Genesis 50


Genesis 50:18-21 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Joseph showed grace (unmerited favor) and kindness to his brothers. They did not deserve his forgiveness, only his wrath and retaliation, yet Joseph recognized that 1) He wasn't God (v.19) 2) God had a plan and purpose all along. God was in control the whole time. (V. 20)

This story is again parallel to Jesus. We did not deserve God's love, grace, forgiveness or kindness. We only deserved God's wrath because we are lost and sinful by nature. We nailed Him to that cross. However, we do not have to be afraid of God anymore. We are free to be loved by Him and to love Him in return because of Christ! Thank you Jesus! The lost relationship is now restored. So let's run freely to Him since we have unlimited access and invite others to come to restored relationship with Jesus as well.

Genesis 49


SCRIPTURE: Genesis 49:24-25:
24 But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed[l] limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty,[m] who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
blessings of the deep springs below,
blessings of the breast and womb.

OBSERVATION: (What does it say?)
In the chapter we read yesterday, Jacob was close to death and his son Joseph came to visit him along with his 2 sons. Jacob ended up pouring blessing over his 2 grandsons. In today's chapter, he is now pouring out his blessing over his own 12 sons. Out of the 12, Jacob poured the greatest blessing over Joseph. However, it was just affirmation for a blessing Joseph had already received.

UNDERSTANDING: (What does it mean?)
There's an interesting difference between the blessing Jacob poured over Joseph as opposed to his brothers. The difference is not just in the length, but in the content of it. There's this understanding that he was already blessed by the Almighty God. Jacob was merely affirming the blessing of God that Joseph had been under and would continue to be under. That's why he called him the "prince among his brothers (vs. 26b)."

A blessed life is completely the work of our Heavenly Father. Joseph was able to remain steady and strong amidst the trials and temptations of life not because of his own strength, but because of the "hand of the Mighty One", the "Shepherd", the "Rock of Israel", "God", "Almighty" as verses 24-25 pointed out. The fact that Joseph was blessed by Him and continually given help by Him is why he was victorious. None of it was by his own merit or strength. As a life application, when we face trials and temptations of our own, let us remember that we cannot overcome in our own strength. It is by His strength alone that we are able to have victory. Joseph and Jacob both recognized this and continually gave God credit for it. When we try on our strength, we will fail. When we are weak on our knees before Him, that's when we become strong. Let us not be afraid or ashamed to confess our weaknesses to Him. He knows them all already and is the only One strong enough and powerful enough to help us through it. I believe strength and power comes from Him alone so that we have nothing to boast about. He alone is worthy and to be glorified, not us. Blessing and victory is IMPOSSIBLE apart from Him.

Genesis 48


SCRIPTURE: Genesis 48:17- 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. 18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
19 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.”

OBSERVATION: (What does it say?)
Jacob (Israel) was close to death. This is an account of Israel's last days. Joseph went to visit his dying father and Israel blessed Joseph's two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Manasseh was the first born and Ephraim was the youngest son. Usually, the firstborn receives the first and greatest blessing. Joseph thought his father had made a mistake when he chose to put his right hand on Ephraim. Joseph knew his father could not see very well, so he took hold of his hand to move it. However, Israel refused for his hand to be moved and basically told him that he knew what he was doing when he chose to cross hands and put his right hand on Ephraim, the youngest son.

UNDERSTANDING (What does it mean?)
Birth order did not matter to Israel. He knew what he was doing when he put Ephraim (the younger son) ahead of Manasseh. He blessed the younger son to be greater than the older son on purpose, not by mistake.

