Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 21 Jan 18:
1. Genesis 41:16 — “’I cannot do it,’ Joseph replied to Pharaoh, ‘but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.’” — Despite desiring the favor of Pharaoh, Joseph did not hesitate to give God the glory instead of lifting up himself.
2. Genesis 41:28-40 — God intends for nations and for people to store reserves for contingencies, to save for the rainy days of life.
3. Genesis 41:38 — “So Pharaoh asked them, ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’” Joseph was valuable solely because of his relationship with God.
4. Genesis 41:41-54 — God can completely change your circumstances in an instant.
5. Genesis 41:51 — “Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, ‘It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.’” The fact that he named his son Manasseh suggests that Joseph really hadn’t forgotten. Also, don’t lose sight of the fact that Joseph married and had children with the daughter of a pagan priest. It is very difficult to succeed in a secular society without compromising your holiness.
6. Genesis 41:56 — The greatest sermon never preached about Joseph’s great failure — “When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt.” Joseph sold back to the people what was rightfully theirs. He abused his gift from God to take advantage of others. In fact, you will see that he uses the storehouse grain to sell all the people into slavery which will cause great hatred between the Egyptians and the Jews, resulting in enslavement of the Jews. This is also a Biblical warning about the abuse of government power.
7. Genesis 42:4 — To Jacob, all the sons but Benjamin were expendable. Wow!
8. Genesis 42:7-28 — Joseph toyed with and emotionally tortured his brothers, likely because of deep seated resentment. How do you treat those who have offended you? Do punish them emotionally by playing games? Do you make them jump through hoops to prove their sincerity?
9. Genesis 42:37 — “Then Reuben said to his father, ‘You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.’” Reuben appears to have grown greatly in character, having learned from his past failures. Now he is acting like a selfless leader.
10. Proverbs 21:1 – “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” Watch and see how this truth is revealed in Joseph’s life. This truth remains true today. God controls all political leaders for His purpose. God blesses and punishes peoples through their political leaders. If you do not like what is happening politically, you can protest as the world does, or you can turn to the Lord in repentance, prayer, and obedience.
11. Proverbs 21:3, 27 – Obedience is the greatest form of worship. Ceremony is not substitute for obedience. In fact, the religious acts of the disobedient are insulting to God.
12. Psalm 8:1 — Psalm 8 starts like the Lord’s Prayer, acknowledging the Majesty of God. Without the right perspective of God, even our prayers are misguided. All sin starts with seeing God wrongly. All wisdom starts with seeing God rightly.
13. Psalm 8:4 — “What is man that you are mindful of him,the son of man that you care for him?”
After seeing God correctly, the second key to life is having the right perspective of ourselves in relationship to Him, totally undeserving of His mercy and grace, nothing but His humble servant but lived by Him unconditionally.
14. Psalm 8:9 — “O Lord, our Lord,how majestic is your name in all the earth!” Start and end praising God’s majesty!
15. Psalm 9:1 — The habit of praising God publicly keeps you on track and points the Way to others.
16. Psalm 9:10 — “And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” How well do you really know God, not ‘know about God’, but ‘know God’? Jesus came that we could truly “know him who is true.” (1 John 5:20) In fact Jesus said that eternal life is knowing God – “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) The better we truly know God, the more we trust Him (faith), love Him, and obey Him, the more we grow in the big three Christian attributes – faith, hope (faith projected forward), and love. Paul reminds us that among these three, love is the greatest, but he also tells us that love rests on faith – “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5) Love is the greatest mark of faith and true relationship with God – “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7) “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8) The one who knows God and loves God, obeys God – “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3, 4) Jesus said that his sheep not only know his voice, but they also follow him. (John 10) In fact, it is in the following that we grow in the knowing, trusting, loving, and obeying. We grow in our trust through personal experience in the faithfulness of God. Knowing God is not just reading about God, it is about walking with God and seeking Him with all of our heart. Knowing God is about relationship, not religion. Witnesses testify to what they have experienced first-hand, not about what they have heard about (that is hearsay). Our witness to others is only powerful when it is first-hand. Paul said, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-11) “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) Knowing God, trusting Him, loving Him, and obeying Him, is a growth process – “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) Though we have a relationship
with God, we must pursue greater relationship with God – “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22) So, how well do you know God? Do you desire to know him further? Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) Today is a new day.
17. Psalm 9:13 — “O Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death.” How are you trying to solve your relationship problems and the injustices you are experiencing? Go to God. He controls everything including the hearts of people.
18. Psalm 9:17 — “The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God.” What happens when a nation makes laws contrary to God’s laws?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 21 Jan 18: Meditate upon what God is doing with our nation, pray for a national repentance and revival, and pray that God will use you as a faithful beacon of light to expose darkness and to point to the only True Light, Jesus. Rather than being a spokesperson for a party, person, or organization, be a spokesperson for Jesus. (Proverbs 21:1)