The Full Circle–Genesis 44 Part 2

The recurring theme continues to appear–Judah, the patriarch of the lineage of King David and Jesus appears before Joseph–no excuses, no lies–he says, We are without excuse, but, for the sake of my father and brother–take me instead! This was the same guy that said some 20 years before, 
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.”
 
In Proverbs, Solomon reminded us that if you raise a child in the way he should go, when he is old, he will not depart far from it. Judah lived with his statement for 20 years and now, he was making things right–he sold himself into slavery for the little brother he should have defended before.  Little did he know, His ancestor would make the same offer for all who have sinned–“Take me instead!”
 
We still benefit from Judah’s negotiation. Our salvation, like Benjamin’s, rests on the grace and mercy of a holy God.  It was the selfless sacrifice of Jesus, that made it possible for us to have a personal relationship with God!
 
We are called to be as selfless–Jesus said it best, “If anyone would be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross–Daily, and follow me!” Luke 9:23.  It is not about some magic prayer, it is simply laying your life on the alter and trusting God to return it complete and restored! God is not cruel–He is a dad. Like any dad, he will not hand a child a snake; when the child asks for bread.  He will not return a slap for a kiss. He loves us, and only wants peace and freedom for our lives–now and for eternity! That is why he said–“Take me instead!”
 
God Bless You
What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

18 Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’

21 “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22 And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23 But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 

30 “So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, 31 sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32 Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’

33 “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”

We Dodged That Bullet–Genesis 44 Part 1

The brothers were thrilled.  They really dodged a bullet (or javelin) that time. They returned to Egypt, they brought Benjamin, they got Simeon back, had a nice lunch and they got more grain. What could go wrong now…

It All Comes Back–Genesis 43 Part 3

There was no doubt that the heart of the brothers was different.  As they brought Benjamin to Joseph, they could see his attraction.  They were astounded as they learned the silver was accounted for and Simeon was returned.  Clearly, from their perspective, this was too good to be true.
 
Joseph was also amazed.  There in front of him was his little brother.  He had not see him for 20 years.  His father was alive and well, and God had kept his word and made Joseph the ruler over his family.  Not only had God shown himself faithful, He showed Joseph why all had occurred the way it did.  He would never have been able to save the family from Israel’s tents.  He would never have been able to store the food and prepare Egypt in any other capacity.  So, now as the reality flooded back–the only emotion remaining was peace and gratefulness.
 
In the right time, God reveals Himself and his plan to his own.  We have to be paying attention to the signs; and we have to remain hopeful and grateful as the signs appear.  We can never give up–no matter how lonely or how dreary life seems to become.  He will not abandon us, and he will not fail us–despite what the enemy tries to make us believe.  We, like Joseph, need to stay focused upon the mission and release the anger, bitterness and regrets we have collected on the journey.  If we will, it will all come flooding back–we will see the glory of God’s plan and be engulfed in the power of his spirit.  He knows the plans he has for us–He will carry that plan out until we join him.
 
God Bless You
“It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.24 The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. 25 They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.

26 When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. 27 He asked them how they were, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?”

28 They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.

29 As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.” 30 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there.

31 After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.”

32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. 33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

The Day Israel Let Go–Genesis 43 Part 2

It was the moment they had all been waiting for…Israel agreed to send Benjamin to Egypt.  This was a significant moment in the life of God’s people.  After losing Joseph, Israel had lost his trust in God’s plan.  His only living reminder of his beloved Rachel was young Ben.  Years had passed and life had progressed, but, Israel remained extremely protective of his youngest son.
 
With the famine, however, came the crossroads–would the patriarch of this people allow them all to starve to protect Benjamin? Israel finally resigned himself to letting go and trusting the God that had provided for his family since the dawn of time.  The amazing part of the release was that it would be the act that truly restored the family and Israel to where God wanted them to be.
 
In order to be truly free, one must detach one’s self from his greatest point of attachment. In other words, as Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me; let him deny himself, take up his cross–daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23.  Israel had to place his most protected treasure on the alter and trust God to take care of it. 
 
In our lives, we each have things we consider ours at all cost–our families, our careers, our prized possessions or even simply our name and reputation.  God calls us to release those things into his care.  If we will, He in turn will bless them and return them in a way we would never expect and only dream possible.  Israel released Benjamin; he was about to receive back so much more…
 
God Bless You 

Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. 14 And may God Almighty[a] grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.”

The Inevitable Nature of God’s Handiwork–Genesis 43 Part 1

They would not mind telling you–The brothers were not looking forward to going back to Egypt.  Sure, they had to go and retrieve Simeon–but, that Governor guy was mean and Israel was pretty clear about his letting Benjamin make the trip.  Still, hunger was setting in.  Wives and kids were affected–so despite the desire to avoid the conflict, The brothers knew they had to go back.  It is interesting, however, that Judah was the leader of the brothers–he personally pledged his life for the family and for Benjamin.  His heart, his response was a picture of what was to come for the lineage and the legacy.
 
