And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8: 28 (NIV)
As someone who loves Scripture I have many "favorite" Bible verses. I have several that jump off the page to me as the Holy Spirit illuminates it for me. That list is ever growing as I continue to read and re-read His Word. If you forced me however to come up with one verse. Just one verse to sum up God, this walk we call life, and the secret to the power of the Lord inside of us all - it would be Romans 8:28. I even named my ministries and website after this verse (828ministries.com). Not surprisingly then it comes in third in the list of most searched Bible verses. I believe there are certain "Linchpin" Bible verses that if we could ever get our heads around we could see the power of God explode in our lives. So many Christians suffer and struggle needlessly. They are saved in Christ but walk around shackled to the things of this world or their past. The power of Christ may as well be a veggie-tale to them. A nice Christianism we sing about on Sundays but is never manifest in our lives. It should not be so. The Bible said that Christ came that we might have the abundant life now, not some distant time after we have left this mortal coil. When I speak of abundance I do not do so as the charlatans of this world selling trinkets that rust with time. I am talking living a life in the abundance of God! The abundance of the eternal blessings of Christ, not some baubles this world values for a little while and then becomes dust.
So where does this writing find you today? What valley are you lost in? What desert are you wandering through? What is it that you need the supernatural power of God for? His peace? His joy? His contentment? Let us break down this verse and see what God is saying to us today. The first thing we see is that there is a promise and there are conditions. The promise is that God works for the good in all things. Do we really understand that today? Not in some things. In all things. Not in the easy things. In all things. Even what appears to be bad. What appears to be heartbreaking. God uses everything for His glory and our good. We like it when God shows us the promise. It is the journey to the promise that we end up despising.
Then the word of the Lord came to me: "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. "Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?" - Zechariah 4: 9-10 (NIV)
Who dares despise the day of small things? We do! All the time! We want the satisfaction of the success and not the sacrifice of the work. Let us take a look at the life of Joseph. God gave Joseph a dream that he would be a great leader one day. We all like the dreams. We like it when God shows us the promise. But Joseph had no idea what the journey ahead of him was going to look like. Sold into slavery by his brothers. Sexually harassed by Potiphar's wife. Wrongly imprisoned for being falsely accused; after taking the righteous stand! Forgotten by the cupbearer after doing the right thing. 15 years between the dream and the realization. We get upset if God doesn't answer us within the hour! This is why God often does not reveal His decretive will for our lives. If we ever saw the end, we would be too scared to go through the days of small things. I took my first Bible course in 2004 when God called me. I finished my work and received my ministerial credentials in 2009. If God had shown me the end result in 2004, I never would have left my house! The Word is a lamp unto our feet because faith only needs to see the next step God has for us!
We live in a results oriented world but God is more concerned about how we got somewhere than the fact that we are there. Think about Joseph sitting in his prison cell night after night for over a decade. He is not some plaster saint beloved. He was a real teenage boy rotting away in an ancient prison. Yes, the Bible says that God prospered Joesph and he found favor with the warden but in prison he remained. Night after night. Month after month. Year after year. Why? Was the plan of God not ready? Of course not beloved. Joseph wasn't ready! Maybe he still had lingering resentment or hatred for his brothers. Who among us would blame him! Maybe he still hated Potiphar's wife for her treachery. Maybe he even was still blaming God! After all, he did the right thing and still ended up in prison.
So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph's care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master's wife took notice of Joseph and said, "Come to bed with me!" But he refused. "With me in charge," he told her, "my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. - Genesis 39: 6-10 (NIV)
And for this righteous stand, Joseph sat in prison for over ten years. Let's be honest. We can get mad at God for not bailing us out when we took the unrighteous stand. Here sat Joseph ruminating for years. He must have had cause to question God. He must have wondered if doing the right thing was worth it. What Joseph could not see is God working for his good in all things behind the scenes. God was preparing the cupbearer and the baker, God was preparing the warden. God was preparing his brothers and his father Jacob. God was preparing Pharoah himself. God knew there was going to be a famine in the land. God knew His plan was to have Joseph save everyone, including His chosen people from this terrible famine. God's plan was that Israel would prosper in Egypt before becoming enslaved for 400 years. God's plan was that He would use Moses to deliver his people from slavery and pave the way towards the Promised Land the same way He knew His Son would deliver everyone from the slavery of their sins one day. Remember, God sees all time beloved. His grand plan is laid out before Him even while Joseph sat in prison night after night. God was working all things out for the good even though Joseph could not see it. His family could not see it as his father continued to grieve and his brothers were haunted by the remorse of what they had done. Pharoah could not see it as he continued to rule his land. God knew however. God was working on all things behind the scenes for the good. For His perfect plan in His perfect timing. The result is that when the dreams started haunting Pharoah suddenly all the preparation came to fruition. The cupbearer remembered Joseph. Pharaoh sent for him. Joseph was not bitter about anything. He never sought revenge on Potiphar's wife, nor his brothers. He gave the right counsel to Pharoah and he was rewarded by going from the prison to the palace in one day! At the end, while Joseph's brothers were still racked with the guilt of their sins, Joseph shows that he understood the grand plan of God and that the whole time God was working in all things for the good.