Learning Life’s Lessons

Potiphar was one of the officials for Egypt’s pharaoh. He was the captain of the guard. He bought Joseph from the Ishmaelite’s who acquired him from Jacob’s sons.

Undoubtedly, Potiphar purchased Joseph through a slave action, an event that had to be completely humiliating and cruel for Joseph. You will recall that Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. He had, as a teenager, been taken from his father, sold and resold as a slave, and was now subject to the demands and prodding of his new master.

So it is a great understatement to say that these circumstances were less than comfortable for Joseph. But, in Genesis 49, Jacob called his twelve sons together and gave a prophecy to each. Joseph would literally be made strong by the hands of the Almighty God. Even though he was vulnerable to hostile forces.

Here we learn a valuable lesson. There is no ideal place to serve God, except the place where he has set you down. There is no ideal job for you to hold. How many times do men wish they were somewhere else, doing something other than their present job? I recall years ago a friend of mine worked for a very small, family-owned factory. He was the key employee. Eventually, the family wanted to retire and offered him a chance to buy the business. He prayed and prayed about it but just didn’t seem to get an answer. He called me for advice. What should he do to serve the Lord best? I told him it is my belief that God can use us regardless of where we live or what we do, as long as it is honest work.

He can use factory owners and factory employees. He can use farmers and engineers, cab drivers, dentists and veterinarians. There is not a position, which is honest work, where he cannot use you. And when retirement becomes your place in life, he can use you there just as well.

By the way, he bought the factory and prospered financially, but his health failed. Even then, he continued to serve the Lord as well as he could. He and his wife had serious problems with their children, even though they raised them in the church and in a Christian home. But, they continue to serve the Lord with prayer and faith.

There are no perfect situations in life, no ideal jobs, no ideal neighborhoods, whether in the country or in the city. There are no ideal churches to join that will be without problems. There are good jobs, good neighborhoods, good churches, but no ideal ones. People who look for the ideal circumstances in life forget that all that is excellent and all that is perfect is saved for us in heaven. As the story of Joseph clearly teaches, the world may have good times and bad times. But, in the final analysis, it is a training ground for the Bride of Christ, the Church, for our heavenly mission.

Those who emulate there is an ideal in this life on Earth are clouded by deceptions. Most of us, like Joseph, can say that life is far from ideal. Difficulties that are not of our own making enter our lives. It is only by accepting the love of God and His discerning hand in our life that we can serve God best.

This 4th of July weekend will see hundreds of thousands leaving their homes to get away for a while, maybe just a few days in a cabin or on the beach. Maybe a little refreshment, a little vacation, from our present circumstances might be of some temporary benefit, but it is only temporary. We can’t flee from ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but my biggest problem is me. Years ago, I was in a head-on collision in my automobile. The other driver was killed and I nearly died as a result of it. I had a good marriage and three small children. I was earning a good income, lived in a good community, and had good friends. In one instant, my life changed. I couldn’t work enough to pay the bills. My friends and most of my family seemed to forget where I lived. Things got progressively worse. I can assure you I never imagined I would be trapped in a situation like that. But God had chosen to set me down in that environment. And eventually, when it seemed I might not survive, I could sense the hand of God.

Someone once said correctly. The test is different for different people. When all seem to be gone we still follow Christ. When our hopes and dreams are no longer a reality we simply follow Christ. The specific circumstances of life may be different for all of us, but one thing is the same. To be saved eternally we must deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily, and follow Christ.

We have this great promise from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ- Matthew 19:28-30.   This is Jesus speaking to us, here, today.

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

We often ask God to remove the problem or remove us from the problem. Most of the time what God does with His children is change their attitude toward the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

God’s constant presence is the source of our protection. His word becomes our strength.

 

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