So what can we learn from this story? It's again parallel to God's dealings with us. When we think about the people that God chooses to bless and work through, it is not dependent on birth order, status, intelligence, or who seems like the most deserving either.
"He chooses the weak things of the world; he raises the poor out of the dust. Grace observes not the order of nature, nor does God prefer those whom we think fittest to be preferred, but as it pleases him."-Matthew Henry commentary
God chooses to work through and bless the least likely of people and least deserving at times too. I'm so thankful that when God chose me, it didn't depend on qualification or being the most likely candidate to get the job done. It doesn't matter our background or birth order. It's Him alone who chooses to bless us and work through our lives. He doesn't make mistakes.

Genesis 47


S: 25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

O: The Egyptians were willing to be in bondage to Pharaoh because he had saved their lives by giving them opportunities to not starve to death.

U: When we are desperate to live and are given that opportunity to live as Pharaoh gave the Egyptians, gratefulness to the point of doing anything and everything to please that person would result. We would willingly want to owe our lives to the one who saved it.

L: One cannot help but connect Jesus to this. He saved our lives when our lives were in desperate need of being saved from the wrath of God. Through His sacrifice and resurrection, He gave us an opportunity at a 2nd chance to live instead of die. As a result, our response should be gratefulness to the point of giving our whole lives over to Him not as an obligation, but willingly. If it wasn't for Jesus, we would all be in hell right now with no chance of redemption. Do our lives show gratitude for this undeserved gift or do our lives show entitlement? We owe Him our lives, not because He needs it or is bugging us for it, but because He saved it.

Genesis 46


S: Genesis 46:2-And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”
“Here I am,” he replied. 3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes."

O: This chapter is an account of Jacob (aka Israel, which Scripture uses interchangeably) getting ready to reunite with his son Joseph who he thought had been dead, but was told was still alive.

U: Along the way to Egypt, God felt it necessary to encourage Jacob. Jacob was afraid to go down to Egypt (vs. 3). There are a few reasons why he could've been afraid. Maybe he was afraid that he wouldn't make it to his destination because he was close to death. Maybe he was afraid that Pharaoh would harm his family in Egypt. Maybe he was afraid of seeing his son after all these years. Scripture doesn't clearly specify the reason for his fear, but it is safe to say that it was due to the unknown. Because God is such a loving, caring and compassionate Father to His children, He recognized Israel's fear and encouraged him to keep going. He reminded Him of who He was first ("I am God, the God of your father."). He reminded Israel of His promise to make Him into a great nation there in Egypt. He told him not to be afraid and reminded Israel that He would be with Him even through his fear of the unknown. God gave Him His blessing to keep moving forward.

L: What "unknown" thing is making you afraid? What new destination or season in life is God calling You through that You need to trust Him in? Dear Lord, I believe there are many (including myself), in situations that are new, unknown, scary, uncomfortable, etc., but that You have called us to not be afraid because You are God and will be with us through it. Thank You for Your faithfulness in every season of our lives and help us to remember to keep our focus on You no matter what. Amen.

Do Not Be Angry With Yourselves

SCRIPTURE – “But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and save your life’s by a great deliverance (Genesis 45:11).

- In that moment when Joseph could no longer contain himself he stepped out from behind his worldly façade and revealed his true identity. He then takes aim at the issue of guilt. “Do not be distressed and be angry with yourselves for sellig me . . . . “ This is by no means cheap grace, but a spiritual accounting authorized by the, Holy Spirit, the Third person of the Holy Trinity.

UNDERSTANDING – As Christians the supernatural realm holds as much weight as the natural realm. And, while it is much easier to relate on the natural plane our new life in Christ becomes more and more “real” to us as we grow in the faith. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is summarized in John 16:8, “When He comes, he will convict the world of its sin and of God’s righteousness and of the coming judgement. While it was obvious in the natural realm, how horrific the sin of his brothers i.e.: child endangerment, failure to protect the younger son, physical and mental abuse, to name a few.

