Joseph Manages The Famine–Genesis 47 Part 2

There was still the whole famine thing going on.  The Land did not  produce for seven years.  So, God used Joseph to literally keep the country alive.  Joseph systematically fed the folks and acquired all the wealth of Egypt–for Pharaoh.  He collected all the Egyptians’ money, livestock and land.  Still, in the process, Joseph treated the people with dignity and fairness.  While Pharaoh now owned their land, the people were still able to go back to it, work it and treat the land as their own.  They simply had to share the proceeds of the crops with Pharaoh.
 
Meanwhile, Israel and the family settled in and grew in number and in wealth.  While Israel was ready to die when he saw Joseph’s face; he lived an additional 17 years.  Joseph was able to spend a lot of time rebuilding what had been lost.  If one considers what happened even after the famine, Israel experienced 12 years of prosperity for his family and for Joseph.
 
We see the same.  As we consider our daily walks, we go through difficult trials and tests. The test mold us and shape us–but, then, we are  given the opportunity to enjoy our families and our lives as God restores us.  We simply have to learn to be content whatever our circumstance.  Additionally, we must continue to lean on God as we move forward. We must never forget or become ungrateful for all he has provided.  If follow him, the journey will seem straighter and easier–than if we kick at the twists and turns God sets before us.  As it says in Philippians 4:6–“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition–with thanksgiving, bring your requests to God. Then the peace of God that passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
 
God Bless You
 
There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.”16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.

18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”

20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude,[c] from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.

23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.”

25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.

The Flood and Faith–Genesis 7 Part 1

It must have been a daunting feeling the day Noah and his family entered the Ark.  All of the animals parading in and all the preparation for feeding and caring for the animals,  All of the behavior, the ridicule and scorn as Noah and his clan entered the boat on that sunny day.  Then the door was closed and  well, nothing happened. Nothing happened for a week. I am sure it took some time to get everyone and everything settled in.  I am also sure that as the family prepared, they had to practice the care and feeding of the animals…BUT, by day 6, faith had to be growing weak.  Of course, day seven changed everything.  The world had never seen rain or flood–the people would not have known what hit them, they never would.  Noah and his family would be the lone survivors for the world they knew.

When we are faithful, God will make our lives full and meaningful.  He will put us in positions to test our faith, and in the midst, allow us to experience every human emotion.  We do see through all of Bible history, that God always protects, provides and prepares His chosen for what lies ahead.  He allows our faith to be stretched and pushed–so when struggles hit; we can face them with confidence, not in our abilities–but in God’s character.  We can never lose either faith or hope.  Those things are gifts.  We simply trust him, follow him and allow him to steer the boat–then we will survive!

God Bless You

The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made.”And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.

Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah. 10 And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth

The End of the Beginning–Ecclesiastes 11 Part 2

Solomon was closing out hos search for meaning by the recognition that life simply looks a lot different when you are young.  It is wise to know that optimism and energy are gifts for the young.  When you come across a young person that is cynical and lethargic–it is alarming and off-putting.  Conversely, when us old goats of the world still see the wonder and excitement of life–well, we are minimalized and told we are cute.
 
Life is hard, unfair, rugged and cruel.  There are events that happen and people that pass through that literally suck any positivity out of our existence.  In those times, we have to trust God to replace that which is stolen by our enemy.  Young or old, we look to God for our joy, and, as we follow him, we allow the Holy Spirit to replace the joy life talks away.  Facing life daily is hard.  The longer we endure, the more difficult it becomes.  The great news is that if we capitalize on optimism when we are young, and, we trust God for joy when we are old–well, then we complete the race and keep the faith only to see that we have only come to the end–of the beginning!
 
God Bless You
Light is sweet,
    and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
However many years anyone may live,
    let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness,
    for there will be many.
    Everything to come is meaningless.

You who are young, be happy while you are young,
    and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
    and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
    God will bring you into judgment.
10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart
    and cast off the troubles of your body,
    for youth and vigor are meaningless.

Helping God Out–Genesis 16 Part 1

Sadly, one of the Bible’s recurring theme is man’s lack of patience leading him to help God out.  He knows God’s promise and rather than patiently waiting upon the Lord, he does things to speed up the process.  Here Abram and Sarai decide that since God promised Abram an heir, they would put him with another woman to assure that wuld happen.  History teaches us–that was not a great plan. The Chaos to follow would be global and continue throughout time.

We have to trust God completely.  We can’t only trust him in theory but act as if we are in charge, it will always end poorly.  The Bible, History and our own personal journeys teach us that God’s timing and ours are rarely the same.  It also teaches us that his timing is the best.  Solomon put it best in Proverbs 3:5-6, “trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in all yor ways and he will make your path straight.”

God Bless You

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”

Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.

When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”

“Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.

When No Life Matters–Genesis 4 Part 2

The murder of Abel was so much more than the act.  When Cain killed his brother, he set a tone in the world that no life mattered as much as his. It was the ultimate in selfishness.  God seeing this exacted the ultimate punishment–A lifetime to remember the greatness of his sin.  God coupled that with taking away his ability to benefit from the murder–he could no longer farm.  He was cursed among men and cursed by God.

