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

Work Smarter and Harder!

Proverbs 20

Proverbs 20 4 NIV

 

There is a mantra out there these days that says “Work smarter, not harder.” And although the meaning of it is to find more effective ways to do your work (“smarter”), you still have to get the work done. Working more efficiently doesn’t ever mean that you will have to work less hard. It gives the connotation as if working hard is bad. In all reality, there is great value in diligence. It teaches perseverance, persistence, and determination. It teaches us that hard work pays off. It teaches us to push through when times are tough.

 

When we think about hard work, it paints several different pictures.  Some may see someone with sweat on their brow and callused hands, others may see long hours of studying or learning, and others may see someone trying to save their marriage or building relationships…hard work can be physical, intellectual or emotional. Regardless of how you view hard work, it takes time and effort.

 

The wisdom we glean from Proverbs 20:4 says, “If you’re too lazy to plant seed, it’s too bad when you have no harvest on which to feed (The Passion Translation).” The NIV version uses the word sluggards for lazy. A little name calling there but the point is hammered home. You don’t put in the hard work, there will be no harvest. It is the basic principle of sowing and reaping. What you work for is what you get.

 

We see this illustrated again in Proverbs 20:13 (The Passion Translation), “If you spend all your time sleeping, you’ll grow poor. So wake up, sleepyhead! Don’t sleep on the job. And then there will be plenty of food on your table.”

 

Don’t get me wrong, l love a good nap! But too much sleep means that you are missing out. If you put the work in, you’ll get a lot of it. And this is not just applicable in work life; it is also in relationships and intellect/wisdom. For example, if you want to learn how to play the piano, you actually have to spend time learning. You spend time and energy on lessons, and practice and more practice in hopes that someday you will have mastered the song you were working on. Rarely will you find someone who can just sit down to a piano and play Beethoven without putting in the work!

 

Colossians 3:23-24 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” If you think about “your work” through the lens of this verse, then our hard work will eternally pay off! I think it might be wiser to say “work smarter and harder!”

 

Erin Bormes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep Running His Race

Hebrews 12 1 (1)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1‭-‬3 NIV
https://bible.com/bible/111/heb.12.1-3.NIV

Yesterday evening I was out for a run.  It was my second run of the day as I did a 3 mile run in the morning.  I was feeling pretty good early in the run so I made a decision to run for 10 miles. I have only ran that far one other time in my life, it was 10 years ago when I ran a half marathon.  I knew this was a big undertaking so I settled into a manageable pace and went for it.  This scripture immediately came to mind, as well as my grandmother.   Sadly, she is in hospice care and very close to the end of her life.  She is surrounded by family, but not her whole family.  We are 800 miles away, and as I was running it gave me the time to reflect on her life, and draw strength from it.
She is someone I would put in that cloud of great witnesses.  She has lived her life in a way that I know God is proud of.  She has faithfully served Him and his people since she was able. And it makes me want to do better.  During my run, I stumbled between 3 and 4 miles. I fell to the sidewalk like a ton of bricks.  At first I laughed because I thought it must have been funny to the passer by’s in cars.  Then I assessed the damage, a few scrapes and a really scuffed up corner on my phone. I decided to push on, but was considering calling it quits and heading home at that point.   But that scripture says to throw off everything that hinders us, and the sin (sidewalk) that so easily entangles us.  Yes my leg hurt, yes my hand hurt, but I wasn’t giving up.  I had made a commitment to go 10 miles. Fast forward to about 8 miles in, and I notice my left hamstring is feeling a little weird with every step. I slow my pace but it gets worse, at 8.5 it starts cramping up. I stop, stretch, walk a bit, then start again. Yet it only lets me go a few steps before it gives up.  My body has had enough, but I still have a mile to go.  I ended up walking that last mile, but I finished the 10.
In many ways I see a correlation between that 10 mile journey and the faith journey we take throughout life.  There are going to be setbacks, there are going to be times we stumble, or get hurt, and want to quit. There are going to be times we can’t or don’t move as fast as we planned.  But the important thing is to remember our commitment, to draw on the strength of others, to eliminate the things holding us back.
The race is already laid out before us, first set out by Jesus, then followed by so many others.  Let’s make sure to include ourselves in that faith list shall we?
Jerry Briggs

Perseverance through Tribulation

 

    Today, we return to the book of Job to further talk about depression. Job is being directly attacked by his own friends during a time frame when he is losing his health, his wife told him to curse God and die, his children have all died, and he has lost all his possessions he had. These are all things on their own that could cause depression within someone. Normally, these situations would cause problems internally, and someone who is depressed would tend to keep them to themselves. Job is blessed with wisdom though, and talks to his friends about his troubles. Instead of his friends trying to help him through it, they attack him on the grounds that they believe he clearly is wicked. The perseverance Job shows throughout the whole book is a testament of his faith in God.

