Devotions

Monthly Archives: August, 2019

Names

Joseph in Prison • Devotion #6: Names
Carole Combs | Women’s Ministry

Names – We all have them. Some are given to us by our parents, and some are given to us by our friends. Many parents have toiled over hundreds of names to choose that perfect name for their child. They want the name with the perfect meaning that fits their child. Often times they want to include a family name as well. I was born on Christmas Day. My mother told me that her choice of names for me was Holly, Joy, and Carol. I became my parents Christmas Carole (Mom added an “e” just to be different). The Urban dictionary defines my name as “song of happiness.” 

Names have been important since the time of the creation of the world. In Genesis 1:20, we see that Adam is naming the animals and birds. God knew it was a good thing not to call everything an “it.” Recorded in the book of Genesis there was a son born to a husband and wife named Jacob and Rachel. They named him Joseph (Genesis 30:22-23). The Bible tells us that Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son. However, this brought Joseph many problems amongst his older siblings (Take the time to read Genesis chapter 37). Joseph ended up in Egypt. He was away from his family and sold into slavery by his brothers. God blessed Joseph and the Egyptian household that he was overseeing (Genesis chapter 39). The events in Joseph’s life turned quickly upside down as if his life had not already been like a roller coaster. Joseph ended up in prison (Genesis chapters 39-40). Two years later, Joseph was still in prison, but God was still protecting and using Joseph no matter what his outward circumstances were. The Pharaoh of Egypt had a disturbing dream that could not be interpreted by his subjects. However, the King’s cupbearer remembered a cellmate that he once shared a cell with named Joseph. Joseph had interpreted a dream for him. The Pharaoh was willing to give Joseph a shot at the interpretation of the dream. Joseph emphatically told the Pharaoh that his ability to interpret dreams was not in his own abilities, but it was God who worked through him. Joseph not only interpreted the dream but gave a detailed plan on what to do and how to live with the unfolding plan of the dream that was about to become a reality. The Pharaoh was very pleased with what he heard. He rhetorically asked those around him where he could find such a man to undergo the large task of preparing for the reality of the dream. The Pharaoh looked at Joseph and told him he was the man! Joseph would be over Pharaoh’s house and all Pharaoh’s people. The will of the people would be at Joseph’s command. The coronation began. The Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand. He clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He rode in the second chariot while servants cried out, “Bow the knee.” Joseph became the grand vizier or prime minister to govern all the people of Egypt. He was second only to Pharaoh himself. 

A document from the Tomb of Rekhmire in the Late Bronze Age says that the vizier is the “grand steward of all Egypt. All activities of the state are under his control.” The Egyptian Empire at one time stretched from modern-day Syria in the north to modern-day Sudan in the south and from the region of Jordan in the east to Libya in the west. Pharaoh wanted to integrate this Hebrew into the Egyptian society. As part of the coronation, Pharaoh would change Joseph’s Hebrew name to an Egyptian name. He gave him a wife from the upper echelon of women, too. Title and prestige went along with Joseph’s job promotion. Not much has changed in society several centuries later.  

Joseph’s new name was Zaphenath-paneah (Genesis 41:45). The meaning of his name has been problematic for translators and biblical historians. Many have attempted to decipher this Egyptian name. A significant Egyptian name with great meaning would be very important to precede the grand vizier. All who would hear it would know its meaning and its importance. The name Zaphenath-paneah is divided into two parts. It would be like our first name and our middle name. Egyptologists generally accept that the second name, paneah, means “life” or to provide life. Jerome, a theologian and historian (420 AD) believed the second name means “preserver of the world.” As we look at the entire name, it becomes more exciting. Egypt was about to experience seven years of abundance and seven years of famine. Joseph was to oversee and manage these very important fourteen years of history in Egypt. It was a matter of life and death. The Pharaoh did not worship the God of the Hebrew Joseph, but he surely recognized that there was a divine presence with him (Genesis 41:38). He named him Zaphenath, meaning “The one appointed by the God.” People may not know your God, but they should see something different about you, too. Joseph or Zaphenath-paneah, the one appointed by the God to provide life, saved the Egyptians as well as the Hebrew people from death (It is a wonderful story to read in detail in Genesis chapters 37-50). 

The book of Genesis was written by Moses over a thousand years before Christ. Moses recorded an amazing prefigure of the life of Jesus in the story of Joseph. Jesus was the one appointed by God to provide life. Joseph foreshadowed the life of Jesus Christ. We all can live life in abundance, but there will come a day that we will come up short. We cannot in our own ability sustain or maintain our own lives. 

Mankind was helpless, but God sent His one and only Son, His favorite, to provide you and me life. There must be a time in your life when you accept and trust in God’s Son for your life here and for all eternity. It will never be in your own merit or your own abundance. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). 

