Genesis 48 – It’s A Long Story

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I remember when my son was in preschool. One day I picked him up, he jumped in the car and said, “We learned about respect today in chapel.”

“That’s awesome! What did you learn about it?”, I asked.

“Well, it’s a long story”, he replied.

I could not have said it better myself.

That title seemed fitting because we are still traveling through the chapters of Genesis reading about Jacob and Joseph’s story. Last week we discovered that as Jacob neared the end of his life, he was growing in his relationship with God. This week, in chapter 48, we see more evidence of that with many blessings and knowledge of what will come.

When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.” He blessed them that day and said  “In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing: ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’” So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh. (v. 17-20)

How incredible that God allowed Jacob to not only see his son, Joseph, once again but to meet his grandchildren and bless them. I’m sure Jacob wished he could stick around longer to lead, guide and show his grandsons about God and teach them the lessons it took him so long to learn himself. This reminded me of how important it is to always continue teaching my own children about God, no matter how old they get or how much they seem to be ignoring me.

Teaching, guiding and directing our children about God isn’t something we should ever cross off our list. It’s a long story that we should never stop telling them or others. We are called to do so and we can’t let this responsibility fall to the side or leave for someone else to do.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, Deuteronomy 11:18-20

We are to live, share, teach and constantly think about the Words of the Lord and share them with our children. This takes time, thought, work, study, and love. Love for the Lord and love for our children and others. It is easy to let this job/responsibility get lost in the busyness of life.

My godchild asked me once if God was magic. She couldn’t understand how He was able to live in her heart, her mom’s heart and lots of others people’s heart’s unless there were hundreds of God’s. A lot of important things happened for her to find out the answers. First, she asked the question. This shows her heart for God. Second, her parents helped her find the answers. Third, I responded with scripture and her parents followed through with more discussion.

It’s a long story! Don’t miss the opportunity to share the Lord with a child? I encourage you to look for an opportunity every day this week to share a thought or Word about God with your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews.  I’m praying God will open the door and give us all the opportunity and when He does that we are willing and open to sharing truth and love.

 

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Genesis 47 – Late Bloomers

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In Chapter 47, it feels as if we finally see the Jacob (Israel) turn into a man of God. After he has Joseph promises not to bury him in Egypt but to return him to his homeland for burial.

“Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. (v. 31)

He worshiped as he leaned on his staff! I’m sure his heart was at peace and it felt as if he was finally walking alongside his Heavenly Father basking in His great rest. This verse reminded me once again that we are all on our own journey with God. Some are trying to journey without Him, but either way, we are all on a journey and while on it, no matter where we are, grace is a wonderful thing to run into.

Some of us are late bloomers when it comes to our relationship with Christ and have incredible stories of transformation. Others seem to have always known God, never let go of His ways and still seek Him today. And still, there are others who know about Him but chose not to believe or take another path. There are hundreds of scenarios that we can find ourselves in, but today this one verse reminds me that it’s ok.

It’s ok that all the people on my prayer wall I’m praying to find and follow Christ aren’t there yet, right when I want them to be. I mean, I want them in Heaven with me for eternity because I care deeply for them, but I can’t force their journey. I want them to experience His great courage, peace, strength, and love NOW, but I can’t make them. It’s in God’s hands and my job is to keep praying, keep gardening and planting seeds, showing God’s love and living it out to all I come in contact with so that hopefully one day on their journey they look up and realize they have reached their destination. The place where they look up with a faithful heart to our Creator and worship Him for His great love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. The place where they finally find rest and acceptance. The place on their journey when they say, “I believe You died for me, show me how to follow Your ways.”

What a day that will be! Are you seeking God or praying for others in your life who are wandering around searching for the answer to happiness and peace? Can we make a pact to continue to pray mightily for those people we know, and don’t know, to come to know Christ sooner rather than later? A late bloomer is certainly better than never blooming, but I want everyone to have all the benefits of our Heavenly Father as they go through this life and not have to wait until their final days. Amen and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Genesis 46 – The Love of a Father

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Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.” (v. 29-30)

I can only imagine what it must have been like for Joseph to finally see the father he had been separated from for most of his life. On the other hand, can you imagine how incredible it must have been for Jacob (Israel) to hug the son he thought to be dead for over twenty years?!

I can’t help but relate this to love our Heavenly Father has for each of us. All those times we turned away from Him, took the wrong step or walked away from Him. He remained there waiting for us and never giving up until we were back under His wing. The difference is that we, unlike Joseph & his father, have a choice. We don’t have to wait to seek our Heavenly Father and be in His presence. All we have to do is open His Word.

