A Prayer for the Right Use of Sickness by Blaise Pascal, Pensees
“Yes it is, God blessed us with this day,” I said.
“Where is God?” Andrew asked.
I thought to myself, “Wow, what a deep question for a 3 year old, this kid is smart.” Then I said, “God is in heaven, and He’s everywhere. He’s invisible. He blessed us with this day, and the clouds, and the sun, and the sky, and the trees.”
“Is God in our hearts?” he asked.
“Man,” I thought to myself, “this kid is really smart. Maybe he’ll be the next Dietrich Bonhoeffer.” I said, “God also came as a man, and he died for us, because you and I and everybody does things that are wrong sometimes, so the man who came from God died to pay for those wrong things we do, so we can be with God in heaven.”
“Is God in my heartbeat?”
Now I’m thinking, “Wow, ‘God in my heartbeat,’ that’s poetic, what an insight, maybe I’m talking to the next Billy Graham!”
My answer, “He will live in your heart, if you ask Him to.”
Grandson: “My leg is a part of a robot.”
The question–that which at the age of fifty brought me to the edge of the abyss–was the simplest of questions… “What will come of what I am doing today or shall do tomorrow? What will come of my whole life?”
Differently expressed, the question is: “Why should I live, why wish for anything, or do anything?” It can also be expressed thus: “Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?”
My deeds whatever they may be will be forgotten sooner or later, and I myself will be no more, why then do anything? I therefore could not attach a rational meaning to a single act of my entire life. The only thing that amazed me was how I had failed to realize this from the very beginning. How could anyone fail to see this? That’s what is amazing.
It’s possible to live, as long as life intoxicates us. But once we’re sober…
What are you living for?
Leo Tolstoy, A Confession
“God knows how to do everything… He knows how to drink coffee… He knows how to fix computers…” – Annie (my 7yr old) #kidtheology @coryburket
My friend Cory Burket put this out on Twitter yesterday. I just had to share it.
Click link to watch Lecrae Extended Interview on PBS. Such a great piece–had to share it.
What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? -Psalm 8:4
God is Big.
God is Bigger than I am. He’s Bigger than you are.
He’s the One who Continue reading
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. Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”
But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know… ”
…he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.
The Election is Over, Now What?
“When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased.” (v.17)
He put Ephraim, Joseph’s second born, ahead of Joseph’s first born, Manasseh — and Joseph didn’t like it.
How about this election? One man was put ahead of another. How did you like it? I find it interesting we find ourselves at this precise point in Genesis, the day after the election. Because Continue reading
Read Genesis 45:4-28
Joseph says to his brothers, Come close to me. And they’re all terrified at what might happen to them, because they know what they did to Joseph years ago, and Joseph knows, and they know Joseph knows. But they come close anyway. (see previous post What God Says to You)
After they draw near, Joseph says, It’s me, your brother, Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! But don’t be afraid, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery here, because God sent me ahead of you to save lives. For two years now there’s been famine, and for five more years there’ll be no plowing or reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve you, a remnant on earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Continuing to note the remarkable parallels between Joseph’s life and Jesus’, just as Joseph gave his brothers a pardon, our Greater than Joseph, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) And even as God sent Joseph to preserve the family of Israel, God sent Jesus to preserve you, and to save your life by a great deliverance.
So it wasn’t you who sent me here, but God. He made me like a father to Pharaoh, the lord of his entire household and the ruler over all of Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and tell him, This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t wait. You’ll live in the region of Goshen and be near me — you and all your family, your flocks, your herds, all you have. I’ll provide for you there because five years of famine are still ahead. Come down or you and your household will become destitute.
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) Even as Joseph provided for his family, our Greater than Joseph provides for us.
You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it’s really me speaking to you. Tell my father about all the honor I receive here in Egypt and about everything you’ve seen. And bring my father back here, quickly.
Joseph directed his brothers to share his glory with their father. You and I are wise to share Jesus’ glory with our heavenly Father. Praising Jesus pleases the Father, even as praising Joseph pleased Jacob.
Then he throws his arms around his brother Benjamin and weeps, and Benjamin embraces him, weeping. And Joseph kisses all his brothers and weeps over them. Afterward his brothers talk with him.
When the news reaches Pharaoh’s palace about Joseph’s brothers, Pharaoh and all his officials are pleased. Pharaoh says to Joseph, Tell your brothers to load their animals and return to the land of Canaan, and to bring your father and your families back to me. I’ll give them the best land in Egypt and they can enjoy the fat of the land.
You’re also directed to tell them: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. Don’t worry about your belongings, because the best of Egypt will be yours.
Part of Joseph’s purpose was to move everyone closer to him, to the land of Goshen. Our Greater than Joseph, Jesus has the purpose of drawing us closer to Him. (see previous post What God Says to You)
So the sons of Israel do all this. Joseph gives them carts, as Pharaoh had directed, and he also gives them provisions for their journey. He gives each of them new clothes, but to Benjamin he gives three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of new clothes. And he sends his father ten donkeys, loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. Then he sends his brothers away, and as they’re leaving he says, Don’t quarrel on the way!
Remember how Joseph’s brothers quarreled in Genesis chapter 42? We’re being punished because of what we did to Joseph! One said. Didn’t I tell you not to hurt him! Reuben said. But you wouldn’t listen!
Of course when they were arguing, Joseph was right there before them. Though the brothers didn’t realize it, Joseph, being fluent in Hebrew, understood every word they said. So he knew their propensity to bicker. Even as Joseph knew their tendency to argue, our Greater than Joseph knows our tendency to argue. And even as Joseph commanded his brothers not to quarrel on the way, our Greater than Joseph, Jesus, commands us, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
So they go up out of Egypt and come to their father Jacob in Canaan. They tell him, Joseph is still alive! In fact, he’s ruler over all of Egypt. Jacob is stunned and he doesn’t believe them. But when they tell him everything Joseph said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent for the journey back, the spirit of Jacob revived. And finally Israel says, OK, I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I’ll go and see him before I die.
Will God Come Through for You?
I’m working on a book right now about Kent Brown, a friend of mine who lived a most improbable life. He was in the Navy and present in Guantanamo Bay during the Bay of Pigs incident. He was a photographer for the Navy in the Gulf of Tonkin when the Vietnam war started. And Bobby Kennedy’s people had him take photographs at the Ambassador Hotel the night Kennedy was assassinated. Later he was given high level clearances by the FBI. He carried a Halliburton attache case handcuffed to his wrist, a gun in a shoulder holster, and a backup gun strapped to his ankle as he flew around the country transporting top secret documents. He was living a life most young men only dream about, until broken marriages and a broken body from a freak accident brought him to the end of himself. He lost his family, he lost his job, he lost his house, he lost it all.
It wasn’t until he was at the end of himself, he gave his life, utterly and completely gave his life, to Jesus.
Maybe you’re like Joseph’s brothers were, or like Kent Brown was, struggling to put food on the table, no pride left, no dignity — nothing, nothing left. If you are, then you’re just the kind of person Jesus is looking for. Joseph was waiting for his brothers to reach the place where they had no pride or dignity. Jesus is waiting for some of us to reach that same place.
Because so often it’s not until we’re at the end of ourselves, before we finally feel moved to completely surrender ourselves over to Jesus, even as Judah gave himself to Joseph in the previous chapter. (see previous post What Does God Want)
But though our difficulties and trials may be great, in the end, God has a way of coming through.
He did for Joseph’s family.
He did for my friend Kent Brown.
He will for you and yours.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
To read the last post on Genesis click on Starving But Afraid to Return: Genesis 43.
Read Genesis 44
In our last post we left Joseph’s brothers feasting and drinking freely with Joseph. After the end of chapter 43, one might think the brothers are out of the woods, so to speak. But look what happens next.
Before the brothers leave for home, Joseph gives the steward of his house these instructions: Fill up their sacks with all the food they can carry, and put their silver in their sacks. Also, put my silver cup in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver and grain.
So the steward does as Joseph instructed.
Morning comes and the men are sent on their way. They aren’t very far along on their journey when Joseph says to his steward, Go after them, and when you catch them, say, Why have you repaid good with evil? You have the cup my master drinks from and uses for divination. This is a wicked thing you’ve done.
So when the steward catches up with them he says what he was ordered to say. And they answer, Why are you saying these things? We would never do anything like that! We brought back the silver we had from last time. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master now? Tell you what, if you find the cup on any one of us, that person will die; and the rest of us will become your master’s slaves.
