Monday, February 29: Genesis 43- Life in its ups and downs.

So today we read again of brothers meeting after REAL problems. First we had Jacob and Esau and now Joseph meeting his brothers years after they sold him into slavery…

How many of life’s issues, I wondered, involve family problems? Sin just gums up the works!

There is definite nervousness by the brothers in coming back to Egypt. They don’t know Joseph is their brother but from the previous encounter they are wondering if this is God’s judgment on them for what they did to Joseph.

I wonder what it is like living with the silent guilt all those years.

Joseph, on the other hand, has had the time between meeting one and two to decide how he would treat them if they return. Will forgiveness or retribution reign? The account seems to favor forgiveness, but the story line could go either way at this point.

Stewing over things can be an uncomfortable place in life. Sometimes grace prevails, sometimes not. I think of the ‘Hatfield and McCoy’ feud in West Virginia lore. It began in 1863 and raged until 1891 and lingered until 1901! 30+ years of violence and bloodshed. Lots of brooding and trying to get even or ahead.

Like I said, sometimes brooding and stewing over things does not lead to good. But at times it does.

Esau apparently got over his resentment of Jacob during Jacob’s years of absence. And Joseph was able to let go of any grudge he may have harbored.

I don’t know how these men got past their hurts.  However, as I look into my own life, I recognize that for me the most important element is to let God work in my life.

When I am hurt and start to brood and stew, I can and do go to ugly places. As the hurts emerge I try to hand them over to the Lord. This isn’t generally easy or quick, but I work at it. Sometimes I need to share my goings on with a trusted Christ-following friend, sometimes I can go it alone. Letting God work in ME is the most important step. Over time God’s grace in me overlays my hurt and pain and desire for revenge.  When things are best I ultimately can extend grace to the one who hurt me.

Each time I go through this it is different, but laying things at God’s feet and allowing God to work in ME is the key to grace-filled resolution.

Stuff happens… but God’s way can prevail if we allow and invite God into our healing process.

Well, this is where I traveled today as I mused on Joseph’s story.

Where did you go?

Lord, thank You for being available to take my pains and overly grace upon them. Sometimes they continue to hurt, but Your grace is bigger than any of my hurts. That is one thing I have learned during my years with You. Thank You and bless You. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, February 27: Genesis 42- God's direction.

Not every dream is from God, but some are. Scripture is full of people receiving dreams God used to direct them. I have never received such a dream, but it happens too often in Scripture to be discounted, if I am going to believe Scripture.

So Joseph is reminded of the dreams he had years ago. God, it appears, is bringing them to fruition.

Like I said, I haven’t had a life directing dream from God, but God has certainly directed my life in various ways. And Joseph’s story moved me to consider the ways the Lord has directed my life over the decades.

God has used other people in my life. I think of mostly brothers or sisters in Christ whose counsel helped shape who I am today. But God also used the wise counsel of non-believers. One of the best pieces of advice and one that helped me make the decision to apply and then go to seminary was from a college professor. I don’t know if he had faith or not, we never spoke and he never gave any indication of faith,  However, his advice helped give me the courage to step out of my engineering career path and take a shot at seminary. That decision is second only to marrying my wife, in regards to shaping my life and who I am today.

Scripture… reading and studying God’s Word… is the major source of God’s direction in my life. Dreams, visions, counsel, hunches & promptings all need to be tested, weighed and measured against Scripture before acting on it as a word from God. There is always a subjective nature to dreams as a mode of communication from God. But God’s Word is eternal. Truth is truth and when I act on God’s truth there is no mistaking it. A life built on solidly studying and understanding God’s Word is a life built on a solid foundation.

As I ponder on Joseph’s story and my story, I believe that my life has been led by God as much as Joseph’s. Whether I have been as faithful is up for discussion. But I certainly have felt and been directed by the hand of God as I have attempted to live for Him.

What about you? Are you listening for and following God’s Word and God’s direction in your life? Think about it…

Lord, thank you for leading and guiding me. Show me how, God, how to understand Your Word, written and impressed upon my soul. This is my prayer,  In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Friday, February 26: Genesis 41- Waiting.

The very first sentence grabbed me. When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream… (1a). The two full years drew me in.

I wondered what those years of waiting were like for Joseph. The cupbearer was free and promised to speak on Joseph’s behalf. But he didn’t; he forgot. And so Joseph continued to wait in prison.

I am not a good wait-er. I grow impatient. I think and stew, fret and wonder. And yet, waiting is part of life, and as I have found, waiting is when the Lord does some of His best work in my life.

While I wait, God is at work in me and in the situations and circumstances of my life.

Recently my church transferred from one denomination to another. It was a long ordeal, just a month under 6 years. Sometimes we were actively working and negotiating, other times we were simply waiting. At times the waiting seemed interminable.  However, thinking back over the years of waiting, God did some amazing things during that time.

