February 24, Saturday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The God Who Transforms”

Genesis 48:8-12

When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?” Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” And he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” 10 Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. So Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them. 11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.” 12 Then Joseph removed them from his knees, and he bowed himself with his face to the earth.

I enjoy watching “transformational reality shows”—they are reality shows where there is a great amount of change from the beginning to the end: for example, shows like The Biggest Loser, Fixer Upper, and Undercover Boss.  Whether it be a body being transformed by getting in shape, an old house getting restored, or changes made in a company—positive change gives us encouragement and gives us hope that change is possible.

One of the truths about Christian life is that God can change anyone.  No matter how bad we think we are, or the ingrained patterns of sin we fight on a daily basis, our God is a God who transforms.   And He doesn’t just change the outward behavior but gives us a deep heart transformation that makes us new and different people.  In the life of Jacob, we see that he started out as a liar, he was also proud, self-seeking, and careless.  Whether deceiving his father (Gen. 27), using his own wits to appease Esau (32:1–21), worrying more about his reputation than his daughter’s safety (ch. 34), or ignoring the fraternal hatred incited by his favoring of Joseph (ch. 37), Jacob was not an example of piety at the beginning of his life.  Yet at the end of his life, we see Jacob blessing the son’s of Joseph in a gesture of faith and love.  We see a changed man because of the love and grace of God!

I love what C.S. Lewis says about transformation in his book Mere Christianity:

Imagine yourself a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps you can understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is he up to? The explanation is that he is building quite a different house from the one you thought of—throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but he is building a palace.

There is hope for change!  As we continue to obey and seek Him, He wants to change us from the inside out.  That is good news for us!

Prayer:  Lord, thank You that change is possible because of the power of the gospel.  Help me to be surrendered to the areas in my life that needs changing and becoming more like You.  Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 8-11

February 23, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Living By Faith”

Genesis 48:1-4

After this, Joseph was told, “Behold, your father is ill.” So he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And it was told to Jacob, “Your son Joseph has come to you.” Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed. And Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.’ 

Often, when people of faith come to confront death, they see life with a greater clarity.  Poet Edmund Waller writes:

“The soul’s dark cottage, battered and decayed

Lets in new light through chinks that time has made…”

We see this in an old barn whose roof and siding have begun to bow and sag, so that shafts of light beam come through like searchlights.  This was certainly true in the life of Jacob.  His believing eyes afforded him a clear vision of the future for both himself and his sons.  As death approached, Jacob was able to exercise faith so extraordinary that the New Testament’s “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 selected this singular event that characterized him as a man of faith: the blessing of Joseph’s son Ephraim and Manasseh. “By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff (Heb. 11:21).”

I remember a preacher asking this question in a sermon: “Is there anything in your life right now that requires faith?”  If we are honest, maybe we have everything so controlled and planned out that our lives require very little faith.  As believers, we should always be challenged in areas of our life where apart from God’s mighty hand, it would be impossible to accomplish—that’s what faith is.

Take some time to examine your life this morning.  Are you living by faith and not by sight?  Where does God need to challenge you in the area of faith?  It could be your money, time, future, provision, etc.  Let’s surrender to Him as we pray that He would increase our faith.

Prayer:  Lord, help us to live by faith and not by sight.  By Your strength give us the courage to take steps of faith in our everyday life.  Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 7


Lunch Break Study

Read Matthew 7:24-27: Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are the characteristics of a wise person? How about a foolish person?
  2. What will ultimately determine where your foundation is according to this passage?
  3. Which person do you resemble? Why?  How can you be more like the wise person?

Notes

  1. He builds his life on the foundation of Jesus by obeying His Word. Jesus wants to us to see that total surrender to Him is living wisely.  A foolish person builds his life on things other than Jesus and His word.
  2. Everyone will face storms and hardships; and when they come, it will determine which foundation you are building your life on.
  3. Reflect and pray that your life would be built on the foundation of Christ.

Evening Reflection

Take some time in personal worship through prayer, song or the Word.  Meditate on the promises and truths of God.  As you do, ask Him to give you courageous faith.

February 22, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Finishing Well”

Genesis 47:29-31

And when the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.” He answered, “I will do as you have said.” 31 And he said, “Swear to me”; and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself upon the head of his bed.

Yesterday was a sad day as we mourned the death of evangelist Billy Graham.   He preached to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history, which was nearly 215 million people in more than 185 countries and territories, with “hundreds of millions more” viewing him on television, video, film and webcasts.  He continued to do crusades even into his 80’s, and when asked what his purpose in life was, Billy responded, “My one purpose in life, is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.”  Billy will be remembered for his impact he had proclaiming the gospel in the world.  He lived a life well-lived and finished well.

