Give God the Glory

Today’s Passage – Genesis 41 – 42 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 3 – 4; Proverbs 16; Psalms 76 – 80

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read a previous post from this passage – “In His Time

Read the “0116 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Genesis 41:16)

In chapter 41 of Genesis, we hear about Pharaoh’s dreams of the corn and the kine. He know that these dreams mean something, but he has no clue what the significance of them is. He learns that there is a man named Joseph down in the dungeon that has been known to interpret dreams for other people. Joseph is hastily summoned to appear before Pharaoh, and Pharaoh questions Joseph about “Joseph’s: ability to explain the meaning of these of these dreams. Joseph is very quick to deflect the focus from himself to the Lord. He doesn’t take any credit for his gift but immediately gives the glory to God. In fact, five times in Joseph’s discussion with Pharaoh Joseph mentions God to Pharaoh. (vs. 16, 25, 28, and 32) Pharaoh gets the message also, because in vs. 38 and 39, he acknowledges that the interpretation of the dream can from God also:

“And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:” (Genesis 41:38-39)

This heathen king was introduced to the God of the Universe all because Joseph took an opportunity to use a gift that was given to him by God and acknowledge the fact that it was God who enabled him to do it. 

How many opportunities do we get each day to display our God-given abilities to the lost world around us? But, when we do a good job and we are recognized, do we give God the glory by letting everybody know that it is God who is working through us. Let’s not steal God’s glory, and let’s not waste opportunities to be witnesses for the Lord. Our sole purpose in life is to make God look good; to glorify Him in front of a lost and dying world. If we meet Pharaoh in Heaven someday, it will be because Joseph made God look good. How many people do we point to God?

By the way, the opposite of this story is also true. When we do wrong things in front of the lost people around us, we are making God look bad. What an awesome responsibility and privilege we have to represent the Lord in this world. Let’s be sure to give Him the glory when we get things right, and take the blame when we do things wrong. Let’s make God look good to the world around us.


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Godly Character

Today’s Passages – Genesis 38 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the passages. Click here to view today’s passage on Blue Letter Bible.)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 1 – 2Proverbs 15Psalms 71 – 75)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 89:1

Read the “0115 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “What About Judah? and “God’s Perfect Plan

“And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:7-9)

Joseph was a man of great godly character and is a wonderful picture, or type, of Christ in that regard. He is simply not like other men. He has the ability to say no to his flesh and completely yield to the will of God for his life. This attribute of godly character can be exhibited in many examples from Joseph’s life, but a particularly vivid picture of this is painted for us in the verses above. Joseph, a young, single man, was being tempted in the area of sexual purity by the wife of his employer. Joseph had the perfect opportunity to yield to the the lusts of his flesh, but instead refuses. He says, “NO!” He knew that yielding to Potiphar’s wife’s wishes was foremost a sin against God, and was also a sin against Potiphar, a man that had been very good to Joseph up to this point. How many young men in Joseph’s position would have been able to resist the temptation and say no to this kind of proposition?

Sexual impurity is not limited to just the act of committing adultery with another man’s wife. It is just as wrong for unmarried people to commit fornication regardless of what our very carnal contemporary culture would say. It is also dangerous to view images portraying sexual impurity on the internet. It is very difficult for both men and women to say no to their flesh and yield to God in these areas, but it can be done through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says:

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

I realize that the Holy Spirit did not work in quite the same way in the Old Testament time that Joseph lived, but I know this: Joseph had a deep and abiding relationship with God, which is exactly what walking in the Spirit is for the New Testament Christian today. Joseph’s love for God and His will superseded Joseph’s fleshly desires. Joseph did not have “better flesh” than other men; he was not superhuman. He just was in love with God.

Peter wrote about this level of Christian discipline:

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)

Notice two of the seven attributes that Peter states can and should be added to every Christian’s life: virtue and godliness. These are the two that Joseph exemplified in his encounter with Potiphar’s wife. However, Joseph also demonstrated the other five attributes listed by Peter throughout his life. And so can we, if we are walking with and filled with the Spirit of God, and yielded to God’s will. It is not easy to “just say no” to our flesh, but it is certainly not impossible with God’s help.


