January 12

Genesis 38-40, Psalm 12

A little over thirty years ago in the hospital room where my mother had just died, I was sitting by the bedside crying as my mother was already prepared to be brought down to the morgue. As I sat there a worker walked in and didn't say the typical platitudes of my mother being at peace or being in a better place, but saying nothing more or less, she placed her hand on my shoulder and recited Psalm 23 in its entirety. Never having heard the Word of God delivered so personally, this was the pivotal moment which a couple of weeks later prompted me to ask for a Bible from the hospital chaplain and begin my journey in seeking God for the first time in my life. Interestingly, this woman was not one of the hospital administrators or one of the physicians or nurses. She was either housekeeping or one of the technicians. She did not run to someone in a high position to comfort me. People like to define themselves by their occupations, titles, incomes, awards, etc. The truth is whatever position we find ourselves in the question is, "Did we use that position to serve God?" We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. This woman, whose name I never found out, served God that night.

As we read the tragic events of Joseph's earlier life, we see that no matter his circumstances, rather than bemoaning the injustice, he faithfully served God in every circumstance. We read that while a slave in Genesis 39:2-4, "The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority." His situation deteriorates after being falsely accused by his master's wife and being thrown in prison. But we read how Joseph handled being a prisoner of a crime that he did not commit in 39:21-22, "But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing." We again see Joseph in action in 40:4 when Pharoah's butler and baker were thrown in prison, "And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them; so they were in custody for a while." Joseph spent around 20 years of his life as a slave and a prisoner before finally being released as we will see when the story unfolds. Joseph was faithful to God in each and every circumstance. Why did God delay so long before righting Joseph's circumstances? So that a greater purpose might be accomplished as Joseph learned to depend on God and faithfully serve Him in every circumstance. As Joseph's life continued, Joseph would realize that God had been in charge the whole time and that nothing happened apart from God's will and His divine plan.

So what is it we find ourselves complaining about? Is it a dead end job? Is it being overlooked for that promotion? Is it never attaining the profession or position you thought you would? Is it not getting into the college you thought you would get into? Is it a difficult marriage or a difficult child? Rather than bemoaning our circumstances, like Joseph, God has us exactly where he can use us if we will only look up for His guidance and learn to depend on Him. In Ecclesiastes 2:9-11, King Solomon wrote, "So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem...Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure...Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done...And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun." King Solomon, like so many of us believed that if we achieve all that the world has to offer we can attain true happiness and peace. But he and many of us are deceived, these things never will because we were created to serve God, not our carnal desires. Paul expressed this well in Colossians 3:23-24, while in prison, "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ." God calls us to give maximum effort in every area of our lives. The only way to achieve this is to consciously acknowledge God in every area and wholeheartedly serve Him.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster