Tag Archives: Joseph

A Living Hope

Their lives were hard. Day after day, they endured harsh labor as they made bricks. Their bosses overlooking every step, and their quota seeming unrealistic and never ending. They cried out for relief and hoped that one day it would come. Their hope fueled by a forefather, who by faith, requested his remains be carried with them to the promised land. Generation after generation heard this request and cherished the idea it would come true someday. Hope continued through the generations.

Hope, in many ways, is fuel for our soul. It is what drives us forward. Hope of something better coming pushes us through the rough and challenging times. When our bank account is empty or we’re being slaughtered in the gossip circles, it is our hope which propels us forward.

For the nation of Israel, their hope was in Joseph’s request to carry his remains with them as they left Egypt for the promised land. Hebrews 11:22 says it was Joseph’s faith which gave him this hope.

  • 22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.

Because of his faith, Joseph knew the Lord would bring Israel out of Egypt. He understood he would not see Israel’s deliverance, but he knew it would come when the time was right. So, Joseph gave instructions for his burial. It was Joseph’s instructions which gave the Israelites hope for generations. Basically, they were placing their hope in a dead man’s faithful instructions.

We, as Christ followers, have something better. Our hope is not in a forefather’s faith, but in a living Savior. 1 Peter 1:3-9 encourages:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Max Lucado writes:

Others offer life, but no one offers to do what Jesus does—to reconnect us to his power. But how can we know? How do we know that Jesus knows what he’s talking about? The ultimate answer, according to his flagship followers, is the vacated tomb. Did you note the words you just read? “A living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” In the final sum, it was the disrupted grave that convinced the maiden Christians to cast their lots with Christ. “He appeared to Cephas [Peter], and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time” (1Co 15:5–6).

Can Jesus actually replace death with life? He did a convincing job with his own. We can trust him because he has been there.

He’s been to Bethlehem, wearing barn rags and hearing sheep crunch. Suckling milk and shivering against the cold. All of divinity content to cocoon itself in an eight-pound body and to sleep on a cow’s supper. Millions who face the chill of empty pockets or the fears of sudden change turn to Christ. Why?

Because he’s been there.

He’s been to Nazareth, where he made deadlines and paid bills. To Galilee, where he recruited direct reports and separated fighters. To Jerusalem, where he stared down critics and stood up against cynics.

We have our Nazareths as well—demands and due dates.

Jesus wasn’t the last to build a team; accusers didn’t disappear with Jerusalem’s temple. Why seek Jesus’ help with your challenges? Because he’s been there. To Nazareth, to Galilee, to Jerusalem.

But most of all, he’s been to the grave. Not as a visitor, but as a corpse. Buried amidst the cadavers. Numbered among the dead.

Heart silent and lungs vacant. Body wrapped and grave sealed.

The cemetery. He’s been buried there.

You haven’t yet. But you will be. And since you will, don’t you need someone who knows the way out?

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Guiding Through Adversity

Adversity. It is certainly not welcomed in anyone’s life, but it finds its way into all of our lives. As hard as we try to avoid it, it seems there are just times when we have to climb uphill. Joseph was no stranger to adversity. The Bible tells his story in Genesis 38-50.

He was loved by his father, and as a young man, Joseph’s brothers grew to hate him. Joseph was the favored child and his brothers didn’t care for that. When given the opportunity, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, and Joseph was placed in Potiphar’s home.

He was in charge of Potiphar’s household and the Lord blessed Joseph’s work. He was also good looking, so Potiphar’s wife wanted to go to bed with him. Joseph refused so one day she tried to force him, but Joseph escaped. Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of rape. This accusation resulted in Joseph being sent to prison.

While in prison Joseph interpreted some dreams for fellow prisoners. These prisoners turned out to be some of Pharaoh’s officials, and Joseph’s relationship placed him in front of Pharaoh to interpret a dream.

Joseph told Pharaoh his dream was a warning that famine would strike Egypt. Joseph encouraged Pharaoh to prepare for the famine, and he was given the responsibility to prepare the nation. Joseph did and the Lord blessed his work. Joseph gained much power and pull with Pharaoh.

Eventually, everyone ran out of food and Joseph’s family was moved to Egypt. When Joseph’s dad dies, his brothers are fearful Joseph will seek revenge, but he doesn’t. Notice his response in Genesis 50:20:

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Joseph remembered the Lord had a plan as he went through all of the adversity his life brought him. It has been said the iron chains around Joseph’s hands and feet in prison led to gold chains around his neck in the palace. Joseph found his way to Pharaoh because of his time in prison. Joseph was in Egypt because he was sold into slavery. Even though he faced adversity, Joseph was still guided by the Lord to accomplish his purpose.

