“Is this a test?” January 22

 

Medical test doctor stethoscopeHave you ever wondered, in the midst of some difficulty, “Is this a test?” Does God, actually, test His people and, if so, are tests punishments or something else? What does God do when we fail those tests?

As we continue the Genesis story, Joseph will be faced with a test. How would he respond to the brothers who thought about killing him before they sold him into slavery? And his brothers will face some tests of their own, including the fear that God was punishing them for what they did to Joseph and how he might retaliate.

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 43 & 44
Psalm 11.1-7
Proverbs 4.10-13
Matthew 14.22-36

 

Is this a test?

& :

 

From Prison to Leadership

 

If you’ve been following along in Genesis, you know that Joseph had been thrown into prison after he was falsely accused of sexual assault, as if being sold into slavery was not enough. While there, God gave him the interpretation of two men’s dreams. Joseph asks the one that was released to remember him and his plight, but he, apparently, never did.

Two years later Pharaoh had two disturbing dreams (Gen. 41):

In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard.11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

God warned that seven years of abundance would be followed by seven years of famine. He, not only, revealed the interpretation to Joseph, but gave him so much wisdom that Pharaoh put him in charge of managing a program to prepare for the famine. His plan was so successful that people from surrounding areas came to buy grain, including Jacob’s brothers (Gen. 42).

 

You are spies!

 

Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked.

“From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”

Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.”

12 “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”

14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15 And this is how you will be tested …

I don’t know what was, actually, in Joseph’s heart when he first saw his brothers after so many years. The text says he remembered his dreams, but he, also, had to remember the hurt and the wrong they had done? He was  faced with a test of sorts. How would he respond to the brothers who thought about killing him before they sold him into slavery.

 

The Test

 

His brothers would face the fear that God was punishing them for what they did to Joseph and, later, the fear of how Joseph might retaliate.

18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do.

21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.”

22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” 23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.

24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.

 

Back to Egypt

 

Time passed. Simeon was sitting in jail, probably wondering if anyone was coming back for him.

Jacob had not been willing to deal with the situation. The thought of losing Benjamin was too great for him, but his hand had been forced by continued famine.

 

God & Famine

 

God often uses famine and lack to move us or test us. Sometimes, because we have become too content in our comfort zones, fearing failure or change. Other times, there are selfish desires, hidden idolatries, or sinful patterns that need to be exposed and dealt with. There are, also, times when we may not know the strength and ability we have in Christ until it is tested.  Continue reading

“How to Overcome Evil” September 19

 

How to Overcome Evil

We are not to be overcome by evil. In fact, we are commanded to overcome it! Scripture gives specific instructions for how to overcome evil. Do you know what it is?
In our New Testament reading we’ll look at Paul’s warnings and concerns about false teachers and learn how to recognize them when they come our way.
Also read about the heart, godly jealousy, and how to become more steadfast in difficult circumstances.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 29
Psalm 108.1-6
Proverbs 25.21-22
2 Corinthians 11.1-15

 

How to Overcome Evil

 

:

The Most Powerful Force in the World

 

God has given us a powerful weapon for overcoming evil. When we’re sinned against we want to fight back with anger, bitterness, gossip, withholding love and affection, and dozens of other sinful ways. But those are not the weapons God has commanded and empowered.

Today’s passage says:

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the LORD will reward you.”

These are coals of conviction. Love and kindness will often soften the hardest hearts. But no matter how the other person responds, God has commanded us to do good for them. And the promise that follows is, “the Lord will reward you.” Paul quoted this passage in Romans 12 when he said:

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.17-21).

We are not to be overcome by evil. In fact, we are commanded to overcome it! So how do we overcome evil?—with good! The love of God is the most powerful force in the world and it wins in the end!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

:

He wants your heart!

 

Verse 13, “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.”

