Joseph would be a great leader in the future. The question must have come to Joseph’s heart, how did being a slave fit into God’s plan?

For the next 12 years of Joseph’s life he would live as a slave (Genesis 39-40). Without a doubt you and I often ask God, in difficult times, how can this be in your plan for our lives. Dear friend, allow me to tell you this: God knows what He is doing!!!

Isaiah writes about the all-knowing God in 46:8-10

“Remember this and stand firm,
    recall it to mind, you transgressors,
    remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
    and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
    and I will accomplish all my purpose

Joseph discovered in Genesis 41 that God works all things out for His glory which is always for our good. When I read the words “after two full years…” I was reminded how wonderful God’s plan really is.

Keep this in mind: On the front end of God’s plan, we are called to walk by faith (II Cor. 5:7) so that we can gain spiritual muscles of faith in God. Usually somewhere in the middle of God’s plan, He teaches us the wonder of waiting patiently on Him (Isa. 40:30-31). By the time you reach the goal (God’s completion of His plan) you are fully aligned with Him (Jer. 29:11-13).

After two full years Joseph stepped in the goal of God’s plan. He gave full glory to God and God gave him the role of saving countless people’s lives. Ultimately it would be through this that the line of the Messiah would continue and then there would be that day in the fulness of time when Jesus would come. Praise be to His name. He knows what He is doing.

  1. Ask God, at what point you are in the journey to reaching the goal of His plan for your life? Be honest.
  2. Ask God to help you to know how to get to the goal.

When the Wrong Place Turns Out to be the Right Place (Genesis 38-40)

January 25, 2021

20 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Genesis 39:20-21

Sometimes it can be downright frustrating to find a place you are looking for. Many have been the times when I stopped by a house looking for one person and it ended up being the wrong house. But there have been many times when the wrong place turned out to be the right place.

It seemed to be that way in Joseph’s life. As we read chapters 39-40 in the book of Genesis, it seems that Joseph was continuing to get farther and farther away from God’s intended purpose for his life. However, what seemed to be the wrong places turned out to be the right places.

Certainly life would be so much easier (in our minds) if we could see as God sees. I mean if we could see how God is connecting the dots in our lives. But because we are finite beings we can only, in our strength, just see the dot we are in.

Here are some things I have learned from Joseph’s journey:

  • Sometimes God’s decisions seem totally ridiculous in the moment, but later we say, now I get it.
  • Sometimes God’s placement of our lives seems to be just a cruel joke, but later we say, I needed this.
  • Sometimes we believe God’s will to be the wrong move, but later we say, I am sure glad God did not take my advice.

With each step, God was positioning Joseph for greater things. God was directing Joseph’s steps so that when the time was right Joseph would be God’s man for the salvation of the people of Israel.

Many times the wrong turn has turned out to be the best turn for my life. I have truly come to believe that all things are working for good. My part is to love God with all my heart and to follow His purposes as one who is on mission.

Two questions:

  1. Are you questioning God’s direction? Take time to connect the dots of your life to this point. If He brought you this far, certainly He still knows what He is doing.
  2. Do you need patience today? Take time to read Hebrews 10:34-38. After you have read, spend time with the Lord.

Never Forget This One Thing (Genesis 30-31)

January 22, 2021

 42 If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night. Genesis 31:42

I confess, there are times when I fail to remember this one thing. Honest confession, I know why it happens. It happens when I become so busy with life that I forget this or I find myself trying to climb present mountains without living out this one thing. You ask, what is the one thing. Look closely and read with a mind focused this one thing:

GOD IS WITH YOU

When I get so busy with life’s struggles I turn my attention to the struggles and away from the one who is for me and who is working on my behalf. This truth is hovering over Jacobs story in Genesis 30-31. You remember Jacob, the man God called to follow Him.

Genesis 30-31 give us an overview of the 20 years Jacob spent in the service of his uncle Laban. Jacob’s uncle was even more of a deceiver than Jacob was. His uncle did everything he could to keep Jacob poor and in his service. But it did not work because God was with Jacob.

