Summary: A poem once declared "I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are, because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star." The story of Joseph tells of God's desire to make "could-be" of all His followers.
OPEN: Milton Berle was a comedian a few decades back and he wrote a poem that went like this:
“I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been, by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has was once an are.”
Did you realize that God says you can be a “could-be”? As Milton Berle said: “A could-be is a maybe who is reaching for star.” One of my favorite passages of Scripture is Ephesians 2:10 which says “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR GOOD WORKS, which GOD PREPARED BEFOREHAND, that we should walk in them.”
God is saying that once you became a Christian you became a “could-be.” God said you COULD BE capable of doing mighty things, because God had prepared good works just for you. These were things He’d prepared for you looooong before you ever decided to be His child.
In other words – God had plans for your life. He had a dream of what you “could be.” This echoes the same promise God made to His people in Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE!
ILLUS: I once read a great quote that said: “God’s plans aren’t just for pie in the sky when you die. It’s also for steak on your plate while you wait.”
Now, that’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the fact of the matter is – God has a plan for your life. And, that brings us to our text this morning. God had a plan for Joseph’s life. God gave Joseph a couple of dreams that helped Joseph to realize God planned to one day make him into a great man. Joseph shared these dreams with his family, and it didn’t go over very well. He told them of the dream where his brother’s sheaves bowed down to him, and he told another dream about how there 11 stars, the sun and the moon (an obvious reference to his brothers, father and mother) – bowed down to him.
Joseph had no clue what that meant exactly, but he was excited to know that God had a purpose for his life.
Now, as I was preparing for this sermon I noticed something interesting. There are 50 chapters in the book of Genesis. Joseph and his dreams are introduced in chapter 37. That means that the last 13 chapters of Genesis (1/4 of the book) were dedicated to Joseph’s life. Nobody else in Genesis gets that much attention… not even Noah, not Abraham and not Jacob. Nobody!
Of course, the question is WHY? Why would God spend so much ink and paper on the story on Joseph? Well my conclusion was that Joseph received all this attention because he was the pivotal character in the story of Israel. It was because of Joseph that his family moved down to Egypt. It was because of Joseph that they were given an isolated section of Egypt to live in. (We showed a map on the overhead that showed where Goshen was). It was by God’s design that Israel was placed in land of Goshen – do you see up there in the top left corner of the map? It was an isolated and out of the way location for Israel to raise their flocks and herds. It was as if God placed them safely behind the walls of Egypt’s power. It was a place where no other nation could attack them, a place where no other government or religion could influence them. Israel was even isolated from the influence of Egypt itself because Egyptians were vegetarians and the despised the Israelites because they ate meat. (Genesis 46:34)
And it was in that secluded and protected land that God grew the people of Israel into a mighty nation with a potential army of over million who would then be powerful enough to take the Promised Land.
And Joseph was the man God chose to make it happen.
Now, why would it matter whether we understood why God used Joseph to shape the destiny of Israel? Well, because there are preachers out there who would warp his story to meet their own agenda. There are people out there who are called “prosperity preachers.” Prosperity preachers teach their followers that – if you are spiritual enough – God will supply all your needs and you will become healthy, wealthy and wise beyond all imagination. The flip side of that teaching is that if you are not spiritual enough, you will be sickly, poor and not too bright.