Saturday, October 24, 2015

Genesis 46:3

Verse 10

Life threw me a curve ball or two this week. Which is why my last posts have been delayed. My husband injured himself (he is fine now, thank God!) but it required several days of doctor visits and me driving him. In other words, my time was no longer my own. In addition, my son had a film project which required filming in the evening so the "actors" were here for some time before dark. Long story short, my house has been filled with chaos. I think the enemy likes to use chaos to distract us.
I did this page a week ago. I wrote the above several days ago. Every time I have sat down to write this entry something has come up. It is funny that this lesson is about integrity. I get frustrated with myself when I set a goal and I miss it. I am not sure I can complete my remaining three entries by tomorrow evening. Which feels like a failure to me. I am reminding myself that my priorities have to be God, family, church, everything else... 
So I will post this without the lesson on the portion. I hope to get some time this weekend. We shall see. Thanks for understanding! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Genesis 45:5

Verse/Lesson 9
Genesis 44:1-45:15

Today’s portion of Joseph’s story is about a final test for his brothers and the big reunion. The first time I really studied Joseph’s story was a little over two years ago. I remember when we got to this part of the study feeling a little put off by what Joseph does in this part of scripture. Why plant the cup and falsely accuse them –especially in light of the fact that Joseph knows what it is like to be falsely accused!
In case you didn’t have an opportunity to read the portion yet, Joseph has seen Benjamin, released Simeon, fed the brothers and filled their sacks with food and allowing them to return to their home. He instructed his steward to fill their sacks with as much food as they could. In addition to each man’s money returned to them, he ordered his own silver cup to be placed in Benjamin’s sack. He ordered his steward to follow them and overtake them with the accusation of the stolen cup. The steward was to ask them, “How could you repay kindness with evil?”

The steward did as he was instructed. When the steward accused the brothers of stealing the silver cup they reacted with disbelief and basically refute the accusation and add that if they did find the cup that brother would be a slave to Joseph!

They were not considering the option of the set-up, were they? Nope.

Of course the cup is found in Benjamin’s bag and they all load up and return to the city to have a chat with Joseph.
The Bible says their reaction was….
“…they tore their clothes.”
That is a level of frustration and sorrow I have never known. But in that moment they knew that past sins were coming back upon them. Look at verse 16

 And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” ESV

Judah answered, "Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we explain this? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves--all of us, not just our brother who had your cup in his sack." NLT

"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." NIV

(Emphasis is mine) but look at the underlined portion of that verse. I didn’t catch it the first time but I think this line is a guilty conscience. Not for stealing the silver cup, but for what had been done to Joseph. I think, Judah had been living with the results of his hatred and jealousy of Joseph by having to see what his actions did to their father. He knew Jacob would not survive the loss of Benjamin too. All of the years of what they had done, Judah is now feeling the full weight of it. And this time Judah doesn’t think of himself but of his father and his brother.
I guess that is what Joseph wanted to see all along. Are they changed? Would they make a different choice given similar circumstances? Joseph needed to know.
The last part of chapter 44 reads like a re-cap on a tv show. Previously on ….
Judah recaps the events to try to show they wouldn’t do what they were accused of but then explains that he cannot hurt his father, Jacob, by leaving without Benjamin and pleads to be able to take his place for the sake of Jacob.
Upon hearing this, Joseph can’t keep his identity hidden any longer!
How I wish the Bible gave us a detailed description of what each brother’s face looked like upon hearing the news AND what thoughts were running through their heads! I also wonder over the twenty years since they last saw Joseph if they ever thought about him or thought they saw him out and about?

Not long after my dad died, maybe 9 months or so, I remember being in a bank parking lot and seeing a man that looked exactly like my dad. I was 16 and hadn’t spent a lot of time with my dad before he died but it stopped me in my tracks. The hair on my neck stood on end and I remember crying. I knew it wasn’t him but for a few moments it was him.

I wonder if they ever had moments like that.

My verse for today comes from the portion of scripture where Joseph is assuring his brothers that he is not angry with his brothers for he knows it was God at work, divinely placing him in a position to help many during the famine.

