15…Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.”
16“It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”
17So Pharaoh told Joseph his dream. “In my dream,” he said, “I was standing on the bank of the Nile River, 18and I saw seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river and begin grazing in the marsh grass. 19But then I saw seven sick-looking cows, scrawny and thin, come up after them. I’ve never seen such sorry-looking animals in all the land of Egypt. 20These thin, scrawny cows ate the seven fat cows. 21But afterward you wouldn’t have known it, for they were still as thin and scrawny as before! Then I woke up.
22“Then I fell asleep again, and I had another dream. This time I saw seven heads of grain, full and beautiful, growing on a single stalk. 23Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but these were blighted, shriveled, and withered by the east wind. 24And the shriveled heads swallowed the seven healthy heads. I told these dreams to the magicians, but no one could tell me what they mean.”
25Joseph responded, “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God is telling Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do. 26The seven healthy cows and the seven healthy heads of grain both represent seven years of prosperity. 27The seven thin, scrawny cows that came up later and the seven thin heads of grain, withered by the east wind, represent seven years of famine.
28“This will happen just as I have described it, for God has revealed to Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do. 29The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt. 30But afterward there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten in Egypt. Famine will destroy the land. 31This famine will be so severe that even the memory of the good years will be erased. 32As for having two similar dreams, it means that these events have been decreed by God, and he will soon make them happen.
33“Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt. 34Then Pharaoh should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years. 35Have them gather all the food produced in the good years that are just ahead and bring it to Pharaoh’s storehouses. Store it away, and guard it so there will be food in the cities. 36That way there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come to the land of Egypt. Otherwise this famine will destroy the land.”
39Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. 40You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.
47As predicted, for seven years the land produced bumper crops. 48During those years, Joseph gathered all the crops grown in Egypt and stored the grain from the surrounding fields in the cities. 49He piled up huge amounts of grain like sand on the seashore. Finally, he stopped keeping records because there was too much to measure.
53At last the seven years of bumper crops throughout the land of Egypt came to an end. 54Then the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had predicted. The famine also struck all the surrounding countries, but throughout Egypt there was plenty of food. 55Eventually, however, the famine spread throughout the land of Egypt as well. And when the people cried out to Pharaoh for food, he told them, “Go to Joseph, and do whatever he tells you.” 56So with severe famine everywhere, Joseph opened up the storehouses and distributed grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt. 57And people from all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world.
For Egypt, there were good times of abundance and bad times of famine. Conveniently for Egypt, God gave Pharaoh a heads up. Through the dreams Joseph interpreted, Pharaoh knew there were bad times ahead and so they prepared by saving 20% of their crops during the good times.
It was only through having prepared during the 7 years of prosperity that they were able to survive 7 years of famine. But not only did they survive, they also managed to feed many of the surrounding countries as well.
It’s extremely important to be prepared for the bad seasons.
God doesn’t always give us the same kind of advanced warning of bad times ahead that he gave to Egypt, however it’s safe to assume that seasons come and go and at some point there will be bad seasons ahead that we should prepare for. Just like Egypt, we know we will have good times and bad, good seasons and bad seasons.
Looking as Australia’s financial situation, a BT Australian Financial Health Index survey in 2016 found that ONE in three Australian households is living pay cheque to pay cheque and many would not be able to cover a major emergency if it happened.
The survey, which was conducted by Ernst & Young, also found:
ALMOST one in five people would not be able to find between $500 and $1000 if they needed it in an emergency.
56 PER CENT of people say they are unable to save as much as they would like to.
48 PER CENT of people say they rarely or never make contributions to a super plan.
A THIRD do not believe they will have a financially secure retirement.
Only 35 PER CENT of people have developed a sound plan to help them achieve their goals.
(Source: Adelaide Now)
The reality is if we are not prepared, bad situations will be more difficult than they need to be.
About 20 years ago when I had my first job I was catching public transport to my workplace. My car was parked at the train station car park during the day and one particular day I returned to find my car had been broken into while I was at work. The thief smashed the locks and ripped half of my dashboard out trying to get my stereo. They took about $400 worth of my CDs and made a huge mess. I claimed it on insurance but the insurance company wouldn’t give me my car back until I paid the excess which I unfortunately didn’t have at the time. I hadn’t saved any money and I wasn’t prepared. It was an unnecessarily stressful situation that could have been avoided if I had savings.
