January 25, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for this Morning

Genesis 39:20-23

Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Pat and Lorraine meet up every so often for dinner with a group of their friends from college. As they commiserate about the challenges of their respective work situations, some because of their bosses and co-workers, others because of the seeming meaninglessness of their jobs, none are fully aware, but each is being prepared for greatness.

Sometimes situations in life can feel like prison.  Dark, with limitations all around, not much room for hope or dreaming.  What can happen in a prison?  At the end of chapter 39, Joseph goes from working as a slave to being imprisoned as a criminal slave—as if being a slave were not a huge enough restraint already on one’s freedom…

Yet as before, Joseph prospers in this latest of a series of increasingly unfavorable situations, because the Lord is with him.  He gains the favor of people in important positions and is given an extraordinary level of responsibility, with opportunities to exercise and develop his administrative skills.  Those giving him responsibilities trust him, a criminal slave, wholly and completely (=minimal management).  All this would prepare him for the role God had created and placed him in Egypt for: to become a great administrator in a position to save not only his family but a nation of God’s people.  At the time of his imprisonment, did he realize what a miracle he was experiencing?  Or was he depressed because he was incarcerated and his job was to attend to the needs of criminals?

God is able to shine His light into the dark; the greater the darkness, the greater His glory in overcoming it. His power can break through the seeming limitations, giving us an unusually free reign; He can continue to do all that He wants to do, in and through us.  Whatever darkness may come, God will come with us into it and can enable us to flourish in it.

So let us not be disheartened at or fear such situations, especially if they arise because of what we do for the sake of righteousness, our faith, and His glory.

Prayer:  Thank You, Lord, for the encouragement of how You worked in Joseph’s life.  Whether in a current, limit-full situation or at the prospect of what darkness could come, help me not to be dismayed but to seek Your kingdom first and your righteousness.  Help me to see Your light.

Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 12


Lunch Break Study

The end of Chapter 39 echoes the way it begins.  Compare the two passages below:

Read Genesis 39:1-6a: Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. 

Genesis 39:20-23: Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are some of the repeated words and phrases in the two passages?
  2. What do you think is the author’s purpose in such intentional repetition?
  3. What happens when the Lord is with someone? (vv. 2-6, 21-23) Which of these manifestations of God’s presence and faithfulness do you feel most in need of today?

Notes

  1. a) “had been taken,” “had taken him there,” “took him” (vv.1, 20)
    b) “the Lord was with Joseph,” “success in everything,” “found favor” (vv. 2-5, 21-23)
    c) “put him in charge [of everything],” “did not concern himself” (vv. 4-6, 22-23)
  2. To highlight how God remains the same, even though circumstances change, even going from bad to worse.
  3. That person can receive provision and kindness, succeed, prosper, find favor with people, come into a position of unusually great influence – all this, in circumstances that may seem extremely limiting and not of one’s own choosing. So take heart and have hope in him.

Evening Reflection

 Reflect on the day, looking for manifestations of God’s favor on your life, and then thank Him.

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