Genesis Devotional Intro

Good Morning Essential Rock Church & Friends, 

Today we launch our Monday - Friday daily devotional study of the book of Genesis in our Uncommon Sermon Series. I’ll introduce you to the book today, and chapter one will start tomorrow. Again, we have a host of great faithful people writing to us from God's Word. For the next few weeks Monday through Friday, start your day with God's Word! 

The Book of Genesis is an amazing book, and the first book of the Old Testament. I love telling people that Genesis is a book of “beginnings”:  Beginning of creation, beginning of human history, beginning of family, beginning of human's fall in sin, beginning of family issues, beginning of judgement, beginning of worship, and the beginning path to salvation. 

When I teach Genesis in Bible study, I tell the students that Genesis teaches us two parallel stories:

     1.) Creation (God's power and sovereignty)

    2.) Salvation (God's pathway to redemption)

When I teach these two key points:

  • I draw a train track on the board and tell people one track rail represents God's Creation Story
  • I draw the second train rail and tell people this represents God's Salvation Story. 
  • Both become part of God's historical, poetical, and prophetical instruction to us from within the Bible. It’s His greatest literature that history and theology ever shared, and recorded to teach us truth to help us understand life’s biggest questions.
  • I draw the wooden railroad ties between each track rail. I tell students that these wooden ties represent every story within our Bibles that attach the Creation and Salvation story together! (Truth be told, it clearly starts in Genesis, and leads us on a journey throughout the whole Bible.)

Genesis is the foundational start to the journey for the entire Bible. It’s our beginning history and theology that will lead us into the progressive revelation of scriptures towards Jesus, and the unfolding of salvation in the Good News of the New Testament for the New Covenant! 

It all starts in “Genesis” which is a Greek word meaning: “Beginning/Source/Origin/Generation”.

Even the original Hebrew title, “Bereshith", means: “In the Beginning”.

This historical beginning was passed down from generation to generation, and inspired by God to Moses, and recorded as Genesis as our creative origin, source, from the beginning. It’s God's holy and divine “Bereshith” for us, and for all generations. 

In the coming days you’ll learn:

     a.) The Four Events: 

  • Creation
  • Fall
  • Flood
  • Nations

     b.) The Four People

  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Jacob
  • Joseph

The source and depth of creation and the development of the nation of Israel will be uncovered. We’ll also be pointed to God's redeeming Son, Jesus, for our ultimate gift of Salvation!

Together, each of us can experience the three fundamental sources of human knowledge: ReasonExperience, and Revelation to learn of God's unlimited power and truth so each of us can answer life's most critical questions:

      1.) Who am I?

      2.) Where did I come from?

      3.) Where am I going?

      4.) What is the purpose of my existence?

      5.) Where is history going, & taking us?

Which questions can you answer today?

If you can answer some, or all, what part does God's Word of truth play in your knowledge?

Enjoy God's revelation to you in our Genesis study. For without God's revelation, we are limited to finding all the answers from reason and experience only. Using only reason and experience will leave us woefully short on truth and understanding. So enjoy God as the: Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End! Let Genesis become God's Creation and Redemption story to ultimately give you and I this essential truth… “You make all things new again in and through Christ Jesus”!!! Why? For our amazing salvation!!! 

Look for your Genesis chapter one devotional tomorrow morning!

In Jesus’ Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

all for you

genesis 1

29Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit contains seed. They will be yours for food. 30And to every beast of the earth and every bird of the air and every creature that crawls upon the earth—everything that has the breath of life in it—I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31And God looked upon all that He had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Genesis 1: 29-31(please read the whole chapter)

I remember one Christmas, when our daughters were very young, we didn’t have much money, so I compensated by making a lot of their toys.  I designed and built this, what would be called a creativity center in today's market.  It was mostly plywood cut a little taller than the tallest child.  It had three panels to it, hinged together so it could stand on its own.  The center panel had a cut-out and curtains were hung at the top and covering the edge so they could be drawn to cover the opening.  For them it was a broadway stage.  This is where many a great puppet stories were written and created.  The outer wings of the structure was a cork board on one side, and a chalk board on the other. Many hours were spent around the black board mimicking what school might be like.  

Their mother and I put a lot of thought and detail in that center, from the stage curtains, to the painted classroom background.  On the opposite side was painted the interior of the house they dreamed would be when they became wives and mothers. No detail was spared. When we completed the build, I remember setting it up by the Christmas tree and staring at it with such satisfaction, very pleased with the outcome and very excited to see their excitement when they first saw it.  

I see our Heavenly Father with the same excitement when He presented His creation to His children.  He had us in mind when He was doing the test and development.  He must have been very excited to present His created gift to Adam and Eve!  And all he asked of them was to take care of it and help it thrive.  

Years later, when the girls became teenagers, that old creation of ours was no longer needed and it sat in the corner of the basement, neglected and in disrepair.  It was a sad moment for me to cut up that old plywood to use as kindling for the fire. I wonder how Our Father feels when He sees the condition of His creation.  We have a responsibility to take care and nurture the people and things He’s given to us.

Today, I challenge you to take account of what has been given into your care: family, friendships, environment, possessions, whatever it is that God has blessed you with. Are you taking care and helping it to thrive and enjoy as the gift it is? We have a great responsibility not only to our world, but to everything that has been given.  So I encourage you to thank God, Who has lovingly given you everything you need and because everything He has given, He has declared it as “Very Good”.  

Father, we are very grateful for Your lovingkindness shown in the care You continually give us.  Your faithful, never-ending love is the only thing we need to live and thrive.  Help us to see Your creation as You see it, and give us Your guidance and desire to love and nurture our family, our neighbors and this beautiful planet for which we live.  Thank You, Father, for entrusting and strengthening us with Your divine creation.  In Jesus name we pray, Amen.


perfection at its finest

genesis 2

25And the man and his wife were both naked, and they were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:25 

(You gotta read the whole chapter)


There is a lot going on in chapter 2 but this last verse has always captured my attention. Why did God make it a point to tell us they were naked?  There are of course many theories about this.  I don’t know about you, but whenever I read this passage, I kind of smirk.  But that’s me.  I struggle with this body image thing, especially being in my senior years.  Nothing is what it used to be.  So when I read the account of God creating Adam and Eve, I’ve wondered what was it like to have the perfect body and not possess one ounce of guilt or shame?  In reality, they were newborn babes, and our Father loved them the same as we show love to our new born babies.  


One chapter back, God told us He made us in His image, just like Him.  So we now love with the same attributes as He.  That’s why when that brand new baby is handed over to you for the first time, he or she is so perfect in your eyes.  They can’t do anything wrong at that moment, no matter if they cry, or groan, or leave little presents for you in their diaper.  We always have the same reaction….complete acceptance and an oversized heart filled with compassion and love.  The first time you smell that sweet aroma of newborn creation….your heart melts in love.  Ever notice all babies smell exactly the same, and it’s a smell you can’t describe.  It’s the aroma of God’s love in its purest form.  It’s been such a long time since I smelled that smell.  I’m in great hopes to smell that again from the birth of my great grandchildren.  


And like that child, Adam and Eve are completely naked, without guilt or shame!  I struggled with that statement, “and were not ashamed”. Completely exposed and transparent to God and one another.  They knew everything about one another and loved and accepted one another with no shame or guilt.  How much more bliss can we ask for?!  There is a day coming, we will be restored to our original intention of existence, “perfectly and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).  


This chapter is filled with such amazing accounts of our creation and our world’s creation, but I believe there is also a great promise and encouragement in this account, for us today.  God created us in total perfection, and one day, He will restore us to our original perfection.  Perfection in Him, because He loves us, through the blood that Jesus shed, we are as those perfect newborn babies in the Father’s eyes.  


Thank you, Father, for the perfect creation that lives in us still today.  We look forward to that perfection to come out on our appointed day. As we wait for that day to come, give us the strength to endure, the hope to stand firm, and the faith to keep believing.  We ask this in the strong name of Jesus….Amen.



the father's heart

genesis 3

9But the LORD God called out to the man, “Where are you?”

Genesis 3:9

(You know I’m gonna ask you to read the whole chapter)


There is a lot going on in this chapter and I encourage you to read it in it’s entirety, but what struck my heart was verse 9.  Being a father, I have found myself, many times while raising my children, looking for them constantly.  From infancy to marriage, it was nonstop!  


“Where are you crawling off to now?” “Now what are you getting into?”  “Why are you doing that?”  “Who told you that was ok?!”  It was a constant labor of knowing my children were safe and making good choices.  And when they didn’t make the right choices? Depending on the infraction…..the hammer would fall!  


As they grew and learned the ins and outs of life, challenges seem to become bigger and more challenging.  Like the time I told my teenage daughter “No!”.  That went over like a lead balloon.  I never really understood the real meaning of digging in your heels until that moment.  And she did!  She was going to do what she wanted, and she did.  Funny thing….while I was angrily waiting for her return that evening and pacing the floor, fear struck my heart!  “Where is she?! Is she ok?!  What if?!!”  My anger turned to concern and now I feared the worse.  


That father instinct was built in my DNA.  I didn’t attend a class or a weekend retreat for fathers to learn how to protect and love your children.  It was in me the whole time, and boy did it come out that night!  I went through two intense shifts of emotions when she walked through that door.  I was so glad to see her but then righteous indignation kicked it.  Much to her chagrin, she was expelled from activities that she enjoyed.


I see our heavenly Father in this verse, very much the same.  He knew they did wrong before even talking to them and then He went looking.  He wanted them to face Him and see His concern and compassion for them and then as any good father would do….make them accountable for their actions.  The first chapter of Genesis tells us we were made in “Their image”, meaning we carried the emotional DNA as God.  Does he have concern for us? Definitely! But He also knows we are stubborn and need to experience consequences to give us the opportunity to grow towards Him or away from Him.  We must learn to make hard choices and live them.  


Was it harsh of God to cast us all out of the garden?  We, as limited thinkers see it…Yes!  But He knows how it all ends.  It ends with His loving arms around us all, welcoming us back home for eternity.  So when you think God isn’t living up to a standard we expect, understand this….He’s got a better plan for our redemption from our foolish choices and that plan is perfectly and wonderfully made... for our delight and His glory.  


Lord, there are many times we don’t understand what You are doing and the sense of Your plans confound us.  It’s during those time we need You the most to help us see Your goodness through it.  We are so grateful Your heart is for us and not against us.  Strengthen us to continue our story hand in Hand with You.  In Jesus loving name we pray….Amen.



what's not to understand?

Genesis 4

Why are you angry,” said the LORD to Cain, “and why has your countenance fallen? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you refuse to do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires you,  but you must master it.”

Genesis 4:6-7

(Read the whole chapter🙂)


Sin has a power effect on the reasoning function of our mind.  It can distort the truth in any situation.  It has the power to sicken our minds to a deeper level of deprivation.  For me, I find selfish self-centeredness to be the root of any sin.  In Cain’s situation, he was jealous of Abel’s offering to God as acceptable and his was not.  Why not?  Go back and look at verse 7.  It’s right there!  “If you do what is right”, that’s a very loaded statement.  “Doing what right?!”…..EVERYTHING!  God isn’t talking about our works. He referring to our hearts!  If your heart is right, if your motivation is to advance the good of others and not just yourself, if you take care of your neighbor with a joyful heart, if you truly love God as your Father and completely sold on the truth that God is real, and completely loves you just as your are, through Christ, then you are doing what is right!  Cain gave because he had to.  There was no love involved with his offering, he did it to be recognized that he did it.


There was a young man in a church I attended many years ago who was never noticed for all the work he did for the church.  He'd make suggestions of how to make things better, more efficient.  He’d take the initiative to show how it would make things better, but it was shot down or went unrecognized.  I must tell you, his motives weren’t based on just making things better.  He was bent to get recognition.  His thought was to be recognized as successful and accepted as one of the gang.  His heart wasn’t right, he wasn’t “doing what is right” as verse 7 explains.  His motivation was selfishness, not selflessness.  Believe me, his countenance fell hard and he became very bitter towards church and Christians.  I’m sure you might be thinking there was a lot more going on there than just selfish motivation.  Insecurity, distrust, some really deep wounds? You’re right, there was, but like Cain, there was no excuses for that young man’s behavior or for that matter, the excuses used in his own mind.  It was all based on sin’s roots that we battle every day.  And it is a daily battle.  Jesus told us right up front…life is going to be a battle, (John 16:33).  And Paul told us that our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, but the spiritual realm. (Ephesians 6:12).  


As the the last words of our Scripture for today tells us, I didn’t “master it” so well in that situation.  It mastered me.  The only mastering I did was to perfect it’s strength.  Pastor Chuck Swindoll was quoted to say that “sin will take your further than you want to go; make you stay longer than you want to stay; and pay more than you wanted to pay”.  The good news is, 1 John 2:1-2, tells us we have an advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous, who not only cleans us up, but strengthens us to keep going.  


Today, do you find yourself gripped and being mastered by sin?  That’s a rough place to be, but you have a way out.  John promises us in 1 John 2, if we confess our sins, we WILL be forgiven and cleansed from that sin’s grip.  


Come pray with me….

Father, our world is filled with sin.  Sin that ensnares us at times.  We bow before You and ask for Your forgiveness and not only forgiveness ,but cleansing from the grip of that sin.  We ask You, in faith through our Advocate, Jesus the Christ, the righteous One, Whom has been promised to not only cleanse us through His shed  blood, but make us whole again.  Thank You, Father, that You count us worthy, in the powerful name of all names, Jesus the Christ we pray….Amen! 



beam me up

chapter 5

23Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. 24Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

 Genesis 5:23-24

(Yup, you gotta read the whole chapter)


Genealogy has never been a favorite interest of mine.  In fact, I’ve found when I do read some of the genealogies in Scripture, I tend to fall asleep.  But interestingly enough, I discovered that chapter 5 is filled with a plethora of factual information that tickled my interest.  As with all Scripture, God graciously gives several reasons for us to ponder.  I think He enjoys amazing us.  Look at the first thing that’s amazing…..the long years of life these Patriarchs endured!  I say endured because of the sin that was now dominating the land from the fall in the garden, but each character listed lived nearly a thousand years!  That’s way out of my league of understanding.  


In reference to this Scripture, there are many versions of what actually happened at that glorious moment.  Which ever version resembles the actual account, there is no mistaking….”God took him away!”  


I want to know what was it about Enoch that delighted God enough to allow Enoch to bypass death and go directly to Heaven?  The  verse says, “Enoch walked faithfully with God”.  Well , I’ve  walk faithfully with God….at times….and I’m still here!  Why didn’t God take me, during those short moments, when I did walk with Him?!  I think the answer to my question is in the question.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked, pleaded, begged God to beam me up. But I’m still here, and there is a reason.  I used to think it was to be tormented a little longer.  I finally out grew that adolescent thought process.  So I figured, Jeremiah 29:11 was the answer.  Nope not going to quote it here….some of you know it and the rest of you will have to look it up.  


I think Jeremiah’s quote wraps up that mystery.  It’s obvious, we’re not all an Enoch!  God developed and executed a personal, exclusive plan for each one of us.  And let’s get real here….who are we to tell God how our plans should be written? God tells us right up front as He did to Isaiah in chapter 8 verse 55, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  Any questions?!  If you do, bring it to the Lord.  I’m not saying He’ll see it your way but I am saying He’s got really big shoulders and He’ll listen and help you through it.  Jesus promised He would in Matthew 11:28, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” 


There could be a lot going on in your life right now and you might be wishing God would take you away as He did Enoch.  I can’t say if He will or not, but I can say the plan for your life, even if it seems to make no sense what so ever, makes perfect sense to Him and He will walk with you every step of that plan until it’s your turn for Him to take you away.  What a glorious ride that will be! 


Father, there are many moments in our lives that just doesn’t make sense.  Loss of loved ones, financial struggles and failures, medical battles, worries, and the list goes on, and in that, we sometimes question Your plans for us.  But then I read Your loving words telling me Your plans are good and You will strengthen us and walk with us through those plans, promising to never leave us or forsake us. We hold claim to Your promises to overcome any adversity so to declare in our hearts and to the world, You are God and very present help in time of need.  In the powerful name of Jesus we pray….amen.



regret to redemption

genesis 6

The LORD regretted that He had made human beings on the earth, and His heart was deeply troubled.

 Genesis 6:6

(Read the whole chapter and feel His pain)


This verse is so tragic.  If we are made in God’s image, in His likeness, then the heartbreak I’m experiencing reading this verse must have been multiplied many times more for God.  What a horrible realization God came to when He made the decision to eradicate the earth of the human race.  I grieve over the dead fish I find in our aquarium, I can’t imagine the intensity of remorse, grief, and pain our Father went through when He made the decision to blot out His heart-driven creation.  


Back in the second chapter of verse 18 He told us, “it’s not good for man to be alone”.  That tells me He knows what being alone felt like.  The one thing He so dearly loved became so violent and wicked, He had to destroy them! I tear up thinking about it.  All He wanted was a creation to freely love Him.  Isn’t that what we all desire in life?  To be completely known and loved, because they desire to?!


But He saw Noah.  Verse 8 says, “but Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord”.  What a relief that must have been for God!  The only comparison I can think of is finding a fellow Christian at a new job you just started.  I remember it well.  I had such a feeling of relief, that we were on the same page!  I betcha God felt the same and then that brought hope in His heart for His creation, thus the planning of the “Redemption Project”, all the way to the cross!  


God is such a loving God….even in the Old Testament!  I say it with a grin.  We folks have the wrong vision of the Old Testament God.  I’ve heard people say, “the New Testament God completed anger management”.  Nope….the God of the Old Testament is the same loving God of the new.  Even in the middle of His painful remorse, regret, and grieving creating mankind, He developed a plan to save us.  If that isn’t love…I don’t know what is!  


So the next time someone says God sure was a hateful, angry God in the Old Testament….bring them to this chapter, and help them to see how deeply grieved He was over His creation’s vile wickedness. Then show His tender heart that suffered pain and grief, and in that pain, He planned our redemption back to Him.


Father, thank You for helping us to see Your tender mercies towards us.  We lack clarity in our human form to see Your truth.  So open our eyes to see through Your heart, and help us to feel Your love, and refresh us daily with Your spirit of truth and mercy….. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.


got things to do?

genesis 7

And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.

 Genesis 7:1 

(The whole chapter is waiting for ya)


Out of all the inhabitants on the earth, only Noah was found to be righteous.  And it wasn’t by his own power that Noah was righteous. God found favor in him because Noah chose to walk with God, (Genesis 6:9), and Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.  Noah lived as God asked him to live.  So God knew Noah could be trusted to fulfill His plan to set in motion the world’s redemption and give the human race another chance.  Within this very daunting task, God provided everything needed to complete it.  Nothing was spared....The architectural plans for construction to the detailed procedure of the infrastructure, even personal invitations to each family member and species of animal.  It was all there, the complete implementation and operational manual.  


So there it is, everything spelled out; what to do, how to do it, and where to do it.  Now it was up to Noah and fam to submit to God’s plan, have the faith to complete it, and the hope it will turn out ok.


Has God put a burning in your heart to do something that you’re not sure you can do?  Do as Noah did….walk with God, seek His favor, ask for direction and find your hope in God.  Remember what Paul tells us in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen”.  Having assurance in your faith in God is exactly what is needed to finish the task you’ve been called to do.


Father, we all have been given a task to help build Your kingdom and bring more to Your house.  Help us to first see what is it You’ve planned for each of us to do and then help us to use Your power and wisdom already given to us to complete it.  We know it could be daunting, but we also know it will be complete because You promised in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Thank You, Father, for choosing our tasks to complete in Your strength and in Your Spirit….in the name of Jesus we pray….Amen.


The love boat

genesis 8

1But God remembered Noah and all the animals and livestock that were with him in the ark. And God sent a wind over the earth, and the waters began to subside.

Genesis 8:1 

(You gotta read the whole chapter, it’s good stuff)


This is a very interesting statement: “God remembered Noah”. At first you would think, ”Did He forget who was floating around down there?!”  Only eight people left on the planet, how could He forget?!  Nope, He didn’t forget. In fact, He had His eye on Noah and the fam the whole time.  


Do you remember going to your child’s first game, concert, race, showing? There was a lot of excitement going on, but your whole focus was on your kids. Yes, you did notice the other contenders and the parents there but, your child was the best there and you watched every move. While I was sitting there watching all the events unfold, I remembered all the practicing, rehearsal, the falls and bruises, the times when she said, crying, “I can’t do this”.  And there she was….in the game, watching her go through the same moves she practiced over and over again. Man my heart was just bustin' at the seams with excitement! I was so proud she did it!  


I think that’s what God was saying here. There isn’t an exact count, but scholars have suggested it took about 75 years, give or take a few, to build the ark and God was there every step of the way. He guided and watched Noah struggle through the whole project. I have no doubt God’s heart was bustin' at the seams too!  


I also have no doubt God’s heart was broken watching His creation wash away.  I can only compare it to watching those videos of people's homes being hit by raging flood waters, lifted off their foundation, reduced to splinters while the owners helplessly watched. I also believe it moved God to promise to never destroy the world like that again.  And He sealed it with a seal of promise….the rainbow, as a reminder of His faithfulness.


This is another account of God’s great mercy for His creation.  He loves us, He cares for us, and will never forsake us.  No matter how high the raging waters get in your life, He ALWAYS has a plan of rescue.  All you have to do is step into the boat and trust.


Father, You are such a good God.  Your faithfulness always excites and astonishes me.  Help us, Father, not to doubt Your love for us, and when we do….forgive us and redeem us from our doubt, filling us with Your Spirit of faith that we might reach out to those who are drowning from the troubles and worries of this world.  In the redeeming name of Jesus we pray….Amen.


living in god's increase

genesis 9

“As for you, be fruitful and increase in number, multiply on the earth and increase upon it”.

Genesis 9:7

After the flood, God gives these above blessed words to Noah and his family! 

These words came from God just before He establishes His covenant with Noah, his family, and all living creatures and generations (verses 8-17).

But before giving the covenant, God first blesses them to start “Living in God's increase”! It’s His loving restoration to increase by creating more image bearers of Himself. He’s telling humankind to live in His blessed increase, to multiply within the joy of love by sharing in His created intimacy. 

His instructions comes in His two statement forms of “increase”. 

1.) “Be fruitful and increase in number

2.) “Multiply on the earth and increase upon it”

This was the first “increase” directly associated with increasing in population! Yet, don’t miss the key word “fruitful”! God was blessing man and woman with all the blessings of His creative nature and providence... with all the good things of life within communion with Himself. They are called forth to love in His powerful creative design of procreating in the glory of all its fruitfulness! 

The second statement of “increase” in today's Scripture comes with more blessed wisdom from God: “Multiply on the earth and increase upon it”!

In this blessed statement, God is blessing us to multiply and populate the earth again, but then He adds the key word “increase” a second time in the statement to “increase upon it”!  I believe God is invoking wisdom to increase upon the earth in all aspects of Godly intimacy in spiritual and physical life through holiness, faithfulness, discipleship, procreation, and stewardship. In essence, to increase all the attributes of His very image we each bear and share it “upon it” (His earth) for all to see!

  • How are you and the generations of your family “multiplying the fruitful increase” in life God has blessed you with?
  • How are you “increasing upon the earth” for all creation to see: All God's attributes and amazing love so as to best experience and share His promises, covenant, and signs?

In Psalm 9, God goes on to give us a “sign” reminding us of His covenant. The beautiful sign of a RAINBOW for all living creation to look up and see. So let every rainbow in the sky remind you — God blesses us with increase to show us His blessings, and to share it upon the Earth! Then God covenants with us His promises! Let every rainbow joyfully remind us we’re meant to be living in God's increase and promised covenant! Please read all of Genesis 9 today and joyfully increase in your faithful living. Amen!!

In Jesus’ Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

genesis 10

How many times have I skipped over these kinds of chapters in the Bible, thinking to myself, “Oh it's just names/genealogy of descendants from someone.”  Genealogy is important. Where we each came from is important.  Your own family history/genealogy tells a story...the story of where your family came from, where they used to live, how they lived and how you came to be.  The genealogy written is Chapter 10 of Genesis is very important to each one of us.  Chapter 10 reveals to us how all the nations and people of the earth stemmed from Noah and his sons after the flood.  It is an appraisal of the human family.  From the sons of Noah, nations were born.  

From Japheth comes 14 nations.  Japheth and his descendants went north and settled around the Black and Caspian Seas.  They became the ancestors of the Medes, Greeks, and Caucasian races of Europe and Asia.

From Ham comes 30 nations.  The first great civilians came from Ham.  They settled in southern Arabia, southern Egypt, and the east shore of the Mediterranean and north cost of Africa.  They settled in what would eventually become home to the Jewish people, Canaan.

From Shem comes 26 nations.  His descendants settled in Arabia, and the Middle East valley.  They include the Jews, Assyrians, Syrians and Elamites.  

From the sons (descendants) of Noah, the people spread across the lands, and nations were born.  Through these nations, Abraham and his lineage will come.  Moses and so many others.  In time, Jesus will come from the lineage of David.  Lets not skip over the rich history of God's people and His story being written on each and every life.  How has your family history made an impact in spreading the Gospel?  

divine segregation

genesis 11

“Come let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other”

Genesis 11:7

God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were not only present at “creation” but now show up together to “confuse”! (“Let us go down and confuse…”). As you read all of Genesis 11, you’ll see sinful people giving instructions in their own language to build a tower to Heaven. This tower was being built in a city that became know as Babel. The word Babel means “confusion”. 

The Tower of Babel was being made in the plains of Shinar which was part of Babylon. In ancient history and modern archeology, we know these people built towers “Ziggurats” to false gods. Such a tower was built for a false god to come down and receive worship to then bless the people. In this case, our real God came down and He was not pleased. The “Us” in the Trinity power of God handed out divine segregation. This segregation was to confuse everyone’s language to make sharing building instructions impossible. People then left and spread around the world. 

I love this story and how God not only creates, but He also confuses. All of it for our good. What makes this story even better is what God does on the day of Pentecost later in the New Testament in Acts 2. A day Jesus had promised of the Father in the coming of the Holy Spirit to be with us! That day became God's day of “Holy Integration” where everyone of segregated languages could now hear the wonders of Gods holy Word in their own tongues (languages). 

“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 

Acts 2: 4:11

Our divine, powerful, wise God did confuse and scatter people everywhere in the world at the Tower of Babel by “Divine Segregation”. Yet, He provides us His full trinitarian power in “Divine Integration” with the gift of the Holy Spirit to be with us!!!

Question: How did something evil lead to all segregation? How does our amazing God desire us to integrate and fully experience Him? 

Our God doesn’t come to the towers we build, He comes to Integrate within us! 

Pray we integrate together as God's people and grow in worshiping together in truth as we pour out His love! Amen.

In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

trusting god in the unknown

genesis 12

Genesis 12:2-3 NIV

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing. 
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”


When God shows up in your life, are you prepared to trust His promises and surrender the outcome to Him?

In Genesis 12, we see God’s divine promise to Abram—that God will bless him and make his name great and bless all peoples of the earth through him. What an insane promise! Could you imagine if God made the same promise to you?

As Genesis 12 continues, we see Abram faced with an uncertain situation, so he decided to take the easy way out. Rather than being forthcoming with Pharaoh and telling him that Sarai was his wife, he instructed his wife to tell Pharaoh that she was Abram’s sister. In turn, Abram was blessed, temporarily, by Pharaoh. Abram, in that moment, decided not to trust that God would fulfill that promise given to him—he was afraid that Pharaoh would kill him and his wife, and reaped some short-term benefits from Pharaoh, rather than trusting in the long-term promises of blessings from God. In the end, God shows his sovereignty when He corrects the situation, afflicting Pharaoh and bringing to light the truth.

Like Abram, we often find ourselves in situations where it’s easy to take the immediate reward in our lives, rather than waiting for the amazing promises that God has made to us and for us. Sometimes, we do it because we’re afraid. Sometimes we do it because we aren’t fully trusting that God will take care of us. Sometimes we seek that instant gratification for ourselves and lose sight of the bigger picture. 

We need to remember that God takes care of each and every one of us, and remember to trust that He has a plan for us and will take care of us, just as He takes care of the birds of the air. 

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:25-26 (NIV)

What about you? Are there areas of your life that you need to trust God? In what areas of your life has fear held you back from fully experiencing God’s promises?

Take some time this week to thank God for the blessings He provides in your life, and ask Him to show you areas that you need to trust Him more. 


Let’s pray together:


Lord Jesus, we thank You so much for Your blessings. We trust that You are our loving Father, and You’ll take care of us, just as You take care of the birds in the air. We thank You that Your mercies are new every day, and that we have forgiveness and salvation through Your Son, Jesus. Bless us this day, and help us to find joy in everything we do. We give You glory in Jesus’ name! Amen. 


Together in Christ!

Kody Burg

saddle up, partner!

chapter 13

7And there was discord between the herdsmen of Abram and the herdsmen of Lot. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were also living in the land. 8So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no contention between you and me, or between your herdsmen and my herdsmen. After all, we are brothers. 9Is not the whole land before you? Now separate yourself from me. If you go to the left, I will go to the right; if you go to the right, I will go to the left.”


Genesis 13:7-8 

(I encourage you to read the whole chapter)


Well here’s a classic spaghetti western out of the 60’s television era, (for those of you who are old enough to remember).  I can see Abram and Lot sittin' on their horses, cowboy hats tipped down over their brow, toothpick hangin out the side of their mouth….both lookin out over their herds… you can hear the theme song of “Good, Bad and the Ugly” playing in the background. Abram slowly turns and looks at Lot and says, (you know I have to quote it, don’t you?) Abram says to Lot, ”This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.”  Abram dropped the hammer on his nephew, western style!  Well ok, fine, not exactly like that, but I saw Clint Eastwood all over this scene.


Actually Abram was much more diplomatic.  He knew distention and resentment was growing between the herdsmen.  Lot decided to hire on the local Canaanites and Perizzites which were outspoken idol worshipers and antagonist against the Israelites.  Good chance Lot’s herdsmen started a little feud and it’s also possible they influenced Lot to journey towards Sodom, and we all know how that turned out!


Abram again showed faith in God’s promise over him.  Abram knew it didn’t matter which way he went, because God was with him and would prosper and protect him where ever he landed.  When Lot left, God told Abram, “Look around Abram!  This is all yours now.”  


Abram chose God’s desire to first believe and then go on that faith.  He showed a Godly attitude toward Lot, to live at peace with him, and gave Lot first choice.  Paul tells us the same in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Paul gave us that instruction for a purpose.  Jesus made it very clear in John 23:35 that our attitudes towards one another would reflect our Christian faith to the unbelievers.


