Character and Integrity!

Do what you say and say what you do! Let your word be your word! If someone asked, how would they describe your character? If someone asked, how would they answer “do they have integrity?” Will you live a life so that you can finish in peace? Will you live a life so that in the end God will be glorified? What type of legacy will you leave? How will you be remembered? What example will you pass on to the next generation?

Today’s reading we see Joseph continue to demonstrate character and integrity even though his brothers didn’t always play by the same rules…

Lamentation for Jacob

1Joseph fell upon his father’s face, wept over him and kissed him.
2Then Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father, so the physicians embalmed Israel.
3They took 40 days for him, because that is how long embalming takes, and Egypt wept 70 days.
4When the days of formal weeping passed, Joseph spoke to Pharaoh’s house saying, “If I’ve found favor in your eyes, please say in Pharaoh’s ears,
5“My father made me take an oath saying, ‘Behold, I am about to die. In my tomb—which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan—there you must bury me.’ So now, please allow me to go up and bury my father, and then return.”
6Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father just as he made you swear on oath.”
7So Joseph went up to bury his father. Also all of Pharaoh’s servants, the elders of his household and all the elders of the land of Egypt went up with him,
8along with all of Joseph’s house, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only their children and their flocks and cattle were left in the land of Goshen.
9Chariots and horsemen also went up with him—it was a very impressive company.
10When they came to the threshing floor of the bramble on the other side of the Jordan, they mourned there—a very great and solemn lamentation. He observed seven days of mourning for his father.
11When the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning ritual at the threshing floor of the prickly bush, they said, “A solemn mourning ritual this is for the Egyptians.” That is why it is named Abel-Mizraim, which is on the other side of the Jordan.
12So Jacob’s sons did for him just as he commanded them.
13His sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, the field that Abraham bought as a property for burial from Ephron the Hittite, next to Mamre.
14After burying his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers and all those who went up with him to bury his father.

Joseph Comforts His Brothers

15When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father had died, they said, “Maybe Joseph will be hostile towards us and pay us back in full for all the evil we showed him.
16So they charged Joseph saying, “Before his death, your father gave a command, saying,
17“Thus you must say to Joseph: ‘Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin because they treated you wrongly.’ Therefore, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Then Joseph wept when they spoke to him,
18and his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your slaves!”
19But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. For am I in the place of God?
20Yes, you yourselves planned evil against me. God planned it for good, in order to bring about what it is this day—to preserve the lives of many people.
21So now, don’t be afraid. I myself will provide food for you and your little ones.” So he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.
22Joseph remained in Egypt—he and his father’s household—and Joseph lived 110 years.
23Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim’s sons. Also the sons of Machir, Manasseh’s son, were born upon Joseph’s knees.
24Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I’m about to die. But God will surely take notice of you and will bring you up from this land to the land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”
25Then Joseph made Israel’s sons swear an oath saying, “When God takes notice of you, you will bring my bones up from here.”
26So Joseph died at 110 years old, and they embalmed him and he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
–from Genesis 50

The brothers’ fear caused them to make stuff up. Joseph’s character and trust in God revealed how he knew that it was God’s plan for him to be where he was and that they should not be afraid.

Today’s reading continues into Exodus…the start of the way out of Egypt…the process begins…What happens when people forget? Fear? Doubt? Worry?