My timing and God’s timing were different and God’s timing was right and it was best.

Joseph must have learned much about waiting and God being at work in the darkness of waiting. I’m sure Joseph was surprised where God took him when he was finally released from prison. Honestly to go from prison to 2nd in control of the country, is a leap no one could have imagined. But that is what God did only after Joseph was forced to wait two full years!

Waiting doesn't guarantee a super outcome but it is often part of God’s plan. And God’s plan is always right.

Waiting, God is reminding me, is part of His maturing process for me and you who are His children.

So what do you think about waiting…???

Lord, help me to follow the lead of the Psalmist who wrote: Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD (Psalm 27:14). We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield (Psalm 33:20). Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes (Psalm 37:7).

O, God, help me to learn to wait for Your time… In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, February 25: Genesis 40- A new gift for a new day.

Joseph’s organizational and leadership gifts, plus the favor of God, have been upon him since he entered Egypt. We saw them first in Potiphar’s house, then in the prison. Now a new gift emerges. In a moment of necessity, Joseph finds that he has the faith and reliance on God so that he can interpret dream.  Joseph has had dreams himself before but he didn’t appear to know what they meant. Now he seeks and receives the interpretive aspect of dreams.

I know Joseph’s story well enough to realize that this dream will be his ticket out of jail and into the presence of Pharaoh himself. But I don’t want to run too far ahead.

Back to today’s story, Joseph receives this gift in a moment of need. It seems to me that God releases most of His gifts to His people in a moment of need. Gifts test and inventories tell us about who we are and what we have done. But Joseph, in a place of ministry, couldn’t look back into his life to ‘find’ this gift. He had to seek God in the present so that he could be an agent of God in the moment… from this, God’s gift came. This makes some sense to me. God wants us touching others for Him. So it is that needed gifts flow when we are in the connection place between a human in need and God who can supply that need.

Second Joseph is clearly relying on God, not himself. There are times when I can help a person in need from what God has already given me. To help that person is to be a ‘Good Samaritan.’ But there are times when the need present is not within my resources, it is then that I need to relay on God to provide what I do not have. I have seen that in prayer with people for healing, or when a word of wisdom flows through me that I know is not from my store-house of personal experience.

Sometimes that flow of gifts is just for the moment. Sometimes it is the first use of a gift God gives to us to use throughout our lives. Only God knows that answer.

My counsel at this point is to ALWAYS remember that the gifts bring glory and honor to God not to self!!! 

Are you interested in having God’s gifts flow through you? Then become active in ministry and watch what God will do…

Have a great day living for Jesus.

Lord, Thank You for using me in regular and beyond regular ways. May all my life bring You honor and glory. Though Your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen


Wednesday, February 24: Genesis 39- A God-honoring approach to life .

A portion of verse 9 caught my attention: …How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? This is what Joseph said to Potiphar’s wife when she tried to seduce him.

It was the idea that God played such an important part in his life that Joseph didn’t want to sin against God that got me.

It wasn’t fear of losing his job… it was doing the wrong thing in God’s eyes that controlled Joseph’s behavior. That’s a powerful thought as it sinks into me. It is not just being a good person that motivates Joseph; it is honoring God with his life.

What a God-honoring approach to life, I thought.

That’s the way I want to live… having the automatic response to honor God in whatever situation I find myself in…

How about you? How do you want to live your life? What will be your center and foundation? Think about it.

Lord, Joseph apparently changed. He seems to have grown up and matured. The arrogance and self-centeredness that seems to govern his young life appears to have been washed away by the trials he endured. Joseph, the adult, is someone to emulate.  Lord, I ask for strength to do just that, emulate Joseph and his love for You and his willingness to face the consequences of a living a life that honors You. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, February 23: Genesis 38- Duplicity.

I am not sure there is much ‘redeeming’ about this story. But it does have all the elements of a modern romance novel, sex, betrayal, lying and a measure of redemption. Maybe life hasn’t changed all that much over the millennia.

Judah did remind me how duplicitous and self-centered we can be. Here, too, human nature has changed very little over time.

Double standards, oh my, they continue to be rampant to this day. What an affront to God they are…

This drove me to consider my life and thoughts and stances on many of the social and religious issues of today. Am I a double standard person, especially if the double standard justifies myself? A few present day issues tumble in my thoughts:

Care of the poor

Tax breaks

Sex, affairs, homosexuality

Religious freedoms, especially for people who are not Christians.

I know this is a strange time with the Lord, but God seems to be probing me. He’s asking me if I will truly stand with Him and hold myself accountable to His Word.   Also, will I even  mentally hold others to His Word and will?

If I take a hard stand, will I take it from faith and live it myself?

