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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Daily Bible thoughts 1782: Tuesday 16th October 2018: Genesis 41:1-13: Exactly as interpreted.

Genesis 41:1-13: Exactly as interpreted.

“When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: he was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the river-bank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. He fell asleep again and had a second dream: seven ears of corn, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other ears of corn sprouted – thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin ears of corn swallowed up the seven healthy, full ears. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream. In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him. Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, ‘Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.’ NIV

 

Have you ever woken from a dream and been relieved to find it was just a dream? I’m sure you have. But in Pharaoh’s case, these dreams were not just dreams. They were full of portentous significance. I’m sure Joseph wouldn’t have wanted to wait a further two years (1) before release from prison. But as previously noted, things work out in God’s good time, and He can be trusted.

Suddenly, the cupbearer’s memory got a good dig in the ribs (9), and he was able to tell the king that ‘’things turned out exactly’’ as Joseph had said (13). Ironically, things were about to work out precisely as Joseph had foreseen in his own dreams some years earlier.

God is always as good as His Word. Trust Him.

Daily Bible thoughts 1781: Monday 15th October 2018: Genesis 40:8-29: In God we trust.

Genesis 40:8-29: In God we trust.

“8 ‘We both had dreams,’ they answered, ‘but there is no one to interpret them.’ Then Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.’ So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, ‘In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.’ 12 ‘This is what it means,’ Joseph said to him. ‘The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.’ 16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favourable interpretation, he said to Joseph, ‘I too had a dream: on my head were three baskets of bread.[a] 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.’ 18 ‘This is what it means,’ Joseph said. ‘The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.’ 20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 he restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand – 22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. 23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.” NIV

Somebody pointed out that it wasn’t wrong for Joseph to ask the ‘’chief cupbearer’’ to put in a good word for him with the Pharaoh (14). But it is a mistake to place our trust in man and not in God, for people often disappoint and let us down (23).

Something else to note is the restrained way in which Joseph spoke about the troubles he’d seen (15). He recognised that he had suffered an injustice, but he didn’t name names; he didn’t tar reputations; he didn’t give detailed descriptions of what had been done to him, and by whom. There is surely something for us to learn here.

One final thought on this chapter: when you read (23) it seems terribly sad. But remember it’s not the end of the story (41:9-15). God’s timing is not ours, but it is always perfect. If, today, it feels to you like you’re in (23) – things have not worked out how you hoped, or expected – recognise that you’ll find yourself in the next chapter in God’s good time, and it will be the right time. You’ll see.

PRAYER: Faithful God, I thank you that you are flawlessly trustworthy. Please forgive me for those times when I put far too much confidence in people. Help me to always put my faith in you and await your timing.

Daily Bible thoughts 1780: Friday 12th October 2018: Genesis 40:4-8: Noticing.

Genesis 40:4-8: Noticing.

“The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men – the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison – had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, ‘Why do you look so sad today?’‘We both had dreams,’ they answered, ‘but there is no one to interpret them.’Then Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.’ ” NIV

‘’…he saw that they were dejected…Why are your faces so sad today?’’ (6,7).

Joseph was not so obsessed with his own troubles that he failed to notice the needs of others. We could say that he showed ‘emotional intelligence.’ He saw all was not well with these two, and he cared enough to ask them about it. He could have been so preoccupied with his own unjust treatment that he failed to see, or couldn’t be bothered. But by God’s grace he was not like that at all.

Two quotes from F.B.Meyer seem appropriate:

‘He was quick to sympathise and comfort – Quick to notice the traces of sorrow because he had sorrowed; able to sympathise because he had wept; adept at comforting because he had been comforted of God. We gain comfort when we attempt to comfort. Out of such intercourse we get what Joseph got – the keys which will unlock the heavy doors by which we have been shut in. Light a fire in another’s heart, and your own heart will be warmed.’

‘A new interest came into his life, and he almost forgot the heavy pressure of his own troubles amid the interest of listening to the tales of those who were more unfortunate than himself.’