And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. Genesis 45:5 ESV

Can you hear the grace and mercy and forgiveness in Joseph's words?
I know I have said this before, but I think it bears repeating because it is repeated so often through Joseph's story. We are called to have a good attitude. Really our good attitude should be a natural outpouring of our faith in Jesus. We have to remember circumstances change, but Christ's love and the gift of the Holy Spirit never change. Because of that we should be able to find God's hand in our circumstances and be able to forgive, and extend grace and mercy.

Many years ago I worked in a position where I helped supervise a large group of customer service representatives. It was in a call center and one of my duties was to take over calls that were problematic or if they were requesting to speak to a supervisor. There was this one young woman in the group that didn't like me. The first time I took a call for her I remember she complained to my boss that I touched her keyboard. Which was funny because I have to plug into her system and computer in order to take the call. Anyway, I remember feeling really frustrated with the situation and not liking her very much for being so unreasonable! I was sharing with my mom about it and my mom suggested I try to lightly touch her when the opportunity presented itself. I did. And over the course of several months two things began to happen. She softened towards me....AND I softened towards her. I began to understand her a bit better and see how her circumstances made her react a certain way. I also learned that by extending her grace and kindness she was able to do the same. By the time I was leaving that job, that young lady had invited me to her wedding and help throw a going away party for me. She also gave me a very thoughtful gift that I had for the longest time. I kept it to serve as a reminder that MY attitude can make all the difference in other's attitudes.

Chuck Swindall says this about Joseph, "He was great because of his faith in God, which manifested itself in a magnanimous attitude toward others and his magnificent attitude toward difficulties. A strong faith leads to a good attitude. When those two essentials are in place, troubles become challenges to face not reasons to quit."

How great is that???? I rambled on and on, and Chuck said it perfectly!

The remainder of the portion is Joseph saying come and live with me... I will set you up ...famine is going for another 5 years....bring father...
I imagine there was a lot of excited energy in the air. The reunion with the brothers, helping them in the difficulty of the famine, the anticipation of being reunited with Jacob...exciting times!

The next portion of Joseph's story will be Genesis 45:16 -46:29

Sorry this post was late. It is a busy week in our household. My baby had a birthday and I am celebrating my anniversary with my hubby this week. He is home on vacation.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Genesis 43:23

Verse/Lesson 8
Genesis 43:15-34

We have a short passage of scripture for today just 20 verses. We left off with Jacob wringing his hands for fear of losing Benjamin if the brother’s took him to Egypt with him. So in verse 15 it says they took double the silver (to make up for what was returned to them last time) plus gifts…and Benjamin and made their way to Egypt.
When they arrived and Joseph saw Benjamin he had them brought to his house and had a grand meal prepared. Joseph’s brothers were scared at this point and began explaining what exactly had happened… it reminded me of the long-winded explanation one of my kids gives me when they think they are in trouble. As I read it I found myself chuckling a little bit because it was just like they were little boys in trouble instead of grown men. And then the steward said to them … (in my head I heard him say it in a calm-yourself-everything-is-okay sort-of way…
He replied, “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.  Genesis 43:23 ESV

 I really wanted a peaceful image with this verse so I attempted to do a Bokeh technique to create a soft and peaceful feeling on the page.

So the steward tells them …calm down it is okay nobody thinks you stole the money. (the phrasing is mine J)
What is coming next is when Joseph gets to take a good look at all of his brothers. I was struggling for what to say about this emotion filled passage and then I read something Chuck Swindall wrote. He was talking about Vietnam POWs returning from captivity and described the emotion like this:
“As life went on while they were separated, not a day passed without their hearts returning to one another.  And then, there they were together again –struggling to put those years of separation into words. As songwriter, Fanny Crosby once put it, “Chords that are broken…vibrate once more.”
A scene not dissimilar from those I have just described is about to occur in our story of Joseph. Again, the emotions that surround it are difficult to put into words as all the brothers of a family, separated for more than two decades, will soon be united.”

