February 15, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“God’s Generosity”

Genesis 45:16-20

When the report was heard in Pharaoh’s house, “Joseph’s brothers have come,” it pleased Pharaoh and his servants. 17 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: load your beasts and go back to the land of Canaan, 18 and take your father and your households, and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you shall eat the fat of the land.’ 19 And you, Joseph, are commanded to say, ‘Do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father, and come. 20 Have no concern for your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’”

My parents came to the United States as refugees who fled from Vietnam.  They, along with my sister who was a toddler at the time, immigrated with no money or possessions, and no knowledge of the culture or English.  You would think that they had little chance of surviving or that they were doomed to live a life of poverty, but what they experienced was far from that.  They were sponsored by a local church that gave so freely and generously to my family. This church helped my parents find housing, taught them English and how to drive, and helped find jobs and even childcare. My parents were incredibly blessed and so thankful for the lavish generosity and favor shown them by strangers.

I couldn’t help but think of my own family’s story when I saw this passage in Genesis.  When Pharaoh finds out that Joseph’s brothers were in Egypt and that the whole family would be coming to Egypt, he welcomes them with more than just open arms.  Pharaoh not only offers to provide transportation to Canaan and back, but he also tells them that the best of all of Egypt would be theirs.  He goes so far as to say, “Have no concern for your goods”—basically telling them that they didn’t even need their possessions because Pharaoh was going to provide them not just a home, but a fully furnished home with all of the amenities they could ever want.  Joseph’s family was shown lavish generosity and the full favor of Pharaoh.

The generosity shown to Joseph’s family was not by accident, but it was because of God’s covenant and promise to Abraham that his family and descendants would be blessed. This was not just Pharaoh’s favor that they were receiving, but it was God’s covenantal favor and love that was working to show this family that God was with them.

As children of God, we also have God’s favor and love in our lives, and we have the promise of God’s presence working in our lives always.  When I think about my family’s story, I know it was God’s hand working, not just so that we wouldn’t be in poverty, but to show us His lavish love and draw me and my family into a relationship with Him.  Think about your own story or your family’s story.  How have you seen God’s favor at work in the past and in the present as well?  Spend some time reflecting on our lavish and generous God who has been at work in all of our lives.

Prayer: Jesus, I thank You for Your presence and favor in my life. You have been so faithful and generous to me. I pray that I will never forget that You are with me. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Numbers 36


Lunch Bible Study

Read Luke 19:1-10: He entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. 4 So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. 7 And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Questions to Consider

  1. What did the crowds think of Zacchaeus when they saw him?
  2. What led Zacchaeus to suddenly be so generous?
  3. How should our hearts be moved to be generous like Zacchaeus?

Notes

  1. The crowds looked down on Zacchaeus, literally and figuratively. Luke tells us that he was small in stature so he was not likely an impressive man to anyone. But more importantly, Zacchaeus was a tax collector, a profession that was equated with sin because tax collectors had a reputation of being unscrupulous, swindling people of their money, and lining their own pockets with dirty money.
  2. Zacchaeus unexpectedly experiences the favor of Jesus. Zacchaeus seemed to be desperate to see Jesus—he climbed a tree just to catch a glimpse and this drew the attention of Jesus.  Jesus generously honors him by going and staying in Zacchaeus’ house, which must have been an extraordinary blessing for him because he was likely shunned by most of the community.  Experiencing this favor from Jesus leads Zacchaeus to repent and decide to be generous with his great wealth.
  3. We need to recognize the lavish love and favor of Jesus in our lives, just like Zacchaeus. When we understand the amazing grace we have received, it should move us to give generously to others as well.

Evening Reflection

As you’ve spent time reflecting on God’s favor and generosity in your life, how does it make you feel? When I remember the story of God’s work in my family, it fills me with a deep sense of joy and thanksgiving, knowing the personal and intimate love of Jesus.  It doesn’t end there though. Remembering God’s favor in my life leads me to consider how I can be used by God to show His love.  Reflect on that same love for you and ask God to use you to be an agent of His love as well.

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