THE NEW EWE
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
April 30, 2008
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Genesis 50:20 says, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” In order to truly understand what Joseph meant when he made that statement, you have to go back and read about his life.
The story of Joseph begins in Genesis 37, when he was age seventeen. We pick up the story now in Genesis 41.
Pharaoh had a dream one night and none of the magicians nor wise men of Egypt could interpret it. The chief butler finally remembers Joseph interpreting his dream when he was in prison, and tells Pharaoh about him.
Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon. Joseph shaved and changed his clothing before being presented to the king of Egypt. What a difference one moment can make in an individual's life!
We may be in a situation or be praying about a certain thing for a long time, with seemingly no results. But then when God's timing is perfect, things begin to move quickly. It seems like we've waited and waited for so long without anything happening, then once it does, everything falls into place fast. This is how things were working out for Joseph.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.”
Can you imagine the pressure this put on Joseph! If he was unable to give Pharaoh an interpretation, then more than likely he would be thrown back into the dungeon. But Joseph didn't seem to be afraid, for he knew whom he put his trust in. He had already been tested, and knew from experience the power of God.
This reminds me of David, when he was in the position to face the giant. The whole army around him quaked with fear, and just knew that they were going to all die. Yet young David stood up boldly and faced Goliath saying, “You come to me with a sword, and a shield, and a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord.”
But David didn't just suddenly wake up one morning with this boldness and faith in God. He had experience that proved that God was able to protect and deliver. He had already killed a lion and a bear. When Saul questioned David's youth and experience, David replied, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” David knew that he was not going in his own strength and abilities, but that God was with him.
It was the same for Joseph. He answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Joseph realized that he had no power or abilities in and of himself, but that the interpretation would come from God alone.
Pharaoh then shared his two dreams with Joseph.
Afterwards, Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do.”
He continued, “Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land.”
Joseph told Pharaoh that the reason the dream had been repeated twice was because the thing was established by God, and that God would shortly bring it to pass.
With great boldness, Joseph then proceeded to give the Egyptian king advice. He told Pharaoh to appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. They were to gather all the food of those good years that were coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and keep food in the cities. Then that food would be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine, so that the land would not perish during those years.
The advice was good in Pharaoh's eyes, and also in the eyes of all his servants.
Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
Isn't it amazing that Pharaoh had first turned to magicians and the wise men of Egypt, who practiced sorcery and divinations in order to give interpretations; yet when Joseph spoke, he recognized the Spirit of God that was within Joseph?
There are a lot of voices in our society, and even in some churches, that are saying a lot of things that may sound good. But it is up to us to be discerning on who is speaking the truth of God, and who is just speaking words to stroke our egos and make us feel emotional. We need to listen closely to whose voices we are giving heed to. If we will be sensitive and keep our hearts open, God will give us discernment on whom to listen to and whom to disregard. We will know the ones in whom the Spirit of God is dwelling.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you. See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”
The king then took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph's hand; and he clothed Joseph in fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. Pharaoh put him in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!”
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent, no man may lift his hand or foot in Egypt.”
One morning Joseph woke up dirty and unshaved and bound in a dungeon. The next morning he woke up dressed in fine linen and being treated as royalty, with the position of being second in command in all Egypt. Only the king had more authority than him in all of Egypt, and Joseph wasn't even an Egyptian; he was a Hebrew from the land of Canaan. This shows that when God has a plan, no matter how impossible or improbable it may seem; it will come to pass.
Joseph was also given a wife, Asenath, who was the daughter of one of the priests.
Genesis 41:46 says, “And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt.”
Joseph was seventeen years old when his brothers first sold him into slavery. Thirteen years, which was almost half his life, had passed since that time.
But during those years, God was preparing Joseph for this position. Joseph wouldn't have been ready for it when he first got to Egypt. He was just a shepherd, whose only qualification on a resume would have been that of herding sheep. But upon his arrival in Egypt he was purchased by Potipher, who saw that the Lord was with Joseph, and placed him over his household and land. During those years with Potipher, God was grooming and preparing Joseph for greater responsibilities.
The scripture doesn't mention Potipher or his wife anymore. But I wonder what thoughts ran through their minds when they found out that the king had given Joseph the position of second in command over all Egypt. Did Potipher's wife remember the lies she had told about Joseph, and spend the rest of her life in fear that he would confront her and have her punished? I wonder if Potipher remembered the trust and confidence he had once placed in Joseph and second guess his decision to have him thrown into prison. Did he ever find out about his wife's lie and then live in fear that Joseph would have him thrown into the dungeon in retaliation? Just as Potipher had once before seen that the Lord was with Joseph when he was overseer of his household, he very likely saw that the Lord was with Joseph in an even greater degree, when he was in leadership over Egypt.
When Joseph was put into prison, the warden saw that the Lord was with Joseph and put him in charge of all the other prisoners. God was still equipping and training Joseph for leadership.