LIFE APPLICATION – My guess is Joseph was reminded of is circumstances each and every day. Further, it was at the hands of his own flesh and bones. God’s healing for these shepherds and their families:
Was not saying it did not happen.
Was not saying it did not hurt.
Was not pretending that time heals all things.
God’s healing was based solely on Himself. I am the God who heals you.
Heavenly Father how majestic is your name. There are so many reasons for celebration today. You have overcome this world and that is reason to enough direct constant prayer and praise to you Lord. Thank you for the life of Joseph, not merely for his rags to riches mentality but for the grace extended as we walk and minister in faith.



Pass The Counterfeit Please


"Is not this the [cup] from which my lord drinks and which he indeed uses for divination?  You have done wrong in doing this (Genesis 44:5).

OBSERVATION - By definition the word divination means "to foresee, and be inspired by a god.  (What I call a little g god)  Obviously this is an attempt to usurp what is rightfully due mankind.  The nation of Egypt is walking in the dark as they enjoy a season of power before being gobbled up in the history books.  So, who is in charge?  It looks like they are dominating the surrounding real estate. I'm sure Pharaoh feels pretty confident about recent conquests.  One need only to ask who recently installed the number two man in all of Egypt.

UNDERSTANDING - Joseph’s anchor throughout this whole nightmare of captivity has been the very dreams that got him in this predicament in the first place.  As a youngster Joseph shared God’s dreams with a bit too much bravado.  Throughout the whole desert experience, Joseph was molded into the leader that God had in mind.  Joseph’s story is a classic when it comes to the theme of forgiveness.

LIFE APPLICATION - Real lives, real struggles, real setbacks, real victories.   We serve a real God, whose heart aches for  people and the life of Christ that is available to all who call on Him and the life, truth and way that is uniquely  Christ's.




A Gift, for Me ?

 “Then their father Israel said to them,” If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift…..” Genesis 43:11).

OBSERVATION - Although we are taking two vastly different cultures, the art of gift giving is known to both.  Not to be confused with a bribe, gift giving is an art, and as we see in this passage Jacob, who as of this verse is now referred to a father Israel, would not think of going down to another country without an appropriate gift to honor their host.  In this case they would round up the best of products, spices, foods, specialty items, etc.  Even in the midst of a nationwide famine they would not leave home empty handed. 

UNDERSTANDING - The nation of Israel was raised on the notion of        “ones best.”  Paul writing to the church in Rome, declared the excellence of God’s gift of his Son compared with the depravity of our sin (Romans 5:8).  Before Nike’s “Just Do it” ad campaign was the notion of ”whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, , (Colossians 3:23).

LIFE APPLICATION – Staying cool in the many opportunities to represent Jesus Christ is a matter of daily spiritual formation.  I would not be too far off the mark if I told you that before this day is done you and I will experience the good, the bad and the ugly of what this world has to offer. The very best of what God has to offer us today is his son Jesus and the opportunity to share him with others.  So, let’s get out  there and Do It…….                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Genesis 41


Who Kept Their Cool?

"15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” (Genesis 41: 15-16)

A recent FB video caught my eye as I scurried through the new stories.  Meet five year old Heavenly Joy Jenkins.   She is standing all alone on a huge stage with a packed auditorium and a row of judges waiting to cast their vote; FOR her or AGAINST her.  It is their responsibility to either send Heavenly Joy packing or on to the next round of competition.   After, a brief time of Q&A by one of the judges (known for his shock Jock style of radio broadcasting) the little girl proceeded to light up the stage with a voice and mannerisms reminiscent of a young Shirley Temple. The place went absolutely bonkers.  Everyone including the high profile judges were on their feet.  As the applause simmers the Q&A Judge remarks, “I think that Shirley Temple is living somewhere inside of you.  To which Heavenly Joy responded, “Not Shirley Temple, Jesus.” She was cool as a cucumber. 

