June 11, 2021 – DON’T QUARREL ON THE WAY!

Read: Genesis 45: 16-28

Reflect:
Joseph sends his brothers on their way with provisions and carts full of grain and bread. They are returning to Jacob to bring him and their families back to Egypt. As they were leaving Joseph doesn’t say “Have a safe trip!” or “See you soon!” but “Don’t quarrel on the way!” I find this humorous. Although Joseph hadn’t seen his brothers for many years he must have known their characters and the potential there was for disagreement. I wondered what they might argue about. The amplified version of this verse gives a possibility: “See that you do not quarrel on the journey [about how to explain this to our father].” In explaining that Joseph was alive would they have to admit what they had done years earlier and even who was to blame for it? Perhaps this is a message for us as well, since it is possible for us to quarrel along the way too. We see this in Scriptures: The people quarreled with Moses and said “Give us water that we may drink”, the disciples argued about who was considered to be the greatest, and in the book of Acts it mentions an angry quarrel that broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, dividing the assembly. 2 Timothy 2:24 says “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” Quarreling among the family of believers distracts non-believers from our message. Worse, it hurts our credibility. Our message is a message of love. It is difficult to send a message of love to those outside the Church when we can’t love each other in the Church.

Pray:
God, protect us from quarrelling in the church. Help us to be in harmony with our fellow Christians. May we turn our back on worldly attitudes that lead to disagreements.


June 10, 2021 – A BEAUTIFUL PICTURE OF RECONCILIATION

Read: Genesis 45: 1-4, 12-15

Reflect:
There are times when I read the bible and I have to guess at the emotions that an individual might have in a certain situation. Then there are times when the emotions are so evident. Genesis 45 is one of those times. This scene comes after Joseph is sure of his brothers’ repentance. He knows this by Judah’s offer to take the place of Benjamin sacrificing himself as a slave rather than hurt the other son of Rachel (hmmm….substitutionary atonement…reminds me of someone else!). In addition Joseph can see a change of heart in Judah as he states he couldn’t bear to see his father’s pain in losing another son. It says that Joseph wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him. Oh the sobbing and wailing that Joseph must have exhibited, and I know from experience, that if you are sobbing that strongly it takes a while to calm down enough to speak. When he reveals his identity to his brothers, they are terrified. You can guess the thoughts going through their minds at this point, remembering what they did to Joseph – “this is it! We’re done for!” But Joseph offers love and forgiveness and is reconciled to his brothers. He embraces them and weeps over them. Joseph’s love for his brothers is evident. The forgiveness that has long been in his heart overflows, and pours over the repentant brothers. This gives us a beautiful picture of God’s love for us, overflowing in joyful forgiveness and reconciliation. When does it happen? It happens when we come to him in repentance. Why does it happen? Because of Jesus, who suffered as a substitute in the place of you and me, making it possible for men and women to be declared righteous, based on their faith in Him.

Pray:
Thank you Lord that I am a new creation in you. Praise God the old has passed away and the new has come. Thank you that through Christ I am reconciled to You. You have given us the ministry of reconciliation. Help me to do that. (from 2 Corinthians 5: 17-18)


June 9, 2021 – LIFE ON A CLIFFHANGER

Read: Genesis 44: 18 – 34

Reflect:
Today’s reading ends without resolution. Judah’s passionate plea for mercy from Joseph awaits an outcome not yet delivered. This is just like a chapter in a book that ends on a cliffhanger, leaving the reader wondering what is going to happen next. Life often leaves us in situations like the gap between the end of Genesis 44 and the beginning of Genesis 45. We pray for a conclusion; we await an outcome; we long for an answer. We often find ourselves in the middle of what God is showing us. How does one cope when the tension is high and the conclusion is in “the next episode”? All we can do is open our hands in surrender and acknowledge our absolute need for God’s help. These moments teach us to listen for God’s instruction and ask God for faith to take the next step. What cliffhanger are you facing in life? Will you trust God with what He has not resolved? What lesson does God have for you while you wait for His plan to unfold? As we wait on the Lord we can do so with an attitude of hope and expectancy. Psalm 150:3 says “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.” As you wait, read Bible verses and speak them aloud daily. As the power of God’s Word weaves hope into your prayers, encouragement will fill the empty places in your heart and you will be reminded once again of God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.

