March 5, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 46

I love my wife and I deeply care for my family. It’s hard to imagine life without them. After today’s reading, it’s really hard to imagine the sorrow Jacob went through when he lost Joseph many years earlier.

Jacob probably couldn’t fathom the idea that Joseph was alive. But when he learned of his son’s life and success, he was overjoyed. All he longed for was one more chance to see him. Today, it made me emotional just thinking about it especially when I read verse 30:

Finally, Jacob said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen your face again and know you are still alive.”

The love and affection that this father had for his son is both inspiring and convicting. It fostered some questions in my mind:

1) Do I long to see Jesus in this way?
2) Do I treasure my walk with God with this kind of passion?
3) Do I invest in my family in a God-honoring way?

I was also gripped by verses 1-5. Jacob (1-2) listened for God’s voice, (3-4) heard God’s voice, and (5) obeyed God’s voice. What a great blueprint for our lives!

I want to close today by looking at the bigger picture. Do you see the Gospel’s reflection in the narrative of Jacob and Joseph? There is remarkable foreshadowing in this story: Jacob, a loving father, lost his son. Joseph, the son, was sold out by his brothers and was imprisoned because of a woman’s jealous and sinful heart. What would be the outcome? The preservation and salvation of Israel.

Fast-forward to the earthly life of Christ. God the Father, in His immeasurable love, sent His Son to us so that we might be saved. All of humanity turned against Him, and the sin of the world – wickedness, evil, malice – was poured onto Jesus’ shoulders. The outcome? Our salvation.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

March 4, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 45:1-28

If you go back a few days in the Jumpstart blog, you can re-read my commentary of Joseph’s imprisonment for holding fast to his integrity and doing the right thing by fleeing from Potiphar’s wife.

Verse 8 leaps off the page when I read it: “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.” Joseph not only talked about the providence of God, but he believed it to be true in all circumstances. For many, the word “providence” is just another big Bible word that is hard to understand and easy to dismiss. But please do not miss this: Joseph believed that it was God who allowed all the horrific circumstances (slavery, being wrongly accused of adultery, imprisonment) to take place in order to move Joseph closer to the Lord.

When Adam Dixon preached several months ago he said, “With every painful blow, God was moving Joseph closer to the throne through which he would save a remnant of people from famine.” What a mighty God we serve! In the midst of Joseph’s pain, God was working out all things according to His good and perfect plan.

My question to you is this: how does this change the way you view God? Once you allow this to increase your awe of God’s sovereignty, how does this impact the way you live? How does it affect your faith and trust in God?

Verses 4 through 7 blow my mind. Joseph could have easily exploded with anger and killed all of his brothers, but instead he looks upon them with intense compassion. Man, if I had been Pharaoh at this point in history, I would have sent Chad Wiles boot kickin’ on them! However, Joseph has the opposite reaction; he responds with grace and mercy. He shows them favor and even encourages them not to feel guilty for what they did, assuring them that it was God’s plan to save a nation!

The beautiful picture of God’s providence runs all throughout Genesis, illuminating how God wills to bring Himself glory. Remember Jacob? By God’s providence he obtained the birthright from Esau. Jacob becomes the father of the chosen people, and we see again God’s sovereignty as we compare this to Joseph’s rule in Egypt to save a remnant.

Flip to Matthew chapter 1. Whose names do we see? Matthew 1:1-2 says, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers…” Here is an incredible picture of God’s grace in bringing forth the Messiah through the sinful and broken man, Judah. If we read Genesis in the light of the Bible as a whole, we see God’s work in bringing us His only Son through His divine providence – even putting Judah in the lineage of Christ!

The take-away for today? God is simply worthy of our whole lives!

Posted by: Zach Monroe

March 3, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 44:1-34

Have you ever wished for a chance to redeem yourself? Think back to a time in your life when you had the opportunity to do the right thing but instead you chose to do the wrong thing. Or maybe you just did nothing at all. All of us are faced with circumstances in which we must decide whether or not to stand up for someone, to speak up when no one else does, or to refrain from making a bad decision. If you’re like me, you can think of plenty of these.

In today’s passage, we see an example of a chance to right a wrong. When Judah and his brothers were leaving Egypt, Joseph had his steward plant a silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. Now this seems like a terrible thing for Joseph to do, but it sets up a redemptive opportunity for Judah. Looking back a few chapters, we remember that it was Judah who instigated the plot to sell Joseph into slavery, and in chapter 42, the brothers reflected on the anguish that they saw in Joseph’s face when they betrayed him. Judah is haunted by his past decision.

So the stage is set for Judah: his youngest brother is going to be a slave in a foreign land. What does Judah do? He offers himself as a sacrifice. Judah has a repentant heart from his past transgression toward Joseph and has resolved to do whatever it takes not to let that happen again.

What can we learn from this?

1. Repent of past sins. Dwell on Romans 8:1 and 2 Corinthians 5:17 – we are no longer condemned when we accept Christ and understand that we are a new creation.

2. Resolve to restore. Remember that even though we are forgiven from past transgressions, we have a responsibility to seek forgiveness from those we have wronged. For example, if you have a strained relationship with a friend because you spread a terrible rumor about him or her for your own gain, you are responsible to reach out and ask for their forgiveness. It maybe the very thing that opens up the opportunity to share the gospel.

Posted by: Chad Wiles

March 2, 2011

Today you should read: Genesis 43:1-34

Do you have a heart full of love and compassion?

In this chapter we see the sons of Israel (Jacob) make a second trip to Egypt. We see Israel allow Benjamin to go with them as Joseph requested. We see Joseph treat his brothers with kindness even though they had sold him into slavery, and we clearly see Joseph’s love and compassion for his brother Benjamin.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”:

One of the most important commands that Jesus gives us is to love one another (Matthew 22:36-40). He tells us to love our enemies and He models for us a deep level of compassion for people. We are to love, serve, provide for, weep for, and forgive others even if they don’t treat us right, even if they hurt us…even if they do something as horrible as selling us into slavery.

For today’s application, I want to look at the forgiveness that Joseph had for his brothers. He showed forgiveness by the way he treated them, and we can see that it stemmed from a heart of love and compassion.

Put yourself in this story. Would your love overcome your bitterness? Would your compassion conquer your desire to retaliate? Think about this: Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery which eventually puts him in a position of high leadership with the power to send them off hungry! But does he exercise that authority? No, he forgives. He shows his deep love for Benjamin by weeping for him. That’s a man of God right there! Joseph had a wider perspective, a God-sized view.

So what about you? Does forgiveness flow from your heart of love for people? Has someone wronged you, and is it so bad that you think it’s an exception to God’s command to forgive? I assure you that it is not. Colossians 3:13 says to “bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” We need to forgive in our hearts and we need to show forgiveness with our actions. Let’s be a forgiving church; repent today of your bitterness and lack of love for people. Forgive and ask for forgiveness. In the chaos of all the “holy” things we try to do, we forget that one of Jesus’ greatest commandments is to love others like ourselves. It is just as honoring to God for you to read your Bible as it is for you to repent of the subtle bitterness that has been settling in your heart for all these years.

Posted by: Sam Cirrincione