February 12, Monday

Devotional Thoughts for Today 

“Family Matters”

Genesis 45:1-3

Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. 3 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.

The following is possibly a true story found on the Internet: “We convinced my youngest sister that she was adopted; it was fairly easy because she was a platinum blonde and the rest of us are all brunettes… She got us back by being happy that she wasn’t actually related to us.”

Whether or not it’s true, this short anecdote is humorous to most of us because we all relate to dysfunction in family. To varying degrees, we all struggle with being a brother or sister, or being a son or daughter in our families.  And sometimes we might wish we weren’t actually related to our parents or siblings.  Why is this? Because there is no person or group of people who will annoy, bother, frustrate or even hurt us in quite the same way as our own families.

If anyone could tell a story about being hurt by his family, it would be Joseph. His own brothers tried to kill him, but instead sold him into slavery—setting off a chain of events where he ended up in prison. And so when we read about the mind games that Joseph played with his brothers (Genesis 42-44), we can understand that he was acting out of the deep hurt inflicted on him at the hand of his brothers.  And we see how deep the pain went as he wept so loud that everyone could hear.  However, in spite of all of the hurt and pain, Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers, begining the process of reconciliation and healing with his family.

For many people, it is a major struggle to love their families and to find healing and forgiveness from past hurts.  And what’s great about the Bible is that it doesn’t act as if this isn’t the reality for many people, but instead, it shows us the messiness.  There is so much dysfunction and pain in most of the families that we read about in the Scriptures. But the Bible doesn’t just show messiness, it also gives hope for healing and reconciliation.  Whether it’s relationships with our parents, siblings, spouses, friends, fellow believers, etc., God calls us to be agents of reconciliation and to take those first steps, like Joseph, towards the path of healing and forgiveness and love. Let us continue on that path and ask God for His love for those who have hurt us—especially those in our own families.

Prayer: Jesus, I give you all of my past hurt and pain, and I ask for Your healing touch in my heart.  Give me Your love for my family and for whoever has hurt me.  Help me to forgive as You have forgiven me.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 33


Lunch Bible Study

Read 1 John 4:19-21: We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Questions to Consider

  1. Why is there a disconnect between saying “I love God” while hating one’s brother?
  2. How does the love of Jesus change how we treat others?
  3. Who in your life have you found hard to love? How can you overcome your lack of love for them?

Notes

  1. John tells us that someone who talks and lives like this is a liar, because if you hate your brother, it means that you do not understand the love of God to begin with.
  2. If we have experienced the love of Jesus, it should move us to love others—even those whom we find hard to love. The love of God shown to us through Jesus Christ is so amazingly gracious and undeserved, that it should provoke within us the desire and the strength to love those we would normally find unlovable.  This is why John says, “We love because he first loved us.”
  3. Personal reflection question.

Evening Reflection

Overcoming past hurts is not a quick or easy process.  But the road to healing and reconciliation begins with small steps of surrender to God and beginning to forgive those who have hurt us.  If there is hurt or unforgiveness that you’re holding onto, reach out to a brother or sister in Christ to ask for prayer and help. Also, regardless of where your heart is, take some time reflecting on the grace and mercy shown to you through Jesus.

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