Read John 8:1-11.
Adulteress Continue reading
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
I just listened to a podcast by a woman named Gaby Viesca. She was talking about the two women Continue reading
Last Post we saw how Jesus shared about the gift he had for the woman at the well, and the gift he has for us, the water that becomes a well inside, a well of living water that springs up into everlasting life.
The 7th Man In Her Life
After he spoke of that gift, Jesus talked about the six men in the Samaritan woman’s life: her previous five husbands and the lover Continue reading
Last Sunday I heard one of my heroes of the faith say he has offered opinions on topics that have compromised his effectiveness at reflecting the nature of Christ. Sometimes the topics were political, sometimes they were about what other churches are teaching, but what really struck me was that this guy–who I consider to be one of the best people on the planet at communicating Christ–sees himself as a failure in this way. I felt horrible after hearing that sermon, because I had to ask myself,
Where does that leave me?
I’m as nothing compared to this man. I remember him telling a story a long time ago about how he encountered a skunk walking next to him, and how he took it as a message from the Lord that he stunk.
A similar thing happened to me on October 7, 2013. I was angry that day, so I did what I often do when I’m angry Continue reading
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.
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
J.B. Jackson, A Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names (Bible Students Press 1908)
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
At first it would seem Satan was right, the fruit was good to eat, and the fruit brought knowledge of good and evil. Indeed after eating the fruit Adam and Eve did gain the knowledge of good and evil. And there was no immediate evidence death was upon either one of them. This is how it was with the first sin, and this is how it is with all sin. The bible says sin brings pleasure for a season (Hebrews 11:25) But then “…the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)
Sin is a package deal and the second part of the package is inescapable. Lets have a look at the second part of Adam and Eve’s sin.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked;” v. 7 After eating the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve became self conscious. Before their sin their focus was on the animals of the earth, on tending the garden, on each other, and on their relationship with God. After their sin their focus shifted to themselves. They became aware of, and embarrassed about their nakedness. God didn’t design us to be focused on ourselves. People who sin become self absorbed, and people who are self absorbed tend to be unhappy. God’s design for us is to put Him and other people before ourselves in life. Talk to someone who’s entangled in sin and you’ll find the conversation is all about him, or her. Like the self centered man who after talking at length about himself to a friend said, “Enough about me, let’s talk about you. Tell me–what do you think about me?”
Separation From God:
…and they hid from God among the trees of the garden. v. 8 Sin separates us from God. Adam and Eve had a wonderful relationship with God in His spectacular garden. Intimacy with Him, closeness with Him, regular communication with Him was a regular part of their lives. After their sin, all that changed. When they heard the sound of His coming they were filled with guilt and shame, so they hid themselves, from Him. Their sin affected their relationship with Him, and a relationship with Him is the most important relationship there is. Your sin and my sin will affect our relationship with Him in the same way.
The Blame Game:
The woman You put here with me… v. 12 Adam says. The serpent You put here with us… v. 13 Eve says. God first of all, You were the one who put this woman here with me, Adam was saying, and she did it, it was Eve’s fault. (Stedman says, “He took it like a man, he blamed his wife!”) God You were the one who put the serpent here, and it’s his fault, Eve said. The blame game, finger pointing. This is the first account of that game and its been played by every member of the human race ever since. Notice God is implicated here, the woman You put in my life, the serpent You put here. Whenever you or I blame someone for something we’re ultimately blaming our Father in heaven, for putting that person in our life.
Your Most Important Line of Communication:
You may have read about the fire that destroyed 11 homes in Ashland, Oregon last month. I happened to be running a division at that fire. One of our tactics was to use helicopters to drop water on the burning homes. When the helicopters began operating it was important to keep them from dropping water on one particular house, where firefighters were working inside. That’s because a helicopter water drop pushes fire in all directions, in dramatic fashion. This could cause serious injury or death to those fighting fire inside.
“Command from Oak Knoll Division,” I said on the radio, “direct the helicopters NOT to drop on the house directly across from 8106.”
Command responded, “Copy, send a helicopter to drop water directly on the house across from 8106.”
Of course this was exactly what I didn’t want. “Negative, negative,” I said, “DO NOT drop water on the house across from 8106. There are firefighters operating inside.”
“Command from Oak Knoll Division, DO NOT drop water on the house across from 8106.” I repeated my request.
* Still no response.
Just then a helicopter approaches the area and appears to be lining up for a drop on the house next door to the one we want it to avoid. Hoping that the pilot can see me I encourage him to drop on the house next door by pointing and nodding. (Yes, kind of ridiculous I know, but I didn’t have my radio on the helicopter pilot’s frequency.) He’s low over the house next door and things are looking good, but then, before I know it, he’s passed it. Suddenly it becomes obvious he’s setting up to drop on the house with the firefighters inside. In desperation I’m jumping up and down, waving my arms frantically, trying to communicate to the helicopter pilot not to drop on top of the firefighters. In the midst of all the chaos, a friend of mine, Tyler McCarty, who works for Oregon Department of Forestry, walks up to me just as calm as can be and says,
“Kurt, would you like me to tell that helicopter not to drop on that house?”
“YES!!!” I shout, “yes I would!”
Tyler, who’s already on the helicopter’s frequency, radios the request directly to the pilot. The helicopter flies off, and the firefighters operating inside are saved.
The point is I rarely speak to helicopter pilots because my Fire Department is primarily a structural fire department. My friend Tyler works for a Wildland Fire agency, he talks to helicopter pilots all the time. His radio is on their frequency, and communication is easy.
It’s the same with God. When we’re in constant communication with Him, our relationship is easy. When our prayers are rare, when our scripture reading is only occasional, when our church attendance is sporadic, our relationship with Him suffers. We find ourselves on a different frequency.
Like Adam and Eve before their original sin, focus on God, your family, and the work God has set before you. Avoid sin to avoid separation from God, self-centeredness, and the blame game. Keep your line of communication with God flowing,
Don’t hide from God.
Talk with Him in prayer.
Listen to Him by reading His word.
Fellowship with Him by attending a church that teaches through the entire Bible.
The day will come, when you’ll be glad you’re on His frequency.
* An Incident Commander at a fire like this is completely swamped with all types of communication including face to face, cell phone, and radio communication over multiple frequencies. Not receiving a response for awhile or misunderstanding a radio transmission is not at all uncommon for any fire department operating on a large scale incident.
I believe God’s hand was with the firefighters that day. Within a few minutes of the arrival of the first engine 11 homes were burning. Across the street another 30 homes were threatened. A man who lived across the street from the fire was quoted in the newspaper as saying, “I’m not a religious man, but I know a miracle when I see it.” I agree, that fire should have jumped the street and 30 or so more homes should have burned that day. (Damian Mann, Mail Tribune, Ashland Fire Likely Worst in 100 Years, August 26, 2010)