Scripture Read: Genesis 42 - 43
Title: The Road to Reconciliation
(H) Highlight verse:: "Joseph answered, Pharaoh, 'It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable response." Genesis 41:16
(E) Explain: When the famine was in full swing, Joseph’s father heard that there was grain for sale in Egypt. Apparently his sons were a little mystified as to how they should deal with this famine. He says, “Why do you look at one another?” This is another way of saying, “Why are standing around doing nothing when there is a lot of work that needs to be done?” He sends his sons to Egypt, but leaves his youngest Benjamin behind. Apparently Jacob did not trust his sons with Benjamin, since he was Joseph’s brother. He was afraid they would allow something bad happen to Benjamin The pain of losing his son Joseph is still real for Jacob, it’s been 17 plus years and he has not forgotten what happened to Joseph.
The brothers make the trek to Egypt and unbeknownst to them their brother Joseph is still alive and thriving; in fact he is now the governor of the land. When his brothers approached Joseph they did not recognize him but Joseph knew them. They bowed before him and Joseph remembered his dream of many years ago.
(A) Application: The journey to reconciliation has begun for Joseph.. This a beautiful story of compassion, grace and forgiveness. This journey could only happen through the power of God and the Holy Spirit. Joseph chose to forgive because he knew it was the right thing to do, but the power of the Spirit is how he able to forgive.
I/we can certainly learn a lot from Joseph when it comes to forgiveness. There is often great difficulty in showing forgiveness to someone who has wronged us. I am sure some of you have had painful experiences and extending forgiveness is not even on your radar. So I am not going to write about how easy it is to forgive… but I will tell you that through the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit you can forgive… even if you think you can’t.
(R) Respond: God, people can be mean and showing forgiveness can be hard. Help me to know how to show forgiveness to those who have wronged me. Help me to seek forgiveness from those I have wronged. May I model myself after Joseph and extend forgiveness, even when I do not think I can.
Scripture Read: Genesis 41
Title: Joseph's Rise to Power
(H) Highlight verse:: "Joseph answered, Pharaoh, 'It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable response." Genesis 41:16
(E) Explain: In this passage we read about Joseph's rise to power in Egypt. Joseph is certainly a gifted and talented man who is deserving of this promotion, but we see that all Joseph does and says has been given to him by God. The interpretation of the dream, the wise counsel of storing up food for the famine and ultimately the distribution of the food during the famine was all given to Joseph by God. Joseph acknowledges that it is God who gives the talent and this shows us that Joseph is a humble man who is committed and obedient to God. Joseph very easily could have let this rise to power go to his head, but he doesn't. He gives God the credit and He is obedient to do what God tells him to do. We will continue to see in the days to come that Joseph remained a person who is ground in his relationship with God as he chooses to do some real soul searching when he meets his brothers. It is my opinion that Joseph is one of the great examples of leadership in the Bible. Leadership is about being connected with God, being obedient to Him, seeking His counsel and putting others before self.
(A) Application: I love how God chooses to use us to accomplish His will. God is self-sufficient. He does not NEED us, but He DOES use us. God can do whatever He wants, when He wants and how He wants and yet He wants to use US. God calls his people (us) to join Him in accomplishing His plans and purposes. He invites us to find out what He is up to and get on board so we can assist Him. I think it is important for us to acknowledge and understand that God gives us our abilities and talents. God has gifted you and me so we can best serve Him and with Him. When we understand and acknowledge this I think it keeps us humble, because then we know that it is not our greatness that helps us succeed, but it is His greatness that helps us succeed.
(R) Respond: Lord, I want to be used by you to bring glory to your name. I am an open vessel and I want to be used by you. I desire to seek out what you are doing and joining you in accomplishing you ultimate purpose in this world and in my life. May I remain open, available and humble to do your bidding here on earth.
Scripture Read: Genesis 39 - 40
Title: Joseph's Woes
(H) Highlight verse:: "But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of keeping the prison" Genesis 39:21
(E) Explain: Life continues to throw curve balls at Joseph. He is betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery to the Ishmaelites and then sold to Potiphar in Egypt. Fortunately for Joseph, he is faithful a man of God and God blesses him. He is quickly promoted in the house of Potiphar as the overseer of his household and was put in charge of everything in the household. Potiphar's wife saw that Joseph as an attractive man and she, apparently was not in a healthy marriage, so she continually made sexual advances to Joseph. Since he was a man of God, he would not give in to her advances. After a while she became frustrated with his denials to her her advances, she falsely accuses him of trying to seduce her. He was unjustly thrown into prison. However God was with Joseph and in prison he gained the trust of the warden, so he was put in charge of all the prisoners. He also used his God-given gift of dream interpretation to help out one prisoner and bring bad news to another. He had moments where he thought he would be released, but those moments were fleeting. Joseph very well could have been downcast and depressed. He could have given up hope and chose to live in negativity and bitterness. Instead he chose to remember that God was with him and showed him steadfast love, even in the darkest moments of his life.
(A) Application: The old saying goes, "When life throws lemons at you, make lemonade." This is what Joseph did during this dark period of his life and this is what I/we should do as well. There are times in my life where I believed that I was doing the right thing and standing up for righteousness sake and in return I was disciplined or punished for doing it. This seems to be common among people across the globe. We do what is right and get in trouble for doing it., and this is a sad testament to our society. Discipline or punishment for doing right is such a common practice that so many of us believe the lie "that it is not even worth doing what is right" because of the repercussions, so I/we must determine in our hearts to stand up for righteousness sake because God will be with us no matter what and He will show us steadfast love. We are told time and again in the Bible that God will be with and bless the individual(s) who love truth, justice and righteousness. We may experience pain in standing up for it, but God will give you the strength and ability to endure and come out blessed in the end.
(R) Respond: God, help me to see you in the midst when I face darkness and depression. Continually remind me that I am not alone, You are with me. Show me that no matter what I face, You are with me and showing me steadfast love.
Scripture Read: Genesis 37
Title: Joseph, His Coat and His Brothers
(H) Highlight verse:: "Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he , made him a robe of many colors." Genesis 37:3
(E) Explain: We don’t know a lot about Joseph at the beginning of his life. He, apparently is very important since almost a ¼ of Genesis is dedicated to his life. We will get to know him well in the next few chapters. So far, we only know that he is 17 years old, he was a good boy and we was the favored son of his father. Dad beamed with pride when Joseph was around. I imagine he could do no wrong in his father’s eyes. He did a lot of good things and he most likely towed the line in life (rule follower). However, he was the kind of person his brothers loved to hate.
To show his son his affection, Israel gives Joseph a robe of many colors. We are not sure what it looked like and I don’t believe it matters what the robe looked like as much as what it represented. Every time Joseph wore this robe the brothers were reminded how little value their father had of them. There was a deep seeded jealousy and probably not for a bad reason.
The jealousy was so great that they could not speak peacefully about him. I can imagine the brothers would spit in disgust at the mere mention of his name.
Joseph was also a dreamer. He was a man whom God spoke to in his dreams. He in tune with God. He was sensitive to His presence. When God spoke Joseph listened.
Joseph tells his dream to his brothers and this only adds fuel to the fire. The interpretation didn’t set to well, because Joseph told them there will be a time when the brothers will bow down before him. They responded with, “There is no way on God’s green earth we will ever bow down to you.” Remember these words… because the phrase, “Never say never” will eventually come in to play.
(A) Application: Jealousy is a heart issue. It has been the root to all kinds of acts of violence. Jealousy takes a person down a very dark road. Joseph's coat represented the father’s favoritism which stirred up jealousy among the brothers. It is understandable that they would resent Joseph because he had special privileges with the father. Regardless of how the father treated them their jealousy was not justified.
Joseph’s was a man who listened to God as He revealed his plans and purposes to him through dreams. I personally believe God still speaks through dreams. However I also believe not all dreams are divine encounters.
You and I know the story of Joseph. It is a tragically beautiful story of forgiveness and restoration, yet Joseph didn’t know it at the time. God’s plan was slowly revealed to Joseph over time. The same is true for us, we don’t always see or know what God is up to. In Joseph’s story God is setting the stage for the nation of Israel and He is going to use Joseph in a mighty way. God is doing this today as well. The trials, joys and circumstances we may face today are part of the process. God has a plan and his plan will be executed and accomplished in his own time and He will use whomever he chooses.
(R) Respond: Jealousy is issue of my heart. I need to and often do repent of my jealousy. I do not want to allow this cancer to take route in my heart and spread throughout my body as it grows into full blow resentment and bitterness. May I also be mindful of my dreams, God can and does speak to to me through dreams. May I be patient in waiting out what God is doing in my life. I don't know the end of my life story, but He does..
Scripture Read: Genesis 33 - 35
Title: The Joy of Forgiveness
(H) Highlight verse:: "But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept..'" Genesis 33:4
(E) Explain: The last time Jacob and Esau were under one roof it was a VERY tense situation. Maybe that is putting it a little lightly. The last time the two brothers were together Esau wanted to kill his brother. If you remember Jacob deceived his father (with the help of his mother) into passing along the blessing (that belonged to Esau to him by pretending he was Esau. Prior to this Jacob tricked Esau into selling him his birthright for a bowl of stew. To say that the brothers had a love/hate… mostly hate relationship would be putting it bluntly.
Now is the moment of truth… Esau is coming with his 400 men. Jacob’s mind is racing. What is Esau going to do? Will God really protect him? Did he send enough gifts to appease Esau’s anger?
Esau’s response was not what Jacob was expecting. Jacob was cautiously going to his brother in humility, reverence and fear. However Esau runs out and embraces and kisses him. They wept together and no words are spoken. Forgiveness happens first then they speak.
(A) Application: The key theme of this account is forgiveness. Forgiving someone who has wronged or hurt you is probably one of the most difficult things to do in life. However, we see in this wonderful story of how two brothers who were once at war with each other are now reconciled. Jacob seeks forgiveness, Esau gives forgiveness and Jacob receives it. I think giving and receiving forgiveness comes easy to some and for others with great difficulty. Giving and receiving forgiveness go hand in hand.
Since I am a follower of Jesus Christ I know what it is like to receive forgiveness. I have received the ultimate pardon of sin through faith in Jesus Christ. Because of his sacrifice I have received forgiveness
(R) Respond: God, may I seek forgiveness from anyone I have wronged? May I receive forgiveness from anyone who will give it? May I give forgiveness to those who have wronged me? May I never forget the power of forgiveness?
Scripture Read: Genesis 31 -32
Title: Run For Your Life
(H) Highlight verse:: "But Jacob said, 'I will not let you go unless you bless me.'" Genesis 32:26b
(E) Explain: Jacob is a stubborn and troubled man. He has a victim mentality, as he feels he has been treated unfairly since he has worked for his father-in-law for 20 years and in return Laban has been unfair to him. It is interesting that in these 20 years Jacob has gained much wealth as a result of his father-in-law, so much so that this has become a real point of contention among Laban's family. It seems that Jacob forgets his deceitful actions from the previous years with his own family. Regardless, Jacob hears that Laban's family is not really happy with him, so he decides that he needs to leave his father-in-laws home and God tells him to go back to Canaan where his family is from. Laban does not hear about Jacob leaving until three days later and eventually pursues and catches up with Jacob's clan. As Laban pursues Jacob, God tells him not to harm Jacob in any way. When the two men meet, they have a tense reunion that ends with the two making a covenant.
Now that Jacob is free from the pursuit of his father-in-law, he must now face his brother Esau. 20 years prior Esau determined to kill his brother, so Jacob was not necessarily looking forward to this reunion. In the evening a man (who we later find is God in human flesh... Most likely Jesus) appears to Jacob and has a wrestling match with him. As the conflict continues God touches Jacob's hip and dislocates it. Jacob stubbornly clings to God and demands to be blessed before he will let go. God concedes and blesses Jacob by giving him a new name. He is no longer Jacob (deceiver), he is now Israel (God fights).
