Friday, September 28, 2012

Forgiveness

Genesis 50:14-25

Twenty four weeks, and I am finishing up the last few verses in Genesis!  Thank you to those who have followed all the way through - especially if I was moving slower than you preferred.  When I think about it, I basically spent six months going through this book but I have learned so much!  Forcing myself to slow down and not just read the stories but focus on what God is saying through this book of history that has helped me reflect on my own faith walk.  These last verses close the book of Genesis - the book of beginnings - and show us forgiveness.  They show us forgiveness no matter how deep the wound.  Please read Genesis 50:14-25.

In Joseph's forgiveness of his brothers, he states that what they intended for harm that God intended it for good.  God used it to save the lives of many people and Joseph accepted that truth.  I believe that being able to trust God's hand on our lives allows us to forgive those who have hurt us.  This is an evil world we live in and bad things will happen; however, God's grace extends far beyond any evil that happens in this world.  And in believing in the grace He extends in our lives and the good that God can work from our pain, we can also learn to forgive.  After all, if He extends grace to not only forgive us but also heal our wounds and turn them into a thing of beauty, we need to extend grace and forgive.

Believing and trusting in God's grace is what helps us learn to forgive those who have hurt us.  But that is such a stumbling block, isn't it!  But when we are hurt and we turn to our Heavenly Father for help and healing, we are learning more about His forgiveness He has extended to us.  He has given so much to us and now we have to forgive - there is no other answer.

Do you turn to God's grace to learn to forgive those who have hurt you?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jacob's Death

Genesis 49:29-50:13

It is so interesting to look at our children and see as they mature the different choices they make.  For example, there comes a day when our children understand that they just can't grab a toy out of a playmate's hands.  We can do the same thing with ourselves and see how we've matured.  I can look back on my life and see past decisions or actions and know that I would have done it differently today.  Both experience and growing in my faith has taught me wisdom over the years and they will continue to do so for many more years.  So, twenty years from now, I will probably look back on this era and see some things that I would do differently than I am currently doing.  We can look back on the many chapters we have explored of Jacob's life and say similar things for him as well.  Please read Jacob's last requests in Genesis 49:29-50:13.

There are things in his last statements that show us more of his faith and wisdom.  When we first get to know Jacob, he used deception to get what he wanted - the birthright and the blessing of his father.  However, he grew a lot on his journey to Laban's home and had an amazing experience with God.  Being at Laban's home taught him endurance and staying put until God released him.  He married Leah and Rachel and favored Rachel.  In these verses, we see that Jacob learned to honor Leah as his first wife even though Laban had originally tricked him.

He dictated to his sons that he was to be buried with his father and grandfather and told them that Leah was buried there.  This is significant because notice in Genesis 49 that he pointed out to his sons that Abraham and his wife Sarah were there as well as Isaac and his wife Rebekah.  He was showing his sons that he recognized Leah as the wife that was to be buried with him in this burial site.  So, we can see that at some point between Laban's deception and Jacob's death that he learned to accept that God had made Leah his first wife and he honored that.

Just the fact that Jacob insisted on being brought back to Canaan for his burial shows once again how deep his trust and belief in God's promises was.  It was reclaiming the land in the presence of his sons.  It was a reminder that they didn't need to settle where they were at, they could have great hope in the promise that God had given their family.  I know that the longer we walk with God, the more we grow in faith and wisdom and the more we are able to accept that God knows what is best for us.  The longer we walk with God, the more we stake our claim in the promises He has given to us as His children.  The longer we walk with God the more we understand that we have a heavenly home that is waiting for us at the proper time.

Keep walking this incredible journey with God and be encouraged that we have great promises!

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blessing of the Twelve Tribes

Genesis 49:1-28

The verses I am looking at today are so interesting because they are the blessing that Jacob places on each of his sons.  Verse 28 tells us that each one received an appropriate blessing.  In all honesty, I could spend an entire post on some of the blessings and how prophetic they are; however, I don't think that is where I should be going.  (You can now breath a sigh of relief.)  Instead, please read through these verses for yourself.  Some of you have been journeying throughout Genesis with me and have read through Jacob's life and can probably recognize some of the things Jacob mentions in his blessings.  What I would love to do today is ask a few questions for you to reflect on personally:


  • How do you see past decisions of Jacob's sons play a role in their future blessing?
  • How much prophecy do you read in these blessings?
  • Looking at Judah's blessing, there is a lot of prophecy not only about Judah's descendants.  Who was Jacob referring to in the blessing?
  • What do these blessings tell us about Jacob's faith?
Reflect on these verses and be blessed!  We see in these verses that right until his dying breath, Jacob's faith in God was unwavering.

