treasure seeker

always looking below the surface

Life of Joseph – Part 35 – Big Changes for Israel April 15, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:18 am

A little over a year ago, I gave away a lot of my belongings, packed and shipped several boxes of items I wanted to keep, loaded everything else in my car and drove for two days (with a puppy!) across the country.

I was moving back home. And I was extremely happy about it.

In addition to that, when I arrived, I continued a reinvention of myself (career-wise) — a metamorphosis I had started about a year earlier.

Now I’m no spring chicken. But I’m not ready for a rocking chair on the front porch either.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

I’m not sure which was the most daring: reinventing myself and my career at this age . . . or driving 2 days across country with a puppy!?!?!

But still . . .

What I did is NOTHING compared to what Israel and his family do in today’s passage!

They packed up their entire family (70 people plus the in-laws) and their cattle and their belongings and left their HOME! I was coming back home . . . so at least I had that going for me. The Israelites were leaving home and moving into a foreign country, where they would be the strangers.

And although they had Joseph waiting to take care of them in Egypt, I’m sure they had more than a few misgivings about leaving their home.

I love how God meets us right where we are. He knows we’re afraid. He knows we have why’s and how’s and what if’s and He wants to remind us that where He guides, He provides. Today He wants us to remember that if we’re following Him, that means He’s going ahead of us.

It doesn’t mean there won’t be obstacles to be overcome and problems to be solved and enemies to be defeated. What it means is that He KNOWS about all of that and He will give us exactly what we need when we need it so we can inhabit and enjoy the land He’s bringing us into.

And even if He has us in a foreign land for a time, we can trust Him to take care of us there, too. And to eventually bring us HOME.

TRUTHS:

- Our age does not prevent God from making big changes in our lives! (Jacob/Israel is 130 years old when he moves to Egypt!)

- Sometimes God asks us to leave our home and move to a place where we’ll be strangers and where we’ll have to establish a new home, new friendships, new routines . . . new everything!

- God knows how big a part fear plays in our lives when changes are happening, but He reminds us that our fear is not necessary.

- When God leads us to a new home, it’s because He has plans to bless us there.

APPLICATION QUESTIONS:

- When have I used my age as an excuse to ignore God’s asking me to make a major change in my life?

- When has God asked me to leave my “home” — whether that was a physical house, a hometown, a job, a church, a relationship, a position?

- What am I afraid of right now? And what is that fear keeping me from doing that I believe God’s leading me to do?

- What blessings have I enjoyed because I was willing to step out in faith and follow God to a new “home”?

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Genesis 46:1-7, 26-27 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

46 So Israel made his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba [a place hallowed by sacred memories] and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night, and said, Jacob! Jacob! And he said, Here am I.

And He said, I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will there make of you a great nation.

I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you [your people Israel] up again; and Joseph will put his hand upon your eyes [when they are about to close in death].

So Jacob arose and set out from Beersheba, and Israel’s sons conveyed their father, their little ones, and their wives in the wagons that Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

And they took their cattle and the gains which they had acquired in the land of Canaan and came into Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him:

His sons and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters and his sons’ daughters—all his offspring he brought with him into Egypt.

26 All the persons who came with Jacob into Egypt—who were his own offspring, not counting the wives of Jacob’s sons—were sixty-six persons all told.

27 And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob [including Joseph and Jacob himself], who came into Egypt, were seventy.

 

Life of Joseph – Part 34 – Go Get Papa! April 8, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:13 am

It looks like news travels pretty fast in Egypt! It doesn’t seem to take long for Pharaoh to be informed about what’s going on at Joseph’s house. And soon he’s inviting Joseph’s entire family to come to Egypt to live, where he’ll take good care of them and let them settle down.

And that’s exactly what Joseph wants. So he gives them everything they’ll need for the round-trip journey.

And then he gives them one last piece of advice–which seems to be very strange, or at least it does to me.

Joseph tells the brothers not to quarrel on the trip back home. Why does he tell them that? It seems to me that there’s not that much to quarrel about now. All the brothers are safe and sound and together. They’re headed back home to get Papa and their families and belongings. Pharaoh has promised them the best Egypt has to offer. They won’t be starving like they were in Canaan. Life looks good from here on out.

