Genesis Bible Study

“The ONE Who Is Leading”

Have you ever been so paralyzed by fear or doubt?  Have you ever taken a step of faith and then faltered, questioning if it was the right move?  Maybe excitement propelled you forward at first, but now in the thick of it, you feel as though your judgement may have been clouded?  Do you keep going or turn back?

These questions are all too familiar to me.  I desire so much to do God’s will, but the steps of faith seem like they take so much effort.  Is there a way to cut down on that?  Is there a state of being that is so sure of God’s will that my time isn’t spent in prayer, but action?

I wrestled with these questions while reading this passage about Jacob traveling down to Egypt.  With the help of authors, Oswald Chambers, Jeremiah, and David, I think I came to a good conclusion.

S – Scripture: Genesis 46-47

  • 46:2-4 – “During the night God spoke to him in a vision. ‘Jacob! Jacob!’ he called. ‘Here I am,’ Jacob replied. ‘I am God, the God of your father,’ the voice said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again. You will die in Egypt, but Joseph will be with you to close your eyes.'”
  • 46:29-30 – “Joseph prepared his chariot and traveled to Goshen to meet his father, Jacob. When Joseph arrived, he embraced his father and wept, holding him for a long time. Finally, Jacob said to Joseph, ‘Now I am ready to die, since I have seen your face again and know you are still alive.'”

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  • 46:36 – Joseph tells his family: “you must tell him, ‘We, your servants, have raised livestock all our lives, as our ancestors have always done.’ When you tell him this, he will let you live here in the region of Goshen, for the Egyptians despise shepherds.” 
  • 47:5-6 – “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Now that your father and brothers have joined you here, choose any place in the entire land of Egypt for them to live. Give them the best land of Egypt. Let them live in the region of Goshen. And if any of them have special skills, put them in charge of my livestock, too.'”
  • 47:17 – “So they brought their livestock to Joseph in exchange for food. In exchange for their horses, flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and donkeys, Joseph provided them with food for another year.”
  • 47:20-21 – “So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. All the Egyptians sold him their fields because the famine was so severe, and soon all the land belonged to Pharaoh. As for the people, he made them all slaves, from one end of Egypt to the other.”
  • 47:27 – “Meanwhile, the people of Israel settled in the region of Goshen in Egypt. There they acquired property, and they were fruitful, and their population grew rapidly.”

O – Observation:

  • God knows our fears and worries even though we may not outwardly share them.  He meets us where we are at and can encourage us to move forward.
  • God confirms his covenant with Jacob, promising to carry on the family line while in Egypt. Maybe he feared that moving away from the land that God had promised his family would be the end of the covenant.  Maybe he was worried that he was making a poor decision that would ruin it all.
  • The promise of seeing Joseph again reassures Jacob to continue to Egypt.
  • Joseph and Jacob are reunited and it is a beautiful moment.
  • Jacob’s fears may have had some validity: Egyptians hate shepherds, which is what his whole family was.  Joseph chose their words to describe their occupation 20170827_103322carefully.
  • Pharaoh welcomed them with open arms and gave Joseph’s family the best land.  He even offered to hire the expert shepherd’s for his own livestock.  This could be a good example of God going ahead of Jacob and preparing all that needed to happen for a smooth transition.
  • The people of Egypt gave up all of their money, livestock, land, and freedom in order to survive.  These were desperate times.  But the people of Israel flourished and multiplied.
  • God can bring life and joy during seasons of famine.

A – Application:

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.” Oswald Chambers

Jacob was being led away from the land promised to his fathers and to his descendants.  It was a big move to take 70 plus people to Egypt, a land that despised their very occupation and heritage.  Is God keeping his promise?  Is he forsaking us?  Am I going to be the one who screws all of this up?

But Joseph.  He is there! He is alive! There is hope!

I think God is calling us there, but what if he isn’t?  What if this is a trap?

Maybe it’s just me, but this commentary is similar to the times when God has called me to do questionable things, big and small.  Is it really his will?  Is this right? Am I making the best decision?  What if it is wrong?  What if I’m supposed to stay right where I’m at?  It seems like a good idea, but I just can’t be sure.  Things are okay, even good here.  Ugh, I don’t know!

God, just tell me exactly what to do.  Make each and every step known so I don’t screw this up or waste time, I pray!

