If this is your first time here, we have been studying the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob, and in our study we’ve watched on the sidelines as Joseph, at age 17, begins God’s school of Character Development.
I hope you’ve been learning a lot these last 6 weeks. Next week we will wind up this series.
Genesis 1:27–28 is the beginning of the human story. And from the very beginning of our story God gives every one of us the same occupation.
“So God created humankind in his own image; and the image of God he created humankind; male and female he created them. Then God bless them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”
From the very beginning, God gave us two primary assignments. One was to have children. The second was to have dominion.
His first blessing on the first couple was to take CONTROL. Exercise God-given AUTHORITY! To employ POWER.
We’re about to find out how well Joseph did in his Power Test.
You can plainly see that God created us to have power. God commissioned us to use it. We were created in the image of God, and our powerful God planned for us to use power the way He does … to create, to do good and to make life on earth better!
We have a built-in desire for power, and a longing to exercise it. Do you know how I know? I watch children!
All too often we think of the desire for power only in negative terms.
Of course, there is a wrong desire for power, a desire that is rooted in selfishness — but there is also a right desire for power. There is a de-sire for power that God has put into each human being when he or she was created.
The question is: can God trust us with His power?
What will we do with the power He gives us? Will we use it wisely?
So far most of Joseph’s tests that we have studied have involved the way he responded when bad things happened in his life. But this power test is different. This test had to do with how he responds when something good happened.
We’ll see that Joseph passed this test perfectly! The question I’m ask-ing this morning is: How do you respond to success? How do you respond to having power? How do you respond to having authority? How do you respond to having influence? How do you respond to having God’s blessings?
It is what you do with the power and blessings of God that is the true test of your character.
This may come as a surprise to some, but God’s blessings can be just as much a test as tribulations or trials can be. Why? Because blessings involve responsibility, and responsibility requires character!
Genesis 40:1-3, 5-8, 20-23
1Some time later, Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker offended their royal master. 2 Pharaoh became angry with these two officials, 3 and he put them in the prison where Joseph was, in the palace of the captain of the guard.
5 While they were in prison, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker each had a dream one night, and each dream had its own meaning. 6 When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset. 7 “Why do you look so worried today?” he asked them.
8 And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.”
“Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.”
20 Pharaoh’s birthday came three days later, and he prepared a banquet for all his officials and staff. He summoned his chief cup-bearer and chief baker to join the other officials. 21 He then restored the chief cup-bearer to his former position, so he could again hand Pharaoh his cup. 22 But Pharaoh impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had predicted when he interpreted his dream. 23 Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.
THIS WAS JOSEPH’S PRISON TEST.
NOW, WE’LL SEE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.
Genesis 41:1, 8–9, 14 (NLT)
1 Two full years later, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing on the bank of the Nile River.
8 The next morning Pharaoh was very disturbed by the dreams. So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. When Pharaoh told them his dreams, not one of them could tell him what they meant.
9 Finally, the king’s chief cup-bearer spoke up. “Today I have been reminded of my failure,” he told Phar-aoh.
14 Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once, and he was quickly brought from the prison. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he went in and stood before Pharaoh.
Not only did Joseph give Pharaoh the interpretation of his dreams, he also gave Pharaoh some free advice about how to prepare for the com-ing years of famine. And Joseph’s advice was so full of wisdom that it caused Pharaoh to conclude that Joseph must be filled with the Spirit of God!
37 Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. 40 You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”
I find it interesting that 3 men who were unbelievers – Potiphar, Pharaoh and the keeper of the prison – all recognize that the Spirit of God was with Joseph.
41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck. 43 Then he had Joseph ride in the chariot reserved for his second-in-command. And wherever Joseph went, the command was shouted, “Kneel down!” So Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all Egypt. 44 And Pharaoh said to him, “I am Pharaoh, but no one will lift a hand or foot in the entire land of Egypt without your approval.”
A pastor tells the story about a man in his church. Every week this was faithful working in the church parking lot. Every week he was faithful just following orders and parking cars for Jesus.
