Genesis 39:21-23

Making the best of it

Joseph found himself being punished in the king’s prison for something he hadn’t done.

But instead of grumbling and complaining, Joseph carried on being cheerful and helpful. The jailer soon noticed Joseph because he was so different from everyone else. In fact, the jailer was so impressed with Joseph that he put him in charge of the other prisoners. He also made him responsible for everything that needed to be done in the prison. God blessed Joseph and helped him do everything well.

Does it help to complain?

Grumble, groan, mumble, moan. Does it really help? How else will people know that you are not happy with the way things are? Here are a few facts about being grumpy:

  • Complaining doesn’t change things – people change things.
  • Grumbling upsets other people – it makes them feel unhappy!
  • When you deliberately put on a miserable look, you will actually start to feel more miserable.

Does that mean you should always look happy—even when you’re not? Should you just accept whatever happens? No! For something to change you need to take action. So, if something isn’t right:

  • Think about the situation for a while, then ask yourself: Who could help me do something about it? What can I do to change the situation? How would my idea affect others?
  • Go speak to the right person—someone who can help you. Tell the person what happened and how you feel about it. Suggest how the problem could be sorted out or ask for advice.

Like Joseph, be patient and keep doing what is right and good. Remember, God sees and knows everything, and He will help you.

Verse for today

“Do everything without complaining or arguing” Philippians 2:14.

God Will Provide The Lamb

God Will Provide the Lamb

(Genesis 22)

What was God doing?

He just asked Abraham to do a very hard thing.

Sometimes it is hard to know why God does the things he does. We may never know. But we know two things.

God loves us.

And God is good.

God loves us more than we will probably ever know. And there is not even the smallest smidge of bad in him. God cannot do anything mean or evil. God could no more do anything evil than a banana could ride a bicycle. It’s just impossible!

So it happened that one day God came to Abraham and said, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” Abraham said.

“Abraham, I want you to take your only son, whom you love, and go to a mountain I will show you. There I want you to sacrifice your son as a burnt offering to me.”

What was God thinking? How could he ask Abraham to do such a thing?

Remember, Abraham had waited a long, long time for his son Isaac. It seemed impossible that he would ever even have a son. But God had promised, and God kept his promise. Now was God going to take his only son away?

But God had also promised that from Abraham would come as many children as there are stars in the sky.

And God always keeps his promises.

That must have been what Abraham kept telling himself early the next morning when he went to gather wood for the sacrifice. “God always keeps his promises,” he must have told himself over and over.

Abraham bundled the wood up and put it on his donkey, and then Abraham, Isaac, and two of Abraham’s servants set out on the way God had directed them.

After walking for three days, Abraham looked up and saw the place where God was leading him.

Abraham said to the two servants, “Wait here with the donkey while Isaac and I go to worship God.” Then he took the wood for the sacrifice and laid it on his son Isaac’s back.

Imagine, Isaac had to carry the wood for his own sacrifice.

Many, many years later, God’s own son would have to carry the wood for his own sacrifice. Then, it would be the wood of the cross.

So Abraham and Isaac walked on together. Abraham couldn’t say a word. After they had been walking a while, Isaac said, “Father?”

“Yes, my son,” Abraham said.

“We have the wood for the sacrifice and the fire, but where is the lamb?”

That question must have nearly broken his father’s heart.

But, God had promised Abraham that through him many people would be blessed. And God always keeps his promises.

“God will provide the lamb,” Abraham said. He probably didn’t even know what he was saying. He didn’t understand, but he trusted God.

The two walked up the mountain in silence. Abraham couldn’t have loved his son more. How hard that walk must have been.

When they got to the top of the mountain, Abraham built an altar. He laid the sticks of wood on the altar, and then he tied his son with rope and laid him on the wood. His heart was breaking. Still, he trusted that God was good. He couldn’t understand why he had to sacrifice his son. He only knew that God had commanded it.

Abraham took out his knife and raised it in the air. Just then the angel of the Lord called out, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” Abraham said.

“Do not harm your son Isaac,” the angel said. And Abraham put down the knife.

Then the angel said to Abraham (it was really God speaking), “Now I know you really believe in me.”

Just then Abraham saw a ram tangled by its horns in a nearby bush. Here was the animal for his sacrifice.

God HAD provided the lamb – just like Abraham said he would!

And so Abraham called the place on that mountain “The Lord Will Provide.”

And then God called to Abraham again. “Because you obeyed me, even when I asked you to do a hard thing, I will richly bless you. From you will come a great nation, and all people on earth will ask to be blessed the way I have blessed you, all because you obeyed my command.”


But, why did God ask Abraham to sacrifice his only son?

It was part of God’s plan.

God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac for us. Because Abraham obeyed God, when we hear this story we can just begin to understand what it must have been like for God when he sent HIS only son Jesus to die on the cross for us. How hard that must have been for God.

God knew that Jesus would be like the ram Abraham found caught in the thorny bushes (remember, Jesus had thorns around his head too, just like the ram in the thicket).

