Devotional Reading for 1/15/21

Genesis 41-44.

Joseph’s reasoning for wanting to see Benjamin was probably that he wanted to make sure Benjamin was still alive! But how do we explain the rest of his actions? Is he taking out his revenge? Or is he testing them to see if they had learned anything over the years? He certainly had! Joseph is the embodiment of Isaiah 40:31 – “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Sermon outline for 1/17/21

When does life start?
Exodus 21:22-23
I) The Bible Identifies the Unborn as ______________
II) In the Bible, Personal History Begins at ____________, not Birth
III) The Bible Recognizes the Preciousness of the _______________ Child
IV) The Early ____________ Recognizes the Preciousness of Babies (born and unborn)
      A) Acts 15:19-20 may be a _________________ against 
      B) Which may explain the ______________ in the early 
         Christian writings
V) What does this mean for us as __________________?
      A) We should recognize that _______ – even unborn life – is 
      B) We should be able to __________ truthfully and 
         authoritatively about pro-life issues
      C) We need to be ________________
      D) We should do all that we can to help those facing the 
         difficulties surrounding the __________ for life

Devotional Reading for January 14, 2021

Reflection day.

The devotional shares some possible definitions of faith. Here is a Biblical one: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:1, 6).

I also think that the idea of a note or a phone call to someone who has been an example of faith to you is a great idea!

Devotional reading for January 13, 2021

Genesis 37-40.

Joseph, as favorite, must have felt pretty secure to relay his dreams to his family. Surely he realized it would make everyone upset! His dreams served as both a prediction and an impetus, since they bring his brothers antagonism to the boiling point.

Genesis 38 seems very foreign to our ears. It has to do with property and inheritance. The concept we read about here becomes the idea of the kinsman- redeemer that plays such an important role in the book of Ruth. The point to take from the passage is that Judah neglected his obligations as the patriarch, and was tricked into fulfilling then, albeit in a way he didn’t expect! How are we doing with our own family obligations?

Devotional Reading for January 12, 2021

Genesis 32-36.

Here we see Jacob doing everything he can from an earthly perspective to soften up his brother Esau, and then we see him do what he can from a spiritual perspective. Was he wrong to not just trust God? Or should he be applauded for doing what he could first, and then asking God to bless his efforts? Perhaps he should have wrestled with God first? Regardless, God does bless him! I think the lesson may be that Jacob finally came to the end of himself and realized that none of it was going to work without God’s blessing. Is there anything in your life that you need to “wrestle” with God about? Perhaps something you’ve tried to deal with on your own and it isn’t going well? Don’t wait! Turn to Him now!

Devotional Reading for January 11, 2021

Genesis 27-31.

It might be interesting to record all the lies or deceptions that occur in these passages. Jacob lies (with his mothers help), he in turn gets deceived when he is about to be married, both Jacob and Laban try to one up each other with his wages, and then we end up with Rachel lying about stealing from her father. Whew! Most of us could probably point to ways our families are messed up, but hopefully it isn’t as bad as Jacobs! Perhaps we should all try to be as truthful and forthright as possible in response to this passage.

I have been fairly hard on Rebekah in the past. Upon further reflection, I wonder if she somehow thought she was doing what God wanted by deceiving her husband. Remember Genesis 25:23? “The sons in you womb will become two rival nations. One nation will be stronger than the other, the descendants of your older son will serve the descendants of your younger son.” Perhaps Isaac, although knowing the prophecy, was intentionally trying to circumvent it because he liked Esau better than Jacob. Favoritism is never a good thing in families, as we’ll see in the days ahead.

Devotional reading for January 10, 2021

Genesis 25-26.

Isn’t it interesting that we see Isaac following in the footsteps of his fathers sin? Abraham mislead others about his wife twice, and we find Isaac doing the same thing here. My guess is that, in a society that valued oral history, Isaac probably heard the stories many times over the years. Perhaps Abraham recounted how God saved him from himself! Isaac apparently internalized the story, because he did the same thing. But note that he didn’t do it thinking that God would save him. He did it trying to save himself: “Because I was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me.”

The warning for us is that our children, and even others, are paying attention. I am reminded of a saying of Jesus that should be chilling for those of us who are parents: “But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6).

Devotional Reading for January 9, 2021

Genesis 21-24.

Hebrews specifically mentions the faith of Abraham several times. Here is the explanation for this extraordinary act: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense” (Hebrews 11:17-19).

Devotional Reading for January 8,2021

Genesis 18-20.

Two things stand out to me. Both Sarah and Abraham doubt God. Sarah doubts that she can get pregnant, and Abraham doubts that God can protect him when he is in Gerar. Even in the midst of that, God is EXTREMELY merciful to them. Abraham is especially confounding, because he exhibits such care, compassion, and trust in God when he pleads for Sodom and Gomorrah. What a reminder of our own issues! One minute trusting and the next living in fear…

And an underlying theme of the entire passage is sexual immorality (remember, even Sarah back in Genesis 16 sent Abraham in to her servant so that he could father a child). Every day we pick up the news and read of teachers sleeping with students, of married couples cheating on one another, of children being molested, and of rapes. It shouldn’t surprise us. It’s been around forever because it is a part of human nature. However, we as Christians are called to be better, and we have been given the power to be better through God’s Word and God’s Spirit!

Sermon outline for 1/10/2021

 How Should a Christian Respond to End of Life Issues?
 Genesis 9:5-6
 I) Taking someone else’s life is ______________ in Scripture
      A) ____________ is wrong
      B) _____________________, although different, is still 
           1) Even when it affects the ____________
      C) ______________ murder is condemned too!
 II) What about taking your __________ life?
      A) There are __________ instances of suicide in the Bible
           1) One is an act of __________
           2) Two are out of _________
           3) The other four are out of _______________
 III) Are there guidelines in Scripture that address ____________?
      A) We are encouraged to not _________ in to despair or fear 
           1) God is in ___________
           2) God promises to help us through our _____________
           3) God promises to bring __________ out of bad 
 IV) What does this __________ for us?
      A) We realize that life is ____________
      B) And it shouldn’t ________ prematurely
      C) However, we can ______________ that there is “allowing 
         life to take it’s course”
      D) Because, as ______________, we shouldn’t be afraid to 
      E) We can _____________ the AMA’s refusal to endorse 
      F) But continue to be opposed to _____________ in any form