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The Green Eyed Monster

Envy

Today’s Passage – Genesis 36 – 37 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 27 – 28; Proverbs 14; Psalms 66 – 70

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “0114 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” (Genesis 37:11)

“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,” (Acts 7:9)

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; …” (“Othello” – Shakespeare)

“For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.” (Mark 15:10)

“Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26)

“Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” – (Proverbs 27:4)

You have probably heard the expression, “Jealousy is a terrible thing.” There can be no clearer illustration of this truth than the example given here in Genesis 37. Here Joseph’s brothers are so jealous (envious) of Joseph that they first conspire to kill him, but finally acquiesce to selling him into slavery. What would cause them to envy there brother so much that it would cause them to sin so against him (not to mention against their father)? I believe we can see three ingredients that fueled the jealousy.

1  The Favoritism of the Father – Joseph was one of only two boys that was born to Rachel, the wife he loved dearly; and he was the second youngest of all of his children. Jacob did not attempt to veil his love for this child, either He made it clear to all others inthe family that He had a very special place in his heart for Joseph. He made him a beautiful coat of many colors. The other brothers received no such token of the father’s affection. It is not wrong to treat our children individually, based upon the needs that each may have; but it is wrong for parents to love their children differently. I confess, that at times this can be difficult; but we must strive to assure each of our children that we love them, and that our love for each does not exceed the love of another.

2   The Folly of the Son – I may be off base here; but Joseph did not show much wisdom in his bold declarations of the dreams to his brothers. God had obviously revealed a special plan for Joseph: a plan which involved him being placed in a position of authority over, not only his brothers, but also his father and mother. Maybe it was just because of his honest nature, but Joseph seemed to almost rub it in the face of his brothers.

3  The Finger of God – God obviously had his hand on the boy’s life. He had a special plan for Joseph. God’s hand upon Joseph was clearly evident to his brothers, and I believe this was the real problem. They saw in Joseph something they had lost. Joseph had a purity about him, that we have already seen to be lacking in some, if not all, of his brothers. They saw in Joseph what they should be, and instead of rejoicing in his devotion to the Lord, they attempted to destroy the reminder.

Envy is a terrible thing. I fight it all of the time in my life. I hear of a preacher being blessed of God in his ministry, and often the “green eyed monster” rears his ugly head. I sometimes have to force myself to rejoice in the victory that God is giving to my brothers. I bet that some of you have this problem as well. God blesses somebody in your life, maybe financially or materially, and you get jealous. Maybe your peer at work receives a promotion, and you don’t. How does it make you feel? Ask God to help you rid your heart of this monster. This green beast does not come from the Spirit of God; he is purely a product of your sinful nature. Don’t allow him to influence you to such an extent that you sin against God and others with your words or actions. The “Green Eyed Monster” needs to be put to death in all of our lives. Remember, God is not a repecter of persons. He loves no one more than he loves you, and He has a special plan for your life, just as much as He has used others.


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Worried Over Nothing

Today’s Passage – Genesis 33 – 35 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 25 – 26Proverbs 13Psalms 61 – 65)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 55:17

Read the “0113 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s reading – “Lead On Softly;“ and “Boys Will Be Boys.

“Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; … Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.” (Genesis 32:7, 11)

“And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept.” (Genesis 33:4)

For twenty years Jacob lived with the fear that his brother Esau was going to kill him. His fear of Esau was likely part of the reason why Jacob spent so many years in Padanaram working for his father-in-law in a less than ideal arrangement. But when Jacob finally got fed up with Laban and his in-laws Jacob determined to go back to Canaan and face his brother. For more than two decades Jacob had the fear of his brother in the back of his mind, but all of his worries and fears were for nothing. Not only did Esau not want to kill Jacob, He actually welcomed him in love.

I remember when I worked as a salesman in my father’s wholesale candy and nut business. My job was to service supermarkets, making sure they had enough product, etc. For most of the accounts I took care of, I would need to be in the store at least once per week. Every once in a while, I got backed up and could not get to the stores, sometimes for two or three weeks. I would dread facing those store managers when I was late, and I always imagined the worst-case scenario. In my head, all kinds of bad stuff was going to happen – “the stores are going to be completely empty or a mess,” or “the manager is going to fire my company as a supplier” – but rarely, if ever, did my fears ever prove to be true.

Jacob’s fear of Esau did not go away until he faced him head on, and your fears will not go away either until you face your problems. Don’t allow your problems (or your worry about them) to become larger over time by not dealing with them. Jacob finally resolved his problem with Esau, but it was only after a few things happened:

  1. Jacob could no longer run from Esau. God made Jacob’e situation so unpleasant in Padanaram, that Jacob finally realized that he would be better off going back home.
  2. Jacob spent a lot of time on his knees getting right with God. Much of Genesis 32 records Jacob praying and preparing to face his brother.
  3. Jacob made things right with Esau. Esau was legitimately wronged by Jacob twenty years earlier. Jacob and his mother had deceived Isaac into giving him the blessing that was intended for Esau. Notice in Genesis 33:10 – 11, however, that Jacob wants to make things right. He wants to give the blessing to his brother.

