THE NEW EWE
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
April 16, 2008
Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
Genesis 50:20 says, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” In order to truly understand what Joseph meant when he made that statement, you have to go back and read about his life.
The story of Joseph begins in Genesis 37, when he was age seventeen. We pick up the story now in Genesis 39.
Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potipher, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh (the king) and captain of the guard, bought Joseph from the Ishmaelite traders.
Although Joseph was a slave, verse 2 says that, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered and became successful; and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.”
Potipher saw that the Lord was with Joseph, and that the Lord caused all that he did to prosper and succeed. Joseph pleased Potipher and found favor in his sight, and became the overseer or supervisor over his house. Potipher entrusted all that he owned to Joseph's care.
Verse 5 says that from the time he put Joseph in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potipher had, both in the house and in the field. With Joseph in charge of everything he had, Potipher did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
We see from these verses that although Joseph's brothers may have had evil intent when they sold him, God was with Joseph and caused him to be successful. God took a seventeen year old shepherd boy and blessed all that he did, to the extent that his owner saw that the Lord was with Joseph. He went from watching sheep, to being the most important man in Potipher's household. Potipher completely trusted everything that he owned to the care of Joseph, to the point where he no longer even knew what he had.
At times our lives can made a turn completely opposite of what we think it should. We can look at our situation and wonder what's going on, and feel like nothing good could possibly come of it. I don't believe that it pleased God for Joseph's brothers to mistreat him, by throwing him in the pit and then selling him as a slave. But God took that situation and caused good to come of it.
He put Joseph in an exalted position in the house of Potipher. His brothers had no idea that their plan would so completely backfire on them. They were still out in the fields tending sheep, and Joseph was living in luxury, while being in charge of the home of a high ranking official of the Egyptian king. They were daily having to live with the burden of their lies and deceit, and the hand of the Lord was upon Joseph and all that he did was being blessed.
Joseph could have been angry and bitter that he had been sold into slavery. He could have plotted and planned how he would run away and get revenge on his brothers. But he chose instead to be contented in the place that he was. He chose to do his very best at whatever he was given to do, and to remain faithful to God. Joseph didn't try to take the situation into his own hands, but he fully trusted God.
But as we continue on with his story, we see how the opinion and trust of others can drastically and instantly be changed, when they are influenced by someone else. We've seen how Potipher completely trusted Joseph with all that was in his house and fields, but a huge turnabout was about to occur.
Joseph had grown into a handsome man, who was well-built. After a while, Potipher's wife took notice of him and started trying to seduce him into bed with her. But he refused.
“With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”
Though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her, or even be with her.
One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants were inside. This was just the opportunity that Potipher's wife had been looking for. Perhaps she had preplanned this in order to set Joseph up, by sending the servants who normally would have been in the house at that time on errands, so they would be gone. She caught Joseph by his outer garment and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his garment in her hand, and ran out of the house.
Joseph didn't stay alone inside the house with her, but he turned and fled as fast as he could. He didn't stand there and try to reason with her or convince her that she was wrong. He quickly left and got away from her.
Too many times when we are placed in positions where temptation is present, we stay where we are, thinking that we are strong enough to resist. We think, “Maybe if I stay, this person will be influenced by my good example and I can be of help to them.” More times than not, we are the ones who end up giving in to the temptation, instead of us changing the mind of the one we're trying to influence for good. We don't resist sin and temptation by staying where it's being offered freely to us, but we overcome by fleeing and getting away from it as quickly as possible.
Potipher's wife was none too happy about Joseph running away from her. So she plotted an evil lie against him. When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had run out of the house, she called to the men of her household.
“See, he [your master] has brought in a Hebrew to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his garment beside me and fled, and ran outside the house.”
Can you just imagine the whispering and gossiping that went on among the other servants in the household that day?! I'm sure there was much speculation and guesswork taking place. Probably even those who had highly respected and trusted Joseph participated in listening and talking about him. That seems to be human nature.
Someone starts whispering and telling us what someone (whom we may respect and trust) did, and we feel so “honored” that they would take us into their confidence, that we listen and participate in their whisperings and gossip. We want them to feel that we have empathy for them, so we give advice and opinions that is not our place to give. The sad thing is, the one doing the confiding is often telling their side of the story in their favor, in order to get our sympathy. Without knowing the truth of what really took place, we get pulled into their tale of woe and then end up accusing the innocent, whose side we have not heard. We forget that we can interrupt and very kindly say, “I'm sorry that you're feeling bad, but this is something you really need to work out with that other person. It's not fair of you to pull me in the middle. But I will pray that this will be resolved in a positive manner.”
And in some cases, the falsely accused may not be in a position to defend themselves. For example, a minister and his wife may have been told something in confidence or be privy to personal information. Then the person who talked to them or acted inappropriately may be under conviction for their wrong doing, and their guilt makes them feel as if everyone knows what's going on in their life. So in order to ease their conscience and make themselves feel better, they go to someone in their church who they know has a very sympathetic and listening ear. They begin talking about the pastor or his wife and telling inaccurate stories. Too often, the person listening begins trying to make that person feel better, so will take the side of the person telling the story. Without knowing all the facts and details of what really occurred, they too begin blaming the pastor and his wife, or other people within the church. The pastor and his wife have to be silent when falsely accused, because what was said was in confidence, and they are not in a position to repeat that information. Or the wrongful act is not something they are at liberty to discuss.
