The Story, Chapter 3: “Joseph, From Slave to Deputy Pharaoh” (1/29/17)

January 29, 2017

The Story, Chapter 3: “Joseph, From Slave to Deputy Pharaoh”

Genesis 50:14-21


Children’s Sermon “Staying Focused on God”  

Did anything go wrong in your life this week?  All healthy? No bumps or bruises or disappointments?  Did anything bad happen?  When bad things happened, how do you think about God?


Who did you talk about in Sunday School today?  (Joseph). A lot of bad things happened to Joseph - can you name any?  But when they happened, what did he seem to keep on doing about God?  Trusted him!  So what do we learn from Joseph?  We can trust God all the time.  Are people always going to be nice to us?

Are things always going to go the way we want?


Let’s ask God to help us trust him this week in good and bad times.  Pray.


Intro:  Map

Find Jerusalem and draw a triangle with a “J” in it. This marks where Joseph and his family were living.  Then draw an arrow from there to to Egypt which is where God led Israel for a season through Joseph.   


You may want to jot down this Scripture reference either on the map or at the beginning of chapter 3 or wherever:

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Joseph was definitely called by God to carry out his purpose, let’s look a little more closely at his life.


Who was Joseph?

He was favored by Jacob and God

Second to the youngest son of Jacob and the favored one because he was born of Jacobs best loved wife, Rachel as was the youngest, Benjamin.  And as we know from life that when one child is favored over the rest, it can build up some jealousy among the others.  And Jacob made a production out of showing the brothers that Joseph was his favorite by having that beautiful coat made for him.  


On top of this, God had given Joseph the ability to dream and interpret dreams and apparently God favored Joseph as well because all of his dreams put him in a leadership role over his older brothers and I guess in the absence of other late night conversation, Joseph felt compelled to share with his brothers these dreams.  This did not foster “the love”.


So the brothers got rid of him. Sold him into slavery and Joseph was taken to Egypt where God blessed him.  (see your map)


How aware are you that God loves you very much?  That Jesus died for you because He loves you and wants what is best for you?  Could you say with me, “I am loved by God.  I am His cherished possession.”  Write it down and repeat it this week when things get rough.  Or when things are good and it’s easier to believe.


He was blessed by God in Egypt

But before he was blessed times were bad for Joseph.  There would be no awe and wonder in this story if we didn’t look at the bad along with the good.  His life reminds me of a quote we heard from one of our speakers this week at the ECO National Gathering.  Jo Saxton said, “If you want to have a miracle, you first have to have an impossibility.”  Joseph had a lot of impossibilities.  First, because of their jealousy, his brothers were going to kill him, but got talked out of it and learned that they could make some money by selling him. So imagine that terror of believing your own brothers were about to kill you and then at the last minute decided to sell you to foreigners who were going to take you to a foreign country.  Joseph must have been terrified! Some might qualify his situation as an impossibility.


And then he was treated like property and the relationship he had with his father would not have prepared him for that!  He had been favored and loved and now he was property to be bartered over and traded.  But out of this mess of impossible circumstances, God blesses him and places him in Potiphar’s house where he is a faithful servant and given much responsibility and trust.


God placed him in a good situation, but Joseph had to have brought his A Game.  He had to have made a decision along the way to trust God and to live the best way he could as God’s servant.  He believed the God his father Jacob had taught him about, the God who spoke clearly in his dreams.  He trusted God even after all that had happened to him up to this point, 

and sought to honor the God of his father even when in a country that didn’t know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.


How often does God bless us in the midst of bad circumstances but we miss it because we are focused on ourselves and not on God?  Do we miss blessings because we focus on the bad?  It’s easy to do because the bad can become so consuming! But there is always hope and God does not leave us or forsake us in the darkness, so the best thing we can do is look for his hand in the midst of the dark situation. Can we work to see a bad situation as an impossibility that invites God to perform a miracle and then pray in that direction, believing that God will deliver us and bring us to a place of hope?


Remember Romans 8:28.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


Joseph is testimony to that truth as are many of you.  Those are stories we should share with each other often.  Can you think of an instance when you have experienced this truth in your own life?  Think on that for a moment . . . 


He was sinned against and blessed again

Joseph enjoyed great respect and authority in Potiphar’s house until Potiphar’s wife got ideas in her head about how Joseph could serve her in a more personal way.  And even though he ran, she concocted a story that landed Joseph in jail.  Let’s shout together, “Unfair!!”  It was.  


But because Joseph remained faithful and kept seeking God, even in this unjust jail sentence, not only did God bless him but Joseph blessed others.  He ran the jail and improved conditions for the other prisoners and the guards!  And eventually - years later - God called him out of the prison to interpret a dream for Pharaoh which ended up landing him a great gig as second in command of all of Egypt!  What?  That is a real Cinderella story!


But the blessing Joseph experienced was not just about him but about all of the people in the nations surrounding Egypt.  He expresses it best when he speaks to his brothers after Jacob has died.  Let’s look together at Genesis 50:14-21 - READ.


Joseph trusted God

The bottom line in Joseph’s story is that he trusted God. Always.  In good times and bad.  For better or worse.  In sickness and in health.  You get the idea.  Joseph lived in a covenant relationship with God in which he completely trusted God in every circumstance he found himself in.  His purpose in each of those circumstances was not to focus on it but to seek God and trust God actively by living out his gifts for others.  He was an administrator, an organizer, a dreamer and interpreter of dreams and knowing who he was, he lived out his identity boldly, even in the midst of circumstances that would rob him of his freedom and rights.


As we read The Story we are aware of the “upper story” the big picture of what God is doing in the world and the “lower story” what God is doing in our lives right now.  It can be discouraging if we just look at us.  But if we can get a handle on the fact that this life we’re living isn’t for our own comfort or glory but for God’s maybe we can begin to make peace with the way things are and start having a conversation with God that says, I surrender this struggle in my life to you.  Please use it, use me to glorify You.  I surrender.


Because of the drought and famine, the nation of Israel (Jacob’s family) was on the brink of extinction.  In order to save them, God used Joseph in Israel.  Joseph’s traverse through slavery and prison put him in the position to save God’s chosen people by providing for them in Israel.  Amazing!  If you are doing the small group study you will talk a little more about that, but I am in awe of God and have to stop and think about the circumstances in my own life that have led me to where I am today.  It’s not necessarily about me, but it is about my relationship with God and the carrying out of the Great Commission to accomplish God’s purpose in the world.


Do you know who you are?

What has God called you to do?  Who has he created you to be? How is God seeking to bless others through you?  In the months to come, we will have opportunity to explore more, our gifts as a congregation and as individual disciples of Jesus Christ - in something that ECO is asking us to participate in to create a culture of flourishing churches.  In the meantime, it is good for us to think about this question.  What has God given you that he wants to bless others with in whatever circumstance you find yourself in today?  Don’t hold back!  Do it! Give it! Use it!  And if you can’t find an answer, return to the true identity that we all share and spoke together this morning:  “I am loved by God. I am his cherished position.”  Repeat it until you believe it and let God guide you to where he wants you to go.


I’m going to invite you to a time of prayer while I sing a song that Joseph could have written and sung.  Bring your concerns to God now.  Struggling with your identity? Your circumstances? Your faith? Bring it all to God now.


Sing “Blessings” by Laura Story