Here and Now

costa ricaAll we really have, is that moment that’s happening now. Right here, right now. The promise of growing old and having a lifetime of memories to look back on, for some, is an empty, unrelentingly cruel lie. A systematic elimination of memory after memory slowly erodes into a great void for that person who desperately WANTS to remember but simply can’t. For friends and family of those searching for remnants of a past life, it can be just as cruel if not crueller as you slowly watch as a lifetime of memories is simply erased from a person’s data base.

So again, what we have is that which is right in front of us, here and now. It’s so easy, to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget to enjoy the moments of life as they happen. How great a gift is each of our lives, that we should so easily forget how precious it really is – with all its ups and downs – the ebb and flow of emotions as we travel this journey, that is our life.

I can tell you now, that I would have taken a greater risk and asked Suzy to attend the 8th grade dance with me. At the time, I thought she hung the moon. I did get to have one dance with her, which, I obviously still remember today. I would look to enjoy more of the moments that at the time, I too easily let escape by for being fearful of failure. That truly is my only regret – that I let fear of failing dictate, way too often, how I pursued life. I would love to go back and fail often in so many grand and wonderful ways! I realize now that those and any failures too come only help to make the successes that much greater when I experience them!

I would’ve love to spend more time taking in those incredible moments with family. The family gatherings at Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas truly hold special memories I will hopefully, always be able to treasure. Vacations taken from Myrtle Beach to Cherokee to Daytona Beach and Gatlinburg, TN. Moments in life that were great but I didn’t take them fully in, enjoying that moment for all it was worth. It was only has cousins, uncles and aunts begin to pass away that I fully begin to treasure those fleeting moments that had passed way too fast.

I definitely would have taken more time to enjoy my wife and kids in the early days of our marriage. I would make sure that I set and kept my priorities in order to ensure that I never missed any of their special here and now moments! I know that at the time, I really did make an effort to be there and to enjoy all the moments of raising a family had to offer. But even so, I know there are so many times I wasn’t able to fully engage in the moment, taking it all in and simply living in that here and now. Distractions in our life can rob us of so many moments if we allow them too.

Enjoy the here and now and all the different emotions it can bring. To be sad, to cry, to laugh, to be filled with joy or pride, the experience of a great failure or the exhilaration of great triumph. All of these are to be experienced – the life, our journey we travel is to be lived moment by moment. Enjoy it all, taking it all in. We are each promised nothing but what we have right in front of us – this moment – here and now. Don’t waste it! Life is a precious gift so my prayer for all of us is that we would live each and every moment – HERE AND NOW!

Peace and thanks for reading!

Scott

Life Lesson Series – Time Management

Time-slips-through-your-hands

Time is an illusion, there is always time and then there is no time at all. It is here and gone in the same instant.

On the 28th this month I will turn 48 and for the most part, there is very little I regret  about my life. One of those is that I did not spend enough time with my kids as they were growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I was fortunate to be able to spend an incredible amount of time with them over the years but now that they have moved on to new chapters of their lives, and I selfishly wish I had even more memories to draw from.

Time management is a discipline that needs to be developed and takes a lot of work to do it effectively. First of all, I would recommend that you take inventory of your life. What in your life is most important to you? Go ahead, write them down, study them, make sure to include everything that is important to you. Now once you have your list down – rank them in order of importance. For some, this exercise will be difficult as you begin to rank them because, if your honest, you may realize some things are more important than you thought.

Now, for some, the next step will the hardest. Beside each of the things you listed, record the amount of time you spend on each of those things daily. If you don’t do this honestly, than you are just wasting time (pun intended!). I really think this exercise can be a catalyst in resetting your life. Helping you to refocus your efforts, to ensure that you have time to devote to those things you say is important.

An exercise I went through several years ago also affected the way I spend my time and honestly, still have to remind myself to do it on occasion. Usually, when I’m feeling overwhelmed that I don’t have time to complete everything on my list. So what is the exercise you ask? Purpose. What is the purpose of me spending time doing X? If I can define why something is important to me, it helps me to prioritize. A part of defining is to understand it’s purpose. I know it may seem a little trivial or kind of out there, but it worked for me.

