Genesis 44-45 Let Me Pay For That

Judah’s heartfelt plea for Benjamin’s life sealed the deal. Joseph could hide his identity no longer. Jacob’s family would be restored, and saved. Judah’s love for his father resulted in his voluntary sacrifice of himself to pay for the sins of his much-loved brother.

Sound like anyone you know?

There are so many parallels between Judah and Jesus. Although it’s not a perfect comparison, it reminds me that Jesus willingly gave His life to pay for my sins. His life revealed the Father, His death marks my debt paid. And it’s because of Jesus that my relationship with God, once separated by sin, is restored. I am saved.

Footnote: Jesus’ earthly lineage includes Judah. That’s why I love reading the Bible. It’s not just a series of nice stories. God’s Word is the complete picture. And it all points to Jesus!

Genesis 42-43 Trust Me

Reuben was Joseph’s first born son. So it’s not surprising that Reuben would be the one to take charge, go to his father, and promise to protect Benjamin if only Jacob would let him take the young man back to Egypt. Reuben even swore that if anything happened to Jacob’s precious son, Jacob had permission to kill two of Reuben’s sons.

“We need food, Dad, or all of us will die. Trust me.”

But Jacob refused to let Reuben take Benjamin into Egypt. Even after Reuben made such a demonstrative offer. Could it be that Reuben’s trustworthiness was in doubt, especially after his encounter with Bilhah, Jacob’s wife? Just saying.

Later, when the grain was gone and Jacob’s family was facing starvation, Judah stepped up. His promise to his dad to care for his youngest brother wasn’t dramatic, it wasn’t laced with promises he couldn’t keep. Judah went sincerely and humbly and said, “Dad, I’ll be responsible. If I don’t bring Benjamin back to you, it’s on me.”

What is it that elicits trust in someone? Obviously we look at past behavior. We probably consider the situation and hear what the other person is saying. We weigh what we know about that person’s character, with our need to trust them in the moment.

So today I’m asking myself if God can trust me. Have I been trustworthy in the past? Am I sincere about wanting to follow Him and obey Him? Is my character like that of Jesus, the ultimate example of being worthy of trust?

Or am I all talk? All show? No follow-through? Good intentions that go nowhere?

God wants to entrust me with the eternal souls of people He loves more than Jacob loved Benjamin. Am I up to the challenge? Can I say, “Trust me” and mean it?

 

 

Genesis 41 Forget It

Joseph is out of prison. Not just free, he is made the vice president of Egypt. With that position came honor and wealth and a position of authority over his former captors. He got married and started a family. He had it all, according to what many equate with happiness and success.

But with all the good that was ahead, Joseph had to make a hard and sad decision. It’s revealed in the name he gave his first son: Manasseh, which means “forget”. Verse 51 says God helped Joseph forget all his troubles, including his father’s family.

Wow. That must have hurt. But Joseph was at a crossroad, and he chose to leave what was behind him and move forward. We know he’ll eventually unite with his family. Joseph had no such knowledge.

Sometimes following Jesus involves making hard choices. Sometimes it requires leaving a lifestyle behind, friendships, yes even family. Paul, in Philippians 3 tells us to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead. Jesus Himself tells us in Luke 14 that anyone whose feelings toward their parents doesn’t look like hate in comparison to their feelings for Him can’t be His disciple. And in John 21 we see Peter leaving a boatload of fish on the beach to follow the Lord.

Forgetting what is behind. Is there something or someone in your life that God is telling you to turn away from? Is there something in your past that is holding you back from serving Him?

Forget it. Leave it at the foot of the cross and move ahead.

God used Joseph’s obedience to save the very family he’d left behind. And God will use your obedience to do amazing things as well. After all, He’s the same God that we read about here in Genesis 41. Joseph trusted Him. And so can you.

 

Genesis 40 How’re You Doing?

I didn’t get very far reading the familiar story of Joseph, the cupbearer, and the baker, when something convicted me. I don’t think I’ve ever really looked at this verse before.

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. (vs 6, emphasis mine).

I know that it’s hard to read people some times. But I have to admit there have been times when I recognized a look of sorrow or worry or grief on a person and looked the other way. Or I say the obligatory “How’re you doing?” and expect to hear the accepted reply, “Fine” and leave it at that.

But Joseph paid attention to how the two men looked. Then, in verse 7:

So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?”

Now here’s what I get from this:

  1. Joseph recognized the dejected look on their faces.
  2. He asked them specifically about it.
  3. He listened to what they had to say.
  4. He spoke honestly with them.

