Starving but Afraid to Return: Genesis Chapter 43

Photo by What What, Creative Commons

Read Genesis Chapter 43

To see the last post on Genesis click on: Everything is Against Me!

 

Genesis Chapter 43:

So time passes and the famine is still brutal in Canaan. All the grain they brought back from Egypt is gone. Jacob says to his sons, Go back and buy us some more food.

But Judah says, The man warned us, he said, You won’t see me again without your little brother. So if you’ll send Benjamin with us, we’ll go. But if you won’t, we can’t go, because the man in Egypt said, You won’t see me unless you bring your brother.

Israel asks, Why’d you bring this down on me, by telling the man you had a little brother?

They answered, He questioned us closely about us and our family. Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother? We just answered him. How could we know he’d say, Bring your brother down here?

Then Judah says to Israel his father, Send the boy with me and we’ll leave right away, so we and you and our kids can live and not die from the famine. I guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I don’t bring him back, I’ll bear the blame all my life. If we hadn’t waited, we could have been there and back twice by now.

Then their father Israel says, If this is how it has to be then do this: Pack up some of the best we have and take them to the man as a gift — some balm, and honey, and spices, and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. And take twice the amount of silver with you, because you have to return the silver that was put back into your sacks. Maybe it was a mistake. Take your brother too, and go back to the man at once. And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so he’ll allow your other brother and Benjamin to come back with you. As for me, if I’m bereaved, I’m bereaved.

So they gather up the gifts and double the amount of silver, and their brother Benjamin. They hurry to Egypt and present themselves to Joseph. When Joseph sees Benjamin with his brothers, he tells his steward, Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal for us; they’ll eat with me at noon.

The man does as Joseph tells him and takes them to Joseph’s house. Now his brothers were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought to themselves, We were taken here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to overpower us and take us as slaves and take our donkeys.

So they approach Joseph’s steward and speak with him at the entrance to the house. Excuse us lord, they say, when we came down here the first time to buy food, on our way home we stopped for the night, opened our sacks, and each of us found his silver — the precise amount — in the mouth of his sack. So we brought it back with us this time. We also brought additional silver to buy food. We don’t know who put the silver in our sacks.

It’s OK, the steward says. Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, gave you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver. Then he brought Simeon out to them.

The steward took them into Joseph’s house, he gave them water to wash their feet, and he provided food for their donkeys. The brothers prepared their gifts for when Joseph would arrive at noon, because they heard they would be eating there.

So Joseph comes out, they present their gifts to him, and they bow down to him to the ground. He asks them how they’re doing, and he asks, How’s your aged father you told me about? Is he still alive?

They answer, Yes, he’s alive and well. And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.

As Joseph looks around he see his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son. He asks, Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about? And he says, God be gracious to you, my son. Joseph is overcome with emotion at the sight of his brother so he hurries out and looks for a place to weep. He goes into his private room and he weeps there.

This is the first of two occasions when Joseph weeps over his brothers. Jesus also wept for the descendants of Joseph’s brothers, the Jews, on two occasions: once at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, and once over His people in the City of Jerusalem. (John 11:35, Luke 19:41)

After he collects himself, he washes his face and comes back out. Then he gives the order, Serve the food.

They serve him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians eating with them by themselves, because Egyptians couldn’t eat with Hebrews, it was detestable to them. The brothers are seated in order of their ages, from oldest to youngest, and they look at each other in amazement. The portions are dished out, and Benjamin’s is five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feast, and drink freely with Joseph.

 

Returning to Our Joseph:

So Jacob and his family are hanging around, subsisting on the food they had from their first trip. Of course the inevitable happens and they run out, but Jacob and his sons are afraid to go back to Joseph. Jacob thinks it’ll cost him something, something dear to him — Benjamin.

That’s how it is with many of you. You’ve been to your Joseph, who is Jesus. You’ve received from Him the bread of life and the way of salvation. And you’ve been hanging out all this time subsisting on what you received from Him previously. The only thing is, as it was with Jacob, what you received from before doesn’t last forever. Oh, your salvation does, of course. But you, and I, all of us, need to go to Jesus for nourishment, regularly. Not doing so is the same as if you stopped eating. You’ll become spiritually lean. You’ll lose strength — the strength of your relationship with Jesus will weaken. Your soul needs to receive from Jesus in His house, even as Joseph’s brothers received from Joseph in his house.

