IMMANUEL: a God who is with people

This morning I was taking care of my baby girl while her mother was washing some dishes. She played with her stuff animal doggy for a few minutes, but she quickly gravitated over to where I was sitting in a chair reading. For the next 15 minutes she was content doing nothing but being near to me. That’s so childlike. As children we love to be near our parents. There is safety, comfort and love in the presence of your maker.

So it is with God. We long to be near to God. We crave his affection and presence. There is a desire innate within all people to want to be with God and for God to be with them. Such a promise like this from God is meant to stir within all a sense of security, comfort and love from God above. Throughout Scripture the theme of God’s presence with His people is a thread that weaves through the pages of Scripture:

God is with you

  • Immanuel, God with us (Isa. 7:14; 8:10; Matt. 1:23)
  • Its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel (Isa. 8:8)
  • God is with us (2 Chr. 13:12)
  • The Lord is with us (Num. 14:9; 2 Chr. 32:8; Ps. 46:7, 11)
  • God is with you (Gen. 21:22; Isa. 45:14)
  • The Lord is with you (2 Chr. 20:17)
  • The Lord is with you when you are with him (2 Chr. 15:2)
  • The Lord is with Israel (Num. 23:21; Deut. 20:1, 4)
  • I am with you (Gen. 26:24; Hag. 1:13; 2:4)
  • Do not be afraid, for I am with you (Isa. 41:10; Isa. 43:5; Jer. 42:11; 46:28)
  • Those with us are more than those with them (2 Kgs. 6:16)
  • He is at my right hand (Ps. 16:8)
  • He who is with us is greater than the one with him (2 Chr. 32:7)
  • Men will hear that God is with a Jew (Zech. 8:23)
  • The Lord is with them (Zech. 10:5)
  • They will know that I am with them (Ezek. 34:30)
  • Is the Lord in our midst or not? (Exod. 17:7)
  • Is not the Lord with you? (1 Chr. 22:18)
  • You are with me (Ps. 23:4)
  • You know the Spirit, for he dwells with you and will be in you (John 14:17).

God always with you

  • You set me in your presence forever (Ps. 41:12)
  • I set the Lord continually before me (Ps. 16:8)
  • When I awake I am still with you (Ps. 139:18)
  • I am always with God (Ps. 73:23).

God with you to help

  • God stands at the right hand of the needy (Ps. 109:31)
  • With us is the Lord to help us (2 Chr. 32:8)
  • I am with you to deliver you (Jer. 1:8, 19)
  • When we pass through the waters he will be with us (Isa. 43:2).

God has been with you

  • God who has been with me wherever I have gone (Gen. 35:3)
  • I have been with you wherever you have gone (1 Chr. 17:8)
  • These 40 years the Lord has been with you (Deut. 2:7)
  • The Lord was with Judah (Judg. 1:19)
  • The Lord stood with me (2 Tim. 4:17)
  • I [Wisdom] was beside him (Prov. 8:30).

God be with you

  • May the Lord be with you (Ruth 2:4; 1 Sam. 17:37; 2 Sam. 14:17; 1 Chr. 22:11, 16; Amos 5:14)
  • The Lord be with you all (2 Thess. 3:16)
  • May the Lord be with you as he was with Moses (Josh. 1:17)
  • May the Lord be with you as he was with my father (1 Sam. 20:13)
  • May his God be with him (2 Chr. 36:23; Ezra 1:3)
  • The Lord be with your spirit (2 Tim. 4:22)
  • May the Lord be with us (1 Kgs. 8:57)
  • So may the Lord be with you if I allow this! (Exod. 10:10).

