No sin against God

Joseph & Potiphar’s Wife • Devotion #6: No sin against God
Noble Baird | Community Center Director

Yesterday, we talked about trust. Arguably, it is one of the top three, if not the most, foundational part of any relationship. As I sit in Starbucks, I am reminded of this foundational characteristic. You see, four years ago I came on staff here at The River and had the privilege of doing an eight-month internship. During that time, I was joined by a young man named James Mann who I had never met but heard a lot about. Over the next eight months, James took on a summer internship here, and we were together pretty much every day. Whether we were cleaning toilets, arranging the storage in the warehouse on our maintenance Monday, or hanging out with the students at Fusion and accidentally breaking lights with a soccer ball (which we ended up having to fix), we were constantly serving and doing life together. Out of this, I gained not only a true partner in ministry but a friend who I call my brother.  

Joseph makes a very pointed statement in Genesis 39:9. It was one that I read over several times, often thinking that the whole point of this passage was simply to focus on Joseph fleeing from sin and possible adultery. However, in verse 9 it reads, “He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” From a human standpoint, Joseph is literally facing a rock and a hard place as he seemingly has two options. He can either run from Potiphar’s wife and not sin against his master, or he can succumb to sin and not have his position as head of the household at stake. We know the outcome and how he does indeed run; however, him fleeing from temptation was bigger than just not sinning against his master, Potiphar. At the end of the passage, Joseph says, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Joseph’s relationship with his Heavenly Father, was way more important to him than his earthly stature and glory.

While I am writing this, James is sitting across from me getting things in order for our kids camp this summer, and yes he did order a massive milkshake from Starbucks. All kidding aside, we are never alone in this life and in the ministry that God has placed us. Paul had Barnabas, Elijah had Elisha, Peter had Mark, Moses had Aaron, and we could go on for quite a while naming off all the amazing duos in God’s Word. One continued common theme amongst them all was that of trust. It was through that foundational characteristic of trust that they pushed each other, encouraged one another, and challenged one another daily. As they did so, they understood this foundational truth of our faith as followers of Christ of not compromising our relationship with the Father and sinning against Him, just as Joseph proclaimed and understood.

So, as you finish up this week or maybe you are just beginning, remember these two truths that we see prevalent in the life of Joseph. He did not want to compromise his trust and relationship with those around him whose trust and respect he had gained. Yet, more importantly, he fled sin so that he would not sin against God. Never take those close friends for granted, keep them close, and never be afraid to challenge and encourage one another in Christ.

No sin against Others 

Joseph & Potiphar’s Wife • Devotion #5: No sin against Others
Noble Baird | Community Center Director

A few years back, I was out at my buddies farm up in Attica. Connor’s parents own a massive horse farm with tons of land. He and his father spent some time building a shooting range in the back of their property in the woods. There are no houses around the range, and they had the perfect set up with a huge dirt hill backing the range. So, as Connor and I usually did on nice summer afternoons, we went out to the range on the farm and practiced shooting. One day we decided to run through some drills with live ammo. Our goal was to practice moving forward down the 200-yard range, alternating our forward position with our rifles, until we were 25 yards out and we pulled out our sidearm, hitting the targets in front of us, and finished the drill in unison. We ran through this drill several times that afternoon; however, there was one main factor that held us together and allowed us to complete the drill successfully and without injury: trust.

As we continue on in the story of Joseph, he has overcome many hardships already; however, he is about to experience one of the morally most difficult situations of his life. In Genesis 39:7-10, we have the account of Joseph’s interaction with his master’s, Potiphar, wife. Starting in verse 7, “And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused and said to his master’s wife, ‘Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?’ And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.” 

Joseph’s life was full of literal highs and lows. Here, Joseph is at a truly incredible milestone in his life. Yes, he is still in slavery; however, as we read in this passage, he has no limitations. He is head over all of Potiphar’s household, and there is nothing that belongs to Potiphar that he does not trust with Joseph. The only thing that is not shared between the two is Potiphar’s wife, for obvious reasons. 

You see, the reason why Potiphar never questioned or doubted allowing Joseph, one of the slaves he purchased, with his household and all he owned was rooted in the trust he had. Potiphar literally trusted Joseph with his life. Not only was Joseph a true man of God, but he understood the trust he had gained with Potiphar and never wanted to ruin or place himself in situations that could compromise that trust. However, Potiphar’s wife had a hidden agenda and was overcome with sin. She had her eyes on Joseph and tried to be with him. Yet, because of the man he was and his identity in the one true God, he was not going to compromise the trust with his master and his character. So, he fled from sin and did not sin against his master.

As you go throughout your week, you will face temptations and trials just as Joseph did. I want to challenge you to stay strong, not to compromise, and flee from that sin as Joseph did. Joseph knew that trust was hard to gain and could be lost in seconds, but he did all he could to not sin against his master. Flee temptation and do not compromise.

Audience of One

Joseph & Potiphar’s Wife • Devotion #4 : Audience of One
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

“From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.” Genesis 39:5-6

The main point of this passage seems quite clear. God blessed Joseph. He not only blessed Joseph, but He blessed everyone and anything around Joseph. Potiphar and his estate were flourishing because God blessed him through Joseph.

However, I think there is another aspect that is too often missed: Joseph was faithful to God. Joseph had been belittled by his brothers, thrown in a pit, threatened death, sold into slavery, taken far from home, and humanly speaking had no hope of ever seeing his dad again. All sense of normality was gone. As he served in the house of Potiphar, he was faithful. He was faithful to God; therefore, he was diligent with his work. He was a hard worker. He was a hard worker when Potiphar was watching, but he was a hard worker when Potiphar was not home, too. With Joseph in charge, Potiphar “had no concern about anything.” 

