Transformation Garden - December 5, 2013



December 5, 2013

Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:

“For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory, beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease! Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal, brief and fleeting, but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.”

II Corinthians 4: 17, 18
Amplified Bible

“Our burdens are our blessings in disguise;
Through battle, smoke, and fire we’re given the heavenly prize.    
The weights of glory come from weights of woe,
Our Edens, from transfigured thorns below.
O suffering saint, take up the trying things,
Until they grow from weights to heavenly wings.”

Author Unknown

Today’s Study Text:

“Actuated by faith, Joseph, when nearing the end of his life, referred to the promise of God for the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his own bones.”

Hebrews 11: 22
Amplified Bible

“And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had strictly sworn the Israelites, saying, ‘Surely God will be with you, and you must carry my bones away from here with you.’”

Exodus 13: 19
Amplified Bible

EXPLORATION:         

The God of Dothan – Part 12

“Remember To Take My Bones” 

“We often get preoccupied with our little world and tend to forget that we are in a battle between God and Satan. The story of Joseph is a reminder that, whereas what happens to us is important to God, the reason why all things work together for good is ultimately because God has a greater purpose in the world.”

R. T. Kendall
Believing God

As my faith in my heavenly Father has grown, has it made it easier for me, when I am faced with severe trials, to “see” God’s deliverance?

What promise of God am I claiming in my life today?

“Paul says in Romans 5: 3 that though God’s saints sigh under their cross, yet they glory in their tribulations when they discover how wonderfully God directs their life. God proves Himself the Protector of all those who put their trust in Him. He never forsakes His children…He gloriously delivers them and at the same time benefits others with them.”

Martin Luther

“Moreover, let us also be full of joy now! Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.”

Romans 5: 3
Amplified Bible

INSPIRATION:

“Who would true valor see,
Let (her) come hither;
One here will constant be,
Come wind, come weather.
There’s no discouragement
Shall make (her) once relent
(Her) first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.”

John Bunyan

      My father had a beautiful tenor voice. Since his death, how I miss hearing him whistle around the house or sing with such joyfulness. There’s one old hymn that I remember my dad being asked to sing on more than one occasion. Written in 1836 by Thomas Taylor, I found the words to this hymn in an old Lutheran hymnal. The title of the song is: “I’m But a Stranger Here,” and here are some of the touching words from this song I treasure so much:

“I’m but a stranger here,
Heaven is my home;
Earth is a desert drear,
Heaven is my home;
Danger and sorrow stand
Round me on every hand;
Heaven is my Father’s land,
Heaven is my home.

What though the tempest rage,
Heaven is my home;
Short is my pilgrimage,
Heaven is my home;
And time’s wintry blast
Soon shall be over past;
I shall reach home at last,
Heaven is my home.

Therefore I murmur not,
Heaven is my home;
Whatever my earthly lot,
Heaven is my home;
And I shall surely stand
There at my Lord’s right hand.
Heaven is my Father’s land,
Heaven is my home.”

      As we read our study texts for today, one found in Exodus in the Old Testament and the other in the book of Hebrews in the New Testament, I was struck by the fact that, as we found out yesterday, Joseph’s faith in the fact that he was not a permanent resident of Egypt, was the driving force that moved him to ask his “brethren” to take his bones with them when they returned to the Promised Land – Canaan.

      I admire Joseph for trusting God when he was brutally tossed into a dry pit by his brothers. I respect the way Joseph worked efficiently in Potiphar’s house, to the point that this Egyptian official made note of the fact that “God was with Joseph.” What a living testimony to the God of heaven and earth.

      What’s more, I honor the way Joseph stood firm when confronted by Potiphar’s wife in her attempt to get Joseph to defile not only himself, but the name of the God he served.

      But what really gets my attention, what makes me sit up and take note is the way Joseph lived, when for 80 years he was not only the governor of Egypt, but he was so highly thought of that his descendents were given the prime location, Goshen, in the land of Egypt to make their home.

      The great reformer Martin Luther once stated that, “It is prosperity that we cannot endure,” and frankly, he makes a good point. Author Thomas Carlyle observed that, “for a hundred (individuals) that can bear adversity there is hardly one that can bear prosperity.” All I can say is that Joseph certainly gives us the example of the “one” that did not have his head turned or his heart lifted up by the blessings that came into his life during the eighty years of his rulership and prosperity in Egypt.

