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Overcoming Life’s Ups and Downs

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on January 21st.

Philippians 4:10-13 10 But I rejoice in the Lord greatly, that now at length ye have revived your thought for me; wherein ye did indeed take thought, but ye lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. 12 I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. 13 I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.

Have you ever heard a testimony from someone who has been through a horrible tragedy and seen firsthand the faithfulness of God in that situation? We pay close attention to these accounts because they inspire us to trust the Lord. And of all the witnesses to God’s grace in times of trouble, none is more compelling than the apostle Paul.

Paul was no stranger to hardship. Throughout his ministry, he was dragged, beaten, stoned, arrested, shipwrecked, and accused of heresy by both the Jewish leaders and the Roman government ( 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I more; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty `stripes' save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; 26 `in' journeyings often, `in' perils of rivers, `in' perils of robbers, `in' perils from `my' countrymen, `in' perils from the Gentiles, `in' perils in the city, `in' perils in the wilderness, `in' perils in the sea, `in' perils among false brethren; 27 `in' labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches. ). This was certainly a contrast to his early life, when he enjoyed opportunities that his Roman citizenship and Jewish education provided.

In the midst of these amazing ups and downs in his life, Paul discovered a valuable lesson. In Philippians 4:11 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. , he writes, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” His attitude didn’t change with his circumstances—it remained constant whether he had plenty or was in need (Phil. 4:12). 

Paul referred to this contentment as a “secret” but then revealed the source of this attitude in the very next verse: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). He is speaking, of course, about Jesus.

In ourselves, there is no way we can muster contentment in every situation. But once we understand that God works through our trials to make us more like His Son and that our union with Christ strengthens us to endure and even rejoice, we have a strong foundation for contentment no matter what is going on around us.

Bible in One Year: Exodus 16-18 Chapter 16 1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron in the wilderness: 3 and the children of Israel said unto them, Would that we had died by the hand of Jehovah in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. 4 Then said Jehovah unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not. 5 And it shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. 6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that Jehovah hath brought you out from the land of Egypt; 7 and in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of Jehovah; for that he heareth your murmurings against Jehovah: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? 8 And Moses said, `This shall be', when Jehovah shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that Jehovah heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against Jehovah. 9 And Moses said unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before Jehovah; for he hath heard your murmurings. 10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of Jehovah appeared in the cloud. 11 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, 12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God. 13 And it came to pass at even, that the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the camp. 14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness a small round thing, small as the hoar-frost on the ground. 15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, What is it? For they knew not what it was. And Moses said unto them, It is the bread which Jehovah hath given you to eat. 16 This is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded, Gather ye of it every man according to his eating; an omer a head, according to the number of your persons, shall ye take it, every man for them that are in his tent. 17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered some more, some less. 18 And when they measured it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. 19 And Moses said unto them, Let no man leave of it till the morning. 20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and became foul: and Moses was wroth with them. 21 And they gathered it morning by morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. 22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 And he said unto them, This is that which Jehovah hath spoken, Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy sabbath unto Jehovah: bake that which ye will bake, and boil that which ye will boil; and all that remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not become foul, neither was there any worm therein. 25 And Moses said, Eat that to-day; for to-day is a sabbath unto Jehovah: to-day ye shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. 27 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that there went out some of the people to gather, and they found none. 28 And Jehovah said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See, for that Jehovah hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. 31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers `made' with honey. 32 And Moses said, This is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded, Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread wherewith I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. 33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omerful of manna therein, and lay it up before Jehovah, to be kept throughout your generations. 34 As Jehovah commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. 35 And the children of Israel did eat the manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat the manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. 36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah. Chapter 17 1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, by their journeys, according to the commandment of Jehovah, and encamped in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Wherefore the people stove with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why strive ye with me? Wherefore do ye tempt Jehovah? 3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore hast thou brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? 4 And Moses cried unto Jehovah, saying, What shall I do unto this people? They are almost ready to stone me. 5 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Pass on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and they rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thy hand, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the striving of the children of Israel, and because they tempted Jehovah, saying, Is Jehovah among us, or not? 8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to-morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand. 10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; And his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. 15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi; 16 And he said, Jehovah hath sworn: Jehovah will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. Chapter 18 1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, how that Jehovah had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her away, 3 and her two sons; of whom the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been a sojourner in a foreign land: 4 and the name of the other was Eliezer; for `he said', The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh. 5 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness where he was encamped, at the mount of God: 6 and he said unto Moses, I, thy father-in-law Jethro, am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her. 7 And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him: and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. 8 And Moses told his father-in-law all that Jehovah had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how Jehovah delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which Jehovah had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. 10 And Jethro said, Blessed be Jehovah, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh; who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that Jehovah is greater than all gods; yea, in the thing wherein they dealt proudly against them. 12 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt-offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God. 13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood about Moses from the morning unto the evening. 14 And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand about thee from morning unto even? 15 And Moses said unto his father-in-law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God: 16 when they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. 17 And Moses' father-in-law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. 18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for the thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. 19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God be with thee: be thou for the people to God-ward, and bring thou the causes unto God: 20 and thou shalt teach them the statutes and the laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22 and let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge themselves: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear `the burden' with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people also shall go to their place in peace. 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. 27 And Moses let his father-in-law depart; and he went his way into his own land.




