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Hard Love #3 – Joseph

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God if you're still working, I'll keep waiting

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Hard Love – Joseph (sermon 3?)
Text: Genesis 50:15-20
We’re in the 3rd week of our series entitled Hard Love...
In week 1 the story of Gideon showed us that God does not call us to comfort but to combat
In week 2 the story of Abraham helped us see that Faith is not just showing up, faith requires stepping up and this week in the life of Joseph we will pray today and say, “God if you’re still working I’ll keep waiting.
Illustration: Did you know that you can sign up with the post office to get a preview of what is coming in your mail that day? By raised hand, who gets an email every day telling them what’s coming in the mail. I do, and it’s a pretty cool feature. At least I used to think it was, until I realized I could find out at 7 or 8 every morning that I had mail coming from the IRS. Since the mail doesn’t come until about 4 at our house, anyone else want an extra 8 hours of their day to be consumed with knowing that you have a friendly letter coming from the IRS? Some of us grow anxious not knowing what’s going to happen next in a situation, that’s why many of you now do something called “Binging” when it comes to your favorite television program...
God if you’re still working, I’ll keep waiting.
I wonder which of us might want God to show us His full plan for our lives? Do you think the 12-year-old version of you would have been up for what you’ve experienced in life thus far? Do you think you would have wanted to be walked through the process of how each of your family members dies, how you lost your job, having your wisdom teeth pulled, or the car accident you would have that would forever change your life? What about all the mistakes, the alcohol, the drugs, the addictions, the credit card debt, and the bad relationships. I don’t know about you but that really would have ruined little league for me. There are very few of us who can handle the future before we get there. And just because someone can handle it, doesn’t mean that they might want to know it. If you study the Old Testament, it seems like the prophets, the ones whom God revealed the future to, were always rather depressed. In fact Jesus knew this, so he said don’t worry about tomorrow, there is enough evil in today for anyone to handle.
WE: But at the same time we don’t really like to wait, do we? We live in a culture of instant gratification. Fast food isn’t fast enough anymore so Mcdonalds put in a second drive-thru. I can walk into starbucks or chipotle and pick up my pre-ordered item without even talking to anyone, and I’m not sure what we even do with television today. If you are raising kids today you have probably taken on opportunity to explain to them that when you were little you had to wait on something called… “commercials.”
Instant gratification is perhaps ok in areas of life that don’t really matter like coffee, burritos, or television, but when we walk into a doctor’s office, none of us seem to really mind seeing her degrees on the wall that inform us that she went to school half of her life to qualify herself to work on our bodies. Isaiah 40:31 is a pretty frequently quoted Bible verse, in fact you might even catch it tattooed somewhere on the body of a biker. Especially if he rides in the “on wings of eagles” Christian bikers association. I don’t know if you have to have the tattoo, but the group really does exist. Isaiah 40:31 says those who wait upon the Lord will have their strength renewed, they will run without tiring, and walk without fainting, and they will mount up with wings like eagles. Good verse isn’t it? Anyone have friends that quote Bible verses to them and sometimes you really just want to punch them in face? I’m serious. You get fired from your job and someone making six figures says I know how you feel? Your kids have been in the hospital for two years and they have to listen to their Christian friend complaining that someone accidentally gave their kid a non-organic cookie. My point being, is that sometimes we like to show how spiritual we are by sharing Bible verse with someone. But I wonder how well we might receive it if we were in their shoes. I have been on both sides of the coin, and the bottom line is there are a lot of principles that we think are good for everyone else, but when it comes to us God should make an exception. Anyways…
Joseph's brothers tried to murder him by throwing him into a pit. Joseph had these dreams in which he was Mr. Big and they were all groveling at his feet… which he also recounted to them in detail at the breakfast table the next morning. He was also his father's pet, and they seethed at the sight of the many-colored coat he flaunted while they were running around in T-shirts and dirty jeans.
After tossing him into the pit, the brothers decided to tell Jacob, their father, that his fair-haired boy had had a fatal tangle with bobcats, and in order to convince him they produced a shirt that they'd dipped in goat's blood. Jacob was convinced, and they didn't even have to worry too much about the lie they'd told him because by the time they got around to telling it, they figured that one way or another it, or something like it, must have come true.
Unknown to them, however, when they sold Joseph to some traveling salesmen who happened to be passing by they were actually unintentionally doing the will of God. You have to watch God sometimes, even when you think you messing things up God is still working in it. Joseph eventually wound up as a slave in Egypt, where he was bought by an army man named Potiphar. He got into trouble over an embarrassing misunderstanding with Potiphar's seductive wife and did some time in jail for it as a result. Just to be clear here, Potiphar’s wife would have been a supermodel, because he would have had the pick of the land, and Joseph didn’t have any good reason to resist her, except that his standing before God was far more important to him then a menial one night stand with this woman. And just like his brothers, potiphars wife thought she was doing a disservice to Joseph, but again she also would be an unwilling servant of Jehovah. Anyhow while he was in jail he interpreted the dream of a baker and a cupbearer. He predicted that the baker would be killed and the cupbearer would be restored to his position with the king. He was right and told the cupbearer, hey buddy don’t forget about me when you get back to Pharaoh.
