Tag Archives: anxious

light of the world

Night time in an unfamiliar terrain can be a scary place. With darkness all around, a traveler is not sure what lies ahead. The pitfalls of the land are unknown, so anxiety increases and nerves grow razor-thin. Have you ever been in this situation?

Israel was. As they were leaving Egypt, they found themselves in the unfamiliar territory of the desert. They were unsure what lie ahead, but the Lord gave them guidance. Exodus 13 records the Lord leading Israel by a pillar of fire. The light provided by this pillar gave Israel protection, it provided salvation, and it helped the people remember the Lord was with them.

Like Israel, life may place us in some unfamiliar territory, and the Lord will give us guidance in these moments. Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Just as Israel followed the pillar of fire, we can follow him.

“here is a promise of salvation much greater than Israel experienced. For it is deliverance not just from a national enemy, but from the forces of rebellion against God that lie behind every form of evil in the world. And, this deliverance is not just a rescue from darkness and a glimpse of the light, but an ongoing life apart from darkness through possession of the light of life,” according to the IVP New Testament Commentary. Jesus is our guiding light.

It is through Jesus we find protection, salvation, and the truth the Lord is with us. He is our light in unfamiliar places. He is our light guiding us through the darkness of this world. What areas of life do you need the Lord’s light to shine?

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bread of life

The people of Israel found themselves in the desert where there are not a lot of food choices. Walking through the desert day after day is bound to strike up a hunger, so they had to eat something. They did not know what they were going to eat so the people grumbled. They had been pulled out of the fertile lands of Egypt and placed in the dry, parched desert. How on earth were they going to survive? Anxiety levels elevated; the Israelites quickly forgot how the Lord brought them out of Egypt.

But the Lord had a plan. Exodus 16 reveals the Lord sent manna each day for the Israelites. Verses 21-22 record, “Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much, two omers, for each person, and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses.” For the entirety of their trip, the Israelites were provided manna. The Lord met their needs.

The Israelites were taught a valuable lesson. The Lord can provide for our needs. What seemed impossible to them, was easy for the Lord. They saw a dry and parched land, but the Lord saw a bread basket. The Lord had provisions to meet the need. All the Israelites had to do was trust him.

Later, Moses recalled, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The people spent 40 years in the desert, yet they had food, water, clothes that stayed wearable, and feet that were not swollen. The Lord continually met their needs.

The Bible teaches the Lord is still in the need meeting business today. John 6:35 says, “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Like the Israelites, our anxiety levels may be high. We may not understand how the Lord could possibly meet the needs in a situation or circumstance we are facing, but he put manna on the ground. What needs do you need to trust the Lord to meet today? Like the Israelites, he desires for us to trust him with our needs.

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Are you lost, confused, scared, or anxious?

Psalm 107 offers hope and help.

Lost, scared, confused, and anxious are emotions described in Psalm 107. It may be easy for us to relate to these emotions.

We are not lost in the desert or being tossed on the open sea by a storm, but we may be lost in life being tossed by many circumstances. I believe we can easily relate to the Psalmists descriptions.

We may be lost in a crisis, not knowing which direction to turn. We may be scared about the future, not knowing what tomorrow holds. We may be anxious about an economic downturn and potential recession. Trade the desert winds and sea’s waves for the worries and struggles of today, and we are easily in Psalm 107.

Psalm 107 records the Lord provided deliverance each time he was called upon.

Verse 6 says, “Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.”

As we find ourselves lost and tossed in life, we can cry out to the Lord, and he will deliver us from our distress. Psalm 107 reminds us scared and lost people have cried out in the past, and the Lord has been faithful to deliver them from their troubles. The same is true for us.

In turn, the Psalmist encourages us to give thanks to the Lord.

Verse 8 says, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.”

  • Give him thanks for what he has done.
  • Give him thanks for his deliverance.
  • Go ahead and give him thanks for what he is going to do.

To those in distress today, Psalm 107 suggests crying out to the Lord. We should also be sure to give him thanks today.

What take-aways do you find in Psalm 107? Share in the comments below.

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3 Benefits to Staying Calm in Overwhelming Situations

Clear thinking helps us get through the heaviest of situations.

It was a sunny Saturday morning, and the van made several turns before stopping. The driver said, “Let the training begin. Get out. I’ll see you back at the training facility.” The team with their guide dogs got out. They were lost.

What street were they on? What direction did they need to go? They were faced with a choice. They could panic or stay calm.

Staying calm awards, you and I benefits in overwhelming circumstances.

