Monthly Archives: January 2019

January 31; At Least Until They Are Settled

I Chronicles 4:1-23; 7:1-5,30-34; Genesis 46:13-26; 47;1-12

When Jacob finally got to Egypt, and he and his family were saved from the famine, Joseph didn’t just sit in his office and assume someone else was going to show his dad how to get to Goshen. Joseph went himself. He couldn’t wait to be reunited with his father, and share with him what he had received while living in Egypt.

Joseph, already a resident of Egypt, went to Pharaoh and prepared the way for his family’s transition. The Bible tells us that it was Joseph himself who settled his father and brothers in the best part of Egypt.

I think this is a picture of what the Church should look like. Think about this:

  1. Joseph had been saved. First from slavery, then from the famine.
  2. Joseph invited his family to join him.
  3. They did.
  4. Joseph stayed with them, and fed them until they were settled.

Are you with me? (1) We believers are like Joseph. We’ve been saved, we live in a blessed eternal kingdom and have everything we need in this life.

(2)Many Christians invite family and friends to join them. We share the Gospel, (3) and sometimes they do join us by receiving Jesus as their own. I think the Church is pretty good at the first three things on the list above.

I’m a bit concerned about the fourth point, however. When we lead someone to the Savior, do we stick with them until they are settled in their new-found faith? Evangelism doesn’t stop at salvation. Discipleship needs to follow. And we who have inhabited God’s Kingdom for a time need to be nurturing, feeding, encouraging new believers until they are rooted and firm in their faith.

And maybe beyond that.

Joseph wanted to be the one to lead his family to Goshen. I pray that each of us will want to be the one who leads that new citizen of Christ’s Kingdom into a solid relationship with Jesus, and an understanding of God’s Word so that they are ready to do the same for other new believers when the time comes.

January 30; Walk Away

Genesis 45:1-46:12; I Chronicles 5:1-6, 2:18-55

Pharaoh is inviting Jacob to come to Egypt so he and his family could be saved from the effects of the famine. That invitation spoke to me today.

Pharaoh said that Jacob should pack up his whole family, and come. “Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.” (Genesis 45:20)

It reminds me that some people hesitate to repent of sin, and accept God’s grace because of what they will have to give up. Friends, lifestyle, that sin they enjoy, maybe family or a job. They see what they have, and hold tight.

But hear God say, “Never mind about any of that. Because what you’ll receive as My child is so much better than you can even imagine. The best of My kingdom will be yours.”

Walk away, dear one. And walk toward your best life as a man or woman forgiven, clean, and in a relationship with God Himself.

It really doesn’t get any better than that.

January 29; When You Look Into His Eyes

Genesis 42-44

It had been Judah’s idea to sell Joseph into slavery, rather than killing him. He was part of the cover-up, to take Joseph’s coat, splatter it with blood, and tell their dad Joseph must have been killed by wild animals. Judah and his brothers watched their dad’s soul die that day. Jacob would never get over losing Joseph.

Now years have passed. The boys are grown with children of their own. But I wonder what Judah thought every time he looked into his father’s eyes, and saw the unspoken grief that was always there. Judah had to know he was responsible, and that he had the ability to return hope to his father, if he told the truth.

Something had changed in Judah according to what I read today. Where earlier, his father’s welfare was of little concern to him, now his father’s welfare was his only concern. In fact, Judah was willing to give up his own life to protect his father from any further grief.

Have you ever done something shameful, or hurtful toward your parents, and seen the hurt in their eyes? Have you ever watched your mom’s shoulders slump, or your dad silently fighting tears, knowing their pain was a direct result of something you’ve done? Have you watched your parents grieve, knowing you could change their grief into joy if you’d only make a different choice?

Then I want you to look into the eyes of your Heavenly Father. You might think the choices you make to sin has no effect on Him. But look closer. Our Dad is heart-broken, and we have the ability to do something about that.

If you’ve never repented of sin, do it. If you are a Christian battling a sin, confess it. Put on Jesus’ righteousness bought for you with His blood.

Then look into the eyes of your Heavenly Father, and see the love, the forgiveness, and the pride He has in those of us who choose Him.

January 28; Not Fair! Not Important!

Genesis 40-41

Joseph had a right to complain. He was suffering, and really didn’t deserve it. His own brothers had sold him into slavery because he was annoying and their dad liked him best. Was that fair? Hardly.

