Summary: describes how God uses evil for good - influencing our ability to deal with people

February 18, 2001 Genesis 45:3-8,15

3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 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. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

History has known some great battles. Gettysburg. Normandy Beach. The Battle of Little Big Horn. But there is one battle that was waged that most people have never heard of. It took place in Watertown, Wisconsin about 20 years ago. It was the battle of smelly green shoes. It occurred between my mother and father. You see, this world has two kinds of people - those who save stuff, and those who throw stuff out. My dad is a saver. My mom is a tosser. Dad had owned an old pair of ugly, low top, green shoes for years and years. He had worn them to play basketball in, mow the lawn in, and do everything in. The heel was worn out. There was a hole in the side. They were basically ruined. But they had what we would call “sentimental value.” One day, we noticed that the green shoes had been indiscretely thrown in the garbage! How could mom commit such a grave offense! She had seemingly won the battle. But the war wasn’t over! The shoes were within my grasp. When mom wasn’t looking, I took the green shoes out of the garbage. We wrapped them up, and gave them to dad for his birthday. Someday we hope to get those shoes bronzed and placed in a prominent place in their home. Maybe you have had similar battles in your homes. Maybe not. But in almost every home there is a battle between those who like to save things and those who don’t.

What about God? What is he? 1 Timothy 2 says that God wants all men to be saved. He is very hesitant to toss someone or something out. Those who like to save things do so for different things. A part of our saving those smelly green shoes was just to get under mom’s skin. It was fun listening to her complain about them. Another part of it was nostalgia’s sake. We save things because they have sentimental value to us. Or sometimes we save something because we think it will be worth big bucks some day. God’s purpose is similar to the person who saves aluminum cans. You can recycle them! As we look at God’s Word for today we will see that principle in practice as we consider the theme -

God Loves to Recycle

I. As seen in the story of Joseph

The story of Joseph is a good illustration of this. If you remember the story - Joseph was not the favorite of the brothers. As a matter of fact, they hated the fact that their father showed favoritism toward Joseph. They were especially irritated when Joseph said to them, “God gave me a vision that you will all bow down to me.” To them, their brother was a spoiled and arrogant little brat. But one day, they had their chance to vent their anger. Tending their flocks far away in Dotham, they saw Joseph approaching. Most of them said, “let’s kill him!” But Reuben - the oldest brother - convinced them to throw him in a cistern instead. However, while Reuben was gone, they decided to sell him to Midianite merchants, who in turn took him to Egypt as a slave. As a result of this one action, Joseph would spend years not only as a slave, but also in an Egyptian prison. What a mess!

But what did Joseph say about the situation? God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. While Joseph was in prison, the king had a dream that greatly tormented him. Seven thin cows had swallowed seven fat cows. Nobody could interpret this dream, until God gave Joseph the interpretation - that there would be seven prosperous years followed by seven lean years. As a result, Joseph was made ruler over all of Egypt. He was able to stockpile all of the extra food that the Egyptians had grown and prepare for the seven lean years. As a result - God was able to save thousands of lives - including the lives of Joseph’s brothers. Isn’t it neat then, what God does with a messy situation. Instead of giving up and destroying Joseph’s brothers - he used their hatred and their jealousy to fulfill His plan of saving the world from drought! You might compare it to using cow manure to help plants to grow. Who would think that such a smelly and disgusting substance could make plants grow and thrive! But that’s what God did with their hatred and jealousy.

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