(A) Application: What is the take away from this passage?
Scripture Read: Genesis 29 - 30:24
Title: The Deceiver is Deceived and God is Still in Control
(H) Highlight verse:: "So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her" Genesis 29:20
(E) Explain: The plot thickens. The deceptions run deeper. Jealousy and envy abound. I continually say that this family account could easily be a soap opera and daily, we see why. However, in all of this deception (Laban tricks Jacob into 14 years of service for two daughters in marriage, when he only had eyes for one), jealousy (Jacob loved Rachel more than Lean, but Leah gave him children), human intervention (To "get back" at her sister Rachel gave Jacob her servant Bilhah to him father children with her and Leah gave her servant Zilpah to have children with him), God was still at work. In this hot mess of a family where bitterness and jealousy were rampant, God was able to make something good come from it. God took four mothers and one father to establish or bring about the 12 patriarchs of Israel Yes, God worked wonders out this chaos.
(A) Application: Humans make messes. We/I do stupid things on a daily basis. I like to "help" God in running my life. The problem is, I allow sins to be present in my life and ultimately these sins affect my life and my relationships. I do a fantastic job of tearing apart something that God has created. I am like a child, sometimes, who likes to disassemble things, just to see how they work and my disassembling often ends up pretty bad. Fortunately, God is patient with me and puts back together that which I tore apart. God is in control and He knows what He is doing. I love that God can take a disassembled mess and make a beautiful thing out of it.
(R) Respond: Thank you for being patient with me God. I love that you remain faithful even when i am not. May I live this day in a way that gives you full control of my life. May I not meddle with what you are doing, but also may I not sit back apathetically and do nothing. I want to be in tune with you, so I may do what you have planned for me this day.
Scripture Read: Genesis 27 - 28
Title: Deception, Deceit and a Blessing
(H) Highlight verse:: "And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on earth and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold the LORD stood above it and said, 'I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac.'." Genesis 28:12-13a
(E) Explain: The soap opera continues. The dysfunction develops more. Jacob continues in his deceptive plan to get the inheritance that he conned his brother out of giving up. Jacob deceives his father, who is going blind, by pretending to be Esau, thus receiving a blessing from his father. Having received the blessing, Esau becomes infuriated and says that once their father is dead, he is going to kill Jacob. Rebekah hears this and sends Jacob to her brother, Laban's home so he will be safe and also to find a wife. Esau marries an Ishmaelite. Jacob has a dream about a ladder, where he is also blessed by God . He responds with worship and makes a vow to God. He names the place where he had his dream Bethel, which means house of God.
THE MEANING OF THE DREAM
The dream is significant and intended to encourage, assure and bless Jacob in his time of despair. There are three features to this dream that we should focus our attention.
(A) Application: This passage continually reminds me of God’s power, protection, and presence amidst his people. It is a wonderful reminder that God is present and active with his people. It is vitally important to be sensitive to God’s presence. Whether you feel him or not, He is present with us as I speak. He is in the midst of his people right now. I am encouraged by this passage because it helps me be sensitive to God's presence in my life today. I am inspired because I know God still speaks through visions, dreams and his Word. He is active in this world and in my life. When God does show up my life I know that I am changed and transformed into his likeness, and for his glory.
(R) Respond: Lord, may I live a life of integrity before you. I pray that when I feel the temptation to manipulate or deceive others for my selfish gain and benefit, that I submit myself to you and resist this temptation. May I be a blessing to you and may you bless me according to your loving-kindness.
Scripture Read: Genesis 25:19 -34; 26
Title: Sibling Rivalry
(H) Highlight verse:: "Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Isaac." Genesis 25:28
(E) Explain: Isaac and Rebekah's life has many similarities to Abraham and Sarah's Rebekah is a beautiful woman and Isaac feels the need to lie to King Abimelech about her being his wife. A mistake his father made in prior years. Rebekah has difficulty conceiving, just as he mother-in-law did. However God continually blessed Isaac and Rebekah as he gains great wealth and influence in the land where he lives.