Just as Egypt was getting ready to experience seven years of plenty, then seven years of famine, we can see how even that correlates with Joseph's life up to that point. The years that Joseph spent as overseer of Potipher's house were years of blessing and prosperity. Joseph lived in luxury and had everything that he could ever want available to him. But then when circumstances changed and he was unjustly thrown in prison, he suffered through years of “famine” and need. He knew what it was to be blessed and have all his needs met, and he knew what it was to do without and suffer. What better discipline and training could he possibly have had, to equip him to now lead Egypt through the next fourteen years.
None of us enjoy or like those periods in which God is training and teaching us. We enjoy the times of blessing and prosperity, but hate having to go through times of hardship and want. But it's during all circumstances and all situations that God is molding and shaping us into what He wants us to be. It's our responsibility to be pliable in His hands and not rebel against what God is trying to do.
Joseph was steadfast, regardless of his circumstances, and allowed himself to be trained and taught of the Lord. Everyone who saw him, saw the Spirit of God within him. What a testimony Joseph's life was, that he would adapt to whatever happened to him, and remain faithful and steadfast in his relationship with God.
During those seven years of plenty, Joseph gathered very much grain, as the sand of the sea, until he stopped counting, for it was immeasurable.
Joseph then had two sons born to him, during those years of plenty. The firstborn he named Manasseh: “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house.” The second son he named Ephraim: “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Even though Joseph was faithful to God and had adapted to his situation, he never forgot where he had come from, nor did he forget what had happened to him since his arrival.
Famine hit the land of Egypt and the people cried to Pharaoh for bread. He told them, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, do it.”
The famine was not only in Egypt, but was over all the face of the earth. Joseph opened the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians. The famine became very severe. So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain.
Because of the wisdom and foresight that God gave Joseph, not only were the Egyptians able to survive the severity of the famine, but they were also able to sell and supply grain to other countries. By selling the grain, it gave Egypt income to survive those seven years of hardship.
During those seven years of blessing when harvests were plentiful, I'm sure there were many who thought Joseph was crazy and didn't know what he was doing. Many farmers probably grumbled and complained about having to give 1/5th of their crops to fill all these storehouses throughout Egypt.
We're like that many times when God is blessing us. We become so contented and secure, that we don't foresee how anything could possibly go wrong or change. It's easy at times to even become lax in our relationship with God, thinking that we are self-sufficient and don't really need Him. But life is filled with ups and downs, blessing and hardships, rejoicing and weeping. It's during those good times that God wants to strengthen and encourage and build us up, so that when circumstances change, we keep our focus and eyes upon Him.
Be encouraged today, whatever your situation, and know that God is with you and is working in your life in order for His will and plan to be fulfilled in and through you.
I've heard many times in many different ways, “Never pray for patience. God may teach it to you.” Joseph had to go through some terrible things to learn the strength, patience, and faith he had. But God needed Joseph to be exactly what he was before his brothers would come to him (I'll let Loretta write about that soon). If God had taken shortcuts, would Joseph have learned the patience he needed to save food for seven entire years? If God hadn't made Joseph wait in prison while the butler let him down, would Joseph trust God to take care of them in the years to come, or in the people around him? If he hadn't seen the interpretation God gave him of the butler's and baker's dreams come true, would he have doubted the interpretation he told to Pharaoh? If he hadn't had the time to marry and start raising a family, would he have kept any resentment in his heart toward his brothers?
It isn't easy when God teaches and strengthens us. But when he taught and strengthened Joseph, it was so he could do great things. What if Joseph had taken all of those lessons, then threw them away by taking revenge on those who had hurt him? I wonder how many people are molded by God for a specific purpose, but fail to do the great things God had in store for them.
Chocolate Pecan Brownies
¾ cup flour
1 (12-oz.) pkg. Semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Vanilla
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine
½ cup chopped pecans
2 Tsp. water
Preheat oven to 325. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. In a small bowl, mix together flour and baking soda. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, butter and water; cook over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove immediately from heat. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips and vanilla until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Cool completely. Stir in eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Gradually stir in flour mixture until smooth. Stir remaining chocolate chips and nuts into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Cool, then cut into squares.
We have some big pecan trees in our backyard. The result is that we have a lot of squirrels. Earlier this spring, I was looking outside and saw a squirrel go up a tree carrying something in its mouth that was as big as it was. I couldn't figure out what it was. A few days ago, I was sitting outside talking on the phone and saw a squirrel once again doing the same thing. Only thing, this time it got about halfway up the tree and dropped it. I hollered at Jon and he ran out to see what had fallen from the squirrel's mouth onto the ground.
Our next door neighbors have two big ferocious-looking Rotweiller dogs. The squirrel has been going over into their yard and stealing their dog bones. It is having to carry the dog bone up and over the chain link fence, across our yard, and up the tree. The last time that I mowed, I found pieces of dog bones all over our back yard. Later, after I finished mowing and went back inside, I looked out the window and there in the middle of our backyard sat a squirrel chewing on a dog bone. Apparently, those big mean-looking dogs have no affect on the little bitty squirrels!
“A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Have we told you thanks lately?! We really do appreciate each of you and thank you for reading our weekly newsletter.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon