Scripture Reading: Genesis 41:50-52

“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.'” (Genesis 41:51,52)

This passage is a parenthesis toward the end of the chapter. It deals with the birth of Joseph’s two sons and it gives us further insight into the character of Joseph. Pharaoh had given Joseph an Egyptian wife whose name was Asenath. Before the famine came, two sons were born to Joseph and his wife. What is interesting and very important to note is the names Joseph gave his sons. We must remember how important names were in the Old Testament. Names were carefully chosen and they expressed a clear message about an individual and a family.

Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, which means “forgetting.” Joseph tells us why he gave this name to him — “For God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” Joseph did not mean that he literally had forgotten that he had a father and eleven brothers. In the next chapter we will see how he missed them and longed to see them again. Joseph meant that now God had given a new outlook. He was able to view things from his own home in Egypt rather than from that of his father’s in Israel. Joseph had a new life. He had his own wife and children. He had a new perspective, a new outlook.

Joseph also meant that he had been healed from his past hardships, the wounds he had experienced. He meant that God had healed his wounds which came as a result of past abuses and disappointments — the terrible way his brothers treated him and the unjust way he was treated by Potiphar after he arrived in Egypt. Being able to let go of the past is a great gift from God (Philippians 3:13,14). Some people can never move forward because they get so hung up in their past hurts and disappointments.

Joseph named his second son Ephraim, which means “doubly fruitful.” There must have been several times in Joseph’s life when he though he would never be fruitful. He had been a slave and a prisoner. However, Joseph became very fruitful and he always gave credit to God for making him fruitful. Years later Jacob, Joseph’s father, reflected on his son’s remarkable life and it was Joseph’s fruitfulness that stood out in his mind (Genesis 49:22-26).

Jesus calls us to bear much fruit. He said — “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We are to bear the fruit of godly character. As we abide in Christ, he provides the nourishment we need to make us fruitful. The key is to remain in a deep and growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus, You are the vine and I am one of the branches that abides in you. I pray that You nourish me and enable me to bear much fruit. I know that I can do nothing apart from you.



Scripture Reading: Genesis 41:37-57

“And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find a man like him, in whom is the Spirit of God?’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are.'” (Genesis 41:38,39)

Pharaoh noticed two important characteristics in Joseph’s life. First, Joseph was a man in whom is the Spirit of God. He was grounded in his faith and he was led by the Spirit of God. The Spirit gave Joseph many gifts and abilities, including the ability to interpret dreams. Joseph walked by the Spirit and yielded himself to the Spirit. Second, Joseph was discerning and wise. He had deep insight into matters and he had the wisdom to know what to do. This was evident by how Joseph handled the crisis of the impending famine.

The key to Joseph’s success in Egypt was his godly character. It was because of his character that power passed into Joseph’s hands. Joseph was upright, honest, straightforward, and true. He consistently acted with integrity and others knew that they could trust him.

The source of Joseph’s character was God. From the first to the last it was the grace and power of God that made Joseph what he was. During his times of adversity, Joseph looked to God for strength and wisdom. During these hard times Joseph learned the importance of submission. In the face of injustice and cruel wrong, he accepted his circumstances without complaining. In every difficult turn in his life, he was determined to make the best of whatever situation he was in. God used the trials of his life to mold and mature Joseph.

When he was at the height of his success, he continued to look to God for his strength and wisdom. In the chapters that follow, nothing bad is said of him. He is one of the few major characters in the Bible of whom this can be said.

Pharaoh gave Joseph the Egyptian name Zaphenath-paneah. Over the years various interpretations have been given for this name. Many scholars believe the name means “God speaks, He lives.” This name bears testimony to the character of Joseph.

Godly character is rooted in the deepest recesses of the heart. It is the product of the sanctifying work of God. God molds us, shapes us, and transforms us from the inside out. It was the Spirit of God who worked in Joseph’s heart to make him the godly man that he was.

Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me. Mold me, make me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the living God, fall fresh on me. (Daniel Iverson)



Scripture Reading: Genesis 41:1-57

“Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh.” (Genesis 41:14)

Two long years passed after Joseph asked the chief cupbearer to tell Pharaoh about his situation. Pharaoh had two dreams that troubled him greatly. He could not find any one who could interpret his dreams. The chief cupbearer remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him. It must have been quite a scene when Joseph was brought out of prison and into the presence of the most powerful man on earth.