Not to mention the fact that Joseph doesn’t seem to be holding a grudge against them. It appears he really has forgiven them.

Everything seems to be going very well for them right now. So why would they argue on the way home?

I don’t know. The Bible doesn’t tell us. It’s something I’d like to ask Joseph when I meet him in Heaven.

But for now, I have a guess. And it is just that–a guess.

Something hit me during this current study of the life of Joseph. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it before. And it’s a question that I can’t find the answer to in scripture.

My question is: Did any of the brothers ever tell their father what they did to Joseph?

Like I said, I haven’t been able to find the answer to that question. My personal guess is that they did not ever tell him.

And the fact that in today’s passage he almost died when they told him Joseph was alive leads me to believe they probably wouldn’t have taken a chance telling him the sad, sad truth about the entire situation.

So I’m wondering if that’s why Joseph told them not to quarrel on their trip. If it was a warning or a request for them not to start blaming each other for the whole big mess that started 20+ years ago. But instead, to focus on getting home and picking up their father and their families and getting everyone to Egypt–so Joseph could see his father again before he died.

And that also may be why the brothers are so anxious later on in this story–after their father dies. They’re concerned then that Joseph’s attitude toward them would be different once their father is dead.

Oh, well. It’s fun to think about things like that. At least it is to me.

Family secrets. Wow. They started a long time ago, didn’t they!

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Truths:

- Sometimes it IS who you know. Pharaoh gladly welcomed Joseph’s entire family, giving them wagons and provisions, and promising them the best the land of Egypt had to offer. The brothers weren’t cashing in on their relationship with Pharaoh–but Joseph’s good relationship with him.

Sometimes a relationship with a close friend, family member, or business acquaintance puts us in contact with someone even more powerful and we reap the benefits of their relationship.

- And that leads to this: It’s important to maintain good relationships. Because you never know when you or someone you know/love will need the benefits a particular relationship affords.

- Sometimes you just have to believe the unbelievable. When the brothers told their father that Joseph was alive and was the governor of Egypt, his heart almost stopped beating. It was as if Joseph had come back from the dead. And sometimes God has surprises for us that are almost that unbelievable. Just think what Israel (the father and the nation!) would have missed out on if their father hadn’t taken a chance on believing their unbelievable story!

- And how about the obvious spiritual principles these three truths portray. (1) Because of our relationship with Jesus and our trust in what He did for us on the cross, we can have a relationship with and access to God the Father. (2) We need to maintain relationships–even with–or especially with–our friends who are lost, because we may be their link to God.  (3) The work Jesus did on the cross on our behalf, his resurrection from the dead, the spiritual blessings He promises His followers–not the least of which is eternity with Him!!–are all unbelievable from a human perspective. But refusing to believe this unbelievable story will cause us to miss out on real life!!

Application Questions:

- What relationships do you have that have benefited you? Personally? In business?

- Which of your friends/family members/business contacts have benefited by your relationship with someone else?

- What unbelievable blessings have you chosen to believe to be possible? How has your life been changed because of them?

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Genesis 45:16-28 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

16 When the report was heard in Pharaoh’s house that Joseph’s brothers had come, it pleased Pharaoh and his servants well.

17 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, Tell your brothers this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan,

18 And get your father and your households and come to me. And I will give you the best in the land of Egypt and you will live on the fat of the land.

19 You therefore command them, saying, You do this: take wagons from the land of Egypt for your little ones and for your wives, and bring your father and come.

20 Also do not look with regret or concern upon your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.

21 And the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them wagons, as the order of Pharaoh permitted, and gave them provisions for the journey.

22 To each of them he gave changes of raiment, but to Benjamin he gave 300 pieces of silver and five changes of raiment.

23 And to his father he sent as follows: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten she-donkeys laden with grain, bread, and nourishing food and provision for his father [to supply all who were with him] on the way.

24 So he sent his brothers away, and they departed, and he said to them, See that you do not disagree (get excited, quarrel) along the road.

25 So they went up out of Egypt and came into the land of Canaan to Jacob their father,

26 And they said to him, Joseph is still alive! And he is governor over all the land of Egypt! And Jacob’s heart began to stop beating and [he almost] fainted, for he did not believe them.

27 But when they told him all the words of Joseph which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived [and warmth and life returned].

28 And Israel said, It is enough! Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.

 

Life of Joseph – Part 33 – The Big Reveal April 1, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:36 am

Finally!

Joseph is so overcome with emotion listening to Judah beg to take Benjamin’s place as a slave in Egypt . . . so he won’t have to go home to his father without the favored son . . . that Joseph finally breaks down.

He sends all of the Egyptians out of the room before he reveals himself to his brothers. But he’s sobbing so loudly that they can’t help but hear him. And soon Pharaoh’s household hears about it.

Joseph’s first question for his brothers is about his father . . . is he still alive?

However, his half brothers are so terrified, now realizing who he is, that they can’t speak. And can you blame them? The spoiled rotten teenage brat of a half brother that their father adored and they loathed and treated like dirt and sold as a slave and pretended was dead . . . is now all grown up and extremely powerful and holds their very lives in his hands.

Talk about poetic justice.

But Joseph tells them not to be upset about what they did to him. In fact, no less than four times within a few verses, Joseph re-iterates that GOD SENT HIM TO EGYPT. He lets his brothers know that he doesn’t blame them or hold a grudge against them . . . because he knows that God sent him there in order to save the family (and future nation) of Israel.

To me, this ties in with those last two years Joseph spent in prison. Remember when he interpreted the chief butler’s dream and told him he would be restored to his position in Pharaoh’s household? And then Joseph asked the chief butler to be sure to tell Pharaoh about him and how he was in prison unjustly and that he should not even be in the country . . . especially as a slave?

Then two years later, when Joseph is in Pharaoh’s presence interpreting his dreams, Joseph doesn’t mention any of that.

And in today’s passage, he actually gives God the CREDIT (not the BLAME!) for him being in Egypt and being in the position he’s in.

I believe during those two years in prison, Joseph came to terms with the fact that God had a purpose for him being there. I’m not sure he knew what that purpose was at the time, but I believe he decided to trust that God knew what He was doing.

And now, having been in his current position for 9 years, he knows God is using him to save all of Egypt from starvation.

Then when his brothers show up, I believe Joseph realizes God also sent him to Egypt to save his entire family.

Now when he has a chance to blame his brothers for all his suffering . . . he releases them from any ‘fault’ and gives God credit for sending him there to save their lives.

Then he shares his plan with them. He wants them to hurry and go let his father know he’s alive and that God has sent him to Egypt ahead of them to be sure they survive the famine that will last five more years. And to bring the entire family and all their livestock to Egypt. They’ll live in Goshen, close to Joseph. And he’ll take care of them.

He and Benjamin hug and cry. And then he kisses all his brothers and cries over all of them, too.

And finally they’re able to talk to him.

TRUTHS:

- God can and will use the bad things others do to us to get us in position for promotion and purpose.

- Someone we once viewed as an enemy could one day be the person who saves our life.

- God always has a plan . . . and it’s always for our good.

APPLICATION QUESTIONS:

- How has God used bad things that happened to me to move me into position for promotion and to fulfill His purpose?

- Which former ‘enemy’ has the potential to bless me and my family?

- When was the last time I recognized God’s good plan while I was in a bad situation?

- What situation am I in right now that I need to trust God with and look for His good plan?

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Genesis 45:1-15 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

45 Then Joseph could not restrain himself [any longer] before all those who stood by him, and he called out, Cause every man to go out from me! So no one stood there with Joseph while he made himself known to his brothers.

And he wept and sobbed aloud, and the Egyptians [who had just left him] heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard about it.

And Joseph said to his brothers, I am Joseph! Is my father still alive? And his brothers could not reply, for they were distressingly disturbed and dismayed at [the startling realization that they were in] his presence.

And Joseph said to his brothers, Come near to me, I pray you. And they did so. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt!

But now, do not be distressed and disheartened or vexed and angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life.

For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years more in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest.

God sent me before you to preserve for you a posterity and to continue a remnant on the earth, to save your lives by a great escape and save for you many survivors.

