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Exodus 4:1-17 Overcoming the Excuses 9-21-14

Exodus Studies Pic
© 2003; 2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
Life of Moses
Lesson 7: Overcoming the Excuses…
Ex 4:1-17
(1.12.03; 9.21.14)
Introduction…Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to anyone’s Spiritual growth is the insecurity to risk the attempt or responsibility to lead others… be it one’s marriage, family, Sunday School class, Bible study or just about anything in life that involves others. I have seen it over and over again. Sheep without a shepherd. Great sheep. Talented sheep, and yet none of the sheep takes it upon themselves to risk shepherding or leading the other sheep in the very real need that needs to be met or the assignment that needs to be carried out. Someone take charge. Someone risk leadership, even imperfect leadership…even the complaints and grips of others. Seen a family or marriage without a leader? … Tragic. Seen a Bible study, small group or ministry project without a leader? … No direction. 
Now you can’t be a jerk…I mean… all the time…and be a good leader as well. Sometimes the kids think mom or dad are jerks, we all understand this, but good leaders are teachable…trainable. They want to become better leaders, not so much for their own personal glory in leading, but to get the task done and done right, and this involves people…it involves a wise, expedient expenditure or allocation of time, manpower and resources. 
What can I say? People need leadership. Not necessarily dictators, but definitely leadership…leadership and responsibility. Good leaders are willing to face their insecurities to become a better leader in order to meet the need or get the assigned task done. 
And bottom line…no leadership risked, Spiritual growth and maturity, I promise you is arrested. NO WAY around it. Even servants must eventually risk leadership. 
Exodus coach-own-child-2
So how does this relate to kids or students? I think a good teacher or leader seeks to identify, encourage and equip others, including students, to own the process of meeting the need or accomplishing the assigned task, as well as, constantly meeting the need or accomplishing the assigned task better. In other words, a leader seeks to build leaders. It is this easy? Heck, no. There are lots of pitfalls and nuances that must be navigated, but are we just teaching children for the sake of teaching or are we equipping students to think, lead and make difficult, complex and morally courageous decisions? What is our ultimate goal? 
If I was exposing this study to children, I would probably attempt to get them to recognize a moment in time in which the kids interpreted a moment when a situation needed leadership and NO ONE stood up to the plate? Or perhaps, I would get them to talk about moments in which they felt someone was being too bossy and why? Now contrast that with a situation in which there was no direction? Where’s the balance? Why didn’t they step up to the plate? Why don’t most people? Just get them thinking about the concept of leadership and why many are fearful to risk its desperate plea.  
Life of Moses’ General Introduction: You make a mistake; you think your life has changed forever; that there is no going back. In exile, you take your flock of sheep, which you have been pasturing for the past forty years, to an out-of-the-way desert valley that seems to symbolize your life. You see a fire in the distance that refuses to die. You decide to take a closer look. As you draw closer to the inextinguishable flame, suddenly your life does change forever… 
The God of the universe has plucked YOU, out of all people, a wandering shepherd, to lead your entire nation, numbering well over two million people out of the country where they are currently enslaved, across a barren wasteland with little water or food resources, to a land which their forefathers had previously shepherded their flocks for a seemingly brief three hudred years, but has been now been abandoned for over four hundred years and is currently occupied by inhabitants who have no intention of giving that land back up to their forefathers’ descendents. 
Impossible you say? Ridiculous? Sounds like it to me, unless the God of creation is the one doing the calling and doing the work. Do you have the guts to be obedient no matter what…no matter the price?
Read the Passage two or three times…
Ask questions…
Exod. 4:1   Moses answered, 
“What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, `The LORD did not appear to you’?”   
Who is they? The elders of Israel? The Egyptians? Believe about what? That it was God or I AM or the LORD sending him to lead the children of Israel (or Jacob) out of Egypt and slavery? This is a great question. I would be asking it. Who would believe him?
2 Then the LORD said to him, 
“What is that in your hand?” 
“A staff,” he replied.   
Why a staff? Was it because it was just convenient? Or was the particular tool of validation that God wanted to use? A staff to shepherd sheep. Fend off wild animals? Count sheep? Gently nudge or guide them? Lean on?
3 The LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.” 
Moses threw it on the ground 
and it became a snake, 
and he ran from it.   
How did God do this? How does God transform a wooden staff into a living snake? Was the snake hissing at him? Was it a dangerous snake? I still jump at snakes. This does come across as a bit humorous as Moses runs from his staff-transformed-into-a-snake.
