Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Genesis 39 - 40

To be a great leader you need to be trained.  Joseph’s father, Jacob tried to spare Joseph from responsibilities of work and treated him special.  God knew Joseph could never be the kind of leader God wanted until he learned to be a servant.  God used sufferings and disciplines in Joseph’s life to prepare him to become the second ruler over all of Egypt while having a servant’s heart. 

Genesis 39 – Joseph the Faithful Servant

Life produces many why questions.  Joseph was in a position to ask, why were these things happening to him?  His brothers threw him in a well; he was sold into slavery,

Why did his mother have to die, why did his sister have to get raped, why did his brothers kill all those people?  Instead he focused on God, remembering God’s promises and that God would always be with him and would never forsake him.

What kind of difference does God make in your life?
What is your response to loneliness or pain?
Do you complain about your circumstances?
Do you spend time thinking how you have been wronged?
Or do you spend time thinking about God and how He might use you? 

God’s presence will mold our character, if we allow Him.  God’s presence was seen in Joseph’s life.

What does your character say about you?
What does it show others about God?
How is God’s presence creating and opportunity for you to be a blessing?

God’s divine plan positioned Joseph in Potiphar’s house.  He was a slave when he arrived in Egypt.  He worked for one of Pharaoh’s officials, Potiphar.  Potiphar realized that the Lord was with Joseph.  Joseph had many skills, was responsible and capable.  Everything he did was successful so he was given authority over everything in Potiphar’s house.  God’s promise to Abraham was happening.  ”I will bless those who bless you….” Gen. 12:3.  Potiphar trusted Joseph.  Joseph also impressed Potiphar’s wife.  He was well-build and handsome and she wanted to sleep with him, but Joseph knew God does not permit such behavior.  She tempted him day after day, but refused her.  She became very angry.  She lied and said he tried to rape her.  Instead of Potiphar putting Joseph to death, he put him in prison probably because he really didn’t believe his wife.

The enemy tempts.  God does not tempt.  The enemy wants to temp those who say they love God.  That was Joseph.  Temptation is to be refused.  We are to flee or run from it.  We have temptation day after day just like Joseph.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.“ 1 Cor. 10:13.

Again Joseph got what he did not deserve.  He was sent to prison.  God continued to bless Joseph.  Joseph impressed people even in prison.  God was with him and caused the prison guard to like Joseph.  The prison guard put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners. 

Can others trust you?
Do others recognize that God is with you?
Do you work as if you are working for the Lord?
What do you do when you are tempted?

Lessons from Genesis 39:
God is always with His faithful. – Gen. 39:2, 3, 21, 23
Proper service to your master brings grace and promotion. – Gen. 39:4
Faithful servants can be trusted. – Gen. 39:6
Even the faithful face temptation. – Gen. 39:7
God’s faithful can resist temptation – Gen. 39:8
When we sin, we sin against God. – Gen. 39:8-9
Temptation can be persistent. – Gen. 39:10
God always provides a way to escape sin. – Gen. 39:12
When evil people don’t get what they want, they often lie. – Gen. 39:16-20
The righteous can overcome bad circumstances by righteous living. – Gen 39:21-22

Through the discipline of service Joseph was able to prove himself faithful in the small things so that God could promote him to greater things.

Genesis 40 – The Ingratitude of the Chief Butler

The king’s chief cupbearer and the chief baker offended the king so he put them into prison.  (A cupbearer is the wine taster for the king.)  Joseph saw that they were sad.  It was not being in prison that made them sad, but their dreams.  God can always find a way to trouble the sinner’s spirit.  Joseph was not consumed with anger and bitterness because he was in prison.  He was compassionate and saw that they were clearly disturbed by their dreams and he desired to interpret them.  This shows the heart of Joseph. 

They asked if there was anyone who could interpret their dreams.  Joseph reminded them that the interpretations of dreams belong to God and they should tell their dreams to Joseph.  His eagerness to hear and interpret the dreams reveals Joseph’s confidence of God’s love and care for him.  The cupbearer’s eagerness shows that he sensed God’s closeness to Joseph.

Joseph interprets the cupbearer’s dream and asks him a favor.  “This is what it means; the three branches are three days.  Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.  But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.” Gen. 40:12-14.  The baker tells his dream and Joseph interprets it telling him in three days Pharaoh will cut off his head. 

The dreams came to pass just a Joseph had said.  On the third day the baker’s head was cut off and the cupbearer was restored to his previous position in Pharaoh’s house.  The cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.  Here Joseph was wronged again.  Joseph was left in prison two more years.  This must have be the darkest days of Joseph’s life.  We read nothing in scripture of these two years.  This was part of God’s plan.  The time had not come for Joseph to go back to Pharaoh’s house.  God planned that would happen two years later.  We think that God works slowly and we become impatient, but God knows the best time for things to happen in our lives.  He is in control and it will happen when He says it will.

We blame the chief cupbearer’s ingratitude to Joseph, yet we ourselves act much more ungratefully to the Lord Jesus.  We should not forget the sufferings, promises and love of our Redeemer.

How has God been kind to you when others have not?
Are you available to those around you who are down?
Will you ask why they are so sad?
Are you willing to share the truth even if it is hard to hear?

God used all those years preparing Joseph to be content with God regardless of what is going on around him.    God’s presence in our suffering purifies us.  Will you cooperate with God?
Do you sometimes feel that God has forgotten you?  The Lord will never leave you.  Maybe you have left the Lord.  If you have left the Lord, He is calling you back.  He wants to forgive you, but you must first ask Him.

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