Saturday, February 28, 2009

2009 – Day 58.Feb.28 – Through It All

2009 – Day 58.Feb.28 – Through It All

Passage of the Day: Exodus 2: 15 – 25 …
Linked to passage for study …

My Journal for Today: Okay, same passage again; but this time the emphasis is on Moses learning patience to wait on God’s plan and purpose. As Swindoll posits, you can bet that years before Moses saw the bush burning on the Mountain, he had heard about the Jews languishing in slavery in Egypt. And I’m sure he grieved, knowing that these were “his people,” … God’s people.

But he didn’t take the cause onto his own shoulders, organize a stealth party or army to attack Egypt. No, … our hero in the wilderness waited; and he learned the lessons of patience, humility, and meekness, character traits which would be modeled in the Messiah to come. And when God’s timing was right and Moses had been prepared, God showed Moses what the plan was for action.

So, often when I see a problem I want to jump to solve it, many times taking the whole load on my own shoulders and tracking ahead of God’s design. Ever been there? I’ll bet you have. So many times our egos want to be problem solvers in and of our selves; and the latter is the key to our likely failure. We’re trying to get ahead of God, not trusting that He will show us the timing, the resources, and the plan. And that is called “enabling grace.” But we simply don’t trust that God is with us and even willing to go ahead of us, … IF …, we would but wait on Him (see Deut. 31: 8).

I could drag this out with testimony and much witness; but the truth is here; and Moses’ life in these looks at this passage for the past few days really is convicting enough – at least for this shepherd … and probably for you as well.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to learn the lessons of patience, waiting on You to show me The Way, … Your way. Amen

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Bible Comes Alive

Above you see four of the sights we were blessed to see in the Holy Land, sights which illustate how the lands we saw are sometimes called "the fifth Gospel." Let me close my little tour of our Holy Land pilgrimage with these four memories, which have helped to bring Scripture alive for us.
Scene #1 ... We we in a place, now called Ein Gedi, [in Scripture called "En Gedi"] which overlooked a water fall and a cave (see in the background of the photo). There were goats grazing on this hill where we were which overlooked an oasis and Jericho; and when the passage from 1st Sam. 24: 1-3 [link provided] was read to us, it came alive right before our eyes. Here was the description of David going into a cave, which scholars strongly believe was the cave top which you see just to the right of the water fall in the distance in this picture. So, when we looked into that green valley in the Negev desert, we were seeing 1st Samual 24 right before our eyes. How cool is that?
Scene #2 ... Another cave; but this time we go up farther north in Israel to Caesarea Phillip, ... to the headwaters of the Jordan river; and we read from Matthew 16: 18, "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." And our guide, Saliba, and scholars believe that Jesus was looking right at the same cave you see in this photo as He taught His disciples, especially Peter, about His power to overcome Satan ... and that no earthly force or cult would prevail against Him or His Church. For right in that cave, at the time Jesus was teaching was a "Pan cult" practicing its religion in Caesarea Phillipi. Man, this all became so much more alive when you see where Jesus was actually doing his teaching.
Scene #3 ... This is the promised land which Moses would have looked over and seen in The Promised Land from which he would be barred by God from entering due to his past sin. But when you read Deuteronomy 34: 1-3, you will read about what you see in this photo, which is taken from the very spot mentioned from Mt. Nebo in that passage. Click on the link , read it, and see what Moses saw.
Scene #4 ... Finally, this scene is a real emotional one for me. When you read Matthew 27: 35, you read about the Roman Soldiers playing a lot casting game, vying for Jesus' garments, as they were getting ready to nail Him to the cross. Well, the stone you see in this photo is believed to be the very game the Roman soldiers had chisled into this stone where Jesus was crucified. It was very emotional for me to see that stone and realize that it was my sins which drove those soldiers to nail my Lord to the cross.
Yes, we were privileged to "read" the "fifth gospel" and see Scripture come alive for us. I pray that you, who might read this, have this opportunity in your life. What a blessing it has been for Elly and me (and 64 others) to be on this pilgrimage to walk where Jesus walked.
This will be my last pilgrim entry from my trip; and it has been gratifying to post it and relive these moments in my blog. ... <'BB><

2009 – Day 57.Feb.27 – Living In Obscurity

2009 – Day 57.Feb.27 – Living In Obscurity

Passage of the Day: Exodus 2: 16 – 25 …
Linked to passage for study …

My Journal for Today: Today’s passage of emphasis, very much the same as the last few days, speaks to me loudly and personally. For many years of my life I had a schizoid drive in my life. One side had me compulsively pursuing pleasure; and the other was a drive to be recognized and affirmed by the worldly “important” people in my life. The former drove me to hide my pleasure seeking self; and the latter drove me to be lauded, and seen as a big shot in my worldly career choice. Somehow, I imagine that Moses had similar human drives.

He was a pretender to the Kingship of Egypt, driven to be seen as the #1 son of Pharaoh and all that comes with that image; and he must’ve also had this God-driven self which wondered who he really was, the latter ultimately leading to his discovery of his Jewish heritage.

Well, in today’s passage, he had been led, by God’s leading I believe, into the Midianite wilderness, and he chose to receive the graceful offer of a priestly shepherd to dwell in this strange land … and even to become a Bedouin shepherd, perhaps one of the lowliest career choices as viewed by Egyptian royalty. Yes, it took God’s engineered plan to break Moses of his desire for prominence and to be shaped in humility for the greatness and leadership which would follow. Moses had to learn to have a servant’s heart for him to become God’s leader/deliver.

How about you; can you identify with Moses’ desires and his drives here; and are you willing to be shaped in obscurity for what God has for you in this life? Obscurity, in God’s economy and design, is not a bad thing; and it may by God’s plan, having given you a gift or gifts that are perfectly compatible for obscure service in His kingdom, to have you live out your entire life behind the scenes. If you’re in a church you probably know of absolutely essential servants who do their thing in the background, … barely noticed, but always there to do things which often put others in the limelight; … but you can see that the things these obscure servants do are used for God’s purposes and His glory.

Yet, there are times when obscurity, as in Moses’ situation, is used to sharpen or shape the Christian’s gifts for His glory. A season of brokenness and obscurity is often necessary for the Christlike attitudes of meekness and humility to be fashioned in one’s soul. This was Moses, who undoubtedly had Spirit-given gifts of leadership and spiritual discernment, likely even prophetic, visionary gifts. But he didn’t have those qualities of a servant, including humility, which would be necessary for him to be used for God’s glory later. So, he was led into obscurity for God to fashion the man He could use to deliver His people from bondage.

I don’t know your gift set. I most certainly don’t know what God has as His plan for your life. But if you’re in an obscure place in this life and world; and you’d rather be more recognized and rewarded for what you do every day for God’s glory, take heart. Maybe God has you in the wilderness, shaping you for His future plan for your life. But if, in your obscurity, you are perfectly happy to be the obscure servant, using your gifts, perhaps mercy, service, or anonymous giving, then God may have you exactly where He can and will use you for His glory. Realize that your obscurity may be, or is, EXACTLY where God wants you to be right now or for your life.