It is so human to rationalize one’s own behaviors as Judah did, while at the same time drawing a very sharp and hard line with others. This, the Lord is reminding me, is not His way… not His way at all.

O, Lord, show me where I carry double standards. Show me where I say one thing but live another. Show me where I justify myself but condemn others. Show me Lord so that I can grow up and deal with my failing for Your sake and the sake of the Gospel I bear with my life.

I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, February 22: Genesis 37- Crappy things happen.

Whether it is family squabbles or fights, cancer, illness or loss of employment, crappy things happen in life. Joseph, being anything but innocent in family dealings, did not deserve what his brothers did to him. No one deserves to be sold into slavery. The brothers were wrong! Oh, how sin abounds in the human heart!!!

At the same time Joseph has to deal with it. It is Joseph’s responsibility to act in accordance with his faith, despite the horrendous fact of being sold as a slave. We will see how Joseph does in the coming chapters.

Typing the word ‘slavery’ above took my thoughts in a completely different direction. Through the ministry of International Justice Mission ( and an anti-slavery awareness campaign called Dressember (, I have learned that there are some 36 million people enslaved against their will, some in exhausting and dangerous jobs and many as sex slaves. 50% of those enslaved are children and 70% are women.

When I got angry at Joseph’s brothers for what they did to him, the facts of modern day slavery welled up within me. I don’t want my devotional time and this blog to become a soapbox, so I resist pontificating. Instead, I turn quiet, asking myself questions and going to prayer. The questions went something like this:

What is my responsibility, knowing that people are enslaved in my world?

What would God have me do that is positive and life-giving with the anger I am feeling?

As the questions flow, prayer becomes my only response.

O God, 36 million people… people You created with dignity…men, women, and children, like my family members and men,,,some like Joseph sold by family members, some kidnapped, some tricked… all held against their will… slaves, chattel, hurting…

Lord, our world can be so wonderful and so horrible at the same time. This is certainly not the only injustice our world is presently producing but it is one of which I am aware. What do you have for me to do? Is there something beyond this morning with You and this time in prayer that You want me to do?

Speak, Lord, Your son is listening…

O, God, I hope I am listening… Amen.


Saturday, February 20: Genesis 36- A God's eye view.

Most of the Old Testament follows the chosen people of Israel, who are just being formed through the sons of Jacob. But today we gain a glimpse of some of the other people who inhabit the world.

Esau, Jacob’s brother, was not the line of blessing, but God did promise to bless him. And this is plain from yesterday’s reading and today’s. Esau had herds and sons. Like Jacob, God’s material blessings were flowing through Esau, as God had promised.

But the Lord still had a plan and that was for Israel (Jacob) to inherit Canaan. In this chapter I saw a wink of God fulfilling His will.

Esau took his wives and sons and daughters and all the members of his household, as well as his livestock and all his other animals and all the goods he had acquired in Canaan, and moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. Their possessions were too great for them to remain together; the land where they were staying could not support them both because of their livestock (6-7).

Esau was in the superior position. He has lived in the land, Jacob was afraid of what he might do when Jacob returned and yet Esau decided to move after he saw Jacob’s herds. Amazing. But in this smallest of acts, God was seeing that His will came into being.

God is at work in the small details of life as well as the BIG ones.

God’s view of things is that He is working His will into being.

As I pushed back from the text to today, this was a great reminder for me that God is still working His will today. And His will is that all will hear the name of Jesus and disciples will be born again from every tribe and language and people group around the world.

Remembering and dwelling on this, I was nudged to pray…

Lord, use me to advance Your will, the name of Jesus near and far. Take my hands and feet, my eyes and mouth, my heart, mind and will, and allow me to spread Your name and fame across this globe. In Jesus’ name and for the sake of my God, Father, Jesus, Spirit, I pray. Amen.


Friday, February 19: Genesis 35- Life.

Much of life is ordinary, even mundane… eating, sleeping, working.   And yet, in the midst of the mundane, God reveals Himself. Maybe He speaks to us in a dramatic way, like Jacob experienced, a dream or a vision or an appearance somehow.  Maybe God speaks in and through His Word or through His church. A Sunday announcement about a short mission trip to visit a church sponsored missionary definitely changed my life. Then again, so did a pastor’s request that I help with a youth retreat.

Today’s stories from Jacob’s life remind me that God can knock at any time while we are doing anything. God’s knock can be a minor course correction or a dramatic order to a new port of call.

Are we available to God’s call(s) or are we rigid and stuck in our own path? This is the question my time with Jesus is raising for me this morning. I am also realizing that God’s call can come at any time and during any season of life.

Jacob is getting up there in years and God is still calling and altering his life. Am I willing for God to direct me still? Am I open to new adventures with the Lord?  Maybe they are adventures into new lands or new relationships or new ways of spreading the Gospel across the globe to people not yet reached with the saving news of Jesus Christ.