Was it fair that Potiphar’s wife lied about him, and he ended up in prison? Not fair!

And when he’d done a good deed for the Pharaoh’s cupbearer, the only thing he asked was – “remember me. Help me get out of here.” Did the cupbearer lift a finger to help the unjustly imprisoned Joseph? Not for two years. Not fair!

God nudge me to look at Joseph’s attitude through this unfair, undeserved difficult situation he found himself in. I don’t see him pouting, or turning his back on God. I don’t see him complaining, or scheming how to get even with everybody who hurt him.

I see a young man who didn’t waiver in his integrity, or his devotion to God. He worked. He did what was required of him. And he did it well.

I read the account of a man who trusted God. Period.

I don’t know a person out there who thinks life is fair. Thing happen, and sometimes we end up paying consequences for sins committed by people other than ourselves. Or we end up on the short end of the stick, struggling to keep our heads above water while everyone else seems to be sailing along just nicely. Not fair!

I think God would have us learn from Joseph. The circumstances in which we find ourselves are not the issue. Our attitudes and actions are, however.

The Apostle Paul knew hardship and unfair treatment. In Philippians 4:12-13 he said he had learned the secret to contentment despite circumstances. He knew what it was like to have a bank account, and what it was like to be broke. He knew what it was like to sit down and enjoy a hardy meal, and what it was like to starve.

Then he said that he could do anything, could face any circumstance THROUGH CHRIST who gave him strength.

I don’t know your circumstances but I know God is strong enough to see you through. The thing is, you have to look to Him instead of at your circumstances.

Life isn’t fair. That’s a fact. But whether or not life is fair is not important. What is important is your faith and trust in God who promises to be with you, protect you, and defeat the enemy on your behalf.

Do you trust Him? Then surrender your difficult circumstance to Him. Get busy doing the things He’s asking you to do. Worship and praise Him. Love Him. Quit feeling sorry for yourself, and telling yourself how unfair life is right now.

God can get you through this. That’s a promise. After all, it’s not your circumstance that is important. But God is.

January 27; Blessed To Bless

Genesis 37-19

Does your relationship with God have an impact on others? It should.

Joseph’s relationship with God blessed Potiphar and Potiphar’s household. The teenage boy was a slave, but listen to what Scripture tells us about that:

From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. (39:5)

Even in prison, Joseph was blessed by God, and a blessing to the warden:

The warden paid no attention to anything under Jospeh’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. (39:23)

So let me ask you again. Does your relationship with God have an impact on others, so that when He pours His blessings out on you they naturally spill over and touch the people close to you? Your family? Neighbors? Friends? Coworkers? Church? Community? Do people acknowledge that God in your life has benefited them, too?

What a privilege we have of being instruments through which God reveals Himself. We are blessed by God to be a blessing to others so that they will be drawn to Him, and find the same relationship we have with Him through the blood of Jesus.

May you be blessed, and a blessing to someone today.

January 26; Quick To Judge

Genesis 33-35

Wow. People are so eager to think the worst of Jacob. I read what several Bible scholars had to say about these chapters in Genesis and heard some call him a liar, a deceiver, a man who took advantage of people for his own gain. Some say he probably smiled while lying to Esau’s face, knowing he had no intentions of following his brother anywhere. Others suggest he pitched his tent right inside the Promised Land so it would technically be obeying God. But what he was really doing was taking advantage of the thriving commerce close by so that he could get richer and richer. Some criticized Jacob for being a weak and indulgent father, and that’s why Dinah was promiscuous, and her brothers were able to murder so many people, then justify their brutality by saying, “They deserved it.”

Now, I don’t know what Jacob was thinking any more than the next guy. But as far as his so-called deception of Esau – I don’t see it. I don’t read where Jacob said anything like: “Thanks, Bro. I should be home next Thursday,” then headed north like he’d planned all along. In fact, Jacob DID eventually go home. And I don’t read that Esau acted like a man who’d been deceived yet again.

Maybe – just maybe – Jacob thought about it, then realized the land couldn’t sustain both his and Esau’s holdings, so he turned north to be sure he didn’t infringe on Esau’s territory.

Maybe – just maybe – he’s settled just inside the Promised Land because his little family were exhausted and needed somewhere to call home. Maybe Jacob took the first opportunity to get settled so he COULD go home to see his dad and brother.

I’m not even going to try to defend Jacob’s parenting skills. But I’m also not going to assume Dinah was “asking for it,” when she went to make friends of the women.