My heart (see Jer. 17: 9, link provided) has always sought recognition and affirmation from the world; and God has had to shape me to recognize that I don’t have to lead a big, national, or worldwide ministry to be used by Him for His glory. I now realize God, the Father, shaped and certainly used God, the Son, Who came into contact with very few people in His earthly witness and ministry. But Jesus’ impact shaped a world; and I have had to learn that all I need to do is witness and serve the ones God puts in my life, with God’s Spirit to give me power (see Acts 1: 8 with this link), and I will be used in humility and meekness for my God’s glory.

Oh, may I set aside pride and the desire for recognition and just move forward in obscurity to serve my Lord.

My Prayer for Today: That is my kingdom prayer this day, Lord; and that is enough for any day in my life. Amen

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Points of Fascination from the Holy Land

From our recent trip to the Holy Land, there were a few memories that came from points of fascination, ... sort of "Oh, the wonder of it!" type memories. Above a few of these are depicted.

Image #1 ... Wow! Walking by the Sea of Galilee, on the exact rocky beach where Jesus chose His disciples, it was fascinating to speculate that we were walking on the exact spot where Christ turned the world upside down with the 12 men He selected as His close followers. It made one ponder about the truth that I have the same Spirit of God in me as did Peter, John, Andrew, James, Andrew, and the rest. What could I be doing, as a saved disciple, selected by Jesus to turn my little corner of the world on its end for Christ? Yes, ... double wow!
Image #2 ... Incredible! This is Caesarea by the Sea where Herod, the Great, the ruler in Jerusalem at the time of Christ had one of his seven palatial estates. This one was sort of a spa retreat center for himself, his family, and his guests. And there he built the third largest worldly sea port of his day from a simple strip of sand. What you see is no where near as large as it was in the 1st Century BC; but just viewing this screamed, "How'd they do that?" ... moving massive rocks that weighed tons and sinking them into the harbor to create a breakwater that would support a major sea port. Yes, incredible!
Image #3 ... Wild! ... The art that you see in this vase is created by Beduoin artists dribbling sand into the vase with various colors, all naturally tinted, to create the designs that you see on the outer rim of the vase. And several hundred pounds of sand had to have been sifted into that big vase to create this work of art. We couldn't figure how to pack this sucker to bring it back home from Petra ... ;>)
Image #4 ... Forces of Nature! ... As we descended from sea level to the Dead Sea, to the lowest point on earth (above water), the effects of natural pressure are seen on this half full bottle of water, which contracted from the external pressure at 1400+ feet BELOW sea level. And when we were at the Dead Sea we could also feel the effects of a high concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere. It was very easy to breath and one felt almost high on the oxygen available to breathe. And then there was the amazing content of minerals in the Dead Sea which does not allow any natural life, including viruses, to live in its contents. Below in my blogs (on 2/23) you see me floating in the Dead Sea; and it's so dense with minerals that it's hard to stand in 3 ft of water. One becomes so buoyant that the water almost flipped me on my back - naturally, ... but wierdly.
All of these were truly fascinating ... only adding fascination to an already wondrous spiritual experience ... <'BB><

2009 - Day 56. Feb. 26 - Selfless Dedication

2009 – Day 56.Feb.26 – Selfless Dedication

Passage of the Day: Exodus 2: 15 – 25 …
Linked to passage for study ...

My Journal for Today: Is the deliverer of a nation raised in a palace with dreams of taking his people into glory as was Moses when he was raised by Pharaoh to be Pharaoh? No, … in this instance, a deliverer was birthed when he took the opportunity to save and serve seven Midianite women at the well who were being harassed by some lowly shepherds (see Exod. 2: 19).

There’s a great line of truth from Swindoll’s devotional today as he writes, “If you can’t do the good you would; do the good you can.” … I’m sure Moses dreamed of being the leader of a great people as their Pharaoh; but here he was humbled to be in the desert wilderness amongst Bedouin shepherds. But when the circumstances presented themselves for him to step in and be a savior and servant to seven innocent Midianites, Moses was there for them, humbly stepping in to rescue them and even to serve them in a way that we now see was a type of Christ.

Christ, as we know in Matt. 20: 28 or Mark 10: 45 said, “… the Son of Man did not come into the world to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.” That, my fellow Christian, is the attitude and heart of a deliverer; and that was the heart of Moses as he stepped forward to be “the deliverer” for those seven daughters of Reuel, a Sheik of Midian. It was that act of selfless dedication which began Moses’ apprenticeship in humility, a deliverer’s training program which lasted 40 years in that desert place. But, as we know if read on in his story, it led to Moses being used by God for God and for God’s people, … a life of selfless dedication in surrender to the God Who would use a lowly shepherd to lead His people out of bondage.

Sometimes we get impatient as we seek to be God’s servant where we’re planted. It may be frustrating to live as we live or work as we work, thinking that there must be something bigger or better God has for us. But perhaps God simply wants us to serve Him right where we are, doing what we do; and perhaps He has greater plans for us. Or maybe not! Maybe God has placed us exactly where we are to serve Him as we are because there is someone in bondage right there in our lives who needs God’s deliverance. Whom do you know or work with whom you know is in bondage to there lost self? Perhaps you are to be used by God as the deliverer of this soul in bondage.

I leave it to you in this moment of meditation, just as I’m convicted by this time with God, to see if God has brought us to the place were we are in this life to be the servant for someone and maybe even their deliverer.

My Prayer for Today: Oh, Lord, show me whom I can serve and allow me to help You save someone in my life who needs to be set free of their bondage to sin. Amen

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Traveling the Holy Land Was Fun Too!

Being with our group was one of the spiritual times of a life; but our group bonded quickly; and these folks were not afraid to have fun as well as Spirit-led fellowship and fruitfulness. Here's a sample of some of the "funnest" moments above.
Scene #1 ... We were constantly confronted with street vendors, trying to sell any number of items, like jewelry, postcards, olive wood carvings, and in this case, a small shepherd's flute. We would constantly here them say, as they approached, "Five dollah - cheap!" And then one would barter a bit to get the price down to "One dollah!" or some lower figure. Here Steve Ashford cracks up when the vendor opens his wallet, to reveal hundreds of "dollahs" all divided into Euros, dollars, sheckels, etc. ... What a hoot!
Scene #2 ... Cheryl Gardner, on the way up to the famous Treasury site at Petra, encountered some men dressed in authentic 1st Century BC guards outfits; and Cheryl got up-close-and-personal with these dudes very fast, ... on her way to planting a kiss on one cheek of the "guard" on her right. ... You go, girl!
Scene #3 ... In the Israeli Museum of History, Chuck Nitsch, apparently a bit lonely, found a vulnerable maiden who was willing to take his advances. ... Watch it Chuck, ... Marla will get you for that!
Scene #4 ... And finally there was the moment of weakness after our lunch in "The Tent" Restaurant near Bethlehem in the Shepherd's Valley, where Nancy Armstrong just had to give this middle-eastern "Hookee" a snort. The Arabs call this water pipe a "hubble bubble;" and Nancy just had to give it a try. ... Way to go, Nance! (I missed the shot when she turned green after this scene.)
We did have the spiritual experience of a life time; but memories like these will also last in our minds and hearts as well. ... <'BB><

2009 – Day 55.Feb.25 – Spiritual Ends

2009 – Day 55.Feb.25 – Spiritual Ends

Passage of the Day: Exodus 2: 15 – 25 …
Linked to passage for study …

My Journal for Today: Again, we meditate upon what got Moses from his plush worldly control in Egypt to the ignominious desert place with the Midianites. And to highlight his devotional point for the day, Swindoll makes a stark statement of truth, illustrated by Moses’ decisions and actions. He writes, “Spiritual ends are never achieved by carnal means.” And a bit later in his piece for the day, Swindoll puts this truth into a word picture, by writing, “You cannot sow a fleshly seed and reap a spiritual plant.”