Pharaoh stated his problem to Joseph — “I had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it” (v. 15). Joseph immediately corrected Pharaoh — “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer” (v. 16). Joseph’s primary concern was God’s glory. After hearing Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph gave the interpretations of them to him” (vs. 25-36).

On that very day, Pharaoh appointed Joseph to be second in command over all of Egypt — “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards to the throne will I be greater than you” (v. 46).

There is not a character in all the Bible who experienced such sudden and radical reversals of fortune as Joseph did. One day he was his father’s favorite son who was destined to inherit his authority and wealth. The next day he was cast into a cistern and sold as a slave. In Egypt Joseph rose to a position of authority in Potiphar’s household, but in an instance he found himself in prison. One day he had hopes of deliverance through the chief cupbearer, but that day was followed by two full years of disappointment. Then one day he was brought out of prison and was standing before Pharaoh.

The emphasis of this chapter is on how quickly Joseph was released from prison, brought to Pharaoh, and established as Prime Minister over Egypt. Sudden reversals are difficult for most of us. When we experience a sudden reversal for the worse, we can become despondent. When we experience a sudden reversal for the better, we can easily forget about God and claim the credit for ourselves. Joseph, however, remained firm in his faith during the sudden reversals of his life. When he was in prison, he didn’t forget God. When he was before the most powerful man on earth, he said, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” Joseph kept his eyes on God in adversity and he also kept his eyes on God when he was prosperous.

Many of us will experience sudden reversals during the course of our lives. Some will be for our betterment, while others may be for the worse. In both cases, we should be prepared to remain faithful to our God. He will lead us through them if we keep our eyes on Him.

Sovereign God, I know that You are in control of all things. When I have experienced sudden reversals in my life, I have seen Your hand at work. You have always been faithful to me. I know that I can trust You no matter what I have to face.



Scripture Reading: Genesis 40:1-12

“Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention mention me to Pharaoh, and to get me out of this house…Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” (Genesis 40:14,23)

How many times have other people disappointed us? They tell us that they will do something but quickly forget the commitment they made. Some even hurt us deeply by failing to honor their words. Such was the case with the chief cupbearer and Joseph.

Two of Pharaoh’s lead servants, his chief cupbearer and chief baker, did something that offended Pharaoh. Pharaoh had the men placed in the prison where Joseph was. Both men had dreams while they were in prison. God enabled Joseph to interpret their dreams — “And Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me” (v. 8). As it turned out, the chief cupbearer’s dream had a good ending — “In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer” (v. 13). However, the chief baker’s dream had the opposite outcome — “In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head — from you! — and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you” (v. 19).

Joseph asked Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer to mention his circumstances to Pharaoh when he was restored to his position. When the cupbearer was released, Joseph must have been excited as he anticipated his release from prison. But it did not happen — “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him” (v. 23). Joseph remained in prison two more long years.

People will disappoint us. We cannot put our ultimate trust in human beings, for we all have feet of clay. We will disappoint one another. But when this happens, allow the disillusionment with men to lead us to the faithful of God — “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (Psalm 118:8). God is always faithful, even when we are not faithful to Him — “If we are faithless, He remains faithful — for He cannot deny Himself” (II Timothy 2:13).

Joseph remained in prison two more years. He had to wait patiently on the Lord. In God’s timing Joseph was released and he was later made Prime Minister over all of Egypt.

Expect others to disappoint us, but remember that God is always faithful. He will work in our lives on His timetable. We have to learn to wait patiently for Him — “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)

Lord, I have faced disappointment many times throughout my life because people failed to do what they told me they would do. I know that all people have feet of clay. Grant me grace to take refuge in You rather than to trust in man. Also, give me the grace to wait patiently for You to act. Let me be strong and let my heart take courage.



Scripture Reading: Genesis 39:19-23

“And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” (Genesis 39:20,21)

Joseph’s imprisonment was terribly unjust. Joseph had successfully resisted a series of very strong temptations. He was determined to honor God. But he paid a price for doing what was right. I am sure Joseph struggled with this unjust treatment. He may have said to himself, “What’s the use? Why bother? I tried to do the right thing and look where it got me.”

