treasure seeker

always looking below the surface

Grace July 29, 2014

Filed under: Devotional,Grace — rjfleming @ 3:28 am

Do you remember the brilliant illustration using the jar, large rocks, gravel, sand, and water? If you need a refresher, here’s Stephen Covey’s retelling of the story. It’s a great life lesson about priorities and making sure you take care of the most important ones first.

Hold that thought. We’ll get back to it.

 

Have you ever noticed how frequently songwriters and poets and authors compare grace with water? I’ve heard it compared to a river, to an ocean, to rain. Yet when I did a search of the word ‘grace’ in the Bible, I couldn’t find it compared to water anywhere. I easily could have missed it. But I did notice a few times where it talked about grace flowing and overflowing, so I guess that’s probably why it’s been compared to water so often.

And I think grace is a lot like water. Think about it.

Water is not cylindrical or octagonal or square. Water fills empty space and takes the shape of that space–no matter how odd or convoluted the space is. In the same way, the place where grace is going doesn’t have to ‘fit’ grace. Instead, grace ‘fits’ whatever space it finds that needs filling–no matter what condition that space is in.

And when water (and grace) fills a space, it covers every exposed surface, fills every gouged out hole, reaches the depths of every crack and crevice.

Grace is never-ending. You’ll never run out. You don’t have a daily quota or a lifetime limit. The grace provided to you is however much you need for your life at this precise moment. No measure. And, therefore, no comparison.

And grace flows continually into the life of every believer. It never stops flowing as long as we’re breathing.

And grace doesn’t have to be invited. It just shows up whenever it’s needed.

 

In some ways grace reminds me of the water in the illustration I mentioned.

Because no matter how well we plan our days and our lives. Even if we make sure to place all of the big, important things on our schedule first. And regardless of how much gravel (good, but not quite as important tasks) we’re able to fit between and around the large rocks. And no matter how much sand we can handle, those minute details some of us are so good (or so horrible) at tending to.

There’s still going to be emptiness that needs to be filled. We’ll still miss something. And there will still be places that nothing and no one else can reach–much less, touch and heal.

 

That’s when grace comes. Where we fall short (no matter how hard we try), grace fills in. Sometimes our jar may look like it contains only water. Other times, not so much.

Either way, we always need grace.

Even when we’ve done our best, we still need His grace!

 

 

Life of Joseph – Part 45 – Death of Joseph July 22, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:42 am

Well, today marks the end of our study of the life of Joseph. I learned so much. I can’t believe how much great business wisdom I found in these scriptures about Joseph. Not to mention the general life lessons and the lessons on forgiveness and grace that were so evident in his life.

 

I have to say that Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters. I know he wasn’t perfect, but I can’t find any glaring moral failures or weaknesses. He’s steady and gracious and loyal and kind.

 

It reminds me of the saying we’ve all heard — the bad things that happen to you will either make you bitter or they’ll make you better. And it’s all your choice.

 

Joseph had some horrible things happen to him as a kid. Events he could have used as fuel for a life-long pity party. Or as excuses for doing whatever he wanted to do when faced with a moral dilemma (i.e. Potiphar’s wife).

 

I mean, he was now a nobody in a foreign country with no family around to ever know what he did there.

 

But I don’t think Joseph saw himself as a nobody. Joseph somehow held on to the hope that those dreams God had given him when he was back home did not expire when he crossed the border into Egypt. Joseph somehow believed that his brothers’ gut-wrenching betrayal was not able to destroy God’s plans for him.

 

When bad things happen to us . . . whether we helped them occur or not . . . we get to choose how they affect us. I’m not saying they’re not painful. They are and we need to process the pain and deal with it. And I’m not saying they don’t change things. They do. And some of the changes are devastating and permanent.

 

But we get to choose how they change us . . . the core of who we are. Are we going to NEVER FORGET what happened, rehash it with anyone who’ll listen, and replay it over and over in our minds? For the rest of our lives? That’s our choice. That could have been Joseph’s choice.

 

Or we can take the necessary time, and possibly get the necessary help, to process what happened and work through our emotions and choose to forgive whoever we need to forgive — including ourselves. That way we’re free to live our life and keep working toward our dreams. That was Joseph’s choice.

 

And in today’s passage, Joseph comes to the end of his life. He is now a great-grandfather. So he didn’t let what happened to him as a child stop him from creating his own family. And he still has a relationship with his brothers who betrayed him. In fact, he was still making sure they and all their families were being taken care of in Egypt.

 

And he still believes God is going to keep the promise He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That He would come and take Abraham’s descendants back to the Promised Land.

 

And when that happened, Joseph wanted his bones taken with them and buried back home.

 

And his request was honored.

 

TRUTHS:

- We don’t have to let what happened to us as children stop us from creating our own family.

- We don’t have to let past hurts keep us from forgiving and having a healthy relationship with our family.

- We can always trust God to keep His promises.

 

APPLICATION QUESTIONS:

- How have you allowed what happened to you as a child affect your family or your family plans?

- What past hurts do you need to forgive so you can have a healthy relationship with your family?

- What promises are you still waiting on God to fulfill? Are you waiting in doubt or in faith? Expecting the worst or anticipating the best?

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Genesis 50:22-26 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

22 Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household. And Joseph lived 110 years.

23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation; the children also of Machir son of Manasseh were brought up on Joseph’s knees.

24 And Joseph said to his brethren, I am going to die. But God will surely visit you and bring you out of this land to the land He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob [to give you].

25 And Joseph took an oath from the sons of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and you will carry up my bones from here.

26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

 

 

 

 

Life of Joseph – Part 44 – Teaching his Brothers July 8, 2014

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

I feel like the brothers are being taught a lesson by Joseph that Joseph learned at their hands decades ago. The lesson is, “Don’t fear man–even if they have the physical power or the earthly authority to harm you. Instead trust God. Because if He allows it, He will redeem it. He will turn it around and use it for good–if we will surrender it to Him.”

Do you remember this blog post where we talked about Joseph’s last two years in prison? I feel like that time was a major turning point in Joseph’s life. A time when he realized that even though so many horrible things had been done to him and that beginning in his childhood God had given him dreams of the position and authority he would one day have, Joseph finally recognized in those last two years that he couldn’t make it happen–even if it was God’s will. And I believe he realized he had to let go of all the emotions that had built up over the years toward the people who had put him where he was. I believe it was then he learned the valuable lesson he’s now sharing with his brothers–and that we need to learn sooner than later in our life.

 

When the brothers fall at his feet proclaiming they’re his slaves, Joseph replies–“Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God that I can punish you?”

 

Joseph has apparently already learned that “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” He realizes that even though he has the position and the authority now to finally repay his brothers for all the horror they caused in his life–he’s not God! And it’s God’s job to repay–not man’s.

 

The brothers are focused on Joseph’s earthly power. I’m sure he could have had them locked up or executed at a moment’s notice. And the brothers knew that.

 

But Joseph’s focus was on God and how He had redeemed the situation. And Joseph wanted the brothers to understand that, too.

 

The next verse, Genesis 50:20, is one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible. It can be such a comfort to us when things don’t go like we think they should. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”

Wow! That’s a powerful verse! It can be life-changing. If we let it.

But it’s not easy.

When bad things happen to us, we can either look with our earthly eyes focused on the human aspect. “This person did this horrible thing to me. Now they have ruined my life.”

Or we can look at it through the lens of Genesis 50:20 and acknowledge that–Yes, they harmed me. And, yes, it was on purpose–they intended to harm me. It wasn’t an accident.

BUT GOD!

I love those two words. They change everything.

But God allowed them to harm me because He can use it for good. He looks at it from a different perspective. He looks at it from the perspective of how He intends to use it to push me further down the path to the good plans He has for me.

 

Just like He used Joseph’s mistreatment by his brothers to get him to Egypt, to learn the language and culture, to show his integrity to Potiphar, to be falsely accused and thrown in prison, to become known for his spiritual gift of interpreting dreams, to be liked and trusted even in prison, so he would be given Pharaoh’s servants to take care of, so he could interpret their dreams, so two years later he could be called up out of prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, so he could present his plan for saving the country from the famine, so he could be put in charge of the program, so Egypt and Joseph’s family could all be saved from certain death, so the chosen people of God (the nation of Israel) could survive and grow so fast that they soon outnumber the Egyptians (Exodus 1:9) . . . and so on and so on.

