God Meant it unto Good–Joseph, part four

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20

from Genesis 42, 43

It came to pass that Joseph’s brothers found that the famine had reached Canaan as well, and Jacob had heard that Egypt had grain. So he instructed his sons to go there and buy; but he held back Benjamin, for he didn’t want harm to befall him, causing more pain.

When they had reached Egypt, they bowed down before Joseph, who was prominently in charge, with their faces to the ground. From the dreams of his youth, this fulfillment of them was taking place before Joseph’s eyes–his, the main sheaf, and theirs gathering around.

Joseph recognized his brothers immediately; but he disguised himself to them and spoke harshly, by interpreter, accusing them of having a spy’s intent. The brothers declared that they were honest men, sons of one man, though their youngest brother had been kept back and had not been sent.

At that, Joseph reemphasized that he was sure that they were spies who had come to look at the undefended parts of Egypt’s land. Then he put them to a test of their truthfulness, saying that they needed to go home and bring their youngest brother back, by his command.

Then Joseph put his brothers all together in prison for the span of three days, after which he released all but one–Simeon, whom he bound. Joseph had heard their discussion. They didn’t know he’d understood what they’d said of how the evil they’d done to Joseph had now come around.

Joseph turned away from them and wept. He ordered his servants to restore their money into their sacks of grain for the journey back–not wanting to take his father’s money; and he gave other supplies. But his brothers were distressed later on when they found the money in each sack.

They worried that, in addition to being accused of being spies, they now would be accused of being thieves. Their concern increased…that God had done this to them because of their sin against Joseph. They didn’t know that Joseph ruled in Egypt and was not a slave nor deceased.

Arriving home, Reuben and Judah tried to reason with their father, that they needed to have Benjamin along on their next journey, as Joseph had said. Jacob resisted this strongly until finally giving in. He told his sons to take extra gifts along for this ruler, with double the money, before moving ahead.

They then returned to Egypt, this time with Benjamin along. When Joseph saw Benjamin, he ordered his steward to make ready a noon meal–and to bring the men to Joseph’s home. The brothers, however, feared that Joseph was going to accuse and ask them, “Why did you steal?”

So the brothers approached Joseph’s house steward about their fears, saying they’d come to Egypt only to buy food, with no ill intention. They didn’t know how the money, which they’d found on their way home, had turned up again in their sacks–and were dreading Joseph’s contention.

At that, Joseph’s steward told them to be at ease and not be afraid, saying that their God and the God of their father had provided that treasure–and Egypt had gotten their payments. This caused them relief, while preparing the gifts they’d brought, which they hoped would bring Joseph pleasure.

When Joseph returned to his house, the brothers presented their gifts and bowed to the ground before him. Then Joseph began to make request–of their own welfare, but also their father’s–if he was alive and well. When his brothers said that he was, it was news that, to Joseph, was blessed.

Then, seeing Benjamin, he asked if he was the youngest, of whom they’d spoken before; and he said, “May God be gracious to you, my son.” But Joseph hurried out and sought a place to weep in a private room of his home. It was much to take in; so, by his emotions, he was overcome.

After washing his face, Joseph regained composure and went out to join his brothers for the meal. By their ages, he’d arranged his brothers’ seating. This caused them to be amazed as they dined before Joseph, who was at his own table. But to Benjamin, five times as many portions were served at this meeting.

P. A. Oltrogge

The story of Joseph will be continued in the next post.

God Meant it unto Good–Joseph, part three

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20 KJV

from Genesis 41:

Two years passed and Pharaoh himself had dreams which needed interpretation. In one, he had been standing by the Nile, when there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, grazing in the marsh grass. Then seven other cows came up after a while.

These cows were ugly and gaunt and stood by the other cows on the bank of the river; and the ugly cows ate those that were good. Pharaoh awoke then, but fell asleep again and dreamed of a stalk, with seven ears of grain, which had grown fully as grain should.

Then, similarly to the first dream, seven ears of grain that were thin and scorched sprouted, which swallowed up the full grain ears. Pharaoh was troubled about these dreams and called for all Egypt’s magicians and wise men who might interpret, to calm his fears.

But none of them could tell the meaning of the things Pharaoh had dreamed. Then the cupbearer, at last, remembered Joseph again–and he ventured to tell Pharaoh of the Hebrew youth who had sorted out some dreams, when he was in prison back then.

So Joseph was taken from the prison, cleaned up and given a change of clothes, to stand before Pharaoh regarding this need. Joseph said, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” After hearing a retelling of the dreams, Joseph began to proceed.

He told Pharaoh that the dreams of the cows and the ears of grain were one and the same–both referred to a coming event. There would be seven years of abundance in Egypt, but then there would be seven years of famine–this was what the dreams meant.

Then Joseph told Pharaoh to search for a man who was discerning and wise to oversee the affairs of the country for this time. Pharaoh noted a “divine spirit” in Joseph and quickly determined that if anyone was discerning and wise, Joseph was prime.

