The Artist and His Canvas
Good morning! Welcome to our 80’s Kick off - Im’s stoked about today...
Big thanks to Sondra, Tiffany and Melinda and Pam getting this ready for the after party in fellowship hall… it going to be outrageous..
And for those of you who are visiting and didn’t get the memo. This is not normally how we dress around here.. But we are a church that likes to have fun…
We are Celebrating a few things… we celebrating our Sunday School ministry as we launch fall program.. We also starting our Community Groups that will start next Sunday… if you would like to be part of a group please sign up today.
… Our New Series is on the life of Joseph entitled, “Our Mess his Masterpiece.”
Today we are going to be to be introducing the conflict that sets the stage for this Epic Story of the life Joseph…as we talk about ‘The Artist and His Canvas”
My Dad is an artist and so when I was growing up, I got to see how his paintings started and how they progressed from a blank canvas to a picture completed and framed on the wall.
Artists have this amazing ability to create something out of nothing……
Even before they have put one brush stroke of paint onto the canvas they already visualized their painting, they already know the range of colors they will use and kind shading and contrasts they are planning to use…
So even before their is one stroke on a blank Canvas ---There is the idea and intention is already in place.....
The famous artist Michaelangelo was asked to explain how he was able to produce such fine sculptures every time out of anything. Michaelangelo responded that..
“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.’
I saw the angel in the marble an carved until I set him free.
… The Artist knows his intention before he begins the work…
In this series we are going to be looking at the life of Joseph starting in Genesis 37:1..
The Story of Joseph has been called the most masterful narrative in Genesis, if not the entire Bible.
There are several reasons why Scholars see the story of Joseph as a masterpiece..
First is the amount of space given to the Story of Joseph - in the book of Genesis. There are 50 chapters in the book of Genesis and 14 chapters are dedicated to the story of Joseph… and it takes up 25 % of the book of Genesis..
Second, is the Historical content..
The story of Joseph fits into the larger theme of the life of Jacob (or Israel). The Story records the gestation of the nation of Israel as it chronicles the migration of Jacob’s embryonic clan to Egypt, where after 400 years … it comes to full term. Under the leadership of Moses, Israel would walk out of Egypt a full and complete nation.
Third facet of the masterpiece.. is that Joesph’s life foreshadows the life of Christ. Just like Joseph — Jesus Rejection by his own people led to his Exaltation...
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
Just as Joseph descent into suffering paved the way to save the nation of Israel .. So, Jesus’ death burial and resurrection.. providing a means of our Salvation and His exaltation.
Another Facet the life of Joseph.. is how applicable it for today… Tim Keller tells us that
If we are willing to come in, if we are willing to let the narrative draw us in and really get involved in the story and really understand the narrative, when we come out, we’ll look at your own life differently.
We’ll have a new perspective on our own life.
Our lives are part of His story and His masterpiece…where God had intention and purpose even before we were born. Paul tells us.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Here is the challenge as on lookers… we don’t always see God working in the challenges of life.. The artist has completely different perspective from the onlooker…
Maybe you look at your life and you thing how could allow such things to happen and if God is in control of thing he must be incompetent..
People frequently say, “If God is really in charge of things, he must be incompetent. Look at my life. Look at all the things that are happening. Look at all the disappointments. Look at everything that has happened to me. If God is in charge of things, he must be incompetent
In story of story of Joseph -God’s hidden hand arranges everything without show or explanation or violating the nature of things. God is involved in all events and directs all things to their appointed end.
God will uses both the good and evil actions in Josephs family, of Pharaoh and his servants, and of passersby and uses their actions for good… The end of Josephs life…The dream is fulfilled… Josephs tells his bothers..
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
What we see in Joseph if that God is not just the God of the extraordinary but he is also a God of the ordinary..
T/ We can be certain that God is at work… but God uses the raw material of lives to create His masterpiece..
1. God uses the Conflicts of life.
1. God uses the Conflicts of life.
Here is picture of Mount St. Helens before May of 1980, it’s this beautiful mountain, snow-capped.
