January 26, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for this Morning

Genesis 40:2-8

Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, 5 each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” 8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

“How are you doing?  Doing OK?” Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Israel with the saints of the Church of Southland and overseas workers from various places. I have many good memories of the trip, including enlightening teachings in historical settings, the beauty of the seasides, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.  Traveling in a group of about a hundred people, we didn’t always get to have extended conversations, but an impression that’s particularly stayed with me has been that of different people at various points throughout the trip greeting me with a kind, quick but sincere, “How are you doing?  Doing OK?”

In yesterday’s passage, we saw that Joseph had been put in charge of those with him in the prison and made responsible for all that happened there (39:22).  What did this mean and how did he carry out his duties?  What we get a glimpse of today is that he served people by asking the very question, “How are you doing?” or in his words, “Why do you look so sad today?” (v. 7)

He had been assigned to attend to the former cupbearer and baker to Pharaoh.  The three of them were fellow prisoners (v. 7), and over time, they developed among themselves a relationship that allowed them to have this exchange: Joseph being able to sense that something was wrong, their being willing to share, his offering to help.  Regardless of their official rankings, whether he was above or below them, because he was prison manager or prison slave, the role we see Joseph taking on here is that of a shepherd and servant leader.

Joseph’s faithful service over time that earned their trust, his attentiveness to their state, his caring enough to get involved, and his willingness to serve others with his God-given gift: all these were how he took responsibility for those who had been put under his charge.  Whether we are called to servant lead a small group, a family, or even just one or two people in outreach or discipleship, Joseph demonstrates a model for all of us to admire and follow today.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to be sincerely attentive to people around me today.  The blessing I have received, help me to pass on to others.  In your name I pray. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 13


Lunch Break Study

Joseph has the dubious honor of being the first prisoner in the Bible.  He is followed by a long, illustrious line of others including John the Baptist, Peter and Jesus himself.  Paul, the last prisoner of the Bible, wrote the letters below:

Read Philemon 1: Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker—

Ephesians 4:1: As a prisoner for the Lord…

Ephesians 6:19-20: 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Philippians 1:12-14: 12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

Colossians 4:10:  Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, greets you…

Questions to Consider

  1. When Paul refers to himself as a prisoner, do you think he is doing so literally or metaphorically?
  2. How did Paul spend his time in prison? What was his main concern? (Ephesians 6:19-20, Philippians 1:13)
  3. How did Paul’s imprisonment affect other believers? (Philippians 1:14) When we hear about believers in prison for the sake of the gospel today, what is our response?

Notes

  1. When Paul writes of being a prisoner of Christ, he is not meaning this in just a purely metaphorical way. He was literally in prison when he wrote many of his letters that eventually became our New Testament.
  2. Sharing the gospel, even in prison.
  3. It encouraged them to share more boldly rather than becoming afraid.

Evening Reflection

Spend some time thinking about and praying for believers around the world who are in prison for the sake of the gospel.  Pray that they (as well as we ourselves) may continue to declare it fearlessly, as we all should.

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