So Pharaoh set him over all his house and over all the land. Except for the throne, Joseph himself would be in command. Pharaoh put the signet ring from his own hand onto Joseph’s hand, put a gold necklace on him, and clothed him with linen garments of the finest brand.

Joseph rode in the second chariot, and the people shouted, “Bow the knee!” to this one who ruled over Egypt for as far as the eye could see. Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenath-paneah and gave him a bride, Asenath–all this was from God, through Pharaoh’s decree.

Now Joseph was thirty years old when he went out to take command over the great planting, harvesting, and storing that was to come. For seven years, the land produced abundant grain, “like the sand of the sea.” And, in time, Joseph could no longer measure its sum.

Asenath bore him two sons–Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” Then Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” His faith in God had been tested and had come out as gold.

After seven years of abundance, the famine did come about. Pharaoh told the Egyptians to go to Joseph and do as he would tell. But the famine was severe in all the earth, and all people were coming to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, for the price at which he’d sell.

P. A. Oltrogge

The story of Joseph will be continued in the next post.

God Meant it unto Good–Joseph, part two

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20 KJV

from Genesis 39:

The officer was Potiphar, captain of the guard, and Joseph became his servant and found favor in his sight. Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph, so he put him over all that he owned, knowing things would be done right.

But as Joseph was a handsome young man, Potiphar’s wife no longer cared about loyalty to her husband at all. She desired the love of Joseph instead, but his love of God made loving her a temptation for which he wouldn’t fall.

“How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” he told her. At a later time, he had to escape her presence, and he ran. She then made up a false accusation about Joseph to Potiphar, who, in anger, no longer kept Joseph as his right-hand man.

Potiphar had him thrown into prison, wrongfully accused. But, again, God was with Joseph in that dreadful place. The chief jailer trusted him, putting him in charge over all prisoners–a sure sign of God’s favor on Joseph in another case.

from Genesis 40

Then it came about that the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended the king and were jailed there, too. Joseph was put in charge of them; and after being there for some time, they each had dreams, about which they had no meaningful clue.

Joseph found them, dejected, because they had no one, they said, to interpret the meaning of the dreams they’d had. Joseph, knowing interpretations belonged to God, was able to interpret the dreams, one of which was good and one was bad.

The cupbearer would be restored to Pharaoh’s service–then Joseph asked to be remembered by him after this would go through. The chief baker would be hanged–both interpretations were correct, but the cupbearer forgot about Joseph when things came true.

P. A. Oltrogge

However, Joseph was not forgotten by the Lord…

The story of Joseph will be continued in the next post.

God Meant it unto Good–Joseph of the Old Testament

“But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Genesis 50:20 KJV

from Genesis 37:

An inspiring account in the Bible is of the life of Joseph of old;
which is a story that turned out well, though his brothers gave him up to be sold.

Jacob, his father, had great love for him, and Joseph’s mother was dear to Jacob’s heart. Through others, he had had sons, too, but he’d really loved Rachel from the start.

To this son of his later years, he provided a colorful, distinctive coat–which gave his favoritism away. Due to seeing this, Joseph’s older brothers hated him; and then his dreams caused an even greater fray.

Joseph told them of those dreams. In one, they were binding sheaves in a field. Then, his sheaf stood up straight–while theirs gathered round in a circle and bowed down to his, as if prophetic of something at a future date.

Another dream that he shared, including his father on the telling, was of seeing the sun, moon, and eleven stars. These, too, were all bowing down to him, Joseph said. So Jacob pondered this, but told him it was going too far.

One day, Jacob sent Joseph out to meet his brothers, who were in Shechem, watching over the flock. He looked for them there but was told they’d gone to Dothan. They saw him coming and began to mock.

“Here comes this dreamer!” Then they planned to kill him, until Reuben put a stop to their schemes. He told them to leave Joseph in a wilderness pit, intending to rescue him from their anger over his dreams.

But when Reuben was away, they came up with a new plot–to sell Joseph to some traders in a passing caravan. The Ishmaelites purchased Joseph from his own brothers then, putting twenty shekels of silver into their hands.

Jacob’s sons took Joseph’s tunic and stained it with blood from a goat they’d killed–then brought the coat back home. There, they asked their father, Jacob, if it was Joseph’s coat and allowed him to think a wild animal had been responsible alone.

This was a crushing moment in the life of Jacob–he refused to be comforted in his mourning for this favorite lad. Meanwhile, Joseph was sold in Egypt to an officer of Pharaoh’s; but God had a plan amidst something so bad.

P. A. Oltrogge

The story of Joseph will be continued in the next post.

Like a Well-Watered Garden

“Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion,
streaming to the goodness of the Lord–
For wheat and new wine and oil,
For the young of the flock and the herd;
Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden,
and they shall sorrow no more at all.”

Jeremiah 31:12 NKJV

The above portion of scripture made me think
of time spent with Jesus, our Lord and King.
Such time causes the soul to be as a garden–
well-watered from His everlasting spring.

And gardens are always in need of guidance,
or else, they will only run wild.
Look to your life’s divine Gardener,
trusting in Him, for you’re God’s beloved child.

P. A. Oltrogge

“…she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’”

“Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, ‘Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher).”

John 20:14-16 NASB

“The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11 NIV

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105 KJV

Conservatory photo by Porch of the Lord

Trusting Jesus, the Good Shepherd

…from Luke 15, putting the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son into a bit of the poetic…

If a man has a hundred sheep but just one of them has gone astray,
doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness to search for the lost one right away?

And when he finds it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing that it’s found.
Then, once home, celebrations of his joy with friends and neighbors abound.

In the same way, there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner who comes home
than over ninety-nine righteous persons who, wisely, never wanted to roam.

P. A. Oltrogge

You may not be “little,” but the following verse from an old song describes our security in Christ very well. And if any of us learned this song when young but got away from the Good Shepherd, we can know from Luke 15 that He’s so very happy to have us back…

I am Jesus’ little lamb,
ever glad at heart I am;
for my Shepherd gently guides me…
knows my needs and well provides me—
loves me every day the same,
even calls me by my name.

from the song, “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb”
by Henrietta Louise von Hayn

Book Recommendation:
A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23
by W. Phillip Keller at http://www.christianbook.com

photos: pxfuel

To Life!

“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live….” Deuteronomy 30:19

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'” John 14:6

“I have been crucified with Christ” is my Biblical decree….
“and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

I need have no fear of death, for I’ve already “died.”
Thanks be to God for eternal life through His Son crucified!

Not only that, but abundant life is mine today as well,
for Jesus rose from the dead in victory over all the power of hell.

And by the Holy Spirit, He guides me day and night.
In our God is the fountain of life; in His light, we see light.

P. A. Oltrogge

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NASB)

“I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (AMP)

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:14-18

“For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light, we see light.” Psalm 36:9

“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” John 5:24

“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11-12

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.'” John 11:25

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:17-19

Psalm 116:15
Isaiah 25:8
Matthew 10:28
Luke 10:19
John 3:16
John 5:24-30
John 14:1-3
Romans 6:1-14
1 Corinthians 15:51-58
Philippians 3:20-21
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
1 John 3:14
1 John 5
Revelation 1:17-18

Scriptures: NKJV, or as noted.

The Vast Tide of God’s Mercy and Love

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23 RSV

“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.” 1 John 4:7-12 NLT

“…For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:5 NLT

The following is a hymn from out of the Welsh revival of 1904, “Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean,” (William Rees) 

Here is love,
vast as the ocean…
lovingkindness as a flood,

when the Prince of Life,
our ransom,
shed for us His precious blood.

Who His love will not
remember? Who can cease
to sing His praise?

He can never be forgotten
throughout heaven’s
eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
fountains opened
deep and wide.

Through the floodgates
of God’s mercy,
flowed a vast and gracious tide.

Grace and love,
like mighty rivers,
poured incessant from above,

and heaven’s peace and
perfect justice
kissed a guilty world, in love.

In Your truth, You will direct me
by Your Spirit,
through Your Word.

And Your grace, my need is meeting
as I trust in You,
my Lord.

Of Your fullness, You are pouring,
Your great love
and power on me,

without measure,
full and boundless,
drawing out my heart to Thee.

“Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, ‘This Man receives sinners and eats with them.’ So He spoke this parable to them, saying:

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:1-7 NKJV

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 NKJV

The Fountain of Life and Hope

“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.”

Psalm 36:7-9

Through Jesus, the Messiah, we have the fountain of life.
He came down as a servant to a world full of strife.

The waters from this fountain can cleanse any soul,
bringing grace and promises for us to be made whole.

Just as watching a fountain is a refreshing thing,
it’s by looking unto Jesus that renewed hope will spring.

Out of a strong fountain shoot powerful sprays…
Thank you, Lord, for your power and love at work throughout all of our days.

P. A. Oltrogge

“Now may God, the fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!” Romans 15:13 TPT

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” Hebrews 12:1-3 NKJV

A message for these times by Pastor George Pearsons of Eagle Mountain International Church from Sunday, October 17 is available at http://www.emic.org (latest message).

A Captivating Season

Colorado forest trail…
Porch of the Lord

The heavens and earth exhibit countless masterpieces of the Lord’s.
His seasons have beauty and variety–each one has its own rewards.

But one that’s especially captivating is the autumn, before it’s cold.
Shades of red, orange, and gold make His artistry evident and bold.

Hearing the crunching of fallen leaves under our feet as we walk,
makes for a reflective time of year to go out with a friend and talk.

When the sun shines on a hillside covered with trees which have “turned,”
it’s a far more exquisite gift God gives than anything I may have earned.

“Fall” is a time of the welcome harvest, when thankfulness comes to mind.
There are pumpkins and apple picking and bountiful crops of every kind.

So I thank God for His goodness and the beauty that He’s displayed;
and I thank Him that, in any season, He’s answered when I’ve prayed.

I know that I love spring and summer and the winter’s pure white snow;
but my favorite season still is autumn, with its glorious golden glow.

P. A. Oltrogge

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1

“…Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” Isaiah 6:3

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” John 1:1-4

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.'” John 14:6-7