Scripture Reading Challenge (#20)

Some people just have a hard time believing.  No matter what God has done before, they still lack faith.  The Israelites had recently witnessed ten plagues the Lord placed on the Egyptians but still murmured and complained that God and Moses led them into the wilderness to die.  God will perform another miracle before their eyes in our passage.  The parting of the Red Sea.

Read Exodus 13:17-14:31

The Lord led the people out of Egypt to the Red Sea with a visible presence.  Exodus 13:21 explains, “And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.”  That would be an awesome sight!  The beauty of this passage is that God will lead and protect His people.  The Lord leads His people by going before us and showing us the direction we must go.  As Psalm 23:2-3 reads, He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”  

However, there are times we lose sight of the Shepherd but still can trust, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” (Ps. 23:4-5).   For Israel, God moved from before their face to behind them.  Why?  He moved from the front to back to keep the enemy from jumping on them from behind.  We need to be more thankful of those times, that even when we can’t see God in front of us, to know that He is fighting our battles that are sneaking up on us.

Scripture Reading Challenge (#16)

There seem to be evil men in every generation.  Pharaoh of Egypt, as we will read, committed terrible acts because of jealousy and fear of God’s people.  In the middle of these tragic events, God would raise up a deliverer.  The Story of the Bible now introduces us to Moses, the man God would use to set His people free from slavery and organize Israel’s societal and religious values.

Read Exodus 1:1-2:25

If the question has not come to mind yet, it indeed does at this point, “How can God allow such evil things to happen?”  There is never a simple answer to this type of question.  However, it adds to the integrity of the Bible.  Scripture does not sugar coat real life.  Reality can be dark and grim, and God uses His Word to shine the light and spread hope in the dark world.  I will say, that in my answer to the questions, typically starts with, God has already done something to answer evil, and it leads to his promise to vanquish it forever.  Romans 1:18-32, speaks of God’s wrath against ungodliness and wickedness in summary fashion.  Like I said, it’s not an easy answer, and there is more to it, but basically, God’s beginning judgment on sin (the ultimate cause of evil) is to allow it to run its course.  This passage marks three times that God gives people over to their wishes to not have him around.  God allows evil because humanity has rejected him, and a broken world is the result.  In the end, God promises to set all things right and the one who tempts us to sin, the devil, and those who utterly reject God, will be cast into an eternal lake of fire, while the faithful enjoy eternal bliss in a new heaven and earth.

Thankfully, God does not entirely leave this world alone.  In fact, Scripture teaches us that it is still the Holy Spirit that restrains evil incarnate from running rampant in this world (2 Thess. 2:7).  In the case of Moses, God heard the cries of the people and would send Moses to deliver them from Egypt.  It is tempting to read these Scriptures and think that God forgot them, after all, it does say God remember his covenant.  Haven’t we already discussed that God does not forget us?  One of the prophecies in Genesis foretold Israel’s 400 years of calamity in Egypt (Genesis 15:13).  We also have seen that God was preparing Moses and protecting his life well before we read of the people’s cry to God in the text today.  I think more of what is being said is that God was moving into a new phase of the plan of Salvation.  There are is no “plan B” with God.  Everything is “Plan Jesus Christ.”  When it states that God remembers the covenant, it seems that we see the next step taken in salvation history.  One big step closer to the time when God would send the Son and the world was ready.

Scripture Reading Challenge (#15)

Have you ever had to keep a surprise hidden but couldn’t keep it secret because you were so excited to share it?  I remember one year at Kohl’s, I set inside the car with our baby boy while my wife and three or four-year-old daughter went Christmas shopping.  When they came out of the store and opened the hatch of the car, my wife said, “don’t tell Daddy what we got him for Christmas.”  Well, after my wife put my daughter in her car seat and before she could sit in her seat, my sweet daughter blurted out, “Daddy!  We got you a watch!”  It was great.  As we come to the end of this part of the story, Joseph is so overwhelmed with emotion, that he can no longer keep his identity secret from his brothers.

After today’s passage, we will be finished with our readings in Genesis and have 85 more readings to go before we are done.  Do you feel that you are getting a better grip on the Biblical story? I pray that you are already feeling strengthed in your faith and encouraged to keep on moving forward with the challenge.

