Ever gone through a tough time and when it is all over you realize you would never have asked for it, but having been through it you wouldn’t want to ever give up the experience? Ever learned through adversity something that you couldn’t have ever learned just having good times? Ever had a second chance and realize what you learned through the tough times? Ever had a second chance and chosen to walk it out God’s way? Did you find out that it was worth it in the end? That you had wisdom that you wouldn’t have been able to have any other way? Have you been able to share it with others?
I know I have! Be it when I was called to step up and be on the board of a homeowners association and then called to step up to be president. Be it when I was called to move on but chose to try and stick it out and then went through some adversity which taught me the importance of forgiveness. God knows what He is doing! God know what it will take for us to it, to answer it, and to move into it! He knows us better than we know ourselves!
Today’s reading shows how the adversity Joseph ha deal with was worth it and necessary for the ultimate plan to occur in saving lives and producing a humbled and wise leader in and through Joseph. And to be reunited with his father.
Jacob Goes to Egypt1So Israel set out, along with everything that belonged to him. When he came to Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.
2In visions of the night God said to Israel, “Jacob, Jacob.” “Hineni,” he said.
3“I am God, the God of your father,” He said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will turn you into a great nation there.
4I Myself will go down with you to Egypt and I Myself will also most certainly bring you up. Joseph will put his hands on your eyes.”
5Then Jacob arose from Beersheba and Israel’s sons carried Jacob their father, their little children, and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to carry him.
6They also took their livestock and their possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan and they came to Egypt, Jacob and all his offspring with him.
7His sons and his grandsons with him, his daughters and his granddaughters, and all his offspring, he brought with him to Egypt.
8Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt, Jacob and his sons: Jacob’s firstborn, Reuben,
9and Reuben’s sons: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron and Carmi.
10Simeon’s sons: Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zochar and Shaul the son of the Canaanite woman.
11Levi’s sons: Gershon, Kohath and Merari.
12Judah’s sons: Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah. Er died along with Onan in the land of Canaan. Perez’s sons were Hezron and Hamul.
13Issachar’s sons: Tola, Puvah, Iob and Shimron.
14Zebulun’s sons: Sered, Elon and Jahleel.
15These are Leah’s sons whom she bore to Jacob in Paddan-aram, along with his daughter Dinah. The tally of all of his sons and daughters was 33 people.
16Gad’s sons: Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.
17Asher’s sons: Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi, Beriah, and Serah their sister. Beriah’s sons: Heber and Malchiel.
18These are the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter. She bore these to Jacob: 16 people.
19The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.
20Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph in the land of Egypt—Asenath the daughter of Potiphera priest of On bore them to him.
21Benjamin’s sons: Bela, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.
22These are Rachel’s sons who were born to Jacob. The tally of all the people was 14.
23The sons of Dan: Hushim
24Naphtali’s sons: Yachzeel, Guni, Yezer and Shillem.
25These are the sons of Bilhah whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter and she bore these to Jacob. The tally of all the people was seven.
26All the people belonging to Jacob who came to Egypt—those coming from his loins (not counting the wives of Jacob’s sons)—the tally of all the people was 66.
27The sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt was a tally of two people. The tally of all the people belonging to Jacob’s house who came to Egypt was 70.
28Now he sent Judah before him to Joseph to show him the way to Goshen. When they came to the land of Goshen,
29Joseph harnessed his chariot and went up to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as he appeared before him, he fell upon his neck, and wept on his neck for some time.
30Then Israel said to Joseph, “At this time I am ready to die, after seeing your face in person—for you’re still alive!”
31Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I’ll go up and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household who were in the land of Canaan have come to me.
32The men are shepherds, for they’ve been men who handle livestock, who have brought their flocks and cattle and everything that they possess.’
33So when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’
34you must say, ‘Your servants have been men who handle livestock since the time of our youth until now, both we and our fathers,’ so that you can live in the land of Goshen, because every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians.”–from Genesis 46
All the training from his father prepared him for what was ahead! All the adversity enable him to be a humble leader who could serve them through the tough times. And his faithfulness to God’s calling on his life.
Jacob Blesses Pharaoh1Then Joseph came and informed Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers and their flocks and their cattle and everything that belongs to them have come from the land of Canaan, and behold, they are in the land of Goshen.”
2From among his brothers he took five men and presented them before Pharaoh.
3Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” So they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers.”
4Then they said to Pharaoh, “We came to dwell temporarily in the land, since there is no pasture for the flocks that belong to your servants, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. So now, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.”
5Pharaoh said to Joseph saying, “Your father and your brothers came to you.
6The land of Egypt is before you—settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in the land of Goshen. If you know of any capable men among them, make them overseers of the livestock—over those that are mine.”
7Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
8 Pharaoh asked Jacob, “How many days are the years of your life?”
9Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourn are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life. Moreover, the days of the years of my life have not attained the days of the years of the lives of my fathers, in the days of their sojourn.”
10And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from Pharaoh’s presence.
11Joseph settled his father and his brothers and gave them property in the land of Egypt, in the best part of the land, in the land of Rameses, just as Pharaoh commanded.
12And Joseph supported his father and his brothers and his father’s entire household with food for the mouths of the little ones.
Joseph’s Leadership in the Famine13Now there was no food in all the land because the famine was very severe. Both the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine.
14Joseph collected all the money that could be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan for the grain that they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.
15Then the money of the land of Egypt and of the land of Canaan ran out and all of Egypt came to Joseph saying, “Give us food. Why should we die in front of you because the money is gone?”
16Joseph said, “Give your livestock and I’ll give it to you for your livestock, if the money is gone.”
17So they brought their livestock to Joseph and Joseph gave them food in exchange for horses, for flocks of sheep, for herds of cattle and for donkeys. He provided them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year.
18When that year came to an end, they came to him in the second year and said to him, “We won’t hide from my lord that the money has run out and the livestock and the domestic animals are my lord’s. There is nothing left in my lord’s sight except our bodies and our land.
19Why should we die before your eyes—both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food—we and our land will become Pharaoh’s slaves. Provide seed so that we may live and not die, and the land won’t be deserted.”
20So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh because the Egyptians, each one, sold his field, for the famine overcame them. Thus the land became Pharaoh’s.
21He made the people slaves from one end of Egypt’s border to the other.
22Only he did not buy the land belonging to the priests, because the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh, and they ate their allotment that Pharaoh gave them. Therefore they did not sell their land.
23Then Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh. Here is seed for you, so that you can sow the land.
24During the harvest you must give a fifth part to Pharaoh and four-fifths will be for you, for seed for the field and for your food, and for those in your houses, and for food for your little ones.”
25“You’ve saved our lives,” they said. “We find favor in the eyes of my lord, and we’ll be Pharaoh’s slaves.”
26So Joseph set it as a statute until this very day concerning the land of Egypt: a fifth-part goes to Pharaoh. Only the priests’ land did not become Pharaoh’s.
27Meanwhile, Israel settled in the land of Egypt in the land of Goshen, acquired property in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly.
Joseph’s Promise to Jacob28Now Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for 17 years, so the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were 147 years.
29As the time of Israel’s death drew near, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please put your hand under my thigh and show me faithful kindness. Please do not bury me in Egypt.
30When I lie down with my fathers, you must carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” So he said, “I myself will do according to your word.”
31“Swear to me,” he said. So he swore to him. Then Israel bowed down in worship on the head of his staff.–from Genesis 47
I reflect on this and how the power of forgiveness allowed me to step out of the adversity and even though the situation hadn’t changed, walk in joy and then be able to see where God would have me go next. I reflect on this and how the power of forgiveness allowed me to step into the lives of those around me and share the hope that was within me thanks to Jesus’ love and sacrifice to get us forgiven and how forgiveness is the key to true freedom!
So will you testify to who you were? Will you testify to your encounter with Jesus? Will you testify to the transformation that took place thanks to the encounter?
Today’s reading continues into Acts where Paul is speaking…
Paul’s Testimony on the Temple Stairs1“Brothers and fathers, listen to my defense which I now present to you.”
2When they heard that Paul was addressing them in Aramaic, they became even more quiet. Then he said,
3“I am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, trained strictly according to the Torah of our fathers, being zealous for God just as all of you are today.
4I persecuted this Way to the death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prisons—
5as the kohen gadol and all the council of elders can testify about me. I also received letters from them to the brothers, and I went to Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem even those who were there in chains—to be punished.
6“But it happened that as I was traveling and drawing near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly flashed all around me.
7I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’
8“I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “He said to me, ‘I am Yeshua ha-Natzrati, whom you are persecuting.’
9“Now those who were with me saw the light, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me.
10So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ “And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up, and go to Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been appointed to do.’
11“But since I could not see because of the brilliance of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus.
12Then a certain Ananias—a devout man according to the Torah, well spoken of by all the Jewish people living there—
13came to me. Standing before me, he said to me, ‘Brother Saul, look up!’ In that very moment, I looked and saw him!
14“And he said, ‘The God of our fathers handpicked you to know His will—to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth.
15For you will be a witness for Him to all people of what you have seen and heard.
16Now why are you waiting? Get up and be immersed, and wash away your sins, calling on His Name.’
17“It happened that when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance;
18and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Hurry! Get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your witness about Me.’
19“And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another, I was imprisoning and beating those trusting in You.
20Even when the blood of Your witness Stephen was spilled, I too was standing by and approving, and guarding the clothing of those who were killing him.’
