Monday, January 03, 2011

Joseph Does His Job - Genesis 41:46-49

Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt.  And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt.  And during the seven years of plenty the land brought forth abundantly.  So he gathered all the food of these seven years which occurred in the land of Egypt, and placed the food in the cities; he placed in every city the food from its own surrounding fields.  Thus Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure.

Let’s put Joseph’s age in some perspective.  Time magazine’s Person of the Year was awarded in 1927 to Charles Lindbergh at age 25 for his solo non-stop flight from Long Island, New York to Paris, France, a distance of nearly 3,600 miles in a single-seat, single-engine plane called the “The Spirit of St. Louis”.  Eighty-three years later, the magazine gave the honor to 26-year-old Mark Zuckerberg for his part in the creation of ‘facebook’.  Everybody else who received the award since then has been older.  Of course, there have been other younger leaders in the world prior to Time’s inaugural award in 1927 (e.g. Alexander the Great began his reign and subsequent conquest of the then world at age twenty).

So Joseph was relatively young, as he became the ruler of Egypt.  In the 21st century, many of us in the Church have become over-cautious of how we view ‘youth’ leadership.  Sometimes there is good reason for that.  But more often, it is because the majority of us are not ready to accept that times have changed, thinking we older folks, based on the practices of the generations before us, have a corner on what Jesus actually intended when He spoke 2000 years ago, as to how we should live today.  Jesus did have a lot to say 2000 years ago about how we should live today, but I don’t believe that baby boomers and those before them have the corner on what that looks like in the second decade of the 21st century.

You will remember in earlier passages that it was the Pharaoh who made Joseph what he was – ruler of Egypt.  But in order for Joseph to do his work, the scriptures say he had to go “out from the presence of Pharaoh” and travel throughout the land of Egypt.  He had to leave his source of power.  No matter what the characters in the movie series “Star Wars” may have believed, when authority, power, and strength come from a source that is not God Himself, that power or ‘force’ does not go “with you”.   It stays back and you are totally dependent on your own ability to get through the challenges you face in life all by yourself.  Not so for the Christian.  Our power to meet life is God living in us through His Holy Spirit.  He is with us and we are in Him.  In fact, “we can’t leave home without Him”.  We do not need any other advantage or ‘leading edge’ technology.  We have Him Who is the All and All of what exists.

The rest of this short passage contains three simple ideas.  First, things happened exactly as God said they would and in the way Joseph had interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams.  Second, Joseph did his job and was faithful to his tasks and responsibilities.  Third, he himself was surprised at the amount of grain that was amassed, so much so that he stopped trying to keep track of it quantitatively.

Here is what I have noticed about the relationship between these three ideas.  The first one will always be the case.  God will indeed do and bring to pass exactly what He has said will happen.  History has proven it.  The way each of us is transformed when we come into a relationship with Him has proven it.  God can be counted on to deliver what He promises.  As a matter of fact, if He could not, then He would not be God.

The second idea is totally within us to either fulfill or fail in.  We can be faithful to our tasks and responsibilities or we can neglect them.  We can serve God and step boldly and in faith into the opportunities He lays before us, or we can do things our way, in our timing, and by our own standards.  But what we do in this regard and how we do it will indeed have an impact on the third idea.

God blesses us according to our faith and commitment to Him.  That is true physically, as well as spiritually.  Many want to have all the blessings because of the first idea – what God has said He would do.  But they forget about the second link in the three-part series.  They want to go on their own way and still get the “surprising over-abundance”.  To put it in the vernacular, “it ain’t going to happen!”  If you look carefully at His promises for us – that is all those that can apply generally to all His children, almost all have an “if” attached to them one way or another.  For example, “if My people do . . ., then I shall . . .” or “Do this and you shall live. . .” and so on.  Like Joseph, you and I need to do our job.

God will do what He says He will and He will bless as He has, but we need to do our part.  I pray that each of us gets serious about our relationship with God.  Put another way, we must come to realize that our relationship is not primarily about “us”.  It is about “Him” and the honor and glory and praise and obedience He alone deserves.  When we get that right, we will be able to enjoy the incredible blessing of living for Him and the peace that offers in a world otherwise filled with anxiety.

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