What’s striking is how we’re just like Jacob, we’re afraid of what it will cost. There’s those things you’re hanging onto that you think you’ll lose if you return to your Joseph, who is Jesus: sleep on Sunday morning, or time with friends, or ESPN time, or time on the internet, or time devoted to your thing. There’s those things I’m clinging to, that I think I’ll lose if I draw closer in my relationship with Jesus: success at work, or time to exercise, or time to recreate. The fear of losing Benjamin kept Jacob from moving in a direction toward Joseph. Your fear of losing your thing keeps you from moving in a direction closer to Jesus.

But in reality, the best thing possible for Jacob was for he and his family to return to Joseph. And the best thing possible for you and your family, and for me and mine is to return to Jesus. As it was with Jacob, what you’re afraid of losing is a false perception.

After Jacob returned to Joseph, imagine how badly he must have wished he had done so sooner. All those wasted years without his son Joseph, and without the provision and multiplied blessings that came when Jacob and his family came together with him in Egypt. Instead of losing another son, he gained back two. And he was blessed beyond anything that would have happened had he stayed away.

So return to Him.

You’re only losing if you stay away.

You’ll be gaining great blessings if you return.

After you come back, like Jacob, you’ll wish you had done so sooner.

Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Jesus Christ, John 6:27

References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Jon Courson

 

Five Ways To Be A Better Character In Your Story – Prodigal Magazine

Hi, I’m on vacation, hiking in North Cascades National Park with family. So you’ll see a few posts with links to people who write better than I do, until Saturday, July 28. I thoroughly enjoyed this one from Prodigal Magazine…

Outstanding article about how your life tells a story, and what you can do to tell the best story possible. This is an outstanding read:

Five Ways To Be A Better Character In Your Story – Prodigal Magazine.

Shocked by God — Seriously!

Photo by sea turtle, creative commons

Hi, I’m on vacation, hiking in the North Cascades National Park with family. So you’ll see a guest post today (with a short comment from me at the bottom) and a few posts with links to people who write better than I do, until Saturday, July 28. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

The following is a guest post by Kassidy Lane. Kassidy is the manager of Oregon Painting and Repair. He is a disciplined follower of the paleo diet and I’m pretty sure his body fat content is less than what you find in a carton of 1% milk. He lives in Springfield, Oregon with his wife, two kids, two dogs, and an undisclosed number of chickens. He is my favorite nephew (in a tie with all my other nephews, but don’t tell him that). Most importantly, he is a lover of Jesus Christ.

So I was in church last Sunday and I’m not proud to say that It was one of those services where I could not wait for it to be over so I could get on with my day. I had a long list of things I planned on doing and felt I did not have enough time for it all.  My pastor said something to the effect of how some people think they don’t need God, how they have it all figured out, and how those people need to be shocked and completely surprised by God to see and feel his awesome power. One thing I know for sure and I’ll never forget, he used the word “shocked” when he shared this with us.

As the service ended I rushed out without talking to anyone so as to have more time to get my many tasks done.

Later that day I was up on a ladder, painting my neighbors house, and was electrocuted by around 220 volts/amps (don’t really know which), when my arm came in contact with a power line. I was lit up for about two seconds, then I fell 12 feet to the ground. It was by far the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. The electricity went in my right wrist and out my left wrist leaving a burn about the size of a quarter. The 220 volts passed directly through my heart and, from what I have read, could have killed me.

I just hugged my family and I cried like I have not cried in years!

God really got my attention and I hope to remember Him and His awesome power and His Grace in my future days!

-Kas

Kas’s story is so timely. As I’m posting this for Kas, I’m trying to find my Kindle. I’ve been trying to find it all day and it’s really bothering me. At the same time the wounding of the 59 and the killing of the 12 by the gunman at Dark Night Rises in Aurora, Colorado is all over the news, which really puts things in perspective. What’s a lost Kindle compared to losing a loved one? I’m betting there were more than a few families and friends of those who suffered, who let the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word — before the shooting. (Matthew 13:22) After the shooting, I’m betting most of these people have turned their hearts toward God. I’m betting the little worries of this life, and the pursuit of wealth don’t seem very important right now.

Turn your heart toward God. Don’t wait for the shock to come, or the tragedy.

You’ll be glad you did.

