33: 50 Days Freed

The bondage of fear holds us back from sharing our faith. Here in North America, it is not the fear of oppression as much, but the fear of not know what to say when we are opposed in our faith. Currently, there is no fear of going to jail over our faith but there could be a fear in some areas that a lawsuit could be a possibility. We claim in our countries that we have freedom of speech, but it has come to the point of the freedom is only applicable when it is tolerant of everyone else’s beliefs except for Christianity. Paul here in his letter to the Corinthians gave us direction that we each have a way to share our faith, the point is to stand firm and do it.

 

“But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.”

2 Corinthians 1:24 NLT

 

With so many books and programs out there on how to share your faith, it is a wonder that so many Christians have a hard time doing just that. One could question why there is not one sure fire method for reaching the lost, follow this model and people will flock to Jesus. Of course, we know the answer to this question is because everyone responds differently and that over the years different styles of witnessing have popped up and they may have worked for some they didn’t work for all. It will be the same for you as well, what works today for reaching someone may not work tomorrow when talking with someone else.

 

Paul here in his letter tells the people that he wants to encourage them to find their own style. How would one do that? Through prayer and study, learning from what has worked in the past, and what may be working in other areas. Asking the Holy Spirit for guidance in how you share Jesus to those around you is a priority, he will give you wisdom and direction that you won’t find in any book or testimony. The awesome thing is, is that your way of witnessing or reaching one person may only work for that person. The Holy Spirit may give you a formula that works for you or he may work through each situation you encounter uniquely.

 

We need to break free from the lie of the enemy that holds us back from the freedom to share our faith. Maybe we have become too comfortable and don’t want others to think we are ‘religious’. When we boiled it down it is not about us. We have forgotten why we share our faith is not to earn brownie points in heaven. We share our faith so others will come to follow Jesus and the freedom from sin that is leading them death without him for eternity. We should long for them to experience the same freedom we have in Christ.

 

So today I ask are you putting your faith into action? Are you working on fulfilling the mission Jesus called us to, reaching the lost with his message of love? Are you asking the Holy Spirit daily for opportunities and the tools to tell people about Jesus? Ask him right now and he will supply both.

 

Father, we thank you for everything you have provided for us. We want to put our faith into action and work harder at fulfilling the mission of telling others about you. Holy Spirit give us opportunities and the tools required to be successful in the mission. We know that the lost people in this world matter to you and you love them, so we love them and they matter to us. Amen

 

 

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32: 50 Days Freed

Revenge is best served cold, or so they say, but revenge is the opposite of how we are meant to live our lives. Revenge is when our jealousy over a situation takes over and we want to repay evil with evil because someone took advantage of us or someone around us. If we are not careful we can become a bondage to revenge whereas it drives who we are. It is hard to sleep and focus when your desires are to get back at someone else for what they have done to us. Of course, this is not how God wanted us to live, Jesus taught of forgiveness and servanthood, yet we have missed this part and wonder why our relationship with God is not as strong as we would like it to be.

 

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.”

Genesis 41: 41-44

 

Joseph had followed God faithfully why he was incarcerated, during that time he had made some connections and eventually it leads him to an audience with Pharaoh. He was given an almost impossible task to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream. But the authority in which Joseph gave the interpretation convinced Pharaoh that he had God’s ear and Pharaoh lifted Joseph up to a place of power. Many men now in Joseph’s position would now have taken the opportunity to seek revenge for all those who had to lead him to this place. He could raise an army and seek out to destroy his brothers. He could order Potiphar and his wife to be executed. He could have dealt with the cupbearer who promised years earlier to remember him when he was released.

 

As we read the story further we see the character of Joseph as in the fact that he had no interested in revenge. We have no written record of him dealing with Potiphar or the cupbearer, yet we have a beautiful story of him reuniting with his brothers. The famine hit so hard that Joseph’s family was affected, and Egypt was the only supplier of food. His brothers were sent for food, to a foreign land they most likely had never been. Some may say the way Joseph treated his brothers before he revealed himself was revenge, I beg to differ. Joseph wanted to ensure that his brothers had truly changed. Were they remorseful for their actions did they know what they had done was wrong? We learn that they had lived with the burden of what they had done as it had crushed their father and changed the way they were living life.