You will notice in the story of Joseph that he didn't speak up and accuse Potipher's wife and try to defend himself. He didn't go to the other servants and try to get their sympathy. Joseph didn't tell Potipher that his wife had tried to seduce him, then lied when he resisted. He held his peace and took what was said about him without defending himself. He took the unjust punishment without fighting back. I believe that was the reason why God continued to bless Joseph and cause him to succeed and prosper! Joseph had the wisdom to let his reputation and integrity speak for itself, and not run to the other servants telling his side of the story, or tell Potipher his side of what had really happened. He knew the truth, so he kept his mouth shut and left the situation in God's hands. We could learn a lot from that!
Potipher's wife held onto Joseph's garment until her husband came home. She told him the same story that she had told the other male servants in her household.
When Potipher heard the story his wife told him about Joseph, he burned with anger. He immediately took Joseph and put him in the prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined.
It's one thing to be punished for a a wrongful act that we've done, but something altogether different to be punished for something we had no part in. Potipher's wife felt scorned because Joseph wouldn't give in to her constant flirting and seduction attempts, so was determined to punish him for daring to resist her.
Slaves were taught to be very subservient and obedient to their masters. They were to honor any request given to them by their owners, without question. Potipher's duties for the king may have taken him away from home for long periods of time. Perhaps his wife had seduced other servants in the past and gotten away with it. It may have made her very angry that Joseph would dare refuse her. Her lies about Joseph, resulted in him being thrown into prison.
Too many people seem to have the mindset that if they follow God and do what's right, then they will never face difficulties, temptations or persecution. That's just not true. We read example after example of the problems individuals had to deal with in the Bible. In the New Testament, especially in Paul's writings, he speaks often about overcoming temptations and enduring persecution. God hasn't promised us a smooth, temptation-free, problem-free life on earth. What He has promised, is to always be with us and give us the strength and endurance to overcome.
Joseph was punished for doing what was right. That doesn't seem fair! But even in the adverse conditions of being in prison, God was with Joseph and blessed him.
Verses 21-23 says, “But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer (warden of the prison). And the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”
Even while serving an undeserving prison sentence, the Lord was with Joseph and caused him to prosper and be a success. Just as God had given Joseph favor with Potipher upon his arrival in Egypt, God was with him now in prison and gave him favor with the prison warden.
There is no place that we can go from God's presence. Wherever we are, God is there. When Joseph was out in the field watching over his father's sheep, God was there. When he was sold into slavery, God was there and placed Joseph in a position of power and authority in Potipher's house. Even when Joseph resisted temptation and was thrown into prison because of the lies of Potipher's wife, God was still there with him.
That same truth is present today. God is with each individual, wherever they may be. He's with us when we're in our home, car, or place of employment. He's there when individuals mess up and end up in jail or prison. God is there when relationships are broken. He's there with us when we are sick, hurt, or dealing with adverse situations. God is a very present help in time of need. Wherever we are, whatever we do, God is there! Even during those times when life may not seem fair and we have to endure hardship, God is there. During those times of difficulties and adverse conditions, may we each remain faithful to God and stay focused on Him. Even when we can't see how it could possibly come to pass, we can have assurance that He is working all things together for our good!
Psalms 139:7-10 “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea. Even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”
Jeremiah 23:23-24 “Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord, “And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the Lord; “Do I not fill heaven and the earth?” says the Lord.
I recently read one of David's Psalms which says to worship God because His mercy endures forever. It describes how great, powerful, and loving God is, and repeats that we should worship Him because His mercy endures forever. We could worship Him because He created the world or because He created each of us or because He took His people out of Egypt. But it says to worship Him because His mercy endures forever.
David had his own reasons to be so thankful for God's mercy. Joseph needed God's mercy, too, but not as forgiveness. He needed comfort and peace. It says volumes about who Joseph was that even as a foreign slave and again as a prisoner accused of chasing after his master's wife, Joseph acted with enough honor that he was trusted and elevated to positions of respect. God must have given him a great peace. And Joseph must have accepted that peace for himself.
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter - softened
5 cups (5-6 medium) Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 baking dish. In a large bowl combine the sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon. With a pastry blender (or use 2 knives or a fork) cut butter into the sugar mixture until crumbly. Layer the thinly sliced apples in baking dish. Sprinkle lemon juice over each layer of apples. Press the sugar mixture evenly over the apples, making sure the edges are well sealed. Bake 50-60 minutes, until apples are tender. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
When my dad married June, after Mama died, three of my sisters were already married. So my other sister and I lived in the family home until she got married. This sister wasn't very brave. One time we were having problems with mice, and had set traps out. The thing was, when a mouse was caught in the trap, she didn't like to empty them, so would try to bribe me to do it. If I refused, then she would throw out mouse, trap, and all. Even then, she wouldn't pick up the mouse trap, but would scoop it up in a dustpan and carry it outside to throw it away. One particular time, an extra fat mouse got caught in a trap in our kitchen. Only thing was, the mouse was caught but wouldn't die. It was trying its best to escape, and was dragging the trap around with it. I wasn't very brave that particular time either, and neither of us wanted to kill it. So we called one of our cousins who lived nearby. He made a big adventure out of it. He brought his rifle over with him, carried the mouse outside, and shot it. He thought it was fun, and told us if that ever happened again to be sure and call him and he'd come take care of it for us. Thankfully, it never happened again!
“Gray hair is a crown of splendor (beauty and glory); it is attained by a righteous life.” Proverbs 16:31
(Hmm, I must have lived a very righteous life the first half of my life, because I started getting gray in my early twenties. But I really didn't think of it as a crown of splendor, beauty or glory!)
Have we told you thanks lately?! We really do appreciate each of you and thank you for reading our weekly newsletter.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon