I want to ask you a question that can actually shape how you view all of life.
Whether times are good, or times are bad,
what would you do if you absolutely knew God was with you?
When you are truly confident that God is with you, it changes everything.
We are talking about what it means to have BIG faith in God.
What would happen if before every major decision, every action, every reaction, you paused to acknowledge God’s presence in your life?
What if you lived like God is right there with you, just as He promised?
This could be the lens through which you filter every decision, opportunity, need, relationship, circumstance of your life.
If this question is kept front and center in your life,
it has the power to bring all of life into the proper perspective.
What would you do if you knew God was with you?
It changes everything when I learn to view my circumstances through the lens of my FAITH IN GOD instead of looking at God through the lens of my circumstances.
We’ve been studying the life of an Old Testament hero by the name of Joseph.
Joseph’s story is found in the first book of the Bible.
Today we are going to pick up in Genesis 41.
Joseph’s story is a story of extremes (circumstances, prosperity, persecution, opportunity, and power).
Joseph probably had more challenges in his life than you or I will ever have.
He probably had more wealth and prosperity than we will ever have
He had more opportunity than any of us will ever experience.
And somehow, Joseph was able to maintain an incredible attitude and amazing faith in the midst of these overwhelming and extreme conditions.
Last week we found that life was rough for Joseph.
His ten older brothers threw him in a well and they were going to leave him there to die because they were jealous.
He was their father’s favorite son.
You’ll recall that their plans changed when they saw a way to make a little extra spending money while keeping their conscience at least somewhat clear.
They decided it would be more compassionate to sell their brother to a traveling of band of merchants as a slave instead of leaving him in the well where they had left him to die.
Then the brothers lied to their father telling him that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. The Bible tells us that Jacob, Joseph’s father, wept uncontrollably.
Little did he know that
the merchants had taken Joseph to Egypt where he was sold as a slave.
Joseph quickly earned his master’s trust while in Egypt.
He was given great responsibility.
That is until his master’s wife framed him for a crime he did not commit.
Them he was thrown into prison.
Joseph quickly earned the prison guard’s favor and was given great responsibility in the prison, even though he was still a prisoner himself.
And that is where we left him last week, locked up but not hopeless.
What’s so amazing is that throughout the story one recurring phrase keeps showing up. This phrase doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the story at all.
Do you remember the phrase?
“The LORD was with Joseph…” - Genesis 39:2a (NLT2)
It sure didn’t look like the Lord was with Joseph.
When the Lord is with you, aren’t good things supposed to happen?
When the Lord is with you,
• Surely, you won’t be forsaken by your family,
• You shouldn’t get thrown into an empty well.
• And you’re certainly not going to get sold into slavery.
If the Lord is with you, surely there are no false accusations or imprisonment in your future.
That sounds like what happens to people when the Lord is NOT with them.
But as we discovered last week,
those kinds of things can happen…even to someone the Lord is with.
That is exactly what happened to Joseph.
And his response to all of this was to consistently live his life with integrity.
Joseph had BIG faith in a BIG God.
He did not allow his circumstances to skew his view of God.
Today, Joseph’s story is going to do a full 180.
His life is about to turn around from extreme trials and tribulation
to extreme opportunity, wealth, and power.
We have seen how Joseph responded to being abandoned and imprisoned.
Now we’ll see how he reacts to success.
He shows us how we should live
even when we are surrounded by blessings, potential, and opportunity.
Wealth and prosperity (even more than poverty and need) can pull us away from faith in God.
When we are in need - we pray.
When we have everything we need - we tend not to pray.
Joseph did not allow PROSPERITY to erode his faith in God.
In fact, with all the good things that came his way,
he depended even more fully on his faith in God.
Let me set the stage.
In Genesis 40 we see that some new prisoners join Joseph’s ward in the prison.
These aren’t just your standard run of the mill prisoners.
These aren’t two of the good old boys.
They are the Pharaoh’s former cup-bearer and chief baker.
A little while into serving their sentence they both have very vivid dreams on the same night and both wake up troubled by the fact that they aren’t sure what these dreams mean, and they don’t know who can help them figure it out.
Joseph sees they are upset. He sat down to chat with these guys and he assures them God can interpret the dreams for them.
So, Joseph listens carefully to their dreams, and God gives him the interpretation.
The cup-bearer will be going back to work.
He will be restored to his previous position.
But the baker, his is a different story.
He won’t be going back to work.
He is a goner.
He will be hanged.
And so, both realities come to be just a few short days later.
As the cup-bearer was being released Joseph asks him for a favor;
He said, “when you get back to Pharaoh, put in a good word for me.
Speak to Pharaoh on my behalf and help me get out of this prison.”
That seems like a reasonable request.
The cup bearer promised he would remember Joseph.
But once back to his former life
the cup bearer forgot all about Joseph who was still sitting in prison.
Two long years would pass before the cup bearer would ever think of Joseph again.
Joseph spent two long years simply hoping, waiting, and praing for something (ANYTHING) to change.
Joseph was a teenager when he arrived in Egypt.
Now he is about 30 years old.