There are many messages in this passage, but I believe one important message is that God is guiding us to strive to live at peace with everyone because we are living examples of Jesus’s love for all, and we are called to “cowboy up” in a life of faith in Him.  Just like Abram…we gotta saddle up Partner, cuz we got a trail to blaze!  (Sorry, I couldn’t help it)


Father, many times we struggle in our choices of discerning Your plans for us.  We ask and pray that You would open out hearts to Your direction and our eyes to Your vision so that we might live at peace and be Your vessel to bring the Gospel to those who are struggling.  Thank You, Father, You count us worthy to be Your light in a dark world.  In the mighty name of Jesus we pray….amen



shovels & bulldozers

genesis 14

“And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Genesis 14:20

There is so much to unpack in this chapter! It starts out with a big war: 4 kings versus 5 kings. The victor was King Kedolaomer and his powerful army over rebel kings including Sodom & Gommorrah. King Kedolaomer’s army took all their defeated foe’s goods, which included Lot and all he owned. Abraham caught wind of this and fired up his 318 fighting men to fight this great army to take back Lot and his goods. Abraham and his men caught up with Kedolaomer and his men in the night and conquered them all (with the help of some tar pits). This is amazing!  Only God! 318 men conquered the vast, powerful army of King Kedorlaomer that night! Look how God can do big things with little resources.

Also to be noted in verse 20 is the first mention of tithing. King Malchezidek (and High Priest) from Salem, (thought to be modern day Jerusalem), came to praise God and His obvious favor over Abraham and his great victory. In this meeting, Abraham gave Malchezidek 10% of all he recovered. The first tithe. (This exchange is also mentioned in Hebrews 7, the Hall of Faith Book). 

I challenge you to start tithing 10% of your income if you haven’t already. It takes faith, but if you do, I promise you, you’ll be blessed. Even better, the Bible promises it! Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” This is the only time in the Bible that the Father tells us to test Him. I like to say, “We bring the sand shovel and He brings the bulldozer.”


The beginning of the chapter tells how Abraham brought the shovel to the fight against King Kedolaomer and his army, and God brought the bulldozer and conquered them all! Then later, once again, Abraham brings the shovel to Malchezidek, and God brought the bulldozer and blessed Abraham abundantly! God still does this today. What a powerful, wonderful example the Lord gave us in Abraham. This is something that is very important in the Kingdom, although it doesn’t come naturally easy at first, and will take faith, but if you do, He promises blessing. Blessing that is good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over! (Luke 6:38). Trust God in all you have, you won’t regret it.

Dear Lord, we thank You that we get the blessings of being on Your side… the winning side! You make conquering a big, powerful army with a few good men, a simple task. Thank You for Abraham and his example of faithfulness and integrity to teach us all. Thank You for Your faithfulness to Your Word. Lord, we ask You to multiply our faith and make up for everywhere we lack, until we get to that next level of faith. Please help us to trust in You alone forever as we are called to do, never doubting You, but only trusting You. We ask You to help us to be blessed to be a blessing, to honor You in all we receive as it is all a gift from You. We love You, thank You, and ask this all in Jesus’ powerful name, AMEN!

you said it, I believe it, that settles it!

Genesis 15

6Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

Genesis 15:6

(Don’t forget to read the whole chapter)


In the previous chapter, Abram not only defeated Kedorlaomer king of Elam, along with the three other kings, but rescued his nephew Lot and family and all the people that were taken captive with everything they owned.  After conquering a very taxing battle and enduring long peace treaty talks with the ungodly kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abram in his tent, tired, hungry and battle weary, sitting down having dinner with the Lord, (I’ve always wondered, when I sit at the great feast in Heaven if Jesus will use a fork or just do the the wiggle your nose thing?).  Sorry, I digressed….. And in his exhausted condition, expresses his concern with everything that was given by God, and has no heir to continue the promise of his people.  Interesting how exhaustion can test our faith and cause doubt.


I gotta tell ya, in a way, I know that feeling of being tired and battle weary.  Sometimes your everyday job is a battlefield.  You start out the day with reading your devotionals all prayed up, feeling strong, like you could conquer a four King army, but as the day progresses…. working with a demanding, uncompromising boss, coworkers who just don’t get the concept of doing work and bustin' knuckles to meet all your own deadlines, much less your coworkers, rushing home to engage in the second round battle of homeland security, you finally come to the late evening end. You sit in your chair, exhausted, then you and God have that conversation.  With your face in your hands you ask, with such exhaustion…..and you can hear that still, small voice,  the words of verse 1  in your morning devotional, “Do not be afraid, I am your shield,  your very great reward.”  


So now, we are given a choice as Abram was given.  Do we look at today’s battlefield as a victory, or a defeat?  Do we reflect on God’s promises as truths only for others, or for us as well? Like an old book, sin is folded in the lap doubt. Our choice today determines our victories for tomorrow.  And as you read through this chapter, you see Abram chose wisely to believe God at His word.  


Facing a possible battlefield today? Believe God “is your Shield”. Just experienced a long exhausting battlefield? Thank God, because, “He is …..your very great Reward”.


Father, we have faced many battles in our life, and possibly will have more.  But the truth is….you’ve been right there each and every time, guarding us from deeper wounds, strengthening us to keep going and in the end, renewing us with Your sweet, loving arms of favor.  Help us to remember that it doesn’t matter what we face in life... we never, ever face it along because You promised “You are our Shield and great Reward”.  In the great and comforting name of Jesus we pray….amen.


if we only knew

genesis 16

5Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

Genesis 16:5

(You gotta read this chapter, it’s chocked full of emotional drama)


Well here is another fine example of putting the horse before the cart.  I’m sure most of you know the story of God’s promise to Abram that He will bless him with a son, an heir to the promise, recorded in the last chapter we read. Abram will be the father of offspring, more numerous than the stars in the sky.  And as it said in the last chapter, Abram believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.  


But Sarai lost her patience waiting, (I think she lost her mind at that point), waiting for the blessing to conceive an heir, and decided to take matters into her own hands. She found a surrogate mother to produce an heir, and if that wasn’t bad enough….she employed Hagar, a Canaanite servant, an unbelieving heathen completely out of God’s chosen blood line, to produce the beginning line up for the nation of Israel.  What was she thinking?!! Talk about blinded by selfishness!  Was not Sarai there when God promised Abram a son and his descendants would be too numerous to count?  This chapter is a perfect example of disobedience and rebellion, and honestly, where was Abram’s brain in all this?  Sounds too much like the account of Adam and Eve in the garden.  Eve takes a bite of disobedience, and then hands it to Adam. Adam says ok, and then blames Eve for the out come.  Well, here’s Abram saying “ok”, then Sarai blames Abram for his actions.  Sometimes we humans are unbelievable.  The sad part of all this is neither Sarai nor Abram had any idea of the magnitude of their disobedience.


Here again, man decides to go it alone, without the guidance of God’s already laid out plan.  As we saw with Adam and Eve, then Jacob and his mother Rachel….they messed it up!  But God’s sovereign love for His creation kicks in again, and He continues using our failures for His glory, for our good.  God uses Abram and Sarai’s story to show us that without Him and His guidance, nothing can work as it was designed.  Every time we try to do it without God, or go against His plan….it fails to accomplish what God intended it to do.  


I can’t count how many times I knew that I knew, I was going against God’s plan and every time, it turned out not so well.  I’m sure you can remember the same.  So what do you say we try a different tactic?   Joshua 24:15 couldn’t say it any more clearly: “Then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  Serving the Lord means seeking His will and obeying His direction.  When you think about it, is there a better way?


Father, there is no better way to accomplish Your calling than by submitting to Your will.  As Jesus opens the eyes of the blind, open our eyes of our hearts and minds so we too will see Your direction in the plans of our story.  Strengthen our faith to stay on Your path and fill us with Your Spirit for the strength to continue that path.  In the mighty name of Jesus we pray….amen


so, what's in a name?!

genesis 17

5No longer will you be called Abram, your name will be Abraham,  for I have made you a father of many nations.

15God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. 16I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.”


Genesis 17:5,15,16


Have you ever wanted to change your name?  I personally have never been comfortable with the name I was given.  My whole school career I was called “Anthony!”.  Really mom?! Anthony?!  Nothin' else came to mind?!  Needless to say, with a name like that, I was targeted for ridicule and teasing.  I wish God would change my name to something more notable that commands a room when I enter like “Son of Thunder!”  Yeah, Son of Thunder, has a ring to it, doesn’t it? 


There are numerous accounts of God changing people's names in the Bible.  The ones that easily come to mind, is of course, our Scripture quoted above, and then Jacob became Israel, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul and my favorite, Jesus lightheartedly calls the brothers John and James, the "Sons of Thunder"!  


When you research each one, you find the name change was related to the task God placed on each individual.  According to Revelation 2:17, we who have come to know and receive Jesus and follow as our Lord and Savior, has a new name in Heaven.  This means, we too have been chosen to task, to walk the path God has chosen for us personally but yet collectively, proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior of the world through our practice of everyday life.  


God didn’t change Abraham and Sarah’s names so it was easier to remember, but to reestablish His covenant and promise to them; to remind them He’s got this and His plan will come to pass, no matter how the two of them receive it.  Remember, both Abraham and Sarah doubted and laughed at God’s promise to give them a son, at their very old age, that would be proclaimed the father of all nations!  Honestly….if I thought I heard God tell me that, I’m pretty sure I’d scrutinize my own sanity.  


The truth is, whether we believe it or not, God will have His way in His proclamations.  The question becomes, will we believe, receive, and move forward in God’s directive and guidance?  I challenge you to seek God and ask Him to reveal His task for you.  You never know, there might be a new name waiting for you….”Sons of Thunder!”


Father, help us to see Your vision in our lives and strengthen us to embrace Your calling to walk the path You’ve set in place for us.  Build our faith so we will walk reassured You are there, every step of the way that we might aide in the increase of Your kingdom through Your Son, in Jesus name we pray….amen.



nothing is impossible

genesis 18

“Is anything too hard for the LORD?”

Genesis 18:14


In Genesis 18, we join Abraham, just as the Lord appears to him via three men, standing nearby. Abraham confirms with the three men that they are sent from the Lord, and upon confirming, has Sarah prepare a meal for the guests. The guests then share the shocking news that Sarah, who has been barren and is now old of age, will conceive a child! Sarah’s response in hearing this is to laugh and say, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” -Genesis 18:12


God responds by addressing Abraham and affirming His promise:


Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” -Genesis 18:13-14


And one of my favorite parts is Sarah’s response:

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.” 

-Genesis 18:15

Talk about getting called out!

How often do we find ourselves questioning what God has for us, and trying to find our own path to accomplish what we want to have happen in our lives? If you’re like me, I find myself leaning on myself and my abilities more than I lean on and trust God and His adequacy and sovereignty! 

Are the struggles you’re having at work too hard for the Lord? Are your struggles with addiction too hard for the Lord? Is your marriage too far gone to save for the Lord? NO! God is faithful and NOTHING is impossible with Him!

Whatever it is you’re facing, it might be too hard for you—but it’s never too hard for the Lord. We can trust in Him and trust that He is faithful to fulfil His promises. Do you have faith that the Lord will deliver you from your struggles?


Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” -Mark 10:27


Take some time this week to thank God that He is faithful to fulfill His promises, and ask Him to show you areas that you need to lean on Him more.


Let’s pray together:


Lord Jesus, we thank You so much that You are faithful. We find hope in the fact that You are the ultimate Deliverer and we can trust in You to help us through what seems like the impossible. We thank You that Your mercies are new every day, and that we have forgiveness and salvation through Your Son, Jesus. Bless us this day, and help us to find joy in everything we do. We give You glory in Jesus’ name! Amen. 


Together in Christ!


Kody Burg

it's no joke

genesis 19

“Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the LORD is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.”

Genesis 19:14

So often in life we come into true stories or situations that we don’t take seriously. Sometimes to the point we think they are a joke! When have you ever heard something you thought was a joke, but it wasn’t?! Or, have you ever been the one sharing the true story and the ones you're telling don’t believe you… even minimize it, or worse, take it as a joke?

I’m in Florida writing this while visiting my mom and dad. My mom has had a tough 6 months with health issues. She has been receiving our prayers and we ask everyone to continue praying for her full healing. Yet in the 1980’s on April 1st (on April Fools Day), I called my mom to tell her Brenda and I had a baby son. My Mom interrupted me saying “right” “I’m sure!” “Your baby isn’t due for two more months… Aprils Fools Day to you too!!!” “Nice joke!” 

But it wasn’t a joke. It was the truth, and the situation was very bad. Our son was born 2 months early and his health was in a very bad shape. In fact, the doctors warned us it was life and death, and our son Jacob was not expected to live. It truly was no joke!!! But God had a truth we could seek, a bad situation He could make good. Prayer was answered, a miracle was provided, and our son lived. Today, Jacob is married with 3 children and it’s all to the glory of God!

In Genesis 19, sin has overcome a city. Its people! God warned them, and even provided angels to help Lot, Lot's wife, Lot's daughters, and even his son-in-laws. Yet his son-in-laws took the warning as a joke. But it wasn’t. It would cost them their lives.

The Bible is so true... all true and never a joke. Remember this as you read all of Genesis 19 today. You will read of a sinful city and of atrocious sin, sexual sin, and sin of deception. It tells of a group of men trying to sin against visitors, a father sinning horribly against his own daughters, then later these same daughters deceive their dad in horrible sin. Our Bible is so honest in its transparent truth. Trust in this amazing fact: The Bible is filled with the good, the bad, the ugly, the unthinkable, and the glorious! It’s full of blessings and evil sin. It contains both the dignity and horrible depravity of humankind. God's truth in Genesis shows the world God's power... the real truth of God's Word. The Bible is not just a feel good story that builds to a great ending. It’s more… so much more… it’s not a joke, it's real, and it should show everyone why we desperately needed Jesus to be our Lord and Savior! It’s no joke… this world desperately needs the amazing love of Jesus!!! That’s the truth! And remember, God's Son Jesus went from death to life so we can live!!!

Lord God, help us see the truth of Your Word so the whole truth You have for us can help us change this sinful world to Your measure of good and blessed. Help us all find the amazing love of Jesus to live in and grow in. And bring peace, answered prayers, and healing to those bearing the burden of being those sinned against. Restore us, redeem us, and forgive us.

In Jesus Strong Name Amen,

Pastor John Slotten 

genesis 20

Wow! What a crazy chapter this is.  What was Abraham thinking??  He was thinking that if he gave up Sarah, if he passed her off as his sister instead of his wife, the lawless, non-God fearing people of this region would leave him alone.  He justified his lie by saying, “Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother and she became my wife.” vs. 12.  How often do we, as believers, tell just a “small lie”, stretch the truth, leaving out some of the information in order to protect ourselves from any recourse or consequences?  When will we, as God’s people, learn to trust in Him?  When we will stop trying to hide from God, and get honest with our fears, our anxiety, our broken relationships, our unwillingness to go where He is calling us to?  It begins with not hiding from the important relationships in our life.  Be real.  Be honest.  Trust God – especially in the hard things of life.  He is for us, and wants us to live the life that He has planned and prepared for us.  In the midst of Abraham’s fear, (even though he was a faithful man of God), God stepped in and preserved Sarah for the call on her life as the mother of the covenant people.  God spoke up for Abraham and Sarah, and saved them from their own mistrust and disobedience to God.  

Lord, help us to be honest dependents on You.  Help us in the midst of struggle, pain, and fear to trust in You as we grow in our relationships here with each other, continuing to grow in our knowledge and love for You.  Amen

god is faithful to his promises

genesis 21

“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.” -Genesis 21:1

Just a few short devotions ago (Genesis 18), I wrote about God promising Sarah the impossible—that she would conceive a child in her old age! While she was in disbelief then, and even laughed at the idea, here in Genesis 21, we see God holds true to this promise, and Sarah bore a son to Abraham! What’s significant to note, is that this promise wasn’t fulfilled for nearly 25 years! 

We live in a culture of here-and-now. If we want to watch a movie, just a quick tap on a screen, mouse or TV remote, and we are watching that movie—no more renting movies from Blockbuster! If we want to be in contact with any of our friends or family, we can start an instant conversation with them via text, messenger, video, or phone call. If we want something shiny and new to take up the space we don’t have at home, we can order something on Amazon, and receive it the next day. 

Could you imagine having to wait for 25 years to have a promise fulfilled by God? How difficult that must have been. 

The beauty of this story is that while Sarah and Abraham had to wait 25 years, God was still faithful to fulfill His promises! That’s good news for us—God’s character is faithful and true…we can trust in Him!

And…just as God promised a son to Abraham and Sarah, He promised a Son to all of us—the Messiah, sent to save whoever believes in Him!

John 11:25-27 says:

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Where have you struggled to have patience to trust in God’s timing? Have you placed your faith in His promise to save whoever believes in the Son of God?

Let’s pray together!

Lord Jesus, we thank You so much for promising us Your beloved Son to die for our sins on the cross. We ask You to teach us patience where we have none, grace where we fall short, and faith where we lack it. We praise You that You are faithful to fulfill Your promises in Your timing, and we look towards the hope we have in Christ. We give You glory in Jesus’ name! Amen.

Together in Christ!

Kody Burg

yehweh yireh

(the lord will provide)

genesis 22

“…So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the place Yehweh-Yireh (which means “The Lord will provide”)…”

Genesis 22:13-14, NLT

This chapter holds one of the most amazing acts of faith in the Father God that I think the world has ever seen or recorded, apart from all Jesus has done. This so huge that it was mentioned in the Faith Hall of Fame in the New Testament book of Hebrews in Hebrews 11:17-19. I feel like when most people teach this chapter, they skip over a major point! They of course go through the bold unimaginable story of Abraham’s faith and his willingness to sacrifice his long awaited, beloved son! If you keep reading, though, it goes on to say that the angel stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and the Lord provided a ram stuck in the thicket to burn as a fragrant sacrifice to the Lord. He names that place, Yehweh-Yireh, “The LORD will provide”. This is HUGE in our faith life in knowing a very important attribute of our God. He is our Provider! Hebrews gives us a little more insight as to what was going through Abraham’s mind when he was preparing Isaac as a sacrifice to God. He knew God as his Provider. He knew God would provide a way to spare his son’s life, or bring his son back to life! This blesses me. How close Abraham was to his Father that he trusted and knew the Lord would spare Isaac’s life. He knew God would provide a sacrifice. And you know what? He did! Yehweh Yireh provided a ram in place of his son. That same God is our Abba Father! Start trusting Him as your Provider, He will supply your every need according to His riches in glory.

This week as I was preparing for this devotional, the Lord blessed me with a wonderful example of this. I went to work very unprepared last Saturday. I had a full day with no breaks, and my job is very labor intensive. I didn’t eat breakfast and forgot to pack something to sustain me for the busy workday. (If I don’t eat something, I’m very weak and shaky, not good.) I was so mad at myself for this! I was trying to see if there was any way I could scrounge up a banana as this is the perfect thing to snack on as it gives me energy and is quick to eat. I genuinely knew the Lord would come through for me, so I didn’t worry about it, and started my day. About 2 hours into my workday one of my work friends asked me how I was doing and I said, “Eh, ok”, and went on to tell her my total brain fart story, but left out the banana part;) She says, “Well, I have a banana if you want! I was leaving the house and I felt like God said to go back and get a banana.” She goes on to say she thought this was weird that she went back into the house as she doesn’t even really like bananas! Does this not make you want to LOL and just praise Jesus?! If not, I will do it for you! Praise Jesus! He’s so good and I’m so thankful. Think this is a coincidence of the timing of this devotional and my experience? I think not. Only Yehweh Yireh! The Provider of all the big… and even the bananas!

Dear Yehweh Yireh, we ask You to open our eyes to the truth of Who You are…the LORD our Provider. Please help us to have faith like Abraham and know You will come through for us no matter what as long as we trust You. Please multiply our faith and revelation of Who You are! Please give us humility and wisdom in our finances and all You give us. May we flourish and lack no good thing and bless You with all the glory, honor, and praise forever and ever in Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!

in the face of "them"

genesis 23

And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

Genesis 23:2. 

(I encourage you to read the whole chapter)


Any death of a loved one is a sure heartbreaking loss .  As much as we might think we’re prepared, I don’t believe we ever are.  Abraham was no stranger to death and he knew the signs of its coming.  Sarah, being one hundred and twenty-seven years old, was showing signs of her final journey home.  Abraham was well aware Sarah was close to leaving and he knew it was only a matter of time.


This verse tells us Abraham grieved and wept for Sarah.  He loved her and I’m sure he longed to have those last words we never seem to have with those we lose.  So what’s Abraham to do now?  He lost his life’s partner who knows everything about him.  He does what needs to be done, what God promised him He would do.  Abraham goes to the city gate of Hebron, from where the Hittites govern their land, and respectfully requests for a burial site which they graciously grant.  


We’re not told if Abraham was aware, but here is God again, working out His promise to Abraham and his descendants.  It was the purchase of that burial site, in the land of Canaan, that the prophecy was fulfilled.  Abraham now laid claim to the first piece of God’s promise of giving him the land of Canaan. 


It’s hard to see God working in the middle of tragedy and loss but rest assured, God tells us all:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).  That part where it says, because of them”, you can put anything in its place, such as…..because you lost your job…because your spouse filed for divorce, or you child went the wrong way….or you lost a loved one.  Whatever your “them” is, God is right there right now strengthening your courage to face….“them”.


Father, Your promises are beyond our understanding. We will never truly grasp the depth and magnitude of Your love for us, but only what You reveal.  Strengthen us to hold tight to Your hand of promise that You will never leave us, or forsake us.  Build our confidence and rest in You….in the name of Jesus our Lord….amen.


Section Title

genesis 24

This chapter finds us near the end of Abraham and Sarah’s long lives.  Abraham has been faithful to God and God had blessed him over and over.  Verse 1 states, "Abraham was now old and well advanced in years and the Lord had blessed him in every way."  Abraham also knew that God has set him and his descendants apart from the people that they were living with, much like Jesus has called us to be set apart from the world in which we are currently living in.  To me, this story is that of Abraham’s faithful servant, his right hand guy.  Not only was he faithful to carry out all of Abraham’s instructions to find Isaac a good and faithful wife, but he was faithful to God – every step of the way.  He did not go out in search of the right person for Isaac on his own accord, but he prayed to the Lord, he asked for his guidance and for him to show him certain signs, so that he would be sure this was an answer from the Lord, and not his own sight.  How often do you and I forget to include God in every step of every day? Do you stop and pray in the big decisions as well as the small ones asking for God to show you the way, show you signs?  When we are faithful to ask, God is faithful to answer.  Once his prayer was answered, he paused and again prayed and praised God for showing him the way.  I want to be as obedient as Abraham and his servant.  I want to trust in the Lord in every step of everyday.  Do you?

Lord God – help us to be a generation of Your people who pray: ask, trust, and wait on you.  Father God, we ask that You bless us with hearts and minds that are so focused on You in our everyday life that praying is like breathing.  We are constantly doing it.  We are relaying on our prayer life to be our life link to You.  Thank You for Your Word that continues to teach us, connect us, and grow us closer to You and in doing so, closer to one another.  Amen

grab the gusto

genesis 25

7 Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. 


Genesis 25:7,8


What was it about Abraham’s life that his eulogy accounted him as a man who died at a good old age and a man full of years?  A good old age?  I’m going to assume his one hundred and seventy five years on this planet was considered an extensive amount compared to the heathen at that time, who didn’t live long because they were a godless people, worshiping other gods and the blessings of God were not on them as it was on Abraham.  


There are many accounts in Scripture, mostly in the psalms and proverbs, proclaiming a close, intimate walk with the Lord brought not only peace, protection, and a joy-filled heart, but a very long life was build into the equation.  


I find myself struggling at times to find a joy-filled life in the middle of my aging process.  Every part of me is wearing out and replacement parts don’t seem to be readily available.  So a band-aid here, a dab of superglue there, or a piece of binder twine will have to suffice to hold me together until it’s my time to go home.  But I find it interesting the scribes defined Abraham as “a man full of years”. They weren’t talking about the extent of his life, but how full of life he was!  He was full of good and satisfied years of generosity and blessings.  Like all of us, he had his moments of testing and doubt, but he was full of faith and walked close to God.  And now, life fulfilled on earth, he was ready for his ultimate fulfillment, his final reward, living in everlasting life with Jesus Himself.


I believe this verse is another guidance of God’s gentle hand guiding us to understanding the blessings He’s stored up for us when we walk closer to Him.  We don’t have to have a life filled with stuff to have that fulfillment.  Even though Abraham had the favor of God and many riches. His first desire was a closer walk with Him, and not for the earthy riches, but the richness of fellowship, which gave him the title of being "a friend of God".  So like Abraham, let’s lay hold of the encouragement Jesus gave in John 25:15, He no longer considers us as servants but as friends.  What a friend we have in Jesus!  Amen?!…..amen.



are we there yet?!

genesis 26

16Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”

17So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.

19Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, c because they disputed with him. 21Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. d22He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, e saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

Genesis 26:17-22

(This is a must read chapter)

Some of you might remember the road trips you’ve taken with your family when you were younger.  I remember them well, and they always turn out to be the same.  First, the excitement of hearing about it and the planning. And then we’re finally on our way with the hours of boredom and the anticipation if the next stop is the final stop of our destination.  I see the same in this story with Issac and family.

Issac had plans to make it easier on his family and crew, but as we read, God’s plan isn’t always easy and usually doesn’t align with ours.  God had His own plan, and Isaac wasn’t listening, which caused a little confrontation with the locals.  I’m sure it was a very frustrating moment when Issac’s dig team came back to report that the locals are all up in arms, “again!”, about digging up the old well his father founded.  So to keep the peace, which was a smart choice, as Romans 12:18 tells us…If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  So Issac chose the right road and moved a third time to finally rest at the spot where God intended for him all along.


So God blessed Issac’s faithfulness because he followed and trusted God that He would do as He promised.  In the end, Issac’s enemies came to him to settle all matters so to live at peace together.  They made their oaths with one another and life went on and as God promised, in the 24th verse, He blessed Isaac and multiplied his descendants, and they prospered.


 There seems to be a moral to the story here…. You ready?!  “Sometimes when you think you’re doing God’s will, you’re just digging yourself into another hole.” Yes, yes….I know, I know...that was corny bad, but you have to admit...true! ….and just a little funny.


Father, You are such a patient God that shows such great mercy.  Even when we don’t listen to Your guidance, You still love us through it. And in the middle of our rebellious stubbornness, You’re right there in the middle of our stuff, encouraging and helping us through it.  Thank You for Your everlasting mercy and continuing grace that sustains us everyday.  May we never fail to see Your love and faithful guidance through our story, and finally, to our well of living water, in Jesus loving name we pray….amen.



what dreams are made of

genesis 28

10Meanwhile Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11On reaching a certain place, he spent the night there because the sun had set. And taking one of the stones from that place, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep.

Genesis 28:10,11


As you read in the last chapter, Jacob and his mom did some scheming to get the blessing for Jacob from his father Issac.  Issac discovers the scheme and tells Jacob to get out of town before Esau finds and kills him.  This sounds like a episode out of the tv drama Yellowstone!  Makes you wonder where the rites of the show got their ideas.


So in a mad rush, Issac blesses his son and sends him on his way to Paddan-aram to stay with his uncle.  And then Issac adamantly tells Jacob not to marry a Canaanite woman, but to wait and marry one of the daughters of his uncle.  Meanwhile, Esau is running around stomping his feet, having a full blown meltdown, finds out what his father has done. In his rage, he decides since his parents completely disapprove of their sons marrying out of our culture, to take another Hittite woman as his wife to add to his collection of Hittite wives!  “There! that will teach them!” Like a five year old child having a tantrum and holding his breath until his parents give in!  I’ve never done that….we’ll maybe twice, but who’s counting?


So Jacob is on the run, in the middle of the wilderness, alone, scared, and hungry.  It’s obvious he left in haste because the chapter tells us he used a stone as a pillow.  Sounds to me like he forgot to pack a few things.  But right in the middle of all this trauma drama is our loving Father encouraging Jacob, in an elaborate vision, to not worry because He’s right there and will never leave him.  


This vision is a beautiful example of God’s love for us and a glimpse into His future plans to redeem His people. (You got to read the whole chapter to get this).  With God’s command, the angels travel between the glory of heaven and earth as messengers, and help to His children.  The vision shows Jacob that God is right there, right now, and the ladder represents the Christ between God and man.  


This vision of redemption was so vivid, Jacob woke up in a sweat. Actually, it said 17And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place!” Jacob was moved so much by the  vision, his faith grew and he set up a pillar and marker claiming it as God’s house and the gate of Heaven.  Keep in mind, Jacob grew up around the Canaanites who worshiped strange gods, but in his household, he continually heard about the God of Abraham.  And in this magnificent revelation of God, Jacob vowed that God will be his God forever because from that point on Jacob knew God will see him through everything.


Father God, Your constant display of love and affection for us is too wonderful to understand.  We are so grateful You never, ever give up on us.  Your mercy is in constant motion, redeeming us from ourselves and the evils around us.  All we can offer is our hearts and our devotion to You alone.  We pray that Your Spirit will continually lead us through our wilderness to our final destination in glory with You, in the mighty name of Jesus we pray….Amen!



the old bait-n-switch trick

genesis 29

And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.

Genesis 29:31

(Please read the whole chapter)


In this verse the word “hated” was used.  It does not symbolize as most of us would see it.  In context, it’s the same as Jesus telling us in Luke 14:26 that we must hate our family to follow Him.  The Hebrew word “sane”, pronounced (saw-ney), has several meanings, but in this text it’s used as meaning: Unloved or not loved as much as someone or something else.  So Jacob didn’t “hate” Leah as we would think, but he didn’t have the same level of affection for her as he did Rachel.  


This chapter is also a perfect example of Galatians 6:7, “reaping what you have sown” written all over it.  Here’s Jacob, which his name has clearly been defined as meaning deceiver/trickster, has himself been duped by his own uncle. Laban pulled off the classic “bait-n-switch” scheme and married off his oldest daughter first, much to Jacob’s surprise and chagrin.  I can’t imagine what that conversation was like the next morning.  And how do you sleep with your new wife all night and not know it’s someone else?!  Sorry I digressed….that one just baffles me.


When you look at verse 31 written above, you can see God’s mercy working again.  I know Leah had to have been really hurt and heartbroken over Jacob’s love and affections for Rachel.  But God tells us in Psalms 34:18, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."  I think Leah qualifies as a crushed, broken-hearted individual, and in God’s loving mercy, He gives Leah six sons as compensation for the loss of her husband's love.  Then Leah proclaims God to have blessed her with “good gifts” and names her last son Zebulun which means “Dwelling of Honor” which becomes the future name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel.  


There’s a bigger story here than I have space to write about in this devotional.  One of the messages here is the law of reciprocity, meaning sooner or later you have to reap what you’ve sown.  It might not come out but our present circumstances could just be a part of our past actions.  Not all the time, but maybe.  Your heart knows that answer.  And the other message I see?  Jeremiah 17:9 tells us:

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”


You might feel that your desire for the most beautiful, attractive possessions, girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, wives, cars, houses, etc….is a blessing, but they might not be the blessing we’ve made them out to be.  Sometimes the real blessing is right now, right in front of you, patiently waiting to be noticed; in the outreached hand of Jesus Himself.