Time is a gift from God and should never be taken for granted, especially by followers of Christ. I could do a whole other post on this topic  alone. And even if you don’t believe in God, you should never waste your time. All of us at some point, will die, at least physically. It’s funny how my mindset has changed over the years and continues to do so as I advance in age. At 18, I didn’t give time a second thought. I had my whole life in front of me with plenty of time to spare.

At 25, I started to realize I only had a certain amount of time to make “real” money and provide for my wife and kids.  Priorities changed and my life took a whole new direction. At 40, I started looking at what was really important in my life, what things did I need to concentrate on to ensure that my kids would be ready to leave their mother and I. Also, at 40, I took an honest assessment of what my testimony looked like to those around me. In other words, was I truly walking the walk of being a Christ follower or was it just talk?

So, on the cusp of being 48, I have begun looking ahead, at what my legacy might be in 30 or 40 years. Plenty of time to create, develop and implement a strategy of accomplishing the goals I have set. But, here’s the thing. I’m not promised tomorrow but I do have today!! So really, for me, that’s become my daily question. What will I do today?

Really had no idea this post was going to go in this direction and I’ve thought of scraping it and starting over. But, it is what it is so…..

Last point on time. For me, I have come to realize the most valuable commodity I have in life are the relationships I have with others. So when, I’m faced with a decision on where to spend my time or deciding what’s more important, the decision is usually based on potential impact my decision will have on my relationship with X. That’s why I think it’s critical to know what is TRULY important to you, so that you choose wisely where to spend your time.

Time is not given, you have to take it. Today I just want to encourage you to take time and do the things that are important to you. I have been blessed to have had time to spend with my wife and kids but I know that I am not promised tomorrow. My prayers haven’t changed, I pray that God will give me wisdom to help the kids find their own path and that each day I would grow closer to Him through my relationship with Christ.

May God multiply your time. Blessings to you all. Peace!!

Life Lessons – Learning is the Key

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One of the truly great gifts we are given in life is the ability to learn. I wish I had realized this earlier. I don’t have many regrets in my life but this is definitely one of them. It has only been in the last 20 years or so, that I have developed a passion for learning. Oh, if only I could return to my youth, how very different my pursuit of learning would be. And while I can’t go back, going forward, I can make sure that I learn something new every day.

“Learning is the only thing that the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets”. – Leonardo Da Vinci

During our lifetime, we naturally grow in our knowledge by simply living our life but how much greater could that be if we truly pursued learning as a life long pursuit. In the last 10 years, with the internet explosion, there is literally no end of resources available for anyone who is willing to learn more. I’m old enough to remember the Dewey Decimal System and how frustrating it was when the local library didn’t have that one book I needed to finish a report.

While it’s true that learning simple facts or researching specific topics is as easy as a Google search or asking Siri if she knows the answer, there’s more to learning than just knowing stuff. I submit to you, that while the informational highway has become an Autobahn for quick learning, we are becoming a society that is forgetting how to live and learn life with and from each other. Anyway, I guess the point I’m trying to make is this – learning math, languages, science, history, geography, etc. etc are vital in anyone’s development of knowledge but I hope that we never forget the art of learning from each other.

I’m an avid reader, always have been. I will read just about anything and appreciate anyone who has the discipline to start and finish writing a book. I love blogs and can spend hours on the internet reading various posts from people all over the world. I admit one of my favorite sites is Pinterest. Say what you want but it’s one of the greatest resources available to us today. You can learn how to do just about anything or at least gather new ideas to pursue further.

I love autobiography’s, to be able to delve into the minds of people as they were in the process of living their lives is just so cool to me. I also enjoy personal blogs where people share their thought processes. I love those moments while reading when it’s like – wow, I never thought of looking at that like this. I guess for me, reading represents my second favorite way to learn. It seems to challenge my imagination, my concepts of what I think I know more easily than anything else.

So my favorite way to learn, you ask? From others! I love being able to sit across from someone has they begin to unravel the truths they have learned while living their lives. To be able to see their facial expressions, see into their eyes as they talk, provides a connection that you simply can not gain any other way. As I said earlier, I hope we don’t become a society that forgets the art of learning through personal interaction.

