Tag Archives: Joseph

Becoming More Fruitful

In the 90”s, one of the t-shirts that was popular said, “No Pain No Gain”. They were referring to working out, but I believe that’s true in a lot of areas in life. People like complacency and they don’t like pain. Because of that, we often find ourselves in ruts doing the same thing day in and day out. The problem is that the processes in our lives can only produce so much, and many of us have been in a rut so long that we have reached a plateau and we’re coasting. The greatest motivator for change is pain. It’s not until we’re faced with pain of some sort that we change. When you change how you do things, you change the results you’re getting in life. Sometimes we get the choice to make the change, and other times God forces the change in our lives.

Joseph, in the Old Testament, is one of the most intriguing people in the Bible to me. When he was 17 years old, his brothers beat him up and threw him in a pit with the intention of killing him. Instead, they sold him as a slave where he was taken to a foreign land. There he made the most of his situation and became the highest producer in the household. The owner’s wife took a liking to him, but he held to his integrity even though life had dumped on him. He was thrown in jail where he was forgotten, but he continued to persevere in the pain. 17 years after his brother’s sold him, he became a free man, and then became second in command of the nation. He was a man who went through much pain, suffering and affliction, but you never read where he questioned God or doubted Him.

After he was married, he had two sons. Genesis 41:52 says, “He named the second [son] Ephraim (fruitfulness), for ‘God has caused me to be fruitful and very successful in the land of my suffering’” (AMP). God has a plan for our lives that contains suffering, but with that suffering comes the potential of fruitfulness and success. How do you respond to times of pain and suffering? I believe our response is what determines the extent of that fruitfulness. God will do whatever He needs to in our lives to get us to a place where we can be fruitful for Him and His purposes, but along with that comes the potential for greater things. Some of the most successful people you know have endured some of the hardest times. If you’re going through a season of pain and suffering like Joseph, take courage. God is working in your life to produce some amazing fruit. Ask Him for the strength to endure and the wisdom in how to make the most of it.

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Patient Endurance

Patience. It’s not a word we like very much. We like to have results quickly without having to put in the time and effort. We want answers given to us without us having to dig for them. We want growth without risk, and we want fruit without tending the garden. We’ve heard the saying, “Good things come to those who wait,” but who really wants to wait? We live in a now society where everything is given to us quickly. The temptation is to let our societal speed carry over into our spiritual growth.

Endurance. It’s not something you get in good times. It requires pushing yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of. It takes mental toughness to get it. You have to withstand pressure repeatedly in order to attain it. Giving up can’t be an option if you’re going to increase your endurance. You have to keep your mind on the prize to keep your mind off the struggle if you’re going to build your endurance. It isn’t given to you, it’s earned.

Both of these things are required of us as Christians. The more of God you want to know, the more patience and endurance you’re going to have to have. If we are willing to give up in the struggle, we will miss the blessings God is preparing us for. Hebrews 10:36 says, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised” (NLT). When things appear to be going wrong in our life, God is preparing us to receive all He has for us.

We can’t be like Jacob and fight it. In Genesis 42, there was a famine in the land. Jacob sent 10 of his sons to get food in Egypt. Joseph wanted them all there so he pretended to not know them, sent them home with their food, and held one brother captive until they returned with their other brother. Jacob felt like he was being punished when God was just trying to get him to the land of plenty. In verse 36, he cried out, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”

If everything is going against you, it’s quite possible that God is actually trying to bless you. Jacob waited a long time before he sent his sons back to get more food and their brother. He could have been living without fear of starvation. He could have had the relationship with his son restored had he not delayed. God was trying to use what appeared to be negative circumstances to move him into a place of blessing. Imagine what God could be trying to do for you in your situation. Work on having patient endurance instead of complaining, and see what God does.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Waiting For God’s Promise

Waiting on God to fulfill His promise can be like waiting to open a present at Christmas. We see it there with our name on it. It is ours, but we have to wait. Every day you see it there. You’re ready to open it and use it, but the time has not come. There is always a waiting period from the time you are promised something and the time that you get it. How you spend that time matters.

There are 3 lessons we can learn from Abraham and Joseph while waiting on God to fulfill His promise to you.

1. Don’t preempt God

When God spoke to Abraham and promised him a son, he was about 85 years old.He could not see how God would do what he said he would do. He decided to intervene on God’s behalf and make the promise come true. He ruined a relationship and started a feud that goes on to this day.

When God makes a promise, our desire is to see it come to pass immediately. Often we are the ones who are unprepared or ready at the time a promise is given. We think we are, so when it delays, we try to step in. God does not need your help to bring about what He has promised. He needs you to prepare to receive it.

2. Bad things may still happen to you

Joseph received a dream that everyone, including his brothers and parents, would bow down to him. Being young and foolish, he had no problem telling others what God had intended to be just for him at the time. While he waited on God’s promise, he was beaten by his brothers, sold as a slave, taken to a foreign land against his will, worked as a slave, was wrongly accused, thrown in jail and forgotten about.

I’m sure it was difficult to trust God to fulfill His promise in any of those situations. You never read of Joseph complaining or crying out “why me, God”. The bible simply says that in each instance, he worked. In working, he found favor with those around him. God used those situations to prepare him and to get him in place for the promise. You may not like or understand what is happening to you in the waiting, but if you trust God and work for Him, He will fulfill it in His time.

3. Have patience

This is easier said than done. Abraham waited 15 years before God fulfilled his promise of having a son. He just thought he was too old at 85! For Joseph, it was 13 years before he interpreted pharaoh’s dream. It was at least more than 7 years after that before his brothers came and bowed down before him. I’m not saying you will have to wait 15 or 20 years for God to fulfill his promise to you, but it could.

We want God to act in our time. We want Him to fulfill His promise when we think we are ready, not when He thinks we’re ready. Patience is tough. Waiting is hard. God may show you the end result now, but wants you to take one step at a time. He may not show you the step after that until you take this one.

What step has God called you to take right now to move towards the fulfillment of His promise? Are you willing to trust Him and His timing? Take each step one at a time. Don’t preempt God. Understand that things may happen between now and the time of fulfillment. They are there to prepare you and to place you. Above all, have patience as He works to bring it about. He keeps His promises.

Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Period Of Preparation

“One time Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him even more.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭37:5‬ ‭GNT‬‬

Joseph is one of those people in the Bible that no matter how many times I read his story, I always learn more. He was disliked by his own brothers, sold as a slave, lied about, put in prison, I pressed the pharaoh, got promoted to second in command and saved his family. One of the catalysts for this series of events in his life was a dream that God gave him. I’m sure he was excited about what God showed him and he just wanted to share it.

Has that ever happened to you? It has to me. God gave me a vision of the ministry He was calling me to. At first I was terrified and ran from it. When I finally embraced it and gave in, things began happening quickly in my life. People of influence in my life asked what was going on. When I shared with them what was happening, they said, “Well, don’t get too carried away. I don’t know that God will keep doing it like that. Slow down and be patient.” Just like that, the air was let out of my ballon. I lost my momentum and faith in what God called me to.

Another friend recently asked about my calling. After a few minutes of beating around the bush, i finally told him. His response was, “A calling like that requires preparation and that’s what God is doing right now in your life.” It breathed new life into me. Just like Joseph had to go through these years of slavery and imprisonment to prepare him to fulfill the dream God gave him, you and I have to go through preparations too.

If you feel like God has forgotten the dream He gave you or you shared that dream and were made fun of, keep holding on. God isn’t finished working out His plan in your life. It’s not too late. You’re not too far gone. Just like blowing on some embers can rekindle a fire, God can easily move in your life and complete that which He called you to. Look at this time as your period of preparation. It may feel like you’ve been forgotten in a prison in Egypt, but God is placing you where He needs you and giving you the tools to be successful.

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The Cost Of A Dream


What are you willing to pay to accomplish your dreams? The dreams are free, but seeing them come to fruition isn’t. So many of us freely talk about the dreams God puts in our hearts, but so few are willing to endure what it takes to make them happen. When God gives us a dream, He rarely includes the cost. Once the time comes to start paying for it, many of us walk away from it or question if God really gave it to us.

When Joseph was a teenager, God put a dream in his heart that his brothers would one day bow to him. He didn’t have that great of a relationship with them, so he was excited about it. He told them about it, probably in a flaunting way, and they hated him for it. They threw him in a pit, then sold him as a slave where he was carried off to Egypt. From there, he was falsely accused of rape, thrown in prison and forgotten fir over ten years. 

Through all of that, he kept believing in the dream. We don’t read where he questioned God for his troubles. I believe it was because he thought of it as the price of his dream, and he was willing to pay it. God knew that as a teenager, he wasn’t ready to be second in command of Egypt. He tested him and developed in him the character he would need to make the dream in him a reality. Joseph paid the price for the dream.

Psalm 105:19 says, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character” (NLT). If God gave you a dream and everything is going wrong, chances are that He’s testing your character. He’s finding out if you’re willing to pay the price and if you’re ready. Don’t give up because the dream seems so far away. Keep working hard. Keep paying the price. Don’t quit. God is getting you ready for the fulfillment of that dream. The cost is worth it. 

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Patient Endurance 

  
Patience. It’s not a word we like very much. We like to have results quickly without having to put in the time and effort. We want answers given to us without us having to dig for them. We want growth without risk, and we want fruit without tending the garden. We’ve heard the saying, “Good things come to those who wait,” but who really wants to wait? We live in a now society where everything is given to us quickly. The temptation is to let our societal speed carry over into our spiritual growth.

Endurance. It’s not something you get in good times. It requires pushing yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of. It takes mental toughness to get it. You have to withstand pressure repeatedly in order to attain it. Giving up can’t be an option if you’re going to increase your endurance. You have to keep your mind on the prize to keep your mind off the struggle of you’re going to build your endurance. It isn’t given to you, it’s earned.

Both of these things are required of us as Christians. The more of God you want to know, the more patience and endurance you’re going to have to have. If we are willing to give up in the struggle, we will miss the blessings God is preparing us for. Hebrews 10:36 says, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised” (NLT). When things appear to be going wrong in our life, God is preparing us to receive all He has for us.

We can’t be like Jacob and fight it. In Genesis 42, there was a famine in the land. Jacob sent 10 of his sons to get food in Egypt. Joseph wanted them all there so he pretended to not know them, sent them home with their food, and held one brother captive until they returned with their other brother. Jacob felt like he was being punished when God was just trying to get him to the land of plants. In verse 36, he cried out, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”

If everything is going against you, it’s quite possible that God is actually trying to bless you. Jacob waited a long time before he sent his sons back to get more food and their brother. He could have been living without fear of starvation. He could have had the relationship with his son restored. God was trying to use what appeared to be negative circumstances to move him into a place of blessing. Imagine what God could be trying to do for you in your situation. Work on having patient endurance instead of complaining, and see what God does.

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Character Development

I’m always intrigued by the story of Joseph found in Genesis 37-45. No matter how many times I read it, I come away with a new respect for him. God gave him a dream as a young man that one day his family would bow down to him, including his own parents. His brothers were so outraged that they wanted to kill him. His own father was so disrespected that he rebuked him. Even through that, he still believed in the dream that God had given him. That wouldn’t be the end of it though. For the next several years, he would face one trial after the other without wavering in his belief of that dream. Psalm 105:19 says, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. (NLT)”

When God gives you a dream, hard times are sure to come. There will be people who will openly resist you in your efforts to bring about your calling. It will not be an easy road. In fact, fulfilling your calling will be one of the hardest things you do. God does not choose the weak to carry out his plans. He calls the faithful ones who will endure anything to see it come to pass. He gives His assignments to those who will survive the pits of despair that they will be thrown in. He gives them to those who are willing to leave family and friends to travel to distant lands that are engulfed in spiritual famines so that others may find the spiritual food that God gives.