“And Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, if now I have found grace in thy sight, then receive my present at my hand: for therefore I have seen thy face, as though I had seen the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me. Take, I pray thee, my blessing that is brought to thee; because God hath dealt graciously with me, and because I have enough. And he urged him, and he took it.” (Genesis 33:10-11)

So if you are worried about something, face it head on, but only after you have thoroughly prayed about it and are willing to do whatever is necessary to fix it.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)


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Perspective

Today’s Passages – Genesis 31 – 32 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 23 – 24Proverbs 12Psalms 56 – 60)

Read the “0112 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “No More Jacob,” and “Following the Will of God.

“And he heard the words of Laban’s sons, saying, Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s; and of that which was our father’s hath he gotten all this glory.” (Genesis 31:1)

The dictionary would define perspective as “a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view” (Apple Dictionary)

In the very first verse of our text today in Genesis 31, we see that Laban and his sons had a completely different perspective or point of view than Jacob did. From Laban’s family’s perspective, Jacob had received all of his prosperity from Laban: that Jacob had actually taken it from him and his other sons. From their point of view, Jacob owed them greatly. However, Jacob had a completely different perspective. He saw things in a completely different way than Laban and his boys. Jacob’s side of the story was that Laban’s family did not have very much when Jacob joined them, and because of the hard work and blessing of God upon Jacob, God had increased both Laban and Jacob tremendously. We know from the text that Jacob’s perspective was right:

” … for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee.” (Genesis 31:12)

My point, however, is that Laban and Jacob had completely different perspectives on the exact same set of circumstances. It is like those pictures that were circulating around the internet a while back. The image would be of a dress, and some people would sware that the dress was green, and others were absolutely positive that it was another color. People often see things from different perspectives. 

Again, we know that Jacob’s particular point of view in this case was the accurate one according to God, but that does not change the fact that Laban’s sons truly believed that they were right also. They were not, but they thought they were. They could not see things from Jacob’s persepective. Oftentimes, people see things through the lense of what is in their best interest. Jacob was benefiting more than the sons of Laban were from the arrangement that Laban made with Jacob, so they naturally thought that somehow something was amiss; they thought Jacob must have been stealing from them, which simply was not true. 

There are a couple of lessons here that I think we need to learn. First, when it comes to conflicts between two people who are, in most areas, likeminded, there needs to be a sincere attempt to try to understand the other’s perspective: try to see things from their point of view. Oftentimes, if an open mind is kept, conflicts can be easily resolved.

However, when trying to understand people who come from a completely different perspective, a little more care will have to be taken. Christians have a God perspective; especially those believers who are well-grounded in the Scriptures. We see things from God’s perspective (at least for the most part). The lost world and even some carnal Christians have a totally different perspective, partially because of the fact that they have been blinded to spiritual Truth. Satan has blinded them:

“In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

The lost world believes that Christians are foolish for believing what we do. They simply do not understand us:

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

As believers, we need to try to understand that the problem is a spiritual one. We are simply living in two different worlds; we have totally different mindsets or paradigms. There needs to be a paradigm shift. We need to pray that God will open their eyes to the Truth of the gospel. If they were to get saved, the problem of different perspectives would be solved. Like you, I get very frustrated watching and listening to the politicians and television personalities who “simply don’t get it.” But, they can’t get it because right now they are blind to the Truth. God needs to open their eyes. We need to pray for them, and compassionately love them and try to preach the Truth to them.


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Surprise!

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 29 – 30 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read –Matthew 21 – 22; Proverbs 11; Psalms 51 – 55)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31

Read a previous post from this passage – “Moving Forward

And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? (Genesis 29:25)

It this passage we see that Jacob who had deceived his father is now being deceived himself. He had left Canaan (Israel) and travelled back to the place where his family originated (near Babylon) in order to find a wife. He arrives and meets a beautiful young lady named Rachel who happened to be his cousin (OK back in those days – really wierd today). He falls in love with her and strikes a bargain with her uncle to work for him for seven years as payment for his daughter. Oh how I wish that we still followed this program today. I have three beutiful daughters and I would have been rich. Anyway, after his seven years of hard labor is completed, Jacob wants his wife. However, when he wakes up in the morning he does not find beautiful Rachel lying next to him in the bed, but instead he sees Leah, Rachel’s older sister. You can imagine the suprize that must have been on his face when he laid eyes on Leah who the Bible describes as “tender- eyed”. That was the phrase you used in Bible days when you wanted to be kind when describing someone who was ugly. Jacob was tricked by his uncle Laban. The deceiver was deceived.

