Saturday, January 9, 2010

Prosper in the Present by Tami Gilman

From Christian Clip Art
Week 3--January 17-23
Scripture Reading Genesis 28-45
Key verse for this devotion--Gen. 39:2

“The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered”
I find the account of Joseph being sold into slavery by his bothers fascinating. It would appear as though his brothers were suffering from a severe case of sibling rivalry. Their father did not try to conceal the fact that the youngest was his favorite son. Passages would indicate that Joseph was considerably younger than his brothers and received special adoration from his father.
When Joseph had a dream that his brothers would one day bow down to him, it is possible that Joseph did not humbly share this with them. I would consider that maybe he was boastful and taunted them with the idea. Let’s face it; some people just do that kind of thing. Joseph had to know his brothers were jealous and hated him, yet he not only shared his first dream with them, but again when he had a second dream. He couldn’t possibly think they would be supportive and encouraging.
There could have been other incentives to hate Joseph and feelings of bitterness compounded over the years. Maybe the brothers resented Joseph because he was talented and did everything well without much effort. They could have simply been envious of his abilities and preferred that he fail. They would understandably be jealous of their father’s love for Joseph. Whatever the motive, the thought of such an outlandish suggestion enraged his brothers to the point they considered murder. They, instead, settled on selling him into slavery and telling their father he was mauled by a wild animal.
God indeed gave Joseph an accurate dream of what was to come but not without consequences.  Jacob grieved the reported death of his beloved son. The brothers had to live with the guilt of what they had done.  Joseph was betrayed and transported to another land where he became a slave, was wrongly accused of sexual misconduct and thrown into prison. God’s favor, however, was on Joseph the entire time. “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered” (Gen 39:2). “When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant.” (Gen 39: 3-4).  Maybe he wasn’t a brat after all or maybe he was and God still saw incredible potential in him. Either way, God’s plan had already been set into motion and Joseph was a faithful servant regardless of his state of affairs.
Joseph continued to listen to God when it would be easy to question why his dream seemed unattainable. Because Joseph listened to and obeyed God, he saved Egypt from famine, reconciled with his bothers and was reunited with his father. He was not mature enough to rule immediately following his dreams and needed different life experiences to prepare him for a position of authority. God used the actions intended for harm to send Joseph to Egypt where he would “preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Gen 45:7) Regardless of his position, Joseph knew God’s favor was upon him and he prospered even as a slave and a prisoner. Are you prospering in your current situation, even when the circumstances surrounding you seem unsure? Ask yourself the following questions this week and take time to ponder the answers.
Are you honoring God by living to your greatest potential?
Are there areas of your life in which you need to be humbled before you can fully walk in the gifting God has given you?
Are you giving up or feeling discouraged because you’re allowing your circumstances to dictate your future?
As we can see by Joseph’s situation, even with God’s favor things can be difficult. I don’t think God intended life to be easy because most lessons are learned during the trying times. I learn a lot more through my mistakes and struggles than I do with success. Quite often I would rather quit than persevere, but I have discovered the obvious - when you give up, you accomplish nothing.
Most likely there will always be someone who is jealous or wanting you to fail.  I can’t imagine there will ever be a shortage of people who choose to be critical either. I have been criticized and I am also guilty of being critical of others. It is when we let the power of those words negatively affect our efforts that we fail. Don’t be apathetic about anything you are responsible for. The best we can offer is to attempt to do everything with excellence as if unto the Lord. This would include: your job, regardless of your salary; your family, regardless of their value for you, and your service to others, regardless of the gratitude or appreciation extended to you.

Tami grew up on a farm in northeastern Ohio and moved to North Carolina at age 13. She considers herself almost southern since she enjoys sweet tea and has no desire to move back to the midwest or shovel snow. She lives in Kannapolis with her husband, Kevin and two dogs. They have been members of Crossroads Church since 1998.

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