How did you know that?

Genesis 43:33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment.

how did you knowHave you ever been in a situation where someone seems to know a lot about you, but you know nothing about them? It’s kind of uncomfortable, really. There you are face to face with a stranger and they are talking to you about things in your life that you’ve never shared with them.  You just want to say: how did you know that? Do I know you?

In Genesis 43, Joseph’s brothers were in that same kind of situation. Not only was he asking them about his family, he invited them to dinner and perfectly seated them in their birth order.  I’ll tell you what, they were certainly trippin’ out. How did he know that!?  You see, to them, Joseph was a perfect stranger.  They had no idea who he was but he knew exactly who they were.  He had insight into their lives that messed with their heads.

I think God is like that. He knows us really well. He reveals things about us that we didn’t know about ourselves. Sometimes we are completely in the dark about it. We are living our life for ourselves and He intersects it with revelation. He reveals our identity, our faults, and our destiny. He speaks purpose, and hope, and calling into our hearts that crave it. And we didn’t even know we craved it at times.  He knows. Yes, He knows.

I love to live for a God who knows things I don’t know. He knows me better than I know myself.  Like Joseph’s brothers, it blows my mind some days. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

*The God who knows is the God who formed you. He knows your name and He knows your future.

Long time coming

Genesis 42:6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.

watchSome things take a while to complete: making a fine wine, learning to play the piano, potty training, a delicious meal cooked to perfection. We don’t like to wait, do we? We like the drive-thru, the microwave, and the credit card. These things give us results now! You want it? You can have it and you can have it now.  That’s what we crave, but it’s not always what is best… especially when it comes to the things of God. Sometimes we simply have to wait.

Joseph had to wait, too. As a young man, he started having some crazy dreams. He saw his brothers bowing down to him in the form of bales of hay. “Hay bro, I had this dream….”  Awkward. It WAS awkward. While Joseph had deposited in his heart the promise that his brothers would bow to him, his brothers weren’t down with it. So they sold him into slavery. Oops, that didn’t really work that well.  I wonder what was going through Joseph’s mind as he was carried away into slavery. I wonder if he thought about those dreams as he was thrown in prison. Where are the promises now, God?

The thing is, those dreams did come true. Many, many years later, his brothers bowed at his feet. But the dream didn’t turn out exactly like he may have thought. As a young boy, it seemed as though he was going to have the opportunity to lord his power over them.  He would be magnificent! They would serve him and do his bidding. But on this day, he would use his power to help them. They bowed because they needed saving and he was the man for the job.

The things of God are not like the things of this world. God isn’t all that interested in microwaves and drive-thru windows. He doesn’t get impatient and pull out His credit card. He doesn’t wonder what He is doing when things aren’t happening RIGHT NOW. So why do we? If we were to set our hearts on His and trust that He has a plan, we might have some peace. If we would recognize that His ways are not ours, it’s possible that we could be okay if His promise is a long time coming.

*God hasn’t abandoned you or forgotten you. Some things simply take time, so press in to Him while you wait!

I have no idea

Genesis 41:16  “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

no ideaMany years ago, I was working for a company in which I was climbing the ladder.  I was being promoted and was moving up quickly.  I recall many days in which I was being stretched beyond my ability. My boss or even district manager would ask me to do things that I didn’t know how to do.  At first, I was not very confident and would tell them I was unsure if I could do it: “Um… I have no idea!” But I had a manager one time tell me that the answer should simply be, “No problem. I’ll get it done.”  So this became my answer.  When I was given something I didn’t know how to do, I figured it out. I found people who knew and they helped me.  Because of that, I became trusted.  There didn’t seem to be anything I couldn’t do.  That wasn’t remotely true, but it seemed that way since I always said, “I’ll get it done.”   Kind of risky, don’t you think?  But God gave me favor and it worked. If only I had given Him some of the credit.

In Genesis 41, Joseph didn’t have a problem giving God the credit right up front. He was asked to do a job by the highest authority in the land and his response was, “I can’t do it.”  But before the Pharaoh sent him back to the prison, he followed up with, “but God can and will.”  To answer like that requires both faith and absence of fear. You can’t care what others will think about you. You can’t question whether or not God will pull it off.  You just have to trust that He will.

I wonder sometimes how well we do at giving God the glory for something He deserves glory for. I see people operate in their gifting and take for granted that God is the one who gave it to them. A word of prophecy shouldn’t glorify the giver, but should glorify God. A song of worship should draw attention to Jesus, not the singer.  Yet we go along taking all the credit for things that God pulled off.  Not Joseph – He was clear about who was really doing the work. I think it would be a good idea if we did the same.

*In what places in your life do you take the glory for things that God is doing? In what places are you afraid to speak up where God is working?

Let’s talk about your feelings, bro

Genesis 40:6-7 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”

prisonersI have things to do, places to go, people to see.  I have stuff I need to accomplish.  We all do; that’s how life is.  When I’m trying to get through the line at the store, I am in a hurry. When I am stuck in traffic, I am frustrated.  I’ve got to go, people!  Do you ever feel that way?  Of course you do.

Joseph had things to do, too.  He was in charge of the prison, or at least a section of it. He was given charge to oversee prisoners. He had a job to do. He had meals to bring, jobs to hand out, paperwork to be filled out. He was a busy guy.  Yet he stopped to notice something – the emotional state of the prisoners.  Who cares about the emotional state of a prisoner? They did something wrong so forget about how they feel. Of course they are dejected… they are in JAIL! But Joseph wanted to know why they were sad today.  Let’s talk about your feelings, bro.

What strikes me is the fact that Joseph cared at all. He was probably making his rounds either waking them up or bringing them breakfast. He had other prisoners to check on, but he stopped to find out how they were doing. So often, we get consumed with what we are doing, that we miss out on connecting with others along the way. If we could just get our minds off of ourselves for a moment, we would see that there are dejected people crying out. If we would take time to notice others, we might even have the opportunity to give them some of the hope that we have in Jesus.

*Are you consumed with your own stuff? Take a look around and ask God to give you opportunity to help someone else.

Thrown in jail for being a hottie

Genesis 39:20-23 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. 

good lookingDoesn’t it seem sometimes that the circumstances of life are stacked against us? You know the days: you hit every red light, choose the longest line, forget your lunch at home, and mess up a project at work. You might even manage to offend a few people along the way. Yes, some days are full of problems.

Joseph had problems, too.  Apparently, one of them was that he was too good looking. Yes, Joseph was a hottie. Genesis 39 says he was handsome and well built.  Potipher’s wife looked and him and said to herself, “hmm mmm, that is a well built man.”  So she tried to convince him to come to bed with her.  I guess being good looking can work against you.  But he wasn’t having any of that nonsense, being the righteous man that he was. So she lied to her husband and Joseph got thrown in prison. Wait a minute… Joseph was thrown in jail because he was too good looking? So not fair.

But Joseph couldn’t help but have favor. The Lord was simply with him. In fact, the prison warden treated him more like a coworker than a prisoner.  That’s crazy!  Now Joseph could have lowered his head and started crying out to God for justice. He could have been angry or resentful and demanded a fair trial. Instead he just continued to walk in favor.  He didn’t worry about false accusations; rather he let his character speak for itself.  He continued to be faithful even in the hardest places.

Hebrews 13:6 says,  So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Joseph is a living example of this verse. He didn’t move to a place a fear even when he was thrown in prison. He didn’t fear what man could do to him. He rose to a place of honor in the midst of terrible circumstances. I can’t help but think we have that same opportunity in our own lives. Circumstances can stink, but we don’t have to. We can rise above like Joseph did. We can latch on to the fact that regardless of where life takes us, the Lord is our helper.

Are you letting the circumstances of your life determine your outlook? Like Joseph, choose to rise above today!