Utterly Pure and Persecuted

“Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he refused. ‘With me in charge,’ he told her, ‘my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care…One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.” – Genesis 39:7-9,11,12 Yesterday, we looked at the beginning of the story of Joseph. He was a young and naive dreamer who was sold into slavery by his brothers in their jealousy. After being sold, Joseph’s saga progressed, and he ended up in the household of a wealthy Egyptian named

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Discomfort Can be Good

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6 Do you know what a Chinese finger trap is? It’s the woven tube thing where you put two fingers, usually one from each hand, and they become trapped when you try to pull them out. It’s essentially a kinetic mystery, and it’s frequently one of the first things children encounter. The trap is interesting in that the harder you try to get your fingers out, the tighter it becomes; the only way out is to press in! The tube loosens and you are free when you push both fingers toward the middle. A seatbelt in a car works in the same way: the stronger you pull, the tighter it becomes. The lesson to be learned from these examples is that you must lean into certain types of suffering to

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Something New

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” – Matthew 27:7,8 There’s been much talk recently about the end times, because there’s a lot happening in the world around us. And whether Jesus is coming back next week or in another 500 years, the truth is that He often births new seasons through discomfort. This will certainly be true when history comes to a close and Creation endures a time of tribulation, but it’s equally as true in our lives right now. As those made in the image of God and born again through the blood of Christ, He beckons us to press on and move forward, becoming more like Him in the process. However, it’s important to remember that He often uses pain to loosen our grip on one season so

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Ask the Right Question

“Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you.” – Job 22:21 Have you ever felt like things were finally starting to go your way when you were met with an unexpected crisis? Perhaps you tried for years to overcome an addiction, lose weight, land the perfect job, or start a business, and you made progress, only to encounter something that tempted you to “throw in the towel.” To all who can relate to this scenario, I want to say that you’re not alone, and it’s important not to give up. The truth is that when our aspirations and goals are being attacked, there’s always a reason, and it’s critical to ask the right question. Rather than bemoaning circumstances and hopping on the “train to complain,” God invites us to pray for His perspective and ask Him what He is doing in

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Life-Changing Shakeups

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” – Proverbs 19:21 Many years ago, when I was a young teenager, I was living with my mom, stepdad, and siblings in the San Fernando Valley area of L.A. Early one morning, our house began to shake, and though it started as just a tremor, it soon became a jolting and violent roar. Turns out it was the Northridge quake of 1994, and it ended up destroying numerous buildings and killing 60 people. My parents owned a real estate appraisal company then (they still do, in fact), and after the quake, there was practically no business to be had. The property market came to a screeching halt, and it was as if time stood still in Southern California. Since there was little work for my folks, our family scrimped and ate soup for weeks

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God’s Construction Project

“For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” – 1 Corinthians 3:9 Yesterday, we talked about how God’s temple is in us. To further expound on this thought, today, I want to share another analogy. Our experience last year may have made us a bit “trigger shy” when it comes to fully embracing what’s ahead. After all, none of us could have seen what was coming, and if we could have, we might not have set our expectations so high. However, as Christians, I don’t think there’s any compelling reason to pull back our hopes and dreams for 2021. Even if the coming months bring disappointment or loss, we can adopt an attitude of courageous faith which trusts that everything that happens is part of the Lord’s construction project in our lives. I love C.S. Lewis’ analogy in Mere Christianity in which he explains that

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Do What’s Right

“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” – Proverbs 21:3 Sometimes doing the next right thing can be difficult. I remember one summer during high school, when I was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, my friend Josh — who just loved to fish — would ask me nearly every day to go with him. Now, if you know anything about Tulsa, you know that summertime is not just hot, but humid — it’s like going into hundred degree weather wrapped in a blanket that you’re trying to breathe through. That said, because I minded the heat, each time he would call and want me to go, I would say no. I much preferred lying on the couch in the air conditioning, sipping a Coke, and watching my favorite T.V. shows. Nevertheless, Josh was persistent, and when I finally said yes and accompanied him,

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