That really prepares the reader for the powerful emotional scene that is about to play out in scripture. I had a hard time deciding on the verse I selected today. I debated for weeks between the one you see and the next bit of scripture.

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. Genesis 43:30 NIV

Then Joseph hurried from the room because he was overcome with emotion for his brother. He went into his private room, where he broke down and wept. Genesis 43:30 NLT

Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there. Genesis 43:30 ESV

There is such sweet tenderness in this verse. I love all three versions of it too.
Deeply moved, overcome with emotion, compassion grew warm… isn’t it beautiful?

Grace and love.

The portion of our scripture for today finishes up with them sitting down to have a meal. It is a little funny that the brothers ate together, Joseph ate alone, and the Egyptians ate alone. I did read something that was interesting on this last bit. I didn’t pick up on it at first but it is interesting to think about.
Author and scholar, Henry Morris, explains the brother’s astonishment.

“After they were assigned to seats at their table, the eleven brothers noted a remarkable thing. They had been seated in order of age, from the eldest through the youngest. If this were a mere coincidence, it was indeed marvelous. One can easily show…that there are no less than 39,917,000 different orders in which eleven individuals could have been seated!...Evidently, this man knew a great deal more about their family than they had realized; or else he had some kind of supernatural power. They had no answer, and could only wonder about it.”

Joseph’s love for his brothers far outweighed any hurt left behind. His heart was full of love and forgiveness. Just like the grace extended to Joseph’s brothers, God has extended forgiveness and grace to each of us through Jesus.

Isn’t it such a sweet and tender part of the story? I do love this story!

For next time, read Genesis 44:1-45:15

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Genesis 43:14

Verse/Lesson 7

We are picking up today in Genesis 42:36-43:15.
Jacob, Jacob, Jacob…I feel ya. This part of the story is so very human. Jacob is in a panic. Clearly, he is not trusting in God here but very much reacting from his circumstance. When I read this passage it is easy to imagine myself in a rant with my own children. Granted, the circumstances are different but the behavior is the same.
Some of it is even cringe-worthy…read verse 38

But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.” ESV

Reuben must have been thinking, “um, hello, I am his brother and your son too…”
Jacob is acting as though he only has 2 children. Jacob is also really fretting and forgetting to trust in the Lord.
The rest of the portion of reading for today is the brothers trying to convince Jacob to let them return to Egypt with Benjamin so they can get Simeon and get more food because the famine still has a stronghold on the land.
On a side note, it mentions in 43:10 that had they acting in a timely manner that could have come and gone twice by now. Which led me to think about poor Simeon left behind in prison and seemingly forgotten by his brothers and Joseph. Knowing that they could have made the trip there and back twice in that span of time leaves Simeon wondering what on earth has happened and will he ever get out. The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about him during that time but I wonder.
In the end, Jacob agrees –reluctantly, and the brothers are going with Benjamin to see Joseph and hopefully retrieve Simeon as well. But before they go, Jacob has a list of how they should do it…

Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry a present down to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Take double the money with you. Carry back with you the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks. Perhaps it was an oversight. Take also your brother, and arise, go again to the man.       Genesis 43:11-13 ESV

Again, I could hear myself telling my children exactly how to do something. In my defense, my kids are 9, 13, & 15 and Jacob is probably a great grandfather at this point (maybe even a great-great grandfather) making his sons mature men who are grandfathers or great grandfathers themselves. They are not young children is the point. J And that brings us to my verse. 

Genesis 43:14
May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”   ESV

Just in case they didn’t fully understand how Jacob was feeling in the matter, this verse is Jacob’s send off for the sons as they travel. What a heavy heart we can have when we fail to trust God and press into Him in difficult times. I feel Jacob’s sadness and desperation in this verse. It makes me sad. The good news is I know we don’t have to be in that place. I also know how this story ends so I don’t have to feel sad for Jacob for long.

