Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth.
—Genesis 37:2

In his book “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives,” Chuck Swindoll asks a penetrating question: Would you rather be a person of significance or a person of renown? Think carefully. Your answer to that question will shape your entire future, including the decisions you make, the manner in which you relate to others, and even how you go about fulfilling the role God has assigned to you.

At some point, we have to decide what the focus of our life will be: Are we going to pursue success or significance? Are we going to chase after that which is temporal or that which is eternal? Are we going to live for the approval of other people or are we going to live for the approval of God?

This week we begin looking at the life of one man who chose significance over success. He chose to pursue the eternal over the temporal. He decided to live for the approval of God rather than the approval of other people—and because of that choice, he experienced the blessing of God in his life. The man’s name is Joseph. We find his story beginning in Genesis 37.

It is interesting that the story of Joseph receives more space in the book of Genesis than the story of Adam or Noah or Abraham or Isaac or Jacob. Why is that? I believe that Joseph, perhaps more than anyone else, illustrates the decisions we make in life that will cause God to bless our lives. Now Joseph was no saint. He had character defects, as we will find out. But God used him in spite of his defects, and that is an encouragement to all of us.

As we look at the life of Joseph, many of our questions will be answered. For example, why does God allow His children to go through severe times of testing? Why does God sometimes seem so distant when we need Him the very most? After we have failed a test, is it possible for God to ever use us again? Joseph’s story will show us the answers to all of those questions.

Joseph’s whole life can be explained by something that happened to him when he was seventeen years of age. Some of the most important things that shape our lives happen to us as children and teenagers. We never know when God is going to do something significant to shape our lives.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living a Life That Matters: The Life of Joseph” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Illustration from Charles R. Swindoll, “Fascinating Stories of Forgotten Lives” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011).