Let’s seek God for our eyes to be open to His vision for us…..Father, so many times our own hearts deceive us and lead us astray.   We sometimes seek the things that You haven’t given for us to possess.  Help us to see Your vision for us.  Speak to our hearts and guide us to the path You’ve laid for our journey and encourage us to be content with the blessings from You, and as Leah proclaims them as “good gifts”. Thank You, Father, for Your unfailing compassion and mercy. In Jesus name we pray….amen.



desperate housewives of biblical proportions

genesis 30

1When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”

 Genesis 30:1

(You have to read this chapter, it’s what drama tv is made of)


This story has so many elements of sin coursing through this chapter.  But the truth is, we humans haven’t changed since the fall of man in the garden.  Obviously, the sisters Rachel and Leah have a big rivalry going on.  Their inability to see clearly through the sin of jealousy and envy has thrusted them into an all out war of self destructive dominance over the other.  


Rachel falls back on the local heathen practices and gives her husband her maid servant to sleep with so she could bear a child to use as a trophy of dominance over Leah.  Well obviously that wasn’t enough of a warning shot for Leah of what not to do, and so she decides…”I’ll show you” and hands over her servant to be used as broodmare to stay in the race of dominance.  This is just an all out sister feud!  This is what happens when emotions are allowed to make decisions.  The one thing that really baffles me…..where is Jacob’s head in all this?!  Seriously!  What was he thinking?!  Was he so blinded by work and so entrenched in planning another deceptive business plan against the competition that he’s oblivious to the sin that was running rampant in his household?!  I’m sure some of us men would comment, “lucky guy” but truth is…as the drama unfolds, he’s not so lucky.  You gotta keep reading the book to see it.


This chapter is a perfect example of a household gone awry.  Jacob knows his roots and he knows God in the most intimate form.  God gave him a powerful vision, the entrance of heaven, and he saw the light of God himself!  Even with such a monumental encounter, Jacob’s blindness to the sin growing in his household was destroying his family and his close walk with God.  Paul warns us in the 12th chapter of Hebrews about the sin that so easily ensnares us and the consequences.  And you’re reading about it right in this chapter….lies, deception, sexual immorality and the consequences of it all.  


Many of us have experienced or seen some of this behavior in our families and witnessed the destructive nature of it. To me this message is blasting the warning horn to all of us husbands and fathers to take account of your household and know the condition of your family. Is our family safe from the snares of sin?  Are they being taught and safely lead though the spiritual  battlefield of life?  We have a great calling on us, to be men of honor and the guides and protectors of our families, through the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Today I encourage you to spend time with the Father, seeking His guidance.  Ask for wisdom so you can lead your family safely through the snares of life and change the channel on the  drama tv in your household.


Lord, we are so weak and blinded at times, not seeing what’s happening within our own family and loved ones lives.  Strengthen us to always be alert of the enemie's schemes to destroy and devour our family.  Give us courage to lead, and the wisdom to divert the traps of the enemy.  Thank You, Father, for Your loving hand guiding us though of journey to You…. In the powerful name of Jesus we pray, Amen



can i see your identification please?

genesis 31

“I have the power to harm you; but last night the God of your father said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.”


Genesis 31:29

(You know I’m going to ask you to read the whole chapter…right?)


Here is another perfect example of God intervening with His protection and His purpose.  As your read the chapter you can sense Jacob’s urgency to get out of town.  Laban is not exactly a man of integrity or good intent.  And of course Laban does the opposite of God’s instruction, and threatens Jacob with what he could do to him.  He’s tricked and swindled Jacob for the past twenty years, and now it’s showdown time!  


Laban is scorned, not because he loves Jacob and his family that much, but because he was tricked by a trickster.  Jacob learned of Laban and he knew everything about him.  Jacob knew the art of trickery.  But in the process, Jacob saw the wrong behind the trickster, which he himself was accustomed to being.  God changed his heart during that 20 year exile from his family and home land.  


Ever been tricked or deceived by someone close?... A loved one, family member, close friend, coworker, or in a business venture?  I’m sure most of us have.  Some more than others. And when you found out, it really hurt…didn’t it?  Then the anger kicks in, and then the thoughts of revenge.  Jacob inflicted those feelings on others in his early years within his own family.  For twenty years he got a good taste of his own medicine.  He experienced the internal, psychological pain of being violated and humiliated.  I’m sure during those moments he saw his brother Esau’s pain, and the shame he brought on his father, Issac. 


God’s plan for Jacob was to have a personal encounter with Himself through a wrestling match, and then stricken Jacob with a reminder of that encounter. I can’t count how many times I’ve wrestled with God, and every time…..He’s won!  Boy we can be stubborn sometimes.  So here is Jacob, on his way to learn what it’s like to have it done to him as he has done to others….. for twenty years!  But through this whole process of Jacob’s refining, God was there every step of the way...breaking, molding and shaping Jacob for the Lord’s work.  After all, Jacob became a member of the famous trio.  You can’t be a part of such a powerful declaration, without being refined. 


Every one of us is constantly going through the process of God’s loving refinement.  Little by little, the impurities are being brought to the surface for us to face, for God to remove, and so we can continue in our story, doing His work.  


Did you figure out the trio Jacob became a member of? He carried in his wallet the ID of God’s declaration to His people, “ The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”.  You know I have no choice, I have to ask…”So what’s in your wallet?!”  


Father God, there is such a fine line between refining and discipline.  Help and strengthen us to discern and endure Your process so to learn and be encouraged of Your mercy in the middle of it.  Soften our hearts to love those who have hurt us, as You loved Jacob when he was deceiving others.   Reveal to us the depth of Your loving mercy, so we too may be known to the world around us as followers of “The God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob”.   In the life changing name of Jesus we pray, amen.   


let's get ready to rumbbbbbllllle!

genesis 32

7In great fear and distress, Jacob divided his people into two camps, as well as the flocks and herds and camels. 8He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one camp, then the other camp can escape.”


Genesis 32:7,8 

(You gotta read the whole thing, especially the wrestling match)


Well here we go again….Jacob freaking out, having another knee jerk reaction, putting another  deception game into play.  I understand the concept of planning strategies for success, but Jacob brings it to a whole new level.  And it’s all based on fear of possible consequences from his past behaviors and sins.  


As you recall, twenty years back, he high-tailed out of the camp with his enraged brother Esau hot and lookin to mess him up... possibly kill him for stealing his blessing.  So now, Jacob has to face his sin and answer for not just for stealing Esau’s blessing, but for all the trickery he’s pulled.  I’m sure this wasn’t Jacob’s first rodeo.  He wasn’t named Jacob for nothing!  


Jacob sends all the people and all he has off on a master plan of deception, and now he’s left alone with his thoughts.  I can’t say for you, but I find being left alone with your thoughts,  a struggle within itself.  Every sin, every deception, every lie, every hurt you’ve caused others, and pain others caused you, is right there swirling and seething in your memory.  Thank God He sent His Son to save us from all that torment as Scripture tells us. Look at Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”  


So Jacob faces his fears and sin, and has an encounter with God himself, in a wrestling match of all things!  Of course, God allows him to win because as usual, God’s mercy is at play here.  Jacob’s persistence wins God’s favor, and He blesses him with a new name, no longer deceiver and trickster, but "Israel", meaning “Triumphant with God”. But God gave him another blessing, He touched his hip and put it out of joint permanently as a reminder of his struggle and overcoming sin.  


There is so much more in this chapter going on than space will allow to address.  Are you struggling with past, present sins that bind you, causing you to hide from God and others?  Obviously this story tells us WE ALL are at times.  It’s nothing new to God. He put this story in Scripture to help us understand He love us and wants us free from it.  


I recommend you read it, research it and see the mercy of God working on our behalf to free us from our past so we might openly live in the freedom of His peace.  The truth is…. We too have a new name in Christ.  We don’t know our new heavenly names, but here we are called the redeemed, chosen, loyal priest, overcomer, and I like this one... “peculiar”.  


Lord, through You is our only way to be released of our past.  You tell us that our present struggles are not worthy to be compared to the glory in our future.  Lord, redeem us from the past that hinders our walk with You and Your plan for us.  Liberate us from the shackles that so easily ensnares us, so that we might see the truth of Your glory in our lives and with that bring Your glory to others.  In Jesus name we pray….amen.


a good dose of vitamin h

genesis 33

1Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming toward him with four hundred men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two maidservants. 2He put the maidservants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph at the rear. 3But Jacob himself went on ahead and bowed to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.

Genesis 33:1-3.  

(You know what I’m going to ask)


Jacob, seeing a threat once again, panics and launches his survival tactics into hyperdrive!  I have to admit, he’s the type of soldier you would want leading on the battle field.  This guy is quick on his feet! His past deception practices have gotten him out of some, might I mention, self-inflicted, sticky situations.  But again, Jacob forgot what the Lord said to him.  Go back to chapter 31 verse 3. God directed him to “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” He neglected to remember those last five vital words of…. I will be with you!” 


So here we go….Jacob puts his tactical plan into motion, scattering his company into different directions. But here’s the kicker... Jacob pulls a one-eighty and runs to the front and throws himself to the ground as a decoy to draw the attention away from the others. It's as if he finally remember those last five words of the Lord and completely surrenders to whatever outcome God has planned.  At that very moment, something powerful came to life.  Jacob’s faith increased immensely and his confidence in the Lord moved up a few notches.  


I’m sure we all have a story like Jacob’s.  I remember distinctly when I worked for the department of corrections, being assigned to an inmate that was known for staff assaults.  He was recently put into segregation for assaulting three staff members.  Needless to say, before my first meeting with him, I was filling up my prayer bag!  While praying, I distinctly felt God’s hand on my shoulder and this peace came over me as if telling me, “I will be with you”.  Well, as usual, when God’s involved, things turned out the way He wants and the meeting went perfect.  All that fussing and worry I carried for those couple of days was completely unnecessary.  This guy was humble, quiet, and completely compliment.  I walked out of that meeting feeling like Daniel walking out of the loin’s den!  I thanked God all day for His mercy and protection in that meeting.


As you read the rest of the chapter, ( you did read the whole chapter….right?!), Jacob experienced God’s perfect plan and mercy again.  His brother’s heart was completely changed!  Esau pulled Jacob off the ground, wrapped his arms around him, and gave a big injection of vitamin H!  A bro hug!


This is another perfect example of God’s sovereign love for His children…. Forgiveness and redemption is at the forefront of this story.  And the best part of the outcome? Look at the next verse…. “And they both wept”.  When I read that, my heart just welled up with love and this sense of “life is good”.  I vicariously lived through this beautiful story of two brother's experience of forgiveness, affirmation, acceptance, and loyalty.  


Are you struggling with a task that God has placed on your heart to forgive?  Try what Paul suggests in Philippians 4:6 and 7,  6Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Is there really anything better?  You might find that a good dose of vitamin H was all that you needed.  


Father, Your mercies are completely beyond our understanding. How wonderful they are new and refreshing everyday.  Help us to give away those mercies to those who need to see Your love in our hearts that they might come to know you.  Use us, Father, as a vessel for Your glory, in the name of the Author of our faith and the Creator of our eternal forgiveness, Jesus our Lord…amen.



genesis 34

This chapter is so full of all kinds of evil sin.  This is one of those chapters in the Bible where we wish we had more information, more knowledge of the details, what the thoughts and feelings were of Dinah to what happened to her and how her family did (or did not) respond.  The first thing we know is that Jacob settled near the pagan city of Shechem, rather than the land that God had commanded him to go. We also know that he did nothing to protect his daughter after he heard what had happened and that he came to bitterly regret his choice.  

Have you ever heard from God, felt the Holy Spirit promoting you in one direction – but you went the opposite way?  How did that decision affect other parts of your life?  God was trying to protect Jacob and his family.  Jacob thought he knew better.  Dinah, innocently decided to go into town and meet some of the ladies.  It seems that before she spoke to anyone, she was taken by Shechem and raped.  She was taken to his home and kept there.  Verses 1-4, "Now Dinah the daughter of Leah had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the women of the land.  When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area saw her, he took her and violated her.  His heart was drawn to Dinah, daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her”. And Shechem said to his father Hamor, “get me this girl as my wife”.  This statement is made after he raped her.  Demanding and taking from others because your “heart is drawn to them” is not right.  It is a sick and painful sin, and is not what Jesus teaches us about love, honor, and respect.  It seems that Shechem knew what he did was wrong because he went to his father, Hamor, and got him to go to Jacob and set up a deal to marry Dinah.  I can’t help but wonder how she felt about this? How she had been violated and sinned against, and now others are going to make decisions that will further affect her. 

Has there been a time when you have not stopped to ask others how they feel about your plans involving them?  Have you sought out God for his guidance in making amends for your sin?  Jacob’s sons set out not to make things right for their sister, but to take the ultimate revenge on an entire city. Sin is never the solution to sin!  This whole story is filled with lies and deceit and destruction.  Their anger was justified by the sexual violation of their sister and there were consequences that needed to take place.  However, they sinned in revenge by their own unjust and ruthless manner.  As Christians, we need to stand up for the unjust situation that we see, without sinning.  We need to take heart and stand up for those who are harmed and persecuted.  We need to be obedient to God our Father and ask for His direction and guidance in such matters.  

Is there a time that you took revenge instead of standing up for justice?  Do you need to repent and seek God’s forgiveness – and perhaps from someone in your life?  Anger is justified and action needs to be taken in situations where an injustice has taken place – ruthless revenge is not.  In your prayers today, Jesus says in Matthew 23:23,  "The most important matters are justice, mercy, and faithfulness".  Let’s grow in these, today and always.  Amen

where is your bethel?

genesis 35

Let me ask you...Where is your “Bethel”? Where do you seek God best? Where have you encountered God? Maybe you heard from Him most clearly there? Or wrestled with Him there? Everyone should have a special place that is their Bethel. It’s meant to be a place where you feel closest to God, hear from Him the clearest, and openly experience Him in every way in your blessings, wrestlings, questions, and joys. I suggest you find your special place. When you do find it, just like Jacob, place a rock there and build your altar to God. Make it your holy place to God! My Bethel is “Pensuakee River Ranch”! I seek God there, I hear God there, I share God there, God provides for me there, and God teaches me there so I can provide from Him to all of you! Some of my greatest decisions have been made there. Some of my greatest relationships built there. As a side note, nearly everything there is of God. The trees that formed the log cabin, the fire wood that provides heat, the solar panels that provide some of its power and light. It is God's creation that makes up the beautiful land and game around as a blessing to family, friends, and myself in its enjoyment! It’s truly holy and blesses me, and others!

In Genesis 35 we learn Jacob, Isaac’s son, and Abraham's grandson, had his Bethel… let’s look:

“After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel. So he named him Israel. And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him. Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.”

Genesis 35:9-15

The patriarch Jacob was given the name Israel.  Jacob was first given the name Israel in chapter 32 via God's name change for him when he wrestled with God. He now encounters God once again in Bethel and in chapter 35, God confirms his new name as truly being Israel. 

The meaning of the name Israel is: “Contender With God”! Jacob had wrestled and contended with God in his sight and survived! Yet the word Israel has another meaning: For the people and Nation of Israel! We go on the learn in this chapter Jacob (Israel) has twelve sons, and later, the Nation Israel has the 12 tribes of Israel. These tribes form the promised land of God's promises people as God continues the covenant with Jacob (Israel), whom He originally established with Abraham Israel’s grandfather! 

It’s here in this holy place where Jacob encountered God several times. It’s a very special place. He builds an altar there and makes sacrifice there to God, and calls it "Bethel" because it is a holy place. It's where God talked to him, changed his name to Israel, and continued His covenant through him.

So let me ask you again… where is your Bethel? Find it to experience and grow in God!!!

Let’s Pray,

May our Father God reveal Himself to you and help you find (or enjoy) your Bethel and allow it to become your Holy place to purify your soul as you seek, pray, wrestle, and listen to God! May each of us encounter His real and powerful Presence, Nature, Truth, & Love!

