Monday, November 08, 2010


Women, if you love your husbands, please don't ask this question: "Does this outfit make me look fat?" Seriously, gals. Give him a break. There is no right answer to that question. If he says, "No," that could mean you are fat, but the outfit still looks good. If he says, "Yes…" well, Lord help him. A smart husband might survive with an answer like, "You look beautiful in anything you wear." But every woman knows that's code for, "You could stand to lose a pound or two." Phraseology isn't just about the words we say; it's about how we say the words. The way we emphasize (em-pha-SIZE) certain syllables (SYL-la-bles) is important because if you put the em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble, it really messes with your head. Speaking of messing with your head, some authors think readers can't remember certain things, so they repeat a detail often – like messing with your head – so the reader doesn't forget a concept, like messing with your head...

Gen. 40:1-5 – "Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own." (emphasis added)
  • I think it's safe to say that the author of Genesis wanted us to know who Joseph ministered to in Pharaoh's prison. Hmmm? Repetition has always been an effective teacher. Intellectually, we repeat things in order to memorize. Physically, we use repetition to strengthen and create muscle-memory (an almost reflexive motion). Spiritual, repetition creates a unique mixture of living in continual conscious communion with our power Source and meditating on the Scriptures we rely on for strength and wisdom.
Gen. 40:6-8 – "When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh's officials who were in custody with him in his master‘s house, 'Why are your faces so sad today?' 'We both had dreams,' they answered, 'but there is no one to interpret them.' Then Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.'"
  • Notice, Joseph did NOT say that HE could interpret the dreams. He was careful to phrase his answer in a way that gave God all the credit. It seemed Joseph had learned a thing or two since boasting to his brothers about dreams and their messages. Was it age or hardship that taught Joseph humility?
Gen. 40:9-15 – "So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, 'In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh‘s cup and put the cup in his hand.'
'This is what it means,' Joseph said to him. 'The three branches are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh's cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.'"
  • Joseph did NOT say, "I'll pray about it and get back to you." He was ready for the moment when God used him. He prepared BEFORE the opportunity, and because of that disciplined daily relationship, he knew what to say and how to say it when the opportunity arose.
Gen. 40:16-19 – "When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, 'I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.'
'This is what it means,' Joseph said. 'The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat away your flesh.'"
  • What if the baker hadn't mentioned the birds? Would Joseph's interpretation have been different? I suppose that's a silly question because he did mention the birds, and God interpreted truthfully through Joseph. But consider this: God's TRUTH remains the same, no matter how we PHRASE things. Whether the baker mentioned birds or Joseph interpreted them, God's hand presided over Joseph's circumstances and his words – as He will over ours.
Gen. 40:20-23 – "Now the third day was Pharaoh's birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh's hand, but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him."
  • Seriously? A guy predicts your release from prison, and you forget to mention it to anyone? Again, I have to believe that not only is God sovereign over the things we DO say, but He also works through the things we DON'T say.
Lord, words are the most important form of communication I have with You and others – but sometimes they fail me…or I fail to use them correctly. It's at times like those that I'm thankful for Your grace and Your power to work beyond my weakness. Thanks for loving me in spite of my phraseology and for seeing beyond the words – into the intentions of my heart.

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