FEBRUARY 17

Today's Bible Readings
     Genesis 50
     Job 16-17
     Luke 3
     I Corinthians 4
 
MEMORIZE TODAY
''But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people  alive." (Genesis 50:20)
 
GOD MEANT IT FOR GOOD!
            If anyone had a right to be bitter, it was Joseph. His brothers had hated him and planned to kill him. It was only through the intervention of one brother that instead of losing his life, Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt. The wife of his master seduced him and he rejected her seduction. She was a woman scorned, and reported to her husband that Joseph was the guilty party. Joseph was then put into prison.
            In prison he was given promises by some of his fellow prisoners that they would help him get out of jail. They forgot their commitment and Joseph remained in prison. Nothing seemed to be going right for Joseph; everything seemed to be falling apart. This man had every right to become bitter.
            Instead of becoming bitter, Joseph became better. He understood a great principle. Joseph knew that, regardless   of what man could do to him, as one of God's children that God meant it for good. He understood that bad things do happen to good people, that nothing would come into his life that was accidental, but always providential. Why do some of the worst things happen to the best people?
            To produce patience - God's word is clear that the testing of your faith produces patience.  (II Corinthians 1:3)  It is only from adversity and difficulty that we develop patience.
            To develop a more sympathetic person - Paul makes it clear to us that it is only through our personal suffering that we learn to sympathize with others. It is clear that we are able to comfort others only when we understand what they are going through.   (II Corinthians 1:3-7)   Only after my father's death could I understand the feelings of those who lost a parent.
            To silence Satan - Remember our friend Job? He was a man who was living for God and enjoying great prosperity. Satan's accusation was that if he had not been so blessed he would not be living a righteous life. When Job responded so faithfully in the midst of adversity, then God restored him in every way. Satan no longer had a legitimate accusation. The suffering of Job silenced the enemy.
            Because of personal and willful disobedience - It is obvious from Scripture that our suffering is often because of our own personal disobedience. We are taught in Hebrews 12 that because God loves us He chastens us. This is good news, by the way. A loving parent disciplines his own children, not those outside the family. The discipline of God is another affirmation of our relationship with Him as a loving Father.
            We are reminded of the suffering of Christ - When God's children experience the pain of adversity, it is a gentle reminder of the sufferings of our Lord Jesus for us. We are indeed blessed that we can be partakers of His suffering. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 3 that we have become as the filth of this world, ''the off scouring of all flesh." This is Paul's way of indicating that Christians will suffer in this world and that the highest honor of a noble Christian is martyrdom itself.
It reveals the plan and purpose of God for us - It is only through suffering that we experience brokenness and refining that we might come through as pure gold. God is at work shaping the vessel into the likeness of Jesus. (Romans 8:28-29).  You can say with Joseph, ''You meant it for evil but God meant it for good."
 
PRAY FOR THE WORLD
While we are praying for the country of Brazil, it would be important for us to realize Spiritism is a dynamic force for evil in Brazil. We bring that up at this point because not only is Brazil the largest Catholic country, but also the largest Spiritist country in the world. It appeals to the emotions, and offers physical healing.  Both traits make an attractive alternative to traditional Christianity. In 1975, there were at least 14,000 Spiritist centers guided by 420,000 mediums. There are 7 million Brazilians practicing Kardecism (high spiritism), and millions more practicing Umbanda and Macumba (lower spiritism) with African roots. The majority of Brazilians are involved - most still claiming to be Christians. This is a form of demonism!
 
A WORD FOR YOUR WORLD TODAY
''Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then...all these are nothing when compared to the glory which will hereafter be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this, we ought not to talk when we remember the great sacrifice which Jesus made for us." David Livingston•