Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 23 Jan 18:
1. Genesis 45:5-9 – With the right perspective on God and God’s purpose for his life, Joseph was able to forgive his brothers. Joseph did not see himself as a mere hapless victim whose life was subject to the will of others. He knew that God was in complete control of His life and had a greater plan through it all. Consider this in context with Romans 8:28. Consider what this means for your life and for what you are going through. The victim mindset imprisons too many Christians and robs them of their joy. And the idea that we are controlled by others makes too many Christians fear people rather than God. If God is for you, who can be against you? How does your perspective on God effect how you treat those who mistreat you?
2. Genesis 45:18 – After Joseph had enslaved all of the Egyptians, Pharaoh gave Joseph’s family (foreigners) the choicest land in Egypt. The seeds of racial conflict are being planted. God is providing for His chosen people, but how Joseph managed the blessings of God will cause his people much pain and suffering in the future. Wouldn’t it be better to live in accordance with God’s sovereignty and grace and not to add our own curses to God’s blessings?
3. Genesis 45:28 — “And Israel said, ‘It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.’” How do you think Israel’s perspective on His God changed when he learned that Joseph was alive?
4. Genesis 46:34 — “‘…your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ in order that you may dwell in the land of Goshen, for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.’” Again, see the seeds of future racial division being planted.
5. Proverbs 23:4 – “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist.” There is such a thing as too much. Wealth building can be a substitute for faith, not trusting God to provide for your future. Also we have likely all heard the adage, “Possessions possess you.” Jesus walked with virtually nothing and told us to pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” It is not sinful to maintain provisions for the future, in fact, it is Biblical; however, trying to build your own kingdom on earth and your own security can be idolatry and can destroy you. Use your resources for Kingdom work, advancing the Gospel and resourcing acts of love.
6. Proverbs 23:13, 14 – “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” Yes, the Bible promotes spanking your children, but not in emotional anger, rather in love to save them from future pain. Sometimes words simply aren’t enough for a rebellious child.
7. Proverbs 23:20, 21 – “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.” How many churches who are adamant about not drinking have an obesity problem within their congregation? Excessive eating and drinking are both sinful and point to our need of a Savior and the power of the Holy Spirit to give us the spiritual gift of self-control.
8. Proverbs 23:27 – “For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well.” Adultery is like prostitution. In fact, adultery is even viewed as worse than prostitution because prostitutes sin as a means of providing for themselves, but adulterers sin simply for the pleasure of it, destroying families in the process. (Proverbs 6:26)
9. Matthew 17:1-9 – Those who are closest to Jesus see what others don’t see and understand from experience what others can’t understand.
10. Matthew 17:9 – Jesus does not tell His followers everything, and some are told more than others. God will tell you what you need to know, what you are ready for. Don’t worry about what you don’t know. Be faithful with what you do know, and you will be given more. You have a big enough challenge obeying the word you have been given.
11. Matthew 17:11-13 – Those who studied God’s word the most did not understand the prophecy they studied and missed its occurrence. Prophecy must be revealed by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals as He will — trust Him with the timing and methods. Do the last thing you were told and, in the meantime, remain receptive. All revelation starts with God’s written word.
12. Matthew 17:16-20 – Though Jesus had given His disciples the power to heal and cast out demons, they could not heal the boy with a demon brought to Jesus by his father. Jesus explains that they couldn’t heal him, not because He hadn’t empowered them, but because they lacked faith to do what God said they could. How does your limited faith limit you? The Bible says that, though we have the Spirit, we can quench the Spirit and “Get out of step” with the Spirit. Be guided by the spirit, not by fear, pride, guilt, or shame.
13. Matthew 17:23 – God’s plan of salvation filled the disciples with grief because it would be a painful experience for Jesus and for them. How do you feel about the fact that Jesus said that if you truly follow Him you too will suffer for His glory and not yours? Will you still joyfully and thankfully follow?
14. Matthew 17:24-27 – “However, not to give offense to them….” Again, though the Son of God, Jesus sets the example by both obeying the law of God and by being careful to demonstrate humility, peace, and grace to others. Jesus used this opportunity to reveal His ultimate authority over all Creation and His power over everything. In most cases, we can remain obedient to God and reveal His power through our lives without disobeying governmental authority, disrespecting others, or needlessly offending others.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 Jan 18: Make a list of your primary relationships, those people that are closest to you or that you encounter the most at work, at church, within the community, etc. Ensure the list includes those around you that cause you grief or problems. By each name, make a note on how you have intentionally sought to draw them closer to Jesus, and make a note on the one thing you could do to have the most impact on them in the future for Jesus. Don’t just use your intellect to come up with your own plan. Pray for God to reveal opportunity to you. (Matthew 17:16-20)