All right then, the steward says, It’ll be how you want it. Whoever has it will become my slave, the rest will be free from blame.
They all toss their sacks to the ground and open them up. Then the steward searches them, beginning with the oldest and working his way to the youngest. And there it is, the cup, in Benjamins sack. Right away they despair and tear their clothes. Then they load up their donkeys and head back to Joseph’s house in the city.
Joseph is still there when Judah and his brothers come in, and they throw themselves to the ground in front of Joseph. Joseph says, What have you done? Don’t you realize a man like me can find out what’s happened by divination?
What can we say? Judah responds. What can we say? What could we do to prove our innocence? God has exposed your servants’ guilt. We’re now your slaves — we ourselves and the one who had the cup.
But Joseph says, Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the one who had the cup will become my slave. The rest can go back to your father in peace.
Then Judah goes up to him and says, Please excuse your servant, my lord, please allow me to have a word with my lord. Don’t be angry with your servant, even though you’re equal to Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, Do you have a father or a brother? And we told you, We have an elderly father, and there’s a young boy born to him in his old age. His brother’s dead, and he’s the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.
Then you said to us, your servants, Bring him down here to me so I can see him for myself. And we said to my lord, The youngest son can’t leave his father, if he leaves, his father will die. But you told us, your servants, Unless you bring him back, you won’t see me again. When we went back to your servant, my father, we told him everything you said.
Then our father said, Go back to Egypt and buy some more food. But we told him, We can’t go unless our youngest brother goes with us. We can’t see the man’s face unless we bring Benjamin.
Your servant, my father, said, You know my wife had two sons. One of them went away and never came back, I said, He has surely been torn to pieces. And I haven’t seen him since. If you take Benjamin, and harm comes to him, I’ll die from grief.
So at this point, if the youngest isn’t with us when we go back, and my father, whose life is closely bound up with the his, sees he isn’t with us, my father will die. Your servants will bring him down to the grave in grief and sorrow. I myself guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father.
So please, let me remain here as your slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return to his brothers. How can I go back to my father if he’s not with me? No! Don’t let me see the misery that would come upon my father.
What Does He Want?
Imagine with me what Judah and his brother’s must be saying to each other at this point: What, what, what? What does Joseph want? Why is this happening? When will it stop? We gave Joseph our silver to buy food. We left Simeon as a prisoner. We went home, we came back, we brought Benjamin as requested. We brought gifts, almonds, honey, the best the land has to offer. We bowed before Joseph — four times so far! But no, none of that is what Joseph wants. So what then? What? What is it?
What does Joseph want from us?
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever asked those questions? Maybe like Judah and his brothers, you’re asking yourself those questions now: “Why is this happening to me? When will it stop? What does God want? What does Jesus want from me?”
The answer for Judah and his brothers concerning what Joseph wanted was this: Joseph wanted the brothers themselves. He wanted the brothers to give themselves to him. At the end of our text we see Judah offer himself to Joseph. And we’ll see in chapter 45, it’s not until Judah finally offers himself to Joseph, that Joseph reveals himself to Judah, and the rest of the brothers.
The answer for you is the same. It’s the same with your greater than Joseph, Jesus. He doesn’t crave your money. He doesn’t need your worship. He doesn’t want to imprison anybody. He doesn’t need your gifts. He doesn’t need your sacrifices. What does He want?
He wants you…
…to give yourself…
All of you. Everything. Everything you are.
He wants your life.
The moment you make that commitment, the moment you flip that switch in your head and your heart, to give all of yourself to Him — as Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, Jesus will begin to reveal Himself to you.
So do it! What reason is there not to? You only have blessings awaiting you on the other side of that commitment. So what are you waiting for? Flip that switch. Pray to Him right now. Give yourself, all of yourself, to Him
Do it, and like Judah and his brothers — your life will never be the same.
[Image via Fenway71 – Creative Commons]
Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him, fulfilling Joseph’s prophetic dream, a total of five times:
- Genesis 42:6: Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground
- Genesis 43:26: When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground.
- Genesis 43:28: They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.
- Genesis 44:14: Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him.
- Genesis 50:18: His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
“I and the Father are one.”
Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
For more see Believing God Today: