Joseph Part 3: Preparing for a Famine

Joseph Part 3:
Preparing for a Famine
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
June 5th, 2016
Image courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Preparing for a famine.  

We’ve all had times in our lives when it seems like we can’t take much more.  When life has thrown us so many curve balls that it feels like if it throws one more, we will break. These times are spiritually exhausting and if we don’t take the time to prepare during our times of abundance, then when the famine hits, we will spiritually starve.


Genesis 41:17-27, 46-49, 53-57
So Pharaoh said to Joseph: “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when seven well-fed, healthy-looking cows came up from the Nile and began to graze among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows—ugly, very sickly, and thin—came up. I’ve never seen such ugly ones as these in all the land of Egypt. 20 Then the thin, ugly cows ate the first seven well-fed cows. 21 When they had devoured them, you could not tell that they had devoured them; their appearance was as bad as it had been before. Then I woke up. 22 In my dream I had also seen seven heads of grain, plump and ripe, coming up on one stalk. 23 After them, seven heads of grain—withered, thin, and scorched by the east wind—sprouted up. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed the seven plump ones. I told this to the magicians, but no one can tell me what it means.”

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God has revealed to Pharaoh what He is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven ripe heads are seven years. The dreams mean the same thing. 27 The seven thin, ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven worthless, scorched heads of grain are seven years of famine.

46-49
Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout the land of Egypt.

47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced outstanding harvests. 48 Joseph gathered all the excess food in the land of Egypt during the seven years and put it in the cities. He put the food in every city from the fields around it. 49 So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it because it was beyond measure.

53-57
Then the seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was food. 55 Extreme hunger came to all the land of Egypt, and the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh told all Egypt, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.” 56 Because the famine had spread across the whole country, Joseph opened up all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Every nation came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, for the famine was severe in every land.

We are going to break this scripture up in to three parts…1. The prediction, 2. The abundance and 3. The Famine

1.  The Prediction (vss. 17-27)

In the first part of our scripture Pharaoh has a dream and Joseph correctly interprets it to mean that the land of Egypt is about to experience, 7 good years of abundance, and then will experience 7 years of famine and drought.

There WILL be times of abundance, and there WILL be times of famine in our lives. It is unavoidable…and there is nothing we can do to prevent them.  Pharaoh and Joseph knew that 7 years of famine were coming, and yet they still could not prevent it from happening.  All they could do was prepare for them…

And we can prepare for the times of famine in our lives.

2. The Abundance (vss. 46-49)

When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, notice he didn’t say…“There will be 7 good years, then 7 bad years, so enjoy it while it lasts…”  Instead Joseph, told Pharaoh that there were going to be 7 good years and 7 bad years, so he should prepare for the bad years, by working hard and storing up in the good years.

And our take away from this scripture is that we must also prepare for the famines in our lives, during our times of God’s abundance.  When life is good, and our hearts are full of His love, instead of sitting back and squandering all of His blessings we must learn to store them up in our hearts, so that we are prepared for the times when it feels like a famine.

How do we prepare?

First of all notice that Joseph went to all the cities…and he pulled from all the fields…vs. 48
Joseph gathered all the excess food in the land of Egypt during the seven years and put it in the cities. He put the food in every city from the fields around it.

He didn’t prepare in just one city,  and we shouldn’t prepare in just one area of life.  We should prepare in all aspects of our lives.  When God is good to us, in our family life, we need to store up; when God is good to us, in our work life, we need to store that in our hearts; when God is good to us spiritually, physically, monetarily…in all areas of life, when our heart is overflowing with God’s goodness, we must take that excess and store it up.

Next, we prepare by storing up as much as we can…look in vs 49
49 So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it because it was beyond measure.

We must prepare by storing up our blessings to the point we cannot even count how much we have stored.  The truth is, we are so blessed that if we do this right, then there will come a time in our life we should not be able to count them all.  If we are thankful in everything (as God commands us to be) – and not just the big things- then we will be able to endure the times of famine in our lives.
So first we store up in all areas of our life, second we store up to the point we cannot even count all of our blessings.  And the way we store up is thru prayer, scripture, worship and through remembering.  In other words, just knowing a lot of scripture is not enough for us to be prepared, or just being a faithful prayer warrior is not enough.

-We need to store up in prayer by spending time thanking God for those things He has done for us.
-We need to store up in scripture by reading, and learning it,
-We need to store up in worship, by singing praises to God and letting that feeling of gratitude and love grow…
-And we store up God’s blessings by remembering, by remembering those things that God has done for us…by taking the time to specifically store up in our minds those things he has done for us.

This brings us to our third portion of scripture, the famine…

3. The famine

When the famine comes, if we have prepared, then we can use those things stored up in our hearts to get us through.

If we stored up by giving thanks in prayer, then we will have created a heart of gratitude as opposed to a heart of entitlement.  And a heart of gratitude will carry you many days through a famine.

If we stored up by reading and learning it scripture then during times of famine, we can recall his promises to us…and take comfort in them.  We can recall the examples of His goodness, and rely on them.  We can use what we already know, to help us through the famine.

If we stored up in worship, by singing praises to God and letting that feeling of gratitude and love grow, then in our times of famine, we can sing those songs again, and it will bring back those feelings of fullness and love in our hearts.

And of course if we stored up by taking the time to store up memories of all of those little miracles that God has put in our life, then in our times of need we can remember what He did for us in the past and that will give us confidence, not in fear during our time of famine.

Storing up is kind of like building muscles, if we wait until we need them to start building them then…it’s too late… so we must prepare during the years of abundance.

But, here is the deal….
We don’t store all of these things up, just for ourselves.  We also store up so that we can give…and give generously.  

Once Joseph had stored all of these things up…what happened next?
57 Every nation came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, for the famine was severe in every land.

People came to him for help…and as Christians we should be able to store up our blessings, so that in other’s times of need, they can come to us, and we can help.  Whether it is sharing a blessing physically…by giving of our time, money or excess possessions, or if it is giving advice, based on Godly things we have learned and experienced in our lives or perhaps we simply pray for them and with them, or share scriptures that have helped us through our own difficult times.

Whatever the case, people should be able to come to us, and we should be able to help them through their famines, but we can only do this if we have stored up these things in our own hearts.

Conversely, if a famine hits and we are not prepared or if that famine is more than our storerooms can bear, what do we do?

In these times, like Jacob and his family, we need to go and get help from someone who has stored up.  We can’t be too proud to let people pray for us, give to us, teach us…because if we try to go it alone, we will spiritually starve to death.

If we treat our times of abundance and our times of famine in a Godly way, then two things will happen.  

The first thing is fairly obvious…
A. We survive, we make it through.  We might be a little worse for wear, but we will come out with our faith and hope intact and perhaps even a bit stronger.  

The second thing is…

B. God will use the famine for good…
God used The famine to restore Joseph’s family.  And If we respond to our famine’s in a Godly way, God will use them for His glory.

There will be times of abundance and there will be times of famine.  And we must prepare in our times of abundance for our times of famine.  And when those times of famine come, we must be prepared to share with others or if our storeroom is bare, we must go get help.  


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