Browsing Tag

Joseph

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #11: Proverbs 6:17–A Proud Look

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:

My Favorite Proverbs:  Seven Things God Hates: A proud look (Prov. 6:16-19)

These six things the Lord hates, 

Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

A proud look,

A lying tongue,

Hands that shed innocent blood,

A heart that devises wicked plans,

Feet that are swift in running to evil,

A false witness who speaks lies,

And one who sows discord among brethren.

What is “a proud look”?  Since I was young I’ve wondered if this had to do with the way I look to others (Do others see me as prideful?)  or the way I look at others.(Do I actually look down my nose at people?) Either way, the lesson is the same: a proud look is a violation of this law: “But he who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (2 Cor. 10:17).  

Self-respect is not wrong.  That’s evident from another familiar proverb:“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Prov. 22:1).  I should care what people think of me and do my best to reflect Christ. I should strive for excellence; to be the best I can be. Therefore I care about how I look, how I speak, and what attitudes I display at any given moment.  Yet, when a man begins to admire himself independently of his Creator, he is in danger, and one common sign of this heart-sin is a proud look.  It separates a man from the people around him and makes him somewhat unapproachable—at least to some.  He may not realize it, but, in his self-pride, he has implied that he fails to acknowledge his constant need for mercy from His God.  

Perhaps the clearest statement on this danger came from the Apostle Paul:

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3).

For today, let us be especially aware of our “look.”

“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:6,10).

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you

but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God”  (Mic. 6:8).

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14)

“When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom” (Prov. 11:2).

 

Story Time from Glenn and Cindy: Concluding Genesis 45

1.  There were still five years of famine ahead (45:11).  Joseph said to his astonished brothers, “You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have” (45:10).  At that moment, Joseph came back into their lives as a savior, supplying all they needed: forgiveness, food, and a secure place to live.  They had treated him so badly, yet he cared for them.  Review Romans 12:20-21. These lessons are so very important and relevant to children: 

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

If he is thirsty, give him a drink;

For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Have your children repeat “Overcome evil with good.” Have them prepare a card to send to someone who has not always been kind to them. Tell this child your family is missing him/her during the quarantine. Stress that you are overcoming evil (unkindness or selfishness) with good. 

2.  Read Genesis 45:17-23.  Pharaoh gave Joseph’s brothers more riches than they could imagine: the best of all the land of Egypt. They could hardly believe their eyes!

Compare this picture with how we will feel entering heaven one day:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son (Rev. 21:1-7).

Talk to your children about how you can hardly wait for all of your family to be together in heaven. Talk to them about how lots of people in our world are sick right now. Talk about specific people they love who are sick right now. Talk to them about the reason for the present quarantine. Explain that none of these sicknesses will ever “happen” in heaven.

3.  When Joseph’s aged father, Jacob, saw his sons at the front of their house with all these riches, and heard them explain that Joseph was both alive and powerful, “his heart stood still,” meaning he was speechless with the shock of it all. When he was finally able to accept that it was true, verse 28 says, “Then Israel said, “It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive.  I will go see him before I die.”

Of all the many riches laid before Jacob, the greatest was that Joseph was alive and he could see him and hug him and talk with him.  What are your greatest riches? What means the most of all to you?  

In connection to this, teach your children that the answer to the question, “What is true success?” is, “living your life and going to heaven.” Repeat this till your children know it.

4. Explain to your children what an “enemy” is. You can talk to them about enemies on Star Wars or in stories like The Three Little Pigs or you can identify the Riddler or the Joker from old Batman episodes. You could talk to them about the wicked stepmother in Snow White or Cinderella. Ask them if we ever have enemies. Explain to them that we do not want to have enemies, but, when we do, we will always show them kindness and pray for them as Jesus taught us in Luke 6:28. Read this verse with your children. Pray with your children. Be sure to pray for enemies tonight.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #10: (Proverbs 6:16-19)

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. There are Family Bible Time guides included, as well. You can adapt, shorten or lengthen them according to the ages of kids (and adults) in your family. Blessings.

From Glenn:

 

My Favorite Proverbs:  Seven Things God Hates (Prov. 6:16-19)

These six things the Lord hates, 

Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

A proud look,

A lying tongue,

Hands that shed innocent blood,

A heart that devises wicked plans,

Feet that are swift in running to evil,

A false witness who speaks lies,

And one who sows discord among brethren.

The following seven Boost articles will be about this list. These verses should profoundly and practically impact our lives. God hates these things and they are antithetical to His very character. They are an abomination to Him, that is, they are disgusting and sickening. To help us understand abomination, think of the emotion you feel when you consider a man sexually abusing a child, knowing that the damage will last in real ways for that child’s entire life and, perhaps even into eternity.  You hate that crime.  God hates these seven things.  Today let’s search our hearts and lives and make sure God can see none of these in us.

This list begins in an interesting way to draw our focus.  As Jamison Fausset and Brown commentary puts it, it is a “…mode of speaking to arrest attention.”  It’s as if he’s talking while in the course of pondering the list. He is thinking out loud, even adding one of the items as a kind of afterthought:  “These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him.”

This is not the only time Scripture uses this way of presenting deep thoughts:

“There are three things that are never satisfied,

Four never say, “Enough!”:

The grave,

The barren womb,

The earth that is not satisfied with water—

And the fire never says, ‘Enough!’”(Prov. 30:15-16).

 

“He shall deliver you in six troubles,

Yes, in seven no evil shall touch you” (Job 5:19).

I don’t want to leave you today with only a list of what God hates. Consider that we do not really love if we don’t hate. The same Bible which declares that “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8), also introduces us to things He hates. If you want to know some things God really loves, let your mind reach to the sweet opposites of these seven:

God…

…loves a man who looks to others with the eyes humility and compassion;  a man who thinks of others, often above himself (Phil. 2:3-4).

…loves a man who loves and tells truth.  His yes means yes and his no means no (Matt. 5:37).

…loves a man who would give his own life before deliberately shedding innocent blood (I Jn. 3:15).  He supports capitol punishment because, from deep inside he opposes the liberate taking of innocent human life (Rom. 13:3-5). 

…loves a man who thinks soberly about Scripture, listening to every sermon, Bible class, and conversation with Christians with the intent to truly apply it in his life (Psa. 1:1-2).

…loves a man who has a strong resolve to avoid sin because he loves God and His ways so much (Rom. 12:9).

… loves a man who loves justice and righteousness;  one who would never pervert justice to satisfy his own lusts.  A man who wants fairness for his fellow man as much as he does for himself (Mic. 6:8).

…loves a man who would rather suffer injury himself than to cause division among Christians.  A man who loves the unity among brethren (Ephesians 4:1-3)

I hope this whets your appetite for studying the list each day.  Monday, we’ll dig into the meaning of, “a proud look.”  

 

Story Time from Glenn and Cindy:

Genesis 45:16-28

If you haven’t already done so, read the second half of Genesis 45, beginning with verse sixteen.  Here are some talking points to guide tonight’s study with your family as we study the importance of Joseph’s reputation in Egypt. 

1. First tell your children the ways Pharaoh decided to help Joseph get his family to Egypt. Tell them about the gifts Pharaoh sent home with the brothers. The king, himself, is a great supporter of Joseph! Why is this?

2. Review the story of Joseph, especially as it pertains to his reputation, with your children. We see the character of this important man, Joseph, as soon as he faces adversity at the age of 17 (Gen. 37).  Torn from his family and home Joseph loses the wealth and position in his father’s house and becomes a slave.  He was soon bought by Potiphar. (Gen. 39:2-5).  Potiphar respected him for his honesty and good manners.  It didn’t take long for Potiphar to see he had a great asset in the young man Joseph.  “What kinds of things do you think Joseph might have done to make Potiphar trust and like him this much? (Have the children name some things with you.) Ask the children, “Are these things that you are doing?  Are you like Joseph?”

3.  When Joseph was unfairly convicted and imprisoned, the keeper of the prison soon put Joseph in a respected and trusted position (39:22).  This is the second time we see someone quickly coming to see that Joseph was someone who could be trusted.  “What kinds of thing do you suppose Joseph said and did in jail that made the keeper honor him this way?  (Think of specific things you might do in jail if you were a person who was wrongly put there; if you were really a follower of God…like being kind to those around you, telling the guards if someone was stealing or escaping, doing jobs even when not asked, saying yes-sir and yes-ma’am to people around you, never losing your temper, etc…) “Are you like Joseph?”

