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Trust, Week 1

Jacob's Dream

Genesis 25:19-34; 27, 28:10-22

You can trust God no matter what.

The Bible.

It’s God’s One Big Story: The epic adventure of how He created us and loves us so much that He made a way to rescue us, even when we turned our backs on Him.

As we travel through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we discover people who met God and found their lives changed forever.

God chose Abraham to be the father of a great nation, and promised that all people would be blessed through him. Though Abraham had to wait many years, God gave him a son, Isaac. When Isaac grew up, God gave him and his wife, Rebekah, twin boys named Jacob and Esau.

Esau, the oldest by a few minutes, was a wild man. One day he went out hunting, but captured nothing to eat. When he arrived home, he was ravenous.

Jacob, the younger son, tended to use his wits instead of his muscles. He offered his older brother a meal. But there was just one catch.

“I’ll let you eat some of this stew,” Jacob offered. “If you give me your rights as the oldest.”

Esau accepted the terrible trade and wolfed down the stew. In a single moment, Jacob had tricked Esau out of his rights as the firstborn son. This meant that now it would be Jacob who would one day lead the family and get the largest share of property and money—all for a bowl of soup!

Jacob wasn’t the only sneaky one in the family. His mother, Rebekah, was a trickster, too. Parents aren’t supposed to play favorites—but Rebekah had chosen Jacob as her favorite son anyway.

As Isaac grew older and weaker, his eyesight began to fail. He called for Esau and asked for a tasty meal, promising to give Esau a special blessing afterward. Rebekah overheard them, and immediately sent for Jacob.

“Go out to the flock,” she told him. “Bring me two of the finest young goats. I will prepare tasty food for your father. I want you to take it to your father to eat. Then he’ll give you his blessing before he dies . . . instead of Esau.”

“I like it!” cackled Jacob, but then hesitated. “Hold on. Esau is hairy. My skin is smooth. If dad touches me, he’ll know I’m not Esau.”

“Just do what I say,” Rebekah told him.

Jacob brought the goats to his mother, who made an extra tasty meal and fresh bread. Then she tied pieces of rough, hairy goatskin over Jacob’s hands and put Esau’s clothes on him.

Jacob nearly gagged. “I don’t smell so good.”

“You’re supposed to be Esau,” Rebekah pointed out. “He doesn’t smell so good either.”

Jacob took the meal to his father, Isaac, pretending to be Esau. Isaac was fooled and gave his special blessing to Jacob. “May [God] give you the richness of the earth,” Isaac declared. “May nations serve you. . . . Rule over your brothers.”

Jacob quickly snuck away, just as Esau arrived with a special meal of wild meat for his father.

“It’s me! Esau,” he announced.

Isaac turned his head and frowned, unable to see clearly. “Then who brought me a meal? I ate it just before you came. I gave him my blessing.”

“Oo, that Jacob . . .” Esau wailed as he realized what must have happened. “What about me? Bless me too!”

Twice now, Jacob had tricked his older brother. Esau was furious. “Jacob is going down!” he raged.

Rebekah overheard Esau’s plans to harm his brother. She called for Jacob. “Esau is planning to get back at you,” she warned. “Run away at once to my brother Laban in Harran. Stay with him until your brother’s anger calms down. . . . Then you can come back.”

Though Jacob was a talented trickster, he wasn’t very brave in the face of Esau’s threats. He knew Esau had a right to be angry. So Jacob left home and started out on his own for Harran. The land stretched out for miles around him in every direction, bare and empty.

Isaac had given his blessing to Jacob, and with it, God’s promise to make a great nation of his descendants. But Jacob had already done so many wrong things. He must have wondered whether God would really be with him and help him.

“It’s getting dark,” Jacob murmured, shivering. “I better make camp . . .”

Jacob had left home so quickly he’d carried very little with him. “I don’t have anything to sleep on!” he said. “Not even a pillow!”

Exhausted, Jacob picked up a smooth stone. Then he lay down and placed it beneath his head like a pillow.

As he fell asleep, a vivid dream overtook him.

In the dream, he saw a grand staircase rising before him. It rested on the ground, but swept high up into the sky, all the way to heaven. Brilliant angels of God climbed up and down the stairway in a blaze of light.

The Lord Himself stood beside the steps. Overwhelmed, Jacob could barely breathe.

