Monday, April 3, 2017

The Story of God: Joseph

Joseph had a hard but glorious life.

He dreamed.  He was envied.  He was hated.  He was sold.  He was accused.  He was jailed.  He was forgotten. 

Eventually, he was freed.  He was promoted.  He saved Egypt. 

In spite of it all, he was successful and bitter-free! 

How?  Nothing stuck!

Joseph could not stop life from stinking.  He could stop it from sticking!

When life stinks, don’t let it stick

Joseph gave us some practical examples.  Here are a few:

When I trust God’s justice, I can respond to neglect with respect

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.  Genesis 37:3-5

He responded to neglect with respect; not with an agenda.  He did not embark on a journey in the pursuit of getting people back, proving people wrong, or teaching someone a lesson.  He never would have experienced the victory he did if he had.  He needed to be free from the junk he experienced.

When I live with a chip on my shoulder, disappointment on my mind, and a grudge in my heart, I will never become the person I was created to be.

When I believe in God’s sovereignty, I can accept my setback as a setup

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned.  Genesis 39:1-4

Choose to believe God is up to something

Get in the habit of saying, “I can’t wait to see what God does with this.”

… it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”  Genesis 45:5-7

God was not and is not in favor of bullying, slavery, or blackmail.  But God, in His sovereignty, can and will use those moments for good.

When I receive God’s love, I can forgive even when I am forgotten 

Forgetfulness cannot stop the power of forgiveness

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: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— 22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. 23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.  Genesis 40:20-23

Being forgotten did not keep him from being forgiving.

In time, Joseph was remembered.  The Pharaoh’s cupbearer recalled the story of the “young Hebrew in prison.”  Joseph was freed and brought before the Pharaoh.  He interpreted the dream and saved Egypt.   

Eventually, his brothers came to Egypt looking for food.  Joseph arranged a private meeting with the brothers.  They had no idea who he was.  He started crying and he screamed, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him.  They were scared to death.

They had moved on!  

So had Joseph.  The emotions were real.  But he had not allowed the emotions to keep him from forgiving.

Stop waiting on an apology and give some grace!

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. 18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.  Genesis 50:15-21

When life stinks, don’t let it stick

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