1 Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had, in house and field. 6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. (Genesis 39:1-6; ESV)
The story of the life of Joseph occupies more than ten chapters of the book of Genesis. It seems that God wants us to know all the details of the faith that perseveres. Joseph resisted hatred, injustice, temptations and maybe the most difficult of all: success, prosperity and power.
From his life we learn:
- faith is not moved by adversity
- faith that persists is not shaken by false accusations
- it is not blurred by promises that never seem to come true
- it is not limited to the present, but projects to the future.
The faith that persists:
- sees the invisible
- believes the impossible
- receives the incredible.
A moment of introspection: None of us have ever faced adversity, or have we? Has our confidence in God ever been "shaken, not stirred" (i.e., devastated versus enlivened and fortified)? Has our forward walk of faith faltered and come to resemble a "?" or frown due to opposition to our showing others the face of Christ, or to our sharing our faith with non-believers? I think of Joseph and his example, to help us understand how to respond to personal attacks or ridicule of our faith. Joseph confronted adversity from his brothers, from Potiphar's wife, as well as (for a time) from Potiphar himself. But his faith remained strong, and you almost could hear him sing within his prison cell:
Glory hallelujah, I shall not be moved
Anchored in Jehovah, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's planted by the water
I shall not be moved.
Joseph's faith persisted in the face of adversity. In this, he was able to continue Standing Strong Through the Storm. A resource by that name is available through the Open Doors web site, at the following internet location:
(https://secure2.convio.net/ccod/site/Ecommerce/539497839?store_id=1901). In persisting in the face of adversity, he also set an example in responding to being jailed and mistreated therein. Pastor Richard Wurmbrand has written a critically important essay on how to prepare for mistreatment and possibly even torture. His essay is entitled "Preparing for the Underground Church" and is contained in a resource published by Voice Of the Martyrs, entitled The Triumphant Church (available from:
https://www2.vombooks.com/qry/qe_store.taf?_function=detail&_peid=866&_id=A7535CC748&_code=P&_nc=c95daf4d18b49268e55623ed6001ddee). These resources would be very important to study, in light of the coming persecution of Christians in the west, and the present persecution of Christians in many countries. Pastor Wurmbrand reminds us that "A Christian never flies except to the devil's throat." (Check out my devotional entitled "Sheep Do Not Run", on the www.christiansincrisis.net web site.)
Yet Joseph also remained true to God, and humble toward his own family--despite his rise to power and the temptations inherent in that power. Success and prosperity often bring with them pain, relenting in face of temptations, heartache, self-centeredness, and more "unexpected" problems. Today, winners of unearned lottery monies have found that success and prosperity do not meet the hopes held by the winners. (1 Timothy 6:10).
His faith was not shaken by false accusations; in this, he was blessed (Matthew 5:11). Consider also 1 Peter 4:14-18: "If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." (1 Peter 4:14) Joseph was falsely accused by Potiphar's wife after he spurned her advances. He accepted punishment of imprisonment, yet even he might have uttered the later words of the prophet Micah, in his cell: "Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light...He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness. (Micah 7:8,9b). Faith shines in these words--despite accusation and insult.
"Faith is not blurred by promises that never seem to come true." Perhaps here, faith is an issue of trusting God. Can we trust Him? Joshua 21:45 tells us "Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled." We may doubt human promises, which are destined to fail, or may be unreliable at best. Divine promises, however, are fulfilled. As Dr. Charles Stanley (www.intouch.org) was recently quoted as saying "One reason we are so prone to doubt is that we fail to see God at work in our circumstances. We asked, and nothing happened. But the Lord is not some cosmic bellhop who jumps in response to our requests. He sees past, present, and future and knows the right time for every answer. His invisible hand is already at work on our behalf--arranging situations to accomplish His will, opening hearts, and preparing us to receive what He wants to give." Doubt, then, seems a matter of faith. Dr. Stanley continues, "To overcome doubts, spend time in the Word to learn God's principles and ways." Faith in God's promises is a faith well exercised; in God's economy, promises made are promises kept. May our faith be clear on that point.
Faith is not limited to the present, but projects to the future. A definition of faith is "an assurance of things hoped for". Jeremiah 29:11, for instance, tells us that "'...I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Through faith in a God that not only sees and knows the past and present, we also see in His Holy Bible and in daily communion with Him, the working out of that hope and future mentioned in the book of Jeremiah. God is trustworthy now and in days to come; how He works His will is evident in the Holy Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." We can not and do not know all things now; yet in faith, we trust God and know that not only are our times in His hands (John 3:35), but we know who holds tomorrow. And He is worthy of our trust.
A persistent faith sees God's mighty hand at work in His creation, in hearts committed to Him, and in lives given over to His Kingship. The evidences of the invisible God are legion; in faith, let us be observant and catch sight of such proofs. A persistent faith believes the impossible; Jesus died and rose from death a redeeming Savior; both Jesus and His disciples performed inexplicable miracles; today, hardened hearts are softened unto salvation by Christ's work among us; the impossible fact of Christ's soon return becomes more and more evident; many 11th hour (deathbed) conversions to Christ are occurring; etc. God is at work today in the impossibilities we see. In faith, we believe these impossibilities. Persistent faith receives the incredible; Joseph's rise to prominence in Egypt was nothing short of incredible. We who count ourselves persons of faith receive that as part of our heritage. David's victory over Goliath was incredible, and we receive that. The response of unbelievers to Christ, today, is incredible in scope; yet we of faith receive this as true to Christ's personage and His nature. With God, the incredible is credible, the unbelievable is believable, and the amazing is part of God's active hand in the world today.
Let's close, by considering two songs of faith--both solidly affirming in not only the present, but also in the future, our resolute faith in the God of all gods, the Name above all names:
Glory Hallelujah, I shall not be moved
Anchored in Jehovah, I shall not be moved
Just like a tree that's planted by the water
I shall not be moved
In His love abiding, I shall not be moved
And in Him confiding, I shall not be moved
I shall not be, I shall not be moved
Though all hell assail me, I shall not be moved
Jesus will not fail me, I shall not be moved
Though the tempest rages, I shall not be moved
On the rock of ages, I shall not be moved
I don't know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day.
And I don't borrow from its sunshine
'Cause the skies might turn to grey.
And I don't worry about the future,
'Cause I know what Jesus said,
And today I'm gonna walk right beside him
'Cause he's the one who knows what is ahead.
There are things about tomorrow
That I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
And each step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb.
And every burden is getting lighter
And all the clouds are silver lined.
And, over there the sun is always shining
And no tears will ever dim the eye
And the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains, they touch the sky.
There are many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
Yes I know who holds my hand.
Christians in Crisis International Ministry
PO Box 293627
Sacramento, CA 95829