Learning from each other is one of the ways we can “Share the Journey” with others. And I am so thankful for those men and women who have graciously given of their time to pour their knowledge into me!! My hope is that I may also  be found to be as gracious and giving of my time, that others may learn from me.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Life Lesson 3 – Listening

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This is one life lesson that is very much a learned skill and discipline. Ask yourself, How often do you truly listen to the world around you? When in conversation how often do you truly engage the person and listen to what they are telling you? More times than not, I catch myself thinking of my response more than I am actually listening to what is being said.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say”. Bryant H. McGill

I love the quote above and think it’s absolutely true. It’s amazing how much more we get out of a conversation when we truly listen to what is being said instead of just hearing them speak. Another aspect of listening and respect is to have eye contact with the person you are conversing with instead of looking at our phones or fidgeting with this or that.

As a kid I had to go to speech therapy 2 times a week for a couple of years so that I could learn how to speak properly. Being born with a cleft pallet caused this process to take longer for me than it did other kids but looking back on it now I realize what a blessing that was, as it taught me how to listen. Time after time, my therapist would say a word or a sentence and then I would have to repeat it back to her. Another benefit of this is that with time I learned how to read lips proficiently. This ability has proven very beneficial over the years.

One of the things I had to overcome and still struggle with to this day is that I have a tendency to look at people’s lips when talking with them instead of making eye contact. Eye contact to me is another key component of showing someone respect and something that I made sure to teach my children how to do. When you keep eye contact with someone as their speaking to you, you will also notice that it allows you to see more. Maybe not into their souls but it allows you to see more deeply into the person.

I think this life lesson is one that is typically overlooked but over the years, at least for me, as become one of the most critical for me. Listening is one discipline I am constantly having to work at, as it is easy for me to be distracted but is also one of the most needed. Another component of listening, especially to God, is to simply be still. In  Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

In order to truly hear God, we must learn to be still and allow Him the opportunity to speak to us. To often I find myself going through the motions with God – my prayers become one-sided and I don’t take time to pause and let Him speak to me or during my study time, I may find myself trying to understand a particular passage of scripture and I simply breeze through it without actually taking the time to study or meditate on it, giving Him the opportunity to speak to me.

Again – Listening, to me, is one of those skills that we can never master but by being diligent to try, we can greatly improve the relationships around us.

Would love to hear your thoughts! Really, I would love hear your thoughts. Honestly, ………….I will listen.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Life Lesson 1 – Share the Journey

Life Lesson 2 – Serving

Life Lesson 2 – Serving continued

I ended the last post saying that Love was another component to serving others. I have not always had a desire to serve others. Actually, for most of my life, my desire was to see how I could get others to serve me. Ok, that was a little sobering to actually type out but being honest, that is the truth. Now there have been times over the years where I willingly gave of my time, money or other resources without regard to what was in it for me but not very often.

Several years ago I remember hearing this verse in a sermon and was immediately captivated by it: Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus, God’s son, came to serve us and give is life as payment for our sins. Why did He do this? What was his motivation in serving us and ultimately giving his life in exchange for us? A love so great, so vast that even infinity doesn’t come close to measuring it. A love which desires to be in fellowship with you and I, regardless of our transgressions. Imagine someone loving and caring about you so much that nothing, not even death would ever deter them from having that relationship with you.

That’s exactly the kind of love Jesus has for you. We only need to accept what is truly the perfect gift. Once we do, we can begin to faintly understand the depths of His love. It is His love found within that compels me to serve others as He served us. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, seeking opportunities to help those in need. The tendency of most people when they see something about helping those in need is to think about those folks that may need help with material things such as money, food, shelter, clothing, etc. And yes, that’s part of it but to only focus on that aspect is to not fully engage in serving each other.

What about those who are in need of companionship, a word of encouragement or to feel needed. Surely all of us would agree that each of us desire to know that we are loved, at least a little. So maybe instead of asking how we may be able to serve one another, maybe we should ask how can we show love, one to another.  1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 

As faithful stewards. Faithful meaning to do what we are called to do. Steward meaning to wisely use what we have been given. To serve others, extending God’s grace in all it’s forms, that we may show others that God loves them. Jesus was real clear about this as we find when reading Matthew 22:37-39  – 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Living and Leaving a Legacy

I recently had the honor of speaking at a funeral to celebrate the life of one of the greatest men I have ever known. Below is a copy of my preparation draft leading up to that day. I decided to post it as a blog post because, outside of my father, no other person apart from Christ has had a greater influence on me becoming the man I am today. Although most of you won’t have a chance to meet him this side of heaven, this will give you a glimpse as to what this man meant to me and countless others in his lifetime. As you read this, keep in mind, the impact, the potential each of us has to impact the world around us.