Joseph didn’t just tell them what they wanted to hear. I wonder what would have happened if the baker had heard the warning, confessed his sin, and asked forgiveness. Joseph told him the truth. But the baker did nothing with it. And the baker died just like the dream had predicted.

God is speaking to me today about my relationship with others. Jesus told us to love one another. In fact, He said that was the second greatest commandment. And sometimes loving someone requires us to get involved in their lives, to be a sounding board, or to point out sin in their lives so they can confess it and receive God’s forgiveness.

And God is asking me to pay attention. If I recognize a look on someone’s face that tells me something is up, I need to stop and talk to them, listen to them, and be honest with them according to Scripture.

God, if You want me to relate to people like Joseph related to these two men, I’m going to need You. Give me the ability to read people, and the courage to ask them what’s on their minds if You prompt me to do that. Let me show Your love by truly caring about them. Help me to be an encourager if encouragement is needed. Help me to be a mirror if they need to take a good look at themselves. And help me always to point them to You, and only You.

 

Genesis 37-39 It Doesn’t Matter

I’ve enjoyed my change of Bible study so far this year. I’ve slowed down, read less, and studied more. I’ve looked at each story, each verse a little more closely, and I’ve learned a lot.

But I’ll confess I also get a bit frustrated. As much as I respect the theologians whose commentaries I read, sometimes I feel they can get caught up in insignificant speculation. Like, did Joseph’s brothers throw him into a well or a pit, was it Judah or Reuben who pulled him out, did they sell him to the Medanites or the Midianites, was Potiphar a eunuch (someone really presented the possibility).

Now I know I, too, have speculated on certain points as I’ve posted my thoughts these past few years. It’s natural to wonder, isn’t it? But in the end all that really matters is what God has revealed in His Word. And really, it might be a waste of time to get caught up in possible details not included in the inspired Word. It might be a ploy of Satan to get our attention away from what God wants us to know.

The Scripture tells us that Joseph’s brothers sold him, he ended up in Egypt, God blessed Joesph in spite of circumstances, and used Joseph’s obedience to save his whole family. We read that his brothers lied to their dad, and continued with that lie for years. Those are the facts. And there are enough lessons to be learned from the facts without arguing whether Joseph’s coat was striped or ornamented, or both.

It doesn’t really matter.

Father, I thank you for men and women who have studied your Word and are led to share their insight. But God, help me to trust Your Words first and foremost. May I always read the commentaries, articles, books, and blogs (including mine), using Scripture as the plumb line. And help me not miss the lessons You would have me learn, by being too preoccupied with details and supposition.

Genesis 35-36 Revival

One commentary I read called 35:1-7 the first recorded revival. I remember going to many revival meetings in the church where I grew up. In fact, I went forward during one of those services and cemented my faith in God, repented of sins, and determined to live for Him from that day on.

Jacob sinned. His family worshiped idols. But in chapter 35 they all chose to leave those idols behind and follow the Lord. They buried the idols, and the people moved on. Their worship of God was revived.

I will admit that since that Thursday evening in 1967 when I knelt at the altar during that revival meeting, there have been other times of revival in my life, other sins I had to confess, other idols I had to bury in order to obey God. My walk with the Lord hasn’t been one and done, but rather a series of times of fellowship with my Savior, followed by a drift, then sin, then conviction, repentance, and revival.

I kind of sound like the nation of Israel in the Old Testament.

I don’t know where your walk with the Lord is right now. But I would encourage us all to consider a time of revival. Can we ever walk too close to the Savior, be too free of sin, or too cleansed?

We are the Church. I wonder if it’s time for the Church to allow God to revive us one soul at a time, until the Church is exactly where God would like us to be.

 

The Will To Live

The man who wrote this has suffered with ALS for twenty years, yet he continues to blow me away with his love for the Lord and his steadfast faith. I hope you take a moment to read what he has to say, and let God speak to you about your commitment to accomplishing His will in your own broken down life. And if you haven’t checked out his blog, I hope you’ll do that, too. Unshakable Hope is a treasure.

Unshakable Hope

I almost made it through a whole year without being hospitalized or having any additional health problems. Almost. Then, with just a few days left in 2016, I caught a cold. The “commoncold” is not much more than an annoyance for otherwise healthy people, but for someone like me with weakened breathing muscles and only 30% of my lungs functioning, the common cold is much more than an annoyance.

On the morning of the last day of the year, I was having an extremely difficult time breathing even wearing my breathing mask. In addition to that, I couldn’t keep anything down. I was a mess, more than usual. Mary and I both assumed it was pneumonia again so she called 911 and within minutes we were in an ambulance en route to the hospital. ALS has brought us one adventure after another over the last 20 years.

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