This post is linked with Word Filled Wednesday and iFellowship Blog Hop.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ranking

Genesis 48:12-22

Today, my daughter went off to school facing her first chair try-out on the oboe.  Her 6th grade band has three oboes and when I asked her how she felt, she admitted that she was a little nervous.  We haven't made a big deal out of it because we just want our kids to enjoy playing and it won't be long before they will be putting their own pressure on themselves.  I remember sitting and waiting for my turn to play during the chair try-outs at school and listening to about 12 other flutists play and I also remember the high expectations I placed on myself.  I also remember how first chair was a place of prominence and we all wanted to be there.  First chair meant that you got to play all the solos and got to play in the full orchestra.  Second chair was cool too because you could fill in on solos when necessary or played duets with the first chair and you also got to play in the full orchestra.  In my band it also meant that you got first dibs on playing the piccolo.  But as she walked out the door she said something to me, "It really doesn't matter what chair I'm in because all the oboes play the same part."  The wonderful thing about that statement is that even if there were three different parts, they are each important otherwise the composer wouldn't have written them!  Then I read the verses I am looking at today and saw how we humans like to put a ranking on each other that God doesn't concern Himself with.  Please read Genesis 48:12-22.

Yesterday, I explored how Jacob's belief and and faith in God dictated all that he did and we see a perfect example of how it even played a role in the blessing of his children and grandchildren.  Jacob put Ephraim before Manasseh in the blessing, which meant that he put the younger before the older.  This was not the norm in their culture, in fact it was almost unheard of.  I say "almost" because Jacob was the younger of twins and he was put before his brother - with a little help of deception.  But either way, Jacob knew by faith that Ephraim was supposed to go first.  Hebrews 11:21 (NLT) says, "It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff."  Jacob knew that this was what God had ordained.

We humans can decide all we want who we feel is more important.  We can decide who should make more money based on the type of job they are doing, but it really doesn't matter what ranking we give to people.  God shows us time and time again that He will decide what is best and that ranking doesn't matter.  The reality is, just as every part that is written in a musical score is important, every person is important to God and we each have a part to play.  1 Corinthians 12:16-17 (NLT) spells it out for us this way, "And if the ear says, 'I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,' would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?"  There is no part more important than the other!  Paul continues by saying in 1 Corinthians 12:22 (NLT), "In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary."

Human ranking means nothing to God because He sees things so different from us.  Jesus even told us in Mark 9:35 (NLT), "He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to Him, and said, 'Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.'"  So, in God's eyes it is a place of honor to serve.  That really doesn't make a whole lot of sense in our human eyes.  In 1 Corinthians 12:29-31 (NLT) we are told, "Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts."  We see that even our ranking of spiritual gifts is invalid.  We need to humbly accept where God has us and understand that our part is important to Him and find satisfaction in being His servant.

Are you concerned with ranking or do you trust God's vision for you?

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesday and Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Decisions Based on Promise

Genesis 48:1-11

When I started this journey in Genesis, I did not anticipate it taking this long; however, I do not regret it one bit.  God has stretched me and taught me so much through this journey!  Thank you for being so patient with me as I walked slowly and savored this book that maps out our beginnings both physically and spiritually.  Now, I am finding myself at the last few chapters of the book of Genesis.  I plan on letting you know what I will be studying next later this week (I'm pretty excited about it), but I also don't want to lose focus on where God has me right now.  Ironically, the verses I am looking at today shows us Jacob's forward focus throughout his life.  Let us see how that has shaped his decisions; please read Genesis 48:1-11.

In these verses, Jacob refers to a promise God gave him at Luz, which is found in Genesis 28.  In these verses we see an amazing faith that we can all learn from.  Jacob told Joseph that based on this promise, he claimed Joseph's son Ephraim and Manasseh as his own.  Until his dying day, he chose to believe the promise that God gave to Abraham, Isaac, and to himself and allowed that promise to dictate his decisions.  So much that he claimed that Ephraim and Manasseh would inherit their own portion of this promise.  God had already told Jacob that he would die in Egypt but that his descendants would eventually return to the Promised Land.  Believing God, Jacob claimed which son would receive certain plots of land.

This morning, it makes me wonder how often I make decisions based on the promises that God has given to all of us.  Do I choose to do the things I do based on the faith that God has promised a Heavenly future for me? (John 14:1-3)  Do I make all my decisions based on my belief that God always does what He says He will do?  Do I make decisions to follow God's direction believing that He promised His provision? (Matthew 7:7-10)  Does my faith in God dictate what I do?  Those are tough questions!  I cannot say as I look back on my life that the answer has always been "yes."  But, these questions also help me look back on the times that I made decisions based on faith and how I can also see how God helped me through some of those difficult decisions.  I also see that the more I made faith-filled decisions, the more my faith has grown.

Does your faith dictate your decisions?

This post is linked with Monday Musings and Sharing His Beauty.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Dying In Egypt

Genesis 47:27-31

Throughout the Bible, we see amazing examples of people who live out their lives in anticipation of a promise given to them by God.  Abraham lived as a foreigner in Canaan knowing that it would not be for him but for the ancestors that God promised him.  Isaac and Jacob continued to live there with occasional animosity from their neighbors because they were foreigners.  David was anointed king of Israel and had to wait many years before he was crowned.  The prophets told of the Messiah that they would never see in their lifetime on earth.  This is a tough concept to wrap our heads around when we live in a culture where we get everything in moments.  We have fast food chains where we only have to wait a few minutes for our food.  We have e-readers where we wait a matter of seconds to receive our books.  We can have TV and movies streamed to our tablets.  If we want to rent a movie, we do not even need to leave our homes.  But to understand waiting years for a promise and knowing that it may be something that we will not personally see?  Hard to swallow, isn't it?  Please read Genesis 47:27-31.