Read Genesis 45:1-46:7

There are two passages that I want to focus on for our devotional today.  The first is Genesis 45:7-8, namely, “So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God.”  Wow.  God took the evil that Joseph’s brothers committed and turned it to everyone’s good.  Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  God had a plan for Joseph’s life, and nothing would thwart his counsel.  The same is true in our present reality.  Whatever trial and great difficulty come our way, God can take those and turn them into our good and to the benefit of others.  Nothing happens in vain when God is in our life.  Without him, anything and everything that happens good or bad are in vain.  The Lord makes everything have a holy purpose.

The second passage is Genesis 46:3-4.  The focus here is, “I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt…I will go down with thee into Egypt.”  I feel that this reinforces the previous point.  Look at Jacob and his families direction of life.  It’s going down.  Some may say it’s going up because they are heading to a land of protection and wealth because of the famine in the land.  However, even some good things can turn out to be wrong things because they are not the great things God really has laid out for us.  The good is that Egypt would supply them during the famine and be a good place to multiply numbers for the future nation of Israel.  However, the good turned to bad as Egypt would enslave Israel.  The great is that God had a promised land he wanted them to live in all along.   God would go down into good land of Egypt, but He did not want them to stay there forever

God would go down into the good land of Egypt but He did not want them to stay there forever, he had something better planned for them.  God does intend for us to be entangled in this world.  There are many good things here to enjoy, however, it is easy to lose sight of God’s Spirit in this world for the elements of the world.  God has something far better in store for the faithful.  He is with us here, but to make us ready and keeping us pure for what Jesus is preparing for us (cf. John 14:1-7).

Scripture Reading Challenge (#14)

God does not point out our sin to laugh at us or scorn.  Instead, he reveals our issues so that we can deal with them appropriately.  That is, to be cleansed and forgiven.  In the story of Genesis, the brothers need to make a second trip to Egypt.  They will face their sin one way or another.  Joseph is building with excitement to reveal his unfeigned love for his brethren.

Read Genesis 43:1-44:34

Something that should be jumping off the pages of the Bible to us about this story is Joseph is dropping hints to his brothers all the time.  In Genesis 42:18, he says, “for I fear God.”  The word used for God is Elohim, which can be a generic term to identify any God. However, the writer of Genesis uses it to signify the One True God of Israel.  It’s possible that Joseph is letting his brothers know that he fears their God.  We also see in our text today that He knows that his brother’s and father’s God blesses (Genesis 43:23).  This Egyptian is very well acquainted with the Hebrew God.  Egyptians probably had cultic practices and perspectives against Hebrews.  Finally, the individual interest he took in his full brother, Benjamin, and the extra food he gave him (Genesis 43:34).  All I can say is Joseph may have disguised himself from his brothers, but at the same time, he is trying his best to get them to recognize him.

God is doing the same thing.  First Timothy 1:17 and Colossians 1:5 reminds us that God is invisible.  He has dropped hints all the way through the Old Testament about his character in that is it claimed, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1)  The Psalms also teach, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork” (Psalm 19:1).  God is fully revealed in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:5).  The Father has made himself known fully in the Son and witnesses in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.  Even more, Christ has left us the Church, His literal body on earth.  First John 4:20 says, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”  It is difficult for me to believe someone has faith in God but does not live in faithfulness with the Church (by participating in

It is difficult for me to understand that someone has faith in God but does not live in faithfulness with the Church (by participating in fellowship with a local congregation).  We have faith in the invisible head of the Church but no faithfulness to the visible body.  God has revealed Himself fully in time past through His Son.  Today, God continually reveals Himself through His people.  Our bodies are the temple His spirit dwells in now (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Not something made with human hands but fashioned by God.  So, again, how are you living out the faith you claim to have?  God has given us the Church as the community where we are to live out our faith.

Scripture Reading Challenge (#11)

Life has a way of overwhelming us at times.  A constant barrage of traumatic events can discourage even the strongest in the faith.  Joseph is an example of the hardships and blessings of life.  A roller coaster may be a good way of understanding the events that took place in his life.  God kept lifting him up, and the brokenness of the world kept trying to drag him down.  Joseph, through it all, was able in the end to say that God brought good out of all the evil, light out of the darkness.