In Jesus Strong Name, 

Amen & Amen

Please read all of Genesis 35, 

Pastor John Slotten

dazed and confusing

genesis 36

6Esau took his wives and sons and daughters and all the members of his household, as well as his livestock and all his other animals and all the goods he had acquired in Canaan, and moved to a land some distance from his brother Jacob. 7Their possessions were too great for them to remain together; the land where they were staying could not support them both because of their livestock. 8So Esau (that is, Edom) settled in the hill country of Seir.

Genesis 36:6-8  

(I know, but you have to read the whole chapter anyway)


If you’re one of those that enjoy reading genealogies, then this chapter will excite your fancy!  I, however don’t care much for it. Theologians all over the world would be gasping at my comment!  I’m one of those that have this tendency to wonder off into another part of my brain when I read genealogies….. (Did I turn the coffee pot off?) See, told ya!  Anyway…. I’m one that also trusts it’s all going to work out in the end the way God wants it to.  But, I find it interesting Esau’s move needed to be addressed and it’s very interesting when you dig further; his move interconnects with the final battle of Armageddon.  Esau’s move is connected with a whole lot of history and future events.  So it obvious, again, God had all this sent up and planned for us to see and enjoy. (But why with genealogies?!) 


When you read these couple verses, you get the impression Esau was the one who decided to move on, but look again….. here we have a repeat of Abraham and Lot.  You got two dudes who are very wealthy and control really big corporations, kind of like, (I’m not endorsing any company), but like Coke and Pepsi in the same city. The twist is, from the beginning, Esau was destined to become the rival of God’s people all because of this little thing he did with a bowl of stew.  He sold out everything, all for the sake of satisfying his selfish desire.  Ever done that?  I have, and it cost me dearly.  I’ll leave that for another time.


So here is God again holding true to His Word that His people will settle and own the land of Canaan. Esau, who is the father of the Arab nation, moves out, and Jacob holds true to God’s promise to Moses and Abraham, possessing the Promised Land.  And what’s really wild is that in that one move, starts this historical domino effect that leads all the way to the final act in the book of Revelation: God reestablishing His throne and rein over the earth….and I might add the new, upgraded model earth.  


Contrary to my laziness and shallow interest to genealogies, it’s good to know the lineage that proves and establishes rock sold theories about the history of God and His creation.  But in the middle of all that proof, you’ll find God working in our lives personally, getting His plan to continue through everyone of us.  You’ll always find in every account His mercy, love, and concern for us.  So the question arises…..You got something happening in your life that just doesn’t make any sense?  Now is the time to hold on tight to His words.  Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  In other words…He’s got your back and you will get through it.  You have to, because like it states in this verse, it’s a “good work”, and good ALWAYS wins out the bad.  


Come on and let’s pray together and get past this, whatever it is, in our lives. 

Father, there are times we just don’t understand what You’re doing or what’s going on around us, but You promised You’ve got our back through it all.  Help us to hold on to 
Your promises, and carry us when we just can’t walk anymore.  Strengthen our faith to know, no matter where we are or what’s going on, You’re right there in the middle of our stuff, finishing that “good work” You started in us.  In the name of Jesus we pray….amen!


chase your dreams

genesis 37

Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.” -Genesis 37:5

Many things in our lives often begin as dreams—maybe you’re dreaming of a big home in the country with a yard that the children can play in (ok, maybe that’s mine). Maybe you’re dreaming of some day running the company that you work for. Or maybe you’re dreaming that our church grew so rapidly that we could no longer fit in our building. (How cool would that be?!)

So many things in our lives start as dreams—or aspirations—to something greater!

But what if your own family hated you for your dreams? What if it seems like nobody wants to support you in what you know you can do? 

This is what Joseph faces in Genesis 37—his own brothers hated him for his dreams! In fact, they hated him so much for them, that they plotted to kill him, have him enslaved, and falsely imprisoned!

Sometimes we may feel discouraged from our dreams—sometimes people may even hate us for them! But we have a choice when faced with this situation—we can stew in our bitterness, anger, and frustration—or we can rise above, forgive those that sin against us, and succeed anyway!

This is the path that Joseph took! Behind the scenes, while Joseph was faced with some of the most difficult challenges of his life, God was at work—turning him into a great leader in the midst of the evil that he was facing. 

Later on in Genesis, he’s reunited with his brothers and says:

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” -Genesis 50:20

You see, Joseph had two dreams—and through God, he was able to accomplish those dreams and find deliverance for many along the way. His life was an example pointing to the great Deliverer that was to come—Jesus!

Where in your life do you need to trust God to see you through? 

Do you seek God first when seeking after your dreams?

Let us pray together!

Lord Jesus, we thank You so much for Your deliverance through Christ Jesus. We trust that You know what we need and will be faithful to deliver when we’re faced with challenges. Help us to seek after You and Your will above all and find joy when You speak to us. We thank You that Your mercies are new every day, and that we have forgiveness and salvation through Your son, Jesus. 

We give you glory in Jesus’ name! Amen.

Together in Christ!

Kody Burg

perfect plans with imperfect situations

genesis 38

28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez.[a]

Genesis 38:28-29

Want to know what I love about this chapter?! Perez is the lineage of Jesus! What an imperfect, unfairytale-like beginning Perez has. The Bible doesn’t speak much at all about his life, other than his disturbing conception, birth, and the genealogies listed in the Gospels. 

I love that God doesn’t hand pick the most perfect situations or perfect people to put in Jesus’ family tree. In fact, some of these stories and what these people do, are down right disturbing. Even Rahab the prostitute makes it in His lineage! I would never think to do this! That’s what I love about our Father, He doesn’t think like a human, He is no respecter of persons. His ways are higher than our ways and shows us He doesn’t need or want people to be perfect in our own eyes. No one is too dirty or has done something so disturbing to qualify for an important, big, or small part of God’s amazing plan! ALL are called. No one left out. If you have breath in your lungs, He wants to interweave you and your story into His perfectly stitched and woven tapestry. Don’t let satan make you feel too far gone, insignificant, or gift-less. These are lies! Each one of us are uniquely and perfectly made by our Father. From now on when any of these evil lies come to your head, resist it, resist the devil in Jesus’ name! If you are Jesus’s, then you have the authority! Set your thoughts on Jesus’s family tree, and how God used Tamar, Judah, Perez, and Zerah. You are loved and wanted, and certainly usable for the Great Kingdom of God, no matter where you came from!

Lord, we thank You so much for loving each and everyone of us. Thank You for not having a cool kids club, but giving everyone a choice to receive You. We love You and thank You for choosing the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. Praise You Lord that we get to be called children of God, Hallelujah! Please help us to not be hindered by our past, or our upbringing, but fix our eyes on You, running the race with endurance all for your Kingdom purposes in Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN!

egyptian county drama

genesis 39

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

8But 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. 9No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

Genesis 39:6b-10 

(How can you not read this whole chapter?, it has TV Drama all over it!)

Can you see the trailer for this show? Real Housewives of Egyptian County”.  I really felt for Joseph in this story.  Poor guy didn’t have a chance!  Here he is doing a great job, and God is blessing everything Joseph touches, which raises him to the top of this prestigious household.  You know there was some jealousy among the other staff, especially with the fact he was a Hebrew.  I’m telling ya, this is prime time drama TV.  

So here’s Joseph, strutin' around the house, lookin' all handsome and muscly, doing his job, taken care of business, and then he’s noticed by Potiphar’s wife.  Why wouldn’t she notice him? He’s got that six pack thing going on.  There is no account of her past behaviors, but It’s obvious this isn’t her first rodeo; the quick wit deception on her part proved that.  I find it interesting that there are times in our lives God seems to put us in a difficult place just before our next rise in responsibility and prosperity.  I believe in James 1:2-4, it’s called “the testing of our faith”. Check it out, read it, and notice the last line in the 4th verse.  Go ahead….I’ll wait………. Cool yes?!!  When our faith is tested and we endure….in the end, we will lack nothing!  But the key is, we have to stay the course, hold on to our faith in Jesus, and endure the test. 

Did you notice there was no account of Joseph defending himself?  I’m sure it was really scary to be in that situation, but Joseph knew he had an edge.  He was completely confident God was with him.  This is just my take, but I think Joseph was walking so close to God, he completely trusted that God was in the middle of all of it…..and as it turns out,  He was!  In no time, God again blessed everything he touched, even in a nasty, stinky prison, so much so, that the head jailer noticed and Joseph was given charge over the whole prison!  

There’s a lot of foundational meat in this one chapter. As you’ve read in the previous chapters, Joseph comes from a dysfunctional mixed family and is the favored spoiled boy.  His brothers hate him because of his spoiled, hoity toity “I’m better than you” attitude and because of that attitude, he gets sold into slavery.  It’s there where the work begins, cleansing and refining Joseph’s personally and attitudes.  It’s also there where Joseph finds the true nature of God and the degree of holiness, faith, and humility God’s desires of him for this chapter of his story.  

This story is the same message I’ve spoken, and will continue to speak until it’s my time to go home.  Jeremiah 29:11 and Philippians 1:6 is all over this story.  God has a plan for each and everyone of us, and it will be complete. Whatever it takes to get it done, He’s going to do it. That’s it! Case closed! No argument!  God’s not going to give up, so we might as well get up and keep moving forward so we too will become great rulers in the places He chooses….home, work, church, community.  One of you could be the next great ruler that saves a nation, because……Jesus promised in Matthew 19:26 “but with God, all things are possible”.

Father what can we say to Your sovereign rule over us, but not my will, but Thy will be done.  Give us the strength, faith, and security as we continue our journey to the destination You have chosen.  Bless us with Your wisdom to see the path You’ve blazed for us and give us the fortitude to stay the course.  Thank You, Father, that you count us worthy for Your calling and may we find peace and solitude as we travel down that path….in the name of Jesus we pray, amen.


in the right place at the wrong time?! MAybe!

Genesis 40

1Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. 4The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.


Genesis 40:1-4

(Keep reading the whole chapter)


As we continue in Joseph’s saga, something interesting pops up.  It clearly says Joseph is imprisoned in the house of the captain of the guard and guess who might be that captain?  Yup…Potiphar!  The same guy who tossed him in prison and now Joseph is in the higher end of the prison because, again, God showed His favor towards Joseph.  I don’t think Potiphar was convinced Joseph was guilty of the charges because we’re told in chapter 39 the captain of the guard (aka Potiphar) saw the Lord's favor in him and he gave Joseph complete charge of his whole house.  That sounds like complete trust to me.  Besides, like I said in the last devotional….this wasn’t Potiphar’s wife’s first rodeo.  Logic holds here that she’s pulled this before and Potiphar’s continued trust in Joseph proves it.


So that’s the back story to what’s going on here.  Remember in Joseph’s younger years, God gave him the gift of interpreting dreams.  Now God continues that gift so to set up the next chain of events, way in advance, to save His people.  We don’t really know why the cupbearer and baker are there, but it’s obvious they are in prison to meet Joseph.  


There are times God has a tendency to put us in unfavorable positions, that are not just for the good of His plan, but also for the good of us in His plan.  Remember God is sovereign over all of us.  As you look back in your life you can see how God put you in situations that lead you to where you are now.  Oh believe me….there were times I was yelling and scratching the whole way like an obstinate child throwing a tantrum.  But like that child, I finally became exhausted and took a breath to see where I landed.  Like Joseph, it wasn’t what I wanted, but the alternative could have been worse.  God made sure Joseph was in the right place at the right time to accomplish His plan for Joseph’s good.  Even though the cupbearer forgot about Joseph….God used that time to prep and hone his abilities and build his reputation for greater things.  And you know what’s really cool about this story?  It’s a story of encouragement for us today!  


As we all have been traveling through this Uncommon Journey through the Bible with Pastor John, (NO I wasn’t told to put a plug in for his program, geez you guys!)…. Anyway you can connect the dots and see how God continues to put His children in the right place at the right time to fulfill His plan for our good.  As long as you’re still six foot above ground and lapping up air, God is still working on your plan for your journey home.  


So now the question arises….what are you gonna do with your present circumstances waiting to get to the next chapter of your journey?  I think Joseph’s story gives us some insight here.  Even in the middle of his really challenging circumstances, he continues to connect with God’s prodding and seeks out others to be a witness of God’s sovereign love.  Honestly, how many of us, if we were in Joseph’s situation, would take the easy route and try to blend into the crowd and not be noticed. Not Joseph! He continues to believe, leaning on his God for continued favor and stands out above the crowd, even when you’re forgotten, as the cupbearer did.  You been feeling like you’ve been forgotten lately?  Well let’s go to the Father and express our worry and concerns.


Father thank You that You have provided so much encouragement for us to experience through Your accounts of favor over us.  So many times in our lives we need Your encouragement to make it through the day, or even the next hour.  And even though we are blinded by our circumstances and pain, You’re right there in the middle of our stuff, guiding us through the fog of uncertainty.  Thank You, Father, for Your everlasting favor and love. May our heart ever grow closer to You so we too can stand above the crowd for Your glory….in Jesus name we pray, amen.


your name is what?!!

genesis 41

45Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah, and he gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph took charge of all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:45


Pharaoh named him Zaphenath-paneah?!!  Really?!  I’m so glad we don’t have to deal with such names today.  Can you imagine that name being called out on the first day of middle school?  My life would be toast!  


For those of you who want to know how to pronounce it….it’s  Zaf-e-na-th pen-e-a. Man that’s the name of names, isn’t it?!  But….check out the reference here.  The name meant in the Egyptian language is, “giver or sustainer of life”, and another suggestion was “ the salvation and rescuer of the world”.  As a side note, scholars can’t agree if it’s etymology is actually Egyptian or not, which makes it even more interesting.  Why would Pharaoh even consider giving Joseph such a name?  I think it’s a God thing!  


Do you see any similarities in the meaning?  God here is giving the Hebrew people another connection of God’s sovereignty and a path to Jesus Himself.  Look at the facts…. Joseph is hated by his brothers, sold for the price of a slave, rejects sin, is falsely accused and imprisoned with two others... one was saved and the other lost. Both were 30 years of age, both forgave those who plotted against them, and finally saved not only their people, but many others.  I get goosebumps seeing the similarities!


There’s one more amazing connection here.  Look at the last line of the verse….Pharaoh gave Joseph charge of ALL the land of Egypt!  Isn’t that what the Father gave Jesus in John 13:3?... ”Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;”  


Oh we’re not done yet, look who pharaoh gave Joseph for a wife….. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera.  Nope, not the Potiphar that locked him up.  It's a totally different dude, but close to the same name.  So let’s break it down, Asenath is the daughter of the priest Potiphera, from the city of On.  Because of his position with Pharaoh, Asenath is considered a princess, but oddly her father, Potiphera is a priest appointed with the sun.  Joseph and Asenath do not take kindly to one another when they are first introduced, but Asenath saw the power of God in Joseph causing her to go into prayer and fasting to seek and find meaning to this Hebrew God, and she does.  


So here we have God again lining up all the events, hundreds of years prior to the great unveiling of the Savior of the world.  And as it goes, Joseph represents a Christ-like image, with pharaoh appointing him over everything because of the great wisdom God blessed him with.  He then marries into royalty making him a prince, and the son-in-law of a priest associated with the sun whose daughter repents of her idol worship, and becomes a Hebrew proselyte. She then becomes the mother of sons that are direct descendants and in the blood line of the Son of God!  God uses what He desires to accomplish the final outcome of His salvation plan.  


So when you feel you can identify with Joseph, falsely accused, left in a prison and forgotten, or feel God has left the building...look again. I believe you will find Him right there walking you through every step of your journey that He’s designed especially for you.  As Ephesians 1:11 tell us, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,”. Any questions?