I have two thoughts regarding this passage of Scripture. The first is the principle of sowing and reaping. Jacob reaped deception because he was a sower of deception. In fact, I think we learn in the coming chapters that Jacob reaps a little more than he sowed. We sure have to be careful in our lives because this principle is certainly in effect today as well. The Bible says be sure your sin will find you out; and the way of the transgressor is hard. It will eventually come back to bite you. I have seen this principle often in my life and ministry. Many of the problems that I have dealt with as a pastor have been areas where I have been guilty in the past. However, the principle works for good things as well as bad. Sow some good things in your life and you will reap some good things back. Sow a little mercy toward others and you will reap a little mercy from others. Sow a little kindness, and reap a little kindness; sow a little compassion, and you will reap a little compassion. You get the idea.

The second thought is that you cannot trust the world. Laban was not a saved man, and Jacob was trusting him to be faithful and trustworthy in his dealings with him. Laban is a type of the devil. If you make a deal with the devil or the world for Rachel, you are going to wake up someday with Leah. Satan is a liar, and this world is completely out for itself. Even God’s people can be downright untrustworthy at times; but know this: you can trust God completely. He will always deliver what he promises, and He will always do right. Even when we don’t understand what He is doing, or why; we can be assured that He loves us, and that He has our best interests in mind.


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A Dysfunctional Family

Today’s Passage – Genesis 27 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 19 – 20Proverbs 10Psalms 46 – 50)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read the “0110 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “I am with Thee,” “The House of God” and “Savory Meat

I really do not know where to begin the discussion regarding this story from Genesis 27. There is so much that is wrong here, and so many lies. We will take them one by one:

1. Isaac was actually many years from his death.

“And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.” (Genesis 27:4)

Isaac did say in verse 2 that he didn’t know the day of his death, but it seems that he feels his death would be very soon. Actually, his death would be more than twenty years later; after Jacob returns from Padanarum with his wives and children. The point is this: in this chapter, Isaac seems fairly sure that the day of his death was imminent, so much so that he is getting his affairs in order regarding his children’s inheritance, but the reality was that he had many more years to live and serve God.

Another thing about Isaac is that he was very carnal. He seems to be completely focused on his flesh. Notice how many times this chapter references Jacob’s love for savory meat (Genesis 27:4,9, & 14).

2. Rebekah conspires with Jacob to deceive her husband.

“My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing. And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them.” (Genesis 27:12-13)

Rebekah cannot bear the thought of seeing her favorite son passed by for the blessing, so she conspires with him to deceive her husband. Jacob is reluctant at first but being a Mamma’s Boy he submits to her deception instead of obeying his dad and God. Some theologians have taught that Rebekah was merely trying to assist the will of God as she was told by God that the elder brother would serve the younger brother (Genesis 25:23). I don’t buy that. I think she was just playing favorites. Besides, God did not need her help in accomplishing His will, especially if that help would involve deception and a lack of submission to her husband.

3. Esau lies about his birthright and then determines to slay his brother.

“And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?” (Genesis 27:36)

Esau may have been innocent this time, but his birthright was not “taken away” from him. He gave it up, all because he wanted a bowl of “red pottage” (Genesis 25:29 – 34). After he loses the blessing, however, he is justifiably angry, but his anger crosses the line and becomes wrath, and he determines to kill Jacob as soon as his dad is dead (Genesis 27:41).

This family is, to say the least, dysfunctional. It is hard to comprehend that all of this carnality, lying, favoritism, and hatred is present in the family that God chose to be the patriarchal head of Israel. This is a wonderful picture of the grace of God. When I read this story, I am greatly encouraged because if God could bless a dysfunctional family like Isaac’s, then he can certainly bless the Erickson family, which has had more than its share of dysfunctional moments as well.

Christmas 2018


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The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From Tree

Today’s Passage – Genesis 25 – 26 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 17 – 18Proverbs 9Psalms 41 – 45)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 47:1

Read the “0109 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage –  “From A Father To A Son”

“And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon.” (Genesis 26:7)

In order for you to fully understand this morning’s thought, you might want to go back and read Genesis chapter twenty. If this account of Isaac lying about the true identity of his wife sounds familiar to you, it is because we read back in Genesis 20 that his father, Abraham, did the exact same thing to Abimelech. It appears that the apple doesn’t fall very far the tree. Isaac apparently had picked up some of his father’s bad habits.