It was inevitable that Joseph’s brothers would return to face him and it was inevitable that Judah the patriarch of the lineage of our Lord would be the family member willing to sacrifice his life for the lives of his brothers.  God does not wing it! He knew from the beginning of time that this day would come and this journey would happen.  He also knew that its outcome would change the course of the people of Israel and the world.  There would be no plan B.  Plan A was perfect down to the foreshadowing it exposed.
 
He is as careful in planning in our lives.  So much that we face seems random and meaningless–but, then as we continue to trust and follow him; his glorious plan is revealed, and our lives and legacies are exposed to the glorious power of God.  It is neither easy nor fun–but, it is amazing and can truly change the world–if we allow it.  It may not change today or tomorrow–but our lives, in God’s hands, will inevitably impact the lives and the world we know.
 
God Bless You
 Now the famine was still severe in the land. So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.”But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’”

Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?”

They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”

Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.”

This Is A Test–Genesis 42 Final

When we are going through testing from the Lord, we do not often realize that we are being tested.  Joseph sent his brothers home with plenty of grain, their money and supplies for the journey.  When they stopped for the night, they realized what happened and became exceedingly scared.  What was going on…had their ruthless behavior finally caught up with them–ABSOLUTELY!!!

What the brothers did not know was that God was testing them on their faith, their love for their father and their ability to tell the truth.  More importantly, God was testing dear old Israel on his ability to trust God one more time–he had seemingly lost his trust when Joseph was taken. God was simply executing the plan formed long before.  He needed his chosen people to realize they were a part of that plan and despite the reason–God was working all things together for good.

In our lives, unspeakable evil happens. death, sickness, violence, poverty and all kinds of drama and meanness that separates us from each other and tests the very fabric of our faith.

God uses that chaos in our lives to train us, to build our faith and to draw us to him.  It is not that God smites his kids–NO, he simply takes the mess that is our lives and uses it to test and prepare us for His kingdom work.

We cannot walk away after tragedy…that is when we have to huddle close and seek him intently.  He will NEVER leave us or forsake us.  God Loves us and wants to shape and mold us into an eternal thinking people that trust him and follow closely to benefit from his well designed and perfectly executed plan.

God Bless You

Joseph then ordered his servants to fill the men’s sacks with grain, but he also gave secret instructions to return each brother’s payment at the top of his sack. He also gave them supplies for their journey home. 26 So the brothers loaded their donkeys with the grain and headed for home.27 But when they stopped for the night and one of them opened his sack to get grain for his donkey, he found his money in the top of his sack. 28 “Look!” he exclaimed to his brothers. “My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!” Then their hearts sank. Trembling, they said to each other, “What has God done to us?”

29 When the brothers came to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan, they told him everything that had happened to them. 30 “The man who is governor of the land spoke very harshly to us,” they told him. “He accused us of being spies scouting the land. 31 But we said, ‘We are honest men, not spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, sons of one father. One brother is no longer with us, and the youngest is at home with our father in the land of Canaan.’

33 “Then the man who is governor of the land told us, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take grain for your starving families and go on home. 34 But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. Then I will know you are honest men and not spies. Then I will give you back your brother, and you may trade freely in the land.’”

35 As they emptied out their sacks, there in each man’s sack was the bag of money he had paid for the grain! The brothers and their father were terrified when they saw the bags of money. 36 Jacob exclaimed, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”

37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. I’ll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.”

38 But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down with you. His brother Joseph is dead, and he is all I have left. If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave

While Godly, We Are Still Human–Genesis 42 Part 2

It would be difficult not to retaliate against the people that turned your life upside down.  There Joseph stood–with all the power of Pharaoh, he could easily have destroyed his brothers.  It must have been a difficult moment to balance power and responsibility.  Yet, Joseph balanced it well.  He met his families needs, but, he also tested the hearts of these men that literally attempted to take his life and way from him. No matter how spiritual or aligned with God Joseph was–he knew how these men had lied, deceived and destroyed the family–and He could repay it.
 
In our lives, just because we are new creations in Christ–that does not erase the human desires we still carry.  We are ever as much sinners–we are simply saved by grace.  Like Joseph, we must face the constant testing and temptation of life and choose to yield our personal desires to conform to the image of God.  It is neither easy, nor are we 100% successful in our efforts. When we do yield, however, we get to see his plan unfold and experience his power in our lives.  Our personal desires and feelings will never match the plan for his amazing journey in our lives.  Trust and Obey!
 
God Bless You
Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.”

12 “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”

14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15 And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 And he put them all in custody for three days.