But God calls us not to focus so much on the direction, but the Director. My prayers for understanding God’s will, change.

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“Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer.” Oswald Chambers

This quote sets me straight.  The answer to my prayers of worry, anxiety, or fear need not be about getting rid of life’s circumstances and tough decisions.  It’s an opportunity to see and feel all of who God is in those moments of greatest need.  When my vision is focused upward on him, and he shows me all that he can do and be, my circumstances are no longer impossible.  My uncertain direction is no longer an object of fear, but of faith.  My mind is now in tune with God.  I have surrendered to the point of following him wherever he calls me because my trust is in the right place.

My actions no longer need to be calculated by my own strength, ability, and power.  The God that I love and serve is in control and builds me up to take on whatever I need to. God is my answer and that is all I need.  When I change my way of thinking to this, I can take that step in full assurance that God is protecting me and guiding me.

“To be so much in contact with God that you never need to ask Him to show you His will, is to be nearing the final stage of your discipline in the life of faith. When you are rightly related to God, it is a life of freedom and liberty and delight, you are God’s will, and all your commonsense decisions are His will for you unless He checks. You decide things in perfect delightful friendship with God, knowing that if your decisions are wrong He will always check; when He checks, stop at once.” Oswald Chambers

This, my friends, is my goal! I long so much to be in a place where no matter how big or small a decision is,  I am so connected to God that I can step forward without any doubt. I don’t have to spend time praying to make sure it’s God’s will, I can confidently say yes or no. I can stay or go immediately.

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Jacob had to overcome fear and doubt along the journey. Even strong faith can have a wavering moment.  But God is gracious and encourages us when we need it.

“Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.”  

Psalm 23:4-5

God kept his promise. When Jacob gets to Egypt, he and his family are fitted with the best land.  Where Hebrews and Shepherds are despised, Jacob’s family is honored. They thrive in a land that is in a severe famine.   What a fitting set of verses for Jacob, a shepherd, found in Psalms.

And for us too.  God’s protection, guidance, favor, comfort, and blessings pour out when we put our full trust in him. Even in, or especially in, those seasons or areas of our lives we feel are in a famine. When we set our gaze, not on our circumstances, but on the most powerful God who can do the impossible with incapable, but willing people.

“But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

IMG_8321P – Prayer:

God, you are so good.  Help me to dig deeper into who you are, so when trials come, my focus remains on your strength and not my own.  Build up in me such a strong faith that I become your will.  That every move I make is in perfect step with yours because we know each other so well.  I long to know you more.  And I long to do your will.

God, keep those that are in fear or doubt close.  Give them the encouragement and hope they need to take that next step.  Don’t let them be paralyzed and miss out on the great blessings that you give. You are so gracious and love us so much.  Thank you. Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #27 - "The ONE Who is Leading"

Inspirational Quote
Not the direction, but the Director.
Genesis Bible Study

It Was God

My favorite roller coaster is the Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Ohio.  The ride gives you a drop of 300 feet and a speed up to 93mph.  It’s a thrill!  That’s really all I want to ride when I go there.

I’m going to warn you ahead of time, this blogpost is written like you are on a roller coaster. I thought about changing it, but then realized that sometimes life feels like it’s going up and down at rapid speeds.

We are plugging along in life and all of a sudden we experience a 300 foot drop into grief, loss, depression, sickness or debt. Yes, the physical ebbs and flows happen, but the emotional battle that happens after occurs daily as well.  There is a standard we hold ourselves to that we lose and then we get over it, never to be haunted by it again. It’s a sign of strength to move on quickly.  But I sometimes feel like there is a tug-of-war going on inside my head.  I want to have hope and joy one moment, but then I just want to be sad and angry the next.  I’m constantly going back and forth.

So, this blog reads like the roller coaster that’s happening in my head.  There is still plenty of good content and tips though, so read on.

