What it Means to Have Real Faith

Faith. It’s something we talk about it. It’s something we encourage each other to have. It’s something we know we need. But is it really something we practice? Hebrews 11:6 tells us without faith, it’s impossible to please God. So obviously it’s pretty important. But what is it really? What does it mean to have faith and practice faith in the one true God?

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 50
Key Verse: “Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” Genesis 50:25

According to Hebrews 11, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph figured it out. “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac…” “By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.” “By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.” “By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.”

By faith, by faith, by faith….why were these men credited with having faith? Because it was belief in the promise of God that prompted their actions.

You see faith isn’t hoping God will come through for me. It isn’t throwing a penny into the wishing well of dreams in anticipation of a desirable outcome. It isn’t crossing my fingers behind my back. Faith at its core is believing God will do what he’s said he will do. Period. End of story.

Not because I say the right words or ask enough times, but because He is faithful. On the flip side, if God hasn’t said he will do it, I can’t have faith that he will. I can ask. I can hope. But I can’t have faith.

And therein lies a major problem with today’s Christianity. We often pray and ask God to do something for us. We close our eyes and believe really really hard that he can and should do it, assuming that’s how you have faith. Then we wait patiently (for at least an hour) and end up discouraged when things don’t turn out the way we think they should.

But the question is – am I simply believing God for something I want or something he’s actually said? It’s only faith if I’m believing God for something he’s actually said. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph believed God for what he said. (Reason #1,245,377 for knowing my Bible. It makes “walking by faith” a whole lot easier.)

Thus with nothing back in Canaan but a small piece of land he took from the Amorites (Gen. 48:22) and a cave bought by Abraham, Jacob was adamant he not be buried in Egypt, but in Canaan. Because he wholeheartedly believed the promise of God that the land would one day be theirs.

In spite of the odds. In spite of the fact they were no longer living there. In spite of the fact it currently belonged to a myriad of other people groups and sounded ridiculous, Jacob insisted.

So Joseph made it happen. With the pomp and circumstance of royalty, Jacob’s body was embalmed and taken to Canaan. It was quite the caravan. Verse 7 says along with Joseph went, “All the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as all the household of Joseph, his brothers, and his father’s household.” Everyone except the kids. (Maybe they were in school. Just kidding. Kind of.)

Oh and also “chariots and horsemen. It was a very great company” (v. 9). Meaning Pharaoh’s army, probably for protection since they were entering a foreign land. What I want to know is who was back at the palace taking care of Pharaoh if all his servants were with Joseph? Very generous of the king.

When the Canaanites saw the entourage and heard “the very great and grievous lamentation” on the threshing floor of Atad, they renamed the place Abel-mizraim, which means “the mourning of Egypt”, figuring it must have been someone of great importance.

But Jacob wasn’t great because of who he was or what he’d done in life. He wasn’t mourned for seventy days by the people of Egypt because of his contributions to society. (Just two days short of the required time of mourning for a king by the way.) He was mourned and lamented and celebrated solely because of his relationship to Joseph.

My friend, it’s not about who you are or aren’t. It’s not about what you’ve done or will do or won’t do. It’s about your relationship to Jesus. It’s about faith. Do we believe God is who he says he is? Do we believe God will do what he’s said he will do?

If so, our actions will show it. Because faith without works is dead. It has no validity. “Show me your faith apart from works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). It’s how Abraham and Isaac lived. It’s how Jacob and Joseph lived. And it’s how you and I need to live.

Confident in the promise of God. Confident in his faithfulness. Confident in his sovereignty. So much so that even when it looks unlikely, even when the odds are against us, even when it seems ridiculous, we testify to the goodness of God by declaring no matter what – bury me in the land of Canaan.

Take my bones, as Joseph made them swear. Proclaiming to a lost world – “I don’t care how it looks right now. I don’t care how absurd you think I am. I believe in the promise of God.” Could there be anything more impactful to the next generation than a church who takes God at his word?

Not holding God accountable, but believing God powerful. And then acting accordingly.

Beloved of God, the patriarchs lived their faith with action based on the promise of God. They may have withered from time to time, but they didn’t give up. Faith in God required something of them, and this hasn’t changed. It requires something of us too.

So whether it means we give trusting God will provide. Whether it means we acknowledge him before men, knowing he’ll acknowledge us before the Father. Whether it means picking up your cross or laying your most prized possessions down. Go and do it. Live by faith. Believe God will do what he’s said he will do and act accordingly. Because he who promised is faithful.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Are you trusting in God for something he’s said or something you simply want?

Alas we have come to the end of Genesis. It’s been a wonderful ride (at least from my vantage point). God has proven himself faithful chapter by chapter. So today I ask you, what difference has it made in your life? How have you been encouraged through our study together? How have you been challenged? I’d love to hear from you.

The Blessing of Jacob’s Sons and What it Means for Us

Have you ever wished you could see into the future? Only if it’s good right? If you’d told me last Sunday – “Hey this week, is going to be rough. You’re going to witness multiple tornado’s. Your kids are gonna be held after school. Your husband’s gonna be exhausted. And you’ll be completely spent by Thursday.” I think I would have peed my pants. (Just keepin’ it real.)

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 49
Key Verse: “Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes.” Genesis 49:11

Though it turned out fine, if handed that kind of vague description, there would have certainly been some ungluing. Which has me wondering what kind of reactions surfaced when Jacob handed each of his sons a vague description of their future.

It was common in Bible times to pass a blessing onto your children. And in some cases (like this one) it was prophetic. How did Jacob know the future? My best answer is that God revealed it to him. (Genius conclusion, I know.) Hebrews 11 says, “By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff” (v. 21).

