Summary: A sermon that teaches us about the providence of God in the life of Joseph.

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“God’s Purposes in Our Problems”

Genesis 50:19-21

Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.


I. Joseph’s Problems

a. His dream becomes a nightmare

The story of the life of Joseph is a long narrative so it is impossible to cover all the information so the best we can do is summarize all the events surrounding his life. In Genesis chapter 37 a young Joseph has a dream where he sees his family bowing down to him. Verse 11 tells us the reaction of his family to his dream. It states that “…his brethren envied him…” This is the beginning of his troubles. He is sold into slavery in Egypt.

b. He goes from a pit to a prison

In chapter 39 he is purchased from the Ishmeelites by a rich Egyptian, the Lord prospers him, and he becomes the chief steward of this man’s house. It looks like things are on the upturn for him until Potiphars wife sets her cap for Joseph. Joseph refuses her advances, she makes a false accusation against him and even though he is innocent he is thrown into prison. If Egyptian prisons were like others of that day then the conditions for Joseph were miserable.

c. A forgotten promise

We are told in chapter 40 that Pharaoh’s butler and his baker (I wonder what happened to the candle stick maker) have also been imprisoned for offending their master in some way. Both of these men have dreams which Joseph interprets to mean life and restoration for the butler and death by hanging for the baker. Joseph requests that the butler remember him when he is restored to his position which the butler promptly forgets.

I read this week about some American soldiers who during the Korean War had rented a house and hired a Korean man to cook for them. This guy had an unbelievably great spirit about him. The Americans loved teasing him. They nailed his shoes to the floor. They put grease on the stove handles. They balanced buckets of water over the door. The Korean, brushed it off, and kept working with a smile, holding no grudges. Finally, the Americans were just ashamed of themselves and wanted him to know that they were going to stop all the practical jokes. The Korean asked, “You mean no more nail shoes to floor?” “No more.” “You mean no more sticky on stove knobs?” “No more.” “You mean no more water buckets on door?” “No more.” “Okay then, me no more spit in soup,” the Korean responded with a smile and shrug. We smile and say we’ve released our grudges but we’re still spitting in the soup!

(Swindoll, Two Steps, 76, 77).

Joseph refused to spit in the soup!

II. Jehovah’s Providence

Romans 8:28 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.

“Trust the past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love and the future to God’s providence.”


a. The action of providence

God works on behalf of his servants.

ILL - When Hudson Taylor went to China, he made the voyage on a sailing vessel. As it neared the channel between the southern Malay Peninsula and the island of Sumatra, the missionary heard an urgent knock on his stateroom door. He opened it, and there stood the captain of the ship. "Mr. Taylor," he said, "we have no wind. We are drifting toward an island where the people are heathen, and I fear they are cannibals." "What can I do?" asked Taylor. "I understand that you believe in God. I want you to pray for wind." "All right, Captain, I will, but you must set the sail." "Why that’s ridiculous! There’s not even the slightest breeze. Besides, the sailors will think I’m crazy." But finally, because of Taylor’s insistence, he agreed. Forty- five minutes later he returned and found the missionary still on his knees. "You can stop praying now," said the captain. "We’ve got more wind than we know what to do with!"

b. The assurance of providence

Paul said that “…we know…” that all things…Those who know God have the assurance from His word that He is working for their good.


The hymn writer Fanny Crosby gave us more than 6,000 gospel songs. Although blinded by an illness at the age of six weeks, she never became bitter. One time a preacher sympathetically remarked, "I think it is great pity that the Master did not give you sight when He showered so many other gifts upon you." She replied quickly, "Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?" "Why?" asked the surprised clergyman. "Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!" One of Miss Crosby's hymns was so personal that for years she kept it to herself. Kenneth Osbeck, author of several books on hymnology, says its revelation to the public came about this way: "One day at a Bible conference in Northfield, Massachusetts, Miss Crosby was asked by D. L. Moody to give a personal testimony. At first she hesitated, then quietly rose and said, 'There is one hymn I have written which has never been published. I call it my soul's poem. Sometimes when I am troubled, I repeat it to myself, for it brings comfort to my heart.' She then recited while many wept,

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