 

Joseph’s brothers did not quite grasp what he was doing for them, they fully expected him to take revenge once their father had passed away. They even threw themselves at his mercy offering their lives as a slave. But Joseph would have none of it:

His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:18-21

 

Jesus taught us to forgive those who trespass against us. He warned us against plotting evil as it was the same as murder. The amazing thing about Jesus is that he takes what Joseph did one step further. He doesn’t test us to check if were remorseful for what we have done. He accepts us as we are. Where we are. We do not have to get our lives right before Jesus will accept us, we do not have to live in fear that one day his hammer of justice will fall on us seeking repayment for what we have done. He has forgiven us and brought us close without fear or revenge.

Are you living today in the bondage of revenge, looking for an opportunity to strike at someone for what they have done to you? Maybe it is time to act like Joseph and forgive, be the man who God is calling you to be and make the first step to reconcile the situation. It could be with family, friends or coworkers, whoever it is to have a strong relationship with God we must forgive those who have hurt us. Holding back this forgiveness and plotting revenge will be a roadblock from experiencing joy. Let forgiveness win over revenge. Revenge is best served in the form of forgiveness. They will never see it coming.

 

Father, I pray today if we are holding something close that is against anyone you would show us and help us forgive that person. We may not be at fault but if we would be the bigger person and make the first step of reconciliation it will change how we live in Christ. Give us the strength to do this. This is not easy but with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can do all things. Let our change be an example of your love to all around me. Use me to reach my family, friends and coworkers as well as those I have not yet made contact with. Even today we need to share your love. Give me a courageous faith to be free to share your love. Amen

 

31: 50 Days Freed

Joseph was in jail for a crime he did not commit. Yet in his incarceration we notice that the Lord was with him, this had much to do with the faith Joseph had that the God who had given him a dream that it would one day be fulfilled. If we read Genesis 40 we see that two men who worked for the Pharaohs were tossed in jail given to Joseph’s charge. Joseph would have treated them no differently than the others and when they had dreams from God, God provided the answers to his prayers and he gave them an interpretation. Even here in jail, Joseph was obedient to God.

 

Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

Genesis 40:20-22

 

For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:14

 

One day in the future we will be brought before God the judge. There will be no lawyers their to plead your case. You will self-represent, and your life will be the witness of who you were on earth. To think that you can hide something you did from this judge will be impossible as He has seen it all, remembered it all and takes it all into account. We do not know what the cupbearer and the baker had done that landed them in jail other then they angered their boss. But we do know that this is symbolism about the final judgement.

 

We do not know how this will play out, will our lives be replayed, will it be a power point presentation, or a scroll rolled out, in the end, it doesn’t matter.  Then He may call out “does anyone advocate for this man/woman” many will look around expecting someone, anyone to defend their goodness, only to see others only worried about their own judgment. But if those that have accepted Jesus as the advocate of their life He will walk up right there, hold your hand making the plea to the judge ‘I will’. He will then ensure that all the sins that were on your record are abolished and removed from the record. Many in the room will cry out to him for help, in which he will reply ‘I do not know you’. One has to wonder if in the throne room of Pharaoh, did the cupbearer have an advocate fighting on his behalf and the baker was left to defend himself? We will never know, but we can know on judgement day that we have an advocate.

 

Then judgment will be given, for those who didn’t choose Jesus on earth as their advocate, there will be much pleading of how much a good person they were, but it will be too late, they will be sent away from God for eternity. But for those who have chosen Jesus, life will be given. We must not think we can wait till we get to your death beds to find Jesus, it in most cases never happens, he wants to advocate for you now. Who is your advocate?

 

 

Dear Jesus, we cannot hide anything from the God. Thank you for being my advocate. I pray for all my family members who don’t have a relationship with you. Reveal yourself to them in a real way, lest they meet the judge alone.  Amen

 

30: 50 Days Freed

Ever been punished for something you did not do? As a father with four children, I know that a couple of my kids are great actors. One will have something very minimal done to them yet they will play it up as if their sibling had done the most horrendous thing to them. Being the loving Dad I rush to their rescues blaming the other child for that they have done many times pronouncing judgement before I even hear the whole story. This is similarly what happens to Joseph next in the story. Check it out;
 
