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Faithful in the Past
Joseph remained humble because he knew there was a mission ahead that God had put him on. He wasn't going to give up on seeing his dreams become reality. He wasn't going to let the blessings of God make him arrogant and undermine what he knew God ultimately wanted to do through him. It can be tempting for us to have the illusion of superiority when we are blessed that feeds our arrogance, but we must fight against it with the power of God. When you get overlooked, it's an opportunity for you to choose and grow in humility, like Joseph. When you study Scripture, you begin to recognize this pattern that when people remember how God was faithful to them in the past, they're faithful to God in the present. But when they forget how God was faithful to them in the past, they are unfaithful to God in the present. This is a theme throughout all of Scripture. It's why in Exodus chapter 20, God says that when anything good happens, they are to build an altar there to remember how they were blessed. It's also why when Jesus, the night he's arrested to be executed on our behalf, shared a last meal with his disciples, and he said to eat bread and drink some wine to remember the sacrifice he was about to make. In our hectic and busy lives, it can be easy to forget to intentionally remember how God has continuously blessed our lives, even through our struggles and difficulties. Remembering how God has been faithful in all circumstances in the past helps us remain hopeful and assured of God’s faithfulness in the toughest situations that we are currently experiencing. Reflection/Discussion Question: What are some examples of God's faithfulness in the past that you can recall to remind you of his faithfulness to come?
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Point Back to God
Genesis 39:2-4 states, “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.” This part of Joseph's story shows us the trait he has that we need to copy.  To give us some context, the word for God used in the original passage was Yahweh, which is the Hebrew name for God.  The generic name of God would've been Elohim. Yahweh specifically meant the God of the Hebrews or the God of the Jewish people. The passage indicates that Potiphar realized that the Jewish God was who was with Joseph. Remember that Potiphar was an Egyptian who would have worshiped many gods, and he would not have worshipped Yahweh. So how did Potiphar realize that Yahweh is the one blessing Joseph? It would seem that only way that this verse could be true is if Joseph directly told Potiphar about his God, Yahweh.  The same may very well of someone in your life; someone could be your Potiphar. The only way this person will know and learn about the one true God is by you telling them directly. When you give God all the credit for the blessings and successes you’ve experienced, it points lost people to your Heavenly Father.  Reflection/Discussion Question: Who in your life can you point to God by crediting Him for your blessings?
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Feeding Our Ego
Scripture and examples in our own life show us that God’s blessings can easily become distractions from the will of God when we allow them to feed our ego. Joseph was wise enough to not fall into this trap, even at a young age. Being put in charge of Potiphar’s entire household and affairs could have caused Joseph to become proud and boastful about the status that he had reached and the influence he now possessed, especially considering how he was betrayed and sold into slavery by his own brothers. Genesis 39:5 says, “From the time he put him 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 Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.” Yet, Joseph continues to keep his focus on God and how God is blessing him and providing him with these opportunities to rise in power and influence. He doesn't allow the blessings of God to feed his ego.  It can become so simple for us to take credit for the blessings of God in our own lives sometimes, which can lead to boasting that Scripture warns us against. In Jeremiah 9:23-24, we read, “This is what the Lord says: Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” This passage demonstrates that boasting about any of our gifts, talents, or possessions is foolish. We should only be proud that we have a loving and deep relationship with the Creator of the Universe who blesses us with all the things that the rest of the world would boast about.  Reflection/Discussion Question: What blessing in your life are you tempted to boast about?
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Blessings Can Become Distractions
When we look at Joseph's story, we discover that there are a couple ways blessings can become distractions. One way is when the blessing feels spiritual. In Genesis 39:2, it says, “The Lord was with Joseph.” Joseph had God with him, which is obviously a good thing. In fact, there are only six people throughout all of Scripture whom the Bible states that the Lord was with that person, and Joseph is the only person in the entire Bible about whom it says that phrase more than one time. It might have been tempting for Joseph to think that this situation in Potiphar's home must be the blessing that he had dreamed about. In fact, it is tempting for all of us for something that feels spiritual to distract you from the will of God.  For example in 1 Samuel 4, the Israelites go fight their enemies, the Philistines, and they lose. When they come back from defeat, they think it must be because God's presence wasn't with them. So they go get the Ark of the Covenant where God's presence dwells. They believe that if they go into battle, with God's presence with them, then they'll defeat their enemy. So, they go back into battle with the Ark, and you know what happens? Philistines defeat them again, and this time the Philistines capture the Ark too. This move felt spiritual, but the Israelites weren't actually humbling themselves to God; they weren't doing the will of God even though it felt spiritual. It would be similar to if you said that you need to attend church to fix your marriage problems. That isn’t going to work, because what's going to fix your marriage problems is humbling yourself and doing hard work where you dig into some shame, pain, arrogance, and humbly serve your spouse no matter what they do on the other end. Just attending church is not going to fix your marriage, even though it feels spiritual. A blessing can distract you because it feels spiritual.  Reflection/Discussion Question: When has a blessing felt spiritual in your life but it ended up distracting you from God's will?