Pray:
Thank you God for the answered prayers and miracles in my past. I remember how You have always come through in those tough times of great need, and I thank You in advance for Your answers yet to come.


June 8, 2021 – MERCY

Read: Genesis 42: 26-34

Reflect:
When Joseph saw his brother, Benjamin, the only other son of his late mother, he was so overcome with emotion that he went into his private room and broke down and wept. The ESV says “his compassion grew warm for his brother”. The same wording is used in Hosea 11:8 when describing God’s compassion for His people. Joseph deeply loved Benjamin and, as we will come to find out later, all his brothers. After Joseph composed himself, he returned and they had a feast. These were the same brothers that planned to kill Joseph, threw him in a pit and sold him to strangers. Joseph could have sought revenge for how they treated him. The mercy that Joseph is extending to his brothers in this moment is a picture of God’s mercy He extends to us. It is undeserved, as all true mercy must be. Ephesians 2:4-7 says “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” Because God is rich in mercy and has a great love for us, He acted to save us. We cannot do anything to earn this ….good works, kind acts, sponsoring a child, giving to the poor,… God’s reason for saving us was entirely His own. We did not merit His mercy, nor did we earn our salvation. We are saved by Christ’s death on the cross. He took the punishment we deserved. That anger or wrath of God was poured out on Jesus instead of us.

Pray:
Oh Lord, may I never lose the wonder of your mercy to me. I’m so glad that my freedom
was not based on what I’ve done but solely on Your goodness and mercy and the power of Jesus blood. May I, in turn, extend mercy to others.


June 7, 2021 – EL SHADDAI

Read: Genesis 43: 8-15

Reflect:
Jacob prays to God Almighty (Hebrew, El Shaddai). This name for God appears four times in the book of Genesis and all the references to El Shaddai paint a picture of a God who is mighty to do as He says. God first introduced Himself as El Shaddai to Abraham in Genesis 17:1. With that name, God was revealing to Abraham that He is the Almighty God, the All-Sufficient God, and the God of More Than Enough. The next mention is in Genesis 28:3 and Isaac is speaking to Jacob with absolute confidence in God’s promise of blessing and fruitfulness, because He is the Almighty one who said He would do it. Then in Genesis 35:11 God spoke to Jacob as El Shaddai and promised him that a community of nations will come from him, including kings as his descendants. Now is Genesis 43:14 Jacob gives a benediction as his sons are about to go off to Egypt, to meet Joseph. He is fearful for his youngest son Benjamin’s life, and he calls on God Almighty, El Shaddai to grant him mercy. Jacob trusts that God can do this because he has already said He would. Beyond Genesis, God has revealed Himself more and more to us throughout His word as El Shaddai. He is God Almighty and has all the power necessary to do anything and everything He wants to do. That is why Job was able to say to God, “I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you.” That is why Jeremiah was able to tell the nation of Judah, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” That is why the Angel of the Lord was able to tell Mary before Jesus was conceived in her body, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” And that is why Paul was able to tell us, “God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”

Pray:
Thank God that He is El Shaddai, God Almighty. If you are in a place where you are not trusting that God is able to work in your life or situation, ask God to reveal Himself to you as the all-powerful One. Ask for faith to trust Jesus when he said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)


June 4, 2021 – FULLY SATISFIED

Read: Genesis 42: 29-38

Reflect:
In ancient times, idols were made by men but worshiped as gods. Today an idol is a bit harder to recognize. “An idol is anything in our lives that occupies the place that should be occupied by God alone. Anything that…is central in my life, anything that seems to me…essential…An idol is anything by which I live and on which I depend, anything that…holds such a controlling position in my life that…it moves and rouses and attracts so much of my time and attention, my energy and money” (D.M. Lloyd-Jones). Jacob certainly has an idol as we can see in his response to his sons’ report about their trip to Egypt. Jacob’s focus isn’t on the providentially returned money or the abundance of food in Egypt. Rather, he is very focussed on himself. Jacob’s response to Reuben, which is presumably spoken in the presence of his eleven remaining sons, was shocking to me: “My son (Benjamin) will not go down with you. His brother Joseph is dead, and he is all I have left. (ouch!) If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.” Jacob’s desperate cry is that, if something happened to Benjamin, his life would no longer be worth living. God will never leave him, as was promised to him (see Genesis 28:13-15), but, to Jacob, if Benjamin is gone so is all hope. The love Jacob had for Joseph and now directed toward the other son he had with Rachel had become greater than his love for God. That is an idol. There are things in my life that I have had to surrender to God, things that I was treasuring more than Him, things that I was holding onto with clenched hands. I am slowly learning that Jesus fully satisfies and agree with the words of this old hymn, that when you “turn your eyes upon Jesus, and look full in His wonderful face, then the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Jesus exceeds our expectations, provides for our needs, and fulfills our desires. Christ alone can provide the satisfaction and joy we so desperately seek.

Pray:
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) Thank God that Jesus fully satisfies and ask Him to show you any idols in your life that are preventing you from fully enjoying and glorifying God. “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”


June 3, 2021 – CHAINBREAKER

Read: Genesis 42: 6-24

Reflect:
The story of Joseph involves a number of mentions of imprisonment. Joseph was in prison for several years after being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife. Joseph had his brothers put in prison for three days, accusing them of being spies. There is another type of prison, however, that is perhaps not as evident but just as binding – the prison of guilt. The brothers felt they were being punished by God for their sins committed long ago. Reuben maintained his innocence, saying he had been an advocate for Joseph. The brothers therefore sinned after they had been admonished to do right, which further added to their guilt. Psalm 107:10 says “Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, prisoners suffering in iron chains….Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for mankind, for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” The Psalmist wrote these words many years ago but they are applicable now, as many people today are in chains, shackles, or prisons. These chains come in many forms. There are Christians in some parts of the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus and find themselves imprisoned in actual chains. There are others who struggle with addictions and habits that they just can’t seem to shake. Feelings of shame, guilt, fear, bitterness or unforgiveness can weigh people down, like chains, and prevent them from living a life of freedom. Many, who do not know the Lord, wander in darkness, enslaved with a yoke of bondage around them. So many chains! Praise God that there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, to cut through what we cannot break on our own! We have freedom in Christ from any and all forms of chains, slavery and bondage. How wonderful to live life fully and freely!

Praise/Worship:
Listen to the song “Chainbreaker” by Zach Williams and rejoice that we have a pain taking, way making, prison-shaking Saviour! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGYjKR69M6U


June 2, 2021 – What’s in a Name?

Read: Genesis 41: 46-56

Reflect:
In the Bible, names seem to be important. The book of Genesis, especially, seems to be full of names enriched with meaning. Names were bearers of the person’s identity, often saying something about that person’s character or their situation. For example, Isaac’s son Esau was so named simply because his name means ‘hairy’, which is what he was. His brother Jacob was so named because Jacob means ‘he grasps the heel’, which is a Hebrew idiom for ‘he deceives’. This seems appropriate as Jacob did a lot of “jacobing” in his life! Sometimes God gave new names to people to instill a new vision for that person’s life, or a new role He wanted them to play in His Kingdom. God made a radical promise to childless, 99-year-old Abram that he would be a “father of many nations” and so changed his name to Abraham to instill in him God’s mighty promise. The fisherman Simon is renamed ‘Peter’ by Jesus. ‘Peter’ means ‘rock’, and he was to be the rock of Jesus’ Church (Matthew 16:18). Even though Peter showed himself to be quite lacking in the stability and integrity one might expect from a rock, Jesus continued to trust him to fulfil his calling. In our reading today, Joseph had two sons and gave them Hebrew names that specifically acknowledged God’s goodness to him. The first he named Manasseh, “… because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” He named his second son Ephraim, “fruitful,” because of the blessing God poured out on him and enabled him to give to others in “the land of my suffering.”