That perseverance is one we should strive for on a day to day basis, whether going through trials and tribulation, or through times of blessing. There are times when he speaks of how he has been struck down from his status of respect in the community to one where people cannot bear to even look at him. In those moment, he is crying out to God, asking why it had happened. The moments that catch my eye though are when he is done mourning the trial, he returns to the debate with his friends on justice. In his responses to them, we see just how strong his faith is in YHWH, and the hope Job has stored in Him.   

Job 19: 25-27 NASB: “And as for me, my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I shall behold myself and not another. My heart faints within me.” The phrase ‘I know my Redeemer lives’ is one many Christians know because of the song Nicole C Mullins released in 2000. It is easy to read the English in this verse, and come to the conclusion that Job is saying Jesus lives, but contextually that doesn’t quite work. This is partly because Job is the oldest book in the Bible. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I noticed no mention of a coming Messiah in the book of Job. That is another reason I found this verse to be confusing for a time because we tend to use Redeemer as a title for Jesus. We use the term redeemer as one who is a deliverer from sin. A more appropriate translation for the Hebrew word “go’el” in this context is vindicator. Vindicator means one who delivers from affliction and wrong which is not due to sin. (I have Spiros Zodhiates to thank for this insight because of a note in my study bible.)

    Job 23: 17 NASB: “But I am not silenced by the darkness, Nor deep gloom which covers me.” This verse comes in the middle of his second to last rebuttal of his friend’s arguments. Before this verse Job speaks of how He longs to see God and beg his case for being upright and faithful. Once he says this, Job says that no one can change God, and that this trial must be part of God’s plan for him. He starts to show his awe, fear, and reverence of God just before this verse. I want to emphasize this verse because Job is stating that though he is confused, he will not be quiet. He will stay faithful, though he has been brought low. This verse shows Job’s character, and how through his faith he perseveres through the troubles in his life.   

    Clinging to our faith in YHWH is essential to pushing through the difficult times this life brings forth to us. God is our Vindicator, and He gave us our redeemer, Jesus, that we may have the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins. May we continue to push forward in this life with these ideas in mind, that we may not falter. Let us retain this knowledge in our hearts, and share it with those around us, that we may be faithful bondservants of YHWH.

 

((I apologize for the late send, and with no photo, our family is camping for the next several days and very limited wifi could cause delays this week.  -Marcia

Thank you for writing, Andrew!   Here’s a little about Andrew….

I’ve been a part of the Hedrick of God since about age 5. I thirsted for the Word, and the depths of knowledge held within it from a young age. Along the way, I was baptized with my dear brother, Zach. One of my first solid memories after baptism is from a year later, my grandpa passed away. I became depressed because I didn’t cry out to God, and God used my depression to help mold me. Through a decade of turmoil, the love of God, and a supportive church family, I’m now ready to put proper effort into the goals I believe I’ve been given.  My intentions are to use my story and the knowledge I obtain from God along the way as a teacher.

 

 

 

Think of What God Will Think

2nd Thessalonians 1

2 Thessalonians 1 11 (1)

2nd Thessalonians is another letter from Paul. He speaks about thanking God that their faith and love is growing. They were being persecuted and had many trials, yet they persevered. They held on to their faith and did not turn away from God.

 

This passage also speaks about those who do not have a relationship with God. Verse 8 says: “He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”  We need to make sure we are sharing God’s love and Jesus’s death to others. But wait you say, I am not a pastor or youth leader, how do I share that? You share that by living a life that is pleasing to God. Lead by example; you never know who is watching you. Speak up about what God has done in your life. Don’t be afraid of what people will think; think of what God will think. Honor Him in all you do.

 

Tomorrow we will look at 2nd Thessalonians 2.

