We have each been given talents and gifts. Will you be a good steward who takes them and uses them for good and multiplies them? Will you take what you have been given and develop them and grow them? Will you hoard them and allow fear to keep you from growing them? Will you take the call or will you risk losing everything you’ve been given? Are you willing to work it out in order to succeed? Will you receive all God has given you in order to succeed? Will you take the gifts and talents you have been given, to your capacity, and use them to the full? We get them in accordance to our abilities. When we consider that everything is God’s and we just get to be stewards of it, we need to live out our lives in ways that will demonstrate good stewardship on behalf of God.
Today’s reading starts in Genesis 47.
‘Then Joseph went to see Pharaoh and told him, “My father and my brothers have arrived from the land of Canaan. They have come with all their flocks and herds and possessions, and they are now in the region of Goshen.” Joseph took five of his brothers with him and presented them to Pharaoh. And Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?” They replied, “We, your servants, are shepherds, just like our ancestors. We have come to live here in Egypt for a while, for there is no pasture for our flocks in Canaan. The famine is very severe there. So please, we request permission to live in the region of Goshen.” 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.” Then Joseph brought in his father, Jacob, and presented him to Pharaoh. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh. “How old are you?” Pharaoh asked him. Jacob replied, “I have traveled this earth for 130 hard years. But my life has been short compared to the lives of my ancestors.” Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh again before leaving his court. So Joseph assigned the best land of Egypt—the region of Rameses—to his father and his brothers, and he settled them there, just as Pharaoh had commanded. And Joseph provided food for his father and his brothers in amounts appropriate to the number of their dependents, including the smallest children.
Meanwhile, the famine became so severe that all the food was used up, and people were starving throughout the lands of Egypt and Canaan. By selling grain to the people, Joseph eventually collected all the money in Egypt and Canaan, and he put the money in Pharaoh’s treasury. When the people of Egypt and Canaan ran out of money, all the Egyptians came to Joseph. “Our money is gone!” they cried. “But please give us food, or we will die before your very eyes!” Joseph replied, “Since your money is gone, bring me your livestock. I will give you food in exchange for your livestock.” 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. But that year ended, and the next year they came again and said, “We cannot hide the truth from you, my lord. Our money is gone, and all our livestock and cattle are yours. We have nothing left to give but our bodies and our land. Why should we die before your very eyes? Buy us and our land in exchange for food; we offer our land and ourselves as slaves for Pharaoh. Just give us grain so we may live and not die, and so the land does not become empty and desolate.” 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. The only land he did not buy was the land belonging to the priests. They received an allotment of food directly from Pharaoh, so they didn’t need to sell their land. Then Joseph said to the people, “Look, today I have bought you and your land for Pharaoh. I will provide you with seed so you can plant the fields. Then when you harvest it, one-fifth of your crop will belong to Pharaoh. You may keep the remaining four-fifths as seed for your fields and as food for you, your households, and your little ones.” “You have saved our lives!” they exclaimed. “May it please you, my lord, to let us be Pharaoh’s servants.” Joseph then issued a decree still in effect in the land of Egypt, that Pharaoh should receive one-fifth of all the crops grown on his land. Only the land belonging to the priests was not given to Pharaoh. 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. Jacob lived for seventeen years after his arrival in Egypt, so he lived 147 years in all. As the time of his death drew near, Jacob called for his son Joseph and said to him, “Please do me this favor. Put your hand under my thigh and swear that you will treat me with unfailing love by honoring this last request: Do not bury me in Egypt. When I die, please take my body out of Egypt and bury me with my ancestors.” So Joseph promised, “I will do as you ask.” “Swear that you will do it,” Jacob insisted. So Joseph gave his oath, and Jacob bowed humbly at the head of his bed.’—Genesis 47
Just as we read here we are given seeds to plant and food to eat. We need to be good stewards and not be eating the seeds that we are to plant. We need to be good stewards and eat only that which is food. Consider what you have been given to sow and to eat. Consider how the seeds to sow will multiply and provide more seeds and food for years to come. We need to be good stewards. We need to live with the wisdom of God and follow His instruction and direction.