Oppression in Egypt

1Now these are the names of Bnei-Yisrael who came into Egypt with Jacob, each man with his family:
2Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah;
3Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin;
4Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.
5The souls that came out of the line of Jacob numbered 70 in all, while Joseph was already in Egypt.
6Then Joseph died, as did all his brothers and all that generation.
7Yet Bnei-Yisrael were fruitful, increased abundantly, multiplied and grew extremely numerous—so the land was filled with them.
8Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.
9He said to his people, “Look, the people of Bnei-Yisrael are too numerous and too powerful for us.
10Come, we must deal shrewdly with them, or else they will grow even more numerous, so that if war breaks out, they may join our enemies, fight against us, and then escape from the land.”
11So they set slave masters over them to afflict them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Raamses as storage cities for Pharaoh.
12But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread. So the Egyptians dreaded the presence of Bnei-Yisrael.
13They worked them harshly,
14and made their lives bitter with hard labor with mortar and brick, doing all sorts of work in the fields. In all their labors they worked them with cruelty.
15Moreover the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah,
16and said, “When you help the Hebrew women during childbirth, look at the sex. If it’s a son, then kill him, but if it’s a daughter, she may live.”
17Yet the midwives feared God, so they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the boys live.
18So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this—let the boys live?”
19The midwives told Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women. They are like animals, and give birth before the midwife comes to them.”
20So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, growing very numerous.
21Because the midwives feared God, He gave them families of their own.
22But Pharaoh charged all his people saying, “You are to cast every son that is born into the river, but let every daughter live.”
–from Exodus 1

Oh the trials. Oh the troubles. Will everyone turn to God in the midst of the storms? Will everyone turn to God in the midst of the valleys? Will they turn to their strength who is God? Will they lean not on their own understanding, but rather trust in and call upon God?

Today’s reading continues into Psalms where we see how David turns to God in good times and in bad, for wisdom and for help…

Protection from the Wicked

1For the music director: a psalm of David.
2Rescue me, Adonai, from the evil man. Protect me from the violent men—
3who devise evil in their heart— every day they stir up wars.
4They sharpen their tongue like a serpent’s —viper’s venom is under their lips. Selah
5Keep me safe, Adonai, from the clutches of the wicked. Protect me from the man of violence who planned to push me off my feet.
6The proud have hidden a trap and cords for me. They spread out a net by the path. They set snares for me. Selah
7I said to Adonai: “You are my God!” Hear, Adonai, the sound of my supplications.
8God my Lord, the strength of my deliverance, You shield my head in the day of battle.
9Grant not, Adonai, the desires of the wicked. Do not let their evil plan succeed, or they will exalt themselves. Selah
10As for the head of those surrounding me, may the mischief of their lips overwhelm them.
11Let burning coals fall upon them. May they be cast into the fire, into deep pits, never to rise again.
12May a slanderer not endure in the land. May calamity hunt down a violent man.
13I know Adonai will vindicate the poor, and secure justice for the needy.
14Surely, the righteous ones will praise Your name. The upright will dwell in Your presence.
–from Psalm 140

Put your trust in God! No matter where you find yourself, turn back to Him! Call upon the Lord and be saved! Let’s live lives that allow us to have a clear conscience. Some may try to manipulate or control you through bribes and money, but stand firm. Don’t allow bad company to ruin your character.

Defense Before Governor Felix

1After five days, the kohen gadol Ananias came down with some of the elders and an attorney named Tertullus. They brought formal charges against Paul before the governor.
2When Paul was called in, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, “We are enjoying much peace through you, and reforms are introduced for this nation because of your foresight.
3We acknowledge this, most excellent Felix, in every way and every place with all gratitude.
4“But in order that I may not weary you any longer, I beg you in your kindness to hear us briefly.
5For we have found this man to be a pest, stirring up riots among all the Jewish people throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Natzratim.
6He even tried to defile the Temple, but we seized him.
8By examining him yourself, you will be able to learn from him all these things about which we accuse him.”
9The Judean leaders also joined in the attack, affirming that these things were true.
10When the governor nodded for him to speak, Paul responded: “Knowing that you have been judge over this nation for many years, I gladly make my own defense.
11As you can verify, it is no more than twelve days since I went up to Jerusalem to worship.
12They did not find me arguing with anyone or inciting a riot—not in the Temple or in the synagogues or anywhere else in the city.
13Nor can they prove to you the charges they now bring against me.
14“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way (which they call a sect), I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything written in the Torah and the Prophets.
15In God I have a hope—which these men also wait for—that there will surely be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.
16“Therefore I do my best always to have a clear conscience before both God and men.
17Now after several years, I came to bring tzadakah to my country for the poor and to present offerings.
18As I was doing this, they found me in the Temple, having been purified—without any crowd or uproar.
19But there were some Jewish people from Asia, who ought to be here before you to press charges if they have anything against me.
20Or let these men themselves tell what wrongdoing they found when I stood before the Sanhedrin—
21except for this one cry I shouted out while standing among them: ‘It is about the resurrection of the dead that today I am on trial before you.’”

In Prison for Two Years

22But Felix, having a rather extensive knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will rule on your case.”
23Then he gave the centurion orders for Paul to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from attending to his needs.
24Now some days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him speak about faith in Messiah Yeshua.
25But as he was arguing about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became afraid and said, “Go away for now! When I find time, I will summon you.”
26At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given to him by Paul; so he sent for him frequently and would talk with him.
27But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and wishing to do the Judean leaders a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.
–from Acts 24

Let’s live lives that will raise the bar – helping the average to go up! Going to the lowest common denominator will just lower the average over and over again! Let’s live the lives we have been called to and live to a higher calling. The ten commandments provided a bar that would be average. Consider where we are at today? Jesus has called us to a higher level. He has called us to live lives that will show His glory so that God will be glorified in what we say and do. Let’s live with character and integrity! Let’s help raise the bar! Let’s allow our faith to rise up and help transform this world and turn them back towards God! Let’s live our lives as examples producing a legacy that will point people to God! Let’s do it before it is too late!

Two Witnesses and a Voice from Heaven

1After six days, Yeshua takes with Him Peter and Jacob and John his brother, and brings them up a high mountain by themselves.
2Now He was transfigured before them; His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
3And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Yeshua.
4Peter responded to Yeshua, “Master, it’s good for us to be here! If You wish, I will make three sukkot here—one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
5While He was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice from out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”
6When the disciples heard this, they fell face down, terrified.
7But Yeshua came and touched them. “Get up,” He said. “Stop being afraid.”
8And lifting their eyes, they saw no one except Yeshua alone.
9As they were coming down from the mountain, Yeshua commanded them, saying, “Do not tell anyone about the vision until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”
10The disciples questioned Him, saying, “Why then do the Torah scholars say that Elijah must come first?”
11Yeshua replied, “Indeed, Elijah is coming and will restore all things.
12I tell you that Elijah already came; and they didn’t recognize him, but did to him whatever they wanted. In the same way, the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.”
13Then the disciples understood that He was speaking to them about John the Immerser.

See What Faith Can Do

14When they came to the crowd, a man came to Yeshua, falling on his knees before Him and saying,
15“Master, have mercy on my son, for he has seizures and suffers badly. For he often falls into the fire and often into the water.
16I brought him to Your disciples, but they couldn’t heal him.”
17And answering, Yeshua said, “O faithless and twisted generation! How long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”
18Yeshua rebuked the demon and it came out of him, and the boy was healed from that very hour.
19Then the disciples came to Yeshua in private and said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
20And He said to them, “Because you trust so little. Amen, I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
21[footnote: Most manuscripts omit verse 21: But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.]

Second Prediction: Death and Resurrection

22Now while they were gathering in the Galilee, Yeshua said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men;
23and they will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised.” And the disciples became greatly distressed.
24When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and said, “Your teacher pays the Temple tax, doesn’t He?”
25“Yes,” Peter said. Now when Peter came into the house, Yeshua spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? The kings of the earth, from whom do they collect tolls or tax? From their sons or from strangers?”
26After Peter said, “From strangers,” Yeshua said to him, “Then the sons are free.
27But so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw out a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. And when you open its mouth, you’ll find a coin. Take that, and give it to them, for Me and you.”
–from Matthew 17

The Spirit that was given us through our faith and trust in Jesus is the same Spirit that should draw us together in unity! The same way the trinity is in unity! Let’s come together, let’s unify, let’s become the people God has called us to be! Let’s allow our lights to shine so that the world can see that there is hope! Let’s allow our lives to be salt that helps spice up and heal the land. Let’s step up before it is too late! Let’s put on the full armor of God! Let’s pray and fast so that we will be ready for what is yet to come!


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