After a while, his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”
But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.
One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.
When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”
When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
Genesis 39:7-23
Joseph didn’t stand a chance against Potiphar’s wife. A good husband trusts his wife and why would he have any concern not to. Yet in this particular instance with everything that Potiphar knew about Josephs character, it should have set warning bells off for this man. Yet it did not. Just like when I hear my child upset in pain I want to do what I quickly can to fix it so that it does not continue. Potiphar acted quickly to relieve the pain his wife was going through. He did not take the time to hear Josephs side of the story, we do not read of him every asking him what truly happened, even after tossing him in jail.
Yet here in the story we see do not see Joseph fighting what was going on, no protesting or defending his reputation. We do not know if this happened but from what we read about his character he was loyal and just and accepted his punishment. In jail now for a crime he did not commit we would expect a man to be fighting for his release. Fighting or depressed about his situation. Yet we read that even in this situation Joseph worked hard and gained the favour of his jailers. Joseph was still trusting the God who gave him the dreams as a child of his family bowing at his feet. He trusted that God would not have given him that vision without an endgame in sight. Because of his faithfulness, the Lord was with Joseph.
I wonder how we react when we are thrown into situations beyond our control? Ever been accused of something that you had nothing to do with? Instinctively we fight to get out of the situation, we did not do it so we should not have to pay for it. Yet if Joseph had fought for his innocence and demanded that he be heard more than likely he would have been found innocent, what then would have become of Potiphar’s wife. More than likely she may have been killed for her infidelity tendencies, of course, we can only speculate. Will your actions reveal the heart of God to those around you? If you are freed in Christ are you willing to lay down your life for another so they may find hope in Christ?
 
Father, all to often we are fighting to defend ourselves, in this we do not allow you to help. Reveal to us how to trust you more in our daily struggles so that you are glorified. Forgiveness and grace are your tools to freedom and I pray we start using them. We want to be a light to our community and we cannot do that if we are not acting like Christ. Help us to be like Joseph willing to accept what is happening so that another may experience your love. Bless our faithfulness as we serve others. Give us opportunities to reach others for you even today. Amen

29: 50 Days Freed

If there is one man in the Bible who knows what it means to be in bondage and in jail its Joseph. Sold into slavery for just being him, no crime committed, just his jealous brothers who couldn’t contend with the fact that daddy loved their little brother more. Joseph in that moment of slavery like many before him could have broken him. If it did then it would have been the end of his story. Never mentioned in the bible. But it wasn’t, we read of how Joseph acted in spite of his situation.

 

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favour in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome.

Genesis 39:1-6

 

Joseph became a valuable resource to his master because he trusted God. We don’t know for sure but we have to assume that Joseph did not hold this turn of events into a chance to curse God. Maybe like Job, he questioned the turn of events, but like Job kept his faith in the one who created him. This would explain why the Lord was with Joseph not because he was the golden child but because Joseph was trusting God with everything. He was trying to live a life that honoured God who had made many promises to his father and his family before him.

 

In this slavery, we can see that Joseph was free. He may have had to follow the rules of being a slave but he made every effort and decision to live his life pleasing to God and we see how he was rewarded. All too often we try to follow the rules of the world around us to get ahead in our careers and our lives. We become ensnared in these things and we wonder why we sometimes do not get the advancement we want. We can learn a lesson here from Joseph, following the advice of man will only get you so far, but following God and his nature in our work and lives will return blessings.

How are you acting at work? Does your work ethics reflect that you are part of the family of God or just another worker? To be put in the position of leadership in Potiphar’s home Joseph would have gone beyond what the rest of the slaves were doing. He would not have been known for punching in, doing what needed to be done and punching out.  He was noticed because he displayed love in his work, he went above and beyond working hard to be the best worker he could be. Although Joseph was a slave he was free in God allowing him to outshine the other slaves. As believers, we were once slaves to sin, but we are free in Christ. Are you working now as such? Or are you working as if you are not different then the others alongside you? What would happen if we honoured God with our work every day, not treating it as a job but as a way to thank God for providing for us?

 

Father, today as we are at work I pray that you will give us a new perspective on how we work. Let us see our job as a way to honour you in everything we do there. Like Joseph, we want to let you shine through us in the job so that in the annuls of time it will record that the Lord looked at us with favour and blessed everything we touched. We were once slaves but we are now free, help us to work as free men and woman, so that our lives will reflect you, drawing others to the same freedom. Give us opportunities even today to share your love. Amen

28: 50 Days Freed

Living a life freed from the burden of sin is what Jesus came to give us. We still have to remain in the sin-infested world until the day Jesus comes back to bring heaven down. How will your life your life?