If you are reading along, read Genesis 43:15-34 for next time.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Genesis 42:28

Verse/Lesson 6 of 12
Genesis 42:1-36

We are picking up today in Genesis 42:1-36. Remember Joseph is Governor of Egypt and we are in a time of great famine. Egypt had prepared for the famine because God had given Pharaoh a dream about it and Joseph interpreted it. During the 7 years of abundance they carefully planned and stored grain in preparation for the 7 years of famine. Now Joseph is second only to Pharaoh in Egypt and has the duty of overseeing the disbursement of grain. We know he is at least 37 years old and has married and has two sons. I’d say Joseph is living his life and not dwelling on the wounds of his past. My guess is he is a busy guy with much to do in his job.
Meanwhile back in Canaan, Jacob hears word that there is food in Egypt and sends his sons off to buy some so they don’t starve. 10 brothers leave Canaan in hopes of buying grain in Egypt.
The brothers arrive and are in the presence of the governor (Joseph) and they bow down before him. Joseph sees them and recognizes them but doesn’t reveal himself to them. I like the wording in the NIV for this verse

Genesis 42:7
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." (NIV)

Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” (ESV)

And Joseph saw his brothers, and he recognized them, but he made himself a stranger to them, and he spoke to them harshly, and he said to them, "Where do you come from?" And they said, "From the land of Canaan to purchase food." The Torah

The emphasis is mine and I know it isn’t a big difference but there is a difference in the way one acts if they themselves are strangers rather than encountering strangers.

So, I had to look up the Hebrew word…
נָכַר nâkar, naw-kar'; a primitive root; properly, to scrutinize, i.e. look intently at; hence (with recognition implied), to acknowledge, be acquainted with, care for, respect, revere, or (with suspicion implied), to disregard, ignore, be strange toward, reject, resign, dissimulate (as if ignorant or disowning):—acknowledge, × could, deliver, discern, dissemble, estrange, feign self to be another, know, take knowledge (notice), perceive, regard, (have) respect, behave (make) self strange(-ly).

On a side note, I am left so humbled when I go chasing these word rabbits because the fact that we have a Bible translated into English and/or any other language is miraculous. Sometimes I may look up one root word per chapter. Imagine each and every word, meaning, overall meaning trying to be correctly translated. It is a miracle!

Anyway, back to our text…Joseph doesn’t blurt out to them, “It’s me! It’s me!”
He treats them harshly – I took this to mean if they were anybody else from Canaan, business would have gone on. His accusation of them being spies is the harsh treatment, and oh yeah, the throwing them into prison.
Before they are thrown in prison they protest their innocence and declare, 

 “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.” Genesis 42:13 ESV

The first time I read this my heart broke for Joseph.
On the one hand they at least acknowledge his existence, but on the other they have written him off.
Upon reading it again and again, I began to see that there may have been a little twinge of pain but taking himself out of the equation, in that one exchange he has found out that his father and little brother are still living! And what joy that must have been for him.
Joseph puts his 10 brothers in prison for 3 days. After the three days Joseph releases all but one of them and sends them back home to return with Benjamin, as proof they were who they said they were. At this the brothers say,

Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” Genesis 42:21 ESV

God is tapping on these guys and they are beginning to feel it. I love this verse (although I did not select it for this section to Journal) because of all that is going on in it. Look at it. They admit their responsibility (we are guilty), they understand empathy (we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us), they understand guilt (we did not listen), and they know there are repercussions for their actions (That is why this distress has come upon us)
But God is not finished yet…
They set out on their way back to Canaan and stop to rest and one of them reaches into a sack to feed his donkey and finds all the money for grain has been returned to them….and that brings us to my verse

At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”

I think it is clear that their hearts are now fully convicted! I thought it was a powerful verse and summed up what this portion was about.
In the remainder of the section of reading today, the brothers arrive home and tell Jacob what has happened. Jacob is not happy. To me, he seems pretty weary and sad. Jacob’s response to the 9 brothers is…

..."You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!" Genesis 42:36 NIV

If we  were doing a TV series this is where we would end for a season cliff hanger. Luckily for you, we will pick it up here on the next post.
If you are following along, read 42:36-43:15 for next time. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Genesis 41:51-52

Verse/Lesson 5

There wasn't a huge portion of Scripture to cover for today's post. The portion (Genesis 41:46-57) tells how events came to pass just as God had shown Pharaoh in his dream.
There were seven years of abundance followed by the famine. In verse 48 it says:

And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured. (ESV)

The NIV puts it like this:
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.

