Dirty Jobs: Tearing Down the Walls

It is as we open the door for people to change, as we start rebuilding lives rather than watch them continue to unravel that we find the true goal isn’t just between two people, but between us and God.

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Reconciliation Advances through Repentance (Gen. 50:15-20) So far in the account of Joseph, running towards reconciliation, we’ve seen testing, we’ve seen fear and cowering, but this is the first time that we get to see repentance. 15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” With Jacob’s death, we see that rebuilding a broken relationship is a process more than a pinnacle moment.16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. 18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

They send a manufactured letter superficially on behalf of their father, but finally the brother’s throw themselves before Joseph—fulfillment of the dream he had as a boy—his brothers bowing down to him not in ignorance of his identity but in acknowledge of his faithfulness and their sin. You would think repentance would make them appear weak—and yet in their weakness they find grace. Joseph is able to put on for a moment the glasses of God—perfect 50:20 vision to see the world as God promised it would be. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Tearing Down the Walls”

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Dirty Jobs: Avoiding Revenge & Rebuilding

As we have seen throughout our Dirty Jobs series, our relationship with each other is a reflection of our relationship with God, there is a spiritual component to Running towards Reconciliation, but there is also a practical component.

After Joseph’s brother Judah offers to take the place of his brother Benjamin, he becomes overcome with emotion and is finally ready to reveal his true identity. In the process he shows us that:

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Reconciliation Avoids Revenge and Starts Rebuilding (Genesis 45:3-5, 8-10) Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” (Doing well?) But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. 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! 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.

If you’ve ever seen Undercover Boss, there is always that shock at the revelation that the person you’ve interacted with is something more than he appeared. But you can understand the shock and cowering response of the brothers. If this was a movie, this would be where the crowd is cheering for the brothers to get what they deserve, this is the Hatfields and McCoys, Israel versus Palestine, escalation and retaliation without end, and yet Joseph voices a theology that is the center of his life: God has ultimately been in control even when life felt out of control. Joseph has to actually draw them back because they are expecting what’s natural to come from Joseph. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Avoiding Revenge & Rebuilding”

Dirty Jobs: Planning with People in Mind

Joseph doesn’t just stop with getting to know the issues facing the people or traveling the land, he takes the proactive step of…

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Planning With the People in Mind (Gen. 41:47-49) 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

We have a tendency as Americans to plan with the short-term in mind. College students on average change their major seven times. People over 60 years old in the United States now hold 43 billion dollars in student loans. No real long-term plan. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Planning with People in Mind”

Dirty Jobs: Be BOLD

It is as we are faithful in all circumstances, as we prepare in the midst of less than satisfactory moments, that we get the opportunity to..

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Be Bold- (v 12-14) Joseph listened to the dreams of the cupbearer and the chief baker. The cupbearer sees grapes ripening on the vine—holding the Pharaoh’s cup in his hand squeezing out the precious liquid. While the baker has birds eating from the basket on his head, bad news that he would soon be bird food. 12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. Joseph follows up his interpretation with boldness, seeing a door opened by God: 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. We oftentimes hold back from being bold—because we worry about what people might think, how they might response—and yet when God is working through us, what need is there to worry? He is in control. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Be BOLD”

Dirty Jobs: Attention

Today we continue in our look at the story of Joseph and the Dirty Jobs he must confront to move forward with God’s plan. Even if you’ve lost battles before with lust, with desire, Joseph reveals the key comes down to…

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Attention (Genesis 39:8-12) But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Attention”

Dirty Jobs: Relationship Repellent

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I know it is easy to say you aren’t in competition with others, when it feels like we are—pastors aren’t exempt—if you go to a church conference the first question usually asked, “how big is your church?” –Why are you thinking of joining? It is a pecking order. You’ve probably seen the bumper sticker that reads: He who dies with the most stuff wins, but jealousy doesn’t offer us any real hope of winning in the future, it actually is…

Relationship Repellent (Gen. 37: 17b-20) So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

Jealousy for the brothers starts to blot out or block any opportunity for a loving relationship. They are ready to permanently severe themselves from Joseph. In many ways, when we remember the family tree, jealousy had become a way of life for Jacob’s family. Remember, Jacob had married two sisters, Leah and Rachel, but really only loved the younger sister Rachel. To make matters worse, having children was a valued and worthy position, so Rachel who was barren for a time offered her maidservant to her husband trying to compete against the seemingly perpetual fertile Leah. Then Leah offered her maidservant. Factions had been made, the family fractured, as each person bemoaned what the other had and it threatened to devour them. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Relationship Repellent”