Brothers and sisters, never forget this: God is with you as He was with Jacob all those years ago. Who is this God?

  • He is the God of Abraham. This God established a family for Abraham.
  • He is the God of Isaac. This God was honored in this family.
  • He is the God of Jacob. This God cared for the family.

After 20 years of ups and downs God spoke to Jacob and said, I have kept my part of the covenant, it is time for you to keep your part and return home (30:13).

Jacob knew, if God had not been on his side, he would have never made it through the 20 tough years. Brothers and sisters, can we say the same thing. Look at how the Psalmist described this truth:

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—
    let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side
    when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
    when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
    the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
    the raging waters.

6 Blessed be the Lord,
    who has not given us
    as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird
    from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
    and we have escaped!

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth. Psalm 124

When I picture Jacob and his family along with all their possessions I see the hand of God. This view in my mind leads me to see God’s hand over my life since my conception. It is as if the Lord is saying, “Keith, never forget I am with you.”

Takeaways:

  1. Think back to your beginning days with God. What has He done in your life?
  2. It is time to rise up in your present storm and claim the promises of the God who is with you. Do it now, I John 5:14-15.

The Love we need (Genesis 27-29)

January 21, 2021

16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” Genesis 28:16

A couple of days ago I had the honor of talking with a very precious lady. We stood outside in a parking lot and talked for about 20 minutes. This lady has lived most of her life as a servant of the Lord. For the past 10 months she has practiced strict social distancing. As we talked I could see the pain that she has been going through. At one point her sorrow flooded out as she said, “I just want to be able to hug somebody.” I can tell you honestly that I have not been able to get that woman’s words out of my mind and heart. You and I know that life can be very difficult.

In our text for today, Jacob’s life became very difficult. But unlike this precious sister, his difficultly came because of his choices. Three things stand out from his story:

  • God’s hand was on his life-Jacob’s mother was told that God would bless Jacob to lead His people, 25:23.
  • Sins grip was on his life-Jacob listened (Gen. 27) to the voice of his mother and to his inner sinful voice instead of listening to God.
  • God’s grace kept working in his life.

I pray you take the time to read Genesis 28:10-17 for a second time. I see God extending love to Jacob in coming down to where he was. I see God showering Jacob with love by caring for him throughout his life. I see God continuing to bless Jacob in-spite of his many failures.

Jacobs words ring out loudly into my heart: “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.”

This very moment God is at work in your life. He is near you as He is near my dear friend. I shared those words with her and encouraged her that God has everything under control. Dear friend, slow down and listen for Him to speak. Take time to just imagine His arms of love so tight around you in this very moment. Slow down and turn your eyes upon Him.

Two questions:

  1. In what ways do you know that God loves you? I John 3.
  2. What circumstances are robbing you of peace? Philippians 4:4-8. Give them to Jesus now.

Digging Another Well (Genesis 25-26)

January 20, 2021

22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth,[d] saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” Genesis 26:22

In those places, in our world, where there is little water supply, he who owns the water is often in control of everything. In the days of Abraham and Isaac, people had to dig wells to find water. The far east has countless numbers of dry wells through-out its deserts. In Genesis 26 we read how that Isaac began to dig again the wells that his father had dug. According to Scripture the Philistines had filled in Abraham’s wells. The point is clear, the enemy wants to destroy your connection to the water of life (John 7:36-37) which is Jesus Christ.

In Genesis 26 God mentions for wells dug by Isaac and his servants. Isaac gives the following names to these wells:

  • The well of contention, Vs: 20.
  • The well of hostility, Vs: 21.
  • The well of broad places, Vs: 22.
  • The well of covenant, Vs: 33.

I wonder, which well are you digging in today or maybe this month? Every day, as fellow Christ-followers, you and I are called to live life with intentionality. One of my favorite verses in Scripture is Ephesians 5:16 which says, “Redeem the time, because the days are evil,” KJV. The ESV begins as, “Make the best use of your time.”

