HOW WE CHANGE
WHEN I ARISE
IN THE MIDWINTER
THE SKY IS AS BLACK AS MIDNIGHT.
BUT THOUGH IT IS BITTER COLD OUT
IT’S THE SWEETEST TIME IN.
MY TIME TO BE WITH HIM.
I ANTICIPATE HE’LL MEET ME.
ONE MORNING LAST WEEK
HE TOOK ME BY SURPRISE,
FOR GLANCING UP I SAW THE SUN
CATCHING THE EARTH BY THE EDGES —
I WRAPPED MY FLEECY BLANKET AROUND ME
AND STOOD ON MY PORCH
LUCI SHAW SAYS THAT
CREATION ECHOES THE TRUTHS IN HIS WORD.
JUST AS THE RISING SUN CHANGED EVERYTHING
WE NEED HIS POWER TO RISE UPON US,
TURNING OUR DARKNESS TO LIGHT.
WE HAVE NO POWER OF OUR OWN TO CHANGE.
WE NEED “THE SUNRISE FROM ON HIGH TO VISIT US.”
(FROM ZECHARIAH’S SONG IN LUKE 1:78)
In just two weeks we will be beginning Lent. I’m excited to tell you what we will be doing — for this has always been an amazing time on this blog.
We’re going to be “peering” into the gospel to better understand how the gospel is the answer to every problem we face. The gospel is not just the power to be saved from the penalty of sin, but it is also the power to set us free from our idols and to strengthen us for every problem we face. The gospel can change how you mother, how you face suffering, even how you confront people.
He is leading us here — I have truly felt like we are in a kayak in His gently moving river. He is carrying us.
Pray about joining us during Lent. These next two weeks, as we complete where God led us during Advent, you will get a taste of where we will be going during Lent. For every story in the Bible is really a story about Jesus — and hidden in Jesus is the gospel — and the gospel is the mystery that can help us face every problem.
God cares most about developing our character. Though it pleases Him to bless us with health, wealth, and happiness — that is not His primary concern. When you study His family in Genesis, you see He is the Hero for His children are terribly flawed. He is the Potter who is gently molding them over the fire. We saw it with Jacob, with Leah, with Judah — and as we close Genesis, this story continues. Though Joseph ends nobly, he began as a spoiled brat. His father favored him and he was anything but subtle in letting his brothers know that he had a favored position. What changed Joseph into a man of character who reflects our Lord Jesus Christ? The mystery of the gospel. We’re going to look at this and then (and continuing into next week) consider how we might apply this to our own intimate family relationships.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. If you have been on this blog during Lent in the past, could you share a word of testimony on how you felt about it or how it impacted you so I can possibly share it with others? Specifics are wonderful, if you can remember.
Monday-Wednesday: Bible Study
3. How do you see a lack of wisdom in Joseph in Genesis 37:5-11?
4. How did the brothers respond in Genesis 37:18-20?
5. Read Genesis 37:25-36
A. What callousness do you see in verse 25?
B. What callousness do you see in Judah in verse 26?
Derek Kidner comments: Judah will later develop some fine qualities, but at present there is nothing more than self-interest. Profit is a harsh monetary term like “loot,” or “rake-off.” The force of the phrase “and conceal his blood” is two-fold (from man, and by avoiding actually bloodshed, from God).
C. What callousness do you see in the way they confront Jacob?
Derek Kidner sees a parallel between “your son” of Genesis 37:32 and “this your son” of the elder brother in the story of the prodigal sons in Luke 15:30. This was not “their brother,” but “your son.”
Joseph points us to Christ, for like Christ he was betrayed by his brethren. Like Christ, he forgives and rescues his brethren. Charles Spurgeon “The Prince of Preachers,” was considered so, I believe, for he was a master of showing how Jesus is the center of every story, and the gospel hidden in it as well. He has several wonderful sermons on Joseph from which I will quote. (You would be blessed to read them!)
6. Read Genesis 49:22-24 (This was Jacob’s dying blessing to Joseph)
A. How does Jacob describe Joseph’s life? Find everything you can.
In “Joseph attacked by the Archers,” Spurgeon preached:
Oh! the agonies he felt—parted from his father, losing his brethren, without a friend, dragged away by cruel man-sellers, chained upon a camel it may be, with fetters on his hands. Those who have borne the gyves and fetters, those who have felt that they were not free men, that they had not liberty, might tell how sorely the archers grieved him when they shot at him the arrows of their envy. He became a slave, sold from his country, dragged from all he loved. Farewell to home and all its pleasures—farewell to a father’s smiles and tender cares. He must be a slave, and toil where the slave’s task-master makes him; he must be stripped in the streets, he must be beaten, he must be scourged, he must be reduced from the man to the animal, from the free man to the slave. Truly the archers sorely shot at him. And, my brethren, do you hope, if you are the Lord’s Josephs, that you shall escape envy? I tell you, nay; that green-eyed monster, envy, lives in London as well as elsewhere, and he creeps into God’s church, moreover. Oh! it is hardest of all, to be envied by one’s brethren.
B. Yet out of Joseph’s sorrow came beauty — he became a “fruitful bough.” The secret as to how that happened is revealed in Genesis 49:24, and again, in Joseph’s own words in Genesis 50:19-20. It is a two-fold secret — see it you can find it.
Joseph has to be humbled, to see the truth about himself. But he also had to be confident
in God’s love for him. The gospel is unique in that two seemingly contrasting qualities
have “kissed” at the cross. (Psalm 85:10)
Do you see?
We are so bad the Jesus had to die for us. (The truth about our sin)
Yet we are so loved that He did die for us. (The mercy of our God)
7. Now — I want you to apply this by showing how you might use these two truths of the gospel to confront someone you care about in truth and in love. You may have a real scenario or you may need to imagine one.
A. How might you humble yourself in coming, admitting, without excuses, any sin in yourself?
B. How might you speak truth in love?
C. If he or she does not respond as you hope, how might you forgive in your heart through the power of the gospel?
This may be hard to understand, but that is because the gospel is both simple and very complex. We’re going to keep peering into it.
Read or listen to one of these Spurgeon sermons and share your comments.
1) Joseph Attacked by the Archers (I quoted from this one above): Link
2). Rough, But Friendly
Spurgeon shows how the way Joseph dealt with his brothers is the way of Christ. He is rough with us at first, to bring us to our senses, but then shows great mercy. You can either listen or read:
SHARE YOUR INSIGHTS FROM YOUR READING OR LISTENING TO THE SPURGEON SERMON YOU CHOSE
WHAT IS YOUR TAKE-A-WAY AND WHY?