Considering all that Joseph had endured to this point in his life, who would fault him if let’s say, he took a little glory for himself? Imagine the most powerful man in the nation has sent for you.  Verse14 gives you an idea of just how quickly his fortunes changed, “So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon.  When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.  “I cannot do [what you are asking of me], but God will give Pharaoh the answers he desires.” In today’s slang, Joseph “kept his cool.” Little Heavenly Joy didn’t do so bad herself.   Lord of heaven and earth, grant us an anointing to see your glory established.  Not by leaning on our own understanding but by a growing awareness of trust and a renewed sense of your good, perfect and pleasing will.  “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD, is kept safe”.   May this be a week of personal discovery as we continue our study of Genesis chapters 41-45.  For it is in Jesus name we pray, Amen

Genesis 40

In reading today’s chapter, I was reminded of a facet of God’s sovereignty that is often overlooked -  the truth that, along with trials, circumstances and opportunities, God also sovereignly uses people in His redemptive plan for me and through me.

In Chapter 40, once again the plan of God is, from a human perspective, in trouble.  Joseph has been removed from his position of power and influence; and with it his ability to affect the deliverance of his family from the famine that will come. So God arranges to have Joseph imprisoned with men who once served in the courts of power and gives them disturbing dreams by which Joseph, through God given interpretations, is eventually freed and exalted to the second highest positon in Egypt. Natural eyes see this as coincidence but eyes of faith see the hand of God, once again, moving pieces (people) into place to frustrate the plans of evil men (and women) and use them for His pleasure and plans. Consider this:

  • If Joseph’s brothers don’t sell him into slavery, he never goes to Egypt.
  • If Joseph never goes to Egypt, he is never sold to Potiphar.
  • If Joseph is never falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, he never goes to prison.
  • If Joseph never goes to prison, he never meets Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer.
  • If Joseph doesn’t meet the baker and cupbearer, he never gets to interpret their dreams.
  • If Joseph doesn’t get to interpret their dreams, he doesn’t get to interpret Pharaoh’s dream.
  • If Joseph doesn’t get to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, he is not made prime minister of Egypt.
  • If Joseph is never made prime minister, then he does not deliver his family through the famine.
  • If the family of Jacob, especially the clan of Judah, perishes in the famine, then the line through which Messiah must come forth (Gen 49:10) is cut off…

…and we are all lost in our sin.   

Yet, I also see that if Joseph were not the extraordinary individual that he was, he very well might have missed the appointment that God had ordained. Remember, Joseph was imprisoned by false accusation and by no fault of his own. If anyone had a right to be bitter, it was Joseph. Bitter people are self-centered people who dwell on the (real or perceived) injustice of their situation and are too busy focusing on their own pity party to notice those around them. But here we see Joseph not only recognizing the downcast faces of his cell mates but also possessing enough genuine concern for their sadness to ask the reason for their “long faces”. In showing concern born out of true compassion Joseph has opened up the emotional and spiritual doors that will eventually lead to the opening of the prison doors.

What a lesson for us to apply to our lives when we allow our world and point of view to grow so small as to only include three people – me, myself and I. I wonder how many divine opportunities I have missed by being spiritually myopic as I walk through the days of my life and amongst people that Jesus loves dearly and for whom He died. ((Shudder)).

One last thought. There is no doubt that God has and does speak to his people through dreams (Joel 2:28, 2 Cor 12:1, Hebrews 1:1) as well as through other means (creation, His word, the voice of the Holy Spirit, the Body, circumstances, etc.). Yet, along with this truth, God’s word offers caution when considering dreams as a revelation and communication from God.  Consider these verses of wisdom and warning…

Ecclesiastes 5:3,7
A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool…Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God.

Deuteronomy 13:1-3
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer.

Jeremiah 23:25-28
“I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? They think the dreams they tell one another will make my people forget my name, just as their ancestors forgot my name through Baal worship. Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully.

With dreams and visions, as with any sense of the Lord’s extra-biblical communication, let us boldly accept and follow all that the Lord says to us as long as (and only if) it is in agreement with and confirmed by a correct interpretation of His word and the prayerful confirmation and counsel of trusted elders and leaders.