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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

October 2018

Daily Bible thoughts 1793: Wednesday 31st October 2018: Genesis 42:36: ‘When all things seems against me…’

Genesis 42:36: ‘When all things seems against me…’

“36 Their father Jacob said to them, ‘You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!’” NIV

You can understand Jacob exclaiming, ‘’Everything is against me!’’ That was pretty much how it looked. He was now an old man. He had suffered loss upon loss in his later years, and he couldn’t face another. He felt backed into a corner. It can be like this for you and me too. In the middle of your story – even two thirds the way through – everything may appear bleak; the clouds have come down and you can’t see the way. But it’s not the end of the story.

Because we know more than Jacob at this point, we are aware that everything was not against him. Behind the ‘frowning providence’ there was a ‘smiling face’. There was a big picture drama unfolding, and it concerned saving a lot of people. It was about more than one person.

There may come times where you feel that everything is against you. But the truth will always be that:

’…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’’ (Romans 8:28).

Even in the mess Jacob was facing (some of it of his own making), a greater purpose was being worked out. At the time, Jacob could only see the tangled threads at the back of the tapestry, but he would eventually get to see the other side, as will we all.

 

 

Daily Bible thoughts 1792: Tuesday 30th October 2018: Genesis 42:25-38: Goodness and severity.

Genesis 42:25-38: Goodness and severity.

25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, 26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left. 27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 ‘My silver has been returned,’ he said to his brothers. ‘Here it is in my sack.’ Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, ‘What is this that God has done to us?’ 29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30 ‘The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, “We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.”33 ‘Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, “This is how I will know whether you are honest men: leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.”’35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, ‘You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!’37 Then Reuben said to his father, ‘You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.’38 But Jacob said, ‘My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my grey head down to the grave in sorrow.’ NIV

‘’Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God’’ (Romans 11:22).

We behold both goodness and severity, kindness and sternness, in Joseph’s treatment of his brothers. How abundantly good he was to them, in providing for them. Many of us will see in our own experiences a reflection of what happened to Joseph’s brothers; we find our ‘’silver’’ back in our sacks. We just can’t out-give God. In fact, we regularly find we are on the receiving end of far more than we gave. If we’re honest, it can be almost frightening at times, to be a recipient of God’s lavish generosity. It’s wonderful, but it also fills you in awe, and you feel so undeserving.

At the same time, Joseph showed ‘tough love’ to his brothers. This reminds me of the words in Hebrews 12 about discipline being an expression of love (Hebrews 12:5,6). The author goes on to write:

‘’No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it’’ (11).

When you eventually experience the ‘’Later on’’, you realise that behind the stern discipline there was always a loving and good heart.

‘Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace;

Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face’ (From ‘God moves in a mysterious way’ by William Cowper).

PRAYER: ‘So I thank God for the mountains, and I thank Him for the valleys, and I thank Him for the trials He took me through. For if I’d never had a problem, I’d never know that God could solve them; I’d never know what faith in God can do’ (from the song: ‘Through it all…I’ve learned to trust in Jesus…’)

Daily Bible thoughts 1791: Monday 29th October 2018: Genesis 42:9-24: Harsh treatment.

Genesis 42:9-24: Harsh treatment.

“9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, ‘You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.’ 10 ‘No, my lord,’ they answered. ‘Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.’ 12 ‘No!’ he said to them. ‘You have come to see where our land is unprotected.’ 13 But they replied, ‘Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.’ 14 Joseph said to them, ‘It is just as I told you: you are spies! 15 And this is how you will be tested: as surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!’ 17 And he put them all in custody for three days. 18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, ‘Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 if you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.’ This they proceeded to do.21 They said to one another, ‘Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.’22 Reuben replied, ‘Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.’ 23 They did not realise that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.” NIV

 

We may feel that Joseph was unduly hard on his brothers to treat them as he did. On the face of it, this seems quite cruel behaviour. But the twenty fourth verse provides an insight into his heart. He loved these men. He did all he did purposefully – just as the Lord Himself disciplines us for our good (Hebrews 12).