Out of a sweet intimacy with the God of his father and grandfather, Jacob was able to say to his boys, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come” (v. 1). Literally meaning “in the end days” or “latter days.”

At this point in history, today, right now, some of what Jacob spoke seems to have already taken place and some of it not. Let’s also remember sometimes prophecies can have double meanings. The sons of Israel were not told exactly when each fulfillment would take place. They were only told it was yet to come.

Reuben was up first. With words like “firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power,” I’d say Reuben was all ears, until Jacob dropped the bomb – “unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed” (v. 4). In other words, you get nothing because you had sex with my servant wife Bilhah.  Oops.

Next came Simeon and Levi, who may have fought the urge to run after hearing Reuben’s “blessing”. Jacob knowing time was short, cut to the chase. “Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence…Let my soul come not into their council…For in their anger they killed men” (v. 5-6). “Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce…I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel” (v. 7).  

Remember Simeon and Levi were the ones who killed all the Shechemites after a town wide circumcision party. As a result, these two tribes were later scattered among Israel, so they could do no more harm. (Think that announcement caused any anxiety?) Though little did Levi know God’s grace would overflow and his tribe would be divided as priests among the people.

Now before we get to Judah, who was next up according to birth order, consider the emotions evoked when Jacob told Issachar he would “become a servant at forced labor” (v. 15). And that raiders would get Gad. Or what about the fact that Dan would be a judge or Zebulun “a haven for ships” (v.13). “Hey not fair! Why does he get to live by the sea?”

However, I doubt any of them were surprised by the prophetic words of blessing spoken over Joseph, who received two allotments (or a double portion), through the adoption of his two sons.

But none of it compares to the blessing given to Judah. “Your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you” (v.8). “The scepter shall not depart from Judah…and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (v. 10). Judah was privileged to carry the messianic blessing. Through the person of Jesus Christ, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5), the scepter would forever be in his lineage.

Though right now Christ reigns on high in heaven, one day he will reign on high here, with us, on a new earth, “set free from its bondage to corruption” (Rom. 8:21). It’s going to happen. It’s not make believe. It’s not a fairy tale. It’s not wishful thinking. Jesus, the radiance of God’s glory, the bright morning star, the promised descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and now Judah will reign as King forever over all nations and all people.

It hasn’t happened yet, but it will. And when it does, they’ll be so much prosperity and abundance because of God’s glorious presence, you’ll be able to tie a donkey to a choice vine without caring if he eats it all. Or wash your clothes in wine instead of water (v. 11), if it so pleases you.

Is it any wonder then that Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine? It was not just a neat trick. It was a sign the Messiah had arrived. Amos 9 actually says “the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it” (v.13). The land will be so plentiful as soon as it’s planted, it will be ready for harvest. And as soon as it’s harvested, you’ll be able to plant it again. (Crazy for this farmer’s wife to even think about.)

Ezekiel 47 adds that the Jordan Valley will flow with fresh water from the throne of God itself. Fish will be abundant. Trees will yield fresh fruit every month (Ezek. 47:12). And you know what else? This copious and bountiful heavenly earth where God’s presence forever dwells with man, will be divided among the twelve tribes of Israel, including Joseph with his two portions (Ezek 47:13).

Talk about the ultimate fulfillment of a promise! Come what may, the sons of Jacob had no need to worry. And neither do we. In that day, when Christ’s kingdom is here and the heart’s of all people are in tune with him, every sojourner and foreigner will be treated as “native-born children of Israel,” and allotted an inheritance among the tribes (Ezek. 47:22).

Beloved of God, in Jesus Christ, this is your future. Peace and prosperity on a new earth abundant; with Christ our King forever on the throne. Though today may feel a bit uncertain, our fate is not. It’s steadfast and fixed and full of possibility. So don’t worry about tomorrow; don’t be anxious; don’t be scared. Our future isn’t vague, it’s victorious!

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you consider often the glorious eternity that awaits you as a believer in Jesus Christ or seldom think of it because the here and now seems all consuming?
How do you tend to view heaven? As one long eternal church service or life more abundant than we could possibly imagine in the presence of our God and King?

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18

The Most Important Thing We Can Teach Our Kids

Do you have any goals? What about for your kids or grand kids – have any hopes or dreams for them? Of course you do. I do too. And we should. Without dreams that grow into goals and goals that beseech us to try we wouldn’t have things like indoor plumbing or best selling novels or the Olympics or HGTV. That’s right we’d be living in a world without books and Olympians and Chip and Joanna Gaines. And to make matters worse – we’d be going to the bathroom outside.

Scripture: Genesis 48
Key Verse: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

So don’t get me wrong. We need dreamers and thinkers and doers and tryer-outers. We need people willing to fail and try again, people willing to pave the way for the rest of us who avoid science like it’s a bad plague.

But passion doesn’t need prompting. It will come naturally. God makes each of us with unique abilities and gifts and talents and loves. What needs prompting is purpose.

The motive behind the drive. Is it for my own glory or God’s? This is what our little loves and big loves and in between loves need help understanding. Because we don’t naturally seek to glorify God. If we did, well, then every pastor would be out of a job and we parents could hang out at the beach. But from my vantage point no pastors or parents are going to be out of a job any time soon.

We seek fulfillment. We seek pleasure. We seek after success and accomplishments and money and fame, but we don’t naturally seek God. It’s He that seeks us (John 6:44).

So it’s of grave importance we nudge and teach and at times push in the direction of purpose. As Joseph plainly did with his two boys. When Joseph heard that his dad had taken ill, he found his sons and took them to see grandpa.

At the mere sight of them, Jacob rallied, and sat up to do what he’d probably been praying about for quite some time – the blessing and adoption of Joseph’s boys – Manasseh and Ephraim.

Now I can’t help but wonder if he’d already run the idea by Joseph, or if it was a complete surprise. “Oh by the way Joseph, those two sons of yours – I plan to adopt them as my own.” “Oh, well that’s nice dad. But I tell ya what,  why don’t you give me a few days to run that one by Asenath, my wife. Remember her? And then I’ll give back with ya.”

But there is seemingly no hesitation on Joseph’s part. In fact when it was time for the official blessing Joseph urged his boys forward. “It’s ok guys go see grandpa.” So they did and Jacob kissed them and embraced them. Then Jacob stretched out his arms crossing them to place his right hand on Ephraim (the younger) and his left hand on Manasseh (the older).

Joseph thinking his dad had just gotten a little confused correct him, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head” (v. 18). But Jacob assured he knew what he was doing. Manasseh would be great but “his younger brother shall be greater than he” (v.19). A common theme we’ve seen throughout the book of Genesis.

And in a matter of moments it was over. With the ceremony concluded, the boys adopted, and the blessing given, Ephraim and Manasseh were forever sealed as Israelite’s. Their children and their children’s children would not be Egyptian, they would be Hebrew. Why? Because Joseph pushed his boys in the direction of purpose.

Instead of teaching them the family business to ensure their financial well being; instead of encouraging them to stick close with their mother’s family for their social well being; instead of  discouraging them from the abominable lifestyle of shepherding to ensure their political well being; Joseph emphasized purpose, to ensure their spiritual well being.

Teaching them that there’s no greater honor than being part of the family of God. There’s no greater privilege than serving the Almighty God. There’s no greater task than bringing glory to God. Because He alone is God and does great and marvelous things (Ps. 86:10). It’s He who gives and takes away. To Him belong greatness and power and glory and majesty. All that is in the earth is his. Therefore riches and honor come from God alone. (1 Chron. 29:11-12)

How do I know Joseph taught them such things? Because their dad was second in command of the most powerful nation in the world at that time. They had wealth and prestige and immense popularity among the Egyptian people and the surrounding kingdoms. It would have been natural and completely acceptable for Joseph to one day pass the position to Manasseh.

Not to mention their mama was Egyptian with an Egyptian family and an Egyptian heritage. It was what they knew until their dad came home one day to announce an entourage of Hebrew uncles had arrived.

But they walked away from all of it. They left behind the financial, social, and political security Egypt had to offer, for the eternal security God had to offer. Knowing full well the riches of this world do not compare to the riches of God’s kindness.

My dear friend, are we teaching our kids the same? Do they have any idea they’re here to glorify God? Do they understand that there’s no greater privilege than being a part of God’s people? Do they know there’s no greater honor than serving the LORD God Almighty?

As they grow and learn and gain independence, let’s not just support their passions, let’s also be sure to teach them their purpose. That they might leave behind the riches of this world for the immeasurable riches of God’s great and loving kindness. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

Contemplate and Evaluate:
As followers of Jesus Christ, what is our purpose? How are you living out that purpose and how are you promoting it to the next generation?
Do your kids know why they’re here? Do they understand there’s no greater accomplishment than learning to live heart, soul, and mind for God? What can you do today to encourage them in the right direction?

Why I Pray for Israel

Maybe it’s because I’m with them all day. But for some crazy unheard of reason my kids don’t always listen to me. Can you believe it? However if daddy declares it or says it or asks for it – there’s usually a response. And a quick one at that.

Devotional: Genesis 47:7-31
Key Verse: I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3

“Why is that?” I asked the kids after a long morning of hearing myself give instructions to apparently no one in particular. “Maybe because daddy always means what he says.” (Emphasis on the word always please.)

“Well how very insightful my dear, sweet, precious children.” At least that’s how I think I responded. Or maybe responded or wished I responded. Anyway, once the shock wore off of hearing I only sometimes mean what I say, I realized maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing. Not that the kids don’t mind me, but that they have a dad who always follows through with what he says. Because they also have a God who does the very same thing.

Every single word God speaks comes forth exactly as He says it will, because the LORD always means what he says. Proverbs 30:5 says “Every word of God proves true.”

So when God told Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse,” He meant it. Anyone who stood by Abraham would be blessed, but anyone who stood against him would suffer the consequences.

It’s a promise wrapped in what we like to refer to as the Abrahamic Covenant. A group of promises given to Abraham, reiterated to Isaac and Jacob, and passed to their descendants – the nation of Israel.

So when Pharaoh reached down into the pit and made Joseph governor of Egypt; when he graciously welcomed Jacob’s family into the kingdom; when he granted them rights to the best land in all the region, he was not just being nice. He was unknowingly blessing God’s people.

Therefore God blessed him in great abundance. First through the words of Jacob who was brought into Pharaoh’s throne room after his sons were escorted out. And then by the work of Joseph…

When the Egyptians ran out of money to buy food during the famine they came to Joseph for help.  “We’re out of money but we need more food!” So Joseph allowed them to sell their livestock in exchange for more. But a year later they were in trouble again. With no money and no livestock left to their name they suggested Joseph buy them and their land in exchange for more food that they might survive the famine.

So he did. He sold grain to the people in exchange for their land and they became Pharaoh’s servants. It may sound harsh to us but it was a win win as far as the Egyptians were concerned. They not only had food to eat and seed to sow but got to keep four fifths of the crop for themselves. Even in years of plenty, only twenty percent would go to Pharaoh.

And through it all, Pharaoh was immensely blessed with livestock and land and great wealth. Why? Because God was faithful to his word to bless those who bless his people. Is the promise still in effect today? Does God still bless those who bless Israel and curse those who dishonor them? Well quite honestly I don’t see why not. And have no desire to test God on the matter.

First of all the promise was restated in a blessing spoken over Israel in Numbers 24:9, “Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you.” Secondly, God still loves Israel.

They are the apple of his eye (Zech. 2:8). He chose them out of all the peoples of the earth to be his treasured possession because of his oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (cf. Deut. 7:6-8) And I don’t know about you but I don’t usually discard my treasured possessions.

Romans 11 says the Jews are ““beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (v. 28-29). He cannot and will not go back on his word.

Though for a time God has hardened the heart of Israel, “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25), he has not deserted them. Look with me at Revelation 21. When the holy city, the new Jerusalem, referred to as “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb” comes down from heaven it will have a great wall with twelve gates and twelve foundations. On the gates will be “the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel” (v. 12). And on the foundations will be the “names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (v. 14).

Someday, in someway, God will bring his beloved bride and his beloved people together forever. Until then we stand by their side because “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). “To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all” (Rom. 9:5).

Beloved of God, pray for Israel. And pray for the leaders of our nation. Pray with me that we will always and forever be a blessing to Israel not just for our own protection, but because they are God’s treasured possession and a vessel of blessing to all families of the earth through Jesus Christ our LORD. My friend may we never forget, our Savior bled Jewish blood.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Since World War II America has given over 120 billion dollars in aid to Israel. We have stood by their side continually. Do you think there is a correlation between the great blessings our nation has experienced and the hand of blessing we’ve extended to Israel? Why or why not?
How has God been faithful to his promises in your life? What promise are you holding onto today?

If today’s Deeper Devo was encouraging to you or insightful you have my permission to share it! My heart’s cry is for God to use my writing to encourage, enlighten, and educate hearts of believers and nonbelievers every single week. Thanks my friend!

Go Ahead and Say It

After reuniting with his family Joseph became something of a mediator between them and Pharaoh. Not too surprising since Joseph’s life has been a Christlike example to us for ten chapters now and 1 Timothy 2:5 is quite clear that Christ is our mediator. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 46:28-47:6
Key Verse: “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 10:32)

So in preparation of meeting Pharaoh for the first time Joseph says to his brothers, “When Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers’…for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians” (46:34).

“Um excuse me, you want us to do what?” I think I would have balked at the idea. I can hear it now. “Joseph maybe you’ve spent too much time in that little tunic of yours but that makes absolutely no sense. Egyptians hate shepherds! You just said so yourself. Yet you want us to walk into the presence of the highest ranking man in the world and declare we’ve spent our entire lives herding sheep? Great plan little brother.”

But Joseph wasn’t trying to shame his brothers or embarrass them. He wasn’t trying to force them into social suicide. Or cause them unnecessary harm. He was trying to protect them from assimilating into Egyptian society. He knew the temptations and false gods that would beckon for their attention. He knew the lure of Egyptian women. He knew the culture and the politics and the difficulties that lay ahead for them.

Thus he knew the very best thing for his siblings and their families were to be outcasts who lived apart in the land of Goshen. And the only way to accomplish such a thing was to be upfront about who they really were – Shepherds.

Could it be dangerous? Maybe. Life always carries with it an air of uncertainty. But they were safe in his presence. Joseph wouldn’t let anything happen to them. So he urged them to say it. To be truthful. And forthcoming about who they really were.

Today we have a similar struggle. Do we say it? Do we say we’re Christians? Jesus told us “you will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22). If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you…If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:19-20). “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Yet we’re also told not to be ashamed of the gospel (Rom. 1:16), “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” To go and make disciples. To preach the good news. To say it loud and clear declaring “his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!” (Psalm 96:3)

Hmmmm. Are you sure LORD? It feels a bit like social suicide. The world hates Christians. If I say it, I’ll be forever labeled. They’ll think me an intolerant, short sighted, judgmental, homophobe. They’ll tiptoe around me because of my beliefs and standards. I’ll be a misunderstood Jesus freak. Or better yet – an outcast.

But maybe that’s exactly the way God wants it. To keep us from assimilating into the world. To set us apart. To keep us from losing our true identity. To say I’m a Christian might label me, but it may also be the most effective way to protect me from a world filled with an immense number of false gods and temptations.

Could it be dangerous? Absolutely. But we’re safe in the arms of Jesus. No one can snatch us out of his hand (Jn. 10:28). He is always faithful and will establish and guard us against the evil one (2 Thess. 3:3).

Therefore he urges us to say it. To be truthful. To be forthcoming about who we really are.

“What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matt. 10:27-31

“So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32). Could there be anything more wonderful than Jesus declaring our name to the Father? I don’t think so.

So say it! Say you’re a Christian. Say it with joy. Say it with dignity and respect for other believers. Say it with boldness for the nonbeliever. Say it with love so the world can know what a true follow of Jesus Christ looks like.

When the brothers stood before Pharaoh and told him they were shepherds and always had been. Pharaoh not only granted them permission to live in the best of all the land of Egypt but told Joseph to put them in charge of his flocks as well.

No matter what happens my friend, the blessings of saying it, will always and forever far outweigh the worldly benefits of staying quiet. So say it. Say you’re a Christian. And then live it every single day.

Contemplate and Evaluate
How did the shepherd label protect Joseph’s family? How could the christian label protect believers?
Are you open and honest about your Christian beliefs? Or do you hide them at times because it’s a bit too concerning?


When It’s OK to Ask for Directions

“I don’t care! We’re going!” Ever said it? Mhmm I have. With colorful determination, on more than one occasion. Like last winter when I was super excited to go with Kreg to a Monsanto Seed Conference (A.K.A. a 24 hour mommy getaway). Not that I was excited about spending hours in a conference room listening to things I really didn’t understand. No, No. I had plans and let me assure you they did not involve a conference room. Though good food, HGTV, and a new book were absolutely on the agenda.

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 46:1-27
Key Verse: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11

But when the day arrived the roads were slicker than snot. Somehow a whole lot of fog had turned into a whole lot of ice. (I know. Ridiculous.) But we were STILL GOING. A little ice was not going to stop me from enjoying 24 hours free of children. Though you’d think I would have taken a hint when it took us fifteen minutes just to safely drive to Kreg’s parents house. A mere two miles down the road – to drop off those lovely children – who now had the day off school.

But I was determined. And utterly dismayed when the Monsanto representative called a few minutes later to inform us the whole thing was indeed cancelled. “What? But why?”

Mmmhmm. Sadly from the get go I had absolutely no intention of praying about whether or not we should go. I just wanted to go! Which is exactly the mindset I would have pictured Jacob in after finding out Joseph was still alive. “Pack it up boys. We are out of here!”

But instead of hightailing it straight to Egypt because nothing and no one was going to stop him from getting to his boy! Jacob (called Israel in this segment because of his remarkable faithfulness) heads to Beersheba to offer sacrifices and seek the LORD just as Abraham and Isaac had done at Beersheba years before.

Just let that sink in for a moment…in spite of the excitement and urgency Jacob must have felt to go and get there and be with Joseph – he stopped to worship the LORD and seek his will. (Anyone else need this today?)

He checked to make sure it was ok because many years before when Isaac had tried to go to Egypt during a famine, God had said no. And when Abraham went it caused problems we are still dealing with today (Hagar and Ishmael and the unrest among certain Arab nations).

But wouldn’t you know, this time, God said yes! “Jacob, Jacob…Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation” (v. 3). It was absolutely, without a doubt, no question God’s will for Jacob to take his family to Egypt.

It not only fulfilled the prophecy God had spoken to Abraham (Genesis 15) and protected Jacob and his family from perishing in the famine. But allowed them to grow in a protected environment from seventy persons (v. 27) to a multitude likely numbering in the millions. (cf. Exodus 1:7)

God had a plan and it was so much bigger than Jacob and Joseph and Judah and the rest of them. It went well beyond their survival and emotional reunion. It was about a people He would form a covenant with. And dwell among. And lead and love and lavish with blessing. A people He would make into a nation. A people He would use as a vessel to bring blessing to all the families of the earth through the birth and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In reality it was not about them at all; it was about Jesus. Who is before all things and holds all things together and whom all things were created through and for (Col. 1:16-17). And who redeems and reconciles us to God by “making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20).

And the moment we realize life’s not about us but about Jesus, is the moment we’ll really start living. Because until we recognize his sovereignty in our lives, we won’t surrender to his will.

Which is exactly what Jacob did when he made a pit stop in Beersheba to worship God. (In my opinion, one of the finest moments of his life.) I have no doubt he wanted to go to Egypt. His boy was there. The firstborn of his beloved Rachel. But I wholeheartedly believe if God had said no that day; If God had said “You can go, but I won’t go with you,” Jacob would have stayed right where he was. Smack dab in the middle of a famine stricken Canaan.

Because he now understood God’s will was better than his own. He recognized God’s sovereignty in his life and that of his family. And no matter how desperate he wanted to lay his hands on Joseph if it wasn’t God’s will, he wasn’t going.

This is the goal my friend, to surrender to God’s will with dignity and determination, no matter how badly we long for something. No matter how much we think we need it. To stop and ask God is the mark of a true follower of Christ. Because we know he won’t lead us astray. He might lead us down paths and through streams and up mountains we never thought we could go; never thought we could get through. But never astray.

Yet we struggle to seek God first. Afraid of what he might say. Afraid of what he might make us do. Certain if we surrender, by this time next year, we’ll be taking up residence in a paper box or a remote African village. (Am I right?)

But we don’t need to be afraid. God’s will is good. God’s will is best. God’s will is a life worth living. It’s where we experience His presence. Look at what the LORD says to Jacob. “I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again” (v.4). God would be with him the entire time and there’s nothing more thrilling than the continuous company of the Savior.

Secondly, God’s will is full of blessings – “Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes” (v.4). What a joy for Jacob to know he would live the remainder of his days near Joseph.  

My friend, we need not be afraid to ask Him first. We need not fear His will for our lives. He is a loving and gracious Father who absolutely knows how to give good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:11). “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matt. 6:33; NLT) So go ahead ask – for directions. 

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you daily surrender to God’s will or do you hesitate because you’re afraid of what He might make you do?
What decision or situation or longing do you need to lay before the Father today?

We May be Different But our Stories are Similar

Differences often blind us from seeing similarities. We get stuck on black and white, republican and democratic, conservative and liberal, christian and non-christian, CEO executive and hard working American. We chant “black lives matter.” Or “blue lives matter” Or “unborn babies matter.” And yes they do. Because life matters. ALL of life matters.

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 45:9-28
Key Verse: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who call you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

If you have skin and bones, no matter your color or occupation or background or whether you’re unborn or 98 years old – you’ve been made in the image of God and your life matters. But we divide and take sides because it’s easier to join with people who think or look like we do. Instead of reaching across the ever widening divide and saying, “You know what, we’ve both been made by the same God.” “You know what, we all need a Savior.” “You know what, in Christ our stories are actually similar.”

It’s true. In Christ, you and I – we’ve got the same story. Though the details are different, the outline’s the same. First God reveals himself to us. (Yes He chooses us. There’s just no way around it.) Then He pardons us, provides for us, and instructs us to proclaim his excellencies.

For every single one of us that’s the outline. And it’s mirrored perfectly in Genesis 45 when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. And then pardons, provides, and instructs them to proclaim his excellencies, in particular to their father.

If Joseph had not revealed himself, his brothers never would have known who he was. And my friend, if God didn’t make Christ known to us, we wouldn’t know either. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). The Greek word for “draw” is helkuo and it literally means to drag. Because the reality is we’d never go on our own.

But convicted of sin by a work of the Holy Spirit, we seek the Savior who pardons us as Joseph so graciously pardoned his guilty brothers. Though we deserve death, though we deserve hell, “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities…as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:10-12) A fact I’ll never understand and forever appreciate.

But he doesn’t stop there. Jesus then gives and gives and gives to us out of his great riches. (Go read Ephesians 1.) Beautifully displayed to us by Joseph’s generous blessing of his brothers at the command of Pharaoh. Lavishing them with tons of grace and food and a change of clothes (except Benjamin who got 5 sets of clothes and 300 shekels of silver), he says to them, “You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children…There I will provide for you” (v.10-11).  

He then sent carts to carry their wives and little ones but not their stuff. Pharaoh specifically instructed not to worry about their things “for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours” (45:20). (However Gen. 46:6 tells us they still took their stuff.) (I probably would have too.)

But whether they took the family favorites or not the fact remains as long as they were with Joseph they’d be abundantly provided for the rest of their lives. As are we, when we stick close to Jesus who said in John 15:4-7, “Abide in me…for apart from me you can do nothing…If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

In other words, “Stay close to me.” “That my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (15:11). “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on…But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:25, 33).

My friend, Jesus has not only pardoned us and given us eternal life but desires to provide for every one of our tomorrow’s. If we’d simply trust and obey his fairly straightforward instructions. Which are not burdensome (1 John 5:3) but there for our benefit and His glory.

Just as Joseph instructed his brothers to go and tell their father of his great honor in Egypt, so are we to go and tell of Christ’s great honor in all the world.  1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

We’ve been saved for a purpose. We’ve been saved to proclaim the most wonderful excellencies of a God willing to not only pardon our shameless sins but pay the penalty himself. We’ve been saved to tell them He is STILL ALIVE!

I can’t even fathom the conversation that must have ensued when the boys arrived back home with all the stuff and the carts and 20 donkeys over loaded with grain and bread and all the goods of Egypt (v. 23). I wonder how they said it. With remorse dripping from every word? Or with a breathless excitement? Either way, the important thing is they said it. “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt” (45:26).

At first Jacob didn’t believe them. But when he heard their story and the words of Joseph and saw the wagons and overflowing provisions, it was enough. Because it is enough. The person, the pardon, the provisions – it’s absolutely enough. So go and tell them. Tell them your story – tell them our story. Because actually it’s His story.

The LORD hasn’t asked us to convince the world. He’s simply asked us to walk across the room or the street or the great big divide and tell them that He is still alive! Oh and we’re not to quarrel on the way! (Gen. 45:24)

Contemplate and Evaluate:
For what purpose has God saved you?
When was the last time you told someone Jesus is still alive?
Who can you share your story, our story, and ultimately His story with today?

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

How We Move Past the Hurt and Heal

Genesis 45 is the stuff movies are made of, not real life. Though it happened. Every bit of it. Through wet tears and sobs so loud Pharaoh’s household could hear it, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” (v. 3)

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 45:1-8
Key Verse: “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Genesis 45:5

He couldn’t take it anymore. Judah’s little speech and remarkable display of sacrificial love unraveled the last little bit of Joseph’s resolve. I bet it felt good to finally say the words. To finally be open with his grief. It was the third time he’d wept since his family first came seeking food.

But the brothers were terrified. Completely dumbfounded, they could say nothing. So Joseph said everything, quickly stepping into the huge wake of awkwardness his omission had created to ease their fears.

“And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God.” (v. 5-8)

Sheesh. Talk about perspective! Could you do it? After being humiliated, dragged naked, and sold as a slave. After spending year after year in jail. After missing out on a relationship with your father and youngest brother for twenty-two years. Could you let them off the hook with no zingers or little jabs? Without a quick rundown of every little thing you’d been through?

I don’t know. There’s no doubt it would take every ounce of Spirit filled control to keep my tongue in check. To keep me from blaming and renaming and making sure they understood how badly I’d been hurt.

However with the sovereignty of God at the forefront of his mind, Joseph succeeded at it. He let his brothers off the hook because it wasn’t his job to keep them there. He trusted God for the consequences and judgment of their sin instead of making himself the judge. Something quite contrary to our nature.

But he couldn’t have walked headlong into the wake of awkwardness or embraced them with not only his arms but the full depth of his heart, if he didn’t believe in the sovereignty of God.

Because that’s what makes forgiveness possible. Only when we view hurt through the lens of God’s sovereignty can healing happen.

Think about it for a minute. If nothing happens without God’s allowing of it and His control never ceases, then even the hard stuff is not without its place. Giving credence to the ever so popular Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

All things. Even the hurtful things that leave us feeling so numb a hundred bees could sting us and we wouldn’t feel it. Or in some ways might not even care. Because the cut from someone we’d trusted, someone we’d loved, someone we’d cared for, was so deep, it would leave us scarred for a lifetime.

