Summary: We should follow the footsteps of Joseph. 1. Remember that God is with us. 2. Remain true to God’s standards. 3. Remind people of the Savior.

A Great Example for Every Christian

Acts 7:8-16

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Sept. 22, 2013

BACKGROUND:

*Remember that here in Acts 7 one of the first deacons was on trial for the cause of Christ His name was Stephen, and he was on trial for his life before the "Council" or "Sanhedrin." It was the Supreme Court of Israel, but it was a kangaroo court in this case. Acts 6:13-14 tells us that all of the charges against Stephen were trumped up by false witnesses.

*There God's Word says:

13. They also set up false witnesses who said, "This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law;

14. for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.''

*The High Court thought that Stephen was the only person on trial that day. But by His Holy Spirit, God spoke through Stephen to put that Court on trial. The stinging indictment from God comes down near the end of chapter 7.

*But Stephen began his defense by giving those religious experts a history lesson on the nation of Israel. Let's continue our study tonight by reading vs. 8-16. There Stephen said:

8. "Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.

9. And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him

10. and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

11. Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance.

12. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.

13. And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to the Pharaoh.

14. Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people.

15. So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers.

16. And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem."

INTRODUCTION:

*Probably all of us here today could tell about some great examples in our lives. Listen to this testimony from a young lady from Huber Heights, Ohio. Her name is Holly Ruddy, and she wrote: "My grandmother was the one who took me to church at a young age and introduced me to Jesus. She was the one who raised me during the early years after my parents divorced. She was the one who prayed for me as I grew up, going between parents, and providing a port in the storm when things got too tense with my parents."

*What a testimony from Holly! -- "My grandmother was a port in the storm." And Holly went on: "Had it not been for my godly grandmother. I shudder to think how my life would have turned out. Even though as an adult, I have often failed, her example to me has been my beacon and I thank God for her. To me, she was the epitome of Jesus in the earth. She truly expressed His love for me through her life." (1)

*Holly's grandmother was a great example to her, and we have had some great examples too. Some of the best examples for us are right here in the Bible, and Joseph is one of the best of all. As far as I know, God's Word never says even one negative thing about his life.

*Of course, Joseph wasn’t perfect, but he is a great example for us tonight. And we should follow the footsteps of Joseph.

1. So first: Remember that God is with us.

*God was surely with Joseph. Verses 8-10 tell us that:

8. . . "Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.

9. And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him

10. and delivered him out of all his troubles. . ."

*Christians: God was with Joseph, and He is surely with us. Remember that in Hebrews 13:5, Jesus Himself has said "I will never leave you nor forsake you.''

[1] God is with us when our family lets us down.

*Talk about a letdown! In vs. 9, "the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt." They sold him as a slave, and they wanted to kill him, most of them did anyway. Let’s look at the story again in Genesis 37:1-10:

1. Now Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.

2. This is the genealogy of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father.

3. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors.

4. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.

5. Now Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.

6. So he said to them, "Please hear this dream which I have dreamed:

7. There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.''

8. And his brothers said to him, "Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?'' So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

9. Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, "Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.''

10. So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?''

*Later in Genesis 37, Joseph’s brothers had gone away to feed their father’s flock, and their father asked Joseph to check on his brothers. Joseph being isolated away from home gave his jealous brothers a perfect opportunity to take their revenge. And they leaped at the chance.

*Genesis 37:18-27 tells us what happened when Joseph found them in Dothan:

18. Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him.

19. Then they said to one another, "Look, this dreamer is coming!

20. Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, 'Some wild beast has devoured him.' We shall see what will become of his dreams!''

21. But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, "Let us not kill him.''

22. And Reuben said to them, "Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him'' that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father.

23. So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him.

24. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it.

25. And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead with their camels, bearing spices, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry them down to Egypt.

26. So Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood?

27. Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh.'' And his brothers listened.

*Joseph’s brothers let him down in a most outrageous way. But God was with him, and He will be with us too.

*Has your family let you down? -- On some level they surely have, because we all sin and fall short of God’s glory. Some of us have been terribly hurt by the people who were closest to us. And I hope that’s not you, but if it is, remember that the Lord is with you.

[2] God is with us when our family lets us down. -- And He is with us when we are falsely accused.

*Have you ever been falsely accused? After Joseph was sold into slavery, he was falsely accused of rape by his master’s wife. What a horrible thing. And most people never have to go through that nightmare. But most of us will have to go through times when we are misjudged and misunderstood.

*Joseph was falsely accused, but the Lord was with Him. And He will be with you too.

[3] God is with us when we are falsely accused. -- And He is with us when our friends forget us.

*In Genesis 40, Pharaoh’s butler and baker were both thrown into the prison where Joseph was. Both of them had dreams, and God gave Joseph the ability to interpret those dreams, so he did. The baker’s dream foretold his execution, and the butler’s dream foretold his restoration.

*In both cases, Joseph was able to successfully interpret the dream. And in Genesis 40:14-15, Joseph said this to the butler:

14. . . "Remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house.

15. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon.''

*But when the butler was freed, he forgot all about Joseph for two years. That is, until Pharaoh had a dream that needed to be interpreted. Joseph’s help was forgotten by a friend for two years. But God was with him, and He will be with you.

[4] God is with us when our friends forget us. -- And He is with us when our dreams seem to die.

*What dreams do you have for your life? -- When Joseph was 17-years-old, he had two dreams that his family would bow down to him. And that may seem arrogant at first glance, but those dreams came from God.

*The problem was that 13 years had now gone by, and Joseph’s dreams hadn’t come true. In fact, just the opposite had happened in his life. He was sold into slavery, falsely accused by his master’s wife, and thrown into jail, with no visible hope of freedom. But God was with Joseph, and He will be with you.

[5] God is with us when our dream seems to die. -- And He is with us when there is nothing we can do.

*We like to fix things. We like to solve problems. But there are some problems we just can’t solve. There was nothing Joseph could do when he was in the pit. There was nothing he could do when he was in prison. Of course, he could pray, and I’m sure he did. We believe in the power of prayer. But I am saying that on his own, there was nothing Joseph could do.

*There will be situations we cannot escape on our own. But God was with Joseph, and He will be with you. In fact, because of the cross of Jesus Christ, we can humbly but boldly say that God will be with us even more than He was with Joseph. We can say that, because by the grace of God, we have been allowed to live on the resurrection side of the cross.

*As the Angel told another Joseph in Matthew 1:

20. . . "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

21. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.''

*Then Matthew explained:

22. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:

23. "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,'' which is translated, "God with us.''

*When we receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Then by His Holy Spirit, the crucified and risen Savior truly is "God with us." So Colossians 1:27 tells believers that Jesus is "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

2. How can we follow the footsteps of Joseph? -- Remember that God is with us. But also remain true to God’s standards.

*Joseph reminds us that we should remain true to God’s standards. And to see this truth, we go back to the story of the false accusation against Joseph. Here’s part of the story from Genesis 39 in the NLT:

6. So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn't have a worry in the world, except to decide what he wanted to eat! Now Joseph was a very handsome and well-built young man.

7. And about this time, Potiphar's wife began to desire him and invited him to sleep with her.

8. But Joseph refused. "Look," he told her, "my master trusts me with everything in his entire household.

9. No one here has more authority than I do! He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I ever do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God." (Genesis 39:6-9)

*John Phillips said: "It was not I will not, but I can not. It was an absolute moral and spiritual impossibility for him even to contemplate the kind of action she urged. . . What a magnificent way to say no to temptation!" And even though she continued to pressure Joseph, he never gave in to her advances. He ran away from her, leaving his coat in her hands, so she falsely accused him. (2)

*But Joseph remained true to God’s standards, not only then, but when he was able to interpret dreams. Joseph always gave the credit to God. In every way that we can see, Joseph remained true to God’s standards.

*And as believers we are not perfect, but we should be growing in grace every day. And we can keep God’s standards, because the God who was able to live a perfect life is able to help us live in more and more obedience to Him.

3. To follow the footsteps of Joseph, we must remain true to God’s standards. -- And we must remind people of the Savior.

*In Joseph's life, we see a great picture of Jesus Christ, and this truth shows up in vs. 9-14. So please listen to these verses again:

9. And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him

10. and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.

11. Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance.

12. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first.

13. And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to the Pharaoh.

14. Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people.

*John Phillips explained how Joseph was a picture of Jesus Christ. Phillips said:

"Joseph was rejected by his brothers, sold for the price of a slave, handed over to Gentiles, falsely accused, and made to suffer for sins not his own. He was cast out by the Gentiles and put in the place of death. But he took possession of the keys of the prison, and ruled there as he ruled everywhere. Nor could that place of death hold him. He came forth in triumph to be exalted to the right hand of the majesty. In Genesis 41:45, Joseph was given an Egyptian name that was above every name. It was 'Zaphnath-paaneah,' which some scholars say means 'Savior of the World.'"

*Phillips added this: "Stephen had no need to tell all of Joseph's story, or to make all the obvious applications of that story to Christ. The members of the High Court could see where Stephen was leading them. For God had delivered Jesus, just as He had delivered Joseph from the prison house of death in which state has placed him. Now He was high and lifted up and far beyond the reach of their petty spite, and He was destined to rule the world." (3)

*We can see Jesus in the life of Joseph. -- But can people see Jesus in us? Can they find his purity? His patience? His forgiveness and His love?

*Richard Wurmbrand spent fourteen years suffering for Christ in a Communist prison. And he told the story of one husband who was a picture of Jesus. This man was sentenced to death by the Communists, but before being executed, he was allowed to see his wife.

*His last words to his wife were these: "You must know that I die loving those who kill me. They don’t know what they do and my last request of you is to love them, too. Don’t have bitterness in your heart because they kill your beloved one. We will meet in heaven."

*Those words deeply impressed the secret police guard who attended the meeting between the couple. His heart was moved so much by the words from that Christian husband that the guard turned his life over to Jesus. And Richard Wurmbrand later heard this story from the former Communist, who was then also in prison for becoming a Christian. (4)

*Can people see Jesus in us? -- Do we remind people of the Savior?

CONCLUSION:

*Joseph has been dead for almost 4,000 years, but he is still blessing the world today with his example. He is blessing us tonight.

*May God help us to follow the footsteps of Joseph:

-Remembering that God is with us.

-Remaining true to God’s standards.

-And reminding people of our Savior Jesus Christ.

*May God help us to live so that even after we leave this world, we still remind people of our Savior Jesus Christ. Would you please bow for prayer.

(1) SermonCentral illustration - SOURCE: Holly Ruddy, Huber Heights, Ohio - www.christianitytoday.com/holidays/grandparents/features/grandparents.html

(2) "Exploring Genesis" by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids – Genesis 39:7

(3) Adapted from "Exploring Acts" by John Phillips, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids - Acts 7:10

(4) SermonCentral illustration - SOURCE: Michael G. Moriarty, The Perfect 10: The Blessings of Following God’s Commandments in a Post Modern World, pp. 141-142