4.  When Joseph, by God’s power, interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, Pharaoh said, “There is no one as discerning and wise as you.  You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 

What did Pharaoh see in Joseph that made him trust Joseph so much? How did God help Joseph to make Pharaoh know he was wise and good? Read James 1:5 to your children and tell them the ways God gives us wisdom (study, examples from older people, experiences, etc…) Tell them that when we ask God for wisdom and seek His will, it makes good people love us and want to be like us. It makes them trust us. Tell them that’s why we trust our elders in the church–because they have shown us they are wise and tell the truth and give good advice. Ask your kids to name the elders. Ask them to name something about one of the elders that they admire and want to do in their own lives. Show them the elders’ photos from the directory and see if they know them. 

“What I want do to as your father/mother is teach you how to be like Joseph in your words and deeds.  You will be a great servant of God like Joseph. People will trust you and put you in charge of things. One day you will be a faithul elder or preacher for God or a faithful wife and mother for God!

5. Sing with your children Oh, Be careful little eyes.

6. Go around the room and have each person name one additional person in the church who is trustworthy—someone they know is wise and would give good advice like Joseph did to Pharaoh. Have them tell why they think this is true. 

7. Pray with your children. Be sure to put the James 1:5 request in your prayer. 

8. Have your children quote the KidSing Rule: “Do the right thing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #9: (Proverbs 6:1-5)

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. Blessings.

From Glenn:

My Favorite Proverbs:  Vouching for Another (6:1-5)

My son, if you become surety for your friend, If you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; For you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; Plead with your friend. Give no sleep to your eyes, Nor slumber to your eyelids. Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, And like a bird from the hand of the fowler (Prov. 6:1-5).

To “become a surety for your friend” means you co-sign on a loan for him. It is not uncommon for dads to do this for their almost-adult children who don’t yet have enough credit history built up to borrow for a car or something else which requires financing.  In this case, Solomon speaks of a man who “co-signs” for a friend or even a stranger on a loan.  In so doing, he has given his word that if the borrower defaults on the loan, he will pay it himself. In this case, it was a foolish mistake to co-sign, or as the proverb puts it, “You are taken by the words of your mouth.”  The original word for “taken” means trapped.  He built his own trap and then walked into it. But the critical point of the passage isn’t really about money and loans.  It’s a principle about valuing our names. The risk of co-signing for a friend or stranger is that you’re risking your own good name on the basis of his integrity.  You put your name into his hand.  He has  control over something more valuable than your money. You’ve given him power over your good name.  “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches” (Prov. 22:1).  

This reminds me of 2 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”  If I am unequally yoked I give another person authority to command my actions—even when the command is sinful in the eyes of God.  I entrust control of my integrity to the hands of one who isn’t even a believer.  As Esau foolishly reasoned about his birthright, when he traded it with Jacob for a bowl of stew, a man can lightly make frivolous choices that end up tarnishing his good name.  

Be careful with your name.  If you are a Christian, you represent Christ and His church.  “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men” (Rom. 12:17).  We all make mistakes, but may we all let the value of our names be a deterrent to sin. Guard your name. Value highly your influence.

Tonight’s Story Time

by Glenn and Cindy

Read Genesis 45:1-15 to prepare for tonight’s special story time with the kids.

After some months of laborious testing have passed (allowing for travel time, etc…) Joseph is convinced that his brothers have changed.  He’s ready to reveal himself and it’s a dramatic and wonderful scene (45:1-15).  If you choose to read it to the children, be sure to pause and explain every detail you think they may miss. 

 

1. While Joseph had “forgotten” the wrongs his brothers had inflicted on him (Gen. 41:51), he doesn’t appear to fully forgive them until this day. Remind your children about the meaning of repentance, once more. Discuss with your children the role repentance plays in forgiveness: first in sins men commit against men, and next in reference to sins men commit against God.  Emphasize to them what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount about our forgiveness being tied to our being forgiving:  “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15). Make sure they understand and the older ones can say “To be forgiven, we must forgive.”

2. Which brother was the only brother that played no part in hurting Joseph through the years? How did Joseph react to this brother when he finally revealed his identity? 

3.  How do you think the brothers felt when they realized this powerful Egyptian was the brother they had hurt many years before?  Some sins have consequences that last a long time.  Can you think of other wrong things that people do today that end up hurting them for years? (Elicit the children’s comments on the price people pay for wrong-doing when they are in jail, for instance. Have them think about the hurt that people go through when they do not learn early on to obey parents. These are people who grow up and do not obey the law. They are paying for wrong choices for a long time.)

4.  A spirit of forgiveness is better than hate in a man.  Joseph is so excited to help and protect these brothers who sold him into slavery.  What if he had let hatred grow in his heart?  How would he have treated them now that he had been given great power?  Hatred will always hurt the person who hates. Do you think being kind to his brothers brought happiness to Joseph? 

