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

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

Our Protector

Scripture: Then they set out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.  Genesis 35:5 NIV

Observation: Jacob and his family, servants, livestock, and possessions were in a country that was hostile to them. His oldest sons had just defended the honor of their sister and the people of the area could seek retaliation for what they had done. However, the Lord promised them protection.

Application: Wow!  When we are God’s people, his possession, we are protected by the creator of the universe. He made a mountain and he promises to protect me, “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 35:5b What do we have to fear?  He is with us in all that we do.

Prayer: Father, thank you for protecting us. I ask that you watch over all of my wife and kids today in whatever they are involved.  Bless their day and give them success as they work, study, and play. Amen

Doug

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

Feed the World

Scripture: He replied, “You give them something to eat.”  Luke 9:13 NIV

Observation: Jesus’ words to the disciples are words to us as well.

Application: Jesus was literally telling his disciples to feed a multitude of townspeople.  His words to us are to figuratively feed, “therefore go and make disciples of all nations” Matthew 28:19a.  We are to share the word with those in our sphere of influence. We are to mentor young Christians as they grow in their faith.  We are to grow in our faith and as we grow we are to guide others to the Lord.  We are to lean on the Lord for our strength and teach others to do the same. We are to spread the word, the “good news” of Christ. Go feed the world.

Prayer: Father, help us to carry out our great commission. Help us to feed the world your gosple. Amen

Doug