Pray:
Meditate on these two names for Jesus and praise Him for who He is and what He has done:

1. Jesus is a common Jewish name ‘Yeshua’, which is derived from the word meaning ‘to rescue/deliver’. “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

2. Matthew also describes Jesus as ‘Immanuel’, which means ‘God with us’. Jesus was indeed God himself dwelling with mankind.


June 1, 2021 – Use Me, God

Read: Psalm 105: 16-22

Reflect:
Do you ever wonder how God could use you? Do you see yourself as “just a mom,” “only a teacher,” “too young,” “too old,” or “hardly magnificent”? Until this moment, those around Joseph saw him as a mere Hebrew slave. Now, the ruler of the most powerful kingdom on earth, who worshipped Egyptian gods, recognized that Joseph’s wisdom came from God Almighty. Pharaoh said, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.” Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the palace and all of Egypt. Joseph’s power would only be second to Pharaoh himself. The psalmist would later speak of Joseph’s redemption from dungeon to palace as an expression of God’s faithful care for his people (Psalm 105:16-22). Joseph’s redemption from the dungeon was more than the amazing result of an unexpected audience before Pharaoh. It was God and His plan that put Joseph into leadership over all of Egypt. God used years of suffering to teach Joseph to depend on Him and experience His presence. Joseph’s own trials must have created in him a sensitivity to suffering and a desire to alleviate the suffering of others. He learned to simply and boldly deliver God’s message. Joseph spoke what God revealed – whether positive or negative, whether about the fate of an individual (the cupbearer and baker) or the fate of a nation. He showed integrity as a slave, a prisoner and a ruler. God had greater plans in mind for Joseph than Joseph had in mind for himself. God developed a great leader in the dungeon, elevated him to the palace and through him, impacted his family, Egypt and eventually the world.**

Pray:
Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.

**Bible Study Fellowship, Genesis 2021


May 31, 2021 – All Glory to God

Read: Genesis 41:1-16

Reflect:
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph boldly declared, “I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” Joseph, obviously bright and gifted, would naturally have desired to be released from prison. Surely he longed for a favourable outcome from this opportunity of interpreting Pharaoh’s dream. Yet he deliberately refused to take credit for what only God could do. Attempting to steal God’s glory is a serious matter. In Acts 12 Herod Agrippa was instantly struck down because he accepted the people’s praise and did not give glory to God. It says in Psalm 42:8 “I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another.” C.S. Lewis struggled with the idea that God demands our praise and commands us to give Him glory. However, he soon realized that this “stumbling block” was due to his misconception of God and a misunderstanding of what praise really is. He noticed that people spontaneously praise whatever they value, and also urge others to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?” The Psalmists, in telling everyone to praise God, are doing what all people do when they speak of what they care about. “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.” While God as our Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer certainly deserves our praise, isn’t it amazing to realize His lovingkindness towards us, by commanding us to give Him praise, is offering us the supreme in joy and fullness of life? It makes you want to shout out loud and share the goodness of God with others!

Pray the following verses:
Psalm 115:1 “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.” Psalm 72:18-20 “Praise the LORD God, the God of Israel, who alone does such wonderful things. Praise his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen!”