1. Staying calm keeps us thinking clearly.

Our minds are not fogged by panic, so we can process the situation. We can clearly see the event and any options available to us. Clear thinking will help us ask appropriate questions and develop strategies for moving forward.

2. Staying calm helps us respond rather than react to the situation.

Often reacting to a situation makes it worse. Our reaction is not thoughtful, so it doesn’t solve the problem. Responding with a thoughtful strategy can propel us forward even in the heaviest of situations.

3. Staying calm helps us communicate clearly.

One of the best resources we have in overwhelming situations is each other. Working together will help us create a better path out of the situation than we can make on our own. Staying calm helps us communicate in a more effective way.

Calm communicators think before they speak. They are not irritable and are less likely to drive teammates away by the things they say. Calmness fosters clear communication.

You and I will be placed in overwhelming situations. No one knows what tomorrow holds. The recent Corona pandemic is a good reminder we need to be ready for anything. There are benefits to staying calm when we feel overwhelmed. Staying calm will help us develop and execute a plan to get through the situation.

The lost team made it back to the training facility with no issues. We stayed calm and started walking in what we believed was the right direction. We found someone from the neighborhood, and she gave us more thorough directions. We made it back and had the confidence to stay calm if the events of the training exercise ever occurred in a real-life situation.

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This was originally posted on The Good Men Project.

 

 

3 Suggestions for Coping with Overwhelming Circumstances

74% of respondents reported being overwhelmed and unable to cope. Here are 3 suggestions.

The wind whipped sea tossed the boat as the fierce winds swirled around them. The sky was completely blackened by the thick storm clouds, and the fishermen were overwhelmed by the storm. What should have been a quick and smooth trip across the sea was taking all night and the water was rough. The fishermen were straining at the ores trying to get through the storm, and as each minute passed, the feeling of being overwhelmed increased.

Can you relate? Maybe not to being in a boat amid a storm, but to feeling overwhelmed by circumstances surrounding you. According to a 2018 mental health survey, 74% of respondents reported being so overwhelmed by stress they were unable to cope. So, you are not alone.

According to the study, there were many factors contributing to individuals feeling overwhelmed. Factors included a person’s own, or loved ones, long-term health condition, debt, feeling like messages required an instant response, and younger adults reported being overwhelmed by the pressure to succeed. Comparing oneself to others and low self-esteem were also mentioned as factors.

It may be one of these factors or another causing you to feel overwhelmed, so here are 3 suggestions to keep in mind when feeling overwhelmed.

1. We should focus on the Lord.

Jesus’ disciples can relate to feeling overwhelmed. Matthew 14 records the disciples being in a fierce storm. They had been trying to cross the sea all night, but the boat was buffeted by the waves. Walking on the water, Jesus comes to them, and gives Peter a chance to show us what to do and what not to do in overwhelming circumstances.

Matthew 14:28-30 tells us, “Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink cried out, ‘Lord, save me!”

Peter was in an overwhelming storm, yet he walked on water if he focused on Jesus. It is when he shifted his gaze from Jesus to the waves he began to sink. Focusing on the Lord equals walking on the water; focusing on the waves equals sinking.

When you and I are in overwhelming circumstances, we should focus on the Lord. When we feel we don’t measure up to others, we should remember the Lord loves us, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. When we feel the pressure to succeed, we should remember what success looks like in the Lord’s eyes. When we are feeling overwhelmed, we should focus on the Lord.

It is when you and I lose focus on the Lord we are overwhelmed by circumstances the Lord can overtake.

2. The Lord will grab hold of us.

Peter is sinking, and cries out, “Lord, save me!” The Lord, in turn, grabs hold of Peter.

“Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him…,” says Matthew 14:32.

Jesus grabbed hold of Peter to help him get back in the boat. Jesus will grab hold and help us in overwhelming circumstances.

He grabs hold of us when we believe all options are exhausted and we have no where to turn. He will take our hand and guide us in life’s storms. He grabs us when financial security is gone, physical health is fading, and we are forced into the storm of change.

Who better than Jesus to grab hold of us? In this storm, which is overpowering the disciples, Jesus is taking a walk on the water. In this storm, which is consuming the disciple’s strength, Jesus is about to pass them.

Mark 6:48 says, “Shortly before dawn he went out to them walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them….”

Circumstances we find overwhelming the Lord finds underwhelming. Situations overpowering us don’t even cause the Lord to flinch. When we are consumed by the storm, the Lord is taking a walk. The Lord will grab hold of you and I in overwhelming circumstances.

3. The storm doesn’t last forever.

Peter and his companions were only in the storm for one night. It did not last forever; however, in the middle of the storm, they probably thought it would never end. The disciples would have been exhausted. Hours spent straining at the ores, trying to keep the boat going in the right direction. The elements were physically and mentally demanding, so I’m sure they were tired.

