1. Opportunity Revelations
In July of 2014, a bank teller pled guilty to embezzling nearly two million dollars from the State Bank of Lincoln where she worked as a head teller. She pulled off her crime by having access to the bank's vault and by changing audit numbers. Because she had worked at the bank for nearly two decades, she was trusted.
2. Compare with Joseph -- Genesis 39.1-6
Joseph, in a much shorter time, grew to be totally trusted by his master, Potiphar, a wealthy official in Egypt. In fact, Potiphar turned over so much responsibility to Joseph -- managing everything he owned -- that all he knew about his property was the food he ate every day. Joseph managed everything else. How easy in such a situation -- complete, trusted access to great wealth -- would it have been for Joseph to line his own pockets with Potiphar's goods? What the playwright Oscar Wilde said -- "I can resist anything except temptation" -- was not true of Joseph. His integrity was not changed because of his privileged position.
3. Circumstances generally don't create character, they reveal it.
4. The three most important ingredients in Christian work are integrity, integrity, integrity. Charles Colson
5. Some Character lessons for us from Joseph's life:
I. Godly Character in Chaos
A. Joseph's Dreams of Greatness (Genesis 37)
1. God promised Joseph greatness in 2 dreams -- sheaves and stars bowing to him
2. Immature response of flaunting (17 years of age)
[Do you think God presents us with challenges to see if we are ready? If not, we get more training?
B. Joseph's Realities of Life
1. Betrayal of brothers which led to slavery and Potiphar's house
2. His proper response to temptation led him to prison [unfair!]
3. Choices in our circumstances
a. Wallow in self-pity
b. Make the most of it -- Jeremiah 29.4-14
4 "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. 10 "For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
c. Maintain godly integrity and with perseverance there is victory
A woman's Bible study was reading thru the book of Malachi, when they read this: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." (3:3). This verse puzzled them and they wondered how this statement applied to the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out more about the process of refining silver, and to get back to the group at their next Bible study.
She called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him while he worked. The silversmith held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire, where the flames were the hottest as to burn away all the impurities.
She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the entire time the silver was being refined. The man answered -- yes, not only did he have to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on it the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "But how do you know when the silver is fully refined?"
He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."
II. Maintaining Godly Character in Chaos
A. Remember God in Challenging Circumstances -- even if NO ONE is looking
1. People do not always see or care -- God does -- Genesis 39.9
a. Joseph knew God's will (Jacob/Rachel/community??)
b. Joseph believed God's presence and promises
2. Live God-Centered Lives -- Colossians 3.17
a. Joseph with the cupbearer and baker -- Genesis 40.8
b. Naming His sons -- Genesis 41.51-52
c. Presenting Sons to Jacob -- Genesis 48.9
d. Revealing Self to Brothers -- Genesis 45.5-9
e. Our words betray us
B. Respond to God in Challenging Circumstances -- HE IS looking
1. We may want to wait to honor God -- when everything is in place
Imagine that a Millionaire decides to give a person $1000/week. He arbitrarily chooses that person and begins sending him the money anonymously for several years. The recipient invests some of the money; buys certain things; or maybe saves some. Suddenly the Millionaire decides to stop sending the money. Does the former recipient have any reason to be angry? No -- this was not an entitlement, it was a gift. How many blessings do we receive that we do not deserve? Why are we angry when circumstances should change?
C. Represent God in Challenging Circumstances -- People WILL be looking
A painter and his sons would paint houses together. Before each new job the painter would gather his sons together and say, "Boys, we need to do the very best possible job we can on this one, because this is God's house."
1. Joseph reflected God to:
a. Potiphar saw the LORD with him
b. The Prion Keeper saw
c. Pharaoh saw
d. GOD saw
2. We are to reflect him as well
a. Work as to the LORD -- Ephesians 6.5-8
b. Shine as lights in the dark world -- Philippians 2.15
c. Be ambassadors -- 2 Corinthians 5.20
1. Transplanting Flowers -- Joseph was a long-term project
One man told of watching an experienced gardener transplant some flowers. He watched in amazement as the man took the flowers out of their pots and shook them roughly. HE thought this man was surely destroying the flowers.
When he asked the gardener why he handled the flowers that way, he explained:
"The flowers that came here have roots that are cramped in those little pots. What I do is loosen the soil and give the roots a chance to breathe and stretch."
Essentially, that's what God did with Joseph. He was shaking Joseph down to his very roots, because he was going to replant him in a place where he could be used by God.
Toward the end of the Revolutionary war, the British General Cornwallis had captured Savannah, Charleston and Camden in South Carolina - and in the process he had defeated and imprisoned much of the Southern Continental Army. Now, his intention was to crush any further resistance as quickly and thoroughly as possible. And for that task, he assigned the hated and feared Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton and a crack army of the best British soldiers. Tarleton was hated by the revolutionaries because of his unscrupulous and ruthless tactics.
The Continental Army still existed, but it survived mostly by running away from any pitched battle with the British. A portion of that army was under the command of General Daniel Morgan, and Morgan kept retreating and evading the British until Morgan could find the place he wanted to fight. When he made his decision, he sent out an appeal to any remnant of Revolutionary forces to meet him at a place called the "Cowpens".
There, General Morgan organized his men into 3 lines.
* The first line was made up of special sharpshooters who, as the British attacked, picked off Tarleton's best troops and officers. THEN they were to retreat 150 yards back to the 2nd line...
* At the 2nd line, Morgan's standing orders were to get off two volleys and THEN RETREAT again another 150 yards to the 3rd line of defense.
* Sometime during the confusion of battle, a flank of Morgan's forces got the impression they were to retreat still again, and the British forces - mistakenly believing that the Continental army was beaten and demoralized broke ranks and began a wild charge at the retreating forces
* Morgan managed to rally his flank and ordered them to turned and fire into the English forces. The unexpected volley exacted a terrible toll.
* The Continentals then followed this with a bayonet charge; and ultimately other portions of Morgan's army surrounded the British, resulting in the surrender in mass of some of England's finest soldiers.
The Battle of the Cowpens is considered to be one of the turning points of the Revolutionary war that ultimately led to the British surrender at Yorktown 10 months later.
But notice: these heroes of the Revolutionary war won their battle... by running away.
a. Joseph's ultimate victory came in retreat -- he fled immorality
b. Sometimes we back up in order to advance