Troubled Friendships

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on January 21st.

Psalms 15:1-3 Chapter 15 1 Jehovah, who shall sojourn in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? 2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, And speaketh truth in his heart; 3 He that slandereth not with his tongue, Nor doeth evil to his friend, Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor;

Second to God, friends are a believer’s most valuable assets. Companions provide a listening ear for our troubles, support for our dreams, and a safety net when we fall. Our friends also give us love, even when we are unlovable.

Inevitably, though, some of these important relationships will go through troubled periods. If the friendship is worth preserving, a solution should be sought through the following steps:

Address the situation. Acknowledge to your friend that something is amiss and needs to be fixed.

Determine the problem. Together, discuss where the relationship veered off course and what wrongs may have been spoken or committed.

Apologize. As believers and friends, we accept responsibility for our actions and seek forgiveness.

Refuse to blame. In addition, we must avoid defending ourselves. There could be a temptation to argue over who did what; however, the goal is not to prove who is right but to save the friendship.

Begin repairs. Ask, “What can I do to rebuild our closeness?” The key here is to do willingly whatever is requested.

Commit to rebuilding. Immediately start investing your time, energy, and love in restoring the friendship.

In order to have the blessing of a good friend who loves us, we must be willing to pay the high price of patching up a relationship. Walking away might seem easier, but in the long run, we would lose a valuable treasure.

Bible in One Year: Exodus 16-18 Chapter 16 1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron in the wilderness: 3 and the children of Israel said unto them, Would that we had died by the hand of Jehovah in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. 4 Then said Jehovah unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not. 5 And it shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. 6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that Jehovah hath brought you out from the land of Egypt; 7 and in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of Jehovah; for that he heareth your murmurings against Jehovah: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? 8 And Moses said, `This shall be', when Jehovah shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that Jehovah heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against Jehovah. 9 And Moses said unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before Jehovah; for he hath heard your murmurings. 10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of Jehovah appeared in the cloud. 11 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, 12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God. 13 And it came to pass at even, that the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the camp. 14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness a small round thing, small as the hoar-frost on the ground. 15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, What is it? For they knew not what it was. And Moses said unto them, It is the bread which Jehovah hath given you to eat. 16 This is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded, Gather ye of it every man according to his eating; an omer a head, according to the number of your persons, shall ye take it, every man for them that are in his tent. 17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered some more, some less. 18 And when they measured it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. 19 And Moses said unto them, Let no man leave of it till the morning. 20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and became foul: and Moses was wroth with them. 21 And they gathered it morning by morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. 22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 And he said unto them, This is that which Jehovah hath spoken, Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy sabbath unto Jehovah: bake that which ye will bake, and boil that which ye will boil; and all that remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not become foul, neither was there any worm therein. 25 And Moses said, Eat that to-day; for to-day is a sabbath unto Jehovah: to-day ye shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. 27 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that there went out some of the people to gather, and they found none. 28 And Jehovah said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See, for that Jehovah hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. 31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers `made' with honey. 32 And Moses said, This is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded, Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread wherewith I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. 33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omerful of manna therein, and lay it up before Jehovah, to be kept throughout your generations. 34 As Jehovah commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. 35 And the children of Israel did eat the manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat the manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. 36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah. Chapter 17 1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, by their journeys, according to the commandment of Jehovah, and encamped in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Wherefore the people stove with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why strive ye with me? Wherefore do ye tempt Jehovah? 3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore hast thou brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? 4 And Moses cried unto Jehovah, saying, What shall I do unto this people? They are almost ready to stone me. 5 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Pass on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and they rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thy hand, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the striving of the children of Israel, and because they tempted Jehovah, saying, Is Jehovah among us, or not? 8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to-morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand. 10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; And his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. 15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi; 16 And he said, Jehovah hath sworn: Jehovah will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. Chapter 18 1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, how that Jehovah had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her away, 3 and her two sons; of whom the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been a sojourner in a foreign land: 4 and the name of the other was Eliezer; for `he said', The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh. 5 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness where he was encamped, at the mount of God: 6 and he said unto Moses, I, thy father-in-law Jethro, am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her. 7 And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him: and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. 8 And Moses told his father-in-law all that Jehovah had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how Jehovah delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which Jehovah had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. 10 And Jethro said, Blessed be Jehovah, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh; who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that Jehovah is greater than all gods; yea, in the thing wherein they dealt proudly against them. 12 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt-offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God. 13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood about Moses from the morning unto the evening. 14 And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand about thee from morning unto even? 15 And Moses said unto his father-in-law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God: 16 when they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. 17 And Moses' father-in-law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. 18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for the thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. 19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God be with thee: be thou for the people to God-ward, and bring thou the causes unto God: 20 and thou shalt teach them the statutes and the laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22 and let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge themselves: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear `the burden' with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people also shall go to their place in peace. 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. 27 And Moses let his father-in-law depart; and he went his way into his own land.