20170826_152526S – Scripture: Genesis 43-45

  • 43:23 – “‘Relax. Don’t be afraid,’ the household manager told them. ‘Your God, the God of your father, must have put this treasure into your sacks. I know I received your payment.’ Then he released Simeon and brought him out to them.”
  • 43:30 – “Then Joseph hurried from the room because he was overcome with emotion for his brother. He went into his private room, where he broke down and wept.”
  • 45:3-5 – “‘I am Joseph!’ he said to his brothers. ‘Is my father still alive?’ But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. ‘Please, come closer,’ he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, ‘I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.'”
  • 45:18-20 – “‘Then get your father and all of your families, and return here to me. I will give you the very best land in Egypt, and you will eat from the best that the land produces.’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Tell your brothers, ‘Take wagons from the land of Egypt to carry your little children and your wives, and bring your father here. Don’t worry about your personal belongings, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.'”

O – Observation:

  • Joseph must have paid for the food given to the brothers when he sent them away20170826_152639 with their own coins.
  • Overcome with emotion again, Joseph breaks down and weeps.  All that has come to pass in his life has been for this purpose. His patience and perseverance have paid off. What his brothers meant for harm, God used for good.
  • God’s purposes seem to take bumpy and odd paths.  When taken though, amazing miracles happen and lives are changed.
  • Pharaoh provides the best that the land can offer to Joseph’s family when the move from Canaan to Egypt.

A – Application: 

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:3-4

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.” Romans 5:3-6

TRIAL/TEMPTATION > OPPORTUNITY FOR JOY > ENDURANCE GROWS > CHARACTER STRENGTHENS > CONFIDENCE/HOPE IN SALVATION > COMPLETE/PERFECT > RECEIVE THE CROWN OF LIFE

20170826_151222You are absolutely correct in thinking that God has a plan and purpose for my pain.  But I don’t want to hear it.  It’s true that good can come from this someday.  But I don’t want to hear that either.  The Bible says to find joy in the trial.  That’s the last thing I want to hear.

I want to be angry and sad and depressed.  I want my old life, not this. I want my job, spouse, child, home, relationship, parent, or whatever back.  I don’t want to dig deeper into it with God.  I can’t. I don’t want it explained to me. I want to just be.

This, I feel, is a common commentary in the grieving process.  It’s at least what I felt and have heard from others as well. The thoughts of joy and hope were the last things on my mind. But then, over time, it did eventually change.  I had accepted that what I wanted wasn’t going to happen like I thought.  My heart came to terms with the “new normal” that I had to rebuild.

With time, hope did come back and I found ways to have joy and goodness again.  But it wasn’t immediate or easy.  I had to endure the grief to get to the joy.  The baby steps to crawl out of the darkness and into the fresh air of hope were taxing, but freeing with each one. I reached to open air and breathed in as if it was the first time.  The loss was still there, but hope had intervened and surrounded me.

Life beyond grief requires us to put on a hard hat and tool belt and get to work. It means mending and stitching pieces of our life back together.  The beauty in this is that we are not alone and don’t need to do all of the work. The Architect is at work.  The Healer and Tailor guide the thread and needle. Each morning that we get out of bed, get dressed, eat breakfast, and take physical steps, we allow God to keep moving and working in us too.

20170827_102308The reward? A stronger and better character, lasting endurance, confidence in our salvation, completion and perfection.

I want to be the best that I can be for God’s purpose.  I want to be able to press on in faith to reach the goals he has for me.  I want it to be so obvious that it is by God’s salvation and grace that I am standing tall after my trials.  I want to be perfect and complete, not missing anything, when I stand before God.

I don’t think I cared so much about these things when grief and loss initially hit.  I didn’t want to carry on with this new purpose.  I didn’t want this baggage.  It’s ugly and burdensome. Why couldn’t the plan have gone on without the grief? Couldn’t my purpose be found another way?  It’s like I’ve been shot out of a cannon in a direction I don’t want to go but have to figure out how to make life work.

I still have days like this, but less often than before.  I’ve been able to embrace an new life and new hope.  A lot of it has to do with the James 1:12 verse.

As a believer in Christ, we have the promise of eternal life and a crown.  One day, the pain, sorrow, and tears will all pass away.  Eternal joy is there for us when we get to Heaven.  Remembering that in my trials and temptations I still have Jesus is sometimes all I need to look beyond.

20170826_152815I’m sure when Joseph was young and had those dreams of his family bowing down to him, he was on his high horse.  He probably thought, this is going to be great! I’m awesome! Life is so good!