There’s nothing that looks more permanent than a mountain. There’s nothing that looks more stable than a mountain, but then you ought to take a look at the after picture, after May 18, 1980....
As permanent and as great as that mountain looked, inside there was brewing something that was about to blow the top off the mountain. It’s the same thing with this family.
In this family of Jacob, large, prosperous, established, but there was something down deep inside that was going to blow top off… Some conflicts end up like MT St. Helen… but we need to remind ourselves that these kind of Events don’t happen over night… We see the beginnings of trouble in the opening of the story of Joseph.
2 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father.
The Story of Joseph begins with Joseph a teenager 17 years working along side his older brothers with the flock of his father Jacob.
These brothers are half brothers sons of Jacobs servant wives… we are told that something happened --- we don’t know what it was or any of the details, but .... what we do know is that Joseph was quick to bring the bad report to his father Jacob..
The word report is Hebrew word debba which is always used in the negative sense of an untrue report…
At best Josephs story is a half truth… but it has most-likely embellished truth... So Joseph misrepresented in order to maligned his brothers.
Just like Mt St. Helen there is something much deeper that has been brewing here for along time… It is actually fueled by dysfunction from Jacobs side of the family that had influenced Joseph… Jacobs hard feelings towards his sons had actually poisoned the family system
There is no love lost between Joseph and brothers..
This bad Report — Caused a Rift in the relationship… but it is also the response of the Brothers that adds fuel to conflict..
One of the first things we should acknowledge is that there are two guilty parties in every conflict....
In this Case Joseph resents His half- brothers… an unhealthy attitude he inherited from His father Jacob… the Brothers… were Jealous and harbored hatred and ill will towards Joseph...
In Matt 18 we have whole section on how to handle Conflict resolution … Jesus said that if your brother sins against you… you need to confront the issue… most of us have our default setting on avoidance..
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
So Jesus taught us that when our brother sins against us we should seek our restoration…When we have been treated poorly in unjustly we should seek peace… Do our part in restoring a relationship...
What is the Hope here?? That we might gain a brother..!! Why because in Conflict you are in danger of loosing a relationship...
Jesus does on to say don’t give up on the relationship too easily ,take a witness or two and try and rectify the situation… but if He still refuses… basically you should walk away...
Here is the reality… Conflict is part of life.. we have to learn how to manage it… deal with things in timely way… But it’s not always going to work out..
We need to remember that Conflict comes from our brokenness.. our fallenness..
We have have this sinful nature that is bent towards self.. …
1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?
Whether it is the Jealousy of the half brothers…or Joseph telling half truths… Both are motivated by self-interests..
The Beauty in the Art Work is that nothing is waisted with God… These make up the textures, contours, and shadings of our lives.. that God mixes into the fabric of the paint on his palette.
How does God Use Conflict?
God uses Conflict to knock off some of the rough edges off our Character… Each of us knows the kinds of conflicts that happen in our lives and families…
Some are huge conflicts like Mt St. Helen… irreparable damage…
Then then the is the kind of conflicts that happen in every family..
people get upset with each other…we get misunderstood... something is said that is hurtful…
All this has a purpose...
All this is Character building… It’s dealing with our selfishness...
We need to remember that the Best Masterpieces… have gone through an Editing process.. where excess is been cut away..
Another Quote from Michaelangelo.
“By sculpture I mean that which is fashioned by the effort of cutting away, that which is fashioned by the method of building up being like unto painting”
T/s So this conflict is just the tip of the ice-burg of this families dysfunction.. but...
We can be certain that God is at work… God uses the raw material of lives to create His masterpiece..
1. God uses Conflicts of life.
2. God's uses Dysfunction of Families
2. God's uses Dysfunction of Families
Several years ago Wall Street Journal had this article entitled "The Dysfunctional Family House.” It was about the Ledbetter family who liked to spend time at home together as a family but just not in the same room.
So they designed and built a 3,600-square-foot house with special rooms for various activities.. they had one for sewing, library for reading, they had TV rooms… Then they had a room they called the escape room… that’s where "Any family member can go to get away from the rest of us.”
Now today we don’t need escape rooms we have devices…iPhones and iPads…video games…
Needing space is not the issue… it is when we don’t avoid conflict… When we sacrifices relationships for the sake of peace…
What was happening in Jacobs family?
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. 5 Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more.
We have to rewind the tape a bit to understand whats going on here….
We are given the hint in the text that the reason for Jacob favoring Joseph goes back in the family History… “Joseph loved Joseph more...because he was the son of His old age..”
The Bible talks about generational sins… In Exodus 20 you have God who is Zealous for the affection of His people Israel…He visits the iniquity (guilt) of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations who hate God… he also show his steadfast love for 1000’s of generations to those who love God…
If you go back a few Generations you will see that the Generational sin in Jacobs family was favoritism.
Remember that Jacob was the twin of Esau… Who wrestled his brother for the birthright even in the womb of Rebekah.. he was born holding onto the heal of Esau… Both Isaac and Rebekah had favorites.. Jacob favored Esau and Rebecca favored Jacob..
Rebekah coached Jacob on how deceive Isaac into giving Jacob the family Blessing.
When Esau discovered that his brother had cheated him, he threatened to murder Jacob. This forced Jacob to flee to Haran to live with Laban.
When he gets to Haran he meets Rachael the daughter of Laban and falls in love with her..
Laban sets the bride price at 7 years.. but instead of giving him Racheal laban give Jacob his oldest daughter Leah instead.. Next morning Jacob gets the surprise of his life and finds Leah and not Rachael. Jacob demands that he give Rachael to him as his wife… Laban agrees with conditions… he can marry Rachael that week but … Jacob has to work another 7 years for Rachael .. Laban also gifts Jacob with two handmaidens who he takes as wives...
So you thought the Kadashians had family Drama…
Tim Keller points out that Jacob grew up lacking love and affirmation from his father.. he makes the point that Jacobs inner neediness was to find someone who would fix his heart… When he met Rachael he found someone he thought could fix his life....
Jacob fixed all his attention on Rachael, they married had two children Joseph and Benjamin.... and Rachael dies in giving birth to Benjamin… Joseph becomes the new center of Jacobs life..
Jacob lavished money on Joseph in a way he didn’t give it to any of the other children… the Bible says where your treasure is where your heart is… Jacob heart is with Joseph.. and he becomes a kind of idol in the life of Jacob..
… We are told that Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons..
Favoritism didn go unnoticed the older brothers - it was no secret…
Jacob Blatantly Chose Jacob Over all His Children by given Joseph the Coat of many colors…
What was significant about the coat is that it had long sleeves and there was a practice of binding deeds inside the sleeves.. and symbolized great deal of wealth or property rights. Basically Joseph was set apart as the one who would receive double portion of the inheritance.
When the brothers saw Jacobs love for Joseph they became jealous and they hated him even more… they hated him and so much they could not speak peacefully to him”
We don’t have to use our imaginations to much to see what is happening here the text.. So Josephs sinful distortions of the truth and Jacobs sinful favoritism… Combine this with Jacobs blatant elevation of Joseph above his other sons poisoned his entire family system.
How does God use Dysfunction of families?
God has always used imperfect families … One of the greatest things about the bible is that it is a book about dysfunctional people and relationships... Adam and Eve, Cain and Able.. Esau and Jacob, Joseph… continues in to the NT....
Dysfunction doesn’t bother God because we are living in dysfunctional world.
God is able to take someone like Jacob whose name meant Suplanter (Divisive) and changes him from the inside out…After struggling with God his whole life…He leads him to a place called Penuel… and in One night of wrestling with the God…He is transformed... Jacob is given a new name and and a new identity and God calls him Israel… “God strives,” “God rules,” “God heals”....
God uses Dysfunction for his glory
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
God dips his brush in to our Conflict into our Dysfunctions and He uses it to Fuel his purposes..
God uses the raw material of lives to create His masterpiece..
1. God uses Conflicts of life.
2. God's uses Dysfunction of Families
3. God uses unrealized DREAMS
3. God uses unrealized DREAMS
Do you remember being 17 years old? I remember being optimistic about life… that I could change the world… that I could make a difference… This is the way that Joseph felt… but like every young person those dreams had not been quite tested yet… God is going to give Joseph a Dream — but there is a going be huge gap between the dream and it’s fulfilment… Often our Dreams are what motivate us into the future… Dreams give us Hope....
