God the Forgiver

Scripture: Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack.  Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.  As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys.  They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil?  Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’ ”  Genesis 44:1-5 NIV

Observation: Joseph, number two to Pharaoh in Egypt, set up his brothers to appear to be thieves and get a little pay-back  before he acted as an agent of God to create the nation of Israel.

Application: Joseph was Pharaoh’s second in command in Egypt. He was tasked with ensuring that all of Egypt would survive a world-wide famine.  He was put in that position, by God, through his brother’s deceit, to give guidance to Pharaoh and to save Egypt from the famine.  Ultimately, his place in Egypt set in motion the creation of the nation of Israel.  Joseph knew that God had a plan for his life but knowing that truth didn’t stop him from putting his brothers through fear and dread before he revealed himself to them.  He was a dictator. While he saved Egypt, his family, and surely countless others, he was a man, with a memory, and he made his brothers suffer before he provided for their needs.

This is where my thoughts would not come together.  Mom and I talked and she finished this devotional for me.

Dad ask me to put together some feelings about today’s reading.  He was having trouble putting into words what he felt the Lord had to say.
The real issue with Joseph is that he was unable to truly live out forgivenss as Christ does with us.  Let me give an example, someone hurts you deeply and as a Christian you forgive them, you even go to them and tell them they are forgiven.  Your relationship is repaired.  Time passes and that person has a hardship. Down deep inside you think that they have gotten what they deserve.  The joy you feel in their suffering doesn’t feel right to you, hopefully.  We need to strive to forgive as Christ does, when he forgives, he forgives forever.  He sees us pay consequences for sin or be hurt…and He never thinks for a nano moment it’s what we deserve–instead he weeps.  We as humans lack this ability, if we say it’s not true we’re lying to ourselves.  We have Christ on our side.  We need to give these feelings, one by one, to him and let him help us truly forgive!

Prayer: Heavenly Father with all my heart help me to learn your way of forgiveness.  I acknowledge it will take me my earthly lifetime to get a handle on these feelings and release them to you. Amen

Doug and Laurie

Our Brother’s Keeper

Scripture: Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.  It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin.  So watch yourselves.
Luke 17:1-3 NIV

Observation: Jesus is instructing his disciples on their responsibility for another’s actions.

Application “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9 NIV Cain’s question to God is answered in Luke 17.  Jesus’ admonition about bringing sin behavior to another clearly reveals that, yes indeed, we are our brother’s keepers. We have a mighty responsibility to conduct ourselves above reporach.  Remember that we have but to call upon the Lord. We call upon him, we take on his attributes, we become Christ-like, and we will be above reproach. The possibility that we would bring sin upon another, cause another to sin, is no longer a possibility.

Prayer: Father, help me to be Christ-like in my daily life so that I never cause another person to sin against you.  Thank you for your Holy Spirit that guides my actions and attitude. I pray that I honor you daily and that I protect my “brothers” from harm. Amen

Doug

Missed Opportunities

Scripture: “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’  Luke 16:25,26 NIV

Observation: The rich ruler was in hell and he was begging Abraham through Lazarus for relief from his agony.

Application: It could be misunderstood from this passage that because he had a good earthly life the rich man was being punished with eternal damnation. Likewise, because Lazarus had a bad earthly life he was being rewarded with heaven. Wealth and/or the lack of wealth is not the issue. The issue is what each did with the gifts that God gave them. What do we do with the gifts God gives us?  What do we do with our salvation? Do we keep it to ourselves or do we let others in on the secret? What do we do with our wealth?  Do we hoard it or do we share it?  The ruler implied two things in his agony. First, he was all about himself which was most likely the way he lived his life. Secondly, he implied the Lazarus was a giver. It can be deduced that Lazarus thought of others before himself during his life. That’s why the ruler asked Father Abraham to please let Lazarus dip his finger into water to quench his thirst. The rich ruler squandered his opportunities in life to be a blessing to others–Lazarus apparently did not.  What will you do today to be a blessing to someone else? Don’t squander your opportunities in this life.

Prayer: Father, thank you for loving me and allowing me to bless others. I don’t ever want to look back on my life and regret missed opportunities. Amen

Doug

My Righteousness

Scripture: Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High.  Psalm  7:8 NIV

Observation: David was a man after God’s own heart and it was that chasing after God that made David righteous.

Application: Are we ready to be judged based on our righteousness, on our integrity?  I’m not sure that I am. I feel very unrighteous and unworthy most of the time. I don’t question my integrity but my past haunts me. Satan knows that about me and he uses it to get me to call into question my standing with the Lord, my righteousness. Praise God that Jesus is my righteousness. I can never be worthy on my own. It’s Jesus’ righteousness that makes it possible for me to be deemed righteous.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for standing in for me and for being my righteousness.  I could never be considered worthy without your sacrifice. Help me to honor you in my daily life as I interact with others and always behave lovingly and with integrity. Amen

Doug

Judgmental? Not Me…

Scripture: Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”   The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?  Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?  Luke 13:14-16 NIV

Observation: The Church leaders, Pharisees, and people in the temple that day were quick to accuse Jesus of “breaking rules” or  not doing things acoording to what they thought was right.

Application: This really saddens me.  This truth is still one of the biggest stumbling blocks for the church and believers today.  We spend way too much time being critical of what other Christians are doing.  The way is narrow and scripture tells us that many will be left behind, read Luke 13.  Only the Father has the authority to judge and correct us.  Therefore set your sights on knowing and sharing all about our Savior;  let the Father do the judging.

Prayer: Heavenly father look within me and show me the areas of my life where I am judgmental instead of encouraging.  Lord teach me how I can affect your kingdom by loving and encouraging others to seek and know you.  Amen

Laurie

Share the Word

Scripture: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”  Luke 13:34 NIV

Observation: The Lord is admonishing those around him for not heeding the words of the prophets to their own detriment.

Application: We in this country today are very good at “shooting the messenger.” In many areas of life, social, community, politically, and especially faith the messenger is laughed at, mocked, and ignored. In Jesus’ time they literally “shot” or killed men sent of God. While Jesus wasn’t just a man sent of God, he was God, he was killed for his message. True, that was God’s plan to redeem the world, but the plan worked because men are evil and we would rather “kill the messenger” than accept the message and repent.  Our task for today is to embrace the message that Jesus died to bring to us.  We must be bold in our faith and willing to share Jesus–even if it means our message might be “shot.”

Prayer: Father, help us to bold in the face of opposition. Amen

Doug

Greed…Out-centered or Self-Centered?

Scripture: Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  Luke 11:15 NIV

Observation: Are we not the most materialistic beings God created?  We judge our life on what we have, cars, home, toys, even our appearance.  It takes money to have “perfect” eyes, nose, hips.  We covet what others have and will go to extreme means to get “it.”

Application: Re-evaluate your life, priorities, goals.  Are they worthy of  God?  Do they further the kingdom?  Are they out-centered or self-centered?  Are they full of “wants?”

Prayer: Lord help me, I need to change my focus.  Why do I want what others have can I not be content knowing, serving, and following you?  Lord have you not provided all I could ever need?  Lord help me identify my greedy thoughts and give them to you because laying them at your feet is the only way to let go of them.  Amen

Laurie

Acknowledge the Lord

Scripture: “I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God.  Luke 12:8 NIV

Observation: God wants us to let the world know that we love Him and aren’t afraid to admit it.

Application: The hardest part of being a Christian is living as a Christian. We put off our old self and put on the new–except when we’re with this group or those peolpe. It’s been said that being a Christian is the easiest thing in the world and it’s the hardest thing. All we have to do is acknowledge that Christ is God, He died for our sins, and He rose three days later to reign from heaven–that’s the easy part. Now we have to live like we believe it–that’s the hard part. We have to love others just like He loves us. Love those who hate us and want to love them to Christ. This isn’t easy and we can’t do it alone. God knows that. That’s why we have the Holy Spirit. He is our petitioner, our protector, and our guide. We have but to call on Him through prayer to give us the right attitude to be the Christian that we should be.  When all else fails, call on the Lord.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit as our protector and guide. You know that we can’t do Christianity alone. Thank you for providing a way that we can be strong when we are weak. Amen

Doug

Don’t be a Pharisee

Scripture: “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.” Luke 11:43 NIV

Observation: Pomp and ceremony, the adoration of others, all of the best that could be had, those were the things that were important to the religious leaders of whom Jesus spoke.

Application: I don’t know what to write today without becoming offensive. I have many aspects, good and bad, of many congregations of today, flying around in my head. To call any one out could and would be hypocritical of me–me personally.  There are churches that are more interested in their appearance in their community than winning souls for Christ; more interested in carpet and stained glass than ministering to their neighborhoods. Who am I to criticize?  I am them–I am the church. I too have been given a great commission from the Lord. What have I done with my charge?  As I write this I realize that not until I started this daily devotion and sharing had I done much of anything to reach out to others for Christ. I’ve always been pretty content to set back and be a Pharisee, enjoy a little bit of church without having to put myself too far out there. I’d attend, I’d fix s thing or two, here and there, but I wouldn’t really try to do more, to become more involved, to go further out on a limb for the Lord.  I know that I’ll never be a Billy Graham, God doesn’t want me to be, He already has one of those. God wants me to be willing. Willing to listen to Him and share a truth now and then. Willing to go out on a limb for Him. The truth is if we aren’t careful we will all neglect our calling, our great commission, and we will become very much like the Pharisees.  I pray that I am no longer like a Pharisee.

Prayer: Father, forgive me for being a Pharisee. Put it on my heart to desire to reach out to others with your truth. Amen

Doug

The Lord is My Strength

Scripture: I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.  Psalm 6:6 NIV

Observation: The Psalmist is experiencing great distress and crying out to the Lord.

Application: King David was in anguish. He was tired and his enemies were many, real enemies that wanted to kill him. I don’t know the exact reason for David’s distress, what exactly was going on at that time in his life, but I do know that when he was at his lowest he turned to the Lord; “…for the Lord has heard my weeping.  The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;  the Lord accepts my prayer.”  Psalm 6:8b,9 David turned to the Lord when he was at his lowest and he received comfort. We can see that when it feels like there is no hope, when all is lost, when we are on our last leg, we have but to call on the Lord and He will comfort us and give us the strength to continue.

Prayer: Father, thank you for being my strength. When I’m weak, you are strong for me. Help me to be an encourager to guide others to you for their strength when they are weak. Amen

Doug