After a while his faithfulness became apparent to everyone, so he was made the “parking lot captain.” The next week he showed up with a brand-new uniform, a bullhorn, and a flashlight that looked like a light saber from Star Wars!
The point is: If we have responsibility or authority over something, how will you respond when you’re given responsibility or authority? This is the essence of the power test.
Let’s take a look at John 19. THIS MAN doesn’t seem to know where real power comes from JOHN 19:10-11:
10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” 11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
Pilate is SO PROUDLY talking to the One who spoke the worlds into existence, and he’s claiming he has power to take Jesus out.
But Jesus straightened him out … and we need to grasp what our Lord is saying here, too.
God has given us the desire and capacity for power, and every person in this room has power in some area of his or her life. Every person in this room is a leader to some degree. What kind of leader are you? Are you a humble leader? Are you a servant-leader? What are you doing with the power God has already given to you?
God is looking for people who will be good stewards of the power and influence He can give to accomplish His will on earth.
Joseph was only stepping into the 1st part of the 1st phase of his destiny at that time. JOSEPH had the 3R’s – rights, riches and royalty. Now that’s power!
If Joseph had handled God’s power in the wrong way, he never would have been able to fulfill his FULL AND COMPLETE destiny in the way God had planned.
Just like Joseph, you may work hard for 5, 10, 15 or 20 years–and then, in a single day, God can suddenly change everything about your circumstances! In one day God can bless you and put you into your destiny.
One morning Joseph woke up in the dungeon – and the next day he woke up in the palace. One morning Joseph woke up as a prisoner – and the next day he arose as the 2nd most powerful man in the world!
The power test USUALLY comes very, very suddenly.
God has placed you and me on this planet … for such a time as this. The responsibility we have as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ is an important one. We are to give ourselves to God, so that He can empower us to impact our world.
God has called you to impact YOUR world.
I live in a neighborhood. That’s where my world BEGINS.
My work … my occupation … is to be the best husband and father I can be for Christ.
My work is to put Jesus on display in my everyday life.
My work is to serve my wife so that she feels secure in the knowledge that she is my best friend and the number one person in my life, and that I see her as a gift from God.
My work is to put Jesus on display by the way I drive.
My work is to shop like Jesus would shop … totally aware of my surroundings – which means, being aware of who I cross paths with, and what they may need from God.
My work is to impact the children in my neighborhood, by putting on display the love and laughter of Christ.
My work is to be honest … if I am given too much change from a busy little girl’s cash drawer, or I end up in the parking lot of Lowe’s with something in my cart that I did not pay for … it’s my JOB to walk back into the store, no matter how busy I am … and make it right.
My occupation is to be the best citizen I can be – obeying the law even when it’s not fair.
It’s my profession, to pray for all the leaders that impact my life – from the President of the United States, to the Clerk of the Court in my county. It’s my calling, to be respectful to police officers.
It’s my job, to pay my taxes … it is not my work to overpay my taxes.
It is my job … to put in an honest day’s work. When I am in the office I should be focusing on the ministry God has called me to . That means focusing on you, and what I can do to serve you. That means I shouldn’t be surfing the internet, checking out eBay, or playing computer games.
It’s my calling, to give my best effort for the King.
It’s my job … to be a wise and loving grandfather, and to speak life into my little granddaughters’ and grandsons’ heart and mind.
Everything I do is important and impactful.
It is my job, to subdue the earth, and have dominion over everything that touches my hands, and doing so in ways that speak of God’s ownership of my life. He is the Master of my life. He is the Lord of my life. I live and move and have my being in Him.
And wherever I walk, whoever I talk to, whoever I pray with, and whoever I encounter in any way during the day … I view as a divine appointment.
And it is my job to be rested physically, emotionally and spiritually, so that I am able to fight off the at-tacks of the enemy, and take control of my appetites, my attitudes, and my actions.
Are you starting to get it? What are you daily RESPONSIBILITIES? What do you control? Where and when do you exercise authority?
Are you a Christ-following student? Manager? Check-out clerk? Store owner? Judge? Policeman? Accountant? Doctor?
You have power. You have responsibilities! TAKE CARE OF THEM!
That’s the POWER TEST for you and me.