Category Archives: Old Testament

Exodus 2-4; Luke 17; Psalm 88

Exodus 2:11-15a NIV

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian…

Moses was clearly troubled by what he saw and he wanted to rescue his people. However, rather than seeking God, Moses sought his own intellect and decided to take matters into his own hands. It didn’t work. Instead of things improving, they worsened – not only with the Egyptians, as Pharaoh wanted to kill Moses, but even with his own people, who disrespected and challenged him.

Like Moses, I find it so tempting to take matters into my own hands. When I see someone else suffering, or if I, myself, am feeling overwhelmed, my gut reaction is to jump into action and attempt to work out deliverance for myself. The problem is that my thoughts and my understanding are tainted by sin and emotions that frequently are running out of control. Therefore my actions make things worse rather than improving the situation. I’ve learned that deliverance can only come from God’s hands, not my own.

Moses reacted to the situation by running away – again, I so easily identify with that instinct! However, God used the next 40 years to work in Moses’ heart and develop in him a humility and dependence on the Lord rather than himself. It was a tough lesson to learn, I’m sure – it always is. However, we all must learn it because humility is the prerequisite for being used by God.

In chapter 3, God spoke to Moses and invited him to join Him in delivering the Israelites from slavery. In a shocking contrast to chapter 2, we read that Moses began to argue with God about his inability to rescue the Israelites.

I’ve found that it’s easy to confuse humility with insecurity. I may think I’m acting humble when, in reality, I’m giving into my insecurities. Insecurity causes me, like Moses, to still rely on my own understanding, abilities, and judgment. Humility, though aware of my inability, doesn’t fixate on my failures, but instead trusts in God’s understanding, abilities, and judgment.

While insecurity causes me to question and doubt, humility causes me to say, “Yes, Lord. I know you are able; I will trust you to do what you say you will do.” And that humble surrender is exactly what allows me to begin experience deliverance and, ultimately, victory.

Father, please forgive me for believing the lie that deliverance depends on me. Help me to trust your abilities, your understanding, and your plan in my life and in the lives of those I love. I surrender to what you’re doing and will wait for your direction before I speak or act. Thank you for loving me and being patient with me, even in my failures and when I interfere with what you’re doing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Bethany Harris (drgnfly1010)

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Genesis 50; Exodus 1; Luke 16; Psalm 8

Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. (Gen 50:1) NIV

God had promised Jacob this was what was going to happen. As He assured Jacob he should not be afraid to go to Egypt, God told him Joseph himself would be the one to close his eyes after his death (Gen 46:4). I can imagine Joseph’s tears came from a place so many of us have felt—being cheated of enough time with a loved one. Losing someone we love to death. There was never a doubt in Joseph’s mind that he was loved by his father. Years of separation had not changed that. Now he was gone.

The first separation was not of his doing, it was forced upon Joseph. At that time, he had no idea if he would ever see his father again. Yet, after so many years, here he was blessed to be reunited with his father when he least expected it. Jacob got to see his grandsons grow and speak a blessing over them as was the custom. God orchestrated the grand reunion of father and son. He restored a family—or so Joseph thought.

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. (Gen 50:15-17) NIV

 They had just come back from burying their father—as a family. I think Joseph wept because he was deeply hurt by their words. His brothers did not know him at all. They feared him. Did they not know how much he loved them, that he had forgiven them? They were still living in the place of guilt for their actions. There was still distance between them even though they were all together again.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

Here again, Joseph’s dream was being played out before him (Gen 37:7-9). His brothers were bowing down before him. This time, however, his response was different. As a young man, he saw himself “lording” over his brothers. Now, he was humble and he gave credit to the Lord!

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

I am so glad the story of Joseph is in the Bible. It shows me such an example of God’s ability to rebuild and restore relationships. It shows me forgiveness is possible. In the natural, one would think as Joseph’s brothers thought—surely he is going to pay us back for what we did. But God had done such a restoration of Joseph’s heart that he had love and compassion for his brothers. A heart like that can be put in charge of saving a nation from starvation. A heart changed by God!

Lord, I thank you for the work you do in us when we surrender to you! Your supernatural power allows us to do what we could never do in the natural. Forgiveness is never easy. There are wounds only your holy salve can heal. I know there is still bitterness inside of me and I release it to you. Let me say as Joseph did “God intended it for good”. With cleansing tears, I surrender. In Jesus precious name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Genesis 41-43; Luke 13; Psalm 5

The truth comes out.

Finally, the king’s chief cup-bearer spoke up. “Today I have been reminded of my failure,” he told Pharaoh (Genesis 41:9, NLT).

