42:18 On the third day Joseph said to them, "I am a God-fearing man." Yesterday, I told you that today I would share a promise God made to me from Joseph's life. I guess you could say it's an indirect promise, but it has (and still does) get me through some tough days as a mother. About eleven years ago, after going through a messy divorce, I really worried about how my young impressionable kids (grade school ages) would fare spiritually as a result of the long stretches when they weren't in my home (their time in each home was basically split 50/50 in continuous chunks). After being a stay-at-home mom for seven years, this arrangement was agonizing, and far from my choosing, especially since I was the primary spiritual guide for my children. So one day, as I was driving down the street, praying for my kids, likely crying, I said to God, "Lord, who is going to teach my children about You and give them a passion for You when I'm not with them?"
A very rare thing happened (in my experience). His words instantly came into my mind! "Joseph didn't have a mother. Who taught him?"
At that time, I didn't understand. I knew Joseph's mother had died, but I didn't know how old he was at the time. As I did some study, I found that most Jewish teachers believe that Rachel was 36 when she died and Joseph was eight (Seder Hadoros year 2208)--still a very young boy. Joseph's mother wasn't there to teach him through many impressionable years, and based on many happenings in their household, I doubt his dad invested much into him spiritually, either. From what we read (including today), his dad was a trickster, he played favorites with his sons, he harbored victim-mentality, and he had control issues. So to make my point, God said this to me to reassure me that ultimately, He didn't need me in order to build a passion into the hearts of my girls. Joseph grew up to have his heart set on the plans and purposes of the Lord, even after living away from the roots of his faith in an ungodly land for many years. God could certainly develop that same passion in the hearts of my kids, too. Joseph grew to have a passion for God, because through the years he received passion from God.
This has been so reassuring through the years when I feel so little control or opportunity. Eleven years later, with limited input from me, my two girls have been continuously growing in their love and devotion to the Lord!
The point of this is for you: God wants to speak into your life and make promises to you. He longs for intimate, ongoing interaction with all of His children. He doesn't give promises on demand, but if we show up for Him by making Him a priority, He will show up at crucial times to direct our lives and give us these special reassurances. And remember from yesterday, write these blessings down for the times of famine, because you will forget! As we progress, I will share many more beautiful things that God has spoken into my life through the years, and I invite you to share testimony of the same with the other readers!
42:21 Speaking among themselves, they said, "Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn't listen. That's why we're in this trouble." Your sins always find you out. And if you are not faced with them openly the same way Joseph's brothers were, you are still faced with them in the recesses of your heart, no matter how much time elapses. Satan never tells you that when he coaxes you into sin, does he?
13:47 Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. Isn't it ironic that Jesus chose fishermen as His disciples?
13:54, 57 He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, "Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?" And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. I find the paradox of these two verses sadly representing typical human nature. On the one hand, people see the miracles around them every day, especially in science and nature. With all of the modern advances in medicine, astronomy, molecular biology, and anatomy, it is flabbergasting that anyone can be so stiff-necked they won't acknowledge a Creator. So many people are offended by those wonders instead of drawn by them. But here we are reminded that, even when they were with the Creator, they still wouldn't acknowledge Him, even when He did miracles. It's the age-old problem-people are stubborn and rebellious, and they CHOOSE unbelief, even when the cold, hard evidence stands in their midst.
16-20: This is one of my favorite Psalms! Look at all the action God has taken (and will take) on our behalf in troubled times: He reached down. He rescued me. He drew me. He delivered me. He upheld me. He led me. He rescued me (again). He delighted in me. He rewarded me. He compensated me. It's not all about me (or you), but God truly treasures us as His people. He delights in us and longs to interact with us continuously, because He LOVES us. This is all so humbling to me. But also notice the required action on our part (vs. 20- 27) doing right, maintaining innocence (accomplished through either obedience or repentance), keeping His ways, not turning to evil, never abandoning His principles, striving to be blameless (again, we are blameless in Christ through repentance), faithfulness, purity, humility. Notice that God initiates the action, but we have part of the responsibility for responding so that we may receive His help and blessing.
Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you. What more can I say?
Questions for personal reflection:
Can you think of a sin you committed in the past that has left cycling guilt in your heart to this day? Do you think it's possible to get rid of the ball and chain of this guilt? How?
Have you seen God's action in your life? How have you responded to His action on your behalf?
What exactly is wisdom? How do you develop it?
Today's Gold Nugget: Want to see how far stiff-necked unbelief is taking our nation? Watch the movie, "Expelled," with Ben Stein. Want a great demonstration of the Creator in your midst? Order the awe-inspiring DVD, "Star of Bethlehem." Get them now. You'll be oh-so-glad you did!