The key to Joseph’s success was that he had an audience of One. There was only One that he wanted to impress. In everything he did, he was working for God. God was the focus of his diligence. 

It can be difficult to work for an unbeliever or a godless person. It can be tempting to slack off when no one is watching. It can be hard to press forward when we are not appreciated. It can be challenging to give our best when it is not acknowledged. It is easy to follow the crowd. However, Joseph knew One was always watching. He was the One Joseph strived to please.

Galatians 1:10 challenges us, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

As servants of Christ, we need to live it. When “no one” is watching, remember One is watching. When many are watching, focus on the One, the true and living God.

Others Blessed because of Joseph

Joseph & Potiphar’s Wife • Devotion #3: Others Blessed because of Joseph
Jen Combs | Women’s Ministry

“His Master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptians house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field.” Genesis 39:3-5

Do you take notes in your Bible? Or are you one of those that just cannot bring themselves to write in God’s Word? I am a major note taker. I write all over the place, up the side of the margin, in the spaces provided, in any blank space that is available. I take notes from sermons I have heard, write definitions of words I have not a clue what they mean, and attach timelines of history. But mainly, I take notes because I have a terrible memory. Right next to this passage I have a note that says, “Do people see Christ in me?” It gets me thinking. In my everyday life, in the mundane, do people see the light of Christ in me? Do they see a difference in me? Am I taking opportunities that the Lord gives to shine His light? 

The other day I was at the gym and had missed the previous week because we were out of town. They were talking about raising money for a family, I was trying to put all of the pieces together but could not. So I bugged one of the girls after to update me. She, with tear-filled eyes, told me while standing on the gym mat that her friend’s young daughter was going to pass away. I had the opportunity to give the standard answer, “Oh, I am so sorry, let me know if I can do anything.” Or I could grab this lady who I did not know, with my sweaty, stinky, hot mess of a self, and pray with her right then and there. I have walked away from those opportunities far too many times in my life to hate the feeling of conviction, knowing I was supposed to do something and did not. So praise God, I prayed with her, and now I have that opened door to talk to her about things of the Lord.

How can you let your light shine today? Are you looking for opportunities? Are you praying for opportunities? Are you willing to feel uncomfortable so people can see the Lord in you?  Joseph experienced some pretty tough and traumatic situations in his life. He was abandoned, sold, and imprisoned just to name a few. Even through all of these things, it says that his master saw that the Lord was with him. This challenges me. In the rough seasons of life, do people see me and say, the Lord is with her? Unbelievers especially are watching how we as followers of Christ handle the difficult circumstances we encounter. Joseph’s story should encourage us to let our light shine before men, no matter the situation. 

Joseph and Success

Joseph & Potiphar’s Wife • Devotion #2: Joseph and Success
Roger Allen | Recovery Director

What is success? Is it a big house, bankroll, toys, retirement, or some other vain attempt of a monument to ourselves? Is it a legacy that has temporal value, or is it an eternal substance that is hard to define and categorize? Is it one that is actually bigger than ourselves? In Genesis, we are introduced to Joseph, the eleventh and most favored son of his father. Clothed in a coat of many colors, he lived the life of the most loved. Already jealous, his brothers started planning his end when he told them his dream.

Genesis 37:5-8 says, “Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, ‘Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.’ His brothers said to him, ‘Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.”

We all have had a “Joseph” in our life. Whether it was a sibling or a co-worker, we all know that one person that stands out above the crowd. It is the one that even at our best seems to bring out the envy in us. Typically, as we get older, we assume that we understand the futility of such emotions but, envy knows no age, only circumstance. I recall the first time that I had such anger and envy. When I was around eight years old, I was spurred on by my older brother to wrestle a neighbor kid. He was smaller than me, so I figured this would be easy. Face down in the dirt, I soon realized what it meant to be envious. I had always looked up to my brother and to be humiliated in front of him was the worst thing in the world to me. I seethed with anger just as Joseph’s brothers did.

As the story of Joseph unfolds, we are introduced to the plot to destroy him. Taken captive and sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37:12-35), Joseph becomes part of the household of Potiphar where he quickly found favor. Elevated to the superintendent, Joseph’s star began to shine again only to be dimmed by a false accusation by Potiphar’s spurned wife (Genesis 29:1-20). Sent to prison, Joseph once again proved he could be trusted. In charge of the prisoners, he showed that integrity and wisdom would bring trust in an otherwise trustless society. Interpreting the dreams of those imprisoned by Pharaoh, he also showed that the hand of the Lord was upon him. Eventually, Joseph was called to interpret a dream for Pharaoh. Advising him of the coming famine, Pharaoh raised him to be second in command in all of Egypt. As the famine continued throughout the land, Joseph’s stature grew.

By the second year of the famine, many from the surrounding areas were sent to Egypt to buy food including his family. Now was the time for Joseph’s revenge. His brothers were at his mercy. He could get even. Yet, instead of an instant death sentence, he would have some fun. Never letting on to who he was (it had been twenty years), Joseph began the payback. At any time he could end their lives and have his retribution, yet he did not. After playing it out, Joseph ended his ruse and reunited with his family. 

Joseph certainly was not perfect. He had a prideful streak that cost him his freedom. Rejected by those closest to him, he paid a high price. Yet, that price paid dividends to him and his family (Romans 8:28-29). Steadfast through his trials he brought salvation to them. The hand of the Lord, his integrity, and wisdom allowed him to succeed where others fail. Psalm 41:11-12 says it best:

“By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever.”

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