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Posts Tagged ‘Old Testament Joseph’

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

www-St-Takla-org--Bible-Slides-genesis-240

  • 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.

nature-mountin-flowers

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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Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith  -             By: Jon Bloom, John Piper

Imagine…

…the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11), walking home after her encounter with Jesus.  What must she have been thinking?

…Zacchaeus, the despised tax collector, coming to your door to return the money he owed you—plus four times more (Luke 19:1-10).  What would have been your reaction?

…how it felt to be Joseph Barsabbas, the candidate not chosen to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:26). How might he have responded?

These are just three out of thirty-five scenarios Jon Bloom explores in his book, Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith (Crossway Books, 2013).    Indeed, they are fresh, creative takes on familiar Bible stories.

And although quite short, just three pages or so in length, each vignette still gives plenty of food for thought. I found them to be compelling, insightful, and instructive—encouraging my walk of faith.

One of my favorites is “Staying Faithful When Things Get Worse.”  Jon imagines what Joseph must have been thinking as a falsely accused prisoner in Egypt.  For at least twelve years he endured the hellish conditions and tormenting hopelessness.  Those should have been the best years of Joseph’s life—his youth.  Many would have said, “What a waste.”

 

Imagine year nine, Jon suggests.  Surely Joseph fought against depression and discouragement, even as he recited to himself the promises of God.  No doubt he reviewed in his mind the stories of his ancestors—Abraham, Isaac, and even those of his own father, Jacob.

Jon Bloom imagines Joseph affirming repeatedly that, just as God had been faithful to them, he would be faithful to Joseph.  Each patriarch had faced situations that seemed impossible.

Abraham and Sarah were much too old to have a child.

The older brother, Esau, would never serve his younger brother, Jacob–even if the age difference between twins was slight. That promise of God went against all tradition and logic.

Jacob was a poor runaway.  He couldn’t possibly become a wealthy herdsman.

But each man and his family had been blessed, just as God had promised.  Why?  They remained faithful.  Yes, they made mistakes and failed to obey God on occasion.  But they never turned their backs on him, even when circumstances turned bleak.

Jon Bloom also imagines Joseph reaffirming his faith in God and his willingness to wait for him to act.  Meanwhile, he would continue to honor God, even within prison walls.

As Jon brings the vignette to a close, he shares fresh application:

Even in the care of Almighty God, circumstances may get worse, not better.  “Faith in God’s future grace for us is what sustains us in those desperate moments,” Jon says.  Our hope is best placed in God, in his promises, and especially the assurance of eternal bliss in heaven yet to come.

Jon Bloom perfectly fulfills the role of a writer, as defined by Anais Nin, American author of the twentieth century:  “The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.”

Page after page, this is what Jon Bloom did for me.  No doubt he will do the same for you.

(Art Credits:  www.angieblattner.theworldrace.org ; www.illustrationartgallery.com )

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