Exodus Moses_rod_turns_snake_BBL72-139
4 Then the LORD said to him, 
“Reach out your hand 
and take it by the tail.” 
So Moses reached out 
and took hold of the snake 
and it turned back into a staff in his hand.   
That took courage. Why the tail? I would rather take hold of it right behind the head, so that it could not bite me. And yet, I watch snake handlers grab the tail, and then use a stick about half way down the snake’s body? How is God doing this…changing the snake back into his staff and vice versa? 
5  “This,” said the LORD, 
“is so that they may believe that the LORD, 
the God of their fathers 
–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac 
and the God of Jacob 
–has appeared to you.” 
Proof. Validation. Would they think this trickery? Only something God or a god could do?
6 Then the LORD said, 
“Put your hand inside your cloak.” 
So Moses put his hand into his cloak, 
and when he took it out, 
it was leprous, like snow.  
Did this scare or frighten Moses? Is this what leprosy look like? Like snow?
 7  “Now put it back into your cloak,” he said. 
So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, 
and when he took it out, 
it was restored, 
like the rest of his flesh.   
Moses had to be shocked.
8 Then the LORD said, 
“If they do not believe you 
or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, 
they may believe the second.   
Makes sense, but would they still think it gimmickry?
9 But if they do not believe these two signs 
or listen to you, 
take some water from the Nile 
and pour it on the dry ground. 
The water you take from the river 
will become blood on the ground.”   
A third sign. It’s as if God expects Israel’s skepticism or lack of trust in Moses. And yet, God can do anything as he is about to do. He is sparing no price at accomplishing his promise or objective of placing Abraham’s descendants back into their forefathers’ promised lands. God is keeping his word. And this is only a small token of the miracles or supernatural that he is about to perform.
10 Moses said to the LORD, 
“O Lord, I have never been eloquent, 
neither in the past 
nor since you have spoken to your servant. 
I am slow of speech and tongue.”   
Another obstacle anticipated. So despite three signs, Moses is still insecure. Does he mean that he is struggling even just communicating to God at the bush? Why was this important to Moses? Even then did leadership seem to require a mastery of words?
11 The LORD said to him, 
“Who gave man his mouth? 
Who makes him deaf or mute? 
Who gives him sight or makes him blind? 
Is it not I, the LORD?   
Why or how does God do this—make one blind and one not? Or is it that he simply allows the laws of genetic and disease run their courses?
12 Now go; I will help you speak 
and will teach you what to say.”  
God has answered his objection. I will do it for you. If I can turn a stick into a snake, and water into blood. 
13 But Moses said, 
“O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”   
Despite everything God has equipped him with, Moses still hesitates. It doesn’t surprise me. Moses still struggles. Why was he so afraid? Was his speech (such as the king’s speech in the film the King’s Speech) this bad? Did he stutter? Why would God use or allow his servant to be such a poor communicator? What was he afraid of? Would people laugh or not take him seriously? Is Moses really still asking out of the whole project?
14 Then the LORD’s anger burned against Moses 
and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? 
I know he can speak well. 
He is already on his way to meet you, 
and his heart will be glad when he sees you.   
God seems to have had enough of Moses’ excuses. Why was Aaron already on his way to meet Moses? Had God put something on Aaron’s heart to go to Moses? Had God planned this anyway? Why did he become angry at Moses, if Aaron was already coming? Or had God picked Aaron for a different supporting role, but not a primary mouth-piece role?  When it says that God’s anger burns, just how mad is God? Is he really mad? Impatient? Or is Moses really pushing the envelope here?
15 You shall speak to him 
and put words in his mouth; 
I will help both of you speak 
and will teach you what to do.   
So Moses will speak after all? But Aaron will be the primary mouth piece?
16 He will speak to the people for you, 
and it will be as if he were your mouth 
and as if you were God to him.   
What an interesting expression—“God to him.” Moses would carry this much influence? 
17 But take this staff in your hand 
so you can perform miraculous signs with it.”
(Note: for a change of pace, sometimes try skimming the passage looking for nouns or naming words, then verbs or action words, or color words such as adjective or adverbs. Or look for stated questions or commands. Don’t get caught up in perfection either. Remember, the goal is to use any legitimate observing device to read or skim through the passage enough times that the student becomes more and more familiar with the passage and its narrative or argument. The more you observe the passage, the better will be your interpretation of the passage, and the better your interpretation of the passage, the better your application of the passage’s embedded truths or meanings.) 
Who’s? Moses, the LORD, they, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, man, who makes…who gives…I, the LORD, someone else, your brother, Aaron the Levite, the people, 
