Successful Joseph

Genesis 39:13-23

13When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

16She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 19When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Introduction

Everyone wants to be successful. People see your success just like an iceberg.  They may see your accomplishment but not the series of failures and disappointments you’ve gone through or your discipline, hard work, dedication and persistence. Most often, we also wish to be successful. Be prepared, learn, expect and accept that there are intangibles and invisible factors to success.

If you have inherited great wealth from your parents, would you consider yourself successful? You did nothing but accept your inheritance. If you can buy a diploma from a prestigious university, would consider yourself successful? The real essence of success is considered or evaluated at the completion of activity and not at the beginning. Therefore, can anyone be successful doing nothing?

So, how can we succeed if the Lord’s instruction implies doing nothing in Psalm 46:10, 10Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth?

To be still and know that the Lord is God, does it mean doing nothing? Do you interpret it as just to sit in the corner, wait and watch things to happen before our eyes? If we do nothing, how can we be successful? If we exert much effort how can we be still and know that the Lord is God? It seems contradictory, right?

It’s paradoxical! Contradictory but true. The Lord gave success to Joseph in whatever he did. So, where is the idea of ‘be still’ when Joseph did something?

Joseph prospered when he was assigned to manage all properties of Potiphar but he was accused of wrongdoing.

1. Accusation

13When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

Joseph was handsome and well-built, and Potiphar’s wife desired to sleep with him. Joseph refused her but when they were alone in the house, Potiphar’s wife grab Joseph’s cloak and invited him to bed. Joseph left his cloak and ran away from temptation. Potiphar’s wife was frustrated. She screamed for help and told her household servants that Joseph tried to take advantage of her.

Surely, Joseph taking advantage of Potiphar’s wife was a lie. This scheme is still used by shameless individuals with corrupted mindsets. And most often, innocent individuals striving to live decent lifestyle are victimized, like Joseph.

Have you ever wondered, why would a loving and caring God allow you to be accused of wrongdoings when you try to be honest at workplace? Did Joseph ask God why he was accused when he decided not to sin against the Lord?

When Potiphar’s wife invited Joseph to bed, Joseph firmly answered her in Genesis 39:9, 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 had strongly resolved not to take part of the wicked idea of Potiphar’s wife. But when they were alone in the house and Potiphar’s wife tried to temp Joseph. When she grabbed his cloak, Joseph ran out of the house very quickly and left his robe behind. Just imagine that Joseph felt like his cloak was contaminated with infectious virus when Potiphar’s wife held onto his cloak.

Joseph escaped from temptation but he was put in trouble all the more. Why did God allow Joseph to be accused of wrongdoing? Did you ever have similar experience? Have you been accused of wrongdoings? When we resolve to obey God but all we’ve got is trouble we cannot control, what should we do?

Listen: When we decide to live a lifestyle pleasing to God, but things or events become unpleasant without our knowledge, and we just can’t handle or manage them anymore, watch out! It is when we are helpless that God’s grace becomes more apparent. The Lord may have been redirecting things and events for our favor. Be prayerful! Ask God to increase your faith and hope in Him.

It says in Psalm 37:1-9, 1Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; 2for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. 3Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: 6He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. 7Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. 8Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. 9For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

Again, unbelievers cannot understand why King David advised us to wait patiently upon the Lord when things are becoming out of control. Our tendency when we are facing problem is to do whatever is necessary. That’s right! There are many possible decisions you can think of. But first, ask the Lord for wisdom to select the appropriate one. Don’t just decide randomly if there’s still time to pray.

Joseph did his best to be faithful, dutiful and diligent manager of properties of his boss. Did Joseph feel sorry when Potiphar favored his wife instead of him? When Potiphar chose to believe the lies of his wife, it implies that his wife may have been good at acting, and Potiphar was also blinded by his love for his wife.

It was not known if Potiphar investigated but he was very angry to do that. Does anger prevent objective judgment? Does anger cause foolish decision?

Because of anger, Potiphar lost the person that the Lord used to pour out blessing into his household. Potiphar became an unfortunate accomplice of the wicked scheme of his wife when he put Joseph in prison.

2. Accomplice

16She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” 19When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20aJoseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

If his wife was lying or not was not, Potiphar may or may not investigate it. It’s not relevant to the story. When he put Joseph in prison, it exposed Potiphar as inconsiderate accomplice to the wicked scheme of his wife. He placed Joseph as manager of his properties because he was concerned of his prosperity but Potiphar had lesser interest of things concerning Joseph’s welfare.

Such attitude has been frequently observed among employers. Employees may expect employers to be concerned of employees but most often don’t have any. Say for instance, you are an owner of a business. Would care more about the welfare of your employees than what you gain or profit? Have you ever had employers who are more concerned of their employees than their profit or gain?

See? The primary concern of an average employee is employee benefits. The primary concern of employers is their profit. If employers and employees can meet each other’s concern, relationship between employers and employees turns great. There will be lesser complains, and perhaps, no fighting for one’s rights.

In comparison, Christ our Master told us to obey Him yet, not for His profit. He is sufficient and does not need anything from us. It does not make Him rich when we obey Him. His instructions are means to bless obedience. So, when we believe that His instruction benefits us and we obey, it practically proves our faith.

So, why is it that we are slow to obey God when we claim to have faith in Christ? Most often, we ignore the presence of Christ’s Spirit in our life. When we follow our instinct, we disregarded Him. This is where praying continually comes into the picture. We need to pray in every situation, unpleasant or not.

King David poetically described how he practically expressed his faith in

Psalm 92:1-6, 1It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, 2proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, 3to the music of the ten-stringed lyre and the melody of the harp. 4For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done. 5How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts! 6Senseless people do not know, fools do not understand.

Praising God when things are pleasant is appropriate. But when things are not pleasant, can we still worship God? Yes, when the Holy Spirit is at work in our life. As king of Israel, David had problems of administering justice, peace and order including welfare of his people. As father, he had problematic children. As an individual, David had problem resisting temptation. Yet, he declared how good it is to praise God night or day and foolish people don’t understand such attitude.

Not trusting the Lord in the midst of problems and concerns or during the comfort of progress, that’s foolishness according to David. Remember that God has given us gift of eternal life. It may inspire us to keep hoping in God. In the midst of difficulties or progress, the Lord is preparing something great for our benefits.

General Problem

When David’s son Absalom led a revolution to take the kingdom of Israel, King David ordered the commanders of his army to be gentle with Absalom but commander Joab killed Absalom. King David mourned for the death of Absalom. When Joab was told about it, he confronted King David in 2 Samuel 19:5-7,

5Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. 6You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. 7Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.

Joab was a problematic commander of David’s army. Actually, David wanted Amasa to take the place of Joab as commander. The mothers of Joab and Amasa were sisters. So, Amasa and Joab were cousins. David promised Amasa to be the next commander of army but Joab killed his cousin Amasa.

Why did the Lord allow Joab to be the commander of David’s army when Joab brought problems to King David? Although King David wanted to replace his problematic commander, he planned but did not force the issue. He waited for the Lord to solve his problem. David did not punish Joab. King Solomon did.

Sometimes, there are people that God allows to cause problems in our lives, why? God can use them as instruments to accomplish his purposes for us.

Joseph did what was right and proper as manager of his master but the malicious wife of his master made his life worse. When Potiphar believed the scheme of his wife and put Joseph in prison, the Lord was attentive to his need.

3. Attention

20bBut while Joseph was there in the prison, 21the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Prison life was worse than the life of slaves in Joseph’s time. Yet, the Lord made Joseph successful even in prison. One great thing that we can learn from Joseph is his faith in God. Despite of unpleasant situation, we should trust the Lord. Can we pray and ask God to move the hearts of our employers to grant us favor and kindness? Well, the Lord did it to Joseph, why would He not grant us?

The duties and responsibilities of a prison warden are demanding and tedious. He makes sure there’s peace and order in jail. That’s next to impossible. He makes sure prisoners behave well. That requires expertise. He takes care of logistics and prison activities. That surely, demands administrative ability.

The prison warden was wise. He deputized and designated Joseph to be in charge of his duties and responsibilities as warden. He paid no attention to anything after he appointed Joseph to be in charge of prisoners and administer necessary things needed in prison because the Lord was with Joseph.

Obviously, Joseph was a reliable manager because the Lord made him successful. With wisdom that comes from the Lord Joseph did his responsibilities pretty well, and the warden sensed it so that he did not concern himself of anything. Do you know a prisoner who became successful while in prison?

Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:12-18, 12Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. 15It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Paul was imprisoned because of his faith in Christ. Imagine when Paul was put in chain between two guards. He may have told them about Christ. Normally, there’s changing of guards every 4 hours. So, if Paul was awake 16 hours a day, 8 guards had already heard about Christ, right? That was why Paul said that the whole palace guard learned it clearly that he was imprisoned because of Christ. Some of them may have believed in Christ. And believers were encouraged, too.

This reminds us of what happened when the Lord Jesus was crucified.

It was recorded in Matthew 27:54, 54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Christ’s crucifixion was also God’s instrument for those who tortured and crucified Jesus to believe and declare Him as the Son of God.

Would you believe that when God allows difficulties in our life, those were His instrument to help us realize His sovereignty and mighty power?

Will God give us success in the midst of difficulties?

By God’s grace, success is much sweeter after we overcome difficulties.

As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we remember the death and resurrection of Christ. What can we learn from it?

Death is the worst problem that mankind can never solve.

Resurrection can never be attained or accomplished by human effort.

The resurrection of Christ proved that God is mighty and powerful.

He has solved the most difficult problem of mankind which is death.

Do you have a more difficult problem than death?

Pray for increase of faith to believe it and keep trusting God.

><((‘> .. ><(((‘> …. tmec\2019 … <‘)))>< .. <‘))><

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