Scripture reading for January 13th: Genesis 37-40
The story of Joseph is a fascinating one! He was a dreamer and the youngest of 11 brothers. He was also his father’s favorite and probably a little spoiled. He had dreams that showed his father and brothers bowing down to him and shared them with his family. His brothers jealousy nearly cost him his life! At least one of his brothers showed a small amount of compassion and his life was spared as they sold Joseph into slavery and he was taken to Egypt.
Joseph was evidently quite handsome and muscular. In his new role as servant to a wealthy Egyptian named Potiphar, Joseph was noticed by his master’s wife. One day when Potiphar was gone, Joseph was doing his duties in the house. He was propositioned by Potiphar’s wife: “Come to bed with me!” Joseph’s response was full of truth and godly wisdom. “My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9b) This happened day after day and Joseph continued to refuse her advances.
Adultery is a sin! It is a sin against God and another person who is already joined as one to their spouse by God. God hates adultery and this sin causes lying, jealousy, hatred, violence and ultimately death. Adultery sows violence in a relationship and destroys marriages and homes. (Malachi 2:16) Children are the victims and the devil loves to devour the children.
Joseph gives us some very practical advice about how to escape temptation. Our first line of defense is our feet! If we would just quickly remove ourselves from the temptation, how much easier we find we can resist! When we linger and reason we will always be defeated! Running away may seem cowardly, but it is sure better than the mess caused by sexual sin! “Use de feet to avoid defeat!”
One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants were inside. She caught him by the cloak and said, “come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” (Genesis 39:11-12)
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” (1st Corinthians 6:18)
Scripture reading for May 24th: Job 15-17
Have you ever gone to a doctor for a check up and gotten a bad report? I talked with a person the other day who went to a doctor for help with a problem and after the tests were run, the trusted doctor told this person there was no hope. The doctor suggested funeral arrangements and getting affairs in order to die! The doctor was trying to share what he understood from the tests, but God always has the last word! By the way, that was thirty years ago and this person is still going on in faith!
Job endured some similar attempts by friends to help him! Job was told by his wife to curse God and die. (Job2:9) Job was told by his friends that he must have been involved in some terrible sin to be in the circumstances he was in. At times, his own emotions brought him to depression and a desire to die. (Job 10:18-19) Job cried out, “miserable comforters are you all!” (Job 16:2b) All of this was part of an attempt by Satan to get Job to deny his faith in God and give in to the circumstances and pressure of those who were judging him.
Deep inside, even though tormented by all these accusations, Job holds to his integrity. He declares his hands free from violence and his prayer as pure. (Job 16:16-22) He knows that he has a witness in heaven who knows the truth and will plead with God for him. He knows that his time on earth is short, but his cry has come before God. Where did these thoughts come from? What did Job see or hear in the natural that might have given this understanding?
God works on the inside of man by revelation. He shows us through faith this unseen world that is more real, being eternal, than the temporary one we live in. When we choose to place our trust in God, He enlightens the “eyes of our understanding” in the inner man. We know that God is for us and that One intercedes for us today, Jesus Christ, the Righteous one! (Romans 8:31-34) The Spirit also helps us to pray and is our true comforter! (Romans 8:26-27) Though man may fail us, God is our comfort and strength!
Scripture reading for March 18: 1st Samuel 4-8
I love the presence of the Lord. I almost always have tears or sometimes feel all my senses are alive and awake and a sense of His Peace makes me want to wait quietly or kneel before Him. God’s Presence is something that men and women of God have sought. Moses would not move without God’s Presence going with him. He knew how much he needed it. We certainly need it ourselves!
In today’s reading, the Israelites presumptuously took the Ark of God into battle with them. The Ark of God was the place where God’s Presence rested with the Israelites. (1st Samuel 4:3-5) They had just lost four thousand men in battle and were aware of a need for God’s presence and power. When the Ark was brought into the camp by Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s two wicked sons, the camp erupted in shouting! They had a “pentecostal” service right there! The enemy heard the commotion, and it ignited a desire to fight extra hard! The Philistines whipped the Israelites and 30,000 more Israelites died in the ensuing battle! Hophni and Phinehas were killed and the Ark of God was captured! Eli died at this news and his daughter-in-law died in childbirth! What a chain of events! Where was God, anyway? I thought that they had shouted because God was in the camp! How could God let such a thing happen to His people?
First, God had warned Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas about their wickedness and about His coming judgment! (1st Samuel 2:16-22) Sin has consequences! Treating God’s Presence as something to be used or manipulated for advantage is not allowed. Hophni and Phinehas had been dishonoring God, their own father, and the nation by setting a bad example. They had been eating the portion belonging to God–the fat! They had been having sex with the women who served at the temple. God will not be mocked! (Galatians 6:7)
Using the symbol of God’s Holy Presence as a “good luck” charm is not wise! Even all the noise and enthusiasm was not an indication of God’s presence with them! We who are Pentecostal need to take note! The loudest and wildest worship is not always a sign of God’s Presence or approval! We can turn things that represent God’s Presence into an idol very easily! We can also try to manipulate God! Styles of worship, being slain in the Spirit, dancing before the Lord, and other manifestations are fine if genuine and a response to God’s Presence. They are a curse if they are not in “Spirit and Truth”. (John 4:24)
God’s Presence was not a blessing to the Philistines either! Everywhere they took the Ark of God, panic, fear, tumors, death and confusion broke out! God’s Presence is Holy and special. He must be treated with honor and respect by those who know Him! He brings death to those in sin and rebellion!
Take time today to thank Him for His Presence with you in the Holy Spirit! His Spirit is a gift of the Father sent to bless His children!