Friday, January 03, 2014

28 Stories - Study 17: Remember your Roots

Fundamental: Christian Behaviour

Bible Story

The burly soldier shoved two finely dressed men down the cold stone steps into the catacombs beneath Egypt’s busy streets. As he came to the iron gate that locked the world out, he shouted, “Two prisoners, by order of Pharaoh.”
Moments later, a door in the darkness beyond the gate creaked open and quick footsteps advanced up the long corridor. A gust of icy wind blasting from below was followed by a young man dressed in a simple robe.
The soldier shivered as the key went into the lock from inside. The gate swung open. “Two more fine visitors,” the young jail-hand said with a friendly smile.
The soldier grunted, handing over the chain binding the two men. “They disappointed Pharaoh himself,” the soldier said as he braced himself against the chill. “Aren’t you cold, man? You should be wearing a cloak!”
“Cloaks have a tendency to tell lies about me,” the young man said with a laugh. “And the fresh air keeps me awake and busy enough to stay warm.”
“Whatever get’s the job done, eh?” The soldier guffawed.
“Indeed,” the jail-hand replied. “Fare thee well.”
“And you,” the soldier said as the huge gate swung shut, it’s latch clicking loudly. His task complete, the soldier turned and headed up the stairs, back to the free world.
The jail-hand led the two men into the depths of the prison to an office where he unlocked their shackles and gestured for them to sit on a bench. The men, wealthily dressed, certainly weren’t common criminals.
“For the records,” the jail-hand said as he sat behind a small desk facing the two men and unfurled a scroll, “please state your positions in Egypt.”
“I am the King’s baker.”
“And I am the King’s cupbearer.”
The jail-hand scribbled on the scroll and then looked at the men. “I am Joseph. I am a prisoner, just like you.”
The two men exchanged confused glances. The cupbearer spoke, “But you have the keys. You could leave at any time!”
Joseph laughed, “They would catch me and throw me back down here. And then, I’d be here as a criminal. Right now, I'm innocent. I’m as free as I can be without breaking the laws of Egypt or disappointing my God who seems to bless me at every turn.”
“Bless you?” the baker cut in, “But you are a prisoner!”
“Yes I am!” Joseph said. “And even so, the God of my fathers is with me. He blessed me when I served in the house of Potiphar so that I was made manager of the estate.”
The two men, again looked at each other with raised eyebrows. Potiphar was the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. To serve as head of his house would be a great honour.
Joseph continued, “And now God has blessed me in this prison causing me to be put in charge of the entire dungeon. I serve the God of my ancestors with humility. Likewise, I serve each earthly master with respect and integrity.”
“I wish we had been so wise,” the cupbearer said. “We let our positions go to our heads and ended up offending Pharaoh. A bit of respect and integrity would have kept us out of this pit.”
Joseph took a slow breath, placed his palms on the desk and leaned toward the two men, “To climb to the top of a mountain, you must start in the valley. This moment may be the lowest you have fallen but it can be the first step of the greatest achievement of your life.”
“Where do you learn such wisdom?” the baker asked.
“My great-grandfather heard the voice of God,” Joseph said. “God found him in the land of Ur and invited him, ‘Abram, walk with me.’ And what a journey they undertook! I don’t hear His voice like my great-grandfather did, but I do my best to walk with God each day by reflecting on the stories of God’s leading in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — my father.”
“You are a Hebrew?” the cupbearer said, tilting his head back.
“Yes,” Joseph said.
“And yet you speak and write Egyptian.”
“One step at a time, my friend,” Joseph said quietly. “This is not the first pit I have been in. I have started many new things. And God has been with me every step of the journey.”
The cupbearer nodded. “You will surely rise to great heights.”
“To rise up, one must be cast down,” Joseph stated. “To be great, one must serve. And to be free, one must obey.”

My Reflection

What would it be like to have such confidence in God?

Imagine the stories you would tell if your grandfather had talked with God. What would it be like to have such a heritage? What other situations can you imagine where you would tell the story?

My Story

Reflect on a time when you hit rock bottom. What was the difference between you and Joseph? Where did Joseph get his strength? Where did you get yours?

Imagine you met someone today who was considering giving up on life. What advice could you give them from your experience? What advise could you offer from the lives of others?

My Assurance

When we accept our identity in Christ, His Spirit moves in our heart and begins working His good will and purpose in our lives. How do the promises in these verses encourage you?

Ephesians 5:8-9 ~ For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ~ Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

2 Corinthians 6: 16 ~ And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

My Commitment

Amazingly, God chooses to make Himself evident to the World through His disciples. What challenges do these verses present to you?

Romans 12:1-2 ~ And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Ephesians 5:15-17 ~ So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

1 Corinthians 10:31 ~ So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

My Outlook

The way we see our place and purpose in the World directly affects the impact we have. How do the following verses empower you to see yourself as God’s ambassador to the World?

1 John 2:6 ~ Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

Ephesians 5:1-2 ~ Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Philippians 4:8 ~ And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

My Response

The following statement is the 22nd of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

Christian Behavior

We are called to be a godly people who think, feel, and act in harmony with the principles of heaven. For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things which will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives. This means that our amusement and entertainment should meet the highest standards of Christian taste and beauty. While recognizing cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit. It also means that because our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit, we are to care for them intelligently. Along with adequate exercise and rest, we are to adopt the most healthful diet possible and abstain from the unclean foods identified in the Scriptures. Since alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and the irresponsible use of drugs and narcotics are harmful to our bodies, we are to abstain from them as well. Instead, we are to engage in whatever brings our thoughts and bodies into the discipline of Christ, who desires our wholesomeness, joy, and goodness.

Bible Story

The story of Joseph is one of the longest narratives recorded in the Bible. It can be found in Genesis chapters 37, 39-50.

Further Reading

Ephesians 5, 2 Corinthians 10:5, 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, 1 Peter 3:1-4, Leviticus 11.

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