God will be with you

  • If God will be with me (Gen. 28:20)
  • Perhaps the Lord will be with me (Josh. 14:12)
  • I will go down with you to Egypt (Gen. 46:4)
  • I will be with you (Gen. 26:3; 31:3)
  • if you obey, I will be with you (1 Kgs. 11:38)
  • God will be with you (Gen. 48:21)
  • I will be with you (Exod. 3:12)
  • The God of love and peace will be with you (2 Cor. 13:11)
  • I will be with him in trouble (Ps. 91:15)
  • I will be with your mouth (Exod. 4:12)
  • I will be with your mouth and with his mouth (Exod. 4:15)
  • God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep (1 Thess. 4:14)
  • The God of peace will be with you (Phil. 4:9).

God with specific people

  • Abraham (Gen. 21:22)
  • Asa (2 Chr. 15:9)
  • David (1 Sam. 16:18; 18:12, 14, 28; 20:13; 2 Sam. 5:10; 7:3; 9; 1 Chr. 11:9, 17:2)
  • Gideon (Judg. 6:12–13, 16)
  • Hezekiah (2 Kgs. 18:7)
  • Isaac (Gen. 26:28)
  • Ishmael (Gen. 21:20)
  • Israel (Jer. 30:11)
  • Jacob (Gen. 28:15, 20; 31:5; 35:3)
  • Jehoshaphat (2 Chr. 17:3)
  • Jeremiah (Jer. 1:8, 19; 15:20; 20:11)
  • Job (Job 29:5)
  • Joseph (Gen. 39:2, 3, 21, 23; Acts 7:9)
  • The house of Joseph (Judg. 1:22)
  • Joshua (Deut. 31:23; Josh. 1:9; 6:27)
  • Joshua as with Moses (Josh. 1:5; 3:7)
  • Each judge (Judg. 2:18; 2 Chr. 19:6)
  • Mary (Luke 1:28)
  • Paul (Acts 18:10)
  • Samuel (1 Sam. 3:19)
  • Saul (1 Sam. 10:7; 20:13)
  • Solomon (1 Chr. 28:20; 2 Chr. 1:1, as with David 1 Kgs. 1:37).

God is among you

  • God in the midst of his people (Num. 14:14; 16:3; 35:34; Deut. 7:21; 23:14; Josh. 3:10; 22:31)
  • God is in the midst of her (Ps. 46:5)
  • The Lord your God in the midst of you (Deut. 6:15; Zeph. 3:15, 17)
  • I am in the midst of Israel (Joel 2:27)
  • Is not the Lord in our midst? (Mic. 3:11)
  • The kingdom of God is in your midst (Luke 17:21)
  • The Lord who is among you (Num. 11:20)
  • God is with the generation of the righteous (Ps. 14:5)
  • My Spirit is among you (Hag. 2:5)
  • God will dwell among them (Rev. 21:3)
  • He will declare that God is among you (1 Cor. 14:25).

God goes with you

  • My presence will go with you (Exod. 33:14)
  • The Lord goes with you (Deut. 31:6, 8 )
  • If your presence does not go with us, do not take us up hence (Exod. 33:15)
  • How can we know we please you if you do not go with us? (Exod. 33:16)
  • Go in our midst (Exod. 34:9).

Jesus is Immanuel, God with us

The greatest expression of God being with us is when He came in the skin of mankind through the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is called Immanuel, which means God with us. He was with us for only 33-years. But those 3-decades of life impacted the world and the people of the world forever.

Indeed, the title Immanuel is appropriate for Jesus—He is “God with us.” Immanuel appears twice in the Old Testament (Isa. 7:14, 8:8) and once in the New Testament (Matt. 1:23). In the Old Testament, the name is given to a child born in the time of Ahaz as a sign to the king that Judah would receive relief from Syrian attacks. The name symbolized the fact that God would demonstrate His presence with His people by delivering them. But, this prophecy also foretold the birth of the incarnate God, Jesus the Messiah, as illustrated in the Gospel of Matthew (1:23).

More than seven hundred years passed after Isaiah’s prophecy until Jesus was born. Matthew cites Isaiah 7:14 as being fulfilled in the birth of Jesus (Matt. 1:23). Later in Matthew, Jesus told His disciples that where two or three gathered in His name He would be present with them (Matt. 18:20). At the very end of the Gospel, just before His ascension, Jesus assured them that He would be with them until the end of the age (Matt. 28:20).

