Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 16 January 21:
Genesis 39:23, Genesis 40:23 — “The Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed…. Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.”
Genesis 39 and Genesis 40 end very differently and together describe the challenges of faith Joseph and Christians today share – apparent victories, apparent agonizing defeats, and ultimate victory in Christ.
Several times, Genesis 39 points out that God was in control of Joseph’s life. Joseph was successful beyond imagination because the Lord was with Him, not because Joseph was lucky or talented. God’s activity in Joseph’s life was apparent to Joseph’s master who put Joseph in charge of everything. There are many talented people in the world, but being empowered by God is a totally different thing, revealing a power far beyond human abilities, bringing glory to God rather than the person. Is God’s activity in your life apparent to those around you?
In His sovereignty and providence over Joseph’s life, God gave Joseph great success, but He did not shield him from hard work, temptations, and challenges. Despites Joseph’s extraordinary faithfulness, God also did not shield Joseph from terrible persecution. Has God allowed you to go through hard times? How do you interpret and respond to those circumstances?
- Genesis 40:23 — Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
Genesis 40:23 seems to imply that Joseph’s fate was at the mercy of other people and circumstances. No doubt, at times Joseph struggled with the question: “Where is God now?” Despite all of Joseph’s efforts to obey God, it seemed like he was just a helpless victim. Perhaps, like so many of us tend to do, Joseph felt like God was blessing him when there was obvious success and then ignoring him or punishing him when there was apparent calamity. Surely, it is hard to feel loved, blessed, and protected by God when you are wrongly accused, abused, and forgotten in prison. At times like that, you are tempted to doubt. It’s sometimes even harder to feel loved, blessed, and protected by God when you realize it was your own personal mistakes which created your ‘prison,’ when you realize you are simply facing the consequences of your own failures, but “nothing can separate us from the love of God,” not even our own buffoonery. (Romans 8:35-39)
We will experience consequences of sin in a sinful world, but “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) Throughout the Bible we have seen and will continue to see how God uses both good and bad circumstances, intentionally, to accomplish His purposes in both the lives of individuals and in the world. In Joseph’s case, the chief cupbearer’s forgetfulness was no surprise to God. God took Joseph through exactly what God wanted Joseph to go through as He prepared Joseph for a greater experience with God. Of course, it would be impossible for Joseph to know exactly what God was doing; that takes FAITH. It takes both endurance and perseverance.
The Second Marine Regiment’s motto is “Keep moving,” derived from the WWII Battle of Tarawa where during the amphibious assault on the heavily defended island, Marines found themselves stuck on coral 500 yards from the shore, forcing them to wade/swim to the island under intense bombardment and machine-gun fire – hard to imagine a worse scenario. What do you do in a time like that? Keep moving! Sometimes in life, that is what the Christian must do. Keep pressing forward in faith, even joy. Faith is trusting God right now at His word, and hope is trusting God with the future. The God who IS love, loves you always and continually. “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive bad?” (Job 2:10) “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Spoiler alert: After Joseph had gone through so much abuse by so many people, he understood that it was all simply part of God’s plan – “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20) Just as Moses had to go through the Red Sea; just as Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego had to go through the fiery furnace; just as Daniel had to go through the lions’ den, Joseph had to go through his great test in order to become the leader God intended; and we must go through our trials too.
Through trials or tests, God is doing at least five things: Revealing Himself to you in a greater way; revealing you to yourself in a greater way (He already knows everything about you, but you don’t); revealing Himself to the world through your life; using your life to effect change in the world; and preparing you for greater things. See how God does these things in Joseph’s life. See how He does these things in your life. God is Good!
Additional observations for today’s Psalm readings:
Psalm 7:11-13 – “God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.”
The Bible is a double-edged sword of Good News and Bad News. (Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16) To really appreciate the Good News of the Gospel, we must understand the Bad News. The Gospel declares salvation, entrance into the kingdom of heaven, and eternal life for all who repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation (John 3:16, 35–36; Acts 2:38–39) – this is the Good News. But the flip side is the Bad News – the wrathful judgment of God and eternal damnation for all those who do not repent from their sin and trust in Jesus. Today, most people, even many professing Christians reject the notion that God would condemn apparently good people who don’t believe in Jesus, accepting the popular notion that there are many paths to heaven. Believing in salvation through Jesus Christ alone is considered narrow-minded and bigoted. However, Jesus is very clear — “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Only Jesus can save us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10) The following link provides 100 Bible verses concerning the exclusivity of Christ for salvation — https://www.openbible.info/topics/jesus_being_the_only_way
- Acts 4:12 — And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 Jan 21: Share the Gospel with as many as you can each day with a sense of urgency — “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” (Romans 10:14-15)