All posts by JT

Christian. Husband. Dad. 911 dispatcher. Baseball fan. Horror nut. Music nerd. Bookworm. Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 36/260: Jochebed

Read Exodus 1:1-2:10; 6:20; Hebrews 11:23

A Mother’s Love

Imagine a governmental decree stating that all male infants were to be put to death by throwing them into the river. If you were an expecting parent, how much anxiety would you feel at the mention of such a law?

This is not a made-up story. It really happened. The population of the Hebrew nation in Egypt was so large that the Pharaoh feared their size. This was a different Pharaoh than the one who trusted Joseph in the book of Genesis. This new Pharaoh issued this command to the Hebrew people: “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive” (Exodus 1:22).

There was a woman named Jochebed who married Amram, and she had two sons: Aaron and Moses. When she bore Moses, she was able to keep him hidden for three months, but it became more and more difficult. The Hebrews writer reveals that Moses’ parents possessed such a faith that “they were not afraid of the king’s command” (Hebrews 11:23).

Jochebed made a small basket and put Moses in it, and put him among the reeds in the riverbank. His sister stood watch as Pharaoh’s daughter found the child and had compassion upon him.

Moses’ sister suggested that she employ one of the Hebrew women to nurse the child for her, and Jochebed was hired for the task. Moses received the education of his people from his biological father and mother, and an Egyptian education as he was seen by Pharaoh’s daughter as her own son.

Is your faith so strong that you could resist the government’s demands, knowing that death surely awaited you if you were caught in defiance? Would your love be strong enough for your child that you would sacrifice your own for the slightest chance that he might live? Many would answer yes to these questions, yet in our society today we see so many that are leading their children to eternal punishment by neglecting to instill God’s spiritual instructions in them.

The Proverbs have much to say about the proper spiritual training of a child. Paul commended the upbringing of the young evangelist Timothy, thanking God for Timothy’s grandmother and mother who ensured that “from childhood you (Timothy) have known the Holy Scriptures” (2 Timothy 3:15). What are you teaching your children?

They Did Not Cease (Acts 5:17-42)

They Did Not Cease Acts 5:17-42

Acts 5:17-42

I. The apostles go back to prison

    A. Arrested for preaching (Acts 5:17-18)
    B. Miraculously released to continue preaching “the words of this life” (Acts 5:19-20; John 6:66-68)

II. Continued boldness

    A. Swift obedience (Acts 5:21a; 16:32-33)
    B. Jewish reaction (Acts 5:21b-28; Matthew 27:22-25)
    C. The apostles refuse to back down (Acts 5:29-32; Deuteronomy 21:22-23)

III. The council’s decision

    A. They “plotted to kill them” (Acts 5:33)
    B. Gamaliel’s advice (Acts 5:34-39; Jude 3)

IV. The apostles’ response

    A. Rejoiced at suffering (Acts 5:40-41; Matthew 5:10-12)
    B. “They did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42)

I Am the Bread of Life (John 6)

I Am the Bread of Life John 6

John 6

I. Physical vs. spiritual

    A. They were not interested in Him as the Messiah (John 6:26-27)
    B. The work of God is that you believe in Him whom He sent (John 6:28-29; Hebrews 11:6)

II. Jesus’ works vs. Moses’ works

    A. They wanted physical bread (John 6:30-33; Nehemiah 9:15)
    B. Jesus challenged a higher focus, a deeper discipleship, an active faith (John 6:34-40)

III. The rejection of the Jews

    A. Offended at the suggestion of eternal existence (John 6:41-42)
    B. Jesus required 24/7 spiritual devotion (John 6:43-59)
    C. “This is a hard saying”…too hard for some (John 6:60-66)
    D. There is no alternative to Jesus (John 6:67-69)

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 35/260: Joseph

Read Genesis 45:1-8; 50:15-21

The Providence of God

Joseph, over time, recognized God’s hand working in his life. He may not have always understood it as the events of life often seemed to be working against him. Sold into slavery as a teenager. Falsely accused and imprisoned. Forgotten by the chief baker for two years. Yet, in time, God lifted Joseph up because he remained humble and committed to the one true God of heaven.

His brothers were “dismayed in his presence” when he first revealed his true identity to them (Genesis 45:3). Seventeen years later, after their father Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers were still dismayed. “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him’” (Genesis 50:15).