Also after His death and resurrection Jesus did not leave us alone. He promised to send the Helper—the Holy Spirit—to indwell His children. Forever His Spirit with us always. The book of Revelation concludes with an affirmation that the One called “God with us” will be with us forever: “The tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them” (Rev. 21:3). What an amazing promise of security, comfort and love. God is with you! Let’s be like little children clinging to His cloak, waiting for His words, and resting in His presence.

secrets of success [part 2]

We are people who collect. Some collect memorabilia. As a kid I collected thousands of sports cards and now I have boxes in storage gaining dust and I hope values. Some people collect knick-knacks. I’ve seen curio cabinets chalked full of tiny elephants, Boyd’s Bears, teacups, old books, even spoons or thimbles. Others collect compliments, cash, or cachet. While others collect power, prestige, or popularity. In all our collecting we feel like have accumulated success, status, or blessings.

So is there a secret to success? Success or blessing is not simply measured by money or stuff. Much of what you think is blessings can actually be curses. Too much a good thing left unchecked can be a really bad thing. Mass amounts of money can lead to greed. The fight for fame and fortune can leave you bruised and battered by the never-ending saga of pleasing people. Piles of possessions can lead to obsessions. Just watch an episode of Hoarders and you will see how controlling stuff can be. According to the Bible success’ source is in the immeasurable riches of God’s presence and wisdom.

KEY TO SUCCESS #1: GOD’S PRESENCE [Genesis 39]

What seemed like a series of unfortunate events for Joseph actually is a series of divine events preparing him for the next level of spiritual success. Joseph is not wasting away the best years of his life imprisoned in Egypt. God is at work. The unseen hand of God’s providence is always at work. Even when Joseph is far away from his home, betrayed by his brothers, a slave in a strange land, convicted of a crime he never committed, and ended up in prison: still the Lord was with him. “His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him.” Psalm 105:18-19

There is no question that one of the main themes of Joseph’s life is the presence of God. In fact, God’s presence is repeated eight times in chapter 39 alone:

  • “the Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man” (39:2)
  • “the Lord was with him” (39:3)
  • “the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand” (39:3)
  • “the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph” (39:5)
  • “the Lord’s blessing was upon all that he owned” (39:5)
  • “the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him” (39:21)
  • “the Lord was with him” (39:23)
  • “whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper” (39:23).

It should be noted, all of Joseph’s prosperity is funneled into the hands of other people. Joseph’s success made Potiphar wealthy [39:5], saved Pharaoh’s kingdom [Ch.41], and rescued Joseph’s family through famine [Ch.42ff]. God blessed Joseph so that he could be a blessing to others. Furthermore, God prospered Joseph so that he might have a testimony for the Lord in high places. Because of his success as a manager, Joseph was able to influence Potiphar, the chief jailer, and eventually Pharaoh himself for the Lord!

Joseph is a preincarnate picture of Jesus who was also unfairly convicted of a crime He did not commit [cf. Isaiah 52:13-53:12]. Like Joseph, He did not protest or complain, but lovingly sacrificed His life for all taking upon Himself the wrath of God and the penalty for your sin. And through it all, God was with Him.

You might think, “I’m certainly no Joseph.” He served in high places, worked among the social elite, impacted nations and governments. For many, the blessings of God do not come in this world. You might feel like God is distant or has forgotten you. I hope you see from the life of Joseph that even in the meekest of situations God is present.

KEY TO SUCCESS #2: GOD’S WORKMANSHIP [Genesis 40]

God is at work. God is at with in and through Joseph. In prison he meets two interesting inmates—a cupbearer and chief baker. The cupbearer must have mixed a bad drink and the chief baker must have made some low-carb sawdust flavored bran muffins to end up in the can. Both work for Pharaoh—the most powerful man on the face of the earth.[1] He used his authority to throw two men in prison that so happen to be in the same prison as Joseph and now placed under his authority. This is not random chance, luck or happenstance. The man with a god-complex seen as a mediator to the gods is a pawn in the hands of the One True God who is at work in the subtle details.

