Short Memory of My Sin

SHORT MEMORY OF MY SIN

You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. There I will provide for you. Genesis 45:10-11

            What a promise. Family members that acted out against Joseph were forgiven to such an extent that promises of provision and protection were made for the rest of their lives. How easily would it have been for the brothers to distrust Joseph’s promises? Joseph could change his mind as he remembered their sins against him. They acted like his enemies after all.

            I was once God’s enemy. My acts against him were punishable by death. Yet, because of what Jesus did, God made me right with Him and called me His friend. Like Joseph, He has made sweeping promises of love, care, and protection toward me for the rest of my life and throughout eternity. How can I trust Him? I remember my sins, often walk in the shame of them, and shyness overtakes me. Confidence with God can be shaken on a daily basis.

            Humanly speaking, I’m nervous to claim God’s proclamations of love. I’m skittish to own the promises He’s made. Standing in faith is impossible if I am unsure of what God’s forgiveness really means. If I believe that God forgives like people forgive, I will be waiting for the other shoe to drop. I will have a short memory of my sin and believe that God does too.

            Joseph was a type of Jesus. He forgave and chose to put the brother’s betrayal behind him. Jesus does the same. He forgives, puts my sins behind His back and never takes them out again to rehearse my past. Salvation gives me a priceless gift, the gift of a clean slate. My history of enmity is buried at the cross and a covenantal love relationship is born. It is ironclad, not because of me, but because of Him. Jesus Christ speaks wedding vows to me that will be consummated in heaven. A Bridegroom who desires and longs for the one He loves keeps every promise.

            If I’m plagued by the memories of my sin, the rehearsal of my past is not a holy thing. It is a satanic attack. I’m called, as Jesus’ beloved, to grab my self-condemning thoughts and speak, out loud, His very Words that prove that I am a forgiven and cherished bride.

May my short memory take me back to the cross, not my sin. Give me more confidence in our relationship. Amen

Who Benefits From My Redemption?

WHO BENEFITS FROM MY REDEMPTION?

So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Genesis 45:8

         In my opinion, this is an overlooked part of Joseph’s story. Because I’m self-focused, I get caught up with how Joseph felt on the other side of imprisonment. I imagine him being reunited with his brothers, and mostly, with his father. I never think about how Pharaoh benefitted from crossing paths with Joseph, that Joseph’s influence over Pharaoh was fatherly.

         To be a father is to be in a position to advise, to take care of or administrate. The day Joseph was dragged into Pharaoh’s court, Pharaoh gained a confidant; someone without an agenda. This was a priceless gift for a ruler. Never knowing who to trust and never allowing one too close, kings and pharaohs lived lonely lives. Consider what Pharaoh witnessed as he became acquainted with someone who walked with God.

  • He met a man who was willing to tell the truth and put himself at risk when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream.
  • He met a man who came out of a prison environment with a gentle spirit.
  • He met a man who had no trace of anger or revenge-seeking.
  • He met a man who possessed wisdom so unique that his ideas could only be attributed to his God.
  • He met a man who was not power hungry.

        All of Egypt was saved from famine because God brought Joseph to Egypt. His redemption from imprisonment to power saved more than just the Jewish people. So widespread was his influence that even Egypt was able to preserve its people through the drought.

         My redemption never stays in a closet. People close to me watch it unfold and God’s power is on full display. His glory falls on those intimate with me but also to my acquaintances. You and I become ‘fatherly’ or ‘motherly’ to those who’ve never trusted before, to those who have waited to see something beautiful displayed in a world that is savagely broken in two. When I give up on God before a stunning breakthrough, I deny myself, and everyone around me, from seeing God’s kingdom come to earth.

