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In Charge, In Touch, Part One

From Series: The Hand of God, Volume 1

How we handle positions of power and acclaim says much about our character and commitment to God. In the Bible’s account of his life, we see Joseph rise from rags to riches, from the king’s prison to Pharaoh’s side as his most trusted confidant. Helping us to take a closer look at this familiar story, Alistair Begg calls us to see God as the source and sustainer of Joseph’s wisdom and success. True and eternal wisdom must be sought from God alone.


Sermon Transcript:

Genesis 41, if you turn to it with me.

And Father, we pray that as we turn to your Word, the Spirit might be our teacher, that our hearts may be open to your truth, and that our lives may be transformed by it, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

We resume our studies at around verse 37, and in this section which we just read, we discover that Joseph gets a new job, a new name, a wife, and two sons. Every so often, in magazines, you read of the things that create the most stress in your life, and here he got a whole bundle of them rolled into a very short period of time. And as we will see, he comes out remarkably well.

Some thirteen years have passed since, as a teenager, he had worn that multicolored coat, and now here he is, still a young man, and yet raised to a position of unique usefulness in a country where he lives as a resident alien. And when we view the unfolding saga of his life—and particularly this section before us now—you will recall that this particular period in Joseph’s pilgrimage began with Pharaoh’s troubling dreams. And in Pharaoh’s dreaming, he discovered that there was no one who could answer his dilemma, save Joseph; and God made it possible for Joseph to grant an interpretation, and then Joseph had followed up the word of interpretation with a suggested plan of action. And the plan of action was responded to, as verse 37 makes clear. It was obviously good, clearly necessary, and enthusiastically received, not only by Pharaoh, but also by his officials.

Now, the key to the implementation of this plan, as with any plan, is leadership. And as you read those verses—37 through 40—you gain the picture of Pharaoh and his officials in conference with one another as Pharaoh makes clear to them the discovery of his dream, and then as they discuss what has been suggested by Joseph. And Pharaoh’s conclusion is, simply, it would seem to be the best plan to allow the one who has conceived of this approach to our dilemma to be the one who himself implements it, carries it out. And so in verses 39 and 40 Pharaoh informs Joseph of this new position that he has created. Apparently, the leadership structure in this nation is to be altered. It doesn’t appear that Joseph is taking someone else’s job, but rather that Joseph is filling a completely new role in the country.

And from last time, we had noted first of all the dream God interpreted, and then the plan Joseph suggested, and then we said that we were going to proceed to the role Pharaoh created. And it is here that we pick up the story this morning as Pharaoh creates this whole new position in the land of Egypt. And we can summarize it, indeed, as it is stated here: Joseph is to be in charge—in charge. That’s what it says there in verse 40: “You shall be in charge”—of the palace, and of the people, and he is to be second only to Pharaoh himself.

Joseph In Charge

Now, this again is where a knowledge of the story works against us just a wee bit. I wish many times, for the best of reasons, that I didn’t know these stories as well as I’ve known them from infancy, because I wish that I could turn the page, not knowing what was about to happen, as some of you have the opportunity to do having never been brought up and nurtured in the Bible. And for you it must be doubly exciting. Because you left him in the dungeon, now he interprets the dream, what’s going to happen to him next? You turn the page, and here he is, second-in-command in the whole of Egypt. And overnight, in a dramatic rags-to-riches story, his circumstances are radically altered. He has lived the last thirteen years of his life at the beck and call of his masters: “Get up at this time. Go to bed at this time. Bring me this. Fetch that. Clean this. Do this. Be there. Come back.” He has spent thirteen years of his life responding always to the demands of his masters. And overnight he becomes the supreme authority under Pharaoh in the greatest nation on the face of God’s earth. What an amazing story!

You wake up every morning and you say, “Well, I wonder what today will be like?” And on this morning when he had awakened and said, “Well, I wonder what today will bring?” his wildest imaginations could never have fulfilled that which was about to take place.

