Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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3 Joseph Serving as a Slave

Genesis 37:28, 36

28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces[d] of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt. 36 Meanwhile, the Midianite traders[f] arrived in Egypt, where they sold Joseph to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Potiphar was captain of the palace guard.

Genesis 39:1-3

1When Joseph was taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer. Potiphar was captain of the guard for Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.

Joseph had dreamed about his brothers bowing down to him and then finds himself in the position of a slave serving in Potiphars house. No one is bowing down to Joseph just yet. Jesus said “Whoever wants to be a great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave” Joseph is getting experience serving from the bottom up which many of us rebel against. At first glance it seems hopeless, sold into slavery, stuck in a position of serve others; yet notice in this place of service what Joseph experiences.

  • The Lord’s Presence

Three times in this chapter it is stated that the Lord was with Joseph (v. 2, 21, and 23). Sometimes the position of a servant can be a lonely one; Joseph could have felt isolated from family and what was familiar during the 13 years that he was separated from his family. He spent 11 years in Potiphar’s house and 2 years in prison before he was promoted at age 30. Yet, the Scriptures clearly show that He had the watch care of the Lord all during that time. There is no greater encouragement than knowing that the Lord will never leave or forsake you. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego experienced the presence of the Lord with them in the fiery furnace. David faced Goliath and said, “for the battle is the Lords” he knew that the Lord was with him. The Lord was with the children of Israel at the parting of the red sea. The Lord was with Daniel in the den of lions. The Lord’s presence means everything, and it is with those who serve.

  •  The Lord’s Prosperity

It seems he is stuck serving Potiphar yet if we look a little deeper we find he is really serving God and because the Lord was with Joseph he prospered. God’s blessings are not dependent upon the circumstances, they are a result of the relationship, and because God’s blessings are not dependent upon your circumstances you can be faithful wherever you are. Sometimes we forfeit God’s best because we become discontent; we think we can’t have the blessings of God right where we are.  In Potiphar’s house Joseph was in a place of training, learning how to serve, because God wanted to use him to serve Egypt and the countries surrounding it.  We like the idea of serving when it’s big and we are in a position of importance but serving isn’t a position, it’s an attitude. If Joseph had not taken on the attitude of a servant he would have used his position later to serve himself. Prosperity and blessings from the Lord can come in many different packages. God’s blessings may not show up in your personal finances, they didn’t for Joseph, so don’t be disillusioned into thinking that prosperity is only measured with a dollar sign.

  •  The Lord’s Protection

I think we often fail to realize just how powerful the protective force of God’s presence really is. We spend billions every year trying to protect ourselves, protecting everything from our identity to our health. God’s protection is upon His servants, how is your servant training going, are you taking on the attitude of a servant?

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2 Serving like Jesus Part 2

Matthew 20:20-28

20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 “What is your request?” he asked. She replied, “In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left.” 22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” “Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!”23 Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen.”24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Last time, as we started to think about the journey of serving, we talked about it not being a separate journey but intertwined with the journey of Suffering and Sacrifice. Now let’s look at:

  • The Journey of Serving

Jesus emphasized that greatness in the kingdom of God is different from worldly greatness. Kingdom greatness is about serving, while worldly greatness is about ruling. Kingdom greatness focuses on the people, while worldly greatness focuses on self. We live in a world where greatness is measured by the extent of a person’s influence and power, by how much they control and command. Our flesh likes the idea that we are being served and our needs are being met. But in God’s kingdom, to become great, one must serve others. Real greatness according to Jesus is not measured by how many people serve you, but by how many people you serve.

We make so much of this life about our position, trying to be first, and we fear serving because deep down we fear losing position, yet when we consider our greatest example of servant hood, Jesus, we find it to be the one of greatest position. Mentally, Christians agree with the concept of serving but practically, we really dislike the idea of serving because a servant was someone who would wash other people’s feet, get people their food and drink, clean up after people are done eating. First, this is not a very glamorous position as it requires dealing with smelly feet, and secondly, it goes against our culture of being the ones who want to be catered to. The real problem with serving is self, the one who usually gets in the way is me, my sinful nature. Jesus said we are to deny ourselves take up our cross and follow Him, until we deal with self, we will never truly serve.  I think this is why many Christians hop from place to place, relationship to relationship; we are really in it for self, looking for what meets our needs and when they are not met we just move on. If we really boil it all down we have a culture where we are more interested with getting blessed than being a blessing. I think that there is little true serving because we are going about this whole thing backwards; we are trying to be a blessing to get blessed when God has blessed us to be a blessing.

When we focus on being blessed we end up damming up God’s blessings for ourselves only to create an inflow with no outflow. Bodies of water in our world where there is no outflow become stagnant and die, the most famous being the Dead Sea. Our life should not be a dead end, or a blank alley of God’s blessings, it must be that reservoir that has an outlet to water what is downstream. God wants to use our life as a channel of His blessings, are you open to God using you? It seems an oxymoron that those that wish to be great become servants but the reason servants are great in the kingdom of God is that they become an instrument of His glory. Anytime God’s glory passes through anything it always becomes great.

Where are you serving? Who are you serving? Why are you serving? Who has God placed downstream in your life that He wants to bless through you? Are you seeking to become a blessing to others?