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Posts Tagged ‘Joseph of the Bible’

Evidence confirms: God loves to take ordinary people living ordinary lives and accomplish impossible feats. Examples include:

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  • An imprisoned slave, elevated to prime minister in a matter of minutes
  • A village shepherd boy who became the greatest king of his nation
  • A widow who took a stranger into her home, and witnessed miraculous events
  • A common girl, chosen as queen in a foreign land and became the savior of her people

No doubt you recognize these persons. We would never consider them ordinary because of how God used them:

  • Joseph
  • David
  • The widow of Zarephath
  • Esther

But if we visited Joseph in prison before Pharaoh sent for him, if we passed by David watching his father’s sheep, if we ran into the widow of Zarephath at the village well, or if we met Esther in her cousin Mordecai’s home, would we have recognized greatness? Would we have known that these people were extraordinary? I doubt it.

We easily forget that what we see from our human perspective is never the whole picture. Only God has an omniscient view of circumstances and events—including past, present, and future.

Only God has the capability of weaving complex events to accomplish his purposes. And his work is always extraordinary. The wonders of creation offer undeniable proof.

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And since you are part of God’s wondrous creation, you are extraordinary. Yes, YOU!

That means:

Our seemingly ordinary lives, lived out through ordinary days, can have extraordinary significance, because God Almighty is orchestrating them.

That doesn’t mean we just sit on the sidelines and watch God work. Choices must be made:

  • Joseph chose to honor God in Potiphar’s house (Genesis 39:4), and in prison (v.22), long before his miraculous promotion from slave to prime minister.
  • David chose to spare King Saul twice, even though the king pursued David with the intent to kill David chose to wait for God’s timing for his coronation (1 Samuel 24, 26).
  • The widow of Zarephath (a town not in Israel) surely knew nothing of Elijah or his God when she met him at the town gate. There was no reason to take him in; she had nothing to offer him. As it was, the woman and her son were starving. The land was parched dry by famine. But she chose to believe his assurance that God would supply their needs. And miracles resulted (1 Kings 17:7-24).
  • Esther chose to intercede for her people, even though it may have led to her own death. She saved the Jewish captives in Persia from annihilation (Esther, ch. 4, 5).

Esther-and-the-King

We never know when a decision or choice may directly or indirectly cause significant, extraordinary results.

Therefore, our decisions must be based on scripture-based convictions and values. It is God-influenced choices, day by day, even moment by moment, that will lead us to extraordinary living, accomplishing divine purpose.

But be prepared. We may not know the significance of some of our choices until we reach heaven.

Think of Ruth, who chose to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, from her home in Moab, back to Naomi’s home in Judah. She also decided to follow Naomi’s instructions and glean barley in Boaz’ field. At the end of the beautiful drama it is revealed that Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David and a descendant of Jesus himself, and a book of the Bible is devoted to her story. What an honor for a woman not even from the house of Israel!

ruth

But Ruth never knew.

Extraordinary people live extraordinary lives when they’re led by God–choice by choice, decision by decision. And they leave the results in his capable hands.

(Art & photo credits:  www.St-talkla.org; http://www.1decision1day.com; http://www.ammiministry.org; http://www.joyfulphpist.wordpress.com.)

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Twenty-eight years ago today, I sat alone at our kitchen table in a quiet house.  It was the first day of school.  Each of our three children had been delivered to their classrooms for second, fifth, and eighth grades.

I hadn’t expected to be home alone that day; my plan had included my own class of elementary students.  For thirteen years I’d focused on raising our three, and had taken a hiatus from teaching.

Two years prior I’d returned to work part-time, and taken classes to update my teaching certificate.  Then came resume-writing and the application process.  I also started substitute teaching, in order to become known within the district.

But few positions were posted.  A candidate with no recent experience was probably shuffled to the bottom of the resume pile.  I did not receive one call for an interview.

Frustration and depression clouded my spirit.  Yes, the part-time job was still available (come October), but part-time pay was not going to cover college expenses for our three children.  It was time to grow the retirement nest egg, too.

That morning, I wrote the following in my journal (with some recent editing!):

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Dear God,

Today is the first day of school and I am without a teaching position.  Needless to say, I‘m frustrated, depressed, and confused.  Why did I put myself through such a hectic schedule last year, working part-time and going to school?  Why did I not receive even one call for an interview?  What am I doing wrong?  Am I supposed to be pursuing something else? 

These kinds of questions have plagued me for days.

Yet, Lord, you are in control, and you always work things out for my good (Romans 8:28). Intellectually I know that’s true, but emotionally I’m still struggling. 

Then last night, you led me to that article in Decision Magazine, written by the young woman who’d been ordained a minister, but had no church to pastor. 

She said, “I just don’t get it.  I told a group of friends, ‘God has given me a marvelous vision for my life, so much encouragement and training.  But now it’s as if he has put me on a shelf.  My talents are being wasted.’ ”

Months earlier someone had told her she’d have a long and illustrious career.  Articles were written about her achievements.  There were awards.

“But circumstances suddenly turned against me.  My search for a position went unrewarded.  I asked the Lord to intervene.  He was silent.”

The article included highlights from the story of Joseph.  He endured much greater tribulation than just waiting.  And though Joseph, too, must have had questions, he refused to quit believing.

The author expressed questions of her own:

“When God reveals his plans for us, aren’t the paths we take supposed to be smooth and sure?  Shouldn’t we go from Point A to Point B without a hassle?  Apparently not.”

A to B

Again, Joseph and countless others are our examples.  Yet I was beginning to think that  because no teaching position had opened up, my desire to return to the classroom was misguided, that somewhere I’d gone wrong. 

But this author says: “When we encounter seemingly insurmountable difficulties in striving to do God’s will, we may be certain that it is all part of a greater plan.”

And then she quoted Romans 8:28.  M-m-m.  The same verse you’ve been whispering to me.

In closing the author said, “The story of Joseph taught me the importance of putting my total trust in the Lord at all times and leaving it there, especially when the path ahead is covered by fog.

“Following Jesus is an adventure in living…At times we are confused by delays and detours.  We may think God is remote.  Yet the more intimate our relationship with the Master becomes, the more we will trust him for the business of our lives.”

Oh, Lord, thank you for speaking to me so directly through this timely article. 

“I WILL wait on you; I will (try to!) be courageous and allow you to strengthen my heart” (Psalm 27:14).

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The following Monday, August 31, I began a one-week substitute job at a nearby elementary school.  I’d subbed there before.

On September 11, the principal offered me a position; one of the third grade teachers was moving to another school.

I stood before my own class on September 15, breathless from the quick reversal of circumstances.

But my questions were never answered.  I don’t know if my resume was faulty.   I don’t know why no one called for an interview.  I don’t know why God didn’t open up a position sooner.

Here’s what I do know:

  • In that time of delay and disappointment, I experienced a small miracle.  Through that article I just happened to read, he provided the peace, hope, and comfort I needed.
  • God was perfecting my ability to trust in him—no matter what.
  • ·        He was also perfecting patience, humility, and submission.

Important lessons, right?

Note to self:  When Plan A does not unfold, it is likely a greater plan is being fulfilled.  Our Plan A is often circumstantial; God’s greater plan is most often spiritual.

Can I submit to that?

(Photo credits:  www.webmd.com; http://www.robertson.ms; http://www.tumblr.com.)

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