“Let Me Walk Upon the Waters”

(Genesis 39: 2-5, NLT) The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did. 4 This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. 5 From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake.

Wherever Joseph was, whether in slavery to Potiphar, imprisoned with the warden, or in service to Pharaoh, he flourished.  His life was blessed, and others were blessed through him, because of his obedience to God.  To the naked, human eye, many of Joseph’s circumstances in life were difficult, and downright unfair.  Yet when we zoom out and see things from the perspective of God, we are able to understand that each moment of hardship and affliction was but a cog in the intricate clockwork of his life.  God was piecing it all together…a planned contrivance with a purpose that would endure for all of time. 

Joseph’s life is one of the most familiar and relatable histories from the Bible.  We can all, at some point in our lives, identify with being rejected, mistreated, lied about, used, and manipulated.  It is through our ability to empathize with Joseph, as we read of his afflictions, that we are able to receive the story of redemption and victory that is established as a result.  His life is an inspiration to all who read of it, because we know that if Joseph was able to stay humble and obedient throughout these trials, then we can certainly persevere in our own life battles.  When we see the fruit of his commitment to obedience, we begin to feel that God does have a purpose for our pain — that God will provide for and bless us. 

This September, Jonathan, Benjamin and I will have been in Louisville for seven years.  We moved here with no home to settle into, and no jobs from which to earn money to support ourselves.  We literally just packed our things and came here — totally and completely at the mercy of God’s purpose and plan for us.  The only things we knew for certain were that God specifically told us to come here, and that He would never fail us in the process.  We didn’t come with any intentions other than being obedient to His call on our lives.  SpiritLife church, as many people see and know it today, did not even exist.  Some months prior to our decision to come here, Jonathan’s mom and dad had been placed (by God) into what looked like an impossible situation — a church that was facing both financial and spiritual bankruptcy.  When they shared with us the story of this church (what we all now know as SpiritLife Church), and the task that lay ahead, we knew that God was leading us to join them in this monumental labor of LOVE.  We didn’t know why, and we never questioned God on it.  We just hit the road!  There was no promise of employment at the church, or even any sort of ministry position.  There was no plan in place at all.  We were simply on a mission to help love this hurting body back to life.  We arrived on September 10, 2010.  Jonathan’s parents were living in a two bedroom patio home — so we all hunkered down and made the best of it.  Everything that we owned was placed in a storage unit.  We often had to drive over and climb around inside to find things that we needed from time to time.  We drove all over this large, unfamiliar city from one job interview to another…often several within one day.  We enrolled our first grader into a school system that scared the living daylights out of this small town mama!  I have to tell you, it was a little daunting and somewhat depressing at times — but we never stopped praying and trusting.  We had made a decision to operate in obedience, and we stuck to it. 

By September 20th (a mere 10 days later), we had secured a home in a neighborhood we felt reassured with, and within the month we both had jobs.  They weren’t the best jobs, but we had work and that felt like a huge victory to us!  The next few years brought on a lot of heartache and struggle for us as an immediate family, as well as in our collective families.  Financial strain, disease, death, marital strains, heartbreaking doctor reports — just a lot of loss and hurt was being served up in every facet of our lives. It was hard.  Yet in every tear that was and has been shed, lies a reminder that our pain has a purpose.  So we soldier on…because one day we will harvest the abundance that comes from every seed that we have sown.  One day we will see the blessing that is on the other side of the mountain.  For now?  For now we continue the climb.  There have been many blessings already, and we are beginning to see the fruit of our love and obedience to God. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father,  You have been so faithful over the years.  You promised that if we will just humble ourselves in obedience to You, You will never leave us to fight alone.  I pray today that my life will always be a testament to what You can and will do when we believe.  Like Joseph, may my heartaches always serve their purposes — to encourage others, and to bring honor and glory to Your name.  Amen.

Put On Your Big Boy Pants

(Joshua 17:14-18 ESV) 14 Then the people of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am a numerous people, since all along the LORD has blessed me?” 15 And Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up by yourselves to the forest, and there clear ground for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.” 16 The people of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us. Yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel.” 17 Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, “You are a numerous people and have great power. You shall not have one allotment only, 18 but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders. For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.”

Whiney people wear me out! How about you? In a recent devotion, I wrote about the MASSIVE list of blessings that were reserved for the house of Joseph. BIG blessings. ABUNDANT blessings. They only needed to take the necessary steps to possess them.

In Joshua 17, Joshua continues to distribute inheritances to the various tribes of Israel. The distributions varied based upon the size of the tribes and the role they played in the progress of the nation. When the people of Joseph heard the description of their inheritance, their tone seemed to imply a dissatisfaction with the details.

  • “Why have you given me one lot and one portion?”
  • “The hill country is not enough for us.”
  • “The Canaanites have chariots of iron.”

Joshua had to help them see things from a God-sized perspective. He reminded them of their potential.

  • “You are numerous.”
  • “You have great power.”
  • “Go to the forest and clear land for yourselves.”
  • “You shall possess it to its farthest borders.”
  • “You shall drive out the Canaanites.”

It appears that the people of Joseph had taken on an attitude of entitlement. Is it possible they felt they should not have to fight anymore? Could it be they felt they deserved to have their blessing super-sized and ready to enjoy without further effort? We may never know, but their words sound an awful lot like disappointment. The reward just didn’t fit their expectations.

I’m reminded of the man who looked to Peter and John for a monetary handout. Peter responded by letting him know that he did not have money to give, but he could hook him up with supernatural healing. If the beggar was disappointed, it certainly didn’t show. He got up and started enjoying his new found freedom!

That’s the point Joshua was trying to make to the household of Joseph. They were blessed! The victory was still theirs for the taking. They just needed to sow the proper effort to reap the promised result.

Today, let’s realize how blessed we are. Let’s focus on the potential we possess. Instead  of getting our bloomers in an upset, let’s put on our big boy pants and show God how grateful we are by living in the abundance He has provided.

PRAYER: Lord, I realize the blessings I’m experiencing have come directly from Your hand. Keep my mind focused on You and empower me to grasp all that You have laid up for me. Amen.

Only The Best!

(Deuteronomy 33:13-16 ESV) 13 And of Joseph he said, “Blessed by the LORD be his land, with the choicest gifts of heaven above, and of the deep that crouches beneath, 14 with the choicest fruits of the sun and the rich yield of the months, 15 with the finest produce of the ancient mountains and the abundance of the everlasting hills, 16 with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness and the favor of him who dwells in the bush. May these rest on the head of Joseph, on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers.

When I write a letter, I usually begin with a greeting like this, “Greetings to you in the name of the Lord. I trust that all is well and you are experiencing the best blessings of God!” On one occasion, someone asked me if all of God’s blessings were equal, to which I replied, “I believe God has some very special blessings reserved that exceed the routine provision of the day!” I was probably just trying to be positive, but when I read these verses of Scripture today, it reinforced my belief.

Chapter 33 of Deuteronomy records the blessings of Moses upon the people of Israel just before his death. While Moses handed out some very impressive blessings to the various tribes, when he gets to Joseph he uses some very descriptive terms about his blessings. Notice,

  • “The choicest gifts of heaven.”
  • “The choicest fruits of the sun.”
  • “The rich yield of the months.”
  • “The finest produce of the ancient mountains.”
  • “The abundance of the everlasting hills.”
  • “The best gifts of the earth.”
  • “Its fullness and the favor of him who dwells in the bush.”
  • “May these rest on the head of Joseph.”

God is sovereign. He can bless anyone He wants, any way He wants, at any time He wants. The truth is, that each tribe was blessed in ways that was specific to their own needs. God knew what they needed, and what would produce the most productive results for them.

