Prepare Yourself for What’s Ahead: Genesis 47:14-27

To see the previous post on Genesis go to Financial Feast and Famine.

Read Genesis 47:14-27.


Joseph’s Choices and Consequences

So here we see Joseph, after his preparation for these years of famine that have come upon Egypt and Canaan. And now he’s experiencing the consequences of that preparation. You know, God gives us the freedom to make choices, but He doesn’t give us the freedom to choose the consequences of our choices. That’s just the way His universe works. If you jump off a 100 story building, that’s your choice, but you don’t get to choose whether or not you’ll experience the consequence of gravity. That’s how it is with everything. A whole lot of pain can be avoided if you can just understand that one principle.

Because Joseph chose to prepare for the famine, the consequences of his choice put him in a position to receive tremendous blessings:

He collects money from those in Egypt and Canaan, in payment for the grain they were buying.

When the money ran out, he gathered up livestock as payment.

When the livestock ran out, he exchanged land for payment.

Ultimately he received 20% of their crop production every year.

Everything listed above was on behalf of Pharaoh. But he also found himself, personally, in a position to establish his family, the Israelites, in the land of Goshen, where they acquired property, and became fruitful, and grew in number.


Individual Choices and Consequences

Often times, wisdom is simply doing now, what you will be glad you did, one, or seven, or ten, or thirty years from now. Joseph was able to receive all these blessings, and enjoy all these benefits, as a result of his preparation according to the leading of God’s Spirit, beginning seven years before.

Any individual living in Egypt or Canaan could have done the same, on a smaller scale. They could have recognized the time of plenty, and they could have anticipated a time of economic correction. They could have saved their grain. They could have put themselves in a position to receive great blessing during the time of famine.

But they chose not to. And they had to live with the consequences.


Your Choices and Consequences

Preparing for hard economic times is important. But infinitely more important is preparing for eternity. Every single one of us will die. And we know this time on earth is the briefest of time compared to our eternal life on the other side of the door of death. David asked God, “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days…” And the answer came, …the span of David’s years was as nothing before God. “Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure,” David said. (Psalm 39:4-5)

As important as it was to prepare for the seven years of famine, it was only seven years. When it comes to preparing yourself for death we’re talking about eternity. There is no more important preparation to be made. Not for school, or for marriage, or for work, or for retirement. Nothing compares in importance to your preparation for eternity.

Nothing.

So prepare for it. Right now. Recognize you’re a sinner. You’ve made wrong choices in your life. Those wrong choices alienate you from God. There’s no way to save yourself. But God provided a way. He sent His Son to die on your behalf, to pay for your wrong choices. He says, yes, if you insist, you can spend eternity in hell, but it will have to be over my Son’s dead body!

God doesn’t want that!

He wants to spend eternity with you. He wants that so bad He sacrificed His Son to provide you a way, a path, to get you there, to get you to heaven, to spend eternity with Him.

So do it. Ask Him. Ask God to forgive you for your wrong choices. Tell God you know you’re a sinner. Tell Him you know you need a savior. Tell Him you accept the sacrifice His Son Jesus made on your behalf. Tell Him you’re opening your heart up to receive His Son into your life. Tell Him you’re giving your life over to Him.

Surrender yourself to God.

And live…

…for eternity…

…with Him…

…in heaven.

Do it now.

He’s waiting.

Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.

Matthew 14:30-31

 

 

Financial Feast and Famine: Genesis 47:12-13

To read the previous post on Genesis go to Becoming a Great Man or Woman of God.


Read Genesis 47:12-13

There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. –Genesis 47:13



Years of Plenty

Kathy and I were so excited. Mortgage interest rates were all the way down to the 6% range, and, if you were willing to accept an adjustable rate, you could get down into the 4s.

I remember saying the words to Kathy, “Money is on sale, we should borrow as much as we can.”

So we did.

We borrowed, and then we borrowed some more. I could hardly believe what our banker was telling us — he almost never said no. We bought real estate, then we bought some more real estate. And our properties appreciated, at a record setting pace.

We were experiencing the years of plenty.


Years of Famine

You might be surprised to learn, if I had a time machine and could go back to do it over again, I’d borrow as little as possible. Why? Because that was the world’s way, and not God’s way.

The world says, “Buy it! Buy it now and pay later! You want this. You need that. Just borrow and get it now.”

“You deserve it!” The world says.

Why does the world relentlessly hammer away with these messages, day after day after day? They do it because it makes them money! They do it because you believe their message, and act on it. They do it because the system is set up for the world to win, and for you to lose. The companies attempting to convince you to borrow want to make money — at your expense.

God, on the other hand, doesn’t need your money. All of your money is His money to begin with anyway. And while the scriptures don’t prohibit borrowing, God does portray it in a negative light. “…the borrower is slave to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7 tells us. Borrow and you’re a slave to the bank. Borrow and you’re a slave to the credit card company when they raise your interest rate. Borrow and your spirit is a slave to the weight of debt hanging over your head.

Your financial well being doesn’t come from your income, your net worth, or your financial portfolio anyway. Research shows, whatever your range of income, financial well being comes with consistent saving and an avoidance of borrowing and high risk investing. Many financial advisers tell their clients not to pay off their homes, even when they’re able to, so they can write off the interest. But people living with a great sense of financial well being tend to ignore this advice. It turns out (not surprisingly) managing your finances God’s way brings peace. (see Well Being by Rath and Harter)

In our text, in Egypt and Canaan, there was no food. The seven years of plenty are over and now Egypt and Canaan are experiencing the seven years of famine.

You know what? That’s how it always is. Always. No economy moves in a straight line. Every economy has its years of plenty and its years of famine. Any casual student of history knows that. And God’s word tells us how to manage our finances in a way that accounts for these economic ups and downs.

Joseph saved during the seven years of plenty. The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down, Proverbs 21:20 tells us. Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer, we’re told in Proverbs 30:25.

So any time you have the opportunity to save, jump on it!

You can always anticipate a time of famine ahead.

Joseph provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children. (Genesis 47:12)

Manage your financial blessings according to God’s word — and you will too.

 

Notes:

Harvard researchers have determined credit cards provide a psychological uncoupling from the money we spend with them, which of course creates a tendency toward the accumulation of debt. But the current financial system also provides opportunity for saving. Automatic payroll deduction into a savings account also uncouples us psychologically. A short time after it’s in place, auto-deducted savings are out of sight and out of mind, and are more easily maintained. (Well Being, Rath and Harter)

Becoming a Great Man or Woman of God: Genesis 47:7-12

Read Genesis 47:7-12

Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

Genesis 47:10



Great Men of God:

He was intimidating. He was a bad to the bone long haired biker who loved to party. Skeeter Jackson was up to his eyes in the biker culture and I’m not talking about Bikers for Christ.

John Webb was a clean cut, responsible, hard working man. He was everything opposite of Skeeter Jackson. And Skeeter’s life represented everything John was opposed to. But in spite of that, John reached out to Skeeter. He did his best to gently show Skeeter Christ’s love.

In our text we see Jacob bless Pharoah. He blessed him even though Pharaoh was exceedingly different from Jacob culturally. He blessed him even though Pharaoh was different from him ethnically. He blessed Pharaoh even though he was different from Jacob religiously.

Billy Graham was like that. I recently read the book The Preacher and the Presidents. Over the course of his lifetime, Billy Graham had friendships with nearly every President of the United States, regardless of their politics or religious beliefs.

Jesus loved and blessed other people, without regard for who they were as well. Jesus blessed adulteresses, corrupt tax collectors, and prostitutes. He loved zealots and skeptics. He blessed Jews and Gentiles.

All great men and women of God seem to do that.

All great men and women of God seem to have that one thing in common: they have a way of loving people without regard for differences. And they consistently bless people regardless of how others view them.

 

The Rest of the Story:

Skeeter Jackson’s story didn’t end in the biker culture. As a result of John Webb’s tender overture on Jesus’ behalf, Skeeter made a decision for Christ. Immediately afterwards he lost his desire for alcohol and drugs. In a short time he turned his life around completely. Skeeter Jackson was a new man in Jesus.

Shortly thereafter, John became a firefighter. After awhile he encouraged the regenerated Skeeter to apply, and, with John’s help, Skeeter became a firefighter too.

A few years after that a skinny kid from Chicago became a firefighter for the same department there in the Rogue Valley, in Oregon. He was assigned to Skeeter’s crew, and, more than anyone else, Skeeter influenced him to give his life to Jesus Christ.

That skinny kid was me.

So love people who are different from yourself. Bless people who are shunned by others.

See people the way John saw Skeeter, the way Jacob saw Pharaoh. See people the way Jesus saw the prostitutes and the tax collectors.

See people the way God sees people.

Find and focus on the good in people then love them, and bless them.

Become a great man or woman of God.