Father, how Great and loving You are to have chosen us to be a part of Your great plan of salvation.  We ask that You encourage us and remind us that You have already put in place everything we need for our journey home to You.  Forgive us when we doubt at times, and strengthen us to keep walking.  

In the name of Jesus we pray….Amen!


the buck stops here!

genesis 42

21They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.”

22Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” 23They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.

Genesis 42:21,22


Well here’s an excellent example of “passing the buck” and not being accountable for your own actions.  Reuben could have stood up and stopped the other boys from throwing Joseph in the pit and selling him off to the slave traders.  He didn’t, and now it’s obvious he’s carrying a lot of guilt for it...twenty years of it!


Back in the 1960’s, studies were done to find the cause and effect of the guilt emotion on the human psyche. Interestingly enough, the findings were overwhelming conclusive to show that when we experience guilt and shame, we launch into “fix it mode”.  It ranges from angry blame to begging for forgiveness.  And what’s very interesting is, guilt causes us to want to make amends, asking for forgiveness. Shame causes us to withdraw because it effects our identity and is very distressing to ourselves, causing us to fall into depression and or social dysfunction.  I find it so fascinating when scientists inadvertently prove God’s hand in the design of all creation. 


So you can see here, Reuben is lashing out at the brothers and playing the blame game.  Guilt seems to be his emotion of choice.  And the other interesting find in the study….when we experience guilt, we look for a way out through personal punishment.  Reuben wants relief of what he’s done and declares God will punish them for it.  Like the old saying, “just spank me and get it over with!”  Which means there’s a final end to the pain of guilt and a release from the weight of carrying that emotional pressure.


This chapter in the story of Joseph is well known and is filled with so many predictions of God's plan to redeem His creation back to Himself.  But if you look a little closer, you will find a beautiful story of how God designed us to come to grips with our humanity and our designed intrinsic need for Him.  We were designed and created to experience guilt, shame, fear, and also joy, happiness, and love.  In this story you will find them all, but the end of this chapter reveals God’s magnificent plan of salvation for mankind. It is shown through the exposure of our guilt and the humility that brings us to our knees to see the true face of our Savior to receive our redemption of forgiveness, from the guilt and shame we’ve been carrying for a very long time.  


Jesus promised us He would release us of this inherent guilt and shame, in Matthew 11:28: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Rest from the weight of the sins of guilt and shame.  Doesn’t that sound so inviting and comforting?  Have you made that decision yet?  Have you excepted God’s saving grace through Jesus, His Son, who bore our sins on the cross and died and rose again, and released us from all our sins of guilt and shame?  If you haven’t, come…now is the time of salvation, now is the time to receive The Christ Jesus as your Savior. And for those who know Jesus and have been carrying the weight of guilt and shame, for whatever reason…. pray with me and say these words to your heart.


Heavenly Father, I come before You broken and weighted down in my sin of guilt and shame.  By faith in You and Your Son Jesus who died for me on the cross, which You raised from the dead in victory , I receive You now as my Lord and Savior, and I give my heart and life to You.  Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and releasing my burdens and sin, to walk freely with You,….in the powerful life saving name of Jesus I pray…..amen!


class is in!

genesis 43

1Now the famine was still severe in the land. 2So when Jacob’s sons had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.”


Genesis 43:1,2 

(You gotta read the whole chapter, it’s good stuff!)


We gotta address the elephant in the room here.  I understand that Jacob’s main concern is getting food for his people, but why isn’t he addressing his second son’s demise?  All he knows is Simeon is locked up in Pharaoh’s nasty dungeon or is being used as a sand taxi, digging another canal for pharaoh’s city.  But the only thing that seems to concern him at that moment, is food.  Well I guess that’s positive proof, the only way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  Oh come on! You know I had to say it!  I betcha Simeon’s mother, Leah, wasn’t thinking about food.  She’s most likely in the back 40, having a melt down, kicking dirt, devising ways to kill that guy who has the audacity to hold her son in a prison!  It’s a good thing she wasn’t sent back as the tribe’s foreign ambassador!  “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorn!”


As we leave all the assumptions behind and you read this whole chapter, here is another beautiful account of God’s heart, unambiguously expressing His deepest love for His people.  I must mention that even though this land is named as the Promise Land, there is still some house cleaning that needs to be done. So God gets things in motion and puts a Hebrew in charge of an idol worshiping land to get it done.  I refuse to say “get-r-done!”….it’s sooooo, you fill in the blank!


Jacob honestly had no other options to go with.  God put Jacob in a place to grow in faith and trust.  He sent the boys back along with his prized youngest, to bring back…(there’s that man’s stomach thing again), FOOD, and hopefully Simeon and the rest of the boys as well.  But God had a plan in place of exposure, repentance, and redemption waiting for them; kind of a first edition Character Development class.  As a plug….if you haven’t taken the class….sign up….it’s life changing.


They make it back to Egypt and again, facing Joseph, whom they still have not recognized.  When you push aside all the tall grass of this story and see the dark ground of truth beneath the glistening green blades, you’ll discover a dark world of pain and torment.  Joseph’s struggle, wars within him to either bring revenge on his abusers or forgiveness so to reunite with his family.  Obviously being distraught and deeply conflicted, he separates from his brothers to a safe room so not to allow them to witness his despair.  Weeping through his thoughts of anger and love towards them, he finally regains his composure, reenters the room, and sternly commands the food to be served.  Obviously he was not ready to let it go and continue his game of passive aggressive punishment. 


As this chapter comes to an end, we see Joseph aligning himself with Egyptian custom and his sovereignty to the nation he presently serves as a reminder to his brothers who are unaware of his identity, that he is fulfilling his dream he shared with them many years ago.  Was Joseph justified to put his brothers through such trial and test?  That’s for you to decide, but keep in mind the example of sacrificial love Jesus displayed and announced on the cross, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing”.  And it was finished…..


Father we all carry such deep wounds from others... others whom we trusted, and others whom we did not truly know.  Those wounds have left many scars on our hearts and thorns in our memory.  Forgive us of our anger and hatred, and remove the thorns that so entangle us.  Release us from the prison in our minds so we to can freely love and accept one another as You love and accept us so that we might learn to show no greater love than to lay down our lives for our brothers.  In the mighty name of Jesus we pray….amen


make your choice, kid!

genesis 44

14Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”


Genesis 44:14,15 (This is a must read chapter)


We have to first deal with this word Joseph threw out there, which made me cringe a little…."divination”.  As most know, divination is associated with pagan, idolatry practices but remember, Joseph was fluent not only his heritage language of Hebrew, but also the ancient Egyptian language.  And in the Hebrew translation, Joseph used a word that means “to be very observant”, not as one would suppose as a sorcerer. Far from it!  


Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s look at why Joseph can’t give it up!  Man he’s really ripped into these guys.  One deception after another!  I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree after all.  He must have learned his tactics from his father’s stories.  But when you look a little closer to Joseph’s real intention, you can see the transformation of his brothers going on.  Remember in the beginning of Joseph’s story, his brothers were jealous and blinded by their anger toward him, so much so, they sold him into the grievance's world of slavery. 


But look where they are now. This beautiful story of transformation in their hearts has reshaped these men. Judah, which means, “the praised One”……Here it is again folks, Judah is the perfect reference that leads us straight to the mercy seat of Christ.  Judah comes and kneels before Joseph as Jesus did before the Father and pleads for his brother’s life and asked that his life be taken in exchange for his brother as Jesus did in exchange for ours.


God’s mercy transformed us from men and women who were wounded, hardened and lost, to a people of humility, love, and sacrifice for one another.  Joseph put his brothers to the test to see if they’ve learned and finally grown away from selfish ambitions.  With each step of Joseph’s testing, he watched them become aware of their own brokenness and finally humbled themselves under the mighty hand of mercy and it is there where they find the truth of their existence and their need for a Savior.  Isn’t that what we’ve all done?  Isn’t that why we follow Jesus as Lord and Savior? 


In this account, Joseph recognized his brothers at the get-go but understood they needed to deal with their guilt and shame before Joseph could reveal himself.  If they didn’t, nothing would have changed between them, and most likely, have lost their relationship forever.  Joseph’s patience clearly represents God’s and His eternal love for us, never giving up on us.  


There is a lot going on in this account but I believe the true message here is our intrinsic need for a Savior.  Judah represents the beginning of the tribe of Judah and is later proclaimed as the “Lion of Judah”, to be the landmark of the nation of Israel and the “Lamb of God”, Who was proclaimed to be the only One Who was worthy to open the seven seals in the fifth chapter of the book of Revelation. 


Joseph’s brothers had to make a life changing decision that day. Whom will you serve... yourself, or your brother?  I believe at that very moment, the Spirit of God moved on those men to humble themselves for good.  In their hearts, God asked the same question as Joshua asked his people in Joshua 24:15, “Choose today whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”


god is faithful to his promises

genesis 45

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” 

Genesis 45:4-5

A few weeks ago in our devotional on Genesis 37, I shared about how Joseph had two dreams—that he would become a ruler over his family, and that he would be sent to save many lives. 

Between then and now, Joseph’s brothers, who hated him for his dreams, sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt. Can you imagine that? Your own family selling you into slavery! How awful that must have felt. Now in Genesis 45, Joseph is reunited with his brothers and shares with them what God has done! He was now the ruler in Egypt! Not only did he share the good news, but he also demonstrated his love and forgiveness for his brothers through the situation!

Through all that Joseph had faced, he remained steadfast and faithful and worked hard. He had a choice—he could have moped around all day and had a bad attitude towards his situation. Instead, he rose to the challenge that he faced and was used by God to save many lives, including those of his own family! He held fast to his dreams, and watched them come to fruition.

There’s a really neat parallel to be drawn here between Joseph’s story and Jesus’ story—just like Joseph was sent ahead to save lives, Jesus was sent by God to seek and save the lost, dying for us all on the cross for salvation. Praise God for that!

In what ways do you struggle to trust God in His timing?

Let’s pray together!

Lord Jesus, we thank You so much that we can trust that You are faithful to deliver on Your promises. Help us to be patient for Your timing and provision in our lives, even when we don’t think it can happen. We thank You so much that Your mercies are new every day, and that we have forgiveness and salvation through Your son, Jesus. We give You glory in Jesus’ name! Amen.

Together in Christ!

Kody Burg

not there, lord!

genesis 46

“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.” 

-Genesis 46:3-4

Have you ever had to move somewhere, and you just didn’t want to go? Maybe you were reassigned to a new position at work that you just didn’t want. Maybe you were asked to a ministry engagement or social event, but someone that you had gotten in a feud with in the past was going to be there, so you wanted to avoid it at all costs. 

That’s where Jacob finds himself in Genesis 46! In the prior chapter, we read about Joseph and his family, and the instruction to move to Egypt. The focus scripture referenced above is God speaking to Jacob, Joseph’s brother, who is afraid to go to Egypt with the brother whom he betrayed. He just does not want to go!

God is reassuring Jacob that he will be with him and will make him into a great nation there.

This scripture makes me think of all the times that we’re all faced with difficult situations. Situations where we have to step out in faith into the unknown. Situations where we just don’t know what the future may hold. 

Psalm 32:8 says:

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”

When we’re faced with a difficult decision or step out into the unknown, how reassuring is it that we can look to God for His guidance along the way! We’re not walking through this world alone—He is with us! We can seek Him through prayer, worship, fasting, the study of His word and fellowship with other believers! There’s no reason to be afraid when God is with you.

When have you been faced with a decision that you just didn’t know the outcome to? Did you seek God in that situation? If you didn’t, how might it have turned out differently if you did?

Let’s pray together!

Lord Jesus, we thank You so much that we can trust that You’re walking with us through all the unknowns in our lives. Help us to trust You even when we just don’t want to go where You’ve asked us to go. We thank You so much that Your mercies are new every day, and that we have forgiveness and salvation through Your son, Jesus. We give you glory in Jesus’ name! Amen.

Together in Christ,

Kody Burg

love 'em up!

genesis 47

7Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and presented him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

Genesis 47:7


It’s very interesting that this account is presented in such a way that seems contradictory in nature.  Most of us have been exposed at one time or another to the 1956 rendition of, “The Ten Commandments”.  We all know the story of the Hebrew’s enslavement and we all have a basic understanding that the Egyptian people in this account were idol worshipers to many different gods. Why would Pharaoh submit himself to Jacob coming close to showing irreverence to the Egyptian beliefs and bring favor of this unknown God over him?


 Jacob bows in front of Pharaoh as a subordinate, a sheep farmer, and of no royal blood in comparison. Yet, he stands above Pharaoh as a prophet would stand over the nation of Israel, and bless a man who has been proclaimed god like and also a man who is ruler of the most powerful nation on the planet. Pharaoh would agree he has no need of any blessings, but is seen here submitting to a Hebrew who represents the God of Joseph whom Pharaoh himself proclaims as the God who is with Joseph. With that proclamation, he watches this Hebrew God work wonders through Joseph by blessing him with not only interpretations of his dreams, but rescuing his kingdom from the devastating famine, and blessing his kingdom a hundred times more then he imagined.  I’m sure Pharaoh wondered if Joseph was so well connected to his God, how much more was his father? So Pharaoh humbled himself to this Hebrew God as Giver of all the blessings, and it’s possible he might have considered if Jacob was to leave, the favor of the Hebrew God would leave with him.


Whether Jacob perceived to know Pharaoh’s concerns, is not mentioned.  Jacob knew the power of God’s favor on a man and in His kindness, to Pharaoh’s generosity, Jacob stood on the truth of God’s power and majesty and blessed Pharaoh in gratitude.  Jacob did not fear Pharaoh’s position as ruler and potentate of Egypt, but stepped above those concerns to be a witness to the God and Father of his people and to all creation as the one, true God.  Jacob intimately knew God, with every step of his displaced hip as a reminder, God reigns.


This chapter has many messages to ponder, but the one that stands out is the confidence and courage Jacob displayed. He showed no concern to the possibility of Pharaoh having him executed for not showing consideration to proclaim blessings in the name of their gods.  God honored Jacob’s blessing, and showed favor to Pharaoh, and further blessed the Egyptian dynasty to thrive in the midst of one of the worst famines on record.  


Jacob and Joseph’s message is as relevant today as it was over four thousand years ago.  It does not matter where you live or what circumstances you live under, God is right there, empowering you to proclaim His salvation and the power of His love for all who choose to listen and hopefully surrender to His will.  Jacob displays a beautiful example of Jesus instructions in the gospel of Matthew 5:43-45, 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”  Jacob wasn’t afraid because he knew God had his back.  


You to might have a Pharaoh in your life that desperately needs to see the power of Christ’s love and hear the message of His salvation.  Lean into the breast of God and hear the heart beat for His creation, and ask then for the power and guidance to proclaim a blessing that will change their lives forever.


Come, pray with me……Father, we are sometimes faced with the lost and dying whom do not know Your sweet salvation.  Encourage our hearts to love them and bring the good new of your grace and mercy as You did for us by those who were faithful to Your call. May we too proclaim Your blessing on their lives so they might see Your salvation through the love we show, that Christ may live in them, as You so desire… the name of Jesus we pray….amen.



All tangled up?!

genesis 48

10Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

Genesis 48:10 

(Read the whole chapter, you’ll see what I mean)


This verse has a very profound meaning to me, personally.  Since my grandson’s birth, I’ve always kissed him on the top of his head when it was time for him to go home or me leave from our visit.  I kiss all my grandchildren that way!  He’s 13 now and about ½ foot taller than I.  It’s so odd to look up at your grandchildren when we’ve towered over them most of their lives.  A year ago or so he asked me why I continue to do that.  I explained it’s a holy kiss that represents not only affection, but the blessing of God be placed on him.  Since then, when it’s time to depart from our visit, he always hugs me and bows down, (because he’s too darn tall to kiss the top of his head now!) to receive God’s blessing and affection from his grandfather.  The first time he realized I couldn’t reach his head and he bowed to receive the blessing, my heart filled with joy, to the point of tears.  That was a moment I’ll never forget.  


