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Psalm 37:1-11; 39-40
1 Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; 2  for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 3 Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: 6  He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. 7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. 8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. 9 For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. 10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. 11 But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble. 40 The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.

Background

When we look around, we see the world full of evil, that flourishes and lives on with ease. The same was true thousands of years ago. Therefore, we should not be overly concerned with this. We are tempted to worry, to think that the only happy people were those who lived with God a long time ago. It seems almost too simple to just say “don’t worry.” However, in this Psalm, which is more like a sermon, we are warned against letting our faith be weakened even while worldly prosperity may seem to be fading.

When we look forward, though the eyes of faith, there should be no reason to envy the wicked. Their weeping and wailing is destined to be everlasting. The life of our religion is a believing trust in the Lord, and the diligent care to serve Him according to His will, not our will. We must  make it a point of our duty to God to trust God.  The believer’s life exists not in abundance, but in convenience. This is more than we deserve, and it is enough for one that is destined for eternal salvation. To delight in God is as much a privilege as a duty. He has not promised to gratify the appetites and pleasures of the body but the desires of a renewed, sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and serve God.

We are to commit our way to the way of the Lord; to cast our burdens on the Lord, the burden of our very care. We must not become afflicted and overcome with thoughts about future events. Instead, leave them to God. It is by prayer that we state our case and list our concerns before God, and trust in Him. We are called to do our duty, and then leave the outcome to God.

The salvation of the righteous will be the Lord’s doing. He will help us to do our duties, to bear our burdens; to help us bear our troubles, and find good in them somewhere. In due time, God will deliver us out of our troubles. Our job? As sinners, depart from evil, and do good; repent of and forsake sin, and trust in the mercy of God through Jesus Christ. Let us gladly take God’s yoke upon us and learn from Him. When we do, our reward is to dwell for evermore with God.

Items for Discussion

  • The psalmist points out a human frustration: the wrongdoers seem to be getting earthly rewards. Where do you see this in today’s society?
  • Why do you thing that God does not immediately correct all wrongs, answer your prayers? 
  • What does it mean to be meek?
  • It you could summarize the “duty” of a believer, what would it sound like? See verse 3

 

Genesis 45:3-11; 15
1 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. 3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. 9 Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

Background

Joseph’s own brothers hated him, (Genesis 37:4), and kidnapped him, (Genesis 37:23). They had even planned to murder him, (Genesis 37: 18ff). They “settled” for selling him into slavery, (Genesis 37:28), a possible if not likely death sentence. And now, Joseph is in a position to get revenge on them. They need him. He does not need them. The famine that he Pharaoh has dreamed about has come to pass, (Genesis 41:17ff); Egypt has grain in abundance because of Joseph’s interpretation of the Pharaoh’s dream and their mutual stewardship in preparation, (Genesis 41:49). Yet Joseph does not take revenge on his brothers. He provides for them and their families. He receives them as his brothers. He embraces and forgives them.

Remembering Joseph, telling his story, means remembering that some family relationships are deeply troubled, even violent. Remembering Joseph means reminding ourselves that even in the most deeply troubled family that has experienced unimaginable rupture, that forgiveness and healing are possible. Remembering Joseph and telling his story provides an opportunity to reflect on our own stewardship, generosity and relationships with others, neighbors and strangers. And maybe most importantly, this story of Joseph reminds us that our actions have consequences that we may not be able to foresee.

There is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Consider this example, “you’re a Christian so you must forgive me”, The implication is that the wrongdoer is then free to continue hurting people. But who would be foolish to open themselves up to another round of abuse? A truly restored relationship requires recognizing and confessing guilt and real repentance which may very well include restitution when possible.

Items for Discussion

  • What are the issues that seem to divide families?
  • What are your secrets to embracing the “differences” and still nurturing the bonds of a close relationship?
  • In what ways do you see God working to reconcile Joseph to his brothers in this story?
  • Explain how the capacity to forgive and the will to repent work to reconcile broken relationships?

Discussion Challenge

  • How would the story of Joseph help in our relationship with God? Explore the idea that we are not ready to receive God’s Grace until we Confess our own guilt and Repent. (1 John 1:8-9)

 

 

 

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