Read Genesis 37:1-16

God’s hand upon Joseph was evident even as a teenager.  At two particular times, we are shown the dreams that God gave him.  Not everyone was pleased with it though.  Joseph’s older brothers were jealous and thought he was prideful.  His father, Jacob also didn’t understand but pondered (Genesis 37:11).  I started in ministry at a young age, traveling with my family singing and playing music.  At the age of 16, I began preaching, at 22 I accepted my first and only pastorate (still there).  I have been challenged many times, especially early on, about my youthfulness.  It is important for young people to take Paul’s words of challenge to Timothy seriously, I know it helped me.  Paul said, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

Joseph’s life shows us that bad things can happen to anyone.  However, we will learn in his life that God can use the trials for His glory and our growing.  The only real hindrance is our faith.  Will we remain faithful to God or will we turn away from Him?  Joseph remained faithful through all the evil that fell on him.  God blessed him and in turn used Joseph to bless the family that sold him into slavery.  Let us be thankful, that we serve a God who can turn our trials into triumphs, our tests into testimonies, and our messes into messages.

Scripture Reading Challenge (#10)

God can transform people.  We are about to see that take place in the life of Jacob.  After many years away from his family, Jacob is about to return home a changed man.  He now has a family and many possessions.  He fears, however, for his life and is willing to sacrifice all of it to save his own skin.  But, then He reencounters God.  Jacob remembers his oath and how God has been faithful.  He comes face-to-face with God, and it changes him forever.

Read Genesis 32:1-33:20

Do you remember when you first came to faith in Jesus Christ?  I can.  In 1993, our family was on our way home from Sunday night service at Church.  My grandfather was the pastor of our local congregation.  I remember thinking about how his voice echoed in the sanctuary and how unique it sounded compared to others.  I wanted to have a voice like and a thought hit me on the way home.  There was a significant difference between me and my grandfather.  He was a saved, and I wasn’t.  I was convicted in my heart and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and come into my life.  At the age of eight years old, I came to Jesus Christ in faith.   I remember my mother asking me what I was doing, and I replied, “Talking to Jesus.”

Now, have I always walked since then in unbroken fellowship with my Lord?  Sadly, no.  I have strayed and not lived faithfully.  But, God is always faithful.  Through His faithfulness, I can say that through the guiding of the Holy Spirit, I have been kept from many regrets and pains in life.  God helped me make good decisions and make less and less bad decisions.  Like Jacob, God transformed my life.  How has God turned your life around?  What differences have you noticed in your life since Jesus saved you?

Scripture Reading Challenge (#9)

Trouble was in the house of Isaac.  God already told Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, that their twin sons would strive for dominance and that the older would serve the younger.  They, however, seemed to dismiss this word and went on their way.  A family that appeared to have so much promise ended up in a mess.  Favortism and deceit would now mark this family legacy.  Still, God was not through with His plan.  He remains faithful when we are not (2 Timothy 2:13).

Read Genesis 27:1-28:22

Jacob’s life, as we will read in tomorrow devotion, shows the transformation that takes place when we meet God.  What is striking to me in this passage, is that Jacob seemingly did not follow his father’s God.  When Isaac asked him how he received meat for the meal so quickly, Jacob in disguise replied, “Because the LORD thy God brought it to me” (Gen. 27:20).  He did not refer to God as “my God” but “your God.”  Even more, in 28:20-22, Jacob made a vow to follow his Father’s God if He proved faithful during the upcoming journey to find a wife.  One thing I have learned, you don’t make a commitment to God and not be expected to keep it.

Another thing that is surprising about this incident is Jacob witnessed God but still lived in denial or at least believed that he could come back at a later time and pick up with God.  Jacob was blessed in that he could return to this later point in life, but that doesn’t always happen.  An individual may say that they will come to God at a later point in life and take God and Church seriously.  They want to live their life and sow their wild oats while they are young and then make ready for eternity when they are older.  Many times I had stood at the graveside of these individuals who never reached that time when they thought they would give their life to Christ.  We shouldn’t boast of doing things tomorrow that we need to do today.  Paul wrote, “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” 2 Corinthians 6:2).  We only have today.  Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never arrive.  Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ today?