Living and Leaving a Legacy

A “Great” man stepped off of the pavement of this life onto streets of gold in eternity last Saturday morning. A truly great man, who devoted much of his adult life to teach kids the game of baseball and for some of that time, basketball as well. Any of us who ever had the opportunity to play for him, whether baseball or basketball always improved as a player because of his coaching. He has forgotten more about the game of baseball than most of us will ever learn about it.

But is that why we are all here today? to honor a great coach? Maybe in some respect, that’s true but it’s more than that – I think, for most of us, we are here because of a bond that we have with this man that goes well beyond anything we could ever learn from just playing a sport!! The lessons we learned from this man have carried on within us to this very day. His influence has not just been in regards to those he coached, no……, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles have all been influenced by him.

Coach used the game of baseball to teach us about how to live our lives. Over the past week, as I have talked to several of you and read various posts, articles and such. I thought it was interesting how many times someone would say or write something like, “I didn’t realize it at the time but I learned this or that from Mr. Hilton.” Yes, we learned how to become better ballplayers from coach but more importantly we learned life lessons about – trust, respect, honor, loyalty, hard work, integrity, to just do the right thing and most of all LOVE. To pursue excellence is not only what he taught but how he lived.

Heritage by definition means “an inherited or established way of thinking, feeling, or doing”. All of us who are gathered here today are here because of the heritage established and handed down to us by Coach Hilton. Mark, I’m not sure but I maybe the only person here that can say – I played for your dad, coached baseball and basketball with him and also played for you. And as I think about your dad, and all the lessons he ever taught us….they really all revolved around one basic concept. To simply do the right thing. No shortcuts. Just do whatever it is that you need to do.

I’m reminded of a story. A time that Coach made me wear a catcher’s mask while playing second base.  I had just gotten braces and that same afternoon at practice, I took a shot to the mouth as we were taking infield practice. There was blood everywhere it seemed. After the bleeding had stopped, Coach had me grab my glove and head on out to second. He knew I needed to get back on that horse so to speak. As he hit ground ball after ground ball, I kept turning my head or looking up at the last instant. This is not what he taught. Finally, after several minutes he walked over to the catching gear and brought out a mask to me. One way or another, I was going to learn to keep my head down and watch that ball all the way into my glove.

Coach didn’t mind physical errors, that’s part of the game but mental errors, not giving the effort, that was unacceptable. And everyone here knows what you heard from coach whenever one of these lapses occurred. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I heard the phrase – “knock em bout”. (this phrase was our cue to take a lap)

And I do want to pause here and say that there are two things Mr. Hilton taught me by example: to respect everyone! You don’t have to like everyone or get along with them but you can always respect them. And the other was to just be honest – with yourself, and others alike.

I received a phone call from coach…I guess it was 7 or 8 years ago now…., he was calling to let me know that he was getting baptized and just wanted me to know. I asked him when it was and as soon as I hung up the phone, the date was marked in our family calendar. This was one baptism I wasn’t going to miss.  I tell you, outside of my own families baptisms, that was by far one of my favorite memories to date. Why? Knowing that he had accepted Christ and that I was able to see him publicly  professing his faith was just an incredible experience for me. Even now as we are here celebrating the life he lived here, i know that there is a day coming where once again, I will be able to sit and visit with coach. To reminisce and share stories once more.

It’s rare that you find anyone who exemplifies a Christ-like life but they themselves have not accepted Christ as their savior. And I can’t explain why Mr. Hilton didn’t come to accept Christ sooner than he did but there is not  a doubt in my mind, as I know, God used Mr. Hilton – Coach, to instill in all of us, biblical values, that if we incorporated and lived by, would help us to be successful in living out our own lives.

If Coach had the opportunity to step back one last time and impart one last lesson on us all, it would be this – Don’t miss heaven! One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is Philippians 4:8-9. The apostle Paul has written the church in Philipi to remind them of Christ’s love for them and to encourage and challenge them. Like Paul, Mr. Hilton had a desire, a love for people, especially kids and if he was here, I think he would use very similar words found in Philippians 4: 8-9; Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Today, we may mourn the physical loss of someone we loved very much but the life – the heritage – the legacy of this man will continue on for generations to come.

