February 8, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Finding Family

Genesis 43:11-4

Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry a present down to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. 12 Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks. Perhaps it was an oversight. 13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again to the man. 14 May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

Many of us likely know the story of the prodigal son, a parable told by Jesus in Luke 15. A son, who was the younger of two brothers, asked his father for his share of the inheritance and, having received it from his father, left and went to live in a far country where he wasted all the money. But upon realizing his utter bankruptcy, the son thinks to himself, “Perhaps I should return home.” However, because of his worry that the father won’t accept him unless he returns as a servant, he plans a speech accordingly: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants” (Luke 15:18-9).

There is a similar feeling expressed by Jacob and his sons in our passage for today. They believe they have wronged Joseph and feel like they need to appease him when they return, hence all the gifts they plan to bring with them. There certainly was fear over how Joseph would treat the brothers when they returned to Egypt. Jacob even wonders if he will lose his children. Yet (spoiler alert), when the brothers return to Egypt, they do not encounter a man desiring to punish them like servants, but they encounter a brother wishing to be reconciled to them as family. This is similar to the prodigal son story: the son expected to return as a servant but was rather greeted as a son, as family.

Many of us operate out of fear in our relationship with God. We have the mindset of Jacob and his son, or of the prodigal son, assuming the worst, assuming only condemnation and punishment. Yet, that’s not who our God is! Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”

Are you operating out of fear in your relationship with God or out of grace? Remember today that our God delights to call us sons and daughters, not slaves. Through Jesus, we do not find condemnation in God, rather we find family. May we return to Him and receive grace upon grace; may we return to Him and receive the heart of the Father.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for opening a way for me to be called a child of God. Thank You that I am now part of Your family. May I not live in fear, assuming condemnation and punishment. Help me to live in joy, because You have given me grace upon grace. I praise You for this great love You have shown me. May I return to You today. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 28


Lunch Break Study 

Read Luke 15:20-24: And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does the father react to seeing his son coming home?
  2. What does the father do in response to his son’s rehearsed speech?
  3. What does this reveal about the father’s heart for us?

Notes

  1. First off, the fact that the father saw his son means the father was looking for him. He did not move on – he still held onto hope that his lost son would come home. So, when he sees his son on the horizon, his reaction was compassion. He could probably sense the brokenness inside the son. Out of this compassion, the father ran to his son, despite the shame of running, despite the shame his son brought on him. The father ran to his son and embraced him.
  2. The father cuts him off! The son doesn’t even get to finish his prepared statement. The father basically says, “Stop talking! You are home! You are welcome here and you are still part of this family!” The father clothes his son, thus accepting him back as his son, not slave, and then the father throws a party for him. The father is joyous!
  3. This is a picture of our Heavenly Father. Despite the distance we may feel between us and Him, despite the brokenness and unworthiness we may feel inside ourselves, the Father always welcomes us back. He runs to us and embraces us and calls us sons and daughters. Our Father is joyous when we come to Him!

Evening Reflection

This evening, go to the Father. Feel His embrace, feel His ever-present love. Feel the joy that He has for you. Let this consuming love give you peace. May you rest tonight in the love of the Father.

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