“Most people think that it is servile to serve but it is not. It is noble.”

Last month I stayed with a couple, who had interesting life stories. He told us that he loved to make people feel important and the above quote is his. It is a phrase that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
IMG 5250 2 web smallThis wonderful philosophy towards life has stemmed from an experience as a young child travelling with his father in a first class dining carriage. Mistaking the button near to him, for one that opened a window, to his horror the young boy summoned the waiter. His father jested that the last time someone had done this, they had thrown the boy off the train! However when the waiter arrived he addressed the boy rather than the father. “ Sir, can I help? Did you need something?” Red faced the boy explained “ I just wanted to open a window...!” “Of course, sir” replied the waiter and proceeded to open the window “ ...and would you like a glass of orange squash as well, sir?” This seemingly small act of attentive service and respect has affected this person’s entire outlook on life. I wonder what our own attitude of service is...? Service today is often seen as servile. Yet we know that throughout the Bible, God’s people are called to serve others. Jesus came to serve and taught that as his followers, we too are called to serve.

Potential in the Present
It is all too easy to live a life of “ if only’s “. “If only this or that hadn’t happened..” if only I had..., if only I could...., if only it was different so that....". Yet we can miss so many opportunities by spending our lives looking backwards remorsefully rather than grasping the opportunities that are present now.- both for ourselves, and in service to others. We can lose sight of potential in the present if our hearts are full of resentment and unforgiveness . 

In the Old Testament, Joseph could so easily have spent much of his life ruing all that had been dealt to him in life. Resented, despised and hated by his brothers for being the favourite child, he was thrown into a pit and sold into slavery. Just as things seemed to be looking up for him, his masters wife accuses him of adultery and he is thrown into prison. Yet, Joseph does not despair nor get bogged down in negativity. He trusts God and knuckles down to offer what he has in whatever circumstance he finds himself.

Embracing Circumstances
Wherever Joseph finds himself - in whatever circumstance or position in life- whether in slavery or in prison, as cup bearer or governor ; in good or bad times , he appears to continue to trust in God, using whatever gifts he has been given to bless those around him... So how does he achieve this? He lives a life of service.
“The Lord was with Joseph so he succeeded in everything he did as he served...” (Genesis 39: 2)

The key to Joseph’s success is his attitude of service to others, using the gifts he has been given by God to serve well.

"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ." (Colossians 3:23)

Blessed to be a Blessing
God blesses Joseph because he is willing to serve ... and in doing so, this blesses others, and they too prosper. Joseph is willing to seize the opportunities presented to him by simply using what he has been given wherever he is.

Using Gifts Given
Joesph does not despise his gifts but exercises wisdom to use his different gifts at appropriate times, acknowledging to others that these gifts come from God. 

Patience leads to Possibility
It is all too easy to spend our darker days despairing of our situation yet Joseph embraces his difficult waiting seasons. For a long time he languished in prison but does not lose heart that God will provide. His positive attitude to his circumstances profoundly affect his ability to cope.
“The Lord was with Joseph and showed him his faithful love.” (Genesis 39:21)
Rather than bemoaning his fate or complaining about the unfairness of the situation, yet again Joseph seizes opportunities to serve in the situation he has been placed.

Trusting in God’s Strength
As Joseph climbs the ranks of responsibility, he never loses sight of His God who enables him. Joseph exercises wisdom and trust in God’s ability to provide him with all the skills that he needed in the situations he was entrusted with. His strength is not in his own ability but in the trust he places in God.

Restoration rather than Revenge
It would have been easy for Joseph to have sought revenge for the brothers who had ill treated him but instead he recognises that God has strategically placed him in this situation so that his people may be rescued. Despite his past hurt, Joseph seeks restoration rather than revenge, recognising that he is to play a small part in the story of the redemption of God’s people.

From Deepest Pit to Praise
Difficulties in life can prepare us for future roles. So it is that the darkest times in our lives can, if we allow God to work in us and through us, prepare each of us for so much more than we could ever dream of.

Can we each offer up all that we have ever been through - along with the difficulties that we are currently going through, in service firstly to God and also to whoever we find ourselves sharing life with. Like Joseph, can we trust God to deliver us from the deepest pit and restore us to praise? It’s not an easy task, but God does not expect us to cope alone. It is in the darkness, when so often we cannot cope, that we may know his strength in us. So I pray that as the Lord was with Joseph, that He may also be with you, so that you may succeed in everything you do, as you serve.

Textile Explanations
IMG 7977 cropped 480 x480 for web

The centre of the design focuses on the coat of many colours, spread out to form a cross, refering to the fact that Jesus is a direct descendant of Joseph. Over this is a circle depicting the pit Jospeh was thrown into, and by extension, the dark places in which we may find ourselves. The prison bars are behind the coloured cross/ coat.The crystal at the very centre represents God, who is with us all even in the midst of suffering. The background is desert like, reminiscent of Middle Eastern and Egyptian terrain with four palm trees at each corner, with the fruit showing how God can bring fruitfulness from our lives of suffering and service. The twelve strands that run from the centre of the picture outwards, reference both Joseph's life of service that extends to all he meets as well as the twelve tribes of Israel that stretch beyond the story of Joseph. Each has a golden thread beside, that tells of God with us. The golden sheaf of corn at the top of the picture is Joseph with 11 sheaves of corn bowing to him in a circle, as in the dream of his youth. The sun moon and stars are also an indication of a similar dream that so incesed his brothers and caused the chain of events that led him to Egypt.

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