“I am the Lord,” God declared. “I am the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your children after you the land you are lying on. They will be like the dust of the earth that can’t be counted. They will spread out to the west and to the east. They will spread out to the north and to the south. All nations on earth will be blessed because of you and your children after you. I am with you. I will watch over you everywhere you go. And I will bring you back to this land.”

Jacob could only gape as the light shone brighter and brighter . . .

Then he woke up. The night was still pitch black. Cold. Jacob shook with fear and awe.

“The Lord is surely in this place,” he gasped. “How holy this place is! This must be the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.”

Jacob couldn’t sleep a wink the rest of the night. Early in the morning, he took the stone he had used as a pillow and placed it where he had seen the stairway in his dream.

“This stone will always stand here as a reminder of God’s presence,” he said.

Jacob even changed the name of the place from Luz to Bethel, which means House of God. He stood up straight, threw back his head, and looked up to heaven.

“May God be with me,” he declared. “May he watch over me on this journey. . . . May he do as he has promised so that I can return safely to my father’s home. Then you, Lord, will be my God.”

As the sun rose higher, Jacob gathered his few possessions and set off once again for Harran. Though he had failed before and would fail again, he knew that he could trust God to be faithful.

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Take a minute and share whether you think Jacob was a good guy.

The truth is, Jacob’s story is pretty wild. Twice he tricked his brother—one time by lying. He stole Esau’s blessing, and then chose to run away when Esau got mad. Jacob definitely was not a model guy! And yet, in spite of all that, God took care of him. God had promised to bless all the nations of the world through Abraham and his family—which included his grandson Jacob. And God’s promises don’t depend on us getting everything right. Jacob discovered he could trust God no matter what—even when he messed up and even when he was on the run for his life. And the same is true for us. No matter what happens, no matter what we’ve done, we can depend on God to work it out in the end. Pray for each other, that you would trust God with the big things and the little things in your life this week.

Coming Soon

Trust, Week 2

Joseph Sold by His Brothers

Genesis 37, 39:1-2

When you think you're alone, you can trust God is with you.

The Bible.

It’s God’s One Big Story: The epic adventure of how He created us and loves us so much that He made a way to rescue us, even when we turned our backs on Him.

As we travel through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we discover people who met God and found their lives changed forever.

God had promised to grow Abraham’s family into a great nation. Abraham’s son, Isaac, and grandson, Jacob, made many mistakes, but God was still faithful and gave them lots of children. Jacob had more than a dozen!

“I have the finest sons in all of Canaan!” he boasted to his gathered family.

Jacob’s next-to-youngest son, Joseph, spoke up. “About that, Dad,” he began. “Dan and Asher let a bear steal three sheep. Because they were too busy setting up a locust race.”

Joseph’s older brothers glared at him.

“Tattle tale!” hissed Dan.

Jacob turned to his older sons. “Is this true?!” he demanded.

“They’re not very good at racing locusts,” Joseph added. “Or watching sheep.”

Joseph’s brothers all knew he was the favorite; Jacob had even given their younger brother a beautiful coat woven with rich colors. And telling the truth didn’t make Joseph any more popular with his older brothers. A short time later, he joined Reuben, Simeon, Dan and all the rest out in the fields as they worked.

“Hey, anyone wanna hear my dream?” he asked. “No,” Dan told him.

But Joseph continued anyway. “We were all tying up bundles of grain. And then all your bundles of grain bowed down to mine!”

“Oh, like that would ever happen!” scoffed Simeon. Joseph shrugged. “Just telling you what I saw.”

A short while later Joseph had another dream. And he didn’t keep this one to himself either.

“There were 11 stars,” he told his family over breakfast. “That’s all 11 of you brothers, bowing down to me.”

“Joseph,” his oldest brother, Reuben, groaned. “You’re not doing yourself any favors here!”

But Joseph kept on talking. “The moon and sun were bowing down to me, too.”

His father Jacob sighed and smiled. “Joseph, my boy,” he said, “You’re a fine young man, but don’t get big ideas. You really think your mother and I would bow down to you?”

Some time later, Jacob had an errand for Joseph to run. “Your brothers are caring for the flocks near Shechem now. Go see how everything’s going. Then come back and tell me.”

Joseph brushed off the sleeves of his beautiful coat and set off for Shechem. But when he arrived, his brothers were nowhere to be found. A local man said he’d heard the brothers say they were going to Dothan.

