Joseph and Our Hard Times

2016-04-06 16.09.13

Last week my Bible reading included Genesis chapters 39 and 40. Joseph’s brothers had sold him to a caravan of travelling merchants, and he ended up in Egypt as a slave to Potiphar, an official in Pharaoh’s court. Potiphar’s wife “cast her eyes” on Joseph and tried to seduce him.    Joseph refused her over and over but one day she caught him alone in the house and grabbed him. He pulled away and ran but she held onto his coat and he left it behind. Potiphar’s wife yelled out and lied that he had tried to assault her. The result was that Joseph ended up in prison even though not guilty.

After two years, Joseph was released from prison because God enabled him to interpret  Pharaoh’s dream about seven good years and seven years of famine that were coming. Joseph told what the dream meant and also gave a plan to deal with the famine. The plan pleased Pharaoh and his advisors, and Pharaoh made Joseph second in command because it was obvious to him that     Joseph was wise because God was with him.

About that time in the chapter, my brain began wondering about a possible scenario. Say, two or three months after Joseph became second in command, he called his administrative assistant. “Here, Hapusenaram, take this note over to Mrs. Potiphar. Tell her to come to Pharaoh’s palace, where I’m second in command, by the way. I’d like to talk with her a few minutes.”

Wouldn’t that get her excited about what Joseph might do and say? I have a hint of what I might do and say in that situation and it might not be nice (We can deduce that because my mind wandered in this direction in the first place). But I also think we can deduce what Joseph would say based on what he later told his brothers about being sold by them: “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”

Those words can easily roll off our tongue, but it takes a work of the Holy Spirit and much work by us to have them come from our heart. So, we pray and work against our wandering mind so that we can mean it when we say “God is good—all the time!” – no matter what situation we’re in.

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – Look Back

Early garden shot

(Fallow ground – ground left unplowed and unfruitful)
Here’s a view of my garden from a few years ago. When I looked back on how things were and considered how it looks now, it was easy to see the goal behind breaking up my garden’s fallow ground. Looking back can help us focus.

I started my engineering career as a Cooperative Student working at Savannah Electric. (Meaning I went to school for a quarter and then worked for a quarter, then went to school, etc. for the first 3 years at Tech.) My job for much of that time was designing service to new residences. Typically, it was only installing a pole or two with a transformer and a service to the mobile home or house.

That was no big deal for the experienced engineers in the office, but it was exciting to me. Something new – and I had the chance to make a difference. I even would take Sharon out to the jobs to show her the finished products. Ah, the enthusiasm of being new to something wonderful.

Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus (Revelation Ch 2) reminded them of that. He told them to return to the enthusiasm of being new to something wonderful. After commending them for their works, toil and patience, he added:
“But, I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”

Sounds to me that He’s telling them (and us) to look back, and then break up some spiritual fallow ground.

Follow God’s Standards, Not Man’s

I checked my statistics and found this one was my all time most read post – thought I’d reblog it in appreciation of the folks who took the time.

I Was Thinking the Other Day About...

Blueberry Netting Frame Completed

My biggest Christmas present last year was a sturdy frame for the bird netting around our blueberry bushes. Some design and assembly was required.  I decided nine posts would support it – some would be eight feet out of the ground and others eight and a half feet. As the assembly began, I dug the holes and placed the posts. Since in total I had dug 21 feet of hole, it was time to take a break and save straightening the posts for later.

As I walked away I turned to review the progress. Some posts were catawampus to the inside, others slanted out, and a couple looked like leaning tree trunks growing up out of the bushes. When I reached the house I told my wife, Sharon, to look at the sculpture I had made. I declared it to be “art”.

She smiled and said…

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Blooms and Scripture 21

image

This is the third set of blooms on this Angel Trumpet this year (1 in spring. 2 in fall). The Lord’s creation continues to amaze me and is such a blessing to live in. Fyi – my laptop died so my posts (and visits to others) may be a bit more sporadic for a few weeks until the new one arrives. “Praise ye Him all ye angels; Praise ye Him all His hosts!” Psalms 148:2

Originally posted last year before New Year’s – still valid going into 2013 (and always will be valid).

I Was Thinking the Other Day About...

I usually post once a week, but thought I’d add this one since it deals with the New Year:         

            As many people do at the New Year, I was thinking about resolutions. I realized that many of the Psalms contain “I will (or shall)” or “I will (or shall) not”. That sounded like resolutions to me, so here is a list of 10 New Year’s resolutions from The Psalms.

