Last week I recieved yet another letter from an inmate who confirmed that my Monday-night Bible study was used of God to bring him to Christ.
I won't quote it all, but in one place he says [paraphrase] "Justice, a year ago I would have been running a gambling ring here in jail. Now I am reading my Bible and talking to God, seeking to do His will." His incarceration became his moment of life-change.
That's cool. I understand that all too well. I recently appeared on public access TV (Voices in the Wilderness with Maria Goldstein) to give my testimony of how I met Jesus after my divorce and having $25,000 of unsecured debt. AGGGHHH! I look terrible, but I am still pretty pleased with it 'cause I was ecstatic, eager to explain what God had done for me.
Its a good thing to look back and give thanks for what God has done for you and through you to reach others.
Its been an amazing year financially as well. I have ONE debt left, and that is under $900. But greater than any of this is the Lord's constant friendship and companionship as I have been walking alone in some hard places. I've had to accept He is at work, even when - no, scratch that - especially when men reject His ways. His plans always come to pass, no matter how bad it seems at the time.
We have a hard time believing this, I think. That God is in full control, but frankly, there is no other option. He was sovereign Lord over Egypt in its time of famine and gave them wise Joseph as the ruler second only to Pharoah.
It was painful what happened to Joseph on the way to the king's court, but you know what? God was with him the entire way. Teaching him, training him, developing him.
Once you have run an public official's mansion and then an Egyptian prison, both circa 1800 B.C., you can handle just about anything.
1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. 2 The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.
3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So he left in Joseph's care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
After Potiphar's wife LIES and gets Joseph thrown into prison (strange - for the crime he was accused of, he should have been executed, really) we find this does NOT stop Joseph's relationship with God.
20 Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.
Note: Joseph was a man of integrity. People kept trusting him. He was honest to a fault (in fact this integrity was the reason his brothers hated him and sold him into slavery), but that meant he was guileless and it ends up getting him a job as Pharoah's second-in-command. After interpreting Pharoah's dream predicting a severe famine in the land, Pharoah and his officials are so impressed, he's hired on the spot.
37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, "Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?"
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you."
Joseph in Charge of Egypt
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt." 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, "Make way!" Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. 44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt."
So here's the REAL answer to our personal trials and even this economic crisis: keep your integrity and serve where you are.
You have no idea how dramatic your life will be, but I assure of this: God is completely in charge and He "will never leave you nor forsake you."
"Behold, I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future..."
Or as Yul Brynner said in Cecil B. deMille's Ten Commandments:
"So let it be written! So let it be done!"