Rather than just type out my notes this time I thought that I might do something different. Sometimes all I have time to do is type up my notes. And other times I have something that I just need to share and so I must make the time to type more. This is one of those times.
It has become very important to me in the last few years, especially in a small group or in one-on-one situations, that I share “fresh manna”. What I mean by “fresh manna” is that I share from today’s encounter with God rather than yesterday’s. This has become important to me for two reasons. First, it keeps me going to Him and His heartbeat. You can never be a glutton at the table of the Lord. He loves it when we ask for more! Second, as I share I want to make sure that I am sharing authentically. It is impossible for true love to be inauthentic and what I share must come from love or its worth is dubious at best. In the past I have struggled with going to the bookshelf in my head rather than His heart and sharing from behind my mask rather than from the love filled gift of vulnerability. So “fresh manna” it must be for my own soul’s sake and hopefully for others as well.
I have learned that the people who make the most impact in the lives of others are not always the best looking, most gifted, or even the most intelligent people in the room. The people who move mountains for others are those who have a profound and genuine love that beats in their chest with a constant rhythm. A person can find that heartbeat once in a while, but to keep the heartbeat, whew that’s life’s pursuit.
And so we come to the fresh manna on Joseph…
So a group of guys met this past weekend and discussed the life of Joseph, particularly Genesis Chapter 39. The discussion centered around the relationship between authority and favor in Joseph’s life. Joseph was such an amazing man to me. He goes through betrayal, false accusation, abandonment, deceit, and so much more, but he never loses his true identity as God’s chosen son.
God gives Joseph favor at a young age. His father favors him over his other brothers. God gives him a dream suggesting that he will have authority over his family. God’s WILL lead to authority.
But… his brothers are jealous of Joe- all of his favor and his apparent supernatural gifting. What does Joseph get for all that favor? His brothers sell him into slavery. Imagine what it must have felt like to know that you are one of Abraham’s descendants, a chosen son of God, yet tied and left in the bottom of a well by the very family you were told in a dream would one day bow down to you. Would that not test your faith just a little bit? Then you are carted off into slavery; betrayed by your own family into the hands of enemies (Ishmael’s descendants no less) and all because you carry the favor of God with you. That might be enough for some men to tell God that he can just keep his favor. Not Joe.
Joseph cannot escape God’s favor anyway, even if he wanted to. He matures into a very handsome young man full of talent and leadership skills and deserving of his master’s trust. God’s favor elevates him to the highest possible position he can occupy in the house as a slave. Favor leads to authority.
He is put in charge of everything in the house… except the master’s wife. And when he refuses to dishonor God and his master by succumbing to her seduction, he is falsely accused of attempted rape and thrown into jail without even a word of defense to his honor. I wonder if Potiphar ever regretted that decision?
But Joseph’s favor follows him even in prison… and you know the rest of the story. He has favor with the jailer and is put in charge even at the jail. Favor leads to authority.
And his prophetic gifting of dream interpretation eventually leads to his elevation from convicted criminal and slave to the highest position in the land … second only to Pharaoh himself. Favor leads to authority once again.
And everything that he ever believed about himself came to pass.
Here’s something worth meditating on. There are basically two ways of looking at Joseph’s life. One can follow the circumstances and see a painful roller coaster ride that eventually leads to a happy ending. Or one can follow the favor of God. God’s favor is constant, unwavering despite the circumstances and choices. And here’s why I choose to follow the favor rather than the circumstances… in Joseph’s life and my own. God’s favor is rooted in his character and his character is rooted in his love for us. If I choose to follow the circumstances I will always be on a roller coaster ride- up and down and up again. But if I choose to follow the favor of God, whoa…that could be an entirely new book for you and me. You see Joseph had the favor of God based upon God’s promises to Abraham. You and I have the favor of God based upon the Father’s Love for His Son Jesus Christ… can you imagine what that favor looks like?
And Favor WILL lead to authority.
What kind of authority are you walking in right now? What is it based upon? Your position? Your circumstances? Something less than the kind of authority that comes from being a favored son or daughter?
As a follower of Jesus you have more favor than you realize and because of that you have more authority than you realize too. This truth has become more evident as I encounter the love of God for me and believe it. I am beginning to see who I really am and I am learning to walk responsibly with that revelation. It is not easy just as it was not easy for Joseph I am sure. But the more I come to believe in the Father’s great love for me the more confident I become… no matter what the circumstances seem to tell me. This is the journey I hope that all of you embark upon. It’s a good one!