God gave Joseph a gift to interpret dreams. His brothers called Joseph the “master of the dreams” [37:18].  In Genesis 40, God gave a dream to his two cellmates that they could not interpret. So they asked Joseph. God helped Joseph to interpret their dreams. There was good news and bad news. Good news—for the cupbearer—meant he would live and return to his previous post in honor. Bad news—for the baker—meant his head would hang in a noose from a tree. Three days later on Pharaoh’s birthday Joseph’s interpretation of the dream came to pass just as God had revealed.

Joseph could have buried his gift in the ground and kept the meaning of the dreams to himself. He could have thought, “I’m not going to going to help these two numbskulls. Nobody appreciates me around here, anyway. Potiphar wouldn’t listen to me. His wife set me up. These Egyptians are all cut from the same cloth. Why should I go out of my way to help these two criminals?”

Perhaps this is precisely where you are in your church, small group, career or family—disillusioned, discouraged, or annoyed. You have decided that you will no longer serve on the committee, no longer speak up on that issue, no longer be a member of the team, or no longer teach the class. If that describes you, take a long look at Joseph. Lying in that jailhouse he had every excuse in the world just to roll over and play spiritually dead. He had every excuse to hoard his gift. But he didn’t. Instead, he stayed committed to the Lord; he used his gift; and eventually God used that gift to get him into the royal palace of Pharaoh! God works through people—like you. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” [Ephesians 2:10].

What could God do through you if you would only serve him without losing heart? What would you have done if you were in Joseph’s chains? Unfortunately, the immediate result of Joseph’s interpretation got the chief cupbearer restored, but left Joseph in the joint. The cupbearer went back to his work forgot about Joseph even though he had specifically requested that he not be forgotten. But, God did not forget about Joseph nor leave him abandoned in prison. God is at work in and through Joseph to accomplish His purposes. With each “random” incident and the forgetfulness of humans, it is wise to remember with God nothing is accidental or purposeless.

KEY TO SUCCESS #3: GOD’S WISDOM [Genesis 41]

Two years pass and Joseph is still in chains forgotten by his freed inmate. That was until God gave Pharaoh troubling dreams. He was frustrated and tired because he could not understand their meaning. So he called all his pagan magicians and interpreters, but they could not understand the dream. Only God knew the meaning. It was then that God enabled the chief cupbearer to remember how Joseph had correctly interpreted his dream and the dream of the now deceased baker in prison.

Joseph was immediately summoned from his cell. He was bathed, shaved, and clothed in a matter fit to meet the king. Standing before the Pharaoh, Joseph in astounding humility gave all credit to God for his gift, “It is not in me; God.” [41:16]. Joseph told the king that he could not interpret the dream, but that God could and would through him. He then interpreted the dream according to God’s wisdom. In the dream the king would soon have seven years of fruitfulness in the fields, but would be followed by seven years of severe famine.[2] Indeed, God was showing mercy to Pharaoh through Joseph. It was a divine dream with a divine plan to save a region in the years of severe famine.

What an amazing plan. Where did Joseph get his agricultural wisdom? How did he acquire his engineering genius? Did he learn from his father? Or take classes at the local technical college? Did he pick it up in the midst of all his work as a slave? The Bible does not say. What we are sure of is that Joseph relies heavily upon God. He realized that true wisdom comes from above, “With God are wisdom and might; He has counsel and understanding.” [Job 12:13] God blessed Joseph with farming and engineering wisdom to the rescue of many people [41:54].

God is wise. He knows all things. He shares that wisdom with His people to help them and show them His mercy and grace. But this begs a question. How do I apply the wisdom of God to my life like Joseph?