The Anchor of Joy

Published by John Piper for reading on January 21st.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” ( Matthew 5:11 11 Blessed are ye when `men' shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. )

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” ( Luke 10:20 20 Nevertheless in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. )

Jesus revealed a secret that protects our happiness from the threat of suffering and the threat of success. That secret is this: Great is your reward in heaven. And the sum of that reward is enjoying the fullness of the glory of Jesus Christ ( John 17:24 24 Father, I desire that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. ).

Jesus protects our happiness from suffering when he says,

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” ( Matthew 5:11 11 Blessed are ye when `men' shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. –12)

Our great reward in heaven rescues our joy from the threat of persecution and reviling.

He also protects our joy from success when he says,

“Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” ( Luke 10:20 20 Nevertheless in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. )

The disciples were tempted to put their joy in ministry success. “Even the demons are subject to us in your name!” ( Luke 10:17 17 And the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject unto us in thy name. ). But that would have severed their joy from its only sure anchor.

So Jesus protects their joy from the threat of success by promising the far greater reward of heaven. Rejoice in this: that your names are written in heaven. Your inheritance is infinite, eternal, sure.

Our joy is safe. Neither suffering nor success can destroy its anchor. Great is your reward in heaven. Your name is written there. It is secure.

Jesus anchored the happiness of suffering saints in the reward of heaven. And he anchored the happiness of successful saints in the same.

And thus he freed us from the tyranny of worldly pain and pleasure — worldly suffering and worldly success.



The Holy Spirit, Our Guide

Published by InTouch Ministries for reading on January 21st.

John 16:12-15 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, `these' shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare `it' unto you. 15 All things whatsoever the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he taketh of mine, and shall declare `it' unto you.

All of God’s children are on a journey. And as we travel through life en route to our eternal home, every one of us will face a multitude of choices. Forks in the road and unmarked intersections challenge and frustrate us. In such circumstances, how can we know which way to go?

Jesus promised to give us an internal and ever-present Guide. Starting at the moment of salvation, everyone who trusts in the Savior is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who promises to lead believers into all the truth. Like a built-in compass, He will direct us exactly the right way, regardless of the choice. He never makes a mistake.

So you may be thinking, If He is living in me and never makes a wrong choice, why do I keep messing up? His leadership is always right, but our reception isn’t always clear. Yielding to the Lord is an essential part of receiving His direction. We cannot tolerate sin and go our own way in one area and expect to receive His guidance in another.

Sin does to our understanding of the Lord’s clear direction what a magnet does to the needle of a compass. If a magnet is placed next to a compass, the needle will point in a multitude of directions. In the same way, sin will mislead us.

When a decision is unclear, ask yourself these questions: Will Christ be glorified in this choice? Can I do this in Jesus’ name? If either answer is no, then don’t follow that path, because the Holy Spirit is not guiding you there. His leading always aligns with Scripture and brings glory to Christ.