God values every life! When we make choices to end lives, those choices are monumental and require much thought and concern.  The debates over abortion and over euthanasia in our culture epitomize the angst and attitude in this culture. Life should never be ended because of convenience–PERIOD! It really does not matter the level of inconvenience.  We as a people need not be afraid to say life matters.  God made it clear!!! As we move forward, we need to value life and preserve it. 

God Bless You

One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.”[c] And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”

“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

10 But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11 Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. 12 No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”

13 Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment[d] is too great for me to bear! 14 You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!”

15 The Lord replied, “No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him. 16 So Cain left the Lord’s presence and settled in the land of Nod,[e] east of Eden.

Don’t Love the World–1 John 2 part 2

The things that the world offers are not real.  Oh, they seem real–they seem to really fill the bill for meeting our hopes and desires.  But, because he is the master deceiver, the enemy has set the world up to come close but never quite satisfy.  John tells us not to dwell on the fleshly desires, the opportunities for power, or the stuff we build up to show how well we are doing.  Those things are like wildflowers that look pretty but fade quickly.

Instead, we are to dwell on the things that last–Loving each other, raising our kids in the Lord, serving others and helping them see the wonder of following Christ.  The things of eternity may not sparkle or seem as glamorous–but, a wise man said, “All things that sparkle are not treasure.”   Through the years I have watched Satan try to emulate God.  Probably, my favorite example is Las Vegas–all the lights and fountains are pretty, but, I would trade them all for one beautiful night under a starry sky. 

Don’t settle, follow!

God Bless You

 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

The Advocate–1 John 2 part 1

As an attorney, one of my favorite qualities of Christ is him as our advocate.  He knows us for the sinners that we are.  He knows we are frail and daily subject to falling into sin and independence from him.  Still, despite that, he intercedes on our behalf.

Oddly, there stands Satan–the prosecutor; accusing us of the sin he so conveniently placed in front of us, swaggering to the bench and saying to God–he is so evil, look at all he has done.  Meanwhile, Christ stands at our side, points to the accuser and says, “That sin is forgiven and forgotten, because I paid the price.

Grace is not a license to sin, though.  We should be seeking to follow him daily and closely.  If we do, we do not desire to disappoint him. We instead seek to be like him—selfless and surrendered.  That desire to follow is the best sign we are a part of the family. Help me Lord to follow you closely today.

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

Confession is Great for the Soul–1 John 1 final

I heard in a sermon a few weeks ago that no one simply drifts into a great life.  We were designed by God to be intentional and God Like.  That is why sin has had such a terrible impact upon us and upon the world as a whole.  The natural man defaults away from God and drifts toward a selfish and empty life.  Even with eternity in the balance, men choose to be separated from God naturally.

But God chose differently.  Through his spirit, we are drawn back to him.  In that, if we confess our sin–our natural desire to be Lord of our own life, and follow his lead and begin the personal relationship with him as Lord of our lives–our affirmative decision to surrender allows him to forgive us and restore our eternal life and journey with him.

While simple, it is by no means easy.  we have to choose each day to follow him and not run our own show.  But, when we choose that life–we have a Great Life Indeed!

God Bless You

This is the message we heard from Jesus[c] and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.

Philemon–A Plea for Onesimus

Christ Changes everything!  Philemon was a man that was selfish and self driven.  He met Paul and then met Christ. His life was changed. Still, in the midst of the change, he still had a life and a business.  In that business, was the slave Onesimus.  Onesimus met Paul in prison and clearly  was changed and befriended Paul. But, now came time to make amends.  So Paul asks the question God asks of us–Since God freed you, will you now free Onesimus?

In our lives, we see God do so many great things for us.  Freedom from the slavery of sin, provision, protection and power in our daily journey. God molds us and leads us so we can be free and peaceful.  But, we are then faced with opportunities to free others from holds we have–bitterness, unforgiveness and unresolved issues that are like chains to them and to us.  As Paul requested from Philemon, God requests from us–Love those I love, and you free them from the holds you have and welcome them–as I did for you.  It is a tall order, but, God knows that it is the one granting freedom that is really the slave. When we give up our rights for Christ, we gain them back so more fully in him.

God Bless You

Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus— 10 that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus,[b] who became my son while I was in chains. 11 Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.

12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.

Devotion–a Heart Thing–Mark 7 part 1

For God it has never been about the pretense. God has spent the entire time trying to teach us that he is most interested in what is happening in our heart.  Keeping a list of do’s and don’ts is easier for people because they can check things off as completed rather than continually submit to the leadership of God.  Often, when our heart is committed to God, the do’s and don’ts are rarely an issue, but the reverse is not true—If we are focused on the do’s and don’ts are the focus—then self assurance and pride often at the center of a person’s heart.

In our lives, we need to not only examine our actions but also our attitudes.  Until we are living with an attitude of submission, our actions are not necessarily an indicator of our walk with God. God calls us to seek him first and seek a heart of righteousness—then all the other things will be added to you.  We have to focus on our submission to his leadership and then relax as we honor him with our actions.

God Bless You

Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.[h]

17 Then Jesus went into a house to get away from the crowd, and his disciples asked him what he meant by the parable he had just used. 18 “Don’t you understand either?” he asked. “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? 19 Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)

20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”