You might say I’m way off base because none of that is recorded in Scripture. And you might be right. Scripture doesn’t tell us Jacob’s thoughts and motives. So why believe the worst?

I don’t now why this matters to me. Except we are told not to judge, aren’t we? I can see Jacob’s sins demanding God’s judgment. But I can’t judge his heart or his motives unless Scripture lets me in on those details.

So, think what you want to think about Jacob. He may have still been the deceiving, lying, self-seeking guy he was in his youth. But maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe that guy who went forward last Sunday to give his heart to the Lord is still the mean drunk he was before. But maybe he isn’t.

Maybe that lady who claims to have found Jesus is still the lying manipulator she always was. But maybe she isn’t.

I don’t know. But maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.


January 25; Broken and Healed

Genesis 31-32

Jacob reminds me of a new Christian. He wanted to obey God and did on occasion. But there was enough of the old Jacob still in him that sometimes he made rash decisions, and really bad choices.

Like running away from Laban. Hadn’t God told him to go, that He would be with him? Yet Jacob packed up and snuck out like a thief in the night.

God told Jacob He would be with him, yet without consulting God Jacob sent one peace offering to Esau, then another, and another. He divided his entourage and figured Esau would only be able to destroy half of them that way.

Did you forget, Jacob? God said He’d be with you. Esau has no power over God. Dividing your stuff might make you feel in control, or self-sufficient, or that somehow you are giving God a hand. But you are wasting your time.

So here is Jacob, torn between trusting and obeying God, and the need to do things his own way (like he’d always done). It’s hard for most of us to let go of the wheel.

Jacob laid down to get some sleep, but ended up wrestling all night. A man – was it an incarnation of Jesus or an angel? – attacked Jacob and physically wrestled with him for hours. Tossing, lunging, pinning, grasping, knocking each other down, and rolling around in the dirt all night!

The result? Jacob got a name change. He had seen God and didn’t die. Warren Wiersbe says, “Jacob was broken to be healed, and weakened to be strengthened.” (With The Word, p. 38; Oliver-Nelson Books, Nashville, TN, 1991) Jacob got up from that wrestling match bruised, limping, and strengthened to meet his brother.

I said Jacob reminds me of a new Christian. But he reminds me of me sometimes, too, and I’ve been following Jesus for decades. Sometimes I have my own wrestling matches with God late at night, staring wide-eyed at the ceiling when I should be sleeping, thoughts and doubts and struggles lunging at me, pinning me down, grasping at my heart. I feel like I’ve been rolling around in the dirt trying to get the best of my struggle.

And I am reminded it’s at those times God is breaking me in order to heal me. He is revealing my weakness so He can be my strength.

Oh that I would learn to throw in the towel, to quit fighting a losing battle, and let God have His way in every detail of my life. I wouldn’t feel so beaten up in the morning. I might actually get some peaceful sleep.

And I would be ready to face the challenges of the day, knowing God’s a lot stronger than me or my problems.

January 24; Generational Christianity

Genesis 28:10-30:43

Are you a Christian? Were you raised in a Christian home? Many of us were. And many of us had grandparents who were Christians, too. Generational Christianity – is there such a thing? I wonder.

If you were asked, what you would say is the reason you are a Christian? Is it because that’s all you’ve known?

Jacob was raised in the equivalent of a Christian home. His dad was a believer. His grandpa had been a believer. Both Abraham and Isaac had received God’s promises, and trusted God to keep them. Jacob grew up watching trust in God played out, sometimes in extraordinary ways. His parents no doubt told him what God’s promises were, that he would be the father of a great nation some day.

But something happened in the passage we read today. This time it was God Himself making the same promises, this time to Jacob. And this time Jacob made it personal. He accepted what God said, not because his dad believed, but because Jacob finally believed for himself.

I know there are some that suggest a leopard can’t change its spots. Once a deceiver, always a deceiver. And they see the old deceiver in what Jacob says in response to his encounter with God.

But I wonder if the vow he made to God wasn’t necessarily self-seeking. I see that it just might be an expression of humility and gratitude. God had just got done saying He would make Jacob great, would bring him home one day, and that He would never leave Jacob until every promise was fulfilled.  I don’t see any reason for Jacob to try to bargain with Someone who just promised to bless him beyond imagination.

When I read this I hear Jacob say, “If God is going to be with me and supply my needs, if God is going to bring me home and never leave me, how can I not make Him Lord of my life?”