Bible in One Year: Exodus 16-18 Chapter 16 1 And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron in the wilderness: 3 and the children of Israel said unto them, Would that we had died by the hand of Jehovah in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh-pots, when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. 4 Then said Jehovah unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or not. 5 And it shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily. 6 And Moses and Aaron said unto all the children of Israel, At even, then ye shall know that Jehovah hath brought you out from the land of Egypt; 7 and in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of Jehovah; for that he heareth your murmurings against Jehovah: and what are we, that ye murmur against us? 8 And Moses said, `This shall be', when Jehovah shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that Jehovah heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against Jehovah. 9 And Moses said unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before Jehovah; for he hath heard your murmurings. 10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of Jehovah appeared in the cloud. 11 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, 12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread: and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God. 13 And it came to pass at even, that the quails came up, and covered the camp: and in the morning the dew lay round about the camp. 14 And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness a small round thing, small as the hoar-frost on the ground. 15 And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, What is it? For they knew not what it was. And Moses said unto them, It is the bread which Jehovah hath given you to eat. 16 This is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded, Gather ye of it every man according to his eating; an omer a head, according to the number of your persons, shall ye take it, every man for them that are in his tent. 17 And the children of Israel did so, and gathered some more, some less. 18 And when they measured it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. 19 And Moses said unto them, Let no man leave of it till the morning. 20 Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and became foul: and Moses was wroth with them. 21 And they gathered it morning by morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. 22 And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. 23 And he said unto them, This is that which Jehovah hath spoken, Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy sabbath unto Jehovah: bake that which ye will bake, and boil that which ye will boil; and all that remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning. 24 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not become foul, neither was there any worm therein. 25 And Moses said, Eat that to-day; for to-day is a sabbath unto Jehovah: to-day ye shall not find it in the field. 26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. 27 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that there went out some of the people to gather, and they found none. 28 And Jehovah said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See, for that Jehovah hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. 31 And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers `made' with honey. 32 And Moses said, This is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded, Let an omerful of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread wherewith I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt. 33 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omerful of manna therein, and lay it up before Jehovah, to be kept throughout your generations. 34 As Jehovah commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. 35 And the children of Israel did eat the manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat the manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan. 36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah. Chapter 17 1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, by their journeys, according to the commandment of Jehovah, and encamped in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Wherefore the people stove with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why strive ye with me? Wherefore do ye tempt Jehovah? 3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore hast thou brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? 4 And Moses cried unto Jehovah, saying, What shall I do unto this people? They are almost ready to stone me. 5 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Pass on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and they rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thy hand, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the striving of the children of Israel, and because they tempted Jehovah, saying, Is Jehovah among us, or not? 8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to-morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand. 10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; And his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. 14 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. 15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi; 16 And he said, Jehovah hath sworn: Jehovah will have war with Amalek from generation to generation. Chapter 18 1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, how that Jehovah had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her away, 3 and her two sons; of whom the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been a sojourner in a foreign land: 4 and the name of the other was Eliezer; for `he said', The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh. 5 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness where he was encamped, at the mount of God: 6 and he said unto Moses, I, thy father-in-law Jethro, am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her. 7 And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him: and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. 8 And Moses told his father-in-law all that Jehovah had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how Jehovah delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which Jehovah had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. 10 And Jethro said, Blessed be Jehovah, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh; who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that Jehovah is greater than all gods; yea, in the thing wherein they dealt proudly against them. 12 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt-offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God. 13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood about Moses from the morning unto the evening. 14 And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand about thee from morning unto even? 15 And Moses said unto his father-in-law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God: 16 when they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. 17 And Moses' father-in-law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. 18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for the thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. 19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God be with thee: be thou for the people to God-ward, and bring thou the causes unto God: 20 and thou shalt teach them the statutes and the laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22 and let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge themselves: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear `the burden' with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people also shall go to their place in peace. 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. 27 And Moses let his father-in-law depart; and he went his way into his own land.




Daily Bible - January 21

Published by Grace To You for reading on January 21st.

Reading for Today:

  • Genesis 41:1 Chapter 41 1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. –42:38
  • Psalms 10:12-18 12 Arise, O Jehovah; O God, lift up thy hand: Forget not the poor. 13 Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God, And say in his heart, Thou wilt not require `it'? 14 Thou hast seen `it'; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand: The helpless committeth `himself' unto thee; Thou hast been the helper of the fatherless. 15 Break thou the arm of the wicked; And as for the evil man, seek out his wickedness till thou find none. 16 Jehovah is King for ever and ever: The nations are perished out of his land. 17 Jehovah, thou hast heard the desire of the meek: Thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear; 18 To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, That man who is of the earth may be terrible no more. Psalm 11 For the Chief Musician. `A Psalm' of David.
  • Proverbs 4:7-9 7 Wisdom `is' the principal thing; `therefore' get wisdom; Yea, with all thy getting get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she will promote thee; She will bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her. 9 She will give to thy head a chaplet of grace; A crown of beauty will she deliver to thee.
  • Matthew 14:1-21 Chapter 14 1 At that season Herod the tetrarch heard the report concerning Jesus, 2 and said unto his servants, This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead; and therefore do these powers work in him. 3 For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. 4 For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her. 5 And when he would have put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. 6 But when Herod's birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced in the midst, and pleased Herod. 7 Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she should ask. 8 And she, being put forward by her mother, saith, Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist. 9 And the king was grieved; but for the sake of his oaths, and of them that sat at meat with him, he commanded it to be given; 10 and he sent and beheaded John in the prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came, and took up the corpse, and buried him; and they went and told Jesus. 13 Now when Jesus heard `it', he withdrew from thence in a boat, to a desert place apart: and when the multitudes heard `thereof,' they followed him on foot from the cities. 14 And he came forth, and saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. 15 And when even was come, the disciples came to him, saying, The place is desert, and the time is already past; send the multitudes away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves food. 16 But Jesus said unto them, They have no need to go away; give ye them to eat. 17 And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. 18 And he said, Bring them hither to me. 19 And he commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass; and he took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes. 20 And they all ate, and were filled: and they took up that which remained over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. 21 And they that did eat were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Notes:

Genesis 41:42 signet ring…garments…gold chain. Emblems of office and a reward of clothing and jewelry suitable to the new rank accompanied Pharaoh’s appointment of Joseph as vizier, or prime minister, the second-in-command (v. 40; 45:8, 26). Joseph wore the royal seal on his finger, authorizing him to transact the affairs of state on behalf of Pharaoh himself.

Genesis 42:6 bowed down. Without his brothers’ appreciating it at the time, Joseph’s dream became reality (37:5–8). Recognition of Joseph was unlikely because: 1) over 15 years had elapsed and the teenager sold into slavery had become a mature adult; 2) he had become Egyptian in appearance and dress; 3) he treated them without a hint of familiarity (vv. 7, 8); and 4) they thought he was dead (v. 13).

Psalm 10:14 You are the helper of the fatherless. God is pictured as Helper or Advocate again, but this time in association with orphans. He is the Defender par excellence of the defenseless (on the imagery, see Ex. 22:21ff.; Deut. 10:18ff.; 1 Sam. 1:17; Jer. 7:6).

Matthew 14:3 Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, another son of Herod the Great; so when she married Philip, she was marrying her own father’s brother. What precipitated the arrest of John the Baptist was that Herod Antipas (another of Herodias’s uncles) talked Herodias into leaving her husband (his brother) in order to marry him ( Mark 6:17 17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife; for he had married her. )—thus compounding the incest, as well as violating Leviticus 18:16 16 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness. . John was outraged that a ruler in Israel would commit such a sin openly, so he rebuked Herod severely (v. 4). For this, he was imprisoned and later killed ( Mark 6:14 14 And king Herod heard `thereof'; for his name had become known: and he said, John the Baptizer is risen from the dead, and therefore do these powers work in him. –29).

DAY 21: How did Joseph’s faithfulness lead to personal advancement?