I don’t know about you but I really do want to “do everything to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31) – my marriage, raising my children, working, spending money, housework, cooking, interacting with neighbours – all to the glory of God. I also desire to be like John the Baptist and say about Jesus, “He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30). But to be honest there is part of me that wants a little glory, which wants to increase a bit right along with Jesus. To think, that in light of who God is, I would ever desire people to think well of me, it makes no sense. God is the only one who is worthy of all worship and all praise and all adoration, the only one whose name ultimately matters, the only one who can save, the only one who is Lord and King overall.


May 28, 2021 – Talk to Yourself

Read: Psalm 42

Reflect:
Perhaps you have had a time when you were in such distress and anguish that you could say like the Psalmist in Psalm 42:3 “My tears have been my food day and night.” Sometimes these periods are brief but sometimes they can last a long time.  In Joseph’s life, it was “some time later” that the cup-bearer and chief baker arrived in prison with Joseph and then it says they remained in prison for “quite some time” and finally it was “two full years later” that Joseph was released from prison when Pharaoh had some dreams.  How does one find hope and courage when they are in a long season of disappointment or suffering?  Let’s see what we can learn from the Psalmist.

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a Welsh minister influential in the British evangelical movement offered some advice that I have found to be very helpful:  “Don’t listen to yourself.  Talk to yourself.”  When we talk to ourselves it tends to be bad news.  We dwell on the situation, the problems, the pain.  But notice what the Psalmist does – he starts talking to himself. “Why my soul are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?”  His soul has been depressed and crushed and now he says to himself, “Self, listen to me, I am going to talk to you.”  What does the Psalmist say to himself?  He says, “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” and “therefore I will remember you…” He is recalling who God is and what He has done.

What do we say to ourselves when we are in trouble or enduring suffering?  We remind ourselves of God’s truth – who He is, what He has done, what He has promised to do.  Perhaps our self-talk might go something like this:  “Listen, self!  You are a child of God! If God is for you, who can be against you?  He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for you, self, will he not with him freely give us all things? Who can separate you, self, from the love of God?  Jesus died for you, self, and He is at the right hand of God interceding for you.”

Notice these are just God’s truths found in Scripture (Romans 8).  This is what we need to fill our minds with and speak into our souls.

Pray:
Spend some time reminding yourself the truth of who God is, what He has done, who you are in Christ, and what God has promised He will do.


May 27, 2021 – A Faith That is Tested

Read: Genesis 40:9-23

Reflect:
Just when it looks like Joseph might have a way out of prison, the chapter ends with the words “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”  Joseph’s life presents a complex mix of God’s blessing and human disappointment. The Bible does not describe Joseph’s internal struggles or his confidence that God would deliver him as he desired. I wonder what he was thinking or feeling? Were there hard days? Did he fully trust God immediately or gradually? Joseph’s life had to be hard and his mind full of unanswered questions.  Perhaps it was in this dark season that God was preparing Joseph for what lay ahead.  I have heard the phrase “A faith that hasn’t been tested is a faith that can’t be trusted.”  Joseph’s faith was definitely being tested during this time and I would guess that his depth of character and faith were developing and growing here, in prison, more than they had been in Pharaoh’s palace.  If you were to ask a mature Christian about their faith I think many would say that it grew the most when they were in the midst of trials and struggles.  For it is in these times that one learns to depend on God and find Him to be faithful.

Pray:
Lord, help us to consider it pure joy whenever we face any type of trial because we know that through it you will grow our faith as long as we lean into you and don’t give up. Then we can look back and see all the wonderful ways you helped us persevere. We will see how you can use our situation to encourage others. Praise your name for using even the most difficult time for your glory.  (from James 1:2-3)


May 26, 2021 – Compassion

Read: Genesis 40:1-8

Reflect:
While Joseph was in prison two important prisoners, the king’s cupbearer and baker, were placed in Joseph’s care. Both had offended their master in some way. After these two men had been in Joseph’s custody for “some time,” Joseph must have gotten to know them and relate to them personally. One morning he noticed their sad, dejected faces and asked them, “Why do you look so sad today?” His question communicated interest and concern.  We get a little peak into the heart of Joseph. Men who are consumed with anger and bitterness do not often take a concern for the personal problems of others like this.  It would be understandable for Joseph to think that because of all the wrong done against him, everything should center on his own feelings and hurts.   When you look at the life of Joseph we see a glorious reflection that closely mirrors another life we are very intimately familiar with – Jesus.  In this passage Joseph shows us the compassion of Jesus.  There are many examples in Scripture where Jesus is moved with compassion for others.  As Dane Ortlund says in his book “Gentle and Lowly” “This compassion comes in waves over and over again in Christ’s ministry, driving him to heal the sick (Matt.14:14), feed the hungry (Matt 15:32), teach the crowds (Mark 6:34), and wipe away the tears of the bereaved (Luke 7:13).  The Greek word for “compassion” is the same in all these texts and refers most literally to the bowels or guts of a person – its’s an ancient way of referring to what rises up from one’s innermost core. This compassion reflects the deepest heart of Christ.”

Pray:
Ask the Lord to give you eyes to notice others who are hurting and to have the same compassion that Jesus has shown us.


May 25, 2021 – But God…

Read: Acts 7:9-10
“Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.”

Reflect:
This passage in Acts is part of Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin.  One of the things they had accused him of was blasphemy against Moses and God. Stephen responded by telling the biblical story not in terms of commandments and temples, but in terms of promise and fulfillment, of prophecy, and the challenge to obedience.  He started with Abraham and told the leaders how God’s rescue plan was fulfilled despite human flaws and rebellious acts.  It was always by God’s might, his power, his grace and his initiative. I love the words “but God” for it shows that circumstances never get the last word.  These words appear in various forms hundreds of times in the Bible.  Casey Lute, who wrote a book that focuses on nine of the most important appearances of this key phrase states “To the left of `But God’ is hopelessness, darkness, and death. But to its right, following `But God,’ readers of Scripture will find hope, light, and life.”

Pray:
Take Ephesians 2:1-8 for example, looking at what comes before “but God” and what comes after and praise Him for it! “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”


May 24, 2021 – The Lord is With You

Read: Genesis 39

Reflect:
As you read this passage you might have noticed a phrase repeated.  Four times it says “the Lord was with Joseph.” Genesis 39:2-3 says “The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.  When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did.”  Then again in Genesis 39:20-23 it says “Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.  But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.  So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.  The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”  What a rollercoaster ride Joseph has had! He’s been sold into slavery, then he’s successful in the house of his Egyptian master but by the end of the chapter, he’s thrown into prison even though he did nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon. Yet, in the middle of it all, whether things were going well in the house of his Egyptian master or things were not going so well in a dungeon, the Lord was with him.  This truth is repeated throughout Scripture in the lives of Abraham, Moses, and Joshua and it is what Jesus tells his disciples at the end of the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20): “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Whether you are in a battle or are celebrating victory, whether you are on a mountain top or you need a mountain moved, whether you are in chains or in a palace, know that God is with you.  You are not alone. God, Himself, is by your side.

Pray:
God, help us to live in light of your presence. Help us to glorify you and walk with humble confidence in you. Give us direction and wisdom. Help us in everything we do in our lives, in our families, in our work. God, direct us and empower us. God, show the power of your presence with us today. Amen.


May 21, 2021 – The Truth Of Redemption

Read: Genesis 37: 29-35

Reflect:
First revenge and now lies!  If you were to read about Jacob’s family in earlier chapters you would see sexual sin, deception, and murder. The dysfunction in this family can be shocking to read.  What is even more shocking is the realization that God brought something good through this mess of a story about seriously broken people.  It is through the descendants of this less-than-stellar family that God chose to bring His truth and Messiah to the world.  Thankfully God can redeem the damage caused by the curse of sin.  The word “redemption” is borrowed from commerce, meaning to buy something or someone back. This is exactly what God does for those who believe in His Son for salvation. With the precious blood of His own Son, God purchases sinners from the slave market of sin.  Ephesians 1:7 NLT says “He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”  When we believe that no sinner is beyond God’s grace and no circumstances are beyond God’s redemption, we can have hope. God redeems, restores, reconciles, rebuilds and reclaims.