Joseph wasn’t the only one this happened to. Think of Peter and the early Church. Jesus told Peter that He would build His Church through him. When Peter was emboldened by the Holy Spirit, he was beaten repeatedly and thrown in jail. He was opposed by people he knew. He didn’t quit because there were hard times. He let that fuel the fire that God had placed in him. He used those hard times to grow his faith and endurance. Because he didn’t quit, the early Church grew and Christianity spread like wildfire in that region. He trusted the calling he was given over his external circumstances. 

Paul was another person who faced opposition. He went from being someone who killed Christians to one who was martyred for his faith. He was stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, bitten by a poisonous snake and carried off to Rome because he would not keep quiet about the dream God gave him. Because he was willing to endure the hard times, God used him to write most of the New Testament. The Gospel didn’t just stay in one region, it began to cover the known world. His character was tested over and over and he proved to be the person God saw in him.

God tests those He trust His message to because He knows it develops character. Romans 5:3-4 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. (NLT)” When God calls you, He tests you in order to develop in you the characteristics necessary to fulfill that calling. He allows you to be moved around in order to create the relationships you need in your life and to put you into position. Don’t quit because hard times come. Let them do the work God intends them to do and continue to walk in your calling. 

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Joseph’s Character

The Bible only gives us a few clues about Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. He’s only mentioned in a few verses, but from those verses we can tell a lot about him. I think it’s important to remember that even though he wouldn’t have a role in the DNA of Jesus, he was chosen by God to help shape the man jesus would become. God knew that he possessed the qualities He wanted in a man that would raise Jesus as his own and would take care of his family above all. That tells me that he was a man of character.

We know that Joseph received some news that was hard to swallow. His fiancé told him she was pregnant and he knew that it wasn’t his. The story she told him was hard to believe. It went against everything he knew. I wonder if he was furious, angry or just heart broken. No matter what emotions went through him, Matthew 1:19 says, “Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately.” He must have struggled with the right thing to do.

His love for Mary overrode the letter of the law. Mary could have been put to death for getting pregnant with someone else’s baby. Remember the story of the adulteress woman? They wanted to stone her. It was custom to put her to death, but Joseph didn’t want to do that. He loved her and valued life. His decision to break the engagement privately spoke again to his character. He had every right to shame her and her family publicly, but he chose a better route because of his character. Doing what’s right isn’t always doing what you’re permitted to do.

As he thought of the consequences of his predicament, an angel visited him in a dream. The angel said, “Do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived. She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus – because he will save his people from their sins.” The angel corroborated the story Mary had told him. A few verses later we read that Joseph did what the Angel told him to do. Not only was he a man of character, he was a man of obedience. He obeyed even though it was the hard thing to do.

We know from the story of David being anointed king that God loos at our heart. When He looked at Joseph’s heart, He saw a man of character and a man of obedience. He knew He could trust Him with anything including raising His only son. When God looks at our heart, what does He see? Does He know we will obey even though it is inconvenient? Does He know we will act with integrity even though circumstances may be against us? It’s in the hard times and decisions of life that your character is revealed. Be a person of obedience so God can trust you with anything.

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Chasing Vultures

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In Genesis 15, God spoke to Abraham (Abram) and told him that his reward would be grand. Abraham fired back at God, “What use are your gifts as long as I’m childless.” He wasn’t being rude. He just wanted someone to give an inheritance to. He had been blessed by God in every way, but had no one to give it to. That’s when God planted the dream of having a son on his heart. He took him outside to count the stars to number his descendants. God said, “You’re going to have a big family!”

It was then that he made a sacrifice to God for giving him the dream of a big family. While the sacrifice was on the altar, verse 11 says, “Some vultures swooped down to eat the carcasses, but Abram chased them away.” When I read that, I thought, “That’s a weird verse to have in the Bible.” The more I think about it though, the more I know it was on purpose. You are going to have to protect the dreams that God gives you and you are going to have to protect them. The enemy wants to come in like a vulture and steal them.