However, Joseph remained faithful in spite of the injustices he experienced. Joseph had learned that God uses difficulties to mold character. Though thrown into prison unjustly, Joseph continued to focus on God and to orient his life around God’s character. He didn’t complain; he never compromised; and he never lost his faith in God. He knew the Lord was with him in the good times and in times of adversity. God prospered Joseph even in his adversity. Prison strengthened Joseph’s character and witness as we will see.

Reality is that Christians may experience times of injustice because they choose to do the right thing. However, remember that God has the final word. Justice will be done. We should not be surprised when we face times of adversity, but God promises to be with us through the trials of life — “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love.”

Not only was the Lord with Joseph, but the Lord also prospered him — “The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made him succeed” (v. 23).

The greatest act of injustice in all the history of the world was that which was done to Jesus Christ. He was sinless and perfect in every way. However, false charges were brought against Him and He was condemned to death. Yet God had a greater purpose in mind — the salvation of His people.

Why bother to do the right thing? Because Christ bothered. He paid the ultimate price for our sins. He suffered and died in our place. Why bother? Because Jesus loves us with a steadfast love. Because He loves us, we love Him in return. If we love Him we will want to obey Him (John 14:23). Why bother? Because you are not your own; you have been bought by a price (I Corinthians 6:19,20). God was with Joseph and He prospered him because Joseph did the right thing and remained faithful to the Lord.

Lord Jesus, when I consider what you have done for me, I am filled with love for you. Because I love You, I do not want to disappoint You. I want to honor you by doing the right thing in every situation. Give me the wisdom and the strength to remain faithful to you, even if I am mistreated by others. Enable me to make the right choices when I am faced with difficulties and tough situations.



Scripture Reading: Genesis 39:7-20

“‘How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?’ And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not l listen to her, to be beside her or to be with her.” (Genesis 39:9b,10)

As we have seen, Joseph faced a continual and intense battle with temptation. Day after day Mrs. Potiphar attempted to seduce him because she was attracted to him — “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'” (vs. 6b,7). But Joseph refused to do so. He resisted the temptation day after day.

Notice what Joseph said — “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Let’s break down his words. “How then can I DO?” The temptation becomes sin when we act on it. When this happens, the battle is lost and we denied Christ’s power and grieved our heavenly Father. “How then can I do this GREAT WICKEDNESS?” Joseph called sin what it is. He saw it as a great wickedness. “And sin AGAINST GOD?” Here is the bottom line. Hurting others is bad, but offending God is the ultimate wickedness of sin. This is why David in his Psalm of Confession said, “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4).

Joseph refused to give into the temptation. He said, “NO!” to it over and over. He removed himself physically when he was being tempted. This is a critical step in resisting temptation. We have to take action and remove ourselves from situations where we are being tempted.

James tells us this about resisting temptation — “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:4,7,8a). We must submit to God. In other words, we must keep a fresh and vibrant relationship with our God. We cannot resist temptation in our own strength. We have to look to Jesus to give us the desire and the strength to resist temptation. We have to see God for who He truly is. When we do this, we will desire to honor Him at all costs.

C.H. Spurgeon Worte these words — “While I regarded God as a tyrant, I thought sin a trifle; but when I knew Him to be my Father, then I mourned that I could ever have kicked against Him. When I thought that God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against He one who loved me so, and sought my good” (C.H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 41, p. 304).

When we see God for who He truly is, we will desire to submit to Him, for we will not want to grieve the One who loves us so much. Then we can resist the devil and know that he will flee from us.

Heavenly Father, I have offended You and dishonored You so many times. Forgive me for failing to resist temptation and falling into sin. You are so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion. I know that I grieve You when I fail to submit to You and resist sin. I am so sorry, for I know that You love me so much and You always seek my good. Let me rekindle my love for You and give me the strength to resist the devil and all temptations that come my way.



Scripture Reading: Genesis 39:7-20

“And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, ‘Lie with me.’ But he refused…’How then can I do this wickedness and sin against God?’ (Genesis 39:7,8)

The temptation Joseph experienced was very intense. First of all, it was a sexual temptation. It is amazing how powerful sex can be. Many have fallen because they have yielded to the over desires of their flesh. Second, Joseph was away from home when the temptation came. He was in a foreign land and did not have the influence of his godly father. Third, the temptation came from an influential person. If Joseph did not agree, his career could be at risk. Mrs. Potiphar could make life miserable for him. Fourth, the temptation came to Joseph repeatedly. When temptation first comes, we may resist it. But when it comes again and again, it gets harder to walk away from it. Fifth, the temptation came to Joseph at the perfect opportunity. No one was around. Can you see how intense the temptation was that Joseph faced continually?

