Christian Devotions

Posts tagged ‘Genesis’

Forgiveness and Reconciliation

And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.

And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,

So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.

And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.

And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.  ~~  Genesis 50:15-21  (KJV)

Forgiveness and reconciliation give us great difficulty. In the first place, they are not the same thing. You can have forgiveness without reconciliation. But you cannot have reconciliation without forgiveness.

Joseph’s brothers were afraid that Joseph was being kind to them only for their father’s sake. So when Jacob/Israel died, they needed to find out what Joseph’s attitude would be toward them. So they – the offenders – went to Joseph – the offended – with their apology. And Joseph forgave them and was reconciled to them.

Forgiveness is something you do for yourself. Holding a grudge takes time and energy and effort. It makes you unhappy because you dwell on the offense, not on the present joys you may have. Worst of all, however, holding a grudge puts you at odds with God. Not a pleasant place to be.

You can forgive unilaterally. The offender need not ask for forgiveness.

Reconciliation is another matter. It involves a recognition of the offense from both the offender and the offended. It requires forgiveness. And it requires a rebuilt sense of trust between the offender and the offended.

Joseph had seen the remorse of his brothers, first when they came to Egypt to purchase grain and in the intervening years between their dad’s settling in Egypt and his death seven years later. We have a tender reconciliation scene in which Joseph indicates his forgiveness of this brothers as well as his desire that they be provided for.

Can you recall an offender that you haven’t forgiven? Is there someone with whom you need to be reconciled? What steps can you take to remedy these issues?

Father, God,

You have commanded us to forgive. Give us the strength and stamina to forgive, even when there has been no apology. Grant us the faith to put our reconciliations into Your hands.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

The Power of Words

A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.    Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. ~~ Proverbs 18:20, 21    (KJV)

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We all remember that old sing-song from childhood. But it is a lie. We have all been hurt by words at one time or another. And we have all probably said hurtful words to others as well.  Words have power. Look at the beginning of The Book. In Genesis we read “And God said….  ”    He created everything, beginning with light by speaking it forth.

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually. ~~Job 1:5   (KJV)

For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. ~~  Job 3:25   (KJV)

See the words of Job. He sacrificed for the well-being of his children. Then he confesses that he was afraid of losing them (and everything else). He didn’t know that the enemy was listening and taking all these things from him because God was allowing Satan to test Job’s faithfulness to God.

Then scripture tells us of Jesus:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.   The same was in the beginning with God.   All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  John 1:1-3    (KJV)

And we are enjoined by Paul’s letter to the Ephesians….

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.  ~~  Ephesians 4:29   (KJV)

Words can teach and words minister grace.

What do our words do? Do they teach or minister grace? Do they express fear rather than faith? Let us watch our words today to see that they reflect only the will of God.

Father, God,

Help us to set a seal on our lips. Fill our hearts with Your words. Grant that our words may reflect only Your words and Your heart in this world. Use our mouths to edify and minister to Your world.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Walking Forward

In the generations list in Genesis, we read about Enoch. There was only one thing that separated Enoch from the others in the list.

 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:  And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Walking with God was not common. It is said of one other man in Genesis.

These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

Genesis 6:9 (KJV)

Noah was Enoch’s great grandson, but Enoch had left this world before Noah was born. They are both recorded as having “walked with God.” What an epitaph! He walked with God.

But exactly what does that mean? How does one walk with God? Amos says: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3 KJV) Agreement simply means that both parties are of one mind as to the destination and the route.

If we want to walk with God, we must agree with God. He never changes. So we must change to fit His plans.

Our destination is eternity with Him. Our route has been laid out for us. Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (John 15:6)

Study of this Book, the Bible, will lead us to a closer walk with God. Making time to be in His presence alone will give us the strength to lean on Him in the trials of the world. As we grow in His grace and favor, He will lead us gently to our destination, no matter if the scenery around us is sometimes wild and terrifying.

Let us determine to carve out personal time for Him in our daily busy-nesses.

