Does a Body Good (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by a brother in Christ, Troy Farthing. I met Troy through his mom, Suzie who also has a great love and hunger for the Lord, which she shares on her podcast, One Love for Nurses. You can catch more of Troy’s writing about his walk of faith here.

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” – I Peter 2:2

troy-farthingI enjoy seeing passages in the Bible that further prove what takes place in the physical is a manifestation of what is taking place spiritually.

I read this and think of how God sees us as His children.  I have yet to see the day of fatherhood, but I know the place of a child. We all do.

All of us, to grow, have had to experience the phase of infancy in this lifetime.  Most of us do not remember this time in our lives. We also don’t remember the dependency we carried through that period of time.  He knows what we need, and in what pace we can handle life.  The next verse I will mention was the first in the beginning of my journey of seeking God.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” – I Corinthians 10:13

I have realized that the Word of God is my milk.  It instructs me how to follow the Holy Spirit.  My nourishment through my spiritual infancy. As I grow, and begin to take note of my spiritual capabilities, the Word provides what I need to continue my growth.

Throughout my life, like a good parent, God has fed me while He fathers me. We truly need Him to put the bottle to our mouths sometimes.  When we need the Word of God the most, it is right there for us to reach out and drink.  Even well into the latter years of our life, He continues to feed us through our daily experiences, not just in church or sunday school.

For me, the Word of God comes through applying it day-to-day.  One hundred percent of the time, there is a solution to my problems in the Holy Bible.  That plays an important part in why I read it. The Word of God is our instruction manual.

A Great Deliverance: Genesis 43-45

My daily Bible journal, for the first 14 days of my historical read through the Bible has been pretty complete, and rewarding. Up until now I’ve been able to spend the time each day to reflect on that day’s reading section and write about it in a way that’s not only helped to tell the story of what was going on, but also what it means to me and my walk of faith.

I’ve been able, for the most part, to focus in on a central theme or key message and apply it to the larger context of God’s story and redemptive work with mankind. And also what I was getting out of it and how I saw it applying to my specific situation at this point in time.

It’s taken a lot of effort to  keep up with the journal. I’m trying to find the best routine and habit cycle. But I realize I won’t be able to always keep up with the pace I’ve been on. Like now. I’ve had a ton of work to get done, a major campaign to launch, plus we’re in the process of packing and trying to get away for a little R&R.

So some days, like today, and probably the next several,  my writing in this journal will be light. I may even miss a few days.

Even so, I will keep up the daily Bible reading early each morning. I just might not be able to do the daily journal.

When I can’t do my regular journal, I will at least give a report of my readings – if Internet is available wherever I find myself.

So here’s a brief recap of what I read today:

  • Genesis 43: The second journey to Egypt by Joseph’s brothers because they had eaten all the grain from the first visit. This time they do bring Benjamin with them and once again bow down and present themselves to Joseph.
  • Genesis 44: Joseph sends them back with their sacks full and his silver drinking cup in Benjamen’s back.  Joseph has them return and accuses them of stealing from him.
  • Genesis 45: Joseph finally makes himself known to his brothers blurting out, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?

Instead of being harsh and blaming them for selling him into slavery, Joseph tells them, “It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” He also tells them it was “to preserve a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” He goes on to assure them that it wasn’t them but God who sent him there. And he instructs them to bring their father down along with everything they have because the famine was still to go on for another 5 years.

When they return with the good news, Jacob is stunned at first, but then his spirit is revived and he is now convinced that Joseph his son is indeed alive and he will go see him before he dies.

Day 15: God works in ways that seems strange or contrary sometimes to what we might expect, or want. But in the end, it’s meant for our own good and the good of others. It may be his way of restoring relationships, and bringing about a great deliverance.

Extreme Dreams – They do Come True: Genesis 41-42

Unbeknownst to his brothers, Joseph’s extreme dreams, and God’s interpretation of them, are about to figure big in their survival. As foolish, mysterious or troubling as they seem to some, to Joseph they are very real predictors of what God is planning, doing and going to do in the land and lives of people around him.

