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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

He has not forgotten

As the Cupbearer left the prison, he gave a thumbs up. “It won’t be long now. You’ll be out soon!” For the first time in a long time, Joseph’s hopes were surging. 

This was surely a “God” thing right? He sent this erstwhile cupbearer across his path in the prison. The cupbearer had a dream, and God gave Joseph the meaning. The cupbearer would be freed and retain his position. 

It happened just as God said. He urged the cupbearer to plead his case before Pharaoh. “Remember me and show me kindness. Mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”

Every morning he work up with anticipation. Would this be the day? He expected any day now to walk out of here. 

But days and weeks pass and nothing happens. A sad commentary is Genesis 40:23; “The Chief Cupbearer, however did not remember Joseph, he forgot him.” 
One disappointment is bad enough, but when you get hit numerous times it can take a toll. It can become a mindset. You get used to being let down, the second option, forgotten about, ignored. 

You learn new habits: keep your expectations low, close yourself in, tuck in another hurt. After all, you have to protect yourself from another hurt. 

And it’s just a short step from disappointment with people to disappointment with God. I prayed passionately since January for God to move in my favor. That He would change people’s hearts toward me. 

Do you think Joseph prayed passionately in the prison? “Please God, make the Cupbearer remember me. Get me out of here. Move on my behalf.” 

Yes, God did use the Cupbearer, and yes, He did answer Joseph’s prayers. Just not in the way Joseph imagined. It was “beyond what we can ask for or imagine” wasn’t it? 

In my opinion, disappointment has to be a favorite weapon of the enemy. Perhaps there are those who are indifferent; they can just brush it off. 

But I’m sure they are in the minority. And believe me, I’m not one of them. 

The truth of the matter is, if you are walking around on this earth, eventually you will face disappointment. It is inevitable. 

So where does our security lie? 

The chief cupbearer however did not remember Joseph, he forgot him.” This verse has been an anchor for me to hold onto throughout the last six months.

Yes, people can forget. People can be fickle. Was the Cupbearer purposely out to get Joseph? No I’m sure he wasn’t. He forgot. 

I forget. I let people down. Do you? 

You may feel completely forgotten, that even God has forgotten. But this is not so. 

He does not treat you as the world does. He alone is your resting place. Your security. 

Psalm 27:10 says, “ Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me”  Isaiah 49:16, “See I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are ever before me.” 

Tomorrow is unknown to us. But we can walk in confidence and authority
because God is in our tomorrows. He is already there and will be sufficient 
for us. 

He will answer in a way not imagined or even asked for. Trust Him in this 
and see if He won’t prove true. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The pregnant pause

Pregnant Pause: A pause that gives the impression that it will be followed by something significant

Since we have a DVR, I love the pause button. It comes in quite handy when a interruption breaks up a great show or scene. Instead of missing out, I can pick up the remote and click pause. After tending to the interruption, I can click play and pick up right where I left off. 

Needless to say, this has transformed my TV viewing. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could apply this to life? If we could pause those nasty interruptions that barge into our lives? Better yet, if we could click play and go back to the much longed for days we had before? A nice thought, but alas it can never be. 

I read the definition of a pregnant pause this morning. The pause I’m in right now doesn’t feel like a pregnant pause. I honestly feel sometimes nothing significant will come from this.  Perhaps you feel the same way about yours. 
Do you think Joseph felt that his situation was a pregnant pause? We all know that yes, something very significant happened at the end. But in the middle of a pause, the outlook can be quite grim sometimes. 

Somewhere along the way, Joseph began to see that God had him and this situation well in hand. Genesis 45:5-8 reveals his awesome faith in his God. Listen to what he said when he revealed himself to his brothers:

5 “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.u

Reading this really elevates your faith doesn’t it?  When you know your purpose and whose hand is on your life, the interruptions of life will not sway you.
It also means that the pauses of life aren’t wasted seasons. We don’t just endure this “wasted” season of our lives until favorable conditions return. There isn’t a pause in His presence, His grace, in His purpose for us. 

God is working now. He is preparing our hearts. Changing us from the inside out. Easing the bitterness out of the wound, and creating a tender heart. He is blessing others through us now. Yes even now in this pregnant pause. 

Joseph was a blessing to his master, and to his fellow prisoners. God used him powerfully in the middle of the pause. But you and I have to let Him do this don’t we? It’s alway a choice isn’t it? 

I don’t always want to choose the right way. The old twisted sister would love to wallow around in self pity, moan and groan to whoever will listen about my sad lot in life, indulge in those ugly thoughts, and just be miserable to everybody. 

Like David, I’m speaking to myself the truth. That my God is still at work now. His purpose for me has not ended. I can be a blessing now. 