I love it that Joseph doesn’t berate his brothers for their lack of trust in him. Instead, he encourages them again not to be afraid of him, and reassures them that he will continue to take care of them and their families. And he spoke kindly to them and comforted them.

Joseph learned that he had a part to play in God’s story. And that anything God allowed in his life, God would use to help him play his part.

What is your part in His Story?

TRUTHS:

- Our fear of man and what he can do to us is misplaced.

- If God allows it, He has plans to redeem it.

- God’s plans are always for our eventual good.

- Our job is to comfort and encourage our brothers.

 

APPLICATION QUESTIONS:

- When was the last time I was afraid of a human and what he could do to me?

- How have I seen God redeem bad things that happened to me?

- Why can I believe that God’s plans are for my good?

- Who needs my comfort and encouragement?

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Genesis 50:19-21 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

19 And Joseph said to them, Fear not; for am I in the place of God? [Vengeance is His, not mine.]

20 As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day.

21 Now therefore, do not be afraid. I will provide for and support you and your little ones. And he comforted them [imparting cheer, hope, strength] and spoke to their hearts [kindly].

 

Life of Joseph – Part 43 – Afraid of Joseph July 1, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:32 am

Their father is dead and his half-brothers are fearful of Joseph. Apparently they had used Dad as their buffer and didn’t have their own personal relationship with him.

Now they’re afraid he might pay them back for selling him as a slave when he was a teenager. So, in their fear, they try to continue to use their dead father as a go-between. They send a message to Joseph saying that, before he died, their father said to tell Joseph to forgive them.

I personally don’t think Jacob knew the extent of what they had done to Joseph. As outspoken as he was, especially near the end of his life, I’m pretty sure the subject would have come up.

When Joseph got his half-brothers’ message, he broke down and wept. His heart was broken because his brothers still didn’t ‘get it.’ They still didn’t realize that he had forgiven them and wanted a different type of relationship with them now.

Then they came and threw themselves down at his feet and said they were his slaves.

=======

To me this is such a picture of Jesus and a lot of His followers–including me earlier in my journey.

And it is definitely a picture of religion vs. relationship.

I’m not comparing Joseph with Jesus. Joseph wasn’t perfect and he isn’t our Savior.

But Joseph understood forgiveness and grace and he offered both to his worst offenders and they didn’t know what to do with it! They didn’t now how to live in it. All they could fathom was that Joseph should be angry with them and might be appeased if they offered themselves as his slaves.

Unfortunately this still happens every day.

Somebody reaches the point where they realize they need a Savior. So they convert to Christianity or they join a church or a sect or a denomination. And then they spend their lives trying to appease or please God by continually begging for forgiveness for their past and offering themselves as His slave. God, just tell me what to do and what not to do. Give me a list of what makes you happy and I’ll do that. And give me a list of what makes you angry and I won’t do that.

And I think God is saying . . . why don’t you grab a cup of coffee and come sit with me on the porch and let’s catch up. Tell me what’s going on, what you need my help with, who you need my help loving. And then let me tell you what I have planned for you–it’s all good. I’ll share with you any course corrections that will make your journey easier. Then let me just hold you and love on you a little while–let me give you an inkling of how much I love you–let me remind you that I am for you and I am with you–all the time! Then go out from our time together and just be you! The YOU I created you to be. A one-of-a-kind original. Don’t take any checklists with you. Instead, take the love I share with you on the porch and share it with everyone whose path you cross today–starting at home.

One night this past week–actually it was in the wee hours of the morning–the following truth hit my brain and I grabbed my phone and typed it up so I wouldn’t forget it! I think it fits with today’s blog.

“There is not enough human acceptance, attention, affection, or approval on earth to make up for your lack of an acute awareness of just how much God loves YOU!”

In case no one’s told you lately, He’s CRAZY about you! And we have all of those things (acceptance, attention, affection, approval) from Him–if we’ve accepted His offer to adopt us as His child–without having to jump through any hoops to get them!

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TRUTHS:

- We have to create and maintain our own relationships–with people and with God.

- Guilt over our past will haunt us the rest of our days unless and until we seek and accept forgiveness and learn to live in grace.