First it is good for you to excel in all kinds of wisdom—agriculture, medicine, science, history, arts—and use that wisdom to bless other, but give glory to God who has given you the wisdom. Joseph’s life teaches you to use your career, role, skills, and gifts to serve the God by serving others.

Second, there is another kind of wisdom that may be used to rescue the perishing, eternally. Paul calls it “the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” It is a wisdom found only in “the sacred writings” of Scripture [2 Timothy 3:15]. Thus, learning the message of the Scripture—the gospel—and expressing the ability and willingness to share the good news of Jesus clearly, fully, and accurately through your words and actions. Speaking and living out the gospel is sharing the wisdom of God with others. Who knows what position God may put you in, even this week, to rescue someone from spiritual famine! Will you have acquired the wisdom from God to do so?

Who’s the Main Character in this Story?

It is clear the main character in Genesis 39-41—though not explicitly seen—is God. Joseph’s God was in fact supreme because He alone could give dreams, He alone could interpret those dreams, and He alone held the future that He promised could not be altered by anyone, including the powerful Pharaoh. God sent Joseph to Egypt as a sort of missionary to bless that nation according to His covenant promise to bless the nations of the earth through His people whom He blessed [cf. Genesis 12:1-3].  Also setting the stage for God to use another man [Moses] to lead God’s children from Egypt to the Promised Land.

God blessed God with a wife and two sons. In honor of his God and a fitting conclusion to this narrative Joseph give beautiful and thoughtful names to his two sons, “Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” [41:50-52]

It is good to acknowledge sooner than later that success in this life and eternity is found in the presence, workmanship, and wisdom of God. He rules. He is supreme. He is sovereign over all nations and the events of your daily life. He uses events big and small, miraculous and ordinary, easy and hard to accomplish His purposes in the earth in you and through you.

God is a collector too. He has a collection of stars, angels, and created things. He desires to collect the praises of all people and all nations. One day you will all stand before the throne of God with a collection of people from ever tongue, tribe and people group, who will all be bowing their knees and singing praises to the God who is all in all and over all. Success that last has roots in God. All other success is fleeting.


[1] Politically, the Egyptian empire was the most powerful on earth for an amazing 1300 years, twice as long as the famed Greek and Roman empires. Geographically, Egypt was a long and narrow country of about 13,000 square miles isolated by the surrounding deserts, mountains, sea, and valley. Theologically, Egypt was ruled by a succession of mighty Pharaohs who were worshiped as a sort of mediator god who connected life on the earth to life in the spirit realm and alone walked between the two worlds. As deity, the Pharaohs had their pyramids built to ensure their safe passage from this world to the next, and viewed the pyramid as a sort of ladder transporting their soul into the next world. Simply, there was no nation on earth more powerful than Egypt, and there was no man in Egypt more powerful than the Pharaoh whose will was supreme.

[2] According to the dream, the famine would affect both the farm fields [grains] and ranches [livestock] in Egypt. A seven year famine would be devastating for Egypt and surrounding countries that relied upon them as the breadbasket of the world.

secrets of success

I have only been married two-and-a-half years, but whenever Sarah and I have to spend a night apart it is a hard nights rest. I want to be with her. I do not like being alone. God has made people to need other people. People are designed for community, fellowship, and relationship with one another. I also have a God who desires to have communion, fellowship and relationship with His creation.

Joseph was the 11th of 12 brothers. He was his daddy’s favorite. A colorful coat was his award. He was hate by his brothers. They threw him into the pit until they could think of the cleaver idea of selling him into slavery like a cheap trinket. Jacob thought his son died by mauling. Instead, he was on his way to Egypt—a foreign country where he did not know the language, did not have any more clothes than the ones on his back, and at only 17 years old he had no idea how long he would be away from the family that disowned him. He was a stranger in a strange land with a strange new master that gave him commands and he has no choice but to obey. Joseph is alone. Have you ever felt alone?