‘The true interpretation of Joseph’s treatment of his brethren is to be found in the supposition that he repeated toward them, as nearly as possible, the behaviour that they had shown to himself at the pit’s mouth, and this with no thought of retaliation, but that their consciences might be awakened, and that he might discover if they would deal differently with Benjamin than they had dealt with him. He needed to be sure of their repentance before he could trust himself to them again. His purpose, therefore, was in part secured when he heard them saying to each other in the dear old home-tongue, which they never expected him to understand, ‘’We are verily guilty because of our brother.’’ So God deals with us. The east wind blows bitterly in our faces…but behind them all is the tenderest love…’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.30.

Joseph knew that Benjamin had to come to Egypt, because, so far, only ten brothers had bowed to him, but the dream said ‘’eleven’’: 37:9). When we are immersed in God’s Word we can know what we can expect, and so live by faith, and not by sight.

Daily Bible thoughts 1790: Friday 26th October 2018: Genesis 42:7, 8: A distant echo.

Genesis 42:7-8: A distant echo.

“7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked.“From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.”

There is a distant echo of the story of Jesus in verse 8.

Although twenty-two years had passed, Joseph could easily recognise his brothers. But he was in Egyptian dress and spoke through an interpreter. They could not have conceived that this great Egyptian ruler was their long lost little brother Joseph.

Jesus came as Israel’s Messiah, but His ‘bretheren’, by and large, did not recognise Him. Their eyes were blinded.

However, there is coming a day of glorious revelation – something else paralleled in the Joseph story. Stay tuned!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I pray for that day when all Israel will be saved.

Daily Bible thoughts 1789: Thursday 25th October 2018: Genesis 42:3-6: Sure Word.

Genesis 42:3-6: Sure Word.

“3 Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.” NIV

If God says something will happen, it will! We need not doubt it. The miraculous annals of fulfilled Biblical prophecy tells us it is so.

Of course, we must be clear we are not deluding ourselves; that we are not imagining God said it. But if it is in the Bible, and we understand it correctly, the Lord will bring it to pass in His own good time – even if it entails years of patient waiting on our part.

In this incident the ‘’sheaves’’ were gathering around the ‘’sheaf’’ and bowing down (Gen.37:7). His brothers had asked: ‘’Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?’’ (37:8). The dream fuelled their hatred. But it was God’s Word, and that Word is unstoppable.

‘’Not a single one of all the good promises the LORD had given to the family of Israel was left unfulfilled; everything he had spoken came to true’’  (Joshua 21:45 New Living Translation).

PRAYER: Please forgive me, Lord, for the times I walk by sight and not by faith; when I live on feelings and not on every life giving Word which proceeds from your mouth

Daily Bible thoughts 1788: Wednesday 24th October 2018: Genesis 42:1,2: If you know the answer…

Genesis 42:1-2: If you know the answer…

“When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.” NIV

How many of us regularly know the answer for a problem we are facing, yet we do the equivalent of Joseph’s brothers – essentially, nothing?! Maybe it’s because we don’t like the answer we know. It entails danger, difficulty and effort to lay hold of it. But there is an answer. Change is possible, but it is rarely without some cost. So it may feel easier to live with the status quo, even though you don’t like it.

What ‘answer’ are you evading at the moment, and why?

Yesterday we saw a comparison between Joseph and Jesus –  both exalted to a high place, and using their power and authority to feed the hungry. But I should also draw a contrast: whereas bread could be bought from Joseph, Jesus offers Himself, the Bread of life, without money and without price.

PRAYER: Lord, please forgive me for living with what I need not live with, when there is an answer in you. And forgive me for not always liking, or wanting, the answer

Daily Bible thoughts 1787: Tuesday 23rd October, 2018: Genesis 41:53-57: Go to Jesus.  

Genesis 41:53-57: Go to Jesus.

“53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food.55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.” NIV

We have, from time to time, noted that Joseph is a ‘type’, a foreshadowing of Jesus. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than here. We live in a world where there is gnawing spiritual hunger. It is there, whether people admit it or not. But when they do acknowledge the presence of their hunger, they may look for satisfaction in the wrong places (55). It is our task to point to Jesus; to say, ‘Go to Jesus and do what He tells you.’

Many years later, Jesus was to say, ‘’I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’’ (John 6:35: New Living Translation).

The whole world is ‘hungry’ – in fact, starving. But in Jesus, and Him only, we will find all we need to satisfy us (57).

PRAYER: Thank you Lord, that Jesus is able to answer all the needs of the human soul. Forgive us, please, for all the times we look for satisfaction in other places. Help us to come to Jesus, and to keep on coming; to keep on looking to Him, until we see Him face to face.

Daily Bible thoughts 1786: Monday 22nd October 2018: Genesis 41:50-52: Journals in flesh.

Genesis 41:50-52: Journals in flesh.

“50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, ‘It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.’ 52 The second son he named Ephraim  and said, ‘It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.’” NIV

Some Christians find it helpful to keep a journal. They may write some of their prayers in there. They may also record important salient of God’s dealings with them. Even the best memories can fail, and a journal might help you remember. Also, who can say how much your little book may bless and encourage someone who comes across it after you are gone?

For a few years, I have been trying to keep a journal. I realise this is not for everyone, but it helps me. It’s not as detailed as it might be, but I am often encouraged (and even surprised!) as I read back through these notes. Again and again I can trace God’s providential goodness in the things I’ve jotted down.

As I read these words in Genesis today, the thought strikes me that Joseph wrote a journal in flesh. He encapsulated the story of God’s grace towards him in the names of ‘’Manasseh’’ and ‘’Ephraim’’.

 Whether or not you keep a journal, determine that by God’s grace you will remember His goodness.

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t like the land of suffering, and, if I’m honest, I’d rather not be there. But I acknowledge you do some of your greatest work amid it’s barren wastes. Help me not to fight you, but to surrender to you at all times, and trust your loving purposes.

Daily Bible thoughts 1785: Friday 19th October 2018: Genesis 41:41-49: ‘Bow down!’

Genesis 41:41-49: ‘Bow down!’

“41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.’ 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain round his neck. 43 He made him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, ‘Make way[!’ Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.’ 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and travelled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.” NIV

I understand that a better translation of the words ‘’Make way!’’ (43) would be ‘’Bow down!’’  We again see Joseph as a ‘type’ of Christ. Jesus passed through suffering into glory, and before Him one day, ‘’every knee’’ will ‘’bow’’ and ‘’every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’’ (see Philippians 2:1-11, especially 9-11).

  • We need to ensure that we are bowing down now to the LORD Jesus Christ, with our whole lives laid before Him in submission and surrender;
  • We need to call people from all nations to acknowledge the true and rightful Kingship of Jesus (‘’All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…’’ Matthew 28:18, 19), knowing that the King is always with us as we go on His Mission;
  • We need to believe that in the end everyone ‘’in heaven and on earth and under the earth’’ will bow the knee to Jesus. Finally, all will be well.

 

I heard a preacher say, just this morning, that Jesus owns every room. Every room we find ourselves in – He owns it. It may be an office full of blaspheming, unbelieving colleagues, but He owns it.

Things can change. Did Joseph ever say, ‘Pinch me, I must be dreaming!!?’ Probably not. But he could have said, ‘Pinch me, I dreamt this!’ (See 32). His destiny was also ‘’firmly decided by God’’, and at the right time he found himself in a very different place and position.

Things can change. Jesus Christ is Lord, and He will have the final say in the universe…and in your life.

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