- Forgiveness offered by the person we wronged isn’t enough to set us free. We have to accept their forgiveness and also forgive ourselves.

- Learning to live in the grace offered by the One we’ve wronged the most is one of the hardest things to do. But it’s not impossible.

 

APPLICATION QUESTIONS:

- What relationships do I need to create and/or maintain instead of depending on someone else?

- Whose forgiveness do I need to seek?

- Whose forgiveness do I need to accept?

- What do I need to forgive myself for?

- How well do I live in grace?

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Genesis 50:15-18 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

15 When Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Perhaps now Joseph will hate us and will pay us back for all the evil we did to him.

16 And they sent a messenger to Joseph, saying, Your father commanded before he died, saying,

17 So shall you say to Joseph: Forgive (take up and away all resentment and all claim to requital concerning), I pray you now, the trespass of your brothers and their sin, for they did evil to you. Now, we pray you, forgive the trespass of the servants of your father’s God. And Joseph wept when they spoke thus to him.

18 Then his brothers went and fell down before him, saying, See, we are your servants (your slaves)!

 

Life of Joseph – Part 42 – Jacob’s Death and Burial June 24, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:17 am

At the end of his life, Jacob reminds his sons that he wants to be buried in Canaan–in the burial spot that Abraham bought for his family and his descendants. That’s where Abraham and Sarah were buried, and Isaac and Rebekah. And that’s where Jacob buried Leah.

A few things got my attention. I love the fact that Abraham called this a permanent burial place for his family. He was such a man of faith. He believed God’s promise that He was giving the land to Abraham and his descendants. And I believe Jacob is also showing his faith in that promise by wanting to be buried there.

I’m sure all of Jacob’s sons mourned his death, but Joseph’s mourning is talked about more than anyone else’s. I wonder if that’s because of all the years he was separated from his father.

I think it shows the Egyptians’ respect and appreciation for Joseph that they mourned his father as if he had been Egyptian royalty. That says a lot about how well Joseph took care of the people during a time of crisis. And even though at this point in time the famine has been over for several years, Joseph is still very well-respected and still has Pharaoh’s ear, because Pharaoh doesn’t hesitate to give Joseph whatever he needs in order to fulfill his father’s last wishes.

I also noticed that Joseph is still showing Pharaoh the respect he’s due. He doesn’t attempt to see Pharaoh since he’s in mourning clothes and he doesn’t presume anything–he asked for permission to go back to Canaan to bury his father.

I believe it is because of their respect for Joseph that so many Egyptians, including high-ranking officials, made the trip with Joseph and his family. And the mourning ceremony that took place for 7 days at Atad caused the local Canaanites to change the name of the place to a word that means “Mourning of Egypt.”

Then, after the burial, everybody went back to Egypt.

TRUTHS:

- Frequently people facing death share final wishes with their loved ones. A lot of times they ask to be buried with family that has already passed.

- Our faith, or lack of it, is typically evident in how we face death.

- Sometimes we’re not just mourning the death of a loved one, we’re also mourning opportunities that somehow we missed out on during their life.

- Some people who show up after a death are mourning the person who passed, while some are there to show their respect and support for a family member they’re close to.

- When someone saves your life, you don’t forget it. And you tend to always respect and admire them.

- Being hugely successful is not an excuse to become arrogant.

- Eventually after a loved one’s death you have to go back to normal life–although it will never be the same. Grief is a long process.

APPLICATION QUESTIONS:

- What are you burial wishes? Who have you shared them with?

- How will your faith be evident as you face death?

- When have you mourned not just someone’s death, but lost opportunities with them?

- When did you last mourn the death of someone you didn’t know because you were close to a family member?

- Who is a successful person that years ago made a huge difference in your life and that you still respect and admire? How does their attitude affect your respect of them?

- Who are you still grieving? How long has it been?

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Genesis 49:29 – 50:14 / Amplified Bible (AMP)

29 He charged them and said to them, I am to be gathered to my [departed] people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite,

30 In the cave in the field at Machpelah, east of Mamre in the land of Canaan, that Abraham bought, along with the field of Ephron the Hittite, to possess as a cemetery.

31 There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife, there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah.

32 The purchase of the field and the cave that is in it was from the sons of Heth.

33 When Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his [departed] people.

50 Then Joseph fell upon his father’s face and wept over him and kissed him.

And Joseph ordered his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel.

