Joseph so Blessed; Brothers Blessed-Anyway

JosephSoBlessed

Joseph, favored son of Jacob, had a hard life. His brothers were jealous of him and almost killed him. Instead, when he was 17, they sold him into slavery in Egypt. They thought they were done with him.

In Egypt, Joseph soon rose to the top of the totem pole in the house into which he was sold. God showed favor to Joseph, and the man of the house (Potiphar) trusted him with everything. Joseph must have been trustworthy, smart, kind, respectful, creative, and gracious. He must also have been good-looking, because the wife of the house lusted after him and did him wrong. Joseph refused the wife’s advances, the wife lied to her husband, and Potiphar had him thrown into prison.

As an aside, the verses dealing with this are Genesis 39.19, 20: And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. My personal perspective is that Potiphar’s wrath was kindled against his wife. I’m guessing that he knew his wife’s heart, but could not publicly cross her. I think he was intensely upset that his wife had messed up a very good thing.

As in Potiphar’s house, once Joseph was in prison, God showed favor to him, and Joseph rose to the top of that totem pole. Genesis 39.21 – 23: But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.

Keep in mind that there is no record of Joseph being whiney or disobedient, or of his giving up or being subversive. We can assume that Joseph was obedient in all he did, as evidenced in his dealings with the king’s cupbearer and baker (Genesis 40). Again, even though Joseph was obedient, the cupbearer forgot about Joseph, and Joseph remained in prison for another season.

God caused Pharaoh to have dreams. Aha, says the cupbearer, I do remember my faults this day. And he led Pharaoh to call for Joseph to interpret the dreams. Joseph was candid about the interpretation of dreams being God’s hand, and was obedient to correctly divine the dreams. Pharaoh immediately discerned Joseph’s gifts, and promoted him to the top of Egypt’s totem pole, save only for Pharaoh himself. (Gotta wonder what Potiphar thought about that!)

The dreams foretold great abundance in the land for seven years, followed by seven years of great famine. Joseph arranged all so that Pharaoh prospered. And God arranged all so that His people prospered.

Meanwhile, back in Canaan, the brothers were miserable. They got rid of their insipid brother, but their father was suffering. There was no consoling Dad over the loss of his favorite son. Jacob’s only consolation was Joseph’s younger brother Benjamin, whom Jacob smothered with protection. The saving grace for the brothers was that they daily lived with the guilt of their actions, and were evidently repentant.

Came the time of dearth in Canaan, and the brothers had to go to Egypt to buy food, else they die.

Joseph put them through some pretty tough paces before he revealed himself to them. He had to make sure they repented, and that they had not been treating Benjamin poorly. Joseph was satisfied, and revealed himself to his brothers.

The brothers, of course, were aghast. They believed Joseph to be dead or a poor and harshly-treated slave. They could not have conceived that he would be second in power to Pharaoh. All Joseph’s long-ago dreams came true, and the brothers bowed down to him, along with their father.

Granted, there are numerous applications and lessons to be derived from God in Joseph’s life. Mine are this: obedience, and God’s blessings. Joseph saw that at once. Look at what he thought was most important for his brothers to know first, in Genesis 45.4, 5 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. Joseph’s understanding was that it was GOD who sent him into Egypt, so that Jacob’s family could thrive.

In all that happened to Joseph, he remained obedient to God. He did not fight against his slavery or imprisonment; he didn’t try to escape. He could have become disgruntled, he could have developed a lousy attitude toward God. It might have been easy to think, “Well, if this is how God treats His obedient children, then I want out.” Joseph could not have foreseen, any more than his brothers could have, the future that God had planned.

And Joseph and his brothers would never have seen that future had not Joseph remained obedient.

At any point, if Joseph had rebelled, he would have taken his own life on a different path. And God could not have blessed it. God does not bless disobedience, but He loves to bless obedience. Granted, God will still bless those who are disobedient: look at the brothers. They were disobedient, but they were God’s children, and God blesses His children. Look at the nation of Israel: they were continually disobedient, and God still blessed them, even though they didn’t appreciate it. Look at America: as a people, as a culture, we are in full-blown disobedience to God. But He hasn’t annihilated us, and we aren’t eating worms as we deserve.

But the blessings of obedience are different from the blessed-anyway blessings. Disobedient people receive the fringes of blessings, like the dog eating crumbs under the table. Obedience brings full-on blessings, like a father beaming proudly at His beloved children, feasting at the table; like those children knowing they are fully loved and appreciated and respected; and blessings like living in peace, knowing they are fully taken care of.

Please: be consistent and single-minded about obedience to God. Obedience puts you in the palm of God’s Hand. It brings you into His protection (even though it might not feel like it sometimes). Obedience positions you to receive God’s full-on blessings.

And one of the greatest blessings is simply knowing you are pleasing your Lord.

How many Christians today are walking around, just being blessed-anyway? Missing out on God’s greatest blessings that He wants to shower on us? Thinking we’re doing okay with our own plans, doing it our way? How many Christians believe their way looks like a better plan than whatever God has? Can’t we just wait and see what God has in mind?

Please: be patient. Fall on your faces before God and commit to obedience, no matter what everything around you looks like, no matter what other people are saying or what their faces look like. God’s opinion is the only one that matters. Eternity belongs to Him, after all. You’re not just living for what you can get right here and now. You are living for God, for eternity. And when you live for God, your right-now is protected and blessed. We cannot comprehend what God has in store for us; and we will never see it unless we are obedient.

Ephesians 3.20, 21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Obedience and Blessings

ObedienceAndBlessings

I am blessed to use several devotionals throughout my day and week. One of my sources of inspirational reading is the blogs I read from YOU! I so appreciate your interpretation of and encouragement in God’s Word.

Another that I read and study daily is Quiet Walk’s Walk Through the Bible daily devotional, found here: http://www.walkthru.org/qw-daily-devotional

Today’s readings inspired me to go off on some tangents about obedience (one of my favorite topics). It starts with a Bible passage I love, where Hezekiah spreads Sennacherib’s letter before his Lord, in the temple. The discussion pointed out that, “God is not reluctant to bless us. But we must be sure we are eligible by being faithful to Him.”

God is a God of faithfulness! He loves to shower His blessings upon us. But we must position ourselves to be eligible to receive His blessings.

How?

By being obedient.

How to be obedient?

READ GOD’S WORD!

Without God’s Word, it is easy to assume and visualize in our minds how we can be obedient to God. We can (and do) make up anything we want to push ourselves into believing we are pleasing Him, while in reality we are conniving to please ourselves.

God is our plumb line, our source of Truth, of reality. Everything we do or say or think or feel must be aligned with the Truth He gives us in His Word.

Mind you, blessing does not always mean a lovely life filled with roses and lemonade. Blessings come in all forms. Sometimes a blessing looks like a face of anger or a scary situation or a blocked road or even death, to turn us to the direction God wants for us. If we are in tune with God, if we know Him, His Word, His Spirit of Truth, then He WILL guide us.

None of us is always obedient. We try, and God forgives. The devotional this morning continued with this passage from Joel 2.12, 13: Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

Sometimes we are afraid to be obedient to God, fearing we won’t get what we want. God knows our hearts. If we will but surrender to Him, He gives us joys we cannot imagine – even better than what we thought we wanted!

Pray with me:

Lord, I praise You. I worship Who You are, and I bow before Your throne of glory. I acknowledge my weakness and my sin. I come before You, knowing You love me, You welcome me, and You want Your best for me. Increase my faith in Your goodness. Guide me to read more of Your Word, instruct me in the way I should go. Give me a heart that yearns for You, a heart that desires above all else to know You and please You. Give me eyes and a heart to see the beauty and peace and joy of Your Ways. Amen.

Blessings of Obedience and the Resurrection

BlessingsOfObedienceAndTheResurrection

After Jesus was crucified, the women noted where He was laid to rest (Luke 23.55), then went home and prepared spices and ointments; but they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment (Luke 23.56).

These were Jewish women, likely able to trace their lineage back centuries to their original tribe, just like any other orthodox Jew. Their ancestors had received The Law straight from Moses / straight from God, and their adherence to it was the basis of their relationship to God Himself.

And so, in obedience, they waited until after the Sabbath was over. That begins a chapter in each of the gospels: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20. Unsuspecting, they had a discussion along the way of how they could get that stone rolled away from the tomb. They likely thought the guards would let them in to anoint Him, seeing as how they were women and unable to steal the body.

None of their recorded discussion centered around “What if the body isn’t there?”.

They were astounded and nonplussed to find 1) the stone rolled away, 2) no body in the tomb, and 3) an angel telling them that “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.”

Because of their devotion and obedience, they received the astounding blessing of being the first to discover that Jesus had, indeed, arisen. These women were entrusted with the directive to go and tell the others.

These Jewish women may not have felt the least inclination to break the Sabbath and anoint Jesus’ body the day after He died. They were firmly entrenched in The Law and Tradition, and they simply never broke the Sabbath, out of habit if nothing else.

For those of us outside orthodox religion, we might consider other circumstances: Jesus had just been crucified in an untimely, cruel, and unjust manner. Did they not feel a tug at their hearts that, just this once, it was okay to anoint His body, even though it was the Sabbath? That surely God would give them leniency, given that this man had claimed to be the very Son of God? Did they not love Him so much that they were drawn to be that near to Him? We can, in our minds, rationalize a whole host of really great “reasons” to do what is right in our eyes.

What if they had not been obedient? What would they have found at the tomb? The stone with its seal would still have been there. The guards posted by Pilate and the Pharisees would still have been there. They would not have been able to enter. Even if they had been able, they would have found and anointed a dead body.

But they were obedient. They put aside whatever feelings or logic they may have had otherwise, and they obeyed God’s fourth commandment of the Ten.

Obedience works just the same now-a-days as it did back then. Obey out of habit, stiff-necked obedience, obey out of love, obey because of fear of man: no matter, as long as it is GOD you are obeying.

You just never know what blessings will follow obedience.