I don’t know… but I want to declare to God I am here, I am available… send me.

Will you do the same?

Lord, use dreams or visions, church announcements, Your word, whatever You want to get my attention and move me to places You want me to go or people You want me to meet. I echo Isaiah’s prayer, ‘Here am I, send me’. Amen.


Thursday, February 18: Genesis 34- A world filled with brutality.

Sadly the stain of sin that penetrated the human heart when Adam and Eve ate the fruit is ever growing. The flood slowed the advance but didn’t eradicate the disease. Noah and his family had the sin-disease so it began growing again as soon as they exited the ark.

Every page of this book bears witness to sin.

The rape of Dinah and treating her like chortle; the deceptive treaty and then killing of innocent people; and the sons of Israel are just as infected as the outsiders. Sin is everywhere.

A brutal gang rape in New York City is news today. In many ways things haven’t changed since the time of Israel and his sons.

Only a new heart provided by faith in Jesus has a chance of stemming the sin pandemic. But even with faith in Jesus, no human being ever conquers sin completely this side of eternity. However, Jesus is our best and only true hope.

I know every reader of this devotional battles with sin. Any one of us has the capability to be either the rapist, Hamor, or the murderous sons, Simeon and Levi. Whether these sins or others live in us, I know sin lives in me…

My first defense is faith in Jesus… washing my life clean and giving me a new start.

My next defense is constant reliance on Jesus. Left to my own devices I could sin greatly… leaning on Jesus gives me strength to combat the sin impulses in my life.

A third defense is honest confession and repentance when I do sin. Confession and repentance helps cut the strength out of the sin that resides in me. Instead of that sin growing and growing, confession and repentance is like taking an antibiotic, weakening and/or killing that strain until another one pops up.

Jesus is my only defense!

Lord, God, Thank You for the able way of salvation in Jesus. I bring myself to You, Lord, today, through my Savior, Jesus. Cleanse me and give me strength to live for You today and every day. Amen and Amen.


Wednesday, February 17: Genesis 33- Facing our fears.

There comes a day when we have to face our fears. It may be when we finally have to confront that difficult situation (see yesterday’s blog). Maybe it is a literal fear. Whatever our fear maybe, there comes a day when we have to face it. Jacob had to face Esau.

There is never a guarantee that things will go as well as they did for Jacob facing Esau but certainly that is our hope and prayer.

Sometimes God and life orchestrate things so that we have no choice but to face our fear. But that is not always the case. There are situations when we have a direct choice to face the situation or to flee.

The thoughts that swirl within me ask a lone question, “Have you prayed about it? Have you sought God’s direction about what you should do and how you should go about it, whatever it might be?”

Those who walk with Jesus are never alone making decisions. The Lord is always there, to comfort and to counsel us.

My thoughts flash back to yesterday’s reading and how Jacob prayed to the Lord and wrestled with Him. These suggest to me that honesty and being real with God is a surefooted start to our seeking His wisdom about what to do and how to do it.

I began to ponder what fears have me stymied and stalled in life, the ones I haven’t gotten past yet. Those may precisely be the fear(s) God wants me to speak with Him about…

How about you?  Are there issues or fears or persons God wants you to face?  Speak with Him about it and see how He leads…

Father, Jesus, Spirit, lead me through the barren land of fears to the promised land of grace and growth and victory. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, February 16: Genesis 32- Difficult situations to face.

We all have difficult situations to face. Like Jacob, it could be some family situation or a relative with whom we have had a falling out. Or it could be some work situation, a boss, subordinate or coworker where there are tensions. The list goes on and on. Where people connect, tensions happen J.

Jacob faced just such a situation with his brother Esau. Twenty years ago Jacob swindled his brother out of his birthright as oldest son. Jacob fled because his bother pledged to kill him. They haven’t met since then. Now believing God has sent him home, Jacob must face his brother. And Jacob does two things that strike me as wise.

One, he thinks through the meeting, deciding what in his power he can do to assuage Esau’s anger. Truth is Jacob doesn’t know what his brother will be like, but it is reasonable that Esau might still be angry. Jacob attempts to minimize the anger with gifts. No one knows if this will work, but it is a reasonable approach.

Second, he prays. And Jacob prays more than a little pop, “help me God prayer.” It is heartfelt and honest, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, LORD, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted’ ”(9-12). In addition to these words, Jacob spent the night alone, inferring a time with God… seeking, searching, and wrestling with God (see vv. 22-31).

Jacob’s wrestling with God was emotional and physical. I have never physically wrestled with God, but I have struggled with God and God’s will…

Stepping back I see Jacob marshaling everything he has as he confronts his difficult problem.

He thinks it through and he prays it through.