 

Related Links:

Cerulean Sanctum

Insider Look at Christian Outreach to Sex Industry Employees on NotAshamedOfTheGospel.com

9/11 and the Coming Election: Genesis 47:1-6

Photo by 9/11 Photos, Creative Commons

To read the last post on Genesis, go to Ready to Die.

Read Genesis 47:1-6

Joseph’s family are now with him in Egypt, and while that’s good, he still has a big frog to swallow. He has to present some of his family members to Pharaoh and gain permission for them to settle in Egypt, in the land of Goshen.

So Joseph goes to Pharaoh and tells him his family is in Goshen. He chooses five of his brothers and he presents them to Pharaoh.

What’s your occupation? Pharaoh asks.

Your servants are shepherds just as our fathers were, they reply. And we’ve come to live here for awhile, because the famine is so bad in Canaan we have no pasture for our flocks. So please, let your servants settle in Goshen.

Pharaoh says to Joseph, Your father and your brothers can settle anywhere you like. Put them in the best part of Egypt. Let them live in Goshen. And if any of them have special talent with livestock, put them in charge of my herds.

Genesis 47:1-6

9/11

Today is the eleventh anniversary of 9/11. While I was still a firefighter I traveled to New York City, after the towers were attacked, with a group of Christian police officers, firefighters, and dispatchers to see what we could do to help. I spoke with many firefighters who experienced the loss of family and/or friends when the twin towers were taken down. (There were so many killed, very often firefighters had to choose between attending the funeral of a fellow firefighter who was family, or one who was a friend, because they were held at the same time) I attended funerals where Mayor Giuliani addressed the crowd. I spoke with forensics specialists who collected gruesome evidence at ground zero.

I’ve given this terrible tragedy a lot of thought over the last eleven years. And I’ve not just thought about 9/11, but I’ve also given considerable thought to our country’s leadership during that tragedy, and the leadership to come in the 2012 election.

I’ve come to a conclusion.

Egypt’s Tragedy

Egypt had a tragedy with the potential to kill more than we lost on 9/11. A seven year famine could have been devastating. However through God’s intervention with His servant Joseph, Pharaoh and Egypt escaped this famine relatively unscathed. But in spite of his success, can’t you just hear the criticisms that must have come from the people?

Pharaoh didn’t handle it right. He shouldn’t have given the best of the land to Israel and his family. He shouldn’t have given them positions of authority over Pharaoh’s flocks. That land and those job positions should have been given to Egyptians. This only happened because Joseph is so well connected.

The Coming Election

Just a few minutes ago I came across a video about how 9/11 was an inside job. How President Bush knew. How it was all a part of Bush’s effort to usher in the new world order. (I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, so I won’t dignify this video by posting a link)

The last few months of the presidential race, I’ve seen both sides meet out huge doses of negative campaigning.

On Twitter and Facebook I see my friends and family lambasting the opposition, either Republican or Democrat, Romney or Obama, depending on their political leanings.

But think this thing through with me — Remember back to that moment of optimism after “our guy” won the election? How’s that been working for us? After “our man” was in office for awhile, was there any appreciable difference? Time and time again when “our man” is in there, the real tangible changes made have been negligible. Many today maintain that the differences between the parties are rapidly narrowing. The reality is…

…putting your time and energy into politics won’t make a difference.

The Answer

In a democracy, where we elect our leadership, we will continue to get what we ask for. You and I and the rest of the voting population are responsible for who serves in political office. And the voting public seems to choose leadership that doesn’t change much, time and time again.

In a democracy, the voting population gets what they deserve — every time.

You know what? Pharaoh’s decisions concerning the famine, Israel, and Israel’s family weren’t made because of Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s decisions concerning the famine, Israel, and his family were all a part of God’s divine plan.

God is where the power is for change. So why invest your time and energy into a man?

Here’s my conclusion: Take all the time and energy you invest in the political process and reapportion it into prayer. Because here’s the real solution to effecting change in a democracy:

Revival.

Because after revival, the voting public will no longer put up with mediocre leadership. They’ll vote in better (not perfect but better) leaders into office. After revival, many of the country’s problems will be mitigated. We’ll see a reduction in corruption, drug and alcohol abuse, broken families, crime, etc. We’ll see these things improve because after revival more people will walk through life closer to Christ.

So stop bashing the other guy, whatever side you’re on, and start praying.

Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival in your family, in your church, in your city, in your state, in your entire country.

Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival in you.

God is where the power is for effecting change.

Pray.