Thursday, January 28, 2016

Am I filled with myself? Or with God’s Holy Spirit?

Thursday  1-28-16 (Home in Modesto, California)     

Scripture reading for today:    Exodus 17 – 20    Acts 3

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Acts 4:8-12 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:

1.     If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead,

2.     by Him this man stands here before you whole.

3.     This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' 

4.     Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."  NKJV


O.  This same Peter, only a couple of months before, filled with his own strength bragged, “Jesus, I am ready to die for you!” But he had shriveled up into a wimp, denying that he even knew Jesus in front of a servant girl.  

However this time “Filled with the Holy Spirit” he confronts the very men that had condemned Jesus to death and right now had the power to do the same to him... with a four point sermon.  “

1. The same Jesus that you murdered has risen from the dead.  
2. May you and all Israel know that it is in His name that this once paralytic man stands here before you.  
3. (Text) Psalm 118:22 refers to Jesus.  He is the Stone you have rejected, but He is now the Cornerstone.  
4.  (Conclusion) And if you want to make heaven your home, align yourself with this name... for only in His name can anyone be saved!”


A.  The other ex-fisherman, John, was looking on.  He was probably thinking, “Wow!  Are you the same Peter that flunked the test a few months ago?  These guys might decide to crucify us too, you know.” 


So where do I stand?  Am I filled with myself?  Or with God’s Holy Spirit?


P.  Lord, in my own strength I am a failure, a wimp, but “filled with Your Holy Spirit” I can confront the enemy’s top leadership without fear and give them the truth that they so desperately need to hear.  So fill me again, Lord Jesus!  And again and again!  Keep me charged up and “ready to give an answer to everyone who asks me to give the reason for the hope that I have.” (1 Peter 3:15) NKJV  Amen.


Ralph



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Oh me of little faith!

Wednesday  1-27-16 (Home in Modesto, California)     

Scripture reading for today: Exodus 17 – 20  Acts 3

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Acts 3:7-9  And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.  So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God... 

Vs 11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon's, greatly amazed.  So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?

Vs 16 Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. NKJV

O.  Vs 7 Peter has so much confidence in Jesus that he takes the initiative, grabs the paralyzed man’s hand and pulls him up!  Peter’s strong arm has stood the man up... only then... suddenly the atrophied muscles are strengthened and the man starts leaping and dancing around.   NUHV* 


Could it be that the man’s faith was slipping a few minutes later?  For now he is hanging onto Peter and John.  Or was he just hanging on them because he thought of them as the source of his healing?  Either way Peter sets him and all the hundreds of wide-eyed spectators straight. 


Vs 12Why are you all looking at us?  We didn’t do this.  The crucified, buried and resurrected Jesus Christ did it.”  And Peter makes the man release his grip on them and stand on his own.  “Look at this guy!  See?  He is completely and perfectly healed!”  NUHV*


A.  Now it is my turn:  I meet an obviously paralyzed beggar at the church door.  He is looking right at me hoping for folding money, not coins.  I left my wallet in my pickup.  So I ask this guy if he has enough faith to be healed (because I know I don’t).  He says, “I think so.”  So I gather all my “apostle-type” friends around me and we make a major scene praying.  The crowd gathers.  Now we ask the paralytic, “Can you get up?” He struggles and collapses in a heap.  So we all start praying over again.  And God speaks from heaven, “Hey, boys!  Do any of you have enough faith to grab him by the hand and lift him up?”  We look at each other and decide to come back tomorrow to see if he is better.  And Jesus sighs, “Oh, ye of little faith!”


P.  God, why is everybody looking at me?  You never called me to be a “healing” evangelist.  I prefer the inner, invisible miracles that last forever.  Are you saying that is a cop-out?  But Lord, I don’t have the faith of Saint Peter.  What’s that you are saying?  You are telling me to drop the “saint” in front of Peter’s name because he was just as big a mess as I am?  Oh!  You are the healer and I need renewed faith in You?  You are saying I need to do what Peter and John were doing?  You are telling me to get out of my comfortable stuffed chair tonight and go to prayer meeting?  Okay God!  I think I got the picture.  Amen.


