A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 3; You Version app, days 15 through 21
This week you’ll read the story of Joseph. You probably remember much of his story if you’ve been around the church. Even if you don’t know much about the Bible, you’ve probably heard something about Joseph. The story of Joseph and his multicolored coat even made Broadway.
But we need to look at Joseph’s story the way it fits into God’s story. Remember we’ve been talking about the difference between the lower story we live in and the upper story God plans. We can’t see farther than the moments we live in. We can’t see around the bend in the road to know how the events of today will really impact our lives tomorrow. But God sees the panorama of eternity. He knows how ever moment of our lives, every moment of suffering, can be turned into good for us.
Joseph could not understand how his brothers selling him into slavery could be good for him. But God knew how he would use it. Joseph didn’t understand how being accused of rape and thrown into prison could be a good thing. But God knew how he would use that horrible event that could mean Joseph’s execution to save the nation He promised to build through Abraham.
Joseph didn’t understand how the broken promise of the baker and his languishing in an Egyptian death row prison could be anything but bad, but God knew how that event would eventually put Joseph in front of Pharaoh at just the right moment to make Joseph second in command of the whole kingdom and become the salvation for not only Egypt, but many of the surrounding nations as well.
Joseph had dreams as a teenager that he would rule his brothers and parents. Those dreams seemed to be dashed when his brothers sold him into slavery. He couldn’t see the big picture of God’s upper story. All he could see at any given moment were the days of suffering in slavery or prison. But Joseph kept his eyes turned upward and trusted God.
That’s why when his brothers came to get food from Egypt during the famine that hit the region he could tell them, “It was not you that did this, but God did it to save all of us.” His brothers might have meant to do Him evil, but God had a bigger view and turned that evil into good and saved Israel through those actions. God’s plans cannot be thwarted.
I sometimes wonder what would have happened had Joseph’s brothers not thrown him into the pit and sold him into slavery. Would Joseph still become the leader of the nation? Probably. God set him apart as revealed in the dreams he had a young man. There was something special about Joseph that God saw that few others did. It caused a lot of friction in his family and as a teenager, he didn’t handle it very well. Neither did his father.
The obvious favoritism in Jacob’s family created horrible internal family dynamics. I can’t imagine the difficulties a family counselor would have trying to straighten that crowd out. The jealousy, infighting, favoritism...everything that all the books tell you creates a bad family happened in that one.
Maybe God let all that happen to get Joseph away from the continued influence of the family dynamic in Jacob’s family. Maybe God needed to teach Joseph some humility through suffering before he could become the great leader God knew he could be.
We don’t know how God works or why we go through the things we do because we can only see the lower story. We see linearly and have all those obstacles in the way. We have to pay our bills, eat, go to work, deal with all of our own family dynamics and our neighbors and our co-workers and church members and, well, ...life. We are stuck in this two dimensional view of life and cannot see what is next.
God on the other hand sees all. He is not bound by time. He exists eternally. Past, present, and future. He can see around the bend and can intervene in our lives to make His dreams collide with our lives to make sure His plans are carried out.
Often we have dreams as kids or as teenagers that God plants in our heads and we let life destroy them just as Joseph did. I doubt if he thought he would ever become a ruler after he was sold into slavery. I doubt if he thought his dreams would ever come true after he was falsely accused and thrown into prison. I imagine he set those dreams aside and just worked as hard as he could knowing that is would God would expect of him.
But those dreams did materialize for him as he followed God’s ways. Have you ever thought that God might use you the same way? That all things really do work for good for those that love Him and work according to His purpose? They do. There are many examples we will continue to see as we continue to read through God’s story. But remember the two conditions that go along with God’s promise.
First, we must love Him. And second, we must work according to His purpose. That means He must come first. Does your checkbook show that He comes first in your life or does God just get leftovers? Does your calendar reflect your love for God? Do your social activities show God is first in your life? Does your library and reading and listening habits show that you want to hear God’s voice more than anyone else in your daily communications?
God’s promises are almost always conditional. If you don’t really love God and don’t work according to His purposes (not your own), don’t expect this promise from Romans chapter 8 to apply to you. God might do some good things for you just because He is a gracious God, but the promise doesn’t apply. Don’t expect it.
But if you do love Him. If your life reflects you love for Him with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, you can be assured everything that happens in your life will work toward something good in your life. I can’t tell you when or how, but God’s promise applies to you and He never breaks His promises.
Just like with Joseph, all things work for good. He spent 22 pretty tough, rotten years suffering at the hands of his brothers and then at the hands of masters and prison guards. But he then spent 71 years as Pharaoh’s second in command. No one had more authority in the known world at the time except Pharaoh himself. He traded 22 rough years for 71 years of luxury in Pharaoh’s palace. God turned bad into good. Both for Joseph and for the nation God was building through the covenant He made those years earlier with Abraham.
Do you have some old dreams that don’t seem to be happening? Maybe you just can’t see around the bend. Look up. God works in the upper story. Follow His will. Work toward His purposes. Love Him with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. He works in ways we will never comprehend. Like with Joseph, God can turn our dreams into His dreams and His are so much beyond what we could ever imagine.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.