This Christmas Carole trusted in the name of Jesus at twelve years of age. When did you trust in the name of Jesus? If never, why not today?

Spirit of God in Him 

Joseph in Prison • Devotion #5: Spirit of God in Him
Gareth Volz | Senior (55+) Director

In Genesis 41:38-39 we read, “And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are.’” 

I think that probably the greatest compliment that can be given to a true follower of God is that others can see evidence of God’s Holy Spirit in them. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Every believer is indwelt by God’s Spirit when they accept Jesus as their Savior. However, the Fruit of the Spirit reveals how filled the believer is with God’s Spirit. Being filled with God’s Spirit is a voluntary choice to surrender control of your life to the Holy Spirit’s control. Examining Joseph’s life shows how the Fruit of the Spirit was revealed in him.

A quick review of Joseph’s life showed that he was his father’s favorite son, which made his brothers jealous. This was made worse when, as a teenager, he had a dream that one day his brothers would all bow down to him. He told them this, and they sold him into slavery, telling their father he was killed by a wild animal. While he was a slave, he resisted the sexual flirtation of his master’s wife, and for doing what was right, was falsely accused and thrown into prison. While in prison, he interpreted the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s servants who also had been thrown into prison, giving credit for the interpretation to God. When both interpretations proved correct, and one was executed and one restored to his former position, he was forgotten by the latter and languished in prison. Finally, when Pharaoh was troubled by a dream, and none of his wise men could interpret it, Pharaoh’s cupbearer remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh he knew someone who could interpret the dream. Joseph did so, giving credit to God, and this is when Pharaoh saw evidence of God’s Spirit in him.

What evidence did Pharaoh see in Joseph’s life? 

  1. Faithfulness: Faith gave him the ability to discern right from wrong as Potiphar’s slave, confidence to assure Pharaoh’s servants (and later Pharaoh himself) that interpretations belong to God, and God’s interpretations are true.
  2. Patience: Though Joseph was taken from a lavish life and sold into slavery, thrown into prison, and forgotten, he had the patience that God would work in his life for good.
  3. Kindness and Goodness: Joseph was kind to Pharaoh’s servants in prison, caring enough to share God’s truth with them, even while he was suffering.
  4. Love: Joseph’s unwavering love for God is seen throughout his trials in Egypt.
  5. Peace: Joseph was at peace because he knew God was ultimately in control, not Pharaoh.
  6. Love and Joy: Joseph’s love for God was evident in his declarations that it was God – not himself – who should receive credit for the dream interpretations and results. This led to joy for not only Joseph but Pharaoh and ultimately Joseph’s family.

It is my prayer that I will be filled with God’s Spirit and it will be evident to all. I pray that is your desire as well.

Pharaoh’s Dreams 

Joseph in Prison • Devotion #4: Pharaoh’s Dreams
Pat Bedell | Special Ops 

In Genesis chapter 41, Pharaoh had a few dreams which he could not decipher. He dreamt of seven healthy and bountiful cows and then dreamt of seven thin and ugly cows. The ugly and thin cows then ate the healthy and bountiful cows. Then Pharaoh dreamt of a stalk of grain that had seven healthy and plentiful ears. Then he also dreamt of thin and weary ears that swallowed up the healthy and plentiful ears. Pharaoh was baffled by these dreams and called for all of the magicians and wise men in all of Egypt to meet with him. None of the magicians or wise men could decipher what Pharaoh’s dreams were about. 

Pharaoh then called for Joseph. Joseph shaved and changed his clothes and came before Pharaoh. He asked Joseph to interpret his dream. Genesis 41:16 says, “Joseph answered Pharaoh, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.’” Pharaoh then goes on to repeat his dreams to Joseph. Joseph then gave Pharaoh the interpretation that the seven healthy and plump cows and seven plentiful ears were a metaphor for seven years of “great plenty.” The seven thin and ugly cows along with the seven thin and weary ears were a metaphor for seven years of famine. Pharaoh took Joseph’s interpretation and used it to prepare. For the seven years of plenty, he used what was needed, but saved up for when the years of famine came. When the seven years of famine came, Pharaoh was prepared, and the land of Egypt survived.

There are several times throughout the year when I am secluded from all of the distractions of life and reflect on my life. It is a time to self-evaluate, make new goals for myself, and measure my progress as a person. There have been times when I can reflect on how awesome God is and how all the blessings in my life are so abundant. Then there are times when I put on a facade. Things in life are so messed up, I just can not seem to get anything right, and that I am a mess.  

