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Monday, January 9, 2012
"You Were There!"
"But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden" (Genesis 39:20-21).
In the course of our present Sunday School lessons we are studying the life of Joseph. One can repeatedly read the account in Genesis from childhood into old age, and find refreshment and challenge each time, since Joseph is a most intriguing Bible character and his story full of surprises. A.W. Pink, in his book "Gleanings in Genesis", notes 101 parallels between Joseph and Christ. Obviously I won't list them all here!*
While a young boy, Joseph's dreams revealed that he was going to be a man of great power. What his dreams didn’t disclose was the humiliating and painful process he would endure before reaching his exalted position in his adopted land of Egypt. Joseph’s jealous brothers who sold him reported him dead, robbing him of his privileged position in Jacob’s household. He was then picked over and purchased like a slab of meat. When things finally began to work in his favor he was falsely accused by Potiphar's wife.
Thrown into prison with no certainty about his future, Joseph interpreted dreams for two prisoners, who "just happened" to be associated with Pharaoh. He was given the interpretation for their future outcome, but none for himself (as the account is revealed). But God would exalt him in due time to a far greater honor and place of influence than before his prison sentence.
Following the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream, he rose to Prime Minister under Pharaoh. Joseph’s prison garb was exchanged for royal attire, and Pharaoh himself “took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger” (41:42). Then he said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt” (41:44). Wow! Double wow!!
Lifted from utter humility to unbelievable honor, God was working on the inner person of Joseph the entire time. He learned a great deal about trusting God through the numerous and enduring trials. Scripture assures us that God's hand was upon Joseph's life. Repeatedly, in the midst of every major setback, the Bible declares, "The Lord was with him."
Joseph was but a boy of only 17 years when he came to this foreign godless nation. He experienced great hurt, fought bitterness and rejection, and longed to see his family and homeland. Yet he remained faithful to the God of his childhood in a land of idolatry, without the encouragement of other believers, no Christian retreats or Men's Conventions, and no written Scripture to sustain him. Yes, indeed, "the Lord was with him."
We appreciate a song by the group, Avalon, titled "You Were There" reminding us of God's presence in the trying times of Biblical characters and His promises to us. We hope each of you will experience the assurance that indeed "The Lord is with you".
Are the hard experiences of life, including hurts from others, going to make you bitter or better? Joseph expressed one of the great principles of life he personally realized from this very difficult experience; "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:20). May we too look for the bigger picture of God's overall plan and remain faithful no matter the painful circumstance of our lives, for the greater good of those whom God has called us to reach. The New Testament repeats this assurance of God's presence with the great promise many of us have memorized: "'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.' So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5, 6).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, during the natural course of events, we often declare “God is good” when circumstances lean in our favor. But the life of Joseph teaches us that, in the midst of granting us giftings and favor, You also grant us unwanted circumstances in our life to bring about Your intended purpose. By the time Joseph married and had two sons he learned that it is You who makes us “forget all our trouble”. And it is You who “makes us fruitful in the land of our suffering.” May we embrace the same attitude as Joseph, who learned far more about You through his years of suffering than his years of ease. Keep us faithful and growing in our sorrows and suffering, in the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
A South African reader writes regarding the story we shared about James Hess, who read through the Bible 55 times: "This reminds me of the story of the young lad who was visiting with his young friend. Upon noticing his friend's grandmother reading her Bible, he said; "Whenever I pass your grandma's room she's reading her Bible". To this his friend replied; "She's cramming for her finals!"
Humphrey, the Lancaster County camel!
We periodically pass this camel west of Elizabethtown. The owner is a Christian and has an annual Christmas display with real animals.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"You Were There" Video Avalon This is the song we referred to in our message. Excellent music, stirring lyrics with outstanding graphics.
"Were You There?" Video Selah This is not necessarily related but couldn't help notice the title with the same words but arranged differently. Is there a name for this? (Actually I also located a song titled "There You Were" but it is not a spiritual song!)
* The remarkable list of parallels by A.W. Pink can be found here.
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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