Joseph sold into slavery by his brothers
Devotions for Genesis 37:3-8, 17b-22, 26-34, 50:15-21
September 19-25, 2016
Monday, September 19, 2016
“But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him” (Genesis 37:4).
Conner was a middle child and, as a middle child, he felt neglected and ignored. His two older brothers excelled in both athletics and academics. Connor wasn’t athletic and earned “B’s” and “C’s”. It took two months before his high school teachers realized that Connor wasn’t like his brothers and to show their disappointment. Connor’s younger sister couldn’t do any wrong. Connor was blamed for just about everything. Connor longed to be loved and to be appreciated for who he was.
We all crave love. We want to be loved so much that there are times we seek love in inappropriate and harmful ways. As followers of Jesus, we can rejoice in God’s steadfast love. It is a love that will always be ours. Instead of waiting to be loved by others, or allowing our envy of another’s love to spawn hate, we can strive to share our love (as little as it may be) with others. Like many things, if we hoard love we will always lack. If we give our love away, we will have love in abundance.
Loving Lord, thank you for your love. Open our eyes that we may see who needs to be loved and share our love with them. Amen.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
“Before he came near to them they conspired to kill him” (Genesis 27:18).
A fight broke out in the stands during a Green Bay Packers/Chicago Bears football game. Some Packer fans expressed their hate for a few Chicago Bears supporters. A thirty-four year-old was arrested for setting a Mosque on fire. When he explained his actions to a judge he said, “I hate those people.” A fifty year-old man was arrested for threatening an Orlando style massacre at several gay bars. “Those people are just losers,” he said.
Though they were of one family, Joseph’s brothers didn’t view him as a part of their group. It was an “us and him” situation. When we stop using “we” and begin to say “us and them,” hate becomes easy and along with it violence. The truth is that there is always a “we.” We are all children of God. We are all part of God’s creation and loved by God. Everyone is included and no one is excluded in God’s kingdom. As disciples of Jesus we are called to live in the truth rather than accept a lie.
O Three in One, you are the divine “We.” Change our hearts that we may always see what unites us rather than what divides us. Amen.
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
“But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands” (Genesis 27:21).
Binh and his friend went to the frat party, to which they had been invited. The booze was flowing freely. Even though Binh wasn’t a drinker, he found himself following the crowd, drinking way too much and becoming drunk. He regretted it the next morning. Lacy sat with a group of her co-workers during lunch. The group began to trash talk the Latinos who were moving into their area. Lacy said nothing. She didn’t agree with the group, but she didn’t want to start an argument.
It took courage and determination for Reuben to go against his brothers. It is so easy to follow the group. As disciples of Jesus, though, we are called to follow Jesus and no one else. Often this leads us along paths that are quite different from the group and challenges us to go against the crowd.
Lord and Master, grant us the boldness and the courage to follow you no matter what the cost. Amen.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
“Come let us sell him to the Ishmaelites” (37:27).
Money rules the day when the bottom line is the bottom line. Companies place inferior parts in their products—some that might cause injury to their customers—all to make a few more dollars. Workers are laid off because there is a drop in orders, but the CEO, CFO and COO all get huge bonuses. Actions that would protect the environment are spurned because they will cost too much money.
Joseph’s brothers saw a chance to make some money. Instead of killing Joseph, which would get them nothing, they could sell him to slave traders and make a tidy profit. Joseph was sold into slavery and shipped to Egypt where the story continues.
In a society where wealth and materialism are so highly valued ,it is difficult to be faithfully obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In fact we often fail. The Lord does not turn away from us, though. We are still invited to confess our sin, repent and return to following the Spirit’s guiding.
God of Abundance, we confess that we are attracted to the things of this world. Hold us tight so that our attraction does not pull us away from you. Grant us both the will and the ability to follow you. Amen.
Friday, September 23, 2016
“Then Jacob tore his garments … and mourned for his son many days” (Genesis 37:34).
Death was much more a part of life, in the days of Jacob and Joseph, than it is today. Jacob was accustomed to death, but this was the death of his son—the son he loved the most. As we read Jacob’s story, we can understand the depth of his grief. Perhaps, though, Jacob was also grieving over the split in his family. He saw the sneer on his sons’ faces when they presented him with Joseph’s blood soaked coat. Jacob was aware that his sons were not grieving Joseph’s death. Jacob might have realized that he was, in part, responsible for the split and his sons’ lack of grief.
Sometimes our rebellious, self-centered and unloving actions have far reaching effects. They adversely touch the lives of others—innocent bystanders. There are times when the ripples of our actions turn into waves. When this happens we can be racked with grief and overwhelmed with guilt.
Thankfully our God is a God of forgiveness. God’s steadfast love can remove the weight of guilt and turn our mourning into dancing. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are set free to love, heal and set things right.
Gracious God, you shed tears with us in our grief. Walk with us through those painful times and restore in us the desire to live lovingly and to serve. Amen.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
“’I beg you forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you” (Genesis 50:17).
Katelynn struggled to forgive the drunk driver who took her son’s life. Though two generations removed from the incident, Akihito occasionally found himself unforgiving of a government and country that imprisoned his grandparents in World War II. Pastor Laura knew that she was supposed to forgive the members of her congregation who started false rumors about her, in order to drive her out of the congregation. Sometimes Laura had the strength to forgive and at other times she imagined revenge.
Joseph had a lot to forgive. He had been beaten, sold into slavery, lied about, imprisoned, forgotten and ignored. Decades separated him from his comfortable life with his father and family. Joseph knew, though, that getting revenge on his brothers would not be satisfying or productive. He knew that forgiveness was the path to freedom and the future.
Forgiveness is the superpower of followers of Jesus. Forgiveness has the ability to change lives and to transform situations. Forgiveness enables us to step into the future.
Forgiving Lord, give us the will and the way to forgive others as you have forgiven us.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
“Even though you intended to harm me God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
The Frazier family had to move because of a job promotion. That meant that Dustin would lose all of his friends. He was devastated and fought the relocation. After a couple of months at his new school, Dustin realized that he had found several new friends and that he liked his new school. Karen lost her job in an office reorganization. She was scared and depressed about what the future might hold. After two months of searching, though, Karen was hired for a job that had a better salary and fit her talents more closely. Bad things happening that is just a fact of life. Sometimes, though, good things come from the bad.
Joseph certainly realized this truth. His brothers had planned evil. Their actions were sparked by envy and hate. Certainly Joseph experienced many years of slavery, imprisonment and dashed hopes. Yet in the end, things worked out better than okay. Joseph could see God’s hand in all that had happened. He was in the right position at the right time to save his family from starvation.
God’s hand is upon us. God is moving in our lives so that we experience an abundant life and others encounter God’s love and grace.
Powerful Lord, may your kingdom come and your will be done in our lives and in the world. Amen.