6-10 You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart.
It is difficult to live a life of faith. As one draws closer to God–the enemy attempts to derail and nullify them in their faith. So, when Paul coached Timothy on picking his leadership team, he laid out some petty difficult restrictions. Paul was no snob. He did not set out requirements simply to exclude folks he would not like. He set out criteria that set men apart from the crowd. He encouraged Timothy to surround himself with men of faith that demonstrated in their daily lives a humble submission to God’s leadership. As they walk in faith, Paul lists qualities that would become apparent.
In our walks, God does not call each of us to be leaders in our church. many would argue, however, that he calls each of us to be qualified to be leaders. As we look at Paul’s list, he enumerates qualities that come from humbly following God–great reputation, great family and a focused spirit that honors God–in good times and difficult ones. We understand that our control is limited, but, that if we do follow him, we are more likely to see these qualities than if we do not. In first Peter 5, Peter warns us, “Be on guard and alert–our enemy roams around like a roaring lion–seeking whom he may devour!” When we are preparing to lead, we can be assured that that warning is in large print and embossed upon each day. It is an honor to lead–but it is a responsibility and task whose accolades are in no way equal to the responsibilities and the costs.
God Bless You
Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
8 In the same way, deacons[b] are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.
The blessing of Jacob to his sons is an amazing prophecy of what was to become of the nation of Israel. As one takes the time to read the text and then look at the nation’s development, the words of Israel are spot on. His words also speak to the idea that the choices and behaviors of a person can become the culture of a family.
As one looks at each of the brothers, you cannot help but notice their personalities affected and shaped their clan. It was their temperaments and behaviors that either blessed or cursed their nations in years to come. It had to be alarming to Rueben, Simeon, Levi and Benjamin to hear the prophecy of their future–and yet, their lives and temperaments had already set a culture that would follow for hundreds of years.
So what about us? Should we fall prey to the natural tendencies within our family history? If we are like Joseph, Judah or Dan–probably so. But, the awesome news is, that in Christ, we are new creations. We can change our culture and become exactly what Christ has called us to be–His ambassadors. People with an eternal mindset and a heart to serve others. If we will, then our family histories will resemble a life like Christ and He will be glorified in our journey and in our families–no greater gift exists.
God Bless You
listen to your father Israel.
3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn,
my might, the first sign of my strength,
excelling in honor, excelling in power.
4 Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
for you went up onto your father’s bed,
onto my couch and defiled it.
5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers—
their swords[a] are weapons of violence.
I will scatter them in Jacob
and disperse them in Israel.
8 “Judah,[b] your brothers will praise you;…
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[c]
until he to whom it belongs[d] shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore
and become a haven for ships;
his border will extend toward Sidon.
14 “Issachar is a rawboned[f] donkey
lying down among the sheep pens.[g]
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
and submit to forced labor.
16 “Dan[h] will provide justice for his people
as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
so that its rider tumbles backward.
18 “I look for your deliverance, Lord.
19 “Gad[i] will be attacked by a band of raiders,
but he will attack them at their heels.
20 “Asher’s food will be rich;
he will provide delicacies fit for a king.
21 “Naphtali is a doe set free
that bears beautiful fawns.[j]
22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.[k]
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed[l] limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty,[m] who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
blessings of the deep springs below,
blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
than[n] the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the prince among[o] his brothers.
27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
in the morning he devours the prey,
in the evening he divides the plunder.”
28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.
It is a really amazing story, Israel was very pleased to have spent 17 years in Egypt with the son he had thought was lost. At the end, however, he needed to solidify the notion that this was not his home and these were not his people. So Israel called the Prime minister of Egypt in and simply told him, “Son, I do not want to be buried here. I want to be buried back home. In addition, son–your two boys that greeted me when we were brought back together, are now my boys. They each get a share of inheritance as would Reuben or Simeon. So in effect, Joseph received a double portion of Israel’s inheritance.
In looking at our lives, we have to take Israel’s view of our world. We can never see this place as our home. No matter how nice or easy it may seem, we await our opportunity to go home. Paul said in Philippians 3:20-21,
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”
31 “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff…Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. 2 When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.
3 Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty[a] appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me 4 and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’
5 “Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. 6 Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. 7 As I was returning from Paddan,[b] to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).
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.
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.”
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
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
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.”
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.”