Joseph Thinks it Through

Our text today covers a lot of ground. It is to be found in Genesis 37 and also in 39-50. It is the story of the life of Joseph. Joseph is an excellent person through which to study the characteristic of thoughtfulness. Consider how hard and emotionally damaging the following litany of daily happenings made his life.

  • His brothers (his primary companions as a child) hated him from an early age. (37:4).
  • They never spoke kindly to him. Their voices always had irritation, sarcasm or hatred in them (37:4).
  • They learned to hate him with more passion after his dream of their subservience to him (37:5-11).
  • You can imagine that with this sibling jealousy and hatred, he never felt that he belonged to the family except in the presence of his father and, no doubt, his mother (37:3).
  • In today’s psychology, his self image was severely battered every day.
  • In addition, think of the temptation of pride that was part of his life because he was his father’s favorite and because he did have these prophetic dreams.
  • Also, think of the temptation to return the lifetime of hatred back at his brothers.
  • Eventually, his brothers hatred found fruition in their sale of Joseph into slavery (37:23-28).
  • In slavery, he did have some reprieve from his brothers and rose to a position of trust with Potiphar (39:5-6).
  • But that too was stolen from him by the false accusation of Potiphar’s wife. He found himself unjustly imprisoned for several years (39:11-20).
  • In prison also, he rose to prominence as an honest and diligent trustee. But, he was still in prison unjustly (39:21-23).
  • Finally, after 30 years of abuse and suffering, Joseph was lifted by Pharoah to a position of prominence he would hold to his death (41:39-46).

What would you do with this new power if you had received this abuse for 30 years?  With what attitude would you have come out of prison after being falsely accused and now being over the man and woman who put you there? How would you have treated the brothers came to him about 10 years later for food? And, how thoughtful about God would your attitudes and actions have been while you were going through this miserable life?

I do not know at what point Joseph’s youthful teaching about God became his mature faith in God. Possibly at sometime in his teens. I do know that he was thinking about God’s will when he was a slave (39:9). And, he was thinking of God’s omniscience when he was in prison (40:8, 41:16). He was also thinking about God’s long term providence and blessings when he confronted his brothers (45:7). Brothers and sisters, the actions of Joseph show that God, His will, His work, His blessings and His promises should be a daily part of our thinking. Let’s be thoughtful, okay? Think, pray and wait.

Mike Glenn (e-bulletin 2-3)

Remember the Gibeonites

We use this saying in our household quite often because it reminds us to check with God before making a decision. Our text today is Joshua, chapter 9. It contains the record of the deception of the Gibeonites toward the nation of Israel. Have you noticed that men are trusting? I am glad that is the case. If we did not trust, we could never walk through a crowd at the store or market without constantly looking behind us to see if we are about to be attacked. We would never reach out to shake hands with a stranger lest we fear he may harm us. Generally speaking, we give most folks the benefit of the doubt about being of relatively good character. Our trust does not always prove to be well founded. Consider the business and investment scams that are perpetrated on young and old alike. Consider the lies of the dishonest sales person. Trust is a good thing. But, even God believed in “trust, but verify” (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Joshua reminds us of his own mistake in this principle in Joshua 9:14.

  • Always keep in mind what the Lord has said. If it is in the forefront of our mind, then we might save ourselves from many errors. David said, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm119:11). The young prophet from Judah forgot the importance of what God had already told him and took the word of a stranger (1 Kings 13).
  • Always ask God before each and every decision. I realize that we make dozens of small decisions a day. Even some of these need to be made after prayer. But, for certain, decisions with possible serious and long term consequences should be preceded by thoughtfulness and prayer.

As a consequence of not seeking the Lord’s will in this matter, Israel’s security in the land of Canaan was forever changed for worse. In many of our decisions about marriage, parenting, employment, recreation, money and a hundred other things, we can grievously hurt our spiritual welfare. Let’s think, pray and see what the Lord’s answer will be.

Mike Glenn (e-bulletin 2-2)

Spiritual Thoughtfulness

In the King James New Testament, the word meditate is found once. It occurs in the following context. I Timothy 4:12: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13: Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14: Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15: Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.”

These are the words of an old Christian (Paul) to a young Christian (Timothy). Though it occurs only once in the N.T., it takes into its force the entire scope of Christianity: doctrine, action, motivation, attitude, faith and integrity. Such an idea must be of great importance for each of us. We are to think long and deeply of the meaning and application of scripture to our lives. The principle of meditation has always been one that God has expected of the faithful. Consider some O.T. passages that will give us a better grasp of what it means to meditate.

One of the reasons for meditation is our own salvation. In Joshua 1:8, God told the people, “8: This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein…” When we meditate on the word, it means the word is working its way deeper into our thinking. It is part of the ‘hiding’ process of which David spoke in Psalm 119:11: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”The psalmist also said of the righteous man, “1: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2: But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).

Deep and frequent meditation will humble us before God as all that He is and has done for us awes us. Psalm 4:4: “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”  As we contemplate God, His word, His creation and ourselves, we cannot help but bow in reverence before him and be silent. Job became silent after seeking an audience with the Almighty (Job 40:3-5).

Honest meditation causes us to see ourselves as we really are. David said in Psalm 119:59 “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” In the holy event of gathering around the Lord’s table, we are to engage in such meditation, “28: But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” 1 Corinthians 11:28

Brothers and sisters, we cannot grow or even see our need to grow by only thinking occasionally about our relationship to God and His commands. Wisdom comes with meditation. Self-awareness comes with meditation. Humility comes with meditation. Salvation can come with meditation. May I suggest that you “meditate on these things.”

There is another side to spiritual thoughtfulness that bears consideration by every Christian. Admittedly, it would surely be included in the meditation of which we have already spoken. But, I believe it is worth a paragraph or two on its own. Let me present it with this personal anecdote. I used to preach in a certain congregation in which prayers often included this phrase in regard to the coming sermon, “let us listen with a view to eternity.” In other words, we should be thoughtful enough to realize that the sermon, singing, prayer, giving and partaking was not primarily for the moment, but for the everlasting. This should ever be the realization of each Christian in regard to each act of their life. We do not just get a job, but one that will effect our eternal destination. We do not just marry a person we love, but one who will have great influence on our eternity. We do just visit someone, but we leave behind some influence that will effect eternity. The Christian must never forget that everything brings us either closer to God or further away.

The elder must so live that we can mimic his faithful life (at least in principles) and know that we are going to heaven (Hebrews 13:7). So, we do not simply appoint someone to take care of the church, we are selecting a pattern for us to copy with a view to eternity.  Paul said, “reaching forth unto the things which are before…” (Philippians3:13). The Christian must always look to the future consequences of his present action or lack thereof. No act and no word is without results that touch eternity.

May we all grow in spiritual thoughtfulness.

Mike Glenn (e-bulletin 2-1)