Unless we view it through the lens of God’s sovereignty. Unless we pull back and trust that we’re still in the palm of God’s gracious and loving hand. Unless we realize for one reason or another God permitted it to happen.

Not that he approved of it or applauded it but in his supreme power and authority he allowed it. And if for no other reason than to draw us closer to Him, to let us feel his good presence in our lives, to empower us with his strength, to let us experience the comfort only the King of kings can give, then I dare say it was maybe worth it.

Because to know Him more is the ultimate gift. And to be like Him is the ultimate goal. So if it’s the hurt that pushes me in the right direction then I can heal. I can forgive. I can move past the pain without packing on the bitterness. Because my Father is ultimately in control.

As Joseph so excellently understood. “Don’t worry about it,” he told his brothers. “For God sent me before you to preserve life.” (v. 5). Three times he affirms, “God sent me. So it’s ok. It’s God’s sovereign hand that brought me here.”

Joseph had the privilege of eventually understanding why his path had been what it was. We may or may not get that privilege. But either way a child of God can rest in the comfort of knowing you are never outside the Father’s will. “The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way.” (Prov. 20:24; NLT)

Does that mean people can sin against me and it doesn’t matter? Nope. Not at all.  It simply means we can find a way to forgive. And when there is honesty and repentance and the sweet surrender of a guilty conscience evident in the offending party, as there was with Joseph’s brothers, we can reconcile. We can weep and hug and rejoice in new beginnings. Because we know we too have been forgiven. We too have been reconciled to a Father we greatly offended by our sin.

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). Oh how thankful I am for a Father willing to forgive me. And a King always and forever on the throne. Live today in His perfectly sovereign peace my friend.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Why is God’s sovereignty so important in relation to hurt and healing?
Are there roots of bitterness growing in your heart because of an offense long past? Through the lens of God’s sovereignty how might you be able to offer forgiveness?

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

The First Step to Reconciliation

Compassion is not my natural bent. Nine times out of ten I’d rather just tell you – or I mean everyone besides you – to get over it. I know, heartless. Ironically I have a psychology degree. Maybe there’s good reason God interrupted my plan to become a marriage and family counselor. (And a flight attendant. That was my other idea. “I’m sorry sir but we cannot land this plane if your seat is back those two inches. So just get over it.”)

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 43:1 – 44:34
Key Verse: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

But over the years I’ve definitely seen my heart soften. As I’ve cried alongside desperately hurting friends, felt the weight of my own bad choices, and stood at the graveside of caskets far too small. To the point in which just this morning while eating my eggs I had to hide the tears that threatened as I read the broken words of a woman who lost her mother at just eighteen.

Her pain echoed through me in a way that made me so very thankful to be watering the flowers on my front porch, meeting the incessant demands of my children, and wading through a sink full of dirty dishes.

It gave me a good dose of perspective – as did over twenty years of unending guilt for Joseph’s brothers. Locked in a jail cell the betrayal of Joseph was the first thing that came to their minds (42:21). It had not left them. It had shaped them. But Joseph needed to know how. Did they feel remorse for what they’d done? Had they changed for the better? So he put them through a series of tests.

First he kept one brother back. Would they come back for him? And would they bring Benjamin? They did. But did they hate Benjamin as they hated him? Would they abandon Benjamin as they did him?

When they returned Joseph invited them into his home. He seated them by birth order. Then heaped five times as much food on Benjamin’s plate. Did they care? Nope. Apparently they didn’t. But the true test was yet to come.

Joseph had his cup, his silver cup, placed in the mouth of Benjamin’s sack. Then sent his steward after them. “What have you done? Why did you take my lord’s special cup?” But they were indignant. “What are you talking about? We didn’t take his special cup!” (obviously my paraphrase)

So certain of their innocence they put their lives on the line. “Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants” (44:9). And lone behold there it was in Benjamin’s sack.

They tore their clothes. What on earth? But how? Why? Then together returned to the city. Every last one of them. And offered themselves as Joseph’s servants. But Joseph refused, “No no no, I’ll just take the little one. He’s the one who had the cup.” (more of my paraphrase)

How Joseph held it together as his brothers groveled before him, I have not the slightest idea. But he had done it. He had created an opportunity for his brothers to betray Benjamin, just as they had him. Only this time the stakes were higher. In exchange for Benjamin he offered each of them their freedom. Tempting, very very tempting.

But they wouldn’t do it again. Not now. Not ever. It would kill their father. I think it’s safe to say God their hearts had been softened. Besides, Judah had made a promise to return Benjamin and he intended to keep it. So he offered his own life in exchange for Isaac’s favorite boy. The kind of quality one might expect from the tribe of our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.

There was no jealousy. No strife. No teetering back and forth as to what to do. Just selfless determination that allowed them to gather on the highly coveted edge of reconciliation.

Something you may long for or hope for or dream of in this vast world of broken relationships. But how did it happen for them? How did they get to the point wherein love and honesty and grace and mercy were about to burst forth with no restraint?

They let go. All of them. Joseph of any and all bitterness, anger, hate, or revenge. The brothers of all jealousy and envy, and deception. They let go of hurt feelings and grudges. They let go of pride and selfish ambition. And they let go of control. A big one for Jacob.

With little option remaining, Jacob surrendered. “So be it,” he said. And “May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man” But as for me…“If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved” (43:14). He let go. And he let God.

When God calls us to let go of something – be it a loved one, a dream, a plan, a life of guilt or anxiety or favoritism, a seed of bitterness or an all encompassing envy, a feeling of control, a long standing lie, or an ever-present wish – it might be the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do. But if it’s the right thing; if it’s God asking you to do it; if it means deliverance or blessing or freedom or reconciliation, then it’s absolutely worth it. And possible through Him who gives us strength (Phil. 4:13).

