Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. Genesis 45:3
Oriental carpets were originally woven by hand. While the top side of the carpet (the visible side) appeared neat and beautiful, the backside (the floor side) was different. It was usually a series of tangled knots with threads beginning, ending, and tied off in unpredictable places. Order and beauty on one side was supported by seemingly random tangles on the other.
When eternity reveals our life on earth, we may find something similar—a series of events and connections that we were unaware of which accomplished God’s purposes. That’s what happened when Joseph dealt with his brothers. They were unaware that Joseph knew who they were, and that he was orchestrating events to bring their long-term estrangement to a repentant climax. They were shocked when “the carpet was turned over” and they saw that Joseph had forgiven them.
We must trust God’s work behind the scenes in our life. He will do what is needed to call us to repentance and lead us to greater maturity.
Even the wicked actions of men serve God’s purposes and it is by His works of providence that He permits those wicked actions to be done. J. Gresham Machen
Joseph: Because God Meant It for Good
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16
The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a spectacular building. Its architecture is spellbinding, and its stained-glass windows and beautiful interior features are breathtaking. But after centuries of towering over the Paris landscape, it needed renovation—which had begun when a devastating fire caused extensive damage to the glorious old building.
So the people who love this eight-century-old landmark are coming to its rescue. More than a billion dollars has been raised to restore the building. The stone structure must be shored up. The damaged interior and its prized artifacts need to be repaired. The effort is worthwhile, though, because for many this ancient cathedral stands as a symbol of hope.
What’s true of buildings is also true of us. Our bodies, like this old church, will eventually look a bit worse for wear! But as the apostle Paul explains, there’s good news: while we might gradually lose the physical vibrancy of youth, the core of who we are—our spiritual being—can be continually renewed and growing (2 Corinthians 4:16).
As “we make it our goal to please [the Lord]” (5:9), relying on the Holy Spirit to fill and transform us (3:18; Ephesians 5:18), our spiritual growth need never stop—no matter what our “building” looks like.
Reflect & Pray
Where have you seen the Spirit renewing your spiritual being? How does the knowledge that our spiritual growth never stops inspire you?
God, thank You for Your Spirit renewing and transforming us. Please continue to give us the strength and courage to rest in You.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Do you understand how Satan works to bring down believers? Although we may think of his attacks as external, the real battleground is in the realm of ideas. If he can get a church to believe erroneous doctrines, unbiblical philosophies, and false assumptions about God, he can lead it away from the truth and into error.
And the Enemy uses this same tactic on individual Christians as well. The battlefield is our mind, not our circumstances. As the Father of Lies, he knows that deception is an effective tactic. His goal is to influence our thoughts because how we think determines our attitudes, emotions, desires, and actions. Therefore, he seeks to twist our thoughts in order to gain a foothold and wreak havoc in all areas.
Any thought that is contrary to God’s Word needs to be taken “captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). And Jesus showed us how: Every time Satan threw a temptation at Him, He answered it with an appropriate Scripture (Matt. 4:1-11). However, we can’t simply wave our Bible in the air, hoping to scare the devil away. To effectively defeat his lies, we need a good working knowledge of God’s Word so that we can fight deception with truth, whatever the situation might be.
For instance, if you struggle with fear and anxiety, cling to verses that affirm God’s trustworthiness and care. If envy is the problem, the answer is Christ’s sufficiency for your life. As you fill your mind with God’s Word, Satan’s lies will become easier to identify, and your attitudes, emotions, desires, and behaviors will align with truth.
“For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.” (1 Chronicles 16:25-26)
This testimony is in the heart of a great hymn of thanksgiving (1 Chronicles 16:7-36) composed by David when the Ark of the Lord was brought back to Jerusalem. It is a testimony of the unique greatness of the God of Israel, with recurring expressions of gratitude for His deliverances and blessings.
This God of Israel was no mere tribal-god or nature-god, such as Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines from whose hands the Ark had been delivered. All such “gods” of the peoples of the earth—whether wooden images in a shrine, astrological emblems in the heavens, or mental constructs of evolutionary humanistic philosophers—are nothing but idols (that is, literally, “good for nothing,” “vanities”).
It is Jehovah God who is not only in the heavens but who made the heavens! It is their Creator who one day will “let the sea roar” and “the fields rejoice,” when “the trees of the wood sing out at the presence of the LORD, because he cometh to judge the earth” (vv. 32-33).
As Creator and Savior, all His people are exhorted also to “shew forth from day to day his salvation. Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations” (vv. 23-24). Because of His power, the world itself “shall be stable [that is, ‘permanently established’], that it be not moved” (v. 30). This “God of our salvation” (v. 35), and the wonderful heavens and earth He created, will be forever. The psalm ends with the exhortation: “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. . . . Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever” (vv. 34-36).
Now, if Israel needed such an exhortation, our modern science-worshiping world needs it still more urgently. HMM
And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.
So we sit down to have a board meeting. What are we going to do to stir ourselves up? Who can we get? Where will we look? We forget that all the time Jehovah is present. “I am Jehovah-shammah; I am in the midst of you. Why don’t you talk to me?” No, we don’t ask Him.
“I am your banner of victory.” But we say, “I just wonder how much it will cost?” How much does a revival cost? Absolutely nothing and absolutely everything—that is how much it will cost. It will cost not one dime, and it will cost everything we have. You cannot import it by flying someone in from New Zealand. How many of these blessed preachers have come in from Ireland and England? They did some big things over there, we heard, so we flew them in and they never got anywhere. I never saw anything result from trying to import God. He does not fly over in a jet. He says, “I am Jehovah; I am with you. I am where you are; I am here now. Call on Me.” RRR158-159
I call upon You, Jehovah, to work a mighty work in and through me. Amen.
Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.—Romans 13:10.
In her tongue is the law of kindness.—Proverbs 31:26.
The worst kinds of unhappiness, as well as the greatest amount of it, come from our conduct to each other. If our conduct, therefore, were under the control of kindness, it would be nearly the opposite of what it is, and so the state of the world would be almost reversed. We are for the most part unhappy, because the world is an unkind world. But the world is only unkind for the lack of kindness in us units who compose it.
Frederick Wm. Faber.
You feel in some families as if you were living between the glasses of a microscope. Manner, accent, expression, all that goes to make up your “personality,” all that you do or leave undone, is commented upon and found fault with.
If you would be loved as a companion, avoid unnecessary criticism upon those with whom you live.
“It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” Lam. 3:27
This is as good as a promise. It has been good, it is good, and it will be good for me to bear the yoke.
Early in life I had to feel the weight of conviction, and ever since it has proved a soul-enriching burden. Should I have loved the gospel so well had I not learned by deep experience the need of salvation by grace? Jabez was more honorable than his brethren because his mother bare him with sorrow, and those who suffer much in being born unto God make strong believers in sovereign grace.
The yoke of censure is an irksome one, but it prepares a man for future honor. He is not fit to be a leader who has not run the gauntlet of contempt. Praise intoxicates if it be not preceded by abuse. Men who rise to eminence without a struggle usually fall into dishonor.
The yoke of affliction, disappointment, and excessive labor is by no means to be sought for; but when the Lord lays it on us in our youth it frequently develops a character which glorifies God and blesses the Church.
Come, my soul, bow thy neck; take up thy cross. It was good for thee when young, it will not harm thee now. For Jesus’ sake, shoulder it cheerfully.