Tears well up in my eyes as I type this and consider all the benefits we receive by simply remaining in the light of our Heavenly Father’s word. There are so many who never make the time, think they are too busy, that it’s a waste of time, isn’t relevant anymore, that think they can’t understand what it means so what’s the point. I remember using a few of these same excuses years ago. Please don’t assume what others say about the Bible is true. Read it for yourself. It’s a face to face conversation with your Heavenly Father that He so desperately wants to have with you. If your favorite movie star or athlete called to say they wanted to meet for dinner I have no doubt most of us would take out a loan for the flight, drop everything and rearrange our schedules to get there. Well, the Creator of the Universe wants to have a one-on-one with you. The Creator of everything that has ever been and will ever be. Will you meet Him? You don’t have to wait any longer.

We have access to knowledge, wisdom, and understanding that we can only begin to tap in to and comprehend when we read the Bible. One of the most important truths is just how much God loves each of us and wants you back in His loving arms if you have been separated from Him.

May you find your way back to Him as Joseph did to his father.

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m grateful for each of you that take the time to read these words each week.

Genesis 45 – The Big Reveal!

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I adore this moment! Joseph just couldn’t contain himself any longer. Consider all the time he had spent with his brothers while keeping the secret of who he really was to himself. It must have been incredibly difficult. I wonder how he knew that this was the right moment to make the big reveal? Did God nudge him or did his heart just finally bust? After all, he had waited so long to find out about his father and restore his family after he saw the hearts of his brothers had changed.

Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. (v. 1-3)

Notice, that after Joseph reveals himself, his brothers are terrified. Can you blame them? They did leave him for dead in a desert well about 22 years ago. But look at Joseph’s response.

Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward, his brothers talked with him. (v. 14-15)

As my son would say in a fun accent, “Vwait, Vwhat?”

Seriously, if I had a quarter for every time I have said, “Please treat people how you want to be treated – NOT how they treat you.” to my children, I would have enough money to dig twenty wells in Africa. You may say this as often as I do, however, my question for us today is do we live this out? And if so, how? It’s so easy to say these words until someone drives by you, blares his horn and gives you the lift of the third finger from your pinky or thumb. It’s effortless to remind our children or friend when they are in a situation where someone has wronged them to turn the other cheek, but it’s altogether different when we have to harness the anger and do good back to the one who has harmed us.

 This is a muscle that needs constant exercising in my own life. I’ve discovered that only God can harness evil and that includes the evil in our own hearts, not just the evil in others. It’s incredible to see how Joseph illustrated this with the forgiveness and love he offered his brothers.

It is God’s power, God’s strength, God’s mercy, God’s love, God’s patience, God’s courage and God’s grace that give us the ability to always seek to do good to everyone (despite their actions), not our own. I’m living proof God can get in a heart, stir things up and revise it to more like His. This isn’t easy. In fact, it can be downright painful sometimes. I know loving EVERYONE will continue to become a challenge with each day I wake. Especially as my children grow up and face more trials and evil that I want to protect them from and respond to, but I’m praying I don’t lose sight of the fact that by standing firm and keeping a strong grip on Christ, there is “wonderful hope”, that I will continue to respond in love. Trusting God to handle all the rest.

I want to leave you with these beautiful words that Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.

Now may the Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.

 

Genesis 44 – Hearts Can Change

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As the dramatic story continues this week, we see a very clever Joseph setting a trap for his brothers. However, I don’t think it was a devious trap as much as a plan to see how they would respond. I believe Joesph desired to see if his brother’s hearts had changed since the years they had left him for dead in the desert well.

Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said. (v. 1-2)

Joseph quickly gets his answer as his guards catch up with them outside the city, accusing them of theft, and putting Benjamin’s fate at stake. First, they stay true to their father, Jacob. As Judah speaks for his brothers and says,

“So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’ (v. 30-32)

Not only that, Judah go on to offer himself in place of Benjamin.

“Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.” (v. 33-34)

What an image. I’m assuming all these brothers had suffered guilt and shame for years due to their horrendous actions of the past. Leaving your brother for dead and lying to your father about his death all because of jealousy can’t be an easy thing to live with. In these moments, it must have become clear to Joseph that God had not just been working in his own heart, but also in the hearts of his brothers.

The excitement will continue next week as we see Joseph reveal himself to his brothers and extend forgiveness that surely is from the Lord and not his own. Our God can work wonders when we allow Him into our hearts to do His incredible work. Praying you all feel His love and peace penetrating your heart this week through all your thoughts, words and deeds.