I had the privilege of sharing with our church family this morning, so I thought I would share a good portion of it on here just for those who may need an extra encouragement and challenge! :) Here it goes!!
Throughout the Bible, there are stories of individuals who have had to go through some pretty difficult life circumstances, not by their own decision many times, but with the Lord’s help, came out either victorious or with incredible favor from the Lord.
In Judges, Jephthah, a mighty warrior and the son of a prostitute, was banished from his tribe and ridiculed by his brothers. Later, his brothers and tribe got themselves into some trouble and begged him to come back and lead them into war, defeating the Ammonites and actually becoming a leader among the Israelites and his brothers.
Job was tested. He was a man with a prestigious position being a wealthy man with thousands of sheep, camels, and other livestock, a large family, and many servants. The Lord allowed Job to be tested, and Satan destroyed Job’s children, servants, livestock, and home, but Job trusted God. He had painful sores covering his body, and his wife and friends were no encouragement to him, but Job trusted God. In the end, Job was restored to full health and EVEN more possessions than before, but he STILL trusted God.
Jesus, our Lord who ministered with friends who betrayed him, who was accused of things that He didn’t do, and who was put to death for crimes and sins he didn’t commit…. This was the ultimate of difficult times, but He was indeed VICTORIOUS over death and is now seated at the right hand of the Father praying for OUR victory!
Read Genesis 37:16-36 (Joseph’s brothers sell him)
- I’m sure Joseph had a pride problem. He boasted to his older brothers about the incredible dreams he had. Even his father, Jacob, warned Joseph of his pride.
- The jealousy and bitterness that the brothers held in their heart, was eating away at them, similar to a poison. This sin led to more sin to more sin, and MORE sin. This is why it’s SO important to ask the Lord’s help for “heart” issues.
Read Genesis 39 (Rise in Potiphar’s house and the deceit of Potiphar’s wife)
- As Joseph reached his destination in Egypt, we see his life in slavery had it’s ups and downs, trials, tragedies, as well as triumphs. No matter WHERE Joseph was serving, the Bible is clear that, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered.” I don’t know about you, but I’d be tempted to be bitter and demand retribution for the wrong that had been done to me. “It’s not fair!” Would be a phrase that would most likely plague my soul.
- I don’t believe this happened by accident. Yes, Joseph was wronged, but I do believe by studying the scriptures that he was man of integrity, one who forgave while still hurt, and chose to bring LIFE rather than DEATH to those around him.
Read Genesis 40 (Baker and cup-bearer’s dreams… the cup-bearer FORGETS about Joseph.)
- Joseph interpreted these dreams with knowledge that only comes from the Lord and STILL the cup-bearer forgets him. How frustrating!
- It seems Joseph had the understanding that being bitter and mad at the world only turns people away. Being one who is filled with God’s sweet fragrance of grace will attract, bless, and most importantly draw people to the Lord.
Read Genesis 41 (Joseph interprets Pharoh’s dream and is placed 2nd in command in Egypt.)
- Somewhere along the way, it seems that the Lord had dealt with Joseph’s issue with pride. Through his trials of being sold, wrongly accused, and thrown into jail, he realized that God was and is his source… God was and is his advocate… God was and still is faithful.
- Before even hearing Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph declared, “It is beyond my power to do this… But, God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”
- While I’m sure Joseph had his share of missteps, it is clear that God was with him and gave him favor to redeem the mistakes of his brothers.
- He was placed second in command with full knowledge that he needed a plan to sustain the region for the famine that was to come.
- Can you imagine? Sold by your brothers, made a slave, rising to take leadership in Potiphar’s household, wrongly accused of rape, thrown into jail, forgotten by someone he helped, then asked to interpret the dream of the highest official in the land, going from prisoner to prince in a matter of moments. What a life lived and he was still a young man!
But, the story continues. Because his family was experiencing famine, the brothers traveled to Egypt and was met by Joseph who extended grace by giving them food and ultimately offered parcels of land right outside of Egypt to raise their own families.
Sounds like a great ending to the story, right? It would have been, but as scriptures tell, the 12 sons of Jacob grow up, marry, raise their families in Egypt, and become the 12 tribes of Israel.
But, many years and generations later, a Pharaoh came into power who did not remember Joseph and his great service to Egypt. This Pharaoh was more concerned that the Israelites would become greater than Egypt. So, as found in Exodus 1:11, “So they [the Egyptians] put slave masters over them [the Israelites] to oppress them with forced labor.” Verses 12 and 13 go on to say, “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.”
- Let’s think back to that day MANY years and generations earlier when some bitter brothers made a tragic decision. They caused harm not only to their immediate family but eventually to the entire nation of Israel.
- The effects of their bad decision haunted generations because they lived their lives unaware of the consequences that can from one act of disobedience.
Our lives matter… What we do with the time between our birth and our death affect generations to come.
by Linda Ellis copyright 1996
I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning…to the end.
He noted that first came the date of birth
and spoke the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.
So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.
So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?
After all is said and done, it’s the generations after us that will reap what we sow. Whether it be in how we take care of God’s outdoor creation, how we talk to our children, how we respect authority, how we spend our money, and how vibrant and faithful our relationship with the Lord was, is truly the legacy we leave. Talk is cheap, but putting that talk into practice is priceless.
Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that He does have an incredible plan for us and for generations to come. It says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
And, yes that sounds oh so good! And, yes, it’s true. But, when we put it into context with the verses that follow we can see the call not only to trust God with these plans but to have peace in knowing He carries us through. “‘In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,’ says the Lord. ‘I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.’”
This promise of deliverance and restoration was made initially to the Israelites who lived in slavery and captivity simply because of their repeated choice not to follow the LORD wholeheartedly. Sounds quite a bit like me, how about you? But, as we walk each day with the intentionality of serving, obeying, and ultimately loving our Heavenly Father, the legacy we leave behind will be incredible.
I have a responsibility today. My responsibility is to lead you to the truth found only in God’s word. But, that’s where my job ends. It’s your responsibility to:
- 1st ask for forgiveness because we ALL have dark spots on our souls that need a cleaning.
- Then, when we have repented of our bitterness, complaints, and whatever else is keeping us from an ABUNDANT life in Christ, we can ask for the strength to withstand the tests that come our way. God does allow us to walk through things are difficult for us to handle so that it brings us closer to Him, relying on Him to see us through to victory.
“Generations will reap what I sow. I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I will never know.”