Problem Solved

Genesis 41:33-40

33“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

37The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

39Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Introduction

Here’s a problem. Obey God but or take vacation. Is it possible to obey God while on vacation? What’s your grand vacation plan? Where do you wish to go? Asia or Europe? What’s your plan if you encounter problems? Do you have solutions? Have you heard about the mysterious death of tourists?

What is the latest tragedy? Tourists died in a popular destination.  But still, tragic news cannot stop curiosity. “Curiosity killed the cat,” so they say.

People take vacation to reflect upon their life or future. They take a break to find solution to problems. Someone advised, “You need relevant advices, listen to successful individuals, pick up some of their principles, theories, ideologies or philosophies, and apply them to your situation or concern. Great!

The challenge is: Which advice is best applied to my personal problem?

We need guidance and godly wisdom. Would you desire godly wisdom?

If you’ve accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, you’ve actually received wisdom from God. To activate your godly wisdom, pray that Christ lead and guide you.

It says in 1 Corinthians 1:23-25, 23We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Joseph trusted in the Lord, and he was given wisdom to interpret dreams.

The wisdom given to Joseph was perfectly fitting to the position Pharaoh assigned him. Joseph advised Pharaoh what must be done in preparation for the great abundance and imminent the problem of severe famine.

1. Advise

33“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

After Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, he told Pharaoh that God has firmly decided to bring 7 years of great abundance and 7 years of severe famine not just in the land of Egypt by also in the entire world. After he advised about a plan to prepare for the abundance and famine, Pharaoh saw Joseph’s wisdom.

Are there specific areas or aspects of life in which wisdom is applicable?

The distribution of wisdom is appropriated according to the spiritual gift we received so that each believer has unique participation in the kingdom of God. By faith in Christ, we received spiritual gift and wisdom from God appropriately.

One may receive wisdom in teaching, preaching, doing practical works (works in the office, inside or outside the building). Still others may have received wisdom to be effective in social services, leadership or handling finances.

It requires wisdom to manage abundance or solve scarcity of supply. And God gave Joseph wisdom to manage and solve the impending severe famine. When asked: “Why does a loving God not give equal share of wealth to all?”

Ask for godly wisdom to manage abundance, and you’ll see that you’re blessed.

The 7 years of great abundance and the 7 years of severe famine should teach us that we certainly need godly wisdom so that we may handle not just abundant supplies but also the blessed life that God may allow us to have.

King Saul vs. King David

The lifestyle of King Saul reveals lack of wisdom how to handle blessed life God gave him, in comparison, the lifestyle of King David proves godly wisdom.

Both Saul and David rose from obscurity. They were unknown individuals and not very popular figures before they were blessed to become kings of Israel. Saul came from Benjamin tribe and his clan was the least among Benjamites.

When Prophet Samuel invited to have dinner in the high place, Saul replied in 1 Samuel 9:21, 21But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin?

And after he became king of Israel, Saul did whatever he wanted to do and disregarded the command of the Lord that Samuel told him. The foolishness of King Saul became more sensational when the Lord anointed and installed David as successor to the throne which was best summarized in 1 Samuel 13:13-14.

13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.14But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

Prophet Samuel told King Saul that disobedience to God is foolishness.

David became king eventually, just as the Lord told Saul through Prophet Samuel. David had his share of delinquency but he obeyed God. And, the Lord promised and allowed his descendants to reign as kings. How did David gain godly wisdom that Saul failed to acquire? David said in Psalm 119:105-106,

105Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. 106I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws.

David’s decision was guided by God’s word. He followed God’s word like sheep follow shepherd’s voice. In contrast, Saul followed his inclination in making decisions. He desired to be praised for his efforts, and followed what others say.

Christ is the Word of God who was born as human Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world who guides our pilgrimage in this dark world. We can seek His help. We can find rest in Christ if we let His teaching be our guide for righteous lifestyle or decision. When Christ’s righteousness leads us and prevails in all decisions we make, we can experience rest far better than grand vacation you can think of.

Taking vacation in popular tourist spots may offer temporary excitement but one may still worry of possible accident or tragedy waiting unexpectedly. When we let Christ reigns, rule in our life, we’ve got joy and peace and no worry.

Of course, it also requires godly wisdom to agree and believe it’s true.

It says in 1 Corinthians 1:30, 30It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

It is foolishness not to abide, not to live by the righteous teaching of Christ.

After Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, advised a plan to manage abundant food supply and to solve the impending scarcity of food supplies in the ancient world, it exemplified a godly wisdom, and Pharaoh discerned it.