Joseph set out once more across the wide, empty plains. As he neared Dothan, he could see his brothers and their flocks from far off. His brothers could see him coming, too.

“You’re kidding me,” Simeon hissed. “Is that who I think it is?” “Dream Boy, himself,” sneered Dan.

As Simeon considered, a slow smile spread across his face. “This . . . now, this is an interesting situation,” he said.

“Huh?” asked Dan.

“We’re in the middle of nowhere,” said Simeon. “We could do away with Joe. And no one would ever know!”

Judah jumped in, too. “Then we dump him in an empty well. Nice and easy.” “We can say . . . a wild animal got him!” added Simeon.

Their eldest brother, Reuben, heard these plans. “You can’t kill him!” he exclaimed. “But if you want to mess with him, okay. Just put him down in this empty well.”

Reuben couldn’t stomach what his brothers were about to do, so he left to search for a sheep that had strayed. “They’ll get bored of this,” he told himself. “I can sneak Joseph out later and get him home.”

The other brothers watched with glee as Joseph arrived.

“Hey, Dream Boy,” mocked Dan.

“Things are about to get a little less dreamy for you,” warned Simeon with a smirk.

The brothers circled Joseph, tugging off his coat. They grabbed him and dropped him down into a dry well.

“You can’t do this!” protested Joseph. “It’s dark down here.”

The brothers ignored Joseph’s cries and sat down to dinner. As they ate, a caravan of camels loaded down with spices came trekking right by the brothers’ camp.

“Joseph’s no good to us if we hurt him,” mused Judah. “We gain nothing. But if we sellhim…”

“ . . . we get some cash money!” exclaimed Dan.

The brothers carried out their terrible plan. They pulled Joseph from the well and sold him to the traders for silver coins.

Later, Reuben returned and checked the well, planning to sneak Joseph out. But it was empty.

“He’s gone!” wailed Reuben. “What am I supposed to do now?!”

“Calm down,” said Simeon. “He’s not dead.”

“But what do I tell our father?” wondered Reuben.

Judah held up Joseph’s brightly colored coat. “We do have this,” he pointed out. “Ah, yes,” nodded Simeon. “I see a tragic story unfolding right now.”

The brothers took Joseph’s coat and dipped it in the blood of a goat. Then they carried it to their father.

“So, Dad. We found this,” said Simeon with mock innocence. “Does it belong to Joseph?”

“That’s his robe!” said Jacob, examining the bloodstains in horror. “A wild animal must have attacked him. He’s dead. My son is dead! I will mourn him until I die.”

The brothers exchanged glances. No one, not even Reuben, spoke up with the truth that their brother was still alive.

In fact, Joseph had been taken to Egypt and sold to a man named Potiphar, who was the captain of Pharaoh’s palace guard. Though Joseph was now a slave in a foreign land, God was with him. And over the next few years, God gave Joseph success in everything he did.

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What do you think Joseph felt like, sold by his own brothers, living in a strange land as a slave?

Take a few minutes and talk about it. While most of us haven’t been betrayed that badly, all of us feel alone sometimes. Share about a time you’ve felt alone—or feel alone now—whether it’s at school, work, moving to a new place, or in your neighborhood. It’s possible to feel alone even with lots of people around, or even when things seem to be going okay. But no matter how alone you feel, God is still present with you. He still cares about you, and He is still at work in your story. Pray for each other, that you will know God is with you this week, no matter how alone you may feel.

Coming Soon

Trust, Week 3

Joseph in Jail

Genesis 40

When life doesn't make sense, you can trust God is with you.

The Bible.

It’s God’s One Big Story: The epic adventure of how He created us and loves us so

much that He made a way to rescue us, even when we turned our backs on Him.

As we travel through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we discover people who met God and found their lives changed forever.

Joseph was his father Jacob’s favorite son. But his older brothers became so jealous they sold Joseph to traders who took him all the way to Egypt! Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, became Joseph’s master.

“You must do whatever I say!” ordered Potiphar. “At your service . . . Sir Potiphar,” answered Joseph.

Potiphar’s wife watched Joseph closely. “You—Canaanite scum,” she called. “Go give the pigs a bath.”

“Of course . . . Lady Potiphar,” Joseph answered politely.

