Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 13 Feb 22:
Genesis 42:6-9 — “Now Joseph was governor over the land…. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them…. And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them.”
You recall when Joseph was seventeen years old, he was chastised and mistreated by his family because of his dream of them all bowing to the ground before him. (Genesis 37:1-11). In fact, Joseph sharing this dream with his jealous brothers was likely the culminating impetus for his enslavement – “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits.” (Genesis 37:19-20) Now 22 years after Joseph was left for dead by his brothers, he sees them again for the first time. What would be going through your mind at this moment?
Apparently, the first thing which came to Joseph’s mind wasn’t being thrown into a pit but rather the dreams he had about his brothers. This was a revelation of God’s mercy, grace, love and faithfulness rather than a reminder of betrayal. Joseph was seventeen years old when he had his dream and sometime after that, likely soon after, he was sold into slavery by his own brothers (who had almost killed him). Next, the Bible recounts, “The Lord was with Joseph,” and as overseer of Potiphar’s estate, “he became a successful man….” (Genesis 39:2) However, Joseph was eventually falsely accused and thrown into prison (likely with a life sentence, and this was no white-collar prison) – “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison” (Genesis 39:21-22) – not the resumé bullet most people are hoping to claim. Today, we read how Joseph was miraculously released from prison and immediately commissioned as governor of Egypt. Again, this is certainly not the path to career success anyone would envision. So, since Joseph was around 17 years old when he was sold into Egypt and was 30 when he became governor (Genesis 41:46), and since the chief cupbearer (who had “continued for some time in custody”) had forgotten about Joseph for two years (Genesis 41:1, 9), we know that Joseph spent more than two years but less than 13 in a prison the Bible calls, “The Pit.” Since Joseph managed Egypt during its seven years of prosperity, and since his brothers came to visit him during the second year of the famine, we know that Joseph was over 39 when his brothers came to see him. No surprise they didn’t recognize him when they saw him. “And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.” (Genesis 42:6) Now, after all these years and after so many trials, the dreams that God gave Joseph are being realized.
God had a great plan for Joseph but a very hard path, a path neither Joseph nor anyone else could have ever imagined. As with so many others we will read about this year (Moses and Job particularly comes to mind), Joseph’s journey includes incredible highs and incredible lows – rags to riches, riches to rags, rags to reward…. Some key points to take away from what we have read so far about the life of Joseph –
1) Joseph’s dysfunctional family didn’t change God’s plan for him. Joseph was born into a family full of strife, hate, deception, bitterness, jealousy, favoritism, rage, and abuse. But God was preparing Joseph for God’s greater, unstoppable plan for reconciliation and redemption. Likewise, your family background doesn’t determine your future.
2) No one else could change God’s plan for Joseph. Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph and had him thrown into prison. The cupbearer forgot about Joseph, but God’s plan was unchangeable. No one can change God’s plan for your life either. Don’t worry about what others did, didn’t do, or might do to you. Simply trust in the Lord and remain faithful to Him – “For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?” (Isaiah 14:27)
3) God gave Joseph a dream rather than Joseph dreaming his own dream. It is God’s plan that prevails, not ours. Faith is not ‘name it and claim it.’ Faith is about ‘receive it and believe it.’ Faith is about being a part of what God is doing and trusting Him through His plan one day at a time. Faith is about being faithful with today every day, making the most of every opportunity God puts in front of you
- Matthew 6:33-34 — But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
- Ephesians 5:15-16 — Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
- 2 Corinthians 12:10 — For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
- Proverbs 16:9 — The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
- Proverbs 20:24 — A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way? Never forget, it is not about you! God’s plan for Joseph wasn’t about Joseph, it was about His glory and
His ultimate plan for redemption through Jesus. Joseph would never see the final outcome of God’s ultimate plan, but he was a part of it through the grace of God. Joseph was blessed to be a part of what God was/is doing through unworthy people, and his story is an example of faithfulness and perseverance. Don’t pursue your own plans and miss what God is doing in His plan, and don’t let life’s trials hinder your faith or distract you from the prize of Christ’s glory. Rejoice, trust, and live faithfully day-by-day.
4) God’s plan for Joseph included trials and suffering, and God’s plan for you will include trials and suffering. There is no comfort in the growth zone, and there is no growth in the comfort zone. Pain is God’s chisel to shape you more and more into the image of His Son, Jesus, to create in you Christ-like character. How we respond to trials not only shapes us but also others. Our response to trials can bring great glory to Jesus Christ who suffered the cross for our salvation. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)
5) Joseph demonstrated that faith can be costly. Joseph resisted Potiphar’s wife and landed in prison. Perhaps he could have given in to Potiphar’s wife and continued to live a comfortable life as a slave in a palace. Don’t surrender to sin in order to remain a comfortable slave.