The path to getting there, however, with the abandonment, loss, chains, and grief, was maybe not as straight-forward as he had hoped.  But Joseph’s line after all of the emotions:

“It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.” Genesis 45:5

I would like to get to the end of my life and say, “It was God who sent me here.” It was God who brought me through the trials for this purpose. It was by God’s grace and strength and hope that I have achieved what I have for his glory. I anticipate being an emotional mess like Joseph when that day comes.

Grief is hard.  Trials are rough.  Temptations are constant.  But God is our rock.  He is our fortress.  And he is never-changing and always loving.  Allow yourself time to go through all of the emotions attached to whatever circumstance you are in.  Then choose God and he will lead you to joy, character, confidence, and purpose.  New and good.

P – Prayer:

God, I desire that you will take all of the loss, grief, pain, and trials and make them into something beautiful.  I pray that it wasn’t in vain.  I pray that I can look back and say, “It was God who sent me here.  It was God who carried my down this path. It was God who brought me through.” I hope lives can be changed because the trajectory of my life changed.  You are so good and your purposes are good.  Give me strength to endure for your glory.

I pray for those going through a grieving period, Lord.  Would you give them hope today? Would you give them grace to be in their emotions, but then the strength to take a step towards you and the new and beautiful life you have for them?

Forgive me for the times I have doubted you and your goodness.  Continue to shape me into the person that will do the purposes you need done on this earth.  Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #26 - It Was God

Bible Verse Image
It was God who sent me.
Genesis Bible Study

Puzzle Pieces

I don’t do puzzles often, but when I do, I’m amazed at how relaxed I feel.  There is a certain quiet and peace that transcends when finding which pieces go together and form a picture.  I am oddly fulfilled by the process though it is sometimes arduous. So many trial and errors have to occur before reaching the finished product.  It takes time to complete. When it is finished, it’s there to gaze upon and enjoy.

Joseph’s story continues and we start seeing all of the puzzle pieces fit together.  The purpose of the challenges and griefs begins to unfold as he is granted an opportunity to utilize the skills that have been lying in wait.  This is an exciting part of the story!

S – Scripture: Genesis 41-42

  • 41:8 – “The next morning Pharaoh was very disturbed by the dreams. So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. When Pharaoh told them his dreams, not one of them could tell him what they meant.”
  • 41:16 – “‘It is beyond my power to do this,’ Joseph replied. ‘But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.'”
  • 41:26-27 – “‘The seven healthy cows and the seven healthy heads of grain both represent seven years of prosperity. The seven thin, scrawny cows that came up later and the seven thin heads of grain, withered by the east wind, represent seven years of famine.'”20170824_065726
  • 41:32-36 – “‘As for having two similar dreams, it means that these events have been decreed by God, and he will soon make them happen. Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years. Have them gather all the food produced in the good years that are just ahead and bring it to Pharaoh’s storehouses. Store it away, and guard it so there will be food in the cities. That way there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come to the land of Egypt. Otherwise this famine will destroy the land.'” 
  • 41:38-41 – “So Pharaoh asked his officials, ‘Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.’ Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.'”
  • 41:46 – “He was thirty years old when he began serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.”
  • 41:57 – “And people from all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world.”
  • 42:7-9 – “Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. ‘Where are you from?’ he demanded. ‘From the land of Canaan,’ they replied. ‘We have come to buy food.’ Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they didn’t recognize him. And he remembered the dreams he’d had about them many years before. He said to them, ‘You are spies! You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.'”
  • 41:24 – “Now he turned away from them and began to weep. When he regained his composure, he spoke to them again.”

20170824_182148O – Observation:

  • Joseph is finally remembered by the cupbearer to Pharaoh when no one is able to interpret his dreams of the cows and of the wheat.
  • Joseph let’s Pharaoh know where his wisdom and skill come from first, and then goes on to hear the dreams and reveal their meaning. God is the source.
  • Pharaoh sees that Joseph is filled with God’s Spirit, is wise and skilled, and appoints him second in command, in charge of all of Egypt during the years of plenty and famine.
  • The dreams came to pass and Joseph had prepared the people for what was to come. He rationed out food to everyone in need.
  • His ten brothers come up from Canaan to purchase food but don’t recognize Joseph.  It’s been 13 years and Joseph remembers them and the dreams he had of them bowing down to him.  It all makes sense now.
  • God reveals things in his time when we need to know it.  He makes all of the things work together for his purpose.

