Don’t Be Afraid

Genesis 43:15-25

15So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.” 17The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house.

18Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.”

19So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20“We beg your pardon, our lord,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. 21But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. 22We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.”

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.” Then he brought Simeon out to them. 24The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. 25They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.

Introduction

What is it that terrifies you? Are you afraid of the dark, ghost, disease, bad elements, financial bankruptcy, or uncertainty of future? Are you afraid of natural calamities that may possibly happen—earthquake, tornado, or snow storm? Well, you’re not alone! It’s normal! The earliest Disciples of Christ were scared too.

At one time, Jesus and His disciples were sailing by boat when a furious storm disturbed their voyage. A strong wind blew. Huge waves violently rocked their boat. The disciples were terrified but it says in Mark 4:38-40, 38Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

What? Jesus slept during storm? Yes! Christ cannot be bothered by storm. By faith in Christ, we should not be shaken by storm. Yet, like the disciples, we’re also scared when storm of life rocks and rattles us. Pray for God’s peace. Peace that comes from the Lord gives us composure when storm of life attacks.

The Lord said in John 14:27, 26The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.  27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

We ask God for peace. How do we know we receive it? We’ve got peace from God when problems cannot bother or make us afraid. When His Spirit, the Holy Spirit prevails in us, He produces peace in us. How do you prove that you trust Christ as your Lord? You’ve got peaceful heart amidst storms of life.

It says in Psalm 27:1, 1The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

King David was a smart warrior but he’s not easily terrified by his enemies. Why? David trusted in the Lord to save him. As young shepherd, David killed a lion and a bear before he defeated the scary giant Goliath. One may wonder if King David had ever been afraid of anything. What do you think? King David was normal human being, and he knew what to do when he was afraid.

King David said in Psalm 56:3, 3When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

During severe famine, there was shortage of food in Canaan but there was abundant food supply in Egypt. Jacob instructed his sons to buy grain but his sons were scared to return to Egypt. Previously, they were accused as spies. And, to prove that they were not spies, they were required to present Benjamin, as proof of their innocence, but Jacob did not want him to go to Egypt. Why?

His sons said that they’re accused as spies, and Simeon was imprisoned in Egypt, Jacob was scared that Benjamin may possibly be harmed in Egypt. But, severe famine has prolonged, and his household was starving. Reluctantly, he let Benjamin go to Egypt to be presented as proof that his sons were not spies.

1. Present

15So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.” 17The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house. 

The sons of Jacob presented themselves to Joseph, the Prime Minister of Egypt but he acted very formally before them. Joseph may have recognized Benjamin but he didn’t ask if they were prepared to prove their innocence.

The brothers became anxious. They were confused why Joseph ordered his steward to prepare a lunch with them when he was harsh to them previously. They cannot stop thinking why they were invited to eat lunch in the house of the harsh ruler. They may have observed how the servants obeyed Joseph diligently. His servants did not ask how or what food to prepare for lunch.

Did Joseph’s servants know exactly what he wanted to eat for lunch?

Did the brothers observe the servants obeyed Joseph without reluctance? When the manager of Joseph’s house did just as he was told, it implies that he knew exactly what Joseph wanted to eat for lunch. It also implies that Joseph trusted his steward to decide what food to prepare for the Hebrew brothers.

It says in Proverbs 22:29, 29Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.

Would you agree that Joseph had a reliable steward in Egypt? Joseph was reliable when he served as manager in the house of Potiphar. Therefore, he knew exactly what qualifies a diligent and most-trusted manager of his house.

The Lords warns in Luke 12:35-44, 35“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

41Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?” 42The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? 43It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. 44Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 

Our Lord Jesus is the King of kings. He deserves service with faithfulness. Anytime, He will be back and we will reign with Him on earth for a thousand years. He will assign each believer to a position appropriate to faithful services.

It says in 1 Peter 4:10, 10Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Faithfulness is fruit of the Holy Spirit. The Lord expects us also to serve Him according to His standards of righteousness. Christ instructed in Matthew 6:33, 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This command is also guiding principle of service to God.

How should we serve God? We seek His kingdom, respect His authority, and follow His instruction diligently. How do we know the standard of God? We seek His righteousness and we perform according to His righteous commands.

Did Joseph treat his servants fairly? Did his servants cheerfully serve him? Joseph was a servant of Potiphar before he became Prime Minister of Egypt, and he knew how to choose servants who serve with diligence and enthusiasm. His servants knew that service for high ranking officials demands high standard.

Christ has commanded perfection as standard of service in Matthew 5:48, 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Perfection is God’s standard of service! But, nobody is perfect except God!

By faith we believe that we will enter the perfect heaven of God one day. And, by faith in Christ we are made new and perfect in the eyes of God, and we attain the perfect standard of God when empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Do you presume that mediocre service is acceptable to God?

2. Presume

18Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.”

When the brothers presented themselves, Joseph said nothing to them.

They might have felt like they were ignored but at the same time, confused when they heard that they eat lunch with Joseph, not in a restaurant but in his house. They felt ignored and honored to be the guest of the harsh ruler of Egypt.

Their confusion on how Joseph acted before them made them presume that something more terrible than their first encounter with him may happen. The first time they met Joseph they were treated harshly, and they were regarded as spies. Will they be treated worse than their previous experience?

19So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20“We beg your pardon, our lord,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. 21But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. 22We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.”

The brothers cannot wait much longer. They anticipated for the worse scenario. They have to explain themselves. They mentioned about the silver in their sack that the steward of Joseph never bothered to ask about. What caused them to presume that the steward would ask about the silver in their sack?

They were confused. They felt guilty. They presumed to be in danger.

King David prayed in Psalm 55:9, 9Lord, confuse the wicked, confound their words, for I see violence and strife in the city.

What will you do when others say undesirable things behind your back?

To live a lifestyle acceptable to the Lord, sooner or later, others will malign or spread rumors about you, if you haven’t experienced yet. What do you do?

It says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Our tendency is to panic, get angry, confused when others are conniving against us. We can only rejoice, pray, give thanks to God in all circumstances, good or bad situation included, when the Spirit of Christ produces fruit in our life.

What happens when we praise God when situations are not certain?

King Jehoshaphat

King Jehoshaphat learned their enemies have advanced to attack them. He resolved to inquire of the Lord. Then the Spirit of God came to a Levite, and the man told him not to be afraid because the battle belongs to the Lord.

It says in 2 Chronicles 20:21-23, 21Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

22As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

The Lord confused the enemies of King Jehoshaphat when he resolved to seek and praise the Lord despite of his fear.

Many times, the Lord allows us to be afraid to seek his help. Moreover, when we live a lifestyle acceptable to the Lord, other people may connive against us, and it may confuse us. But, don’t be afraid! Rejoice always, pray continually and give thank to God. He will take care of our concern.

The brothers of Joseph tried to present themselves as innocent as they can before Joseph but they were confused when they were invited to have lunch with him in his house. So, they prepared their gifts for Joseph.

3. Prepare

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.” Then he brought Simeon out to them. 24The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. 25They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.

The manager of the house of Joseph may have observed that the brothers were so scared and confused. He tried to calm them down. He even assured them that he received the payment for the grain they purchased the first time they came to Egypt. And, when he brought Simeon out to them, it may have helped the brothers rest assured that everything was just fine.

Previously, when the brothers came to buy grain in Egypt, Joseph ordered that Simeon be bound before their eyes and put him in prison to make sure that they will return and bring Benjamin with them. Reuniting with Simeon after he was brought to them should have made them feel comforted.

The steward of Joseph gave them water to wash their feet and food for their donkeys without any charge. Such gesture may have even confused the brothers. They may have thought, “How could this steward be very generous to them when? It must have been ordered by Joseph!”

Truly, they were accused as spies, yet they were treated with hospitality. What’s the catch? Why sudden kindness and generosity?

Is it easy for you to shows kindness and generosity to strangers?

King David

When the Amalekites took as captive the wives and children of David and his men David inquired of the Lord, and they pursued the Amalekites. And on their way, they found a needy stranger in the field. They gave him water to drink and food to eat. He ate and drank, and he was revived, for he had not eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and three nights.

David asked him in 1 Samuel 30:13-15, 13“Who do you belong to? Where do you come from?” He said, “I am an Egyptian, the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I became ill three days ago. 14We raided the Negev of the Kerethites, some territory belonging to Judah and the Negev of Caleb. And we burned Ziklag.” 15David asked him, “Can you lead me down to this raiding party?” He answered, “Swear to me before God that you will not kill me or hand me over to my master, and I will take you down to them.”

David and his men defeated the Amalekites and recovered everything, their wives, children and their livestock. Nothing was missing.

An opportunity to help or be kind could be the Lord’s instrument that may lead to the answer to your prayer request.

Do you like to watch the “Undercover Boss” show?

The stranger you may help, show kindness to could refer you to a stable job you are praying for. Be prayerful to discern God’s leading.

The very person you have been trying to ignore could be the very person God has assigned to help you in your prayer request.

Anyway, the celebration of Lord’s Supper reminds us of our mandate to make disciples. The person you may show kindness might become your disciple.

But one thing that may scare us is: What if Christ returns today?

Are you ready to hear Him tell you, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!?”

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