 Psalms 4:8 – I will lie down, both in peace and in sleep. For You alone, Jehovah, make me dwell in safety.

 Psalms 5:3 – My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Jehovah; in the morning I willdirect my prayer to You, and I will look up.

 Psalms 18:2 – Jehovah is my strength, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my rock; I will trust in Him; He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation…

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Shoutin’ “Whoooaaa” Before We Hit the Ground

Dirt road through the |]], near

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is part of the Christianwriters.com blog chain. This month’s theme is memory, and here’s one of mine. Check out my friend’s blogs on their day from the list on the right.

My uncle’s old pickup bounced noisily along the dirt lane leading to his farm. My cousins and I sat on the tailgate and dangled our feet inches from the ground. We slumped against each other, exhausted from a day in the fields. But, the freedom of the open truck bed and the breeze from the movement began to revive us. Soon we were shouting over the truck noise and laughing as each pretended their intent to push another off the tailgate.

When the truck hit a bump, the sagging suspension allowed our feet to scrape the dirt. After a few times, we made a game of it. We inched closer to the edge and stretched our legs to see who could let their feet slide the longest.

It became precarious when we hit two bumps in a row. The first would cause us to stretch out and the second would bounce us quickly again, moving us closer to the edge.

I looked down and watched the dirt and grass between the ruts move steadily by. We weren’t going fast so it wasn’t zipping by – just a steady pace. I reasoned that if I was bounced off at that speed, I could just keep my legs moving and stand up.

At the next pair of bumps I got to try my theory out. As we hit the first one, we all stretched out, giggling at what by now we understood to be danger. The second bump was more of a hole. The tires went deep and then quickly up to the top, sending the truck’s rear end into the air. With that, my rear end bounced off the tailgate and when it came down, I was too near the edge to stop. I scrambled for a handhold but found none.

I whooped out a long “Whooooaaaa!” as I sailed off the truck, and flailed my feet in hopes of remaining upright. But, my theory had at least one fatal flaw. I had not considered the direction I was facing. If a mishap occurred, I would come off the truck backward. No matter how good you are, you can’t run backward as fast as forward.

That was proven as my feet hit the ground. Rather than showing any semblance of uprightness, my back and then my head followed quickly onto the dirt. I slid awhile, came to a stop and lay there in the middle of the road.

By then my cousins’ shouts had alerted my uncle to stop, and they jumped out of the truck and dashed back to see if I was hurt. The slide had torn my shirt and scraped my back – but thankfully, there were no broken bones and nothing more serious than a nice goose-egg from the head banging.

I thought I had it figured out. I knew I was on the edge but kept inching closer. Surely, my plan would take me through. If I was bounced, or pulled, or pushed over the line, I could easily use my own strength to keep straight. But, as I lay in the road staring up at the sky, it was clear my own strength had been useless – either to prevent me from falling as I kept tempting danger, or to hold me up once the boundary had been crossed.

It’s not unusual for us humans to think we’re stronger or smarter or quicker than we really are. Sadly, it’s also not unusual for us believers to walk close to the edge of temptation, relying on our own strength.

We read of Samson and Delilah in the Book of Judges. Each time she asked how he could be defeated, he became more arrogant in his answers. Finally, he told her cutting his hair was the secret.

That night Delilah had someone shave Samson’s head while he slept, and then she cried out the Philistines were there. He jumped up, ready to defeat them as before, but found he had no strength. His hair had been cut, but the real problem was that God had left him – and Samson didn’t even know it. He had toyed with temptation and eventually crossed the line. Samson quickly found that without God, his own strength was useless.

“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.” (Pro. 4:14-15 ESV). God knows our tendency to think we can handle temptation on our own, and He knows that we will fail if we try. His Word has many verses like these, that warn us with verbs like “avoid”, “turn away”, “depart” and the one that expresses it most dramatically – “flee!”.

We shouldn’t be walking close to the edge – we should be running the other way, because our strength will not keep us from being bounced, pushed or pulled over the line where temptation gives way to sin.

But, thankfully, God has not left us to our own strength. The Bible also has many verses that promise He will be our strength. If we take the warnings to heart and trust in His promises and His power, we won’t find ourselves whooping out a “Whooooaaaa!”, flailing our feet and hoping to stay out of the dirt on our own.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)