18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do.

21 They 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.”

22 Reuben 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.” 23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.

24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.

Go Get Some Food–Genesis 42 Part 1

I think Israel said it best–“What are you just standing around for–go get some food.” After 20 years of moving on and building lives without Joseph, the family of Israel was in true crisis.  They were out of food, no crops, starving animals and no unity.  So, with that in place, all the brothers, (Except for Benjamin) left for Egypt.  Israel had no intention of parting with his youngest son and only surviving son from Rachel.  Still, he knew they had to push through; face the trial and live.

It was apparent that his days of leading, while not over were now being adopted by the sons.  He was not inspired as he once was–God seemingly had taken away his inspiration by taking Rachel and Joseph.  Yet, he was still the father of a people, and that people must survive.

In our lives, we too are often faced with difficult trials and times that seem to strip us of our inspiration.  We  become so overwhelmed–that, while we continue to function, we lose the vision and direction that God provides.  In those times, God teaches us to watch even more closely. 

He is always at work to execute his plan and prepare, protect ad provide for us in ways we would never imagine, hope or dream.  If we can push through our pain, our fear and our skepticism–then we might catch a glimpse of the plan, the grace and the glory that God provides–We may even see the restoration of what we believe we have lost.

God Bless You

When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?”

He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”

Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt.

But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him.

So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.

Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.

As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”

Bumper Crops to Bummer Crops–Genesis 41 Final

It was the most amazing thing–for seven years, the grain flowed.  Joseph stockpiled grain until it was beyond measure.  Storehouse after store house—chocked full of grain…Certainly, the locals were laughing at Joseph and saying this bounty would never end–until it did. On year eight, it was if the faucet was simply turned off.  Famine hit Egypt like a plague–what’s more, it expanded across the middle east.  Everyone was out of grain, well everyone but Egypt. 
 
Pharaoh did exactly what a great leader does-he pointed folks to Joseph. “Do Whatever Joseph Says!!!” and amazingly everyone was fed. Not only the Egyptians, but the folks around the middle east began filing in as well–and because God prepared Joseph and Egypt, Joseph fed them too.  Joseph lived a life grateful for what he had been prepared for and trained for what he had to do–the plan God instituted was flawless.
 
It is critical for us to remember God’s plan for us is flawless as well.  Even when the circumstances of our lives seem hopeless and out of our control–we need to see that God’s plan–in God’s time yields amazing results.  Rarely the ones we would choose; but, always the right plan for this amazing journey.  We do not need to understand it, we simply need to follow it and watch it bloom into the life set out for us at our beginning.  Jesus said it best, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added to you!” Matthew 6:33
 
God Bless You
As predicted, for seven years the land produced bumper crops. 48 During those years, Joseph gathered all the crops grown in Egypt and stored the grain from the surrounding fields in the cities. 49 He piled up huge amounts of grain like sand on the seashore. Finally, he stopped keeping records because there was too much to measure…53 At last the seven years of bumper crops throughout the land of Egypt came to an end. 54 Then the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had predicted. The famine also struck all the surrounding countries, but throughout Egypt there was plenty of food. 55 Eventually, however, the famine spread throughout the land of Egypt as well. And when the people cried out to Pharaoh for food, he told them, “Go to Joseph, and do whatever he tells you.” 56 So with severe famine everywhere, Joseph opened up the storehouses and distributed grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt. 57 And people from all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world.

What a Difference a Day Makes–Genesis 41 Part 3

It was official, 13 years after being tossed aside by his brothers, Joseph’s dream was coming true.  He was officially the chief operating officer of all Egypt.  The import of that change is staggering.  It showed the Pharaoh believed God and allowed this Hebrew to come in and manage during the good times.

Remember, Joseph built the nation and structure in a time of great plenty.  Record crops, record peace and an administrator (Joseph) that was probably cursed by the average farmer–for so unduly taxing their land. Joseph thrived–he married, had kids and forgot quickly about the betrayals and imprisonment.
 
He also forgot the original dream of going home. After all–God tapped him for a mission; and, while he did not know its eventual outcome, he knew it was his job to humbly and gratefully carry out his part.
 
In our lives, sometimes we have to simply accept God’s plan and not question each twist and turn.  We learn in Joseph’s life, in Job’s life, in David’s life and in our own–that most times, God refuses to tell us why he is doing things a certain way.
He expects our trust, and He rewards our faith with execution of a plan that is uniquely made for us. 
The ultimate goal is spiritual, not physical. He wants for us to have an eternal perspective that enjoys the present, but is not tied to it. We, like Paul grasp the concept–whether well fed, or hungry; living in plenty or in want–We can do all things through Christ–who strengthens us! Philippians 4:12-13
 
God Bless You

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On,[d] to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[e] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[f] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”