In this instance, I love the NIV wording, beyond measure. For some reason when I read the NIV version it stopped me and made me think of the feeding of the 5,000

Matthew 14:20-21
20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Mark 6:42-44
42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Luke 9:17
17 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

John 6:12-13
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

So how much bread and fish did they have? Is there some equation that will give us an exact number?  5,000 men (no exact number given for women and children)+ satisfied (each person had ate enough to be satisfied –a number which is different for every person)+ 12 baskets of broken bits and leftovers = ??
Beyond measure.
God’s provision is always more than enough, isn’t it?

We are told in verse 46 that Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of the Pharaoh. We are told that Joseph traveled all over Egypt during the years of abundance and that he married and had two sons before the time of the famine.
This brings us to my verse/s for today

Genesis 41:51-52
Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father's house.”6 52 The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

I omitted some parts of the verse (repetition) for the sake of space but I love the spirit of Joseph that he is so committed and in a close walk with the Lord that his son's names bear witness to it.

It is interesting to note that in the study Bible it notes that Manasseh sounds like a Hebrew word for “who makes to forget”
And Ephraim sounds like a Hebrew word for “fruitful”

On the surface I was moved by the commitment of Joseph to have his son’s names carry on witness to the blessings in Joseph’s life, but as I dug a little deeper it blew me away.
I was reminded of the significance in Jewish culture of naming. It is done thoughtfully and purposefully. One teaching suggested that Joseph named his firstborn a name about forgetting but by doing so he was inevitably going to remember every time he called Manasseh’s name.
Another teaching suggested that verse 51 refers not only to forgetting the hardships and his father’s house but to the forgetting of the teachings of the Torah. It goes on to say that his second born, Ephraim, not only suggests fruitful in the land of his affliction, but a restoration of Joseph’s Torah knowledge while in the land of his affliction. A further suggestion was made that the names of Joseph's sons (what they represent and the character traits they bear) was the reason why Jacob’s blessing bypassed the elder son, Manasseh, and was given to Ephraim (who represents the restoration of Torah knowledge to Joseph). The article goes much deeper than that but as I said, I, myself, am not a Torah/Hebrew scholar, but I find it essential to understand the Jewish point of view on the Old Testament. 
It is interesting food for thought.

 For next time, read Genesis 42:1-36

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Genesis 41:14


Hello my friends! 
I’ve got to be honest with the fact that this entry has been hard for me. I have had the verse done and picture done but writing this post has been like pulling teeth.
The part of Joseph’s story that we are in just breaks my heart. I put myself in his shoes and simply cannot wrap my head around how he does it. 
Does what, you ask? 
How does Joseph keep a good attitude and sunny disposition through his circumstances? 
How does he do it?
We left off with Joseph being falsely accused and being thrown in prison. I told y’all about Michael Morton in the last post. Michael is a guy who was falsely convicted of killing his wife and sentenced to life in prison. Over a period of 25 years –a time in which his only child stopped seeing him and changed his name- he grew bitter and angry.
Until, he had an encounter with God. 
And that encounter changed everything for Michael.  
He was still in prison. His son was still being fathered by someone Michael had never met. His wife was still gone. Her murderer was still uncharged with the crime. 
But God began to change Michael in his circumstances.

I believe we are told so many times in Joseph’s story that “God was with Joseph” to explain how he was able to do so well in his circumstances. That is the only thing that explains it for me. 
Nothing else rings true.
I know I am going over ground already covered but I just can’t stop thinking about it. I have been talking with God about it and what I feel the Lord saying to me is that circumstances are just circumstances. If God is with you, circumstances are just circumstances.

Today’s portion of Joseph’s story is Genesis 41:1-46.
The portion begins with telling us clearly that two full years have passed since the baker’s and cupbearer’s dreams have come to pass. The cupbearer has failed to remember Joseph, and two full years have passed.  Pharaoh has had a dream that no can make any sense of. At this point the cupbearer tells Pharaoh of Joseph and the success he had interpreting the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker.
This brings me to my verse for today.
Genesis 41:14
Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit.

