Summer Day Camp Sunday 2003
How many of you love a great adventure? My friend Calvin does: (Calvin and Hobbes cartoon)
And I do too: (Whitewater rafting pic)
But let me tell you this: the Greatest Adventure – better than soaking your dad when he isn’t looking, (though that is pretty great…) – and better than rafting down a 10ft waterfall – the Greatest Adventure is LIVING WITH GOD. (repeat).
Now I know what some of you are thinking:
You are thinking that living life with God is BORRRING. And you would be right if you think that living life with God means having your mom drag you to church each week, make you sit still while other people sing then pass a plate asking for money then pray for a long time then listen to some guy who talks forever.
But living life with God does not mean that. It means this: meeting God as your friend, and then letting Him lead you on the greatest adventure you could ever imagine – the adventure of following Him. And that, I promise you, is The Great Adventure!
I want to tell you a story. It is about a guy named Zaphenath-Paneah (Gen. 41:45). You learned about him at summer day camp, right? He was the guy in all your Bible stories, wasn’t he? Oh, you called him by his other name, Joseph. I like to call him Joe.
Scene 1: The Dreamer
We first meet Joe when he is 17. And so far, it doesn’t look like his life has been too much of a great adventure. But then he meets God. God gives him a couple of dreams – strange dreams, unusual dreams – but dreams from God. And by the way, that is still sometimes one of the ways God speaks. God hasn’t spoken to me that way, but I know He still does because I know other people who hear God speak that way. And I know other people who come to church on Sunday and as soon as I start to talk they go right to sleep, and so I guess they are hoping God is going to speak to them through a dream instead of through the sermon – and as long as God does speak, and they don’t snore too loud, that’s ok with me!
But anyway, back to the story…
Joe has these two dreams where he is really great, and everyone else in his family knows it. So they bow down before him. And he is excited about this dream, because he knows it is from God. And so when he wakes up he runs to tell all his older brothers that he is really great, and honestly much better than them, and someday they will figure it out and bow down before him.
Now, how many of you have an older brother or sister. Do you think that this was a very good idea of Joe’s? Do you think your older sibling would like it very much if you told them that God said you were much better than them, and someday they would bow down before you?
Well Joe’s brothers didn’t like it very much either. You remember the rest of the story – they grab Joe and sell him as a slave to some people traveling past and get rid of him.
See the great adventure yet? Joe meets God, and gets sold as a slave. I think, at this point, Joe was thinking he didn’t like this adventure all that much. I think he was maybe starting to wonder about God speaking to him, since it wasn’t turning out all that great. It was kind of hard. Kind of lonely. I wonder if he didn’t feel a little upset at God for the dream.
Scene 2: At Potiphar’s House
Joe goes a long way. And he gets sold as a slave to a man named Potiphar. Now I’d love to find a nickname for him, but the only one I could think of was “Potty”, and that’s not very nice, so I’ll stick with Potiphar. And while Joe was a slave to Potiphar, he met God again. The Bible says, “The Lord was with Joe and he prospered.” (Gen 39:2). And the adventure started to get fun again, everything went really well, everything Joe did turned out great because God was with him, and if fact Potiphar put Joe in charge of everything he owned. And then came a temptation. Joe had a choice, to do the right thing or to do the wrong thing. Now I’m not going to tell you what that temptation was, you have to ask your mom or dad about that. But I will tell you this: Joe did the right thing. It was hard, but he did it.
And so, we think, because he did the right thing, something good should happen to him. Cause we think that is the way life should be – right? If we do the right thing, good things should happen. Well Joe did the right thing, and ended up getting thrown in jail. Sometimes that happens to us – maybe not the getting thrown in jail part – but sometimes when we do the right thing it is harder.
How’s that for a Great Adventure so far? God speaks, Joe gets sold into slavery. Joe does the right thing, and gets thrown into jail. Certainly doesn’t sound boring to me!!
Scene 3: In Jail
So Joe goes to jail, and I have to wonder how he felt about this – if he wasn’t a little unhappy. But while he was there, he met two people, they were important people, and they each had a dream. Well God talked to Joe again and told Joe what the dreams meant, and they came true. And Joe told one of them, remember me here in jail! When you go and work for the King of the land, tell him about me! The man promised, but he didn’t keep his promise. And Joe stayed in jail for two more years.
Then the King of the land had a strange dream, which no one could understand. It was then that the man remembered Joe, and how God had told Joe what his dream had meant. So they called to the jail and brought Joe out to meet the King. But first he had a bath and put on clean clothes so he wouldn’t be stinky when he went to see the king. And the King said to Joe, “I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” (Gen 41:15). And Joe said no. Which is not usually a good thing to say to a king – they don’t like that very much! But that is what he said. But then, very quickly after saying “no,” Joe said that God could do it.
Are you seeing the great adventure yet? Joe lived with God – and his life was one great adventure after another. Listen to this, because it is important: life with God is not the easiest life. It certainly wasn’t for Joe! But it is the best life. I really want you to hear that – life with God is not the easiest, but it is the best.
The end of the story:
You heard the rest of the story in Day Camp – Joe understands the dream, the king makes him the second most important person in the whole land (cause kings like to stay THE most important), and Joe keeps obeying God and God helps him. Joe gets re-united with his brothers, and even with his dad whom he hadn’t seen since he was 17, and everything is good.
This is the Great Adventure – living life with God. Joe met God, and lived with Him, and EVEN THOUGH a whole bunch of things happened to Joe that looked bad, they always turned out better in the end.
God Intended It For Good
Right at the very end of the story, Joe’s brothers get a little worried that since they had been so mean to him, Joe was going to get them back. So they make up a little lie, which Joe sees right through, and which tells Joe that they are worried he is going to get them. So he says something very important to them, and this is the last part of the story I want to share with you. He says, “you were mean and intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Gen 50:20).
That is the most important part of The Great Adventure of living with God – to always remember that God is always in control and is working things out for the very best for those who love Him. It might not always look like it. I’m sure it didn’t look like it to Joe when he was sold as a slave, or when he was thrown in jail, or when he was forgotten. But Joe chose to live with God even when things looked difficult, even when other people did things that they meant to harm him. People intended to harm, but God intended it for good.
You see, if you really want to live the Great Adventure, you need to know it might be hard sometimes. Sometimes it might look like everything is going wrong. But here is where the Adventure gets great – living with God means that He is always with you, and is always fighting for what is best for you.
God wants to be part of your life everyday, helping you live the Great Adventure. And that, my friends, is never boring!