We will face adversity in our lives. It is inevitable; however, the Lord will guide us through those times. Like Joseph, the Lord guides us to accomplish our purpose. How has the Lord brought you through adversity in the past?

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Can I ask for what I want?

Clutching his dad’s hand, the wide-eyed boy was walking through the toy isle. He noticed every toy on the shelf and asked for most of them. “This is only $10. Can I have it?” “Wow! Can you put this on my Christmas list?” Trying to convince his dad to buy another toy, the boy said, “We could play with this together, Daddy.” The boy tried all the tricks to get a new toy, but the dad’s response was the same.

“Maybe another day,” the dad calmly replied, “not today.”

This scene plays out in toy isles everywhere. Kids want many things, and they are not afraid to ask for what they want, and parents hear their requests. Likewise, our Heavenly Father allows us to ask for what we want in prayer.

We can ask for what we want.

Prayer is a conversation between us and our dad, and like all kids, we have a lot of wants and needs. We do have permission to ask for what we want.

  • John 14:13-14 says, “You can ask for anything in my name and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.”
  • “But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want and it will be granted,” Jesus says in John 15:7.

It is okay to make requests of God. We don’t have to worry he will become upset with us if we ask for something. God hears and answers us, and his answer always comes at the right time. God answers us in his timing.

God answers us in his timing.

If you’re like me, you pray for something and want it immediately. We didn’t ask to wait. We asked for the answer, but God delays. He does not provide the answer the same day or even the next day. We keep praying and God keeps delaying.

“Is he ever going to answer? Is he ever going to respond,” you and I wonder? We believe it is time to receive the answer to our prayer long before God knows it is time. Jacob’s family can relate.

Jacob’s family can relate.

The Bible records a severe famine causing everyone to run out of food except those listening to Joseph, Jacob’s son. God put Joseph in place before the famine to prepare Egypt and save Jacob’s family. Because of Joseph, Jacob’s family was able to escape the famine in Egypt where they enjoyed a peaceful time until Pharaoh’s death.

A new Pharaoh came to power who did not know Joseph and was threatened by the size of Jacob’s family. Israel finds themselves enslaved to the Egyptians. They are forced into hard labor, so they cry out to God. They cry out to the Lord day after day, but day after day, they are still working for the Egyptians.

Meanwhile, God was preparing Moses to lead Jacob’s family out of Egypt. In his timing, God answered their prayer.

Exodus 2:25 says, “He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.”

When It’s Time

God did not answer Israel’s prayer for years, but he did answer. God may not answer our prayers today or even tomorrow, but he will answer. Perhaps the Lord is preparing the answer just like he was for Jacob’s family.

Meanwhile, we keep praying with the hopeful knowledge our dad answers when its time.

Acting

Make a list of requests you are waiting on God to answer. Entitle the list When Its Time and pray often for these requests. God will provide the right answer in the right time.

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Want an Additional Resource?

Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado is a great resource on prayer.

 

 

No Need to be Overwhelmed by Prayer

“Lord, teach us to pray,” was the request of the disciples. They understood the importance of prayer, and how powerful of a tool prayer is for the Christian. So, they wanted Jesus to help them develop a better prayer life.

I too would like to have a better prayer life. Prayer is important and powerful but can be overwhelming especially if our faith is new to us. I’m glad the disciples asked Jesus for this lesson, so you and I have his answer to help teach us.

Here are some tips Jesus gives us in his prayer lesson, assurance God hears us, and 3 reasons why we should pray.

Why should we pray?

We should pray because…

It gives us a chance to talk with our dad.

Prayer is just a conversation with the Lord. It gives us a chance to talk with him about everything. The Bible says God is our Dad and he desires to hear from us. We love talking with our children, so why wouldn’t the Lord love to hear from us?

It gives us a chance to request what we need and want.

Matthew 7:7 says, keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you.”

It is a powerful tool for us.

James 5:16 says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”

Does God really answer our prayers?

Yes, we are assured the Lord answers us.

Matthew 7:8 says, “For everyone who asks, receives, everyone who seeks, finds, and to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

The Lord hears our prayers, and he does answer us. Sometimes, the answer is no, but God does always answer us.

An Answer Model to Follow

Here is a model which helps us understand how our prayers are always answered.

  • If our request is not best for us or its not time, God says, “No.”
  • If the request is right for us, but the timing is wrong, God says, “Wait.”
  • If we are not ready for the request, God says, “Grow.”
  • When the timing is right, the request is right, and we are ready, God says, “Go.”

Like a caring parent, God will always give us what is best.

Matthew 7:11 says, “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

A Lesson in Prayer

A young boy asked his parents for a baby brother, and seeing a perfect opportunity to teach their son a valuable lesson on prayer, the parents said, “Alex, if you pray each morning and evening for one month, you will get a baby brother.”

Alex was all in for a couple weeks. He didn’t miss a prayer time. Each morning and evening he prayed for a baby brother. About the third week, Alex was tired of praying and stopped, but he didn’t say anything to his parents.

The month ended, and Alex’s mom left for a few days. When she came home, she called Alex into her bedroom. Alex entered the room to see his mom sitting on the bed holding her newborn sons. The couple had twins.

“Look at your baby brothers,” mom said. “Aren’t you glad you prayed for one month?”

Alex thought for a moment and responded, “Aren’t you glad I stopped after only two weeks?”

5 Tips to Remember When Praying

Here are 5 tips to remember when praying.

Acting

Think of prayer as if you were talking to your mom or dad or friend. Have a conversation with God just like you would one of them. Share your experience in the comments below.

How has the Lord answered your prayers? Encourage us by sharing in the comments below.

Please share this post with a friend who would find it helpful or encouraging.

Want an Additional Resource?

Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer by Max Lucado is a great resource on prayer.

 

God Won’t Leave

Will God leave me? This is a fair question, and one we may ask in a difficult time. The Bible says the Lord will not leave us, and Joseph’s story helps us see the Lord can use the difficult stuff to do some amazing work.

The Beginning of Joseph’s Story

Joseph was one of many brothers, and his father loved him the most causing strain among Joseph and his brothers. It may be safe to say his brothers hated Joseph. Not only did his father love him the most, Joseph had some dreams the family found upsetting.

Over breakfast one morning Joseph told his family he had a dream where they all bowed down to him. This angered his brothers, and Joseph’s dad told him not to speak like this again.

A few days after the breakfast incident, Joseph was sent to check on his brothers as they were tending the sheep. They saw him coming and plotted to kill him, but one brother, Reuben, convinced the boys to throw Joseph in a cistern to avoid bloodshed. They did, but later sold into slavery. Joseph found himself in Egypt where he worked. You would think Joseph had enough trouble at this point, but his troubles continue.

While in Egypt, Joseph is falsely accused of a crime and spends a few years in prison. Bad things certainly happened to Joseph.

Bad Things Happen

Joseph’s story reminds you and I bad things happen in life. We are not immune to adversity and trials, yet we can find great encouragement in God’s word. Scripture teaches God will not leave us when bad things happen.

God will not leave us.

The Lord is committed to staying with us in bad times. Paul, in Romans 8, says the Lord will stay with us when bad things happen.

Romans 8:37-39 says, “No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God.”

None of these things will cause the Lord to leave us. This is an exhaustive list, and to make sure he covers everything, Paul ends the list by saying, “…in all creation.” I hope you find this statement as encouraging as I do. The hardest of times will not drive away the Lord.

The lost job will come, but the Lord will stay. The money trouble will come, but the Lord will stay. Our hearing or eyesight may go, but the Lord will stay. The disease may infect, but the Lord will stay. The mistake may occur, but the Lord will forgive and stay. Nothing will drive the Lord away. Our relationship may be strengthened amid these seasons.

He Carried Her

One night a lady had a dream in which she went to the movies. The movie playing that night was a movie of her life. Each scene was a season of her life, and there were footprints in each scene. She noticed something odd about the footprints.

In the good scenes of her life, there were two sets of footprints. One representing her and the other representing God, but in the bad scenes, there was only one set of footprints.

At the end of the movie, the lady had an opportunity to interview God. “I don’t understand,” she said. “Sir, you promised you would never leave me or forsake me, but in all the tough scenes, there was only one set of footprints. I mean I didn’t do well in math, but if we were both present, would there not be two sets of footprints?”

God answered, “Oh, that’s easy. I had to carry you through all the rough times. You couldn’t make it on your own.”

He’ll carry us in the same way if we just hang on.

The Result of Tough Times

Romans 8 reminds us God works everything together for good. He can use the bad things currently happening to do some amazing work. Joseph’s story didn’t end with him in prison.

The Rest of Joseph’s story

Joseph was wrongly imprisoned, but he did not stay there. While in prison he interprets dreams for a couple of Pharaoh’s officials and is eventually called upon to interpret a dream for Pharaoh. Joseph says a severe famine is going to take place, and his interpretation is so impressive that Joseph is promoted to an Egyptian official. He is given the job of preparing Egypt for the famine.

Through bad things happening, the Lord put Joseph in position to save his family and help them refocus their attention on the Lord.

If Joseph had not been an Egyptian prisoner, he would have not been an Egyptian governor. The iron chains around Joseph’s feet ushered in gold chains around his neck.

Acting

Join me in thanking the Lord today for being with us. Maybe even carrying us through the hardest of times.

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