From Pit to Palace in an instant –Joseph’s circumstances change dramatically but not the fact that God was with him!
Pharaoh asks Joseph if he can interpret his dream. Now, right here, I think I would be tempted to tell the Pharaoh what he wants to hear, but Joseph is not swayed by his change in circumstance, he tells the Pharaoh he can’t, but God can!  I really like the Amplified version for this verse:
Genesis 41:16   Joseph answered Pharaoh, It is not in me; God [not I] will give Pharaoh a [favorable] answer of peace.
Beautiful, isn’t it?
So Pharaoh tells him the dream and Joseph answers (leaving himself fully out of the answer):

Genesis 41:25 NIV   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.”

Who has revealed? God
Who has God revealed to? Pharaoh

In our culture, I think we would likely hear, “God told me your dreams mean…”
I love his removal of self from this revelation.
Joseph does tell Pharaoh that the dreams mean that there will be seven years of abundance for Egypt, followed by seven years of famine.  Pharaoh wants to put someone in charge of the surplus to ensure that they will have what they need during the famine.

Genesis 41:38-41 ESV
Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?”  Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”

Joseph woke up that morning in a pit, and ended the day second in power to Pharaoh himself!
WOW! Circumstances are nothing when God is with us! The tough (and very human) struggle is to remember that.  

Chapter 41 in Genesis is action packed. There could be an epic movie made and this is part of the story is the thrilling upturn for our hero. All of that is true, but what I take comfort in is, knowing that in order for Joseph to be cheerful in prison, his relationship with the Lord was a daily comfort to him. He had a real and powerful connection with the Lord. His acknowledgement of God is a big clue for me. We aren’t usually very aware of God’s gifts unless we are in a day to day walk with Him through prayer, thankfulness, and deep dependence upon Him.  
That is the lesson I take away from chapter 41.
What speaks to you in this chapter?
Have I mentioned how much I love Joseph’s story? 
For next time, read Genesis 41:46-57.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Genesis 39:23


When we left off on Monday, Joseph was in a bad spot. Potiphar's wife was hot after Joseph and despite his refusal she wasn't taking no for an answer. So she cornered him and he ran. As he ran away from her advances, she had hold of his robe and it was left behind.
Poor Joseph!
Joseph did the right thing but circumstances are such that Mrs. Potiphar doesn't take rejection well and she cries rape, using Joseph's robe as proof that he was with her.
When Potiphar hears about the Mrs. accusations he throws Joseph in jail.
So once again Joseph finds himself in tossed away.
39:20  And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison.
I heard Chuck Swindall say that that word prison was from a Hebrew word that translates dungeon.
Dungeon reminds me of the pit his brothers threw him in- both cases he is thrown in unfairly but there it is.
Scripture tells us in the next verse
(21) But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
There it is again! The Lord was with Joseph! And that brings us to my verse for today:

 Genesis 39:23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge because the Lord was with him.
I don’t know about you but this is hard for me to get my mind around. I really struggle with what is fair. Logically I know life isn’t fair, but I really want it to be (sort-of).
I know someone who was unjustly convicted of a crime and sent to prison. During this time I was so angry at the miscarriage of justice I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I wasn’t a believer at the time. This part of Joseph’s story reminds me of my friend.
It also brings to mind a documentary I saw some time back and I cannot shake this man’s story. Michael Morton was convicted of killing his wife and sent away for life. His story is heartbreaking and full of unexplainable hope. He spent 25 years in prison. Over those 25 years, he loses contact with his son, who was told his father killed his mother, and he grows bitter. Then he has an encounter with God while he is in prison that changes him.
So what is it that allowed Joseph to succeed in prison? What prevented the seeds of bitterness to take hold in my friend? And what changed Michael Morton after years of anger and bitterness?
The answer to all of those questions is twofold.
First they all either had a relationship with God or developed a relationship with God. Second, they all had an attitude that was free from victim mindset and bitterness.
The Bible tells us adversity will come.
Will we walk through it knowing God is with us?
Will we believe it and act accordingly?
Joseph did.
Can you put yourself in Joseph’s shoes and then ask yourself would you still behave like you are living in God’s promise for your life?
I don’t know about you, but this is so hard for me.
It is something I can’t stop thinking about.  
The remainder of the portion today (chapter 40) finds Joseph meeting with two guys who need their dream interpreted. Joseph tells the cupbearer that in 3 days he will be restored to his office. The news wasn’t as good for the baker. Joseph told him that in 3 days he will be hung on a tree. Joseph asked that the cupbearer remember him. Things happened just as Joseph said and the cupbearer did not remember him. Some commentaries speak of this as painting a picture of Jesus. They liken the cupbearer and baker to the two that were crucified with Jesus. I have the feeling I will study this over and over and discover something new each and every time.
For next time read Chapter 41:1-46

Artsy Faith Stamp Set is available while supplies last 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Artsy Faith Stamp Set

It has been an amazingly fun satisfying journey creating a stamp set to use with Bible Art Journaling. It started with a question from a friend and now it is here!

My hope is that it helps those who want the look of hand lettering in their Bible Journaling. 
Each of the five stamps in the set are in a different "font" and are designed to work in the 2" space of a journaling Bible.

For more information and how to purchase your own set 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Genesis 39:2


When we left off, Joseph had been thrown in a pit and then sold to Ishmaelites (Midianites) who took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, and the captain of the guard. The brothers took Joseph’s coat and dipped it in blood. When they showed it to Jacob, their father, he assumed Joseph had been eaten by wild animals. Jacob is filled with grief.
What a mess! Lies and deceit everywhere we turn.
Joseph is sold to Potiphar and that brings us to my verse:

Genesis 39:2
The Lord was with Joseph and he became a successful man and he was in the house of his Egyptian master.
On its own this verse may not seem terribly special but it is the first five words that stopped me in my tracks… the Lord was with Joseph… how powerful is that?  I had to look up the phrase “the Lord was with” and see where else it appears in the Bible. It is interesting that so many of the occurrences of the phrase appear in this story of Joseph. 7 times this phrase appears (in one form or another) relating to Joseph.  And while Joseph has the Lord with him he is still in situations of temptation and struggle and hardship. For me, no matter what else comes Joseph’s way, the Lord is with him!
In the remainder of the portion, we see Potiphar’s wife has her eye on the young and handsome Joseph. Poor Joseph.
 Imagine you are a stranger in a new country, new culture, foreign language and you end up as the trusted servant of the captain of the guard. Your boss trusts you with his household and you value that trust. What can you do when the wife of your boss puts the moves on you? He refused acknowledging the trust of her husband and the wickedness of the sin against God. That doesn’t stop her and so the next time she corners him and says, come lie with me, he runs! Even though the Lord is with him, he knows he has to high tail it out of there or his flesh may give into temptation.
The Bible tells us what to do
1 Peter 5:8-11
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
So even though the Lord is with us we must act accordingly when faced with temptation –Resist and Flee!
I take great comfort when I read the phrase “the Lord is with…” but that doesn’t mean smooth sailing is ahead. It usually means –Hold on you are in for a bumpy ride!
What verses stood out to you in this portion? 
For next time read Genesis 39:19-40

Thank you for being here and reading along with me. Be blessed today!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Genesis 37:22