Ralph 

*New Unauthorized Hiatt Version


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Gift that Jesus called the “Promise”

Friday  1-26-16 (Home in Modesto, California)     

Scripture reading for today:    Exodus 14 – 16    Acts 2

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Luke 24:49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."

Acts 1:4  And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father...

Acts 2:39 For the Promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." NKJV


O.  Luke binds his two books (Luke and Acts) together with a similar introduction and with the words of Jesus leaving His disciples with a “Promise.”  Now Peter is preaching on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 are repenting and being converted to Christ, recognizing Him as their crucified and resurrected Messiah.  And now Peter connects the dots by announcing that this “Promise” is not exclusively for 120 in an upper room.  It is for each of you and for your family and for all who are afar off. 


A.  Oh! That includes me!  So... what is this wonderful “Promise” that our Lord is sending me?  Jesus describes it in Luke 24 as “being endued with power from on high...” and again in Acts 1:4-5 saying, “...you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  ...then again in Acts 1:8 lest I should misunderstand, Acts 1:8 “...you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." NKJV 


P.  Lord Jesus, You considered this gift from Your Father, the gift that You called the “Promise” to be important enough to postpone all evangelistic activity... to tarry until... to hang in there until... to not leave town until... Your disciples have received the “Promise”.  But now armed with the gift of the “Promise”, You prophesy that we will become Your witnesses, Your martyrs, giving our very lives to take Your message to the ends of the earth.  Your “Promise” is mine today... and You are calling me in the sunset of my days... to spend what is left of my life, to carry Your message to the ends of the earth... one more time.  Amen.


Ralph


Monday, January 25, 2016

Get out of here! And bless me as you go!

Monday  1-25-16 (Home in Modesto, California)     

Scripture reading for today:    Exodus 12 – 13    Psalm 21    Acts 1

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Ex 12:31-32  Then he (Pharaoh) called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, "Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the LORD as you have said.  Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also." NKJV


Ex 12:31-32  Now Pharaoh made an emergency call to Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night, “Get out of our country!  We have had enough of you!  Take your families with you and go worship your God however you want.  Take your herds of livestock with you.  Just get out of here!  And as you go, don’t forget to toss me a blessing, too.  NUHV*


O.  Pharoah’s oldest child had suddenly died that night along with the oldest Egyptian child in every family across Egypt.  God had given Moses and Aaron the power to perform many signs before King Pharaoh.  Often he had called up his magicians and they had done similar tricks.  But that night Pharaoh wasn’t wanting this deadly plague to be copied by his magicians. He was finally ready to release his 600,000 male slaves along with their children and livestock.  “And ... oh, by the way, as you go, toss me a blessing, too.”


A.  What does it take for God to convince unbelievers?  Pharaoh mocked some of the plagues... saying, “Oh that’s nothing.  Look, my guys can do that too.”  Or “That was just a natural phenomenon.  Your God had nothing to do with it.”  But when it touched his oldest son, the one that may have been destined to his throne one day, he had had enough.  Some of us have prayed with tears for our lost loved ones, “Whatever it takes, Lord, get through to him or her before it is too late.”  It is a desperate cry, prayed only after all else has failed.


P.  God, You gave Pharaoh nine chances to release your people, his slaves.  How many chances have You given me?  I am so glad that You didn’t give up on me.  Even when I have failed You again and again, in Your mercy and grace You have just kept coming back with Holy Spirit conviction until I confessed, repented and fell at Your feet in total surrender once more.  Whatever it takes, Lord... keep me close to You.  And, oh yes.  Thank You for tossing me another one of Your marvelous blessings that I didn’t deserve.  Amen.


Ralph

*New Unauthorized Hiatt Version


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Today He is “with me”. Tomorrow I will be “with Him”.

