Newsletter for Jul 2010
Many years ago I was like so many Christians in that I focused a great deal of my attention on how to increase financially. I listened to the sermons and read the books and magazines of every preacher who taught on prosperity. If they said giving in a certain manner would produce blessings, I would give in that fashion. If they declared that a special anointing for increase was flowing for a limited time, I would try to give during that brief window of opportunity. After giving in each offering, I anxiously awaited the arrival of my financial overflow. Well, here I am years and years later, still waiting for the multiplied abundance that those preachers promised would be mine.
The time came when I finally sat down long enough with God to get His take on all this. He shared that, when it comes to so many of the prosperity sermons, a great number of those preachers are “the blind leading the blind;” they are trying to produce blessings through works rather than receiving blessings out of faith and grace. He went on to explain that financial increase has as its foundation our relationship with Him, not what we give. Recently, He used an Old Testament story as a “type and shadow” to illustrate this truth and I want to pass this revelation on to you.
And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored. (Genesis 39:1-6)
Joseph was a slave. His entire life consisted of serving his master and accomplishing his will. He realized that his life was in the hands of his master. Whatever Potiphar wanted, Joseph saw to its completion; time and personal feelings were irrelevant when it came to being obedient to him. Joseph’s life and time were not his own, he had been bought with a price.
As Joseph served Potiphar, the Lord was with him and God’s blessing and favor were upon his life. Scripture declares that Joseph “was a prosperous man.” However, as a slave, Joseph would not have had great prosperity for himself; the increase would have been for the sake of his master, which is revealed in the above passage, the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.
Over time, Potiphar noticed Joseph’s unwavering commitment. There is no record that he grumbled or complained about his conditions or the tasks assigned to him. Potiphar realized that Joseph was different from all other slaves and noticed the depth of integrity he demonstrated. The result was that Potiphar promoted Joseph to higher and higher levels of authority to the point that Joseph eventually oversaw everything concerning Potiphar’s life. Genesis 39:11 reveals he was so trusted that Potiphar even left him alone in his house, And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
As a slave, Joseph would not have opulent personal wealth. But because he diligently attended to the will of his master, the implication in scripture is that Potiphar took good care of Joseph and that he lacked for nothing; in other words, Potiphar met Joseph’s needs. Likewise, because of how scripture portrays this story, there is no doubt in my mind that Potiphar treated Joseph as something more than just a slave, resulting in Joseph being blessed with scrumptious meals, finely tailored clothing and very ample living quarters.
As I meditated on this story, the Holy Spirit began pointing out the symbolism in crystal clarity. Potiphar represents God and Joseph represents each member of the Body of Christ. Just as Potiphar purchased Joseph, 1 Corinthians 6:20 tells us, For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. Acts 20:28 reveals it was with the blood of Jesus that we were purchased. Since I have been bought with a price and am not my own, my life should be focused on and 100% devoted to my Master’s will. The Apostle Paul described this so vividly in Romans 1:1,
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.
The word “servant” comes from the Greek word “doúlos” which means a person who is permanently in the position of a slave or in servitude to another, with his will being totally and completely consumed in the will of his master; implicit is the imagery that this position of a slave can be voluntary. Paul further illustrated this in Philippians 1:21 when he stated, For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Then, in Philippians 3:4-10, Paul reveals even more details of his commitment to Christ,
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Paul had come to realize that his own personal accomplishments, goals and desires became increasingly meaningless the more he knew Jesus and the will of God. He matured spiritually to understand that, as a slave to Jesus, there was no way God would not provide for him. Paul passed this knowledge on to us in 2 Corinthians 9:8,
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
All of this is exactly what we see in the story of Joseph and Potiphar. And, just as Potiphar promoted Joseph to higher levels of responsibility and authority as he demonstrated faithfulness, dependability and total commitment, God will promote us further in His kingdom and in our ministry calling as we demonstrate the same qualities. This is plainly evident in Luke 19:12-27,
A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.
And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow. And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds. (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds.) For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.
Like Joseph, the first two servants mentioned in this passage did not see their master’s possessions as their own. He wanted them to steward the pounds for his own increase, and that is exactly what they did. As servants, they realized that even time was to be managed so as to accomplish the will of the master.
But also notice in this story that there were people who adamantly refused to serve the nobleman even though they were citizens of his kingdom! In the same manner, there are numerous Christians who refuse to commit their lives to the Lord, yet seem to expect God to use and promote them. Not only that, but they seem to expect God to abundantly bless them and exceedingly meet their needs just because they put money in an offering! Compounding the problem is that such people see their lives, possessions and all increase as theirs and theirs alone; they do not have the attitude of Joseph or Paul that the will of their Master is to come first.
I am greatly aware that this is an overwhelming challenge to the thinking of many Christians. But the pattern throughout scripture is not that of “sow a seed to meet a need;” rather, what we see over and over again is how God anointed and blessed those who laid down their own plans and pursuits to be totally obedient to Him. Does this diminish the need to give? Absolutely not; what it does is remove us from a “this percent is mine and that percent is God’s” mentality to a mindset that says, “I choose to be a servant/slave to Jesus. Everything about my life belongs to Him, including my money. I will give what He wants me to give, regardless of what percentage of my income that would be.”
Another aspect of the story about Joseph is how his dedication to serve Potiphar resulted in him living in his favor. The more we commit ourselves to God’s will, the more His favor and its blessings will be imparted to our lives.
The king's favor is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame. (Proverbs 14:35)
In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favor is as a cloud of the latter rain. (Proverbs 16:15)
God put the details about Joseph’s life as a slave to Potiphar in scripture for a reason. He could have easily left out the majority of what we read in Genesis 39:1-6; but He left it all there to send a message to the church today: He wants us to love Him so deeply that we totally sell out to His will; in return, He will entrust us with both material and financial blessings, along with promoting us to higher levels of authority in His kingdom.
I want to encourage you to judge God worthy of such trust and commitment. He is our Father and He is well aware of what we need to live and fulfill His will. If we depend more on our offerings than His faithfulness to receive blessings, then we will end up living far beneath the fullness of what He desires to pour into our lives. He loves you with an eternal, perfect love…press into Him and see what that love will do in your life!
Your servant in Christ,