Category Archives: Daily Devotional

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.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 30/260: Jacob

Read Genesis 33

God Is The God Of Israel

Jacob’s prayer in Genesis 32 shows the signs of humility that God desires all of His children to possess. Finally, Jacob recognized “the mercies…which You have shown Your servant” (Genesis 32:10). Jacob shows even more progression in his meeting with his estranged brother Esau in Genesis 33. When Esau asked who all the women and children with Jacob were, Jacob answered, “The children whom God has graciously given your servant” (Genesis 33:5).

Yes! God is merciful! God is gracious! No longer does Jacob rely on his own wit and wisdom to provide for his family; he acknowledges the source of all of his blessings is God. Even today, the same truth stands. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with who there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

And yet, there is an even more momentous declaration of Jacob’s faith at the end of the chapter. When Jacob arrived in Shechem and purchased property, we read, “Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel” (Genesis 33:20). This phrase when translated means, “God, the God of Israel.” No longer is He merely “the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac” (Genesis 31:42). God is now the God of Israel himself! Now it’s personal!

This concept of a personal God was always intended in the mind of God. He prophesied through Jeremiah, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34; cf. Hebrews 8:10-12).

God wants you to be a part of the spiritual “house of Israel,” the church. He wants a personal relationship with you so He can forgive you. This can only be accomplished according to His plan. Are you in Christ, where redemption is found? Is God your God?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 29/260: Jacob

Read Genesis 32:1-21

Chipping Away At Self-Sufficiency

Did you notice anything in Genesis 32 that is out-of-character for Jacob? A man who has trusted in his own power for so long, even after meeting God in a vision (Genesis 28:10-22). A man who relied on cunning and deception to get what he wanted (or what he thought he needed). But now, he prays to God. Facing what he expected would be the wrath of his brother Esau, Jacob turns to the One whose power had blessed him time after time.

Observe what Jacob says about himself in this prayer. “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown” (Genesis 32:10). Is that a hint of humility we see?

“I am not worthy”—words that all of us should utter to the Lord every morning when we wake up, and every night as we lay down!

“I am not worthy”—words that we should remember before we approach the throne of God in prayer!

“I am not worthy”—words that should stifle every complaint before such vibrates the vocal cords and leaves our lips!

Finally, Jacob acknowledges the grace and mercy of God. Finally, Jacob concedes his own weakness. Perhaps he has not yet reached the final destination in his journey of faith (who among us has?), but finally he is on his way.

Jacob confesses to God that he is afraid. “Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children” (Genesis 32:11). What a blessing it is to be able to give God our concerns, even when those concerns show a lack of trust and faith. Jacob had already rehearsed God’s promise (Genesis 32:9), but he still feared for his life.

Jacob follows the exact pattern of prayer that Peter suggests: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7). Do you follow this pattern in your prayers?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 28/260: Jacob

Read Genesis 29:15-30

The Deceiver Deceived

Karma, or “moral causation,” is basically the idea that “what goes around comes around.” It is a fundamental teaching in both Buddhism and Hinduism, but has permeated many other religions as well as the everyday life of many who are not religiously active. In Buddhist and Hindu theology, both of which involve some sort of reincarnation, one’s actions in this life will determine the quality of their existence in their next life.

Obviously, the Scriptures do not teach that one will come back and live another life of flesh-and-blood existence after he dies. “And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Yet, the idea of “what goes around comes around” is not entirely foreign to inspiration.

Consider the words of Paul, who wrote, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” (Galatians 6:7-8; cf. 2 Corinthians 9:6). No, our good and bad deeds will not follow us to the “next life” in the sense of reincarnation (rather they will follow us to the Judgment), but in this very life we will reap good and bad consequences based on what we choose to do.

What does this have to do with Jacob? Consider what we know about him prior to coming to Laban’s house in Haran. He had taken advantage of his brother Esau in a time of need and secured the birthright that rightly belonged to his brother. Then he deceived his father Isaac to steal Esau’s blessing. His life was marked with selfishness and dishonesty, using others to get ahead.

And now, Laban does the same to Jacob, tricking him into seven years of labor to receive a wife; Jacob thought he was working for Rachel’s hand in marriage, but woke up the day after his wedding to find Leah as his mate. Jacob was understandably upset about his uncle’s deception and had to work another seven years to marry Rachel.

Jacob, a man whose life to this point had been about deception, was now the victim. “What goes around comes around.” Or, “whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” What are you sowing?

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 27/260: Jacob

Read Genesis 29:1-14

Do What Needs To Be Done

When Jacob met the shepherds near the well, they were waiting for more to arrive so they could remove the stone from the mouth of the well to water their sheep. When Rachel arrived with Laban’s flock, there were still not enough men to move the stone. The very sight of Rachel, however, motivated Jacob to try it himself, and he succeeded. No doubt, God was with him and provided the strength he needed for the task, though Jacob did not acknowledge such.

Do you ever see things that need to be done, and wonder why no one is doing them? There will be times that more people may be needed, but sometimes the lack of activity is due to apathy. “We’re too small and weak” may be nothing more than an excuse. When we read the Scriptures and we see the love of God demonstrated through the death of Jesus (Romans 5:8), shouldn’t we be motivated to try harder?

There are many things to be done in the kingdom that do not require miraculous strength. When is the last time you sent a note to a Christian brother or sister to encourage them? How many neighbors have you invited to study the Bible with you? Have you offered to pick up groceries or prescriptions for an elderly couple? Or asked if you can bring them a homecooked meal? These are relatively small tasks in the grand scheme of things, but they can be extremely uplifting to the recipients of such kindness.

Here’s the point: if you see something that needs to be done, don’t wonder why someone isn’t doing it. Do it yourself! Encourage others to help you if needed, but don’t let someone else’s apathy hold you back.

In addition, though, acknowledge God’s part in whatever you accomplish. This was a failure on Jacob’s part. Even after the heavenly vision at the end of Genesis 28, Jacob still relied on himself more than God.

We can learn all sorts of lessons from people of faith. They serve as good examples many times, but occasionally we can learn from their shortcomings and resolve not to repeat those mistakes in our own lives.

Monday through Friday with People of Faith: Day 26/260: Jacob

Read Genesis 28:10-22

Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob deceived his father and received the blessing that Isaac intended to give his brother Esau. Moses records, “So Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said in his heart, ‘The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob’” (Genesis 27:41). The twins’ mother is understandably concerned and sends Jacob away to her brother’s house until Esau cools down.

On his journey, Jacob stops to rest and has a vision. “Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (Genesis 28:12). Is it not fascinating how God works in the lives of His creation, and we are entirely unaware of the specifics of it? These angels were presumably departing heaven to do the will of God, then returning when their tasks were completed. God was giving Jacob a glimpse into His providence and provision.

God repeated to Jacob the vow that He had made with Abraham and Isaac. The land would be given to Jacob’s descendants, and through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. But God adds a little extra to ease the more immediate troubles in Jacob’s mind. This man was on the run from his brother who wanted to kill him. He left his home, his family, and everything he knew. God told Jacob, “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you” (Genesis 28:15).

God cared about Jacob and told him that He would bring him back home to see his family again. Even though he had done nothing to deserve such love (and who among us has?), Jacob was comforted by Jehovah. He was a swindler and a deceiver, but God had something better in store for Jacob.

We have all done things in our past that we regret. We have all sinned. But God has something better in store for us. He is working in our lives and putting people in place to help us grow closer to Him. Are you listening? Are you verifying the words you hear from others with the Word of God? Are you growing closer to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit?