August 17, 2012
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“Whatever Happened To Joseph?”
I’ve been visiting with a friend in one of our companies who is waiting for an open door of ministry. He trained at Lancaster Bible College, then seminary. For several years we’ve discussed various pending ministry openings but it seems the open door always closes, thus far anyway. This week we discussed a current pastoral position he is being considered for. “May the Lord’s will be done” is his attitude during the wait. In the meantime he remains active in lay ministry and has a supervisory role in his company.
I just received a commentary on Acts from a daily encouragement reader which is written by his pastor. A commentary, for those who may not be aware, is a Bible study reference book that takes a selection of Scripture followed by further explanations or comments. Preachers appreciate commentaries as a resource in sermon preparation but others can also benefit from reading them just for personal enrichment. I read the notes related to Acts 1 and considered a somewhat obscure portion at the end of the chapter that relates to my friend’s situation.
Today I’d like us to consider a man that few give thought to. There are several Josephs in the Bible but this Joseph is a man whose name appears in the first chapter of Acts and then disappears. The only reference given to this particular Joseph, he was a disciple who had been with the Lord from the beginning of His ministry, and witnessed His resurrection. These are pretty astounding credentials.
He, along with Matthias, was being considered for a very important job. Actually, the opportunity of a lifetime. The disciples had an opening to fill among the Twelve and he and Matthias were up for it. Here’s the Scripture reference, “So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.” After an earnest prayer and a selection procedure Matthias was chosen.
I wonder what happened to Joseph? Did he get bitter or resentful? Was he envious of Matthias? Did he question the selection procedure? Did he stew, “Life just isn’t fair”.
Or did he go on, like millions have since his time, and faithfully serve the Lord the remainder of his life in relative obscurity? I really expect this to be the case.
And I believe there are a lot of people like Joseph. Really, each of us can relate in one way or another. We’ve all had disappointments haven’t we? That job offer that fell through, the personal rejection that still stings, that election or promotion that went to the “other guy”.
How we handle it is what really matters. Sometimes it is made clear to us why a door didn’t open, though not always immediate, but more often over time. At times more training or skills were needed for a particular job situation. There are those circumstances where God was protecting us from a potential danger we ourselves could not see at the time.
We’ve found both in house hunting and in pastoral ministry that God closed the doors we had walked through only to provide a much better opportunity that was not available until several months later. The above examples and many more turn into life lessons that can’t be learned just by reading a book or taking a written examination.
Ultimately it’s God who opens and closes doors. What peace that brings to the quivering heart! I am quite certain that is the attitude of my friend and will be regardless of what happens. Let us all keep serving God in whatever door He opens and trust that He knows best when a door is closed.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we desire to have You lead us in the paths of righteousness that lead us in the way everlasting. Sometimes the next step we take is clearly visible and other times it is a step of faith as darkness seems to veil Your leading. As we earnestly pray we can trust You who stilled the tempest and turned darkness into light. We pray for discernment and a willing spirit to follow Your leading in all matters, no matter the outcome. Amen.
Dan invited me to an ordination service in which a decision was being made regarding the selection of a pastor. His church, an old order type Mennonite church, used a selection process similar to that used in Acts 1 that I had never witnessed before. As in Acts 1 two men’s names were proposed, one being Dan’s. The congregation is in earnest prayer during this time that the will of God will preside over the will of man.
In the ordination service the bishop solemnly placed a card in one of two identical Bibles. Each man was then instructed to choose a Bible. The one who chose the Bible with the card was determined to be the man of God’s own choosing. I was very impressed by the service and this earnest means of determining God’s will in a spiritual matter. As I was introduced to this uncommon pastoral selection process I recalled some of the petty politicizing I’ve seen over the years that can easily infect many other selection processes.
I know Dan was excited about this potential opportunity to serve. Potential opportunities always give us reason for contemplation, planning, and talking about the possible changes just ahead. We invest a lot of time, energy, and emotion to such opportunities. It’s hard to be willing without also being excited. Yet Dan was not chosen. What a touching moment to see the brother who had been chosen and Dan hugging each other following the process. But Dan was OK, because he and his family, along with the other believers, had been praying about the outcome and had placed the matter in the Lord’s hands. Now, many years later Dan continues to serve the Lord in his church and in the workplace as a truck driver.
Background Note: Disappointments are often His appointments. God uses circumstances, sometimes disappointing ones, to divert us to other opportunities He has for us. In the beautiful classic hymn “Have Thine Own Way” God moved upon Adelaide Pollard’s heart to write a prayer of consecration. Born in Iowa during the Civil War in 1862 Adelaide committed her life to Jesus at a young age and became involved in ministry. She felt God calling her to Africa as a missionary, but to her intense disappointment, she was unable to raise her financial support. She was in her forties at the time and attended a small prayer meeting where an elderly woman prayed, “It doesn’t matter what You bring into our lives, Lord. Just have Your own way with us.”
Following the prayer meeting Adelaide went home that evening with that phrase shaping words in her heart. She opened her Bible to the story of “the potter and the clay” in Jeremiah 18 and before she retired that night she had written out the prayer, “Have Thine Own Way.”
Brooksyne’s Personal Experience: This hymn has ministered to my heart so many times when I’m in the doorway of uncertainty – the kind of door that swings both ways and I’m not sure which way God wants me to push. Sometimes it’s the waiting He calls me to do and other times it’s the walk that He wants me to pursue. But always I want to be filled with His “Spirit, till all shall see Christ only, always, living in me.”
Thou art the Potter; I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.
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