So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Hurry and go up to my father and tell him, Your son Joseph says this to you: God has put me in charge of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not delay.

10 You will live in the land of Goshen, and you will be close to me—you and your children and your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds, and all you have.

11 And there I will sustain and provide for you, so that you and your household and all that are yours may not come to poverty and want, for there are yet five [more] years of [the scarcity, hunger, and starvation of] famine.

12 Now notice! Your own eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin can see that I am talking to you personally [in your language and not through an interpreter].

13 And you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here.

14 And he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck.

15 Moreover, he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them; and after that his brothers conversed with him.

 

Life of Joseph – Part 32 – A Chance to Run March 25, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:30 am

Today we watch Joseph make his final moves in this chess game he’s been playing with his brothers.

And in this passage I think I see a couple of Joseph’s goals in the game. These are just my thoughts.

(1) I think he wanted to see if the brothers would take their grain and run back home when Benjamin got caught with the silver cup. It was the perfect opportunity for them to ditch him in Egypt and go back home with a great excuse of why he wasn’t with them. Of course, Judah would have had to pay the price since he was the one who told Dad he would be responsible for bringing Benjamin back. But, hey! At least they would be back home, with grain so they wouldn’t starve, and they would be minus one more spoiled half-brother.

But they didn’t do that. In fact, they came across like they really cared about Benjamin. They didn’t let him go back to Joseph’s house to face the music alone. They all went back with him. In fact, their plan was to all go back to Joseph’s as slaves.

(2) In order to be sure Benjamin was safe from the half-brothers, Joseph maneuvered the situation so that Benjamin was ‘guilty’ of stealing from Joseph and would have to stay in Egypt.

But again, the brothers come through. If Benjamin stays, they’re all staying. And when Judah shares his story with Joseph and talks about their father and how he thinks Joseph was torn to pieces and how much pain losing Benjamin would cause him, I think Joseph is convinced Judah really does care about their father. Especially when he offers to take Benjamin’s place as a slave in Egypt so that their father doesn’t have to grieve another son.

 

Truths I See:

- Our real character is revealed when we’re given an opportunity to bail out of a bad situation. Sticking around when we don’t have to and standing up for someone who’s been unjustly accused shows character.

- People can change. But when we’ve hurt someone (or when someone has hurt us), it takes time to prove there’s been real change. It’s a lot easier to maintain trust that it is to rebuild it.

 

Application Questions:

- When has my character been revealed lately? What did it look like?

- Whose trust do I need to re-earn? Who needs to re-earn mine?

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Genesis 44:1-34 / New International Version (NIV)

44 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.

As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’”

When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”

10 “Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.”

11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.

14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15 Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”

16 “What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”

17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

18 Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’

21 “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22 And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23 But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24 When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.

25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ 26 But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’

27 “Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’

30 “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, 31 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. 32 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!’

33 “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. 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.”

 

Life of Joseph – Part 31 – Overcome by Emotions March 18, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:02 am

In today’s verses, Joseph’s brothers get to have lunch with him in his house. And they give him the gifts their father had them bring for him.

When they give him the gifts, they bow down before him . . . again. Don’t you know that those childhood dreams keep popping back up in his mind every time he sees them bowing down?

Then he asks about their father, if he’s still alive. They let him know he is.

Then Joseph looks around and sees Benjamin — his only full brother. He asks if that’s their younger brother they told him about and then he says to Benjamin, “God be gracious to you, my son!” And he immediately runs out of the room because he can’t contain his emotions any longer.

I wouldn’t have made it that long! What a dramatic scene.

When Joseph has a good cry and gets his emotions under control again, he comes back in and has his servants serve lunch.

And he plays with his brothers’ minds a wee bit. He has them seated in birth order. And they notice it. In fact the Amplified Bible says, “. . . the men looked at one another amazed [that so much was known about them].”

And he had the servants give Benjamin five times as much food as the other brothers.

Maybe I’m just a suspicious sort, but I think my radar would be going crazy. I’d be wondering how the governor of Egypt found out our ages and why he likes Benjamin so much!

I do have a serious question, though. Why does Joseph take so long to reveal his identity to his brothers?

