Posts Tagged Joseph

Unwed Shame

Luke 2: 4 – 5

And Joseph also went up from Galilee from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

Mary, the mother of Jesus; venerated, adored and even prayed to, alas was an unwed, pregnant woman.

The Christmas story of Jesus’ birth is such a heartwarming tale. I love to read it every year and try to imagine the glory of the Lord shining over the shepherds. What was it like to see the angelic and heavenly host singing praises to God. Wow! Just Wow! It is epic and I want to be translated back to that lonely field and witness the glory of the Lord. As I read, again, the glorious account of the arrival of Messiah, I am struck by the reality Mary, Joseph and others had to live in order to bring this miracle into the earth. I am humbled and whisper softly, “Thank you Father for these obedient servants.” I do not pray to Mary, but I sure am grateful and praise the Father that she hearkened to His voice and His will.

Consider for a moment, people all over this globe have heard the story of the Virgin Mary. She has been depicted in art probably more than any other person in history save Jesus himself. The truth is, though, she was an unwed mother. Now how does that truth play in your neighborhood? What do you think the neighbors said over 2000 years ago? Do you think everyone rushed to her side when her pregnancy was revealed? How celebrated do you think she was then? Think of all of her neighbors. I bet she had one of those judgmental, gossipy old crones living just down the street from her family’s home. Can you for a moment imagine what her parents endured? And bless Joseph, he hung in there with her but at first he wanted to put her quietly away. How familiar does that sound?

There is not going to be another virgin birth but what these matriarchal heroes endured for the glory of the coming king, gives me pause. What would I have said about Mary if I lived down the street from her when her pregnancy was exposed? As much as I do not wish to admit it, I can tell you that I would have judged her. I would probably have thought less kindly towards her and Joseph. I certainly would have assumed I knew how they came to be in that unfortunate circumstance.

I am condemned; not they. They obeyed God at great personal cost. The result of their obedience and shame is my own salvation. I must consider my judgmental attitudes and repent. Who is it today that I judge? Are they not also the beloved of God? Is God’s heart grieved when I judge and criticize His child? “Oh Lord, my God, save me from myself! Help me, help us all to have tender hearts towards all your children, especially, Father, those who appear far from you for we can never know their hearts or circumstances but we do know that you love them as much as you love precious Jesus. No matter how damaged and broken we are, regardless of how far we have wandered from the path, your heart is for us. Help us all to remember the pregnant, unmarried mother of the savior of the world when next we think harsh, judgmental words about one of your own.”

No minister and no ministry is perfect; I least of all. Nonetheless, I wish to echo Jesus’ beckoning statement, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Do you know someone who feels shunned or branded as an outcast? Is there someone in your life who feels they have been let down by the church? Jesus took all judgment onto himself so that the grace of God could come on us. Let those people know that God loves them and so do we. In the famous words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone.” And Scrooge, that means you too.

Dare to Dream

Genesis 37: 6 – 8

And he said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?”


Joseph was seventeen years old when he had that dream. Just a youngster but he knew he had heard from God. We all know the end of the story. He did eventually rule over his brothers. There was quite a journey between the time of the dream, though, and the realization of it. What amazes me about Joseph is that he never gave up on the dream and he never gave up on God.

Frankly, if I was sitting in a prison or serving as a slave in a foreign country I am pretty sure that I would have doubted me, God or both; probably both. I would probably have started out thinking that I didn’t really hear from God. I only thought I heard from God but if I really did then I wouldn’t be sitting in this filthy prison. I just have been wrong about hearing from God. But it seemed so real, so certain. Well, maybe it is that I missed it somewhere along the line. Maybe I really did hear from God but I blew it somehow and now I am off the track. Yeah, that’s it. Well, even so, why isn’t God big enough to bring about his will even when I make a mistake?

Does any of that sound familiar? Have you ever had similar doubts? Maybe it has been several years since you had that word from God and you see absolutely no evidence that you are any closer to the realization of it than you were the day you received it. The trite statement of the day is, “Have faith.” It seems trite but really that is the thing we must do. In order to accomplish great things with God, we supply the faith and he supplies the power. You’ve got to hang in there, though, when the situation looks bleak. Even when you are Egypt and you think your miracle is in Canaan, hold on. What God did in Joseph’s life He is able to do in yours. Brush off those old dreams and goals. Give them a new coat of paint. You are coming out of prison and the future is bright.

Workplace Woes

Genesis 39: 5

From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph.


The place where you work should be blessed just because you work there. Every organization that you are a part of should be under the blessing just because you are there. Don’t ever minimize that important role you play. You may be wondering why you are where you are or why God does not take you out. Maybe you think you should be in a better job or that another company might appreciate you more. Maybe you are even in an almost unbearable situation. Don’t worry. Wherever you are, God has your back. It may be that you are the only light in that place or maybe you are not the only light but that if you left the few remaining people like yourself will not have the support they need. Whatever the circumstance, take your eyes off of yourself for a minute and ask God if you are in the right place. If you are, then just serve gladly and faithfully. Remember, Joseph went through some undesirable places but he ended up at the right hand of Pharaoh. You are going to end up at the right hand of God so do what you can to bless others even while in unlovely situations.

Success

Genesis 39: 2

The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered.