21“And he said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
22Up to this statement they listened to him. Then they raised their voices, saying, “Away from the earth with this fellow! For he’s not fit to live!”
The Romans Intervene23As they were crying out and flinging off their cloaks and throwing dust into the air,
24the commander ordered Paul to be brought into headquarters. He said Paul should be examined by lashing, so that he might find out why they were shouting against him so.
25But when they stretched him out with straps, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it legal for you to scourge a man who is a Roman citizen without due process?”
26Now when the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it, saying, “What are you going to do? For this man is Roman.”
27The commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you Roman?” And he said, “Yes.”
28The commander answered, “I bought this citizenship for a large sum.” Paul said, “But I was born so.”
29Therefore, those who were about to interrogate him instantly drew back from him. And the commander also was afraid when he found out that Paul was a Roman and that he had bound him.
Delivered to the Council30But on the next day, desiring to know exactly why Paul had been accused by the Judeans, he released him and commanded the ruling kohanim and all the Sanhedrin to meet together. And he brought Paul and set him before them.–from Acts 22
Do you remember your encounter? I remember the aha moment when I realized it wasn’t about routine and rituals, that it was all about a relationship with Jesus! I was 30. I had gone to church on and off growing up with my grandmother or my parents from time to time. I had the drawing to go through the confirmation process while I was at university and when I went home to work, I went through the class and was confirmed Christmas eve, but somehow through all of that missed the truth about it being relational. But when that realization took place, I consider it the jetpack experience with God! What He did in me and through me blew me away. I was baptized in water. I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I went through Cleansing Stream. I learned so much through Bible studies. He called me into men’s ministry and worship and arts – tech and acting. Wow. It’s not just going through the motions, it’s actually a daily relationship with God! It’s allowed me to raise my children to know not just about Jesus but to live by example knowing Jesus. It was an incredible blessing as God touched both my heart and my wife’s heart at the same time. Wow! God is good!
Today’s reading concludes in Matthew where Jesus is being questioned and He in turns raises the question about putting routine and rituals above relationship.
Religious Leaders Quiz Yeshua1Then some Pharisees and Torah scholars came to Yeshua from Jerusalem. They said,
2“Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not do the ritual handwashing when they eat bread.”
3And answering, He said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?
4For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death.’
5But you say, ‘Whoever tells his father or mother, “Whatever you might have gained from me is a gift to God,”
6he need not honor his father.’ On account of your tradition, you made void the word of God.
7Hypocrites! Rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying,
8‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
9And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
10Then Yeshua called the crowd and said to them, “Hear and understand.
11It’s not what goes into the mouth that makes the man unholy; but what comes out of the mouth, this makes the man unholy.”
12Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees took offense when they heard this saying?”
13But He replied, “Every plant that My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.
14Leave them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”
15Then Peter answered and said to Him, “Explain this parable to us.”
16“Are you also still lacking understanding?” Yeshua said.
17“Don’t you grasp that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and then is ejected into the sewer?
18But the things that proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and those things make the man unholy.
19For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, and slander.
20These are the things that make the man unholy; but to eat with unwashed hands does not make the man unholy.”
A Reward for a Humble Woman21Now Yeshua left from there and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
22And behold, a Canaanite woman from that district came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, O Master, Ben-David! My daughter is severely tormented by a demon.”
23But He did not answer her a word. And when His disciples came, they were urging Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”
24But He responded, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
25So she came and got down on her knees before Him, saying, “Master, help me!”
26And answering, He said, “It’s not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”
27But she said, “Yes, Master, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
28Then answering, Yeshua said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed in that very hour.
29After Yeshua left there, He went along the Sea of Galilee. Then He went up on a mountainside and was sitting there.
30And large crowds came to Him, bringing with them the lame, blind, disabled, mute, and many others. And they laid them at His feet, and He healed them.
31So the crowd marveled when they saw the mute speaking, the disabled made whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
Feeding More Hungry Followers32Yeshua called His disciples and said, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they’ve stayed with Me for three days now and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, because they might pass out on the way.”
33The disciples said to Him, “Where in this wasteland is enough bread to satisfy such a large crowd?”
34Yeshua said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they said, “and a few small fish.”
35After directing the crowd to recline on the ground,
36He took the seven loaves and the fish; and after giving thanks, He broke them. And He began giving them to the disciples, and the disciples to the crowds.
37And they all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up the broken pieces left over—seven baskets full.
38And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.
39And after sending away the crowds, Yeshua got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.–from Matthew 15
So let’s make sure what we store in our hearts is good and pure for what comes out of our mouths is the overflow of our hearts! Lord create in me a new heart, a pure heart, so that the words that come out of my mouth are words that will praise You and glorify You! Help me Lord to be speaking the truth in love! Not just the truth and not just love, breaking down the walls of pride to be able to speak in truth and love! Let’s allow God to take what we have and use it for His purposes!