God is not impressed with our “praise-the-Lords,” our Christian yard signs, or our involvement in religious activities. Neither is He impressed with our Bible knowledge or our pious-sounding prayers.  Continue reading

“Ever feel like you have a purse with holes?” July 22

 

Do you feel like your have a purse with holes? Have you put God on a back-burner? Are your priorities God's priorities? Could He be using circumstances to get your attention?Ever feel like you have a purse with holes? Have you put God on a back-burner? Are your priorities God’s priorities? Could He be using circumstances to get your attention?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 5 & 6
Psalm 87.1-7
Proverbs 21.19-20
Acts 23.1-15

 

Ever feel like you have a purse with holes?

 

& :

Are your priorities God’s priorities?

 

The people who had come back enthusiastic and ready to rebuild the temple, had met some resistance and gradually quit doing God’s work and, instead, got busy with their own lives.

God used the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to stir and rebuke the people about their priorities. In Haggai 1, God said:

“‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.’ Thus says the Lord God of Hosts, ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountain, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord” (Hag. 1.5-8).

What about you? Do you need to consider your ways? Are your priorities God’s priorities? Have you gotten “too busy” to be concerned about the things of God? Do you feel like you work hard, but everything goes into a purse that is full of holes? Could God be using circumstances to get your attention?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

:

Everything Comes from Him

 

Verse 7b says, “All my springs are in you.” In Acts 17.28 Paul said, “… in Him we live and move and have our being.” James 1.17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above … ” (NASB).

God is the source of every talent, every ability, every blessing. Scripture tells us that He even blesses the unrighteous in many ways. The Puritans called it “common grace.” And yet, we are so easily puffed up and become proud of our achievements, our possessions, even, our children. We need to be careful to give God the glory that He and He alone is due!

 

:

Contentious and Angry

 

In verse 19, God again sees fit to warn us, ladies, that we can easily go from being a blessing to being a curse to our husbands and/or children.

“Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”

Of course, we women are not the only ones who struggle with anger and it’s just as destructive when it’s you men.

angry kids childrenIf you struggle with anger get a copy of Wayne Mack’s book Anger & Stress Management God’s Way. In it he explains that anger that is selfishly focused or controls us is sinful—no matter how we try to justify it. If you’re dealing with angry children, check out The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo or Getting a Grip: The Heart of Anger Handbook for Teens. Both are extremely practical and helpful for parents and children alike.  Continue reading

“The Danger of Education & Wealth” May 31

 

The Danger of Education or Wealth - Can the very blessings of God hinder someone's relationship with Him? What is the danger of education or wealth? What can we learn from the life of Solomon and from Paul's writing in the New Testament?Can the very blessings of God hinder someone’s relationship with Him? What is the danger of education or wealth? What can we learn from the life of Solomon and from Paul’s writing in the New Testament?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Kings 9 & 10
Psalm 69.1-4
Proverbs 17.18-22
John 11.30-57

 

& :

The danger of education or wealth

Can you imagine a time in history when the blessings of God were so great that silver was accounted for nothing? The gold that was given or paid to Solomon was measured in “talents.” A talent was 100 pounds and would probably be worth over $5,000,000.00 today.

And it wasn’t just the monetary blessings, but the blessings of wisdom—so much so—that the Queen of Sheba would travel 1200 miles at a time when there were no jets, no trains, not even cars, only camels, horses and carts—just to see if it was true!

But then to see how the sinful nature of man can allow even the blessings of God to become a snare as Solomon began to accumulate wealth in a way that he had been forbidden to do. It’s not that it’s wrong to “save” or to have money in the bank, or even to have material goods. Remember, God gave Joseph the wisdom to set aside stores of food to last Egypt through 7 years of famine and enough to sell to people from other nations. Continue reading

December 26 “Seven bowls of the wrath of God”

seven bows of the wrath of God“Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.’” The next seven waves of God’s judgment:(1) foul and loathsome sores like boils, (2) the sea will be turned to the thick, dark, coagulated blood of a corpse, (3) a shortage of fresh drinking water (4) the sun’s heat will be intensified, (5) darkness and intense pain, (6) the Euphrates River will dry up, and (7) a massive earthquake.

 

Today’s Readings:
Zechariah 1-3
Psalm 147.12-20
Proverbs 30.21-23
Revelation 16

 

seven bowls of the wrath of GodZechariah 1-3:

How do you “see” things?