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE [Genesis 39:1-6]

Joseph began working for Potiphar who was the right-hand man to Pharaoh of Egypt.[1] Once a country bumpkin is now has moved onto the block of the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Joseph’s job is a servant. Not the greatest job, but he’s a faithful guy. He doesn’t complain to the other employees, he doesn’t waste time playing computer games, he doesn’t call in sick when he’s feeling fine, and he doesn’t steal from his boss. It doesn’t take long for him to get promoted as manager of Potiphar’s entire household. As the new executive assistant he has access to Potiphar’s keys and credit cards. The only item he was not delegated was deciding what’s for dinner. Potiphar kept that one! What is the secret to Joseph’s success? Good looks? No. Brilliance? No. Good work ethic? Nope. God? You got it!

Although God is silent and never speaks to Joseph like He did to his ancestors, He is making it clear that He rules over every event of Joseph’s life even the tough parts by being “with him” [vs.2].[2] It goes back to the covenant promises given to Abraham [cf. Genesis 12:1-3]. Those in Christ God also benefit from these covenantal promises.

First, God is always with you [vs.2-3a]. The promise of God’s presence is a precious promise from God. “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you…” [James 4:8] “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” [Hebrews 13:5b] Joseph may never get married, be a father, make a good living, but God is still with him. Joseph realized it and Potiphar realized it. God’s presence is the key to his success and the theme to his life. Do you realize God is with you? Do others see that God is with you?

Second, God prospers all those who follow Him [vs.3b-6a]. What does it mean that Joseph prospered (or become successful)? How can a slave prosper? Joseph did not choose became a servant in Potiphar’s house, God choose it for Joseph. Whatever Joseph touch turned to gold. Potiphar’s bank account, business, and family flourished. The success was not Joseph, but it was Joseph’s God. In God’s eyes the greatest success story in not making millions of dollars, curing cancer, or being the most popular philanthropist. Success in God’s eyes is a man who faithfully follows Him and doesn’t worry about what others think.

Third, God is always using you. Even when you think know one is watching. Integrity leads to opportunity. Especially, when you “stand out’ rather than “fit in.” Joseph was a rose among thorns. When other servants might have been fighting for attention or the praise of man, Joseph was patiently plodding along and faithfully serving his master and Master. God was using him. Potiphar recognized it was God that was causing Joseph to succeed.

You will experience times of difficulty. Like Joseph, have you ever felt as though you’re living in a foreign country? That you don’t quite “fit in”? The question is not “Why the difficult is happening?” or “Why I don’t fit in?” but “How am I to respond to this divinely ordained difficulty?” Those who prosper in life don’t do so because they have it all together. They prosper because the Lord is with them and He who gives them strength to endure. God is preparing Joseph through difficulty because he is going to need strength to endure, which leads us his big test.

STAND STRONG THROUGH THE TESTS [Genesis 39:7-9]

Joseph was handsome hunk. Like his mother Rachel [cf. 29:17], he was easy on the eyes. Potiphar’s wife was infatuated with him. So much so that she sought to seduce him. She was an Egyptian desperate housewife who was hot for the lawn boy [cf. Proverbs 7]. But, unlike his brother Judah, father Jacob, or great grandfather Abraham, Joseph remained a pure one-woman-man like his grandfather Isaac. With no one around, no accountability, no friends, no parents, Joseph rejected the woman’s relentless advances. He was so bold as to say to her that he would never sin against his master or his God with such an evil and dirty act. He rebuked her, as to say, “How dare you?”

How would you respond if you were in similar situation? What if know one found out? Imagine for a moment. What would be the consequences of Joseph’s future if he gave into the onslaught of sexual temptation? She could have become pregnant that would have been hard to hide. To cover-up he might have been as wickedly creative as David when he had an affair with Bathsheba. They could have been caught in the act and lose his life. Joseph is in a pickle. He cannot call his boss and claim sexual harassment on the owner’s wife. He cannot quit his job, as slave. He has no choice but to stay and stand strong.

