Long Delays

Genesis 41:25—42:28
 
Joseph was sold into slavery at 17 years of age by his older brothers. For the next 13 years, Joseph held various positions of leadership and influence, as well as spending time in prison due to a false accusation. Joseph had faithfully served Potiphar and acted with complete integrity, even when Potiphar’s wife wanted to seduce him. Still, the innocent young man was sent to prison. He displayed such reliability, even in prison, that the head jailor put him in charge of the other prisoners. Joseph worked faithfully for years until seemingly overnight, God rescued him, taking him out of prison and into the palace where he served second only to Pharaoh for the rest of his life.
 
God’s ways and timing can trouble us. We read this story and want to see Joseph quickly exonerated. He did nothing to merit his brothers’ evil actions or being imprisoned because of the accusation of Potiphar’s wife. Yet, God did not release him from prison for many years. To us, the long delay seems so unjust. But God was at work the entire time! Though we often can’t understand God’s ways, we can trust Him in the mystery. He is a perfectly just God who is both holy and loving in all His ways.
 
Have you ever struggled to trust God when your prayers weren’t answered quickly or in the way you had hoped? Are you praying for a breakthrough right now, and it seems like God is far away and not listening to you? Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you through the story of Joseph. Recognize that your story is still being written. Thank God in advance for His faithfulness to work through all the wrong others may have done to you. Rest in the knowledge that He can bring about good from it all.

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Obedience and Relationship

Text: Genesis 26:1-6
 
As we read Genesis 26, we see the fruit and results of obedience.
 
In this passage, God is instructing Isaac not to go down to Egypt, but to settle in the land of the Philistines. God promised to bless Isaac as He had promised to bless Abraham.
 
God promised Isaac that he would give the land where he currently was to his offspring, confirming the oath given to Abraham. And the reason God would do this? “ . . . because Abraham listened to me and kept my mandate, my commands, my statutes, and my instructions. So Isaac settled in Gerar” (Genesis 26:5,6, NIV).
 
Wow! Abraham did what God instructed and kept God’s mandate, commands, statues and instructions—not to be boxed in, but to inherit God’s promise. Obedience wasn’t a matter of following rules. Abraham obeyed because of a relationship of deep faith and trust in God. Abraham and Isaac both were willing to do what God wanted because they trusted God and knew He would keep His promise.
 
We can sense God’s Spirit speaking to us, calling us to full obedience and full surrender. When we choose a lifestyle of faith and trust, we can then go to God first for direction before forging ahead along our own path. We can trust even when the answer is to wait.
 
Like Abraham and Isaac—what is God instructing us? How willing are we to do what He says? Being obedient to God’s leading will make all the difference in our life.

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Restoring Spiritual Decay

Food preservation is a seemingly intriguing topic. Salt is a natural ingredient of the earth, but also necessary for preserving the food we eat. How can those tiny grains of salt make such a difference in warding off decay? Salt kills off bacteria, which cannot survive in its presence.
 
In the Book of Matthew, Jesus compares us to salt as Christians. What did He mean? Some Bible commentators refer to salt being used in agriculture as a type of fertilizer to stimulate growth. Jesus knew we could speak new life into others and help them grow.
 
All around us, every day, our culture shows signs of decay. We see it as we drive the streets of our city—not in noticing the buildings, although they may be decaying also—but by observing some people’s actions and attitudes. We see lack of standards when we scroll through social media posts. We see decadence (a moral decline) in advertising on television, in movies and entertainment, and in the language and conversation we hear on the streets.
What can slow this deterioration we see all around us today? We can! Jesus told us to be the salt of the earth. He told us we can bring light and restoration to the spiritual decay.
 
How are we like salt? We can speak a kind word, instead of an ugly, mean word. We can observe those around us who need a helping hand. We can bring cheer to those who are downtrodden, and comfort to those who grieve. We can speak hope into a degenerating situation. We can be genuinely good people in a world of wickedness.

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