Have you received God’s gracious offer of redemption, Christ’s righteousness, in exchange for your sin? What impossible relationship or situation are you asking God to redeem, to His glory alone? God can be trusted, even if we have to wait a long time, perhaps even a very long time, to see the glory in the story. Will you trust God, who alone can redeem what sin destroys?*

Pray:
Spend time reflecting on the amazing truth of redemption, that you have been bought at a great price – with the precious blood of Christ, and the hope you have because of that.

*Bible Study Fellowship 2021, Genesis


May 20, 2021 – Jesus Cancelled Our Trespasses

Read: Genesis 37: 24-28

Reflect:
In today’s reading Joseph’s brothers try to get rid of him by selling him to a caravan of Ishmaelite traders for 20 shekels of silver.  Their thought is if they get rid of Joseph,” cancel” him from the family, their lives will be much better. This past year a lot of events have been cancelled (ER Chili Cook-off, Stouffville Strawberry Festival, Calgary Stampede, the CNE, etc.).  Sadly another trend has started where not only events but people are being cancelled. If something is discovered about someone that seems to be offensive or is against the current preferences of the culture then it is the norm to cancel that person.  In “cancel culture”, one mistake is unforgivable and that disgraceful act seems to define the person, giving them an identity that is shameful and thus worthy of being ‘cancelled’.  I recently read about a young man who was accepted to Harvard University but his acceptance was later rescinded when it was discovered he had put inappropriate messages on social media when he was 16 years old.  Even though he apologized and felt embarrassed by what he had done as a young teen he was ‘cancelled’ by Harvard and many others on Twitter.

In our society if it is discovered that you have trespassed, you get cancelled.  Jesus says I see all your trespasses, not just the one on social media five years ago…..I see them all.  But I will pay for them.  By nailing those sins to the cross I cancel all your trespasses and redeem you. Thankfully Jesus is so different from the world today because he says I am in the business of cancelling, but I cancel your trespasses, the charge against you, so I can redeem you.  We have a message of hope that the world is in desperate need of.  I am so thankful that Jesus is not like the world.  I think of Psalm 130:3-4 “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.”

Pray:
Pray Colossians 2:13-15 but make it personal.  (eg., Thank you Lord that when I was dead in my sins, You made me alive with Christ…)

Colossians 2: 13-15 “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”


May 19, 2021 – Trust in God

Read: Genesis 37:12-24

Reflect:
The one thing that stands out to me about the story of Joseph is the long journey of suffering he endures before life is good for him.  It appears many times along the way as if God has forgotten Joseph but in the end we will see how God was at work all along and shaping Joseph to be the leader he needed to be.

I heard a talk by Pastor Tim Keller and he mentioned the place “Dothan” which is a location mentioned twice in the Old Testament.  The first time, in Genesis 37, is where Joseph found his brothers tending their flocks and they threw Joseph in a cistern.  Out of jealousy they planned to kill Joseph but Reuben persuaded them to throw him into a cistern instead.  I am sure Joseph was in fear for his life and crying out to God to save him.  It would appear God was silent as Joseph was sold as a slave to some passing Ishmaelite traders who took him to Egypt.  So Dothan marks the place where Joseph left everything familiar to him and became a slave in Egypt.

Some centuries later in 2 Kings 6 the story is told of the prophet Elisha who lived in Dothan (this is the second mention of this place).  He had been warning the King of Israel where the Arameans were going to attack.  The King of Aram became very upset and wanted to know who the traitor was that was informing the King of Israel of his plans.  When he found out it was the prophet Elisha he sent troops to Dothan to seize him.  He sent chariots and troops and horses.  When Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, saw the Arameans that had come against them, he was afraid.  Elisha prayed so the servant could see that “those who are with us are more than those who are with them” and the servant saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  As the army approached, Elisha prayed that the Lord would strike them with blindness.  The Lord again answered, and the army was blinded.