Today’s reading continues into 2 Chronicles 21.
‘When Jehoshaphat died, he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Then his son Jehoram became the next king. Jehoram’s brothers—the other sons of Jehoshaphat—were Azariah, Jehiel, Zechariah, Azariahu, Michael, and Shephatiah; all these were the sons of Jehoshaphat king of Judah. Their father had given each of them valuable gifts of silver, gold, and costly items, and also some of Judah’s fortified towns. However, he designated Jehoram as the next king because he was the oldest. But when Jehoram had become solidly established as king, he killed all his brothers and some of the other leaders of Judah. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. But Jehoram followed the example of the kings of Israel and was as wicked as King Ahab, for he had married one of Ahab’s daughters. So Jehoram did what was evil in the Lord ’s sight. But the Lord did not want to destroy David’s dynasty, for he had made a covenant with David and promised that his descendants would continue to rule, shining like a lamp forever. During Jehoram’s reign, the Edomites revolted against Judah and crowned their own king. So Jehoram went out with his full army and all his chariots. The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he went out at night and attacked them under cover of darkness. Even so, Edom has been independent from Judah to this day. The town of Libnah also revolted about that same time. All this happened because Jehoram had abandoned the Lord , the God of his ancestors. He had built pagan shrines in the hill country of Judah and had led the people of Jerusalem and Judah to give themselves to pagan gods and to go astray. Then Elijah the prophet wrote Jehoram this letter: “This is what the Lord , the God of your ancestor David, says: You have not followed the good example of your father, Jehoshaphat, or your grandfather King Asa of Judah. Instead, you have been as evil as the kings of Israel. You have led the people of Jerusalem and Judah to worship idols, just as King Ahab did in Israel. And you have even killed your own brothers, men who were better than you. So now the Lord is about to strike you, your people, your children, your wives, and all that is yours with a heavy blow. You yourself will suffer with a severe intestinal disease that will get worse each day until your bowels come out.” Then the Lord stirred up the Philistines and the Arabs, who lived near the Ethiopians, to attack Jehoram. They marched against Judah, broke down its defenses, and carried away everything of value in the royal palace, including the king’s sons and his wives. Only his youngest son, Ahaziah, was spared. After all this, the Lord struck Jehoram with an incurable intestinal disease. The disease grew worse and worse, and at the end of two years it caused his bowels to come out, and he died in agony. His people did not build a great funeral fire to honor him as they had done for his ancestors. Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. No one was sorry when he died. They buried him in the City of David, but not in the royal cemetery.’—2 Chronicles 21
Today’s reading continues into 2 Chronicles 22.
‘Then the people of Jerusalem made Ahaziah, Jehoram’s youngest son, their next king, since the marauding bands who came with the Arabs had killed all the older sons. So Ahaziah son of Jehoram reigned as king of Judah. Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother was Athaliah, a granddaughter of King Omri. Ahaziah also followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong. He did what was evil in the Lord ’s sight, just as Ahab’s family had done. They even became his advisers after the death of his father, and they led him to ruin. Following their evil advice, Ahaziah joined Joram, the son of King Ahab of Israel, in his war against King Hazael of Aram at Ramoth-gilead. When the Arameans wounded Joram in the battle, he returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds he had received at Ramoth. Because Joram was wounded, King Ahaziah of Judah went to Jezreel to visit him. But God had decided that this visit would be Ahaziah’s downfall. While he was there, Ahaziah went out with Joram to meet Jehu grandson of Nimshi, whom the Lord had appointed to destroy the dynasty of Ahab. While Jehu was executing judgment against the family of Ahab, he happened to meet some of Judah’s officials and Ahaziah’s relatives who were traveling with Ahaziah. So Jehu killed them all. Then Jehu’s men searched for Ahaziah, and they found him hiding in the city of Samaria. They brought him to Jehu, who killed him. Ahaziah was given a decent burial because the people said, “He was the grandson of Jehoshaphat—a man who sought the Lord with all his heart.” But none of the surviving members of Ahaziah’s family was capable of ruling the kingdom.