In today’s passage, Jacob is also nearing the end of his life.  He requested to be buried in Canaan instead of Egypt, which was a declaration of his faith in the promise of the land to Abraham and his seed forever (15:17).  This episode at the end of Jacob’s life confirmed the future-oriented character of his trust in God. Faith looks to the future, knowing that the Lord will surely do all that He has pledged to do.  By faith he looked to the day when Yahweh would keep His promise, and he knew blessing would come upon his people if they would trust in God’s abundant grace and obey His commands in the Promised Land.   Burial there manifested Jacob’s trust in God for such blessing—even in death.

How do you want to be remembered at the end of your life?  What would others say about you, especially when it comes to your faith and trust in the Lord.  Let’s continue to be faithful and steadfast until the very end!

Prayer:  Lord, we pray that we would finish well.  The journey of faith is not easy at times, but give us the power and strength until the Day we see You face to face.  Amen!

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 7


Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8: For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does Paul describe the Christian life?
  2. What does he want to let his readers know about his own walk with Jesus?
  3. How did Paul view the end of his life? How do you view yours?

Notes

  1. He describes it as a spiritual battle. The idea Paul was conveying was a potential fight to the death. This reminds us that the Christian life is a conflict. Once you enter into this new relationship with God, you discover that your adversary, the devil, will try to undermine you.
  2. He remained faithful till the end. In the original language, this statement carries the meaning of having guarded the faith as an armed soldier would guard his post against enemy attack. Paul was saying that he had not strayed from the truth of God’s Word, but that he lived it out.
  3. He knew that the Lord would reward him for his faithfulness—and that was his joy and what he looked forward to.

Evening Reflection

“The beautiful thing about this adventure called faith is that we can count on Him never to lead us astray. “– Charles (Chuck) Swindoll

As we finish the day with our evening reflection, think about the quote above by Charles Swindoll. Our God will never lead us astray because He is faithful.  It means that we can trust Him with our life, time, money, career, future, family, etc.  Are you trusting God in all the areas of your life?

February 21, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Comfort in Suffering”

Genesis 47:13

 Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished by reason of the famine.

All Christians experience suffering—whether it be in the past, present, or in the future.  But just because we experience suffering as we await the redemption of our bodies, it doesn’t mean that our suffering is random or without purpose. And neither does it mean that Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about our suffering now.  Tim Keller, in Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, puts it like this:

No matter what precautions we take, no matter how well we have put together a good life, no matter how hard we have worked to be healthy, wealthy, comfortable with friends and family, and successful with our career — something will inevitably ruin it.  While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.”

For two years, the famine has been severe in Egypt and Canaan (45:5). All private reserves of wheat have been exhausted, and all the money of Egypt and Canaan had been spent in buying government grain from Joseph. And the famine lingered on and on. In desperation the Egyptians approached Joseph, reminding him of their plight.  It was a time of hardship and suffering for these nations.

Are you experiencing hardships?  If so, how are you handing it?  We can have hope in our suffering because we know that Christ redeems our suffering for His good.  We can have hope because we know suffering prepares Christians for more glory. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:17–18, “This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

If you are going through a season of hardship, be encouraged that it is not in vain.  God has a purpose for it in your life.  Pray that you will remain steadfast and hopeful.

Prayer:  Lord, give me the strength to go through hardships with an eternal perspective.  May my faith and joy grow during these seasons of my life.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 6


Lunch Break Study

Read James 1:2-4: Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Questions to Consider  

  1. Why does James say we can experience joy in the midst of trials?
  2. What do trials produce?
  3. How do you see God working in the hardships you face?

Notes

  1. We are to consider what we are going through as a matter of joy, not because the thing itself is something that is pleasurable, but because tribulation works patience within us. Our suffering is not an exercise in futility. God has a purpose, and that purpose is always good. We can count all things joy because God is working in all situations, even the most painful, for our sanctification and ultimate glorification.
  2. The word translated as “testing” occurs rarely in the Bible, appearing only three other times. In this case, “testing” deals with purification through trial. God wants our faith to grow, and often He will use trials to do that.
  3. Personal application.

Evening Reflection

Spend time in personal prayer.   Ask the Lord to speak to you on the things you read and meditated on today.

February 20, Tuesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 47:10-12

And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. 11 Then Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 12 And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their dependents.

It’s a hard concept to grasp that God uses the failures and shortcomings of His people and redeems it for His glory.  I recently heard a testimony of a Christian leader who fell into the addiction of pornography.  It had almost destroyed his marriage, family, and his ministry; but through the love and support of people around him, he received treatment for his addiction and now helps others with similar struggles.  What a story of redemption!

When we look at the life of Jacob, his is a story of redemption as well.    Jacob was known as “the deceiver,” when he stole his twin brother Esau’s blessing, and tricked him into selling his birthright.  Despite having sinned greatly, Jacob and his sons were favored by the Lord in their latter years. Nothing thwarted His intent to preserve and multiply Abraham’s sons (12:1–3).  It is amazing to see that God keeps His promises, despite the failure of His people.