Sunday  1-24-16 (Home in Modesto, California)     

Scripture reading for today:    Exodus 9 - 11    Luke 24

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Luke 24:44-45  Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."  And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.  NKJV


O.  For over three years the disciples had walked with Jesus.  They had been astounded by His miracles of healing, multiplying food and calming the storm.  But at His death the disciples felt abandoned, forsaken, lost and without hope.  Now He appears to them after His resurrection and refers back to His teaching “while I was still with you clarifying to them that they are entering into a new era, a new beginning.  Now He promises: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt 28:20 NIV) He will not only be with them as a group or where two or three were gathered together, (Matt 18:20 NIV), but soon these same disciples would separate into teams to carry the Gospel of Jesus to different distant places.  From now on He would be simultaneously “with” each one



A.  He came to be Emmanuel, “God with us.”  Is He with me?  Do I sense His divine presence?  Oh yes I do!  What could I do without Him?  When traveling alone across endless deserts, I know that I am not alone.  When in difficult circumstances, He is here “with me.”  When I am weary, He is “with me.”  When others abandon me, He is “with me.”  In the good times He rejoices “with me” and in the bad times He weeps “with me”. 


P.  Lord Jesus, I can feel Your presence here at this very moment.  What a privilege to entertain the presence of my Master, my King!  Sometimes I do not “feel” Your presence, yet I cling to Your promise.  I cannot see You, I cannot always feel You, but I know that You are “with me” until life’s journey comes to an end because You promised.  And then, when I reach the end of my journey... suddenly... I will be “with You” forever.  Amen.


Ralph


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Without a word Jesus brought two enemies together.

Saturday  1-23-16 (Home in Modesto, California)     

Scripture reading for today:    Exodus 6 - 8    Luke 23

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S. Luke 23:11-12 Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.  That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other.  NKJV


Vs 11-12  So King Herod gathered his tough gang around Jesus to make fun of Him.  They found a beautiful kingly robe and put it on Him and these “experts in torture” enjoyed practicing on Jesus trying to get him to respond.  So when Herod and his cohorts couldn’t get a squeak out of Jesus, he sent Him back to Governor Pilate.  And suddenly now this act of sharing mockery of “King Jesus” back and forth brought these two enemies together and they became buddies.  NUHV


O.  It is strange how two arch-enemies, when faced with a common enemy, can make peace between themselves.  They say that when a couple is considering divorce, the quickest way to get them together is for a son or daughter to face a serious health issue.  Suddenly they have a common enemy. 


A.  What will join together in cooperation a conservative and a liberal, a capitalist and a socialist, an atheist and a evangelical Christian?  Just let a common enemy threaten to attack their children, their home or neighborhood.  An earthquake brings people who don’t even know the names of their neighbors to huddle together in the middle of the street. When living in greater Buenos Aires, Frances and I found our near neighbors to be delightful Argentine people... without needing the help of a common enemy. 


P.  Lord, help me not to wait for an earthquake to make friends with neighbors and acquaintances.  I praise You that my friends... one beautiful family of five is now faithful in a good church, serving the Lord.  Their hearts were not happy under the rigid hand of the Jehovah Witnesses.  I pray that You will help me make friends with those of different cultures and convictions... without having to have a common enemy.  You said, “Blessed are the peacemakers...” Let me enjoy that blessed title without compromising Your truth.  Amen.


Ralph



Who’s Who?

Friday  1-22-16 (Home in Modesto, California)   
  
Scripture reading for today:    Exod 3 – 5  Luke 22

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Ex 3:6 "I am the God of your father — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."

Vs 3:11  But Moses said to God,"Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" NKJV

Ex 3:6 Let me identify Myself.  I AM God, the Creator of the universe, God of your fathers. 

Vs 11 Yeah, God, but who am I?  (RNUHV) (Reduced New Unauthorized Hiatt Version)


O.  Brother Moses is out in the desert with his father in law’s sheep and sees a flaming bush that just keep burning.  He sneaks over to check it out.  But Wow!  A powerful voice comes out of the fire.  And God identifies Himself with “I AM.”  From there on it is “But... But... Wh..wh..why me?  Wh..who am I?  Me? Go to Pharoah? You’ve got to be kidding. I hope. ”  “You are my chosen vessel. I have been getting you ready for 80 years.  I schooled you in all the wisdom of Egypt and you flunked.  Now I have given you 40 quiet years at “desert school”.  I think you’re ready to go.”


