Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Welcome to Day 18 of our Life Journal!
Before you comment or read what I have posted, please read the following passages for yourself and complete your own S.O.A.P. exercise… How does this work?
S.O.A.P = Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer
OK, now hit the PAUSE button and continue the story about Joseph and his brothers from yesterday…
Genesis 44 v 33 “Now then, please let your servant [Judah] remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy [Benjamin], and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 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.”
Genesis 45 v 8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here [slavery/Egypt], but God.”
Genesis 46 v 17 “Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’”
Luke 18, v 9 “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “10 Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’”
v 13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Judah offers himself in exchange for Benjamin, in order to save his father misery from losing both Joseph and Benjamin (his two sons from Rachel.) I love this! He took responsibility and stepped up.
Joseph finally can’t contain himself any longer and cries out, loudly as he reveals his true identity to his brothers. He cried so loudly that Pharaoh heard about it! His love for his brothers outweighed any bitterness or anger toward them for what they had done. Joseph had the proper perspective that God himself had sent him to Egypt, not his brothers… That God was God over his circumstances and used them for good! Not always easy to do. In fact, it can be very hard to see God at work in difficult circumstances. This is a healthy long-term perspective… more easily done in the rear view mirror looking back versus looking into the future.
v 27 “…the spirit of their father Jacob revived.” Isn’t it amazing how good news fills our hearts and revives us? But this news is beyond belief. For Jacob, it was like his son being raised from the dead. For he thought he WAS dead! Imagine after all those years hearing that your son is still alive!
I wonder if/when Joseph’s brothers own up to what they had done… Jacob had to wonder about the circumstances of all his other sons bringing back Joseph’s coat with blood on it. You just know this had to come up in conversation along the way!
Amazing favor that Pharaoh shows to Joseph and his family… even though they are Hebrew and generally despised by the Egyptians. Only lasts a few more chapters, then things take a turn for the worse.
Jesus was constantly confronting the Pharisees with their self-righteousness… He compared a Pharisee to a tax collector in the story of two men praying at the temple. The Pharisees exalted themselves… But the tax collector confessed his sin, saying that he, not the Pharisee went home justified. One of my favorite passages and a great reminder of the importance of humility and not comparing ourselves to others… maybe more importantly the importance of not looking down on others. Even though the tax collectors were corrupt and everyone knew it, Jesus spent time with Levi (Matthew) and invited him into relationship as one of his disciples! This had to have driven the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law crazy!
Then Jesus goes on to say we must receive the Kingdom like a child. Note to self.
I also love the story of the rich ruler who takes an inventory of himself and says that he has “kept all these (commands) from his youth.” Ok, good place to stop… but he asked Jesus what did he still lack?
I am convinced that any time I ask Jesus that question, “What do I lack?” (in sincerity) he would have an answer for me. Because I haven’t arrived. I love that he told the man to sell everything and give to the poor. THEN he would have true riches (“treasure in heaven.”) Good advice for us all to keep perspective in this life.
You gotta love the story of the blind beggar being healed after being shushed by the crowd. “But he shouted all the more!”
Every day I read these passages and ask myself, “How does this apply to MY life?”
Every day I see what to DO and what to NOT do. It’s not good to be corrupt like the tax collectors, obviously, but the tax collector went home justified because he confessed his sin. Unlike the Pharisee who was self-righteous and exalted himself.
God exalted Joseph, but it was through years of slavery and imprisonment… and Joseph being faithful and not allowing bitterness and anger to eat him alive. In stead, he served Potiphar, served in prison and he served Pharaoh. And the dreams he had regarding his family were fulfilled. His brothers did bow before him. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that God used Joseph to save thousands of people in that region from starvation. He gave Joseph the interpretation to Pharaoh’s dream, because Joseph said, “I can’t interpret the dream, but God can.” And he did.
To be a man like Joseph… faithful in serving…
Lord I recognize that it all belongs to you. Joseph managed the grain of Egypt. He was faithful in that. Help me to be faithful to what you have called me to. I really, really don’t want to be like the Pharisees. God save me from my own ambitions or thoughts about how I’ve got it all together or how I’m better than ANYONE because I give or serve or lead worship or anything else. It all belongs to you. I am only a steward over it. And a servant to you… Yet I am a son, not a slave. I have been adopted by You, and I thank you…