So he’s in charge. He gets a new job. Notice a number of the perks of the job: first of all, the job came with clout, if we might use the vernacular—it came with clout. That’s the significance of the signet ring in verse 42: “Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger.” He didn’t go and get another signet ring made for him. He didn’t get a kind of second-in-command signet ring. He actually said, “Here, you’re gonna need this.” He took it from his own finger—the supreme symbol of his authority—and he takes Joseph, and he says, “Now, I want you to wear this, and I want you to use it.” The word signet ring, or a signet ring, emerges from the Hebrew verb which means to sink in. And that’s what you’re supposed to do with a signet ring: it is to be sunk in either wax or in clay, and the symbol which is left there is symbolic of the authority which stands behind the ring. And all of a sudden Joseph, who had been a nonentity in the nation, who had had absolutely no influence whatsoever save within the sphere of his own limited circumstances, is now able to go anywhere he wants, anytime he wants, and essentially do anything he wants under Pharaoh.

It’s hard somehow or another to put it in late twentieth century terms. It’s not even like a Mastercard with unlimited, you know, finances behind it. It is far more than that. Joseph, in contemporary terms, would have had the ability to close down Cleveland Hopkins Airport at a moment’s notice, because he wanted to fly out of it at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and he didn’t want any fuss and bother. He would have been able with a telephone call to have marshaled troops to be placed on a certain border. He would have been able to close doors and open doors and make decisions that were national in their impact, and all on the strength of the fact that he had been raised to this position of unique influence and he had been given clout. Verse 44 is somewhat metaphorical, and yet it is striking in its impact: “Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I am Pharaoh’”—didn’t want him to forget that—“‘But,’” he says, “‘without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.’” In other words, no one can stand up or sit down without your say-so. That, I suggest to you, is clout. And God had purposed he should have it.

So the job came with clout. The job also came, as you will note, with a clothing allowance, as verse 42 makes clear. Not only did he get a ring, but he got clothes. Didn’t get a uniform; he was dressed in “robes of fine linen,” and he had a “gold chain around his neck.” It had probably been a long time since Joseph got dressed in the morning and said to himself, “Hmm, this feels pretty nice.” In fact, probably thirteen years since he would have said he had a decent outfit. The last one he’d had, had got horribly torn up. His dad had given him it, the multicolored coat. It had caused an awful fuss and bother. He could never ever forget that. Indeed, probably the change in circumstances as he began to put on these fine clothes and the gold chains and everything must have sent tremors through his body as he realized the impact of what had happened the last time he had been dressed so nicely. And so he is able to walk down Rodeo Drive and go in those stores that have no price tags on the clothing and choose anything that he wishes from the racks and have some of his servants just hold out their arms and pick it up and carry it out with them, so that his clothing may be commensurate with his new status.

And the job came with a car—actually, a chariot. He got a chariot! Now, this wouldn’t have been one of your run-of-the-mill chariots. This would be a special chariot. This was Chariot Two in the land of Egypt. If you have seen the Queen in one of her Rolls-Royces, or in one of those phenomenal chariots that go back some couple of hundred years, you would recognize that that says something when you ride around in that thing. And if you get to ride around in the second one, people are going to stop and pay attention. So from the chains of the dungeon, now to this most dignified of transport, and all on account of God’s eternal providential plan, at just the right time.

I took my girls—my wife and I took our girls—to see Jane Eyre on Friday evening for the second time in the space of a week—well, she and I for the second time, them for the first. It’s a wonderful story. If you missed it, you should be sorry, ’cause I think they took it away. I mean, it’s so good that they put it in one cinema in the whole of Cleveland for two weeks. And if you know the story of Jane Eyre, you would have loved seeing it on film, because as you know, she was orphaned, brought up in total poverty and in obscurity. And it is a dramatic event in her life when, in her later years, she discovers that she had an uncle that she never knew who had died in Madeira and left to her a vast fortune. And her response to the word of the fortune is to inform the minister who tells her of this that, first of all, she wants to give a third of it—not knowing what it is—to Lowood School, where she had been educated; secondly, she would like him to take as much as he requires for the work of missions in which he’s involved in the world; and then she will take the residue. And as the film unfolds, there is no immediate indication of this dramatic change in her circumstances, save when she returns to the big home where she had been the governess. On every previous occasion in the movie, she comes, as it were, on the stagecoach—she comes as a number of people in an old black stagecoach, rocking back and forth along her way, and when it finally reaches the stop, she gets out and makes her way up to the house. But when she returns this time, she comes in a beautiful navy-blue carriage with two horsemen who are her own personal valets. She rides alone, and she rides right up to the place of entry. Why? Because her status has been dramatically ordered, and her carriage gives testimony to the change.