When Jesus died on the cross, he took the punishment for our sins. He took the punishment for all the bad things we will ever do. God sent Jesus to take our place just like he sent the ram to take Isaac’s place.

And here is the amazing, wonderful thing. Because God was willing to sacrifice his only son for us, and because Jesus was willing to die for us – we are blessed. Everyone who believes in Jesus will live with him forever.

God provided the lamb to save Isaac’s life.

Jesus is the lamb God has provided to save our lives!

What at first seems so terrible, turns out to be the most amazing, wonderful thing.

God HAS provided the lamb!

Visualizing a Better Tomorrow

“Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider its perfection, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple—its arrangement, its exits and entrances—its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations.”—Ezekiel 43:10–11

The Torah portion for this week is Tetzaveh, which means “command” or “connect,” from Exodus 27:20–30:10, and the Haftorah is from Ezekiel 43:10–27.

This week’s Haftorah reading is taken from the book of Ezekiel. It opens in the middle of an intense vision that the prophet is experiencing regarding the Third Temple. In the Torah portion, we read about the descriptions and commandments regarding the First Temple to be built – which happened hundreds of years earlier during King Solomon’s time. In the Haftorah we get a glimpse of the Third and final Temple which, according to Jewish tradition, will be built in messianic times and will stand forever.

Considering the context of this vision and God’s commandment for Ezekiel to share his vision with Israel, it is strange that it centers on the Third Temple. At this time, the Jewish people were well into their 70-year exile in Babylon. Once the 70 years were up, they would return to Israel and build the Second Temple. Given this background, it seems to make more sense that this vision would be about the Second Temple, not the Third. Why is God set on providing Israel with a vision of something that they would never achieve?

The Second Temple would stand in a world very far from perfection, but the Third Temple will be built in a perfected world. The Second Temple would improve the situation, but the Third Temple would represent the ideal situation. The Second Temple was only temporary, but the Third Temple would stand forever.

When God chose to reveal the Third Temple to the Jewish people at this time, it was for two purposes — to motivate them and to comfort them.

By giving the people a vision of what was ultimately possible, God intended for them to “be ashamed of their sins,” which caused the destruction of the First Temple, and to be motivated to repent so that they could achieve the vision of a perfected world. The glimpse into the future was also meant to soothe their souls. By showing them how great things would be in the end, God was teaching the people to look past their current difficulties and focus on the larger picture.

This lesson was not just for the Jews of Ezekiel’s time, but also for us today. When we find ourselves in difficult times, it is helpful – even essential – to visualize a better future. This is true on a global level and also in our personal lives. When we paint a picture of how life can be, it not only will motivate us to work toward a better tomorrow, but also give us the strength to bear the burdens of today.

Only then can we appreciate that our challenges are but temporary difficulties on a path that will ultimately lead to a better place.

Visualizing a Better Tomorrow

Fruitful in Old Age by Mark D. Roberts

Even in old age they will still produce fruit;
they will remain vital and green.

In Psalm 92, the psalm writer begins by offering thanks for all the ways the Lord has blessed him. Then, in the final verses, he reflects on the situation of godly people (92:12, literally, “the righteous ones”). They “will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like cedars of Lebanon.” Their fruitfulness continues long after others have retired from productivity: “Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green” (92:14).

What accounts for this unusual display of flourishing? Surely, it is, in part, a result of living a godly or righteous life. Those who walk in God’s ways live more meaningful and effective lives. But Psalm 92 adds another reason for the long-lived fruitfulness of these people: “For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.” In other words, they have been planted so that their roots grow deeply into God. They draw nutrition from a divine source that is never exhausted. Thus, living productively, even into old age, isn’t just a matter of doing the right thing, however important this may be. It is, above all, a result of living in a deep, growing relationship with God.

During my tenure on staff of the H. E. Butt Foundation, at Laity Lodge and now with The High Calling, I have met many people who wonderfully illustrate Psalm 92:14. I think, for example, of people like Betty Anne Cody, Howard Hovde, J. I. Packer, Laity Lodge’s founder, Howard E. Butt, Jr., and his wife, Barbara Dan. These folk continue to be “vital and green,” even if their hair has turned grey. They live with more gusto and impact than most people half their ages. For them, and so many more like them, the key to their fruitfulness is their deep relationship with the Lord. They are, indeed, planted in God. Their example encourages me to keep the Lord at the center of my life, allowing him to be my daily source of nourishment and guidance.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you known people who still produce fruit, even in old age? What characterizes their lives? How have they inspired you? Are you planted in the courts of God? Where do you derive your nutrition for living?

PRAYER: O Lord, as I think about my life, and as I see the hairs on my head turning white (the ones that are left, that is), I realize how much I want to be like the godly people in Psalm 92. I want to be fruitful, even in old age. I want my life to count over the long haul.

Help me, gracious God, to be a godly person, to live according to your standards, to follow your guidance, and to place you at the center of my life. May I be like a tree planted in your courts, drawing nutrition for life from you.

Thank you, Lord, for those who exemplify such godly living, even in old age. Continue to use and bless them, so that we might draw inspiration and wisdom from them.

All praise be to you, O God, because you enable us to be fruitful throughout our lives. Amen.