5. Read Romans 12:17-20, explaining as you go.  Explain to your children that “…this means, when someone treats us badly, we turn around and do something very good for that person. That’s not how regular people act. What do we want to do when someone shoves us, snatches a toy, or yells at us? That’s right. We want to do the same thing right back. But we are not regular people. We are God’s people. So we think of something nice to do for those who are mean to us.” 

Practice this with your younger children. Have one of them to be an actress and snatch a toy from another. Then have the one whose toy was taken think of something nice to do for the one who snatched—like offer to let her keep the toy or offer to do a chore for her or give her a cookie.   (Explain that, in real life, the one who snatched a toy would be punished, along with the response from his/her sibling. Don’t forget that part. =)) Then remember, in coming days, when one tattles on the other or tells of an offense at school, to challenge your children to think of something nice to do for those who’ve treated them badly. Help them accomplish this. Be sure to model this behavior in front of them. 

If your children are older, have them think of instances in which people have mistreated them, said demeaning things about them or excluded them. Have them think of how Christians should respond in specific situations. 

6. If your kids are old enough, sing a verse of “Angry Words” together:

Angry Words, O let them never

From the tongue, unbridled slip

May the heart’s best impulse ever

Check them e’re they soil the lip.

Love one another

Thus saith the Savior

Children obey the blest command

(repeat)

(By: Horatius Palmer) 

7. Pray together. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #8–(Proverbs 5:22)

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. Blessings.

From Glenn:

My Favorite Proverbs: The Cords of Sin (5:22)

“His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin.”

This proverb is a good example of why we love to read them.  This is an observation about humans and a profound reality of life. Solomon here helps us to admit something which we may only see in others, but never in ourselves.  Sin is like the old-fashioned fly paper with which my grandmother caught flies.  It was a strip of wax paper coated with a gooey, sweet concoction and flies were naturally drawn to it; then they were stuck, for good.  A valuable life lesson from fly-paper is this:  “The fly lights on the candy-coated sheet and says, ‘My flypaper.’  He eats his fill, and then tries without success to leave.  The flypaper says, ‘My fly.'”

There are at least three kinds of cords of sin that can become wrapped around us:

1.  Dependancy. Sometimes the dependency is physical.  Opioid abuse, barbiturates, beverage alcohol, etc… will tie a man or woman with such ropes of addiction that there is nothing he/she wouldn’t give for the drug. Many have forfeited a lot—marriage,  respect of children, employment; sometimes even life.  A person who starts using meth has often begun a slow and painful suicide.

Mental dependency is often just as bad.  A man addicted to pornography must fight a real battle prior to his release from the sin.  That’s a cord.

2. Financial. My financial welfare may be at stake if I don’t continue my course of sin.  Pressure to please the boss isn’t always bad but, if what the boss wants involves cooking the books or exploiting innocent people or outright lying, compliance is sinful, of course. The temptation is strong. The first time a man gives in, though, an invisible but stout cord wraps around him.  The temptation to do it again is increased because the employer can now say “But we didn’t have this problem last time.”  Pressure to comply in such a case is a cord.

3.  Other people. I may have unintentionally involved others who will be seriously hurt if I quit my course of sin.  Perhaps a common and most obvious illustration is a marriage to someone for whom Jesus prohibited marriage:  “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9).  Consider the last line in this verse.  It describes someone who marries another, but that marriage is not God-approved. In fact, it is adultery.  There are many such examples of hurt inflicted on others when I obey God. I must remember, though, that the reason they are hurt is not repentance; it’s sin.  A person’s inclination to protect others (even innocent people) may keep him from repenting. That’s a cord.

 If I have joined a religion that conflicts with New Testament Christianity, I will naturally make alliances that will be hard to break if I leave that religion for the true faith (Jude 3), taught by Christ. My friends in that faith may feel that I’ve not only abandoned the religion, but that I’ve abandoned them, too. Leaving a false religion could be difficult to do; yet that is exactly what I must do in order to please the One who will judge me one day (2 Cor. 5:10,  Matt. 7:21).  

Today, consider that the consequences of turning from sin are not nearly as severe as are the consequences of keeping my sin in this life and living eternally in hell.

Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (Jn. 8:34).

Tonight’s Story Time from the Colleys:

 Read Genesis 44 to prepare to teach your children tonight. Tell your children the events of the chapter.

