Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Current Study: People Who Made a Difference
Today’s Topic: Walk By Faith, Not Sight
Today’s Scripture: Genesis 45:4-7 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
Joseph’s life is an incredible story of faith. He made a difference for so many people because he was able to look beyond the immediate circumstances and trust God to be working to bring about a result that would be good for all. People who can see God at work even when all human rationale says otherwise are people who really make a difference.
In the story, Joseph was the favored son of his father Jacob, who would later be called Israel. Joseph had been born to Jacob in his old age, so he received very special attention. His brothers were jealous. They plotted to eliminate him. The plan was changed at the last minute and resulted in Joseph being sold into slavery, eventually in Egypt. While there, he proved himself a worthy leader, and was placed in charge of the household of one of Pharaoh’s officials. After being falsely accused of rape, he was imprisoned. Then, after earning the respect of both prisoners and guards, he was overlooked for release after being promised he would be. Finally, after interpreting a dream for the Pharaoh, he was recognized as the most discerning and wise man in Egypt, and placed in charge of the palace and the whole land of Egypt. All this by the time he was thirty years old.
Joseph used his wisdom to plan for the future. During times of abundance, he put away a portion of the crops and stored them in reserve for the times when there would be drought. When the famine came, countries from all over the world came to Egypt to buy grain. Meanwhile, Jacob, who thought his son Joseph was dead, sent his brothers to Egypt to get grain. Then, after that supply was exhausted, he sent them again. It was during this trip that Joseph decided to reveal himself to his brothers. Imagine the fear that must have overwhelmed their hearts and minds when they realized that the teenager they had sold into slavery now held power over their very lives. Some would call it karma, others might say that what goes around comes around. Here was Joseph’s chance to get even and even ahead.
But not Joseph. He was a man who walked by faith and not by sight. He trusted God. He saw the bigger picture. People who can see the bigger picture make a difference. It’s really easy to get bogged down in the minutia of the immediate. It’s pretty stressful to be overwhelmed by the details. It’s only when someone comes along and reminds us of the bigger picture that we are relieved. We need people around us who can see the whole puzzle, or who at least can show us how to trust the One who created the picture.
Life is full of uncertainty right now. But then, it always has been. There’s a supposed economic crisis that causes fear. Banks are failing because people didn’t follow Joseph’s economic policies of saving to eliminate all borrowing. People who had done nothing wrong end up paying a high price for the bad choices of others. But at those critical times, we have two choices – the same choices Joseph had. We can turn to the world for our solutions, or we can turn to the God who holds the world in His hands. Jesus holds the answers to all of the everyday problems that you face. I guess you can try to deal with your problems on your own without a belief in Jesus Christ, but there will be no permanent solutions and the end result will be failure and destruction. But with a faith in Jesus Christ that looks beyond the immediate, you will realize how insignificant the financial crisis is in comparison with the big picture of God’s plan for the eternal redemption of people’s souls.
There will be a lot of talk today about what we are going to do to rescue America from financial collapse. As you get involved in those discussions, please make sure one thing is perfectly clear: your faith is in the plan and purpose of God and not the politics of the people. This is the time when faith is needed most, and people of faith must lead. Do not be distressed. God has this under control. His plan is being perfected. His purpose is being fulfilled. His people have been sent ahead to provide for a great deliverance, and that deliverance is spiritual, not financial. Keep your focus on Christ, and walk by faith, not sight. You will make a difference.