Hindrances to God's Provision
Hindrances to Receiving God’s Provision
To experience God’s provision, we must remove any hindrances and look beyond the gifts to the Giver.
I) Distraction ()
I) Distraction ()
Distraction can hinder us
Falling out of the way ()
Fighting amongst the brethren
Quarreling, especially because we’re greedy, can hinder us from experiencing God’s provision.
Blame and Anger
Whenever people get money, they can easily get greedy, especially when one gets more than another. Benjamin, Joseph’s full brother, received five changes of clothes and 300 pieces of silver. The other brothers easily could have said, “This isn’t fair. Let’s kill Benjamin and take his things for ourselves.” Or they could have pressured Benjamin into dividing his things among them. Quarreling on the way home was a danger that could have resulted in their never returning to experience all that Joseph had to give them.
It’s easy to envy the possessions or the situation in life of other Christians who have more than we have. It can lead to quarrels and block us from experiencing what God wants to give us.
They went down to Egypt as shepherds, hoping to buy enough bread to survive the famine. They returned with wagon loads of provisions, dressed in the finest clothes of Egypt, with the promise of all they needed for the future.
Question: Is greed is a major or minor problem for American Christians? How can we deal with it in ourselves and in our children in this materialistic culture?
II) Defensiveness and Dishonesty ()
II) Defensiveness and Dishonesty ()
What if the brothers had decided, “We can’t tell dad the truth about Joseph”? What if they had not been willing to admit their sin to their father? They would have missed all that Joseph wanted to provide for them in Egypt. Experiencing Joseph’s provision hinged on their willingness to confess their sin. Otherwise, their guilt would have hindered them from the many good things Joseph wanted to give them.
In the same way, guilt can keep us from experiencing what God has provided for us in Christ. When you’ve wronged someone and feel guilty, do you want to be around them? Of course not! If you see them coming, you duck the other way and hope that they didn’t see you. And if you feel that way toward God, you try to hide from Him, like Adam and Eve in the garden. But you can’t receive what God wants to give you when you’re hiding from Him. The only way to experience His abundant blessings is to confess all your sin, knowing that He is faithful and righteous to forgive your sin, and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness ().
When did Joseph reveal himself and restore relationship with his brothers? (, )
When Judah took the guilt and ownership, confessed, and was honest and did not defend himself (, )
III) Doubt ()
III) Doubt ()
Jacob’s sons returned home and said, “Joseph is alive and is ruler of all Egypt!” And Jacob said, “Praise God! That’s great news!” No, Jacob “was stunned, for he did not believe them”
I can understand why the old man would be inclined to doubt them. After all, Jacob’s sons didn’t have a great track record for honesty. But what if Jacob had continued to doubt them? What if he had said, “You’re up to no good, as usual! You know that Joseph died over 20 years ago, and now you expect me to believe that he is alive and well?” If Jacob had continued to doubt, he would have missed God’s abundant provision through Joseph.
First, Jacob doubted his sons because what they said was contrary to everything he had believed for the past 22 years. For all those years he had thought, “Joseph is dead ... Joseph is dead.” The news, Joseph is alive didn’t fit into his grid. He had programmed himself to think in a certain way, so he couldn’t accept this contrary idea as true.
isn’t that just like some people who reject the gospel? For years they have believed a set of false propositions concerning God and the Bible. They have thought, “The Bible is just a bunch of myths. Science tells us that evolution is true. How can anyone believe in miracles?” They have believed this way for so long that these things have become fixed assumptions in their minds. So when a Christian comes along and says, “There is a God who created the universe and you can know Him through the risen Lord Jesus Christ,” they scoff. What they’re really saying is, “It can’t be true, because I have believed differently for so long.”
Second, Jacob doubted his sons’ report because it sounded too good to be true. Joseph alive? That would have been the best thing Jacob could have imagined. But after all, this is the real world, not a fairy story. Everyone doesn’t live happily ever after in real life. Joseph had died; how could he possibly be alive, let alone be ruler of Egypt? In spite of all the evidence to the contrary (which we’ll consider in a moment), Jacob couldn’t believe it. It was just too good to be true!
Many reject the gospel for the same reason. It’s just too good to be true. If you tell people that the way to God is to try harder and resolve to be a better person, so that through determination and good works, you’ll get to heaven, they’ll believe you. That’s what every cult teaches, and people flock to them. But if you say, “God has provided everything through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. All you can do is come to God just as you are and accept the free gift of eternal life He offers you,” people say, “It can’t be! That’s just too good to be true.”
The third reason for Jacob’s doubt was his tendency to believe the bad news above the good news. Jacob, the perpetual pessimist, was more inclined to believe that all these things were against him than to believe that God was for him. When he sent his sons to Egypt, he was sure that he would never see any of them again. He was always looking for and believing the worst case scenario.
Some of us are more inclined to pessimism than others. But pessimism isn’t compatible with faith in our good God. We put up our umbrellas of gloom to block out His sunshine and then complain about how shady it is! Satan’s original strategy with Eve was to get her to doubt the goodness of God. He still uses that ploy to keep many from experiencing all that God has for them.
Missionary statesman Hudson Taylor had complete trust in God’s faithfulness. In his journal he wrote: Our heavenly Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning... He sustained 3 million Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years. We do not expect He will send 3 million missionaries to China; but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all... Depend on it, God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.
Question: How can a pessimist become an optimist? Should he?
IV) Difficulties (, )
IV) Difficulties (, )
(, ) (, 42:38)
(, ) (, 42:38)
Jacob was an old man. There were no commuter flights or even paved roads between Canaan and Egypt. To make this move to Egypt with all his household was a major thing for a man Jacob’s age. It meant a new, threatening living situation in a foreign country. There were all his belongings to pack and transport. There was a lot of uncertainty, risk, inconvenience, and hardship involved in this move. But if Jacob had allowed these difficulties to hinder him, he would have missed all that Joseph wanted to provide.
Change isn’t easy, especially the older we get. It’s easier to stay set in our ways, enjoying our familiar surroundings. But we can miss the blessings God wants to give us because we refuse to go through the difficulties involved in changing ourselves or our geographic location. If God says, “Go to the mission field” and I say, “Lord, I’m too old. It’s too hard for me to change at this point in life,” I’ll not experience His full provision for my life.
Difficult Places and People () This encouragement is necessary because Jacob certainly remembered what happened to Abraham and Lot when they went down to Egypt. He also remembered his father (Isaac) who refused to go down into Egypt. So God promises him in verse 4 that He will not let him stay there. He did bring him up again, after he was dead (50:7-13)
() Sometimes our possessions become a difficulty in disguise which keep us from experiencing God’s better provision. The King James Bible translates verse 20, “Regard not your stuff.” Pharaoh is telling Jacob’s brothers not to worry about bringing all their things, since he will provide them with the best of the land.
Suppose God says to me, “I want you to go serve Me in China” and I reply, “But, God, I can’t do that. What would I do with all my stuff?” My stuff would be keeping me from God’s will for my life, which would hinder me from experiencing His abundant provision. I never want to be so tied to my stuff that it keeps me from obeying God. Sell the stuff! If God wants me in China, I’d be happier there without all my stuff than I would be in America with it. Finally,
Question: How can a person who has suffered many hardships honestly believe in the goodness of God?
The cost of Living by faith is high but the yield is always higher
First, he heard the eyewitness testimony of his sons (45:26); then, he heard the words of Joseph (45:27); finally, he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him (45:27). Those tangible evidences changed Jacob’s doubt to faith, so that he was able to experience the abundance which Joseph wanted to provide for him.
B. LOOK TO THE LORD HIMSELF.
All Jacob wanted in life now was to go and see Joseph. I’m sure he appreciated and used the provisions Joseph had supplied. But Jacob’s consuming passion in life now was to see his son who had “died” and now was alive again.
God’s purpose in providing for us is not that we would get caught up with His provisions or gifts. God wants us to be enamored with His Son, who died and is alive forevermore. Look to the gifts God gives as evidence of His faithfulness, but remember, they’re only a means of getting us to look beyond to the face of the Giver. Our consuming passion in life should be to see Christ and be with Him.