Joseph is brought to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.

Seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine, and all the years before that of hiding their deceit, Joseph’s brothers never truly escaped the truth.

21 Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.”

22 “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?” Reuben asked. “But you wouldn’t listen. And now we have to answer for his blood!” (Genesis 42:21-22, NLT)

Jesus cuts through the argument and gets straight to the heart.

14 But the leader in charge of the synagogue was indignant that Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath day. “There are six days of the week for working,” he said to the crowd. “Come on those days to be healed, not on the Sabbath.”

15 But the Lord replied, “You hypocrites! Each of you works on the Sabbath day! Don’t you untie your ox or your donkey from its stall on the Sabbath and lead it out for water? 16 This dear woman, a daughter of Abraham, has been held in bondage by Satan for eighteen years. Isn’t it right that she be released, even on the Sabbath?”

17 This shamed his enemies, but all the people rejoiced at the wonderful things he did (Luke 13:14-17, NLT).

Lord, you are the truth. I’m grateful that I can place my faith and my heart in your hands. Joseph couldn’t count on the cup-bearer to remember, or his brothers to look out for him before that. Even a daughter of Abraham was left in bondage by the religious. But you are truth, you see truth, you speak truth, you reveal truth. You set us free to walk in the truth–to follow you and walk with you.

Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
    I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
    or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.

My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
    Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
    Their tongues are filled with flattery.
10 O God, declare them guilty.
    Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
    that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
12 For you bless the godly, O Lord;
    you surround them with your shield of love. (Psalm 5:7-12, NLT)

Lead me in the right path, O Lord, make your way plain for me to follow. I only want to walk in truth.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 38-40; Luke 12; Psalm 7

As a teenager, the story of Joseph refusing the advances of someone else’s wife was key to my own walk with Jesus. It was a story that was instrumental in my decision that  pornography was not going to be the path I would take as I grew up to be a young man. I needed the strength to make the kind of decision that Joseph could make if I was going to live my life completely for Christ.

But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge.  He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” – Genesis 39:8-9  ESV

Now as an adult, I realise that Joseph was not just sticking to principles, those principles were going to cost him. I can imagine that it came close to being his life, but it still resulted in quite a few years in prison. The principal I learned as an adult follower of Jesus was that if it cost my life then I would choose to gladly give it. In my day, there were many stories coming out of Russia and China at the time, of incredible persecution, and how those who stood true to their walk with Jesus, died. Those testimonies were crucial in my own walk with Jesus. In fact, this promise gave me the context to give my life completely to Jesus —

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. – Luke 12:22-23  ESV

I find it liberating to trust Jesus to supply all of my needs.  I find it liberating that He guides and leads me to places of employment.  I find it completely liberating that I can trust Him to look after my wife and children. I find it liberating that I can trust Him completely.

Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me – Psalm 7:1  ESV

Father, I thank for the testimony of Joseph. I thank you that he gave you everything he was and You looked out for him. I thank You for Your promise to look out for me too. You have been so faithful that You set me free from any anxiety in my life. I thank you for David’s prayer to You. He trusted in You too and in his simplicity of faith, You answered his prayer and saved him. What a blessing to joy in You today. I enter today in Your rest and am thankful for it. 

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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Genesis 35-37; Luke 11

“Then God said to Jacob, “Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there.  Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau.”  So Jacob told everyone in his household, “Get rid of all your pagan idols, purify yourselves, and put on clean clothing.  We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress.  He has been with me wherever I have gone.”  Genesis 35:1-3 NLT

Jacob’s family didn’t leave for Bethel until they threw away all of all their pagan idols.  I imagine Jacob telling them not to pack the idols and try to hide them.  What idols am I still holding onto? So many times I give them to God and take them back.  It hinders me from moving forward to what God has for me next.

Jacob knew that God would be with him, just like he was before. If only I could remember that more often.  I think that’s why it’s important to have “altars” in my life to remember all God has done. He was with me, even when I felt like he was far away.  He was working when I couldn’t see it.  It spurs on my faith for future unanswered prayers.

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.  Keep on seeking, and you will find.  Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks, finds.  And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10 NLT

I was talking to a friend’s daughter who is in the process of looking for a college.  She wants to go to the same art college that I went to.  As I was telling her about my experience there, I was remembering all of God’s goodness.  It wasn’t the first college I went to. I transferred there from a Christian college.  I was planning on commuting, but I needed transportation.  God provided a car.   As I stood in the art store on one of my first days there, I met a girl who was involved in a small Christian group on campus.  God was showing me that I wasn’t alone. That he was intimately involved in my life.  Reciting his faithfulness, gives me the hope that he is not finished with me yet.  His plans are still good.

Fast forward 25 years or so later.  And I am still asking Him what it looks like for this 43 year old mom of four to use her gifts. Trying to discipline myself to make it a priority.  Sometimes it means becoming an intern at my church so that I catch up on skills that are foreign to me.  And trusting God in the process. Remembering when I stepped out of my comfort zone before, gives me the courage to do it again.

Thank you Father for always meeting me where I am.  Forgive me for when I doubt.  I pray that my weaknesses would bring me closer to you.  And that my faith would flourish (my one word this year). Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Genesis 27-28; Luke 8; Psalm 4

Jacob and Esau. God’s purposes bring to light what’s in the heart.

Jesus speaks of seeds and light:

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest (Luke 8:11-15, NLT).

Jesus heals a man possessed by a legion of demons, yet the area people beg Jesus to leave out of fear.

40 On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him (Luke 8:40, NLT).

There, a woman reaches out and touches the hem of his garment. A daughter is healed.

The full reading illustrates contrasts–worldly focus against kingdom focus. One son burns with resentment; the disciples are terrified by the storm; a town is fearful of supernatural power–in contrast to seeking God’s will even when everything feels upended; trusting in God’s protection in the storm (and nothing reveals that protection quite like the storm); a crowd welcoming and waiting on an opposite shore.

You can be sure of this:
    The Lord set apart the godly for himself.
    The Lord will answer when I call to him (Psalm 4:3, NLT).

Lord, thank you for impressing upon me a kingdom focus. Thank you for reminding me again and again to focus on you.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
    for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe (Psalm 4:8, NLT).

Thank you for loving me. You call me yours. You are there when I call to you. You keep me safe.

Courtney (66books365)

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Genesis 24-26; Luke 7; Psalm 6

When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” Luke 7:9 ESV

When I was a child, prayer was the easiest thing ever. It just made sense. If something is wrong, if you need something, if you’re feeling lonely, just pray. But the older I grew, the more I understood what was going on around me and the more the world began to affect my perspective. Faith became harder. As an adult, it’s so much “easier” to take matters into my own hands – to have faith in myself more than faith in God – and therefore, to act more like Esau than Eleizer; to act more like an outsider than an insider.

I can’t help but notice a consistent contrast in today’s readings – how, in Genesis 24, Eleizer showed great faith in asking God to provide the right woman for him to bring back to his master. He was specific in his prayer, and showed determination to wait. But in chapter 25, we see Esau’s impulsive nature and unwillingness to wait when he traded his birthright for a simple bowl of food.

Eleizer was a servant; an outsider. But Esau was part of the family, the oldest son, the one who should have had the most faith in God and was in the best position to see and experience God at work in his life. And yet Eleizer is the one who actually got to experience God, while Esau showed that he despised the opportunity God had given him.

Fast forward to Luke 7, and again we see amazing faith from an unlikely source – the Roman officer who believed all Jesus needed to do was say the word and his servant would be healed. Jesus marveled at this – not even the Jews had such faith!

The greatest examples of faith came from the outsiders, not the insiders. The “insiders,” the ones who should have immediately believed because they had the promise, instead doubted and questioned and tried to take matters into their own hands.

Luke 7:36-50 shows the result of living out our faith in Christ versus living by faith in ourselves. When we struggle with control, when we try to figure things out for ourselves, and when we live based on what we can see, it’s easy to become bitter – to become, ultimately, a Pharisee. In my life, the quickest way for me to tell when things have gotten off-track is by my attitude toward others. When I become frustrated, impatient, and skeptical of others, it’s a sign that I’m living with a self-centered mindset instead of a Christ-centered mindset.

But when I am attempting to live my life based on faith in Christ, in his power, ability,and promises, my attitudes and actions change dramatically. Rather than a Pharisee, I begin to act more like the woman whose sins had been forgiven. Out of the overflow of her grateful heart, she sacrificed something very precious. Because Jesus was worth it.

My goal is to be more like the woman who poured out what she had at Jesus’ feet; I want to be one who loves much because she’s been forgiven much. I want to be one who trusts what God can do more than what I can do. I want to believe that it just takes a word, and Jesus can make it happen – and I want that belief to move me to wait expectantly.

Father, thank you for loving me enough to show me when I’ve gotten off-track and become self-consumed and trusting in what I can do instead of what you can do. Open my eyes anew to who you are and what you have done for me, and help me to live out of the overflow of a grateful heart. Help me to love much; help me to pray in faith; and help me to wait in hope and confidence that you are at work even when I can’t initially see it. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

Bethany (drgnfly1010)

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