It’s obvious Joseph never forgot that moment either.  Nearly four thousand years later, the story is still being told.  Jacob, now Israel,  knows the power behind the blessing kiss and submits to the guidance of the Holy Spirt and gives this blessing not to the older, but the younger, proclaiming that Ephraim will carry the position of the greater tribe. Even though Ephraim is not in the line of Jesus’s lineage, God chose the tribe of Ephraim to conquer Canaan under the leadership of Joshua who is himself an Ephraimite, which of whom we all know, was a mighty leader and warrior.  


In this chapter you can see every event lining up to execute the next phase of God’s plan.  What’s really interesting is the choice of Ephraim over Manasseh.   As you dig deeper into the history of Ephraim, you’ll find the tribe of Ephraim becomes so powerful, they absorb nine of the other tribes to form the The House of Ephraim. During that process, Ephraim becomes tangled in some serious abominations of idol worship, marrying the local gentiles, and adopting their godless lifestyle.  At the time of blessing, Jacob didn’t have a clue of Ephraim’s outcome, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, blessed Ephraim over his older brother Manasseh, to which Joseph was not happy with.  


The biggest lesson from the history of Ephraim is that God loves us as the Perfect Father despite our failings. He is patient and merciful beyond our understanding. He hears our cries of anguish, disciplines and guides us, knows our moments of repentance, and yearns for us to be in perfect communion with Him. Take a moment and read Jeremiah 30:22 and 31:18-20.


The truth is….as Jacob chose Ephraim, who later rebelled against God, God used Ephraim to show His mercy for us today.  There are times and moments in our lives we all fall into what the Bible describes in Hebrews 12:1-3, as  “the sin that so easily entangles us”.  Did you catch that?… “so easily entangles us”!


There is a very good chance you’ve gotten tangled up in some serious sin, but grasp the powerful reality of this….it happens easily to anyone!  We are all in danger of it’s grip!  No one is exempt!  BUT! There is great news at the end of those verses that gives the fix for our entanglement...the stretched out arms of Jesus telling us to “look up and see” you are fully known and fully loved, and gently telling us, “bring it in and be healed”.  Actually He says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  It’s the same thing, but I like the way I said it.  


Dealing with an entanglement?, me too.  Let’s go to the cross and ask for rest.


Father, we are so grateful we have this privilege to come to You to ask for release and rest from our entanglement with sin.  We ask You to forgive us for failing to keep our eyes on You and forgetting what You endured on the cross for us.  Strength us to keep our eyes on You as our Guide through this life so that we may experience Your rest, and also may bring the message of Your eternal redemption to others who have been so easily entangled with their struggle and sin.  May we be as gracious to one another with love as You have loved us….in the powerful name of Jesus we pray….amen.


you got options!

genesis 49

1Then Jacob called for his sons and said, “Gather around so that I can tell you what will happen to you in the days to come: 2Come together and listen, O sons of Jacob; listen to your father Israel.”

Genesis 49:1,2 

When you read this chapter, you can hear Jacob giving counsel and prediction over his son’s futures.  I can’t count how many times I’ve sat down with my children and now grandchildren, to explain what the future could hold for them if they don’t listen to wisdom.  And while they were growing out of their childhood and teens years, the times I laid down the law and helped them understand the law of reaping what you’ve sown.  “You drag the cat around by the tail, you’ll get scratched”. “You refuse to do your chores, your candy stash will get frighteningly low."  And then they learn that eye rolling during their wisdom session can cause problems as well.  You get the picture.  

Jacob is showing some real grit here.  He’s on his last breaths and basically giving his out his living will with prophecy and a little bit of, “I told you so”. He doesn’t pull any punches. He makes it clear what they’ve done and what the future holds for them. But it’s not all bad. There are the other brothers who have been promised not such a bad outcome.  But the most profound is Judah who has been named as superior and to be praised by the brethren.  When the house of Judah comes into play later on, then the “the root of Jesse” is established, the father of David, and that lineage runs all the way to Jesus Himself who is proclaimed the “Lion of Judah”.  Whooo that gives me goosebumps!  

 Jacob finally turns and addresses Joseph whom he loved dearly. Got one of those in your family line?  I do, but I wouldn’t tell them. That’s just between me and God. You can see here that Jacob puts total trust in Joseph to fulfill his final requests. He makes it very clear where he wants to be buried and gave the reason why... he wants to be with his father and people. Not the people of this life, but the people of the eternal life God promised.  

I find it very interesting the timing of this reading in my life.  I too am come to age that these things must be discussed and remembered by my family.  This is a beautiful example that shows us the importance of discussing the new life that awaits us.  We should not be afraid to address this issue.  You cannot have life without death.  They are intertwined and both are just as important, but I would say that death all the more because of the eternal outcome that hangs in the balance.  Once you crossover the boundaries of eternity, you can not change your choices. It is there that you will discover all truth and that truth is Christ crucified as crowned King.

So I must ask, are you at peace with the approaching day when you leave this life and crossover the boundary of eternity? Does your heart long to experience the confidence of knowing you’re Heaven bound.  Peace comes from within, and where Jesus lives, there is peace.  If you desire that peace and confidence now, come and pray with me.  Or if you once accepted Christ as Lord but walked away; good news my brethren, He’s never walked away from you and He waits with out stretched arms.  Lets go to the cross together, where the blessed assurance abounds and real life begins.

Father, how gracious You are to give us, who are unjustified to receive, the gift of eternal life.  We as sinners, receive Your gift of salvation through Your Son, Jesus, Who died for our sins, Whom You raised from the dead and snatched the keys of death from satan so that we may live with You.  We accept You Jesus, as our Lord and Savior, and ask that You forgive us of our sins and live in our hearts for all the days of our life, in the redemptive name of Jesus we pray….amen!  


relax, it's all good bro!

genesis 50

15When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.

Genesis 50:15-17

I find it fascinating that we, as a human race, since our creation haven’t changed all that much. Is this not typical of us? I’ve seen this play out so many times when I was a child and young man when my grandparents, aunts, and uncles passed, and then parents. We’re having the after funeral meal at the deceased’s home, and some of the family members, usually siblings, are gathered in the kitchen or another part of the house, with an air of narcissistic selfishness, discussing who’s getting what or how to make sure they get what they want, while grieving the loss of the deceased is far from them. And then you have one, like Joseph, separated from the group actually grieving the loss of his father.  

So the brothers cowardly send a messenger to Joseph, which today would be kind of like hiring an attorney, to remind Joseph of the wishes of their father’s instructions before his death. I’m sure Joseph, being as tender hearted as he was, was hurt and dumbfounded by their request. The boys selfishly struck while the iron was still hot. They were hoping that at Joseph’s most tender, vulnerable moment, he would agree that the deal made 20 years ago is still good! 

Shame and guilt can really wreak havoc on a man’s soul!  How selfish they were to think only of their own rescue, when the one whom they demand to hold their ladder steady, is he himself caught in the same blaze. But Joseph denies himself to subdue their fears.  That resembles so much of Jesus Himself. And like Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus, Joseph wept at the news of his brother’s bidding. Jesus didn’t weep because Lazarus died.  Jesus knew the power He possessed to raise the dead. He wept for His brethren who lost faith in whom He is and also the pain of their loss of Lazarus. If they would have held steady in the faith of Jesus the Messiah, their sorrow would have no power over their joy. Because when Jesus shows up….. life always wins over death.  

Joseph not only grieved his father’s death, but also his brother’s faith that was lost in fear, thinking of him not to be the man of honor that holds a tender love in his heart for them, which he clearly demonstrated so many times. Instead, Joseph watched his brothers cower in fear thinking he might do them harm.

How many times have we intentionally or unintentionally accused our Father of the same?  In the midst of our struggle and pain, have we accused our Savior of neglecting His duty to take notice and save us from harm and loss?  The grief this must have caused our Savior’s tender heart, but even so, Jesus still showed His love and compassion which He pleads on our behalf to the Father, as He did on the cross, "Forgive them, for they know not what they are doing. 

This is a beautiful ending to a long story of the beginning of a perfect life turned to despair, loss, and then blessings and the road to redemption.  It is undeniable that God loves us. Even in the thick of our rebellious sin He will have His way and accomplish what He desires.  Paul made that very clear in Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”


Even in the center of our heart’s struggle with doubt and uncertainty, God still holds and strengthens us to accomplish His bidding, and I’d say proof is right here before you.  In my inability to understand God’s reasonings, I ponder why I was chosen to write commentary on such a profound work as this book of Genesis.  I am neither a writer, commentator, and far be it from me, a theologian to have such scope of the mysteries of Scripture.  But God chose this commoner to write His heart with His guidance and help.  The only suggestion of this is to quote John Bradford, a 1500’s evangelical preacher and martyr, “by the grace of God, go I”.  


I want to take a moment to thank Pastor John for giving me the opportunity to write these devotionals and having faith I would complete this journey and “in a timely manner!”  Believe me, I was hoping and praying God would show up and give me the words that would touch our hearts to see His love, compassion, and faithfulness.  We are all a very broken people, and in the middle of our broken world, we can lose sight of our Father’s tender mercies.  I pray you found those mercies and encouraging strength we all need on our journey home.  So what do you say we close this part of our journey together with a prayer?


Father, we are so grateful that You are always looking out for our best, to display Your glory.  Far be it for us to understand why You choose what you do, but over and over again Your mercies never fail to bring us to the places You have chosen.  Papa, remind us that Your mercies are always available as the loving Father you are, to encourage us to the next chapter that You’ve written for our lives.  And that the  truth be ever before us, You will never leave us nor forsake us, until we are completely united with You at the end of our journey home.  May Your Holy Spirit always illuminate our paths so we can walk in the confidence of “God before us”.  And as Pastor John always ends….”in the strong name of Jesus we pray, amen!”


genesis: the creation and salvation summary

“This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.”

Genesis 2:4

Have you ever wondered why in the beginning God created both the earth and the heavens separate, then gives us this written account accredited to Moses as part of the Pentateuch as first amongst the first 5 books of the Bible? I sure wonder why God created the earth and heaven separate?! I ask, “Why did You not just make it all perfect, complete, and one place from the beginning?”, especially knowing God combines heaven and earth as the “New Heaven on Earth” in Rev. 21:1. Yet God decides to start His pathway of redemption and salvation as He did in Genesis. However, we need to learn all of His-Story as written in the Bible… to make it part of our history for greater knowledge. I will share the answer I believe is correct at the end of this devotional today as to why God started with heaven and earth separate, and why instead we get Genesis to start His story (please don’t peek). 

Today I have the blessing to summarize the book of Genesis within our devotional study. Yesterday you completed reading the last chapter of Genesis and a devotional focused on part of that chapter. You’ve been reading each day through Genesis about God's creation story that also includes the parallel story of salvation. I pray you have enjoyed each contributing author: Jess Burg, my wife Brenda Slotten, Kody Burg, myself, and especially Tony Rhodes who provided the lion's share of these devotions. Thank each of them when you see them!!!

Twice now in our Uncommon Journey sermon series we took an important book of the Bible and put it into a daily devotional style reading. We pray you enjoyed the book of Psalms, and now, Genesis! 

When we started on the journey through Genesis I gave us these words:

The Book of Genesis is an amazing book, and the first book of the Old Testament. I love telling people that Genesis is a book of “beginnings”: Beginning of creation, beginning of human history, beginning of family, beginning of human's fall in sin, beginning of family issues, beginning of judgement, beginning of worship, and the beginning path to salvation. 

When I teach Genesis in Bible study, I tell the students that Genesis teaches us two parallel stories:

    1.) Creation (God's power and sovereignty)

    2.) Salvation (God's pathway to redemption)

When I teach these two key points:

  • I draw a train track on the board and tell people one track rail represents God's Creation Story.
  • I draw the second train rail and tell people this represents God's Salvation Story. (Both become part of God's historical, poetical, and prophetical instruction to us from within the Bible. It’s His greatest literature that history and theology ever shared and recorded to teach us truth to help us understand life’s biggest questions.)
  • I draw the wooden railroad ties between each track rail. I tell students that these wooden ties represent every story within our Bibles that attach the Creation and Salvation story together! (God's recorded Truth clearly starts in Genesis, and leads us on a journey throughout the whole Bible.)

Genesis is the foundational start of the journey for the entire Bible. It will lead us into the progressive revelation of scriptures to Jesus, and the unfolding of salvation in the Good News of the New Testament for the New Covenant! 

It starts in “Genesis” which is a Greek word “Bereshith” meaning: “Beginning”.

This historical beginning was passed down from generation to generation, inspired by God to Moses, and recorded as God's holy and divine “Bereshith” for us, and for all generations. 

In each days reading you learned:

a.) The Four Events: 

  • Creation
  • Fall
  • Flood
  • Nations

b.) The Four People

  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Jacob
  • Joseph

In these stories, you learned the source and depth of creation, the development of the nation of Israel, and how God was building His story to point us to His redeeming Son, Jesus, for our ultimate gift of Salvation!

Genesis is meant for you to experience the three fundamental sources of human knowledge: ReasonExperience, and Revelation in learning God's unlimited power and truth; so each of us can answer life's most critical questions:

    1.) Who am I?

    2.) Where did I come from?

    3.) Where am I going?

    4.) What is the purpose of my existence?

     5.) Where is history going & taking us?

I pray you can better answer these questions today?

But I bet you want to know the answer from the beginning of this summary devotion? So let me share what I believe is Godly Revelation for me for all of us, as to “Why Creation started as it did as a separate Heaven and Earth in the book of Genesis”?

I believe God didn’t create a “heaven only” at the time of creation within His almighty power by being amazingly loving beyond human understanding. In His loving wisdom He gave us freewill... freewill to follow His instructions such as “to eat from the tree or not”, and freewill to simply follow His direction and commands or not. My questions of why, led me to seek God's revelations through all of Scripture! I learned that God wants us by "freewill” to love Him, to choose Him freely, to seek Him in our own desire, to learn and know He’s perfect and truly God, and to freely understand we’re not! 

I’ve come to truly understand that our all loving God would never create image bearers, people like you and I, by His design controlled to love Him. That would be control and surely not freewill. Love doesn’t control. So our all loving, all knowing, all powerful God gave us freewill. In that freewill He gives us a story to follow and a pathway to salvation that teaches us salvation by grace, and through freewill, in choosing to follow and love God! God’s love is designed to help imperfect people become perfected through our own freewill, and His powerful, loving, amazing grace!

God is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End! And Genesis launched God's Creation and Redemption Salvation story to ultimately give you and I this essential truth… “Behold I make all things new again” in and through Christ Jesus” Rev. 21:5!!! 

Our Creator and Savior does it through His perfect grace and love. 

Roman’s 8:35-38 states: 

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Church, Genesis begins God's story of love through creation and redemption. We can live redeemed and have what we all want and need...a new Heaven on Earth! Does your freewill choose Jesus as your loving Lord and Savior? John 6:47 says you can have it! Romans 10:9-10 tells us how to confirm it. I pray your freewill meets Jesus' love. Stay in God's Word with me… it’s His love Story to you and I.

In Jesus Strong Name,

Pastor John Slotten

Lord God,

I pray Your Word of Truth helps create a freewill in every soul to come follow You and seek salvation through Your grace in love and repentance. Help us seek You daily, Father God. And Holy Spirit, help us find, get, and stay on track in growing in the truth of God's Holy Word! 

In Jesus Strong Name, 

Amen and Amen