Flowing From Us

“Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south, blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out!” (Song of Solomon 4:16).

Look at the meaning of this prayer a moment. Its root is found in the fact that, as delicious odors may lie latent in a spice tree, so graces may lie unexercised and undeveloped in a Christian’s heart. There is many a plant of profession; but from the ground there breathes forth no fragrance of holy affections or of godly deeds. The same winds blow on the thistle bush and on the spice tree, but it is only one of them which gives out rich odors.

Sometimes God sends severe blasts of trial upon His children to develop their graces. Just as torches burn most brightly when swung to and fro; just as the juniper plant smells sweetest when flung into the flames; so the richest qualities of a Christian often come out under the north wind of suffering and adversity. Bruised hearts often emit the fragrance that God loveth to smell.

“I had a tiny box, a precious box Of human love–my spikenard of great price; I kept it close within my heart of hearts, And scarce would lift the lid lest it should waste its perfume on the air. One day a strange deep sorrow came with crushing weight, and fell upon my costly treasure, sweet and rare, and broke the box to atoms. All my heart rose in dismay and sorrow at this waste, but as I mourned, behold a miracle of grace Divine. My human love was changed to Heaven’s own, and poured in healing streams on other broken hearts, while soft and clear a voice above me whispered, “Child of Mine, with comfort wherewith thou art comforted, from this time forth, go comfort others, and thou shalt know blest fellowship with Me, whose broken heart of love hath healed the world.”

Arise, and depart. Micah 2:10

The hour is approaching when the message will come to us, as it comes to all-“Arise, and go forth from the home in which thou hast dwelt, from the city in which thou hast done thy business, from thy family, from thy friends. Arise, and take thy last journey.” And what know we of the journey? And what know we of the country to which we are bound? A little we have read thereof, and somewhat has been revealed to us by the Spirit; but how little do we know of the realms of the future! We know that there is a black and stormy river called “Death.” God bids us cross it, promising to be with us. And, after death, what cometh? What wonder-world will open upon our astonished sight? What scene of glory will be unfolded to our view? No traveller has ever returned to tell. But we know enough of the heavenly land to make us welcome our summons thither with joy and gladness. The journey of death may be dark, but we may go forth on it fearlessly, knowing that God is with us as we walk through the gloomy valley, and therefore we need fear no evil. We shall be departing from all we have known and loved here, but we shall be going to our Father’s house-to our Father’s home, where Jesus is-to that royal “city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” This shall be our last removal, to dwell for ever with Him we love, in the midst of His people, in the presence of God. Christian, meditate much on heaven, it will help thee to press on, and to forget the toil of the way. This vale of tears is but the pathway to the better country: this world of woe is but the stepping-stone to a world of bliss.
“Prepare us, Lord, by grace divine,
For Thy bright courts on high;
Then bid our spirits rise, and join
The chorus of the sky.”

Good Luck with that, Charlie

Lego’s may be good building blocks for children to learn by; but NOT when they combine with Disney to change the fundamental building blocks of our society and culture by tearing down the image of what family was designed to be.  God’s design for marriage is simple and leaves no room for re-interpretation; it can be found in Genesis chapters one and two: One man, one woman, joined in covenant with God till death do they part.  Jesus confirmed God’s plan for marriage; “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”(Matthew 19:6)

Disney and Lego joined together with the express purpose of pushing the LGBT agenda on very impressionable minds. During an episode of “Good Luck Charlie” these young minds were bombarded over and again with the idea that two moms can be normal and acceptable.

It’s no secret that the younger you’re exposed to a thing and if you can be made to laugh with that thing, it will be more acceptable to you and harder to get away from. Parents, this is one reason why it is so vitally important that you help to guard your child’s mind and heart by knowing the content of what you allow them to watch. How many thousands of unsupervised young girls watched while Disney and Lego attempted to rebuild their mindset?  Parents, make sure your child’s mind is renewed IN Christ rather than rebuilt by media, society and today’s culture.

Television shows and advertisers are desperately trying to corrupt your child’s mind by getting them to laugh at things which go directly against God’s will and mock traditional values. Our children are very impressionable and need our guidance.  Most of today’s media would turn a child’s heart, mind and soul away from God and to worldliness.  Our responsibility, as parents, is to move our children to holiness while the media would desire to make them impure. Too many today would corrupt your child’s innocence if given any opportunity at all.  Keep watch, be on guard, and protect your children.

Be personally involved in your child’s life.  Spend time with them, knowing what they are watching and what those shows promote.  Talk with your child often throughout the day, reminding them of the values the Bible promotes.  Remind them that God has designed marriage, that He is the Giver of life and that His word speaks to all things.  Tell them over and over again that they were created by God, in the image of God, for the glory of God. Let them know of His love, His forgiveness and His expectations.  Share with them that in all they do, they are to do it for the glory of God.

“Good Luck Charlie” targets young girls but apparently has their “sites” set on traditional values as a target to destroy as well. With the attacks coming at our children from school, television and society at large, we MUST protect our children, we need to be having important conversations with them and we must help them guard their hearts.