Monday, September 15, 2014
“The Lord was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:2a).
His fall from grace was tumultuous. At the beginning of the day he was a favored son and a cocky kid and by the end of the day Joseph was sold as a slave and on his way to Egypt. There are times when life falls apart on short notice. We may slip and fall down the stairs, the company we work for may decide to move its offices to Lower Sabovia, or the doctor may enter the room with our test results, shaking his head. Life has no guarantees except that it will change.
Joseph may not have thought that the Lord was with him while all of this was happening. When our lives disintegrate, it often appears that God has “left the building.” The writer of this story is adamant, however. Joseph’s circumstance is not the result of God’s displeasure. It is not a judgment or a test. Joseph’s predicament is the result of the hateful actions of his jealous brothers. No matter what the cause, though, the Lord was with him. That is a truth that we cling to in the difficult times that we face, too. God is with us.
O Loving Lord, thank you for the promise of your presence in both the good times and the bad times of our lives. Thank you for your steadfast love. Amen.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
“He [Joseph] became a successful man” (Genesis 39:2b).
It is difficult to feel successful when you are picking up the pieces of your life. Other descriptive words like, “failure,” “has been” and “loser” more frequently come to mind. This is why identifying Joseph as successful seems so strange. Admittedly there are significant differences between slavery in the United States and slavery in Old Testament times. Still, it is difficult to imagine a successful slave.
One of the story teller’s purposes in saying that Joseph was successful was to emphasize that God was still with Joseph. Success was a physical manifestation of God’s presence. Success isn’t the only way God’s presence is revealed, though. A peace beyond understanding, a courageous faith, a secure hope, an attitude of gratitude are only a few of the manners by which God assures us of God’s presence. No matter how God chooses to make himself known, the important truths to remember is that we have not been abandoned and things are not out of God’s control.
Precious Lord may the knowledge that you are with us inspire us to boldly face all that life has in store for us. Amen.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
“The Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake” (Genesis 39:5)
Joseph didn’t need to stand on a soap box and declare he was a man of God. That truth radiated from him. The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, writes that God, “through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him” (2 Corinthians 2:14). Jesus put it another way, people of God are like light and salt (Matthew 5:13-16). Wherever we go and whatever we do, Christians normally have a positive affect upon the situations they are in and the people around them.
A judgmental, self-righteous, “holier-than-thou” attitude certainly doesn’t achieve this effect. Putting up a façade and becoming someone we are not doesn’t cut it either. People can usually smell a phony. Christians ability to be the fragrance, light and salt comes from the inner transformation of our lives by the Holy Spirit. When we live as people of God, the affect we have upon others goes beyond our physical efforts, and is greater than what we perceive or can even imagine. It is a work of God.
O Lord, it is humbling to know that you can use us to be conduits of your love and grace, and to have a positive affect upon the hearts and lives of the people we encounter. Amen.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
“After a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.” But he refused” (Genesis 39:7).
The offer was tempting. The act could be accomplished in secret; no one would know, and if no one knew no one would be hurt. There were countless rationalizations available to make the invitation of Potiphar’s wife acceptable—none to make it right. Joseph didn’t stay and argue. He didn’t pause to consider the “pros” and “cons” of the request. Joseph ran.
Temptations to compromise our faith frequently confront us. Voices around us will tell us that no one will get hurt, and that we are too prudish and uptight. Yet, we know what is right and what is wrong. We understand what our words and actions need to be in order to be true to ourselves, respect others and honor God. There may be times when it is necessary to stand and fight temptation, but often the best way to avoid temptation is, like Joseph, to run.
God of Righteousness, give us the ability to recognize temptation and the strength to resist it so that we may live honorable lives that serve you. Amen.
Friday, September 19, 2014
“When the master heard the words of his wife … he became enraged” (Genesis 39:19).
There is an old saying that goes, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Indeed, it is a rather cynical view of life, but at the same time it can be true. There are times when we are punished unjustly; times when life simply isn’t fair. We can rally against the injustice of life. We can get angry at God for allowing such things to happen to us. Joseph probably toyed with such thoughts as he was led to prison.
Life may strip us of much when we face its harshness. There are things though that can never be taken away from us. One is the respect that we have for ourselves because we know we did what was right. The other is God’s presence; God’s comfort, peace, love and forgiveness. Joseph had these as he faced Potiphar’s wrath. They are ours, also.
Loving God, speak your love to our hearts and empower us to withstand the injustice and unfairness of life and to face it with courage. Amen.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
“But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love” (Genesis 39:21a).
The woman was in tears. Life had delivered one blow after another. A year ago her husband had died suddenly from a massive heart attack. Left in financial straits because of his death, she had lost her home and been forced to move. Her health deteriorated, her mobility was impaired and she was let go from her job. On top of everything, her dog died. The woman was beaten down, depressed and angry at God. It would be a rare person who didn’t react that way.
Joseph was in the same situation. His life kept getting worse and worse. The storyteller doesn’t reveal any of Joseph’s reactions or emotions, but he does defiantly proclaim that God showed him steadfast love. God’s love is not necessarily expressed by an end to our problems; a reversal of our situations. God’s love is shared as God sheds tears with us, embraces us, reassures us that we are the apple of God’s eye and that nothing can separate us from God’s love. There are times when the most profound expression of love is to hold hands and walk through life together.
Caring Lord, forgive us when we forget your love and deny your presence in our lives. We lift our hands to you that you may hold them and walk with us. Amen.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
“He [God] gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer” (Genesis 39:21b).
Things can quickly get out of control in our lives. They do, just about any time something happens outside of “normal.” Our first reaction when things start to go wrong is to feel alone, cursed and separated from God. Our prayers appear to go unanswered and we fear that God has turn God’s back on us. After a while, though, we begin to realize that God is standing next to us and God is acting in the situation on our behalf. Difficult times can be times when we grow in our relationship with God.
We’re rather independent people. When things are “normal” we sail along without much thought about how needful we are of God’s constant presence, love, grace and forgiveness. We might slack off on prayer and allow things to crowd out our devotional time. As life sails along we begin to convince ourselves that we are really in control. Then the bottom falls out of our lives and down we go.
Joseph discovered God in slavery and in prison. He realized that God was with him and moving albeit silently and slowly, in his situation. God caused him to find favor in the eyes of the jailer. So it is in our lives. God does not leave us in the tough times, but walks with us through them and acts on our behalf.
O Loving Companion, thank you that nothing can separate us from you. Thank you, also, that you are moving on our behalf even when we can’t see it happening. Amen.