Then forty days were devoted [to this purpose] for him, for that is the customary number of days required for those who are embalmed. And the Egyptians wept and bemoaned him [as they would for royalty] for seventy days.

And when the days of his weeping and deep grief were past, Joseph said to [the nobles of] the house of Pharaoh, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, to Pharaoh [for Joseph was dressed in mourning and could not do so himself], saying,

My father made me swear, saying, I am about to die; in my tomb which I hewed out for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me. So now let me go up, I pray you, and bury my father, and I will come again.

And Pharaoh said, Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.

And Joseph went up [to Canaan] to bury his father; and with him went all the officials of Pharaoh—the nobles of his court, and the elders of his house and all the nobles and elders of the land of Egypt—

And all the household of Joseph and his brethren and his father’s household. Only their little ones and their flocks and herds they left in the land of Goshen.

And there went with [Joseph] both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company.

10 And they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond [west of] the Jordan, and there they mourned with a great lamentation and extreme demonstrations of sorrow [according to Egyptian custom]; and [Joseph] made a mourning for his father seven days.

11 When the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning for the Egyptians. Therefore the place was called Abel-mizraim [mourning of Egypt]; it is west of the Jordan.

12 Thus [Jacob’s] sons did for him as he had commanded them.

13 For his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, east of Mamre, which Abraham bought, along with the field, for a possession as a burying place from Ephron the Hittite.

14 After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brethren and all who had gone up with him.

 

Life of Joseph – Part 41 – Jacob’s Final Blessings June 17, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:04 am

Jacob knows his time on earth is near the end. So he calls for his sons to gather around his bed and he gives them his final ‘blessing’–which is really a prophecy of their future.

Jacob doesn’t pull any punches when he talks to them. He tells Reuben and a couple of others exactly why their futures don’t look as bright as those of the rest of their brothers.

All these ‘sons’ of Jacob are/will become the 12 tribes of Israel.

Then, even on his deathbed, Jacob still favors Joseph. He calls him “the prince among his brothers.” I have to say it is true. And thankfully, now that Joseph has matured, he knows better how to handle his father’s favoritism.

For some reason, I’m drawn to the fact that it says the sons were given the blessings appropriate to them. I don’t see this as saying Reuben was ‘made’ to do something bad enough to essentially lose his inheritance. And I don’t see it as saying Joseph could do no wrong.

The way I read it is that we are created for the time and place we live in. And our gifts and callings fit in with when and where we live. And we each have a purpose for our lives and God has equipped each of us so we can fulfill our purpose.

I think one of our main problems is that sometimes we can’t imagine God wanting to use us or having a purpose and plan for US — so we act in such a way that we forfeit that purpose and plan! Like Reuben, we live out what we believe about ourselves.

And the same thing happens when we DO believe God has a purpose and a plan for us and we want to fulfill it. We act like Joseph did. He believed God wanted to use him, so he wouldn’t do anything that might interfere with him living out the dreams for his life that God had given him.

I think if we REALLY BELIEVED a tiny fraction of the inklings of dreams and visions God has given us about how He wants to use us and what He wants us to accomplish, there would be no stopping us! But I think we focus on US too much and we compare US to what we believe our God assignment is–and we KNOW we can’t do it. Which is true!

I think what we need to do is accept our God assignments and believe that God doesn’t give us a task without equipping us for it. And then just start walking in the direction God is leading us. He will bring us anything or anybody we need and He will open any doors we need to walk through.

Just look at what Joseph was able to accomplish–in a foreign land–in a prison unjustly–as a slave, when he was born a favored son–in a culture he originally knew nothing about–with language and customs foreign to him. And he became second-in-command in the entire country!

What is God calling you to do? Whatever it is, He has equipped you and will open any doors you need to go through. I dare you to believe it and start walking it out!!

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Genesis 49:1-28 / New International Version (NIV)

Jacob Blesses His Sons

49 Then Jacob called for his sons and said: “Gather around so I can tell you what will happen to you in days to come.

“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
    listen to your father Israel.

“Reuben, you are my firstborn,
    my might, the first sign of my strength,
    excelling in honor, excelling in power.
Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
    for you went up onto your father’s bed,
    onto my couch and defiled it.