Now, that it exactly what had happened, you see, in Joseph’s life: in a moment, he had clout, he had clothes, he had a carriage, he had an entourage. He had people who walked in front of his chariot shouting, “Make way! Make way!” What do you make of this? I’ve seen some of you drive, and you probably ought to have somebody going in front of you saying the same thing. You look at me and you say, “That’s the pot calling the kettle black.” I understand, but I thought I’d get in before you did. But the “Make way, make way!” is indication of the grandeur of the one who is to come: “Joseph is coming. Clear the way! Joseph, the second-in-command of all of Egypt.” He had an entourage, and he’s only thirty years of age; thirty years of age, and now the world at his feet; thirty years of age, and unlimited resources; thirty years of age, able to go where he chooses, buy what he wishes, do what he wants, live where he wishes, and second only to the Pharaoh whose dreams God had enabled him to interpret. He is in no doubt: if God had not put him where he had put him, he would never have been in the position to answer as he did, and indeed, if God has never given him the wisdom, he could never have interpreted as he did. And so he was in no doubt as to how he had the clout and the clothes and the chariot and the operation.

Observations on this point: Joseph in charge—observation number one. The Bible says, “He who honors me, I will honor.” 1 Samuel 2:30. You remember that in Chariots of Fire?—a fictitious piece, beautifully inserted, where Scholz, the American runner before Eric Liddell runs in the event, comes across to him and gives him a piece of paper; and Liddell, of course, who has stood out on the interest of his commitment to the Sabbath and has made great impact in his collegiate athletes, opens the paper, and it says, “He who honors me, I will honor.” It’s fictitious, but the spirit’s good. And of course, he runs to Olympic gold. And here Joseph, who had honored God in the drudgery, and in the dungeon, and in the disappointment, and in the disasters, and in the separation from all that he knew and loved, and in this alien world with a foreign language and foreign people, and this menial service—this young man who had honored God in all of these dark days is now honored by God and put in a position of unique usefulness. The principle remains always true. It may not always be expressed in matters of physical and material prosperity—although it may well be—but God will always be true to this principle of his Word. And we see it in Joseph’s life.

Secondly, observation: we recognize in Luke 12:48, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” Joseph has entered a whole new phase of his experience. Unique challenges are about to befall him. And this principle will also unfold in his life: “You have received a great deal, Joseph; therefore, a great deal is now expected of you.” It is the responsibility, loved ones, of our lives as individuals and families and fellowship, and certainly as a church, to whom much has been given, much will be required. God does not give us these things so that we may sit and congratulate ourselves in our well-being, but he gives us them in order that we may offer them to him as a sacrifice of praise and our lives in his service.

The third observation is this: it is one thing for Joseph to be able to handle the pit, but is he going to be able to handle the pinnacle? We know that he can live in subservience and in the menial responsibilities that have been his, but can he live in this position of great authority? Can you? Can you come second-in-charge of your school? Can you become second-in-command, the chief operating officer of a large company? Can you rise to a pinnacle without diminishing in your usefulness? Can I? It is one thing to live down here with an awareness of our dependence upon God. It is another thing to be exalted to a position of influence. And how dangerous for an individual to live there, lest like Uzziah, who was gloriously helped until he became strong, we, like him, then, become proud to our own destruction.[1] Many a man or a girl who has done well in the menial has floundered in the realm of success.

Fourth observation is this: it is one thing to be able to enter in to Joseph’s disasters and his discouragements; it’s quite another thing for us to be able to share his joy and his prosperity. In fact, the principle is generally true. Most, if not all of us, have some spirit of empathy in us for those who are going through difficult days. Should we not write a card? Should we not send a flower? Make a call? Ring on the phone? After all, our dear friends are in the dungeon; our dear friends are in difficulty; our dear friends are here. And that is right, for the Bible says we should “weep with those who weep.” But it also says we’re supposed to “rejoice with those who rejoice.”[2] Do you find it as easy to send the cards of encouragement when a friend or a neighbor, a brother or a sister, a colleague who has been living at this level, is overnight at this level, in material terms? Who, as a result of God’s providence in relationship to their business dealings or their family inheritance or whatever it might be, their status is obviously altered, and dramatically so, and never to be the same again? Can we rejoice in that, with a heart of untainted jealousy? Do the notes and the calls and the cards come as quickly for that? I suggest to you that many of us who can write the notes to the dungeon-dweller find it far harder to write the notes to those who are on the pinnacle. Says Chuck Swindoll of this, “Even when we’ve no reason to doubt the source of someone’s wealth, we often gravitate towards being critical rather than supportive.”[3] “Ah, there must’ve been something funny there, you know.”