In today’s passage, we see how Jacob was the blessed bearer of the promised blessing.  Pharaoh had first blessed God’s people with his generosity, and here, Jacob blesses Pharaoh.  This is significant since it fulfilled the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  God fulfilled His promise by even using someone like Jacob!

This is good news, indeed, for the church. Like the patriarchs, none of us can be a perfectly faithful disciple. But even when we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Tim. 2:13). Though we do not take Him for granted, we can be confident that our sins, enemies, and even setbacks will not stop Him from using us to bless the earth.  Are you discouraged this day because you believe your failures make it impossible for the Lord to use you? We can rejoice and have hope that our Father loves to use human failings to advance His plan. Press on and depend upon Him!

Prayer:  Lord, thank You that You use people like us—people who fail and are unfaithful at times.  We thank You for Your grace that is always working in us.  Help us to continue to fix our eyes upon You, and give us hope so that even in our failures, You are working it for Your good. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 5 


Lunch Break Study

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does Paul view grace in perspective to his weakness and hardship?
  2. Paul says that “he boasts in his weakness so that Christ power may rest upon him.” How should this verse encourage us in our weakness?
  3. Do you see God’s abundant grace in hardship and weakness? Ask the Lord that His grace would be sufficient for you today.

Notes

  1. Paul gives us a correct view of grace, which is that God’s grace in our lives enables us to go through difficulty and hardship. We can experience his love, mercy and power in our weakness.
  2. These verses should encourage us, because it is Christ who gives us strength when we are at our weakest. We don’t need to come up with our own ways or strength when we face opposition, but rather we can look to the power of Jesus.
  3. Personal application.

Evening Reflection

What are you thankful for?    Spend some time as you close your day with prayers of gratitude to the Lord.

February 19, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from February 19-25 are provided by Pastor David Kwon of Journey Community Church (Raleigh).  David, a graduate of Drexel University and Columbia International University (M.Div.) is married to Helen (“Pie”) and they have three beautiful daughters (Cara, Phoebe, and Ruth).

Devotional Thoughts for Today

The God Who Never Forgets

Genesis 47:1-6

So Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers, with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan. They are now in the land of Goshen.” 2 And from among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh. 3 Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were.” 4 They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. And now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” 5 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”

A few years ago, I had forgotten to pick up my daughter after school.  I remember that I had gotten extremely busy that day with work and meetings and I eventually forgot what time it was.  Her school eventually called me and when I picked her up, she was quick to forgive me for being late, but the reality is that no one likes to be forgotten.

As we have been looking at the life of Joseph, one theme that is emphasized is that God never forgets about His people and He is faithful to keep His promises.  Even when we look back to Genesis 39 when Joseph was in prison – in what looked like hopelessness and despair, it says that, “the Lord was with him.” (v.23).  The Lord had never forgotten about Joseph especially when circumstances looked dark.

In today’s passage, Joseph successfully persuades Pharaoh to allow his family to settle in the land of Goshen.  Because of Joseph, virtually boundless favor was extended to Jacob’s family.  Unbelievably, in addition to keeping his initial promise of the best of the land, Pharaoh even offered the brothers employment as superintendents of the royal cattle.  God’s hand and favor was continually on Joseph.

Do you feel like God has forgotten about you at times?  Do you feel like he is distant?  When we look at the life of Joseph, it reminds us that He is working in every detail of our lives.  He is always faithful to his promises and because of that truth; we are called to respond in obedience.

Prayer: Lord, thank You always for keeping Your promises.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, help me today to be joyous, hopeful and loving, knowing that I serve a tender loving God.  Amen

Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 4


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Peter 1:3-9: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Questions to Consider

  1. According to Peter, what is the reason for our hope?
  2. How should we look at our trials and what is the purpose of them?
  3. How can we be comforted by this passage?

Notes

  1. Peter reminds the believers in this letter to look at Christ’s great mercy and the inheritance that is imperishable and will never be taken away from us. That is the reason why we have hope.
  2. We go through trials because it shows us the genuineness of our faith (v. 7). We can rejoice with joy because we have been saved by his great love (v. 8-9).
  3. We can be assured of a living hope that will never be taken away from us as believers.

Evening Reflection

Take some time reflecting on the passages you read today.  What challenged you?  Take time to think about how you will apply it in your life.

February 17, Saturday

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“Dying Well”

Genesis 46:28-30

He had sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to show the way before him in Goshen, and they came into the land of Goshen. 29 Then Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen. He presented himself to him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while. 30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.” 

