Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit


In our culture, we are often told that we can accomplish whatever we want. We simply need to give it enough energy, focus; if we simply work hard enough, it will be ours. This mindset has also made its way into the psyche of many churches. If we can simply direct our financial resources and staffing energy toward a program, it will flourish. Perhaps we should rethink this assumption.

We are preaching through the book of Genesis this year; we are currently in the story of Joseph. In this week’s text, Joseph is finally released from prison. His long awaited emancipation comes as a result of dream interpretation skills. His freedom did not come as soon as Joseph may have hoped, but it comes nonetheless. The cupbearer forgot to bring up Joseph’s name on his initial release (Gen. 40:23). Yet when Pharaoh experienced dream problems some two years later, he recalls the event.

(Genesis 41:12 NIV) Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream.

Not only did Joseph interpret the dreams, but he nailed it. Maybe he would be able to help Pharaoh. So Joseph is cleaned up and brought before the King. Pharaoh tells Joseph his dream and asked him if he would be able to interpret it. I love Joseph’s response. It may be a clue as to why God would have chosen Joseph. Look at how Joseph responds.

(Genesis 41:16 NIV) “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

This verse is key. Joseph does not strut in, celebrating his ability to interpret dreams. He humbly confesses that he is incapable without God’s assistance. Joseph is reliant on God’s power. Joseph’s dependence on God models the proper posture for you and me. God does incredible things through Joseph. In fact, in one day he goes from a prisoner to second in command in Egypt. One might chalk up the success to Joseph’s ability. Yet the author of Genesis credits his humility and willingness to be used by God.

Pharaoh notices that Joseph has an intense connection with God. He wants someone like this in charge during the prophesied famine. Pharaoh says to Joseph,

(Genesis 41:39 NIV) Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.

I doubt that Pharaoh understood Joseph’s connection with God. Yet he understands that Joseph operates out of a power not his own. He senses Joseph’s ability to remain dependent on God. In a world where self-esteem and self-promotion are valued, may we learn to rely on God. May we learn to exhibit the posture of Joseph. May we confess our inability as we seek God’s ability to do the impossible through us. As church leaders, may we put more emphasis on seeking God’s direction, less on our ability to produce. May we learn what it means to fully rely on God.