Sharing God's word each Sunday.
If you missed the sermon on Sunday, watch an abbreviated version called "90 Second Sermons."
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It seems he is beyond God's care, living in a world of hurt and misery! Yet still, God who is faithful, is watching over Joseph.
From the slave blocks he is elevated to be in charge of Potiphar's house. And the jailer admired Joseph so much, he eventually put Joseph in charge of all that went on in the jail!
The key of course is staying the course, remaining faithful, in spite of all that has happened and is yet to happen!
But that's difficult, especially when in our current situation, a long view of anything is pretty well discouraged as well as discouraging!
There was a day when you could go to a bank and open a passbook savings account and earn a 5% dividend! Taking a child to the bank and opening an account and getting them to add to it systematically meant that in 20 years you could double your initial investment. Thinking long term made sense.
Cars, tools, appliances, all kinds of things were made to last a decade or two or three. If you bought a house, you stayed there for life. Most folks got married in their late teens and early 20's, had kids and had them all out of the house in their 40's. You got a job and probably did that job for your whole career at the same company.
But not now. Everything is temporary. Everything changes. Nothing is for sure! And therefore nothing is secure. So how can you put your trust in anything if it will turn to dust, or more likely, become obsolete as Apple comes out with yet another Iphone?
Putting your life in the hands of another for all of your years seems an impossible choice, yet that is exactly what God invited Joseph to do, and it is exactly what Jesus is calling us to do!
Eugene Peterson, who authored the bible version known as The Message, also has written several books including one called, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. In it he reveals that the call that comes to each of us as followers of Jesus Christ, is one that assumes a long, long relationship.
Faithfulness, he says, is for the long term.
It cannot be understood as a short journey. We start the day we consciously commit ourselves to Jesus Christ. And it ends at the day of our death. All the time in between is filled with a process of following - a long obedience - filled with mistakes and missteps, disobedience and failures to understand and comprehend, successes and moments of revelation of the goodness of God, and still more moments where we simply bow to the one who has our lives in his hands.
At times, however, in the midst of this long obedience, God's glory shines through and God promises are revealed. It turns out that God intends to reward all those who follow him with a life of meaning and purpose, as well as times of pure joy when we sense God's provision even in the middle of the crazy stuff that life throws at us.
Joseph, down and out, rises from the ashes like the Phoenix. Resurrection comes again and again in Joseph's life. Just when it appears that all is lost, another door opens, a way forward is discovered, an opportunity to be true to himself is revealed, and Joseph moves forward.
Being the steward in Potiphar's house may have seemed a small moment of God's grace to Joseph who had lived much more gloriously in Jacob's tents, but God was at work!
Being the steward to Pharoah's jailer may have seemed a small moment of God's provision to Joseph who had lived much more gloriously in Potiphar's house, but God was at work!
I have often told my kids, you don't know why you are doing what you are doing now, or learning what you are learning now, but do it and learn it, because you also don't know how God is planning to use all this in your life later on. Wait and see what the Lord will do, and then you may understand why!
Jesus invited us to take up a cross and follow him. Be sure you understand what that means. His first followers certainly did!
The invitation was to take up a very visible instrument of torture, one which often lined the sides of the road to Jerusalem, hung with people everyone in the crowd knew, fathers and sons, brothers and cousins, uncles and co-workers, who had been arrested for some reason and now were left over an often five day period inches from the ground, to suffocate to death after grueling exposure to the elements, wild animals, and the taunts of guards and crowds alike.
The life of a disciple is not and was not ever intended to be easy, rather it was and is to be gloriously the work of God in a world that often knows God not, to be found doing the right thing, to be discovered caring for the least of these, to be exposed for caring more about justice and compassion, than money, fame, or connections!
It is to live like Joseph, as a dreamer, dreaming God's dreams, and doing what we have been called to do over the long haul. Will it all be glorious and easy as pie. No never. But will it add up to something far more valuable than what is immediately gratifying?
That is the promise of God's word, that those who follow Jesus will see a reward far in excess of our investment, even better than that old dusty 5% a year compounded daily.
Put your trust in the Lord and God will not fail you. Amen.