Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 10 February 2022:
Genesis 39:2, 3 – “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man…. His master saw that the Lord was with him.”
Joseph was successful 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. 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?
Genesis 39:6 – “So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.”
In captivity, Joseph worked so diligently for his master his master put him in charge of everything and worried about nothing. How does this compare to how you do jobs you don’t want to do for people you don’t want to do it for?
Genesis 39:6, 7 – “So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge…. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’”
Character is who you are in the dark, what you do when you have no restraints or no repercussions that concern you. Ethical failures, usually involving sex and money, have destroyed many high-level leaders. God allowed Joseph’s leadership to be tested in a big way. Here is where we see the truth of Joseph’s heart – he is truly a man of integrity and fidelity. Here is a leader you can trust. Today, society often overlooks the ethical failures of leaders and then wonders why they can’t seem to be counted on to make good policy decisions. People act as if character can be compartmentalized, as if a person can be untrustworthy in one area of their lives but trustworthy in another – nope. Character is what you repeatedly do – if you almost never murder, you’re still a murderer. If you hardly ever steal, you are still a thief. If you rarely lie, you are still a liar. A habit or trait doesn’t define you until it becomes who you truly are. Joseph acted faithfully because he WAS faithful. Who are the Joseph-type leaders today?
Genesis 39:7 – “Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.”
Few people can handle the temptations that come with being attractive or wealth, and few can handle the temptations which come from hard times. Joseph will be tested by both. In the constant presence of the Lord, no one or no situation should cause our love, joy, and peace to be shaken. What threatens your countenance and consistency? “Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:8, 9)
Genesis 39:9 – “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”
Joseph saw sins committed against others as, more importantly, sins committed against God. Perspective changes everything.
Genesis 39:16, 17 – “Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, and she told him the same story, saying, ‘The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me.’”
The light of the Christian life will expose the darkness in the lives of others, and the response of those who live in the dark will often be to extinguish the painful light. When Christians refuse to condone sin and participate in sin, they will be hated and silenced. Unfortunately, too many Christians respond to attacks from sinners by dimming their own light, by either compromising or remaining silent before sin. Had Joseph surrendered to sin, he might not have gone to prison, but he would have missed out on the great things God had intended for him along the path of fidelity and obedience.
Genesis 39:21 – “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”
A Christian following God is never a mere victim of circumstances, and God will bring all things together for good for them, even those things that seem so terrible at the time.
Genesis 39:23 – “The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.”
Again, Joseph was successful because God enabled him. Joseph wasn’t a ‘natural’ leader but rather a God-empowered leader. Therefore, he was able to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Joseph was usable because he did not simply surrender to his terrible circumstances but relentlessly trusted in God. Joseph didn’t take on a victimization mentality, wallow in self-guilt, seek some form of escapism, or even complain – he just sought to faithfully put his 100% into his current situation and wait upon the Lord. What do you do when life doesn’t seem to work out for you?
Note: Here is a short video overview of Acts, chapters 1-12: https://thebibleproject.com/explore/acts/
Acts 1:2 — “…until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen.”
Christians receive commands from Jesus daily through the Holy Spirit. Can you hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to you today?
Acts 1:4 — “And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father….”
One of the hardest things to do is wait on the Lord and on His promises. Abram couldn’t wait for God to provide the son He promised, and we are still feeling the pain of Abraham’s sin. Jacob couldn’t wait for the inheritance promised by God, and we are still feeling the pain of his sin today. Be very careful not to get ahead of God. Wait on Him to provide in His timing. Until then, focus on being faithful with what God has provided.
Acts 1:7 — “He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.'”
How many times on a long car ride will the little kids say, “Are we there yet? When will we be there?” When they get more mature, they learn to wait patiently and make the most of the time. We spend too much time worrying about when God is going to do what He is going to do. The Bible is clear, the past is gone, and there is no sense mourning what could have been; the future is not in our control, and though we can plan to be prepared, we should not worry about it. The only thing we can influence is today. Today is where we must be faithful and make the most of every opportunity. Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow but make the most of today. Constantly speculating about the future can be a form of escapism, distracting you from the thing right in front of you. Faith is trusting God enough to obey Him today. Hope is trusting Him with the future. Walk in faith and hope. Obey today, and trust God with the future.
