Christian Devotional – December 13, 2018

Earning trust. Joseph may have forgiven his brothers, but he didn’t trust them yet. So, he planned to give them an opportunity to prove whether he could trust them. Read Genesis 43:31-34.

He took portions to them from his own table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they feasted and drank freely with him.
Genesis 43:34 NASB

Joseph’s brothers struggled with the idea that Joseph was the favorite. Joseph had the dreams, he had the special jacket, he was their Father’s favorite, and they sold him into slavery. How would they respond to another being treated as the favorite? 

So Joseph began favoring Benjamin. Benjamin got the best food, the best treatment, the best gifts. Joseph knew the Benjamin was special already to their father, so he decided to expand on that and then he will see how his brothers respond. 

Trust is earned, but we need give people the opportunity to try and earn it back. Joseph was beginning that process. Where are you with others?

Christian Devotional – December 12, 2018

There’s nothing wrong with emotion. Joseph is with his brothers and he sees his brother Benjamin for the first time in all these years. He is brought to tears. Read Genesis 43:26-30.

Joseph hurried out for he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought a place to weep; and he entered his chamber and wept there.
Genesis 43:30 NASB

Joseph is deeply moved by seeing his brother. Joseph was only 17 when he was sold to the slave traders, so Benjamin was probably just a young boy. No wonder there was so much emotion. Joseph missed out on all the opportunities to play and enjoy having a brother. 

Sometimes we shy away from emotions, thinking they make us appear weak. But, emotions are part of who God made us to be. We have the capacity to love deeply and laugh greatly, but with that is the capacity to hurt and feel pain. God is there with us through all the emotions. If we shut ourselves off from the difficult emotions we start to lose the ability to enjoy the positive ones. Will we trust God and allow Him to guide us through all of the emotions that God has created for us?

Christian Devotional – December 11, 2018

Do what you know to do. Joseph’s brothers were in an odd situation. They had come back to get more food, but they were being treated very differently from last time. And, they were being treated very differently from everyone else they saw coming to buy food. What did they do about it? They went ahead doing exactly what they knew. Read Genesis 43:24-25

So they prepared the present for Joseph’s coming at noon; for they had heard that they were to eat a meal there.
Genesis 43:25 NASB

In the midst of all the oddities of their situation, the brothers decided that the only thing they could do was to do exactly what they planned to in the first place. They had a present for this great governor and so they went about preparing it. 

When the situation around us changes, we need to review and evaluate how our response should change, but essentially, we should get busy doing what we know we need to do. We can revise as we go along if necessary, but if we have been given direction by God to do something  then no matter how odd the circumstance, we need to follow through on what we know. 

Will we choose to move forward, even when we don’t understand or it doesn’t make sense? God desires our obedience to Him, and sometimes it’s not going to be readily apparent why He has us doing things, but we are to continue doing what He has for us.

Christian Devotional – December 10, 2018

Uncertainty. No one likes to feel that they don’t know what is going on. Yet, honestly, we spend more time not really understanding all that is happening than anything else. Joseph’s brothers had no idea what was going on, but they were trying to make sense of it and do the right thing. Read Genesis 43:16-23.

We have also brought down other money in our hand to buy food; we do not know who put our money in our sacks.”
Genesis 43:22 NASB

The brothers were afraid. They didn’t know how things happened last time and they desperately wanted to just buy grain, get their brother and go. But, they also sought to do the right thing. They were trying to pay for the grain from the first time.

They didn’t have to try to do that. No one had accused them of anything. But they knew that the money had been back in their bags, so they were just trying to do what they knew. When we are faced with difficult and challenging situations, do we trust God and just do what we know, realizing that He understands the full implications of what is going on better than we ever will? Part of following God is doing so even when we don’t know where He is leading us. Will we follow Him even when we don’t understand? 

Christian Devotional – December 6, 2018

God is in control. No matter what we are going through or what plans we try to make, ultimately, we must admit that God is the one in control. Jacob knew this, but had to finally admit it and act on it. Read Genesis 43:11-15.

and may God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man, so that he will release to you your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”
Genesis 43:14 NASB

As much as we may know that God is in control, until we actually act on that belief, only then does that become real to us. Only then can we truly say we trust in God and recognize that he is the one over all. Jacob had to come to that place, and so do the rest of us.

Christian Devotional – December 5, 2018

Self-sacrifice. Jacob’s sons didn’t have much experience with this, but now one of them steps up. The situation in Jacob’s household has becone desperate again and they need more food, but they know they can’t go get more grain unless they bring Benjamin. So instead of Reuben, Judah speaks up this time. Read Genesis 43:1-10.

Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones. I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever.
Genesis 43:8‭-‬9 NASB

Yesterday we saw Reuben offer his 2 sons. Today we see Judah offer himself. That offer convinced Jacob that Judah would value the life of Benjamin as much as he values his own life.

This is quite a turnaround for Judah, for if you remember in Genesis 37, Judah is the one who came up with the idea to sell Joseph. Judah is the primary one responsible for Joseph being where he is and now, Judah is the one willing to sacrifice himself for the safety of Benjamin. Judah’s life change moment is recorded in Genesis 38. Basically, he came face to face with the fact that God is the one who gives life and takes it away. Judah realized he is responsible for doing what is right, the results are entirely God’s responsibility.

Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves for what we know is right and leave the results up to God? We can’t control all the results, we can only control our responses to the situations God allows us to go through. How will we respond?


Christian Devotional – December 4, 2018

What do you value? What you value is generally readily apparent when talking about plans or ideas. Our values influence and direct what we think and do. Jacob and his sons had a dilemma, how to get their brother Simeon back without losing Benjamin. Reuben had a plan. Read Genesis 42:29-38.

Then Reuben spoke to his father, saying, “You may put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my care, and I will return him to you.”
Genesis 42:37 NASB

Jacob dismissed his plan and refused to leave Benjamin in his care. Why? Reuben’s plan show very clearly that he doesn’t value life. If he would so readily sacrifice his own sons, how could Jacob truly trust that Reuben would value Benjamin’s life?

What do we value? How does that influence and direct what we do? Our values must be in line with what God values as everything else comes from that. Do we value what God values?

Christian Devotional – November 30, 2018

Coming face to face with our sin is never a comfortable experience. Realizing that we have done wrong is a challenging process. Many times, we can spend time avoiding the consequences or justifying our actions to ourselves, but eventually God puts us on a collision course with the consequences of what we have done. Joseph’s brothers start to realize this in Genesis 42:25-28.

Then he said to his brothers, “My money has been returned, and behold, it is even in my sack.” And their hearts sank, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”
Genesis 42:28 NASB

They had tricked their brother and sold him into slavery years and years ago. It’s probably safe to say that other than seeing their father’s grief, they haven’t really experienced much in the way of consequences. Now, all of sudden, that sin is forefront in their minds and they are wondering what God is doing to them as punishment.

When God wants to get our attention, He has no problem doing that. He knows exactly the most effective way of doing that. What we need to understand is that He does it with the purpose of repentance, forgiveness and restoration.  Here, the brothers think they are being punished, but Joseph is not seeking to punish, but to test and hopefully restore.

Is God trying to get your attention? Are you trying to avoid Him? He wants to see your repentance and restoration but you have to be ready to confront the things that you have done that are wrong. If you’re not ready, he will bring about circumstances designed to get you ready. What do you need to bring to Him in repentance today?

Christian Devotional – November 29, 2018

Forgiveness is given, trust is earned. After all these years, Joseph finally comes face to face with his brothers. The very people who were responsible for all that he has been through. Read Genesis 42:6-25.

Then they said to one another, “Truly we are guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the distress of his soul when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen; therefore this distress has come upon us.”
Genesis 42:21 NASB

We know that Joseph had forgiven them from the glimpse into his personal life and how he named his sons. However, forgiveness and trust are two different things. While he may have forgiven them, he didn’t trust them and decided to test them to see where they were at.

As Joseph makes his statements, his brothers make the statement found in verse 21. Joseph now knew that his brothers had never really had to confront what they had done, but that they are at a place where they may be ready to. As a result, he sets up a series of events that will allow them to prove that they are truly repentant and have changed.

When others wrong us, the Bible is very clear in several places that we are to forgive them, but we are to evaluate before we immediately trust again. Do we do that, or just write people off? Or just as bad, automatically trust them again? We need to give people the opportunity to earn our trust back if they are willing to try. Do we make that effort? Who do you need to allow to earn back the trust that they broke?

Christian Devotional – November 27, 2018

Practical advice.  Now that the famine has hit, the people in the surrounding country are feeling the effects. The land of Canaan is also experiencing famine and Joseph’s family among them. Jacob decides it’s time to do something. Read Genesis 42:1-7.

He said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down there and buy some for us from that place, so that we may live and not die.”
Genesis 42:2 NASB

I often wonder why Jacob had to be the one to share this advice. Surely the sons had heard the same rumors. Yet Jacob tells his older boys, “Look, I’ve heard where there is food. We don’t have any. Go get some.”

Off they head to Egypt. Do we look at what is practical and do we focus on doing things, or do we wait to be told? If we get an idea or a thought, maybe we’re not the final decision maker, but we can at least share our idea to get it out there. What ideas do you have that haven’t been shared? What do you need to get busy doing because it’s the right thing to do?