Category Archives: Genesis

You won’t be disappointed

Genesis 39:8

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.” NIV

As I work my way through the listings of the word, “worry” in the New International Reader’s version of the Bible, this is a verse that I’ve skipped over several times … until this morning.

Joseph is speaking here.  He’s explaining to Potiphar’s wife that he cannot sleep with her, “My master has put me in charge,” he told her. “Now he doesn’t have to worry about anything in the house. He trusts me to take care of everything he owns.” NIRV

I chose to look at this verse today because of the clear links between trust and worry.

Potiphar trusted Joseph … therefore Potiphar didn’t worry about his belongings or his household.

Joseph is unwilling to betray that trust … therefore he won’t take advantage of the wife’s offer.

Trust is a fragile thing.  It is not easily given between humans, and it is very easily broken.

But, we can always, always trust God.

And, if we will trust God … who is flawlessly trustworthy … we will never be disappointed.

We won’t have to worry.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Don’t worry — you matter!

Genesis 35:17

And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you have another son.” NIV

I’ve know that this reminder was sitting here in Genesis, almost from the beginning of my project.  It popped up again this morning when I searched for “worry” in the Contemporary English Version of the Bible on Bible  There, this verse reads, “She was having a rough time, but the woman who was helping her said, ‘Don’t worry! It’s a boy.'” CEV

“Don’t worry! It’s a boy.”

Rachel is giving birth to Benjamin.  Immediately after naming him (she named him something else, by the way — Abraham changed it), she dies.

When I first read this reminder … I didn’t really feel like it applied to me.

But, this morning, with the perspective gained from a week of full-time babysitting for two little ones whose folks are out of town, I get it.

The highest calling a woman could have in Rachel’s time was to produce a son.  She did this not only once, but twice.  As she breathed her last breaths, the mid-wife, I think, was attempting to reassure her — her life, however short, mattered.  She made a difference.

We all want that.  We all want to matter, and to impact the world around us, to somehow make this a better place.

The trick is, aligning our will with God’s will.  God has amazing plans in store for us.  He created us to delight in us.   He knit each of us together and gifted us with skills and abilities that uniquely suit us to achieve His purpose for our lives.

When we’re not serving as God intended, we feel out of place … we’re the butter knife trying to chop wood.  But, when we employ our skills and abilities in the direction He intends, amazing things happen — for us, and for the kingdom.

In Rachel’s case, the midwife’s reminder was not a series of hollow words, as I always saw it.  No.  It was a recognition of a crowning achievement … Rachel birthed the heads of two of the 12 tribes of Israel, and, her first son, Joseph, would be the tool God would use to save the entire family from starvation, years in the future.

Rachel mattered.  We all matter — to God.

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Genesis, Old Testament, Worry

Recognize the blessing

Genesis 39: 6a

So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had;  with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.  NIV

In the New Living Translation, this verse reads, “So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat!” NLT

I found this verse this morning, by searching for the word “worry” in the NLT on Bible

I love the story of Joseph.  It is an amazing tale of God’s provision, and is a vivid example of God having all the pieces of the puzzle … Joseph certainly didn’t.  At this point in the story, he is a servant in the house of Potiphar.  Earlier in the chapter, we learn that God was with Joseph.  Verse 2 says, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered.”  It also says in verse 3, “the Lord gave him success in everything he did.”

The Lord gave him success …

When Potiphar saw this, he favored Joseph.  He put him in charge of the household, and entrusted to Joseph everything he owned.  From the time that he did this, according to verse 5, the Lord blessed Potiphar, too.  His blessing was on everything Potiphar owned, both in his house and in his field.

Potiphar had no worries, except what his next meal would be … note that it doesn’t say where his next meal would come from, but what he would eat … presumably there was more than enough of everything in Potiphar’s house.

The Lord was with Joseph … He gave him success … He blessed those who recognized Joseph … they were successful too, and had no worries.

Of course, this story doesn’t end well.  Part B of this verse says, “Now, Joseph was well built and handsome.” NIV  This fact did not escape the notice of Potiphar’s wife, who attempted to seduce Joseph.  When he refuses, she accuses him of rape and Joseph ended up in jail.

She was the wife of Potiphar … they had everything they could possibly need or want, and yet, she wanted more.

Her actions caused lots of worries for poor Joseph, but, God uses his experience in jail ultimately to achieve His plan for the Jewish people.  Throughout Joseph’s life as things happen to him, he continually sees that, even when others mean their actions to be hurtful — like his brothers who sold him to a band of gypsies — God works it for good.

God is with us, He is blessing us, whatever situation comes our way, God can and will work it for good.

There will be a blessing … there may already have been …

In my case, I’d often like the timing to be a little more immediate and/or the plan to be a little more clear, but, I’m learning to trust God.  He has it all in hand.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Follow the rules

Genesis 3:10

He said, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked.  And I hid.” NIV

A friend sent me this verse several days ago with this question … is it significant that fear was first introduced as a result of man’s sin?

I think that the answer is “yes.”

Prior to the fall, there was nothing to worry about … Adam’s and Eve’s basic needs were met, one could argue that all of their needs were met … they were in communion with God.

It was after they disobeyed that they became worried and fearful about facing God.

After they disobeyed …

This got me thinking more about reminders not to worry that God has left for us.  I am wondering if each of the ten commandments might be a reminder, as well as the golden rule … if we kept them, all of them, how much less worried would we be?

That’s something I will think about today.

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Giving up is not the answer

Genesis 15:4-5

Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.”  He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars — if indeed you can count them.” The he said to him, “so shall your offspring be.” NIV

This is the first verse that comes up if you type the word “worry” into Bible and choose “The Message.”

I’ve done that search before and I’ve seen this verse, but, it did not hit me until this morning how important this verse is in the context of this project.

Abraham’s life has not turned out as he expected.  Life has not followed Abraham’s plan.  He planned to have children.  He wanted to be a father and, no doubt, a grandfather.  Now, he and his wife are quite old and the time for having children, he thinks, has passed them by.

When he contemplates what that means in his own society, it appears that he is devastated.   In the verses just before this one, he has given up all hope of a child and is considering leaving his fortune to one of his servants.  “Then God’s message came, ‘Don’t worry, he won’t be your heir, a man from your body will be your heir.'” MSG

God had a plan for Abraham.  In verse 5, God says, “You’re going to have a big family, Abram!” MSG

I love the rest of Abraham’s story.  He and Sarah don’t trust that God’s plan will be achieved, so, they take matters into their own hands and Abraham produces a son from his own body — with Sarah’s maid.

But, that’s still not what God wanted.  Later in the story, Sarah, who is well past child bearing age, is miraculously blessed with a son, Isaac.  Isaac is the father of Jacob and Esau, and Jacob fathers 12 sons, who become the 12 tribes of Israel.  God had a plan and he continued to work it, despite Abraham’s doubts and even interference.  God’s perfect plan for Abraham’s life was achieved.

Not being an older man with unfulfilled aspirations of fatherhood, I’ve never much identified with Abraham … until this morning.

I had a plan for my life.  I’ve had several, actually.  None of them have worked out the way I envisioned them.  For a certain personality type, one that I’m seeing I must share with Abraham, that’s pretty frustrating.  We are the kids who loved the story, “The Little Engine that Could.”  We’re the ones who saw ourselves as the ant in the song about the rubber tree.

As much as he might have wanted dozens of little Abrahams, he could not have them, just like I often am unable to achieve the things I want or that I plan for myself.  In times like these, it is tempting to give up … to stop trying … to take Abraham’s attitude.  “Let’s just write the will and formalize giving everything to the servant … he’s going to get it anyway, so why not at least give HIM some certainty of what is to come?”

But, that’s not what God says.  God takes Abraham outside and tells him to look up at the stars.  He tells him to keep dreaming of the future that he wants for himself, and then, He goes one step further and tells Abraham that He will fulfill his dream.

Worries over things that you cannot control are not eradicated by giving up on your dreams or plans.  The only true antidote for worry is to trust in the One True God, who has your best interest at heart, who is not bound by time, who sent his son to die for you and who has a very definite plan for your life.  You cannot see it, you are not meant to … sometimes I think that one of the rewards that we will most cherish in heaven is that we will finally, finally understand the plan.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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The best of everything will be ours

Genesis 45: 19-20

“You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this:  Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come.  Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’ “ NIV

I’m approaching the 1/3 point in my project. It is hard to believe that I already have found so many reminders not to worry and that there might be so many more.

Over the last four months, I’ve taken a variety of approaches to finding reminders, but, I’ve not spent much time using the Internet to find them.  I really enjoy looking through my two concordances and the two versions of the Bible that I’m consulting to find each day’s verse.

But, this morning, I went to a site my father had shared with me at the beginning of this process, and I plugged in the word, “worry,” (which does not appear in the King James version of the Bible even once) and I chose The Message translation.  The screen was immediately filled with verses, many of which I’ve already looked at, because the search engine started in Genesis, and, for the most part, I did, too.

But, here on that first page of the search results was Genesis 19-20. “Also tell them this: ‘Here’s what I want you to do:  Take wagons from Egypt to carry your little ones and your wives and load up your father and come back.  Don’t worry about having to leave things behind; the best in all of Egypt will be yours.’ “ MSG

These are Pharaoh’s instructions to Joseph about what he was to tell his brothers, once he had revealed his identity to them.

It was a relocation program.

Sometimes, moves are fun.  If you’re heading to an exciting new city for a great new job, and if someone else is doing all the packing, they can be fun … until you get to the unpacking part — which I always find difficult.

But, sometimes, even if you think that things will be better or different in the new place, it is hard to leave the familiar.

Pharaoh is very kind to say that the people shouldn’t worry about the things that they will leave behind, but, he says that through the lens of a king who has always had the best of his own land … he must have been thinking, “Egypt is really great … these people will absolutely love living here.”

But, this morning, my heart goes out to the those who had to move, especially the “little ones,” that Pharaoh references.  They left the only place that they had ever known for someplace new, and, I’m betting at least a few of them were worried about it.

Two children who are very dear to me are facing a move like this in the coming weeks, and they are reacting to it very differently.   One is excited about what will be, and the other is saddened to leave what has been.

Today, I am praying that their worries will be lessened and that they can have a full measure of excitement for what is to come, and that they will truly enjoy this next place that they will be living.

It strikes me, too, that we all will ultimately move.  We will leave this life for the next, and, Pharoah’s advice holds here, too.  We can’t worry about the things that we will leave behind.  Even though we might love things about this life, in the next life, the best of everything will be ours.

I will think about that today.


Filed under Genesis, Old Testament, Worry

Genesis 41:51

Joseph named his first-born son Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” NIV

Someone told me once that people fall into three basic categories — those who live life looking in the rearview mirror, those who live in the moment (right behind the steering wheel, if you will) and those who are focused on the road ahead and always looking around the next corner.

These are broad generalizations of course, but, over time, I’ve found them to be pretty true.  While people don’t spend all of their time in any one category, many are likely to find themselves spending more time in one category or another … accountants, for instance, are very good at looking back and at determining what happened in a company’s immediate past and how that might affect what will happen next.

Throughout my life, I’ve tended to spend more time in the looking forward category.  I enjoy thinking about the next thing and planning for fun things to come.

However, my pre-disposition to look forward has a dark side.   I am not meant to know the future, and I cannot control it.  When I come upon something that I want to turn out a certain way and I can see that it might not, that leads to worry, which stems from a lack of trust.

Joseph had been allowed to see the future.  God revealed to Joseph through Pharoah’s dream that a tremendous famine was coming.  God gave Joseph the understanding of this dream, and when Joseph proposed to Pharoah a proactive approach to the coming problem, Pharoah promoted Joseph to be the guy who would be in charge of solving it.

While he’s preparing all of Egypt for the famine that is to come, his first son is born.  Joseph names him Manasseh (forget), because, Joseph says, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”

At this point in his life, (and perhaps throughout all of it) Joseph seems to me to be living in the moment and completely trusting God.  Not only is he not worried about the famine that he knows is coming, but, he isn’t worried about all of the terrible things that have happened to him that have brought him to this place, “God has made me forget …”  Without the past in his worry bucket, Joseph is able to be extremely effective in the task that God has assigned him to do.

That’s pretty powerful.  I will think about that today.

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Genesis 35:3

Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone. NIV

God answered Jacob when Jacob called out to Him in distress as he was being pursued by his brother, Esau.

