Opening Prayer: “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”
Daily Scripture Reading:
- Genesis 39:20-40:4
- Matthew 22:36-40
- Philippians 1:12-14
The missionary Jim Elliot, who was killed in 1956 evangelizing to the people of Ecuador, wrote “Wherever you are, be all there.” It seems he took a page out of Joseph’s book. From the pit, to Potiphar’s house, to prison it seems that Joseph indeed was “all there” in each place. And although he had no control of his circumstances, he never wasted an opportunity to influence, love, and serve the people in his path.
It is difficult for us to read about Joseph’s years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and not think of it as another devastating injustice and confusing circumstance in his life. But God was positioning him for relationships. You see, in God’s economy, people are much more valuable than the positions we hold or the places we occupy. We read in Gen. 39:21 that, “the Lord was with him [Joseph]; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” God’s kindness and favor were found even in prison, but that favor did not immediately lead to an acquittal and the restoration of Joseph’s good name. It did not materialize as the answer to the prayers we can assume he was praying. God’s kindness and favor looked like an opportunity to influence, love, and serve new people- first the warden, then the other prisoners, and then Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker, and eventually Pharaoh himself and all of Egypt.
The apostle Paul found himself in prison a time or two as well. We read in Philippians 1:12-14 that he believed his incarceration actually advanced the gospel as he witnessed to the “whole palace guard” and “everyone else.” He goes on to say, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” Position didn’t matter. Place didn’t matter. Even prison didn’t matter. Only people mattered.
We live most of our lives looking up or down. We look up to the places and positions we are trying to get to… climbing our individual ladders. We look down, distracted by our to-do lists and daily agendas. I believe Jesus is asking us to spend a lot more time looking around at the people He has placed in our path. Our place is not an accident because the people there are on purpose. When Jesus was asked what the greatest command was He said, “To love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all of your mind.” But He didn’t stop there! He went on and said that the second greatest commandment was like it- to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The only way the warden, the prisoners, the cupbearer and baker were going to be Joseph’s neighbors was if he was in prison himself. God positioned him for people because that is His heartbeat… people. Our’s should be as well.
Today’s Big Questions: Do you find yourself living most of your life looking up or down rather than around at the people in your path? Honestly, are you more consumed with your personal position and agenda, or relationships? Do you find yourself frustrated by interruptions in your plans or do you see it as an opportunity to influence, love, and serve others. Is there enough margin in your life to pour into people when the opportunity arises?
Prayer Response: Today, ask the Lord to highlight someone on your path to influence, love, and serve for the glory of God. Every time you walk into a new place, ask for a new person to point to Jesus. Make this a prayer practice!
Optional Action Step: Make a list of all of your “places” or “positions.” For example: home, work, school, gym, etc. Then, next to each place or position, write the names of the people and relationships connected to it. This week, as you are planning your days, note the people you will encounter in each place and plan to invest well.
Closing Prayer: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”