God was with Joseph and helped him do well. Soon, Potiphar was giving Joseph bigger and better things to do. In a short time, Joseph was in charge of everything Potiphar owned.

“Sir Potiphar, your entire estate is in perfect order,” reported Joseph, “from the buffalo pens to your rooftop gardens.”

All seemed to be going well for Joseph. Until Potiphar’s wife started testing him. “Well, well, Joseph,” she said. “Look at you. Big man on the estate. You could do anything you like now!”

“Potiphar trusts me!” Joseph protested. “I can’t do anything against him or sin against God.”

But Potiphar’s wife didn’t give up. Every day she bothered Joseph, trying to make him do something wrong.

Joseph refused to give in. “No. No, I can’t.”

At last, Potiphar’s wife got angry and made up lies about him. “Joseph has done something terrible!” she wailed, calling for her husband and the entire household.

Potiphar was enraged. “I trusted you, Joseph,” he hissed. “You’ve let me down.”

“But I didn’t do it!” Joseph tried to explain.

Potiphar wouldn’t listen; he ordered that Joseph be arrested. Even though Joseph had done nothing wrong, guards hauled him off to prison.

The jailer glared down at Joseph. “Parasite!” he barked. “You’re probably worthless like the rest of them.”

“I won’t cause trouble,” promised Joseph. “Here, I’ll clean out all this old straw to get rid of the bed bugs.”

Just as in Potiphar’s house, God was with Joseph and gave him success.

Soon Joseph was in charge of all the prisoners and everything that happened in the jail. One day the jailer dragged in two new prisoners.

“Got a couple live ones from the palace,” he explained. “Need you to sort ’em out, Joe.”

Joseph took a good look at the two men. One was red-faced and beefy. The other was so thin it looked like the wind might blow him away.

“Hey there, I’m Joseph,” he said, introducing himself. “Who are you?”

“I tasted Pharaoh’s drinks to make sure no one put poison in them,” explained the beefy man.

“I was Pharaoh’s baker,” said the thin man. “I make an excellent honey pastry. You should partake of one!”

Joseph made sure the new men were welcomed and checked on them each day. One morning, he found the drink taster staring into his cup of water and the baker weeping into his gruel.

“You both seem sad. What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I had a dream,” moaned the drink taster.

“Me, too!” exclaimed the baker.

“But I don’t know what it means,” added the drink taster. “Me, too!” exclaimed the baker.

“And no one else can tell me,” wailed the drink taster.

“Me, too!” exclaimed the baker.

“Only God knows what dreams mean,” said Joseph. “Tell me what you saw.”

The drink taster scrunched his eyes shut, trying to recall each detail. “I saw a vine with three branches that budded and grew ripe grapes. Then I had Pharaoh’s cup in my hand, and I squeezed the grapes into it and gave it to Pharaoh.”

Joseph smiled. God had given him the meaning of the dream, and it was good! “In three days, Pharaoh is going to give you your job back,” said Joseph.

“Really? Wow!” exclaimed the drink taster.

“Please, when you’re free, speak to Pharaoh and get me out of prison,” asked Joseph. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”

“Totally, man,” agreed the drink taster. “I’ve got your back.”

“What about me?” asked the baker. “My dream is good, too . . . right?” “I need to hear it first,” Joseph pointed out.

“Oh, yes. Of course,” said the baker. “I saw myself with three baskets of superb baked goods for Pharaoh on my head. But some insolent birds kept eating my best pastries!”

Joseph nodded, his heart heavy.

“So I will return to my former job, too . . . right?” asked the baker.

God had given Joseph the meaning to the baker’s dream, too. But it wasn’t happy. Joseph took a deep breath. “In three days, Pharaoh will have you taken out of prison,” he began. “But, well . . . there’s no good way to say this. He’s going to have you put to death.”

The baker stared at Joseph in shock. But there was nothing Joseph could do. Three days later, on his birthday, Pharaoh called for both the drink taster and the baker.

“Ah, my old drink taster,” he said with a smile. “Take your job back.”

Then he turned to the baker and glowered: “Away with him!”

Just as God had told Joseph, the baker was put to death. Joseph was deeply saddened, but he hoped and prayed for the day when Pharaoh’s drink taster would remember him.

“He promised to speak to Pharaoh for me and get me out of here,” Joseph recalled. “Surely he’ll do it soon.”