Do I sense an “Amen!” from any readers here? Perhaps you have memories of sowing carnal seeds and the resultant outcomes which followed. I sure do. And Swindoll, illustrates these points by such cases as one hedging on the income taxes and then trying to thank God for the resultant tax refund which comes from those choices. He rightfully says, God will never bless us with worldly results when we manipulate, scheme, and plan in the flesh. God’s empowering and enabling grace will only pour out on those who are obedient to His will and His way, through His word. I think of His promises in this regard from both the Old and New Testament … in Scriptures like Joshua 1: 8 and from Jesus Himself in John 14: 21.

The principle is simple and straight forward if one desires Spirit-blessed results in life; and that is … we must know and be obedient to God’s word, His principles, and His commands. When we are and act according to God’s will and in His way, He will bless the outcomes. But when we choose to do it our way, as the old song, My Way, by Frank Sinatra proclaims, we must reap the whirlwinds which follow, … the consequences of our own flesh-driven choices. And we must not try, if some worldly blessing of riches or sensational rewards results, to thank God for what comes down. When I do it MY WAY, it is MY RESULTS which are gleaned; but when I do it GOD’S WAY, it will be HIS RESULTS which pour forth.

I know this truth; and I just pray that I can learn the results from doing life God’s way. Moses had to learn this lesson with 40 years in the desert. And he learned the lesson big time! But I hope I can take the advantage of scriptural truths like the ones quoted above; and do it the right way – God’s way! – on the front end so that I’m not taken into the dessert because of living life out in my way.

And that’s my prayer for you as well. Living in the Spirit yields Spirit-blessed fruit (see Gal. 5: 22 – 23). Living in the flesh yields the fruit of the flesh (see Gal. 5: 19 – 21).

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help us to ALWAYS go to You for the righteous way first as You command in Matt. 6: 33; and then to follow You ALWAYS in what we choose to do. Amen

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Few More Holy Land Memories

Well, there are so many memories I could lay out for anyone who reads here to give you some idea of our memorable trip to the Holy Land, ... from which we just returned. But above are just a few special ones.
Photo #1 ... On a brisk Jerusalem morning, I mounted a camel with Elly for a short ride up on the Mount of Olives, where Jesus had walked down to the Temple from where we were on the Mount down through the Hebron Valley into the Temple @ Jerusalem for the first and last time he would enter those Temple gates. He would enter being hailed as a King; and within a few days He would be crucified, mockingly as the "King of the Jews," ... and He would rise again from His death eternally as the "King of kings and Lord of Lords!"
Photo #2 ... We'll never forget coming out of the long trek to Mt. Hor in Petra to see this incredible monument to human engineering - "the Treasury" site, where the Nabatean arabs had chisled monuments to their gods in Roman and Greek style into this mountain. And to think that this doesn't even compare with the sites we'll see one day in heaven.
Photo #3 ... And dthe last one I'll bring up - for now - is the remembrance of standing on the very stones on which the Roman soldiers nailed our Lord to the tomb, realizing that is was my sin which did the nailing ... and my sin for which our Savior died (along with yours) to save us forever from our selves.
These are just a few strong memories from the travels which had us walking where Jesus had walked. ... Bill

2009 - Day 54 - Feb. 24 - Shrink-wrapped Salvation

2009 – Day 54.Feb.24 – Shrink-wrapped Salvation

Passage of the Day: Exodus 2: 14 – 25 …
14 Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!” 15 When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well. 16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters. And they came and drew water, and they filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Then the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock. 18 When they came to Reuel their father, he said, “How is it that you have come so soon today?” 19 And they said, “An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and he also drew enough water for us and watered the flock.” 20 So he said to his daughters, “And where is he? Why is it that you have left the man? Call him, that he may eat bread.” 21 Then Moses was content to live with the man, and he gave Zipporah his daughter to Moses. 22 And she bore him a son. He called his name Gershom,[which in Hebrew means “stranger there”] for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.” 23 Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. 24 So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.

My Journal for Today: Swindoll, from today’s Exodus 2 passage reminds us of our tendency to seek out a “shrink-wrapped” salvation product. We, who call ourselves “Christians,” can easily fall prey to the cultural paradigm that with salvation comes a product free of worry, heartache, and hard work. There are Christians out there, some very prominent in the world, who would like for one to think that being a Christian will automatically produce wealth and happiness and a care-free life. There is a good old common theological term for such a concept; and it is “BALONEY!”

In today’s passage we see Moses acknowledging the truth of his heritage and moving from the top of the heap to a place in what the Egyptians of his day would consider a pile of dung. He went from Pharaoh designee to a lowly shepherd in the wilderness; and just having returned from seeing the lands where he dwelt with the Midian sheik, Reuel, and his family, it was easy to see the rigorous process God would use to hone the edges off this man the Lord would use to change the course of history for God’s chosen people.

Somehow we need to come to see the truth that being – or rather “becoming” – a Christian is no stroll in the roses, coming pre-packaged with what the world would call “success.” Oh, for sure, the ultimate outcome of true Christianity will be a spiritually fulfilling and successful life; but buying into God’s process of transformation takes surrender and discipline to realize who we are as Christians. Like it was for Moses, we need to recognize and realize a process of learning, by life, how to deny who we are in the world and to become who God intends for us to be.

It took 40 years for God to shape Moses to the top of the world; and then it would take 40 more years for this man of God to become a Godly man. And in the process Moses struggled in the wilderness, learning to become God’s disciple; and then as we’ll see, he became prepared to find and to carry out God’s plan for his life.

How about you? Are you seeking the worldly, shrink-wrapped, package of salvation and “christianity?” Or do you realize that the challenges you face in life are for God’s purpose in shaping you (and me) into an image which allows others to see Godliness in our lives? I often have to make choices in life, realizing the truth of Paul’s writing in Romans 8: 28; and I hope you know that one by heart by now; … that “All things work together for those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose.”