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a sermon explaining that.

I can understand why he didn’t reveal himself to his half-brothers on their first trip there. If he had, I’m not sure they would have ever returned, because I don’t think they would have trusted him.

I have a guess as to why. But it’s just my opinion.

I think Joseph knew he had to establish himself in his new identity and in his position of authority before he could safely reveal who he was to his family.

It reminds me of something a Bible teacher said the other day. She talked about how we are adults and we are responsible for our attitudes and behaviors, no matter what may have happened to us as kids that we had no control over. Then she talked about how she feels 12 years old every time she goes back to her parents’ house. She says that’s one of the hardest places to act like an adult because your parents and siblings KNOW YOU! And they can still easily see you as the kid you once were.

So my thought is that Joseph knew he did not want to go back to being thought of as the obnoxious, mistreated, apple-of-Daddy’s-eye, immature, teenager who was hated and bullied by his older half-brothers. He didn’t want them to see him like that. He had come too far and worked too hard and he deserved more respect than that.

So he made sure they knew who he was and how far his authority reached. He made sure he had their respect before he revealed who he was.

I don’t think he did it for spite or vengeance. I just think he knew he had to set firm boundaries . . . because he KNEW his half-brothers!

I’d love to hear what you think his reasons were!

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Genesis 43:24-34 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

24 And the man brought the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys provender.

25 And they made ready the present they had brought for Joseph before his coming at noon, for they heard that they were to dine there.

26 And when Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which they had with them, and bowed themselves to him to the ground.

27 He asked them of their welfare and said, Is your old father well, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?

28 And they answered, Your servant our father is in good health; he is still alive. And they bowed down their heads and made obeisance.

29 And he looked up and saw his [full] brother Benjamin, his mother’s [only other] son, and said, Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? And he said, God be gracious to you, my son!

30 And Joseph hurried from the room, for his heart yearned for his brother, and he sought privacy to weep; so he entered his chamber and wept there.

31 And he washed his face and went out, and, restraining himself, said, Let dinner be served.

32 And [the servants] set out [the food] for [Joseph] by himself, and for [his brothers] by themselves, and for those Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, according to the Egyptian custom not to eat food with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination to the Egyptians.

33 And [Joseph’s brothers] were given seats before him—the eldest according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked at one another amazed [that so much was known about them].

34 [Joseph] took and sent helpings to them from before him, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank freely and were merry with him.

 

Life of Joseph – Part 30 – Ruled by Fear March 11, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:56 am

The verses we’re looking at today are about the brothers’ second trip to Egypt to purchase grain.

What grabbed my attention was the fear that ruled their lives. Check it out.

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Genesis 43:15-23 / New International Version (NIV)

15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.”

17 The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house. 18 Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.”

19 So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20 “We beg your pardon, our lord,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. 21 But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. 22 We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.”

23 “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

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The brothers respond to everything with fear. And they always expect the worse case scenario.

In these verses, Joseph asked his steward to take the men to his house and prepare lunch for them. The brothers are terrified. In fact, they list four things they’re expecting Joseph to do when they go to his house. And none of them include lunch.

They’re expecting him to (1) attack them, (2) overpower them, (3) seize them as slaves, and (4) take their donkeys.

It would be comical if it wasn’t so sad.

And, as we’ve noted before, these boys are just living out the way they were raised. You’ll remember that just last week we saw where good ol’ Dad almost allowed the entire family to die of starvation before he would let Benjamin out of his sight — because he was afraid something would happen to him.

Living life from a heart of fear is such a poor way to live. In fact, I’m not sure you can call it living. I think a better term would be existing. Or maybe even wasting.

I “wasted” many years of my life. I would wake up every morning recalling the things I was afraid would happen that day, remembering the bad things that had already happened, listing the coming events that I dreaded, and facing the day already defeated.

Thankfully I no longer live like that.

One thing that helped me overcome the stranglehold fear had on me was memorizing relevant scripture that I could quote when I needed to remember and focus on TRUTH instead of the LIES waiting to defeat me. And my favorite passage, that I can still quote today, comes from Philippians 4:6-7, out of The Living Bible.

“Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can comprehend. His peace will keep your thoughts and your heart quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”

God doesn’t want us living life from a place of fear. That’s how Satan wants us to live, because it renders us powerless. And I can tell you from personal experience that living a fear-filled life is just a waste.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Corrie Ten Boom about worry:

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. It does not enable us to escape evil, it makes us unfit to face evil when it comes. It is the interest you pay on trouble before it comes.”

And I’ll close with another great quote from her about fear:

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

 

Life of Joseph – Part 29 – Getting Desperate March 4, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:38 am

Today we’re looking at Genesis 43:1-14 which is posted at the end.

The grain that the brothers brought back from Egypt is gone. There’s severe hunger, destitution and starvation throughout Canaan . . . including Israel’s entire family.

So Israel asks the brothers to go back to Egypt and get more grain.

This time it’s Judah that speaks for the brothers. He reminds their father that they won’t be able to buy more grain unless they take Benjamin to Egypt with them.

And we’re right back in the family dynamics where the father blames the sons for telling “the man” too much information about the family, allowing him to require exactly what Israel doesn’t want to give.

Israel finally concedes that they have to take Benjamin because the family will starve without more grain.

In addition to Benjamin, he also sent gifts of the choicest produce from the land and prays for God’s mercy and favor to bring his sons (Benjamin and Simeon) back home.

Here are three truths I saw:

1. When our life is ruled by fear, we often blame others for causing it.

- The fear of losing Benjamin ruled Israel’s life. He blamed others every time something happened that brought that fear to the surface. Blaming someone else for our issues keeps us from having to face the fact that we are the only one choosing to let those issues control us.

2. Tough circumstances in life REVEAL where our thoughts are focused.

- These events didn’t cause Israel to fear. These events revealed again the fear that had been ruling his life for years.

3. Sometimes we have to get desperate before we’re willing to face our fears.

- Israel finally faced the fact that if he didn’t take a chance and let Benjamin go to Egypt with his brothers, the entire family was going to starve to death. He finally reached the point where the thought of losing his entire family, including himself, was more painful than facing the possibility of losing his favorite living son. Sometimes when we’re living in painful dysfunction, it takes a situation that is even more painful in order to wake us up and make us confront the dysfunction we’ve been living with. This is typically called “hitting bottom.”

Application Questions:

1. Who/What do I blame for causing the problems/issues in my life? What fears do I face on a regular basis? What issues do they cause in my life?

2. Where are my thoughts focused? What circumstances have happened that have revealed them?

3. What fear do I hold on to until I’m desperate? Why does that fear have such a stronghold on my life? What do I need to do about it?

=======

Genesis 43:1-14 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

43 But the hunger and destitution and starvation were very severe and extremely distressing in the land [Canaan].

And when [the families of Jacob’s sons] had eaten up the grain which the men had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, Go again; buy us a little food.

But Judah said to him, The man solemnly and sternly warned us, saying, You shall not see my face again unless your brother is with you.

If you will send our brother with us, we will go down [to Egypt] and buy you food;

But if you will not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.

And Israel said, Why did you do me such a wrong and suffer this evil to come upon me by telling the man that you had another brother?

And they said, The man asked us straightforward questions about ourselves and our relatives. He said, Is your father still alive? Have you another brother? And we answered him accordingly. How could we know that he would say, Bring your brother down here?

And Judah said to Israel his father, Send the lad with me and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones.

I will be security for him; you shall require him of me [personally]; if I do not bring him back to you and put him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.

10 For if we had not lingered like this, surely by now we would have returned the second time.

11 And their father Israel said to them, If it must be so, now do this; take of the choicest products in the land in your sacks and carry down a present to the man, a little balm (balsam) and a little honey, aromatic spices and gum (of rock rose) or ladanum, pistachio nuts, and almonds.

12 And take double the [grain] money with you; and the money that was put back in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again with you; there is a possibility that [its being in your sacks] was an oversight.

13 Take your brother and arise and return to the man;

14 May God Almighty give you mercy and favor before the man, that he may release to you your other brother and Benjamin. If I am bereaved [of my sons], I am bereaved.

 

 
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