Where’s? on the ground, inside your cloak, from the Nile, on the dry ground, on his way, in his mouth, in your hand
When’s? then the Lord, then the Lord said, then the Lord said, and when he took it out, in the past, nor since, then the Lord’s anger, already on his way, when he sees you
• (Review) vv. 1-11  God calls Moses for the mission of his life—to deliver the people of Israel from Egypt and to take them back to the land, which was promised their forefathers.
 • (Review) vv. 12-22 God not only answers Moses question that he will be with him to help him accomplish the mission God has given him, he tells him his eternal name and gives him the message he is to take of freedom for Israelites from the Egyptians via God’s mighty hand. They will also not leave empty-handed.
• 4:1-17…
• Moses asks another question, “What if they don’t believe me?” v. 1
• The LORD gives him three signs:
a) his staff that turn into a snake and back 2-5
b) his hand turns to leprosy and back 6-8
c) water from the Nile River turning to blood 9
• But this is still not enough for Moses; he informs the LORD that he is not an eloquent speaker. v. 10.
• The LORD reassures Moses that he is capable of handling this and helping Moses. Vv. 11-12.
• But Moses protests and still asks for the LORD to send someone else. V. 13.
• Though the LORD becomes angry, he gives him his brother Aaron, to help him speak. Vv. 14-16
• He reminds him to take the staff; it will be the tool that God will perform his miracles through Moses. V. 17.
Summary…3:1-11: God calls Moses for a special mission; 3:12-22: God tells Moses he will not go alone and gives Moses God’s special name, I AM. 
4:1-17: But Moses, still fearful, asks about two problems: 1) what if the leaders of Israel don’t believe me? And 2) what about my lack of eloquence?
God answers both of these concerns: 1) along with two other signs, your staff will be a special staff that will manifest God’s powers; 2) Your brother Aaron will speak for you. 
Bottom line…I am not sending you back to your people empty handed. I am giving you a special powers and your brother Aaron’s voice. 
Note: Despite all this, Moses still does not seem secure or desiring of this call.
Special Note on the term “LORD”: Notice that I AM WHO I AM as well as LORD  are in all caps in the NIV. Why is this? 
The reason for this is that both phrases or words are one in the same. LORD in all caps becomes a substitute for I AM (or Yahweh, pronounced Yah-way in Hebrew) for God’s personal name. That is why we call him LORD. When “Lord” is not in all caps, it is the Hebrew word for “master” (adonai).
Why LORD  for I AM? Good question. Because God’s personal name, I AM or Yahweh, was considered sacred and not to be taken in vain (Ex 20, one of the ten commandments), scribes substituted the vowels for “Lord or master” (adonai) underneath the consonants for the Yahweh (I AM) within the biblical text since there were no vowels to begin with (Jews did not need them; we did). Rabbi’s knew they were to substitute “adonai,” Lord, for “Yahweh,” I AM, thus not profaning the LORD’s name. But what we, later readers did was to come up with an entirely new word, one that did not really exist, one that combines the consonants of Yahweh with the vowels of adonai–Jehovah. 
In fact, for the most part, I will seldom use it. It does not really exist. We have made it up. Either use LORD (Yahweh, I AM ) or  Lord (adonai, master or Lord).
So now you know why LORD is in all caps. Remember it stand for I AM or Yahweh, God’s personal name, just like my personal name is Joe or Joseph.
Whys? What do I learn about God? Life? People? Myself? 
• God can do anything. Nothing stops him. He has no limitation, even turning water into blood or wood into a snake.
• Humans, even God’s servants, initially can be very insecure, not only doubting God’s call upon their lives, but their ability to truly accomplish the task God is giving them to do. 
• In human terms, God can and does become impatient with our doubting his provision for the task ahead.  
• God is not afraid to answer all our fears/requests, nor to give us the power, truth and tools we need to accomplish the job. 
• In the end, God can and does direct man, including his mouth, ears and eyes, including his being deaf, mute and blind. 
• God uses what we have as his tools.
• God can use our families to help us, as Aaron with Moses (not that there weren’t problems. In fact, there were.)
• God was already providing the answer to Moses’ rebuttals in Aaron’s coming to Moses before Moses had even brought up his speech impediment. 
So What’s? (Prayerfully connect a specific personal struggle to one of the above truths or principles and be willing to share or confess it with the group.) 
2003 Application…
This Week’s struggle: I started off strong, but in the middle of the week, along with Jordan, I started watching the DVD of 24, a television series that allegedly takes place in a real time of 24 hours. It was so addicting–like a book that you can’t put down. Each episode—an hour—ended as a cliff-hanger, so it was hard to STOP watching it! Once you were finished with one DVD or episode, you wanted to go on to the next to see how the previous cliff-hanger was resolved. So I watched the entire 24 hours–actually about 16 hours (commercials had been edited out). Needless to say this really shot my productivity at the time. While it was fun, I fell behind, lost sleep and am not feeling well right now, and all this with a lot to do, as the weekend is coming up. 
