Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Life Of Joseph - Remember


By the time we get to Genesis 40 Joseph had been sold into slavery, spitefully accused, wrongfully judged and unjustly placed into prison. However while there, Joseph worked hard to prove himself and ultimately became the most trusted prisoner. He was put in charge of all of the other prisoners. Whatever they did it was because Joseph allowed it and the warden checked nothing which was under Joseph’s authority.

Genesis 40
1 ¶  It came to pass after these things that the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt.
2  And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief butler and the chief baker.
3  So he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison, the place where Joseph was confined.
4  And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them; so they were in custody for a while.
5 ¶  Then the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream, both of them, each man’s dream in one night and each man’s dream with its own interpretation.
6  And Joseph came in to them in the morning and looked at them, and saw that they were sad.
So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, "Why do you look so sad today?"
8  And they said to him, "We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it." So Joseph said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please."
Then the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, "Behold, in my dream a vine was before me,
10  "and in the vine were three branches; it was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes.
11  "Then Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand."
12  And Joseph said to him, "This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days.
13  "Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler.
14  "But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house.
15  "For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon."
16  When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, "I also was in my dream, and there were three white baskets on my head.
17  "In the uppermost basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head."
18  So Joseph answered and said, "This is the interpretation of it: The three baskets are three days.
19  "Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you."
20 ¶  Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.
21  Then he restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.
22  But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them.
23  Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Note the account of the Chief Butler and the Chief Baker of Pharaoh
·       Joseph served them
·       Joseph ask about their day and their sadness
·       Joseph listened to their dreams
·       Joseph gave them the interpretations
·       After 3 days every word Joseph spoke came to pass
·       But Joseph was forgotten – no thank you, nothing … just forgotten

What do we learn from this account that we can apply to our lives today?

1.  Bloom where you are planted
a.   We cannot always control what we go through but we can decide how we are going to go through it
b.   Fair or unfair
c.   It’s not what you are going through but what you are going to
d.   You are not the only one going through difficult times
e.   Nothing says “I care” like taking time to listen
f.    People will care what you know when they know that you care
g.   It will help you to help others – bloom where you are planted
2.  Not every word of God will be found in a Promise Book
a.   The butler got a good word – the baker did not
b.   We can’t live our life only out of a promise book

When Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra they were thought to be gods, Zeus and Hermes, who possessed power to heal because of a miracle received by a man who had not before been able to walk. It was all Paul and Barnabas could do to restrain the people from sacrificing to them. Even the priest of the Temple of Zeus brought oxen and garlands to do sacrifice to them. But …

Acts 14
19  Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
20  However, when the disciples gathered around him, he rose up and went into the city. And the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.
21  And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch,
22  strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."

Did you read verse 19 – they stoned Paul to the point they believed him to be dead so they drug him out of the city and put him on the trash pile. He went back into the city and told the new converts to Christ that they too must through many tribulations press themselves into this Kingdom of God. Paul encouraged them to continue in the faith whatever the costs …

Have you ever read:

2 Timothy 3:12  Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution

Not every word of God can be found in a Promise Book …

c.   Sometimes God’s will cost
d.   At some point God’s will is going to cost each one of us
e.   But life goes on … we need to go on with it
f.    At some point we may be disappointed, hurt, unjustly treated … we cannot allow those times to convince us to quit
g.   Not everything turns out the way or in the time we imagine
h.   The future, good or bad, takes time to unfold
i.     Some things we can change and some things we cannot
j.    The officers of Pharaoh only had to wait 3 days – Joseph had to wait 2 years – The future takes time to unfold – give it time – God knows what He is doing and He works all things in His time
k.   What we do while we wait makes a difference
3.  Remember
a.   Everyone desires to be and many ought to be remembered for some decent thing which they sacrificed to provide
b.   Don’t forget those God used to help you
c.   Thanks can mean more than one might imagine
d.   The 1 Leper out of the 10 who were healed returned to give thanks (Luke 17) – Jesus remarked that he remembered
e.   Musa remembered the South African missionary who led his family to the Lord in the 50’s. Thanks was not given until the 90’s …
f.    The word remember is spoken 144 times in the Bible …

Luke 23:42  Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."

Colossians 3:15  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Philippians 4:16  For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.

Let’s all pledge this week to remember at least one person God has used to bless us … then simply thank them in some small way.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Life of Joseph - Motivations


Turn with me to Genesis 37 and while we turn, allow me to share our key scripture for tonight:

Key Scripture: Psalms 19:14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

I first memorized this verse in 1980 after hearing a man singing a song using the verses in Psalm 19. That was the first time I remember realizing that the Words of God made the best songs. If I get real brave or muster up the courage, I may sing it later in the service.