In these verses we read that Jacob lived 17 years in Egypt and the dialogue that we read between him and Joseph shows us that he knew that he would not return to the Promised Land before he died.  But he had Joseph swear an oath that he would bury Jacob in the Promised Land with his ancestors.  But notice verse 31; we are told that Jacob worshiped as he leaned on his staff after Joseph swore this oath.  Why do you think that he worshiped?  Hebrews 11 gives us a glimpse of what was going on in his heart.  Hebrews 11:13 says, "All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth."  Hebrews 11:21 (NLT) says, "It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff."  And finally, Hebrews 11:15-16 (NLT) says, "If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."

Was Jacob brought to worship because Joseph was going to bury him in the Promised Land?  After reading through Hebrews 11, we can see that that wasn't the entire reason.  If his home on earth was so important, Hebrews tells us that he would have gone back.He could be okay with dying in Egypt because He trusted in God's promises and he knew that he would end up in his real home in Heaven.  This is the home we long for - our true home.  You see, our homes here on earth will never fully satisfy us because this is not where we belong; we belong with our Heavenly Father.  We can worship through our longing knowing that there is a great promise we have to look toward.

Do you worship in anticipation of our home?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Fridays.

You are welcome to visit my post at Seeds of Faith Women.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Future Planning

Genesis 47:13-26

As I was watching the news this morning I heard a startling statement - the number of households on food stamps is at an all-time high.  That statement sent chills through me because in order to qualify for food stamps, you have to have hardly any assets.  What this means is that all those newer people who have qualified for food stamps have lost their house and have drained their retirement accounts.  They are now in a position where they cannot fall back on anything.  The people in ancient Egypt were in a similar place; they found themselves completely at the mercy of the Egyptian government to provide for them.  Just as our economy today has drained so many people of their resources, the famine had prevented the people in the country and surrounding areas from any income.  Please read Genesis 47:13-26 to see what happened in ancient Egypt.

As the famine continued each year, the people found themselves draining all their assets in order to stay alive.  They needed food more than anything else and eventually became willing to be Pharaoh's servants.   Joseph provided food at a price.  But, while they offered themselves up as Pharaoh's servants, Joseph still allowed them to work the land they lived on.  Joseph provided them with seed, and they were to give back one fifth of their harvest over to Pharaoh and the rest was theirs to keep.  This helped ensure that there would always be food in the kingdom no matter what the circumstances were.  We read in Genesis 47:26 that this was a decree that was still in place 400 years later when Moses recorded these events.  So, while on fifth of the harvest sounded like a lot, there was a plan in place for future disasters.

Our economy has taught us that we can plan for the future (which is wise), but we can still end up losing it all.  Nothing is a guarantee except for the future we are promised in Christ.  Paul told us that we change our servitude when we choose to follow Christ.  Romans 6:6 (NLT) says, "We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin."  Later in Romans 6:22 (NLT), Paul said, "But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life."  But you see, being God's servant is an honor and holds the promise of eternal life.  He is our Creator and King of all Kings!  What are the things we are to do as God's servants?  Love God and love others.  That is simple summation of our walk with God.

Who do you serve?

This post is linked with Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Farewell Faithful Servant

There are some people that you meet in life that you never forget.  Richman Syabbamba was one of those people for me.  Richman had a dream that he would give the gift of music to children who were affected in some way by the HIV/AIDS virus.  He believed that God could use music to give them hope and a future.  With that dream before him, he started the Choma Music Academy in Choma, Zambia.  At the academy, Richman taught the students how to read and write music and to play instruments.  He accepted instrument donations from drives that were run in various churches in the United States that allowed more students to learn to play an instrument.  After helping with two different instrument drives, I had the privilege to deliver some of the instruments to the Choma Music Academy.  I met some of the students whose lives were being impacted by the work he did in Choma.  I was blessed to see their excitement and smiles as they saw the instruments and had the opportunity to hear them play their instruments.  I also was blessed to be a part of some Hopefests that Richman helped organize, which spoke a message of love and purity and educated the students about AIDS.  All of this was wrapped around the amazing message of the Gospel.

His dream grew bigger than he imagined and he became the International Director of Poetice International in Choma, Zambia.  In this role, he ran his music academy, organized Hopefest, and also ran youth camps in order to bring the hope of Christ to a hurting world.  He believed that saving one life was worth everything he did.  Richman wasn't a famous musician that will be written in this world's history books or studied in our conservatories, but Richman faithfully served God with his gift of music.  Richman understood how important each and every person was to God.  So, while we say "Farewell," to our friend, God is saying, "Welcome home my faithful servant."




The Best of the Land

Genesis 47:1-12

Think about where you live.  What would be considered the best in the land?  If you live in a farming area, perhaps it is acreage that has great drainage and a good location.  Maybe you live in a scenic area and the best of the land holds the most breathtaking view.  It could be the best fishing spot or the place that provides the best sunrise.  Maybe it is the place where a valuable natural resource is found.  No matter how you look at it, there is a place near you that is perceived to better than any where else.  Jacob and his sons had the opportunity to go before Pharaoh who would tell them where they could reside.  Please read Genesis 47:1-12 to see what he offered Joseph's family.

Jacob blessed Pharaoh twice in these verses, and I wonder if Pharaoh understood that Jacob meant his blessings and they were not spoken lightly.  When Joseph presented his family to Pharaoh, they explained that shepherding was their occupation.  Pharaoh offered to have them live in the best of the land in Goshen, so that is what Joseph did.  So, basically these people had an occupation that the Egyptians found detestable yet they were given the best of the land.  We also know that this is because of the high regard the Pharaoh had for Joseph.  It was through Joseph that his family was given the best while they were away from their promised land.

Once again, I am by no means suggesting that Joseph's story foretells our story with our Creator; however, it does make me think of the glorious promises we have in Christ.  It is through Christ that we are given an audience before God, our Maker.  It is through Christ that we are given countless blessings.  Jesus reminds us of this in Matthew 7:9-11 (NLT), "You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not!  So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him."  Jesus also told us in John 16:23-24 (NLT), "At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything.  I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and He will grant your request because you use my name.  You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy."  Because of Christ we are told that we can have what we ask in His name.  When we ask, God will give gifts that are good for us - the best for us.  We have this promise while we are here and we also cling to the promise that one day we will be called home to the Promised Land with our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Do you believe that God will provide what is best for you now until you are called home?

This post is linked with iFellowship Blog Hop and Word Filled Wednesday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

They Despise Shepherds

Genesis 46:28-34

I am only looking at a few verses today in order to finish up Genesis 46.  But these verses bring up something interesting to me that I want to explore.  It is the difference of darkness and light.  Dark and light are completely opposite of each other.  How do you define light?  To me, light is warm and bright and is what allows us to see.  Light is what gives us color and beauty.  Dark is the absence of light.  In true dark, we cannot see a thing because there is no light at all.  There would be no light for our eyes to adjust to and see silhouettes of objects nearby.  No, true dark has no light; therefore, we would not be able to see at all.  When thinking about that, wouldn't it be safe to say that dark would hate the light because light penetrates the dark?  Dark cannot penetrate the light, but light has the power to penetrate the dark.  Dark depends on the absence of light; however, light doesn't depend on the dark.  Light just exists whether or not dark inhabits a place.  In fact, we recognize the existence of dark because of the light.  So, when light exists it makes itself known to all.  Keep that in mind as you read through Genesis 46:28-34.

We finally get to see the reunion of Jacob and Joseph, and Jacob declared that he could now die since he saw the face of his son again.  But Joseph explained the next steps for his family.  He explained that he would tell Pharaoh that they had arrived and would explain that they are shepherds.  He also instructed them to tell Pharaoh the same when they come before his court.  He said that when they do this, they would be given the right to live in the land of Goshen because the Egyptians despised shepherds.  I find that interesting because if it were not for the shepherds, they would have no meat to eat or even have some of their clothing.  But it was something that they found despicable.  Maybe it was because they didn't like the smell of the livestock or didn't like how shepherds smelled since they were around the animals.

What I do know is that Christ called Himself a shepherd.  In John 10:11 (NLT) Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep."  But, just as the ancient Egyptians despised shepherds, there are those who despise Jesus.  Jesus also called Himself light and all those who belonged to Him were also light in this world.  People do not like Jesus because they don't understand Him; they are living in the dark.  2 Corinthians 6:14b says, "How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?"  Dark cannot understand the light.  But, we are still called to be in this world and live as a light.  We are not lights in order to antagonize others; we live as lights in order to show God's love to a hurting world.  So, we may be despised but we can still love because we have the light living in us.

Do you experience those who despise you because of God?  Do you understand that it is the darkness in them that despises the light in you?  Continue to love.

This post is linked with Monday Musings and Sharing His Beauty.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Humility From Wisdom

"If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom."  James 3:13 (NLT)

I receive Bible Gateway's verse of the day, and this was the verse that popped up for today.  This is a perfect example of how God uses His Word to speak a message to us that we so desperately need to hear.  But to explain why causes me to humble myself and share a bit of ugliness that was inside of me that I asked God to weed out.

Yesterday, my husband asked me to help out in the Kindergarten class for church today.  To give you a little background, my husband is a Children's Pastor and I have enjoyed serving in children's ministry alongside my husband for years - even before he became a pastor.  Basically, we've been working with children side by side for our entire 19 years of marriage.  But, for the last two years, I have backed out of my involvement and only serve now and then when he needs me.  This is partially because I currently work at the church as well in the Community Life and Outreach ministries and I usually have my own weekend tasks that I need to do for the weekend services.  This Sunday, it was looking like I wouldn't have much to do and I was looking forward to that.  But, then my husband asked me to serve.

