And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such as one as this [Joseph], a man in whom is the Spirit of God?” Genesis 41:38
We know virtually nothing about the life of Christ from His infancy until His public ministry began (exception: Luke 2:41-52). The same is true of John the Baptist. Even Moses spent forty years as a shepherd before becoming the Hebrews’ deliverer. And after the apostle Paul was converted to Christ, it was fourteen years before he was welcomed fully by the leaders of the Jerusalem church (Galatians 2:1). Preparation for ministry takes time and patience.
Joseph had the same experience. Prior to becoming second-in-command in Egypt, he was a prideful teenager who was sold into slavery by his brothers. In Egypt he was thrown into prison based on a false accusation, where he languished for two years. But during these times of testing “the Lord was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:2-3, 21). Finally, God’s favor gave him an audience with Pharaoh, and his ministry in Egypt began. Joseph reached maturity on God’s perfect timetable.
If you want to be used by God in ministry, be faithful where you are. Faithfulness in little things leads to faithfulness in much (Matthew 25:21, 23).
God never places any real emphasis on the present—except as preparation for the future. Joni Eareckson Tada
Gifted By The Spirit (Genesis 41:38)
Mar 18, 2013
God endows His children with spiritual abilities that exceed earthly potential. Joseph uses his spiritual gifts faithfully. Eventually the supernatural supersedes the natural. In one day, he went from the pit of prison to the pinnacle of positions. In faith he exercises his divinely entrusted talents, and countless lives are saved. Discover the mighty ministry God might have for you as we study Genesis 41:38 this Sunday at Calvary Gig Harbor.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
On November 9, 1989, the world was astonished by the news of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The wall that had divided Berlin, Germany, was coming down and the city that had been divided for twenty-eight years would be united again. Though the epicenter of joy was Germany, an onlooking world shared in the excitement. Something great had taken place!
When Israel returned to her homeland in 538 bc after being exiled for almost seventy years, it was also momentous. Psalm 126 begins with an over-the-shoulder look at that joy-filled time in the history of Israel. The experience was marked by laughter, joyful singing, and international recognition that God had done great things for His people (v. 2). And what was the response of the recipients of His rescuing mercy? Great things from God prompted great gladness (v. 3). Furthermore, His works in the past became the basis for fresh prayers for the present and bright hope for the future (vv. 4–6).
You and I need not look far in our own experiences for examples of great things from God, especially if we believe in God through His Son, Jesus. Nineteenth-century hymn writer Fanny Crosby captured this sentiment when she wrote, “Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done, and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son.” Yes, to God be the glory, great things He has done!
Have you ever thought of your life as a building project? That’s how the apostle Paul describes it. Although He is specifically referring to the church as a whole, the principles in today’s passage also apply to our personal life. But unlike a physical structure that is visible, this one is spiritual, and as such, the quality of the building materials are not immediately discernible. However, there will come a day when the Lord will evaluate what we have built on the foundation of Christ.
None of us want to get to heaven and find out we’ve used materials that have no value in eternity and will go up in a puff of smoke. Although in our sinful human condition we can’t know exactly how God will evaluate our life, there are some guidelines in Scripture to help us live in a manner worthy of Christ’s reward.
If we use worldly wisdom to build our life, we will be disappointed. Paul says we are deceiving ourselves if we think that the wisdom, values, pursuits, and ambitions derived from a world ruled by Satan can be used to accomplish God’s will. Reliance on anything other than the Word and Spirit of God is wasted effort. Instead, we should make it our ambition to be faithful stewards of all God gives us and to live with a clear conscience.
Are you living as God desires—turning from sin and progressing in holiness. Does His Word fill your mind and shape your thoughts, behavior, and attitudes? Are you yielding to the Holy Spirit so He can produce His fruit in you? Each day is an opportunity to build for eternity.
“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)
There is a terrible day of judgment coming for those who reject Christ, but for those who do believe the gospel and trust the Lord Jesus for salvation, “there is therefore now no condemnation [i.e., judgment]” (Romans 8:1). Yet, our text tells us that judgment actually begins with those who obey the gospel! This apparent contradiction vanishes when one realizes that it is merely for the purpose of preparing those who are already saved to serve Him in eternity.
When a believer sins, he should judge and confess that sin. “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31), and God will forgive (1 John 1:9). If he does not, however, the next phase of judgment is the chastening of God. “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world” (1 Corinthians 11:32). The classic passage on the believer’s chastening (Hebrews 12:5-11) concludes with the assurance that its purpose is to yield “the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11).
But when such chastening fails to work, the next judgment may even be physical death. “There is sin unto death” (1 John 5:16). “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5).
Finally, all Christians must “appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10), where “every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). There, some “shall suffer loss.” Nevertheless, each person at this judgment “shall be saved” (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). But, as our text continues, “if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:18). HMM
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
—1 John 2:19
In our eagerness to make converts I am afraid we have lately been guilty of using the technique of modern salesmanship, which is of course to present only the desirable qualities in a product and ignore the rest. We go to men and offer them a cozy home on the sunny side of the brae. If they will but accept Christ He will give them peace of mind, solve their problems, prosper their business, protect their families and keep them happy all day long. They believe us and come, and the first cold wind sends them shivering to some counselor to find out what has gone wrong; and that is the last we hear of many of them….
By offering our hearers a sweetness-and-light gospel and promising every taker a place on the sunny side of the brae, we not only cruelly deceive them, but we guarantee also a high casualty rate among the converts won on such terms. On certain foreign fields the expression “rice Christians” has been coined to describe those who adopt Christianity for profit. The experienced missionary knows that the convert that must pay a heavy price for his faith in Christ is the one that will persevere to the end. He begins with the wind in his face, and should the storm grow in strength he will not turn back for he has been conditioned to endure it. TIC116-117
Deliver us from the error of producing rice Christians. Amen.
I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadetb thee by the way that thou sbouldest go.—Isaiah 48:17.
Just as God leads me I would go,
I would not ask to choose my way,
Content with what He will bestow,
Assured He will not let me stray.
So as He leads, my path I make,
And step-by-step I gladly take,
A child in Him confiding.
He has not made us for naught; He has brought us thus far, in order to bring us further, in order to bring us on to the end. He will never leave us nor forsake us j so that we may boldly say, “The Lord is my Helper; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. We may cast all our care upon Him who careth for us.” What is it to us how our future path lies, if it be but His path? What is it to us whither it leads us, so that in the end it leads to Him? What is it to us what He puts upon us, so that He enables us to undergo it with a pure conscience, a true heart, not desiring anything of this world in comparison of Him? What is it to us what terror befalls us, if He be but at hand to protect and strengthen us?
“Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.” 2Sam. 23:5
This is not so much one promise as an aggregate of promises — a box of pearls. The covenant is the ark which contains all things.
These are the last words of David, but they may be mine today. Here is a sigh: things are not with me and mine as I could wish; there are trials, cares, and sins. These make the pillow hard.
Here is a solace — “He hath made with me an everlasting covenant.” Jehovah has pledged Himself to me, and sealed the compact with the blood of Jesus. I am bound to my God, and my God to me.
This brings into prominence a security, since this covenant is everlasting, well ordered and sure. There is nothing to fear from the lapse of time, the failure of some forgotten point, or the natural uncertainty of things. The covenant is a rocky foundation to build on for life or for death.
David feels satisfaction: he wants no more for salvation or delectation. He is delivered, and he is delighted. The covenant is all a man can desire.
O my soul, turn thou this day to thy Lord Jesus, whom the great Lord has given to be a covenant to the people. Take Him to be thine all in all.
And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. Matthew 13:7
One afternoon in May 2018, a conservation biologist in the Pobitora National Park in India was riding his elephant on an inspection tour when he saw something alarming—the growth of a “bushy herb with small green leaves and creamy white flowers.” It’s called congress grass, and it’s a highly invasive plant that has damaged ecosystems in more than twenty countries around the world. Park officials worry they won’t be able to stop the plant from spreading and suffocating the natural plants that are fed on by their one-horned rhinos. It’s a constant fight against time and the invasive plant.1
Jesus warned that the worries of life and the deceitfulness of riches are highly invasive threats to our spiritual health. When it comes to worry, we have to trust Him with our cares and keep His peace guarding our heart and mind. When it comes to the deceitfulness of wealth, we need to give generously to God’s work, which helps to keep our possessions in perspective.
To keep your spiritual health strong and vibrant, avoid earthly distractions that occupy your time and obscure your vision.
[Our hearts are] filled with a vast quantity, and, as I may say, a thick forest, of thorns… I do not say to root out, but even to cut down the thorns! John Calvin
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 1 Corinthians 12:4
I was invited to meet a world-renowned pianist. Since I grew up immersed in music—playing the violin and piano, and primarily singing solos for church and other events—I was thrilled at the opportunity.
When I arrived to meet the pianist, I realized he spoke little English; and to my surprise he provided a cello for me to play—an instrument I’d never touched. He insisted that I play and he would accompany me. I screeched out a few notes, trying to mimic my violin training. Finally admitting that I was lost, we parted ways.
I awoke, realizing the scenario had been a dream. But since the musical background presented in my dream was true, in my mind lingered the words, Why didn’t you tell him you could sing?
God equips us to develop our natural talents and our spiritual gifts for others (1 Corinthians 12:7). Through prayerful reading of the Bible and the wise advice of others, we can better understand the spiritual gift (or gifts) that is uniquely ours. The apostle Paul reminds us that whatever our spiritual gift, we’re to take time to find it and use it, knowing that the Spirit distributes the gifts “just as he determines” (v. 11).
Let’s use the “voices” the Holy Spirit has given us to honor God and serve other believers in Jesus.
Craig Stowe served on a naval ship during World War II. As his vessel prepared for an attack, the commanding officer lined up the men. As usual, a volunteer was needed to ride out the battle in the crow’s nest and send pertinent information to the captain. No one stepped forward. Then, Stowe heard the Lord speak to his heart: I’ll be with you up there, as I am down here. The young man volunteered, and he endured without a single scratch. In fact, he reported that no harm even came near him.
Years later, Mr. Stowe told this story to his Sunday school class of teenage boys. The truth in that adventure made a profound difference to one of the students, who came from a difficult and chaotic home situation. He never forgot the life-changing message: “God is always with you no matter where you are.”
I was that young man. As I matured in my faith and studied Scripture, God confirmed what Mr. Stowe had taught me. I saw that Jesus stressed His abiding presence to His disciples. He knew how quickly a sense of rejection would settle in after the crucifixion. Moreover, potentially discouraging hardship awaited them as they carried the gospel to the rest of the world. So the Lord promised a Helper who would remain with Christians forever—the Holy Spirit.
Every day of a believer’s life is lived in the presence of Christ through His Holy Spirit. He comforts during hardship, encourages amidst difficulty, and strengthens in times of weakness. The benefits of a relationship with God are not postponed until heaven; we walk with Him now and always.
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