James warns us about temptation — “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14,15). Temptation itself is not a sin. But when we dwell upon it, we easily fall into sin. Notice the language in James: Temptation can carry us away (draw us away), and entice us (comes from a word that means “bait”). Then our lust takes over, and we fall into sin.

When we face temptation, we must have both an offensive and defensive position. We have to be honest about sin. We have to call sin what it is — an offense against God. Joseph understood that what Potiphar’s wife was asking him to do was evil — “How then can I do this great wickedness?” (v. 9). We must realize that most sins hurt other people. Rarely does a sin just affect the one sinning. Untold damage is done to children, spouses, family members, and friends because of the sinful acts of people.

Most importantly, we must acknowledge that all sin is ultimately against God. Joseph stated it clearly — “How could I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” How can we grieve and dishonor God when we consider all that He has done for us? We must develop the discipline that is necessary to resist sin. Joseph resolved in his mind to honor God at all costs. He refused to give in to the temptation. Let me state it clearly at this point — We cannot do these things in our own strength. We must draw off the power of the indwelling Christ or we will fall on our spiritual faces. We will talk more about resisting sin in our next devotional

Lord Jesus, I face temptations many times a day. I admit that I am weak and cannot resist temptations in my own strength. I know that sin is an offense against You. Forgive me when I fail You and grant me strength to resist temptation when it comes my way.



Scripture Reading: Genesis 39:1-6

“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.” (Genesis 39:2,3)

When we come to this chapter, Joseph is in Egypt. Instead of killing him, his brothers sold him to some Midianite traders who were traveling in a caravan to Egypt. They sold him to an Egyptian ,who was the captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguard. Joseph was 17 years old when this occurred. Joseph could have easily become bitter and begin to question God; but he did not. Instead, he trusted in his God and sought to honor Him no matter what circumstances he was in. Joseph was determined to make the best out of a difficult situation.

The chief emphasis of Joseph’s story is found in the opening words of this chapter — “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man.” We cannot have ultimate success in our lives unless the Lord is with us. Joseph clearly understood that it was the Lord who gave him success. Even Potiphar, a pagan unbeliever, saw that the Lord was with Joseph and caused all that Joseph did to prosper (v. 3). Joseph found favor in Potiphar’s sight (v. 4), and he became Potiphar’s personal servant. Joseph served Potiphar for 11 years.

Why do you think Joseph found favor in Potiphar’s sight? I believe that Potiphar saw the character of Joseph. He was faithful, loyal, a hard worker, a man of integrity and dependable. But, the main reason was that Potiphar recognized that the Lord was with Joseph. He saw Joseph’s faith in His God.

When we consider what success is, we can learn from Joseph. The primary key to success is God’s presence in your life. We can never have genuine success without God’s presence. We must learn to acknowledge that it is the Lord who gives us success. God deserves all the credit. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1).

Joseph’s primary concern was to please God at all costs. Pleasing God is far more important than pleasing man. Our goal is to love God, to seek His presence, and to honor Him in all that we do. Our commitment must be to seek the Lord’s will first in our lives and to experience His gracious presence with us. When the Lord is with us, we will find genuine success.

Lord God, I know that any successes I have experienced have come from Your good hand. Thank You for being with me and for giving me many opportunities to serve You. I desire to seek Your will first in my life and to experience Your glorious presence with me. I pray that You grant me success and I seek to serve and obey You.



Scripture Reading: Genesis 37:12-36

“They (the brothers) saw him (Joseph) from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another,’Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Thus we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:18-20)

It is amazing to see what envy can do to people. This certainly was the case with Joseph’s brothers. They were extremely envious of him. The brothers had a root of bitterness deep with them. The Scripture says, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).

Envy is a serious sin. Webster defines envy as “the painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.” Proverbs 14:30 says, “Envy rots the bones.” Joseph’s brother were filled with envy.

