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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Lancaster Junction rail trail
Lancaster Junction Rail To Trail
We've had several nice warm days here in rural Pennsylvania with more on the way.

"It Didn't Come To Stay; It Came To Pass"

Message summary: Whatever we are going through today, whether it seems fair or not, we must continue to walk with God and follow the timeless standards of His holy Word. Sometimes it might get us into "trouble" and stir up a little drama like it did for Joseph! We can have an assurance of God's steadfast presence. Remember, the trial doesn't come to stay, it comes to pass.

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"While Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden" (Genesis 39:20,21).

If I should live by sight I would be beaten down,
Because I can't see past these walls of circumstance.
But faith will be my substance and my hope is in the Lord,
And He will turn my sorrow into dance.

If we were to sit down and write our autobiography we'd likely begin by breaking down our life's story chapter by chapter. Of course we recognize these chapters in regard to our age progression such as infancy, childhood, teen years, followed by our young, middle, and senior adult years. Terms like "empty nesters" describe those whose children have grown and moved on. Although all chapters will have challenges some are certainly more challenging than others, no matter the age or season of our life.

When we read the stories of God's work in people's lives the Bible breaks them down into chapters or definite points in history. However many of the stories that spanned 20 or more years are summarized in just a few chapters or less. The drama of one's adventurous life, including their many trials and uncertainties, can be read in just a few minutes. When we already know "the rest of the story" we tend to minimize what the Bible character was going through, although at the time they did not know what the outcome would be.

When we read the narrative of their lives we can be sure that they dealt with the same emotions we feel and the questions we ask such as:
  • "Why is God allowing this to happen to me?"
  • "It's not fair!"
  • "Has God forgotten me?"
  • "How will this work out?"
  • "What if....?"
  • "If only..."
Surely you can add to the abbreviated list your own questions that surface during times of difficulty. It's a reassuring thought that, although things are not always "fair" on this side for a variety of reasons, heaven, based on the character of God and absence of sin will be eternally and consistently fair! But unfortunately our distant view of heaven is often obscured by that which we deal with here and now.

When we read Joseph's story in Genesis, chapters 37-50, we're taken back by the injustice he was dealt. It wasn't fair that his own brothers considered killing him. It wasn't fair that they sold him into slavery. It wasn't fair that Jacob was fed a lie that his beloved son was killed by a wild animal. The unfairness escalated in Egypt when Joseph had one disappointing setback after the other.

Moses is the author of the first five books of the Bible, which includes Genesis. Many years following these events God inspired him to record the lives of the patriarchs, including Joseph.

After the horrific rejection and betrayal by his own brothers it seemed he was putting his life back together in Egypt. He had a very prestigious position managing Potiphar's business. But this ended abruptly not because of Joseph's failings, but rather because of a divinely appointed setback*. Joseph took a stand against immorality when he was propositioned by Potiphar's wife. He was falsely accused and imprisoned.

But the inspired Scriptures make an observation of great hope, "While Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him." I wonder to what extent Joseph was aware of the Lord's presence at the time. Based upon his faithfulness and the information in the rest of the story I believe he did have this assurance of God's steadfast presence.

"He (God) showed him kindness." Even in the midst of this difficult chapter God bestowed His kindness on Joseph. What a blessing it is to experience God's kindness in the midst of a suspenseful chapter of our lives.

"And granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden." This sets up the manner in which God would deliver Joseph in His perfect time. Whatever we are going through we can be assured that God is always working things out for our good (Romans 8:28).

Whatever we are going through today, whether it seems fair or not
, we must continue to walk with God and follow the timeless standards of His holy Word. Sometimes it might get us into "trouble" and stir up a little drama like it did for Joseph! We can have an assurance of God's steadfast presence. Remember, the trial doesn't come to stay, it comes to pass.

It didn't come to stay; it came to pass.
The Lord will move that mountain if you'll ask.
The trials that we see today won't last.
It didn't come to stay; it came to pass.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber:

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, in today's text, we notice that You were with Joseph "while" he was in the midst of a tremendous trial, due to no fault of his own. In fact, he was suffering because of the strong, moral stand he took in being a trustworthy servant. You don't forsake us when we're undergoing trial but You are right there with us showing us Your grace and favor, though it may be obscured by the gloomy overshadowing trial. You use Scriptures, devotional thoughts, sermons and fellow believers to bring us encouragement, instruction, and inspiration. They help us to weather the howling storms of doubts and fears in the troubling chapters of our life.  Help us to trust You as step by step You lead us on our earthly pilgrimage. Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: We encounter people undergoing trials most every time we enter the companies where we serve as chaplains. In some instances we quietly pray with them right at their desk or in a nearby empty room, depending on the circumstances. I often follow up with a Scripture passage and many times I have suggested that they look at their trial as though it were a chapter being written in their life's book. By the time they get to the end of the chapter the trial will likely be resolved, but for now they must not give up hope but see what God is showing them through their trying circumstances. A verse I often write on my "prescription pad" and hand to them is from Romans 12:12:  "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (NIV) Usually I see they posted the verse on their cubicle wall or bulletin board when I walk through the following week, and sometimes I see it still posted years later. God's Word is timeless and its message is always relevant to whatever circumstances we're dealt.

Consider this thought:  The most exciting books we read or movies we watch are those filled with suspense and drama. In fact, I will confess to peeking a few chapters ahead in a book to see how a matter is resolved because I just can't stand the suspense. Why is it that we like to read about other's suspense but don't find it nearly as fulfilling or exciting when we are undergoing out own suspense or drama!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"It Came To Pass"  Video  
The Martins

"I Know Who Holds Tomorrow"  Video 
The Isaacs

"If There Ever Was A Time"   Video  The Crabb Family

"God Still Has a Plan"   Video  The Isaacs

"Whispered Prayers"  Video  Karen Peck and New River

* For further study: A brief article by John Piper can be found here where he speaks of Joseph's "divinely appointed setback".
Joseph and Jesus: God's Successful Setbacks | Desiring God

As we were preparing today's message the daily message from Pastor Richard Dresselhaus' blog, "One For The Road" seems appropriate! "The Passing Of Time"

Finally today, a note from a reader: 

Freezer strawberry jam
Thanks for the recipe, [for the English Muffin Bread] I can taste Mary's homemade strawberry jam on it now....mmmmm!

Brooksyne: I smiled after receiving Ed's email yesterday since I had made a batch of strawberry freezer jam earlier in the day, toasted a couple slices of English Muffin Bread and slathered them with the fresh strawberry jam. As you might imagine we didn't stop with just one slice but indulged in a second piece.

Freezer jam is extra easy to make, extra delicious to eat and can be made anytime by anybody! All you need is:  1 package of Ball real fruit pectin,  sugar, and fruit. Wash and mash fruit, stir in sugar and pectin for 3 minutes, and in 30 minutes the jam is set. Freeze or refrigerate. Fruit Pectin is still available in the seasonal section of grocery stores along with canning supplies. The instructions are easy to follow and can be made for diabetics using splenda, truvia or other artificial sweetener.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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