August 8 – August 14, 2017

WORD

1Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as an alien, the land of Canaan.  2This is the story of the family of Jacob.  Joseph, being seventeen years old, was shepherding the flock with his brothers; he was a helper to the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father.  3Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he had made him a long robe with sleeves.  4But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

12Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem.  13And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem?  Come, I will send you to them.” He answered, “Here I am.”  14So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock; and bring word back to me.”  So he sent him from the valley of Hebron.  He came to Shechem, 15and a man found him wandering in the fields; the man asked him, “What are you seeking?”  16“I am seeking my brothers,” he said; “tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.”  17The man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’“  So Joseph went after his brothers, and found them at Dothan.  18They saw him from a distance, and before he came near to them, they conspired to kill him.  19They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer.  20Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; then we shall say that a wild animal has devoured him, and we shall see what will become of his dreams.”  21But when Reuben heard it, he delivered him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.”  22Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but lay no hand on him” —that he might rescue him out of their hand and restore him to his father.

23So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the long robe with sleeves that he wore; 24and they took him and threw him into a pit.  The pit was empty; there was no water in it.  25Then they sat down to eat; and looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.  26Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?  27Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.”  And his brothers agreed.  28When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.  And they took Joseph to Egypt.

Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28

Reading Scripture to Know:

  • What is happening/being said? (Observation)
  • Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
  • What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
  • What does it mean? (Understanding)
  • What does it mean for us? (Application)

Reading Scripture to Grow:

  • What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
  • Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
  • How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
  • How does this Scripture reveal God?
  • How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
  • How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
  • What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?

Scripture Reads Me:

  • This passage makes me feel…
  • This passage makes me think about…
  • This passage reminds me of…
  • This passage teaches me that God is…
  • This passages teaches me that I am…
  • This passage challenges me to…

Reflection: But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

Have you ever been bitten by the green-eyed monster known as Jealousy?  (As a person with green eyes I resent that name a little!)  Jealousy can plague us all.  Though jealousy can seem benign at first, it can consume us if we let it.  Sometimes we are jealous of what people have or what they have accomplished.  We can also be jealous of others who seem to have it easier than us and have not suffered in the ways we have.  Jealousy can easily creep up at work (“I wish I made as much as her”) or in the neighborhood (“I wish I had his car/house/gadgets”).  When we let jealousy inside our hearts and minds, we can become obsessively focused on dangerous thoughts such as “If I only had what he had” or “If she could only go through what I have gone through.”  Woe to us when we wish others blessings upon ourselves and desire our sorrows for others!

The truth is, though, we do not know what others have gone through or what their lives are like once they are out of the social “eye.”  We all know blessing and we all know sorrow.  God loves us all and does not show favorites.  When we realize that God is the one who provides for us and leads us, then we can find the antidote to jealousy: contentment.  When we are content, we can pray for others instead of envying others.

Unfortunately, Jacob did not parent in a God-like fashion.  If anyone should’ve known better, it was Jacob.  He had experienced his fair share of sibling strife because of his mother and father favoring him and Esau, respectively, over the other.  This resulted in jealousy and hate toward Joseph by his older brothers.

Though God eventually worked a bad situation into a life-saving grace for Joseph, his family, and the people of Egypt, think of how much grief everyone could have been spared had Joseph’s brothers (and Jacob, for that matter) had made better choices.  God could still have provided salvation from the coming famine through Joseph’s wisdom and trust in God had Joseph never been sold into slavery by his brothers.  Let us be careful to excuse the jealousy of the brothers because of the good that came out of it.  The God of goodness works in spite of our bad decisions, not because of them.

Allow God to examine your heart this week.  Is there any jealousy in you?  Do you lack contentment?  How might our jealousies and petty grievances keep us from experiencing God’s goodness?  Allow God to purify your heart and give you love where hatred resides and contentment where jealousy is found.

 

SPIRIT

Prayer Focus: When some Midianite traders passed by, they drew Joseph up, lifting him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver.  And they took Joseph to Egypt.

One of the great tragedies of our world is human trafficking.  There have been several stories in the news in the past few weeks about the horrors and dangers of trafficking human beings across borders in perilous, inhumane conditions that sometimes turn deadly.  Others are trafficked in and out of the country for nefarious purposes that objectify and severely harm human beings.  In fact, one of the busiest areas of human trafficking is only two hours away from us in Atlanta, GA.  Pray for those who are victims of this horrible crime.  Ask God to change the hearts of those who would subject their fellow human beings to this treatment.  Trust God to empower the law enforcement and aid workers who combat this evil every day.

Meditation Focus: “What are you seeking?”

Though this was simply a question Joseph was asked by a man as Joseph was wandering in the fields, imagine that it is the question God is asking you today as you wander about the journey of life.  What are you seeking in life?  Are you seeking God or are you seeking self?  In your mind, picture where you have wandered this week.  Has it been on the paths God has laid before you?  Have you been wandering around lost within yourself? God asks you the question, “What are you seeking?” in love and mercy.  God desires you to seek him.  Imagine God taking you by the hand and leading you upon paths of grace and blessing.  Commune with God along this road.  Whisper the answer to the question as a prayer throughout the week – “God, I am seeking you.”

Journaling Focus: Joseph brought a bad report of his brothers to their father.

It is a little difficult to feel sorry for Joseph in this passage.  Though no one deserves what he experienced, it is easy to understand how Joseph could irritate his older brothers.  For instance, read verses 5-11 (which are omitted from our weekly Scripture) to see how Joseph explained his dreams to his brothers.  Also, Joseph’s garment (which was traditionally translated as “coat of many colors,” but has been updated to reflect our better understanding of the original Hebrew text) is described as “a long robe with sleeves.”  In other words, Joseph does not wear “work clothes.”  Instead, while Joseph’s brothers are busy doing difficult labor, Joseph is living in comfort.  How could Joseph have handled his chosen status differently?  How can we act in a more loving and egalitarian manner toward others who are less materially or socially comfortable than we are?  How can/do your actions and attitudes affect the impression people have of Christians in general?

Holy Action: 

Check out the following website to learn how the United Methodist Women are battling human trafficking: www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/human-trafficking

Breath Prayer: Father, deliver us.

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