Persevering

Genesis 38-40

Genesis 39 21 NIV

Today is sadly, at least for me, my last day of writing devotions for this week. I have been super blessed to do this. It really makes me work the text and find the spiritual implication of the scripture. I love studying God’s word like that. I hope you guys have been getting as much from the devotions as I have.

We are going to set up camp in Genesis 39 and talk some more about Joseph. Definitely read Genesis 39: 1. because it is awesome, 2. because it will fill in all the details that I miss. We are picking up the story with Joseph in Egypt thriving as a slave in Potiphar’s house. It says in verse 3 “His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed at his hands.”. Notice Joseph’s perseverance in this situation. He is sold into slavery by his own brothers and now adjusting to life as a slave he is still applying himself and trying. It is so rare to find perseverance like that anymore. I can only imagine Joseph’s mindset here but I feel like being a slave of one of Pharaoh’s officials and becoming his right-hand man would not be the worst job to have as a slave.

Joseph had gained Potiphar’s trust so completely that it says that he concerned himself with nothing but what food he ate. I wish I could say all my employers have trusted me like that but that totally wouldn’t be true. Unfortunately, the story is about to get a little more difficult for Joseph.

Potiphar’s wife had taken a liking to Joseph and tried to make him lie with her. I want to zoom in on Joseph’s response. He tells her no, that he wouldn’t do it. The reason he cites in verse 9 is that his master has held back nothing but her and, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”. He ultimately bases his choice on “I owe Potiphar” but “I couldn’t do this to God”. His morality, decisions and actions are guided by his devotion to God. God was the thing that guided everything for Joseph.

This heroic display of devotion to God wouldn’t be the last. In verse 10 it says that she asked him day after day to lie with her and Joseph refused. She seems to be determined because despite all of Joseph’s no’s, one day she got ahold of his garment and refused to let go. Joseph fled away to avoid the sin. She lied to the men of her household and Potiphar and told them he tried to rape her.

Joseph for this deed of righteousness and obedience was repaid with prison. For obedience through a testing and trial the immediate consequence of his amazing self-control was being sent to prison. Joseph must have felt like God’s whipping boy at that point. I would have felt like, “I was put on this Earth to be destroyed” if I were in Joseph’s shoes.

God rewards Joseph’s obedience and gives him favor with the prison keeper who puts him over all the other prisoners. God rewarded his obedience, suffering, righteousness, love, devotion, and endurance to and for Him. God didn’t abandon Joseph. Joseph went through many things much harder than probably any of us have ever or will ever go through. They were hard, made him uncomfortable, he suffered but he persevered. Pain, difficult things, sufferings are not the end of the world. Being comfortable in life is not the most important thing. Joseph’s happiness wasn’t his main concern. His love for God was paramount.

James 1.2-4 says “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.”

James says to count it as joy when we encounter trials. As JOY. The trials, the suffering, the pain, the putting off of our desires, the obedience, the perseverance. James says it is making us perfect and complete. I want to be perfect and complete in what actually matters. The perfect and complete that James is talking about is in our love and devotion for God. I want to be perfect and complete in that.

In verse 12 James says that the man who endures under trial is blessed because he will receive the crown of life. We will receive the Crown of Life. Can you imagine Jesus placing a crown on your head at your judgement? Just imagine what that would feel like. The King placing the crown of life on your head.

Everything can wait. Think about what that would feel like.

In the next part of the verse it says that God has promised this to those who love Him. So let your perseverance, your suffering, your pain and obedience make that LOVE perfect and complete.

Dan Wall

 

Dan is a graduate of Atlanta Bible College and SUNY Maritime College. He recently completed an internship at Guthrie Grove Church of God and is hoping to become the pastor of a church one day, LORD willing. If you would like to contact him you can reach him via text or call at 631-576-5099 or via email danielaaronwall@gmail.com.

 

Today’s reading was Genesis 38-40 and can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+38-40&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s reading will be Genesis 41-42 as we carry on with the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Seeing Beyond the Tears

Free Theme – Beatitudes – Matthew 5:4

Matthew 5 4 NIV.png

Today’s beatitude is like a living enigma in my mind and without a living God makes absolutely no sense. Matthew 5.4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” The word mourn can also mean sadness.  Let’s attempt to read in our definition of blessed from yesterday. Happy are those who mourn for they will be comforted. The idea that I am happy when I am mourning is a real problem in my head. I don’t know about yours.

Have you ever had a friend who was out to accomplish something great and they finally accomplish it? Through this whole process you are proud of them for suffering and enduring and getting to the other side. It is awesome to see your friends succeed. It’s great when you get to celebrate those events and successes with them.

Now when they are hurting and in the middle of this great struggle it is really hard. Sometimes in the middle of life you don’t see how it is going to work out well for you and all you know is that your soul hurts and you don’t see any reprieve. Yet when someone else is going through one of those times it is so easy to see the end for them. When someone else is trying to go through a hard time or is pushing through a hard time it is simple for us to say, “It will all be worth it” or, “You will get through this.”