This isn’t just a pause, an interruption. It’s a pregnant pause. Because of the faithfulness of my God, something significant will happen. 

the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them-- the LORD, who remains faithful forever.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The life change

A coworker of mine was making her daily trip to the post office when she slipped on some ice, fell badly on her ankle, resulting in a horrible break. A simple trip to the post office led to being off her feet for a few months. 

Given a choice, none of us would go for a dramatic life change. I’m a routine kind of gal. Yea, I don’t mind doing off the wall stuff sometimes. I’ve tried new things. I love new adventures. But hey, I chose to do so. 

It’s just when it’s not of my choosing that I start having issues. 

Joseph’s life was shook up dramatically, wouldn’t you say? He was going to check up on his brothers and ends up almost dead. 

Traveling with the caravan to Egypt, Joseph had no clue where this journey would end up. A part of Egyptian royalty? The man who saved a country and his people from severe drought? 

No this would not even be on his radar. Perhaps he felt his life is over at this point. Where was God in all of this?

Yet it is because of God’s hand on his life that he does have an awesome ending. We might be in awful circumstances, treated unfairly, in a journey not of our choosing. But because of our God, because of His hand in our life, this journey will end in our favor and for the good of others.

Joseph thrived during his time as a servant, and even in the prison. Genesis 39:2 says “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered.” verse 21, “The Lord was with him...and granted him favor”.

So much so even his master and the jailer took notice. God never left him. 

Even in the midst of ugliness, of unfairness, of change; I don’t have to be ugly. I don’t have to be in despair. Because my story isn’t over. I will thrive, because of His hand on my life. I can be a blessing to those around me. 

I leave you today with this scripture in Isaiah 43. Hope it encourages you as much as it does me. 

But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A good attitude?

“You have such a good attitude”. He looked at me sympathetically. Ordinarily, I would smile generously and feel warm, fuzzy thoughts that someone would take notice. But now, after a couple of months of struggling with the oncoming day when I would have to leave my job and move to another position, I didn’t take it so kindly. 

I grimaced a smile, muttered thanks, and turned away. “What good did it do me? This positive attitude?” It didn’t seem to do good at all. Yep I was indulging in a pity party. Please leave me alone while I retreat and lick my wounds in misery. You probably never been there right?? Yea, I thought so.

I was in complete shock when told I’d be transferred out of my present job. I didn’t see it coming. To be honest, it kind of broke my heart. It was a dream job for me. I loved my job, loved my boss and my co workers. Now, my job would be to clean the office I previously worked in. No, I am not kidding! It was a hard pill to swallow. 

I spent the first month or so wallowing around in disbelief, hurt and anger. Then there came a point when I began to look outward instead of focusing on myself. I sought my Lord’s face, and enlisted my friends to pray. It wasn’t long before He lead me to Joseph. The Joseph in the book of Genesis. 

Joseph, Jacob’s favored son. The one who had a special, beautiful coat made for him. Who was doted on, at the expense of his other brothers. Who had vivid dreams given to him by God Almighty of a bright future ahead of him.  
This same Joseph now found himself sold as a slave material and is led along bound in a caravan heading for Egypt. Add to this misery the stabbing pain of betrayal committed by your own blood brothers, and you have all the material for a angry, bitter, hardened heart. 

Joseph’s life had shifted hugely. As he was led off in the distance, you had to feel that this was the end of the story. His life was over, the unknown stretched out ahead. And those dreams God gave him? Well, we all know that can’t happen now... And where was God while all these ugly things happened to him? 

You and I know how it ended. But when you find yourself helpless in the face of a dramatic change, it can be quite hard to see any silver linings. It’s oh so easy to feed upon those ominous thoughts that the enemy of our soul so eagerly puts before us.  The more we feast upon the tasty but sickly stuff, the worst we feel. 

On the long journey to Egypt Joseph had to struggle with all this. And probably continued to do so afterwords when he worked for Potipher. But how long does those raw emotions remain just below the surface? You’re okay now, and then something is a trigger point and you feel it all again.

How long before the raw wound is healed and we don’t feel the stabbing pain anymore? 

I guess what I’m saying is that ultimately it is a choice. Do we want to remain in our misery. Do we want to continue to wallow in the ugliness? Or do we choose to put that aside and turn to our God. Do we trust Him to give us what we have need of? Will He be enough? 

I have to choose daily sometimes to turn away from the ugly thoughts and turn to my God. I have to choose not to vent and whine. Because really, does it make it feel any better? 

I don’t want to walk around with a chip on my shoulder. It isn’t all about me and my issues. Other people are affected by my attitude. 

Joseph had to struggle with all of this. Somehow he settled it within himself. The Bible tells us clearly that God’s hand was upon Joseph and He granted him favor wherever he was. 

I want to encourage those of you that are in an ugly situation. God’s got this, and He has you. You will come through this stronger. You will once again testify to His faithfulness. His hand is still on your life. All is not gloom and doom. I can’t see beyond my nose, but my God sees it all. He’s got this!