What Am I Like, Lord?

WHAT AM I LIKE, LORD?

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. 2 Tim. 3:2-5

Form of godliness ~ Using religion without treasuring Christ

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I often believe that I am further along on this journey of sanctification than I really am. I’m pondering each thing on this list to really see how much of each thing is still in me. Shine Your light in my heart, Lord. I want to be ready when You come.

Am I a lover of myself? Am I narcissistic? Often, life is all about me. Change me. Make my first thought of You, not myself.

Am I a lover of money? Often, I am captivated by beautiful things. Change me to love Your beauty far above all. Continue reading “What Am I Like, Lord?”

When Someone Near Me Sins

WHEN SOMEONE NEAR ME SINS

Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. Genesis 40:1-3

         God does not redeem sin when the person who committed it is an unbeliever. He is not their Father and they are not in relationship with Him. But when someone sins who is nearby, especially someone whose sin affects me, then I can know that God is active somehow and that the redemptive process is working for my ultimate good.

         Joseph is in prison, a place where it would be easy to believe that God is inactive. His privacy is interrupted when he is given two cellmates, both strangers to him. They have sinned against Pharaoh and while Joseph doesn’t have a relationship with Pharoah, nor does he have a relationship with the cupbearer and the baker, their sins will have direct impact on Joseph’s life.

         When will I fully grasp that God is involved in everything that has anything to do with me? He is providentially tying all perceived loose ends together. I have met no one by mistake. I have worked for no one by mistake. I have not suffered at the hands of anyone by mistake. I have not been betrayed by mistake. The sins committed by all those in proximity to me are woven into my redemptive storyline. Continue reading “When Someone Near Me Sins”

Favor In Captivity

FAVOR IN CAPTIVITY

But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Genesis 39:21

         Really? God gives favor in captivity? I thought they were mutually exclusive. Another reminder that what is logical to me is not logical to God. He turns a concept on its end and constantly surprises.

         Joseph sat in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He probably had moments when he felt utterly forsaken by God. And yet, the reality was that his prison was the doorway to leadership. The story is about to take an amazing turn when Joseph shares a cell with men that came from the royal court. Their crimes, and their time in Joseph’s company, will bring Joseph’s name before the Pharoah.

         Has God blessed others in captivity? I was surprised to find direct proof. “And the Lord gave his people favor in the sight of the Egyptians.” Ex.11:3 Many generations after Joseph, the Hebrews will believe that their God has forgotten them. For 400 years, they will doubt His goodness. Yet history will prove that God gave them favor in the midst of slavery.

         I’m old enough to have had significant periods of captivity. The one who is confined never feels favored. I can think of 3 reasons: 1.) Pain can obscure my vision of blessing. 2.) My view of my life is limited by time-bound perspective. And, 3.) My expectations of what favor looks like blinds me.

         If I’m in a prison today from which I can’t escape, how do I surmount these three challenges? Faith and trust in the character and promises of God. I’ve got to live beyond myself by reviewing God’s legacy of faithfulness in the lives of His children. His reputation does not begin and end with what He is doing in my life. If I did nothing but read the story of Joseph to get to know the heart of God, I would cease to be tormented. Captivity is the narrow pathway to the gateway of advancement.

Every time I accused You, You were fashioning something beautiful. I’m sorry and I will remember! Amen

Finding God Is Hard Sometimes

FINDING GOD IS HARD SOMETIMES

And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Genesis 39:20-21

            Finding evidence of God’s presence is difficult when life appears to have fallen apart. Joseph was tricked by Potiphar’s wife. Accused of rape, he had to stand before his master. The end result was imprisonment. But the writer of Genesis still said that the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love. Aren’t you asking the questions so many ask? ‘If the Lord was really with Joseph, why didn’t He spare him from prison? Why didn’t He expose the scheme of Potiphar’s wife?’ And, why does God allow bad things to happen to me?’

            The problem is that I expect to live a different life from Jesus. His birth was shadowed by a cross and so is mine. He said so. ‘You must pick up your cross and follow me.’ Was God with Jesus as He was with Joseph? Absolutely. He walked His Son through all His afflictions and stayed with Him all the way to the cross. He sent angels to minister to Him. He sent handpicked disciples to help carry the burden of His mission. But He still had to face Calvary because that was His calling.

            So how was the Lord with Joseph? Potiphar must have doubted his wife’s story because the punishment for rape was death yet Joseph was sentenced to prison instead. And he was assigned to the king’s prison, a less severe environment. Did Joseph see evidence of God’s presence? I’m confident he had to battle for his faith just as I have to battle for mine.

            I don’t care for the phrase ‘count your blessings’ because those who refuse to confront suffering on a deep level often recite it. It’s their method of denial. So let me re-phrase it. When life seems to fall apart and it would appear that God has abandoned me, there are evidences that the Lord is with me. I must ask God to help me see them. If I remember that I have taken up a cross to follow Jesus, then I won’t expect God to prevent hardship. I will know that what appears to be a senseless tragedy is simply a means to glory being revealed. My life and Jesus’ life mirror each other. Because the cross was a means to His glorification, I can rest in the assurance that darkness will never have the last word in my life either.

In every valley, You are with me and are blessing me with gifts of grace. Open my eyes to find them all. Amen

 

Knowing My Perfect Storm

KNOWING MY PERFECT STORM

            And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused. Genesis 39:7-8

            God has Satan on a leash. He can’t do more than God allows. Temptations, whether from God directly, or from Satan, test my faith. I’m required to dig deeply and use spiritual faith muscles that need strength training. Satan never tempts me just once, either. When I take hold of God’s grace and flee one kind of temptation, Satan will come back with yet another variety. He is relentless and doesn’t play fair. He is intent on concocting the perfect storm so that I will have no willpower. He’s after my kryptonite.

            Satan tried to use pain to drive a wedge between Joseph and his God. It didn’t work. (But it does with most people and it certainly did with me. A low threshold of pain causes strong Christians to fall into disbelief.) Yet, Joseph stood strong. He stayed tender, teachable, and resolute in his faith.

            When the catalyst of pain failed, he turned to pleasure.  Day after day, Potiphar’s wife wooed Joseph. She was probably beautiful and Joseph was, most likely, lonely. That he didn’t give in to her was nothing short of miraculous.

            Satan is intuitive. He is also strategic, cunning and patient. He spies, watching my life to assess where I am vulnerable. He knows my story and knows my wounding patterns. I can’t afford for him to know more about my weaknesses than I do. Perhaps this is why David was so intent on asking God to search his heart. Knowing himself as God did was critical to his spiritual victory.

            Under what circumstances would you fall? Do you know? What are your unique longings, and if someone or something could fulfill them right now, would you bite? It’s not a mistake that Paul defines sin as trading the glory of Christ for something else. For Joseph, it could have been a forbidden affair with Potiphar’s wife. What trinket holds allure for you over the value of treasuring Christ?

Don’t let me run from the truth about myself. Show me who I am through Your eyes. Deliver me from any evil that is being customized for my defeat. Amen

When I Walk Into A Room

WHEN I WALK INTO A ROOM

The Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. Genesis 39:5

         I don’t think I fully grasp what it means for the Holy Spirit to live inside me. He begs to affect everywhere I go and everyone I serve. He will keep leaking out, blessing, loving, wooing, and even convicting. I am a container of His Spirit but I must be a clean container so that His influence is not quenched.

         Potiphar, a heathen man outside of God’s covenant, experienced blessing throughout his entire estate because of the effect of God’s Spirit living through Joseph. But here’s the thing ~ If Joseph had gotten bitter and distrustful of God, spurning His voice and maligning His character, God’s influence would have been squelched.

         If I am right with God, living a life of passionate worship, then I wear Christ like a cloak. He is draped around my shoulders and is on full display. The effect will be the same as when Jesus entered the temple court or walked the streets of Judea. Some will swarm, some will see the light and investigate the claims of Christ, and others will be repelled and persecute me. But as for my household and those whom I serve, they will be blessed because God’s blessing on me has leaked out into their territory.

         Who needs a visitation of the Spirit of God today?

  • My child? I’ll walk in his room, pull up a chair and praise God for a while. The Spirit will bless long after I leave.
  • My church? I’ll drive onto the church property, sing a song or two in the car, and then speak some scripture over the church body. The Spirit will bless long after I leave.
  • My struggling friend? I’ll knock on her door, stay 10 minutes, speak the words Jesus prompts me to speak, and then pray with her. The Spirit will bless long after I leave.

         Does this sound like magical hocus-pocus? The frightening thing is, many would say ‘yes’. But it’s biblical! When Paul told us to put on spiritual armor, he clarified what the armor was when he said, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph.13:14) When Jesus enters a room, things change. When God’s Spirit hovered over a dead planet, look what happened.

         This is not about my influence but about the power of Christ’s influence living through me. I am Spirit-possessed. Oh, the possibilities! Can you feel it? Can you dream it? May it be.

You, in me, is a mystery. You, in me, are a treasure. Help me grasp what it means to have You living inside and then dream big. Bless wherever the sole of my foot treads. Amen

God’s Presence in Hostile Places

GOD’S PRESENCE IN HOSTILE PLACES

The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. Genesis 39:2

         Joseph was called a successful man. How can that be? He was in hostile territory with limited influence. He was a slave. He was the victim of his brother’s scheming. He was far from home. He was trying to process an exorbitant amount of pain and yet this emotional challenge did not preclude him from ‘success’. Could the reason be that Joseph sought the Lord in the midst of his confinement?

         It’s difficult to dwell in a place where I don’t belong, a place where freedom is absent. When confined, the default response is to fight and to live in angst. The discomfort of slavery is consuming and all energies are spent trying to figure out how to get out! The thought of making ‘Egypt’ home and working with God for spiritual success is usually the last thing on my mind. Instead of seeing God as an ally, I view Him as an adversary and blame Him for bringing me to a place of internment.

         If anyone had good reason to struggle with God’s sovereignty, it was Joseph. He could have been bitter and turned his back on the faith of his fathers. He could have taken up ranks with the rest of the slaves and become nondescript. But his heart stayed open to God and he cooperated with purposes of God’s design on his life.

         Can I be a Joseph in the place where I’m churning? What would it look like for God to make me successful right here? Can I take all the energies I’m currently spending trying to escape and invest them in Egypt? Would those who oppress me be moved if they saw me joyful in affliction instead of bitter? What if I took my little corner of influence and infused it with the glory of God?

         May it be! As God’s child, I must learn to thrive in captivity. The world is an anti-kingdom. The culture is foreign and I am peculiar. However, everything I touch and my very demeanor can stir up confusion and wonderment. God’s presence begs to affect everything I happen to graze with spiritual success.

May it be said of me, “The Lord was with her and she became a successful woman.”  Amen

Journal Question: Take every question in this devotional and answer it. Ask God to help you discern the barriers to spiritual success and take note of them. Unless they are identified, they can’t be surmounted.