      Thus, when the time came that Joseph knew he would die, he asked that his body not be buried, permanently, in Egypt. As I thought about Joseph’s desire to have his body laid in its final resting place in the Promised Land, I wondered to myself, “How many times, during the long and brutal slavery of the Israelites, for four hundred years in Egypt, did the people of God visit Joseph’s temporary burial ground just to look at that place of rest as they wondered if Joseph’s words would ever come true?” Four hundred years is an awful long time. Talk about waiting! WOW!

      But one day, God sent a deliverer, His leader Moses, and before the great Exodus from Egypt, our text today states that Moses had one thing he had to do before the caravan to the Promised Land got moving. He had to get Joseph’s bones. You see, Joseph truly understood what it meant to be a pilgrim in a foreign land – a wandering traveler who hadn’t reached his final destination. Egypt was nothing but a brief stop-over. This might have been where Joseph lived but it wasn’t a place where he put down his roots. It wasn’t his home!

      This is exactly the point the writer of Hebrews made when they noted that Joseph was “actuated” by faith or we could say that his actions were motivated by a faith that carried him from a pit in Dothan to his temporary grave in Egypt and all the way back to the Promised Land.

      I wish I could have been present when Moses brought Joseph’s bones, however they were protected, and told the Israelites, “We can get moving now, Joseph’s faith in God was not misplaced.” In the quote I shared earlier, Martin Luther stated that God gloriously delivers us and at the same time, our deliverance benefits others. This is exactly what happened in Joseph’s life. Right down to this very day, we stand in awe of our heavenly Father’s faithfulness as we witness the way God not only kept His word to Joseph, but to His children down through the ages and this includes you and me!

      In his book, Believing God, Pastor and author R. T. Kendall summarizes the life of Joseph with these words: “When it is stated that Joseph did what he did in prophesying of Israel’s future, ‘by faith,’ it must be said that this act was but the culmination of Joseph’s life of faith as a whole. Had not God so miraculously guided Joseph himself, he would not likely have been so sure of what he was predicting. When God deals with us in an extraordinary way, it is meant to encourage us that something even more extraordinary is yet to come. God works in an extraordinary manner with those He has a greater purpose for. When Joseph reflected upon his own life, and could see that all that had happened to him was ultimately for the good of Israel, he had no difficulty believing that the same God would continue to take care of His people. Thus when we can look back on our lives and can see God’s unmistakable hand in sparing us, it should tell us all we need to know about our future. ‘He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’ (Philippians 1: 6, K.J.V.).

      Indeed, Joseph never forgot, from the pit, to the prison and finally into the palace that he was just a pilgrim, making his way to the promised Land.

      Sir Walter Raleigh, when imprisoned in the Tower of London, awaiting execution, penned the following words on the wall:

“Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope’s true gage;
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage.”

      Like Joseph, we are pilgrims too! May our faith, carry us throughout each day, until we reach our heavenly Promised Land – our eternal home.

“O Lord God, from whom we come,
in whom we are enfolded,
to whom we shall return:
Bring us in our pilgrimage through life;
with the power of the Father protecting,
with the love of Jesus indwelling,
and the light of the Spirit guiding,
Until we come to our ending in life and love eternal.”

Peter Nott

AFFIRMATION:

 I’m a Pilgrim

“I’m a pilgrim, and I’m a stranger;
I can tarry, I can tarry but a night;
Do not detain me, for I am going
To where the fountains are everflowing.

There the glory is ever shining!
O, my longing heart, my longing heart is there;
Here in this country so dark and dreary,
I long have wandered forlorn and weary.

There’s the city to which I journey;
My Redeemer, my Redeemer is its light!
There is no sorrow, nor any sighing,
Nor any tears there, or any dying.
I’m a pilgrim, and I’m a stranger;
I can tarry, I can tarry but a night.”

Mary Dana
(1841)

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
[email protected]

P.S. During the coming weeks, gifts which are sent to Transformation Garden will help us honor requests for God’s Word, as shared through our bookmarks, with God’s children in India, Russia, Pakistan, Australia and here in the United States in women’s prisons and for Domestic Abuse Shelters. I thank you so much for the gifts you have chosen to send – Praise God! Your generosity is helping us share God’s Word in countries where the bookmarks are accepted as beautiful artwork but they carry the message of God’s saving grace. Thank you again!!

My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-349-8619.

* Transformation Garden is a non-profit 501-C3. This means all gifts are tax-deductible. You will be receipted for any gift you send. Thank you so much.

For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.

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