Pharaoh’s disturbing dreams in Genesis 41 Chapter 41 1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. 2 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, well-favored and fat-fleshed; and they fed in the reed-grass. 3 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill-favored and lean-fleshed, and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. 4 And the ill-favored and lean-fleshed kine did eat up the seven well-favored and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. 5 And he slept and dreamed a second time: and, behold, seven ears of grain came up upon one stalk, rank and good. 6 And, behold, seven ears, thin and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them. 7 And the thin ears swallowed up the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. 8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh. 9 Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day: 10 Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, me and the chief baker: 11 and we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream. 12 And there was with us there a young man, a Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. 13 And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged. 14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. 15 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that when thou hearest a dream thou canst interpret it. 16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace. 17 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the brink of the river: 18 and, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fat-fleshed and well-favored: and they fed in the reed-grass: 19 and, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill-favored and lean-fleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness: 20 and the lean and ill-favored kine did eat up the first seven fat kine: 21 and when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill-favored, as at the beginning. So I awoke. 22 And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up upon one stalk, full and good: 23 and, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, `and' blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them: 24 and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears: and I told it unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me. 25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: what God is about to do he hath declared unto Pharaoh. 26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. 27 And the seven lean and ill-favored kine that came up after them are seven years, and also the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind; they shall be seven years of famine. 28 That is the thing which I spake unto Pharaoh: what God is about to do he hath showed unto Pharaoh. 29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: 30 and there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; 31 and the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine which followeth; for it shall be very grievous. 32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh, it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. 33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh do `this', and let him appoint overseers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. 35 And let them gather all the food of these good years that come, and lay up grain under the hand of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36 And the food shall be for a store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine. 37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom the spirit of God is? 39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all of this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou: 40 thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. 41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. 42 And Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; 43 and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or his foot in all the land of Egypt. 45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-phera priest of On. And Joseph went out over the land of Egypt. 46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. 47 And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls. 48 And he gathered up all the food of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same. 49 And Joseph laid up grain as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left off numbering; for it was without number. 50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the year of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bare unto him. 51 And Joseph called the name of the first-born Manasseh: For, `said he', God hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. 52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath made me fruitful in the land of my affliction. 53 And the seven years of plenty, that was in the land of Egypt, came to an end. 54 And the seven years of famine began to come, according as Joseph had said: and there was famine in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do. 56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the store-houses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine was sore in the land of Egypt. 57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was sore in all the earth. were such that there was “no one who could interpret them” (v. 8). The combined expertise of a full council of Pharaoh’s advisers and dream experts failed to provide an interpretation. Without knowing it, they had just set the stage for Joseph’s entrance on the scene of Egyptian history. The chief butler spoke up and apprised Pharaoh of the Hebrew prisoner and his accurate interpretation of dreams two years earlier (vv. 10–13).

In the presence of Pharaoh, Joseph made his faith known: “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (v. 16). Deprecating any innate ability, Joseph advised at the very outset that the answer Pharaoh desired could only come from God. And after hearing the dream described, Joseph’s interpretation of what “God has shown Pharaoh” (v. 25) kept the focus fixed upon what God had determined for Egypt (vv. 28, 32).

After interpreting the dream, Joseph told Pharaoh how to survive the next 14 years. Incongruously, Joseph, a slave and a prisoner, appended to the interpretation a long-term strategy for establishing reserves to meet the future need and included advice on the quality of the man to head up the project. Famines had ravaged Egypt before, but this time divine warning permitted serious and sustained advance planning. To Pharaoh and his royal retinue, no other candidate but Joseph qualified for the task of working out this good plan, because they recognized that he spoke God-given revelation and insight (v. 39).

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

Additional Resources        

Biblical Patience

Published by Grace To You for reading on January 21st.

“Walk . . . with patience” ( Ephesians 4:1-2 Chapter 4 1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, 2 with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; ).

Patient Christians endure negative circumstances, cope with difficult people, and accept God’s plan for everything.

In our instant, microwave, drive-through, “I want it now” culture, patience is hard to come by. We get upset if we have to wait too long in the supermarket line or get stuck behind the guy driving ten miles per hour under the speed limit.

But today’s Scripture tells us that our lives need to be marked by patience. The Greek word translated “patience” literally means “long-tempered.” A patient person doesn’t have a short fuse or lose his temper.

There are three aspects to biblical patience. First, patience never gives in to negative circumstances, no matter how difficult. God told Abraham He would make him into a great nation and give Canaan to his descendants (Gen. 12:2, 7). When God made this promise, Abraham and Sarah had no children. They had to wait far past their childbearing years before God gave them a son. But Hebrews 6:15 15 And thus, having patiently endured, he obtained the promise. says, “Having patiently waited, [Abraham] obtained the promise.” “He did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20). He trusted God and patiently waited for Him to fulfill His promise.

A second aspect of patience is coping with difficult people. Paul tells us to “be patient with all men” (1 Thess. 5:14). This is applied gentleness—a spirit that refuses to retaliate. Our normal reaction is to be defensive when provoked. But a patient person bears insult, persecution, unfair treatment, slander, and hatred. You can’t start a fight with a patient person. He defends God, not himself, knowing that He will repay all wrongs at the right time.