My first response (not out loud) was to be annoyed.  But I knew that was not the reaction God desired in my heart.  I knew it because every morning as I pray I voice how amazed I am that He would choose to use me to serve Him.  He is the King of all Kings and the Creator of everything, yet He still sees me and chooses to let me serve Him.  But, I was forgetting in that moment who I served.  I was forgetting that everything I do here on earth is not for me or for anyone else; everything I do I should be doing for God.  This includes working with the Kindergarten class on a day that I thought I wouldn't have much to do.  The reality is that I actually adore working with those little ones because they are so excited about Jesus, but for a moment I got caught up in serving me.  And I also should be remembering that perhaps God made this a light day for me so I could be available to work with these precious little ones who need to know Jesus.

So, with this wisdom and understanding that the Holy Spirit has given me about who I serve, I humbly do what God has asked me to do.  I don't do it to rack up points in Heaven, I do it because I want to serve the One who created me and sacrificed so much for me.  I do it because He loves me with such an insane passion.  Perhaps you are not too excited about what you need to do today.  Can you remember who you serve and find joy in serving the One who loves you with a love you will never find anywhere else?

This post is linked with Spiritual Sunday.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Confirmation

Genesis 46:1-27

Our journey with God can have interesting twists that we do not expect.  Sometimes those twists are unexpected yet positive and take us in a direction even closer to our dreams.  Other times; however, the twists seem to take us in the exact opposite direction of where we thought God wanted us to go.  Jacob's sons came home from Egypt telling him that Joseph was alive.  But, not only that, they told him that both Joseph and the Pharaoh insisted on having the entire family come and live in Egypt off the best of the land.  This brought an unexpected twist for Jacob because he found himself leaving the land that God promised to Abraham and his descendants.  Please read Genesis 46:1-27.

I am going to be focusing on the first seven verses in chapter 46, but please read through verse 27.  Isn't it amazing to see how many direct descendants came with Jacob to Egypt?  But at the same time, this had to be a bit confusing because there were enough people in his family that he could start to imagine Abraham's descendants becoming a nation in the land of Canaan.  Instead, he was leaving the promised land to go to Egypt.  So, when Jacob reached Beersheba he made sacrifices to God.  This is a significant location for a couple of reasons.  This was where Abraham made a treaty of peace with Abimelech, and this is also where Isaac had dug up wells and had to make another treaty with Abimelech.  There were significant things that happened at Beersheba that showed Jacob God's faithfulness to his father and grandfather.  But, it is also significant because Beersheba was also the southern-most city in Canaan.  For Jacob, this meant that he was about to leave the promised land.

But God met him there and reassured him.  He let Jacob know that even though it may have felt like he was going in the wrong direction, this was part of His plan.  God promised Jacob that He would be with him even in Egypt.  He promised Jacob that his family would eventually return to the promised land.  But He also told Jacob that he would die in Egypt.  This news had to bring mixed emotions because he was also told that he would be with Joseph when he died, but he also knew that meant he would die in a foreign land.  God confirmed for Jacob that he was still going in the direction that God had planned for him and his family.  In fact, Joseph already knew this because he had told his brothers that God sent him ahead so the family could be saved.

When things seem to be taking you backwards, do you seek God?  Jacob reached the end of the promised land and sacrificed to God.  It almost seemed as if he was making sure that this was the right thing to do.  In the same way, we can also ask God for confirmation.  We can ask Him to show us that this is what He wants for us.  We need this from time to time because we cannot see the entire map, we just see the landscape.  When our vision is so limited, it is hard to understand direction and we need to have God confirm that we are truly going the way God wants us to go.

When you are unsure of how things seem to be going, do you turn to God?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Royal Invitation

Genesis 45:16-28

Reading through the story of Joseph, I've always wondered if the Pharaoh knew the whole story.  Did the Pharaoh know that Joseph had been sold as a slave by his brothers which changed the course of his life forever?  Did he know that even with all that, Joseph had a desire to see his family again?  Did he know that Joseph had forgiven his brothers and operated with the understanding that God had brought him to Egypt in order to save many lives?  How much of Pharaoh's time did Joseph have to discuss such things?  No matter what happened between Joseph and the Pharaoh, we continue to see the high regard that Pharaoh had for Joseph.  The verses we are reading today show us that word began to spread that Joseph's brothers had come to Egypt.  Please read Pharaoh's response to the news in Genesis 45:16-28.

Verse 16 tells us that Pharaoh and all his officials were "delighted" to hear that Joseph's brothers had come to Egypt.  Keep in mind that their reaction tells us how highly Joseph was regarded because we had learned in Genesis 44 that the Hebrews were despised by the Egyptians.  They were despised, yet the Pharaoh was so happy to hear of the reunion that he invited all of them to come and live in Egypt.  They were not just invited to live in Egypt, but they were invited to live in the best of the land.  They were given royal carts to bring back their families and told to just leave everything behind because they were going to be given everything they needed in Egypt.  Because of Joseph, the Israelites were saved from starvation and given a new home.