1.  “When we ended last night’s picture of Joseph, he was keeping his identity a secret. There was another strange thing that day: the lunch he had prepared for his brothers had something extra for his younger brother Benjamin. Do you remember what that was?   Right!…It was a serving five times as big as any of the others. Why do you think he did that? He seems to be following a tradition in the family. His grand-dad Isaac had a favorite son, Esau (Gen. 25:28).  His Dad, Jacob, had picked Joseph to be his favorite son and had made him a coat of many colors to prove it.  Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and grew to hate him because he was the favorite.  Do you think it’s a good thing for a mother or father  or even a brother to pick a favorite child?  How would you feel if you weren’t the one chosen to be the favorite?”

2. Have your children ask a question of you: “Do you have a favorite child?”

3.  Now, about that cup…How did Joseph trick the brothers into coming back? Have them tell you about how Joseph hid Benjamin’s money and a silver cup in Benjamin’s sack. Then he sent some servants out to search for the “stolen” cup (only he knew it was really a trick to get them to come back, for a great surprise). Give each one of your children a sack. Have some food from your pantry in each bag and, in one bag, put a silver cup (the closest thing you have…maybe your Yeti mug.) and some dollar bills or coins)  Even if you just have one child, this will be fun. Let mom or dad be a brother, too. Send the children away and then, when they get in another room, come after them. Pretend you are the servant and search their bags. When you find the cup, make the children come back and tell them you are going to keep “Benjamin.” Grab him and set him on the table or the couch. See if there’s a Judah. “Does anyone remember what Judah said?”  Have them dramatically beg you not to keep Benjamin. Praise them for remembering these details.

4. Let’s see if we can remember what it means to repent of sin. Have your children review last night’s definition of repentance.  Joseph tricked his brothers and told them that he would keep Benjamin with him.  Judah explained that his father had two sons he especially loved, and one of them was dead. The other was Benjamin, and it would break his heart to lose him.  Judah said, “…it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave.”  This means that Jacob,  a very old man would be very sad if anything happened to Benjamin; so much so, that he would probably just die from sadness.  So, Judah asked Joseph if he could stay and be a slave instead of Benjamin.  

How is what Judah asked different from all those years ago when Judah and the others sold Joseph into slavery?  How did this show Joseph that Judah had truly repented? Do you think Judah wished he could go back and change the way he acted that day when he sold Joseph? 

It is this repentance that makes Joseph know that it is time to tell them who he really is.

5. In the morning at breakfast, have a cup with a little money in it, for each child. Let the kids who can answer review questions keep the money for  piggy banks or dollar store trips when our pandemic is over.

  1. Who was the brother that was living in Egypt and helping the King through the famine?
  2. Which brother was Joseph’s favorite?
  3. How big was the serving that Benjamin got at the special lunch?
  4. What did Joseph hide in Benjamin’s sack?
  5. Which brother wanted to stay in Egypt so Benjamin could go home?
  6. What was the old father’s name…the one who would be so sad if something bad happened to Benjamin?
  7. Did Joseph decide to forgive his brothers?

6. Pray before bed that God will help our hearts to be like Joseph…that we will want to forgive others who have treated us badly.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #7– (Proverbs 1:7)

My Favorite Proverbs:  The Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)

 

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons  for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. Blessings.

From Glenn:

My Favorite Proverbs:  The Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7)

It’s been a little over a week since the West Huntsville family was able to assemble. I want to encourage us all to guard against discouragement and especially against the resentment that can come with “cabin fever.” Wisdom is the ability to see how actions will turn out.  God gives divine wisdom. We can know that our trials will result in patience (James 1: 2,3)  We can know that our difficulties can accomplish His plans (Romans 8:28). We can know that times of illness can open doors of spiritual healing. 

Solomon spoke three thousand parables (1 Ki. 4:32). The book of Proverbs was written by, arguably, the wisest man who ever lived with the obvious exception of Christ Himself. It’s a great place to go when we’re looking for the good things that can be resultant from days of uncertainty. It’s a wellspring of divine wisdom. Let’s spend a few days in the Proverbs. 

The Dickson New Analytical Bible observes, as it introduces the book of Proverbs, that most of the book of Proverbs was written or collected by Solomon. It tells us that nothing is known about the men to whom the last two chapters are credited, Agur and King Lemuel. 

Then, it says this:

“The book of Proverbs, however, is more than a collection of pithy sayings. It reflects the historical background of the age in which Solomon lived, and it speaks to the needs of the people.  This was a time when great wealth and luxury in a privileged society brought the temptation to ignore the simple virtues that were the foundation stones on which the fathers of the nation had built its growth and prosperity.”

You can see why these inspired proverbs are so valuable to those of us who are navigating our course through a wealthy and changing America in this decade.  The first chapter, verse seven says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

While this fear is compatible with loving God, it is noteworthy that he did not say that the beginning of knowledge is loving God. It’s fearing Him. 

The word fear is found four hundred times in the KJV, and most of those reference fearing God.  

Let’s think of fear in two different ways: 

1.  I am afraid of Him.

“It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31).

2.  I reverence Him.

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His  commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecc. 12:13).

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (Ja. 4:10).

“God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him” (Psa. 89:7).

The Hebrew word for fear in Ecclesiastes 12:13 is yare, and Strong’s says it means both cause to frighten: — affright, dread(-ful),” (put in) fear(-ful, -fully, -ing),  but also “to be had in reverence.

In the New Testament the original word for fear (as is seen in 1 Jn. 4:18), is phobeo and it is translated, to be frightened, to be alarmed,”  but can also be translated, “to revere…reverence.

It may surprise you that being afraid of Him is not a wrong reason for a man to become a Christian.  Jude 23 says, “…but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Certainly, fear would play a part in that conversion scenario.   And yet, fear isn’t the best reason.  The verse just before this says, “And on some have compassion, making a distinction.”  Scholars believe this has to do with convicting or convincing those who may contend with truth or differ with truth.  The reason for obedience, in this case, would be more of a conviction by logic and less a response of fear. Oh, that all men would bow their knees before the One who is powerful enough to design and create them, and merciful enough to save them (Rom. 8:32).  Reverence in conviction is the mature outgrowth of initial fear, and perfect love casts out fear.

“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 Jn. 4:17-19).  

The greatest journey you will ever take in life is to learn to fear God.  It is the beginning of true knowledge.  

Tonight’s Story Time:

Read Genesis 43 to prepare for this time with your children.  Read slowly through these verses to grasp the details.

  1. Joseph wanted to see his younger and full-brother, Benjamin, the only other son of his mother Rachel.  He must have wondered if his wicked brothers had treated Benjamin in a cruel way, too.  (Talk to your children about what it means to repent. Give them some scenarios and ask them what a person would do who was repenting. An example might be a little girl who snatched a toy from her younger sibling. How could she repent? Maybe it’s a little boy who told a lie. How would he repent?) One essential part of the brothers’ repentance, in the mind of Joseph, was that they would love and respect Benjamin;  so, he asked them to bring Benjamin:  “And bring your youngest brother to me; so I shall know that you are not spies, but that you are honest men.” (Gen. 42:34).  What do you think Joseph would have done if he learned that they had treated Benjamin in a mean way too?

2.  When Joseph’s daddy, Jacob, learned that the ruler in Egypt wanted his sons to bring Benjamin, he said “no” at first.  But the famine was very bad in the land (Gen. 43:1).  Have you ever been really hungry?  Judah, who had been so mean to Joseph when Joseph was young, said to his Dad, “I myself will be a surety for him…if I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever” (Gen. 43:9).  Judah said he would take all the blame if anything bad happened to Benjamin. Jacob sent Benjamin with Judah.  Joseph had not seen his younger brother in about twenty years, and, when he saw him, he went into another room to cry.  Why do you think he cried?  

Always be good to your brothers and sisters, and decide now that you will stay close to them and love them all of your life.

3.  There are two kinds of tears. Some are sad, and some are very happy. When have you cried because you were sad? When have you cried because you were happy?

4. Have your kids make another card or two for the Christians who need our  encouragement in Vermont. Tell them you think some of these Christians will cry because they are happy when they receive these cards. It will mean a lot to  them. 

5.See if your older children can think of a sibling in the Bible who was unkind to a brother. (Elicit answers like Cain and Abel (Genesis 4), Jacob and Esau (Genesis 27), or Eliab and David (I Samuel 17:28) or the elder brother in Luke 15). 

6. Pray with your children. Remember to pray that, while we are all stuck together in this house for these days, we will love each other, have fun with each other and treat each other with great kindness.

7. Have your children quote the Golden Rule.

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Family Ties in the Social Distance #6… (Ladies, please read the bold at the end!)


***Today, if you are a regular reader of Bless Your Heart, I hope you will read through to the very end and notice the activity. If you could send a card or two (or more), it would be a blessing to some struggling brothers and sisters and children in Vermont!