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

-Jesus Christ, Matthew 13:22-23

The Holy Spirit and Warfare

Angel and Demon by Lawrence OP, Creative Commons

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

(Acts 2:13 — see Acts Chapter 2)

Let me begin by first saying, no one needs to hear this more than I do. After the last post on the Holy Spirit and how to know if you have him or not, I’ve had this one thing nagging at the back of my mind. There’s one other indicator to tell us when we’ve received the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Opposition.

 

What the Opposition Looked Like for the Disciples in Acts:

Invariably, when you, or I, or anybody receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we’ll encounter spiritual warfare. For the disciples in Acts on the day of Pentacost, when they were speaking in foreign languages under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, some made fun of them and accused them of being drunk.

 

What the Opposition Looks Like for You and for Me (Often Times):

You’re at your keyboard and you’re on a roll. This is going to be an epic blog post. Suddenly the phone rings, it’s a family member you’ve been meaning to get a hold of for some time now. So you pick up and they have a lot to share.

After five minutes you look at the clock and think to yourself, “Did I spell Philippians right? Is it two Ls and one P, or the other way around?”

After 15 minutes you start to pace. You think to yourself, “I think I’m going to move the last paragraph up to the beginning of the first subheading. That is, if I can ever get off the phone with this person.”

By the 30 minute mark you’re ready to come out of your skin! “Doesn’t this person on the other end of the line realize I’m working on something that could save the world?”

Finally, after an hour or so your family member tells you they have to “let you go, because they have something to do.”

By the time you hang up, you’re frustrated. The roll you were on has slowed to a crawl. Your conversation with your family member wasn’t a very good representation of Christ’s love. You go back to your keyboard and continue to write your post about the fruits of the Spirit.

“Now where was I?” You think to yourself. “Oh yea, …love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness…”

Hah! The irony! How often do you find it to be so much easier to write about how to love people than it is to actually love people?

And that’s just one obstacle the enemy uses to frustrate your efforts to labor under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. There’s also the neighbor’s leaf blower, work responsibilities, your brother-in-law who needs a hand moving, ESPN, the family member who doesn’t value what you do or recognize the time and effort it requires, etc., etc.

And then there’s the more serious tactics of the enemy.  Family members are taken ill, you’re taken ill, a loved one dies.

And then there’s that voice. That little voice in your head that says, “You’re not worthy. You’re not a writer. You’re an imposter.”

 

Take Heart:

Listen, I want you to take heart. In fact I want you to start rejoicing over these obstacles. Because facing opposition from the enemy puts you in the same camp as the disciples in Acts! After the Holy Spirit came to them the disciples faced all kinds of opposition. They not only were mocked and accused of being drunk, they were hunted, they were incarcerated, they were tortured, they were executed. Most of you reading this blog haven’t experienced anything like what they went through.

But still, you face opposition and that’s good.

It could mean you’re on to something. It could mean the enemy is alarmed, and has taken notice, and doesn’t like what he sees, and wants to stop you, or at least slow you down.

 

Your Primary Tactic for Defense:

The enemy’s primary weapons are always the same, lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and pride of life. He might want to distract you through your eyes with ESPN. Or he might want to entice my flesh with burgers from McDonalds, or he might want to tap into your pride by fostering an unhealthy desire for recognition.

The best tactic for you is to submit yourself, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7 — see James Chapter 4)

 

Your Primary Weapon:

If your primary tactic is to submit yourself to God, and to resist the devil, your primary weapon is love.

When you’re interrupted, fire up a prayer and find a way, dig deep, and disengage from writing about God, and love whoever interrupted you. Jesus didn’t say to love your neighbor, or your brother, or your sister, unless you’re working on something for Me that’s really important. He just said love one another. It’s not an option. It’s a command!

So do it.

When you’re on a roll it’s hard, I know, but do it.

The deeper you go when you write, the greater the fruit, I know, but do it anyway!

Jesus commanded it.

So no matter what,

Love people.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

-Jesus Christ, John 13:34

The Holy Spirit: How to Know if You Have Him

Pentacost by Jean II Restout (Photo Credit Wikipedia)

The Holy Spirit Better Than a Burger?

At church the other night our pastor directed anyone interested in receiving prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to go to the prayer room after the service.

I was amazed.

Only a half dozen or so showed up. On a normal summer Sunday, our church offers free burgers and the line is a mile long. How much better is God’s Holy Spirit than a burger? (I was also amazed at a very different response just five months later. If you’re interested, you can read about it at “here’s the part where I eat crow.“)

I recently wrote a guest post about the importance of the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit for Not Ashamed of the Gospel and this prompted someone to ask, How do I know if I have His Holy Spirit?

