Saturday, January 9, 2016

"Stop asking, 'Why?' and believe!"

Day #10

Scripture Reading:  Genesis 36 - 39 ...

Every day, all over the world, people live life and face unexpected circumstances, not knowing how things are going to turn out.  You and I don’t know what the rest of today will bring, let alone tomorrow.  But God DOES!  Life in this world is not a bunch of unconnected, isolated events.  What happened in the past affects your choices today and your choices today affect what decisions you make tomorrow.  What most people fail to realize is that there is another factor to consider!  GOD is at work in the world, and in a very special way in the lives of those who know and love Him!!

God's plan to save a remnant from the human race from His just judgment against our sin was made even more difficult by God's decision to use sinful people to accomplish His purposes along the way.  Only the wisdom and power of God could use even the foolishness, wickedness and evil of mankind to lead to the coming of the Savior.  God had chosen Jacob rather than his brother, Esau, and God’s protection of Jacob and His oversight of the details of his life was another display of God's intention to keep His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ... His promises to be their God, to multiply their descendants, to give them the land of Canaan and to bless all nations through the promised "Seed"  ...  JESUS!

Meanwhile, God had told Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in a country not their own, and that they would be enslaved and mistreated there for four hundred years (Genesis 15:13).  What a strange prediction, yet it would come true through the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers and the providence of God over circumstances that seemed like chance events.  Who could have imagined that God’s promise to make Abraham’s descendants a great nation would happen while they were in slavery in this foreign land?  And who could have devised the plan that now played out in Joseph’s life?  Could the same be true in your life?  Is God wise enough and powerful enough to do what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:28:  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” 

God had predicted that Abraham’s descendants would be slaves in a foreign land, but He had also promised that He would deliver them.  The events of Genesis 37-39 set the stage for God's plan to unfold.  God gave Joseph dreams ... dreams that would come true in God's timing.  Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, but God blessed him in everything he did - first in the household of Potiphar and then in prison.  God was at work in Joseph's life, even though it sometimes didn’t look like it.  It can sometimes be difficult to keep a “positive attitude” when things happen that are so unfair.  How did Joseph do it?  He knew God!  And because He knew God, He trusted God.  What an important lesson to learn.  

But why have Joseph go through all of this, and why have Jacob go through such heartbreak, and why the upcoming famine, and why would Israel have to go through 400 years of slavery in Egypt and why ... … … … ???  We like to ask, "Why?", don't we?  In fact, we can hardly keep ourselves from asking "Why?" in the daily circumstances of our lives.  You see, WE want to be in control; it is in our very nature to want to determine how things will go and what will happen next.  But God calls HIS people to live by faith.  I know that's not a very good answer for a lot of people, but it's true.  The key to living life with God is in knowing His character and trusting Him.  It eliminates a lot of the "Why's." Living by faith moves you to live like Joseph (and all the others listed in Hebrews 11!!).

God blessed Joseph, as He blessed Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, because He chose them to be His and showed them His love and favor - His amazing grace ... SO THAT they and those who came after them would live to bring Him glory and tell the world about the God who keeps His promises.  God promised a Savior and through these people God would bring His Son into the world.  This same God is at work in the world today, and in your life and mine.  Just as we see in Joseph's life, nothing happens by chance.  God’s providence, His sovereign rule over all the details of your life and mine, is the rock upon which our faith is built.

How often do you hear people say, “Everything has a purpose”?  Why do people say that?  Some people may say it simply because they NEED to believe it, even though they have no basis for doing so.  Everyone needs hope when “bad” things happen, whether in their own lives or in the lives of those around them.  But in order for there to be purpose and meaning in everything SOMEBODY needs to be in control.  Either things happen by chance and it’s all up to “luck,” or the God who created this world is at work, using even the sinful acts of men to accomplish His purposes!

Make no mistake, you and I are responsible for the sin in our lives ... all the wrong choices, the rebellion, the evil in this world … all these are the responsibility of sinful people.  But our God reigns!  He is wise enough and powerful enough to overrule what Satan and evil men try to do and to bring good out of evil.  To those who come to Him through faith in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness and new life - for today, tomorrow, forever!  KNOW that He is at work in the circumstances of YOUR life and that trusting in Him, placing your hope in Jesus brings peace of heart and mind that you will find nowhere else.

Joseph could have become depressed and overwhelmed by such a string of “bad luck.”  He could have become angry and questioned whether God was with him.  Instead, he responded to his circumstances with faith and hope, submitting his will to God’s will, and God used him to accomplish more than Joseph could have imagined when sold as a slave by his brothers.  How much more can you and I trust our Father in heaven today?  Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!

"Father, trusting You seems so hard sometimes, until we remember who You are and what You have done to save us from our sins.  Give us grace to trust Your wisdom and power, to ask fewer 'Why's' and to come to You as children, trusting You to work all things for the good of those who love You and who are called according to YOUR purpose ... and for Your glory.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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