But things are about to change for Joseph because
Pharaoh had a dream of his own.
The cup bearer heard about it, and that is when he remembered Joseph.
Since this is a family worship Sunday, we thought the kids might like to hear the story from a little different perspective.
Parents might like it too. Take a look...
VIDEO – 252 Story – Week 3
(Genesis 41:1-8, 41:25-32)
Do you know why Pharaoh listened to Joseph?
Because Pharaoh saw something in Joseph,
that Potiphar saw in Joseph,
that the Prison Warden saw in Joseph,
that the Baker and the Butler saw in Joseph.
They saw in Joseph a security and confidence that caused them to take notice.
They saw Joseph’s BIG faith and it changed everything.
Joseph consistently lived his life like God was ALWAYS WITH HIM.
Joseph admitted he couldn’t provide the interpretation Pharaoh was looking for,
but he knew God could.
Wouldn’t you like to live like that?
It is a matter of developing deeper faith, and bigger faith in God.
It is about trusting God completely.
It is about having full confidence in God.…remembering that God has promised to always be there and He can be trusted.
When you live like this, who should intimidate us?
When you live like this, what do we have to fear?
Why leave your faith in God at home or at church?
Why not take it with you wherever you go, 24-7-365?
Check this out…
“So Pharaoh asked his officials, ‘Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?’” - Genesis 41:38 (NLT2)
It is quite likely that all the guys standing in the room were working their way up through the ranks in Egypt, looking for a promotion, thinking this could be their moment.
These are guys Pharaoh has known for years.
They have advised him on everything coming and going.
After Joseph interpreted the dreams, they were surely thinking he should step aside.
But God had another plan.
“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are.
You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.’
Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.’” - Genesis 41:39-41 (NLT2)
Remember last week?
In one afternoon, Joseph’s life changed forever.
He was just a teenage kid running around tattling on his brothers.
Then he was thrown in a cistern, abandoned by his family and sold into slavery all in a single day. There was no way to see that coming when he got up that morning.
Now here is again.
Thirteen years later.
Everything changed in a single afternoon.
He went from a lowly prison cell to being appointed Prime Minister of Egypt.
He is not even an Egyptian!
Everybody and their brother was a more logical choice for this position than Joseph…(from a human perspective).
But Joseph knew that God was with him and he LIVED LIKE IT.
Could a story like this really happen?
This is a true story of a real person who lived about 4,000 years ago.
These accurately documented historical facts tell us his story so that we can see what it is like to live with BIG faith in a BIG God each and every day.
In poverty and in prosperity, Joseph was the same.
It is very difficult to live each day like God is with you when you don’t need anything.
It is hard to realize your need to depend completely on Him when you are doing ok all by yourself.
The test of prosperity is passed by far fewer people than the test of poverty (adversity and need).
Lots of people become Christians in prison.
A much smaller percentage are turning to God on Wall Street.
Lots of people look to God when the bottom falls out.
They feel like there is nowhere left to turn.
But it is hard to find the man or woman who is willing to bend their knew and honor God when things are going great.
That is because…Prosperity works against our sense of DEPENDENCE.
How do you live like God is with you when you have just about everything you could want or need?
Joseph did it by admitting the truth.
He went public.
He said, “I can’t but God can.”
Joseph publicly declared, in what had to be an intimidating environment, Pharaoh this is all about God. It is not about me.
Find a way to do that.
Tell the people that are in your circle of influence, about who God is and about what God has done in your life.
Learn to point them to Jesus.
In your world, in that professional environment,
the way to break the code of silence,
when it comes to God and spiritual things,
is to let them know that you are living in daily dependence upon God.
Like Joseph, you can let them know your confidence is in God,
not in your credentials, your talent, or your past success.
If you were really sick…you would talk about God…
If you lost everything…
If your children were sick…
If you were in prison.
Why are we silent when we prosper?
If it is difficult to bring God into the equation when LIFE IS GOOD,
you are failing the PROSPERITY test.
The majority do.
But you don’t have to.
Be creative in finding ways to say, I am trusting in my God.
My faith is in Him not in me.
Joseph saved the entire nation of Egypt and all of the surrounding area and you never once see him using the power of the success for personal gain.
He does no boast and he does not brag.
Another lesson we learn from Joseph’s story…
God does not bless us just for us.
We are blessed TO BE A BLESSING. River not a reservoir – A channel not a clog.
Joseph’s story is so rich with amazing truths that we can all apply to our lives.
Next week we’ll see how Joseph handled it when the opportunity for revenge was staring him right in the face. I hope you will be here for that.
But before we go, I just want to remind you once more of that recurring theme
that keeps surfacing in Joseph’s story.
“The LORD was with Joseph…”
Even as an abandoned brother,
as a slave,
and as a prisoner.
Joseph could have seen his situation as hopeless.
Instead, he remembered what we so often forget.
That His God is faithful.
That is why Joseph had such big faith.
Are you facing a seemingly hopeless situation (at work, at home, or at school)?
I just want to remind you…
We can have BIG faith in God, because our God is FAITHFUL.
Just remember how God turned Joseph's situation around.
He can do the same for you, because our God is faithful.