The person asking the question is referring to God’s Holy Spirit being poured out upon someone in such a way as to provide supernatural inspiration. As distinguished from having the Holy Spirit inside you. Every believer, every person who’s received Christ, every Christian has God’s Holy Spirit dwelling inside them. But not every Christian has received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them. (see 1 Corinthians 6:19 and Acts Chapter 2)

What It Looked Like When Jesus’ Disciples Received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit:

John the Baptist referred to this phenomena of outpouring as the baptism with fire. (Matthew 3:11) And the classic example of believers receiving God’s Spirit in this way occurs in the book of Acts. In Acts chapter 1 Jesus tells His disciples, “…wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5)

So in obedience to Christ, they stayed in Jerusalem where they all joined together constantly in prayer. (Acts 1:14) A while later, at a time when many Jews were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Weeks, 120 disciples who were gathered together in one place experienced this outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit. They saw fire that came to rest on each one of them.

Tremendous fruit was born that day, as 3,000 of the Jews gathered there were saved.

But some mocked the disciples and said they were drunk. (see Acts Chapter 2)

What It Looks Like When You or I Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit:

So here’s the thing about the baptism with the Holy Spirit. In Acts, each disciple has this fire resting on top of them, so each one sees the fire on his fellow disciples, but can’t see his or her own! (If you look closely, you’ll see this depicted in Restout’s Pentacost painting shown at the top of this post) It’s similar to when Samson’s hair was finally cut, and the Philistines attacked him. Judges 16:20 says he did not know that the Lord had left him. (Judges 16:20) Samson couldn’t distinguish between when God’s Spirit inspired strength was with him, and when it wasn’t. It’s similar to when Moses came down from spending 40 days with God and his face was glowing: Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone. (Exodus 34:29-35 KJV) Moses had the residual effects of spending time in God’s presence manifested by a glowing face, but he didn’t even realize it.

That’s how it is with the Holy Spirit. On rare occasions people experience a sign from heaven, or the blowing of a wind, or a burning sensation as from fire, or waves of liquid love. But more often than not, you can’t tell if you have inspiration from God’s Holy Spirit. The only consistent indicator is the bearing of fruit for God’s kingdom, like the 3,000 saved in Jerusalem. The only problem with that is you may plant seed under the inspiration of God’s Spirit, but you may or may not be around when the season of fruit bearing arrives.

But take heart, there’s a solution.

You Can Know:

Did you notice the disciples received God’s Holy Spirit after praying constantly? (Acts 1:14) And also notice they received the Holy Spirit after spending three years with Jesus, three years living with Him, day in and day out, three years of intimacy with Him.

So, even though we usually can’t feel the inspiration and outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, we can be sure we have His Holy Spirit by committing to two simple actions:

1) Like the disciples, we have to spend time with Jesus to ensure we’ll receive God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus says, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (see John Chapter 15) Apart from Jesus we can do nothing, and that includes receiving the Holy Spirit! Like the disciples in Acts, We have to spend time with Him, we have to live our lives with Him, day in and day out, we have to become intimate with Him, before we’ll receive His Holy Spirit. “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine,” Jesus said. (John 15:4)

2) Like the disciples, we have to pray constantly. (Acts 1:14) Jesus says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13) So, we have to ask. And the way to ask is the way the disciples in Acts asked, we have to pray constantly. Jesus says, if we pray like the woman who persistently pestered the unrighteous judge, God will not put us off, but He’ll answer our prayer. (see Luke 18:1-8)

So there’s the answer. There’s no immediate consistent indicator to let you know God has poured out His Holy Spirit upon you. We usually can’t see any readily discernible manifestation of His Holy Spirit when He’s upon us. But we can know, for sure, we have Him, or will have Him, because Jesus said it, that we can receive God’s Holy Spirit as long as we abide in Jesus, and, as long as we pray constantly, persistently, continually, incessantly for God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon us.

There’ll be no bold font letters spelling “God” in the from field in your email box, with the words, “Holy Spirit Poured Out Upon You” in the subject line. But because Jesus says your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! If you ask as the disciples asked, and if you spend time with Christ as the disciples did, you can know, you’ll receive God’s Holy Spirit.

