Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.”
Psalm 63: 8
“God, may I never be content
To be but the echo
Of my environment
Empower me day by day
To be the echo
Of Your amazing love
In my God-guarded life!”
Ruth Harms Calkin
Today’s Study Text:
“And Joseph said unto his brethren, ‘I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which He sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying: ‘God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.”
Genesis 50: 24, 25
The God of Dothan – Part 15
“Remember To Take My Bones”
“Faith is the master-wheel; it sets all the other graces running.”
How does having faith in God help me pass through the fiery trials which I have encountered in my life?
“Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.”
Augustine of Hippo
“Faith makes the uplook good, the outlook bright, the inlook favourable and the future glorious.”
V. Raymond Edman
He was the favorite son of a doting father. He had dreams of great honor as his family bowed before him, only to be thrown in a dark, empty pit by the very brothers whose honor he desired. He was sold into slavery and yet climbed to the top of the heap in the house of Potiphar, only to be dropped like a hot potato into prison when falsely accused of sexual high jinks with Mrs. Potiphar. Then on one seemingly routine day, as he performed the tasks assigned to him in an Egyptian prison, a call came. Seemingly out of nowhere. “Pharaoh wants to see you.” Direct. To-the-point. And immediate.
Within a time period of 24 hours, Joseph went from the prison, to the palace, and finally to the governorship – serving as Pharaoh’s right hand man as well as his confidant and premiere advisor.
Oh, how the tables had turned. And yes, if you had been in Joseph’s sandals, I think it would be fair to say, “Buckle up folks, we’re in for a bumpy ride.”
The fact is that Joseph’s life had more hills and valleys than about anyone I have read about in the Bible. What’s more, the lows in Joseph’s life were really low. And the highs were really high. There wasn’t much flat space in Joseph’s world. However, there was one constant! Joseph’s life, from beginning to end, showed a consistency in what I’ll call the “faith department.” Not once do we see Joseph decrying the state of his existence. Never do we read that he was furious with God for letting him down. Instead, the Bible records that Joseph performed the tasks at hand as if he was working for God, no matter who his earthly boss was. In Joseph’s mind, his heavenly “Boss” was who he worked for – a vital point Joseph never forgot.
There’s no place where we become more aware of the focus of Joseph’s life than when he knew that his days on earth were coming to an end. The Bible tells us that Joseph had one request, “When God makes His visitation, make sure you take my bones with you as you leave here” (Genesis 50: 25, The Message Bible).
The most vital lesson we can glean from Joseph’s life, and I might add, there are many tremendous lessons in the volume we call The Life of Joseph, is this: that from the pit, to the prison, and then to the palace, Joseph’s focus never lingered on the things of this world but rather he lifted his vision to gaze on the things above. I find the words penned by Carlyle Haynes on the last page of his book about Joseph, God Sent a Man, to reflect in a clear manner, the concentration that held Joseph’s attention throughout his life, no matter the obstacles or roadblocks he encountered:
“Joseph, when he came to die, was not thinking of the things of time – monuments, memorials, pyramids – or of things of Egypt and earthly glory. His eye penetrated by faith into the things of eternity…As Joseph came to the end of his long and exalted life, through it all the God of his fathers had sustained and guided him. Through the widely varied difficulties of his colorful life – seventeen years as a care-free lad in his father’s encampment; ten years in Egyptian slavery; three years in a dungeon; and eighty years as lord of all Egypt, and elder statesman, revered as the savior of the nation – he had trusted God. And God never failed him…circumstances were always changing with Joseph. God did not change. Always He was the same.”
Maybe, in your life and mine, we might not go from a pit in Dothan to a palace in Egypt, but it is likely that each of us, will at some point in our lives find ourselves looking at the empty bottom of a dry pit of circumstances or we’ll find ourselves shackled in a prison, placed there by false accusations, and we may ask ourselves, “How am I going to make it through this disaster?” The answer is portrayed in everything Joseph did throughout his life – he had faith that God would keep His word. Joseph’s faith was borne by his personal witness to God at work in everything he did.
In speaking to the children of Israel who were preparing to enter the Promised Land, Moses reminded them of God’s faithfulness when he said: “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keeps His commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9, K.J.V.). This was the God Joseph knew. It was the God who was at the core of Joseph’s life from the very beginning to the very end.
I love the way Father Andrew describes personal faith at work for his description really is a perfect example of Joseph’s life: “Do not ask God to show (you) what is going to be, or to make any particular thing happen, but only pray that we may be faithful in whatever happens.”
“Where is my focus?” is a question I frequently ask myself for if my vision is not directed to the things of God, how easy it will be to get off center from the path…the plan…and the purpose God has for me.
As we journey through our lives, may we recognize, like Joseph did, that when we stake our faith in our Father’s unchanging promise to be with us, no matter how deep the pit or dark the prison or plush the palace, we can not be defeated because our Father is faithful to the end.
“O God, thank You
That Your promises are valid
As long as the world lasts.
They do not suddenly dissolve
When my faith is feeble
And my courage fails.
When You have given a promise
You will perform it –
Sight or no sight
Feeling or no feeling.
You may take me
Through the darkest night
The deepest waters.
The very worst may happen
But out of it
You will bring the very best
For Your Word remains secure.
Lord, keep me faithful in my trust.
When I can articulate no other prayer
May my waiting heart
Ruth Harms Calkins
I Believe, Although
“I believe, although everything
hides You from my faith.
I believe, although everything
shouts ‘No!’ to me.
I believe, although everything
may seem to die.
I believe, although I no longer would
wish to live,
Because I have founded my life
on a sincere word,
on the word of a Friend,
on the word of God.
I believe, although I feel alone in pain.
I believe, although I see people hating.
I believe, although I see children weep,
because I have learned with certainty
That God comes to meet us
in the hardest hours,
with His love and His light
I believe, but increase my faith.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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