Question, how do you and I make the best use of our time in whatever well God decides we need to dig in? We find our answer in Ephesians 5:17-18:

17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

When Paul writes, “do not be foolish,” I believe he is making reference to the wild emotional decisions Satan places in our minds when we are in the well of contention. I believe he is referring to the exhausted responses we give when we are in the well of hostility.

God intends for us to seek the Lord’s purpose and to seek to dig as God leads us to dig. This is what it means to understand the will of God. Once we see His purpose, the digging will still be hard in those wells, but it will be the Holy Spirit that guides us to experience the depths of broad places and a covenant that says, you will be victorious when you hit water (Romans 8:28).

2 Questions:

  1. What type of well are you digging in today?
  2. How will you leverage this well to grow and build the Kingdom of God?

Pay attention, this is important (Genesis 22-24)

January 19, 2021

15 And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his[d] enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”  Genesis 22:15-18

This past Saturday I met with a group of guys who made a commitment to each other to partner as brothers in Christ to make an impact in the world. It was an incredible moment. Possibly the most important moment was when they realized what they were doing was important.

Oh I hope you lean into the blog this day. I plead with you to pay attention because this in important. Everything you do either is a positive or negative impact on people’s lives. There is no middle ground.

In the Bible we find so many examples of people who were either a positive influence for the gospel or they were a negative influence. I must ask, which are you?

In our focal text, we read on of the most impactful moments in the life of Abraham. Chapter 22 has always been one of those chapters in the Bible that challenges me to obey God knowing that every decision counts.

Now to someone with zero knowledge of God’s Word, they would probably read this chapter and conclude that God was inhumane and barbaric for asking Abraham to sacrifice his son. However, if you know the context of what happened you realize God was placing before Abraham the following:

  • God was calling Abraham to give witness to his commitment to loyalty to God above everyone else.
  • God was calling Abraham to give humanity insight into the greater commitment of God in giving His own Son for the salvation of all people. (John 3:16)

I rejoice as I see a father who loves God above all others. I rejoice as I see a father who was willing to give his son into God’s hands. I rejoice when I see a father who’s son trust in his father’s decisions. I rejoice when the father receives a substitute for his son.

Question, did you see in Abraham’s story a picture of the gospel? Check out John 1:29; I Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:12-14.

I want to challenge you to grasp the impact of your life today! Truly your story can magnify the gospel.

Two questions:

  1. Are you ready to make impact today? I Peter 3:15. Ask God to use you right now.
  2. Are there things you need to remove from your life so that you can make greater impact? Take the time to remove them now, Psalm 32.

Go (Genesis 12-15)

January 18, 2021

12 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. ” Gen. 12:1

I love the story of Abram who later became Abraham. Most church historians believe that he and Job lived at the same time on the earth. When we meet Job he was already a follower of God. When we meet Abram he is following dead Gods (11:27-32).

Abram’ family had no connection to God, but there came that day when God came to Abram and spoke to him. The Bible records only one word of the conversation between God and Abram. . Here is the word, “go.” From this moment forward Abram lived a life of “going.”

Consider with me this one simple truth: To go anywhere you must fist leave where you are presently. The Bible records, “Abram followed the Lord.” Think about what he left behind:

  • He left his country (place of residence).
  • He left his relatives.
  • He left his family (all those close to him).

Here is another simple truth: Abraham was not leaving things behind, he was looking forward to things to come.

Certainly Abram’s journey was not perfect. He made mistakes along the way. However, he was always leaning forward. This is seen in its’s clearest form in Genesis 15 when Abraham settles in his heart that he “believed in the Lord.” Oh how important this was in his life. No one ever leaves where they are unless they believe in where they are headed.

In hopes of helping you understand the depths of my heart here, I want you to know that this days reading has caused me to ask myself, do I get up every morning leaving where I had been on the previous day seeking to walk with Him wherever He leads.

Brothers and sisters, we do not have to fear where God is leading us because He is our “sun and shield,” Ps. 84:11.

Take time to read James 2:14-26 and answer two questions:

  1. What are the things, places, and people you are trying to hold onto? Is this God’s way?
  2. What is God directing you toward this day?