Down to Egypt. He had a new coat and a pampered place in the house. He dreamed his brothers and parents would look up to him. Put down by his siblings. Thrown down into an empty well. Let down by his brothers and sold down the river as a slave. Then led down the road to Egypt. Down, down, down. Stripped of name, status, position. Just like that. Just like you? Have you been down in the mouth, down to your last dollar, down to the custody hearing, down to the bottom of the pecking order, down on your luck, down on your life.
Life pulls us down. Joseph arrived in Egypt with nothing. Not a penny to his name or a name worth a penny. His family tree was meaningless. No credentials to stand on. No vocation to call on. No family to lean on. He had lost everything, with one exception. His destiny. Those odd dreams had convinced Joseph that God had plans for him. The details were vague and ill defined, for sure. Joseph had no way of knowing the specifics of his future. But the dreams told him this much: he would have a place of prominence in the midst of his family.
Joseph latched on to this dream for the life jacket it was. How else do we explain his survival? The Bible says nothing about his training, education, superior skills, or talents. God has a dream for my life. Dragged into a city of strange tongues and shaved faces, he told himself, God has greater plans for me. God had a destiny for Joseph, and the boy believed in it. Thirty years is plenty of time to hear Joseph stories. I get that.
But there is one gift your troubles cannot touch: your destiny. Can we talk about it? He saw you, picked you, and placed you. Replacement or fill-in? You are his first choice. He chose you. He selected you because he wanted to. You are his open, willful, voluntary choice. You are his child forever. You are more than a dash between two dates.
Your struggles will not last forever, but you will. God will have his Eden. He is creating a garden in which Adams and Eves will share in his likeness and love, at peace with each other, animals, and nature. We will rule with him over lands, cities, and nations. Believe this. Clutch it. Tattoo it on the interior of your heart. You still have your destiny.
My father walked the road to Egypt. He had just retired. He and Mom had saved their money and made their plans. They wanted to visit every national park in their travel trailer. Within months he was unable to feed, dress, or bathe himself. His world, as he knew it, was gone. At the time my wife, Denalyn, and I were preparing to do mission work in Brazil. When we got the news, I offered to change my plans.
How could I leave the country while he was dying? He was not known for his long letters, but this one took up four pages and included the following imperative. In regard to my disease and your going to Rio. That is really an easy answer for me, and that is Go. I have no fear of death or eternity.
Just Go. Please him. Dad lost much: his health, retirement, years with his children and grandchildren, years with his wife. We forget this on the road to Egypt. Forgotten destinies litter the landscape like carcasses. We redefine ourselves according to our catastrophes. Determine not to make this mistake. Think you have lost it all? Hear and heed yours. Your company is laying off employees. Your boss finally calls you into his office.
As kind as he tries to be, a layoff is a layoff. All of a sudden you are cleaning out your desk. Voices of doubt and fear raise their volume. How will I pay the bills? Who is going to hire me? Dread dominates your thoughts. But then you remember your destiny: What do I have that I cannot lose? Wait a second. My life is more than this life. These days are a vapor, a passing breeze. This will eventually pass. God will make something good out of this.
I will work hard, stay faithful, and trust him no matter what. You just trusted your destiny. Try this one. All those promises and the proposal melted the moment he met the new girl at work. The jerk. The bum. The no-good pond scum. And, like Joseph, you choose to heed the call of God on your life. But you choose instead to ponder your destiny. Another victory for God. Ginger was only six years old when her Sunday school class made get-well cards for ailing church members.
She created a bright purple card out of construction paper and carefully lined it with stickers. Dad was bedfast. The end was near. He could extend his hand, but it was bent to a claw from the disease. I am ready to see him eye to eye. Ginger recalls: My mother consoled your parents with a fake smile on her face. But I smiled a big, beautiful, real smile, and he did the same and winked at me. My purpose for telling you all this is my family and I are going to Kenya.
We are going to take Jesus to a tribe on the coast. I am very scared for my children, because I know there will be hardships and disease. A man near death winking at the thought of it. Stripped of everything? It only appeared that way. In the end Dad still had what no one could take. And in the end that is all he needed. The dimple never left his cheek. He won the hearts of every person he knew: his three older sisters, parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends.
He loved to laugh and love. His father, JJ, confessing partiality, calls him practically a perfect child. And Cooper was born to the perfect family.
Beyond Your Ability Is Right Where God Wants You
Farm-dwelling, fun-loving, God-seeking, and Christ-hungry, JJ and Melanie poured their hearts into their four children. JJ cherished every moment he had with his only son. They intended to cut the grass together, but the lawn mower needed a spark plug. While Melanie drove to town to buy one, JJ and five-year-old Cooper seized the opportunity for a quick ride. They had done this a thousand times, zipping down a dirt road in a roll cage cart. The ride was nothing new. But the flip was. On a completely level road with Cooper safely buckled in, JJ made a circle, and the buggy rolled over.
Cooper was unresponsive. JJ called , then Melanie. And finally the news. Cooper had passed from this life into heaven. JJ and Melanie found themselves doing the unthinkable: selecting a casket, planning a funeral, and envisioning life without their only son. In the coming days they fell into a mind-numbing rhythm. Each morning upon awakening they held each other and sobbed uncontrollably. After gathering enough courage to climb out of bed, they would go downstairs to the family and friends who awaited them.
They would soldier through the day until bedtime. Then they would go to bed, hold each other, and cry themselves to sleep. We know what the bottom looks like. We pass much of life—if not most of life—at midaltitude. But most of life is lived at midlevel. Mondayish obligations of carpools, expense reports, and recipes. But on occasion the world bottoms out. The dune buggy flips, the housing market crashes, the test results come back positive, and before we know it, we discover what the bottom looks like. The bidding began, and for the second time in his young life, he was on the market.
The favored son of Jacob found himself prodded and pricked, examined for fleas, and pushed about like a donkey. Potiphar, an Egyptian officer, bought him. The food was strange, the work was grueling, and the odds were against him. So we turn the page and brace for the worst. Joseph arrived in Egypt with nothing but the clothes on his back and the call of God on his heart. Yet by the end of four verses, he was running the house of the man who ran security for Pharaoh.
How do we explain this turnaround? God was with him. He succeeded because God was present. God was to Joseph what a blanket is to a baby—he was all over him. Here you are in your version of Egypt. It feels foreign. You never studied the vocabulary of crisis. You feel far from home, all alone. Money gone. Expectations dashed.
Friends vanished. God is. God, everywhere. If I go to the bottom of the dry pit. If I go to the rehab clinic. Envision the next few hours of your life. Where will you find yourself? In a school? God indwells the classroom. On the highways? His presence lingers among the traffic. God will be there. Each of us. God does not play favorites. They plod through life as if there were no God to love them. As if their only strength was their own.
As if the only solution comes from within, not above. They live God-less lives. But there are Josephs among us: people who sense, see, and hear the presence of God. People who pursue God as Moses did. When suddenly tasked with the care of two million ex-slaves, the liberator began to wonder, How am I going to provide for these people? How will we defend ourselves against enemies? How can we survive? Moses needed supplies, managers, equipment, and experience. Moses preferred to go nowhere with God than anywhere without him.
As did David. The king ended up in an Egypt of his own making. He seduced the wife of a soldier and covered up his sin with murder and deceit. He hid from God for a year, but he could not hide forever. Do not take my kingdom from me. Do not take my army from me. The presence of God. He begged God for it. Do likewise.
Be more sponge and less rock. Place a rock in the ocean, and what happens? Its surface gets wet. The exterior may change color, but the interior remains untouched.
Beyond Your Ability Is Right Where God Wants You
Yet place a sponge in the ocean, and notice the change. It absorbs the water. The ocean penetrates every pore and alters the essence of the sponge. God surrounds us in the same way the Pacific surrounds an ocean floor pebble.
He is everywhere—above, below, on all sides. We choose our response—rock or sponge? Resist or receive? Everything within you says harden the heart. Run from God; resist God; blame God. But be careful. Hard hearts never heal. Spongy ones do. Lay claim to the nearness of God. In the Greek this passage has five negatives. Repeat it to yourself over and over until it trumps the voices of fear and angst. Job did. Job felt far from God. What gritty determination. Difficult days demand decisions of faith. The psalmist determined: When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him. God is near whether you are happy or not. Sometimes you have to take your feelings outside and give them a good talking-to. Cling to his character. Quarry from your Bible a list of the deep qualities of God, and press them into your heart. He still knows my name. Angels still respond to his call.