As the soap opera continues Isaac and Rebekah are blessed with twins. We see early on that there was a sibling rivalry going on from the beginning, starting in the womb. But the boys are two very different sons. Esau becomes a skilled hunter and a man of the field. You can imagine him as a big hairy brute… a true man’s man. Jacob… well he was a quiet son… what on earth does this mean? Jacob liked to stay home; he was a momma’s boy. Ironically when the word quiet is used to describe a person it means “perfect”, however we find Jacob is far from this. Isaac favored Esau because he loved that he brought home meat to eat. We see now that Isaac is a man of prayer who loves his food. We see that he could certainly be adding fuel to the rivalry fire between the brothers because he favors Esau over Jacob. However Rebekah favors Jacob. Why? Maybe because he was the quiet home body or maybe because she knew God was going to bless him. Either way we see some dysfunction going on here. Parental favoritism is a recipe for destruction and the cause of great conflict in the future.
(A) Application: In this account there is a lot going on as usual. The word that keeps coming back to mind in this passage is patience. Isaac prays for a child for 20 years, he doesn’t give up. He shows great faith and patience. Esau on the other hand does give not practice patience because he actually gives up his birthright because he wants what he wants NOW! He gives up his precious birthright (something that will benefit him greatly in the future and is exclusively for him) for a meal right now. He is like Wimpy from Popeye who always said, "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger today." He forfeited his birthright over a bowl of stew.
We live in a McWorld where we can have anything we want and we can have it now. Sometimes we compromise our values because we cannot patiently wait. Sometimes we go through things in our life and we feel we cannot patiently endure, but I think that we can learn from the Patriarchs of faith as they patiently waited (sometimes they tried to move God's process along a little faster) for God to fulfill His promise in their lives.
(R) Respond: God I pray for patience. I pray that in my need to get what I want NOW, that I can step back and allow you to work at your pace and give me the things you desire for me to have in your time. May I not forfeit a blessing because of my impatience.
Scripture Read: Genesis 24
Title: God's Sovereignty
(H) Highlight verse:: "And he said, 'Oh LORD God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast to my master Abraham." Genesis 24:13
(E) Explain: Abraham's wife, Sarah, died at the age of 127 years old and in chapter 24 we read that Abraham was well advanced in years. If this account is chronological and happened shortly after the death of Sarah, then we can deduce that Abraham was around 137 years old. Isaac would have been around 37 years old. Abraham has been blessed by God in all things and he knew because of his age, his days on earth were numbered. He had gave his servant a task to go out and find a wife for his son Isaac. He specifically told him not to find a wife from Canaan, but he was to find his wife from his own family back in the country he came from.
The servant was obedient and he tool his master's command very serious. He knew that he could not do this task in his own power, so He prays to the LORD and asks for His guidance and hand in this search process. The servant was specific in his prayer, because he wanted to know for certain that the woman that he chooses is the one God brings to him. After this specific prayer the servant meets Rebekah. She meets the criteria perfectly and the encounter happens exactly the way he prayed it would. Upon receiving confirmation he brings Rebekah back to Isaac and the two were married.
We can learn a lot from the servant because his first response upon receiving confirmation is worship and prayer. He praises God for guiding him and answering his prayer. Because of the sovereignty of God and the obedience of the servant, God's promise is fulfilled and the blessing of Isaac and the covenant to Abraham will continue..
(A) Application: This passage is very relevant for today. In it I see the sovereignty of God. Now, I think it is important to know that sovereignty means that God is in control, but this does not mean that humans don't have a role or responsibility to play in accomplishing God's will. In this passage I see that some of the key components of God's will being accomplished is based on the servant.
(R) Respond: God I pray you grant me success today and I pursue you and seek your will in my life. May I be obedient, understanding of my gifts and limitations, prayerful and worshipful to you as you guide me in your ways and show me your will and purposes for me.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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