January 16

Matthew 11


John the Baptist was an ordinary man that was anointed by God as a prophet. He was certain that the Messiah would follow him. John was in prison, held captive by an authoritarian, known as a violent leader. If John had concerns about his life, they were reasonable; after all, he was beheaded by Herod. John wanted reassurance that Jesus was that Messiah, the one for whom he dedicated his young life, the one for whom he would die. John sent a couple of his team to go and inquire of Jesus. Jesus answered the men by pointing to the works of power that have taken place. He also said, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” To be offended meant to stumble or fall away. I believe Jesus was encouraging John to keep the faith, knowing John was being persecuted for His sake. 


In verses 7-24 Jesus describes the purpose for John’s ministry and the response of the Jews to his message. For those that rejected or ignored this prophet, Jesus prophesied judgment. 


In verses 25-30, Jesus is speaking to Jews, and He speaks of a rest. That rest is receiving righteousness by grace instead of trying to earn a rightful place by works. This is also true for the Christian, Jew or Gentile, not only to receive His grace for salvation that leads to eternal life; but also for His grace to live day by day. The Law was a burden. Self-righteous behavior is also a burden of condemnation and judgment. To be deficient in an understanding and embrace of God’s grace, is to continue to live with shame, guilt, and fear.  


Genesis 39-40


God will give us favor when we are focused on serving and pleasing Him. We see this favor on Joseph. Joseph didn’t put himself in the pit. Joseph didn’t choose to be a slave to Potiphar. Yet, “the Lord was with him.” Joseph worked hard, he kept his integrity, and he kept his faith. God took what Joseph had to offer, and he propelled him forward with success and promotion. 


Joseph was probably on a good track to become a leader. His first connection in Egypt was with Potiphar, an official to Pharaoh. Even though his position was a slave, Joseph proved his leadership and Potiphar gave him charge over everything. Then Potiphar’s wife does something that seems to completely thwart Joseph’s destiny. 


This story is a good reminder that no matter what someone else may do, God is still able to accomplish His plan for your life! We cannot look to people because people often come and go. People sometimes stay faithful and sometimes don’t. If Joseph thought Potiphar was his opportunity to advance, Joseph could have been very shaken. I’m sure it was not enjoyable to be falsely accused. I’m sure it was demeaning to be treated in such a carnal way. But what did Joseph do? Did he wallow in the prison? No, he kept his integrity. He kept working hard. He kept praying and believing God. God promoted Joseph in the prison. It wasn’t just any prison; it was the king’s prison! God caused some happenings that would eventually get the Pharaoh’s attention, free Joseph, and promote Joseph, a Hebrew, as a leader in Egypt.


Don’t look at people to fulfill your destiny. Keep looking to God. If people are helpful for the long term, that’s fine. If they are helpful for a season, that’s fine. If they are not helpful, they can’t stop what God is doing. If an individual or a group tries to take you down, keep your eyes on Jesus and let God get the glory in your story!


God is faithful, and He will do it! Every time someone pivotal in my life has abandoned me, betrayed me, tried to stop me, or tried to hurt me; MY GOD has ALWAYS come through for me. Has it been painful? Yes. Has it been challenging? Yes. God is faithful. 


Have I ever done something to get off track with my purpose? Yes, but God is faithful. 

Have circumstances ever changed? Yes, but God is faithful. 

Has there ever been a roadblock in my way? Yes, but God is faithful. 


I’m going to take it a little farther. When someone or something is removed, we need to lean on God. When someone becomes an enemy, we need to lean on God. When circumstances fail us, we need to rely on God. When we fail ourselves, we need to rely on God. 


Here’s the good news – when we rely on God, He can take us above and beyond what we could have done on our own. He does it better. He does it bigger. And the best part – everyone will know that we couldn’t have done it on our own. It had to be God! He gets the attention of men and women, and He draws them closer to Himself. They can know Him! If we appreciate the loving and compassionate and powerful God we serve, then giving Him glory will be the aim of our life. He is so good!


Maybe God wanted to get Egypt’s attention. Maybe Joseph’s calling went beyond saving and growing the Hebrews to saving and growing the Egyptians. I believe it did. God loves the world, and everyone in it. We are His creation, His children, the object of His affection. He wants us to know Him. He’s our Father. He wants His children home with Him. 


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