I was reading a book recently called the Barefoot Investor. At the beginning of the book the author Scott Pape tells a story about how his house burnt down in the Black Saturday bush fires in 2009. I can only imagine how difficult that experience would have been.
While Scott wasn’t expecting his house to burn down, he had savings put aside in a separate bank account specifically for emergencies such as this. He also had insurance and within days of their house burning down he was able to pay the excess and received a full insurance payout for his property.
When Joseph ordered the people to bring in 20% of their crops Egypt embarked on one of the biggest savings plans the world has ever seen.
There were significant benefits to having saved so much food.
• They survived the famine. There was enough food for the whole of Egypt.
• They had so much food they were able to be generous. They didn’t just feed Egypt – they fed other countries too.
• People came from all around to buy their grain. Because they were prepared Egypt was in a position of power and had control of their situation. Having saved so much food, Pharaoh and Joseph weren’t looking to others for help. Others were coming to them.
The scripture and Josephs example are such a contradiction to what our society teaches us. Our society is very materialistic and impatient. The world says “Why save up when you can have something now?” and “You need stuff… and you need it now. Don’t worry if you don’t have the money. Just use a credit card or get a loan.”
But who’s telling us this? It’s usually banks, financial institutions and retailers. Our banking, finance and retail sectors like to be Joseph and Egypt. They like to have the money and in turn the control. They like us to be dependent on them but we know from scripture that we’re meant to be the head not the tail.
The banking, finance and retail sectors are more interested in what they can draw out of you rather than genuinely looking after you despite their marketing and advertising claims. Their primary purpose is to generate wealth for their shareholder.
We are increasingly relying on credit. A reliance on credit makes you dependant on banks and financial institutions (not to mention adds to the cost of your purchase) and in a way you put yourself at the mercy of they institution. You could say you become a slave to them – locked in for the term of your finance regardless of your situation.
It’s important to live within your means and avoid credit as much as possible.
As we saw with Joseph… when you save, you not only have yourself covered for a rainy day but you are in a much better position – you have the power and control of your situation. It’s not left to external people or organisations such as banks or financial institutions.
In Proverbs 21:20 it says “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.”
Spending is a barrier to saving and we are addicted to buying stuff.
According to Moneysmart – the average Victorian spends $1225 per week.
It might shock you to learn that Environment Victoria says the vast majority of what we buy will end up in landfill within 6 weeks of buying it. (Source: Barefoot investor)
Think about it… Everything you spend will at some point end up in landfill.
If the vast majority of what we spend ends up in land fill we could be wasting as much as $60,000 a year just by throwing stuff out.
I’m one of those not so common guys who actually enjoys shopping. It must be a hunter gatherer thing. I also hate waste. I found the idea that the vast majority of what I spend will end up in landfill very confronting. Thinking about this concept has kind of ruined shopping for me. I question myself much more before I make a purchase these days. Do I really need this? How likely am I to use this? Is this a good investment or use of my money? Will this purchase end up in landfill soon? Am I wasting money?
We can’t avoid spending completely but we can be wise with what we spend.
What’s more, if we can get our financial affairs in order, it not only puts us in a better place for the bad season, it also puts us in good stead for the good seasons.
In Matthew 25:23 it says:
“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’”
It’s important to be prepared and to manage your finances well.
There’s a couple basic things you can do to get your finances in order and be better prepared for the inevitable bad seasons before they happen:
• Have a simple budget.
• If you have debts or credit facilities, pay them off as fast as possible and close them down. Get rid of credit cards. Pay them out and close the accounts and use a debit card instead.
• Pay extra off your mortgage to get rid of it as soon as possible.
• Use your own money, live within your means and limit unnecessary spending.
•Be a serial saver. Save for emergencies, big purchases and to invest in your future.
Its time to take control of your finances. What can you do to be better prepared financially?
Book: “Barefoot Investor. The only money book you will ever need.” – by Scott Pape.