Shrink-wrapped “christianity” is Satan’s package deal; and if we pursue it, we are pursuing him. Our Savior has presented us with the opportunity to become like Him by buying into the truth, which is a package-deal which will produce eternal peace and rest; … but it is also a life which must be lived as described in Luke 9: 23, a life of self-denial, hard work, and a life of submission to God’s ways, not our own. And when we can live it God’s way, He will lead us to Himself in glory.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I seek Your package. Help me to avoid Satan’s. Amen

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sorry about non-posting from Holy Land

I had truly hoped to post daily blogs from our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. But intermittant and inconsistent internet access (long story) made this impossible. And posting hundreds of "interesting" fotos [at least to us] here of this incredible experience is not a reasonable thing to do. But above I've posted a few fotos which may be interesting to any who might read this.
#1 ... Renewing our wedding vows in a church in Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle, at a wedding, turning water into wine. This was the first time we had ever taken wedding vows as Christians; and for it to occur on Valentine's Day in Cana, made this a very special occasion.
#2 ... Our boat ride across the Sea of Galilee ... from Tiberius to Capernaum ... a most worshipful experience with God's word being shared, the American flag raised over the ship, and much praise singing by our entire group. A boat ride we'll never forget.
#3 ... Being baptized in recommitment of faith by my a dear Kenyan Missionary friend, Pastor Paul, in the Jordan River.

#4 ... Yours truly, floating in the Dead Sea ... a rather incredible experience to float in the dense mineral waters ... in only 4 - 6 inches of water and have my feet and head out of the water. Truly hard to fathom unless you've done it!
Perhaps I'll post a few more experiences in separate blogs in the next days; but this was truly a life building spiritual experience for all on our trip. ... <'BB><

2009 - Day 53.Feb.23 - Sit Down

2009 – Day 53.Feb.23 – Sit Down!

NOTE: I've not been posting my devotionals during the weeks I was on our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Be assured that I was blessed by continuing to do them daily. My challenge in posting was inconsistent internet access while traveling. So, I decided to wait and interrupt my posting here while on this pilgrimage. If anyone wants the "missing blogs" here, you can email me @ and I will be happy to send you these journal entries not posted here. But let me get today's return entry posted to begin my daily entries int his place again >>>

Passage of the Day: Exodus 2: 11 – 15 …
11 Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, “Why are you striking your companion?”
14 Then he said, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” So Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known!” 15 When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.

My Journal for Today: Swindoll makes a great point, inspired by today’s repeated text.

Have you ever been, or are you now, driven to where fear or desperation has taken you to a dry, barren place in your life; and maybe, like Moses, you’ve been, or are, forced to sit down, maybe even in agony and frustration, and ponder where you are and what brought you to this place? I sure remember a time in April of 1983 when I had been running from myself and seeking spiritual strength, but finding nothing in my own efforts or in empty religious teachings. I was dry and in desperate need of a long, cool drink of living water.

And that’s where Moses was in this passage. But he finally sat down, not even recognizing that God had led him to a well where he could drink and be refreshed and renewed. That’s where I was on April 13, 1983, when I finally surrendered to receive God’s graceful drink of living water; and from that moment of acknowledgment of my dry sinfulness and my willingness to take the living water of life available in my meager moment of faith, I was shown the step-by-step path to restoration and renewal … to the living waters of life.

That’s what happened to Moses; and it took a full 40 more years of stopping, sitting, and living in the dry lands where God had led Moses for this humbled man to recognize that searching for and receiving God’s living waters was the only way to live in faith for His God. And that’s where we need to come to realize that running, hiding, and seeking only leads to a place where we must sit down, reflect, and be willing to take a drink from God’s well of life.

I pray that you’ve discovered this life-renewing truth for yourself. So, if you’re feeling pretty dry and desperate now. STOP! SIT DOWN! LOOK UP! And take a long, renewing drink from God’s free offering of His living waters.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I thank You for giving me Your living waters daily. Amen

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Holy Land Trip: Travels to Israel

Well, all of the pilgrims from Central Church (and a few extras) made it from Memphis to Tel Aviv yesterday (2/09/09). The group in the picture traveled through Atlanta. Another made their way via Newark, NJ. It was a long trip; and other than one passenger in the Atlanta-Israel group who had some airsickness (which passed), we all made it safely and soundly to Tel Aviv, weary but well.

Above you see the group loading the plane in Atlanta with one Jewish man in the foreground, probably wondering who all these excited Americans are. I'm sure someone in this group witnessed in some way to this man ... there was a lot of witnessing going on on those flights to Tel Aviv. ;>)

I'll be reporting in here as often as I can during the next few days of our travels with a few fotos of our adventure. Stay tuned ... Wondering Willie and Elly

2009 - Day 40.Feb.10 - Impact of Family Blessing

For those reading here ... My time is all changed, being over in Israel for these next 11 or so days. It's now a little after 5am on 2/11 over here; but I'll post as if it's 2/10 since it's evening in the USA. I'm sorry for any confusion from you who're faithfully following this blog ...

2009 – Day 40.Feb.10 –

Passage of the Day: Genesis 48: 5; 10 – 11; 14 - 26 … Genesis 48 available at this link ...

My Journal for Today: This is a touching and significant scene, which is lost, to a great degree, on today’s western culture. In today’s passages, we read of the final days of the Patriarch of Joseph’s family; and in this scenario old Jacob calls the two sons of Joseph to his side. And then a most significant thing happens.

Old Israel gives his blessing to these two young men, who, because of Joseph’s age couldn’t have been all that old. Most interpretations of this section of Genesis would be translated to indicate that Jacob actually “adopts” the two, Ephraim and Manasseh, a custom of the day for a grandfather to give power to his deathbed blessing. And in these final days, Jacob gives his personal family blessing on the sons of Joseph; and this is a family passage which unfortunately is being lost in our culture. And I personally believe that many of our social ills, the violence in our society, our crowded prisons, and evils of such things as the sex industry and the proliferation of gangs can be traced to the void created when fathers do not pass along the family “blessing” to their children.

Our fatherless families in our world may be the one significant variable which leads to all the ills mentioned above and more. In today’s scripture passage, we see the powerful blessing of a grandfather which added to an already strong relationship which was obvious between Joseph and his boys. And if you follow the lives of these two boys through their future, you would see that this blessing has lasting and powerful impact on the boys.

Though I’m in my 60s as I write this, I’ve discovered that it’s never too late to give your blessing to your kids, especially your sons or grandsons. Yes, we need to verbally, and with the close touch of hugs, tell our sons or grandsons (or the girls as well), “I love you; and I bless you; and I’ll always be there for you.” I’ll almost guarantee you that if you dismiss this powerful principle, thinking that this can’t be all that important, you are gambling with the future of your progeny by ignoring this biblically illustrated family truth.

Go ahead, … just ignore your kids; … don’t give them the blessing of your time and your hugs; … and sit back and watch to see how their lives unfold. And if they turn out to find gangs of kids to run with, or to seek out aberrant sex, or to replace those lost hugs with drugs or alcohol, … don’t blame me; and certainly you can’t blame God’s word. Because the truths are right there in the family manual of all time.

