Background Scripture: Genesis 41:25-57
Quotes of the Week:
The way to build your savings is by spending less each month. Suze Orman
You've likely heard the phrase "put a shiny penny in your pocket and save it for a rainy day". I was looking to see if that was a song, but my google search kept referring me to "catch a falling star and put it in your pocket', by Perry Como. Have you ever thought about how closely those two are tied for many people? For some, catching a falling star is about likely as saving that shiny penny seems to be!
It doesn't matter if you are at the beginning of your work life or in retirement, throughout the years, you will have (or will have had) the ability to make a lot of money. The amount people make is surely relative, as the money most CEOs, athletes and movie stars make in a year is more than many will make in a lifetime. Even so, a minimum wage job can amass to a lot of money over a number of years. Unfortunately, many people get into a situation where they spend whatever they make, no matter how much or little. Most people tend to think that if they made twice as much, they would be able to save much more. However, in many cases, they end up buying twice as much than before or what they buy is twice as expensive. This can lead to a trap of making money and spending it, assuming that tomorrow's earning potential will be the same (or better).
Saving money requires diligence. As you age and mature, you end up 'knowing' a lot more than you did when you were younger. As my mom says, it's a shame that when you get old enough to have wisdom, people seem less likely to want to listen to it! For many, they wish they could go back and start their earning career over. Many companies will have programs that offer opportunities for employees to put aside money and many companies will match up to a certain percentage. If employees would take advantage of those programs to the maximum that they are able to do it, they could end up saving a lot in the background (never seeing it in their paychecks). And, if the investments were wisely made, it could potentially amass to a lot of money over time. If a company doesn't offer that, there are still ways to save money. There are many couples where both are working for a number of years. When one of the salaries can be set aside for savings and not touched except for emergencies, that money could be invested and grow over time. Many people do not take advantage of opportunities to save when they have it. Instead, they end up spending nearly every cent (and more). At some point, they find themselves in such debt that most of what they spend is paying for something that they may not even still own.
Pharaoh sent for Joseph and told him his dream. Joseph said that he couldn't interpret dreams on his own, but God would give Pharaoh the answer. So, Pharaoh related his dream to Joseph. In one, there were seven cows, fat and sleek grazing by the Nile River. Then, seven other cows, scrawny and ugly and lean, came up and ate the first seven cows. In another dream, Pharaoh saw seven heads of grain that were full and good on a single stalk. Then, seven thin, withered and scorched by the sun heads appeared, swallowing up the good heads.
Joseph knew the dream and told Pharaoh that his dreams were the same and that God was revealing what He was about to do. The seven good (cows and heads of grain) were seven good years. The seven ugly (cows and heads of grain) were seven years of famine. Joseph told Pharaoh that God had revealed that there would be seven years of great abundance throughout Egypt, followed by seven years of famine that would ravage the land. The famine would be very severe and the fact that Pharaoh had two dreams was a sign that it would surely happen and soon.
Joseph had the meaning of the dream and Pharaoh was anxious to hear the interpretation. You can imagine that if some people had this information, they might use this it for leverage. Many people try and use information that they have obtained for leverage. However, Joseph knew that this came from God and he was more focused on giving God glory, even at his own potential expense.
Joseph told Pharaoh that he needed to prepare for the famine that was to come. It was obvious that if planning had not taken place, there would not be enough for the seven years of famine. What would you do if you knew that famine would be coming in a few years? Would you prepare? Or, what you do if you knew that you wouldn't be able to work to earn a living in a few years? Many, if not most, people assume that when things are going good, they will always go good. They will always have good health and will always be employed. A lesson to be learned is that we need to prepare in the case of disruptions to the normalcy of life. God had given Joseph insight as to His plan. We might think that we would want similar insight, but many people would likely not want to hear how their life would change over years. Regardless of whether we believe we know about the future or not, we should always be planning on trying to set aside resources in order to help when they may be needed in the future.
Procrastination is not your friend when you need to implement a plan. Many believe that they can wait until sometime in the future to begin planning or to implement a plan. This is especially true when we consider what it takes to diligently save money. If a person can start young by putting away money for the future, it will build with compound interest. However, if years are allowed to pass without any thought of saving, the situation can become precarious especially when financial needs arise.
Pharaoh turned to Joseph and told him that since God had made this information known to Joseph, there was no one so discerning and wise as him. He told Joseph that he would be in charge of his palace and this plan. Only Pharaoh would be greater than Joseph, who had gone from slave to forgotten prisoner to this position as governor. His job was not to plan, but to act. Joseph was to be in charge of collecting the food and grain and ensuring that it was stored for the time to come.
There are some people that can develop very good plans, but they often have a problem when it comes to implementing their plan. There used to be a commercial that had two consultants trying to sell an idea to a manager at a company. The manager loved the idea and asked them to implement it. They laughed and said that they were only the idea people; they don't actually 'do' the work. Even the best plans are ineffective if they are never carried out and nobody is willing to 'do' the work.
After seven years of abundance came to an end, the seven years of famine began. The famine encompassed all the land and people outside of Egypt began to suffer. Only Egypt had food. When people in Egypt began to feel the pangs of famine, Pharaoh told them to go to Joseph and do whatever he told them to do. (Can't you imagine that those who likely chastised Joseph for 'hoarding' felt bad at this point?) Certainly, after seeing seven years of abundance and the start of the years of famine, Pharaoh was even more intrigued by Joseph and his God.
Saving requires diligence. Saving requires you to say no to some things that you might 'want', in lieu of getting what you need. If you are just beginning your career, the best thing that you can do financially is to learn to put away as much as possible and learn to live on as little as possible. You may believe that you are financially solvent and that you will have a good job (and the ability to work) for a long time. Our prayer would be that this would be true for all of us. But, we all need to ask if we are ready if our 'years of famine' are on our doorstep? Are you prepared? If you need to make a plan, make it and become diligent in following it.