Do you see God and through the lens of your circumstances or do you see your circumstances through the lens of Scripture and God’s character?

God’s people had spent 70 years in captivity in Babylon. Perhaps they had allowed their circumstances to dictate what they believed about God. That can be a constant temptation for all of us. When things don’t work out the way we had planned or when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we desire, we fail to trust in His sovereignty and begin to believe He no longer loves us or conclude that He isn’t really good.

Instead, we must spend time coming to know God and understanding the truths of Scripture. His character and His Word must be the lens through which we view our lives and our circumstances.

 

Psalm 147.12-20:

Praise the Lord

This passage begins and ends with the admonition to “Praise the Lord!” In this case, the psalmist uses God’s control of nature as proof of His sovereignty. That will be even more evident during the Tribulation period as we’ll see as we continue reading through Revelation.

 

Proverbs 30.21-23:

Social upheaval

21 There are three things that make the earth tremble—
    no, four it cannot endure:
22 a slave who becomes a king,
    an overbearing fool who prospers,
23     a bitter woman who finally gets a husband,
    a servant girl who supplants her mistress.

When biblical, societal roles are overturned it creates a great deal of instability.

 

Empty bowlRevelation 16:

Bowls of the wrath of God

Verse 1, “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.’”

 

The First Bowl—foul and loathsome sores.

The same Greek word is used to describe Continue reading

September 12 “Good doctrine matters!”

truth, torn paper

Good doctrine matters because what we believe about God, His sovereignty, and His dealings with those He loves determines how we’ll respond to the tests and trials of life.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 15 & 16
Psalm 106.24-31
Proverbs 25.8-10
2 Corinthians 4.1-18

Isaiah 15 & 16:

Judgment against gentile nations

Isaiah not only warned God’s people of coming judgment, but he also warned of His judgment against other nations.

Moab was a nation that descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot through incest with his daughter. This prophecy warned of the destruction of their land and resources, as well as, coming military defeat.

more, greed, discontentPsalm 106.24-31:

Despising God’s blessings

Verses 24-25, “Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word, but complained in their tents …”

These verses contrast believing God’s word with a lack of st 28 “Money without peace & contentment”" href="http://donnareidland.com/august-28-money/" target="_blank">contentment (they despised the pleasant land—God’s blessing) and complaining. We’re faced with the same choice. Are we going to be thankful or discontent? Are we going to trust God and enjoy His blessings or are we going to be constantly wanting more? Continue reading

July 22 “A purse with holes”

Do you feel like your have a purse with holes? Have you put God on a back-burner? Could He be using circumstances to get your attention?

1142590-young-woman-showing-empty-purse-isolated-on-white-background[1]

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 5 & 6
Psalm 87.1-7
Proverbs 21.19-20
Acts 23.1-15

Ezra 5 & 6:

Priorities

The people who had come back enthusiastic and ready to rebuild the temple, had met some resistance and gradually quit doing God’s work and, instead, got busy with their own lives.

God used the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to stir and rebuke the people about their priorities. In Haggai 1, God said:

“‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.’ Thus says the Lord God of Hosts, ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountain, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord” (Hag. 1.5-8).

What about you? Do you need to consider your ways? Are your priorities God’s priorities? Have you gotten “too busy” to be concerned about the things of God? Could God be using circumstances to get your attention?

Continue reading

January 22 “Are you trusting God or focused on circumstances?”

wrath of god

It’s a story most of us have read many times, but what does Peter’s willingness to get out of the boat and walk on the water say to us on a practical level?

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 43 & 44
Psalm 11.1-7
Proverbs 4.10-13
Matthew 14.22-36

Genesis 43 & 44:

Back to Egypt

As we continue with the Joseph story the brothers had returned home without Simeon, some time had passed and the famine had worsened. Simeon was sitting in jail or some kind of custody in Egypt, probably wondering if anyone was coming back for him. Israel (Jacob) had not been willing to deal with the situation, but his hand had been forced by the continued famine. Now the brothers have returned to Egypt, this time with Benjamin. They have pleaded their case, and strangely, have been brought to the home of this high ranking Egyptian official for lunch! And things are getting really weird! Continue reading