April 19, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Breaking the Pattern”

Exodus 22:21

You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Growing up, I didn’t get to spend much time with my father. My dad was a pastor, and he devoted most of his time to ministry. Often, he would leave for morning prayer at 5AM, and return home near my bedtime. I do think that I am very blessed to have the dad that I have. He is a man of integrity and grace. And for that I am more than blessed. But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t wish he could have spent more time with me.

The ironic thing is that now I find myself in my dad’s position: pastoring a church, while raising a family. And for the first time in my life, I am beginning to see a generational pattern. Furthermore, I discovered that my dad grew up without a father as well (my grandfather passed away when my dad was a child). So in short, for as many generations as I know, the children in my family have always struggled to know intimacy with their dads. I haven’t fully figured it out yet, but my prayer is that God would help my family to break this pattern of fatherless-ness.

But if you really sit and think about our verse for today, it’s hardly fair! God commands the Israelites to treat sojourners (foreigners) well, because the Israelites were once sojourners (foreigners) residing in the land of Egypt. But if you remember… the Israelites were not treated well by the Egyptians at all! In fact, they were oppressed slaves! Why, then, does God expect the Israelites to treat their foreign residents kindly?

This passage is calling for a break in the pattern. Yes, the Israelites were treated terribly in Egypt… but by the grace of God, they can break that pattern. Now that the Israelites were in the position of hosting foreigners, God commands them not to act upon their previous experience, but rather based upon His grace.

Which area in your life is God calling for a break in the pattern? Perhaps it has something to do with the way you grew up. Maybe a certain hurtful experience from the past has shaped the way you treat others. Let’s come to the Lord and ask Him to help us live in His grace today.

Prayer: Father, on our own we cannot help but be shaped by our experiences. We only know how to treat people based on how we ourselves have been treated. But today we want to remember how You treated us. Although we were sinners You loved us, and although we were orphans You brought us into Your family. May we treat others based on how You have treated us.

Bible Reading for Today: 1 Cor. 2


Lunch Break Study

 

Read John 4:19-21: We love because he first loved us. 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. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

 

Questions to Consider

  1. According to John, what is the driving force behind our love for others?
  2. In the passage, whom does John call a liar? Why?
  3. What is the commandment that John highlights?

Notes

  1. John says that we love because God first loved us. In other words, God’s love for us is the fuel that empowers us to love others.
  2. John says, if anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. He explains that it is much easier to love a human being whom you can see, than to love an invisible God. Therefore, if someone claims to have an intimate loving relationship with God, and yet they cannot even bring themselves to love a fellow human being… there is something wrong with that.
  3. John says, “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” The word “must” means that it is not an option, but rather it is mandatory! If we say that we love God, then we must also love others.

Evening Reflection

Spend some time this evening praying for your church. Let’s pray that our churches become places where sinful patterns are broken and replaced by God’s grace and love.

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