A.  One day my son Tim and I were driving across the Patagonian desert when we saw a large flame of fire in the distance.  As we drew close, we stopped the car and hiked over to it. Too bad!  No voices.  Just a pipe sticking out of the ground burning off gas.  I thought, What a waste! Anyway this same God that attracted the attention of that curious 80 year old shepherd... Yes, the One and Only “I AM” God, looked my way one day and said, “Okay boy, I am sending you to Argentina!”  “But... but... who am I?  I’m a nobody.”  “Yep, you’re right on.  I’ve been trimming you down to size and now that you finally know you are a nobody, I think you’re ready to go.”


P.  Lord, the Apostle Paul tells us that your first choices are those nearest to the bottom rungs of the ladder.  (1 Cor. 1:26-31)  So here am I, send me.  And if anything good happens I’ll know that You did it... it sure wasn’t me.  Amen.


Ralph


  



Thursday, January 21, 2016

Suffering? God is taking notice. His plan is already in motion.

Thursday  1-21-16 (Home in Modesto, California) 
    
Scripture reading for today:    Exodus 1 – 2   Psalm 88    Luke 21

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Ex 2:23-25  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.  So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.  And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.  NKJV


O.  The Israelites had become slaves to the Egyptians and were being driven to the point of death by their masters.  The Pharaoh had seen how they had multiplied and feared them.  So he is deliberately trying to trim down their numbers by terrible forced labor.  And God heard and took note of their groaning.  And although these mistreated slaves could not detect any alleviation, God’s plan was already in motion.


A.   Does God hear my groaning?  Is He aware of my suffering?  Do I have to yell at Him to get His attention?  How many decades did God allow His chosen people to suffer such treatment?  When I am down, when I can see no hope, when my pillow is wet with tears, is God listening?  Does He take note?  I cry, “How long, Oh Lord.” 


I have a Christian friend that is less than 60 years old and has just had his foot amputated to save his life.  I can only imagine the mental suffering, knowing that he will have to start all over with a different kind of life.  Does God hear?  Is He taking note?  Yet, I know this man.  He will not lose faith.  In the heat of it all he knows that God is working out a plan. And although it seems impossible, all this will work out for good, for he “loves God and is called according to His purposes.”  Romans 8:28


P.  Dear Lord, I have never suffered like that and cannot know what my thoughts and attitude might be.  You know my heart better than I do.  What lies ahead for me?  Well, if You do not return within a few years to take us all up with you, I will have to lay this old body down for a better one.  Dying often includes extreme pain.  Am I ready for that?  I don’t know.  But whatever may lie just ahead, I know that You, my God, are listening and looking and taking note.  Your plan is already in motion.  When the pressure is on, please Lord, keep me from feeling that You have abandoned me.  May my faith never waver!  Amen.


Ralph



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

And everybody said, “No way!”

Wednesday  1-20-16 (Home in Modesto, California)   
  
Scripture reading for today:    Gen 49 – 50  Psalm 8    Luke 20

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Luke 20:16  “... He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others."  And when they heard it they said, "Certainly not!" NKJV
Luke 20:16  The landlord will wipe those evil vinedressers off the face of the earth and give the vineyard to other caretakers.  And nobody said, “Amen”... Instead they yelled,“No way!”  NUHV*


O.  Jesus parable was clearly directed at the chief priests, scribes and elders.  It needed no interpretation for them.  They knew that in His story they were the evil “vinedressers” who had beaten the Owner’s servants whom He had sent to them and finally killed the Owner’s son.  There were no “amens” from that crowd.  Instead they were saying among themselves, “How can we silence this guy?  Everybody knows He is talking about us!  Did you hear that?  He is saying that we will be rejected by God and our inheritance will be given to other nations.”  “Let’s kill Him!”


A.  How do I react when I realize that the sermon is directed straight at me?  Does the preacher get a hearty “Amen” or a “No way, Jose”?  True, I love to sit on the front row or no further back than the second.  I want to sit right under the spout where the glory flows out.  But sometimes “the glory” that flows out is too hot for comfort.  Holy Spirit conviction hurts.  Sometimes the preacher gets to medlin’ and starts steppin’ on my toes and I start squirmin’ and wishin’ I was sitting in the back row.  Now the preacher is calling, “All you nasty sinners come up to this altar and get right with God!”  And although I know that by God’s mercy I am saved, this nasty sinner is the first one to fall on his knees again at the altar for a spiritual update and another heavenly makeover.