You’ve been forewarned by me … and by God in his word.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I thank you for bringing this into my life before it was too late; and now I’m blessed to pass along those hugs and blessings to my grandchildren. Amen

Monday, February 09, 2009

2009 - Day 39.Feb.9 - Final Promise

2009 – Day 39.Feb.9

Passage of the Day: Genesis 45: 8 – 9 …
27 So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly. 28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the length of Jacob’s life was one hundred and forty-seven years. 29 When the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “Now if I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but let me lie with my fathers; you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” And he [Joseph] said, “I will do as you have said.” 31 Then he [Jacob] said, “Swear to me.” And he [Joseph] swore to him. So Israel bowed himself on the head of the bed.

My Journal for Today: As Swindoll points out in his devotional for today, deathbed promises are not that uncommon; but in this text for today we read of a rather bizarre custom that apparently was a serious way to take oaths in those days in the middle east.

Jacob asked his son to promise him that he’d make sure old “Israel” was buried in Canaan, the Promised Land, … not in Egypt, where the family had migrated to stay alive and be with Joseph. And he asked Joseph to make this vow by placing his hand under his dad’s buttocks. Sounds somewhat weird; doesn’t it? But we have similar funny ways of taking vows here. We ask the person taking the vow, “To swear on a stack of Bibles;” or maybe we say, “Cross your heart and hope to die.” This posture of “hand under my thigh” in those days would have been like the President putting his hand on the Bible and taking the oath of office. It was serious business; and Joseph pledged that he would insure that his daddy was buried back in his homeland.

Interestingly enough, this very day I leave, along with about 65 other pilgrims from our church, to see the very Holy Land to which old Jacob wanted to return to be buried. And I feel like God is saying to me that I’m blessed to go and see this “Promised Land,” to which Israel must return one day, especially when our Lord, Jesus, the very Messiah for which Jacob and Joseph longed, walked the earth, died, and was resurrected as the Redeemer of His people, … first the Jews and then for those, like me, who’ve been grafted into the Family of God.

I feel so blessed to be headed today to see that land to which Jacob longed to return.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, may our walking where Jesus walked help me to know You more deeply and serve you more powerfully. But I know that such a pilgrimage must begin in my heart and commence in Your presence. Amen

Sunday, February 08, 2009

2009 - Day 38- Testing Integrity

February 8, 2009 … Swindoll’s Topic for Today: The Test of Integrity

Passage of the Day: Genesis 47: 18 – 23 …
Please go to this link …

My Journal for Today: Today we see another example of one of the best models of personal integrity in all of Scripture, save Jesus, of course. That’s why Joseph is a pre-incarnate picture of Christ from the Old Covenant. Earlier we read of Joseph’s sexual integrity and purity as he resisted the temptation of Potiphar’s wife. We saw his personal integrity shining through when he had the opportunity for revenge on his brothers, but forgave them instead. And in today’s passage we read of Joseph in the personal place of power to take advantage of others who were desperate for food; and from this test of character, Joseph’s Christlike integrity comes shining through.

Yesterday we read about how Joseph used a lot of innovative planning and helped the people physically during this immense crisis of famine in the land. And in that more inclusive passage, we can also read (from our verses today) how Joseph helped the people maintain their dignity as the famine got worse, giving them access to food by allowing the people to sell their land for food, and providing them with Pharaoh’s protection by strategically moving them into cities all over Egypt.

Joseph not only used his Spirit-given (I believe) gifting, showing his administrative prowess with these moves; but he showed God-like love for the people, as well as Christlike integrity in not taking advantage of others when he had the power and opportunity to do so. I agree with Swindoll that Joseph was the perfect example of the Biblical adage from Christ’s instruction: “To whom much is given, much is required.” [see Luke 12: 48]

Chuck Swindoll’s words as he closes his devotional for today are very telling, and maybe convicting, as he teaches on integrity (as it was exemplified by Joseph). Swindoll writes, ”Integrity keeps your eyes on your own paper during the test. Integrity makes you record and submit only true figures on your expense account. Integrity keeps your personal life pure and straight. Integrity restrains us from taking unfair advantage of others.”

It would behoove us all to allow viewing the life of Joseph to be a faith test as exhorted by God’s word in 2nd Cor. 13: 5; and to aspire to become like this man of God, Joseph, who had become transformed into a Godly shining light of integrity.

My Prayer for Today: Oh, heavenly Father, try me to shape my character to have integrity like Joseph, or better yet like You. Amen

Saturday, February 07, 2009

2009 - Day 37 - What A Deal!

February 7, 2009 … Swindoll’s Topic for Today: Innovative Planning

Passage of the Day: Genesis 47: 1 – 26 …
Please go to this link

My Journal for Today: Today we have a longer segment of Joseph’s story. I hope you read it; because it illustrates how Joseph productively used his administrative gifting, with innovation and creativity for God’s glory and for the good of those in his sphere of influence. He not only kept his family alive and well in a land hostile to the Hebrew people; but he kept all of Egypt well during the horrible times of famine which had been visited on these lands at the time.

He did things and took actions which had never been taken before. Joseph not only thought and made decisions “out-of-the-box,” to use a modern day buzz phrase; he broke the box apart and reassembled it. And Chuck Swindoll likens this “wild-n-crazy” plan of action to God’s plan, explained in Phil. 2: 6-11, where God activated a “way out” plan to save all of mankind who would buy into and receive his plan. God Almighty set aside his majesty, came as a babe, walked in love among man, died on a cross, and was raised again from the dead; and he did all of this out of his mercy and grace to give me, a sinner deserving nothing by death, an opportunity to be saved and to dwell with my Lord in heaven for eternity.

Joseph’s was a plan to save the people which had never been done before; and only those who bought into the plan and “got with the program” of Joseph, the designated “master,” would those people so receiving Joseph’s mercy be saved. And this is a life picture from history as to what was to come when the Godhead activated a plan, with Jesus as THE MASTER, … a plan which was, and will always be, the most innovative plan of salvation ever. And I am one (and I pray you, too) who has bought into the latter plan. I gave up all my life to become the indentured slave of this Master Planner. Jesus is my LORD and my SAVIOR. He, like Joseph’s plan, requires only that I give Him the first fruits of what He provides for me; and as it says in Matt. 6: 33, all I have to do is put my Lord first in my life; and I will be given all I need for this life and the next.

That’s quite a plan; don’t you think – the greatest deal ever offered?! And I hope that when I run up against the walls of this life, I can simply put aside my own agenda, grab hold of the circumstances of life, and follow My Lord’s way of doing things. That was “the plan” for discipleship laid out by THE MASTER PLANNER (read it in Luke 9: 23); and all those who use this plan will have their needs met, just as did those in Egypt in the tough times we read about in today’s life lesson from God’s word.

Live and learn from God!