He offers his best and seeks God’s best…

In Jacob I see the wonder of a well-tackled issue. He owns his responsibility… “God isn’t a get out of jail free card” but he also understands that God’s hand can move things not even the best human wisdom can move.

Brilliant, and faith-filled, that’s how I would sum up Jacob’s handling of this DIFFICULT situation.

Lord, I pray for this kind of personal honesty and utter dependence when I have my own difficult situations to face. Taking responsibility plus trusting and following You. That, Lord, is a blessed life model. May I learn it and use it. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, February 15: Genesis 31- Remembering God at work.


Where, the last chapter or two, I have had to infer God’s work on Jacob’s behalf, God’s activity is directly told in today’s chapter. First, God directs Jacob to return home (3). Then just before Laban catches up to Jacob and his crew, God warns Laban to mind his words when he speaks with Jacob (24-29). Additionally, Jacob credits God with the multiplying of his flocks and herds.

In very direct ways God has been watching over Jacob for the 20 years he spent with his father-in-law.

God activity in Jacob’s life encouraged me to pause and review my life, noting the times and place I know God directed or intervened.

I remember working on my engineering master’s thesis project. The data I had accumulated over 2 years plotted out into an indefinable mess. I remember talking with the Lord one day. asking Him for help. Without some breakthrough I would have to write up a nul-project. Then the next day I had an inspiration. Without going into the details, the data went from a shotgun pattern to a rifle pattern, easily plot-able and verifiable. I credit the Lord for the spark of inspiration that brought my data into alignment and my ensuing thesis which, totally to my surprise, won a national award that year.

And so I sat remembering many times and ways God, directly and indirectly, directed my life.

It is good to take time, to slow down and remember… remember the works of the Lord in our lives.

In my fast paced, busy life, I should do this more often. Today’s time with the Lord reminds me of this.

Thank You, my Lord, for leading me to reflect and remember today. I am encouraged, remembering the many ways you have worked, leading and directing me.

Lord, I ask that I may be more attuned to You, hearing more clearly and listening more attentively to You and Your leading. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Saturday, February 13: Genesis 30- Sons.

If God is going to build a great nation, then there needs to be a multiplying affect of extra children. And so God uses two jealous wives to provide 11 male offspring (Benjamin, #12, is not yet born).

Reading the story of our faith beginnings, I never cease to be amazed how God can use our frailties, shortcomings and sins to advance His cause. (God even uses non-believers like Cyrus, king of Persia, to advance His agenda.)

God is in ultimate control. His will is done. When He blesses, blessings happen. When He decrees, His decrees come to pass. God’s Word is assured.

I marvel at God… His ways are not my ways. Actually it is better to say, my ways are not His ways. All I can truly do is bow and worship Him.

It is evening as I read my Bible today. What a wonderful thought to close out the eve of worship. Tomorrow I get to praise God, the God Who speaks and Who wills and Who brings His will into being.

Tomorrow I get to gather with God’s family and worship the one true God who forever is to be praised. He took care of His ancient people and He will take care of His present day people too. Of this I am certain and sure.

Halleluiah!  Praise be to the God Who speaks and the God Who delivers on what He speaks. Praise to the Lord God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Halleluiah. Amen.


Friday, February 12: Genesis 29- God in the background.

It hit me that in all the strange details of this account, God was in the background setting His will in motion and building His people.

I don’t understand all the ancient customs. I wonder how drunk Jacob must have been not to realize that Leah was given to him instead of Rachel. I wonder what Leah felt being clandestinely given to Jacob, knowing he love Rachel. I have so many wonderings…

But behind it all God is at work, bringing His will to pass.

It seems the same is true to this day. I often wonder what is going on in our world as I watch the news and yet, somehow, God is working His will, His good, pleasing and perfect will. I certainly don’t understand all these things, but I believe in the Lord. I believe He is working to bring people to faith in Him. I believe His glory is spreading across the globe, despite the news I read. I also believe that some of the calamities and atrocities I read about in the news actually help spread the Gospel message the fastest. God’s ways are higher than my ways.

I submit to the Lord God. And I will trust Him no matter what life brings… because I believe God is working His will to completion.

Lord, help me to see Your hand at work in the events of life. Help me to do whatever I can to become active in advancing Your name and fame across this globe, that all might hear and believe the name of Jesus. In His name, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, February 11: Genesis 28- Coming of age.

It hit me as I read this chapter that it represents Jacob’s coming of age, spiritually speaking.

Spending the night at Bethel, he has a vivid dream where he hears the blessing of God. The covenant promise first given to Abraham, and then Isaac, is now bestowed upon him. So convincing is the dream that Jacob pledges himself to the God of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac.

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth” (20-22).

To truly be a follower of God there comes a point in a person’s life when the faith of their father and mother becomes their faith. They own their faith; they tend it and cultivate it. They care for and nurture it.