And that’s what I want us to consider today. If you are blessed to have gone to church growing up, and if you were blessed to have seen faith lived out in your parents and grandparents, then hear God say the Promises they believed and trusted, are promises made to you, too.

Jacob had to claim them for himself, and that’s what I see happening here in this portion of Scripture. Jacob no longer followed his dad’s God. Jacob made God Lord of his own life here.  And we need to do the same.

It’s not enough that your parents were Christians. The issue is, are you? Have you asked Jesus to forgive YOUR sins, have you made Him Lord of YOUR life. Is He YOUR God and Savior?

Or are you banking on the idea that Christianity was handed down to you? Friend, there is no such thing as generational Christianity. It is a personal encounter with God, a decision each of us has to make in an intentional, truthful way.

Is Jesus Lord of your life?

January 23; You Know It

Genesis 27:1-28:9; 36:1-43; I Chronicles 1:35-54

This is a familiar story. Jacob dresses up like Esau and steals his brother’s blessing. I’ve heard it, read it, even taught it many times. But something hit me today as I read, in light of the unrest in our nation.

Isaac wanted to believe the man before him was Esau. Every sense he had told him it was not, but he wanted it to be. He was blind, but his ears heard Jacob’s voice. He heard Jacob’s voice, but his will told him it was Esau’s. His touch felt animal skin, but he wanted it to be Esau’s arm. He tasted goat, but wanted it to be wild game. And when he smelled his son’s clothes, he made himself believe it had to be Esau. Everything in him knew this was not Esau, but he wanted it to be, so it was.

I know there are some people who want a god of their making, or who don’t want there to be any god at all. I know there are some who want to redefine sin, or eliminate the idea of sin completely. I know there are people who want to believe a baby isn’t a baby until it breathes oxygen outside the womb, or that the sex of a person is a choice and has nothing to do with DNA. I know there are those who want to believe they are good, and strong, and powerful in and of themselves. And there are some who want to believe everyone goes to a better place when they die.

But, my friend, wanting it doesn’t make it true. And I honestly believe even the strongest proponents of these lies know down deep, they are wrong. The problem is, they don’t want to look that deep into their souls.

Isaac didn’t. If he had acknowledged what was right in front of him instead of going with what he wanted to be right in front of him, Jacob would not have stolen the blessing.

The insanity in our world isn’t based on truth. It’s based on want, and determination. It’s based on lies.

And I think you know it.

January 22; Live At Peace

Have you ever seen someone’s response to something, or read something in the Bible and thought, “Boy, if that had been me I’d have…?” That’s kind of how I felt as I read about Isaac and the wells he dug.

First of all, I am reminded that Isaac wasn’t there by choice. There was a famine, and the king told him to get out of Dodge. “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” So Isaac packs up and leaves. Just like that.

It’s got to be hard moving all those people and animals and everything you own. They’d been traveling for a while. They needed water. They dug a well.

But the neighbors declared their rights to the water. So Isaac packed everyone up again and moved to another location, dug another well, and had to face the protesters once again. “We’ve got our rights! This is our water.”

So Isaac moves AGAIN! Come on, Isaac, grow a backbone.

Why didn’t Isaac stand up for his rights? Why did he let the king and the people push him around? He had the Big Guns on his side, didn’t he? God was on his side, for crying out loud.

As I was thinking about this this morning I was reminded of Romans 12:17-19. Listen to what God has to say to us through his servant Paul:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it  is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written; “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Absolutely there is a time to stand up for what is right. There are plenty of examples in Scripture of God’s people fighting the enemy. Jesus Himself wasn’t afraid to get in the face of someone who was sinning, to overturn tables when necessary.

The Church may be taking this idea of living at peace with everyone too far. But there is also a danger of turning everything into a battle. If God tells us to live at peace with everyone you can, then do it!

That means living at peace with abortion doctors, homosexuals, adulterers, and liars. Do you think you are likely to win someone to the Lord by hating them, or by fighting them, or by waving your Bible in their faces while shouting John 3:16?

Living at peace means feeding hungry people, giving water to thirsty people. (Romans 12:20) It means offering the Bread of Life and the Living Water to people who are dying in their sin.

I don’t believe Scripture is telling us that to live in peace in this world requires getting pushed around or mistreated, as much as it tells us to love the people who are pushing us around and mistreating us.

Can we stand for the Truth in love? Can we?