But the drink taster forgot all about Joseph, and Joseph began to wonder whether he’d be stuck in prison for the rest of his life.

Even though Joseph couldn’t see how anything that had happened made sense, he still knew God was with him. He still trusted that somehow, all the pieces would fit together in the end.

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We all make plans and have an idea of how our lives ought to go.

Share with each other a couple things you expect to happen in the next weeks or months. The trouble is, life often doesn’t go the way you expect. You don’t make the team. That kid who seemed to be your friend ignores you now. You have to switch schools in the middle of the year. Even when things don’t go how you plan and don’t seem to make any sense, God is still with you. He is still working in your story. Pray for each other, that you’ll trust God is with you and at work, even if the things that you expect and plan for don’t work out.

Coming Soon

Trust, Week 4

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dreams

Genesis 41

When the pressure is on, you can trust God is with you.

The Bible.

It’s God’s One Big Story: The epic adventure of how He created us and loves us so much that He made a way to rescue us, even when we turned our backs on Him.

As we travel through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we discover people who met God and found their lives changed forever.

One of them was Abraham’s great-grandson, a man named Joseph. Even though Joseph had done nothing wrong, he had been sold into slavery in Egypt by his own brothers. Then, after years of excellent work, he had been lied about and thrown into prison! Pharaoh’s drink taster had promised to get Joseph out of jail after Joseph told him the meaning of a dream. But that was two years before—the man had forgotten.

“What if I’m stuck in here for the rest of my life?” wondered Joseph.

Taking a deep breath, Joseph went about his daily tasks. The jailer had put him in charge of all the other prisoners, but still, Joseph couldn’t leave.

Joe. Hey, Joe!” called the jailer.

“Don’t worry,” said Joseph quickly. “I taught the new cook how to make porridge without making it taste like charcoal.”

“Forget about that,” commanded the jailer. “You need a shower! You can’t go before Pharaoh looking like some wild man who’s been stuck in prison for years.”

“Actually, that’s what I am,” Joseph pointed out, before realizing what the jailer meant. “Wait, Pharaoh?”

“He’s asking for you,” explained the jailer. “Pharaoh’s had some kinda wild dreams. And that drink taster who got sprung outta here a couple years ago finally remembered you.”

In no time at all, Joseph had cleaned up and was ushered into Pharaoh’s huge throne room. As Joseph’s eyes roamed the huge space, he couldn’t help thinking, “If God doesn’t tell me the meaning of Pharaoh’s dream, I’ll be locked up in jail again. Or worse.”

Pharaoh and all his officials studied the young man standing before them. “I had two dreams last night,” said the Pharaoh. “But not one of my wise men can tell me what they mean. I’ve heard you can explain dreams.”

“I can’t explain dreams myself,” Joseph explained. “But God can!”

Pharaoh frowned, skeptical. “All right,” he said. “We’ll see what your god can do.”

“Tell me your dreams,” said Joseph. “Please.”

“I was standing on the edge of the Nile,” began Pharaoh. “And seven fat cows came out of the river. They started eating the grass. But then seven skinny cows came out of the water. They ate up the fat cows, but they were still skinny!”

Though Joseph was listening to Pharaoh, he was also listening to God. “Okay,” he said. “What about the second dream?”

“I saw seven full heads of grain,” Pharaoh continued. “But then seven thin, dried out heads of grain came up and swallowed the full heads of grain. And then I woke up.”

Joseph took a deep breath. God had given him the meaning of the dreams. Now he must tell Pharaoh, no matter what Pharaoh might do to him.

“Your dreams both mean the same thing,” Joseph explained. “God is showing you there will be seven years with plenty of food in Egypt. But after that, seven more years will come when there won’t be enough food, and terrible hunger will destroy the land.”

Pharaoh glowered at Joseph as if he could change the dream’s meaning with a glare.

Joseph quickly added, “But now you know, you can do something about it! Choose a wise man and put him in charge of gathering food while there’s lots of it. He can store it up. Then during the time there’s no food, the people won’t go hungry.”

Pharaoh nodded and turned to his officials. “The spirit of God is in this man,” he declared. “He’s best for the job, right?”