This devotion is meant to help you and me understand that there are seasons when everything is absolutely amazing. It is when your marriage is strong, your kids are healthy and doing well, and you just got a promotion at work. You are on cloud nine, and there is nothing that can take your smile away. Then there are seasons when you feel like an outcast, an obligation, a hindrance, and a terrible person. You may have dealt with a death close to family, had a relapse into an addiction, or just caved into sin again. We are all guilty of sin, and it can be an emotionally draining feeling. The devil certainly does not help when we are down in our faith.  

Like Pharaoh, we need to approach our faith on a large scale. We always see God when all is great in life, but always seem to turn our back and be angry with God when all is not going well. We need to rejoice and give thanks for the blessings we have in our lives, and we need to understand that when our “famine” comes, we are prepared to endure the hardship and ultimately learn God’s will. His plans are perfect.  I would like to challenge you that the next time you have to endure a “famine,” you would give thanks to God and be quick to listen and slow to be angry.  Know that He is in control, and He is with you all of the time. 

“After Two Whole Years” 

Joseph in Prison • Devotion #3: “After Two Whole Years”
Joshua Combs | Lead Pastor

Something was supposed to happen. Joseph was a man to whom lots of things happened that should not have seemed to. He was born the favorite son of his father and declared to be so with the extravagant gift of a coat (robe) of many colors. But Joseph’s life of luxury and privilege would come crashing down. He would be beaten by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of sexual assault, imprisoned, and forgotten. Every time a glimmer of hope shines on him, there is a sudden and dramatic change of circumstances, and a seemingly more destructive storm rocks his life. Hope is hanging but by a thread. 

Genesis chapter 41 finds Joseph forgotten in prison with no end in sight. He had become a trustee in the jail, but that responsibility and privilege paled in comparison to being in his father’s house or even a slave at Potiphar’s estate. A glimmer of hope came when he translated a dream for a high ranking official who had been sent to Joseph’s jail. But once that man had been restored to his position, he conveniently forgot his little stint behind bars and the people he met there, including the dream interpreter, Joseph. 

The Bible (Genesis 41:1) simply says, “After two whole years….” Time had ticked by, and Joseph must have realized that like his brothers and Potiphar’s wife, someone else had mistreated him. Years would go by with no word from the palace.  

The Scripture uses the word “whole.” That is just like God. He does not try us one second longer or shorter than is absolutely necessary. God’s refining process is often compared in scripture to refining gold. Job, in his desperate plea to God, states, “But [God] knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23:10). We often long for glory, but the pain and trial must always come first. God was not needlessly trying Joseph. God’s plan was working perfectly. God’s timing was perfectly on schedule. We, like Joseph, need to trust the Lord even in the difficult years. They may seem long, but “after” is worth the refinement. 

Interprets Prisoners’ Dreams 

Joseph in Prison • Devotion #2: Interprets Prisoners’ Dreams
Debbie Gabbara | Assistant to the Gathering Pastor

Do you dream at night? I do not dream very often, but my husband has crazy dreams all the time. There are many mornings that he wakes up to tell me of the wild adventure he had during the night. He will often ask me what I think his dream meant. After I tell him that I have no idea, we laugh and decide that maybe he should watch less TV before bed.    

Scattered through the Bible, we see God speaking to people through their dreams. In the book of Genesis, we meet Joseph. He had dreams that seemed crazy to his family. His brothers, the sun, moon, and stars were bowing before Joseph. They certainly did not understand what that meant and hated the thought that Joseph might rule over them. But, God would use dreams and interpretation of dreams in incredible ways in Joseph’s life. 

Because of jealousy and anger towards him, Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was later put in prison for a crime he did not commit. I wonder if the dreams God had given him so long ago ever came to mind?

Scripture tells us in Genesis chapter 40 that while in prison, the king’s cupbearer and baker were also imprisoned with Joseph. One day he noticed they were sad and asked why. The men were upset because they both had dreamed the night before and were not able to go to the professionals that were used to interpret dreams. Joseph said that true interpretation would come from God, and asked them to tell him their dreams.  

The Lord helped Joseph that day to know the meaning of the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker. One man heard that he would return to his previous position with the king. God told Joseph that the other man would be killed within three days. Could it be that his dream was a warning of an immediate decision he needed to make about his faith in God?

Much time would pass before Joseph would see the fruition of the dreams he had as a teenager. He would go through years of trying times before he saw the great plan that God had for his life as ruler over Egypt. Through it all, Joseph honored God and helped others. God blessed Joseph and those around him.  

Sometimes God sends dreams in the night, and sometimes He whispers them into our heart. What are you dreaming? Even if the dream is unclear, continue to seek God and follow Him; He is always faithful, and His ways are perfect.

“This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30



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