Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.
We are still in our study of the problems and distractions of timing. Under the topic of God's timing we have been noting the life of Joseph and all that he went through in order to be prepared for his divine calling. At age 17 he was sold into slavery by his brothers. From ages 18 to 26 he served as a servant in the house of the captain of the body guard, "Potiphar". He was then unjustly accused of attempted rape by Potiphar's wife. She had been unsuccessfully attempting to seduce him for days and finally entered into a bitter state of revenge for being rejected. Hence he spent from ages 27 to 30 in prison.
During the time Mrs. Potiphar was trying to seduce Joseph, GEN 29:7-10, he encountered daily sexual temptations but did not give way to them. He knew that God had a plan for his life and carrying on with someone else's wife was not part of that plan. The believer with a personal sense of destiny knows that if he wants a tidy garden so to speak, he must leave no room for weeds. If you do not want your hands burned, keep them out of the fire! And so Joseph does not give in to these temptations. He was a handsome man and being seduced became part of his testing ground. We will all be tempted in different areas, but temptation does not necessitate sin. It is only when we give in to the temptation and follow through with action that temptation gives birth to sin. If you plan to resist the temptation you must.
* Not be weakened by your situation.
* Not be deceived by the persuasion.
* Not be gentle with your emotions, for they will plead for your understanding!
* Not be confused with the immediate results.
Self control is always in view and is the ground work for greatness. This is not to say if you have given into to sexual temptations in the past that you are doomed. Grace is the power to change; i.e., rebound, recover, and resist further temptation. As long as you are alive there is always the opportunity to move forward in God's plan. This means there is no room for guilt or regrets. We cannot change the past but we can control our present decisions. God's grace always seeks for restoration rather than condemnation. But this requires understanding. All good decisions must be made from a position of strength and strength is based on knowledge. Without understanding the divine viewpoint of the subject in view we will never reach the fulfillment of God's design concerning that subject. The world will continually lie to us about the direction we should take in any given situation. If you say you love and trust in God you must have intimate knowledge of His character, His grace, His plan and His timing in order to execute your faith and trust in Him.
Joseph did what was right and yet we see him suffer for it by being sent to prison! It does not appear to be such a good deal and the believer might even question where God is through it all, but remember we do not see the overall picture or plan as God sees it. That is where faith comes in! And faith cannot be implemented in one's life without patience. We will see that Joseph will be a better man for enduring undeserved suffering. It will serve to temper him and stir him toward the possession of great leadership abilities. There are three categories of injustice that will face the believer who is advancing in God's plan:
1) Undeserved suffering or mistreatment from family, MAT 10:35-36
2) Unexpected restriction from circumstances.
3) Untrue accusations from people.
Joseph had them all! It could have been very easy for him to question God's presence through this time but he knew that God never left him but was continually at work in him. We see that first Joseph found favor in Potiphar's sight, GEN 39:2-4, until Potiphar was wrongly influenced by his wife's lies and lost his professional discernment. Then we see God with Joseph in that he found favor in the sight of the chief jailer, GEN 39:21. While imprisoned, God became very real to Joseph, cf PSA 119:71. We must be open to the fact that our greatest moments could very well be found during times of affliction. Through all Joseph's ordeals God was with him. In each crisis Joseph was being trained in a different aspect of leadership. And the continued integrity of Joseph and his use of the problem solving devices under the principle of suffering for blessing prepares him for his great future.