Their fear upset Joseph, who had shown them kindness over the past seventeen years. “And Joseph wept when they spoke to him” (Genesis 50:17). He did not act as a tyrant or a vengeful ruler. Even though he was grieved by their words, still “he comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (Genesis 50:21). Why? Because he knew that God had used all the events of his life for the betterment of the world.

We often struggle to see the good in our difficulties. Perhaps God is preparing us to help someone else through the same troubles later in life. Perhaps God is placing people in our lives who need comfort and kindness. If we don’t accept those challenges to help, who will?

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Keep in mind two very important things about this verse. First, it does not say that all things are good, but rather all things (including bad things) work together for good. Second, this is not a universal truth for everyone. It is for “those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

God grants the opportunity for salvation, for being among “the called,” to everyone. Do you love God? Do you keep His commandments? Read John 14:15 and 1 John 5:3. If you try to find loopholes to avoid obedience, then do you really love God? Do what you need to do to be right in His sight. Believe in the Christ, repent of your sins, confess your belief, and be baptized to have your sins washed away.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 34/260: Joseph’s Brothers

Read Genesis 42:1-24

Living With Guilt

Your stomach twisted in knots. Night sweats. Tears always at the ready. Continual worry, paranoia, fear. Guilt is one of the worst feelings in the world.

These men had sold Joseph, their brother, into slavery. And now, many years later, they felt that their sin had caught up to them. How often had they discussed their treachery through the years? How many times had they rehearsed the events of that day as they watched their father Jacob mourn the son he thought had been killed?

Joseph struck a deal with them (though they did not know that he was Joseph)—Simeon stays here, but the rest of you go back home and bring the youngest brother back with you. They knew that this would grieve their father more, as only Joseph and Benjamin had been borne by Rachel. They knew it would be difficult for Jacob to let Benjamin out of his sight.

They saw this as recompense for their evil deed many years before. “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us” (Genesis 42:21). Surely this was not the only time they had heard Joseph’s pleas echoing in their memories.

We have all done things in our past that we regret, but we must not allow those things to dampen our future in Christ. God will forgive our sins if we confess and repent, and He will use us in His service if we are willing. Sometimes, though, it is difficult to forgive ourselves. We must remind ourselves of how God forgives and accept His love and grace and mercy.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). We have trouble accepting that fact, but we must get to a point that we can move on from our sin and live the abundant life that Christ promises. We have to forget our past and focus on our future, just as Paul did: “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 33/260: Joseph

Read Genesis 40-41

Acknowledge the Power of God

You did the right thing. You helped a friend. You asked for help in return, but they forgot all about you. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Joseph interpreted the dreams of his fellow prisoners by the power of God, and gave God the credit for such. But when the chief butler was released, he “did not remember Joseph, but forgot him” (Genesis 40:23).

Two years later, though, when Pharaoh had a dream, the chief butler remembered. He brought Joseph to Pharaoh’s attention as he remembered the Hebrew’s ability. Pharaoh sent for Joseph and asked for his help, to which Joseph replied, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (Genesis 41:16).

Too often we like to take credit when we don’t really deserve it. Too often we fail to point to the Lord who has blessed us with different abilities. Joseph, despite being hated by his brothers, being sold into slavery, and being wrongly accused and jailed, did not lose his focus on the Almighty. He recognized that anything he was able to accomplish was because of the power of God.

Since Joseph remembered God, God remembered and rewarded Joseph. At the age of thirty, he was elevated to the second-highest power in the land of Egypt, behind only Pharaoh. Joseph was given a wife who bore him two sons, and his sons’ names carried great significance, both giving glory to God. The first was named Manasseh, “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house” (Genesis 41:51). The second he named Ephraim, “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:52).

Even when we are struggling, God can use us. Don’t ever forget that. We may not be able to see the big picture, but God will bless His faithful servants.

Are you ready to accomplish something for God today? “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 32/260: Joseph

Read Genesis 39

God Rewards Character

Sin affects more than just the sinner. Potiphar’s wife was filled with lust for Joseph, but he refused her advances. Frustrated with his rejections, she decides to get revenge by lying about him and accusing him of rape. Without any sort of trial, Joseph is seen as guilty in the eyes of Potiphar and all in his house. Notice that Potiphar’s wife used Joseph’s heritage against him, suggesting there may have already been some prejudice against the Hebrews as a people.