There is so much of God's power in Joseph's story - the power of forgiveness and redemption.  Yesterday, I mentioned how Joseph's suffering and coming to a place of honor made me think of Christ's choosing to humble Himself and suffer here on the earth.  But this makes me think of how there is still more to that story...more because the story isn't done, yet.  We are told in the Bible that because of Jesus's sacrifice, we are made right with God.  It is through Christ that God hears of our reunion and invites us to be with Him; He is delighted to invite us into His presence.  Delighted!  That is why Jesus came to earth in the first place - they wanted us to have a reunion.  Jesus tells us in Luke 15:10 (NLT), "In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents."  All of Heaven rejoices when just one person accepts the free gift of grace that is given to us through Jesus.  God doesn't regret this decision; He rejoices over it!  All the sacrifice and suffering is worth it to Him because you are special to Him.  He wants to be with us.  That is a powerful and transforming truth that we need to remember every moment of every day.

Do you believe that God delights in you?  Do you believe that He wants to be with you?

This post is linked with the Grace Cafe and Thought Provoking Thursday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

God Sent Me Here

Genesis 45:1-15

There are points in our lives where we can look back at difficult times and see how God has been with us.  Not only that, but we can also see how He has taken things that seem terrible to not only reach us but to reach others as well.  But, our attitude plays a role in this.  Do we play the part of the victim and allow it to traumatize us for the rest of our lives while we wallow in bitterness and self-pity?  Or do we play the part of victor through Christ and allow God's amazing power to do His infinitely wonderful work in our lives?  Joseph's life is a perfect example of a series of events where he could have chosen to give up and become absorbed with feeling sorry for himself; instead he chose to see how God was at work.  Please read Genesis 45:1-15.

If there was anyone who had a right to be self-absorbed in his troubles, it was Joseph.  He was sold to slave traders by his own brothers.  He was falsely accused by his master's wife and sent to jail.  He provided leadership and wisdom in the jail, yet he was forgotten by others.  Yet, he still believed that God was in control; he chose to believe that God hadn't forgotten him.  He ended up revealing the meaning of the Pharaoh's dreams and found himself as governor over all of Egypt.  He went from slave to prisoner to living in a palace.  Isn't that amazing!  He found himself in a position to enact revenge on his brothers, yet he recognized that it was because of God that he was where he was.  This attitude allowed him to forgive rather than indulge in bitterness and anger.  He recognized that God had His hand in this situation to save many.  He told his brothers that God sent him there.  But this also makes me think of someone else who lived this example for us.

Jesus came as a servant to this earth.  Think on that for a moment.  Our Creator, the Word made man, humbled himself and lived a life of servant to us.  He served the very people He created.  That is amazing to me.  But that is not the only thing He did!  He was accused by His own people, the very ones He had set apart, and found Himself with a death sentence.  He could have ended it right there and shown His power, but He didn't want to benefit Himself, He was doing this for us.  He allowed Himself to be falsely accused and took the punishment that was ours and died on the cross.  He was forgotten by His accusers, but He rose again on the third day to show His victory over death.  He ascended to Heaven in absolute glory, and He did all this to save us from the consequences of sin.  And one day, we will all see Him in His glory; and those who believe and follow Him will get to be with Him.

Do you see the amazing example and attitude played out in Joseph?  Do you see how Christ lived in a way that demands that attitude from all of us?  After all, how could we possibly wallow in self-pity when Christ allowed it to happen?  When we see that Christ could have risen above the suffering of this earth instead of living among us, how can we possibly be angry at God for our problems?  I'm not minimizing our problems because some of our problems are huge.  But, we don't have to let our problems control us.  We can let Christ to control our hearts, for His ways are far beyond our comprehension.  Yet, God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us understand.  1 Corinthians 2:16 says, "For, 'Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach Him?' But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ."  We cannot teach God about what He should do, but He teaches us by transforming our hearts and minds to that of Christ.  We too, can ascend as victors by having the mind of Christ.

Are you operating with a human mind and attitude or with the mind and attitude of Christ?

This post is linked with Word Filled Wednesday and iFellowship Blog Hop.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Maturity and Sacrifice

Genesis 44:18-34

There are some things that I understand so much better now than I did when I first graduated from college.  For example, after completing my internship in music therapy I worked for a year in a nursing home.  I was exposed to many things such as loss of independence, physical suffering and pain, and death.  While I look back and see how I had still reached out to the residents on my unit and made good relationships with the nursing staff, I also see how I would have done some things differently.  I would have been even more sympathetic to the pain of the families as they were witnessing their loved one's last days.  I cared about them then, but now I would have more understanding of their pain.  Today, we will be reading verses where we will see how Joseph's brothers matured and have a lot more understanding than they did so many years before.  Please read Genesis 44:18-34.

Just to remind you where I left off yesterday, Joseph had framed Benjamin for stealing a cup from his palace.  Joseph declared that Benjamin would now be his slave.  Imagine how that must have ripped out the hearts of Joseph's brothers because they knew what this would do to Jacob.  We see Judah's response; it is a response of maturity and responsibility.  Perhaps now that he is a father, he understands better the feelings that Jacob had for Joseph.  Maybe he now understood that he was projecting his love for his lost wife on to Joseph and Benjamin.  Maybe it was Jacob's suffering after losing Joseph that gave him better understanding.  Whatever the case may be, it is obvious that he now understood that his father could not take another loss like losing Rachel and Joseph.