How do I stand strong under pressures, in the heat of the moment? First, determine to trust God. God does not tempt, but He does allow you to be tempted. Know that you do not face temptations alone. God is with you always. Second, determine to remain pure [v.8a “…he refused”]. He didn’t negotiate or flirt with the edge. Joseph decided what to do in the heat of the moment. He realized that to give in would not only be sin against his boss, but an offense to God. Joseph protects his boss’s wife [“You are his wife”] and protects his purity and loyalty to God [“How could I do this great evil and sin against God?”]. May the story of Joseph come to our mind and be heeded it in the heat of the moment.

I remember being in high school art class with a beautiful girl. There were times when she sat at my table over a class period. She would ask me tempting questions about my faith and sexuality. I stood strong through the tests. It became so much an issue that I asked to have my class switched so that I would not have to face the temptation.

You see, the pressure to compromise never occurs quickly; it takes its jolly time to sway you to lower your standard. It is wise to have a proactive plan before the opportunity to compromise arises or you are bound to fail and fall into sin sooner than later.

PROACTIVELY GUARD YOUR HEART [Genesis 39:10-12]

Keeping guard of your heart is especially difficult when you see more than 3000 images each day. Our society glamorizes sex, but the consequences are often ignored. We are over exposure to sexual and immoral content. Most of us have a virtual Potiphar’s wife in our living rooms, laptops, and smart phones hounding our attentions and affects each day.

How much do you pay attention to the Viewer Discretion is Advised blurb before TV shows? Today’s teenager’s watch over 28 hours of TV per week (4hrs/day), and the main TV set in the home is turned on over 50 hours per week (7 hrs/day). The TV gets more focus than the family pet. By the time you are 70 years old you will have watched 10 uninterrupted years of TV. AND THAT’S JUST TV, it does not include your movies, iPod, Internet, phone, magazines, and other forms of communication you pour yourself into each day.

Joseph’s temptations wouldn’t leave; Potiphar’s wife hunted him down “day after day.” One particular day when Joseph was alone in the house Potiphar’s wife again tried to seduce him. Joseph made a profound decision that would have implication on the rest of his life, he RAN LIKE CRAZY out of there. However, the woman had is tunic in her hands while he ran off butt-naked. Obviously offended he turned her down, out of revenge she set him up for ruin.

She crafts a detailed story, has the evidence in her hands, and convicts Joseph of a crime he did not commit. I can only imagine Potiphar’s blood pressure rising, looking for the gun to kill the man he entrusted everything. It doesn’t matter if he’s only heard one side of the story and coming from his wife it is enough. Proverbs says, “The first to present his case seems right until the other evidence is weighed.” That’s why some who are guilty talk first trying to get their story out first to define the case before the truth can be made known. Potiphar should have questioned his wife more diligently. Potiphar plan is reactive, but Joseph plan was proactive.

What does a proactive plan look life for Joseph? First, never be alone [v.11 “none of the men of the house was there inside”] Why is it never good to be alone with someone of the opposite sex? No one knows what’s really happening, and even if nothing is happening the appearance of evil is evident. When you are with someone with the opposite sex whether married or single it is wise to be visible to other people. Go out in groups. Be accountable to someone of the same sex like a parent, pastor, or friend. No matter how old, how strong, or how committed you are to your spouse it is wise to never be alone with another person of the opposite sex unless you have a good plan to protect yourself.

Second, run like hell [v.12 “he left his garments…FLED…and went outside”]. Maintaining integrity may require you to “run away naked”. Run like hell, means you boogie so fast out of there because you know the devil has his trap set and you don’t dare take the bait. It is a good battle plan to rehearse Scripture, pray, look away, seek accountability, think about glorifying God, and buy computer software. However, these can often happen in the moment and be reactive. Plan on being proactive.

