Turning Point

Rod and Reproofs

Genesis 39:20-23 (nkjv)
20 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. 23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.
Proverbs offers two paths to wisdom: the rod and reproofs of life. The rod is used by authorities while reproofs are life’s way of saying, “Don’t do that again!” Joseph learned quickly from life’s reproofs.
Joseph learned from his youthful errors and committed himself to a life of submission to God’s will and plan for his life. When he was young, he acted thoughtlessly in revealing his dreams and his father’s favoritism to his brothers (Genesis 37:3-11). After being sold as a slave into Egypt, he appeared to have gained a humility and seriousness that served him well for the rest of his life. For some of us, it takes multiple bouts with the rod and reproof to gain perspective. For Joseph, it only took one painful lesson on the downfall that awaits the proud. From then on, his challenges revealed that his heart was committed to trusting God.
When life brings reproofs, they will reveal who we are at our core. Embrace them and gain wisdom and maturity. Reject them and forfeit the lessons they offer.
The rough hewing of reproof is only to square us for the heavenly build.
~D. L. Moody

Turning Point

When Honor is Due

Genesis 49:29 – 50:14
Jacob’s Death and Burial

29 Then he charged them and said to them: “I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, 30 in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. 31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah. 32 The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth.” 33 And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

50 Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him, and kissed him. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Forty days were required for him, for such are the days required for those who are embalmed; and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.

4 Now when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the hearing of Pharaoh, saying, 5 ‘My father made me swear, saying, “Behold, I am dying; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.” Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father, and I will come back.’”

When presidents die, the nation honors their contributions to the nation. The same happens when a military or local public service hero loses his or her life. Such honor is well-deserved. However, other expressions of honor seem to be practiced less: gentlemen treating ladies respectfully, younger people rising to greet an elderly person, children honoring their parents, people honoring the nation’s flag, and others.

There is something timeless and universal about “honor.” For instance, hundreds of years before Moses wrote down the fifth of the Ten Commandments—the command to honor one’s parents—Joseph did that very thing without being commanded. Though his mother was dead, Joseph honored his father, Jacob, by bringing his household to Egypt, introducing him to Pharaoh, settling his family in the choice lands in Egypt, and returning his body to Canaan to be buried when he died. Most of all, Joseph wept grievously over his father when he died and called the nation of Egypt to honor him at his passing.

Honor feels right when extended, and feels wrong when it is withheld. Look for someone to honor today in word or deed (Romans 13:7).
Honour ought to seek thee, not thou seek it.

~ Augustine

Morning Devotional

Now or Later
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[Matthew 5:10]

In the seventies, a TV commercial for an automobile oil filter made this line famous: “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” The same principle—now or later—also applies to rewards promised to followers of Christ.

Jesus suggested that we have a choice when it comes to rewards: We can receive rewards now in the form of the adulation of men, or we can receive rewards in eternity from God who sees what we do for Him (Colossians 3:23-24). Jesus also said that those who suffer persecution for His sake will receive the Kingdom of heaven, that those who leave the riches and relationships of this life will be rewarded a hundred times over in eternity. Sometimes we don’t choose to give up comfort in this life; it is taken from us by persecutors of the Church. The same promise applies: God stands ready to reward those who suffer for Christ’s sake in this life. Heaven is a time when rewards will replace what was lost.

Whatever you lose for Christ’s sake—property, reputation, comfort, your good name—does not go unnoticed by God. Nor will it go unrewarded (Romans 8:18).

In the second advent [God] will manifest His glory to reward their faith.
~ John Chrysostom

Turning Point

At What Cost?

Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored; renew our days as of old.
Lamentations 5:21

Recommended Reading:
Lamentations 5:19-22

When King Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered in 1922, it instantly became a famous tourist destination with thousands of people coming every day, year after year. Carbon dioxide from the visitors’ breath and all the dust they stirred up had a dulling influence on the stunning gold walls of the tomb. The site was closed for years while the Getty Conservation Institute restored the images and installed new ventilation systems and walkways. Now King Tut’s tomb is open again, but when asked how much the restoration cost, the institute says it was so expensive they won’t disclose the cost.

We live in a dusty world, and the devil is always breathing down our backs. It’s easy to become spiritually dull and stained. Sometimes we lose the golden glow of God’s energy in our hearts. We often need for Him to do as He said in Psalm 23—to restore our souls.

But we shouldn’t forget the great cost that gained all our blessings for us at Calvary, for He gave us Himself.

Let Jesus revive your heart today, then thank Him for the cleansing power of His blood.

When Satan deplores us and the world ignores us, God restores us.
Anonymous

What If

But Simon Peter answered [Jesus], “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
~ John 6:68

In 1994, Dr. D. James Kennedy co-authored a book with an arresting title: What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? The book detailed how Christianity has changed the world: mercy and compassion; education; government; sexuality; work ethic; healthcare; the arts; and more.

We can also ask, “What if the Bible had never been written?” After all, Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God (John 1:1-2) and Scripture is the written Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). It is the revelation of God to man through the Living Word and the written Word that has changed the course of history. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. By 1975, more than five billion copies were in print. As of October 2017, the whole Bible has been translated into 670 languages, the New Testament into 1,521 languages, and Bible portions into 1,121 other languages. What would the world be like today if the Bible hadn’t been written and compiled under God’s direction?

What would your life be like without the Bible? Thank God today for the written Word of God that is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path (Psalm 119:105).

The Bible is God’s book, not man’s book.
~ J. Gresham Machen

Devotional

Creation Care

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
~ Genesis 1:28

Marine litter is a huge ecological problem. Many countries’ coastlines are littered with plastic and debris, and there is an “island” of plastic more than the twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean where currents have accumulated the debris. Fish become entangled in discarded fishing nets and lines, with bellies full of plastic debris they have swallowed.

Such images are in stark contrast to the pristine beauty and glory of Eden as presented in Genesis. Though mankind was given the mandate to “have dominion over” (that is, to care for) all of creation, we have not done a good job. When God’s mandates go unfulfilled on earth, God’s glory is diminished. And that mandate extends to our personal life as well. Paul writes that we belong to God and we are to glorify Him with our care and use of our body.

When you see opportunities to care for creation—nature or your own body—do so as a way of glorifying the Creator.

The creation is both a monument of God’s power, and a looking-glass in which we may see his wisdom.

~ Thomas Watson

Devotional

Matthew 8

New Opportunities

Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?
Matthew 8:27

Recommended Reading:
Matthew 8:23-27

Matthew 8 describes a day in the life of the Savior. Having preached His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 – 7, Jesus came down the hill to find a leper needing healing (Matthew 8:1-4). He entered Capernaum where a centurion approached Him about a paralyzed servant (verses 5-13). He ducked into a house to find Peter’s mother-in-law suffering a fever, which He healed (verses 14-15). The whole town turned out with their sick and possessed (verses 16-17), and Jesus used the occasion to talk about the cost of discipleship (verses 18-22). He got into a boat so tired He fell asleep. When a storm arose, the disciples awoke Him and He stilled the winds and sea (verses 23-27). Arriving on the other side, He cast demons from two men in the Gergesenes (verses 28-34), and the whole city came out to meet Him.

And you think you’ve had a busy day!

Every day brings new opportunities to serve Jesus. It’s possible to be too busy, but better busy than bored. There’s nothing more exhilarating than giving each day to the Lord and waiting to see what He will do with it.

Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
~ Frances Havergal