Sunday, October 30, 2011

Joseph Forgave His Brothers

When Joseph saw his brothers, he accused them of being spies.

"Oh, no sir," they said. "We are the sons of one man, Jacob."

"Is this all of you or are there more brothers?"

"We have a younger brother and another one died."

When Joseph accused them of being spies again, they said to each other, "It's because of what we did to Joseph." Imagine what Joseph thought when he overheard them. He gave them grain and put their money back into their pouches.

"You must bring your younger brother next time, or I'll not give you more grain," Joseph told them.

"We could not do that to our father," they said. But Joseph insisted and he kept Simeon in jail to be sure they would return. When they did, they brought Benjamin, their younger brother. It was hard for Joseph not to reveal to them who he was. His servants provided dinner for Joseph and his brothers Then they filled his brother's sacks with grain again and returned their money into their pouches. In Benjamin's sack Joseph put his own silver cup.

Joseph's servant caught up to his brothers after they traveled a day or so. "Why have you exchanged evil for good?" they asked.

"We have done no evil!" they exclaimed.

"The governor's silver cup is gone and you took it."

"Oh no! We would not do such a thing!" cried the brothers. "Look in all our bags. If you find it, the owner of the bag will be your servant."

The governor's servant looked until he found the cup in Benjamin's bag. The brothers couldn't believe their eyes.

"Take me instead," said Judah. "I'll serve the governor, but don't take Benjamin." All the brothers had to go back to Egypt and they all bowed down to Joseph, breaking his heart. He had to leave the room to cry by himself. "Prepare dinner for my guests," he told his servants. Then he returned to his brothers and confessed he was Joseph their brother whom they sold into slavery. Filled with fear, they were speechless until he wrapped his arms around each of them and kissed them.

"Don't be afraid," he said. "You meant to harm me but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many, as He is now doing." (Genesis 50:20).

Then Joseph ate with his brothers and caught up on old times. He told them to go home and bring his father and all his relatives, seventy-five in all, back to Egypt. And that reunion was sweeter than the first.

Joseph could have taken revenge on his brothers, but he forgave them. Many bad things happened to Joseph but God used them all to train him and make him wise for the position of Governor of Egypt.

Sometimes we may not understand why we have to experience tough times, but we can trust God as Joseph did, and choose to do what is right.

Joseph's brothers were afraid when he invited them to eat at his table. They were afraid when he barked at them for being spies. They were afraid when his cup was found in Benjamin's bag. Have you been afraid? Remember what Joseph said to his brothers. "Don't be afraid.You meant to harm me but God intended it for good, the saving of many as He is now doing." Remember that God loves you and He is always with you. Remember that "Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

Lord Jesus, we praise you for your faithfulness, even when we are not faithful. Thank you for your love and blessing on us. Help us to trust You and not be afraid. Amen.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Joseph's Coat of Many Colors

Jacob had twelve sons, but he loved Joseph the most and made a royal coat for him. He crafted strips of red and gold, blue and green, orange and brown into a beautiful robe with a golden sash. He decorated the front edges with rich embroidery. Joseph made his brothers jealous when he paraded in front of them wearing his coat of many colors. They wondered why Jacob didn't make coats for each of them.

As if that wasn't enough, Joseph had dreams--big dreams. He dreamed that someday his whole family would bow down to him. This made his brothers angry with him, so angry they wanted to kill him. Instead they threw him in a dried up old well.

"Get me out of here!" Joseph cried. So they pulled him out and sold him to some Egyptian slave traders. In Egypt Joseph worked hard for a man named Potifer. The man trusted him with his whole household.

Joseph was tall and handsome and caught the eye of Potifer's wife. She tried to seduce him but he ran away from her. She grabbed his robe, but he fled, leaving the robe behind. The evil woman used it in a lie to her husband against him. Poor Joseph ended up in jail because of things she said. While he was in jail he interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker. Three years later the Pharaoh had dreams that made him crazy. No one could interpret his dreams except for Joseph.

The Pharaoh's dreams foretold of a coming famine. He respected Joseph so much that he made him governor of Egypt. Joseph harvested and stored the food during the seven good years and managed the food during the seven years when the fields yielded no grain and the livestock died. People had to come from many surrounding towns to Egypt to get grain for food.

Guess who showed up in front of Joseph. Yep! His brothers. He recognized them but they didn't recognize him in his Egyptian clothes and headdress. Do you think Joseph forgave his brothers or took this opportunity to get revenge on them? Check back next week to find out.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Power of the Holy Spirit

When Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit, not only did He send them power to speak the Good News and start the early church--He gave each of them and each of us power to live holy lives. That means we will have comfort in suffering, counsel and wisdom to make tough decisions, and peace and joy in all things. Living by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will become more like Jesus. It's a little too amazing to comprehend, isn't it?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Birthday Church

The birth of the church is known as Pentecost. It happened 53 days after Jesus' crucifixion: After three days was the Resurrection. Then Jesus appeared to his disciples and at least 500 people for forty days after the resurrection. He told His followers to remain in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came on them with power. Ten days after He ascended into Heaven, the disciples gathered in an upper room. The Holy Spirit appeared as flames of fire over each of the apostles and enabled them to proclaim the gospel in the languages of all who were present.

"Aren't these men from Galilee?" asked one man. "How is it we understand them in our own language?"

"They have had too much wine," responded another.

Peter stood and said, "We are not drunk as you said. It is only nine o'clock in the morning. What you see is evidence of the Holy Spirit just as Jesus told us it would happen," and he convinced many of the good news. More than three thousand people repented of the way they lived that day and were baptized.

Because Peter and the apostles were faithful to preach the gospel, we know the truth today about God's  grace and a relationship with a living God who loves and cares about us.

Monday, October 3, 2011

No Idols

A few years ago I visited a friend whose best friend died. She gave me a tour of her house and finally her eyes landed on a beautiful Indian figurine. She said, "This is my Indian goddess, and I pray to her every day."

I couldn't imagine anyone praying to a wooden figurine. I said to my friend, "She's lovely, but she cannot see you with her eyes or hear your prayers with her ears. She cannot speak to you with her mouth and she has no power to help you."

"But I can see her and touch her. She's real to me," my friend said.

The second commandment says we are not to make or worship idols. Do you have a friend like mine who trusts in something other than the One True God? I tried to tell my friend there is more truth and reality in things we cannot see than in things we can see.  Sometimes our idols don't look like Indian figurines. They look like anything that comes between us and trusting God. All we can do for our friends is show them love and pray for them.
Lord Jesus, I pray for those who don't know you or trust you. Send them a word or someone to soften their hearts and show them their need for you in their lives. Amen.