Formations Lesson for September 14: "Faithful Stewardship: Planning for a Rainy Day"
August 22 2003 by John Norman Jr. , Genesis 41:39-57

Formations Lesson for September 14: "Faithful Stewardship: Planning for a Rainy Day" | Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Friday, Aug. 22, 2003

Formations Lesson for September 14: "Faithful Stewardship: Planning for a Rainy Day"

By John Norman Jr. Genesis 41:39-57

Have you ever talked with someone who lived through the Great Depression? They look at the world differently than those of us who have always had everything our hearts desired. Something I have learned from these courageous individuals is that one should never waste anything. Everything, and I do mean everything, has a useful purpose.

Take my mother, for instance, who was born in the year of the stock market crash. Even as a child during those dark days of depression, she learned to plan for tomorrow by saving today. To this day, she will use a piece of cellophane wrapper to the point of destruction by washing it over and over again. Now that's faithful stewardship!

But what about our spiritual lives? Can the wisdom of those who have lived during economic hardships be applied to our relationship with God? Does the knowledge gained from planning for a rainy day lead to the saving of our souls for eternity? Does the stewardship of the material have an impact on the wellness of the spiritual? For a glimpse at an answer, let us return to the story of Joseph.

Joseph's Rise to Power (Genesis 41:39-45) Joseph has once again emerged from the pit, winding his way to a place of prominence in all of Egypt. He has risen to be Pharaoh's right-hand man, in charge of the accumulation and distribution of Egypt's food supply.

He arrived at this position because of God's gift of interpreting dreams, which in the beginning was what got Joseph into trouble with his brothers. But now, that gift has empowered Joseph to tell Pharaoh the truth about the famine, which is on the horizon, and because of Joseph's wisdom, Pharaoh has promoted him to a place of honor in order to prepare for the drought. To symbolize this honor, Joseph is given a ring for his finger, a chain for his neck and a garment for his shoulders. He is also given a chariot in which to ride. Once again, Joseph has arrived at a significant place of power.

Joseph Remains Faithful (Genesis 41:46-57) Thirteen years have passed since we were first introduced to Joseph tending his father's flocks. Over that time a lot has happened to the dreamer from Canaan.

The ups and downs of Joseph's past have faded into the distance (note the name of his first child, v. 51), and now he has become prosperous in a land where he first arrived as a prisoner (remembered in the name of his second child, v. 52).

Throughout Joseph's sojourn in Egypt, he has remained committed in his responsibilities. Now, in his new position as agricultural secretary, Joseph is once again called on to be faithful to Pharaoh, to the Egyptians and to God. Even though Joseph has put his past behind him, it seems the lessons he learned during the highs and lows of his life have prepared him for the task at hand - being a faithful steward of Egypt's food supply.

According to the story, during the seven good years Joseph gave instructions for the collection of grain throughout Egypt. This preparation may have seemed foolish to some, but Joseph knew that a day would come when the famine would create a shortage of food.

As the fields dried up and no longer produced grain, the harvest came to an end - the seven years of famine had begun. During those difficult days, however, Egypt had plenty to eat because of the faithful stewardship of Joseph. He "opened all the storehouses" in order to provide for the people's needs. Joseph conscientiously prepared - now he freely gave.

Our spiritual lives are filled with highs and lows, feasts and famines. Sometimes we walk on the mountain, other times we crawl through the valley. So, I wonder if Joseph's story could teach us something about spiritual stewardship?

Should we understand the mountaintop experiences of our faith as times of preparation? Should we take seriously the idea of planning for tomorrow and be faithful spiritual stewards as well as faithful material stewards?

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8/22/2003 12:00:00 AM by John Norman Jr. , Genesis 41:39-57 | with 0 comments
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