This, it seems, happened for Jacob that night in Bethel.

For me it happened one night in Muhlenberg, PA when I stepped into my Christian faith, no longer out of duty and the religious upbringing my parents bathed me in from birth, but because I believed. I now owned my faith and took responsibility for cultivating and nurturing my walk with my Lord.

I had no special dream, no audible voice from the Lord, but prompted by the invitation of a friend, I took the step of faith to believe and pledge allegiance to Jesus Christ. As my Lord, He has led me from that day forth…

Have you taken that step of faith? Have you come of age to where You own your faith? You take responsibility to nurture and grow it? I pray you have.

Think about it…

Jesus, Father, Holy Spirit, I am grateful for the faith of my parents and for the faith You birthed in me. Today, again, I pledge to follow where You lead and go where You send me. I pray this in my Savior’s name. Amen.


Wednesday, February 10: Genesis 27- Change is possible.

Can a leopard change his spots? Can a person change his behavior?

This is where my wonderings and musings started as I pondered this chapter. Jacob has been a deceiver since birth. Twice he underhandedly stole his brothers Esau’s heritage. Once he seized a moment that presented itself and in today’s chapter he obeyed mama and premeditated the thievery of his brother’s first born blessing. It seems Jacob would do what he could do to get what he wanted.

Would he be like that all of his life?

Can a person change and grow and mature; shedding some of his selfish ways?

Today’s chapter doesn’t answer this question… I will have to read the rest of Jacob’s life to see if he can grow and change in this area.

But the question remains. Can a person change and grow?

I believe so… especially when one bows a knee to Jesus and God implants a new heart in the person. Such is the promise of God.

With the Lord’s strength, a person can gain victory over sin and begin living a new more mature and selfless life, growing in the character of Jesus and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

I am a very different person because Jesus is Lord of my life. Imperfect still, but growing in my love for God and people.

This morning as I review my life, I see how much Jesus has brought into my life and how faith in Him has helped me change and mature.  You can know the wonderful life change of Jesus, too. Choose to follow Him and watch where He will lead you.

Thank You, Lord, Jesus, for all the blessings You have brought into my life. I would not be half the man I am without You. I love YOU and I offer You all of my days. Continue Your work in me so that I grow more and more like You. I pray in Your name, Jesus. Amen.


Tuesday, February 9: Genesis 26- Sins of the fathers.

I find it astounding that Isaac would pull the same stunt that Abraham did, referring to his wife as his sister. It didn’t work for Abraham either time he did it and as we learn today, it didn’t work for Isaac.

Even as I scratch my head regarding Isaac’s foolishness, I realize I, too, fall into the sins of my father. For example, my dad avoided family conflict. When I was first married my natural response was to avoid conflict with my wife. It took me years of growth to deal with this life-trait. Avoidance remains my immediate response, but I have learned over the years that my initial response is not the healthiest way to handle problems.

As a pastor, how many times have I seen issues like addiction travel from generation to generation?

Some of this sin transfer seems to come from patterning in our family of origin. This often needs counseling or mentoring to break.

But some, I have learned, can be a generational sin-issue that needs to be dealt with through prayer and prayer ministry.

We humans are highly complex beings and the differences between the two roots of generational sins are not always immediately apparent and require discernment.

Isaac’s story is a strong reminder for me that there are generational connections with some sins.

I recognize that some of the issues I raise in today’s writing might be new to readers.  Please feel free to contact me if you would like to talk more about this. Also, if you are near Greenwich CT, my church has a healing ministry, if we can assist you with prayer in any way.

Father, help me, help us to all grow to health and maturity. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, February 8: Genesis 25- Legacy.

Death comes to all of us. Abraham, the patriarch and fountainhead of Israel, died at a good old age, an old man full of years (7).

Abraham was a man of faith who lived his walk with the Lord. His legacy stretches millennia. Not everyone’s life has the destiny to touch nations, but every life lived faithfully to the Lord will accomplish the Lord’s will.

As I think about Abraham and his death, I wonder what will be said at my graveside… recognizing that I may have decades before that day, I have a tremendous ability to affect what might be said. I potentially have 30+ years to shape my legacy…

None of us knows when our death will come, but if I (we) live each day faithfully to the Lord, then our lives will have a positive affect on the world and people near and far.

Think about it... I surely did this morning.

Lord, help me to live today for and with You, to do the things Your word and Spirit ask of me. May my life move Your will and advancement of Jesus’ name forward around the world. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


Saturday, February 6: Genesis 24- .

One afternoon at the well changed Rebekah’s life.

I tried to imagine what Rebekah might have thought and felt as the day unfolded, but I am not sure that I succeeded.