Wisdom does not mature overnight. It took several years before Joseph matured in wisdom. What did he do? When his siblings sold him as slave, when he was accused and imprisoned, or when the chief cupbearer temporarily forgot him, he was sad maybe, but Joseph did not hold grudge against his oppressors.

It says in Proverbs 9:10, 10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

‘Fear of the Lord’ caused Joseph to be righteous before God. When we struggle with consistency of obeying God, does it show ‘lack of fear of the Lord?” Have you obeyed the Lord at one time then ignore Him at other times?

It’s possible that godly wisdom is still in the process of reaching maturity, just yet.

Joseph gradually grew in wisdom. When he resolved not to sin against the Lord, it showed godly wisdom. Accordingly, Joseph was 17-year old when he was sold as slave. He was 30-year old when he ruled in Egypt. As slave, he was promoted to manage his master’s property. Accused and imprisoned, he was promoted to manage prisoners, then, promoted to manage an entire nation.

Those 13-years of ups and downs served as preparation for Joseph to the office assigned him. And, Pharaoh acknowledged his exceptional godly wisdom.

2. Acknowledge

37The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

To be filled with the Spirit of God is the foremost qualification for leaders. Pharaoh sensed that Joseph had it. Do you agree that God gave discernment so that Pharaoh acknowledged the exceptional godly wisdom Joseph had? What did Joseph practically do to grow in wisdom? What practical preparation Joseph had for such gargantuan and great task as administrator of the entire nation of Egypt?

Remember that Joseph was the favorite son of his father Jacob. He had privileges that his siblings envied of and sold him as slave. But he’s promoted to manage his master’s properties and given freedom to do whatever he wished to do but Joseph never took advantage of his freedom to escape or enrich his self.

When his master’s wife seduced him, he responded in Genesis 39:8-9,8“With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

Joseph’s godly wisdom was apparent when he resolved not to do wicked things and not to sin against God. Godly character proves godly wisdom. We’ve to develop godly wisdom in preparation for the design God has prepared for us.

It says in Ephesians 2:10, 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Daniel

The storyline of Joseph’s life has similarity to Daniel. Both were forced to leave their home country against their will. Both were promoted as administrators in foreign lands. Joseph resolved not sin against God. Daniel 1:8 says, 8Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.

Everything offered to Daniel was free. It’s a privilege but decided against it, why? Refused the temptation of royal indulgence, Daniel showed godly character and godly wisdom, and he’s promoted as administrator of Babylonian kingdom.

Likewise, Joseph refused temptation when he was seduced, and he grow matured and developed godly character so that he was not tempted to enrich himself when he was appointed as administrator of the Egyptian nation.

3. Appoint

39Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Joseph had dreams that his brothers will bow down to him, and they sold him as slave to prevent his dream from fulfillment. Was it God’s plan for Joseph?

If his brothers treated him fairly, he stayed in Canaan and never went to Egypt. The oppressions God allowed turned out to for his own good. They were part of the script for the fulfillment of God’s plan. If we live a lifestyle pleasing to God, and resolve not to sin against Him, God turns troubles for our good. Agree?

Do you believe that it applies to us what’s promised in Romans 8:28-29?

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.

The blueprint, the grand design of God for believers is to be conformed to the image of Christ or to have similar essential nature of the Lord Jesus. If we have a mindset similar to Christ, we obey whatever the Lord tells us to do.

Jesus declared in John 14:23-24, 23Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

Problem: Can we obey God when our human inclination is to indulge ourselves?

We wish to obey but also wish for vacation or adventure of a lifetime, right?

When you hear God’s call for you to go for a mission trip or even on short-term basis, don’t ignore it. Pray that God would prepare you convincingly.

Our mission theme for this year is inspired by the Lord’s instruction to Jacob in Genesis 31:3, 3Then the Lord said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”

Jacob left his home country, immigrated to Paddan Aram, raised a family and accumulated properties. After many years, God told him to return to Canaan.

Immigrants like Jacob leave to explore beyond their country of origin.

Have you heard God calling you to go back to your country of origin, and share God’s love for your relatives and friends? If you sense a call to join “Vision 2020” short-term mission but not very sure of what to do, approach our church leaders or mission team, and tell them what you need to know or prepare for.

You may not be called to go international but called locally or domestically. You wish to share the good news of Christ to family members, friends or officemates, but you sense that you are not prepared for it, approach our church leaders or mission team, and tell them what you need to know or prepare.

          Christ’s Disciples: We are commissioned to make disciples. Pray and ask God to be filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We can maximize our blessings as Christ’s disciples when Christ prevails in our heart and mind so that we spend precious resources and time in much more productive curiosity.

Obedience to Christ is vacation while in mission. Problem solved!

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