Thursday, January 28, 2010

Right hearts, right actions

Good morning. Today’s scripture comes from Genesis 42:28 (New Living Translation):

“Look!” he exclaimed to his brothers. “My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!” Then their hearts sank. Trembling, they said to each other, “What has God done to us?”

Two weeks ago, I started again on a trek to read through the Bible again in a year. (There is a link at the end of this devotional.) When I came to the story of Jacob, his wives, his, concubines and his 12 sons, I was delighted, because Joseph is one of my favorite Old Testament characters. His life story is one of mystery and intrigue. It could be a modern-day drama on the big screen, with murder plots, deceit, sex, thievery and revenge – all the good stuff. Joseph has an amazing ability to keep his trust in God at every travail that he encounters.

At this point in the story, Joseph is second in command of all Egypt, and his brothers have come from Canaan to buy grain to keep from starving during a severe famine. Joseph recognizes his brothers right away and begins to plot revenge, though what he really wants from them is a confession of their dirty deeds some 15 years prior. The storyline goes back and forth, and Joseph even makes his brothers out to be thieves and prepares prison cells for them. Spine-tingling stuff, all of it.

This passage in Genesis is rich with behind-their-thinking scenes. “What has God done to us?” the brothers ask each other. It seems God is, indeed, weighing heavily on the brothers’ minds. I do think God weighs on our minds to fix what we’ve broken. Relationships are important to God, and when our lies hurt someone, God expects, more than anything, for us to confess our sins and seek forgiveness. Lastly, he expects us to change our ways. True reconciliation can’t happen without those three things.

Now, Joseph didn’t become the No. 2 honcho in all of Egypt for nothing. Pharaoh saw that he was a wise man who knew God intimately. That was a combination that Pharaoh admired greatly in Joseph. He plays a cat-and-mouse game with his brothers for one reason: He genuinely wants to know his brothers are repentant for their deeds long ago. He wants to see that their hearts have changed. That’s what God wants from us, too. He keeps putting things in our lives to remind us that we have some confessing and reconciling to do. Jesus said if we’re at the altar ready to drop money in the offering basket, but have a broken relationship that needs fixing, to pull our cash back and go repair the friendship first. God wants right hearts first, then right actions. That’s what Joseph wanted from his brothers, and it’s what God wants from us.

How does this apply to my life?

Today’s prayer: Lord, help me to hear your voice when you call on me to reconcile a relationship. Help me to know what I must do to fix what is broken. Amen

This week’s reading plan can be found at http:/

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