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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Being Useful

doesn't depend on your station.

Genesis 39:1-10 (ESV)

Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph's charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master's wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master's wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

Potiphar made Joseph, a slave, the “overseer in his house and over all that he had.” That means that Joseph had command over non-slaves. To an American this doesn’t make sense. When we think of slavery, we picture a brutal institution where slaves had no possibility of high position.

But ancient slavery was different. There wasn’t much difference between slavery and serfdom back then. In ancient Egypt, unless you were the Pharaoh, someone else was your lord. No one was free.

This definition of slavery enabled Joseph’s rise to power. Many people had power over other people but the smart ones made shrewd use of whoever was useful.

Joseph’s “usefulness” came in handy.

Joseph was useful, not because he was clever but because God was with him. We are useful too, when we depend on God and not ourselves. That’s easier said than done though. We are taught to be self-reliant. That’s what growing up and moving out of your parents’ house is all about.

One of the tricky areas – at least for me – is prayer. I sometimes rush through my prayers as if I’m reciting a memorized grace before dinner. I never just scream, “I don’t even know what to pray for!”

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. – Romans 8:26 (ESV)

Do you have something you don’t pray for because you don’t know what to say? Don’t let that stop you.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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