In what appears for be 24 hours Rebekah accepts the proposal of a man she has never met through a representative and leaves her family, likely to never see them again. Yes, her soon to be husband is a distant relative, but still he is someone she and her family have never met.

Rebekah must have been a woman of extraordinary faith and an adventurous spirit.

Abraham’s manservant saw the sovereign hand of God in all that transpired. Did Rebekah? We simply don’t know, the text is silent. Maybe she was convinced by the servant’s faith. Maybe her adventurous spirit drove her. Maybe she wanted to get away from her family. We simply do not know.

As I sat with Rebekah’s example before me, I found myself praying that I would have the faith of the servant coupled with the adventurous spirit of Rebekah in my walk with the Lord.

Stir in me, Lord, ever deepening and trusting faith so that I will jump when You ask me to jump, run when You ask me to run and wait when You say wait.

Lord, as 2016 unfolds, I pray that I am up to all the adventures You set before me. May You receive honor and glory through my faith-filled living... that the world may know Jesus is Lord. In His name, I pray. Amen.


Friday, February 5: Genesis 23- Holding true while God's promise unfolds.

Death is a part of life, a sad part for sure. The Bible devotes a chapter of Abraham’s story to the death of Sarah. Sarah was 127 years old, so she was able to watch her son Isaac mature into manhood. Isaac was about 36 when his mom died.

Abraham mourned his wife’s death and since he didn’t own any property, he negotiated to buy a small cave as her burial crypt. It seems that this cave and the well at Beersheba (chapter 21) were the only portions of the Promised Land that he actually owned. Then again, I don’t really understand land rights of Abraham’s day because he certainly used land for his impressive herds.

Considering this, it seems that Abraham personally received very little of the promise God made to him. His children, as plentiful as the stars in the skies, amounted to one 36-year-old son who is not married and has no heirs to his name. And as far as land itself, he had two non-descript plots, a well and a burial cave.

Scripture reminds us that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55), understanding God’s ways is not always obvious to me (or us as humans). As Abraham nears the sunset of his life he could have thought, “Well, the Lord’s promises didn’t amount to very much.” But the seed he received truly was the first fruits of the full promise. Abraham’s ongoing task is to remain faithful to the Lord and allow God to do what God has determined to do. And also to remember the lesson of chapter 16 not to play God and attempt to bring about God’s promises through human effort!

God was faithful but the story isn’t over yet.

The same can and often is true for me. I don’t see the fulfillment of God’s promises. I may see a ‘first fruit’ of the promise but rarely the full crop. And what I have to remember is to remain faithful to the Lord and not to play God myself.

My mind whirls with a number of personal examples… I suspect you have your own examples too.

Lord, I pray for continued faith to believe and follow You, to trust Your Word and promises, even when I don’t see much of the promise fulfilled yet.

Lord my prayer is to live all the days remaining in my life faithfully to You, my Lord, my Savior and my God. Through Jesus Christ,  I pray. Amen.


Thursday, February 4: Genesis 22- I don't believe I could.

Would I? Could I? I don’t know…

Would I have done what Abraham did, come within a whisker of killing my own son out of obedience to God?

Could I have done what Abraham did, tying up my son and laying him on the wood for an offering out of obedience to God? I don’t know.

More honestly, I don’t think that I could have or would have. What God was asking seems so repulsive to me… to kill and sacrifice an innocent child, my own child.

I struggle even to use my imagination to place myself in the story, so repugnant is the idea of killing a person in this cold-blooded manner.

God excoriates the Tophet in Jeremiah 19; Tophet was Baal worship of child sacrifice. And yet, this very heinous act is what God asks of Abraham. I shudder and cringe and squirm reading and meditating on this.

Despite all my distain, this is possibly the greatest moment of the OT.  From Abraham’s obedience, God’s births a people. Through faith in Jesus Christ, I am grafted into God’s people. Many see in this account a prototype of God sacrificing Jesus, His only son, to be the redemption for the sins of humanity.

I sat this morning marveling at Abraham’s faith, a faith that raised his knife to slay his son, yet continuing to believe that somehow God would still bless him through this same son, Isaac (reread verses 5 & 8).

Oh, to have the faith of Abraham, David, Peter and Paul, such is my longing, my hope, my aspirations. Amen.


Wednesday, February 3: Genesis 21- Water.

Reading this chapter I was reminded how important water is to life. Honestly, I take water for granted.  I turn a tap and I have all the clean drinkable water I need, but this is not so for much of the world today.

Water is essential for life, without clean drinking water people die. Hagar and Ishmael were in the throws of dehydration and death when Hagar found the desert well. And Abe made a treaty for the well at Beersheba to protect his flocks and people. Water is essential.*

My mind flipped to Jesus. the Master Communicator, who used water to connect and communicate with a woman at a well. Jesus told her about living water (John 4:10), which was a metaphor for the spiritual life Jesus gives us when we put our faith in Him.