Death is something that few like to think about or talk about, but we all know that death is inevitable and unavoidable.  We would rather talk about living a good life, but sooner or later, we have to face our mortality.  Though it may seem morbid and depressing, maybe we would be much better off, if— instead of thinking about having a good time and avoiding death—we thought about what it means to die well.

When we look at Jacob in this latter part of Genesis, he keeps referencing to his own death.  At the end of Genesis 45, Jacob is excited to find out that his son Joseph is still alive, and so he says, “I will go and see him before I die.”  And then in Genesis 46:30, Jacob says, “Now let me die.” Unlike us, Jacob had no fear of talking about his own death.  Why was Jacob so fixated on dying?  It was because he was very old at this point and he was staring at his mortality in the face. But Jacob doesn’t talk about death because he just wanted to get it over with—Jacob was looking forward to dying well.

Jacob had lived a tumultuous life—a life full of scheming, conflict, and struggle.  And at this point in Genesis, he had lived over a decade, thinking that his beloved son Joseph was dead.  Now as he was advanced in age, he saw that he had this opportunity to be reconciled to his son and be with all of his family.  And now he was “ready to die,” because he could now die with peace. His family relationships were reconciled, he knew his whole family was taken care of, and he knew that his God was walking with him and his people.

We should all consider what it means to die well and to die with peace.  At the end of your days on this earth, what do you want your relationships to be like?  When it’s your time, what kind of legacy do you want to leave?  What do you want your walk with God to be like?  It is uncomfortable to talk about death, but perhaps if we think about dying well, it can lead to living well and to walk humbly with our God.  Let us pray that whenever our time comes, we can die with peace, knowing that we have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith!

Prayer: Jesus, I pray that for my life I will be able to say, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Help me to walk humbly with You and to live a life worthy of Your gospel.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Joshua 2-3

February 16, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for This Morning

“Moving into the Unknown”

Genesis 46:1-4

So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2 And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.” And he said, “Here I am.” 3 Then he said, “I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. 4 I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes.”

One of the most laborious and painstaking things in life is—moving.  This past summer my family moved from our old apartment into our new house, and while we were thankful for God’s provision of a new home, the process was not fun at all.  If you’ve moved recently, you know that it’s so much work: you pack up all of your belongings and put them in boxes, much less load up a truck, recruit help, unload, clean your old place and your new place, and the list goes on. Because there’s just so much work involved, as people get older, there is a growing desire to be settled.  I’d imagine that for most of us, by the time we reach retirement age, the last thing we’d want to do is to move.

But that is exactly what Jacob had to do. Jacob was very old at this point in Genesis, and it seems that he was not in great health either; but this one last time, he had to move from Canaan to Egypt. He was uprooting his entire life—all of his family, all of his flocks, and all of his possessions— to go to a place that he did not consider his home.  For Jacob, this wasn’t just a laborious thing to do— like my family’s move this past summer—but it was emotionally difficult, because he was going into the unknown.  He was going to Egypt to start over in a new place.  In his advanced age, instead of being settled and secure, he must have felt fearful and insecure as he ventured into the unknown.

It’s difficult to move, but even more difficult is to go into the unknown.  I think we all would have felt anxious and fearful if we were in Jacob’s shoes, but the good news for Jacob—and for us— is that God’s presence is promised.  God doesn’t just tell Jacob that everything would be okay and that he didn’t need to worry, but God so personally promises him, “I myself will go down with you to Egypt.”  Moving into the unknown or walking into uncertainty is never easy, but if we remember our God who promises His presence, we can walk by faith, knowing that God Himself walks with us.

Prayer: Jesus, help me to walk by faith this day and help me to remember Your enduring presence, which is with me every day.  I pray that Your peace will rest upon my soul as I trust in You.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:   Joshua 1


Lunch Bible Study

Read Exodus 33:12-16: Moses said to the Lord, “See, you say to me, ‘Bring up this people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ 13 Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” 14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 15 And he said to him, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.16 For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?”

Questions to Consider

  1. What does Moses ask of God in this passage?
  2. How does God reassure Moses?
  3. Why was God’s presence so important to Moses?

Notes

  1. Moses asks God, “let me know whom you will send with me” to bring the people of Israel into the Promised Land. Moses isn’t asking about the names of the angels or other agents—he’s essentially asking God to show him that He is with Moses and Israel.
  2. God promises that His presence will go with him and bring him rest/peace in the lord.
  3. Moses didn’t feel like it was worth going into Canaan unless God’s presence went in with them. It was important to Moses (and to God) that Israel be distinct and different from all other people on the planet because of God’s presence with them.

Evening Reflection

As you think about this day, did you get a sense of God’s presence?  If so, praise God! If not, consider whether there’s a part of you that feels distant from God or not really seeking Him.  Regardless of where your heart is, take some time to pray and ask Him for help and for His presence.

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.