The hearts of rulers still yield at his bidding. The death of Jesus still saves souls. The Spirit of God still indwells saints. Heaven is still only heartbeats away. The grave is still temporary housing. God is still faithful. He is not caught off guard. He uses everything for his glory and my ultimate good.
He uses tragedy to accomplish his will, and his will is right, holy, and perfect. Sorrow may come with the night, but joy comes with the morning. God bears fruit in the midst of affliction. In changing times lay hold of the unchanging character of God. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. Pound the table. March up and down the lawn. Angry at God?
Disappointed with his strategy? Ticked off at his choices? Let him know it. Let him have it! Jeremiah did. This ancient prophet pastored Jerusalem during a time of economic collapse and political upheaval. Jeremiah saw it all. He so filled his devotions with complaints that his prayer journal is called Lamentations. Surely He has turned His hand against me Time and time again throughout the day. He has aged my flesh and my skin, And broken my bones. He has besieged me And surrounded me with bitterness and woe.
He has set me in dark places Like the dead of long ago. Even when I cry and shout, He shuts out my prayer. Summarize the bulk of his book with one line: this life is rotten! Why would God place Lamentations in the Bible? Go ahead and file your grievance. God will not turn away at your anger. It is better to shake a fist at God than to turn your back on him. You will mumble your sentences, fumble your thoughts. Cancel your escape to the Himalayas. Forget the deserted island. This is no time to be a hermit.
The hungry avoid the food pantry? Only at great risk. His people purvey his presence. Moses and the Israelites once battled the Amalekites. The military strategy of Moses was a strange one. He commissioned Joshua to lead the fight in the valley below. Moses ascended the hill to pray. But he did not go alone. He took his two lieutenants, Aaron and Hur. While Joshua led the physical combat, Moses engaged in a spiritual fight. Aaron and Hur stood on either side of their leader to hold up his arms in the battle of prayer. The Israelites prevailed because Moses prayed.
Moses prevailed because he had others to pray with him. My wife did something similar. Years ago Denalyn battled a dark cloud of depression. Every day was gray. The days took their toll. Depression can buckle the knees of the best of us, but it can be especially difficult for the wife of a pastor. Congregants expect her to radiate joy and bite bullets.
But Denalyn, to her credit, has never been one to play games. Will you pray for me? Brief hellos became heartfelt moments of ministry. By the time she left the worship service, she had enlisted dozens of people to hold up her arms in the battle of prayer. She traces the healing of her depression to that Sunday morning service. So did JJ. His hurts are still deep, but his faith is deeper still.
Your family may be gone. Your supporters may have left. Your counselor may be silent. But God has not budged. Everything about the holiday was red, white, and blue. My face was red, the clouds were cotton white, and the sky was a brilliant blue. My redness came not from sunburn but humiliation. The caution buoys bobbed up and down in the water. But did I listen to Denalyn?
Pay attention to the depth radar?
Take note of the shallow-water markers? Who had time for such trivialities? My three teenage daughters and their friends were counting on my navigational skills for a Saturday of entertainment.
Sons of the King Daily Devotionals
I would not disappoint. Wearing sunglasses and a big-brimmed hat, I hammered the throttle, and off we went. Then five minutes later, boom! I had driven the boat onto a sandbar. Passengers lurched forward. I nearly fell out. Seven sets of eyes glared at me. A lesser man might have told everyone to get out and push the boat back into deep water. Not me. Not throttle-happy Max. No sir. I was captain of the outboard, sovereign of the lake. I would debank the boat the manly way.
I shoved the throttle again. This time we had no choice. We pushed until we floated. When I started the engine, the boat vibrated like a three-wheeled jalopy. Our speed peaked out at five miles per hour. As we chug-chugged across the lake and the other vacationers stared and the teenagers sulked, I asked myself, Well, Captain Max, what were you thinking?
That was the problem. Dumb became dumber because I treated a bad decision with a poor, impulsive choice. Forgivable in a boat. But in life? Joseph was probably in his twenties when he crashed into, of all things, a sandbar of sexual temptation. When his brothers sold him into slavery, they likely assumed they had doomed him to hard labor and an early death.