Many blessings,

~The Ransom’s

A Lesson from Haiti: Perseverance

haiti

Missions Spotlight: Haiti

Under the direction of Lesly Bertrand, our conference supports 24 orphans with shelter, food and an education.  In addition to tending to the children, Pastor Lesly shepherds one of the 25 Haitian churches that share our beliefs.  He also meets with 21 ministers in the region for Bible study and leadership training each month.

 

This past week, some of our beloved family from Ohio came to stay with us.  Among the company, was our adorable 4-year-old niece, Melody.  The thing about Melody is, from 8AM to 9PM, she does not slow down.   From visits to the playground, building box forts, and painting masterpieces, to singing, dancing and acting on the fireplace hearth, Melody is in constant motion.

 

As I am worn out and ready to head to sleep at 7PM, I am reminded of Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 18.  The disciples come to Jesus and ask him just “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus responds, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

 

Melody is innocent, she trusts, she is content, and she makes friends at the Chick-Fil-A play-place within a matter of seconds.   Melody and her buddies fly through the play equipment and zip down the slide over and over and over again.  I get tired just watching her through the glass as I shove another french fry into my mouth.  Melody runs with perseverance.  As long as the sun is up, she never stops.  This zeal and energy brings me to 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

 

We are called to be children of God like Melody. We need to be going for his kingdom from sun up to sun down we can’t stop. I think that is what Jesus meant in Matt. 18. Children are fully reliant on their parents for everything. Like children, we need to be fully reliant on our heavenly father. Children trust without reservation. In the same way, we need to trust without reservation. Children are excited about life. Therefore, we need to be excited about this life and the life that we have to look forward to in the kingdom of God. If we can’t accept God in the simple way children accepts their parents, then we can’t live our Christian life the way Jesus wants.

 

Our conference supports 24 children in Haiti just like Melody.  While I have never met them, I can imagine they are full of energy and life.  When hurricane Matthew hit our brethren in Haiti a short time ago, they did not let the hurdles and obstacles of life defeat them as their churches and homes were crushed.  Instead, they had the mentality of a child.  They understood that their Creator provides for them, that He is always worthy of our praise.

 

Today, I am inspired by the orphans in Haiti to play harder.  I am inspired to take each step one at a time, and remember that God sees me through each situation, no matter how big or small.  I am inspired to run the race with perseverance and consistency; not just choose to serve Him or trust Him when it is easy.  I am inspired to live every moment, whether I am alone in my thoughts, or surrounded by friends and family, for the glory and honor of God.

 

If you would like to support an orphan in Haiti with food, shelter, and education or donate towards hurricane relief, please follow this link.  Thank you! https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MjM0MDg=/selection

 

Love,

Josiah & Amber

 

Committed

committed

You are at battle. The lines have been drawn and shots have been fired. The life of a soldier isn’t an easy one. It was never promised to be easy; instead, it was guaranteed to be difficult and requiring sacrifice.

In Luke chapter 9, as Jesus walks through Samaria to Jerusalem, a man approaches Jesus, saying that he will follow Jesus wherever he goes. Jesus is quick to qualify what really following him means, saying “foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9: 58). A home is often seen as a place of security and Jesus requires his followers to be willing to abandon everything else that has given security. Are you more committed to your comfort zone or Jesus?

Jesus calls on another man to follow him, but the man replies “Lord, first let me go and bury my father” (Luke 9:59). Jesus answers, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:60). The things of this world aren’t as important as the things of this world. As citizens of the Kingdom, your whole life should be centered around its work. Are you more committed to this life or the next one?

The third man says he will follow Jesus, but must first say goodbye to his family. Jesus replies, “no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). Jesus wants your commitment without delay. Do you understand the urgency of the message you have been told, the gospel? God has placed his treasure, the Kingdom message, in jars of clay, that’s you (2 Corinthians 4:7). Your time on this earth is fleeting, so you must do everything you can to spread that message. Are you more committed to the distractions around you or the sharing of the gospel?

God doesn’t want to share you, He wants all of you. He is jealous for your love and devotion. The God of the universe finds deep value in your love, and in that, you should find your worth and confidence. He sent his son to die for the purpose of having a committed relationship with you. You can’t just dabble in being a Christian. Your thoughts, speech, and actions must always be a reflection of your devotion. Being a follower is a full-time job; are you ready to make that commitment?