Third, patience accepts God’s plan for everything. It doesn’t question God. A patient person says, “Lord, if this is what You have planned for me, that’s all right.” Romans 8:28 28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, `even' to them that are called according to `his' purpose. says, “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Since God is in control, we can be patient, waiting for Him to work out His will.

Suggestions for Prayer

Ask God to help you recognize when you’re apt to be impatient. When those times come, pray for strength to endure them.

For Further Study

  • James 5:10 10 Take, brethren, for an example of suffering and of patience, the prophets who spake in the name of the Lord. says the prophets were examples of suffering and patience. Read what two prophets had to endure in Isaiah 6:9-12 9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they sea with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed. 11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste, 12 and Jehovah have removed men far away, and the forsaken places be many in the midst of the land. and Jeremiah 1:5-19 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations. 6 Then said I, Ah, Lord Jehovah! behold, I know not how to speak; for I am a child. 7 But Jehovah said unto me, Say not, I am a child; for to whomsoever I shall send thee thou shalt go, and whatsoever I shall command thee thou shalt speak. 8 Be not afraid because of them; for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith Jehovah. 9 Then Jehovah put forth his hand, and touched my mouth; and Jehovah said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth: 10 see, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. 11 Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond-tree. 12 Then said Jehovah unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I watch over my word to perform it. 13 And the word of Jehovah came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a boiling caldron; and the face thereof is from the north. 14 Then Jehovah said unto me, Out of the north evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith Jehovah; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. 16 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, in that they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands. 17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at them, lest I dismay thee before them. 18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a fortified city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. 19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee, saith Jehovah, to deliver thee. .
  • How might they be examples to you as you seek to be faithful in the face of life’s tests?

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

Additional Resources        

Reflecting God's Ownership

Published by Grace To You for reading on January 21st.

You were sealed with the Holy Spirit "with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory" (Eph. 1:14).

Someday God will take full possession of all that is rightfully His.

Yesterday we saw that God seals us with the Holy Spirit as a pledge of our eternal inheritance. Here Paul says He does so "with a view to the redemption of [His] own possession." That refers to when God takes full possession of all that is rightfully His.

Everything is God's by creation, but Satan has usurped God's rulership to become the "god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4) in whose power the whole world currently lies ( 1 John 5:19 19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one. ). Consequently, all creation is in bondage to decay and "groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" (Rom. 8:22, NIV). It eagerly awaits the time when the curse of Genesis 3 Chapter 3 1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat: 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And Jehovah God called unto the man, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And Jehovah God said unto the woman, What is this thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 14 And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy conception; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. 20 And the man called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. 21 And Jehovah God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins, and clothed them. 22 And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever- 23 therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. is reversed, all Christians are fully glorified, and sin is eternally vanquished. What a glorious time that will be!

You are God's special possession because you are His by redemption as well as creation. In Revelation 5:9 9 And they sing a new song, saying, Worthy art thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and didst purchase unto God with thy blood `men' of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders sing to the Lord, "Worthy art Thou . . . for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." In Acts 20:28 28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood. Paul charges the Ephesian elders to guard carefully "the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."

That makes you a priceless commodity to God—part of "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God" (1 Pet. 2:9-10).

As God's special possession, you should reflect His ownership and sovereign rule in everything you do. Remember, "you are not your own . . . for you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body" (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Thank God that you are His treasured possession.
  • Seek His Spirit's leading in proclaiming His excellencies to others through your words and deeds.
  • Ask Him to teach you to esteem other believers as highly as He does.

For Further Study

Read Ephesians 2:1-13 Chapter 2 1 And you `did he make alive,' when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, 2 wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; 3 among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest:-- 4 but God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly `places', in Christ Jesus: 7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus: 8 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, `it is' the gift of God; 9 not of works, that no man should glory. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them. 11 Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; 12 that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. , noting the spiritual privileges and responsibilities that are yours in Christ.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.

Additional Resources        

January 21 - Satan’s Promises—Corrupt Strings Attached

Published by Grace To You for reading on January 21st.

“The devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” ( Matthew 4:8 8 Again, the devil taketh him unto an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; ).