There is an old expression which states that parents don’t get what they want in child-rearing, they get what they are. I have observed that to be true. Our children definitely begin to emulate our values, character traits, and even our mannerisms. As a school teacher, I have closely observed the children in  my charge, and it is amazing how much the children are like their parents. It’s kind of scary to think that we are also passing on our bad habits. Isaac learned how to lie from his dad.

As parents, we must be very careful to remember that our children are always watching us; almost analyzing us. They mistakenly think that everything we do is right, so they have no reason not to mimic who we are. Even later when they are taught with words regarding bad behavior, the message that they received from the life of the parent will often leave a stronger impression. Parents, and mentors, need to be very careful to watch their own behavior, especially around those young ones that are so impressionable. We need to be what we want them to be. Be the right example to your children.


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Taker or Giver?

are_you_a_giver_or_a_taker_featured_large

Today’s Passage – Genesis 23 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 15 – 16; Proverbs 8; Psalms 36 – 40)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 34:6

Read the “0108 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Praying for Clear Direction,” and “The Bride of Christ”

“And Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land. And he spake unto Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee, hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my dead there.”(Genesis 23:12-13)

“And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:” (Genesis 14:22-23)

“And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.” (2 Samuel 24:24)

“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:33-35)

My thought this morning may be a little strange, but I noticed in our reading today that Abraham was offered several times a place to bury his wife Sarah at no cost to him, but he refused to take it unless he paid for it. Back in Genesis 14, we see a similar situation. Abraham and his servants had helped save the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah after they had been conquered and taken captive. The kings of the cities that Abraham helped offered to give Abraham money and possessions for his help, but Abraham refused them also.

In chapter 24, we again see Abraham’s servant giving valuable gifts to Rebekah and her family. He doesn’t negotiate with them to get a better deal. He is very generous:

“And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things.” (Genesis 24:53)

In 2 Samuel 24, David was offered the threshing floor of Araunah along with the oxen necessary for a sacrifice, but David refused him also, insisting that he pay money for those things.

Paul also was very reluctant to take anything from people, as can be seen in the above reference from Acts 20.

All three of these men of God were very careful in their financial dealings with people. They didn’t accept any gifts from people who might be giving gifts with strings attached to them. These men wanted to be sure that people understood that God was the supplier of their needs, not men.

I too am very uncomfortable receiving gifts from people, perhaps because of a pride issue, which is also wrong; but I think all too many servants of God are too willing to accept gifts from people, even going to the extreme of constantly asking people for things. Ministers often have a bad reputation in this world for being covetous and greedy, and unfortunately in some cases this is not unjustified. Too many preachers I know are very slow to reach into their pockets and pay for things themselves; they always let somebody else pick up the tab. Ministers today need to be very careful to remember that it is God who supplies our needs, not people. The Bible says, “And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous.” (Exodus 23:8).

We who minister today need to make sure that the people know that we are not merely hirelings who do what we do only for what we can get.  We need to improve our reputation by being givers, not takers.


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The Whole Truth

Today’s Passage – Genesis 20 – 22 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 13 – 14; Psalms 31 – 35; Proverbs 7

Read the “0107 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage: God Will Provide Himself a Lamb

In Genesis twenty, we read that Abraham was up to his old tricks again, and not delivering the complete truth; this time to Abimelech, regarding his wife, Sarah. He told Abimelech that Sarah was his sister, which was technically true; she was the half-sister of Abraham, being the daughter of his father, but not his mother. If Abraham was to tell the whole truth, however, he would have had to declare that Sarah was his wife.

The reason that Abraham left out this important little nugget of truth to Abimelech here in chapter twenty, and to Pharaoh, previously in chapter twelve, was because he was afraid that these men would kill him in order to take his wife. This was certainly possible as these men were godless men who were both capable and willing to do whatever they pleased. However, Abraham should have trusted God. In both of these instances God protected Abraham and Sarah anyway, even though he had lied. In both of these instances, God also warned the men not to sin against Him by taking Sarah as their wife.

What is it about us, about our fallen, human nature, that we are prone to dance around the truth, either by outright lying, or by leaving out pertinent information? Is it because we, like Abraham, are afraid that we cannot trust God with the possible consequences of the whole truth? Even if there are real, potential negative consequences associated with telling the whole truth, are we not better off still declaring it? We need to trust God with the outcome. Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.


Posted in Devotions by with 5 comments.
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