Almost Impossible

Genesis 45:21-28

21So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. 23And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”

25So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

Coping Mechanism

There was a true story about a faithful believer. Despite of his faithfulness, not everyone appreciated him. Malicious individuals influenced others to spread unwarranted gossip. The drama surrounding his life was heard by a concerned minister and wanted to know how this faithful believer had coped with it.

He asked the faithful believer, “Do you have support groups that you may voice out your concerns? What’s your coping mechanism secret?” The faithful believer answered, “No coping mechanism secret! I don’t feel bad about those dramas I’ve gone through.” Later on, he was reminded that some believers are praying for him regularly, and he was thankful of the Lord’s faithfulness.

In this life, there are serious concerns that may challenge our faith in the Lord. What coping mechanism you’ve got when personal and family concerns attack? The Lord Jesus said in Matthew 19:29, 29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

The Lord implies that if we prioritize Him more than anybody—love ones or career, He will supply our needs more than what we can have on our own effort.

1. Supply

21So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. 23And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”

Pharaoh trusted Joseph so much so that he instructed him to bring all his family from Canaan to come and live in Egypt. It may take few weeks to prepare for their journey and Joseph supplied their needs. As Pharaoh told him, Joseph provided carts for his father, their children, wives and household belongings.

When Joseph gave his brother Benjamin more than what he gave to his other siblings, can you agree that it was a picture of the Lord providing more to those He favored? Joseph sent to his father the best gift and provision available. And he reminded his brother not to quarrel on their way back to Canaan. Why?

Previously while he interrogated them, Joseph may have observed that they were blaming each other for their troubles. Indirectly, Joseph may have reminded them also that he was the ruler of Egypt that they should listen to.

The provisions on their journey that Joseph supplied as proof of good life in Egypt waiting for their starving family in Canaan represents in practical manner that the Lord will supply our needs when we bring the good news of eternal life to our love ones, especially, to those who have yet to hear the gospel of Christ.

We have a mandate to witness for the eternal life that Christ has given us. We’ve got to testify about the transformation that Christ has done in our life.

After the Lord Jesus healed a demon-possessed man, He instructed him to go home and tell his people what He did to him. Mark 5:19-20 says, 19“Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

If we have practical experience with the Lord, there’s overflowing gladness in our heart so that we cannot help but to inform relatives and friends about it.

Immigrants

Few years ago, a family of immigrants stayed in the house of their friend who served as guarantor when they immigrated to Canada. Perhaps, out of gratitude and respect, they attended the church of their guarantor. As a result, they came to believe in Christ and continued to attend in the said church.

Bringing into your home potential believers is strategic way to witness for Christ but may not be applied to everyone. Of course, some had great stories to tell but others had unpleasant experiences when they lived with their relatives or friends. Ask the Lord, first, how He may want you to witness effectively.

By faith, we believe in Christ, and He transforms us from old lifestyle to new lifestyle acceptable to Him. And, He also supplies everything we need to live a godly life. Our personal experiences with Him exhibit His existence and love for us that serve as our practical proofs when we witness for Christ.

The brothers of Joseph experienced abundance of food supply in Egypt. They saw and experienced personally the power of Joseph as ruler of Egypt. When they told Jacob about their experience, he can’t believe it. He’s shocked.

2. Shock

25So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them.

Just imagine! You were Jacob, and your favorite son disappeared. Many years later, your other sons went to buy food in Egypt, and returned to report that your long lost favorite son became ruler of Egypt, how do you react?

The famine was severe. Jacob, his household and livestock were starving.

He heard that there was abundant food supply in Egypt. He sent his sons to buy grain. When they returned home, they reported that the ruler in Egypt was harsh and accused them as spies. They also told him that Simeon was imprisoned, and they were required to bring Benjamin to Egypt to prove that they were not spies.

Jacob was still mourning for the lost of Joseph, his favorite son. Simeon was imprisoned, and he was not sure if Benjamin will return home. And then, heard that the harsh ruler of Egypt was actually his long lost son Joseph!?!

Can you imagine how shocked, stunned and greatly surprised Jacob was? His reaction can’t be defined! It’s unbelievable, unimaginable situation! The ruler who managed the storehouses of food supply in Egypt was Joseph! Are you kidding? His favorite son who was reported to be killed by wild animals was actually the very person who can save them from starvation during the severe famine! Really!

Who can readily believe such news? Can you believe it if you were Jacob?

The reaction of Jacob when he heard the report about Joseph illustrates how people react when they hear the good news of eternal life. Indescribable!

Have you ever had such reaction when you were assured of your eternal life? It says in Romans 6:20-23, 20When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You just believe and you get eternal life. That’s it? As easy as it appears to be, it’s not really simple to believe because it takes faith to believe. This faith as agent to make anyone believe in Christ comes from God. Faith does not come from human. That is why, not everyone who hears the gospel believeS.

It says in Ephesians 2-8-10, 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We are saved us through faith, and faith is God’s gift. Why is that? Human is not perfect. Imperfection cannot offer perfect faith in God. Right? Anything that originates from sinful human is infected with sinfulness. And, faith is gift of God.

God is fair. He wants everyone to have opportunity to be saved. Some people were privileged to be born in a good environment while others grow up in a tough neighborhood. Our community can influence the way we behave. But faith that comes from God presents fair opportunity for anyone to be saved.

Interestingly, it is easy for anyone to claim that they have faith, and they believe in Christ. Some people try to imitate what others do just to prove they have faith. Does God accept it? God has prepared particular good work for us to do as proof that we’ve faith so there’s no pretension or deception of one’s self.

So, how do we know when good work was prepared by God for us to do? How do we know when a good work is not acceptable to God?