Satan offered the world’s kingdoms to Jesus on his own corrupt terms. God allowed this test to prove that Christ was and is a worthy Son, fit to one day inherit the world and rule from His throne. The devil, on the other hand, wanted to prove the Son’s unworthiness by getting Him to prematurely grab the kingdoms God had already promised Him.

The enemy approaches Christians also with corrupt bargaining chips. Whatever they might want in the realm of business, politics, fame, or anything else, he claims it can be theirs for a “reasonable” price or trade-off. He says we can be or have whatever we want, just so long as we pursue it according to the world’s way—which is also Satan’s way. In effect, it’s like saying to ourselves, “Why wait for a heavenly reward when you can cut corners, shade the truth, run ahead of God’s schedule, and have what you want now?”

But when we grab hold of Satan’s corrupt strings, we put self first and God last. Instead of seeking God’s kingdom first (Matt. 6:33), we act more like Abraham, who sought God’s promise of an heir through his own impatient, selfish act with Hagar (Gen. 16:1–6). The result of that sin was tragic and heart-breaking, and has been to this day.

Ask Yourself

“The world” doesn’t really know what “glory” is. And if we had a keener, more realistic sense of God’s awesome splendor, we’d see the world’s flimsy reflections for what they really are. What seems glorious and glamorous about the world to you? Ask God to help you see it truthfully.

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, www.moodypublishers.com.

Additional Resources        

Morning Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for January 21st

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on January 21st.

Romans 11:26 26 and so all Israel shall be saved: even as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer; He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

THEN Moses sang at the Red Sea, it was his joy to know that all Israel were safe. Not a drop of spray fell from that solid wall until the last of God's Israel had safely planted his foot on the other side the flood. That done, immediately the floods dissolved into their proper place again, but not till then. Part of that song was, "Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed." In the last time, when the elect shall sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and of the Lamb, it shall be the boast of Jesus, "Of all whom thou hast given me, I have lost none." In heaven there shall not be a vacant throne.

"For all the chosen race Shall meet around the throne, Shall bless the conduct of His grace, And make His glories known." As many as God hath chosen, as many as Christ hath redeemed, as many as the Spirit hath called, as many as believe in Jesus, shall safely cross the dividing sea. We are not all safely landed yet:

"Part of the host have crossed the flood, And part are crossing now." The vanguard of the army has already reached the shore. We are marching through the depths; we are at this day following hard after our Leader into the heart of the sea. Let us be of good cheer: the rear-guard shall soon be where the vanguard already is; the last of the chosen ones shall soon have crossed the sea, and then shall be heard the song of triumph, when all are secure. But oh! if one were absent—oh! if one of His chosen family should be cast away—it would make an everlasting discord in the song of the redeemed, and cut the strings of the harps of paradise, so that music could never be extorted from them.

Evening Devotional by C.H. Spurgeon for January 21st

Published by C.H. Spurgeon for reading on January 21st.

Judges 15:18 18 And he was sore athirst, and called on Jehovah, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance by the hand of thy servant; and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised.

SAMSON was thirsty and ready to die. The difficulty was totally different from any which the hero had met before. Merely to get thirst assuaged is nothing like so great a matter as to be delivered from a thousand Philistines! but when the thirst was upon him, Samson felt that little present difficulty more weighty than the great past difficulty out of which he had so specially been delivered. It is very usual for God's people, when they have enjoyed a great deliverance, to find a little trouble too much for them. Samson slays a thousand Philistines, and piles them up in heaps, and then faints for a little water! Jacob wrestles with God at Peniel, and overcomes Omnipotence itself, and then goes "halting on his thigh!" Strange that there must be a shrinking of the sinew whenever we win the day. As if the Lord must teach us our littleness, our nothingness, in order to keep us within bounds. Samson boasted right loudly when he said, "I have slain a thousand men." His boastful throat soon grew hoarse with thirst, and he betook himself to prayer. God has many ways of humbling His people. Dear child of God, if after great mercy you are laid very low, your case is not an unusual one. When David had mounted the throne of Israel, he said, "I am this day weak, though anointed king." You must expect to feel weakest when you are enjoying your greatest triumph. If God has wrought for you great deliverances in the past, your present difficulty is only like Samson's thirst, and the Lord will not let you faint, nor suffer the daughter of the uncircumcised to triumph over you. The road of sorrow is the road to heaven, but there are wells of refreshing water all along the route. So, tried brother, cheer your heart with Samson's words, and rest assured that God will deliver you ere long.

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