Is it not interesting, though, how Joseph views sin? When Joseph rebuffed Potiphar’s wife’s advances, he told her, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:8-9).

The act of adultery would have been a sin against Potiphar, but Joseph saw it as a sin against someone even mightier than the captain of the guard. He called such a wicked act a “sin against God.” In truth, all sin is against God.

After committing adultery with Bathsheba and setting Uriah up to be killed in battle, David confessed to God, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge” (Psalm 51:3-4).

The sins of lust and deception by Potiphar’s wife impacted Joseph, though he refused to be involved. The young man was sent to prison, but even there he was shown mercy by the Lord and his character allowed him to be elevated to such a position that the guard gave him authority, and he “did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority” (Genesis 39:23).

Joseph was faithful, and he was rewarded for his faithfulness. Wherever he found himself, even in less than ideal circumstances, God was with him because he was with God.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 31/260: Jacob

Read Genesis 37

Believing a Lie Doesn’t Make it True

There are many lessons that can be learned from Genesis 37 as it relates to Jacob and his sons. We see the danger of favoritism: Jacob’s unhidden preference for the son of his true love set Joseph against his older brothers. We see the danger of boasting: the teenage Joseph probably should have kept his mouth shut when it came to his dreams of ruling over his family. We also see the danger of envy: Judah and his brothers desired the affection Jacob showed to Joseph, and that envy led them almost to the point of murder.

One other lesson that can be learned in this chapter relates to the pain of deception. Judah and the other sons of Jacob decided not to kill Joseph, but to make some money off him. They sold him into slavery for twenty shekels of silver, dipped his coat of many colors in goat blood, and presented the coat to their father. Jacob concluded, “A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces” (Genesis 37:33)

Notice the effect this lie had on Jacob: “Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sackcloth on his waist, and mourned for his son many days. And all his sons and daughters arose to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted” (Genesis 37:34-35). There was nothing anyone could say to Jacob in his mourning. He truly believed that his child was dead. “For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning” (Genesis 37:35).

Joseph wasn’t dead, though. Jacob believed that he was gone forever, but Joseph was very much alive. Jacob believed a lie, and it impacted his entire disposition.

Sadly, there are many today who believe a different lie. They believe that they are in good standing with God because of the lies they have been told by religious people they trust. There are a number of false doctrines that are prominent among religious people, but those doctrines will not lead to salvation. “Faith only,” “the sinner’s prayer,” and “once saved, always saved” are eternally destructive teachings because they are lies.

Do not put your trust in the lies of men, but in the truth of God’s Word. Repent of your sins, be baptized for the remission of sins, and live a life of faithfulness. That is what God desires and what God requires.

Many Signs and Wonders (Acts 5:12-16)

Many Signs and Wonders Acts 5

(Acts 5:12-16)

I. Growth followed discipline

    A. The effort to keep the church pure does not drive people away – it draws people in (Acts 5:13-14)
    B. If we are serious about growing, we must be serious about sin (1 Corinthians 5:1-7)

II. Power demonstrated through the gift of the Holy Spirit

    A. Unusual miracles (Acts 5:12, 15-16; Matthew 9:20-22; Mark 6:56; Acts 19:11-12)
    B. Always successful (Acts 5:16)

III. The purpose of miracles

    A. Confirm the Word (Mark 16:17-20; Acts 3:9-11; 4:4; 5:12, 14)
    B. Why don’t we have miracles today? (1 Corinthians 13:8-10; James 1:25)

Let No One Deceive Himself

Let No One Deceive Himself

I. 1 Corinthians 3:18-20

    A. “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God”
    B. God sees things differently than man (1 Samuel 16:6-7; Luke 16:13-15)

II. Galatians 6:3

    A. Context (Galatians 6:1-5; cf. Romans 3:23)
    B. How should the Christian think of self? (Mark 12:31; Romans 12:3; 6:18)

III. James 1:21-25

    A. If we are going to wear the name “Christian,” we must have the attitude of Christ
    B. How important is it to do what we hear? (Matthew 7:24-27)

IV. 1 John 1:8

    A. By recognizing sin in our lives, we give ourselves the opportunity to make it right with God (1 John 1:9)
    B. Contrast between light and darkness (1 John 1:5-6; Romans 6:16-18; 6:1-2)