Burn out

Have you heard about “ministry burnout?” What caused “ministry burnout?”

There are pastors who quit the ministry, and testify that they are no longer Christians. Former church leaders don’t want ministry involvement anymore and satisfied of being church attendees. Why? Perhaps, the culprit could be burnout. They were overwhelmed by ministry demands and challenges. So, they quit.

But wait! One may point out: The Holy Spirit does not produce burnout as fruit. Right? Burnout is real among Christians when human effort is the primary factor when ministering. Our world admires human efforts—education, training, experiences, skill and talents to accomplish what we wish to accomplish.

Human effort is essential element of successful careers but human effort won’t assure success in God’s kingdom. Why? Christ said in Act 1:8, 8You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.

God’s business requires power from His Spirit. The Lord has prepared which ministry He wants us to be involved with. And, our attitude, behavior and experiences in the ministry exhibit if Christ is at work in us. We serve the Lord with gladness because His Spirit produces fruit in us, and we’ve got joy to serve.

It says in Nehemiah 8:10, 10The joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehemiah led the Israelite in rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. Doing God’s business needs strength that comes from God. Despite oppositions who tried to discourage and demoralize them, Nehemiah reminded the Israelites that their strength comes from the Lord, and they completed Jerusalem wall in 52 days.

Building the wall of Jerusalem in 52 days was not impossible with God. There are impossible things with humans but with God nothing is impossible!

Anyway, when the sons of Jacob told him that Joseph instructed them to bring all their families to Egypt, Jacob may have found it impossible that Joseph became the ruler of Egypt. How could that be? When he saw the carts that Joseph sent to carry him to Egypt, he was satisfied, and he was convinced.

3. Satisfy

27But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

You may observe that there’s switching between the name Jacob and Israel until the last chapter of Genesis. Some interpreters suggest it as transition.

The descendants of Jacob were called Israelites and not Jacobites. Bible scholars interpret the name Jacob is used to signal his humanity and the name Israel is used to signal his spirituality or when he practice faith in God.

Anyway, Jacob’s sons said that Joseph sent the carts to carry him, and he also sent him gifts and provided food supply for their journey. Were the carts, gifts, and provisions enough to convince Jacob that Joseph sent them for him?

Did his sons report what Joseph told them that he was forced against his will to be in Egypt as God’s strategy to save lives? Joseph also instructed his brothers to tell Jacob all the honors accorded him in Egypt. And the carts that Joseph sent to carry him to Egypt had the permission of Pharaoh.

Jacob was satisfied and convinced because he knew Joseph has that heart to forgive his cruel brothers. Jacob knew that Joseph has truly cared for him. He had concern about his health and his well-being. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite because he observed how Joseph took care of him lovingly. How?

Interpreters suggest his care and respect of Jacob made him favorite son. It says in Genesis 37:22Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, …and he brought their father a bad report about them.

This is common! Older siblings intimidate younger siblings to keep their wickedness secret. Younger siblings are scared to report malicious mischief for fear of retaliation. Such incident is not strange with Joseph and his brothers.

Perhaps, his brothers sold sheep for personal leisure. When merchants buy sheep from Jacob, they say, “Your sons gave cheaper price!” Open secret!

Jacob may have confirmed those bad reports from Joseph. Joseph did not mind his safety. He told his father everything he knew, and Jacob reprimanded them so that they hated Joseph. Jacob may have heard that they sold Joseph.

Retaliation is not unusual. ‘Eye for eye’ principle controls the sinful mind.

Victims of Unfairness?

Have you ever experienced discrimination at work? A director of a nursing home was accused of discrimination, and a federal class action lawsuit was filed against her. Accordingly, she discriminated non-Filipino nurses and offers Filipino nurses better schedules as her retaliation after another complaint was filed previously against her about unfair treatment of the complainant.

Unfairness is always experienced wherever we are situated. But, if we are to testify about the Lord’s wonderful work in our life, we’re to imitate His lifestyle.

The Lord Jesus testified in John 14:31, 31I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me. It also describes in 1 Peter 2:23, 23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.

For sure, we need the Lord’s empowerment for us to endure challenges.

Lord Jesus had endured His suffering on the cross and never retaliated because He loved His Father and did exactly what His Father commanded Him.

Joseph had exemplified how to live a lifestyle like Christ. His brothers were cruel to him but he did not mind his safety. He did not retaliate. He just wanted to please his father Jacob. Jacob was pleased, and Joseph became favorite son.

It’s possible that his brothers admitted to Jacob that they sold him and that was why he came to Egypt. Jacob was convinced when they told him everything about Joseph (troubles and honor). God may have given discernment to Jacob so that he was convinced that his sons weren’t telling lies at that time.

So, what lesson from our passage can we apply practically in our life?

Impossible things that only God can do may possibly happen in our life when we live a Christ-like lifestyle to obey exactly His instructions for us.

Do you have an idea in mind that you may assume as impossible to be done by your human effort but the Lord has accomplished in your life?

What have you desired and wished that the Lord may accomplish in your life because you assumed that it’s impossible for you to do personally?

What have you heard or sensed that the Lord is telling you to do but you resisted it because you assumed that it is impossible for you to accomplish?

Have you heard God calling you to join the fulltime ministry?

Have you heard God prompting you to share your testimony to relatives, friends, classmates, officemate, or neighbors?

Have you heard God calling you to follow Christ through water baptism and become a member of this church?

Do you wish to see the impossible become possible in your life?

Say, “Yes Lord, I want to follow You. Take care of my life and decision!”

Then ask God, “Increase my faith, Lord! Give me a firm decision that I may obey and cannot say no to You! Lord, what is it that You want me to do?”

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