I wait on You, God. My hope is not in vain. Your glory, waiting to be revealed, is just out of sight. Give me spiritual grit to see this through. Amen

The Stumbling Block of God’s Sovereignty

THE STUMBLING BLOCK OF GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY

            So it was not you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:8

         Really? Joseph believes that God sent him to Egypt? I thought it was the sins of his brothers that sent him there and God just made good out of it. No. Joseph dared to tell the ones who hurt him, “You didn’t do this to me, God did!”  Such is the stumbling block of God’s sovereignty.

         One of the most disturbing messages I heard when I was wrestling with the sovereignty of God was from John Piper.  He said, “Who crucified Jesus? God did!” Admittedly, it took a good year for me to make peace with a God who gives free will, knows ahead of time the choices of sinful humanity, and weaves a glorious plan of pain and redemption into the life of every child.

         But here’s the thing. If I’ve never trusted God with my story and pressed in close over time to see redemption, the truth of His sovereignty will be a stumbling block to me. This sad reality characterizes most of the church. We are deeply angry with God for what He did not prevent.

         Because His suffering had meaning, ours can too, when we realize that we can go through horrendous experiences with the same purpose He had, trusting and then magnifying the worth of the Father.  Christianity is a wildfire when spread by the hot winds of adversity.  I will miss it if I’m eaten away with the anger of injustice.

          Today, someone watches a loved one wither away with cancer.  The loss will either cripple them or cause them to more fully embrace the joy that life is eternal.  And today, a parent’s heart breaks over the path of a rebellious child.  They will be tempted to disown their own son or daughter or they will choose to explore the truth of their own past rebellion against God.  They will trace, once again, his never-ending supply of lovingkindess and tender mercy.

         With each cross comes a choice.  Meaningless suffering or the opportunity to find the heart and purposes of God in our tears.  Joseph discovered the latter. Oh, the sweetness when it’s framed in the comfort of God’s sovereignty and the power of His redemption.

There is not one thing I have experienced, or ever will experience, that can be called a meaningless tragedy.  Be lifted high over my life and as I look up, let others follow my lead and see Your glory.  Amen

God’s Wisdom ~ Nearer Than You Know

Nearer Than You Know 

He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; he guarded them as he would guard his own eyes. Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so he spread his wings to take them up and carried them safely on his pinions. Deuteronomy 32:10-11

I am hovering over you as a mother hovers over her young.  Seek me.  You need only close your eyes in prayer to discern my face.  The outline of my countenance is near you and the breath of my Spirit can be felt upon your cheek.  Do not look for me to be man-sized, for I fill the sky above you.  Enlarge your vision of me so that you will not miss my portrait, poised in the glories over your head.  If you saw the armies of heaven I’ve dispatched, you’d never be afraid of anything.

But, how often have you feared that I’ve forgotten you?  How frequently your anxiety robs you of peace in the night.  I am a hovering Father.  I know the promises that I have made.  I am true to every single one.  You are safely in the palms of my hand, inscribed there in eternal remembrance.

God’s Wisdom ~ On The Other Side Of The Red Sea

GOD’S WISDOM ~ ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RED SEA

Give thanks to him who parted the Red Sea. His faithful love endures forever.  Psalm 136:13

I have allowed you to walk in dark places over much of your life.  It was your ‘Red Sea’.  There was no deliverance unless you turned to Me to cry out in faith.  The wind was howling and you tasted the salty air.  You heard the Egyptian’s chariots roar, bearing down on you.  You believe that your precarious position dictated your certain doom.

Ah, but then you turned to Me. What appeared to be impassable began to open up before you.  Never has your testimony been more powerful.  You speak with conviction and cause many who hear you to tremble with spiritual hunger.  No message is more powerful than this.  “I have seen the power of the Lord and He is glorious!”

 

Dread Or Elation?

DREAD OR ELATION?

 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.   Genesis 45:3-4

               The difference between Joseph appearing to his brothers and Jesus appearing in the clouds to take us home is that we know He’s coming. The brothers did not expect to see Joseph and they were shocked at his disclosure. Dismay and dread were their instant reactions.

