February 14, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Success and Power”

Genesis 45:9-11

Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, “Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. 10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty.”

I have distinct memories of my parents telling me starting at a very young age that it was my responsibility to be successful—that is, to grow up, do well in school, and get a good, well-paying job.  The purpose was so that I could provide for my parents financially and take care of them.  They would move into the house I owned that would presumably be big enough for them and my future wife and children.  This is the expectation of a firstborn son, like me, in a traditional Chinese family.

Joseph would have made a great firstborn Chinese son.  His hard work and perseverance had paid off.  His position as the “lord of all Egypt” made him one of the most powerful people in the world and a very wealthy man as well.  He sends word to his father to come to Egypt, because Joseph is so successful that he is able to provide for his father and his whole family financially, giving them a place to live in Egypt in the midst of a severe famine.  Joseph used his success and his power to care for his family.

We live in a culture where success and power is about elevating the self.  If someone “makes it” in life, they are supposed to buy the nice house, nice car, expensive gadgets, and go on extravagant vacations— and all of this is to glorify the self.  The traditional Chinese ethic is a bit better, since the goal of success is to provide for your family; but even then, it is a self-centered path.  God calls us to use our success and power for something much greater than providing for our own families.

While Joseph did use his wealth and power to provide for his family, God was using him for much greater purposes.  Joseph was blessing nations who were in need of food, and thus he was preserving lives.  And, of course, in taking care of his family, Joseph was being used by God to keep His covenant with Abraham and make his descendants into a great nation.  Joseph did not work to glorify himself, but he was glorifying God through his success and power.

As you do your work today, what or who are you doing it for?  What is the purpose of your success, power or privilege?  Let’s seek to use whatever God has given us to be a blessing to this world!

Prayer: Jesus, help me to be a blessing to others this day. I pray that I will not focus on myself and what I get out of life, but I will be used by You to bless those around me.  Use me for Your glory, God. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  Numbers 35


Lunch Bible Study

Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19: As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Questions to Consider 

  1. According to this passage, what are the dangers of being rich? Why is this a danger for all of us, even if we are not wealthy now?
  2. What should the rich do with their wealth?
  3. What is the reward for being righteous with our wealth?

Notes

  1. Paul tells Timothy to warn those who are rich to not be proud or put their hope in their wealth. The danger of riches is that we can find ourselves trusting in those riches for joy and security, instead of trusting in God.  In today’s world, if you are able to read this devotional, you are VERY rich, especially in comparison to the rest of the world.  So this is a warning for all of us.  We must all be careful not to put our hope in riches or in future riches, but we must strive to put all of our hope in God and His love for us.
  2. The rich are to do good, do good works, and be generous and ready to share their wealth to anyone in need. In 1 Timothy 6:10, Paul calls money “the root of all kinds of evil,” but money itself is not intrinsically evil.  If we have riches, God has a purpose in giving it to us; it is meant to be used to bless others.
  3. The reward for generosity and doing good works with our riches is that we “take hold of that which is truly life,” meaning that when we are people who receive wealth and freely give it away, we get to live life the way it’s meant to be lived. People who give generously live joyfully, while people who are stingy and hold on to their riches will never feel fulfilled or fully joyful.

Evening Reflection

Think about all that you have financially, materially, relationally and spiritually. If we step back and really think about how much we have, we should realize that we are wealthy.  God has not given you everything you have just for your comfort and joy; He has a much greater purpose for you. Pray about all that you have and see what God might have you do with it.

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