“Simeon and Levi are brothers—
    their swords are weapons of violence.
Let me not enter their council,
    let me not join their assembly,
for they have killed men in their anger
    and hamstrung oxen as they pleased.
Cursed be their anger, so fierce,
    and their fury, so cruel!
I will scatter them in Jacob
    and disperse them in Israel.

“Judah, your brothers will praise you;
    your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
    your father’s sons will bow down to you.
You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
    you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
    like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,
    his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
    his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
    his teeth whiter than milk.

13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore
    and become a haven for ships;
    his border will extend toward Sidon.

14 “Issachar is a rawboned donkey
    lying down among the sheep pens.
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
    and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
    and submit to forced labor.

16 “Dan will provide justice for his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
    a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
    so that its rider tumbles backward.

18 “I look for your deliverance, Lord.

19 “Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders,
    but he will attack them at their heels.

20 “Asher’s food will be rich;
    he will provide delicacies fit for a king.

21 “Naphtali is a doe set free
    that bears beautiful fawns.

22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
    they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
    his strong arms stayed 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, who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
    blessings of the deep springs below,
    blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
    than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
    than the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
    in the morning he devours the prey,
    in the evening he divides the plunder.”

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.

 

Life of Joseph – Part 40 – Joseph’s Sons June 10, 2014

Filed under: Bible Study,Devotional,The Life of Joseph — rjfleming @ 3:23 am

Jacob is nearing the end of his life, so Joseph brings his two sons to meet their grandfather and to receive his blessing.

I love the fact that even though Jacob is literally “on his death bed,” when he’s told that Joseph has come to visit him, he gathers all of his strength and sits up in bed.

Jacob uses this opportunity to remind Joseph of the promise God made to Jacob . . . that God was going to bless him and make him fruitful and that He was giving the land of Canaan to his family and his future descendants as an “everlasting possession.”

I know I’ve read and studied these verses before, but I didn’t remember that Jacob ‘adopted’ these two sons of Joseph and that two of the 12 tribes of Israel are the descendants of these two boys.

And speaking of these two boys, as Jacob is prophesying and blessing them, he crosses his hands–on purpose–and gives the greater blessing to the younger son. Joseph didn’t like that, but Jacob said that was way it was going to be. The younger son’s tribe would be more powerful than the older son’s tribe. And that’s the way it turned out many years later.

The sweetest part of this chapter for me is when Jacob tells Joseph that he never thought he’d see his face again–but that God allowed him to see not only him but his children as well. Right after Jacob said that, it says Joseph bowed down with his face to the ground. I think that was one of those “Oh, God!” moments. When all of a sudden you realize what a miracle your life is and what God has done to protect you and promote you and to bring you where you are! It’s kind of hard to stand up when you really think about who He is and who you are and how much He loves you!

TRUTHS:

- God’s promises are forever. And He has NEVER NOT kept a promise. (Sorry, grammar geeks.)

- The older generations need to remind the younger generations of the promises and faithfulness of God.

- The younger generations need to listen to and receive the blessings and prophecies the older generations want to share.

- A lot of times God promotes the unlikely candidate–the younger over the older, the weak over the strong.

- We need to NOT give up hope.

APPLICATION QUESTIONS:

- What promises am I still waiting on God to fulfill? When I talk about them, do I speak with faith or with fear?

- What opportunities do I have to remind younger generations of God’s faithfulness?

- Whose blessings and prophecies do I need to receive?

- When has God promoted me over someone seemingly more qualified? When has someone with fewer credentials been promoted over me?

- What situation is causing me to feel like giving up hope? What do I need to do about it?

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Genesis 48 / New International Version (NIV)

Manasseh and Ephraim

48 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

“Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”

“They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”

10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground. 13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him. 14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.

15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,

“May the God before whom my fathers
    Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God who has been my shepherd
    all my life to this day,
16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
    —may he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name
    and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,
and may they increase greatly
    on the earth.”

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.” 20 He blessed them that day and said,

“In your name will Israel pronounce this blessing:
    ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”

So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and take you back to the land of your fathers. 22 And to you I give one more ridge of land than to your brothers, the ridge I took from the Amorites with my sword and my bow.”

 

 
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