~ Mackenzie McClain

Perseverance in Suffering

2 Thessalonians 1-3

What does it mean to suffer? By Webster’s definition, it is, “To submit to or be forced to endure.”  In chapter 1 verse 5 we find that Paul speaking about how the Thessalonians are suffering.  They don’t appear to be suffering from hunger, thirst or illness but instead, Paul says they are suffering for The Kingdom of God. They are suffering persecution for their faith and because they have chosen to commit themselves to endure suffering they are commended for their great faith and perseverance.

Sadly until God’s Kingdom is established we, as Christians, will suffer persecution.  Chapter 2 even discusses that the Kingdom will not come until after a period of suffering where a “man of lawlessness” will “display himself as being God” (vs.4). This will be a dark time for all Christians and whether or not we witness this event we must always encourage each other.  If we spread love and encouragement to one another in our current sufferings it will continue to ripple through to generations in times to come.

Remember that no matter what comes, you were created and loved by the God who created the entire universe.  It is He who can give you the peace, wisdom, and strength you need to endure the suffering you are faced with every day.  The suffering is only temporary, the outcome is the eternal gift of God’s Kingdom where there will be no suffering ever again.

-Lacey Dunn

Suffering!

Romans 4-7

romans-5-3-5-1366x768

Wednesday, June 14

I really don’t like tribulations but I do like what they produce in my life.  When I think about the hard times that I have been through, I see how God proved himself to me over and over again.  It is those times that have built my faith in an invisible God.

 

Romans 5:1-4

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope;

 

Looking back, the trials and tribulations that I have suffered were well worth it.  Of course, at the time, in the midst of the storm, I was filled with angst and anxiety.  What often helped me was prayer.  I know my limitations and how powerless I am but God has no limits and He intervenes on our behalf.  Now when I look back at those hard times, I don’t feel the sting of stress but I see the power of perseverance!  I persevered with prayer and God answered me.  Whatever the situation was, God helped me and my faith grew stronger and stronger each time.  This helped me to mature as a believer and it changed my character for the better.

 

I also see, as I reflect back, the strength I have gained from seeing God prove himself time and again, and knowing and believing that the promises He has made will come to pass. This is hope.  This hope is what helps us to push through the trials and not give up.  We have hope that God will hear our cry, incline His ear to our prayers, and touch our lives.  I am reminded of the section in James where it talks about joy in tribulation…what??  That can’t be right, can it?

 

James 1:2-4

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 

I will be completely honest.  I am not there yet.  I do not view trials with joy, not even in the slightest.  I wish I could encounter a trial with a smile and look forward to what it will produce in me.  I only smile when it is over and some time has passed and then the joy part sets in.  So, I have some work to do and I am sure that I will have plenty of opportunities to get better at this.

 

This whole section of scripture we read today is also about faith…each trial and tribulation has strengthened my faith.  Even when my faith was shaken, I came out the other side stronger.  My brother John and his wife Grace, almost 9 years ago, found out they were expecting a baby.  We were so excited!  Early on in the pregnancy, they found out there were some complications, all was not right.  We quickly went from excited to shaken and scared.  This doesn’t happen to us, this could not be.

 

My mom, myself, and Grace decided that we would pray together every day until the baby was born.  We prayed and prayed and prayed.  I had never prayed so diligently before this.  We were certain God was going to perform a miracle.  Grace felt God was leading her to name the baby Jeremiah.

Jeremiah was born and we did not get the miracle we prayed for…in fact his condition was worse than we expected and he would continue to have more challenges as he grew.  This shook our faith and tore us up inside.  I won’t go through all the questions I hurled at God and the sorrow we felt but I will say, that through it all, God was with us.  Jeremiah may not be like everyone else, but he is a miracle and he has given our family such joy.  In the end, my faith is stronger because I know that we live in a broken world and that bad things happen…even to us.  But, then I think of this scripture:

 

Isaiah 35:6

Then the lame will leap like a deer,

And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.

For waters will break forth in the wilderness

And streams in the Arabah.

 

One day, all will be made right and we just need to have faith.  Faith to keep going, to tackle each trial with hope and perseverance and that will mold our character for the better.  Take some time to reflect on your life and your hard times.  What did they produce in you?  Do you have a stronger appreciation of the hope we have because of your trials?

This is Jeremiah.  He is full of joy, laughter, and kindness.  He is nonverbal, has low tone, and other issues but one day, when our Lord returns, he will run fast like the wind and talk up a storm.

jeremiah

– Ruth Finnegan

(Photo Credit: http://www.godswordimages.com/wallpaper/hope/romans-5-3-5/)