What Really Matters?

Connecting Points

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Today’s Topic: The Quality that Counts

Today’s Text:  Genesis 41:38 (ESV)  And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?”

I cannot find an appropriate metaphor for how I feel this morning. Maybe you can help. How would you finish this sentence? It has been three weeks since I last sat at my computer to spend time writing, and it feels like…

Here are some of my attempts:

  • …picking up my golf clubs after the longest winter ever.
  • …trying to play my trombone after 25 years of inactivity.
  • …running up and down the basketball court trying to be competitive with the young men of our church in our new gym.

Yet as I sit here, I realize the best metaphor is the one about never forgetting how to ride a bike.

I’ve been praying about what to study in my own life as the foundation for these Connecting Points, and the Lord has led me to the longest story in the book of Genesis. If you guessed Abraham you would be incorrect. The story of his great-grandson Joseph is longer. Not that it really matters from a spiritual perspective, but it is a story that has always fascinated me, and a story from which we can learn incredible truths about suffering, character, and wisdom.

The story begins in Genesis chapter 37, and concludes at the very end of the book. I would encourage you to take time to read it this month, maybe more than once, and follow along on the adventures of a young man who grew to be a powerful leader in spite of tragic circumstances.

The key to Joseph’s life is found in a question that was posed by Pharaoh to his officials following a dream that he had. Joseph has already spent an extended period of time unjustly confined to a prison cell and rudely forgotten by people whom he had helped and served. Yet by the grace and power of God, Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and be restored to a position of authority.

The question Pharaoh asked was this – “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?”

Now consider this carefully. Pharaoh was a pagan ruler who worshipped idols. Throughout his reign as Egypt’s ruler he has chosen men for leadership based on all the natural characteristics of strength and authority promoted by his culture. Yet when confronted with the humble heart of a young man whom he had previously confined to prison, he could speak no higher praise than to say that he saw the Spirit of God in him.

That must be our foundation for this study, and it must be the foundation of our lives, for we are nothing if we are not filled with the Holy Spirit of God. All our personality traits, all our training, all our efforts, and all our accomplishments are meaningless unless they have been done in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the one and only quality of our lives that really counts.

Therefore, we must spend some time understanding what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Otherwise all of the other things we will learn from the life of Joseph will be nothing more than our attempts to learn behaviors that will hopefully bring us some measure of success and blessing. Without the Spirit of God everything we do is done in the strength of man and results only in the outcomes man can produce. But contrast that with what happens when we live in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Look at what Joseph was able to endure and accomplish. Look at what the disciples did following Pentecost. Look at what the Apostle Paul did. Look at how all of their lives endured hardship, persecution and even death at the hands of God’s enemies, and yet they accomplished the glorious and eternal purpose of their Savior.

Why? Because they were filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Pharaoh saw it in Joseph even before the Holy Spirit was given as the permanent resident of our lives. The religious leaders of the New Testament saw it in Peter and James and John. But the living testimonies of the power of the Holy Spirit did not end with them. They must continue in us.

So when the world takes notice of you: when you are commended or recommended for advancement in your career, is it because of what you have done or because what you have done is a result of the Holy Spirit of God at work in you? Let the world rise up and take notice of the followers of Jesus, because no matter what injustice, hardship, tragedy, or persecution comes our way, they will be forced to give us the highest praise possible – “The Spirit of God is in them.”

Pastor John