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Will You Be Ready?

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Chris Horvath

Genesis Sermon – Gen 40-41

Box #109

Introduction – NFL placekicker

There is an interesting role that is used in every single game.  A necessity for each football team is to have a placekicker.  That’s right, in a game where guys hit each other throughout the day, there is one guy set aside with the “gift” of kicking a football better than anyone in the stadium.  He only plays a small fraction of the game, and spends most of his time standing on the sideline.  BUT, before we disparage the importance of this “role player” with a unique ability or gift, let’s consider that games have been decided by placekickers.  As a matter of fact, seasons have been determined based on what these men do.  Even championships have been won and lost on a kick at the end of the game.  One could even make a case that a legacies have been determined by a good or bad kick (ask a Buffalo Bills fan if the words “wide right” mean anything to them)

So a kicker has a gift and the key thing question that he needs to be able to answer with his actions is “ARE YOU READY” to use your gift.  There are no excuses, no “I’ll do it later”, no “the wind is too hard” – he must be ready to use his gift in a moments notice. 

One of the most memorable kicks ever occurred a few years ago in the playoffs.  It was Oakland vs. New England.  Blizzard conditions in December. And we in Michigan understand what that looks like – we’re talking about snow blowing sideways, white powder on the ground and on players – we’re talking about seeing each breath come out of exhausted players mouths…  Oh, and by the way, with the game on the line, coach asks Adam Vinaiteri, New England’s kicker, to go and use his gift.  There is no answer other than “I will” – he went out and from 135 feet, kicked a football through two yellow posts that are 18’ 6” wide, all while 9 of his guys were trying to block 11 of the other guys.  And he did it.  The Patriots went on to win the game, and the Super Bowl – in large part because a kicker was ready to use his gift.

Transition

Kicking a ball in that situation is a unique gift.  Not everybody has it.  A unique gift that I’d like to talk to you about today is a little different, and revolves around the life of Joseph in Genesis 40-41.  You see Joseph was able to interpret dreams… that’s right, all those crazy dreams that you had after eating bad pizza, and you wish you knew if they meant something – Joseph could’ve told you.  But before you say, “Man, I wish I was Joseph, know that he had a tough life even before he was 30.

Background

Joseph’s life was marked by the tough times in a journey…

How did Joseph got in prison

·               Almost killed by his brothers

·               Sold into slavery by his brothers

·               Taken to a foreign land

·               Slave in Potipher's household

·               Wrongfully accused by Potipher's wife

·               Thrown in prison

…and in prison, everyone has their story about how it’s not their fault…

Act I – In prison…

2 other guys had their own story.  You see each had “offended” Pharoah.  Nobody intends to offend the most powerful person in the land… and so there is some kind of mis-communication, accident, wrongful accusation at work for each of them.  And so, here they are… in prison… with Joseph…

And one morning… after a while in the prison – the 2 were deeply troubled about what happened during the night.  It wasn’t anything that happened, but rather what each one dreamt.  So much so – that it was obvious something was wrong.  This was yet another “ARE YOU READY” moment.

The cupbearer went first.  He explained his dream and then Joseph said to him, “Good news:  3 days and you will be released.  You will resume your duties as cupbearer.”  - and please “remember me” and help get me out of this dungeon.

The chief baker went next, explaining his dream.  Joseph knew the dream was not good news – and imagine what you’d do in this situation – wouldn’t it be tempting to say, “oh it means nothing… or it means the weather will be bad for birds… or maybe you should write me into your will… 

But Joseph explains the dream and gives the bad news that in 3 days he will be executed. 

Both interpretations are right on and happen exactly as Joseph says.

Act II - 2 more years in prison

Then the next day, and Joseph is still in prison.  Days turn into weeks, and Joseph is still stuck in the same place…

Weeks turn into months, and as Joseph continues to tend to the other prisoners, he wonders how long he will be in this lonely place…

Finally a year passes from the date of the interpretations… and nothing special happens…

Joseph continues life as usual…

After 2 full years, and out of nowhere, Joseph gets a knock on his cell door – It’s another “ARE YOU READY” moment.  “Joseph, Pharaoh has had 2 dreams that no one in the kingdom can interpret, and he needs you right now… sniff… sniff… well maybe there’s time for you to get cleaned up…

Act III - Coming to Pharaoh

Joseph walks toward the most powerful person in the region – and he takes in a glimpse of freedom he hasn’t felt in a long time.  His eyes take a long time to adjust to the brightness of the open sky.  His nose welcomes in a smell that is different from the stench of dirty prisoners and leftover food.  His skin enjoys the freshness of new garments that have been put on him – maybe reminding him of his robe that his father had given him a long time ago.  Was that life even real?  He snaps out of it just in time to hear Pharaoh say, “I heard that you can interpret dreams” – Joseph explains that he can’t, but God can…

Pharaoh explains his dreams and let’s stop at this moment – Pharaoh is in deep need and he is asking someone who has been a slave and a prisoner for a long time…

Joseph had a God-given gift - How would he use it?  He had a chance to instruct the most powerful person in the region, and oh – how easy it would be…

You need to let me out of prison

Give me a house, gold, clothes…

…oh, and put the cupbearer back in prison…

Would he let bitterness dominate his potential to use his gift?

What about selfishness?

Joseph could have probably offered any reasonable interpretation of the dream, and NO ONE would have known any different.  Except God.  But he had been locked away for so long, and surely he “deserved” to help himself get out… it wouldn’t have to be anything extravagant, but maybe just a little line at the end – “let the prisoner go…” 

But Joseph uses his gift and interprets the dreams.  7 years of plenty and then 7 years of famine.  Put someone in charge to save during the years of excess, and then distribute in years of need. 

Through this – and a kindly response from Pharaoh is not guaranteed…

Joseph is freed from jail

Joseph is put in charge of Egypt

Countless lives were saved – including Joseph’s own family

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  Gen 50:20

All of this happened because Joseph was able to answer the call, “ARE YOU READY” – he was and he used his gift the right way – he could’ve taken advantage of the situation for his own benefit – yet he didn’t…

Conclusion

What about us?  Everyone in this room has giftings from God – I doubt it’s kicking a football, and I’d be surprised if it is interpreting dreams…  maybe it’s preaching, compassion, encouragement, administration, works, or something different – Whatever it is, there is something in common – it can be used properly, or it can be used selfishly when the question comes “ARE YOU READY”. 

Would we ever be tempted to withhold compassion from someone who has criticized the way we do ministry?  Would we ever “soften” God’s word because we’re afraid of what a person might think of us?  Is it possible that we could do something for our own glory and not necessarily because it was what God wanted?   Oh- and we can be very good at making it so that no one could ever know… except God. 

Each of us has a gift… What are we going to do when we hear the words, “ARE YOU READY”

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