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Mar 10, 2019

Joseph: Temptation

Joseph: Temptation

Passage: Genesis 39

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Joseph's Journey

Category: Temptation, Lent

Keywords: joseph, lent, temptation

As we go out into the world engaging in temptation and different situations, what responsibility do we have?

Scripture:

When his master heard his wife’s story, telling him, “These are the things your slave did to me,” he was furious. Joseph’s master took him and threw him into the jail where the king’s prisoners were locked up. But there in jail God was still with Joseph: He reached out in kindness to him; he put him on good terms with the head jailer. The head jailer put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners—he ended up managing the whole operation. The head jailer gave Joseph free rein, never even checked on him, because God was with him; whatever he did God made sure it worked out for the best.
 – Genesis 39:20-22

Devotional:

Scripture is sticky. What I mean by that is that it has a way of lodging itself in our minds and certain themes become apparent over a lifetime. At this point in my life, what sticks in my mind is the Biblical principle of living in the kingdom. Jesus drilled on this theme repeatedly throughout his ministry. His model prayer that we repeat weekly contains the words, “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” This is not a concept of some future payoff in the life to come. But an assurance that with the Spirit flowing through us, we live in a kingdom today, right now. 

But living with a kingdom mindset is not easy. Life happens. It is messy and often painful. At some point we all experience setback and even tragedy. How can we live in a kingdom when our inner world is falling apart? We see glimpses of this in the life of Jesus. But as the Son of God, he had a vantage point that none of us really have. 

When I search the Bible for a role model of Kingdom Living, I can find a couple of compelling candidates in the Old Testament, namely Daniel and Joseph. Daniel I will save for another day. But Joseph typifies what Jesus would one day describe as living in the Kingdom. Joseph like all of us is flawed. Probably equal parts bad parenting and innate arrogance mixed together to create an overly cocky youth. This brings about tragic consequences that bring us to today’s story. Because of his arrogance, his brothers sell him into slavery. He is purchased by an Egyptian named Potiphar. When I imagine myself in his shoes, I would question whether I was in hell and perhaps fall into despair. 

But Joseph is transformed. He rises above his circumstances and he thrives, only to be knocked down again by a false accusation of sexual assault. He goes to prison. Again, Joseph finds a way to avoid despair and becomes a trusted inmate in prison. 

Where does Joseph find the strength to carry on? I think, in no small part, it can be attributed to the visions/dreams that God gave him that show a future where he will be used mightily by God. 

We have a similar vision shown to us by Jesus. We have been invited to be partners with the Creator of the Universe. That partnership begins before we are even aware of it. God's relentless grace pursues us from the moment we enter the world. When we choose to live into this calling, we become part of a kingdom. It may take us to uncomfortable and even painful places. But we know how the story ends. God’s love sustains us now. But as we fully enter the kingdom, we will be completely transformed by His Love.

Prayer:

Loving God, thank You for Your creation that sustains us. Help us to see Your kingdom in the places we go, the people we meet and the way we live out our daily lives. Our mortal eyes do not always see the grand plan. Help us to cultivate trust and to sense Your loving kindness. Like Joseph, give us the strength to carry on. Use us to sustain this world and expand your kingdom within.  Amen 

Written by Ben Roberts. Ben is Chair of the Men's Ministry and leads one of the Men's Ministry groups. He lives in Ashburn with his wife Jennifer and their son Ethan.