Behind the Glasses (cover up)

So, my Monday started out less than stellar this morning as I awoke to my left eyelid swollen so bad that I couldn’t open my eye. It started swelling yesterday and consensus of those not in the medical field is that I have a sty. I am now patiently waiting on my eye appointment which is at 3:30 this afternoon.

As I was leaving the house this morning I decided to check the mirror one more time just to see how bad my eye really looked. It looks really bad, as it is really red, puffy and looks a lot like I went 3 rounds with Sugar Ray Leonard. I grabbed my sunglasses and put them on and presto, problem was solved, as with my glasses on, no one can tell that anything is amiss with my eye. It really is amazing at the difference the sunglasses make in my appearance. As long as I keep my glasses on no one will know how bad my eye really is.

As I was looking in the mirror, sliding the glasses up and down on my nose the thought hit me of how often we go through this life trying to find the “right sunglasses” to cover up our imperfections. All of us have things in our lives that we try and hide from others. It’s one thing for us to know where our shortfalls are but we don’t need to let everyone else know about them, so we work hard to cover them up…so that no one will really know how bad our imperfections really are.

Here’s the thing and what I have been thinking about this morning. All of us have our own inadequacies, whether it’s in our appearance, our attitudes or our sins. And we seem to spend an awful lot of time in trying to cover, hide, disguise, ignore, pretend, or deflect these from others and more importantly from ourselves. The truth is this: God knows all our inadequacies whether we admit to them or not. It’s easy to look at someone else and see all of their faults, recognize their shortcomings and unfortunately Christians, seem to be the best at doing this.

It’s time each of us addressed our own inadequacies as they are and seek God’s direction in how best to go about correcting them. And then, as we look upon others, wearing the glasses, we might show a little more compassion and mercy toward them…….and simply love them as Christ loves us!!

Peace and thanks for reading!!

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A Study of Joseph – Forgiveness before Restoration

God is the ultimate healer as we saw in our last post. After years of trials and tribulations, God delivered Joseph from his afflictions and allowed him to be placed over all of Egypt. Along with that, Joseph was given a new bride and shortly after that, was blessed with two sons. Egypt was soon enjoying 7 years of great prosperity just as Joseph had said they would and Joseph knew that 7 years of famine were to follow. So with preparations made and the storehouses full, Joseph and Egypt were ready for the days that lay ahead.

And just as God had delivered Joseph from his bondage and protected Egypt from the famine, He was about to bring restoration to the house of Jacob (Israel). The onslaught of famine was not immune to Egypt only but was felt around the world, even into the land of Canaan. This week we will look at Genesis 42:1-28 with our focus being on the latter part of the chapter.

In Genesis 42:1-4, we see the plight of famine is reaching across the globe as Jacob instructs the sons to go to Egypt and buy the grain they need to survive. Jacob did not send Benjamin (the youngest) with them. In verse 4 – But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he thought, “Something might happen to him”.  I wonder to what extent Jacob did not trust the 10 brothers? Obviously, he was protecting Benjamin but exactly from what, we are not sure. So the brothers, after 20 plus years come face to face once again with the brother they thought they had gotten rid of years earlier! And we see that a dream long forgotten by most, was soon to be fulfilled….partially anyway.

Genesis 42:6-7 – 6 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. 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.” They however, did not recognize Joseph so he decided to test them a little. He claimed they were spies to which they obviously denied by telling him their story and that they were the sons of one man and that they were…..wait for it…..honest. Still unknown to them but the sins of their past were about to be unfolded for all to see.

Joseph challenged their response and insisted they were spies to which they confessed even more – in verse  – 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.” Joseph decided to test the brothers by holding one of them in prison while the others returned to Canaan to deliver the much needed food and then return with the youngest brother to prove that they were not spies. It’s interesting how the brothers respond to this plight. See, they knew exactly what they had done some 20 years earlier was wrong and they now recognized they were being punished for their sins. Genesis 42:21-22.

Important to note here, I think, is that Joseph was not proposing these tests to his brothers seeking revenge or in some way making them suffer to get even. He is simply testing their current attitudes. Is there any remorse? sorrow for what they had done years ago. Joseph had long since forgiven his brothers for what they had done. It didn’t however, change the overwhelming emotions of having his brothers face to face in his presence. Can you imagine all of the emotions that Joseph must have felt the instant he recognized his brothers?

I would encourage you to read Genesis 42:21-28 for yourself and take in what true forgiveness really looks like. You will notice 3 distinct things about this passage.

1. We are to forgive unconditionally. We may never hear an apology or have a person admit being at fault. Doesn’t matter, we are instructed as Christ followers to forgive. Christ himself forgave us long before we ever admitted of being guilty of anything. Luke 23:34 – 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. and in Matthew 5:44 – 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 

2. Even with true forgiveness, there may still be some painful, possibly negative emotions. My dad always tried to teach me one principle and that is – Do what you know is right! Period. No execuses. The challenge to this for me, has always been in regards to those who have wronged me. There are some people who have done wrong by me yet I have forgiven them and have been able to do right by them, even when it was tough to do. But in all honesty, there are some who I have tried to forgive but in my heart I honestly don’t know if I would be able to do right by them. I would like to think so, but I know in my flesh, there is a good chance I wouldn’t.

3. Giving forgiveness while also praying for justice is acceptable behavior…the key however, is to who’s justice are praying for? Yours or God’s? True justice can only come from God! And as such, that should help to bring us a sense of peace.  Romans 12:17-19 – 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 

4. Last thought. Joseph is also showing great leadership here and in the scriptures to come by helping his brothers restore broken relationships: with him, with each other, their father and ultimately with God himself. So here is a future challenge for you. The next time you find yourself in a position of having to forgive someone – ask yourself this  question – how can I use this situation to help bring the offending person to a closer relationship with Jesus.

Peace and thanks for reading!

A Study of Joseph – Pride Avoided

Finally, after 13 years Joseph is released from prison and not only that, he now finds himself as the 2nd in command of the whole nation of Egypt! As we pick up the story in Genesis 41:41-44, we see that Pharaoh announces Joseph’s rise to power in a big, big, way. After declaring that Joseph will be over all the land of Egypt, Pharaoh removes his signet ring from his own hand and places the ring on Joseph’s hand. And then gives Joseph a brand new wardrobe of fine linen garments to wear and lastly, he then places a gold chain around Joseph’s neck!.

After the makeover his complete, Pharaoh then has Joseph ride in his second chariot and while Joseph is touring the country, servants go before him calling out “Make Way”. Joseph has arrived, he has been delivered from the depths of prison and given a new life to lead. As part of this new beginning, he receives a new name from Pharaoh and also given a new bride, whose name is Asenath. Can you imagine if that happened in our day? The media would just explode with all kinds of coverage about the new kid. Where did he come from? What’s his background? Any skeletons in the closet? and on and on.

I imagine the people of Egypt during this time were also wondering some of the same things. And it had to seem to them, that this had just happened overnight. They had no idea that this new kid had been being groomed for this role over 13 years. They would have no way of knowing what Joseph had to endure during his life to get to this point. Sold into slavery, a servant for years, falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit and then sentenced to serve his life in prison.

NO CHARGE FOR THE FOLLOWING AS IT IS JUST THOUGHTS AS I AM PREPARING THIS:

What about us today? How often do we look at others and before we really know anything about them or the life they have had to live; pass judgement and decide what our response to them will be – sometimes even before we talk to them. Let me say this another way. How many Joseph’s do we know? Those people that we see, that seemingly have it all figured out and/or at least seem to not have the struggles we do. Do we take the time to get to know them, find out their story or do we simply hold to our initial judgement and leave it up to them to change our opinion?

I think the opposite is true as well. I think there are times when we see those people, that by worldly standards appear to be down and out, undesirable, uneducated, unworthy, etc. and we again, make judgments based on preconceived bias’ we have. Do we condemn them to never having the opportunity to gain our friendship simply because of their appearance. If so, shame on us!!

Ok, back to the study. Joseph answered his calling and did exactly what he had proposed to Pharaoh by going throughout the land of Egypt collecting all the excess grain and storing it in the different cities around the country. Genesis 41:47-49. There was so much excess in fact, that Joseph quit measuring the grains that were collected. For Joseph, the land wasn’t the only thing producing in abundance, as we read about he and his wife welcoming two sons into their family in Genesis 41:50.