I think one of the things I find comforting in the story of Joseph is that he comes from a complicated family. My own family is a little complicated and messy.
Joseph is one of 13 children…12 boys and 1 girl. Today Joseph would say something like,
“Dad has been married 4 times. I have 6 half-brothers and 1 half-sister from step mom #1. I have 2 half-brothers each from step-mom #2 & #3. My youngest brother and I are from Dad’s 4th marriage. But Mom died giving birth to my little brother.
My own mom has been married 4 times (my dad was the first) but only had children with my dad. I do have one step-sister and one step brother that are my 3rd step-father’s children. My own Dad died when I was 15. I didn’t see him much. He struggled with alcoholism for all of the time I knew him.
It isn’t so different is it?
All of the emotions that go along with a blended complicated family are right there in chapter 37.
A complicated family is made all the more complex with a passive father. Jacob is kind-of a hot mess when we get to this chapter. His history may have had some part in that. 
Jacob fell in love with Rachel and wanted to marry her. He worked out a deal with her father, Laban, to do just that in exchange for working for him for 7 years. After the 7 years had passed Laban pulled the old switch-a-roo on poor Jacob, instead of marring Rachel as he expected, Jacob ended up married to Leah. Leah was Rachel’s older, less attractive sister. UGH! At which point Jacob struck another deal with Laban to work an additional 7 years so he can marry Rachel. During that time Leah had 7 children. At some point the handmaids of Leah and Rachel get into the act and each have two sons by Jacob. Rachel is barren and prays for God to give her children. She has Joseph and prays for another. When that other baby comes, she gives birth, and dies. Jacob is left with a lot of kids and Jacob has a favorite.
My step-sister is 8 days younger than me. We have almost nothing in common other than our age and the fact that our parents are married to one another. I remember at one point in high-school I was sick to death of hearing of her good grades and scholastic achievement. There may have been other things as well but I don’t recall anymore. What I do remember is how sick I was of her. I was making my mom’s & step-father’s bed and tiding up their room and I couldn’t take seeing her face one minute longer. I went around the room and turned all of the pictures of her over!
Joseph’s brothers threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery so by comparison what I did wasn’t so bad but I would guess the feeling was exactly the same!
That night my mom came into my room and said she was worried about my step-sister. I feel certain I rolled my eyes, if not outwardly for certain I did it in my mind’s eye.  My mom went on to explain that SS’s (step-sister) self-esteem must be very low right now because she has turned over all the pictures of herself.  My first thought was, "Oh, for the love of Pete! I don’t even get the credit for cleaning the master bedroom (surely she assumes SS did it)" and secondly, "she doesn't even see that I am seething with jealousy" --or whatever that emotion is that overcomes a teen sick to death of a sibling. Mom just assumes that SS is suffering with low self-esteem! heavy sigh I am invisible.
I don’t really remember how that particular situation resolved itself in my own family, but I feel certain that Joseph’s brothers felt similarly (times 17 years) and they were not missing him. All except for Reuben, maybe.
Reuben found a way to keep the other brothers from killing Joseph (throw him in the pit) and had planned to come back and rescue him. And that brings me to my verse.

     Genesis 37:22
                And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness but do not lay a hand on him.” –that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.
When I read that (last part in particular) it struck me for the first time how much it is like my own salvation story.  When God called me to accept Jesus and follow him, I was in a pit. The enemy had me in his hand and it was through accepting Christ that I was rescued from his hand and restored to my Father.
Now, I don’t know if any Bible scholars see it the way I see it, but it jumped out at me. So I wanted to look at the Hebrew wording, especially on that last part since it is so clearly painting the redemptive picture of Jesus.
הַצִּ֤יל   haṣ-ṣîl   he might rid (Verb)
אֹתוֹ֙    ’ō-ṯōw   him
מִיָּדָ֔ם   mî-yā-ḏām,   out of their hands
לַהֲשִׁיב֖וֹ     la-hă-šî-ḇōw   to restore him (Verb)
אֶל־     ’el-   unto
אָבִֽיו׃     ’ā-ḇîw.     his father
For Old Testament text I like to check out my regular resources but I also like to use Jewish/Hebrew resources. As I said earlier, I am not a Bible scholar nor am I a Hebrew scholar. So this is just me wading through trying my best to understand the Lord.
One of my Jewish/Hebrew resources translates that verb as ‘to return’ rather than restore. Either way it reads redemptive to me. Did it strike you the same?
What part of Joseph's story strikes you and leaves you thinking about his story? 
Did you pick a verse to work on? Or just memorize? 
What parts of Joseph's story can you relate to? 

For the next posting read Genesis 38-39:18. Start to think about a verse that you want to focus on.

Thank you for joining me. Jump in at any point and read along & create a verse!