January 27, Saturday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Genesis 40:9-15

So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.” 12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”

“I know I’m supposed to be here for and ministering to Marybelle, but when I pray, why do I keep feeling that God is speaking to me about my own issues?  I seem to be getting distracted.”  While we are right to feel we shouldn’t be allowing ourselves to become the center of things when we’re supposed to be serving others, at the same time, should it be surprising that when we are serving others, God does a work in and for us as well?

“Remember me and get me out of here.” (v. 14, paraphrased)

Looking at Joseph’s success in prison, one can sometimes forget that it wasn’t easy for him to be there.  He wanted out. Though he was staying at the home of a master who still seemed to view him with favor, even after a major crisis had threatened their relationship (Gen 39:19-20; 40:3-4, 7), his room at that home was still just a dungeon, his position still that of a slave. As prison manager, Joseph had risen in position as far as he could go under the circumstances, but what he was in charge of was still just a jail.  His life was not at all going according to plan (as a young man wired as an administrator, no doubt he had had a plan).  Though up to this point, the author has mainly been highlighting Joseph’s prosperity in adversity, here he reminds us of truly how adverse Joseph’s circumstances were: far from his own real home and family, forced to work as a slave, wrongly accused and misunderstood (=unhappy home life, work life and emotional/social life).

“This is what it means . . .” (v. 12)

Yet when Joseph receives the interpretation of the dream, hope arises.  The reminder of the sorry state of his life (v. 15) appears in the context of his sharing it with someone who would soon be in a position to deliver him from it (v. 14).  Though the dream was for the cupbearer, when Joseph interprets it, it also becomes a dream for him (i.e., having bearing on his life).  When we exercise our gifts in service to others, we often think at first that we are just coming alongside to help, only to realize later that God had a reason for choosing us to be the very person to serve that other in this matter.  Our well-beings are all connected; this is the beauty of God’s design for humanity.  So whether it be in prayer, teaching, counseling, or other kind of serving, let us embrace ministering to one another today, trusting God’s love is expansive enough to cover us all, even at the same time.

Prayer: Lord God, help me to die to myself today and simply serve others, remembering that this can be the very way You release blessing in my own life, remembering that serving others is not in conflict with having my own needs met.  I take you at Your word, that the one who loses their life for You will find it.

Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 14-15

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