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Monday | Waiting
Imagine you’re in Joseph’s shoes. You have 2 dreams from God that you would be in a position of authority and prestige and that people (your brothers in particular) would bow down to you. You begin reordering your hopes, dreams and expectations around what God has shown you. But, rather than bowing down to you, your brothers sell you to Egypt as a slave. Rather than rising to rule, you are reduced to a prisoner, and rather than remembered by those you help along the way you are forgotten. Thirteen years pass and still nothing.
1. Spend a moment asking God to show you areas in your life where you have lost faith and have given up on God coming through. Write them down.
2. How have these things affected your trust in God?
3. Read Psalm 62:5–8. David is writing this Psalm through a period of painful waiting. What does David say about God in this period of painful waiting?
4. In verse 8, David turns from his own wrestlings and calls the people to pour out their hearts to God who is our refuge. This is the biblical way of dealing with painful waiting on God. Will you do this right now with the things you wrote down to question 1?
2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “All the promises of God find their Yes in [Christ].” What does this mean? It means first that Jesus’ life, death & resurrection was a statement to the world that God has made good on his promise to redeem this world from sin and sorrow. It also means that ultimately Jesus is at the heart of every need. The fact that we belong to him and will be in his wonderful presence for eternity is a buoy for us in difficult times and an anchor for us in easy times.
5. Do you see Jesus as your ultimate treasure or are there other things that you want God to give you in order to make you happy?
6. Spend some time thanking God for the cross, which is our ultimate proof that God is faithful and will come through on his promises. Ask him for faith to trust him even when circumstances seem to dictate that God is not faithful.
Tuesday | Up and Out
So, you’re still in Joseph’s shoes. You’re still wrongfully imprisoned in a foreign land. It’s been a decade since you dreamed those two dreams about fame, authority, prosperity and people bowing down to you. It looked like it was all coming to pass at Potiphar’s house, but then his crazy wife had you thrown in jail to start all over again. Are you bitter yet? Frustrated? Fuming at why God would do this to you?
1. When you’re in painful, difficult or miserable periods in your life, how does this normally affect your relationship with other people?
2. Read Genesis 40:1–7. Even though Joseph had every reason to turn in on himself in frustration, he was still looking out for other people and seeking to love them in the midst of their needs. Are there struggling people around you who you haven’t seen because you’ve turned in on yourself? How can you pursue them this week the way Joseph pursued the baker and cupbearer?
3. Read Genesis 40:8. Even though Joseph has not seen his own 2 dreams fulfilled, he was still looking up and had faith in a God who fulfills dreams. Is it hard for you to encourage others in the very area that you are feeling abandoned by God or discouraged by his timing? Why is this?
4. Spend a moment asking God to restore your faith and confidence in him in areas where you have not seen him come through in the way or timing you thought he would.
The Gospel fuels both of these reactions in the life of a believer. On the cross, we see the faithfulness and goodness of God aimed at us and it allows us to look up and trust him in confusing times. On the cross, we also see the perfect love and kindness of God towards us and it gives us the ability to look out for the needs of others above our own.
5. Are you allowing your life experiences to shape your view of God or are you looking at the faithfulness of God in the Gospel?
6. Are you allowing your feelings to share the way you serve and care for others or are you looking at the love of God in the Gospel?
7. Spend a moment asking God to give you this Gospel-filtered perspective today.
Wednesday | You, You, You
Your chance has come. (You’re still in Joseph’s shoes, by the way). You’ve been called into Pharaoh’s house on urgent business. You’re giddy with mingled excitement and fear. You’ll likely either lose your chains or lose your head today, and you’re begging God quietly that it’s not the latter. All you can think about is how you’re going to impress this King and get on his good side. But, when you get there, all the work has been done for you. He starts by looking to you as his savior and praising your amazing dream-interpreting abilities. Do you roll with it and take this as your lucky day or correct him (a man likely not used to being corrected), giving glory to God?
1. When we get in desperate situations, we can often think God would understand if we compromised our obedience. Are there areas in your life where you are compromising your obedience to God and justifying it because of your circumstances?
2. Read Genesis 41:14–16. What does Joseph’s careful (and almost nit-picky) obedience to God teach you about faithfulness to God during trials?
But there’s something bigger here. This isn’t just a question of obedience, but an issue of glory. Who gets the glory? And the answer to that question is extremely important in our lives.
3. Read Psalm 115:1. Are you careful about who gets the glory in the successes of your life?
4. What areas of your life are you receiving glory rather than using it as an opportunity to credit God with his goodness towards you?
In Genesis 41:38–39, Pharaoh, who thought of himself as a god, recognizes the Spirit of God in Joseph and displays some level of trust in Joseph’s God. What if, rather than giving God the glory at the front end, Joseph had attributed the interpretation to God at the end? Would Pharaoh have seen God’s glory in Joseph’s miraculous interpretation and wisdom? Probably not. We must be painstakingly careful about who is getting the glory in our lives.
5. Spend some time asking God to give you a heart of humility to begin to giving God glory rather than savoring glory for yourself.
Thursday | In the Midst of Prospering
Joseph trusted God for years in the pit: in the pit his brothers threw him into, in the pit of slavery, in the pit of prison. He knew what it was to lean on God when he had nothing else to lean on, and he found God faithful. But there’s a reason the church often grows in times of persecution and weakens in times of prosperity. Though it may be easier to deny God when life is hard, it’s easier to forget God when life is easy.
1. Have you found it to be the case in your life that you can forget God when life is going well? Why is this?
2. Read Genesis 41:50–52. Look at both of these names Joseph gives his children. What is Joseph saying both about the miserable periods of his life and the prosperous periods of his life through these two names?
3. In what areas of your life are you currently experiencing success and ease?
4. Read Deuteronomy 6:4–12. God told the Israelites to creatively recognize God in every area of their lives as they stepped into prosperity in the land of Canaan. How can you remember God’s goodness and glory in these areas of success and ease from question 3?
5. In this passage in Deuteronomy, God was telling his people to help one another remember God through seasons of prospering. Are there people in your life who would challenge you and call you back to God if you began drifting from him?
6. Spend some time asking God that you would not be a victim of ease and prosperity, but that he would keep you faithful through success.
Friday | True Prospering
There’s something powerful when looking at the consistency of Joseph’s life. No matter how horrible or incredible his circumstances were, Joseph acted the exact same way. It was almost as if he was unaffected by his situations. Joseph clearly understood something that we struggle to wrap our minds around in our prosperous nation. He understood that true prosperity comes when we are walking with God.
1. Read Philippians 4:10–13. Could you say this with Paul? Do you know how to be content when you are brought low and when you are abounding?
2. Are there areas of your life where you are struggling with contentment in the midst of being brought low or hardship?
3. Are there areas of your life where you are struggling with contentment in the midst of abounding or prosperity?
Paul doesn’t directly tell us this “secret” in Philippians 4, but it comes through elsewhere in his writings and his life. Paul’s joy was firmly rooted in God. His hope was firmly rooted in heaven. His purpose was firmly rooted in “storing up for himself treasures in heaven.”
4. Read 1 Timothy 6:17–19. What does Paul’s challenge to the “rich in this present age” tell us about what it means to truly prosper?
5. How much does the joy and hope of heaven inform the way you live your life on?
6. Looking at 1 Timothy 6:17–19, ask God these two questions:
| What things should I be doing less of if my hope were set in heaven?
| What things should I be doing more of if my hope were set in heaven?