“Betrayal!” January 23

 

Betrayal, Wrong Roads & Swallowing CamelsHow do you respond to betrayal? Do you play that video tape over and over in your mind, allowing it to burn into your brain, turning to anger, then bitterness? Or do you surrender it to God? Do you view it through the sovereignty of God or simply through your feelings?

And what about wrong roads, have you ever asked yourself, how did I get here? This isn’t where I wanted my life to end up. Or have you ever gotten so focused on straining out gnats in your life (or someone else’s) that you swallowed a camel?

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 45 & 46
Psalm 12.3-4
Proverbs 4.14-17
Matthew 15.1-20

 

Betrayal!

 

Genesis 45 & Genesis 46:

Understanding the Sovereignty of God

 

A great famine has brought Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to buy grain. He recognized them immediately, but they have no idea who he is. Remember he was only a youth when they sold him to slave traders. Now he looks like any other Egyptian official.

Joseph has been testing them, perhaps to see if they’ve changed, but he can stand it no longer:

¹Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence (45.1-3).

What a reunion for Joseph and Benjamin! But I can’t imagine the shock the other ten brothers must have experienced.

14 Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him (45.14-15).

The most amazing part of this story is what John MacArthur calls “a masterpiece of recognition of and submission to the sovereignty of God” (MacArthur Daily Bible).

And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt (45.4-8).

Think about it. Fifteen years had passed since that day when his brothers betrayed him. There were ten of them—older and stronger. They had thrown him into a pit. Imagine the terror of overhearing them arguing about whether or not to kill him and what they would tell their father. Later we learned that he pleaded with them, but they wouldn’t hear it (Gen. 45.21). The text says:

“And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming” (Gen. 37.25).

They sat down to have lunch while they debated his fate!

Then there was the long journey to Egypt. Did he hope they might change their minds and come after him? But no rescue. When he arrived in Egypt, was he put on an auction block?

At some point, Joseph must have made a decision to make the most of his circumstances and the Scripture says, “The Lord was with him” (Gen. 39.2). He served his master Potiphar well, rising to the job of chief steward, and was loyal even in the face of temptation. Then he was falsely accused and thrown into prison. Even there he was faithful and ended up being given a position of responsibility.

Even so, imagine the nights spent lying awake and wondering why? Why would his brothers do such a thing? Why would God allow it? When did he surrender it to God? We don’t know, but without a surrender he could not have responded as he did.

What do you do when someone has sinned against you? Do you play that video tape over and over in your mind, allowing it to burn into your brain, turning to anger, then bitterness? Or do you surrender it to God? Continue reading

May 13 “White magic, Jesus and how to resist the devil”

Is there any such thing as white magic? Is it ok for Christians to read their horoscopes or study astrology or numerology? Is there anything wrong with tarot cards, cleansings, Ouija boards, and palm reading?

Have you ever dabbled in those things? Would you know how to talk to someone who has? How do you resist the devil?

resist the devil

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 28
Psalm 61.1-4
Proverbs 16.6
John 3.1-18

1 Samuel 28:

Mediums and spiritists

This is one of the more bizarre stories in the Bible and difficult to understand at first glance. The chapter opens by telling us that Samuel has died and that Saul has banished all the mediums and spiritists from the land. Then when God won’t answer Saul, he resorts to seeking out a medium himself.

How about you? How to you respond when answers to prayer are slow in coming? Do you continue to wait on God or resort to your own solutions?

We can’t put God in a box or demand that He do things on our timetable. Just because we have decided to walk in biblical love and forgiveness toward our spouse, doesn’t mean God is, immediately, going to cause him or her to change.

Just because we give financially doesn’t mean all our debt will disappear or we’ll instantly have the job of our dreams. In fact, our expectations are often part of the problem. We are to obey God out of a desire to please Him, not to get some desired result and then trust Him for the right result. It’s not that blessings don’t come as a result of our obedience, but our attitude is not to be one of “giving to get something.” Continue reading

April 19 “Hammers and tent pegs and you”

What do hammers and tent pegs and a “tent-wife” by the name of Jael have to do with you? Are we too quick to write-off some of the stranger Old Testament stores as irrelevant for today?

hammers and tent pegs

Today’s Readings:
Judges 3 & 4
Psalm 48.9-14
Proverbs 14.18-19
Luke 14.25-35

Judges 3 & 4:

Just a tent-wife

The book of Judges contains some very interesting stories to say the least!

One of the more surprising, especially if you haven’t read it before, is the story of Jael and her tent peg! God used a “housewife,” a “tent-wife” in this case, to destroy Israel’s and God’s enemy with a hammer and a tent peg. Think about the courage it took. What if he had awaken while she was getting a good grip on the hammer? What if she had missed and just managed to awaken him? Can you imagine the fear she might have felt?

What can we learn from Jael’s story or any passage of Scripture, especially when it seems so removed from our life experiences?

Try dialoging with the Lord. Ask questions like. What are You trying to tell me through this passage? Is there a promise here I can claim? Is there a command I should obey? Is there a principle I need to put to work in my life? Is there an example I should follow? And then reread the passage. Continue reading

April 10 “Parenting from the foot of the cross”

The Bible has so much to say about parenting, and we have many great resources today to help us understand and apply the Bible’s teachings. It’s also an area where we need to apply the gospel, both to ourselves and in the grace we give our children. (See links below.)

parenting

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 9 & 10
Psalm 44.1-3
Proverbs 13.24-25
Luke 10.1-24

Joshua 9 & 10:

If God is for you …

What an incredible picture of what it means to have God on your side, fighting for you! He stopped the sun and moon on their behalf, used hailstones to destroy their enemies and saw that they were protected and had complete victory.

But even when God is not working in such obviously dramatic ways, He is still present and at work in the lives of all who belong to Him.

Romans 8.31b, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And Philippians 1.6, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Continue reading

March 30 “Gay marriage & hard questions”

Interpreting Scripture is a hot topic today with even churches debating issues like homosexuality and gay marriage. One line of argument poses the question, “How can you say some Old Testament laws are still valid and others are not?”. It’s an important question.

hard questions

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 21 & 22
Psalm 38.9-22
Proverbs 12.26-28
Luke 5.1-16

Deuteronomy 21 & 22:

I’ll warn you; today’s comments are long. While I don’t pretend to have all the answers and there is certainly much more that could be said, I pray you’ll read and consider these things.

Murder, rape, rebellious children & your neighbor’s ox

What attention to all the details of life we find here in the Old Testament law—everything from the jurisdiction in a murder case (21.1-9) to “Good Samaritan” laws (22.1-4) to rape and adultery (22.22-30). But why would God care about different kinds of seeds being sown together or whether different materials were blended into one fabric. Bible passages like these sometimes raise questions that are challenging to answer.

Interpreting Scripture is a hot topic today with our courts deciding on the constitutionality of “gay marriage” and even some churches debating issues connected with homosexuality. One line of argument poses the question, “How can you say some Old Testament laws are still valid and others are not?”. It’s an important question.

For means of explanation and discussion, some scholars divide the law into three parts. They are: moral law, ceremonial law, and judicial/civil law. (For more discussion on this you can go to http://www.gotquestions.org/search.html.) Continue reading