But alas he did forget… for two years until Pharaoh needed a dream teller. When Joseph interpreted the dreams, Pharaoh promoted him to be head of the Department of Agriculture and eventually his right-hand man, because he devised a plan to preserve the food necessary to overcome the 7 years of famine that were on the horizon. Years later, Joseph's brothers, who had long since succeeded in putting him out of their minds, turned up in Egypt too, looking for something to eat because they were having a famine back home. Joseph knew who they were right off the bat, but because he was wearing his fancy clothes and speaking Egyptian, they didn't recognize him.
Joseph couldn't resist getting a little of his own back for a while. He pretended he thought they were spies. He gave them some grain to take home but made one of them stay behind as a hostage. He planted some silverware in their luggage and accused them of copping it. With part of himself he was presumably getting a kick out of all this, but with another part he was so moved and pleased to be back in touch with his own flesh and blood after so long that every once in a while, he had to get out of the room in a hurry so they wouldn't see how choked up he was and discover his true identity.
Finally he'd had enough. He told them who he was, and they all fell into each other's arms and wept. He then invited them to come live with him in Egypt and to bring old Jacob along with them too, who was so delighted to find Joseph alive after all these years that he didn't even seem too upset about the trick that had been played on him with the bloody shirt.
Let’s pick up the Bible at Genesis 50 verse 15
Genesis 50:15-20 15 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!" 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father charged before he died, saying, 17'Thus you shall say to Joseph, "Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong."' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants." 19 But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? 20 "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
So even after as generous and forgiving as Joseph had been, his brothers couldn't avoid the nasty suspicion that once the old man wasn't around anymore to put in a good word for them, Joseph might start thinking again about what it had felt like when they tossed him into that pit and decide to pay them back as they deserved. So they went to see him, fell down on their knees, and begged his pardon.
Joseph's answer rings out like a bell. "Don't be scared. Of course you're pardoned," he said. "Do you think I'm God to grovel before me like that?" While I was waiting, God was working. Ok, so he didn’t say that, but he sure could have, because it was the definitely the truth.
What is it for you this morning? I mean be real with God today. I want you cry out in your spirit in prayer, God I know I haven’t been patient enough. I’m serious... say right now God, God I’ve been impatient about my job, I’ve become bitter about my marriage, I’m tired of waiting on my children.
I promise you according to the word of God, that if you commit your ways to Him, if you are honoring him with your life, if you are minding the direction of the Holy Spirit, He has you in the waiting because He wants to do something that isn’t just going to heal your pain, he’s not just going to restore your family, he’s not just going to reveal your purpose, he’s going to blow you away with His goodness.
Listen James chapter 1 says this morning.
2 Consider it ALL A-L-L joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,
3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Jam 1:2-4 NAU)
Let me give another version real quick on verse 4.
But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.
Interestingly enough the three most basic requirements to turn coal into diamonds, are heat, pressure and time. Do you believe that in every moment of your waiting God is taking the nasty, sooty, dusty situations of your life to create something exquisite?
God if you’re still working, I’ll keep waiting.
WE: What do we do with Joseph’s story? God showed him a vision and he believed that it was God who revealed it to him. But how did man respond? His brothers threw him in a pit. Joseph said no big deal I believe God’s vision. They sell him into slavery, no big deal I believe in God’s plan, potiphar’s wife lies about him, and he gets thrown in prison, ok God struggling a little here, Gods helps him reveal a dream, but then the cupbearer forgets him, maybe then he said, seriously God? All along the way, He could have said what about now God? What about now? What about now?
God started by showing him part of the vision, God had to reserve the vision. Then he took care of Joseph through all the turmoil, he preserved the vision. Then when He was fully developed, God fully revealed the vision. He reserved it, preserved it, and then he revealed it.
Take this encouragement today… the greater the plan, the longer the span. (REPEAT)
All of God’s great ones have waited before Him. If He has you waiting, He wants you learning. If He has you learning, it’s because His plans for you are greater than you understand. If He has great plans for you, nothing will stand in the way of Him accomplishing them in and through you.
Only someone who had been sold into slavery, imprisoned, and forgotten could have had the wisdom and the long view to preserve the food that would preserve the people. All along the way he was building relationships, learning the aspects of the kingdom, and learning the heart of God that He would need to forgive his brothers, and testify of His goodness. What a shame it would be if in our impatience we were waiting for God to do something, while He’s been waiting on us to do something.
Does your prayer life show that you’re really waiting for God’s perfect will or is it just a plea for God to fix the seemingly wrong and inconvenient things in your life. When we go to prayer, what if instead of praying, God get me out of this situation, we prayed God show me how I can see you in this situation. (REPEAT)
The reason that thinking about the future causes anxiety and fear is because we try to face tomorrow’s problems before God has granted us the strength to overcome them. He gives new mercies, not just refreshed but new kinds of mercy, mercy that you didn’t need yesterday. Every morning he meets us with them. He says as your days are so shall your strength be. What does that mean for us? It means that before you get to tomorrow’s problems God is already waiting there for you with the courage to overcome them. What day has He not got you through, come rest today in the strength that He wants to meet you with. Come pray, God if you’re still working, I’ll keep waiting.
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