6) Joseph didn’t have a victim mentality. Joseph was no negative whiner, always making excuses, or blaming circumstances for his attitude and failures. When Joseph was thrown in prison, he ran the prison. Be joyful, thankful, and faithful with whatever God has given you. Do all things, big or small, hard or easy for God’s glory.
7) Joseph remained joyful and hopeful though he still had sorrows. What Joseph named his children reveals he still had sorrow over what had happen to him. Yet, he remained positive and continued to trust in God. No doubt you carry sorrows, but remain joyful, and when you feel down, rejoice – re-joy, or joy again. Focus on your many blessings and trust in God’s perfect love and fidelity – “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” (Psalm 9:1, 2)
- Philippians 4:4-7 — Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8) Joseph was successful because God was with him, not because of his own talents, skills, and abilities – “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man…. The Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison…. ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God? Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command.’” (Genesis 39:2, 21; Genesis 41:38-40) Your greatest asset is your fidelity to God. Above all else, guard your heart….
9) Joseph never ceased to give all glory to God, none to Himself – “Joseph answered Pharaoh, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.’” Our purpose is to enjoy God, serve God, and glorify God before mankind as we serve as His messengers of reconciliation. Never attempt to take credit and share glory with God. Our message is one of unmerited grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. There is no room for us to boast in anything. If we are pointing at ourselves, we are not pointing to Jesus. If we are telling people about ourselves, we are not telling them about Jesus. If we are representing ourselves or our interests, we are not serving as Christ’s ambassadors. You really have no idea what God has in store for you, but you know that His plan for you is perfect, motivated by His perfect love, and greater than you could possibly imagine. Trust, obey, and have peace.
Psalm 17:1 – “Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!”
You must approach God honestly. Be totally open, honest, and transparent in your prayers.
Psalm 17:3 — “I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.”
Psalm 17:4 – “With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.”
Carefully obeying God’s word will keep you from the deceitfulness of men.
Psalm 17:10 – “They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly.”
Humility breeds compassion; pride and arrogance foster callousness.
Psalm 18:2 – “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge….”
Do you feel completely safe and strong in the Lord? Do you take refuge in Him?
Psalm 18:22 — “For all his rules were before me, and his statutes I did not put away from me.”
Jesus says in Matthew 28 that His disciples obey ALL the He commands.
Psalm 18:25 — “With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless.”
The Bible says time and time again that God will treat you the way you treat others.
Psalm 18:28 — “For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness.”
Light to see can only come from God. The more you deviate from God’s path, the worse your vision you’re your decisions will be.
Psalm 18:31 — “For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?”
How you respond to this question defines your life. It is your true perspective on God (not just what you verbalize about God) that defines your entire outlook on life and how you will respond to circumstances and to others. Does your life reveal that God is LORD? This is the heart of faith – “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) This is the foundation of all knowledge and wisdom (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7). This is our confidence (Proverbs 14:26, 27) The Fear of the Lord is proof of the Spirit of the LORD within us. It is our delight. (Isaiah 11:2, 3) Honoring God as LORD is our very purpose. (Ecclesiastes 12:13) Yet too often we say, “Yes, God is LORD,” but then we forsake God in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Why? Because we have lost proper Fear of the LORD. (Jeremiah 2:19) Too often we honor God with our lips while our hearts are far from God. Too often we fear the world because, in our hearts, we have made God small. In the lesson of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus begins by pointing out that the foundation of everything we do rests on our acknowledgment and glorification of God as LORD – “hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9) Jesus then continues to teach that it is our Fear of the LORD that drives us to obey God, trust Him one day at a time, and forgive others unconditionally. We lack obedience, trust, and forgiveness when we lose proper perspective of God as LORD, when we have trouble seeing Christ crucified on our behalf, when we have trouble seeing an empty cross in our hearts. Perhaps the most important question we should meditate upon this today is this: “For who is God, but the LORD?” (see also 2 Samuel 22:32)
- 2 Corinthians 7:1 — Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
- 1 Peter 2:17 — Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Psalm 18:34 — “He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”
God doesn’t just educate — He trains.
Psalm 18:46 — “The LORD lives.”
We do not live by a philosophy or a theory of God, but rather by a real relationship with a living, personal God.