WAIT ON THE LORD [Genesis 39:13-23]

Joseph is put into jail on false rape charges. This is the second time he is thrown into the pit unfairly. Where’s the justice? Where’s the idea that if I love God everything will go my way? At times, to be a Christian is to get treated like Christ—injustice, false accusation, betrayal, and hardship. Joseph’s faith doesn’t skip a beat. He remains pure, full of integrity, and waits upon God to prove his innocence. God is still with him.

As a follower of Christ, others will try to bring you down [vs.13-14]. Joseph’s brother hated him, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him but didn’t succeed. When you live unapologetically for God others will try to take revenge out on you, try to falsely accuse, try to get you to compromise your faith.

Also, what may seem like a curse can actually turn outs to be a blessing [vs.15-20]. God is merciful. Joseph could have been killed by Potiphar, but was spared. Although everyone had abused and abandoned Joseph, God remained with him, blessed him, and caused him to prosper according to His covenant promises. Joseph served the prison warden with humble godliness and was promoted to key-keeper. Don’t be weakened by your situation. Don’t be deceived by the false accusations. Don’t be persuaded by your fears. Believe that the God who is with you will use this for your good and His glory.

Wait for God to move, but keep active [vs.21-23]. Are you willing to endure the accusation to wait for Gods guidance in your life?  You’ll always have occasions for waiting.[3] Your attitude matters while waiting.[4] And your activities matter while waiting.[5] Waiting is confident expectation on God’s promises. It is not twiddling thumbs for time to pass and hope things will work out themselves.

This episode in the life of Joseph is an interesting turn of perspective in the book of Genesis. Until this point in the book each generation from Adam to the flood, from Noah to Babel, and from Abraham to Judah has seemingly become increasingly more godless. The faithfulness of God has triumphed, but man’s faithfulness has depleted. In Joseph we see the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob finally passed on to the fourth generation. God says, “You’re mine. I’m with you. I’m not ignoring or rejecting you. You will be better because of this accusation against you. I am at work within you. I am not through preparing you yet.” [Is.55:8-9] If God is with us, even when we lose, we win.

Joseph is a great pre-incarnate picture of Jesus Christ.

Like Joseph, Jesus was sold out by His brothers and unjustly afflicted for the sake of His people.

Like Joseph, Jesus was successful in His mission because God was with Him.

Like Joseph, Jesus’ good deeds called attention to God.

Like Joseph, Jesus was given authority over everything because of His character.

Like Joseph, Jesus’ mere presence brings blessing wherever He goes.

Like Joseph, Jesus was tempted repeatedly to sin, but passed the test every time.

Like Joseph, Jesus was falsely accused and wrongly imprisoned but because of the steadfast love of the Lord, He was ultimately vindicated.

And Just like God was with Joseph, Jesus promises to be with His followers until the end of time.[6] The whole paradox of your faith is that no one is really alive until you’ve mastered the art of dying. Die to all your ambitions. Die to all your selfish perversions. Die to all your provisions of the flesh. And just ask the question: What would honor Christ? Faithfulness. Faithfulness is rewarded with God’s favor. Jesus himself illustrated this in the parable of the talents [Matthew 25]. Those who are faithful in little things are blessed with greater responsibilities.

On this side of earth, He does not promise riches, happiness, success, but if you treasure God more than anything or anyone else, you will be satisfied because you have the one thing that you could not get on your own. And He will never leave you. And He will never forsake you. He is with you always.


[1] Pharaoh is ruler of Egypt. He is the most powerful man in the world at his time. He is a guy who thinks he is god. Ever worked for a boss like that?

[2] The news that God was with Joseph is repeated eight times in chapter 39 [2, 3, 21, 23].

[3] Cf. Psalm 25:5, 21; 33:20; 145:14-16

[4] Cf. Psalm 25:3; 37:7; 39:7; 52:9

[5] Cf. Psalm 37:34; 69:3; 130:5; Lamentations 3:25

[6] Matthew 28:20, cf. Numbers 6:24-26; Genesis 28:13-15; 26:3