Thursday, January 3, 2013

Faith in this new year...

It is the first of the year and I am starting all over again in my daily Bible readings. As usual, I plan to read at least two times through the Bible this year. While this is only a part of my spiritual disciplines (add prayer, meditation, devotional readings, etc.), it is one that probably look forward to most.

Today, I finished the story of Joseph and his brothers. I was encouraged by the story to have the faith of Joseph.

It is interesting that we don't really think about Joseph when we think about the heroes of faith. Even the author of Hebrews, while he mentions Joseph in the Chapter 11 role call, doesn't really single out Joseph much for his faith. The writer says of faith, that it "is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen..." And then he goes on to expound by numerous examples: Abraham, Moses, etc. Joseph's faith is almost an afterthought to the others listed.

However, I find Joseph's faith to be powerful and a challenge for my life. Joseph, beloved son of his father, was scorned by his brothers and sold into slavery. He was unjustly accused and imprisoned. He was faithful through it all but literally forgotten by those he showed kindness to. He has all kinds of reason to be bitter and resentful not just at people but at God. Joseph, if he had been like me, might have said, "God, I have faithfully served You but You continue to abandon me. Woe is me!"

We see Joseph's heart and his faith in God when he if finally reunited with his brothers. You know the story. They come to Egypt to get food. They make two trips and he finally reveals himself to them and shows the true measure of his faith. Instead of using it as an opportunity to take vengeance, he shows his faith in God by saying to his brothers...

"I am Joseph, your brother, the one you sold into Egypt. And now don't be worried or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life...Therefore, it was not you who sent me here but God." (Genesis 45:4-5; 8)

And later, after his father passes away, he reassures his brothers the same thing by saying, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result - the survival of many people." (Genesis 50:19-20)

I want that kind of faith. The kind of faith that looks at the worst circumstances in life and still says that God is in total control. The kind of faith that knows that God is infinitely bigger than anything that will happen to you or me. The kind of faith that says, no matter what comes, blessed be the Name of the Lord. The kind of faith that sees reality in God, His purpose and His plans, and not in my small slice of life.

A.W. Tozer says, "Our trouble is that we have established bad thought habits. We habitually think of the visible world as real and doubt the reality of any other."

Francis Chan says, "On the average day, we live caught up in ourselves. On the average day we don't consider God very much. On the average day, we forget that our life truly is a vapor."

I pray that this year I will truly live in the reality of what is assured through God and His Word. I pray that I will live in the conviction of things unseen.

I would like to have the faith exhibited by Joseph in this new year...

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