Two prayers at Dothan.  The first one, God appears to do nothing.  The second one, there is an immediate massive miracle.  As Tim Keller says “the two extremes of God’s methods meet in Dothan.  God was just as present and active in the slow answers to Joseph as in the swift answer to Elisha.  He was as lovingly involved in the silence of that cistern as he was in the noisy, spectacular answer to Elisha’s prayer.  The Joseph story tells us that very often God does not give us exactly what we ask for.  Instead He gives us what we would have asked for if we had known everything He knows.”

John Newton says “everything is needful (necessary) that He sends; nothing is needful (necessary) that He withholds.”   The story of Joseph reminds me that anything that comes into my life is something that, as painful as it is, I need in some way.  And anything I pray for that does not come from him, even if I am sure that I cannot live without it, I do not really need.

Pray:
That God will help you to trust Him in all situations and circumstances, even those difficult ones where it seems God is absent. Thank Him that He knows what you need, He is for you, He will never leave you, and He loves you.


May 18, 2021 – Treasure His Word

Read: Genesis 37: 5-11

Reflect:
Whatever Joseph thought of his strange dreams, we can know that they were God’s revelation, as they were fulfilled later in his life. I am intrigued by Jacob’s response – he “kept the matter in mind.” This reminds me of another time in Scripture where someone tucked things away for later revelation. Luke 2:46-51 describes a time when Mary and Joseph were in Jerusalem with Jesus for the annual Passover feast. On the journey home they realized that Jesus was not with them and returned to the city, discovering him teaching in the temple courts. When questioned about why Jesus had done this, he said “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” His parents did not understand the saying that he spoke to them but v.51 says “his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”

Have you ever had something happen that you didn’t understand at the moment but still kept it in mind, treasuring it in your heart? I had just such a thing happen to me in the Fall. It was early morning, maybe 4 am and I had awoken and was just having a debate in my head whether to get up to use the bathroom or wait until morning, when into my head, out of nowhere, I heard “no eye has seen, no ear has heard.” “Where did that come from?” I remember asking myself. I thought it was maybe part of a bible verse but couldn’t remember the rest. In the morning I looked it up and it came from 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” There is a family situation that I have been praying fervently for and although it has not been answered I felt this reminder from the Lord was something to ”keep in mind” and “treasure in my heart” as I wait for God.

Pray:
Thank God for His word that often comes just as we need it and is a treasure.


May 17, 2021 – Favouritism

Read: Genesis 37: 1-4

Reflect:
We are not told why Joseph gave a bad report to his father.  Was Joseph standing up for what was right or just being a tattletale?  No details are given but this just fueled the fires of jealousy that were already aflame due to Jacob’s favoritism of Joseph.  The colourful fancy jacket didn’t help much either!  If you know the back story, this seemed to be a deeply entrenched sin in Jacob’s family.  His mother, Rebekah, had loved Jacob best while his father Isaac had loved Esau more.  Jacob favoured Rachel over Leah.  Joseph was the oldest son of Jacob’s favored wife, Rachel, who had died giving birth to Benjamin. We might wonder how Jacob could favor one son over the others, but family patterns and sinful habits are difficult to change.

Favoritism is out of place with God’s character. Romans 2:11 says “God does not show favouritism.”  And the book of James instructs believers regarding favoritism: “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.”  When you read about the early church, even those closest to Jesus struggled with bias against people different from them.  Are you like me, and sometimes form judgements based on selfish, personal criteria rather than seeing others as God sees them?  May God give us vision to see people as God does, created in his image. If they are valuable and precious to Him then they should be valuable and precious to us.

Pray:
Think about people who are hard to love and ask God to help you see them as image bearers of God and give you a heart to love them as He loves them.