There’s been a lot of talk lately about the fiscal cliff. Though the feuding over that issue seems to be behind us for now, most are uncertain as to what 2013 will bring. We don’t even know what tomorrow holds. One thing is certain, though. In the world we will have trouble. That said, I’d like to assure you of something else: God is for you! Not only is He for you, His desire is that you would prosper in 2013!
In support of this idea, consider an unlikely Bible hero who suffered on every front. He was
He IS For You!
beaten by his brothers then sold into slavery. Shortly thereafter, he was imprisoned on false charges. All odds were against him, yet Scripture calls him a success. It says that he prospered in all these things. Let’s take a look.
“Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.” (Genesis 39:1-4)
Joseph is referred to as a success in verse two. Verse three goes on to say he was prosperous. Is that how you see it? What does Joseph have to show for himself? It seems his life is rapidly going downhill. He’s gone from riches to rags. He has nothing. He’s hit bottom! Yet the Bible calls him a success? Prosperous?
By most standards, Joseph would be considered a victim. If not, who really is? But that’s not at all how his story is told. On the contrary, we find a conqueror. And we quickly discover why: The Lord was with Joseph (verse 2). This was the secret to his success.
The word used in the original for “success” was “tsalach” which literally means to push forward in the Hebrew language. This same word is translated as “prosper” in verse three. The idea here is that Joseph pushed forward because the Lord was with Him. That’s the biblical view of success. That’s the story of Joseph. When life piled on him, he pushed forward. When under pressure, he pushed forward. When brought down as low as one can go, he pushed forward.
What gave Joseph the will and desire to keep pushing is obvious. When things looked down, he looked up. Joseph clearly recognized that the Lord was with him. He didn’t blame God, or doubt Him, or distance himself from Him. Pushing forward and pressing into God is what gave Joseph the ability to overcome his myriad of misfortunes.
One question many want answered when times are tough is:
We may never know why. The one thing we do know, though, is that God is good! And because He is good, we also know He has a good purpose for everything He allows. As I look back at my darkest seasons, I didn’t fully understand at the time why God allowed them. I now see how the Lord used each of these trials for good. He was with me the entire time. Once we recognize this, we come out better. If not, we end up bitter.
As we consider the story of Joseph, not only did he recognize the Lord was with him, so did Potiphar! “So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.” (4) Had Joseph not pushed ahead, had he been a quitter, would he have found favor? Had he been a grumbler or a whiner or a hothead, would he have found favor? Surely, God would not have been glorified. Nor would Joseph have prospered under such circumstances.
It begins with recognizing that God is with you. Should we look to Him in times of travail, we will surely prosper. We must trust Him and push forward. This doesn’t guaranty that life will get easier. It didn’t for Joseph. Things seemingly went from bad to worse. After being falsely charged with rape, he was tossed into prison. Yet, even then, Joseph pushed forward.
“Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.” (Genesis 39: 21-23)
There’s that word ‘prosper’ again. Now, when I think of success, I don’t think of a prison inmate. Because Scripture takes us behind bars, I can only conclude that God must view success differently than I do. As a matter of a fact, the only time the Bible refers to Joseph as prosperous is when he’s a slave, and again when he’s a prisoner. I call that hitting rock bottom. Joe is as low as one can go. Stripped of everything. He has nothing, not even his freedom! But because the Lord was with Joseph (verse 21) he pushed forward just as he had done as a slave. As a result, he prospered.
As we enter 2013, does it appear that you’re worse off than before? Bills higher? Income lower? Family issues worse? Mounting conflict at work? Physical health declining? Legal problems? Perhaps you’re nearing bankruptcy, or headed for divorce, or headed for the jailhouse like Joseph. Do as he did. Push forward! God is with you!
Thankfully, Joseph’s story doesn’t end with him rotting away in the dungeon. After interpreting Pharoah’s dream, he was exalted to a place of prominence.
“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:39-40)
How’d Joseph get to this place? Recognizing that God was with him, he pushed forward! I encourage you to do likewise. Whatever 2013 may bring, push forward and press into God! And have a prosperous New Year!
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Calvary Chapel of Austin Church
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