Joseph In Touch

The significance in Joseph’s life is not that he’s in touch with the people who can make a difference, but that he is in touch with God. He is living in touch with God.

Well, with Joseph in the dungeon, and now with Joseph on the heights. Having noted, then, some of the perks of his being in charge, we need to ask the question what it was that made Joseph the obvious choice for this position. And I’d like to answer that with another two-word phrase, which essentially provides for me the two building blocks of part one of this message today. And the second phrase is “in touch.”—“in touch.” Joseph was put in charge because Joseph was in touch. Now, the “in touch” was not “in touch” in terms of his ability to move and shake and manipulate—there is little evidence of that in Joseph’s life. The closest he comes to it is when, in a previous time, he asks the cupbearer to see what he can do about getting him out of the jail. That, I think, is more simply the taking of initiative than it is any desire to manipulate the circumstances. No, the significance in Joseph’s life is not that he’s in touch with the people who can make a difference, but that he is in touch with God. He is living in touch with God. He has a God-centered life, a God-centered focus, and God is working in him and through him. And Pharaoh himself picks this up. The degree to which he is able to grasp what he is even saying is unclear, but in verse 38 he says to his officials, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” or “the spirit of the gods?” In other words, what he’s saying is, there is a dimension to Joseph which may only be explained in terms which are other than human. Pharaoh looks at this young man, looks at the events that have brought him to this day, listens to his word of interpretation, marvels at the wisdom of the plan that he suggests, and says to himself, “Surely the spirit of God is in this guy,” whoever or whatever he conceived God to be.

Now, loved ones, this is how it must always be—and indeed, has always been—when God has chosen to pick up an individual and use them in a unique way. That’s why it records, in the Acts of the Apostles, that when the people on the days following Pentecost saw the boldness of Peter and John, they took knowledge of them because, it says, “they were unlearned and ignorant men … and they took knowledge of them, because they had been with Jesus.”[4] Not because they were in charge of a religious establishment; not because they were like the Pharisees, full of rules and regulations; not because they were simply enthusiastic about a cause; but because they had clearly been in the presence of this Jesus of Nazareth. And that is how it is supposed to be. That is what we’re supposed to be known for. That is what people should be saying about us when they whisper at the water machine in our office: “You know, there is something about that girl. And it is clearly not simply that she goes to church. It is clearly not that she’s just a religious girl. There’s something about her.”

Those who serve in the church are to be those who have been fitted for the task by the Spirit of God.

And in the service of the church, it must be the same way. Those who serve in the church are to be those who have been fitted for the task by the Spirit of God. And indeed, when an individual is given by God’s Spirit the gifts that are necessary for the fulfilling of such tasks, it should be no surprise to us that that individual becomes increasingly useful. Why is it, then, that this person would have the opportunity of this and this and this and this? Well, unless it is as a result of human manipulation, please God it is that the Spirit of God rests in them. And for that they are worthy of honor and respect.

You see, that is why Hebrews 13 says what it says about leaders in the church: that we are to “obey them so that their work will be a joy, and not a burden,” because that would be of no help to the congregation.[5] It is not that somehow or another there is some spirit of subservience which pervades the church, but it is the recognition on the part of the people of God that those who have been placed in a position of responsibility are those who are in touch with God, and therefore it is out of that in-touch-ness that they have the opportunity to be useful. And therefore they are worthy of a degree of respect that is proportionate with the gifts that God has given them. And that is why, for example, this week on Capitol Hill it was surely right that Dr. Billy Graham and his wife should receive the Congressional Medal. For whatever we may say surrounding all of that, we may say this with clarity: here is an individual upon whose life has rested the Spirit of God for his unique purposes in the realm of evangelism. Here is an individual who has remained true to the Gospel, true to his wife, true to his calling, and the whole of America recognizes it. They can’t explain it, but they recognize it. And the answer is: surely in this man rests the Spirit of God.

And so it was with Joseph. He stands out, and he stands out clearly, and this element of his being in touch is revealed in his discernment and in his wisdom. Isn’t that what he says to him? “There is nobody who has greater discernment and wisdom than yourself.”[6] “No one like you, Joseph.”

Now, I’d like to spend the remainder—the remaining moments that I have, and they are just moments—thinking with you about the nature of wisdom. And I will come to the second part of this message, if God spares me, this evening, and the whole issue of how come he married Potiphera the priest’s daughter,[7] and all that exciting stuff.

