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.”

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.”

From Inmate to In Charge–Genesis 41 Part 2

Joseph had no way of possibly knowing that God was ready to change the entire world through the faithful walk of a local prison trustee.  He had long given up the idea of home, family and freedom and had quietly adjusted to his routine.  But, then God stepped in.  It was time to execute a plan some 12 years in the making.
 
Joseph was escorted to Pharaoh and knew immediately after hearing his dream the will of God for the life of Pharaoh. He spoke the truth, no fear, no expectations and the Pharaoh placed him in charge of all of Egypt’s operations.  Joseph had been in preparation for this job for a long time–now, as Egypt’s prime minister, he would fulfill God’s mission for his family.
 
God’s timing is never the same as our timing.  We battle through the trials, temptations and tribulations of life; never quite knowing if or when God is going to use us to shape his plan. It is most important for us to remain faithful, humble and ready to step up–for whatever he has planned for us.  When it is time, he will make it obvious that his hand is in it, and we simply need to trust Him and move forward.  It is a great gift to be able to fully rely upon God and watch him change us, and others through us.
 
God Bless You

So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.

“It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.

Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt,

but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land.

The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.

The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.

You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Back to Square One–Genesis 35 Part 1

Once again Israel’s young life had been turned upside down.  After the attack upon his daughter and the slaughter of the Canaanite’s that were responsible, God called Israel to purify and start again.  So it says that everyone got rid of their personal idols and they resettled in Bethel, the place where God and Jacob wrestled and God changed his life.  As they traveled, The other locals were afraid and no one dared pursue them as a people.  Once again, God prepared, protected and provided for his chosen people.  When they arrived, they set up an alter and a memorial; and there they worshipped God.
 
When our lives get turned upside down, we should also follow the model.  We need to purify our lives by simply evaluating and acknowledging what personal idols do we house.  Then as we identify them, we, like Israel, must walk away from them and worship God and him only.  Then, we need to go back to where we started and worship God as we did when we began our relationship with him.  As we do, we will experience his peace and power in our lives.  Our enemies will fear us, and we will see a shining pillar of his presence in our lives…Not  a bad trade.  Help me, Lord to exchange my idols for your peace and freedom.
 
God Bless You
Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem. Then they set out, and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.

Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel,[a] because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.

The Blessing , Take 2–Genesis 28 Part 1

It must have been a difficult realization for Isaac–when he realized he had been secretly trying to subvert God’s plan.  Isaac then did what he should have done long before; he blessed and counseled his son, Jacob.  I imagine the blessing rang a bit hollow to both Jacob and Rebekah–but, none the less, it gave the family a sense of solidarity and alignment in the development of the nation.
 
Isaac knew it was important to remain separate from the local people–ultimately the land they were visiting would be their land–not the local people’s.  In addition, their godless ways would likely draw the family away from their faith–as it had with Esau.  So Jacob did, as he had always done, and obeyed the instruction of his parents–he left the comfort of home and headed to his uncle’s home.
 
Interestingly, Esau, always trying, took a third wife from  uncle Ishmael’s–family…not God’s plan, but when did that matter, anyway.  Esau simply did not understand the importance of following God’s plan–even when he thought he was doing a big thing–he neither knew why, nor did he realize he missed the point.
 
In our world, we experience the same things–when we reflect, we realize that following God is easier and best.  We listen to his leadership and direction and are blessed along the way.  There is still trial and conflict,, but eventually, we are completed and blessed by following closely and humbly.  When the world sees our blessing, it wants to have the same experience. 
 
So, in its way, the world tries to match what they see–they put on trappings of religion but they neither know why or for what purpose they need God in their lives.  They do not want his counsel, guidance or forgiveness–they simply want the experience that his chosen have.  Sadly, its a package and only those willing to surrender to his leadership can experience the peace and eternal life that following him brings.  It is not the prayer, its the surrender that makes us his–let Jesus be your LORD and savior–then you will know what it truly means to be one of his own.
 
God Bless You
 
So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram,[a] to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May God Almighty[b] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

Their God is Their Stomach–Genesis 25 Part 3

There is no accounting for what drives people.  Isaac waited a quarter century to have sons. When his sons arrived, there was a clear distinction; Esau was a burley–“Man’s man” and Jacob was an inside guy.  God told Isaac and Sarah–Jacob would continue the lineage–but, Isaac loved Esau.  He loved his talent, his rugged style and the yummy food he made.  So much so, that Esau clearly felt confident he had his future made.  He became cocky–self absorbed–his God was his stomach.

Esau felt like the rules were not made for him; so, when Jacob offered him a nice dinner for the family birthright–well, there was no question that he would take the soup.  Esau was all about now.  He worried about his next meal, his next hunt and his next desire–long term thought was simply not a part of his routine.  When Jacob traded him the soup for birthright–it spoke volumes of the hearts of the men.  Esau never desired the responsibility of continuing the family line–he only wanted to hunt and fill his stomach.

In our world, not much has changed.  Most folks are like Esau–self-absorbed and self-reliant.  Their concern is for today, for themselves and not for God. People admire their rugged style, their false bravado and the way they take care of themselves.  The truth is–it takes an eternal perspective to see past the here and now.  When people live for eternity–the world feels they are foolish, weird and out of touch with the times.  Truth is, however, it is that perspective–that will change the world.  We have to look beyond our personal needs and trust God for who we are and what we have. That is the only life that will leave a legacy.  Those who live for now will only leave stuff and emptiness. Paul spoke of those people as the enemies of God in Philippians 3–“Their God is their stomach and they glory in their shame.” In short–Esau was not an enemy of his birthright, He was an enemy of God.

It brings to a head what Joshua said–“Choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” Joshua 24:6

God Bless You

 
 
The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.[f])

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.

The Greater Work–Genesis 24 Part 2

When one lists the great tools for life success, the greatest tool is often left off the list.  The gift of prayer is overlooked, even though it is our greatest tool of all. Oswald Chambers, renowned Bible scholar and devotion said it best, “Prayer is not the preparation for the greater work, it is the greater work.”
 
Abraham’s servant traveled across the desert to the land of Abraham’s father.  He stopped in the area he had lived well over a quarter century before–then he prayed. The result was truly amazing–God brought the object of his prayer, right to him.  It was no coincidence, it was God doing what God does–hearing and answering our prayers.  I John 5:14-15–“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him”
 
In our lives, we often act as if we do not want to impose upon God.  Or, we pray like spoiled and entitled children–simply looking out for our selfish interests and not truly seeking God’s plan for our lives.  Abraham, his servant and God’s people throughout history have relied on prayer and faith to lead them in the journey and mission for which they were called.  When they have, God has done amazing and wonderful things for, in and through them. 
 
We can never underestimate, nor set aside our ability to reach out to the very God–that reached across eternity to restore his relationship with us. Prayer is the greater work and the key to a successful and amazing journey.
 
God Bless You
Then he prayed, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.

17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”

18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.

19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.