When Genesis 41 opens it’s been two years since Joseph’s dream about the cupbearer. And up until now, Joseph was a forgotten prisoner with benefits. Now his boss, Pharaoh himself has a pair of dreams that neither he nor anyone else understand. And that’s when memory cells kick in and the cupbearer remembers the Hebrew dream expert, Joseph.

“I hear you interpret dreams,” says Pharaoh to Joseph. “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” (Genesis 41:16 NIV)

Not only did Joseph tell Pharaoh the singular meaning of the two dreams (for emphasis), he went on, without being asked, to give him a solution and plan of action to the problem of 7 years of famine following the 7 fat cows and healthy heads of grain. It must have impressed Pharaoh. Joseph immediately, without any further interviewing, lands the job and is put in charge of the entire operation.

It gets even better for Joseph. Pharaoh sets him up with a new wardrobe, new digs, his own set of wheels and a wife. Before the tough times hit he had two kids. First is Manesseh, which means “forget” because God has helped him forget all his trouble, and his father’s household. Second is Ephraim (twice fruitful), because “God made me fruitful in my suffering.” (41:52)

By now there should be no surprise how greatly God blessed Joseph and everything he touched. But soon the famine would be upon all the land. In the end, as these things were measured, it would be as severe to the land as the flood was in Noah’s day. And because of that, Joseph was to remember his brothers and his fathers household once again.

Another of his extreme dreams, this one from twenty years ago was about to come true.

Jacob, having heard news of food supply in Egypt, tells ten of his sons (sans Benjamin) to quit looking at each other and get down there to buy some grain – so they might live and not die.

So they arrive in Egypt, find the governor of the land and bow down with their faces to the ground, a show of respect for someone of such stature. Joseph immediately recognizes his brothers and soon remembers his childhood dream, which has now come true (37:7,9).

This sets in motion a plan to test his brothers’ claims, not of being spies, but on a mission to feed a starving father and another brother, back in the land of Canaaan. To prove they were being truthful, they’d have to return to Canaan and bring their younger back with them. And to make sure they’d comply, Joseph took and bound Simeon right before their eyes. He would not allow him to leave until the youngest brother comes to Egypt.

But he went even further. In addition to filling their saddle bags with grain to bring back home, Joseph returned the silver they had brought for payment.

Could it get any worse for this band of brothers? “What is this that God has done to us?” lamented one very distraught brother.

Upon hearing all the bad news, Jacob could only believe all was now lost, everything was going against him. First he lost Joseph, his and Rachel’s firstborn son. There was no way he’d let their only remaining son, Benjamin depart on such a dangerous journey. The way things were going, he’d most certainly be harmed, or killed.

He couldn’t let that happen. No, they would stay put.

But the dream isn’t dead or completely fulfilled. God isn’t finished making dreams come true.

Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. (Genesis 37:9-11 NIV)

Yes, somewhere, in the back of Jacob’s mind, from some twenty years ago, the matter is being kept.

Day 14: As hopeless as it may seem at times, God has an extreme dream for you and for me – keep the matter in mind – don’t let go – it will come true.

Moral Integrity and Righteous Choices in Stark Contrast: Genesis 38-40

The story of Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38 are in stark contrast with what occurred between Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in chapter 39, and the fates of the chief cupbearer and baker in chapter 40.

To begin with, Judah, one of the 12 sons of Jacob who was involved in selling Joseph into slavery voluntarily leaves his band of brothers, hooks up with a Canaanite woman and has three children. Meanwhile, Joseph, who had been taken by force to Egypt becomes wildly successful through the Lord’s working, but finds himself in prison because he’s wrongfully accused of trying to have sex with his master’s wife.

Potiphar’s wife secured Joseph’s cloak when he fled her advances, while Tamar winds up being given Judah’s seal, cord and staff when she goes undercover as a prostitute to sleep with her father-in-law. Yes, Genesis 38 is quite the sordid tale of a man whose moral compass swung wildly out of control all because he refused to do the right thing.

When confronted with the truth of what he had done Judah said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” While it’s interesting to note Tamar had twin boys (Perez and Zerah) who became the leading clan of Judah, ancestor to king David (Ruth 4:18-22) and ultimately of Christ (Matthew 1:1-16), moral superiority, to whom leadership fell in this generation went to Joseph.

