The Ripple Effect of Sin

shutterstock_69704164.jpgGenesis 41:37-45

37This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” 41And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. 43And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.


Do you ever wonder why God is to adamant about us avoiding sin, even when the sin seems fun? It’s partially because sin has a disastrous ripple effect in eternity as well as in the present. When we sin, we are hurting ourselves, hurting those around us, and we are dishonoring God.

The opposite is also true.

When we follow Jesus, we experience life to the full, those around us are blessed by our obedience, and God is glorified.

This is the story of Joseph. For over a decade, Joseph has lived in a foreign land as a slave and as a prisoner surrounded by very real temptations, yet Joseph has followed God faithfully. And here in chapter 41, we see a major turning point. Joseph is recognized as having true wisdom and experiences—it’s the ultimate Cinderella story as he goes from imprisoned slave to second in command over all of the Egyptian empire. The nation is rescued by Joseph’s interpretations of dreams, foresight, and wisdom. And Pharaoh is singing God’s praises for Joseph.

How have you seen this story play out in your own life? Have you seen the negative effects of sin rippling around you? Have you seen the positive effects of your obedience helping you, helping others, and glorifying God?

The beautiful thing about these very different stories is that you get to choose. Will you choose to follow Jesus today or will you choose to rebel?

Today’s Prayer: Holy Spirit, guide me today in the way of wisdom. Help me to see what you see and to trust what you say that it may go well with me, with those around me, and that ultimately God would be glorified. Amen.

How to Choose to Be Faithful to God

shutterstock_375694840.jpgGenesis 41:14-24

14Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. 15And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “” have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” 17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Behold, in my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile. 18Seven cows, plump and attractive, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. 19Seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and thin, such as I had never seen in all the land of Egypt. 20And the thin, ugly cows ate up the first seven plump cows, 21but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were still as ugly as at the beginning. Then I awoke. 22I also saw in my dream seven ears growing on one stalk, full and good. 23Seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them, 24and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. And I told it to the magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me.”


At this point in Joseph’s story, he’s been in Egypt for years, first as a slave and then as a prisoner. He has been let down and forgotten—for years. But now he has a chance to plead his case before Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt. As Joseph stood before Pharaoh, he probably knew that this was his chance; this was his opportunity to shine and maybe Pharaoh would notice him and let him stay out of prison.

But that’s not what Joseph did. Instead, he chose to be faithful to God. When Pharaoh told Joseph he had heard Joseph could interpret dreams, Joseph told Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” That’s pretty amazing!

Joseph could have been bitter and angry, felt abandoned by God but instead he chose to put God first and be faithful to what God would have him do. Joseph chose to follow God, even though he wasn’t sure what would happen when he finished with Pharaoh. For all Joseph knew, he could have been heading back to prison after the interview. Still, Joseph chose to trust God. He chose to be faithful to God because he knew, that even though things had been rough, God had always been faithful to him. Joseph knew that God is good, no matter what.

Today’s Prayer: Dear God, help me to learn from Joseph and trust you no matter what. I pray that I can think back to your faithfulness when things get tough and realize that you are always with me. Please help me to rely on you and your love for me when I face tough times.

 

From the Dungeon to the Palace

shutterstock_143706757.jpgGenesis 41:1-13

After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows, attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. 3And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke. 5And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. 7And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. 8So in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was none who could interpret them to Pharaoh.

9Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my offenses today. 10When Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, 11we dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own interpretation. 12A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream. 13And as he interpreted to us, so it came about. I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”


When you are in the midst of difficulty, especially when it feels unfair, it’s hard to believe that God is there. You hope God will right the wrong, but he doesn’t. Even when you act above the circumstances, life still keeps piling it on.

Have you ever felt that way? I’m sure Joseph did.

And for good reason. His brothers sold him, so he made the most of his lowly situation. When tempted to let down his guard with his master’s wife, he instead choose the high ground. But he was targeted again, being thrown into prison for something he didn’t do.

Then a light in the darkness: He interprets two dreams for fellow prisoners, one of whom can vouch for him, and gets the dreams right! But still he stays in prison.

Life must have seemed very dark and discouraging.

Then one day, out of the blue, the Pharaoh needed a dream interpreted and the chief cupbearer finally remembered Joseph and his gift of interpreting dreams. Up from the dungeon Joseph was called and it changed everything.

I love the idea of, “Then one day…” It shows that God is faithful to those who are faithful to him. The faith step is waiting for God’s timing when he calls you up from the dungeon and into the palace.

Thought for Today: Do you need to let go of your expectation of how God should honor your faithfulness and just trust him in the when and how? How can you be faithful to God in the midst of your difficult situation today?

 

Don’t Forget Your First Love

shutterstock_506583883.jpgGenesis 40:16-23

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18 And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. 19 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.


How often are we all like the forgetful cupbearer? The one who was in trouble, and asked for help, but once the good times come rolling in, we forget about our friends who were there for us in our time of need?

It plays out in different ways in everyone’s lives, but I bet you can think of a time when you became a forgetful friend or follower of Christ. Maybe one of these strikes home:

  • You’re single, but fortunately you have a solid group of friends. Then you start dating someone, and your friends suddenly become a lot less important.
  • You have a family that you love and adore and that you are happy to provide for. But then you start making a lot of money, and then the pursuit of wealth becomes more important than your family.
  • You’re in the midst of a struggle and you call on the Lord. He brings you comfort, peace, and joy. But the fog lifts, and the easier times distract you from your relationship with Him (God has something to say about forgetting your first love, and you can find it in Revelation 2:3-5).

If any of those resonate, reflect on why. Don’t beat yourself up—just acknowledge what happened and spend some time thinking about how you might do it differently in the future. Because God will always be there for you, and will always love you, but the closer you draw to Him, the more you’ll see how He celebrates in your joyful times too.

Today’s Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for always being there for me. Thank you for loving me, even when I don’t think that I need you. Please draw me closer to you and help me to always put you first, and to prioritize the other relationships in my life properly as well. Amen.

 

How to Put God’s Plan Into Action

shutterstock_291905858.jpgGenesis 40:9-15

9So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. 14Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”


Did you notice how confident Joseph was in his interpretation of the cupbearer’s dream? He didn’t hesitate or stall. In fact, he was so confident that God has given him the right interpretation that he includes a plea at the end: Remember me when you’re restored to your place by Pharaoh’s side.

At that time, there was no court of appeals where Joseph could plead his innocence. This was his one chance. Joseph knew that the cupbearer’s dream would come true, and this could be the moment he was waiting for.

Where did Joseph’s confidence come from? God’s past fulfillment of promises, and the dreams He’d given Joseph about his own life story (remember how God showed Joseph that his brothers would all bow before him one day in Genesis 37:6-9?).

But trusting in God to fulfill his promises isn’t the lesson here. What we can learn is that although Joseph was confident that God’s promises were true, he didn’t just sit in prison rotting, waiting for God to do something. He took action.

And what was revealed? That God’s ultimate plan would be accomplished through Joseph’s faithful action.

So what are you trusting God with today? Whether it’s to help you overcome a difficult situation, relationship, career, tragedy, or addiction, you need to trust that God will be faithful. But you must also be faithful to act on the opportunities that God brings your way.

Don’t just sit and wait. Ask God for help and then do what you can with whatever God gives you each day. Seize the opportunity that God gives you. And, as we will see with Joseph, God will be faithful to fulfill His promises to you in His perfect timing.

Today’s Prayer: Lord, help me to see the opportunity you have placed in front of me. Give me the strength to persevere on the path before me. Help me trust in your faithfulness even when I can’t yet see it coming.

Using Your Story For God’s Glory

shutterstock_111103529.jpgGenesis 40:1-8

 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. 2And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody.

5And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. 6When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” 8They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”


The cupbearer and the baker came to prison with the same dilemma as Joseph: They had offended their master and were thrown into prison (though Joseph was innocent). What they didn’t know was that Joseph had even more in common with them than circumstance.

The cupbearer and the baker both had troubling dreams. Back in the palace, they would have asked the king’s magicians and wise men for help. In prison, they seemingly had no one to help them—until they met Joseph.

They didn’t know that Joseph had experience with dream interpretation before. Joseph is in a position to help in their time of need, and God knew that. He placed Joseph in that prison for this very moment, and to turn their attention to a greater solution—God.

The lesson? God doesn’t waste our stories.

God knew that Joseph would be the key to speaking into the baker and cupbearer’s lives, and he didn’t waste Joseph’s story. The struggle that Joseph experienced allowed him to help others in similar situations. It gave him credibility to speak into their lives and point them to God. And we can do the same.

Whatever it may be, no matter how painful, don’t waste your story. Let God use it for His glory.

Thought for Today: Like Joseph, how might God use your story? What struggles, and difficulties has He helped you overcome?

Today’s Prayer: God, help me to use my story for your glory. Give me eyes to see people who are struggling as I have struggled so that I can help them find the hope I’ve found in you.

Hope For the Darkest Times

shutterstock_126767585.jpgGenesis 39:11-23

11But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. 13And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, 14she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.” 16Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, 17and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me. 18But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.”

19 As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. 20And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 21But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.22And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.


Even though Joseph had been a slave, God was with him, turning each negative thing into a better situation. Joseph was elevated to the top spot and put in charge of everything in his master’s house; God turned Joseph’s bad situation into something better.

But then it got worse. Could God do it again? He could and He did. Look at verses 21-22:  “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it.”

We know that Joseph ultimately ends up as the second most powerful person in Egypt, saving countless lives after all his struggle, all the valleys of his life. But he didn’t. In the moment, he only knew that he was in a worse situation than he was before.

What he did know was that God was with him—and that’s something we can know as well. We may not know how things will turn out when we’re in stuck in the middle of something, but we can know that God is with us, no matter what. When we face tough times, we can think about how God worked in Joseph’s life and did amazing things, even in terrible situations.

Today’s Prayer: Lord, please help us to remember that you are always with us and love us far more than we can imagine. Help us remember you are working in our lives, even when we can’t see you doing it.