And they said to them, "May the Lord look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh's sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us."

From great joy, jubilation, adoration and worship, came the pressure and brutality of the world upon the children of Israel. No sooner that they had set their minds to follow after and seek the plans of the Lord for their lives, came a swift retaliation by the enemies of God's people. As it was then, so it is today, we purpose in our hearts to love and serve the Lord, we should expect the warfare to ramp up. Don't be lulled into a place where we are blindsided, but anticipate that there will be retaliation by the enemy as we move out in Him. In this passage, we see fear, anger, frustration and rejection of God as the people moved away from love in the Lord, to reacting in the flesh. Let's not go there, keeping our eyes focused on Him.

Pastor Russell

"So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped."

As Moses and Aaron told the people all that the Lord had shared with them, they received with gladness the news of His concern for them. Four centuries of bondage and servitude had not gone un-noticed, as He had heard their groanings and cries for help. He made them ready for their departure from Egypt, as they bowed low in worship, their hearts filled with thanksgiving and joy of the Lords faithful provision. We today can be reminded of Gods faithful provision for the Body of Christ, we are humbled before Him in worship with the anticipation of His sure return.

Pastor Russell

"And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah"........"Zebulun were a people who despised their lives even to death, and Naphtali also, on the high places of the field."

As we went through the last words of Jacob to his sons in Genesis 48, we had the opportunity to look briefly at the lives and families of his sons. Jumping out at us we a few notable events, such as in the times of the Judges. Deborah a prophetess of the tribe of Issachar, was one who was raised up to battle the Canaanites, who had severely oppressed the children of Israel. We see the valiant bravery of these fellow tribesmen as they waged war with little regard to their own ease and welfare. As the battle raged on then, it does too today. The Lord is still looking for warriors today, to go forward against the oppression and attack of the enemy.

Pastor Russell

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end."

As we turn a hard corner finishing up 2020, we look forward to the next year upcoming,  sure to be fraught with challenges. Covid still in our midst, economic woes ballooning,  rampant corruption and covert intrusion by our enemies, unfinished results with our elections....much lies unsettled in the hearts and lives of people. The one sure thing is the faithfulness of the Lord. He truly has made all things appropriate in His time. Don't fear child of God, cast all your cares upon Him, for He truly cares.

Pastor Russell

"For Thy salvation I wait, O Lord."

In recent studies, we've commented on pearls of wisdom in little one-line verses. Ages and spaces of time set in the space of one comma, the significance of jots and tittles in regards to Hebrew meanings. And here, sandwiched in between this descriptive of Jacob's sons, we find verse 18. So patient and good is the Lord, He reminds us of no matter who or no matter what, our hope should be in Him. Amidst all the business or concerns of life, all that really matters is our focus on Him. Today life is filled with distraction and worry, but wait on Him you child of God, for He never fails.

Pastor Russell

"Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow."

During the Christmas season, we all like giving and receiving gifts, especially the receiving part. But for our Heavenly Father, it was with great joy and satisfaction that He gave His only begotten Son, who would come born of a virgin, to walk this earth and go to the cross on our behalf for forgiveness of sin. to be the Savior of the world for all who would receive Him. Given for all mankind, the Child of God, the Perfect gift has come.

Pastor Russell

And he blessed Joseph, and said, "The God whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day...."

As the aged Jacob blessed his son Joseph and his two sons, he rehearses God's faithfulness and charges them that they would commit to memory and pass the same along to their offspring. You see, the knowledge of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, would be passed down to the many generations of Jews to this day, and the stories of His faithfulness would be forever emblazoned upon their hearts and minds. The Jews, though wayward at times, such like many of us, His love never fails. Our great high Shepherd, He never fails.

Pastor Russell

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest upon His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."

Entering the Christmas holiday season, we are strongly reminded of God's greatest gift for all men, for all time, the gift of His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. While we worship Him daily, throughout the year, even more so the scriptures that speak of His birth, the songs and carols we sing, gifts given and received, remind us of His love for us. This season, look to Him, not allowing the daily grunge of life distract us from all of His majesty and grace.

Pastor Russell

"Now Israel lived in the land of Egypt in Goshen, and they acquired property in it and were fruitful and became very numerous."

The ragtag band led by Jacob from the land of Cannan, now Israel, found themselves nestled in the best of the land of Egypt. God would use extraordinary methods to preserve his people from famine, and then place them in a surrounding abundant with all that was needed to thrive. Yet to get there, it would mean facing hardship, sacrifice and perseverance to achieve all that was before them. There would be no shortcuts or easy outs, but only hope, faith and trust in the Lord. For some, it was just being moved along, oblivious to what God was doing. For others, it was a more conscious knowledge that God was in control, and that He was working all things out to His glory. Wherever we may be today, remember that God has a plan for your life, plans for good, for our welfare and hope.

Pastor Russell

When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, "This is one of the Hebrew children."

The little boy in the basket was none other than Moses, who would one day grow up to be the deliverer of the children of Israel. This child, like many, was earmarked for death by drowning at the command of the cruel pharaoh. Yet the Lord would deliver by drawing him out of the watery grave, placing him in pharaohs house to be raised by his daughter, as a prince of Egypt. As we saw Joseph in the book of Genesis, shanghaied, waylaid, sold into slavery, then imprisoned, we just don't know the course of our life that the Lord has set before us. Like Moses, He's drawn us out of the dark, depths of death, and delivered us to be alive in Christ as children of the Light. Hang on, the ride gets bumpy at times, but He's in control, working His best plans and purposes for our lives.

Pastor Russell

So Jacob said to Pharaoh, "The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have I attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning." And Jacob blessed Pharaoh,

Sandwiched between two verses where we find Jacob blessing Pharaoh, is his honest appraisal of his life. Perhaps it was his deceiving his father to secure the blessing of the first born or taking advantage of his brothers' hunger in securing the birthright. Tricked into a marriage by his uncle, and then years of servitude, accompanied by strife within the home between two wives who were sisters. His return to Cannan was accompanied by fear of his brother's wrath, and then even wrestling with the angel of God, who would touch him. Like Jacob, our own lives fraught with bumps and bruises, miscues and out and out rebellion, till we are touched by the Lord. Like Jacob who would end up in submission, one who sought to bless others, we too can be a blessing to others as we receive God's touch for our lives. God's best was yet to come for Jacob, so it is for us too.

Pastor Russell

"And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."

Joseph's brothers were still filled with fear and the thoughts of retribution by their brother. Joseph struggled conveying this truth to his brothers, that God had used their ill conceived plans to His glory and for the furtherance and preservation of His people. At times, like Joseph, it seems that bad things happen to good people, causing them to doubt, become discouraged or question God. Examples we have in the bible like Joseph, who remained true to his call by the Lord, become as stones of remembrance laid up for us that we remain steady and stay the course even in the most difficult of times, trusting that He is still on the throne.

Pastor Russell

"And he kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward his brothers talked with him."

Here within two short chapters (44-45) of Genesis, we see God's word paint some very powerful pictures of the coming alongside and conviction of the Spirit, confession, and forgiveness given and received in the redemptive work of Christ, and the love and restorative work of the Father. The years of living a lie, guilt and wonder, sadness, loneliness, fear and anxiety all made good in the lovingkindness of the Lord. While we wouldn't want to be part and party to any willful transgression, we see here the faithfulness of the Lord in working all things out to His glory within the hearts and lives of these men. The Lord is truly able to do beyond what we think or ask in Christ Jesus.

Pastor Russell