Psalm 18:49 — “For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations, and sing to your name.”
When you are in real fellowship with God, you cannot help but sing His praises to the world.
Proverbs 13:1 – “A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
A scoffer is a person who simply won’t listen to reason and truth because of their pride. The Bible has much to say about scoffers:
- Don’t listen to scoffers, argue with scoffers, or associate with them. (Psalm 1:1)
- Scoffers enjoy and take pride in their rebuttal of truth and ignorance of truth. (Proverbs 1:22)
- Arguing with a scoffer will only cause you needless pain. (Proverbs 9:7)
- Scoffers hate those who speak the truth. (Proverbs 9:8)
- Scoffers refuse to accept a loving rebuke, no matter from whom it comes. (Proverbs 13:1)
- Scoffers seek wisdom and often claim wisdom, but they remain foolish because they are blinded by their pride and arrogance – you cannot fix what you are not willing to be honest about. (Proverbs 14:6)
- Scoffers will not seek the counsel of those who are wise but rather will surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear. Those who seek the truth are willing to listen to opposing views because truth can withstand any scrutiny. (Proverbs 15:12)
- A scoffer can must be controlled externally because they have no self-control. They need external discipline because they do not have internal discipline. (Proverbs 19:29; 21:11)
- All scoffers are arrogant and prideful. Pride leads to destruction. (Proverbs 21:24)
- Scoffers are the source of quarrelling. Where there is no scoffer, there is no quarrelling. (Proverbs 22:10)
- Scoffers are an abomination to mankind before the Lord. (Proverbs 24:9)
- Scoffers start fights that can destroy society; they increase disunity rather than unity. (Proverbs 29:8)
- Scoffers cannot ‘hear’ (understand or accept) God’s word, even if someone explains it clearly and shows it to them practically. They don’t have an intellect problem; they have a heart (spiritual) problem. Sound reason and evidence cannot convince them. (Isaiah 28:14; Acts 13:41)
- Scoffers will be destroyed and face eternal judgment. (Isaiah 29:20)
- Scoffers will increase in the last days. (2 Peter 3:3; Jude 1:18)
- Scoffers are led by their passions rather than by the Spirit. (Jude 1:18)
- Scoffers are fools. There are 118 Bible verses that deal with foolishness. Do a topical study on foolishness to learn more.
Proverbs 13:1 — “A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.”
How you respond to a rebuke speaks volumes about how humble you are and what kind of Christian you are. It also largely determines how quickly you will grow spiritually.
Proverbs 13:2 – From the fruit of his mouth a man eats what is good, but the desire of the treacherous is for violence.
God’s people are designed in the physical form to translate the spiritual into the physical world. One of the first places spiritual realities become physical or are “created” physically is with words. First, ideas are spoken and then resonate in the physical world. God first created by speaking. Similarly, our words have an effect on the world. Our words will either produce good fruit or bad, and Jesus said that we will be held accountable for every word that comes out of our mouths. Today, take a close account of all the words you speak and what impact they have on your attitude and on others. What are your words creating? Are they uplifting, constructive, positive, and reconciling, or are they negative and counterproductive? Also, count your “I” and “Me” personal pronouns, checking for self-centeredness, self-edification, self-promotion, and self-righteousness.
Proverbs 13:3 — “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”
Guarding your mouth takes intentional, planned effort, and it is not easy. Guarding your mouth starts first with guarding your heart. The mouth reveals what is really in the heart. Rash words can ruin you.
Proverbs 13:4 — “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”
Desires without effort are just empty dreams. Dreams are not plans; plans are not actions. Nothing happens without a plan well executed. You don’t generally get something for nothing. You reap what you sow. Good things come to those who work for them. This is true in our spiritual development as well. Discipleship requires daily discipline.
Proverbs 13:5 – “The righteous hates falsehood, but the wicked brings shame and disgrace.”
The righteous will desire obedience. Are you truly righteous? If you love flowers, you have to hate weeds. If you are ok with little lies, you have a heart problem. Be honest with yourself first and consider deeply where you have grown complacent with falsehood, even in little ways.
Proverbs 13:7 — “One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.”
A truthful person does not pretend to be something they aren’t. They are an open book — no secrets. What you really are eventually reveals itself. It matters little what you say; what matters is what you really do, and from what motivation you do it.
Proverbs 13:8 – “The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth, but a poor man hears no threat.”
It can be freeing to have nothing left to lose.
Proverbs 13:10 – “By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.”
