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

 

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Day 23: 50 Days of Passion

A story is told of an old couple going for a car ride. They had been together all their lives, Now at teenage romance married right out of high school. Now at 67 the wife looked over at her husband from the far side of the passenger seat and asked, “Honey, remember when we were young and in love? We used to snuggle while we were driving, now look at us you could almost fit two people between us.” The man looked down at the seat between then back to the road. Turned to his wife and replied, “well I never moved.”

We wonder where our passion for God has gone, be certain that God has never moved. He is right with you and wants to connect with you. Are you the one moving away because of something you have done and are trying to hide from him, worried that getting to close will expose your secret?

 

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.”

Hebrews 4:13 NLT

 

If we go all the way back to Adam and Eve we see that hiding from God started when sin entered the world. Eve of course before she sinned she was tempted. She had the opportunity to resist the words of the enemy and the story may have ended differently. But we all know she gave into temptation and disobeyed Gods command. The promise fulfilled she became aware of good and evil and knew immediately what she had done was displeasing to God and felt shame alongside Adam. Naked and exposed they quickly tried to cover up and hid from God.

 

As believers we act in the same way as they did. We are tempted and many times we do avoid the temptation, yet in our weakness we sometimes accept it and dive in. When the moment is over, we start to think about what we have done, we begin to feel shame, naked and exposed. Many run and try to cover up or hide trying to keep it away from God.

 

God called for Adam and Eve in the garden, he purposefully went looking for them, he knew what had happened but still went anyways. Adam and Eve knowing they couldn’t hide, revealed what they had done and were punished accordingly in Gods mercy.

 

Today we called out on our sin as well. The Holy Spirit, sent to us is calling us out daily. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, we receive forgiveness for our sins when we bring them to him. He is calling us to live sinless lives, yet knowing our weakness promises to forgive us no matter how bad we fall. He is not condemning or judging our sins, yet he is reveling them to us so that we can ask Christ to forgive us.

 

Unlike Adam and Eve where sin separated us from our relationship with God, sin for believers becomes a stumbling block. It doesn’t separate us from forgiveness Jesus provides. The main difference is that Adam was separated from God, if we continue to sin without repentance, we separate ourselves from God.

 

Are you trying to hide something from God? Do you feel exposed and naked? Lay your sins and troubles at the feet of Jesus, let him wrap you in his arms and cover your sin.

 

Jesus, for to long we try to hide from you, even though we can never succeed. Let us run to you when we feel this way and not be ashamed. We will stumble and fall, we thank you that you will pick us up each and every time. Help us to reach others sharing your love with them because they matter to you and they matter to me. Amen

 

 

Day 8: 50 Days of Passion

We have people in life that just don’t like us. They don’t like the look of us, the way we act or what we believe. They are either jealous or for some reason we have just never connected. This can happen in your church, this can happen with other believers, this can happen to us.

 

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, Philippians 1:15-18

 

Paul wasn’t in total isolation when he was in jail. From accounts he wasn’t a considered a dangerous criminal and most likely had visitors or at least letters telling him the churches and places he had been. How else would he have heard of those teaching out of envy and rivalry?

Human nature has become a lifestyle where you have to outdo the other person to get a head. This thought pattern creates that envy and rivalry that Paul is talking about here. If their church has 100 seats, mine will have 200. If they send money to missions will send more. There bringing in this special speaker, will bring this better one.

Paul here takes a different view on it, he almost shrugs it off and says ‘whatever’. He knows that at least at the end of the day Christ is being preached. What could Paul do to change the motives of man? That change is something the Holy Spirit can do but not us.

So, we see Paul here telling us to rejoice that Christ is being preached. Not to get caught up in trying to fix their issues. All to often we get caught up in trying to fix their issues, point out their problems, spend hours talking about it or joining them by ‘fighting’ back. Maybe instead of doing all this we need to take an approach like Paul. Rejoice.

We need to rejoice when other churches are reaching the lost, we need to rejoice an be encouraged that no matter the motives Christ is preached. Pray for those churches that God will keep working in them. He will show them the change they need, not our job to fix them.

Do you want to see your passion flourish? Start praying for the whole Church. We are the body of Christ; all parts are important. Let’s pray that God is preached in the whole body.

Father, we pray today for the Whole body of believers. God we have separated into different circles of believers but we all belong to your Church. Although we may have different viewpoints we pray that they be continuing to preach the love of Christ. Help us not to get caught up in pettiness and become more loving to all our family, rejoicing when Christ is preached and people saved. Ignite our passion help us to grow in you, Amen

Day 21: 50 Days of Impact

No more then ever we are coming to realize that words have more harmful effect then some generations told us. The old saying “sticks and stones may break our bones but names will never hurt us”, was the mantra of my generation as a kid. We now come to see mental illness and other problems arise due to low self esteem and low self worth due to the way people have been treated. Sticks and stones will break you bones, but they heal. Words cut deeper and leave scars that are harder to heal. Jesus is the ultimate healer and he can heal your hurt from the words that have cut you deeply.

 

“The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”

Proverbs 18:21 NLT

 

The tongue is the most powerful weapon we have. It can destroy and build up. As the proverb reads ‘bring death or life’. But how can words bring death? Mean words that hurt people based on their appearance, mannerisms or disability has lead to many suicides or even mass shootings from an angry individual(s) looking for revenge and answers. How many women have chosen an abortion because they were talked into it? Our words can lead us down roads we never want to be on.

 

But in contrast our words can bring life. Not only our words. The words of Jesus bring LIFE. He taught us how to live life. He showed us what it means to use words to build others up.

 

Words are only useful and powerful in the giving of life if we open our mouths and use words that bring life. We can sit and talk to our friends about everything from weather, to news, politics and sports. But when it comes to the import things in life like a relationship with Jesus we treat those words like poison.  We think, sure it is honey to our lips, but sharing it they will only be bitter to theirs. Rejection is what we fear. But if we don’t try then we will never know.

 

We need to break these preconceived notions that people are always going to negatively respond to the message of Jesus. If we believe the words that Jesus spoke about life then we need to believe that Jesus not only loves us but he loves everyone and they need to hear about his love for them.

 

Dear Jesus, to often we fear that you will be reject if we speak about you. Prove us wrong. Holy Spirit guide us and show us who to share with giving us the words to speak. We are not given a spirit of fear, so help us to live that way, proud of being a Christian wanting to share the love of Jesus with others. Amen