It strikes me as I read about all of this that Joseph doesn’t become boastful are prideful. I think it would be easy for him to puff up and say “look, I knew I could do this, I just needed the chance. Look at how great I am managing all this”. No, what we see is the opposite as we look at Genesis 41:51-52 – 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[a] 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[b] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

Joseph recognized and understood that it was by God’s grace and mercy that he was enjoying the life he was now leading. The trials and tribulations that Joseph had endured for those 13 years helped position him to have a grateful attitude and not one of pride. How are we doing with pride today? Do we recognize and honor God regardless of our circumstances or do we boast about what WE have done or if facing trials of our own, do we hold true and steadfast, giving thanks to God despite our plights?

If you take a moment and finish reading the rest of Genesis 41 , you will see that in fact, famine does come, not only to Egypt but the whole world. And as famine spreads across the country, people from everywhere make their way to see Joseph and buy grains in order to keep their families fed.

Next, we will look at restoration and the word that has to happen before that takes place….forgiveness!

Peace and thanks for reading!

A Study of Joseph – Temptation

It’s been said that you are: about to experience a trial in your life – are in the middle of a trial in your life – or just came out of trial in your life. Take heart and know that you are not alone as we all feel like that at various times in our lives. The true measure of our character is not revealed when things are going well but rather when things are seemingly at their worst. How we respond in these “worst of times” moments is what people seem to remember most in relation to our character. And know this, bad things or circumstances happen to EVERYONE! Even to those who seemingly are doing everything right. Let’s continue with our study of Joseph.

When we ended our last post, everything seemed to be going great for Joseph. God had not only blessed Joseph but also Potiphar and his entire household because of Joseph. Finally, things were going well for Joseph. Although not ideal for sure, he was finding success and was improving his standing in life. Then it happens, life inexplicably throws Joseph’s world into turmoil.  At the end of Genesis 39:6 we read – Now Joseph was well-built and handsome. This fact was not lost on Potiphar’s wife and after some time had passed, she boldly asked Joseph one day to “Sleep with me.

Joseph’s response – Genesis 39:8-10 8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. Joseph responded exactly as he should have but to no avail, for day after day, she relentlessly pursued him and Joseph remained steadfast, not giving in to temptation. One day she went as far as making sure the house was completely empty so that when Joseph came to work there would be no interruptions or eyes to see! In verse 12 – She grabbed him by his garment and said “Sleep with Me!” But leaving his garment he escaped and ran outside,.

Take note of how Joseph dealt with this temptation. He did not try to plea with her again or try and ignore it. He got away from her clutch and RAN!! Too many times when we find ourselves in a situation similar to this, we think we are strong enough to stand against temptation…why risk it? RUN and run fast!

It’s cool how God then rewards Joseph’s faithfulness by bringing despair and ruin to Potiphar’s wife…..but…that’s not what happened at all. To me, that seems to be what should have happened but alas, God had a greater plan for Joseph which would require Joseph to be in prison. So as we read the rest of Genesis 39:13-20, we see how Potiphar’s wife claimed that Joseph had tried to sleep with her and after she had screamed for help, Joseph had fled, leaving his garment behind. Naturally, after hearing these things, Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison. Not just any prison however, Joseph was put in the same prison where the king’s prisoners were kept.

It’s easy to look ahead in Joseph’s story and know that in the end all things work out for Joseph. But at this point in the story, Joseph had to be thinking – really? I can’t catch a break! Do you ever feel that way? But like Joseph, we have a God that cares for us and loves us beyond our comprehension.

To close this post – Temptation will come us at in various ways, through various people and a lot of times, it comes at just that moment when all seems to be going well. It is up to us to guard our hearts and minds so that like Joseph, we can stand strong against temptation and also have courage like Joseph, to know when it is time to simply run or flee from temptation.

Last point. God is continually at work in our lives and has hard as it is sometimes to see that, we must keep faith and remember this!  Our character will be revealed in times of trouble and strife. My prayer is that all of us will be found to have Godly character in the most difficult of circumstances!!

Peace and thanks for reading!