Little did Jacob realize his boy, his long lost boy, was that dreaded man. And that letting go would bring the most beautiful of blessings into his life. And little did his sons realize the breaking would bring about the best kind of remaking. And the admitting the most brilliant forgiving.

My friend is there something you need to let go of today? Something you’ve long held onto because it’s too scary or too hard or too shameful to admit? Today I pray you find the courage to surrender. To be real. To be honest. Because on the other side just might be the most beautiful of blessings, a reconciliation you didn’t think possible, a remaking you never saw coming, or a forgiving you never thought you’d get to experience.  

Contemplate and Evaluate:
When have you let go and saw God’s gracious hand work things out for the better?
What do you need to let go of today? A wish, a dream, a thought of envy or seed of bitterness? Ask the LORD to give you the strength (Phil. 4:13). And remember His mercies are new every morning.

(Photo credit: Pixabay)

The Best Decision You’ll Ever Make

Sometimes I have the best ideas. Like a few months ago when I told the kids it was National Cleaning Day so we had no choice but to wash windows and baseboards and bedding and every toy they own. Brilliant I tell you! Until they asked my mom if she too had participated in National Cleaning Day. (I’m sorry, what did you say?)

Devotional Scripture: Genesis 41:37- 42:38
Key Verse: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Then there’s the bad ideas. The really really bad ideas. Like the time I decided to dye my hair black (with permanent hair dye mind you). And then wept uncontrollably the next morning because what on earth had I just done! Clearly there was a reason God did not give me black hair!

Or the time I had shin splints in college and decided I would be responsible and get ice packs and ice them with absolutely no protection WHATSOEVER on my skin. I pushed through the burning sensation for um well much longer than I care to admit. But long enough to give myself burn marks that looked like a map of the Galapagos Islands, on both legs, and didn’t go away for several years. Yes, years. Go ahead and google “map of Galapagos Islands”. I know you want to.

But Joseph didn’t have bad ideas (at least not that we know of). Just really good ones. Seven years of famine – no worries Pharaoh. Just hire a man to gather and store up grain during the seven abundant years so Egypt can still thrive during the seven bad years. Brilliant! “Joseph, you’re hired!”

Can you even imagine? One minute he was serving up mash to his fellow prison mates (at least that’s what I imagine him doing) and the next he’s being served an endless array of any and every delicacy the eye had ever seen as second in command of Egypt. (Up from the grave he arose right?)

Clothed in fine linen, with a gold chain about his neck, and Pharaoh’s signet ring on his finger, they put Joseph in a chariot and took him for a ride. “Bow the knee!” They called out before him. I wonder if there was confusion. “Hey, anyone know who the new guy is?”

“Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (v. 46) to begin the ministry God had set before him. And not so ironically Jesus was also thirty when he began his. Then Pharaoh gave Joseph a gentile wife. Another not so ironic coincidence considering Joseph is a picture of Jesus and we the church, Christ’s bride, are gentiles.

As head honcho or governor Joseph got right to work storing “up grain in great abundance…until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured” (v.49). It was vast and abundant! As are the “immeasurable riches” of God’s grace (Eph. 2:7) and the “unsearchable riches of Christ (Eph 3:8).

A good thing since “all the earth” sought grain from Joseph. Or at least the world well beyond Egypt’s borders. Hence he was a savior to the whole world because he alone could give them life. I think you know what’s coming. Acts 4:12 says of Jesus “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Only Jesus can give us life. And he gives it to “all who call on him” (Rom. 10:12). Just as Joseph gave food to anyone who came to him.

As the famine spread and people far and wide showed up, Joseph must have anticipated his family’s arrival. Pretty sure I would have been wholesaling tums had I been in his shoes. What will it be like to see them again? Will they recognize me? How will they react? Have they changed? Will they still hate me?

Then one day they showed up. Well ten of them anyway because Jacob would not dare part with Benjamin. Did they ask around as to what to do? Or did they know it was the governor they had to seek? Had to approach. Had to ask for food to feed their families.

No matter, they went. Best decision they ever made and “bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.” The very fulfillment of Joseph’s dream.

Yet they didn’t recognize him, though Joseph knew exactly who they were (I think we could easily draw another Jesus parallel here.) Joseph tested his brothers by speaking harshly to them and putting them in jail for three days. Then he told them they could all go home except for one. Didn’t matter who but someone needed to stay until they returned with Benjamin to prove they weren’t really spies (another brilliant idea).

Somehow Simeon was chosen. When the boys got home and told Jacob all that had occurred, he was adamant Benjamin would be going nowhere! “Bad idea boys! Not gonna happen.” But their enthusiasm to return was hindered when they discovered “every man’s bundle of money was in his sack” (42:35). Obviously the governor would assume they stole it!

But there was absolutely no way Joseph was going to let his brothers pay. He just couldn’t. It was a gift. Because salvation cannot be bought. Nor can it be earned. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).

We can’t buy it my friend. He won’t let us. Salvation is God’s gift to any and all willing to receive it. Willing to come to him. Willing to take and eat of the bread of life. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make – to go to Jesus. To seek him and the bread he offers. Because only He can save you. Only He can give you life.

Contemplate and Evaluate
Have you gone to Jesus to receive the bread of life? Or have you tried to buy it? Tried to earn it? Tried to gain it from somewhere else?
What evidence of His presence do you see in your life? 
What new insights have you gained regarding the similarities between Joseph and Jesus? How has it encouraged your faith?

(Photo credit: Pixabay)