Complete the following phrases
…I am ready to throw in the… (towel).
…I am at the end of my…(rope).
…I am just a bundle of…(nerves).
…I am at my wits…(end).
…I am in over my…(head).
Rick Warren, The Power to Change Your Life, The Encouraging Word, 1990, pg. 53.
Probably all of us have faced times in our lives when we reach the end of our resources. Today I want to encourage you that the God’s help in your life is MOST RECOGNIZED when our circumstances are at the worst.
I think that is why our hearts are drawn to the story of Joseph. He is the victim of injustice. He faced obstacles that were impossible to overcome. His story is so important that the last 1/3 of Genesis is devoted to his story!
Pharaoh’s dreams in Genesis 41 are the THIRD of THREE sets of DREAMS.
Each set of DREAMS come in PAIRS.
Joseph dreams about his exaltation over his brothers.
The Baker and Cupbearer tell Joseph their dreams
Pharaoh has a pair of dreams about Egypt
Each set of DREAMS includes numbers and symbols.
JOSEPH’s DREAMS includes Eleven sheaves of grain and eleven stars.
The BAKER and CUPBEARER’s Dreams include Three branches with grapes (cupbearer), and three baskets with bread (baker).
PHARAOH’s Dreams include seven fat cows and seven skinny cows. The second dream focuses on seven full heads of grain compared with seven bare heads of grain.
The DREAMS show GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY over Joseph and the growing tribe of Jacob. God’s sovereignty over Pharaoh and the land of Egypt is also displayed.
AT THE AGE OF 30, JOSEPH HAS LEARNED “GOD CAN!” He has faced numerous trials through his life - trials that would have many questioning their faith, and some walking away from their faith. But Joseph’s trials have served the purpose for which God intended - he has become strong in faith and joyful in life, regardless of his circumstances.
To understand how God is working in Joseph’s life, let’s examine the time line of events in Joseph’s life.
The account of Joseph begins when he is seventeen. Genesis 37:2 "This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a
bad report about them."
The years Joseph lost are some of the most valuable in ones life. Joseph was deprived from home and everything familiar to him at an age when a young man would be thinking of starting out on his own. Joseph’s youth was stolen! But he is not bitter. He has learned to trust the Lord and that God has a plan even in through trials.
The next time we read of a specific age of Joseph is when he is THIRTY. This is after he is elevated to Pharaoh’s court .Genesis 41:46 "Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt."
There are two more age markers revealing Joseph’s age. The first is from Genesis 41:1 where we learn that the cupbearer waited 2 years before telling Pharaoh about Joseph’s unjust imprisonment. That means that Joseph was 28 when the Lord gave him the ability to interpret the dreams of the cupbearer and baker.
The final age marker in this part of the story is found Genesis 45:6 "For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping." This means that from age 30, Joseph lived through seven years of abundance and the first two of seven years of drought. That means that Joseph was THIRTY NINE years old when his brothers came down from Beersheba! Twenty-two years has transpired for Joseph! During these years, he learned that God was doing great things for him, even though others opposed him!
MANY would have their lives framed by a past like Joseph’s
His motives have been judged
He has been falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife
He was forgotten by the cupbearer
But he has learned that GOD is NOT AGAINST HIM.
JOSEPH LEARNED THE FOLLOWING
1. ONLY GOD CAN DO THE IMPORTANT THINGS
Joseph was put in an EMPTY CISTERN. It was no coincidence that the cistern was there. If it were not, the brothers might have killed him! But the empty cistern allowed them time for their anger to cool. Genesis 37:24 "and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it."
A band of Ishmaelite merchants came by to purchase Joseph. This was God’s doing! Genesis 37:24 "and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it."
He was sold to Potiphar’s house. Again, God was the one at work! Genesis 37:36 "Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard."
And it just so happened that Potiphar was an official of Pharaoh. The events of Joesph’s life are not a random collection of chance. God was behind it all. Potiphar was God’s man because of his responsibilities in Pharaoh’s court. Genesis 39:1 "Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there."
Further, it was no coincidence that both the Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker offend Pharaoh and are placed in jail under Joseph’s care. Genesis 40:1 "Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt."
Both have a dream on the SAME NIGHT. Genesis 40:5 "each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own."
Here’s another thing that only God can do. God gives Joseph the interpretation. Genesis 40:8 "“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”"
And only God could cause Pharaoh to dream a prophetic dream concerning Egypt’s future. Genesis 41:1 "When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile,"
Only God could provide seven years of plenty. Genesis 41:32 "The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon."
And only God could provide seven years of drought. Genesis 41:53–54 "The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, " "and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food."
All this is to say that Joseph’s rise to power was not of his own power or plan. This was all in the hands of God!
2. THINGS THAT JOSEPH COULD NOT DO
As successful as Joseph was, he is NOT a self-made man...God was working!
He didn’t have the IMAGINATION to come up with a plan like that. This plan was something more imaginative than a John Grisham novel, more spectacular than a George Lucas film. More complex than a Tchaikovsky symphony.
He didn’t have the CONNECTIONS to work his way into Pharaoh’s court.
He didn’t have the ABILITY to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams
He didn’t have the FORESIGHT to plan for ISRAEL to grow into a great nation while in the incubator of Egypt.
He didn’t have the INITIATIVE to summon his family to Egypt after his brothers abandoned him.
He didn’t have the MATURITY to forget the injustices against him. He names his first son MANESSEH, a reminder that God caused him to forget. Genesis 41:51 "Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”"
He didn’t have the FINANCES to make himself wealthy. He names his second son EPHRIAM, a reminder that his good fortune came from God. Genesis 41:52 "The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”"
You see, God was working all the time!
God’s protection of Israel is the theme of Psalm 105. This Psalm reminds Israel of God’s protection by reminding them of the story of Joseph. The lesson to Israel is this: God protected Joseph through supernatural intervention. God is still the same and He will protect you! We need to remember this lesson in our lives. Look at the Joseph story and be reminded of God’s ability to help you!
Psalm 105:16–22 "He called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food; " "and he sent a man before them— Joseph, sold as a slave. " "They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, " "till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true. " "The king sent and released him, the ruler of peoples set him free. " "He made him master of his household, ruler over all he possessed, " "to instruct his princes as he pleased and teach his elders wisdom."
What is there in your life that you can’t do?
What do you do when you get to the end of your rope?
The world says when you get the end of your rope tie a knot and hang on.
INSTEAD. Don’t hold on to the end of your rope.
LET GO; GOD WILL CATCH YOU! D. Greg Ebie, www.sermoncentral.com
In the BIBLE
He parted the sea
He brought down city walls
He held the sun in it’s place
He healed the lepers
He raised Martha’s brother
He rolled the Stone Away
In your LIFE...
Who can softened a heart of stone? GOD CAN
Who can open your eyes to see hidden truths in His word? GOD CAN
Who can melt your unforgiving spirit? GOD CAN
Who can give you victory over addiction? GOD CAN
Who can enable you to be a blessing to others? GOD CAN
Who can give you peace when your health fails? GOD CAN
Who can save your children? GOD CAN
Who can save your marriage? GOD CAN
Who can answer your prayer? GOD CAN
Who can enlarge your faith? GOD CAN
Will you TRUST GOD with your life?
A young man recently came to me with this story. Seemingly out of nowhere he was presented with an offer for his dream job. He was in school studying for an advanced degree for this job, but one was being offered before he had his finished his degree.
He breezed through the first two interviews and was at the third and final interview. This was a mere formality and he was expecting to come home with a written job offer. During the interview, the boss mentioned something about his six months of sales experience which were a requirement for the job. The young man replied, “but I told you that I only had five months of sales experience.” The boss replied, “well, I know, but it’s only one month off. Just sign that you had six months and noone will ever investigate it. It’s a requirement that my company says has to be there or I cannot hire you. I really want you to get the job. Just go ahead and put down six months experience.”
The young man knew that he was faced with a dilemma. This was the boss asking him to fudge the numbers. It was only one month. The boss was his authority figure. But in the end, the young man knew that he was being asked to lie and that such a lie would be a sin against God.
The boss was somewhat surprised with the young man’s response. He wished that he could get around the rule, but since the report would say five months experience, he could not hire him.
Deeply disappointed, the young man accepted this as God’s plan and continued to work at his job, thankful that although it did not pal very well, at least he had a job and could provide for his family.
About two months later, the young man was bothered by a lump on his throat that was not going away. After persuasion from his wife, he went to the doctor, who sent him to another doctor, who sent him for a biopsy. He had thyroid cancer.
At this point, had he taken the dream job, he would have been in training and would have needed to leave training for his surgery and treatment. He would have lost his job. He also realized that the new job had a waiting period before insurance started. He would have been without health insurance, or at the least, under a Cobra plan with high deductibles. Although his current job did not pay very well, it offered great benefits and his boss was very understanding with his need for time off.
He gave God the glory for working in ways that he did not know.
I told this young man that God had just provided him with a great lesson of faith. Because he walked with integrity, like Joseph, God was at work on his behalf.
Will you trust God to do things that only God can do?