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Summary: Trials and troubles, far from being harmful to you, cause us to grow. Under Pharaoh's oppression Israel grew dramatically. Joseph too faced the dilemma of whether to become bitter at his brothers, or better. He saw the hand of God & chose the latter.

FROM BITTER TO BETTER

Exodus 1:11-14

INTRODUCTION

A. HUMOR: Some things never change!

1. A supposed ancient manuscript was found that told extra details of what happened when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil.

2. When Adam bit the fruit he felt great shame, so he covered himself with fig leaves. Eve, too, felt shame and covered herself with fig leaves.

3. Then she went behind the bush to try on maple leaves, sycamore leaves, and next oak leaves!

B. TEXT

11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Ramses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. 13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor. 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigor. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28

C. THESIS

1. One of the hot new buzz phrases in business is Constructive Contention – the positive role that adversity can play in business. One of the major reasons that businesses fail is that they cease adapting to changing circumstances.

2. It has been discovered that an essential element for encouraging growth is conflict. Conflict, it turns out, fuels the engine of growth. As in business, so is this principle valuable for Christian life. Trials and troubles, far from being harmful to you, serve to strengthen and cause us to grow. Conflict fuels growth.

3. HUMOR.

a. Maybe some of you feel like the little girl who was riding along on her bike when she bumped her head on the low hanging branch of a tree.

b. She ran into the house hollering, "Mom, Joey hit me!" Her Mom looked up from what she was doing and said, "Sarah, Joey didn’t hurt you. Joey’s not even here. He went to the grocery store with your dad."

c. The little girl got this startled look on her face, and said, "You mean stuff like this can happen on its own at any time?”

4. Job says that “man is born to trouble.” Troubles are inevitable in this life, but, in the end, they’ll actually be good for us. We will have some dark days.

5. Our faith will be tried, clouds will dim our vision, struggles will sap our strength. I’m NOT trying to rain on your parade, but to encourage you.

6. When troubles come, we must remember that God is in charge of our lives. He directs our footsteps even when we can’t see it; He’s working in your life to bring all things together for good.

7. TITLE: “FROM BITTER TO BETTER.”

I. EXAMPLES: HOW TRIALS BRING STRENGTH

A. ISRAEL IN EGYPT

1. When Pharaoh set out to destroy the People of God, God instead multiplied them. Pharaoh’s intention was to stop their growth, but trouble and adversity had the opposite effect: it made them grow and became stronger!

2. Israel entered Egypt numbering around 70 but left Egypt numbering in the millions. In the crucible of Pharaoh’s oppression God made a mighty nation. Like the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

3. Satan’s goal in bringing trials to our lives is to destroy us or to make our lives bitter, but God steps in to turn them around for good.

4. The Israelites were supposed to be weakened and become bitter toward God, but God mysteriously turned the instruments of oppression into the fertilizer for growth!

5. Verse 12, “the more they afflicted them the more they multiplied and grew.”

B. EARLY CHURCH

1. The Jewish leadership thought they would crush the church with persecution.

2. But instead they compelled the church to fulfill the great commission – they were scattered all over Palestine and beyond.

3. Hell thinks that trouble and opposition will:

a. take us out of the fight; b. render us spiritually weak.

4. But what Hell hasn’t counted on is the fact that God turns “bitter” into “better.” Remember, Satan is not in charge of your life, God is! God works all things together for good to those that love Him.

C. THINK OF JESUS’ SUFFERINGS

1. It was the bitterness of the cross that resulted in the beauty of salvation; the bitterness of death that resulted in the beauty of resurrection; the bitterness of being beaten that resulted in the promise of our healing.

2. Every great thing that Jesus did for us resulted from a bitter assault by the enemy. God took the bitter and made it better.

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