Feb. 17, 2019
Explore the Bible
Genesis 41:15-21, 33-40 (HCSB)
Theologian Horace Bushnell once said, “Never think you could do something if only you had a different lot and sphere assigned to you. What you call hindrances, obstacles, discouragements, are probably God’s opportunities.” I have been guilty of creating and attending my own pity party. If God had only led me to a different place at a different time and removed all those hindrances, obstacles and problems, I could have done greater things. I realized the truth of Bushnell’s words. They are not my opportunities but God’s opportunities.
I imagine that Joseph didn’t see the animosity his brothers had for him – being thrown in a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused of wrongdoing and thrown into prison – as fair. It really wasn’t about what is fair and what is not fair. Joseph responded with faithfulness to the opportunities he received. Through all the challenges, Joseph displayed godly character and discipline.
Pharaoh had a disturbing dream and sought Joseph to interpret it. Joseph explained that he could not interpret the dream but God could. Regardless of the interpretation and its impact on him, Joseph relied on God and pointed to Him in the situation. The two dreams Pharaoh had about seven years of famine were dramatic revelations of what God was about to do. God giving Joseph the interpretation led Joseph to recognize God’s providential activity in the events that brought him to Pharaoh’s court to provide wise counsel.
Joseph probably had no idea he was going to be the wise man needed to help Pharaoh deal with the famine. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “There is no one as intelligent and wise as you are” (Gen. 41:39). When God provides the opportunity, He also provides the wisdom to receive that opportunity.
Joseph’s opportunities were God’s opportunities. God would be honored through Joseph as he moved into the role of administrator. Just like God gave Joseph opportunities, God gives us opportunities to make a difference within His divine plan.
Bible Studies for Life
When materialism consumes
1 John 2:12-17; 3:16-18 (HCSB)
We love our stuff. Have you ever felt just a little guilty when you pass some panhandlers on the street corners on your way to take another load of stuff to your storage unit – another load of stuff that will eventually find its way to a yard sale or be auctioned off?
The average home has tripled in size over the past 50 years, and 10 percent of us still have to rent storage units to hold our accumulations of stuff. We place more emphasis on stuff instead of people. There is nothing wrong with possessions, but we need to have the right attitude and perspective about them.
The Apostle John asked an interesting question, “If anyone has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need but closes his eyes to his need – how can God’s love reside in him?” (1 John 3:17). There is a modern axiom that says, “Talk is cheap.” This is exactly what James meant, “If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16).
Materialism can consume you. Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., said, “The objects of our affections need to be rightly ordered if we are truly to find ultimate and lasting satisfaction.” John commands us to “not love the world or the things that belong to the world” (1 John 2:15). Why? To love the world is not to love God the Father (1 John 2:15).
Our love for others flows out of our love relationship with our heavenly Father. When God’s love resides in our hearts, then our hearts will be open to others. Open hearts lead to open hands. That love will not just be in word only but in our actions while we use our possessions to meet the real needs of others. Loving and serving others always involves giving.
Feb. 31, 2019
Explore the Bible
Genesis 45:1-15 (HCSB)
I love going to the Sight and Sound Theatre in Branson, Mo. One of my favorite shows is “Joseph.” One of the best parts of the production is the reunion of Joseph with his brothers. This reunion in the story shows that forgiveness and reconciliation are possible for those who are open to God’s transforming power in their lives.
After several encounters, Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers. It was a very emotional reveal. Joseph wept so loud that everyone outside heard him. Joseph, with crying words, said, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” (Gen. 45:3). At first, they were fearful. Perhaps they thought about what they had done to him and the fact that Joseph was second-in-command in Egypt. Joseph told them again, “I am Joseph, your brother, the one you sold into Egypt” (Gen. 45:4). I think he said this to verify his identity to them, but this statement probably didn’t relieve the brothers’ fear.
Joseph continued to explain to them; as he did, he shows us his godly character and wisdom about God’s providential activity in the life of His people. Joseph told them, “God sent me ahead of you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5). Think about it. The brothers threw Joseph in a pit and then sold him into slavery. All but Reuben wanted to kill him. Joseph was literally saying this was part of God’s plan. He explained further, “God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance” (Gen. 45:7).
Joseph arranged for his brothers and his father, Jacob, to reunite and settle in the land of Egypt under Joseph’s protection. That’s divine irony. “Joseph kissed each of his brothers as he wept, and afterward his brothers talked with him” (Gen. 45:15). They had plenty to catch up on.
As Christ-followers, we should have an attitude of forgiveness and mercy and seek reconciliation even if we are the ones offended.
Bible Studies for Life
When false religions deceive
1 John 2:18-29 (HCSB)
I often hear this response when I share the gospel and witness for Christ, “That may be true for you, but not for me,” and “Who are you to impose your morality and religion on me?”
We are living in a day when you can hardly voice a belief in anything. Ravi Zacharias said it this way, “Philosophically, you can believe anything, so long as you do not claim it to be true. Morally, you can practice anything, so long as you do not claim it is a better way. Religiously, you can hold to anything, so long as you do not bring Jesus Christ into it.”
There have always been people who oppose the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must resist error and embrace the truth of God as revealed by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Scriptures.
The word “antichrist” means “against Christ” or “in place of Christ.” In this book, antichrists are the enemies of Christ. These antichrists are already here (1 John 2:18). These are not the same person as the antichrist who will come on the scene at the end of the age. John described these antichrists as liars who deny “that Jesus is the Messiah” (1 John 2:22). They always attempt to diminish the work of Christ.
These antichrists have abandoned the Church of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:19). They are false teachers who deny the faith (1 John 2:22-23). John wrote, “No one who denies the Son can have the Father” (1 John 2:23).
The good news is, “He who confesses the Son has the Father as well”
(1 John 2:23). We should not let these antichrists, false teachers, discourage us. We must hold fast to the authority of the Word of God (1 John 2:24-26). We need to remain in Him, be bold and not ashamed, and do what is right (1 John 2:27-29). If you do, you will give evidence that you have been born of Him (1 John 2:29).