Wird Geladen

Lessons from my own bible study

Archive for the tag “Old Testament”

The Encouraging Story of Joseph

I like the story of Joseph. I find it very encouraging in my current place in life. Working hard to move forward while keeping God in the center. Not sure of where I’m headed or what good it’s doing. Unconvinced that anything I do is the best option.

Joseph grew up out of a middle-class farming family to be the second most powerful man in Egypt. His leadership saved every Egyptian citizen, and most of the Hebrews, from dying of starvation. He was the hero of his time.

But it took him a long time to get there. And he never made any decisions that led him there, per se. Rule over Egypt and adoration were not lifelong goals he had been working toward. Joseph came to fulfill his destiny because he spent his whole life loving and working for God.

A few months ago when I moved to Berlin I went to talk with my friend Erika. She loves living in Berlin even more than I do. Now she’s getting her masters here, but before she could do that, she had to teach English in a little down in central Germany for two years.

“Was it what I wanted to be doing? No. But it got me here.”

It’s the same with Joseph. He went from shepherd to captured slave to head of an enormous estate to prisoner to savior of Egypt. Every step of the way Joseph’s work was good enough that he was promoted quickly. People trusted him and gave him enormous power and authority. It wasn’t the type of work Joseph was doing that gained him renown- it was just slave work. And the quality of his work wasn’t because Joseph was a particularly adept or enthusiastic worker. Again, he was a slave. Rather, Joseph put his hand into God’s and trusted His grace and goodness to bless everything he did.

It was God alone who was moving Joseph toward what turned out to be his great destiny and the salvation of all Egypt. Did Jo enjoy the work he was doing? Perhaps. Did he take pride in being very good and high up in his position? Probably. But what’s absolutely certain and most important to remember is that Joseph begged God’s help in all things. He had to have done. God doesn’t go to work for those who don’t ask for it. But those who work by love for the Lord, earn His wages.

Joseph put God and all of his heart into whatever work was before him. He moved forward toward God’s good blessings for his life by staying continually grounded in the Lord. No matter what unfortunate, unfair mistakes came into his path, or how down and out Joseph became, he never stopped serving first and foremost the Lord. And that’s what led to his ultimately coming into his own- the golden cup that was waiting for him.



“I Have Crossed The Jordan With Only This Stick”

Jacob prayed: Oh God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant. For with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies.
                                                                                                        Genesis 32:9 & 10

25-second context: Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, took advantage of him for 20 years of indentured servitude. In that time Jacob amassed vast wealth and a huge household. After getting tired of being scammed he fled with his wives, 11 children, slaves, cohorts, and vast herds back to Canaan.

This is my new favorite verse of the Bible! An encouraging prayer for the power of God even when we are unable or unwilling to accept it. He is in power, not we. And isn’t that a comforting thought; that we should reap the benefits of His goodness, steadfastness, wisdom, and love even though we don’t think we ought to.

Jacob’s feeling of unworthiness didn’t come from sin, or lacking righteousness. He’s talking about the feelings of inadequacy, doubt, unworthiness that come from being limited by our own lack of skill. I don’t deserve these blessings because I am not wise enough, smart enough, skilled enough, hard-working enough, nice enough, liked enough to go out and get them on my own. I don’t deserve these blessings because they don’t represent the achievements I’m capable of. I don’t deserve these blessings because I’m literally not good enough at life to earn them.

By myself all I have is this one stick. By your love alone, Oh Lord, it has become two companies of men!

We have a God who does not operate on the do-earn basis. He pays wages to his laborers based on the faith and love with which they do their work. Sometimes I think that God can see love the way moths see ultraviolet light. We have a God who happily gives out the prizes of our hearts based purely on His love for us, and the joy He expects us to get from it, and the trust that we will put our gifts to good use and do them justice.

Jacob was clearly not a savvy business man! He got cheated by his boss for over 20 years. But God saw that Jacob’s heart yearned to lead wisdom into control, and to feel his power gifted into his whole company. He took care of Jacob, knowing that his desire for such things came not for his own benefit but from their desire to see God worshiped.

Take heart! Go out into the world with just your stick in your hand! Do whatever it is that comes to you with all love and faith in God. Work hard and always let your life glorify God. If you do this, God will turn your stick into two enormous companies of men!


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