Joseph is a dreamer, in ancient time dreams were associated with messages from deities… Joseph has two dreams that are going to add fuel to the fire.... Two dreams are very similar
He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.
]… Dreams were significant in the Old Testament and often God spoke to his people through dreams. Joseph had this dream twice… Confirming the first..
So when God revealed his choice of Joseph through two symbolic dreams, everyone would have taken them very seriously.
Joseph is at the Center of the Dreams.. In the first Dream Joseph is in a field binding sheaves together in the field.. and his Sheaf... arose and stood upright... and all the sheaves gathered around his sheaves and bowed down to my sheaf...
When Joseph tells the story about the son and moon and 11 stars bowing before him... You just wish you could jump in and tell Joseph to stop... Joseph may have just been excited about the dreams about his future..
The two dreams suggests, the certainty of fulfillment, that “the thing is established by God” (41:32). This is also suggested by the complementarity of the dreams: one is set on earth (reaping in the fields), the other in heaven (sun, moon, and stars
The brothers didn't need an interpretation... His brothers looked at Joseph and said really???
We got to remember that in the patriarchal culture…the younger was always to serve to older… Where children were always subservient. Joseph dream made the brother Very jealous” and they hated Joseph ). In context, this seems to be a stronger and deeper passion than “hatred” (vv 5, 8). it is a feeling that is liable to spill over into violent action
Do you really believe that you are going to reign over us and that we are going to bow down to you..
Even Jacob who loved Joseph rebuked him...
The word Rebuke or “Reprimanded” is an uncommon word... It refers most often to God’s reaction to the nations or the wicked.. It is used in the strongest sense...
Despite his deep affection for Joseph, Jacob feels that this time he has gone much too far.
How Does God use Unrealized Dreams?
The unrealized dream is this gap between the what is Hoped for and the actualization of the dream… In Josephs case this is a Divine word a message that carries with it prophecy and promise of fulfillment...
God uses dreams to inspire us… He also uses Dreams drive us towards Him and his purposes… The problems with Josephs brothers is that its not that they didn’t believe the dream… They were jealous… They wish that they had been given the dream.... They are opposed to Joseph… and like Pharoah --- God is going to Harden their hearts… and through suffering Joseph is going to be propelled into his God preferred future…
Even though Joseph rebukes Jacob...
...Jacob pondered it all in his heart (37:11). He in particular knew how God worked; Jacob himself had received visions in dreams. He was well aware that God would choose the next leader.
He also knew that God could choose the younger son to rule over the older sons; and he knew that God could reveal all this ahead of time in dreams.
These dreams were socially subversive… God rarely works in a straight line....
God had a dream for the salvation of this family from famine and from sin, but the dream utterly was completely, radically different than what society believed was possible
The Bible’s purpose is not so much to show you how to live good lives.
The Bible’s purpose is to show you how God’s grace breaks into your life against your will and saves you from the sin and brokenness you would otherwise
Romans 8:28 is quoted alot...
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
We know all things together for our Good..for those who love. What is hard to understand is the ALL things... We can understand how God uses the good things…
The life of Joseph reminds us thats
God uses Conflicts..
God uses Dysfunction..and God uses Unrealized Dreams....
To Paint His masterpiece… God has a purpose and a plan for each of us in this room…
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
What we need to remember it that God is not finished… one day there will be completion....
When we lived in Charlotte NC we would visit the Billy Graham library… It is a beautiful tribute to his ministry… There is Ruth Grahams head stone...
One of my favorite quotes is the epitaph written on Ruth Grahams tomb stone....apparently Ruth loved the imagery of the Christian life being this picture of a work under construction until we go to be with God.... she said that’s what I want as my epitaph… Inscribed on her grave are the words..
“End of Construction. Thank You for Your Patience.”
This morning God is not done with the masterpiece — He is using what you going through to make your life His masterpiece..