Acts 1:8 — “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses….”
God gives His children His Holy Spirit and unnatural, supernatural power, not to achieve mere happiness but to achieve holiness, not merely to achieve personal success but rather to be His witness, helping others experience the Truth of God in their lives. Understand that power is not about you or for you — it is about God, empowering you to make disciples. Nothing speaks more powerfully than the life truly transformed, but the supernaturally transformed person has a story to tell everyone desperately needs to hear. If you want Holy Spirit power, be a witness.
Yesterday we read how Matthew concluded his account of Jesus’ life with the following commission from Jesus: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Today in Acts, the author, Luke records Jesus’ final words before His glorious ascensions – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Again, we see Jesus’ intent for us to be His witnesses to the world, with an inside-out approach, locally to globally. We also see how our mission is empowered, not by our own talents, skills and abilities, but by the Holy Spirit. How much time do we have to proclaim the Gospel before the Final Judgment? “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7) This human uncertainty should instill a sense of urgency for those we love.
So how do a bunch of simple people possibly proclaim the Gospel to the whole world? Step 1: Pray together in one accord – “All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:14) Step 2: Take action in obedience – “Peter stood up among the brothers….” (Acts 1:15) When God tells you what to do, pray and don’t delay – delayed obedience is disobedience.
- 2 Corinthians 6:2 — Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Acts 1:11 — “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
What are you staring at? Start serving God. Jesus will return on God’s timing. Be ready today, and be faithful with today.
Acts 1:16 — “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David.”
The Bible is God’s word provided through Spirit-filled men.
Acts 1:24, 25 — “And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’”
Only God knows the true heart of a person. Knowing a person’s heart is beyond our capability, but certainly not beyond God’s capability. God can reveal another person’s heart to us. Be careful not to make assumptions about what is in another person’s heart based on what you perceive from their actions. Our perceptions are always incomplete and can be deceptive. What we interpret as hateful may have been intended as loving, and vice versa. Instead of judging another person’s heart and motives, ask God to reveal the truth of the matter. In the process, God might just reveal something about your own heart condition you hadn’t perceived previously.
We don’t know what we don’t know, but God does. When we are faced with difficult decisions, we must, absolutely must, start with prayer and remain in constant prayer. God will always, yes always, answer your prayer with one of four answers: “Yes…. No…. Not yet, be patient…. Here is something much better for which you should have asked.” But often, His answer is not clear to us, even when decisions are pressing. So, what do we do then? For example, suppose we are choosing between two options. Which to choose? Again, we must remain in prayer, ready to receive an answer from the Lord, ensuring we don’t confuse emotions or imaginations with the clear guidance of the Holy Spirit. While in prayer, we must consider what God has already told us through His word — we must obey the moral will of God as it is revealed in Scripture. If Scripture prohibits one option, the decision is easy. Similarly, if one of the options in your choice causes you to neglect something God specifically commanded you to do, you are required to make the choice that will allow you to fulfill your biblical obligation. If there is no clear answer and there is time to wait, then wait – don’t rush an important decision. What if still no answer? Then, using God’s word (revelation we already have), we should dig deeper to determine which option best conforms to God’s commands and direction. If the options are equally Biblically supportable, we should then go with our wisdom or preference, seeking guidance from other wise counsellors. (Proverbs 15:22) If still undecided, then use any method, flip a coin – God will honor your efforts to conform to His will and to choose with discretion. And if you still choose poorly, God will instruct you and guide you through the error.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) — 10 Feb 22: Be a witness wherever you are by making the reign of Christ visible in your life. Pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you in the sharing of the Gospel with at least one person today.