Devotions

Author Archives: Gareth Volz

Brotherly Shove 

Joseph & Brothers • Devotion #3: Brotherly Shove
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

Today as we look at the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis chapter 37, we see how jealousy can lead to hatred, disobedience, and a breakdown of the relationship in the family. Joseph came from a dysfunctional family. His father, Jacob, had two full-fledged wives – Leah and Rachel, and two concubines – Bilhah and Zilpah. Leah was the mother of Reuben and Judah, while Rachel was the mother of Joseph and Benjamin. The other brothers were the children of the concubines. Additionally, we read in verse 3 that Jacob (Israel) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the son of his old age. Verse 4 tells us that because of this, Joseph’s brothers hated him so much that they could not speak peacefully to him. 

Verse 2 tells us that at the age of 17, Joseph was shepherding his father’s flocks along with his brothers, and he brought a bad report to Jacob about them. Joseph was not a tattletale, but apparently, the head shepherd, as evidenced by his coat of many colors. You might say Joseph was a white collar (supervisory) worker, while his brothers were blue collar workers – and they did not have a good working relationship. Here was disobedience to the working relationship the father wanted. 

Beginning at verse 12, we read that the brothers were tending the flocks near Shechem, and Jacob asked Joseph to go and check on the job they were doing. Joseph willingly accepted the task, and when he got to Shechem, he could not find his brothers nor the flocks. Joseph asked around and found out that his brothers had gone to Dothan, about 20 miles away. This was disobedience to where their father had sent them. 

As you read further in the chapter, you will find that the brothers plotted to kill Joseph. Reuben, however, convinced them just to throw Joseph into a pit, sell him to some passing slave traders, and tell their father he was killed by a wild animal. This was disobedience in the form of treachery, lying, and cover-up.

We find that Joseph was a picture of Jesus in the Old Testament. He was sent by his father to his other children. He was not accepted, and he was rejected by his own. The same was true of Jesus (John 1:9-11). 

Shechem in the Bible is a picture of the world. Joseph’s brothers were shepherding the flock near Shechem (the world) and then moved farther away from the father to Dothan.

The questions we need to ask ourselves as God’s children are:

  1. Do we truly love our Heavenly Father with all our heart?
  2. Do we truly love our brothers and sisters in the Lord?
  3. Are we happy with the assignment that our Heavenly Father has given us, or are we jealous of the assignment He has given to others we know?
  4. Are we spending our time flirting with the things of the world? 

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2

Wickedness & Miracle 

Lot’s Life • Devotion #5: Wickedness & Miracle
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

The wickedness and miracle described in Genesis 19:4-11 centers on the household of Lot. Lot is an interesting character, and in many ways, typical of many Christians today. Lot was raised in the godly home of his Uncle Abraham, and he was able to observe Abraham’s walk with God. We know that Lot was a child of God because he is described in 2 Peter 2:8 as a “righteous man.” 

As Lot grew in years, he went into business with his uncle, and between them, they owned large flocks of sheep. Their herds became so large that Lot’s herdsmen began to feud with Abraham’s herdsmen over where their sheep should graze. Abraham did not want this to cause trouble in the family, so he told Lot they needed to separate their herds and selflessly gave Lot the first choice of land. Lot saw how lush the Jordan Valley was and chose that for his herd. Unfortunately, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located in that region.

Lot got his focus off God and on himself and what pleased him. He went from looking toward Sodom (Genesis 13:10) to moving his tents near Sodom (Genesis 13:12) to living in Sodom (Genesis 14:12). Sodom is a picture of the world, and the world is full of sin (Genesis 13:13). God tells us that we are to live for Him, separate from the world. But to do that, our focus must be on Jesus and what pleases Him, not on the things of the world. Thus, as we get to Genesis chapter 19, Lot has compromised his testimony. He did not like the sin of homosexuality that was rampant in the city, but he liked the lifestyle Sodom provided him. He even became a city official.

In Genesis chapter 19, God decided to bring judgment on the sins of Sodom and its sister city Gomorrah, by destroying them with fire. However, because Lot was one of God’s people, and because of Abraham’s pleading with God, He sent two angels to rescue Lot, his wife, two daughters and their husbands before judgment came. Verses 4-11 show how much Lot’s compromise with sin affected his testimony. The men of the city demanded that Lot turn over the two men (they did not know they were really God’s angels) so they could have sex with them. To his credit, Lot stood up to them and refused to turn them over to the men to be defiled. To his discredit, he offered to let the men of Sodom have sex with his daughters instead. The men of the city were so into homosexuality that this offer did not interest them. Nor did they have any respect for Lot. When they got ready to storm Lot’s house and take the two angels and Lot, the angels pulled Lot inside and struck the men of the city with blindness. 

What lessons can we learn from this tragic episode in the life of Lot? First, keep our eyes on God, not the world or the things of the world. Second, flirting with sin has disastrous results. In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul says, “Do not be deceived: ‘bad company ruins good morals.’” We need to love God, focus on the things of God, fellowship with His people, and speak the truth in love to those who do not know God. Third, just as Lot was spared from God’s judgment on the sins of Sodom, Christians are spared from sin judgment because Jesus has already paid the penalty for our sins on the cross.

Promises 

Abraham’s Call • Devotion #3: Promises
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

In Genesis 12:1, we read, “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” Then in the next few verses, He makes three promises to Abraham:

Verse 2 – “I will make of you a great nation.”

Verse 3 – “In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Verse 7 – “To your offspring I will give this land.”

These promises were given to Abraham (Abram) when he was 75 years old, and he and his wife Sarah were childless. I am sure that at first Abraham wondered if he had heard God correctly. Sometimes when God tells us to do something it seems hard, beyond what we can envision. But we need to remember what God said in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Each one of the promises in Genesis chapter 12 is important to fulfill God’s plan for the nation of Israel, but today I would like us to focus on the promise in verse 7. The promise is repeated in Chapter 13:14-17, where Abraham is told to survey the land God was giving to him and his descendants. In chapter 15:18-20, we are told that it is the entire area from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates river. The last part of verse 7 tells us that Abraham built an altar to the Lord who had appeared to him. Abraham heard God’s promise and immediately worshipped God.

God tells us how Abraham responded to God’s promise in Hebrews 11:8-10,By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” Abraham’s life is a great example of how God fulfills His promises, and God gives us a promise, if we follow Abraham’s example. 

God promises in Galatians 3:23-29, “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” 

We can study God’s Word to learn the Lord’s will for every situation in our lives.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” 

Cain & Abel • Devotion #4: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” This question was first asked by Cain in Genesis 4:9. Cain argued with his brother Abel, and it got so heated that Cain killed his brother. In verse 8, God asks Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” Cain responded with a lie – “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

In most families, brothers stick together and have each other’s back, even if they have disagreements from time to time. The family is important, and family members look out for one another. As Christians, we are part of God’s family, the Church, and we should look out for one another. God’s Word has a lot to say about being our brother’s keeper:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10 

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:17-18

“For all the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:9-10

“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual unbuilding.” Romans 14:19

“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in the spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, 

for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” 1 Thessalonians 4:9

“Let brotherly love continue.” Hebrews 13:1

 “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8

The Bible makes it clear: I am my brother’s keeper!

Because He Lives

Easter • Devotion #3: Because He Lives
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

Have you heard the news? The body of Jesus is missing! What does this mean? To me, it means everything. Let me explain.

Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. In Matthew 16:15-17, we read, “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’” Later in Matthew 20:17-19, we read,And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way He said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and He will be raised on the third day.’”

The morning after the Sabbath following Jesus’ crucifixion, a great earthquake occurred, an angel of the Lord descended and rolled away the stone from the entrance to the tomb. The soldiers, overtaken with fear, fell to the ground like dead men. Shortly after, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb and were surprised to see the stone rolled away. In Matthew 28:5-7, we read, But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay.  Then go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him. See, I have told you.’” They ran and told the disciples what had happened, and Peter and John raced to the tomb to see for themselves – the body was not there. Then they remembered what Jesus had told them and they knew Jesus had risen as He said He would.

Why do the empty tomb and missing body mean everything to me? The words of the hymn “Because He Lives” say it all:

God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus, 

He came to love, heal and forgive. 

He lived and died to buy my pardon, 

An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives. 

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.

Because He lives, all fear is gone.

Because I know He holds the future, 

and life is worth the living just because He lives.



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.