Principle/Application:  Despite all that God attempts to provide us with to do the job, we can still doubt that he can help or resource ME to do it.
Can God get me through the next 36 hours? In fact, quite often, my life does seem like a 24 hour drama, especially as each weekend arrives. 
God can do anything. I only need to be sensitive to the tools and support he provides and walk in faith. He will give me the illustration, examples, editing and rehearsal I need to finish preparing my teaching. 
And in my various meetings, draw from the people God has brought me. Pull the answers from them. Empower them. In other words, everyday, be aware of God’s answers and resources as I am living out my life’s drama.
2014 Application…
Thanksgiving…I have young adults whom either I remember being born or knew shortly after they were born, independently coming to me saying I see a ministry need and I am not only willing to meet that need but am willing to lead it, if called upon. Tell me, who gets to see fruit like this in a lifetime of ministry? I am blessed beyond measure! 
And guess what? After a stressful and sustained drought, the Fall rains have returned. Something symbolic here, if you ask me. 
Struggle…an irritating fly in my joyful ointment, or perhaps as the “Beloved” cries out to her “Lover” in the Song of Songs, Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes, that ruin the vineyard—for our vineyard is in floom bloom (Song of Songs 2:15). 
After seemingly a good, long run of not really having to think too deeply about finances—which has NOT been the case in previous years—we came up somewhat short here recently. It kind of caught me by surprise. My real concern is whether there is a gradual trend in which our financial output has been exceeding our financial input and that trend is just now getting exposed. We shall see. 
Truth…There are a thousands reasons something seemingly impossible will or cannot work, and yet if God calls for it to be done, and for whatever purpose, he can and will provide the resources, tools, truth and power necessary to accomplish or bring about his divinely-inspired decree or will. And despite all our seemingly reasonable human objections, there comes a point in time when the only alternative left to us is to merely trust God and step out in faith. And if God wants it done; He will do it. We are just the tools. And if he wants it done immediately, it will occur immediately, and if not, it will take longer, and longer is okay, maybe even better, because over time, it builds a stronger, more sustainable Spiritual confidence, faith, trust, backbone and relationship with our Creator…as opposed to miracles, that come and go so quickly, that as time goes by, we are tempted to question Why is God Not working in the same way as he did in the miracle? 
Note: I have seen people step out in denial. In other words, it was NOT trust in God, but their own selfish denial. And how do I know this? 1) long-term fruit or the lack thereof, and 2) they failed to take advantage of all the Spiritually supportive checks and balances that Scripture provided for them within the local church because God, it seemed was only talking to them…in a room of not just cold-hearted saints, but very godly men and women that just as passionately sought the will of God as well. 
This is not to say that God can’t or doesn’t call out the individual, as in the case of Moses, here (although Moses does have Aaron), or perhaps a Joan or Arc (France) or Gideon (Judges) or Christ himself, to go against the general public or cultural grain, and in so doing, establish a new Spiritual direction, trend or paradigm. But in those cases, history or Scripture usually makes it clear, that those surrounding the individual being led or called by God are NOT sincerely seeking the LORD as well. 
In the cases I am referring to, there are no checks and balances, and the person who is advocating that they are being led or called upon by God to do something special can’t even answer some basic motivational whys or validation of God’s direction. In this case, God over-abundantly validates Moses’ call and leading, and in fact, it is Moses who doubts the call. And in fact, I would probably be much more willing to listen to or trust someone WITH a speech or some other impediment who inwardly probably doesn’t want to do what they or others feel God is calling them to do. 
Application…Stick to the present general trend or course. I have been doing this a long time…listening to, sensing and courageously seeking to be obedient to God’s leading within my life. I feel fairly confident of the message he is giving me now, and the human resources (or Aarons) certainly seem to be stepping up to the plate and validating this direction. Stick to the course and message…Boots on the Ground…regardless of the proverbial flies in the ointment or annoying little foxes that will seek to ruin the crop. And what does Boots on the Ground  mean? More to come…It’s a metaphor for where I believe God is leading or taking our Spiritual family. Time will tell. It always does. 
Your struggle?
Principle/Prayerful application?
What about your students? What are some of their current struggles?
Which principles seem to relate?
How could God prayerfully apply these truths to their lives? (Just try a few in your preparation…then try leading the application in that direction. It may go another direction. Be sensitive to God’s leading among the group.)
Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.

