“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”Genesis 41:15-16
Quite a long time ago, I was asked to preach a message in our small church, and it was not something I had ever done before. I was in my mid-twenties, and this was a huge task for me. Our pastor was going to be out of town, so I would be covering for him on a Wednesday night. I was quite nervous and really did not know how to prepare a message. I thought much about what to preach, and finally landed on the love of God. The Bible – from Genesis to Revelation – is filled with the love of God, so I thought this would be an easy topic to prepare for.
The Wednesday night came and I was as nervous as could be. This was a big deal for me as I have never done anything quite like this. As I paced inside the church prior to the service, in walked in my father-in-law. He had been a preacher for many years, and this was my first time ever. He came to encourage me and be a blessing, but now I was really sweating and worried about my preaching debut. I got up to preach, and my long outline I had slaved over wrapped up in a whopping eight minutes. After the service, my father-in-law came over and encouraged me, but I could see he was holding back on giving me pointers as I am sure those eight minutes were an example of what not to do. I was quite nervous that night, but I was thankful to God that He gave me the opportunity.
The pastor graciously allowed me to preach several more times after that, and I went longer than eight minutes the next time I was given the chance. I praise God for the many opportunities He has given me since then to share His Word, and I have the privilege to preach a message every Friday night. I will say that I don’t quite get nervous as I used to, and this also means I don’t pray as much as I did the first time. I forget that I have no power in and of myself, and that if anything good is going to be done, God has to be the One to do it. John 15:4-5 states, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” I am convicted by these verses as I have forgotten that it is God who is at work in me and through me. If I am not plugged into Him, then there is nothing I will be able to do for Him.
Prior to this exchange with Pharaoh, Joseph had accurately interpreted two dreams, but he realized that God was the one who was truly interpreting the dreams. He did not take credit for himself, but he gave credit to whom it was deserved. God is the One who does good things through us, and there is no talent or gift we possess that is not from Him. There is little that man can do to bring about peace, but God is the One who brings peace and rest in our lives. Joseph was humble and God favored him, even when it seemed he was against all odds. James 4:6 states, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
Do you take credit for the good things God does in and through your life? Have you forgotten that He is the One who gives you the talent and opportunities? Do you pat yourself on the back and seek the praise of others, or do you give Him the honor and glory He deserves? In every service opportunity for our Lord, may we pray like we did the first time, and may we deflect all praise to the One who is deserving of it. May we say as Joseph did, “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” To God be the glory!