Dismay and dread will also characterize the reactions of many in God’s family. It’s tragic to me that such a wondrous event will be clouded by lack of enthusiasm. Jesus told us that He’s coming. He told us that the timing will be a surprise. He told us to prepare in every way to see Him. Joy is meant to be the prevailing emotion at His arrival, not sorrow.

There are three categories of people within the family of God who react differently at the thought of seeing Jesus.

  1. Some dread seeing Him because they are not ready. Their flesh rules their lives and they forget that their old man has been crucified with Christ. While living by the Spirit is made possible for every child of God, it requires daily investment. Not wanting to engage in the effort, they indulge in pleasures that eventually eclipse the beauty of Jesus entirely. They are not ready to see Him. They are not looking for Him. They are hoping that His coming isn’t imminent on God’s timetable.
  2. Some dread seeing Him though they need not to. They came to the cross long enough to get saved but not long enough to get loved. Still caught up in legalism, they believe that they must work tirelessly to keep God happy. They do not know how much they are cherished. They do not understand grace. The thought of seeing Jesus makes them feel like taking cover. However, Jesus cannot wait to see them and His heart longs for their company.
  3. There are those who live looking up. Jesus is their treasure and their heart is saturated with thoughts of Him. They took Jesus at His Word to keep the lamp lit – anticipating when He would appear as a Bridegroom coming to claim His bride. They dressed and waiting. Any other lover pales in comparison and they live on every Word of their coming bridegroom, by faith.

Joseph’s brothers had no way to prepare for the reunion with the brother they betrayed. They would need to see Joseph extend His arms to them in mercy to know where they stood. But you and I can prepare for the coming of Jesus. We can know where we stand with Him by a review of the cross and an honest reflection on our level of discipleship

Help me admit, and then probe, every trace of shyness in my spirit. Amen

Should I Be Open Or Play It Safe?

SHOULD I BE OPEN OR PLAY IT SAFE?

Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. Genesis 45:1-2

         Joseph tested his brothers severely. It might have appeared that he had no mercy when he kept Simeon, imprisoned him, and gave the remaining brothers the stiff terms of his release. Joseph’s heart was unreadable, safely concealed, until such time as the nature of their hearts would be revealed. Once they showed the agony of true remorse, his heart would be on full display. He would weep so loud that the sound of it would penetrate the grounds of his vast residence.

         What is my response to a sincere apology? If I’ve been in a relationship that turned treacherous, one that required that I prudently step back for time, it might appear to the other person that my heart is cold. But, in fact, I am praying for us both. I’m praying that their hardened heart will eventually soften because of the conviction of the Spirit, and I’m also praying that mine will not become hardened because of unforgiveness. The only reason Joseph could handle his brothers with such wisdom is because he had many thousands of hours alone with God. He, a Hebrew, lived as an outsider in Egyptian territory. Loneliness was God’s gift and the perfect training ground for impartial leadership.

         Who has offered, what appears to be, a sincere apology? If God speaks to me and tells me that true remorse is present, what will my heart do? Will I keep it imprisoned in my tower of self-protection? Or, like Joseph, will I be willing to pour out the tears that have been hidden? Letting another see my heart is only possible when pride is put aside. How many times have I said, “I’ll never let them see my cry!”

         Joseph offers me wise counsel in matters of the heart. He, like Jesus, has vast emotional capacities. He had many faces as he related to others. There were moments when he would have been called stoic but underneath was a current of tears that gave away the heart of a broken man.

         There’s a time and a season for everything. There’s a time to conceal and a time to reveal. I have to be careful that I don’t live a life of concealment; ever protecting a heart that has been hurt one too many times. I also have to be careful that I don’t live a life of complete openness; allowing anyone and everyone access to my thoughts and emotions. Real maturity is knowing what Jesus would do in the midst of complicated and ever shifting relationships.

Without instruction of whispers from You, I’m chaff in the wind and continual prey. Amen