Gen 50:15ff Crocodile Jerky! 7-20-14

Ruins. Genesis Studies

© 1998-2014
Fellowship at Cross Creek
Gen. 50:15ff
Crocodile Jerky!

Intro… Well, 50 chapters later and a year and a half later, we are coming to the end of our first set of explorations into Scriptures’ ancient biblical ruins. We have studied the lives of the Bible’s ancient patriarchs–how they came to know, be called upon and existed with, God. They certainly were NOT perfect, and yet, God still used them. God was still glorified. Despite mistakes, despite death even, God’s redemptive plan continued and it still continues.

Chapter 50 brings us to the close of the life of Joseph and Joseph’s words to his brothers in v. 20…while you meant it for evil, God meant it for good, says it all. Grasp this verse…understand this verse…understand this truth…press against this truth and take into your heart, mind and soul with all of your heart, mind and soul and you may have just figured out life’s greatest truth…or greatest drama—the ability to see life through faith via God’s eternal gaze. Instead of being bent out of shape by all of life’s dramas, rather having peace in the midst of the storm. Why? God is still in control. It is not man’s evil we must seek to overcome by any means possible. No, this is NOT our mission. Rather, it is trusting in God, despite the apparent injustices, evil, misfortunes and suffering, that his greater will will prevail, and that within that greater will, whether it be in this life or the life to come or both, I need not fear. God has my destiny and ultimate good firmly in his hands. So when I feel others have wronged me, I need not be fueled by the need to wrong back, rather I trust God and go on about my business in doing things in such a manner that will bring him ultimate glory. His purpose becomes my purpose.  Remember the life of Joseph; read, trust, believe, hope in, obey the promises we have as God’s children and bring an angelic, heavenly light to a world that grows more dark with each passing day. Be Joseph, be Jesus in the flesh; be his bride; be his body; be his church; his flock; his lamb; his light…even in the midst of suffering. Suffering is NOT everything. It is only the beginning. The end is his glory.

If I was teaching this to kids, I would talk, talk and talk about unfairness…life’s injustices…or perceived injustices. Why do they bend us so out of shape at times? Why do they rock our world and sometimes disproportionately, so?


After Rhonda and I had finished walking at the Landing tonight and were stretching, there was a family getting out of a van and getting ready to head down to the Landing and the American Idol pre-tryouts concert. As they were leaving, there was a six or seven year old little boy with them, kind of heavy set, who was whimpering—he wanted to throw a fit, but with this kind of subdued, but irritating whimper, you could tell he was pushing things only so far. His parents were threatening to either leave him at the car or not go at all because they were not going to put up with his whining. And what was pushing this kids’ buttons? He wanted his Crocodile Jerky, even though the family was about to eat out. Crocodile Jerky! Heck, I would have said, Give the kid the jerky. Who cares if he eats out or not! The night is supposed to be fun to begin with, right? But not having his Crocodile Jerky was rocking this little six year old’s world. And I can’t blame him. It must be good stuff. But the parents weren’t giving in, and thus the tears…thus the controlled, but definitely get-your-attention whimper.

What’s your Crocodile Jerky in life right now ‘cause we all have one? And how can God use what feels like evil for a greater good? Ever had one of those moments? Sometimes you have to wait for the reward, and kids need to be reminded of this.

Your servant,

Series INTRO…

The Bible’s very first word is the Hebrew word Bərēšīṯ, which means “in [the] beginning.” “Genesis” is actually the Greek word for “beginnings” or “origins,” and thus the origin for both the Latin and English transliteration: Genesis.

So what’s our goal? Just to explore. Like an archaeologist exploring ancient ruins, we are going back to the Scripture’s beginnings to do a little Spiritual digging and poking around to see what was God doing before God’s Son was Spiritually conceived in his mother Mary’s womb? What were the world, people and life like from the very beginning?

Summary of Recent Explorations…

• The Creation: The Creator Creates His Creation and its Caretakers (Adam and Eve). Gen. 1-2.

• The Fall: But a Crafty Adversary Emerges, Infecting the Creator’s Caretakers with a Virulent Strain of Deceptive Evil (non-beneficial actions). Gen. 3-4.

• The Flood: The story of the righteous Servant and a devastating Flood.  In order to Save his Creation from a self-destructive and merciless evil, the Creator Must radically purge or cleanse his Creation Gen. 5-7.

• Creation’s New Beginning…Gen. 8-11.

• Creation’s New Caretaker: The Creator Raises up, Chooses and Greatly Blesses a righteous and trusting Caretaker named Abraham. Gen. 12-25.

