Are You A Spy?

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The Shocking Message

Rise and Shine for Jesus

These weekly devotionals I will be posting come from and are copyright to Pam Iannello, my pastor's late wife who went home to be with the Lord on June 18, 2008. They were written by a Godly lady for other ladies young and old so that their walk with the Lord may be strengthened.

Used with permission from New Beginnings Baptist Church.

Learning how to face our family problems through an in-depth study of the troubled home of Joseph.

Are You a Spy?

This devotion is part of the "Family Problems" series.

After many long years Joseph again came into contact with his brothers. Though they knew not him, the Bible says he knew them… If you were in Joseph's position, what would be the first statement out of your mouth should you come in contact with a family member or members you have not communicated with for quite some time? What about when you haven't been communicating with your heavenly Father in prayer for a while? What's the first thing that you typically say to Him after such a time lapse? Certainly the fact that these brothers were insincere in their past dealings with Joseph made conversation a very delicate situation, requiring much wisdom attached to every spoken word. Likewise, when we've not been doing right it makes talking to the Lord an uncomfortable situation as well! Turn with me to Genesis chapter 42 and let's read verses 9-17 and discover what Joseph has to say to his brothers…

And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. We are all one man's sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies. And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. And they said, Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not. And Joseph said unto them, That is it that I spake unto you, saying, Ye are spies: Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither. Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies. And he put them all together into ward three days.

What an intense discussion! Is this the way you would expect Joseph to treat his brothers upon seeing them again for the first time in about 20 years?? Three times he accuses them of being spies, of coming only to see the nakedness of the land rather than to buy food. Would you have believed the same? Considering their devious track record, I think Joseph has dealt very wisely with the hearts of his brothers because the business of conscience is to think back to things long since said and done. Like any loving brother, Joseph was attempting to stir the consciences of his brethren by challenging their sincerity. Ladies, don't mistake this as a vengeful purpose but realize it to be a godly one - in order to bring disregarded sins to the forefront of the mind and purify the heart. Likewise, the Lord deals with us in much the same way! He tests our hearts with His Word. Could it be that you and I are guilty of being spiritual spies today? Let's take a closer look at the meaning of the word "spy" and perhaps you'll see what I mean…

Webster's 1828 dictionary defines spy as: One who watches the conduct of others, to explore; to view, inspect and examine secretly, to search narrowly; to scrutinize.

Basically, Joseph accused his brethren of entering the land under the pretense of buying corn but with a real desire to find out whether the land was defenseless that they may attack it successfully in a time of famine. While this may not have been their particular motive, I have seen a lot of Christians act this way! You see, a spiritual spy is someone who enters the presence of the Lord insincerely - only to narrowly view the conduct of others; to pick apart what is wrong with everyone else around him! Have you ever done that, dear lady? I have! For example, in the past, I've sat under the preaching and teaching of the Word of God hoping that my husband was listening to the message and would repent, all the while disregarding my own life. I've even read my Bible many times with the attitude that various people could stand to read the same portion of scripture and learn a thing or two. But ladies, if we aren't careful, this can become a very bad spiritual habit with us! We need to make sure that whenever we enter the presence of the Lord it truly is to buy food for our own souls!

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Like the psalmist, we must be sure it is our own hearts that we are intent upon spying out, our own motives we are interested in exploring, our own sin that we are diligent about examining, our own walk with the Lord we are constantly inspecting! To behave otherwise would make us guilty of coming to the Lord only "to see the nakedness of the land" as Joseph said; to observe famine in other people's lives. You see, the goal of a spy is to drive out the inhabitants of the land they are secretly examining and then settle in it themselves… Is there a chance you've been spying out a certain person with the same motivation? With what mindset do you attend church? Are you really there to buy food for your own soul?? With what inner posture do you examine the leadership of your church? Have you been secretly watching for any opportunity to settle into someone else's position yourself? How about your pastor's wife, a deacon's wife, or that faithful Sunday school teacher you've been eyeing for so long? Is there sincerity in ALL your relationships with these people, or do you befriend them simply to spy out a famine and then make your attack? Listen, if we're going to play "I Spy" we have to play by God's rules, not our own! The Holy Spirit is the One with true searching power…

Jeremiah 17:10
I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

1 Cor. 2:10
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Ladies, scripture teaches that the heart of man is desperately wicked; it is deadly! The nature of human wickedness is beyond our understanding. We cannot know our own hearts, or even what they will do in an hour of temptation. The Bible says - "Who can understand his errors?" This being true, we must focus on yielding to the probing power of the Spirit of God in order that we might identify that which is wrong in our own hearts and repent of sin as quickly as possible! We must first and best learn to scrutinize our own conduct in order to be the greatest help to others... Have you had enough experience??

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

As human beings, when we spy after others, we seek to report back damaging information; we seek to accuse the brethren like Satan does. While our purposes are not always pure, the Lord's are! Through His Word He makes diligent search of us in order to prove our words and actions to us, to expose the insincerity that dwells within us, to extract lies and to establish truth and wisdom deep within our souls…

Psalm 51:6
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

Reflecting back on our main text, Joseph's brothers denied any accusations of being spies in the land before this governor who was challenging their hearts. In effect, they were quite certain of their own goodness! They were even so bold as to call themselves "true men" before a man they did not even recognize as their brother. This in itself was a lie, for Joseph certainly knew the truth about them! Be careful what you call yourself before God because He is the One who cannot be deceived…

Romans 3:10-12
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

What do you call yourself today, dear lady? Would you be so bold as to entitle yourself a woman of truth? Are you honest with yourself when it comes to all your dealings in life? Even if you might be able to fool some people, God knows the real condition of your heart! Instead of conveniently overlooking that which is not right in your life, better to face it, confess it and be true in all your claims. Is there anything you should address and confess before the Lord today that He already knows about? Are all your deeds born of pure motives? Could you be doing what God wants the wrong way? Just as Joseph required his brethren to surrender their youngest brother to him to prove the validity of their business, God will require submission to His requirements as proof in your life that you are sincere in your dealings with Him - to provide evidence that you are not just a spiritual spy or a phony. However, your submission must not be mixed with a wicked mind…

Proverbs 21:27
The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?

1 Chron. 28:9
… know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts….

Ladies, there must be concrete proof in our own lives that we are sincere Christians. When you bring what God requires, it must be offered with a true heart. Pretending holiness but intending wickedness is an abomination to God! Let us not be guilty of operating in this manner as believers! In order to deepen their level of respect, Joseph put his brethren in prison three days. So too, will our heavenly Father arrange our circumstances in such a way so as to intensify our fear of the Lord - which is the beginning of wisdom! By Joseph's brethren submitting to this particular arrangement, we can see the blessing behind our difficulties, for detention also proves to be a way of stirring our conscience by allowing time for reflection. Observe in our main text how Joseph remained a stranger to his brothers because they had not humbled themselves - they had not admitted their own shortcomings. Arrogance stood between them like a tall wall! Yes, relationships are stifled where meekness is missing, therefore we must fully humble ourselves before the Lord. Are you ready to play "I Spy" with Him today?

Lament. 3:40
Let us search and try OUR ways, and turn again to the Lord.

God Bless,
Isaiah 60:1&2
Copyright 2000 Pamela A. Iannello
Revised 2003 Meet Ms. Pam

Other Rise and Shine Devotionals
New Beginnings Baptist Church Website

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