Note: Why would it take real bravery or real courage? Because I am probably the only one here who knows the song and I would have to sing it by myself … - Those things we do, even when we have to do them by ourselves, are true examples of real courage or bravery. (Group activities do not exemplify bravery) –

Courage is an individual choice

More about that later …

In Genesis 37 we pick up with the continuing life of Joseph. In the first part of our series on the life of Joseph we talked about Joseph being a man with a dream. Some might imagine that it was his dreams that got him into trouble, that would be a wrong assumption but even if that were true one would have to conclude that it was dreams that got him out of trouble as well. At any rate, let’s use a couple of the accounts of Joseph’s life to help us determine our proper motivation from all of the motivations which often come our way.

Genesis 37
4  But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.
5  Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.

One of the first and most formidable motivations we find in the Bible is that of hatred.

Hate is a motivation …

Machiavelli, who wrote “The Prince”, a treatise on how to be a Prince, observed that it was better to be feared by your soldiers than to be hated by them … people who are motivated by hate are unpredictable and capable of blind assault without consideration of consequence. (My personal summation of Chapter 17 which addresses cruelty, fear, love and mercy)

Suffice it to say that hatred is a motivation which does no good for the one who hates or the one who is hated.

Joseph’s brothers, motivated by hatred, plotted, assaulted, captured, confined and sold him for money. Hatred is a cruel master and so is money! More about that later as well … but for now, back to motivations –

Genesis 37:11  And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Envy is a motivation …

Genesis 37
17  And the man said, "They have departed from here, for I heard them say, ’Let us go to Dothan.’" So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan.
18  Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him.
19  Then they said to one another, "Look, this dreamer is coming!
20  "Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ’Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!"

Conspiracy is a motivation. What is conspiracy? Conspiracy is often nothing more than:
·        Mob Madness
·        Group Courage
·        Deluded Truth

You have heard of people who get their courage from a bottle – well some get their bravery from group support. Real courage however, is not that which is gained by finding others who will agree with or support your cause … the brave do what has to be done even if they have to do it all by themselves. Those like David, when all the men in his army wanted to stone him, he encouraged himself to get on his horse and set out by himself to get back his family. When David faced Goliath, the army of Israel were all afraid to come out to help him until he killed the giant all by himself – that’s when group courage came into play …

Joseph’s brothers stirred the pot of contention and resentment. Stirring the pot of bitterness only makes matters even more bitter. A person can always find support for any cause however, support does not make it right!

Group support is a motivation …

Genesis 37
26  So Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?
27  "Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh." And his brothers listened.  

Money is a motivation …

Even one of the trusted disciples was motivated by money to betray Jesus. The bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil and if a person is the type of person who is continually in pursuit of money, they are apt to do anything to try and get it. Money, Jesus said, is deceitful and it wants to be your God, dictate what you think and do, and then leave you empty handed.

Out of all of the motivations, perhaps money is the cruelest because it can never be satisfied. Yet, as Ecclesiastes says, money is the answer to all things. Although we may need money, we cannot allow money to wrongfully or inordinately motivate us or be the voice of our God.

If money speaks to you … beware … don’t let it deceive you or lead you to violate a principle of God’s word. The Word of God guarantees that needs will be met for the person who will put the Kingdom of God and what is right in God’s eyes as first place in their lives … all these other things you need will be added to you!

So far we have seen examples of people being motivated by:

·        Hatred
·        Envy
·        Group Support
·        Money

Let’s pick up this continuing survey of motivations from the life of Joseph in Genesis 39 –

Joseph’s brothers drew him out of that pit in Dothan and sold him into slavery to a group of Ishmaelites who were headed to Egypt.

(Production Note: - Show video of the pit in Dothan where we filmed one of our TV programs)

Genesis 39
2  The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.
3  And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand.
4  So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.
5  So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field.
6  Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.
7 ¶  And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, "Lie with me."
8  But he refused and said to his master’s wife, "Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand.

Wow … talk about drama … you can see what’s motivating here … it’s lust

Lust motivates …

10  So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.

Some motivations just keep on trying to motivate … speaking day after day

But when she did not get what she wanted, she felt jilted and resented Joseph. Beware of those things which make you entertain resentment –

Resentment motivates …

You can read the story but for the sake of time this evening suffice it to say that even though she had been chasing and chasing after Joseph and he never told a soul, never made an accusation, never attempted to benefit from the situation – although he covered her … nonetheless – in her resentment of him, she waited until an opportune time and accused him of the very thing she was doing … And when she told her circle of servants and then proceeded to tell Joseph’s master - - -

Genesis 39
19 ¶  So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, "Your servant did to me after this manner," that his anger was aroused.
20  Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison.
21  But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

Anger motivates …

We could go on and on and on but we will conclude this survey of motivations by discovering what it was that motivated Joseph in the midst of all of these things …

We know that some people are wrongfully motivated by:
·        Hatred
·        Envy
·        Support
·        Money
·        Lust
·        Anger

But what motivated Joseph?

Simple … He just wanted to do what was right without regard as to the wrong that was done him.