In his generation, wisdom was at a premium—so much so that anyone who was clearly endowed with this faculty would be put in a position of usefulness. And the same thing remains today. One of the most striking characteristics of our culture—and we’ve mentioned this before—is a lack of true wisdom. At a point in history where we have more opportunities for education, more people that take undergraduate degrees with success, more people who have postgraduate qualifications and they’re continuing to expand their level of knowledge, we still live in a realm of educated foolishness. We are creating a generation of intellectual fools. Because the psalmist says in 14:1, “The fool [has said] in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” so that no matter how much I have by way of gray matter; no matter how well I am able to understand, retrieve, and regurgitate information; no matter how many advances I may make in the realm of my own particular discipline, without the dimension of biblical wisdom I live in the realm of foolishness. For when the Bible thinks of wisdom in these terms, it is speaking of that enduement of heart and mind which is necessary for right living. So that it is in our living that we declare our wisdom.

Job, in chapter 28 and verse 12, asks the question, “Where shall wisdom be found?” He says, “Man does not know the way to it.” And isn’t that the truth? You know, if our universities were full of wise people, people would be taking their vacations there. They would be going up there, you know, taking trailers and simply having picnics in the ground: “Let’s go up and hang around with wise people! Let’s go up and see how the wise people live! Maybe we will become wise like them, too.” But, of course, that doesn’t happen. Because the youngster—no matter how well they graduate, into what environment, matriculate into whatever school—they’re not there five minutes till they realize, “I am surrounded by intellectual idiots! And unless I have an answer that is deep in the soul of my being, all of my gains here will be held in check by this great lack.”

Until a man or a woman comes to fear God, to recognize that our times are in his hand, that we were created purposefully by him, that we are ruined by sin, that we are glorious in our originality in terms of being made in the image of God and yet marred by this sin, that God’s desire is to recreate in us the image of his Son and to set us to rights—until a man is brought to fear God in that way, then no matter how great his advance, he will always be less than that which God might make him.

So Job asks, “Where is this wisdom?” He replies later in the way that the psalmist does in Psalm 111:10; he says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”[8] Until a man or a woman comes to fear God, to recognize that our times are in his hand, that we were created purposefully by him, that we are ruined by sin, that we are glorious in our originality in terms of being made in the image of God and yet marred by this sin, that God’s desire is to recreate in us the image of his Son and to set us to rights—until a man is brought to fear God in that way, then no matter how great his advance, he will always be less than that which God might make him.

Solomon understood this perfectly. He says that wisdom is supreme when he writes to his sons in the book of Proverbs. He encourages them; listen: “Make sure that you get wisdom. Even if it costs you all you have. Get understanding. Wisdom is supreme. Get wisdom.”[9] I find myself gravely challenged by this. Are we laboring that our children would become wise, or are we laboring that our children would become intelligent? As we think in terms of their progress through their school days and on to their development in college and beyond, what is it that really drives us? The concern to be well thought of by the people around us? To show that we can manage it, that we can handle it, that we can afford it, that we can send them there, that we’re as good as the rest, and we will make every effort to ensure that they have all the benefits of intellect? That is fine, and that is right, but absent the discovery of wisdom in their young lives, we send them down a dead-end street. And the great necessity that exists within my home is not simply that my children would come home with these things to stick on the back of their mother’s van (which they do—which we put on the fridge, ’cause I don’t like stuff on the back of my cars). That is not the issue. The issue is that they would come to wisdom—that they would fear the Lord. I’d rather they pumped gas and sold bananas from the side of the street and knew the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom[10] than that they were to excel and live in isolation from the truth of God’s Word.

Do you realize how many of us are caught up in this great intellectual snobbery, in this great educational vortex, in this idea that somehow or another we are what we have in relationship to these things? We are producing, I say to you again, a generation of total cluelessness. And as Christians—and don’t misunderstand me here—our great need is for sanctified scholarship. Okay? The best of our minds given to the best of our studies with the best of our effort, but from the foundation of biblical wisdom. And, you see, this is what it says: “A wise son brings joy to his dad, but a foolish son grief to his mother.”[11] And I have letters all the time from people who tell me, “My son”—indeed I had one this week—“My son is a prominent physician in the United Kingdom. My other son is a major in the Royal Air Force and flies planes at breakneck speeds,” writes my friend. “But neither of them walk with God.” Do you think that he would trade that uniform and that stethoscope for being able to get down on his knees with his boys and reach into the heart of God? I tell you that in a minute he would. But again, don’t misunderstand me: it’s not a choice between being a pilot and being a devoted Christian, between being a doctor and being in touch with God. It is, “Let’s get in touch with God, and then let’s go for the gold. But don’t let’s go for the gold and neglect getting in touch with God.”