As we grow older, we have experienced more things in life that gives us an understanding of how a person may be feeling.  This should also be the case in our spiritual walks as well.  As we are growing in our walk with Christ, we should be experiencing things that give us a better understanding of God's love for all of us.  This understanding and experience will help us to love those around us with the love of Christ.  Judah's understanding and love led him to a place where he was willing to sacrifice his freedom for his father's happiness.  Our understanding of Christ's love and sacrifice for us grows the more we walk with Him and should transform our hearts and change us.  We will find ourselves being willing to sacrifice our preferences and comfort in order to show God's love to others.

Look back on your life...do you see changes?  Do you see changes that reflect Christ's sacrifice for you?

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesdays and Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Framed

Genesis 44:1-17

It is awful to be blamed for something you didn't do, isn't it?  That is bad enough, but what if you find out that it wasn't a coincidence that someone thought you did it - what if you were set up to look like you did it?  I think that would be a horrible feeling!  This can happen at work or at home with siblings.  But the worse is when a crime is put on your shoulders.  Every now and then we see stories on the news how someone is exonerated after spending years in prison after new evidence surfaced.  Or sometimes we'll see on the news how a witness admits that they lied.  What a horrible place to be, and this is the place that Joseph's brothers found themselves.  Please read Genesis 44:1-17.

While reading these verses, keep in mind that you are not hearing the end of the story and Joseph had a bigger plan in place; however, he is not looking too kind today.  He purposefully framed his little brother, Benjamin for a crime that could have enslaved him or put him in prison.  This is even after Joseph himself had been framed!  In fact, it wasn't long ago that he had been forgotten in prison.  But, just as God had a plan for Joseph, Joseph also had a plan that didn't include making Benjamin his slave.  But his brothers didn't know this.

I think of the agony this situation must have brought his brothers because they promised their father that nothing would happen to Benjamin.  Who would be the one that was framed?  Benjamin, Jacob's beloved son!  I'm sure they were devastated to think that they would have to return to their father to tell him that Benjamin was now a slave.  In fact, they offered themselves up as slaves instead.  But Joseph told them to go home.  We are left with a cliffhanger, but we can read ahead and see the end of the story.  Joseph's brothers didn't have that choice.

We know that it ends good for all of Joseph's family, but they didn't have the satisfaction of reading a story that was about someone else.  This was their story!  Over and over, we read in the Bible stories of people who found themselves in situations that just didn't make sense.  But we also read how God uses those situations to show His power and authority.  This story is the same.  Just as we saw resolution to Joseph's enslavement and imprisonment, we will see resolution for his brothers.  When God is on our side, we always have hope for better.

Are you in a bad spot?  Do you believe that God has plans to use it for something better?

This post is linked with Sharing His Beauty and Monday Musings.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Great Feast

Genesis 43:19-34

What a week it has been!  It has been an adjustment back to our regular school schedule and I am happy to say: so far, so good.  The high school had their open house last night, so my husband and I got a chance to meet with our son's teachers.  With that said, in the adjustments I've had difficulty finding time in the midst of our morning rush to get out here regularly.  Rest assured, this is merely adjusting back to a tight morning schedule after having a very relaxed schedule all summer.  But, I now want to go back to where we left off in the story of Joseph.  The verses we are looking today are taking place with his brothers' second visit to Egypt and this time they brought Benjamin with them as Joseph asked.  As you read these verses, remember that the brothers have no idea that Joseph is the brother they sold to slave traders so many years ago.  Please read Genesis 43:19-34.

The brothers were terrified of Joseph's invitation to a feast at his palace.  They were sure they were walking into a trap when Joseph wanted to treat his family to a feast.  They confessed to Joseph's household manager that they found their money with the grain they had bought and attempted to return it.  The manager's response was that God must have put it back because he had received their payment.  Have you noticed some interesting details in theses verses?  I find it very interesting that the brothers had to eat at a separate table from Joseph and the Egyptians because they were Hebrew.  First of all, it is interesting that they are now referred to as Hebrews in the Bible.  Second, it makes me realize all the more how God is the one who appointed Joseph in his position because everyone knew he was a Hebrew slave when he first interpreted the Pharaoh's dreams.

But mostly, I love that Joseph was showing his love and desire to see his brothers by offering a feast for them despite how others had branded them as detestable.  You know, we are invited to a feast despite what our enemy says about us as well.  We are told both in Jesus's parables and in Revelations that there is a feast that is being prepared for those who follow Jesus.  In fact, we will receive new clothing to wear to the feast to show that no matter how much the enemy will try to condemn us we are seen as righteous through Christ.  Revelation 19:7-8 says, "'Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to Him.  For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and His bride has prepared herself.  She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.'  For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people."  Isn't that amazing!  When we are in Christ, we have this great hope!

Are you ready for the feast that is being prepared?

This post is linked with Faith Filled Friday.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fear Not Based In Reality

Genesis 43:1-18

I grew up with an extreme sense of responsibility - so extreme that I felt responsible for things that were not under my authority.  I had a very sensitive conscious, so sensitive that I would feel guilty of things that were not within my realm of control.  At times this would cause a fear that had no logic to someone outside of my head.  It would cause a worry that didn't make a lot of sense and I would wonder when the hammer was going to fall.  Imagine how I felt when I really was guilty!  Usually, I would find myself confessing before I was caught - even if there was no chance of getting caught because I couldn't handle the guilt.  Joseph's brothers found themselves in a situation where their false guilt brought them to a fear that in reality didn't need to exist.  But, they couldn't read Joseph's mind.  Please read Genesis 43:1-18.