• The Torch of the Creator’s Trusting Caretaking Now Passes to Succeeding Generations (Isaac, Jacob, Joseph…) Gen. 26ff.

Joseph’s Story…Gen. 37-50.

• Jacob’s older sons grow deeply resentful of their favored younger brother, Joseph. Gen. 37:1ff.

• Joseph’s jealous older brothers cruelly sell their younger brother Joseph, against his will, into slavery, and then inform their grieving father, Jacob, that Joseph has been killed by wild animals. Gen. 37:12ff.

• Despite being trafficked as a slave and falsely imprisoned, God’s favor mysteriously still accompanies Joseph. Gen. 39:1ff.

• Despite correctly interpreting the baker and cupbearer’s dreams while in prison, Joseph’s good deeds, go momentarily unrewarded. Gen. 40:1ff.

• Finally, when Pharaoh has two strange dreams that neither he, nor his priests, can’t interpret, the cupbearer remembers Joseph. Joseph is released from prison and is able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams as seven years of plenty followed by seven years of severe famine. Gen. 41:1ff.

• Pharaoh empowers Joseph to guide Egypt through these next fourteen years of plenty and famine. Gen. 41:38ff.

• When Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt in search of grain, they have no idea that the Egyptian official that they are seeking to purchase the grain from is their brother Joseph. Then still portraying himself as an unknown Egyptian official, Joseph accuses his brothers of spying and forces them to leave their brother Simeon behind as surety that they will return with Joseph’s brother Benjamin. Gen. 42:1ff.

• When Jacob’s sons tell him of the bargain that they were forced to accept for their grain, Jacob initially refuses to risk losing a third son. Gen. 42:19ff.

• Finally, accompanied by Benjamin, Joseph’s brothers are able to persuade their father to allow them to return to Egypt where the Egyptian official hosts a great banquet in their honor. Gen. 43:1ff.

• When a planted missing missing silver cup of the Egyptian official is found within Benjamin’s grain sack, Judah must now offer himself in place of his younger brother.  Gen. 44:1ff.

• Finally, no longer able to contain his emotions, Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers and their need to return to Egypt with their father to survive the famine. Gen. 45:1ff.

• Pharaoh, in gratitude for all that Joseph had done for both Egypt and his realm, offers Joseph’s family, the children of Israel, the best that Egypt has to offer. Gen. 45:16ff.

• With God’s blessing Israel takes his entire family and flocks to Egypt where he is reunited with his son Joseph and settles in the land of Goshen. Gen. 46:1ff.

• Israel, close to his death, makes Joseph swear that he will return his body to in the Promised Land to be buried.  Gen. 47:1-12; 27-31.

• During the famine, Joseph saves many lives from starvation, as well as, solidifying Pharaoh’s great wealth. Gen. 47:13-26.

• Jacob, shortly before his death, doubles Joseph’s inheritance by adopting Joseph’s two oldest sons. Gen. 48:1ff.

• Jacob (Israel) prepares to die and prophetically blesses his 12 sons. Gen. 49:1ff.

• After blessing his sons, Jacob dies, and his sons fulfill his wish to take his body back to Canaan to be laid along side the bodies of his fathers.  Gen, 49:28ff.

Pray; read three times (perhaps just twice) and ask questions…

50:15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!”

Fair question? I would be asking it. What it reminds me of, is that when we think people have forgotten things, they have not? Perhaps they have suppressed those thoughts or memories, but these guys are not dumb. They have to be thinking this—was our father being alive keeping us alive? Were we protected by his shelter? But what they seem not to understand is that God’s plan is for each of them to in essence to become a patriarch as well. These sons will become the twelve tribes of Israel?

16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying,

17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”‘ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.

Is this true? Scripture does not say this. I tend to think NOT. The brothers want to lie to protect themselves. Isn’t this what we all do? Lie, to protect ourselves?

18 Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.”

19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?

No. I am not in God’s place and therefore not in a position to judge your fate.

20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

The line of the entire book, and one of the greats of the entire Bible…”you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good…to bring about the present result and to preserve many lives.” If we could only see this life, and all its evil, from heaven’s eternal, timeless perspective, in order to see the good that God is still performing and all the lives that are being saved, either physically or Spiritually, either in the midst of evil, or incredibly still using man’s evil and the suffering caused by that evil, to do even greater things, it would indeed change how we view this life and its evil. As a friend of mine says, if Jesus were here he would say, “Cool it. I have it all under control.”

Thus, Joseph, now looking back, fully sees God’s plan. Amazing. Amazing for any of us to be able to look back and see God’s saving graces emerge despite man’s attempt to thwart them.