Tim Chester, in his excellent book ‘You can change’ writes:

‘Sin is fundamentally an orientation towards self. Many of us suffer from self-absorption. We’re preoccupied with our problems and successes. We bring every subject round to our favourite subject: me. Or we develop habits of self-centred ness in which we live for our own comfort and security. Serving God and other people can redirect us outwards, taking our attention away from ourselves… God made us to love him and love others. We become the people we were meant to be by serving others. When we ‘pour ourselves out’ we find ourselves filled up.’ (Pages 158, 159).

PRAYER: Lord, please forgive me for my self-absorption. Give me eyes to see the needs of those I rub shoulders with today, and a heart that cares. Help me to serve them in your Name.

Daily Bible thoughts 1779: Thursday 11th October 2018: Genesis 40:4b-8: Prison ministry.

Genesis 40:4b-8: Prison ministry.

“The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men – the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison – had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, ‘Why do you look so sad today?’ ‘We both had dreams,’ they answered, ‘but there is no one to interpret them.’ NIV

Then Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.’

Somebody said that it doesn’t matter who commands you so long as God controls you. In prison, Joseph was a good servant. I will say more about this tomorrow.

I always want to make the point that in prison Joseph was a good witness. He spoke to his fellow-prisoners about God. He brought God into the conversation at an appropriate place. He pointed to God, not to himself. He gave God all the glory for his gifts, but he certainly used them. Spiritual gifts are not to be confined to ‘in church’. They can be exercised, even in the darkest places of life.

PRAYER: Lord, please forgive me for the many occasions I have failed to speak about you when I could and should have. Please help me to be alert to any such opportunities in the future, and to grasp them. Indeed, please create them. Thank you for the privilege of speaking into people’s lives a word from you.

Daily Bible thoughts 1778: Wednesday 10th October 2018: Genesis 40:1-4a: The same prison.

Genesis 40:1-4a: The same prison.

“Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time,” NIV

It was a ‘divine appointment’ that these three men should find themselves in the same prison at the same time. Joseph was gifted to be able to supernaturally speak into the lives of his fellow-inmates, and the cupbearer would be in a position to help Joseph, when he eventually remembered him. This was not a random encounter. It was not down to chance.God arranged it that these three men should be in a dungeon together. Such a God can be trusted.

Prayer: Father God, please forgive me for my many anxieties about life. Thank you that you providentially arrange the details of my moments and days. I look forward to meeting the people you will bring across my path this week, and ask that I may serve them in your Name. I also thank you that you will bring good things into my life through others. Help me to graciously receive as well as give. Sometimes it’s harder to do.

Daily Bible thoughts 1777: Tuesday 9th October 2018: Genesis 39:13-23: Pointing the finger.

Genesis 39:13-23: Pointing the finger.

“13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. ‘Look,’ she said to them, ‘this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.’ 16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: ‘That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.’ 19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, ‘This is how your slave treated me,’ he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warder. 22 So the warder put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warder paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” NIV

Taking the story at face value, Potiphar’s wife was the only guilty party. But she blamed Joseph. There is also a suggestion that she tried to pin some blame on her husband: ‘’That Hebrew slave you brought us…This is how your slave treated me’’ (17,19). She was distancing herself as much as possible from the mess she had made. It was someone else’s fault!

Don’t you hear echoes of the garden of Eden, where Adam had the audacity to blame God for fixing him up with Eve in the first place: ‘’The woman you put here with me…’’ (Gen.3:12)? You can hear the inference there can’t you? ‘If you hadn’t married me off to Eve in the first place, this wouldn’t have happened!!’

 We recognise this all too human trait – fallen humanity that is. It is one of the many faces sin wears: that of the finger pointer. Somebody said the only way sin can leave the human body is through the mouth, as it is confessed to God. So long as we play the blame game we can’t find forgiveness.

It may be that Potiphar did not totally believe his wife. Possibly he had his doubts, because he did not have Joseph executed, which would have been the usual punishment for rape in that culture. Effectively, that was the charge against Joseph – that he attempted it. Instead of incurring the death sentence, he was imprisoned, and later Potiphar gave him responsibilities in the prison (40:4; see 39:1).

Even so, we feel sad, even outraged, at the thought of the injustice to Joseph. But even in jail, God was working for his good (Romans 8:28), and for the blessing of many others. It was like a re-run of what had already happened in Potiphar’s home (2-6). We have a sense that this is not the end of the story, and there are better times to come.

Once again, Joseph reminds us of Jesus – the only truly innocent Victim. For although Joseph was not guilty as charged, he was still a sinful man. But consider Jesus (1 Peter 2:2ff) who ‘’committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’’ Jesus is the supreme example of innocent suffering, but He came through it into glory. Centuries earlier, Joseph travelled a similar path, as we will see.

Daily Bible thoughts 1776: Monday 8th October 2018: Genesis 39:11-12: A fatal collision.

Genesis 39:11-12: A fatal collision.

“11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’ But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.NIV

 

Matthew Henry comments that is better to lose a good coat than a good conscience!       We have seen that Joseph had experienced a barrage of temptation ‘’day after day’’ (10). But the day came when temptation and opportunity collided. That is liable to be a fatal collision. But it doesn’t have to be. Again, as Matthew Henry says, Joseph showed ‘resolute chastity.’

The house was empty. Who would know? Well, Joseph and Mrs P would know for starters, and would have to live with their decision. But also, God would know…and truth has a way of coming out. So although Joseph had the chance to sin, he fled from it, and has left an example of what is possible.

I believe we are meant to see that Joseph resisted because the Lord was with him. He had God’s enabling power. Yet the onus was still on him to fight – and fight he did. He did not allow sin to have dominion over him (Romans 6).

Daily Bible thoughts 1775: Friday 5th October 2018: Genesis 39:6b-10: You only.

Genesis 39:6b-10: You only.

“Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’But he refused. ‘With me in charge,’ he told her, ‘my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?’ 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even to be with her.” NIV

 

In Psalm 51:4 David wrote: ‘’Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…’’

 He wrote this helpful prayer of confession and repentance after committing adultery with Bathsheba. David had, obviously, sinned against the woman he slept with. He also sinned against her husband (in more ways than one, if you know the story.) He sinned against himself too (1 Corinthians 6:18). But he was aware that, ultimately, all sin is against God.

The same attitude was in Joseph. If he’d gone to bed with Potiphar’s wife, he also would have sinned against her, and her husband, and himself. But he was so aware of the vertical dimension of sin (9), and it helped him to dig in his heels and repeatedly ‘refuse’ (8, 10) her advances. The temptation was persistent and insistent (10). How many days did this go on? We don’t know, but we do know that, with a sense of accountability towards his earthly master (8,9a), but above all to His Divine King (9b), he resisted the devil.

Verse 10 makes me think about words attributed to Martin Luther: ‘You can’t prevent the birds flying about your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.’

PRAYER: Lord, I know that some temptation is inevitable in this broken world. But as far as it lies with me, help me to avoid situations where I’m going to be tempted and I’m likely to fall.

Daily Bible thoughts 1774: Thursday 4th October 2018: Genesis 39:6b-7: The eye-gate.

Genesis 39:6b,7: The eye-gate.

“Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, ‘Come to bed with me!’” NIV

Commenting on this passage, Matthew Henry points out how much temptation comes via the ‘eye-gate’. He refers to Job 31:1:

‘’I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.’’

 If we would guard our hearts, we must be careful about what we allow our eyes to see (and our minds to dwell on).

The apostle John denotes ‘’the lust of the eyes’’ as one facet of worldliness (1 John 2:16). This, of course, is not limited to sexual temptation, but it is obviously applicable to it. But it’s important to say that our eyes see many things we go on to ‘’lust’’ after. The advertisers know about this and are magicians with images.

To guard your heart you must guard your eyes. Trust the Holy Spirit to help you. He will.

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