P.  Yes, Lord, I know You are still working on me.  People look at me all dressed up like a preacher as I strut by and think, “Now there is a holy saint!”  But then You come by and show me an x-ray of my heart and... since my desire is to please You, I find myself at Your feet pleading again for Your forgiveness, mercy and grace... which You so freely give.  I plead with You, don’t ever stop this process until I walk the streets of gold hand in hand with You and with my darling Frances.  Amen. 


Ralph

*New Unauthorized Hiatt Version


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Lord has need of it.

Tuesday  1-19-16 (Home in Modesto, California)     

Scripture reading for today:    Gen 47 – 48  Psalm 10    Luke 19

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Luke 19:33-34 But as they were loosing the colt, the owners of it said to them, "Why are you loosing the colt?" And they said, "The Lord has need of him." NKJV
But as the disciples were untying the colt, the owner shows up.  “Hey, you guys!  What do think you are doing?  That’s my colt!”  We know, “But the Lord needs him.”  “Oh!” And with that the owner watches his cute, young untried donkey be led out of sight. NUHV


O.  So Jesus puts the words in their mouths to say to the owner and sends a couple of his disciples to bring him somebody else’s colt.  Why?  “The Lord has need of it.”  So the owner lets them go! There they go... out of sight!  And he doesn’t even merit a mention of his name in the Bible!


A.  Now let’s say I am the proud owner of a brand new top-of-the-line Toyota.  Instead of rolling it into my garage, I leave it in the street to make my neighbors envious.  Now here comes the Youth Pastor looking in the windows and counting the seats.  “What!  You want to pick up a whole load of little brats and take them to Royal Rangers?  They’ll probably dirty up the upholstery... maybe even tear it.  Go find somebody that has an old junker for the job.” 


Speaking of a junker:  I was in Rawson, Chubut, southern Argentina.  It was the best vehicle the church had... Well, it was the only vehicle the church had.  Fact is, it didn’t really belong to the church.  Some unnamed guy was loaning it to the Assembly of God church.  It was an ancient commercial van of sorts with side doors and no windows back of the front seat.  I watched as they loaded it with about 20 kids... yes 20.  I think it was 28 one time!  It had to be pushed to get the engine going.  I helped push it and it fired right up.  Off they went taking Sunday School kids back home to their neighborhood after classes.  Who was the owner?  Mister No Name.  Who cares?  The Lord had need of it!  The kids loved it.  They had a name for the “beast”, but I have forgotten it.


P.  Lord, do You remember that old song, “Give of your best to the Master?”  Well, I do... and I can hear it being played inside my head right now.  Am I holding back something You need?  Help me to be like the unnamed owner of a colt that turned him loose because “You had need of it.”  Amen.


Ralph


Substitution: One man offers to take the punishment for another

Monday  1-18-16 (Home in Modesto, California)     

Scripture reading for today:    Gen 44 – 46    Luke 18

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Gen 44:33-34  “...Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers.  For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?" NKJV


“Please, your honor, just let me stay here and become your slave, but let this lad go home with his brothers.  For how could I return to my father if the lad is not with me?  I would have to watch my father die of grief.” NUHV


O.  Has Joseph pushed these half brothers to their limit to punish them?  I think not.  I believe he was trying to see if the hearts of these evil men had changed over the years.  Turn back a few pages.  They had thrown Joseph into a pit and while they were enjoying lunch, from the pit Joseph had heard this same Judah say, “Hey guys, why kill the kid when we can make some money on him.  Let’s sell him as a slave!”  Now he is pleading for the life of his little brother and offering himself as a life-long slave in his place.  Now Joseph was satisfied... and spoke to them in their own language... revealing his true identity.


A.  Hidden in this highly emotional story is the concept of 
substitution... of one man taking the punishment for another.  Benjamin has been found with the evidence of stealing Joseph’s silver cup.  For all that Judah knew, Benjamin was guilty.  But Judah pleads for the privilege of suffering the rest of his life in his little brother’s place.  Centuries later one of his descendents, called the “Lion of Judah,” would take upon Himself my guilt and become the “Lamb of God” to die in my place and lift me from eternal damnation to eternal life.