21 So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

The grace, mercy, kindness and love of God in human form…





• After Jacob dies, Joseph’s brothers fear that without their father around, their brother Joseph may take revenge for the wrongs that they inflicted upon him as a young man, so they concoct a story and message which has their father telling them to tell Joseph to forgive them for their past sins.

• But when they go before Joseph, Joseph weeps and very kindly exhorts them to not be afraid for he is NOT God, and what they meant for evil, it is clear from how things have worked out, God meant for good—to save many lives. Therefore don’t be afraid. Both you and your little ones will be provided for.

• Joseph lives in Egypt for almost a century and is able to see his great great grand children.

Summary: After Jacob dies, Joseph comforts his brothers that indeed he will not take revenge for their past sins against him because in the end, God meant their evil for both his and their overall deliverance and good.

Why did God include this event in his record or what would we not know–about God, life, myself, others, etc.–if this story were not in the Bible?

• First, how man fears. Joseph’s brothers naturally fear that Joseph has not forgotten their cruelty directed towards him as a young man. And there is Scriptural precedence for having a long-term memory. In fact, as 2 Samuel begins and King David is about to die, he will command his heir, his son Solomon, in essence, to avenge those that had dishonored the king in earlier days, and indeed Solomon will get the job done. In other words, there are always consequences to our actions, even if delayed. So naturally, they are afraid. Will Joseph remember? Without our father there to protect us, will our brother take his revenge? So they do what most of us do, they concoct a lie and send a message to that end to their brother. We always think about ourselves, and justify any means to protect ourselves, even deception. Our nature never changes. Little trust in God, but great fear in man.

• Joseph says it all. Perhaps one of Scripture’s greatest truths—what you meant for evil, God meant for good…to save many lives. Can we, like Joseph looking back on his life, say with absolute assuredness that I need not take revenge upon you for any harm you may have directed towards me. Why? God is bigger. God is greater. God is more sublime. God is infinitely more incredible. How does God use man’s evil for much better, greater purposes? Purposes that lead to man’s deliverance? How does the Creator of the Universe redirect or direct the course of human affairs in such a manner as man must take responsibility for his actions, including both good and bad deeds, and in so doing, may or will cause others to suffer or be injured, and yet, God causes even evil deeds and the suffering caused by the evil deeds to accomplish a much greater, better and beneficial purpose? And yet, that is the story of Genesis. That is the story of the Bible’s “Beginnings.” Suffering is not the end. God is alive. God can and does redeem even man’s evil to fulfill God’s nature, not only to save and deliver man from a greater evil, but to richly bless man. God seeks those who will believe, who will trust, who will put their faith, hope and confidence in the truth that he is, does exist, is all-powerful, is in charge, is merciful, loyal, faithful and kind and wants to help those who by faith do see him and will reach out to be saved or delivered by him. What’s the key? Endure evil. See the bigger picture. Trust in God, despite evil all around. Don’t panic. Seek God. Trust God. Believe God. Never, never, never give in. Never say die. Always hope, always trust, always believe, always love, always seek. Trust God despite momentary evil. Don’t play God. Don’t seek revenge. Allow God to figure out the real justice in all of man’s deceitful scheming. Can we trust God? Can we suffer? Can we trust the bigger, better perspective that this is NOT all, but only a foreshadow of a much greater existence and reward to come? If so, then we can suffer. We can see with heavenly eyes…with a heavenly heart and ears and soul. We can be God’s angel of light and truth, love and mercy in a dark and, at times depressing, gloomy, hopeless world. As Christ becomes God in the flesh to us, we, his church, his body, can be Christ in the flesh to the world. Good in the midst of evil, or a transforming good…an ongoing, maturing, changing, growing good in the midst of hatred, jealousy, thoughtlessness etc. Looking back, Joseph saw the truth. Looking ahead, can we become the truth?

So What?

Thanks… Great week away with family. Great past month, in fact. Family in from Californina…the kids are growing up and were a lot of fun to be with…followed by the incredible sounds of the Taneycomo summer Festival Orchestra–music that we rarely get to hear in the Ozarks–followed by a week of touring our home state of Missouri with wife and daughter…followed by a low key ministry week at home with the wife in wonderful weather conditions. Apparently, an artic front came out of Canada and brought us highs in the 70s in July. Amazing. Tag this along with some great biblical teaching, working on Sustainable Love © and great times with CRU, it has been a wonderful summer so far. More than I could have expected. At first I was apprehensive with all that had to get done in June, but we not only survived, we thrived. Cool temps and time away in July. It just doesn’t get much better than this. Now there are still four critical weeks to go to finish out the main portion of the summer for us, but again and again, I/we have been a beneficiary of God’s amazing grace. God give me grace for this next four-week segment, and I shall praise you abundantly. I shall praise you either way, but if this summer is NOT the summer of summer’s recent past, I will be once again amazed how no one can truly predict what lies ahead. Don’t compare the past to the present. In fact, never compare period! Trust God, one day, one moment, one task at a time.