Instead, Joseph moved up the career ladder like a fireman after a cat. He boasted about the Midas touch of this bright Hebrew boy who had made him a wealthy man. He could spend and hire, send and receive. Merchants reported to him, and other people noticed him. Most significantly, women noticed him.
A Hollywood head turner, this guy—square jaw, wavy hair, and biceps that bulged every time he carried Mrs. Which was often. She enjoyed the sight of him. The first lady of the household made a play for the Hebrew slave. As she passed him in the hallway, she brushed up against his arm. As he brought dessert to the table, she touched his leg. He had plenty of opportunities to consider the proposition. And reasons to accept it. And it would be clandestine. No one would know. What happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom, right?
Besides, a dalliance with the randy lady would give Joseph a chip in the political poker game, an ally at the top level. The end justified the means. Powerful Potiphar had his pick of women. His wife was likely a jaw-dropper. A few moments in the arms of an attractive, willing lover? Joseph could use some relief. These were lonely days: rejected by his family, twice bought and sold like livestock, far from home, far from friends.
Overseeing the terraced gardens and multitude of slaves. Mastering the peculiar protocol of official events. He could have justified his choice. So can you. Stranded on the sandbar of bad health, bad credit, bad luck. Few friends and fewer solutions. The hours are long, and the nights are longer. Potiphar comes along with a sultry offer. She slides her room key in your direction. Or a friend slides a bottle in your direction. A coworker offers some drugs. You can pay some personal bills with company cash or stave off bankruptcy by embezzling funds.
Justifications and rationalizations pop up like weeds after a summer rain. Can we talk candidly for a moment? Egypt can be a cruddy place. No one disagrees with that. But Egypt can also be the petri dish for brainless decisions. Joseph went on high alert. When Mrs. He gave the temptress no time, no attention, no chitchat, no reason for hope. When her number appeared on his cell phone, he did not answer. When she entered his office, he exited. He avoided her like the poison she was. To lie with her would be to sin against his master.
How rare this resolve. Every so often I reread it. My three daughters. My son-in-law. My yet-to-be-born grandchildren. Every person who has ever read one of my books or heard one of my sermons. My publishing team. Our church staff. Dads, would you intentionally break the arm of your child? Of course not. Such an action would violate every fiber of your moral being. Yet if you engage in sexual activity outside of your marriage, you will bring much more pain into the life of your child than would a broken bone.
Moms, would you force your children to sleep outside on a cold night?
By no means. Yet if you involve yourself in an illicit affair, you will bring more darkness and chill into the lives of your children than a hundred winters. And you, single man or woman. Actions have consequences. Joseph placed his loyalty above lusts. He honored his master. And his Master. What do you do? Do what pleases God. Your date invites you to conclude the evening with drinks at his apartment. How should you reply? Your friends hand you a joint of marijuana to smoke; your classmates show you a way to cheat; the Internet provides pornography to watch—ask yourself the question: How can I please God?
You will never go wrong doing what is right. Thomas made this discovery. He in many ways was a modern-day Joseph. Born in to a Baptist pastor and a church pianist, Thomas was exposed to music early on. By the age of twelve he was imitating the jazz music of the African American community in the Deep South. In his late teens he went to Philadelphia and then to Chicago, where he played in speakeasies. Somewhere along the way he forgot his faith. He compromised in his lifestyle and turned away from the convictions of his youth.
Long nights on the road left him exhausted and weary. A relative urged him to return to God. At the age of twenty-one, he did. My soul was a deluge of divine rapture; my emotions were aroused; my heart was inspired to become a great singer and worker in the kingdom of the Lord.
Rhythm and blues met worship and praise. The result was a brand-new genre of toe- tapping, soul-lifting music. He took a position as a music director at a Chicago church. At the age of twenty-six Thomas met the love of his life and got married. He worked with some of the greatest singers in the history of gospel music, including Mahalia Jackson.
By , Thomas was enjoying the blessings of God at full throttle: happy marriage, growing ministry, first child on the way. Life was good. But then the sandbar. One night after singing to a Saint Louis audience, he was handed a Western Union telegram. Thomas hurried back to Chicago, where his newborn son died the following day. The musician fell into a crevasse of grief. He avoided people and grew angry at God. I felt God had done me an injustice. A friend seemed to know what he needed. He took Thomas to a neighborhood music school.
That evening as the sun was setting, Thomas sat down at a piano and began to play. He poured out his heart to God, and what wonderful words they were. Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; Through the storm, through the night, Lead me on to the light: Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home. Dorsey testified that the Lord healed him that night as he sat at the piano. He went on to pen more than three thousand songs and become one of the most influential Christian songwriters of all time.
Do the same. Turbulent times will tempt you to forget God. Shortcuts will lure you. Sirens will call you. Nothing more, nothing less. When the door slammed and the key turned in that rusty, iron lock, a feeling of utter loneliness swept over me. The smell of human excrement burned my nostrils. A rat, large as a small cat, scampered across the slab beside me. The walls and floors and ceilings were caked with filth.
Bars covered a tiny window high above the door. I was cold and hungry; my body ached from the swollen joints and sprained muscles. You quickly tire of standing up or sitting down, sleeping or being awake. There are no books, no paper or pencils, no magazines or newspapers. The only colors you see are drab gray and dirty brown. You are locked in, alone and silent in your filthy little cell breathing stale, rotten air and trying to keep your sanity.
Yet to one degree or another, we all spend time behind bars. Incarcerated by bad health. He feels stuck chain number one and guilty for feeling stuck chain number two. They had hopes of growing old together. They still may, but only one of them will know the day of the week. Each of these individuals wonders, Where is heaven in this story? Why would God permit such imprisonment? Does this struggle serve any purpose? Joseph surely posed those questions. If Mrs. She grabbed for his robe, and he let her have it.
He chose his character over his coat. When he ran, she concocted a story. Potiphar charged Joseph with sexual assault and locked him in jail. Not a prison in the modern sense but a warren of underground, windowless rooms with damp floors, stale food, and bitter water. Guards shoved him into the dungeon and slammed the door. Joseph leaned back against the wall, slid to the floor. He had made a fortune for his employer. He had kept his chores done and his room tidy. He had adapted to a new culture. He had resisted the sexual advances. But how was he rewarded?
A prison sentence with no hope of parole. Since when does the high road lead over a cliff? The answer? Ever since the events of Genesis 3, the chapter that documents the entry of evil into the world. Disaster came in the form of Lucifer, the fallen angel. He will lock preachers, like Paul, in prisons. He will exile pastors, like John, on remote islands. He will afflict the friends of Jesus, like Lazarus, with diseases. But his strategies always backfire. The imprisoned Paul wrote epistles. The banished John saw heaven. The cemetery of Lazarus became a stage upon which Christ performed one of his greatest miracles.
Intended evil becomes ultimate good. As I reread that promise, it sounds formulaic, catchy, as if destined for a bumper sticker. There is nothing trite about your wheelchair, empty pantry, or aching heart. These are uphill, into-the-wind challenges you are facing. They are not easy. But neither are they random. God is not sometimes sovereign. He is not occasionally victorious. He does not occupy the throne one day and vacate it the next.
This season in which you find yourself may puzzle you, but it does not bewilder God. He can and will use it for his purpose. Case in point: Joseph in prison. Satan could chalk up a victory for the dark side. All plans to use Joseph ended with the slamming of the jail door. The devil had Joseph just where he wanted him. So did God. In the Bible a test is an external trial that purifies and prepares the heart. Just as a fire refines precious metal from dross and impurities, a trial purges the heart of the same. One of the psalmists wrote: For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Tenacious by Paul Negrut. Tenacious: Proof in your hands that God never lets go of us by Paul Negrut ,. Hervin Fushekati. David Foster. Sally Bertram Editor. Andy Drake Introduction. Written by over 40 authors from across Europe, Tenacious is a collection of stories demonstrating how God never let's go of us!
Life can have a way of challenging even the deepest faith. At times like these it can be helpful, even inspiring, to know that our experiences aren't just unique to us, and to be reminded of just how good and great God is. For 50 years Transform Eur Written by over 40 authors from across Europe, Tenacious is a collection of stories demonstrating how God never let's go of us!
For 50 years Transform Europe Now has been working across the continent and seeing how God never lets go of His own. We felt that the stories we had experienced and collected should be shared to inspire the realisation again of God's love and hold on our lives. Whether it be the testimony of people in prison, or those struggling with addiction, or of others battling as church leaders, or of faithful believers persevering for national change, these true life accounts in 'Tenacious' will galvinize your faith and reignite your hope.