Jacob recognizes that God, and no other, rescued him from that situation.  Further, he sees that God has been with him wherever he has gone.

Great examples.  Beautiful truths.

When I call out to God, He will answer.  There is no place that I can go that God is not with me.  I have nothing to fear and nothing to worry about.

No matter what I face, God is with me.  I will rejoice and praise Him for that truth today.

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Genesis 50:19-20

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” NIV

I’m back in the story of Joseph.  I love this story.

Jacob has now passed away and has been buried.  The brothers have all returned with Joseph to Egypt after the funeral, and they have become newly worried that Joseph will harm them in retaliation for what they did to him when he was a boy.  The threw him into a well and then sold him off to a band of gypsies because they were jealous of him.

But Joseph is a man of God.  He sees how God used the gypsies to achieve His purposes … that the 12 brothers, who would father the 12 tribes of Israel would be saved through Joseph’s presence in Egypt.

I love what this story teaches us about God’s timing and God’s purposes … both of which are perfect.  And I love how Joseph’s words here are echoed in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”

But, what I love most about this story are the gypsies.  My father often says, “before his brothers ever threw Joseph into the well, God had started the gypsies on their way to him in the desert.”  When bad things happen, my parents often counsel me to look for the gypsies … they are there, because God always provides for His children.

Sometimes, it’s hard to recognize the gypsies.  Sometimes I worry that I will miss them.  But, worrying about my problems, and then worrying if I will miss God’s solution to my problems are roots of the same issue.  God says not to worry … over, and over, and over, and over again.  Maybe not 365 times, but, I’ve found nearly 60 reminders so far — that’s more than one for every week of the year!

It’s pretty clear to me that I am not to worry.  Instead, I am to trust in God and in His perfect timing and His perfect will.

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Genesis 43:23

“It’s all right,” he said.  “Don’t be afraid.  Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks;  I received your silver.” NIV

Joseph’s brothers had quite a lot to worry about.

First, they had betrayed him, and in their minds, he was gone forever.

Second, there was a famine and they and their families were in danger of starving to death.

Third, they’d lost a second brother, Simeon, on their first trip to Egypt in search of food.

Fourth, they had returned to their homeland and found that, in addition to the grain they picked up on their first trip, they ended up getting it for free … Joseph had ordered that their silver be returned to their sacks without their knowledge prior to their departure. So, of course they are worried that the powerful Egyptian (Joseph) will have discovered the error and will take it out on them.

And, lastly, on this trip to Egypt, they have brought their youngest brother Benjamin — the only surviving son, they thought, of Jacob’s beloved Rachel.  Rueben, one of the brothers, has basically pledged the lives of his own kids against returning Benjamin safely to their dad.

So, they’re pretty worried when they are called into the presence of this powerful man who is in charge of dispensing Egypt’s grain.

So often, I find myself tied up in knots like these 10 were.  Some of their problems are of their own doing, others aren’t, but, they are all worries, just the same.

As I think about all the things that are worrying them, I can sum it up in one word … uncertainty.  Is Joseph dead?  Will we be able to get the food we need to stave off starvation until the land returns to fruitfulness?  Will the powerful man return Simeon, the brother who was left behind on the last trip, or is he dead, too?  Will this guy throw all of us in jail for not paying for the grain that we’ve already eaten?  And, can we get Benjamin safely home again?

They don’t have the answers to any of these questions … that’s frustrating.  Uncertainty if often the cause of my worries.

But, I love Joseph’s words here, “Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks.”

Joseph is not worried.  Joseph is not suffering from uncertainty.  He isn’t angry with them for betraying him, no, he sees the role that his betrayal has played in saving his own family.  And, he gives credit where credit is due.  Only God could have pulled a boy out of a well, and ultimately placed him to save those who had betrayed him.  God gave their money back to them … not Joseph.

As I think about my own life, I know that God is the cure for uncertainty … it is not in my power or in His will for me to know my future.  Only God knows what’s next on the path; only God knows the reasons for the trials I endure (however big or small they might be); and only God can calm my heart.

Today, I’m bringing my uncertainties to Him with complete certainty that He can handle them and give me the peace I need to walk the path before me today.

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