References:

Dennis J. Bennett, Nine O’Clock in the Morning, Read How You Want, 2011

Chuck Smith, Living Water, The Word For Today, 1996

Leona Frances Choy, Powerlines, Christian Publications, 1990

 

Everything is against me! Genesis 42:35-36

Photo credit: Cheo70, Creative Commons

Read Genesis 42:35-36


Genesis 42:35-36

So the brothers are unpacking, and there, in each one of their sacks, is their silver! When their father Jacob sees their money pouches, they all freak. Jacob says to them, You deprive me of my sons. Joseph is gone, and Simeon is gone, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!


Everything is Against Me:

I’ve never done this before, but, I have a few things I’d like you to pray about if that’s OK with you. My family has had an interesting three months. In chronological order, here’s what’s been happening (I’ve listed these in such a way as to protect the privacy of each person):

An older close family member is diagnosed with cancer, she has only months, or even weeks left (I thank God this person’s a believer): 3 months ago.

Another close family member is experiencing serious health problems — we’re still looking for answers: Also 3 months ago.

Another close family member is diagnosed with a serious health issue and undergoes major surgery, she’s still recovering: 2 months ago.

Another close family member, suffers an injury and requires help every few days: 1 month ago.

Another close family member is diagnosed with a serious health problem: Also 1 week ago.

Another close family member is admitted into ICU: Found out last night.

(I just realized, I need to set up a macro to type, “Another close family member”)

You might think this sounds kind of like a country western song. And similar to Jacob, I might be tempted to think, “Everything is against us.” But wait, thinking back, what have I been praying for over the last four or so months? As I ponder that question, I realize I’ve been praying to God: “turn our hearts toward You,” and “fill us with love for You, with all our hearts, and all our souls, and all our minds.”

When Jacob sees the silver in with the sacks of grain, he thinks back to what he thinks he’s lost. Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin!

Everything is against me!

But Jacob can’t see what our Lord sees. God sees what’s in store for Jacob. He knows the ultimate result of what’s happened will be good.

We’ll see in the following chapters, when Jacob travels to Egypt, he’ll be reunited with his son Joseph, who is now rich and powerful, and a hero to the nation of Egypt. Jacob will be received with honor. He and his family will be given the best land to settle in. God has in mind an extreme makeover of his entire family’s socioeconomic status. God has something spectacular in mind for Jacob, and his family. It turns out, by God’s grace, everything is not against Jacob. In fact, everything is working toward Jacob’s good, and toward a good way beyond Jacob.

That’s how it is for my family. And no matter what you’re going through, that’s how it is for you and yours. God used Joseph’s brother’s cruelty. God used Potiphar’s wife’s false accusations. God used Joseph’s time in the dungeon. God used the imprisonment of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. God used all these for good.

God can use all these illnesses, injuries, and problems in my family. God can use what seems to be bad, from our human perspective, in your life too. The point is…

God uses everything!

When I realize this, I recognize, I can’t see what He sees.

When I get this, I begin to have faith He’ll use the problems I listed for His glory, and to draw people to Him.

When I understand this, I recognize, I may not even learn what good has come from these problems while I’m still this side of heaven.

But God knows.

I know my family doesn’t have it nearly as bad as some of you reading this blog. And I know we’re blessed, way beyond what we deserve. Believe me, I know.

Even so, we’re taking some pretty good hits.

We need your prayers.

I appreciate anything you offer up to the Lord on their behalf.

I thank you in Jesus’ name.

And concerning whatever difficulty you or your family might be going through, have faith, because…

God uses everything.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Love Like Jesus — Ask for Help: John 4:2

Love Like Jesus Ask for Help

Photo Credit: Egan Snow, Creative Commons

…in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.

John 4:2


How Jesus Loved People:

Here we see, Jesus didn’t baptize people, He had His disciples do it. And in verse 7, of this same chapter, Jesus asks the Samaritan woman to give Him a drink. Then in verse 8 we see, Jesus sent His disciples to buy food. (John 4:1-8)

Jesus gave (and continues to give) people the opportunity to participate in what He’s doing.


How to love like Jesus:

I don’t know about you but I’m a perfectionist personality. One of the most counterintuitive things, for me, I’ve ever had to learn is to ask for help. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1) “If I’m to love others as myself,” I think, “if the roles were reversed, wouldn’t I want things to be done for me?”