As the officials all murmured agreement, Pharaoh waved his arm and beckoned Joseph closer. “I’m putting you in charge of the whole land of Egypt,” he said. “Take my ring with the official stamp. Someone find this man linen robes and a gold chain! And get him set up with one of those new 1829BC chariots. Gold rims. The works.”

Within a single day, Joseph had risen from prisoner to the second-most important person in Egypt! At Pharaoh’s request, he traveled all over the land, gathering extra food.

The land grew amazing, beautiful crops for seven years. But the following year, hardly anything grew, just as God had said.

The people cried out to Pharaoh: “We’re going to starve!”

“I hereby disallow starvation!” declared Pharaoh. “Go to Joseph. Do what he tells you.”

The people of Egypt all turned to Joseph, and he provided food for them from the grain he had stored up for the past seven years. In fact, people from other countries who were hungry heard about the grain in Egypt and came to buy from Joseph. Because Joseph had trusted God to be with him during a difficult time, now he and many others were able to survive during those seven lean years.

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Think about a time you had to do something really difficult.

Maybe it was giving a report in front of the class. Maybe it was running a race. Maybe it was walking into a new classroom full of kids you’d never met. Each of you share a moment you remember. In situations where the pressure is on, it’s easy to believe that if you get it wrong, you’ll ruin everything. But the truth is, God is always with you. He is always for you—even if you mess up. Even if you have to deliver bad news or tell a hard truth. And you can always trust Him to work it out, even if you don’t see the end of the story right away. Now share about something coming up soon where you feel the “pressure is on.” Pray for each other, that you’ll trust God and sense His presence during those moments, whatever happens.

Coming Soon

Trust, Week 5

Joseph Forgives His Brothers

Genesis 42-45

You can trust God has a plan.

The Bible.

It’s God’s One Big Story: The epic adventure of how He created us and loves us so

much that He made a way to rescue us, even when we turned our backs on Him.

As we travel through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, we discover people who met God and found their lives changed forever.

One of these was a man named Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham. Long before, Joseph’s older brothers had sold him as a slave. Though Joseph had faced many difficult years in Egypt, he continued to trust God, even when it seemed he was forgotten.

And at the right time, God brought Joseph out of prison and gave him a great position of power in Egypt! In fact, Joseph was second in command after Pharaoh and in charge of all the food supplies in the land.

Joseph had worked hard to store up grain for the whole country. Now a terrible famine had arrived, and the crops in Egypt were failing. People in nearby lands were hungry, too—including Joseph’s father and brothers in Canaan.

“Don’t just sit there looking at each other,” ordered Jacob. “I’ve heard there’s grain in Egypt. Go buy some for us.”

Jacob’s youngest son, Benjamin, jumped up. “I’m on it, Dad!” he exclaimed.

“Not you, Ben!” said his father. “I mean Simeon, Judah, everyone else.”

“Aw, Dad,” sighed Benjamin. “I really want to learn how to walk like an Egyptian.”

But Jacob stood firm. Only the ten older brothers set out for Egypt on their donkeys. When they arrived in Egypt, they came before Joseph and bowed low to him—just as Joseph had seen in his dreams so many years before.

Joseph was shocked to see his brothers. But while he recognized them, they had no idea that it was him—an important Egyptian official. Joseph pretended not to know their language and spoke to them through an interpreter.

“Where do you come from?” he demanded.

“We’re all brothers who came from Canaan to buy food,” Judah explained.

Joseph wanted to test his brothers, so he accused them instead of revealing who he was. “You are spies!” he challenged.

“No sir,” they protested. “We were 12 brothers. . . . Our youngest brother is now with our father. And one brother is gone.”

“I still say you are spies,” snapped Joseph.

“We just came for food!” protested Simeon.

“Prove it,” Joseph commanded. “One of you must stay here in prison while the rest of you go home and bring back your brother. Then I’ll believe you.”

Joseph had Simeon tied up, and then sent his other brothers home with grain and food for the journey. When the brothers stopped for the night, Judah reached into his sack to get food for his donkey. He discovered that all the money he had paid had been returned to him.

“They gave it back!” he exclaimed. “Something’s not right,” Reuben worried.

When the brothers arrived home, they told Jacob everything that had happened as they unloaded their sacks of grain. “They gave my money back, too,” Reuben added. “Everyone’s money!”

Jacob paced the floor, “What kind of trouble have you gotten us into?!” he wondered. “We have to go back for Simeon,” Reuben pointed out. “We have to take Benjamin.”

Jacob stopped and glared. “I’ve already lost Joseph. Now Simeon. And you want to take Benjamin, too? I don’t think so!”

So the brothers stayed home. But soon, the grain they had brought from Egypt was gone. “Go back,” Jacob said at last. “Buy more food.”

“You know we can’t go without Benjamin!” Judah pointed out. “I promise to keep him safe.”

At last, Jacob gave in. “Take lots of gifts,” he ordered. “And twice the money you took before. May God cause this man to show you mercy.”

Once more, the brothers traveled the long road to Egypt. This time, Joseph invited his brothers to a meal at his own home and released Simeon to join them. When Joseph arrived, they all bowed low again. He was overcome to see his youngest brother, Benjamin.

“May God be gracious to you, my son,” he said.

Joseph was so moved he had to leave the room for a few minutes to weep. When he

returned, he ordered his servants to give Benjamin five times as much food as the others.

But Joseph wasn’t finished testing his brothers. He told his manager to fill the brothers’ sacks with grain—and to give back all their money again. But this time, he told them to hide his own special silver cup in Benjamin’s sack.

The brothers were only a few miles down the road when Joseph sent his manager after them. “Stop, rogues!” commanded the manager. “One of you has taken my master’s silver cup!”

“We would never do that,” said Judah. “Search our sacks and see.”

The manager nodded curtly. “If one of you has the cup, you’ll become my slave,” he announced, and began his search with Benjamin’s sack. In moments, he pulled out the silver cup.

The brothers were so upset they tore their clothes and returned to the city to appear before Joseph.

“What have you done?” Joseph demanded.

The brothers knew they were foreigners with no way to make their case to the second most powerful man in Egypt. “We have no way to prove we haven’t done something wrong,” Judah admitted. “So make us all your slaves.”

“Of course not,” said Joseph. “Just the man who stole the cup.”

“We can’t do that!” Judah protested. “Our father already had a son killed by wild animals. If he sees Benjamin isn’t with us when we return, he’ll die. I promised to keep Benjamin safe, so let me be your slave instead.”

Joseph couldn’t hide the truth any longer. He ordered everyone but his brothers to leave the room.

“I am Joseph!” he told them.

The brothers were stunned. Joseph had been a young man when they sold him as a slave so long ago. Now God had put him in charge of a whole country! “Don’t be upset,” said Joseph. “And don’t be angry with yourselves because you sold me here.

God sent me ahead of you to save many lives.”

As Joseph spoke, he knew it was true. Even in the darkest moments, when he had been kidnapped and lied about and left in prison—God had been with him. God was still working out His plan.

“Come live here, you and all your families,” Joseph told them. “There’s going to be five more years without enough food, but if you live here, I can give you everything you need.”

Joseph hugged his brother Benjamin and both men wept. The brothers returned home and gave the amazing news to their father.

Jacob gasped in amazement. “My son Joseph is still alive. I’ll go and see him before I die.”

So Jacob and all of Joseph’s family traveled to Egypt to live. Because God had raised Joseph to a position of power, his entire family had enough to eat. And over the years, God grew them from a single family . . . into an entire nation of people.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Think about Joseph’s story: First, he has amazing dreams that he’ll one day be in charge.

But things immediately take a turn for the worse. His brothers throw him in a well, and then sell him. He ends up in a foreign land where he doesn’t know the language or the customs, and is forced to work as a slave. Then, he’s accused of something he didn’t do, and thrown in prison for years and years. He helps another prisoner and asks to be remembered, but that man forgets him. Finally, after all these years, it turns out Joseph is in the perfect place at the perfect time to advise the Pharaoh, who sets him free and puts him as second in command of the whole land. And because of this, Joseph is in a position to invite his family to Egypt when there is a famine, and his whole family—God’s people—are saved from the famine. While Joseph was in the middle of it all, he couldn’t see the big plan. But he trusted God—and in the end, God worked out all the pieces of the puzzle.

The same holds true for us. Many times, the pieces of our lives look like a mess. We don’t see the big picture. We don’t see how it all fits together. But, just like Joseph, we can trust that God has a plan, and that He is working for our good, even if we don’t see the end of the story yet. Pray together, that God will help you trust Him with your stories and the story of your family, knowing that He has a good plan for you.