Day 24: When the Truth Hurts

Opening Prayer:Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”

Daily Scripture Reading:

  • Genesis 40:16-22
  • Proverbs 27:5-6
  • Acts 20:20
  • Ephesians 4:14-16

Hard words, if they be true, are better than soft words, if they be false.” -Charles Spurgeon

After the baker saw that Joesph’s interpretation of the cupbearer’s dream was “favorable” he stepped right up, expecting to hear the good news of his own imminent release. Unfortunately, that’s not what he got. Instead, Jospeh was faithful to speak the truth, rather than tell him what he wanted to hear. Obviously, this is an extreme example. Most of us will not be called to reveal forthcoming death by impalement, but we are called to speak the truth in love to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We are living in a moment in history that says love is singularly defined as agreeing with and affirming every lifestyle choice, emotion, and behavior of another. We are lied to by culture and told if you love someone you will simply support whatever they want to do. The problem is that this view doesn’t line up with Scripture or with reality. You don’t have to look very hard to see a world that is dying of their own indulgences and desperate for a better way. The Bible calls us to something different.

None of us would discover a drowning friend and not do everything in our power to save them. We would risk life and limb to pull them out of danger, even if they struggled against us and claimed the water was fine. But do we fight as hard when a friend says they want a divorce, continues in a destructive addiction, turns their back on godly community, speaks death over their children? Are we brave enough to offend? Are we willing to swim upstream in these cultural waters to reclaim Truth as love and courageous enough to not affirm and agree with sin?

On the flip side, are we the kind of Christ followers who can view the Truth as love in our own lives? Are we willing to humble ourselves and listen when a brother or sister comes to pull us out of our own murky waters? Do we trust others with our blindspots or are we only after “favorable” affirmations? Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.” Are you a brave enough to wound a friend when it is needed? Are you humble enough to trust the wounds of a friend when you are drowning? The most important part you can play in someone else’s dream may be reminding them not to sabotage it!

Today’s Big Questions: Has there ever been a time when you knew you were supposed to speak the Truth in love to someone even though they only wanted you to affirm their sin? Were you brave enough to do it or did you shrink back? How did that feel? Can you think of a time when someone else was brave enough to call you out of your sin? How did you react?

Prayer Response: Today, pray Paul’s words from Acts 20:20; “Lord, I ask that you would find me a faithful friend and give me the power not to hesitate to speak the Truth that would be helpful to others.” Ask the Holy Spirit if there is any situation He is calling you to be courageous and speak hard words into.

Optional Action Step: If someone else has ever bravely spoken difficult Truth into your life and helped to pull you out of sin, take a moment today to write them a letter, send them a text, or call them to say thank you. If you have ever spoken Truth to a friend and they received it and redirected their ways, reach out to them to say that you recognize the changes they have made and that they are on the right track.

Closing Prayer:Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Day 23: Body Building

Opening Prayer:Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”

Daily Scripture Reading:

  • Genesis 40:6-15
  • I Corinthians 12:7-31
  • I Peter 4:10

Today we see the dreamer become the dream interpreter. Not only did Joseph notice that the cupbearer was “dejected,” and ask why he “looked so sad,” he went on to help him by interpreting his dream. We can learn a couple of important lessons through this interaction. First of all, Joseph recognized and declared, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” before he ever asked to hear the cupbearer’s dream. He was extremely clear on who held the power, and immediately gave God the credit for the gift he was about to use. Secondly, we see Joseph courageously risk being wrong or looking crazy as he interpreted the cupbearer’s dream. What if things didn’t turn out like he said they would? Wouldn’t he look like an idiot? Wouldn’t he give God a “bad name” by claiming His power then blowing it? Joesph doesn’t seem deterred by these doubts. He knew that the bigger risk was being disobedient and withholding a gift that could help another.

In I Corinthians 12:7-11 we read a long, yet not exhaustive, list of spiritual gifts that God uniquely blesses us with when we come to Christ. Some of these feel very supernatural- prophecy, tongues, healing, miraculous powers. Other gifts listed here and other places feel a little more natural- faith, generosity, administration, craftsmanship, teaching. The important thing to know is that every Christian has the the Holy Spirit living inside of them and is gifted in one or more of these areas. Yes, even you!

Then in verses 12-31, we read Paul’s masterful metaphor of the Church as a body. The body needs all the parts to function wholly. Though some parts seem more important than others, they can only do their job if every other part is healthy. A body with 5 heads and no feet would be non-functional. We can’t all be the eyes. We can’t all be the hands. A healthy body is diverse. A healthy body protects its members. A healthy body is only healthy when every part is strong willing to do its job.

And then in I Peter 4:10 we read that each of us should use our various and unique gifts to serve each other. We are to pull each other into wholeness using all of who God created us to be! I have not been asked to use your gifts and you have not been asked to use mine, but I have been called to use every bit of my gifts FOR your benefit and your’s FOR mine! It goes much further than a neat list on the pages of Scripture. We are to use our unique experiences, our personality types, our introversion or extroversion, the special strengths of our gender to build up the body of Christ. No one person with one set a spiritual gifts, one personality type, inhabiting one gender can fully represent the character of God, though we are all made in His image. We all have the privilege of showing our part of the Father to the world. “Oh look, you have His eyes. You have His smile. You have His Hands.”