Envy’s bitter shoot is hate. Joseph’s brothers hated him. One reason they hated him was that he was different from them. Joseph was a godly young man; his brothers were just the opposite. There were other reasons that led to the hatred the brothers felt for Joseph — his favored position with his father and his dreams. As we will see, Joseph was God’s choice for a position of future prominence. This explains why Joseph had dreams of reigning over his brothers (37:5-9).

The fruit of bitterness manifested itself when the brothers intended to kill Joseph. The result of their envy was a tangible act. Bitter people do bitter acts to others — harsh words, unjust criticism, gossip, slander, and other forms of malice.

Let’s not forget the ultimate expression of a bitter act when we consider what was done to our Savior, Jesus Christ. The religious leaders of His day were envious of Jesus. Their envy led to hate and then to the plot to kill Jesus.

We must be honest with ourselves as we examine our hearts. Are we envious of anyone? Is there a root of bitterness in us? If so, we must repent and confess our sin of envy. We must turn to Jesus for forgiveness and the strength to let the envy go. He alone can set us free from the sin of envy and any bitterness that is in our hearts. Look at Him and remember what He did for us — “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you will not grow weary or fainthearted” (Hebrews 12:3).

Lord Jesus, when I consider what You endured for me, I am deeply humbled and filled with love for you. Forgive me when I harbor envy in my heart. Forgive me when I experience bitterness within me. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. Enable me to keep my eyes on You this day and enable me to love others with the love You have for me.



Scripture Reading: Genesis 37:1-11

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.” (Genesis 37:3,4)

For the next several weeks, we will be turning our attention to the last major section in the Book of Genesis, which primarily deals with the life of Joseph. James Boice wrote these words about Joseph — “Joseph’s life spanned the social spectrum of the ancient world. Raised as the future heir of the wealthy Jewish patriarch, he fell into slavery in a far-off Gentile land but later rose to a position of prominence as second in command only to Pharaoh. He was loved and hated, favored and abused, tempted and trusted, exalted and based. Yet at no point in the 110 year life of Joseph did he ever seem to get his eyes off God or cease to trust Him. Adversity did not harden his character. Prosperity did not ruin him. He was the same in private as in public. He was truly a great man” (James M. Boice, “Commentary on Genesis”).

Joseph was the first son of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel. Rachel was the love of Jacob’s life. He worked 14 years to get her as his wife. Joseph was the child of Jacob’s later life. This is very significant because Jacob, the deceiver, went through a major change in his life after he wrestled with the angel of the Lord (Genesis 32: 22-32). God changed his name from Jacob to Israel. Israel’s life changed dramatically. He became a godly man. Joseph was influenced by his changed father. The other sons were most impacted by the deceiver Jacob. They all had bad reputations. They did some very bad things and obviously lacked the character, faith and integrity of Joseph.

We can immediately see a problem that existed between Joseph and his brothers. We are told that Israel loved Joseph more than an other of his sons. Israel showed favoritism to Joseph. The result was that “his brothers were jealous of Joseph,” and they hated him. Obviously Israel made a major mistake in showing favoritism to Joseph as it created problems for the family for many years.

The foundation of a child’s character is greatly influenced by the environment of the home. In the earlier days, the tents of Jacob were filled with strife and jealousy. It is sad to see homes that are filled with strife, deceitfulness, jealousy, and bitterness. Our homes should be a safe-haven for our children, not a war zone. Jacob experienced a major spiritual renewal in his latter years. Surely Joseph experienced a great love from his father and he was influenced by Israel’s faith. I’m convinced that Joseph’s character formation was greatly influenced by his father’s spiritual renewal.

Parents must be aware of the importance of creating a healthy atmosphere in the home. Our homes must be places where our children can be nurtured, loved, and encouraged. We see also how important it is for parents to live out their faith before their children. They must set a godly example to their children, and be open and honest about their faith. Being a grandparent, I also see the influence I have on my grandchildren. We must seek to live out the gospel before our children and grandchildren. Doing so will greatly influence the development of their character.

Lord Jesus, grant me grace to live out my faith before my children and grandchildren. Let them see You in me. Enable me to have a godly influence upon them and give me wisdom as I seek to love and nurture them. Let me live out the gospel before my children and grandchildren. Let them see my love for You.