God promotes the believer one step at a time. One does not go from a spiritual peasant to a spiritual king overnight. The believer must develop the capacity! This takes time and that is just what the majority of believers are dead set against... spending time w-a-i-t-i-n-g. FAITH and PATIENCE is the key. How you handle each test will determine your capacity for blessing. In Joseph's case we see that he has passed the people test of family members hating and envying him. He has passed the prosperity test in the palace of Potiphar. He has passed the temptation test in the seductive advances of Potiphar's wife. He has passed the injustice test of being imprisoned as an innocent person. Through it all we do not find Joseph whining and complaining about his lot in life. Why? Because complaining in adversity is blasphemy against the plan and timing of God. You cannot have God's happiness while harboring resentment toward injustice. If you desire to go forward in the plan of God, God will bring in situations which offer humility, be it genuinely accepted or enforced humility. And as long as you react to injustice you will never appropriate your personal sense of destiny. God only promotes those who are willing to take the position of slave/servant to the word of God. It is part of the unique predestination of the church age for the believer to become great and glorify God. BUT, greatness does not come from having everything go right! God trains us in humble circumstances not via instant success. In this way God prevents our limitations from becoming a hindrance to us as we grow spiritually. As humans, we are limited, weak, and finite, and it's so easy for us to fall apart and fail. What must be foremost in our minds is the source of our strength... and that is God! God, not man, is He who we are to place our trust in. JER 17:5 tells us that cursed is the man who puts his trust in his own flesh which includes others.
God often approaches us in ways we do not anticipate. If we react we lose out on the lesson. If you desire to become great in the spiritual realm you had better learn how to handle being mistreated. Joseph had been faithful and so God now honors his faithfulness in the little things by using dreams to promote him, GEN 40:7-23; 41:1-14. Now, the concept of the dreams of the chief cup bearer and the chief baker was to get Joseph out of prison in three days. BUT in GEN 40:14-15 Joseph fails this test and resorts to trusting in man's influence rather than God's influence. Joseph has done well so far only to now fail, proving to us that we never arrive! Never think that you have arrived at a point of being beyond failing in some area. Such thinking (pride) comes before a fall. We, being human, can all fail in a second of time! So Joseph asks the chief cup-bearer to keep him in mind and mention him to the Pharaoh and because of this he remains in prison for another two full years!
Lesson being, no system of human power can get Joseph out of jail. No system of human power can get you out of your situation. God keeps Joseph there until he learns the lesson. We must remember that the battle is the Lords, 1SA 17:47! And though the Lord might use people to carry along His plan He is the one doing the work, not them. No one but God needs to know "your side of the story". Defending yourself or self justification means being out of the plan and timing of God. Our timing and our ways only lead us to a prolonged stay in a bad situation. Example: Joseph's continued residence in prison for another two full years. Joseph could have been the prime minister age 28 but it was postponed by his reliance on man to the age of 30. The lesson here is, being under patient expectation is mandatory for every man and woman of God! The Lord wants us to wait and develop faith in Him hence He uses the delays in our lives to construct character and train us to trust in Him. Greatness is not constructed quickly. Joseph is being trained by God to be a great leader, but God does not use great leaders who depend on man or look for quick solutions. It took two full years for Joseph to learn this lesson, and 13 years to prepare him for his calling. It took Abraham and Sarah 100 years to learn that lesson. It took Moses 40 years of post-graduate work to be prepared for his calling. The Prophet Samuel anointed David as king a the age of 17 yet David found himself hiding-out from the wrath and jealousy of Saul for twenty years before he became king.
To become filled with the wisdom of God must be the believer's number one priority and since it does not come overnight it requires great patience. Through it all, man is not to be relied on. Your relationship with God is between you and God. No man can promote you in your relationship with God, only you can do that, ROM 9:16; PSA 146:3. So, at the age of 30 Joseph became the prime minister of Egypt and for eighty years (till the age of his death at 110) he lives in fantastic happiness. He has learned to depend on God as his source of strength and happiness, not man. In fact, if there is someone in your life who you depend on for your happiness, be sure that God will bring it down. In God's plan for our lives that which can be shaken will be in order that, that which cannot be shaken will remain (i.e. those things of eternal value), -HEB 12:27. Until life's circumstances bring you to a place of total helplessness you are never going to appreciate or begin to understand the grace of God. It is God's grace which makes man great!! That is the bottom line! And man has nothing to do with God's grace. It's all the work and glory of God.