People constantly run around trying to figure out the secret to success. There are seminars, books and tapes, even classes trying to teach success. Well, here is the shortcut for those of you who don’t want to work quite so hard. Joseph dedicated himself to the Lord. Joseph’s story is a great one. There was no way to keep that boy down. No matter what the devil did to him, he kept his faith in God. And God overcame ever obstacle, even the impossible ones. There is no way a Hebrew can go from a pit, to being a slave, to prison, to the right hand man of Pharaoh. Joseph had almost as much power as Pharaoh himself. He wore the King’s ring. This rise to success is impossible, isn’t it? Well, it is also history, meaning it has already happened. God specializes in the impossible. He expects you to do the possible. You don’t need Him in order to do the possible. But together He expects you two to do the impossible. That is what He does. Do you want to be successful in every area of your life? Is it impossible for you to have Joseph’s kind of financial success? Can God do in your family what He did in Joseph’s? Of course He can. That is what He does. He can even make your unruly, disobedient, murderous brothers love you and honor you. That’s big! And that is what God wants to do in your life. Be like Joseph. That is all you have to do. Put your mind, heart and energy into studying Joseph’s life and his dedication to the Lord. Learn to have faith in God and trust Him like Joseph did. Serve in honesty and faithfulness. The rest is up to God.

The Lord be with you.

Savings Plan

Genesis 41: 29 – 30

“Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will ravage the land.”

Do you have a savings plan? What is your philosophy on saving? I have always thought tithe 10% and save 10% but here is an interesting perspective from scripture.

After Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams as above, he went on to advise Pharaoh. Joseph told Pharaoh to “look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance” (v. 33 – 34).

As you know, Pharaoh appointed Joseph to be this overseer and there was no one in all of Egypt with more power, position and authority than Joseph save Pharaoh himself. Joseph collected 1/5 of all that was produced during the abundant years and stored it for the coming famine years. When the famine came it was as severe as the dreams predicted. If not for Joseph’s savings plan, the years of famine would have completely swallowed up the years of abundance.

Isaac, in the time of famine, sowed and reaped a hundredfold in that same year (Genesis 26:12). This is one of the reasons I believe in tithing, even in the lean times. We know from other scripture that the tithe is 10 percent. So if you take this and combine it with the wisdom God gave Joseph you come out with: tithe ten percent and save twenty percent.  that is pretty aggressive, specially by today’s standards.  My advice with tithing and saving is, do it.  If you really can’t do these percentages now, just begin somewhere.  You know, you can pray to your Father and He may tell you to save ten percent.  That is between you two but I firmly believe He would have you on a savings plan and only an idiot would say that God does not expect you to tithe.

Our confidence must still be placed firmly in the Lord, not in our savings account. We need to follow His wisdom for our lives but He is not a God of foolishness. He is the God of the harvest. There is no harvest, however, without first the season of sowing. Further, every good farmer knows that you don’t eat all of your harvest. You must set aside part of the crop as seed for next year’s crop.

Let this example of an anointed man of God inspire you but also go to God for specific instruction for your life. Then develop your savings and giving plan according to God’s specifications. Allow Him to lead you in abundance so that you can avoid times of famine.

Extraordinary Spirit

Daniel 6: 3

Then this Daniel began distinguishing himself among the commissioners and satraps because he possessed an extraordinary sprit, and the king planned to appoint him over the entire kingdom.

Doesn’t this sound a bit familiar? I am reminded of the story of Joseph. Both Daniel and Joseph rose from slavery in a foreign country to become leaders in those foreign lands. It is one thing to become great among your own people in your own land but it truly is something extraordinary to rise to the very top level of influence in a country not your own. How much more impressive is it that these men were taken from their country against their will and yet rose to the very pinnacle of success. What made them so special? What made this possible? This verse answers that question. They were possessed of an extraordinary spirit.

God promised humanity that He would pour out His Spirit on all mankind (Joel 2: 28). But that pouring out did not occur until after Daniel’s and Joseph’s life. In fact, the promised out pouring came after Jesus arose from the dead (See Acts 2). We are blessed to be living in the Age of the Holy Spirit. That causes me to consider these men’s lives and great success in a different light. The scripture says that Daniel succeeded because he was possessed of an extraordinary spirit. What then could be said of those who live today? God has now chosen us as the Holy Temple rather than a building in Jerusalem. He has come and made His abode with us, at least for those who love him and keep his word (John 14: 23). So, truly, we are possessed of an extraordinary spirit. Yes? Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit said, “… that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you” (John 14: 17). We have the most excellent Spirit living within us and this Holy Spirit, this Spirit of Truth is the power of God. He is the creative force of the Father which was brooding over the nothingness and at a word from God created the earth and every plant and animal in it (Genesis 1). There is therefore now nothing which is impossible for us. If Daniel and Joseph could rule foreign nations, rise to the very top of management of a whole nation, each of which was the most affluent and prosperous of their time, when they did not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, then what can we do? What can we not do? This is huge!  

We have to learn how to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives. You can communicate with Him and I believe you should. He is God, you know. I have discovered that He will speak back to you. He will answer you. He will lead you and guide you. This should be “Mission 2015” to get to know the Holy Spirit personally. There are enormous revelations awaiting us. Let us come to know this extraordinary spirit which lives within us. Let us develop communion and a relationship with Him. Become Daniel in your town.