The answer to this question is a definite, “sometimes.” The problem with always doing things myself is, I deny people the opportunity to grow. Jesus not only loved his disciples by sharing great truths with them, and by setting a perfect example, He also loved them by giving them opportunity to learn by doing. He gave them responsibility. He gave them opportunity to love people by doing for them. In my experience, the greatest growth I’ve seen in people occurs when they’re given responsibility, sometimes even a little before they’re ready for it. Most of the most fruitful people I know, can point back to a time when they felt like they were in over their heads.

2) I often believe I can do it better myself, so I do.

Kathy and I built a house once (and I hope to never have to do it again). In the beginning I thought I’d contribute in all kinds of ways. I thought I’d paint, hang insulation, pull electrical wires, do the finish work, clean-up, build the deck, do the landscaping, the list went on and on. It didn’t take long before I figured out, if I were to do all these things, the house would be finished around the same time the Cubs win the World Series (I’m a Cubs fan — yea, I know, I’m a glutton for disappointment). So I had to take a big swallow and ask for help. I asked for help from family, from friends, and of course much of the help came from subcontractors.

Building a house, among other experiences, taught me to keep in mind five of the most important words ever spoken by John the Baptist: “I am not the Christ.” (John 1:19-20) Because I’m not the Christ, because you’re not the Christ, we can’t do it all! Even though it’s possible we might do a better job than most people around us in the short term, in the long term, we can accomplish more when we engage the participation of others.

Now obviously there’s a danger here. If we ask for help from others with a selfish motivation, we’re asking amiss. But, if our heart is truly to love people, by giving them opportunity to grow by doing, then we’re loving like Jesus. We’re providing people with a chance to grow and more fruit will come to bear as well.

The motivation for it is a fine line I know, but asking people for help, with the right heart, is one of the most loving things we can do.

Jesus did it.

You can too.

Photoshopping Fetus?

21-week-old unborn baby named Samuel Alexander Armas, who is being operated on by a surgeon named Joseph Bruner. Dr. Bruner was reported as saying that when his finger was grasped, it was the most emotional moment of his life. Samuel was born in perfect health, the operation 100 percent successful. This photo is Creative Commons-licensed — feel free to pass it on. (Photo Credit: F.C. Photography, Creative Commons)

Women are starting to photoshop a picture of their unborn baby onto their tummy, when they do one of those pregnant tummy glamour shots. Referring to this new trend, Allison Benedikt writes:

“…it got us thinking about how the more we treat fetuses like people—including them in our family photo shoots, tagging them on our Facebook walls, giving them their own Twitter accounts—the harder it will be to deny that they are people when the next, say, personhood amendment comes up, with legislators and activists arguing that “the unborn child” inside a pregnant woman’s womb should have the same rights as the living among us.” (Slate Magazine: Photoshopping a Fetus Onto Your Pregnant Stomach)

Make no mistake, Benedikt maintains a gung-ho pro-choice political position. In her article she’s trying to discourage women from doing things that bring an unborn baby’s humanity to light. But pause a second and think with me about what she’s really saying here. Deep down, people realize killing an unborn baby is wrong. The key to living with your conscience when you’re pro-choice is to keep the baby out of sight, and out of mind. Including a picture of your unborn baby destroys the perception of the unborn child as less than human.

I’ve never been a fan of pregnant tummy glamour shots, and I’m not even sure after hearing what Benedikt had to say, I’ve changed my mind. But if you’re going to have it done anyway, why not include an ultrasound image of your baby?

In fact, let me encourage you to do everything you can to emphasize the humanity of your unborn child.

Talk about the personality of your baby, as you experience his or her kicks, and excited times, and quiet times. Post it on Facebook.

Include his or her picture in family photo shoots.

Tag them on your Facebook wall.

Start a Facebook account for your unborn baby.

Start a Twitter account for your unborn baby.

Share ultrasound images on Facebook and Twitter.

When people see the reality of the humanity of an unborn baby, it could make a difference.

It could be just the revelation needed for people’s consciences to kick in.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

Proverbs 31:8

See previous post: Baby Survives Abortion

Fear from Sin vs. Fear of God: Genesis 42:3-38

Fear from Sin vs. Fear of God (Photo credit: Bjorn Giesenbauer, Creative Commons)

Read Genesis 42:3-38

In our last post on Genesis, we saw how Jacob encouraged his sons to go to Joseph for help from the famine, and where you and I can go to receive help when we experience famine, be it financial, physical, or emotional famine. (see previous post: Help in Times of Famine)

In today’s post we’ll see what happens to Joseph’s brothers when they meet with Joseph, for the first time in years, to buy grain. Then we’ll look at the secret to eliminating fear from your life.

Genesis 42:3-38

After Jacob tells his sons to stop looking at each other for answers, and to go to Egypt for grain, ten of Joseph’s brothers head for Egypt. But Jacob keeps Benjamin with him, because he’s afraid something bad might happen to him. So Israel’s (Jacob’s) sons go to buy grain, because their area, Canaan, is one of the many areas devastated by the famine.

Joseph’s brothers will try to buy their grain, which will be their salvation, but they won’t be able to purchase it, because Joseph will give it to them for free. Our Joseph, Jesus, is the same. Our salvation can’t be bought, but we receive it freely, from the One who already paid the price, on the cross. (Isaiah 55:1)

So Joseph is the governor, and as the governor, it’s his responsibility to sell grain. So when Joseph’s ten brothers arrive, they bow down to him, all the way to the ground. Joseph recognizes his brothers immediately, but he pretends he doesn’t, and he speaks harshly with them.

Where are you from? He asks.

From Canaan, they reply. We came to buy food.

Joseph realizes, even though he recognizes his brothers, they don’t recognize him. It’s at this moment he remembers his dreams about them bowing down to him.

You’re spies! You come to scout our land to find where our defenses are weak. Joseph says.

Not so, my lord, the brothers answer. Your servants have come to buy food. We’re all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest. We’re not spies.

We’re honest, they say? Honestly, how can they claim such a thing. They sold their own brother into slavery, then lied to their own father about it. They told him Joseph was dead. Joseph had to test them, to reveal to them what was really in their hearts.

No way! Joseph says. You’ve come to see where our land is unprotected.

But they reply, Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man. We’re all from the land of Canaan. The youngest of us is still with our father. One of our number is no more.

Joseph says to them, It’s just like I said, you’re spies! And here’s how you’ll be proven to be so: On Pharaoh’s grave, you won’t leave unless your youngest brother comes here. Send one of you to get him, the rest I’ll keep in prison, so your words can be tested to see if you’re being straight with me. If you’re not, then as sure as Pharaoh lives, you’re spies!

Then he puts them in prison for three days.

On the third day, Joseph says to them, Do what I say and you’ll live, because I’m a man who fears God: If you’re honest, let one of your brothers stay here, in prison, while everybody else goes back with grain for your starving families. But, you have to bring your youngest brother to me, so I can verify your words, and so you may not die.

So they say to one another, We see what’s happening here. We’re being punished because of what we did to Joseph. We saw how upset he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we wouldn’t listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us.

Reuben says, I told you! I told you not to sin against the boy. But you guys wouldn’t listen! Now we’re paying the price for his blood.

In Matthew 27:25 the descendants of these very brothers said of Jesus, “His blood is on us and on our children!” (see Matthew 27)

They don’t realize Joseph can understand every word they’re saying, (let alone he’s the very one they’re speaking of) because Joseph is using an interpreter.

Joseph turns away from them and begins to weep,

Jesus wept over his brothers in Luke 19:41.

…but then he comes back and gives instructions for Simeon to be taken from them and bound, right in front of them.

This is very interesting because Simeon’s name means hearing or hearkening. So the brothers leave Joshua without hearkening, even as the Jews left Jesus for crucifixion without hearkening. (Isaiah 6:9-10)

He gives orders to fill their bags with grain, and, to put the silver he received from them, back in their sacks with the grain. He also gave them provisions for their trip home. After all this is completed, they load the grain on their donkeys and head for Canaan.

On their way home, when they stop for the night, one of them opens his sack to get some grain for his donkey, and he finds his silver in with the grain.

My silver’s been returned, he says to his brothers. It’s right here in my sack with the grain.

Ohhhhhh man, their stomachs do flips, and they turn to each other trembling with fear and say, What has God done to us?

When they arrive home, they tell their father Jacob everything that happened. They say, The man who’s lord over all the land spoke harshly with us and treated us like spies. But we told him, We’re not spies, honest! We’re twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is gone, and the youngest is with our dad in Canaan.

Then the man who’s lord over all the land said, This is how I’ll know you’re telling the truth: Leave one of your brothers here and take your food home to your starving households. But bring your youngest brother back to me, so I know you’re not spies and are honest. Then I’ll give your brother back, and you can do business here in the land.

As they’re unpacking, when they empty their sacks, each one of them finds his silver in his pouch with the grain! When Jacob and his sons see the money, their frightened. Their father says, You’ve deprived me of my sons. Joseph is gone, Simeon’s gone, and now you want Benjamin. Everything’s against me!

Then Reuben says to his father, You can put both my sons to death if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. Entrust him into my care, and I’ll bring him back.

But Jacob says, My son won’t go down there with you; his brother’s dead and he’s the only one I have left. If anything bad were to happen to him on your journey, you would cause me to die from sorrow.

Fear from Sin:

All else being equal, the peace and absence of fear you experience is in direct proportion to how holy you live. Joseph’s brothers rightly determined their problems with the Egyptian governor were a result of their sinful behavior toward their little brother Joseph. As this dawned on them, their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling… (42:28)

Those who strive to live as close as they can to the words of Christ and the scriptures have less to fear. Think about it. Are you a heavy drinker? If you are, you fear getting nailed for a DUI — your heart sinks when you see the police officer’s light bar in your rear view mirror. Are you promiscuous? If you are, you fear catching an STD, or you fear pregnancy — you tremble when you see the pregnancy test strip turn pink. Are you someone who steals from work? If you are, you fear getting fired — your heart sinks when your boss calls you into his office. Do you like to look at porn? If you do, you fear getting caught — you tremble when your wife, or father, or mother walks in on you.

Fear is one of the inevitable byproducts of sin.

I’ll never forget the time a grade school age relative came to spend a few nights at a log cabin, owned by a friend of mine. This log cabin is deep in the mountains of Oregon, where cougars, coyotes, bobcats, and bears are found. This young boy was used to having his way with his parents and with his mother in particular. He was spoiled and not accustomed to living with limits and boundaries. When his mother dropped him off, she shared that she often had trouble getting him to go to sleep at night. At my friend’s cabin, when it came time for bed, this little boy put up quite a fuss. “I can’t go to bed because I’m afraid,” he said.

My friend didn’t wait for the boy’s excuses to escalate. Instead he bent down to his level, looked him in the eye, and said very deliberately, “Listen, I’ll protect you from everything. So when you’re with me, you don’t have to be afraid of anything — except for one thing — me. Do you understand?”

The little boy nodded, and within a few minutes he fell asleep. And he went to bed just fine every night, for the rest of his stay. In fact, when it was time to go back to his mother, he cried, because he wanted to stay with my friend at his cabin.

Fear of God:

That’s how it is with God. He wants you to know you don’t have to be afraid. He wants you to know He’ll protect you from everything. He wants you to know, when you’re with Him, you don’t have to be afraid of anything — except for one thing — Him. There’s a peace that comes with that. Fear of God results in obedience to Him. It results in a holier lifestyle. And a holier lifestyle results in less fear from sin.

God wants you to know fear of Him, so, like Joseph, you won’t have to live in fear of anything or anyone else.

In verse 18 Joseph told his brothers, “…I fear God.” (Genesis 42:18) Joseph’s life is a great example of someone who lived with a fear of God. He’s one of only a few people in the Bible of whom there’s no mention of sin. Joseph lived in fear of God, so he didn’t have to live in fear from sin.

Over the years I’ve noticed something. The closer I am to God, the more I fear Him. And the more I fear Him, the less I fear everything and everyone else.

Draw close to Him, and learn to fear Him.

And He’ll deliver you from every other fear.

“But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

-Jesus Christ, Luke 12:5

References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Jon Courson

J.B. Jackson, A Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names (Bible Students Press 1908)

God vs. Basketball

God vs. Basketball

So I spoke with a 20 something who wrote a blog post about basketball yesterday. His post received a lot of attention and reaction which prompted me to say,

“Wow, your basketball post got a lot more reaction than most of my blog posts.”

“Yea,” he said, “but I’m posting about basketball, you’re just posting about God…”

Hmmmmmm.

What’s ultimate in your life? Basketball? Football? Video games? Work? Or, dare I say it, shopping? It should be noted, the 20 something who made this comment, did so sarcastically. He knows Who is most important. But it’s a great reminder, to recommit yourself to…

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”

-Jesus Christ, Matthew 22:37

Make Him your ultimate.

Put Him, before everything else.