First, Joseph's brothers had finally convinced Jacob that they had to bring Benjamin back to Egypt with them otherwise they would all starve - including Benjamin.  That reasoning worked with Jacob, although he wasn't happy about it.  They still had the money that was returned to them on their mind and that made them nervous.  So nervous that Jacob sent them with double the money and with many gifts from the region.  But when the brothers arrived in Egypt and Joseph saw Benjamin, he had a feast prepared for them.  He was showing them kindness and feeding them well; however, they were struck with an even greater fear.  They thought that Joseph was setting them up and was going to frame them for stealing the money.

Could you imagine how scary that must have been?  They were in a situation that was beyond their control and they were sure that Joseph was out to get them.  They had a fear that held no truth; however, they had no way to explain why Joseph would suddenly show them kindness.  We can also have fear of situations that we have no reason to be afraid.  Perhaps you are like me and you feel guilty for things that you are not responsible for.  Or, maybe you feel that someone is out to destroy you.  Either way, that fear does not come from God.  So, when we have fear that really has no truth we can know that we need to pray and ask God to give us the peace that comes from Him.  We can ask Him for the empowerment to face the situation that is eliciting our fear.  2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) says, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."  God gives us power, love and self-discipline and we can know when we feel fear, it did not come from God.

Do you face fear?  Have you prayed against it and asked God to fill you with His power, love, and self-discipline?

This post is linked with Word Filled Wednesday and iFellowship Blog Hop.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back To School

I didn't get a chance to spend time on my Genesis study this morning as it is the first day back to school for my kiddos.  I'm sure there are many households experiencing the same as mine today (although some have been going for a month already!).  Either way, let's remember to keep our children in prayer as they need to continue to grow their roots deep down in God's love and grow in their faith.  Let's remember how it can be such a struggle to do what pleases God when everyone around them is doing what pleases themselves.  But also, let's pray that they have a great year of growth and learning.  This is a good prayer for all of us, young and old:

"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen."  Ephesisans 3:14-21 (NLT)

Amen!

This post is linked with On Your Heart Tuesdays.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Summer Days

This is the last weekend that my children have of summer and then they start school on Tuesday.  Where I live, summers feel very short because the kiddos do not get out of school until the end of June.  So, that means we have 2 months in which to fit our summer activities along with our church/camp schedules.  But, this was a nice summer for us where our family found relaxation, exploration, and family blended in so nicely.  It was a wonderful summer after having a very busy year both in school and work schedules.  Here are some of the things we got to do this summer:


  • We went hiking/creeking to see the eternal flame near our house.  This is a favorite that we do each year since moving here three years ago.  It is hard to tell in this picture, but there is a flame that burns from a crack of natural gas in a small cave behind a waterfall.  It really is worth the hike down into the canyon.
Eternal Flame - Chestnut Ridge

  • I don't have pictures, but my husband and kiddos went to a children's camp in North Carolina, where he was the camp speaker.  They had a blast that week and the kids made some new friends.
In front of the Capitol building.
  • We spent a week in Washington DC, where we enjoyed visiting the monuments, memorials, and the museums.  We also sat on the Capitol Lawn for the 4th of July concert and fireworks.  Very hot (104 degrees Farenheit) but definitely something you don't get to do everyday!
Capitol on 4th of July.
Fireworks at Washington DC.
  • On our way home from Washington (which was through the beautiful Pennsylvania mountains), we stopped at Gettysburg and viewed the land of the largest battle ever fought on USA soil.  It is definitely worth the trip - it gave us all a better idea of the enormity of the battle.
One of the Gettysburg memorials.
  • My mom came to visit, so we drove to Hamilton, Ontario where we visited Ikea and spent the afternoon exploring waterfalls.  Hamilton has approximately 100 waterfalls in and around the city!  It made for a fun hike in beautiful scenery.
Trail by Tews Falls
Hamilton, Ontario.
Hamilton, Ontario















    Waterhead
  • My daughter started a tradition last year when my mom came to visit when she hosted a "Hawaii Day."  This year she did "Africa Day" where she created many games and activities that were based on African culture.  Games ranged from "Water Head" to a real African Stuffie Safari.  She used things I brought back with me from Zambia and the information I gave her.  So cute!
Pin the banana on the tree.
  • We squeezed in one more thing this weekend: hiking at Stony Brook State Park in New York, a one-night camping trip and a day at the Corning Museum of Glass.  We had a great time taking the kiddos camping - especially since we haven't gone camping for a couple of years.

Our tent.  :)

Creating a glass pendant.

Stony Brook State Park.
























Overall, it has been a summer where I have continued on my journey with God.  He guides my steps with my family, work, and relationship with Him.

"Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path."  Psalm 119:105 (NLT)

This post is linked with Spiritual Sundays and Soli Deo Gloria.