The reason why it can be easy for us to say those things is we are seeing the end for our friends. Outside of that pain, suffering and sadness we are able to see clearly that it will all be alright or what they are going through will at least be worth it. Sadness, pain and suffering can distort our view and cause us to lose sight of the bigger picture and our hope.

To be completely honest… you will suffer in this life. If you live as a Christian you will probably suffer more. There will be plenty of mourning and sadness.  Sorry guys.

The thing I cling to and the thing that allows people to get through extraordinarily challenging things and accomplish great things is they cling to hope and draw near to God. I will say it again. They cling to HOPE and draw near to GOD.

I believe that God will comfort us in the here and now when we pray for it. Sometimes, however, I can pray and still feel empty and sad. So, what do we do then? How do you continue on?

2 Corinthians 4.17-18 says “For 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.”

We aren’t living for this world. We are living for a world that we cannot see yet. We suffer through things that we don’t fully understand. The implication of what we are living for is a kingdom that hasn’t yet come. There is no suffering in vain as long as you are walking with God through it. The reason our mourning and sadness makes us blessed is because it isn’t for nothing.  I know one day God will wipe every tear from our eyes and there will be no mourning and sadness and we will get to see God in all his glory face to face (Rev. 21.4).

I find my comfort in those things when this world has left me mourning. Don’t let the pain and suffering you are going through distract you from the great comfort you have hope in.

It will all be worth it.

Dan Wall

Poor in Spirit

Free Theme – Beatitudes – Matthew 5:3

Matthew 5 3 niv

Having just finished Revelation I thought it would be beneficial to revisit Jesus’ teaching for the next six days. There really is no better place to do this than the Sermon on the Mount. In my opinion this is the most important teaching that Jesus gave us. We will be expanding on six of these beatitudes over the course of the next week. Hopefully, a beatitude a day will keep the doctor away and make us spiritually healthy. And yes, my corniness knows no bounds.

So today let’s explore the first beatitude found in Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Let’s start with this first word “Blessed”. What does blessed actually mean? The debate over this topic is varied but I think we can generally assume it simply means happy. I don’t think it means momentary happiness. I believe what Jesus is aiming at here is long term, lasting happiness, the kind of happiness where you know all you are doing and being is worth it.

Now, for the command “poor in spirit”. For the longest time, like longer than a decade, this phrase left me confused. I have talked to all sorts of different pastors and people seeking an explanation but always walked away unsatisfied. I was left feeling like their definition was somehow incomplete. Finally, I heard it defined as spiritual brokenness and this finally made sense. But what does that really mean, right? This story may help.

When I was twenty years old my sister and I swapped vehicles because I was doing a lot of driving and had a truck with terrible gas mileage. My little sister wasn’t driving a lot and she wanted to drive my truck because well, it was really awesome. It was jacked up with a wicked exhaust system. Basically, it was every teenage boy/country girl’s dream truck. One super early Saturday morning my dad woke me up saying “There is something wrong with your truck” and hands me his cell phone with my sister on the line. He then left the room and probably went back to bed.

Much to my surprise on the other end was my now “frantic and scared for her life” sister. She explained to me how the truck had just stopped moving. Even though the engine was still running. Now this probably wouldn’t have been an issue if it was a normal situation but it wasn’t. The truck broke down during the middle of morning traffic on one of the few bridges that stretches for miles across the Hudson River with no shoulder or pull off at all. Even this would have been fine if it had been bumper to bumper traffic which is typical in New York City but it wasn’t. Traffic was moving well, really well actually and cars were flying past her at 60+ mph. She was stuck in the right hand lane of traffic literally praying to God that they would miss the truck.

In this moment she was experiencing the hopelessness of my truck’s brokenness with danger coming fast directly behind her. It is the same way with spiritual brokenness. Without God we are spiritually broken and helpless. The honest truth is that we are in danger and that without God and Christ our “trucks” are not moving on the middle of a highway, that if we were to stay there – it would end in our deaths.

We adopt this attitude of being “poor in spirit” when we realize how much we need God, his son’s sacrifice and how broken we are without him. We acknowledge God’s holiness and that we don’t deserve his grace or his love. We realize there was/is nothing we can do to earn any of what he has done for us. This isn’t condemnation for the sake of making ourselves feel ashamed or worthless rather it is acknowledgement of how much we need him and all that he has done for us. You can look at your sin and say “I suck” or you can look at your sin and say “I have a great, merciful God who loves me more than I understand.”

This is summarized well in the quote “Those who feel their spiritual need.” by Goodspeed.

So, let’s adopt this attitude of brokenness and helplessness before God because not only will we be happy but we will also have the kingdom of God as well.

 

Dan Wall