 

“Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good.”

Psalms 127:1 NLT

 

Have you ever seen a ‘good’ man fall? Wonder why it happened? How could this man of God do such a thing? We are all capable of sinning. Jesus never said, ” your sins are forgiven and you will never sin again.” Instead, he said ” your sins are forgiven and go and sin no more”

 

We still have to deal with the daily temptation of sin in our lives. Now if we keep building our lives with Jesus, using him as the cornerstone, trusting the work of the Holy Spirit, then our walk through life we can see the sin more clearly and work to avoid it. But if we decide that we can make it on our own and casually trust Jesus, when it’s convenient, or only when times get thought that’s when it gets rough.

 

The safeguards we put in place are great, accountability partners, online security, and such, but without God taking charge of our protection, the enemy can sneak in and work on destroying us. He doesn’t come in full tilt and guns blazing, he is a sneaky tempter and will work to slowly but surely cause us to feel okay with our sinning, to the point we almost defend what we’re doing as righteous. There is a reason he is referred to as the deceiver.

 

Do not give the deceiver a chance to work on you. Ask Jesus to build up your house, plugging all access to the enemy. Ask God to protect you and strengthen you to withstand the deceiver and his slippery ways. We don’t have to live in fear of the enemy and his tricks because Greater is he that is in us then he that is in the world.

 

Father, we pray that you will build our lives up. Protect us from the attacks of the enemy. We want to be effective in our faith, we want to do the mission you have intended for us without the hindrance of the enemy. Bless our actions in moving forward on the mission. Help us to share our faith with others, making disciples. Let us not be stumbling blocks for those who look up to us in the faith. Amen

 

 

27: 50 Days Freed

Just because we are freed in Christ does not always mean that we do not end up walk back into another prison of our own making. If we isolate ourselves from other believers, we stunt our growth potential. Many do not go to church because they feel there are too many people who are broken, and they do not live the life they are preaching. The church is built for the broken, just as much as a hospital is built for the sick. If we expect everyone in the church to achieve perfection why would people on the outside want to come in? I know personally, I feel inadequate in the presence of those who think they’re perfect, I feel like they are judging me on my imperfection. The freeing part of a church is that it is made up of imperfect people, forgiven by God on a journey, working together to reach the world with love.

 

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47 NIV)

 

I wonder if we are doing things right these days? The formula in Acts 2 46-47, says the met at the temple every day together. They fellowshipped together, they praised God together, they enjoyed each others company. And the Lord added to their number daily. Awesome. What commitment they had to one another and the mission.

 

I guess the question is how do we apply this formula to our lives our church?
1) are you meeting regularly with your church family? Are you only at the church Sunday mornings and never think a second thought about it all week long? Do you join other members for a weekly bible study? If the church has daily times of prayer do you attend or if they did would you?
2) do you spend time with your church family outside of the church setting? Do you connect with them, invite them over, love them? Are we to busy with other things to make time to forge these relationships?
3) if you find to have them over do you praise God in those times if do you just talk about whatever is in the news.
4) have you taken time to meet the people in your church, expand past the few that you may know to experience others that God has placed in your church. God can use people you wouldn’t expect to touch your life if you would only say hello.

 

Why would the Lord add to their numbers for following this formula? Why would it be so easy for people to want to follow Christ if we lived like this? People are looking for a connection, they are looking for people who honestly and genuinely are true in what they believe. If your church group at the core is united and loving to each other it will be seen and people will be drawn to that. No one is drawn to bitterness. They are looking for freedom to be themselves and find what they have been searching for their whole lives.

 

I pray today, if you feel disconnected with your church family, maybe you have been attending for decades or days, it is not too late to connect, start plugging into your family if believers. Invite people to fellowship with you. Start a weekly bible study, ask your church to start opening up the church for open prayer, get involved, love your brothers and sisters in Christ. And most important Forgive them as Christ has forgiven you. There is a freedom in a relationship with Jesus and with your fellow believers.

 

Father, help us to connect with our family of believers. We trust as we connect you will draw others to join us and grow in you. Let us disciple others in the faith. Bless the church, so that we may bless the community around us. Amen