We love a good Top Ten list, don’t we? There are many things we can learn from the life of Joseph. In fact, volumes have been written about him. Since we are only studying Joseph’s life for a week, let’s look at what are perhaps the top ten things we can learn from the Biblical account of Joseph.

  • Trust God in good times and bad
    Joseph was a man of great faith in God. He continued to demonstrate his obedience and lived his belief that God has his (Joseph’s) very best in mind and would work things out for his (Joseph’s) good.

  • Run from temptation
    While many of us court temptation – we converse with it, flirt with it even – Joseph knew that in order to get away from it, he would have to flee. He didn’t just walk away from Potiphar’s wife, he ran.

  • Do your best right where you are
    Considering the bad things that happened to Joseph throughout his life, we would likely be able to understand if he turned resentful and bitter, and lowered his standards. But he did not. In each circumstance, he continued to do his best with the tasks that were assigned to him. And each time he did, he was rewarded, promoted, recognized. Doing his best rather than feeling sorry for himself lead to unimaginable blessings for him and his family.

  • The story isn’t over just because it gets bad
    Joseph kept going in the worst times. He believed that God could turn around even the worst of circumstances. And he knew that God loved him and was with him, even in his suffering.

  • Be ready for opportunities by staying close to God
    Remaining close to God enabled Joseph to see the way when God was clearing it for him. It kept Joseph from being so distracted by all that was going on around him. He knew when the time came to use the gift of dream interpretation that God had given him as a way out of what was a long and likely grim time in prison.

  • Do what is pleasing to God regardless of the consequences
    Joseph could have taken the easy (and likely more fun) way out with Potiphar’s wife. He could have uttered what many do, “Who will even know if I do this?” But instead, he took the harder road. He suffered for doing what was right.

  • Tests and trials can be the start of something good – leaders are made through suffering
    God doesn’t cause bad things to happen. But He can certainly use them to transform us, grow us, refine us.

    In his book, The Devotional Bible: Experiencing the Heart of Jesus, Max Lucado writes, “In order to experience God’s power, leaders must often endure hardship. Then they emerge to make their contribution.” God was using Joseph’s difficult circumstances to ready him for the position of responsibility and power that was to come.

  • Don’t let your circumstances cause you to lower yourself to someone else’s level
    All along the journey, there were places where we would understand if Joseph had stooped to someone else’s level. When his brothers were plotting to kill him, when they sold him into slavery, when Potiphar’s wife was tempting him, when he was wrongfully accused and imprisoned, etc. But he did not stoop. Instead, he stood tall in his faith.

  • God answers our prayers in His perfect timing, not in ours
    Joseph was in prison for over two years. It is almost certain that he would have prayed for a way out much earlier than he got one. But he remained faithful, continued to do his best, and ultimately was not only released, but given a position of considerable prominence in Egypt.

  • Forgiveness
    Oh how easy it could have been for Joseph to punish his brothers. He could have taken revenge for the way he was treated. He could have made their lives very difficult. But instead, he chose forgiveness.

    Corrie Ten Boom understood the motivation behind the kind of forgiveness Joseph demonstrated. She wrote of her own forgiveness, “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”


Read Genesis chapters 42-45

Question for Reflection:

Are there any temptations in your life that are tripping you up and keeping you from serving God? Make a plan for how you will flee from those temptations – involve trusted others if necessary.


Yesterday we looked at a Top Ten list of lessons we can learn from the Biblical account of Joseph’s life. As you reviewed that list, there were likely items on that list that stood out to you and perhaps felt applicable to your life. Be encouraged to sit with and spend time mulling over those items that were most meaningful to you.

To apply the lessons from Joseph’s life to ours, I think two things rise to the surface as most important to remember:

1. God is ALWAYS with us

As we go through our lives, when things are easy, we don’t have much trouble remembering that God is with us. But the harder things get for us, the more difficult it can be to remember that God is still with us in the dark, scary moments – as he was with Joseph. We need not FEEL God’s presence to KNOW that he is beside us. He promised us, in both Joshua 1:5 and Hebrews 13:5, that he will never leave us, nor forsake us.

2. Difficulties are not the end of the story

So many of us, when we are faced with something hard or frightening or sad, act as if the situation is the period on the end of the sentence at the end of the chapter at the end of the book. But God doesn’t see difficult circumstances that way. God sees those difficult situations as semicolons.

A period is a mark of finality, the end. A semicolon indicates there is more to the story. What comes before the semicolon is related to what comes after, but it is not the final word. The circumstances before the semicolon refine us for something better on the other side of the semicolon.

We can see God using this punctuation mark – the semicolon - in the life of Joseph. In the hard and the frightening, God used what came before the semicolon to refine Joseph, giving Joseph the strength and courage to continue to do his best and ultimately succeed.

This does not mean that happy times will always follow hard times. Life doesn’t balance out perfectly like that. But be encouraged that regardless of what happens before the semicolon, there is hope on the other side.


Read Genesis chapters 46-48

Question for Reflection:

When God allows me to be tested, what do people hear from me – grumbling and complaining OR praise for God’s goodness, faithfulness, and grace?

Day 5

Set aside 30 minutes or more that is just for you and God. Go to a quiet place, listen to the following songs, and then take some time to write out a prayer – your heart cry – to God.

Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson

Counting Every Blessing by Rend Collective

Forgiveness by Matthew West


Read Genesis chapters 49-50

Question for Reflection:

Instead of being tempted by vengeance or mired in scorekeeping, how can I be the person in my family (family of origin, church family, or family of man) that leads the way in the area of forgiveness?