See, that’s why we know Joseph. Joseph had a great mind, there is no question. Joseph would have exceeded himself in any Fortune 500 company in America on the strength of what we’ve seen so far. Joseph would have been at the apex of the business world in our day. But that wasn’t what made Joseph, Joseph. He was in touch, and it was revealed in wisdom. There is a wisdom which is earthly and unspiritual, says James in James 3. You may like to turn to it just in conclusion. The wisdom that is earthly has its accompaniments of envy and selfish ambition and boasting, and it denies the truth. James 3:15, he says, “Such ‘wisdom’ doesn’t come down from heaven; its earthly, it’s unspiritual, it’s of the devil.” When people are operating on the basis of that kind of non-wisdom, he says in verse 16, “you’ll have envy and selfish ambition, you’ll have disorder, you’ll have every evil practice going. But,” he says, “the wisdom that comes from heaven”—which is the wisdom of Joseph—“the wisdom that comes from heaven,”—look at it—“It’s pure. It shrinks from contamination. It’s peace-loving. It holds a line, but does so graciously. It’s considerate. It thinks of others. It’s submissive.” In other words, it is open to reason. “It’s full of mercy.” It’s not like the Pharisees in a spirit of condemnation. “It’s full of good fruit. It’s impartial. It’s sincere.”[12] And it’s revealed in life. It’s not revealed in talk. That’s what he’s saying in verse 13: if you’re wise in your understanding, show it! Don’t tell it. “Excuse me, I am wise and understanding.” The answer to that is, “Talk to the hand. I don’t want to hear from you.” No. “Who is wise and understanding …? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom.”[13] In other words, the wise fellow, the wise girl, is known not by their talk, but by their walk. And such wisdom brings a lovely harvest, in verse 18: “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”

Let us beware, we said last time, of choosing people on the strength of personality rather than character. Let us beware, we say this morning, lest we are tempted to settle for knowledge as a substitute for wisdom. It is because wisdom is the issue that the rocket scientist may be daft, and the little lady who has never seen the inside of an educational establishment much beyond the age of fourteen, who is working away in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland fashioning Harris Tweed so that you can wear that jacket that you have had so long and like so much, that’s why she may be so full of wisdom, and the rocket scientist so silly. Because it is ultimately found in the Lord Jesus.

You can read it in Colossians 2: “In him,” says Paul, “is found all of our wisdom and our righteousness and our holiness.”[14] And so, when Pharaoh looked around for someone to put in charge, he found a man who was in touch. Let us then look for leadership on the same basis within Parkside Church. Let us look for those who are in touch, so that on the strength of their wisdom they may be put in charge.

Let us pray together:

O God our Father, we pray that your Word may dwell in us richly; that in the hours of this day and in the days of the week, some of the food that we have taken for our nourishment now we may be able to bring back to our recollection and feed on it. May it be a stimulus to our own study, our own personal devotions, our own desire to live in an alien world with the clarity and conviction of Joseph. And in the remainder of this day, in relaxation, and in the privilege of worship this evening when we gather around your table, and as we come again to study in this most important portion of Scripture, grant that your grace may be upon us all.

“And now unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior be glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and forevermore! Amen.”[15]


[1] See 2 Kings 15 and 2 Chronicles 26.

[2] Romans 12:15 (ESV).

[3] Charles Swindoll, Joseph: A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 74 (paraphrased).

[4] Acts 4:13 (KJV).

[5] Hebrews 13:17 (paraphrased).

[6] Genesis 41:39 (paraphrased).

[7] See Genesis 41:45.

[8] Job 28:28 (paraphrase).

[9] Proverbs 4:7 (paraphrased).

[10] See Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7.

[11] Proverbs 10:1; 15:20; 17:25 (paraphrased).

[12] James 3:15–18 (paraphrased).

[13] James 3:13 (NIV 1984).

[14] Colossians 2:3 (paraphrased).

[15] Jude 1:24–25 (paraphrased).

Thankfulness: A Mark of Grace
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