 

My husband, Glenn, is sharing these daily lessons from Philippians 4:8 for our West Huntsville family as we are necessarily (because of the virus) spending less time physically together in worship, study and fellowship. We may be “socially distanced,” but  we’re a close-knit family and we want to keep it that way! One way to stay on track together, spiritually, is to think about a common passage and make applications for our lives together even when we are unable to assemble as frequently. I’m sharing these daily family lessons here for those in other places, whose families (or even congregations) might benefit from a common study in these uncommon days of semi-quarantine. Blessings.

From Glenn:

Week 2 –Monday  — “Of good report”

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you (Phil. 4:8-9).

According to Strong’s, the word praiseworthy means well spoken of, i.e. reputable; of good report…sounding well; uttering words of good omen, speaking auspiciously. 

Paul means we should meditate on things that good people would admire. Consider three illustrations from Scripture: 

1)Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil 1:27). Paul is urging them to reflect well on the gospel in their community by the way that they live.

2)The qualifications of men we need for our church elders include, “…he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:7).

3)Jesus taught us to live our lives so that, in general, people will admire His Father because of the lives we live serving Him, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16).  

Perhaps the application of this principle fluctuates with cultures, but the meaning is this: Generally speaking, there are things which good people in any society approve and appreciate.  These are the better things in us. Perhaps it is less true in America today—we’re in a time when political assemblies can erupt into crowds booing when the name of God is mentioned in a positive way—but the general recognition of good exists, nevertheless, and arguably, still among the majority of people in our country.  Think for a moment about praiseworthy ideals: to honor one’s parents, to possess good manners, to show respect toward the elderly, to protect women and children when they’re in trouble, to be honest even when our dishonesty might go unpunished, to obey the law as a matter of conscience (Rom. 13:1-5), to respect other people’s property, to respect God’s laws about sexuality (avoiding adultery, homosexuality, rape, lasciviousness, etc… [1 Cor. 6:9-11]), to be kind to people who are kind to us and even to those who are not. These are things that are respected by the communities in which most Christians live and work.

There are still many in this old world who appreciate these things. Paul exhorts us to meditate on them. To do so contributes to our spiritual health and to preventing impediments to our successful evangelism.  

Tonight’s Story Time:

Today, during the day, read Genesis 42 so you’ll be well prepared to tell the details to your children in a way they can grasp and from which they can learn.

  1. The famine prophesied by Joseph had reached to Jacob and his family. Jacob, the father of this large family, was doing what every husband and father should do. He was providing for his family (42:1-4).  He instructed ten of his sons (Benjamin wasn’t sent  because Jacob was afraid of harm coming to him.) to go to Egypt where food could be bought.  God was working His plan to bring the family together with Joseph and save a people—soon to be called Israel—through which the Christ would eventually come.  Your children may not be old enough yet to understand all of this, but they will understand that God uses our lives to make things work out the way He has planned.

2.  God provides for His children. We call that providence, yet sometimes it may be years before I can understand just how God has worked something out for my good.  When Joseph, dressed like the Egyptians and talking like them, saw his brothers, he did not tell them who he was. He had a “secret identity.” (Do your children know of anyone who has a secret identity?) In his heart, he remembered those dreams he had when he was 17, in which his brothers bowed down before him (42:5-9).  Now they really were bowing down before him. Now he understood why God made him dream all those things when he was a boy. 

Tell your children that, throughout their lives, during good times and bad, they must trust that God’s working in their lives. Have them think of some good things that are coming even from all the sickness in our world today. 

3.  Beginning here, Joseph started a lengthy and complicated test to learn if his brothers had changed. Were they still mean and wicked? Did they hate Joseph’s little brother, Benjamin, just like they had hated him?

It must have been hard for Joseph to not immediately tell them who he was.  Ask your children if they think this was wise or if they’d have done it differently.  Discuss.

4. Now talk about how that sometimes it is very hard when God’s people are separated from the people they love. Talk about how hard it must have been for Joseph all those years. It is hard for people today to serve God when there are not a lot of other Christians around them. Talk about how sad it is even for us when we cannot gather together with our Christian family.