I spent the rest of my time with the Lord this morning thinking about all the ways Jesus brings life –vital spiritual life –into my life.

When was the last time you sat and contemplated all the goodness and life Jesus brings into your world? 

Lord, Jesus, thank you for bringing Your life into my life, for filling me with a purpose and a desire to know You, love You and serve You all the days of my life. What a delightful drink of water my time in the Word and with You has been this morning. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


*I recently read the book “A History of the World in 6 Glasses” by Tom Standage. I found it to be a fascinating look at world history through the lens of 6 beverages. Underneath these 6 beverages is our human need for safe water. If you want a different look at the world, this might be a read you find worthwhile.


Tuesday, February 2: Genesis 20- Humans, a "mixed' breed.

I had two disconnected thoughts as I read this chapter. First, I pondered the idea of a besetting sin, a sin that lingers and is difficult to gain victory over. This whole ‘Sarah is my sister routine’ got Abe into trouble in Egypt, so why would he try it again? I mean really! His fear of death appears to be pretty strong. Both times he stumbles into this sin.  Abe seems to fear for his life.

Strange that he would follow God across the near east obediently, that he would ride out and save Lot heroically, but he hands his wife over as his sister so easily. We humans are a strange lot… strong and faithful in some situations and weak in others.

Before I moved on, I took a few minutes thinking about my personal life… where I am weak and where I am stronger. I don’t like to get into ‘trouble’. My immediate reaction when I do something wrong or lack good judgment and things come to light is to bend the truth to wriggle out of it. I have to consciously grab hold of myself to own up to what I have done. This is one issue I continue to struggle with… it is a besetting weakness which often leads to sin in my life.

In these types of situations I have to be vigilant or I will ‘naturally’ fall into sin. The Lord is using Abraham to alert me to this weakness.

The second thought I had is, what kind of barbaric people were these ancient folk?  I mean, Sarah was 90 years old! Abimelek, you really want to have her as his wife???

Is there some cultural deal with the taking a wealthy man’s wife as your wife? Does it show mastery or power?  I just can’t believe that it has to do with being attracted to some beautiful woman!!

Even though I am somewhat confused by this situation, it reminds me how depraved we can be. Sin can creep into the recesses of our lives and cause us to exhibit odd, even perverse, behaviors.

We humans are messed up from the inside out. There is no quick fix for our human sin predicament. No self-help program that can change the situation, we need something more than that. Thankfully God knows our situation and sent Jesus to save us from ourselves and our depravities…

Lord, Jesus, thank You for saving me, for rescuing me from my sins and paying the penalty my breaking of the Father’s rules deserve. I love and am thankful for You, Jesus. Praise be to You, Jesus, my Savior. Amen.


Monday, February 1: Genesis 19- A troubling picture of humanity.

The story of Lot and Sodom is so troubling for me. Ugh, the perversion of the townsmen who want to sexually pounce on the two visitors to the town. I sometimes think that my world is over sexed, the way we sell everything through sexual innuendo.  Most movies and many TV shows are laced with sex, but the depravity of Sodom is exponentially greater and more perverse.

I have a house guests for a few days, I am imagining how bad it would be if my neighbors stormed my house in order to drag out my guest to have sex with them. This is a horrendous thought.

As I read Lot’s suggestion of sending out his two virgin daughters to the crowd instead of the two male guest is equally repugnant. And Lot is the ‘good guy’ in the story! Fortunately the girls aren’t sacrificed… one small saving grace in this troubling chapter.

Oh my, what a perverse world!

Sadly, there are parts of our world which still treat women with this kind of utter distain. (If you don’t think so, please read the book Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It is a troubling but excellent read.

I am troubled by this chapter and the more I think about this, the more I realize that we may not be much ‘better’ in 2016 than in this account. The whole world back then was not as bad as Sodom and the whole world today is not as bad as Sodom, but there are pockets. And for all our supposed advancements, atrocities still happen at an alarming rate.

The seeds of sin remain highly latent in our human souls…

As I think about all of this my thoughts follow two tracks…

1) I am thankful for Jesus who can save people and place a new heart in them. Christ-followers are far from perfect but as we open ourselves up to the Lord.  He will put out the fires of sin that rage within us and replace them with light and love.

This leads to my second track.

2) What can I do to reverse and ease the pain sin is causing in the world and bring the light of Jesus to more people in the process? I am troubled that I, all too often, sit idly by when I see atrocities and injustice!!

Lord, lead me in the paths of righteousness for Your sake and the sake of people victimized by sin in this world. I pray in Jesus’ name. And, Lord, please don’t allow me EVER to get comfortable with de-humanizing and horrendous acts perpetrated against other human beings. Amen.