Joseph: How Faith and Character are formed
Abundance and Famine – Week 4
Sermon Date: June 24th
Sermon Reading: Genesis 41:1-40
Q1 - Think back over the history of your country, your childhood family, and yourself. What times of abundance and famine can you remember?
Q2 - Was the abundance/famine in financial terms? What other types of 'famine' can you remember? (emotional; security; cultural)
Q3 - Can you remember anything from last Sunday's sermon that struck you?
We have followed Joseph through his indulged childhood; the hatred engendered in his brothers; their 'solution' to him as a problem; slavery and transportation; servitude; recognition of his qualities; being the object of a lying woman's sexual desire; injustice; imprisonment.
But in ch 39.v2, 3, 21 etc we read about another development in his life.
Q4 - How would you describe this? Do you think this was a new feature, or a remembering of his past life?
Chapter 40 describes a developing gift.
Q5 - What sorts of gifting have you experienced in your Christian growth?
Please read Genesis 41:1-40
Verses 1-13 set the scene for the rest of Joseph's life and work.
Q6 - Looking back, can you think of something that happened to you, which 'equipped' you for your future?
Pharaoh was an unlikely player in God's plan to save the Children of Israel, but he needed Joseph to make it work. (v. 14) Joseph was born into indulgence and favouritism. He has been stripped of it all and imprisoned for two years.
Q7 - What has helped him through it all? (Look into Gen. 39.21-23)
Q8 - After those two years, he suddenly finds himself summoned from a cell into the presence of the Pharaoh. How easy have you found it to transition from a state of 'famine' to a state of 'abundance' or vice versa? Which way round was easier for you?
Q9 - (Look into v. 15) What was Joseph's response to Pharaoh's compliments?
Q10 - Looking back at your times of abundance, have you attributed them to God's grace, or seen them as just part of the 'ups and downs' pattern of life?
Q11 - Ironically, Joseph's 'abundance and famine' phases have led him to this point, where he will be dealing with abundance and famine on a huge scale. Do you have any such experience?
Q12 - God's interpretation of the dream to Joseph carries more than just an explanation. Knowing what's coming is a useless gift on its own. V. 33 and the following passage show us the purposes of prophesies such as this. Discuss them together.
Q13 - (v. 37) What effect did all this have on Pharaoh and his servants?
Q14 - (v. 39-40) What effect did all this have on Joseph?
Q15 - How can this pattern of changing 'fortunes' be seen in the life of Israel? Is it always attributable to sin/righteousness?
Consider some of these questions:
What are my emotional reactions to changes from abundance to famine, and the reverse?
Is my behaviour always a direct stimulus for the change, or do some things just happen to us in life?
In the light of this story, what attitudes might help me react better to such changes?
How can I use my 'abundance' to help those going through 'famine'?
How can I use my 'famine' to learn more of God and draw closer to him?
Joseph's role in saving Egypt from famine also saved his own nation, -the one God chose to use for his purposes of salvation. This was a colossally significant event.
Abundance and famine are extreme conditions of life and accepting and dealing with them are part of Christian maturity. This is especially seen in terms of our 'spiritual' lives. Dry times can be sources of growth as well as the 'high's of the spiritual life.