Arguments are fueled by selfish pride. Another way to interpret this verse is, “Pride only breeds quarrels.” At the root of pride is comparison, comparing ourselves to other in an egotistical manner. It is very hard for some people to accept that others might know more than they in a particular area. It takes humility to admit weakness before others. How many truly humble people do you find quarrelling?
Proverbs 13:11 – “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.”
There are no shortcuts with the things that really matter in life like relationships, health, financial security, and spiritual development. It must be developed every day, little by little over time to produce results over time. Successful people are willing to do today what unsuccessful people aren’t in order to have tomorrow what unsuccessful people won’t.
Proverbs 13:13 – “Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.”
God’s word is not hard to understand. What a person does with God’s word determines consequences and is life defining. Ignoring God’s word or making light of it is the same as despising it. When God speaks, it is either everything to you because it is the word of the KING, or it is nothing at all. To approach God’s word casually is to disrespect the Majesty and Sovereignty of God. Why not read and heed the word God has given you to honor and glorify the Sovereign Lord and to be blessed?
Proverbs 13:13-15 — “Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded. The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death. Good sense wins favor, but the way of the treacherous is their ruin.”
I like the way the NIV says the last verse above: “The way of the unfaithful is hard.” Sin, all sin, is terrible and produces destructive consequences, ultimately death, in the physical and spiritual realms. Sin is counter to God (anti-Christ) and, of course, God takes sin very seriously. God has given us His word that we may live life to its fullest and grow in love. However, our sinful choices cause such pain and destruction. Sin makes us all victims and victimizers; there is no such thing as victimless sin; even sinful thoughts ultimately produce a harvest of pain. The sin offerings described in Leviticus 1 brutally displayed the destructiveness of sin. When the sinner offered the “male without defect” the sinner placed his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and the sinner slaughtered the perfect, innocent animal. The blood was then sprinkled against the alter on all sides at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The sin offering was intended to be a dramatic object lesson (using a physical object to teach deep truths). The sinner was given a very clear picture of the penalty for all sin, but the sinner was also given a prophetic picture of the atonement that would ultimately be provided through the Great “Male Without Defect,” Jesus Christ. True repentance and saving faith in Jesus should simultaneously bring us great joy and peace but also great hatred for the sin that caused our Lord to suffer and that causes so much pain to others. It is impossible to love God without hating sin, and to make light of sin is to make light of the penalty that was paid for your sin (see Hebrews below). It is impossible to truly love others while remaining lighthearted toward sin. One cannot help but wonder if there is such a thing as a “carnal Christian.”
Always decide rationally rather than emotionally.
Proverbs 13:20 – “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
The Bible is clear that only followers of Jesus are “wise,” it is not an intellectual endeavor but rather a spiritual one. If you aren’t walking with fellow committed Christians, disciples of Jesus, you will suffer harm. Are your friends strong Christians who are helping you get closer to Jesus every day while you help them do the same? Do your friends challenge and encourage you to me more like Jesus each day? Choose your friends carefully.
- Proverbs 13:21 – “Disaster pursues sinners, but the righteous are rewarded with good.”
Sinners don’t fall into disaster, they are chased by disaster, and they will be caught.
- Hebrews 10:26-31 — For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Proverbs 13:22 – “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.”
How many Christians today are planning for the prosperity of their children’s children? Godly parents don’t just plan for their children’s future but also their children’s children. Godly parents think generationally.
Proverbs 13:24 — “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
Love and discipline go together. External discipline prepares the way for internal discipline.
Proverbs 13:25 — “The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite, but the belly of the wicked suffers want.”
This is a very interesting Proverb. The appetite of the righteous is satisfied, but why? Perhaps it is because the appetite of the righteous is content with “enough” rather than “just a little more.” The righteous have learned to be content with what God has provided while the wicked are never satisfied in their empty cravings. The choice of the word “enough” in this Proverb is significant – it doesn’t say “plenty,” or “an abundance.” Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” rather than “give us this day bread for a lifetime.” Learning to walk in daily dependence on and confidence in God is where we find peace, contentment, and joy. In this position, we are like the “poor man” who “hears no threat (Proverbs 13:8).” Jesus is the Living Water which leaves us thirsty no more, no longer chasing after unquenchable selfish passions and desires.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 13 Feb: Get alone with God today and have true fellowship with Him. Meditate deeply upon God as LORD and what that means to your life. Dedicate some serious time this Sunday to this special time with God. Consider making the commitment to keep the Sabbath and to tithe your time.