The circumstances which overwhelm you and me will not last forever; however, when they are occurring, it seems like they will never end. We are exhausted. The doctor doesn’t know what to try next. We rearrange our rearrangement of the budget, but we still do not have enough money to pay the bills. We know the situation won’t last forever, but when will it end?

Matthew says the storm ended when Jesus and Peter returned to the boat, and John offers a deeper perspective.

John 6:21 says, “Then they were willing to take him into the boat and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.”

John says the boat reached the shore immediately. For Peter, the darkest, most frightening part of the storm was the last part of the storm. He was closer to shore than he realized. Perhaps the same is true for us.

We may be closer to the end of an overwhelming circumstance than we realize. We may be nearing the end. If nothing else, you and I can honestly say we are one day closer to the end. We are one day closer to the end than we were yesterday.

Meanwhile, the overpowering situation is still swirling around us, and Jesus makes the same statement to us he made to the disciples.

Jesus says, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid,” in Matthew 14:27.

Focus on the Lord. Allow him to grab hold of you and walk with you through the overwhelming season of life. This is not the first time he’s faced overwhelming odds.

This is not the first time the Lord has faced overwhelming odds.

The same day Jesus walked on the water he was faced with the overwhelming challenge of feeding 15,000 to 20,000 people with two fish and a few loaves of bread. The disciples had no idea how to feed that many people with so few supplies, but Jesus did. The Gospel writers tell us there was plenty to eat. Jesus beat overwhelming odds.

Some time after walking on water Jesus was placed in a tomb. The disciples were overwhelmed with sorrow thinking this was the end. But Jesus came out of the tomb leaving it empty. Jesus was not overpowered by death. He knew how to beat it.

Your life may be overwhelming right now. You may be facing circumstances in which you have no idea what to do. The Lord does. “Take courage,” Jesus says, “I am here.”

Acting

Ask the Lord to help you go through the overwhelming circumstances of life.

What suggestions do you have for someone feeling overwhelmed? Please share in the comments below.

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Small ButPotent

Is my influence large enough? Do I reach enough people to really make a difference? These are questions that come to mind as we struggle in our search for significance. This may be especially true in an era of Facebook and Instagram influencers with millions of followers. You look at their accounts and they have millions of followers, but your account does not. I look at their pictures and they have thousands of likes, but my pictures do not. So, we begin to doubt the importance of our influence.

We begin to wonder if we even matter, and ask, “Why do we even bother?” The Bible tells us we do matter. You and I may not be the Billy Graham of our era, but our influence is impactful.

A few will reach millions of people, some will reach thousands of people, but most of us will only reach a few people. Perhaps just one person, but our influence is still meaningful.

A Premium on One

The Bible places a high premium on reaching one person. Glimpse through Luke 15 and we see a high premium placed on reaching one person.

Seeking Out One

Jesus uses 3 parables in Luke 15 to help us understand the importance of reaching one person

A Lost Sheep

A shepherd had 100 sheep and 1 went missing. The shepherd leaves 99 of the sheep to seek out the one who is in danger. He celebrates when he finds the 1 sheep. If the sheep wasn’t important, he would have left it to stay with the other 99.

A Lost Coin

A widow loses a coin in her home, so she moves everything out and sweeps the house until she finds the coin. When she finds the coin, she celebrates. If the coin was not valuable, she would have not risked moving her possessions into the elements of the outdoors to find the coin.

A Lost Son

A father believes his son is never going to be back in his life, but when the boy returns, the father celebrates. He has a grand celebration because his son has come home. If his son was not significant, he would have not celebrated.

Rejoicing Over One

Luke 15 tells us each time one is found there is rejoicing.

  • Verse 7: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
  • Verse 10: “In the same way I tell you there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
  • Verse 32: “But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again. He was lost and is found.”

Reaching just one person is important. Reaching one individual is significant. A small influence is still potent.

A Rock in a Lake

The significance of our influence is like throwing a rock in a lake. The rock hits the water sending out a wave. The first wave sends out a second wave. The second wave sends out a third wave and so on. Each circular wave grows. Each wave is larger than the previous. The wave action starts when the rock hits the water. Our influence is the rock starting the wave affect.

Jesus started with 12.

The Bible reminds us Jesus did not start with millions of followers. He started with only 12. His influence launched from there. The original 12 may have each only reached 12 people and so on. It did not take long until Jesus’ influence was huge.