Father, God,

Strengthen our resolve to spend time with You alone. Grant us the favor of Your presence in the midst of the chaos of our lives. Reassure us that You have a plan, no matter what the scenery around us looks like.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Spiritual Warfare

Focus verses: Mark 5:1-20

In our modern and “enlightened” age, we tend not to think in terms of spirits. Anything which has to do with aberrant behavior must be some form of psychosis or chemical unbalance that we can treat with counseling or medication.

But if the Bible is true, it is all true. That includes this story about the Gerasene. The man was not psychotic or chemically unbalanced. He was demon-possessed.

There are such things as demons. There is spiritual warfare. We need to be aware that we have a spiritual enemy who seeks our eternal destruction.

If we believe in God, we must believe that the devil exists. We see him in conversation with Eve in Genesis 3. We are told of his fall in Isaiah 14. There are multiple references to Satan in the New Testament. And the entire Book of Job is a chronicle of spiritual warfare.

It is part of Satan’s first lie in the Garden of Eden, that mankind can know all things, find answers comprehensible to the finite mind for all questions, discover cures to all diseases and maladies. When we buy into this arrogance of the intellect, we fall directly into the enemy’s hands.

Not everything is part of our physical, tangible world. There is a spiritual plane of which we know far too little. But all we need to know of it is contained in the Bible. We’ll not find it in psychology texts. Nor will we find beneficial information in new age books of spirituality.

Our hope and our confidence comes from the fact that God is Lord of the spiritual realm, just as He is Creator and Lord of this world. When we serve Him, when we rely solely on Him, He will preserve us from the wiles of the enemy.

Father, God,

Stop our ears from hearing the enticements of the enemy. Shield our eyes from the lust to which he would tempt us – whatever form it may take. Fill our eyes and ears and hearts with Your Holy Spirit so that there is no room for anything else.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Family Trees

Focus verses: Matthew 1:1-17

Sometimes scripture seems obsessed with genealogies. In Genesis, chapter ten and chapter eleven are mainly what I used to call “the begats” They trace the lineage of who fathered whom. But I never saw a purpose in it.

But here Matthew traces the lineage of Joseph back to Abraham. Legally Joseph was Jesus’ father on earth. However, Joseph was only his adopted father. There is no blood lineage between them.

I believe this family tree is here to establish that Jesus is a son of David legally. Therefore He is eligible to be the Messiah.

If we look in the book of Luke, we find a different lineage. It is confusing that it traces in the opposite direction of Matthew’s genealogy. And it doesn’t list the same people. Heli is assumed to be the father of Mary and therefore Joesph’s father-in-law. And this lineage doesn’t stop with Abraham, but goes all the way back to Adam and lists him as the son of God.

So the list in Matthew establishes Jesus’ legal claim to being the Messiah. But the list in Luke takes it back to creation – where we see Him first – as the active Word establishing the universe.

Put to the test, God dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s. No detail is too small for His attention. And no issue is too big for His solution.

Father, God,

Thank You for being who You are. Your gift of Jesus to redeem the world amazes and awes us. Teach us to take care of the smallest detail so that the big picture is never lost due to a needless distraction. We are so grateful to be Your children.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.

Introduction To The Gospels

Focus verses: John 1:1-18

The Book of John begins with Genesis – in the beginning – and establishes the presence of the Son of God in that moment when time began.

Much of what we know of Jesus is corralled in these eighteen verses of scripture.

He is one with God. (v. 1,2)

He is the Creator. (v. 3)

He is life and truth. (v. 4)

He is our salvation. (v.12)

It is mind-boggling to think that the Creator of the Universe would humble Himself and take on the limitations of our flesh in order to identify with us and become the propitiation for our sins. But that is exactly what He did.

Jesus is the Messiah. He is not the Messiah the Jews were expecting. He did not come with a rod and scepter. He is not a valiant general. He is mild and humble. That is not to say that He cannot exemplify righteous wrath and give us a glimpse of the wrath of God. Witness His turning the money changers out of the temple.

Looking at this beginning, I can hardly wait to get into the New Testament readings. This is the nugget of gold in the mountain.

Father, God,

Let us never forget Your benevolence toward us. Keep us ever mindful of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And grant that we may understand the unity of the triune Godhead.

In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.