When Athaliah, the mother of King Ahaziah of Judah, learned that her son was dead, she began to destroy the rest of Judah’s royal family. But Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram, took Ahaziah’s infant son, Joash, and stole him away from among the rest of the king’s children, who were about to be killed. She put Joash and his nurse in a bedroom. In this way, Jehosheba, wife of Jehoiada the priest and sister of Ahaziah, hid the child so that Athaliah could not murder him. Joash remained hidden in the Temple of God for six years while Athaliah ruled over the land.’—2 Chronicles 22
Today’s reading continues into the New Testament in John 13.
‘Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I have chosen. But this fulfills the Scripture that says, ‘The one who eats my food has turned against me.’ I tell you this beforehand, so that when it happens you will believe that I Am the Messiah. I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.”’— John 13:1-20
Will you be a good steward and follow Jesus’s instruction and example? Will you go about doing His Good works?
Today’s reading continues into 2 Thessalonians 1.
‘This letter is from Paul, Silas, and Timothy. We are writing to the church in Thessalonica, to you who belong to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing. We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance and faithfulness in all the persecutions and hardships you are suffering. ‘—2 Thessalonians 1:1-4
So as we close today’s reading with this psalm, let’s meditate on it and set our eyes on God and pursue being good stewards for Him as we read Psalms 35.
‘O Lord , oppose those who oppose me. Fight those who fight against me. Put on your armor, and take up your shield. Prepare for battle, and come to my aid. Lift up your spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Let me hear you say, “I will give you victory!” Bring shame and disgrace on those trying to kill me; turn them back and humiliate those who want to harm me. Blow them away like chaff in the wind— a wind sent by the angel of the Lord . Make their path dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them. I did them no wrong, but they laid a trap for me. I did them no wrong, but they dug a pit to catch me. So let sudden ruin come upon them! Let them be caught in the trap they set for me! Let them be destroyed in the pit they dug for me. Then I will rejoice in the Lord . I will be glad because he rescues me. With every bone in my body I will praise him: “ Lord , who can compare with you? Who else rescues the helpless from the strong? Who else protects the helpless and poor from those who rob them?” Malicious witnesses testify against me. They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about. They repay me evil for good. I am sick with despair. Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them. I denied myself by fasting for them, but my prayers returned unanswered. I was sad, as though they were my friends or family, as if I were grieving for my own mother. But they are glad now that I am in trouble; they gleefully join together against me. I am attacked by people I don’t even know; they slander me constantly. They mock me and call me names; they snarl at me. How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing? Rescue me from their fierce attacks. Protect my life from these lions! Then I will thank you in front of the great assembly. I will praise you before all the people. Don’t let my treacherous enemies rejoice over my defeat. Don’t let those who hate me without cause gloat over my sorrow. They don’t talk of peace; they plot against innocent people who mind their own business. They shout, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we saw him do it!” O Lord , you know all about this. Do not stay silent. Do not abandon me now, O Lord. Wake up! Rise to my defense! Take up my case, my God and my Lord. Declare me not guilty, O Lord my God, for you give justice. Don’t let my enemies laugh about me in my troubles. Don’t let them say, “Look, we got what we wanted! Now we will eat him alive!” May those who rejoice at my troubles be humiliated and disgraced. May those who triumph over me be covered with shame and dishonor. But give great joy to those who came to my defense. Let them continually say, “Great is the Lord , who delights in blessing his servant with peace!” Then I will proclaim your justice, and I will praise you all day long.’—Psalms 35