Monday, January 16, 2006

From the Quiet Time files

This year for my daily devotions I'm using the read through the Bible in a year schedule in the front of my Bible. Novel, I know ;^). This particular schedule is nice because it puts multiple Old Testament accounts of the same events together, so you don't find yourself reading something in April that sounds vaguely familiar because you read it in another O.T. book in February. It just appeals to my sense of order.

I use a Moleskine daily calendar for notes - passage read, a verse or two that jumped out at me, and my thoughts, such as they are. Neither great theological discussion nor inspiring prose, but it forces me to at least think about what I've read.

Today's passage - Genesis 38 - 40

The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian.
Gen 39:2 (NASB)
Thanks to his brothers, Joseph took an unexpected detour in his career, sold to be a slave in the house of Potiphar, a well-connected Egyptian official.
In the world's terms, the verse above makes no sense. No matter how much responsibility Joseph was given, no matter the trust his master placed in him, no matter how well he performed his duties, he was still a slave. True, his intelligence and work ethic gave him a value beyond the ordinary slave. But he was still a slave, working for another in a foreign land.
Look at it from God's perspective. Joseph was exactly where God wanted him. The crucible of trial refined Joseph's character, teaching him to rely on God's provision, and to see that all that happened to him was part of a larger plan. The time he spent in Potiphar's household, in the royal jail and then as administrator of Egypt gave him time to develop the character and perspective needed to be able to say to his brothers at their eventual reunion, "Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life"
Gen 45:5 (NASB)
The Lord's concern is the process even more than the end result. What good are riches if we've stolen and ruined lives to get them? Better poverty with a proven character. The world judges success and failure on material goods and status. God looks at the heart.
In whose eyes are you a success?

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