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to do nothing in life but to seek after Your plans and to follow Your ways … during this life as preparation for the next. Amen

Friday, February 06, 2009

2009 - Day 36 - Loyalty

February 6, 2009 … Swindoll’s Topic for Today: Loyalty

Passage of the Day: Genesis 46: 31 – 34 …
31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘My brothers and those of my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 And the men are shepherds, for their occupation has been to feed livestock; and they have brought their flocks, their herds, and all that they have.’ 33 So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 that you shall say, ‘Your servants’ occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we and also our fathers,’ that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”

My Journal for Today: The more I study Joseph, the more I’m amazed that at his young age (of just over 30), his Godly character shines through so consistently in his interaction with Pharaoh, his brothers, and the people of Egypt. And in today’s highlight passage we see that clearly in Joseph’s sensitivity to the Egyptian culture and for his “boss,” the Pharaoh.

Swindoll makes a good point in today’s devotional entry from his book, pointing to a criticism about Christians in the work place. Sometimes, he declares, Christians who are the same faith as the boss on the job expect favoritism because they share the same faith as the work leader. It’s a spirit of entitlement. We certainly don’t see Joseph have such a spirit, even though he had a close and trusting relationship with Pharaoh.

Swindoll points out that Egyptians, and most certainly the ruling elite, looked down upon “shepherds.” And so, we read today that Joseph, being quite sensitive to this cultural viewpoint, instructed his family to tell Pharaoh and his court that his family were “livestock handlers,” not “shepherds.” Small difference; but I expect it would have immense impact; and I can imagine that when he set his family up in the lands as instructed and provided by the king, these Hebrews from Israel were dressed as those who “feed livestock,” not as “shepherds” in Egypt.

When I read this I think of how Daniel was sensitive to those in leadership in Babylon culture when he had such a close relationship with the Babylonian kings he served. I think of the Apostle Paul’s sensitivity to the pagan Greek cultures where he preached and witnessed, for example the eating habits of the Corinthian gentiles (see 1st Cor. 8 or 9). Both Paul and Daniel did not advocate living idolatrous lives; but they, like Joseph, were sensitive to, and morphed into, the culture of the people to whom they witnessed and served, so as not to be a stumbling block to their witness.

We Christians must maintain our integrity in Christ; but there is no reason to flaunt our Bible-centered beliefs to others, setting ourselves so far apart from the culture that we will appear to be disloyal or so that we are shunned by our world. It’s a strategic fine line at times; and Joseph demonstrated love and loyalty to his Pharaoh by simply instructing his brothers on the use of “buzz words” in that culture.

So, on the job, if our boss is a Christian we must be careful not to have expectations of favoritism where we can get away with lesser rigor in the workplace because we are in the same spiritual family as the boss. Or if our boss is a non-believer, we still must honor his or her position of leadership, treating that person with respect for their position as the leader. Christ was careful to treat the Pharisees with respect for their “position” in leadership. It was only when their behavior was an affront to God, the Father. Only then did he become confrontational with those hypocrites. And Joseph was careful not to be an affront to Pharaoh simply by using words like “shepherd,” which had nothing to do with their Hebrew beliefs in God.

So, I pray today that I can develop that kind of strategic, yet sensitive, witness in a world where my leaders, for example like my President, are trying to change the world in such an ungodly ways. It’s going to be a tough witness to be loyal to my national leader, yet stand for my God.

My Prayer for Today: Oh, Lord, help me to be loyal to You above all; but to honor my leaders in ways which make me Your effective witness in the world. Amen

Thursday, February 05, 2009

2009 - Day 35 - Final Family Reunion

February 5, 2009 … Swindoll’s Topic for Today: Final Family Reunion

Passage of the Day: Genesis 46: 28 – 30 … 28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time.
30 Israel said to Joseph, "Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive."

My Journal for Today: Chuck Swindoll is right in his devotional book for today that this short reunion scene, as touching is it is, becomes an apt reminder of the hope we have in Christ and our readiness to be with Him for eternity. In verse 30 of Gen. 46, Jacob, after holding his long lost son, Joseph, and after weeping and laughing with him, declared that he, Jacob, was ready to die.

What is not said in this passage is that Jacob could be ready to die only if his hope and faith were placed in The Messiah to come. “Israel” (i.e., Jacob) expressed his readiness to die because of Joseph being there to hold; and that’s a very human emotion. Maybe you have very deep emotions when you think of dear ones who are no longer with you in this life; and you know that the only way you’ll see them again will be in heaven.

But that latter reunion will never take place in the future unless your loved one was given over in faith to Christ sometime in the past before he or she died; and you are in Christ now. Perhaps you reckon that you’ll never see your loved one because you know, in your heart of hearts, he or she never accepted Christ as Savior/Lord during that dear one’s life. Perhaps you know that your departed loved one was a Christian and you now have doubts about your salvation. If this is the case, the most important question of your life now is …, “Will you be reunited in heaven with any Christians from your past who’ve gone on to be with the Lord?”

If you have doubts about that, you cannot go back and justify your lost loved ones in Christ. However, you can KNOW that you will be in heaven with any Christians who’ve gone on before you to heaven. And you can know that - IF - you really believe, acknowledging that you’re a sinner, Christ died for your sins; and - IF - you believe and declare Christ (to anyone) to be your Lord. And - IF - you’ve confessed that from your heart and with your mouth, YOU ARE SAVED! That’s the promise of God’s Word (see it in Romans 10: 9 – 13) And nothing you’ve done in your past or nothing you can do in your future can now separate you from any heavenly reunion you will experience when you die and are reunited with the most important dear One in your life; ... and that, of course, is Jesus Christ.

Since Joseph is a type of Christ in the Bible, imagine, after many years of not seeing Him, when you are translated into Heaven at your death, being able to spiritually embrace Your Lord. But there will be no tears of missing Him from the past. The only spiritual tears you will have, in Heaven, will be those shed out of sheer joy of being in the presence of Yeshua Hamashia, … Jesus, The Messiah.

Oh, how I longingly look forward to that reunion; but, to be honest, I’ve still got a lot of living to do – at least in my own hopeful time-table. But if, in God’s time-table, He would have for me to be with Him tomorrow, or in the next hour for that matter, paraphrasing what old Jacob said, “I am ready to die, because I know my Savior lives!”

How about you? Do you know Christ lives; and that He died for you? If you need to make that clear, for eternity, it would be my eternal privilege to usher you into heaven by hearing your confession and declaration that Christ is Your Savior. Contact me (you probably know my phone/email contacts) and let’s get this settled for eternity. Or get with some other person you know to be a Christian and give them the privilege of embracing a new Christian when you declare to God and to them that you’ve accepted Christ as Savior and Lord. That will be a union here in this life; but it will set up a reunion in the next and for eternity.

Oh, how I pray that we’ll one day embrace in heaven as brothers or sisters in Christ.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I long to be You, my Yeshua Hamashia; but as long as You give me life on this side, I will live for Your glory! Amen

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

2009 - Day 34 - God In The Move

February 4, 2009 … Swindoll’s Topic for Today: God In The Move

Passage of the Day: Genesis 46: 1 – 7 …
So Israel [i.e., Jacob] took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2 Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, “Jacob, Jacob!”
And he said, “Here I am.”
3 So He said, “I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. 4 I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes.”
5 Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. 6 So they took their livestock and their goods, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him. 7 His sons and his sons’ sons, his daughters and his sons’ daughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt.

My Journal for Today: I think we all can identify with old Jacob’s potential apprehension in this major transition in the life of his family. Here they were to go from the land God had promised to Israel’s forefathers and to move into the land occupied by a pagan culture. And there had to have been questions about the reliability of the promises which his sons had reported to old Jacob about his son, who now was reported to be living and in a position of power in Egypt. Can’t you just imagine old Jacob saying something like, “What gives with that?!” All of it had to produce a lot of tension and anxiety.

But this son of God’s Old Covenant, now called “Israel,” had learned a lot of lessons in life, going back to the blessing he had wrestled for decades earlier and on into the life he had lived as the patriarch of God’s children. Yes, the old man wanted to be sure that God was in all this moving business; and in this passage we read the only divine vision which is in Scripture associated with Joseph’s life. And God came to old Israel with a clear message … that Jacob was to take his family and go to Egypt with the assurance and peace that God was, not only in the move, but that the Lord would prophetically be The Deliverer of all of God’s people because of this move of obedience.

This is a great lesson for all God’s people to learn, Old or New Covenant believers. Any great move of life can be a most disquieting experience, not only a geographical or positional move, but also such moves as going from one life status to another, … such as going from being single to be married, … from childless in marriage to having a first child, … or from going from one job/career to another. A move can bring great anxiety; and it behooves all Christians to know that God is in the move and will be there, going ahead in the move to guide and protect His children (e.g., as promised in Deut. 31: 6, 8). As you read in these passages, God will always be with a believer; but whether He goes on ahead depends upon whether a Christian is responding, as was Jacob, in obedience to God’s will or whether we are moving onward for our own selfish reasons.

Years ago, my Godly mentor taught me a principle out of the Apostle Paul’s writings which can be used as a direction-finder in making carefully considered “moves” in one’s life. The principle is spelled out in Phil. 4: 6,7; and it can always be used when one has to make a “move” in life (of any kind). Let me lay out the passage, though I hope you have this one memorized.

Phil. 4: 66 Be anxious for nothing; but in everything, with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God; 7 … and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

The command of God in this decision making process is straight forward, i.e., to avoid anxiety in any big decision, with a straight-forward direction to bring such leanings or feelings about the “move” in question to God with a heart of thanksgiving (which, always involves an attitude of humility and surrender to God’s Spirit). And then the outcome will be God’s peace – IF – the “move” in question is clearly within the will of God. Jacob got that part given to him directly from a vision from God. However, almost never will that be the case for you or me. We’ll have to wait on God’s peace to come when we bring some leaning to God’s throne of grace. But the promise is clear, if we are truly trying to be obedient to God’s will and we come to Him with a pure, humble, and thankful spirit (which is many times the toughest part), God will or will not give us His peace. If we don’t get this peace, God is either showing us that the “move” is not in His will, or He’s simply getting us to wait on Him for further directions. But if that “peace which surpasses all understanding” comes in this process, the green light is on from God for the “move” in question.

For many years now, I’ve used this decision-making process in my life; and God has never failed me in it. The Lord made it easy for Jacob; and he took his family into unknown, “enemy” territory with the promise that God would go ahead of them and deliver them from all evils. God’s people would one day be tested in this as we know from the history of the Hebrew people being enslaved by later Pharaohs. However, God came through with His promise to Jacob; and his bones were one day, led by Moses, and delivered, along with the great nation of Israel, from Egypt back to God’s Promised Land.

I will pray that I can always remember the truth of this study, especially when I’m confronted by the anxiety producing “moves” of life. I must always remember that God will never forsake me (see Joshua 1: 5 or Heb. 13: 5); and when I’m obedient in completely seeking to follow my Lord, I must trust that He will always be there to direct my path in life (see Prov. 3: 5, 6).

My Prayer for Today: Oh, Lord, how I do trust You and seek after Your will and direction in my life, especially when I’m confronted by a big move. Amen

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

2009 - Day 33 - The Nature Within

February 3, 2009 … Swindoll’s Topic for Today: The Nature Within

Passage of the Day: Genesis 45: 16 – 28 …
Linked to read, study, meditate on today’s passage …

My Journal for Today: Today’s passage is a most revealing one about our human nature. As we have read and studied in the past days, through Genesis, about the life of Joseph, we have seen that both Joseph and his brothers have been shaped, or rather re-shaped, by the circumstances of their past. However, we can also certainly say that their human natures were still there; and Joseph recognized this when he noted Pharaoh’s generous offer and charged his brothers to go back to Canaan to being their father back to Egypt.

I agree with Swindoll’s observation about Scripture. In the Bible we read very personal details, which are inserted on occasion to amplify the identification we can have with Scripture. In today’s passage, we read how Joseph saw all that Pharaoh lavished on his brothers, as well as the promise of the best of Egyptian land when they returned with Jacob. Joseph obviously had become an astute judge of human character. And we get an insight into his savvy ability to judge his brothers in verse 20, where we read Joseph’s exhortation to his brothers, “See that you do not become troubled along the way.” This admonishment can also be translated, "Do not quarrel on the journey,” as it is in the NASB.

Joseph knew that his brothers would be talking along the long caravan to Canaan; and he also knew that they had recognized that Benjamin had been given an extra offering of 300 shekels of silver, more than all the other brothers. And Joseph recognized what I think we all have observed in our lives … that human nature has trouble handling good fortune; and that we humans also have trouble when others are given more than we are given. I agree with Swindoll’s analogy in comparing this scenario with how we parent our children. There are times when we see things go well for our kids, maybe like Christmas time when they are lavished with gifts. But we have to make sure that no one of our kids gets an obvious abundance of good things because it will cause jealousy.

Well, jealousy is the human emotion that had led to his being sold into slavery; and Joseph knew that his brothers may have trouble with the reality of their good fortune as well as the imbalance of generosity bestowed on Benjamin. So, we read him, using almost parental language, in his exhortation to the brothers to avoid quarreling on the way home.

Swindoll, also points out a good principle to recognize in human nature when he writes, “I think it is safe to say that we are to trust one another, but we are never to trust one another’s nature.” This is very good advice, not only to parents raising their kids, but also to all of us as we deal with the human nature of those who have gained our trust as loved ones. I’m sure we all can remember how our fellow humans, maybe even family members or good friends, have disappointed us by doing something selfish or unseemly in our relationships with them. Maybe we, ourselves, were the ones who perpetrated our selfishness on others in breeching some trust in our dealings with others.

I hope you have family or friends whom you can trust. However, I know that we all must be wary of our Romans 3: 23 nature. I hope you know that passage, which reads, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” God wants for us to be able to trust others, just like we are commanded to trust Him (see Prov. 3: 5 – 6). However, when we do place our trust in others, do not be surprised if those whom we’ve trusted fall short; because the one who falls short may, someday, be me.

My Prayer for Today: Help me to trust others, Lord; but I also know, my Savior, that I’m one choice away from disappointing another with my human failings. But above all help me to trust in You … ALWAYS! Amen

Monday, February 02, 2009

2009 - Day 33 - Walk By Faith

February 2, 2009 … Swindoll’s Topic for Today: Walk By Faith

Passage of the Day: Genesis 45: 9 – 13 …
9 “Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry. 10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine.”’ 12 “And behold, your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my mouth that speaks to you. 13 So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here.”

My Journal for Today: If you are reading here for the first time, you probably should go back at least one day and meditate on my journal entry for yesterday where I covered Swindoll’s point that one’s attitude leads to action. And for today that theme is carried over with an emphasis on the reality that one’s attitude will determine one’s faith … and visa versa. It is an equation. Attitude equals faith; and faith equals attitude. To quote a closing line from Swindoll today, “A faith-filled life means all the difference in how we view everything around us. It affects our attitudes toward people, toward location, toward situation, toward circumstances, [and] toward ourselves. Only then do our feet become swift to do what is right.”

And this returns me to a theme which was developed earlier in the study of Joseph, our hero, who was whom he became because of his vertical attitude, which was, in turn, determined because Joseph faithfully saw God in every where he was, … at any moment in time, … no matter where that might be. It was his faith that determined his attitude; and then it was his attitude which influenced his actions. In today’s scenario we see that Joseph rose above petty human vengeance and bitterness, being a shining example of Christ-like humility and forgiveness.

Joseph saw that God had brought him to this place with his brothers; and furthermore, he saw that it was God who had changed even the likes of Judah, who had been his most hateful brother. And so Joseph’s faith shaped his attitude; and his attitude shaped his mercy and generosity as he charged his brothers – IN FAITH – to go back, fully laden with provisions, and to bring their father, Israel, back to Joseph.

Swindoll makes the point that Joseph’s life illustrates several key points about faith and attitude.
· First, he writes, “When I’m able, by faith, to see God’s plan in my location, my attitude will be right.”
Then, his says, “When I’m able, by faith, to sense God’s hand in my situation, my attitude will be right”
· And finally, Swindoll writes, “When I’m able, by faith, to accept both my location and situation as good, even when there’s been evil in the process, my attitude will be right.”

Okay, have you just done an attitude and faith inventory, as I have? I don’t know about you, but I’ve got some faith building and attitude adjusting to do in my life. Or a better way to see it would be to surrender and let God use His sanctifying grace to shape my attitude and faith for my life to come.

However, and this is important for us all to see; I can proactively and intentionally work to see life vertically in any or all of life, before relenting to my very human reactions of fearfulness or selfishness. I can internalize the truth of Romans 8: 28, which speaks volumes, and with power, about how we view where God has led us or placed us. I hope you KNOW that verse; and I don’t mean that you just have it memorized. I pray that God can help me internalize its truth; and to let this word from God, along with Prov. 3: 5 – 6, be the credo of my life’s attitude and faithfulness.

Before I was a Christian, I used to love the old Frank Sinatra song, My Way, because it seemed to espouse an attitude of SELF confidence and SELF control. However, I’ve come to see that my life needs to write a song entitled His Way, which is characterized by the attitudes of humility and surrender; … so that my life, as it unfolds, can be patterned after a man like Joseph, or even more aptly like that of Christ … and certainly not the likes of Frank Sinatra.

My Prayer for Today:
Lord, help me to see life, in faith, through Your will, from Your word; and then I pray to do life Your way rather than mine. Amen

Sunday, February 01, 2009

2009 - Day 32 - Attitude Adjustment

February, 2009 Topic: Joseph: A Man of Integrity & Forgiveness - Continued

We move into February and continue for a couple of weeks with Chuck Swindoll’s devotional exposition of the life of Joseph. If you’re reading and studying along with me in these journal entries, I hope you’re getting as much from this study as I am. But, we move on in Swindoll’s coverage in his devotional book, Great Days with the Great Lives.

Administrative Reminder: Again all Scriptures quoted in my journal entries will be from the New King James Version (NKJV) unless otherwise referenced.


February 1, 2009 … Swindoll’s Topic for Today: Attitude Adjustment

Passage of the Day: Genesis 45: 8 – 9 …
[Joseph speaking to his brothers] 8 “So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father [Hebrew “ab,” meaning a respected head of a people or family] to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. 9 “Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry.’ ”

My Journal for Today: Swindoll closes out his devotional today, entitled “Attitude Adjustment” with a one sentence sermon, inspired by the late preacher, John Henry Jowett. He writes: “Greatness is revealed mainly in our attitude.”

What a powerful statement of what Joseph represented for all believers in God’s word. Think about it! Here was a man who, based upon his life, could have displayed such attitudes as anger, bitterness, hatred, or vengeance. Yet, as Swindoll writes, he had chosen to become “… supportive, merciful, gracious, generous, and [totally] unselfish.” And about Whom does that remind you? Well, the capital “W” may give that riddle away.

Yes, Joseph, as I’ve said in past journal entries is a type of Christ in the Old Testament. And through the trials and testing of his life, Joseph was developed by God with attitudes very unlike most men; and, when you analyze his vertical outlook, he had become a man much like The Messiah for Whom looked toward, but Whom we can celebrate as our Risen Lord.

There is a New Testament scripture to which I’ve often referred in my discipleship and teaching in Phil. 2 (verse 5) which states clearly what the attitude of those claim Christ as Lord should be. It states, Let this mind [or attitude] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, ... I also think of Ephesians 4: 1-3, where Paul exhorts Christians, ... I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Can you see, as I do, that as Christians we are practically commanded to move toward worthiness as disciples of our Lord … to develop and maintain an attitude which is modeled by Christ. If we are Christians, that is, like Paul says, “prisoners of the Lord,” we are to be surrendered and have an attitude which honors our Lord and Savior, Jesus. But what are the attitude and value qualities to which we, like Joseph, should aspire and develop? In answer to that important discipleship question, I believe those are also found in the writings of Paul in Galatians 5: 22 – 23, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (or meekness), AND self-control.

The wonderful thing about being a New Covenant believer is that we are given ALL of these qualities, the values of Christlikeness, when we are truly born-again as Christians. Joseph, I believe, also had the Holy Spirit guiding him in his life as a type of Christ whom we can read about in Scripture; but just like New Testament Christians, Joseph had to be in surrender to God’s Spirit to develop and exhibit the qualities we have read about in Genesis, where his life becomes a shining example of a Christ-like attitude.

I truly hope (and pray) that I can not only aspire to have an attitude like Christ, but to humbly walk in surrender to His Spirit, Who can/will allow the fruit of His very being to permeate my mind and heart and to help me develop an attitude which is like that of our Savior.

I pray that is the goal we all have in Christ.

My Prayer for Today: Help me, Lord, to have Your attitude as I make decisions and act in worthiness to Your Name. Amen