Struggle(s)… Balance. Enjoying time with Rhonda before she goes back to work, while I am still working, but trying NOT to work full-speed, but more two-thirds speed, so I am still available to do a few things she enjoys doing during her mandatory layoff. At the same time, there are still a lot of people with lots of seemingly personal ministry needs, or at least my list grows. But I must remember, it is God’s list that counts. Summer is always a precarious season. I just thank God for the first half of summer for the Crosses. We have been seemingly unusually blessed.

Truth(s)… Seeing things, life or evil through a lens in which God exists, the Son has atoned for my sins, I have been empowered with the Spirit of God to guide me through every day, be that day and those trials, seemingly good or bad according to my typical, flesh-driven human interpretation.  In other words, not sweating the small stuff. In fact, no sweating the big stuff, either. Rather, seeking to cooperate with God’s Spirit to do his will as it is laid out before me. Not riding life’s waves up and down, but staying centered, focused, dependent, open, resilient, flexible, true and for the most part obedient, even if that obedience means being treated unjustly or wrongly…even if that obedience means suffering unfairly. Why? Because what man means for evil, God can and will use for mine and others’ good. Why? For he causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God…to those called according to his purpose…that is his children…believers…the faithful…Christians…those who believe they are forgiven through the Son’s atonement for sin and are empowered with both truth and power via the presence of God’s Spirit within their lives. God’s good…God’s Spiritual benefit…our benefit…will prevail…will triumph…no matter momentary appearances. Be the faithful son, be the faithful servant; be the faithful prisoner; be the faithful administrator…be faithful…good or bad…up or down. Trust in God. Embrace heaven even in the midst of hell.

Application… For the moment, life is good. I have known it when it is not…when it has seemed incredibly unfair…dishonest…unjust…and repeatedly such. I have cried. I have whined before God. I have prayed, groveled, poured out my heart, questioned, asked for mercy, justice, relief, help…hope, and I am still alive. I thank God for the brief moment of peace because I know it can all turn on a momentary, thin dime of life. I was called to visit a family visiting from Dallas. On the previous night, they had had a great time as a family when a young seventeen-year old girl, pregnant with twins, from Branson and who had ridden the bus to Branson with one of their daughters, showed them the sights of Branson. They ended up at the Landing awed by the fountain show. The next day, after a swim at their time share condo, they were headed back to the Landing to ride the zip line, but that all changed when one of the kids went out onto the back deck to check on their dad. He was dead, lying on the porch, having been slayed by a heart attack. He was fifty. Needless to say, their lives had suddenly turned on that fragile dime. As I was sitting there, Laura, the wife, dialed a number, but then didn’t talk to anyone and then she suddenly began to greatly weep. I knew what she had done. She had dialed her husband’s voice mail just to hear his voice. Repeatedly, she told me she could still smell him in their bedroom. He had met her when her daughter had put in an ad on Craig’s List for someone to fix her brakes for twenty dollars. Later, when she was experiencing an allergic reaction to some medication, he held the trash can for her until she stopped throwing up. She said finally, she had lifted her head and said, “I will marry you,” which she did. She then said, “And he loved my kids. He loved my kids.”

As I sat there while she grieved the gargantuan change that had just occurred in her life—her angel had gone home to be with the Lord– I thought…this could have been my family in St. Louis the week before.  How fragile life can be…and none of us knows. We cling to God, strap on our boots and suspenders and go live. God, be gracious to this family. Thank you for being gracious to mine, through both the difficult times and the wonderful times. My life is yours. Do with it as you wish. Use my life to save. Use my life and the lives of my family, both physical and Spiritual to save others, just as you used Joseph’s. Amen.

Your application:

Biggest Struggle at the moment:

How does what happen here relate to you?

What about your kids?

Biggest Struggles (Imagine these or several–put yourself in their shoes–walk through a day with them at school, at home. What might they encounter?)

Now how does what happen here possibly relate/ (Remember this is only to give you a feel or an introductory hook or a reinforcing took; in there looking, they may come up with something entirely different.)

Remember to have fun, sense the Spirit’s leading and develop a love for these kids.

As always, thanks!

Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968,1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org).