God's Creative Call

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Joseph Governs Egypt: Faithful Service Rewarded

Genesis 41-42

We often take a short-term view of the Christian life that concentrates on what God odes for us now. Yet God has long-range purposes that focus on what he wants to accomplish in us for the future.

GROUP DISCUSSION. In your life who has been a model of faithful service to God without visible reward?

My neighbor Christine LaFata. During the 6 1/2 years that I have known her, she has been active in many ministry efforts as well as individual evangelizing. She, her husband and several members of their Peru missionary team went to Peru and ministered to over 700 patients in a weeks time. That is 100 patients a day! She has also helped lead our other neighbor's father to Christ before his death 6 months ago. Sadly, the couple disapproved of her doing this and they now have a rift between them. Many other examples, too.

PERSONAL REFLECTION. Think of someone whose example has encouraged you in your service for God. Thank God for that person.

There are too many to name!

Through adversity and disappointment God has been developing Joseph's character and has given him invaluable training. Now a sudden crisis reveals what kind of person he has become. Read Genesis 41.

1. What were Pharaoh's dreams, and why did they trouble him (41:1-8)?

The ugly cows ate up the healthy ones and the thin, scorched grain swallowed the healthy, full heads of grain. Pharaoh was also troubled that the magicians could not interpret the dreams for him.

2. How is Joseph brought into the situation (41:9-16)?

The chief cupbearer told Pharaoh that Joseph had once interpreted dreams for him and the baker. They turned out just as he had predicted.

What impresses you about Joseph as he comes from prison to palace?

Joseph told Pharoah that he could not interpret the dream, but God can! Joseph knew from Whom the power to correctly interpret the dreams came from. He made sure that he gave the credit to God.

3. What do Joseph's interpretation of the dreams and his proposal demonstrate (41:17-36)?

Joseph was able to prepare a plan for survival to prevent starvation over the next 14 years. I liked how Joseph took the responsibility to plan and then implement the plan into action. When I read about such actions in the Bible, it encourages me to take action against the secular humanism that is attempting to rid our nation of Christianity. God does not give us a plan of action for nothing! He wants us to implement it too.
(Sopranos billboard discussion).

4. Describe the responsibilities Pharaoh gives Joseph in 41:37-49.

He gave him a new name and an Egyptian wife. Joseph became governor of Egypt. He collected huge quantities of grain during the abundance, and saved it for the time of famine.

5. In what ways had God prepared Joseph during these twelve years in Egypt?

Joseph learned the importance of serving God and others. He was once a slave, then prisoner, then rose to prominence in Egypt as governor. Joseph took undesirable positions in life and was able to use such training and experiences for serving God.

6. How can Joseph's experience help you hang on during a time of hardship when there is little reward or appreciation?

Knowing that God can use everything, and anything, in our lives as a training program for serving Him is what really matters most. Reward and appreciation from others for doing God's work belongs to Him anyway! He deserves the glory, honor and praise for it all!

A friend at my blog said this: Surrendering the spirit, soul and body to the Lordship of the Messiah is not possible by the power of the flesh. HE lives in us. "Christ in you, the hope of glory." (see COL 1:27).

7. What do you think the names of Joseph's two sons tell us about the contrast between his present situation and his arrival in Egypt?

Manasseh means, "It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household."
Ephraim means, "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."

Joseph's 11 years as an Egyptian slave and 2 years as a prisoner were not allowed for no purpose! God was preparing him for his current role as governor of Egypt and because of this, he saved an entire nation from starvation.

8. Read Genesis 42. Trace the events which lead Joseph's brothers into his presence and fultill his earlier dreams (42:1-11).

Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt and sent ten of the brothers to get some. They bowed down to Joseph and requested grain. Joseph pretended not to know them. They didn't recognize Joseph.

9. Why do you think Joseph accuses his brothers of being spies (42:12-20)?

In recalling his dream, Joseph accused them of being spies. He accused them of wanting to see where the land was unprotected.

10. Describe how the brothers react to Joseph's orders (42:21-24).

They related such punishment towards how they mistreated their brother, Joseph. They thought he was dead and his blood was upon their hands.

11. As they return home, how does their situation take a turn for the worse (42:25-38)?

They discover that the silver they paid for the grain was in the bag. Jacob feared that Benjamin would die like Joseph (presumably did) and Simeon did, so he wouldn't let them take the younger brother back to Egypt.

12. In what ways does Reuben's response to his father's despair show his willingness to shoulder family responsibility (42:37)?

He told Jacob that he could put both of his own sons to death if he didn't bring Benjamin back safely.

13. In what way has adversity or disappointment helped you become more mature in your responsibility to others?

It has helped me to trust in the Lord more than my own strength when dealing with difficult issues in life. We all experience such times of longsuffering, but God is always watching over us and we must trust him with all, because it all belongs to Him anyway!

Thank God that he is always watching over us.

Now or Later
Trace in your own life how you have seen God use a difficult assignment to prepare you for a later responsibility.


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