Joseph, on the other hand is not concerned with pleasuring himself. The Lord was with him and gave him success in everything he did. Similar to how the Lord blessed Laban through the faithfulness of Jacob, Potiphar too reaped the benefit of having Joseph in charge of his household.

His wife’s lie had the dreamer, Joseph thrown into prison about the same time Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and chief baker. Joseph, having now worked his way again into a position of responsibility under the warden (“because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did” 39:23) cares for and earns the trust of the two officials.

Joseph’s actions of looking after the men all leads to being able to interpret their dreams. “Do not interpretations belong to God?” remarked Joseph, “Tell me your dreams.” He makes clear in saying this the future belongs to God and Joseph himself is an agent of God’s plan – as we shall soon see – in more ways that one.

And as we know, the interpretation of the dreams would lead to the chief cupbearer being restored to his position, but conversely to the chief baker’s gruesome demise.

The choices Judah made compared with the choices Joseph made are in stark contrast with each other. They held big-time consequences and led to very different outcomes. My pastor shared in last Sunday’s message: “Your choices move you either toward God or away from God.”

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Judah’s choices moved him away from God (a daughter portrayed as a prostitute “is more righteous than I”); Joseph’s choices moved him toward God (and “the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor…”).

Day 13: God grant me the wisdom to make the right choices – the ones that move me toward you.

Image came from one of my friends who shared it on Facebook.

 

Settling, Moving, Dying, Dreaming and Mourning: Genesis 35-37

The trouble in Shechem might have been reason enough for God to tell Jacob to “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau” (35:1). I tend to think God knew Jacob needed some alone time and some reassurance in light of everything that had been happening.

Knowing this was a sacred place, Jacob made sure his family was prepared by having them rid themselves of the foreign gods they had with them, purifying themselves and changing their clothes. Once settled and taking care of the death of Rebekah’s nurse, God appeared to Jacob and gave him a very reassuring talk:

Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will  be Israel…I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you. (verses 10-12)

God left and Jacob set up a stone pillar at that place and called this place where God had talked with him Bethel (which means house of God).

Going into this talk with God Jacob must have felt apprehensive. After all, he had only been in the land of Canaan for a short while and his daughter Dinah was raped and his sons had taken out their revenge in such a way that Jacob felt it would make him “obnoxious” to the people of the land, causing them to want to go on the attack.

“I messed up,” Jacob must have thought. “I let my daughter be defiled by the local pagans and failed to control my sons.” What will God have to say about all this? Surely, I’ve ruined my future and God in his anger will let me have it.

God not only didn’t come down on Jacob, but he lifted him up. He reassured him and reaffirmed the promise: a nation and a community will come from you, kings will be among your descendants, the land I gave to your fathers, I also give to you. Not I will give to you, but I also give to you, and will give it to your descendants after you.

This was such a great talk with God. To hear those words must have been tremendously encouraging and comforting. It also must have prepared Jacob for the setbacks he was soon to encounter:

  • They move on from Bethel and Rachel dies giving birth to Ben-Oni who Jacob renamed, Benjamin (son of my right hand)
  • Reuben, the first-born of Leah sleeps with Rachel’s servant, Bilhah who had Jacob’s first son (Dan) on Rachel’s side of the family
  • Jacob returns home to his father Isaac in Mamre where Isaac then dies at 180 years old; Jacob and brother Esau bury their father
  • Esau, also called Edom (known as the father of the Edomites) separates from Jacob’s family because their combined possessions were too great for the land to support
  • Joseph the dreamer, Jacob’s first son by Rachel, whom he loved more than all the others is sold at the hands of his jealous brothers to Ishmaelites who then take him to Egypt and sell him there to Potiphar, one of Pararaoh’s officials

Wow.

Who had it worse than Jacob?

What would become of Joseph, who Jacob now believes is dead because of the deceit of his other sons?

Jacob, at this point, must certainly be thinking about the talk with God at Bethel. And thankful that somehow, someway, God Almighty would be there to fulfill the promise amidst all these apparent setbacks.

Day 12: A talk with God can help prepare us for setbacks, not to mention comebacks