A – Application:

 

In the previous blogpost, “Grow Where Planted,” I wrote:

“He served and managed the highest ranking officers with unlimited resources. Then, in prison, he managed the lowest of society with, probably, limited resources. He had to adapt to both.”

As Pharaoh’s dreams are interpreted as seven years of plenty and seven years of famine, I start to see the puzzle pieces falling into place in Joseph’s journey. Throughout his 13 years of service and imprisonment, Joseph grew in skill and knowledge in working with many resources and with few.  He managed in feast and in famine which prepared him for his next big task when put in charge of all of Egypt to handle this crisis.

Looking further back into his history, Joseph’s own dreams of his family bowing down to him have come into fruition. He is unable to interpret, at the time, what his early dreams mean.  When he is sold into slavery and then cast into prison, I’m sure those dreams fell deeper into doubt of ever happening.

20170822_192709So many pieces had to fall into place for Joseph to reach his ultimate purpose.  God shaped and molded him along the way and put the right people into the right places in order for it all to work out.  All Joseph could do was weep.

Have you ever been so caught up in the moment when it all works out, that you just can’t handle it?  The emotions just come over you and you lose it.  All you can do is just cry or laugh uncontrollably.  There is such a profound release in those moments when we allow ourselves to do that.

We find Joseph weeping  when his brothers arrive in Egypt, bow down to him, and ask him for food.  All that he has been through has been for this moment. The trials and challenges have all prepared him for this time. Why he looked the way he did, why he was gifted with certain skills and not with others, why there were specific circumstances he had to go through, were all perfectly orchestrated together.

As I have gotten older, I’ve learned how important it is to love, accept, and find out how to use the unique personality traits and natural gifts God has given me. I’m talking about when you peel away all of the layers and are left with who you really are, who God sees and created.  The more I explore why I do and think certain ways, or have certain abilities, the more amazed I am with God and excited to be just me.  This isn’t to say that we cannot change certain aspects, break bad habits, or desire to be better.  I think it actually allows me to do those things better because I can see how God designed me and can more easily shed off what is not supposed to be there.

This also allows me to see the beauty in others.  As I become more confident in how God created me differently and will use me differently than others, I can appreciate rather than compare.

20170824_184807Each of us is on a Joseph Journey.  We’ve been created and gifted with certain traits and molded into others as we grow.  We all have struggles and trials to overcome.  Our God is so amazing that he is able to work in ALL of our lives simultaneously.  He is able to bring beauty into our darkest of places and use all of our personality quirks for his glory and good.

Why do I get a rush in the school supply section at Meijer? Why does my husband have to eat peanut butter and mayo on a BLT or not eat it at all? Why do I love the feel of the breeze and crisp smell of fall?  Why do I feel energized when I lift weights or play volleyball? Why do I hate doing the dishes or dusting my house so much? Why can’t I get into gardening?

Why do I struggle with pride and jealousy and comparison?  Why can’t I get over certain things of the past more easily?  Why can’t I be more patient and trusting when waiting on the Lord? Why do I have to wrestle with these things everyday?  Will I ever be better?

Quirky or common, you were created exactly the way God intended. There is a specific reason you are the way you are.  You may have to take some time and grieve the things you are not.  But don’t let that take up the space for you to explore the wonderful things you are.

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!” Psalm 139:13-18

God used every bit of how he created Joseph for his Kingdom Purpose. He placed all of the puzzle pieces exactly where they should go. He is going to do the same with you.  Take some time and sit with that today.  Maybe you will find yourself like Joseph, overcome with how sovereignly God has worked in your life.  Maybe you will find peace in other areas.  That’s my prayer for you.

20170824_183100P – Prayer:

God, thank you for Joseph’s story.  Thank you for the example of how you orchestrate everything together for a purpose.  You have created each and every person perfectly and uniquely and give them a reason to be on this earth.  Forgive me for the times I haven’t loved the person you have created in me or in someone else.  Thank you for your grace and for never giving up on me.

God, I lift up those who are struggling with who you made them to be and where they are at in life.  There is so much pain and hurt.  God, I pray that you would be near those people today.  Help them to see the beauty that you created in them.  That you love them and have a purpose for them.  Give them hope. Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #25 - Puzzle Pieces

Inspirational Quote Image
There is a specific reason you are the way you are.