P.  Lord, this concept of one offering His life to save another is insinuated many centuries ago in the book of Genesis.  You later called it the expression of the greatest love.  You lived by it, then You died by it.  I will live with You forever not because of my righteous living, but because You took my punishment in my place.  You did it only because You loved me.  And that love still reaches out to every sinner, calling him or her to repentance and free entrance into Your Holy presence forever.   Oh what a Savior!  Amen.


Ralph

PS.  Judah’s words still haunt me: For how can I go to my Father if my sons are not with me?



Sunday, January 17, 2016

What do you mean ‘one is no more’?

Sunday  1-17-16 (Home in Modesto, California)     

Scripture reading for today:    Gen 42 – 43   Psalm 5     Luke 17

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Gen 42:13-16  And they said, "Your servants are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and in fact, the youngest is with our father today, and one is no more." NKJV


O.  Now the roles are reversed.  Joseph is the governor of all Egypt.  He wears Egyptian regal clothing, has his hair and face made up like Egyptian royalty, and speaks to them only in perfect Egyptian and through an interpreter.  There is no way these men could even suspect that he was Joseph, their half brother.  What a temptation to play the fish on the hook.  Joseph could have said, “What do you mean ‘one is no more’?  Is he dead?  Did you see him die?  Did you kill him yourselves?  Did you sell him as a slave?  Where did you hide the 20 pieces of silver?”  Instead he insists on seeing his only full little brother, Benjamin and devises a plan to see if these bad boys had ever truly repented and changed their attitudes.


A.  What might I have done in Joseph’s place?  He had every reason to have them all whipped and thrown in prison, all except maybe Rueben, who had tried to save him and return him to his father.  Joseph was well acquainted with the prison system.  He had been held as a prisoner for years because of these guys.  Would I have given them a little taste of what I had suffered?  Vengeance can be a temptation to us all.  But the Apostle Paul gives us the Christ-like way.  Rom 12:19 “‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ saith the Lord.” KJV..."If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.” NIV  The Jesus way is “forgiveness” and once Joseph had proved the repentant spirit of these fellows... he forgave them fully.


P.  Lord Jesus, today I ask for a heart like Your heart.  Make me quick to forgive those who have attempted to treat me with evil.  You were suffering unimaginable pain hanging on the cross.  You could have said, “Father, whip these guys good for this evil!  Give them the hell they deserve!”  But rather You pled for their forgiveness.  Make me more like You, Jesus.  Place Your beautiful, loving, forgiving Spirit deep in my soul.  Amen.


Ralph





Saturday, January 16, 2016

And God says,“What’s that I smell?”

Saturday 1-16-16 (Home in Modesto, California)     

Scripture reading for today:    Gen 39 - 41     Luke 16

S=Scripture  O=Observation  A=Application  P=Prayer  SOAP for the soul.


S.  Luke 16:14-15 Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.  NKJV


Luke 16:14-15 The classy Pharisees jingled the silver coins in their pockets while listening to Jesus’ stories.  They made crude jokes about Him, snickering among themselves, mocking Him.  Jesus confronted them directly, “You guys look pretty good to your peers, but there is a God in heaven that can see what’s under your fancy robes.  He’s looking at your hearts.  While men applaud you... what God sees stinks.”  NUHV*


O.  Jesus did not take kindly to outward displays of religion... when He knew that under that fa├žade they were stuck-up brats.


A.  But what about me?  I like to look good to my peers, too.  I haven’t even started to preach yet and the audience is applauding me.  I act cool and as humble as I know how... and tell them to be seated.  But what is God seeing under my pretty striped shirt.  Does He smell something nasty... like pride, for instance? 


P.  Savior, rescue me from the stench of religious pride as I stand before a small group or before thousands.  Protect me from the danger of working so diligently to look good before men while failing to be acceptable in Your sight.  That would be a tragedy.  May I fall at Your feet and never forget that if any event is going to really bring lasting fruit for Your kingdom, this grain of wheat has to hit the soil and die.  Amen.


Ralph

*New Unauthorized Hiatt Version