Most of us will reach a few people and our influence will go out from there. We have a significant place in the Lord’s plan. Reaching a few is as important to the Lord as reaching millions. The Lord has put you and I in a place which matters to him. Our influence has significance.

Acting

With whom do you have an influence? Ask the Lord to help you seize opportunities you have to influence the people around you.

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Do I matter?

Do I matter? This is a question you and I often ask, and the answer is yes, we do matter.

Significance is something we all search for. Not necessarily to always be in the spotlight as that may not be our place or personality, but to know our life matters. We desire to know our work matters. We like to know the choices we make have an impact. We want to know the act of service we offer is needed. Everyone needs to know his or her life is important and making a difference.

Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world filled with jobs that treat us as disposable, institutions who say our contribution doesn’t matter, and bullies who treat us horribly. All causing us to struggle on our search for significance.

The Bible offers encouragement as we are on our significance search. You and I are reminded we are significant in the Lord’s eyes.

You are significant in the Lord’s eyes.

We are already significant in the Lord’s eyes. We have always been significant in the Lord’s sight.

  • “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be,” Psalm 139:13-16 says.
  • Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handy work, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

The Search is Over

Our search for significance can be over. We can find our significance in the Lord.

To the employer who treats us as disposable, the Lord says he is wrong.

To a board of directors who say we have nothing to contribute, the Lord says they are wrong.

To the bullies who point and laugh, the Lord says they are wrong.

We do matter. The choices we make matter. The lives we touch matter. The acts of service we offer matter. Our lives are significant. Our significance is found in the Lord.

Acting

Try memorizing the above Scriptures so the next time you are treated insignificantly, you can remind yourself the Lord says you are significant.

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A Hopeful Promise

Feeling trapped in a hopeless situation? Please know there is always hope in this promise the Lord makes us.

The Promise

John 14:2-3 says, “My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you. And, if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

“I’m coming back for you,” Jesus promises. In a world filled with broken hearts and unkept promises, these words of Jesus give us a promise in which we can fully trust. The promise is coming from a trustworthy source.

Jesus and his disciples are having an intense conversation. Jesus is preparing the disciples for events which will soon take place. The news is unsettling. It is perplexing and frightening to the disciples, so Jesus requests their trust and assures them of his return. Jesus’ words were a familiar comfort to the disciples.

A Familiar Promise

Jesus made his promise of returning in an everyday way to his disciples. An engagement would have immediately come to mind.

Weddings were done differently in the first century as the marriage was arranged. When it was decided a bride and groom would be married, the groom would make a promise to his bride.

He would say something like, “In my father’s house are many rooms, and I’m going to prepare a place for you. When I have finished preparing the place, I will come back to get you. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Newly married couples would live in the groom’s father’s house. If there were several generations living there, it could be a large structure. Upon their engagement, the groom would return to his father’s house to prepare the necessary addition to the home. The only hitch was he did not know when the addition would be completed. His promise did not include date and time. He just promised he would return to get the bride.

While she was anticipating her groom’s return, the bride learned how to have a successful household from her mother, and at night, she would place a lamp in her window so the groom could find her if he returned. The couple would have a beautiful wedding ceremony when the groom returned.

A Hopeful Promise

Think again of Jesus’ words. “My Father’s house has many rooms….” Jesus is giving us the promise of a groom. He has gone to prepare a place for us.

Like a first century bride, our job is to prepare for his return, and just like the bride, we don’t know a date or time.

Jesus is off preparing a place for us, and he has promised us he will return. He has promised you and I he will return, and if we trust him, we can find much hope in this promise.

If you are feeling hopeless, cling to this promise. For there is always hope in Christ.

Acting

How do you find hope in this promise? Share in the comments below.

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Jumping in Trust

Zack and his dad were hiking in the mountains of Tennessee on a sunny afternoon. Zack’s dad hears from above, “Hey dad! Catch me!”

Horrified to see Zack falling from an above cliff, the dad quickly put himself into position and successfully caught Zack. A moment passed while the dad calmed his nerves. Then he asked, “What happened?”

“I jumped,” the boy replied.

Why on earth did you jump,” the dad inquired.

Zack answered, “Because I know you are my dad and I knew you would catch me.”

Zack had complete trust in his dad because he was Zack’s father.

Trust is Foundational

Trust is the foundation for any relationship. Friends must trust each other. Parents and children must trust each other. Husbands and wives must trust each other. Our relationship with Jesus requires we trust him.

Jesus Requests Our Trust

Jesus requests in John 14:1 we trust him.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.”

Jesus is having a conversation with his disciples, and he is giving them much to consider. He’s telling the disciples what is going to happen soon, but from their vantage point, there is still a great deal unknown. Jesus knows it is perplexing, maybe even frightening, for the disciples, so he makes a request that they trust him. The same request Jesus makes of us.

What’s going to happen in the future? If you could know the answer, would you want it? I wouldn’t, but the unknown is nerve-racking too. We dislike the unknown. We find it perplexing and frightening just like the disciples, so Jesus says, “Trust me.”

Jesus asks that we trust him. Trust him with our jobs and careers, our families and relationships, our money and financial health, and our lives. Jesus asks that we trust him with everything.

Why can we trust the Lord?

Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all. How will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

The Lord has proven himself trustworthy by giving us his son. So, the question you and I need to answer is do we trust him? Do we trust him with our jobs and careers, our families and relationships, and money and financial health, and our lives? Do we trust him with everything?

Do we have the complete trust Zack did?

Acting

Make a list of the areas of your life where you may need to trust the Lord more. Ask him to help you build that trust. Share your experience in the comments below.

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God Won’t Leave

Will God leave me? This is a fair question, and one we may ask in a difficult time. The Bible says the Lord will not leave us, and Joseph’s story helps us see the Lord can use the difficult stuff to do some amazing work.

The Beginning of Joseph’s Story

Joseph was one of many brothers, and his father loved him the most causing strain among Joseph and his brothers. It may be safe to say his brothers hated Joseph. Not only did his father love him the most, Joseph had some dreams the family found upsetting.

Over breakfast one morning Joseph told his family he had a dream where they all bowed down to him. This angered his brothers, and Joseph’s dad told him not to speak like this again.

A few days after the breakfast incident, Joseph was sent to check on his brothers as they were tending the sheep. They saw him coming and plotted to kill him, but one brother, Reuben, convinced the boys to throw Joseph in a cistern to avoid bloodshed. They did, but later sold into slavery. Joseph found himself in Egypt where he worked. You would think Joseph had enough trouble at this point, but his troubles continue.

While in Egypt, Joseph is falsely accused of a crime and spends a few years in prison. Bad things certainly happened to Joseph.

Bad Things Happen

Joseph’s story reminds you and I bad things happen in life. We are not immune to adversity and trials, yet we can find great encouragement in God’s word. Scripture teaches God will not leave us when bad things happen.

God will not leave us.

The Lord is committed to staying with us in bad times. Paul, in Romans 8, says the Lord will stay with us when bad things happen.

Romans 8:37-39 says, “No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God.”

None of these things will cause the Lord to leave us. This is an exhaustive list, and to make sure he covers everything, Paul ends the list by saying, “…in all creation.” I hope you find this statement as encouraging as I do. The hardest of times will not drive away the Lord.

The lost job will come, but the Lord will stay. The money trouble will come, but the Lord will stay. Our hearing or eyesight may go, but the Lord will stay. The disease may infect, but the Lord will stay. The mistake may occur, but the Lord will forgive and stay. Nothing will drive the Lord away. Our relationship may be strengthened amid these seasons.

He Carried Her

One night a lady had a dream in which she went to the movies. The movie playing that night was a movie of her life. Each scene was a season of her life, and there were footprints in each scene. She noticed something odd about the footprints.

In the good scenes of her life, there were two sets of footprints. One representing her and the other representing God, but in the bad scenes, there was only one set of footprints.

At the end of the movie, the lady had an opportunity to interview God. “I don’t understand,” she said. “Sir, you promised you would never leave me or forsake me, but in all the tough scenes, there was only one set of footprints. I mean I didn’t do well in math, but if we were both present, would there not be two sets of footprints?”

God answered, “Oh, that’s easy. I had to carry you through all the rough times. You couldn’t make it on your own.”

He’ll carry us in the same way if we just hang on.

The Result of Tough Times

Romans 8 reminds us God works everything together for good. He can use the bad things currently happening to do some amazing work. Joseph’s story didn’t end with him in prison.

The Rest of Joseph’s story

Joseph was wrongly imprisoned, but he did not stay there. While in prison he interprets dreams for a couple of Pharaoh’s officials and is eventually called upon to interpret a dream for Pharaoh. Joseph says a severe famine is going to take place, and his interpretation is so impressive that Joseph is promoted to an Egyptian official. He is given the job of preparing Egypt for the famine.

Through bad things happening, the Lord put Joseph in position to save his family and help them refocus their attention on the Lord.

If Joseph had not been an Egyptian prisoner, he would have not been an Egyptian governor. The iron chains around Joseph’s feet ushered in gold chains around his neck.

Acting

Join me in thanking the Lord today for being with us. Maybe even carrying us through the hardest of times.

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