The life of Joseph teaches us to:

Do what is right even when you are done wrong …

Psalms 19 – Song
7  The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
8  The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9  The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
10  More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
14  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Life of Joseph - A Man With A Dream


Joseph was the first born son of Rachael, who was the second wife of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. He was born in the Syria in the 14th year of his father’s sojourn to the house of Laban. Joseph’s birth coincided with the full and final payment of Jacob’s debt to his uncle Laban in dowry payments for his two daughters which Jacob had taken as wives. Jacob worked 7 years to purchase each daughter. First he was given Leah and then Rachael.

For 7 years Rachael had been barren and now, in the year of final payment, she conceived and bore her first son, Joseph, who immediately became Jacob’s favorite among the 11 sons he had fathered during his time in this land of Syria.

Genesis 30:25  And it came to pass, when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said to Laban, "Send me away, that I may go to my own place and to my country.

As far as Jacob was concerned he had gotten what he came for and felt it was time to move his family back home to the land of Canaan and begin building on the inheritance bestowed to him by his father Isaac.

Genesis 30:30  "For what you had before I came was little, and it has increased to a great amount; the LORD has blessed you since my coming. And now, when shall I also provide for my own house?"

Since arriving at his uncle’s house Jacob had grown in responsibilities and was now in charge of all of Laban’s flocks. Jacob tended the goats and Laban’s wealth had increased measurably during this time. All who had observed these past 14 years realized that God’s hand of blessing was evident upon Jacob. No one knew this more than Laban and thus he did not want to see Jacob leave his employ.
31  So he said, "What shall I give you?" And Jacob said, “You shall not give me anything. If you will do this thing for me, I will again feed and keep your flocks:
32  Let me pass through all your flock today, removing from there all the speckled and spotted sheep, and all the brown ones among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the goats; and these shall be my wages.”

After some discussion a new agreement was reached and Jacob continued tending the flocks of Laban taking only the goats which were born with multicolored hair for his pay.

Genesis 31:41  "Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times.

When Joseph was 6 years old, in the 20th year of his father’s time in Syria, Jacob moved his family back to the land of Canaan. They first settled in the plains near the city of Shechem, now known as Nablus, which was the site of the first altar built by his Grandfather, Abraham, in the land of Canaan. It was there that Jacob bought a piece of land

Genesis 33
18  Then Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan Aram; and he pitched his tent before the city.
19  And he bought the parcel of land, where he had pitched his tent, from the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money.
20  Then he erected an altar there and called it El Elohe Israel.

When Jacob named the altar which he build near the site of the altar his Grandfather Abraham had built over 150 years earlier, he was not referring to the God of the Land of Israel, but rather to the “Mighty God of Jacob”, his Mighty God. The land of Israel did not exist, only his name had been changed by God from Jacob to Israel, meaning “God prevails”.

At 6 years of age this had to be one of the most exciting events Joseph had ever witnessed and at such an impressionable time of life, it stands with reason that Joseph would have been greatly affected. There is something powerful about a young child seeing the dedication of their parents to the things of God. Over 100 years later Joseph would still remember this place and on his death bed he decreed that his bones be carried with the Children of Israel in the coming exodus and buried on the piece of ground where his father first made this altar.

Genesis 50
24  And Joseph said to his brethren, "I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."
25  Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here."
26  So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

(Show picture/video of the filming of our TV program @ the Joseph’s grave.)

Almost 500 years after this event, Joseph was laid to rest on this spot.  

Joshua 24:32  The bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel had brought up out of Egypt, they buried at Shechem, in the plot of ground which Jacob had bought from the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for one hundred pieces of silver, and which had become an inheritance of the children of Joseph.

Joseph was a dreamer
Genesis 37
2  This is the history of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father.
3  Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic 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 peaceably to him.
5 ¶  Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.
6  So he said to them, "Please hear this dream which I have dreamed:

Dreams figured heavily into Joseph’s destiny. Not only was Joseph given to dreams he was also a man who respected the dreams of others. On several critical occasions in Joseph’s life, God used dreams to position him for a greater day. Even Joseph’s rise to fame was due to other people’s dreams.

When Joseph was a young man he spoke of his dream – When Joseph was an old man, his dream spoke of him.

When Joseph was 110 years old, after living in Egypt for 93 years, Joseph dreamed of a greater day. God visited Joseph in his old age and gave him a glimpse of glory beyond the grave. What was it that Joseph saw that made him take an oath from the Children of Israel that his bones would not be left behind? Although there have been some great sermons preached concerning this subject, we cannot know for sure. Whatever it was, Joseph rightly believed the dream!

What do we learn from this dreamer that we could begin practicing in our lives today?

1.  God has a plan for our life.
a.   It may not always be easy
b.   It may not always seem profitable
c.   Don’t give up
d.   If it’s bad, God is not finished yet
2.  Don’t discount dreams.
a.   Our dreams
                                         i.    Our youthful dreams
                                        ii.    The dreams of our latter years
b.   The dreams of others
                                         i.    Just because it is not ours, does not mean it is not God or that it won’t affect our life
3.  Some dreams take time.
a.   Give your dream the time it requires
4.  We can still afford to dream.
a.   With our last breath we can boldly declare … “My greatest day is yet ahead!”