I looked up vultures on the internet and found that there are many types of them. They are all birds of prey. They can spot their target from miles away. They will pick at their food and eat it until it’s gone. That’s what our enemy does. He circles above our heads and threatens to take our God given dreams away from us. He picks at them until we let them go and give them up. We wonder why God gave us the dream only to have it picked apart and eaten. It’s up to us to chase the enemy away.

One thing I learned about vultures is that they don’t mess with things that are healthy. They only prey on the weak, the sickly or the dead. The first line of attack is to keep the dream God has given you alive and healthy. Don’t let it sit dormant in your mind. Write it down. Tell others about it. Own it. Steward it. When it feels like it is taking forever for it to happen, keep believing in God. Habakkuk 2:3 says, “If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.” The dream God gives you will take place in His time, not yours.

If your dream is weak, sickly or dead it is still not beyond God reviving it. Joseph’s dream must have seemed dead to him. He had been given it over 20 years earlier. Since the time God gave it to him, he had been betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape and was forgotten in prison left to die. I’m sure there were many times as he sat in that prison that the vultures circled his dream, but he refused to let it die. He knew that God had given it to him so he chased the vultures away. He kept believing until the Pharaoh called for him one day.

Whatever dream God has given you, it’s worth fighting for. It’s worth chasing the vultures away. Even if they are circling overhead, don’t get discouraged. Stand your ground. Own your dream. Patiently wait for God to bring it to life. What He started in you, He will finish. What He planted in your heart will grow and come to life. While you are waiting for that to happen, grab the Word of God and chase those vultures away. Your dream is worth fighting for no matter how bad things look right now.

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Learning Through Relationships

When is the last time you looked back over your life to see the people God placed in it at just the right time? I’ve been reflecting this week on my entire life as an exercise in faith. I spent time looking back thinking about the people who have mentored me in the faith. I’ve also spent some time thinking about the people who were brought into my life for a brief period and then were gone again. As I’ve done this exercise, I have been able to see God’s hand on the relationships He’s brought to me. It has also built my faith in trusting Him with the relationships He has given me right now.

Sometimes we don’t understand why God has brought certain people into our lives. Some rub us the wrong way. Some push us out of our comfort zone. Some challenge everything we say. Some make us want to run away. As I’ve mentioned those, you’ve probably put some names to those people in your life right now. We all have people in our lives that we are grateful for. At the same time, we also have people in our lives where we wonder what God is thinking! We’d rather that they not be in our lives. In looking back, I’ve found that those people shaped me as well. The ones who rubbed me the wrong way actually acted like sand paper and smoothed out some of my rough edges.

When I look at the story of Joseph in Genesis 37, I see the relationships God put in his life. The first relationships you see are with his dad and brothers. His dad loved him, but his brothers didn’t. When his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites, God put Potiphar in his life. Potiphar was the captain of the palace guard for Pharaoh. When Joseph did well for him, he made him his personal assistant. Joseph got to see the inner working of Egypt. He got to see how to act in the presence of a king. He learned how to be an effective administrator which he would need later.

After being wrongfully put in prison, Joseph used the skills he learned from Potiphar to run the prison. He leveraged the relationship with the guards and eventually the warden to be put in such a position that he was over all the other prisoners. It was then that he met two prisoners who worked in the Pharaoh’s court. He was able to interpret their dreams putting him in direct relationship with someone who had Pharaoh’s ear. When Pharaoh had a dream no one could interpret, the released prisoner mentioned Joseph. He was then able to be put in a position to save his father and brothers.

You may not understand the relationships you have right now, but God is using them to get you where He needs you. Joseph could have sulked that he was a slave or a prisoner and spent his life being bitter. Instead, he took bad situations and forged relationships he wouldn’t have made any other way. He looked for opportunity instead of excuses. He built relationships instead of resentment. Looking back it’s easy to see what God was doing. I’m sure Joseph didn’t understand why he had those relationships at the time. He accepted the people that God placed in his life, learned from them and moved on.

Who is God trying to use in your life right now?
Have you been building resentment toward them or relationships them?
What do you need to do to learn from each relationship?

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