Why did God bless Joseph so extravagantly? I believe we gain some insight through the phrase, “him who is prince among his brothers.” Joseph required greater resources because his assignment was broader in scope. God would require much more from Joseph than his brothers. Therefore, the choicest gifts were reserved for the one whose responsibility was greater.

PRAYER: Thank you Father for Your abundant blessings! Give me the wisdom to use them in ways that will bring glory to Your name. Amen.

Forever Forgiven

(Genesis 50:19-21 ESV) “19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

Most Christians are fully aware of the story of Joseph. Sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely imprisoned, forgotten by those he had helped; Joseph’s life had been made difficult primarily by other people. It would have been easy for him to allow a root of bitterness to develop in his soul. It’s one thing to be a victim of a single offense, but it is very hard to offer forgiveness when the offenses are stacked on top of each other. Such was the life of Joseph.

To his credit, Joseph was able to find a way to forgive, not once, but continually. In the case of his brothers, they were probably the ones responsible for his deepest pain. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to forgive family members who had inflicted such heinous abuse on multiple occasions?

In our passage of Scripture today, Joseph has to reassure his brothers of his commitment to “forever forgiveness.” Their father Jacob had just passed away and they were afraid that Joseph would now seek the revenge they felt he was entitled to. Instead of revenge, Joseph reminded his brothers of some very important facts.

  • Joseph realized he was not God and therefore was not authorized to impose any punishment upon his brothers. Even though he had the right legally, he did not have the right to refuse forgiveness spiritually. He was acknowledging God’s sovereignty by stating, “Am I in the place of God?”
  • He did not gloss over their wrong. He reminded them, “As for you, you meant evil against me…” We won’t help ourselves or our offenders by acting like it never happened. Freedom comes when we face the truth and apply Scriptural principles to guide us through the healing process.
  • God is always able to turn mourning into dancing! Joseph realized, “God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
  • Finally, he comforted them by speaking kindly and reminding them that he would take care of them and their families. Instead of treating them as he had been treated, he decided to be the bigger man and commit himself to forever forgiveness.

Who has wronged you? What offense needs to be forgiven? Don’t say, “I can’t forgive this individual.” Instead, boldly declare, “All things are possible to those who believe.”

PRAYER: I’m very grateful that you have offered forever forgiveness to me. Although I don’t deserve it, I gladly receive it. Help me to be willing to offer the same to those who may have wronged me. Amen.

Before The Blessing Comes

(Genesis 41:38-40 ESV) And Pharoah said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” Then Pharoah said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards to the throne will I be greater than you.”

I think it’s safe to say that we all want God’s best blessings in our lives. Right? The problem is that we often disqualify ourselves by not properly understanding how to position ourselves to receive.

If the Spirit of God dwells in us, we have the necessary elements to fulfill our purpose. But, we must learn to live in the reality of God’s promises whether they are visible or not.

Joseph lived daily with the knowledge of his purpose, but had yet to see it materialize. He was unjustly imprisoned, kept in a PITiful place, where he was denied the basics of proper hygiene. He spent everyday in the presence of others whose fate appeared as dreadful as his. It certainly did not seem like the kind of place where dreams could come true. So, how did Joseph respond?

Instead of being poisened by anger he became positioned by action!

Prior to Joseph’s promotion, he acted with kindness toward other prisoners. He lived in such a way that evidenced an indwelling Spirit of God. He shaved! Don’t let that slip by. He didn’t approach Pharoah with a rebellious attitude that could have kept him from the presence of the very man who could facilitate his dream. Instead, he went to great lengths to present himself in the most favorable light. And it paid off BIG!

(Genesis 41: 50-52 ESV) Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me FORGET ALL MY HARDSHIP and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me FRUITFUL IN THE LAND of my affliction.”

If God made a promise to you, He will put everything in place to see that promise fulfilled. Your responsibility is to be positioned to receive it! So, get ready.

PRAYER: Father, I’m grateful for what you have planned for me. Help me to live in such a way that when I am called for, I will be positioned properly to release the anointing you have reserved for me. Amen!

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