Be a Body builder and an image bearer. Be courageous and take risks as you seek to be obedient in using your gifts. Your Heavenly Father has blessed you so that you can bless others. Don’t hold back!

Today’s Big Questions: Are you a Body builder? Do you use your unique gifts, experiences, and personality to build up the Body of Christ? If not, what is holding you back? Are you unsure of your gifting? Are you afraid to risk messing up? Are you too consumed with your own dream to invest in someone else’s?

Prayer Response: Today ask the Holy Spirit to show you for the first time or remind you of ways He has uniquely gifted you to build up the Body of Christ. Then ask Him for the awareness and the courage to use those gifts today to bless those He puts in your path.

Optional Action Step: Make a few lists under several categories to help you clarify the ways you are being called to build up the Body of Christ. List unique past experiences. List the things you are naturally good at or talents you have. List the activities you love to do. List the issues that fire you up and make you exceptionally excited or exceptionally angry. If you know your spiritual gifts, list those. If you know your Enneagram number or Myers Briggs personality type, list all that means as well. If you need some help, ask a trusted friend or family member to speak into some of these areas. When you are finished, see if you can identify a few threads or things you know God is asking you to be or do for the Body.

Closing Prayer:Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Day 22: Devoted or Dimming Coal?

Opening Prayer:Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”

Daily Scripture Reading:

  • Genesis 40:6-7
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
  • Acts 2:42-47
  • Galatians 6:2,10
  • Hebrews 10:24-25

We have a sign over our bed with the word “Proskartereo” painted on it. “Proskatereo” is a Greek verb that means; “to adhere to, to be devoted to, to be steadfastly attentive, to give unremitting care to a thing, to continue all the time in a place, to persevere and not to faint, to show one’s self courageous for, to be in constant readiness for one.” Some people want a “Always Kiss Me Goodnight” kind of marriage. I’ll take a Proskatereo marriage. Proskatereo is the word that is translated as “devoted” in Acts 2 where we read about the way the early believers did life. It looks a little different than “church” today, doesn’t it?

Joseph wasn’t merely in charge of his fellow prisoners. We see that he was devoted to their well-being too. In Genesis 40:6-7 we read that he noticed when the cupbearer and baker were “dejected,” and he took the time to ask them, “why do you look sad today?” Joseph paid attention. I doubt the emotional health of the prisoners was of concern to the warden or part of Joseph’s job description, but he cared. He took the risk of getting into a messy conversation. He sacrificed his time for the good of someone else. He showed compassion that went above and beyond, when he himself had been shown very little.

In today’s culture of individualized and privatized faith, we tend to look at devotion to a church or community of believers as an add on, a bonus when it is convenient, an option, something to try to squeeze in and grumble about. Or maybe we for long community but have sabotaged ourselves by believing in the unrealistic fairy tale of utopian relationships that meet every need and bow to every personal preference. Real community is costly. We are called to sacrifice time, like Joseph, to pay attention to our people and press into the messy places. We are called to risk being vulnerable- having others see our sins and our wounds. We are called to put our insecurities and fear of rejection on the line to make someone else feel secure and pursued.

For God, living in community is not an add on, or a matter of convenience. In fact, God’s very character is so tied to community that he has been in relationship with Himself- Father, Son, and Spirit- for eternity. To Jesus, devotion is not an option. In fact, community was such an integral part of His earthly ministry that He traveled, taught, slept, ate, and healed in the context of it. If Jesus lived in community, shouldn’t we? If God designed us in His image, don’t we need relationships as well? And if our boy Joseph could sacrifice time, be attentive, and press into hard places in prison, can’t we in our church?

Community is costly, but not near as dangerous as walking this path alone. There is an old story about the evangelist D.L. Moody meeting with a citizen who wanted to argue against the importance of church commitment and devotion to community. As the man spoke, Moody quietly removed a single burning coal from the roaring fire in the room and placed it on the stone hearth. Before the man had finished, the coal dimmed and went out. As Moody silently looked up, the man simply nodded and said, “You have made your point.

Today’s Big Questions: Do you live your life and pursue the Lord in the context of sacrificial community or are you a dimmed coal on the hearth? Who are the people you are devoted to share your burdens with, to confess your sins to, to reveal you wounds to?

Prayer Response: Today, pray Hebrews 10:24-25. “Lord, let me consider how I may spur others on toward love and good deeds. Give me the strength and devotion to not give up meeting together with those in my community as some are in the habit of doing, but help us encourage one another all the more as we see the Day approaching.

Optional Action Step: Take time to reach out to a brother or sister in Christ today and schedule a coffee or lunch devoted to encouraging each other and praying together. Sacrifice your time to really pay attention to their well-being.

Closing Prayer:Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.