Special Activity: This week, Cindy (my wife) has heard from a faithful Christian preacher’s wife in Vermont. Her name is Sarah Floyd. The Christians in Vermont are very few and they are struggling. They are not getting to meet together very much right now and many of them live far from each other. They don’t get to have lots of activities like many of us do. They don’t have KidSing or Lads to Leaders or Youth devotionals or even lots of Bible classes. These Christians and children would LOVE to get cards or pictures from your family. Just a picture or a verse or a photograph from your printer; a little spring flower from a coloring book or a handmade bookmark…anything would brighten their days, make them feel less isolated, and encourage them to be faithful. Make as many of these in the next five days as you can. Put each one into a separate envelope with the following first names on them. Then stuff them all into a larger envelope and mail them to the address at the bottom. If you could do a couple each night this week, then by next weekend, you’d have a little stash to send. (But even if your children are very small and you just make one, that’s still a blessing to one person!…And it’ll bless your child, too!)

Be sure to put one first name (or two or more names if it’s obviously a couple or family) on each card you make. Then put all the cards made by your family in one big envelope and mail to: Bennington church of Christ, 524 South St., Bennington, VT 05201.

Here’s the list (this seems like a good number, but I believe they have about 15 -20 on a usual Sunday):

Widows/widowers/single older people: Joyce, Doug, Lin, Mitt, Ruth, Nancy

Older couples: Bob and Carol (elder and wife), Ken and June (elder and wife), David and Joyce

Lady who lives alone because her husband works overseas: Mary

Only teenager in the church: Teen Mary 

Her 10-year-old sister: Rachel

Parents of Mary and Rachel: Doug and Wendy

Newer Christian: Tina

Newer Christian family: Nate, Amanda, Haylee, William

Needs encouragement: Alan and Jen

Pray together and especially pray tonight that we will soon be able to get together and hug and worship with our church family. Pray for the people in Vermont who are struggling to be faithful to our Father.

 

For those of you who are  Bless Your Heart readers  and want to send cards  to Vermont, I wanted to include a little of Sarah’s note (to show you the need). Sarah Floyd has been a friend for several years, is a devoted preacher’s wife in a difficult place, a great wife and mom, and an author of fiction. (I haven’t read her first book in an upcoming series yet, but I plan to read it! It’s Finding Joy and it’s on Amazon.) I was looking forward to being in her area (four hours from where she lives, but she was coming) this very weekend, before the ladies day in Biddeford, Maine was canceled. Here are some of her thoughts that tugged at my heart. Sometimes we take the family-ness of our congregations, brimming with faithful people, for granted. We have so many activities and so much time together that we may even complain, at times.   I feel for these sisters and brothers who feel the isolation all of the time; not just when a pandemic or short separation arises. I’m committed to sending a card a day until I’ve encouraged every one of them. Could you? The list and address are above in the Family Bible Time activity. 

Here’s a part of what Sarah wrote: 

Please pray for New England Christians right now, sisters.

There aren’t many of us at all.

There are only about 300 members of the church of Christ here in Vermont. Yes, in the entire state.

We meet in very small congregations.

We meet in congregations mostly filled with elderly people on fixed incomes.

We meet in congregations that are just a few weeks of missed contributions away from having to close the doors of the church building.

We don’t have many Christian family members, as a rule, to support us spiritually in this frightening time, or if we do, most of them live far away.

Our congregations are an hour or more apart.

We often work for years to establish relationships with people to influence them for Christ, because door knockers are often cursed at or turned in to the police around here, and we are afraid of losing those relationships the longer we are in quarantine.

We are also terrified that our “fringe” members…the ones who only come once in a while or just to Sunday morning worship…will get in the habit of just not coming at all…and for some of our congregations, most of our members are “fringe” members.

We have too many elderly members and too few young members to have a buddy system in place, so those of us who are still young and healthy are trying to keep up with everyone.

We fight tooth and nail to even be able to hold area-wide events like singings and ladies days (so little manpower available), and they’ve been canceled. Most of them will not be rescheduled this year.

And, finally, many of us already felt SO lonely and SO isolated from other like-minded people, that this enforced seclusion is utterly depleting our emotional strength. Our social cups were already almost empty before, and there’s nothing left to pour. This is where I am, as a SAHM of a special needs child (and a 3 yr old). I am thankful for technology and the ability to worship and communicate online, but it doesn’t take the place of the ladies retreat I was going to attend without.my.children.

Never underestimate the negative power of isolation and loneliness, and please, once we are free to live as we choose again, remember your brethren up here will still be pretty isolated. Please consider visiting us, sending your teens here on a mission trip, forming a team and serving up here long-term, etc. Most of all, please pray for us. Often. Fervently.

Thank you if you got to the end of this. Love in Christ to all of you!