Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: By looking at the life of a man named Joseph we see that God is still in the business of helping people survive imperfect families.

Life Lessons from Joseph – Part 1 November 25, 2001

INTERACTION: I want you to get in groups of three to five, and grab a yellow prayer request card. Allowing for the possibility that there might be such a thing as a perfect family, complete one of these sentences: “A perfect family would always,” or, “A perfect family would never.”

Collect these and read some of them.

You can see we have different ideas of what a "perfect family" would be.

Family life has sure changed over recent decades. It wasn’t all that long ago that TV showed families like the Cleavers, the Waltons, and even the Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie. Those were fairly normal families for their time periods, and perhaps many viewers looked upon them as models of perfection.

During the sixties and seventies we saw TV families like the Brady Bunch, the Partridge Family and Eight is Enough. Families where the kids had more freedoms, blended families and families with one parent.

The eighties TV families attempted to stay together while tackling tough issues like teen sexuality and drug use. Family Ties and the Cosby Show led the way.

Then came the nineties with TV families like Roseanne and the Simpsons and today we have the families depicted on Once and Again, Dawson’s Creek and Malcolm in the Middle. Clearly imperfect families where there is little discipline and very little respect.

While we can point to more modern TV families like the Taylors of Home Improvement, or the Camdens of 7th Heaven, the prevailing message is that even the strongest of families have their share of imperfections.

We observed Thanksgiving this past week. For some of you it was a reminder of your families’ imperfections.

In a book called, "It Takes a Village Idiot," the author, Jim Mullen says...

“I have long held the theory that the pilgrims were so happy on Thanksgiving because they didn’t have to go back to England and spend time with their relatives.” (Jim Mullen, It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life)

Maybe you can relate.

Nancy Gibbs says this in a wonderful article in this week’s issue of TIME magazine...

“…Family dysfunction is now taken for granted, so the pressing question is what to do about it, and the prevailing answer is, Just get over it.” (Nancy Gibbs, “We Gather Together,” TIME, 11-19-01, p. 32)

Today we’ll find some different answers.

A census taker knocked on the door of an old cabin up in the Appalachian Mountains. The door was answered by a rather unkempt, adolescent girl.

The census taker asked, “May I speak with your father?”

The girl answered, “He ain’t here; he’s been in jail for two years.”

The man said, “Then can I speak with your mother?”

The girl responded, “She ain’t here either. She ran off with the moonshiner.”

The man continued, “Is there an older sister I can speak with?”

“No,” she replied. “She married off and lives with her seven kids down at the bottom of the mountain.”

The man asked, “Well, perhaps there is an older brother I can speak with?”

Once more the girl answered, “He ain’t here either. He’s at Harvard.”

“Harvard?” said the man. “What’s he studying at Harvard?”

“Oh, he ain’t studying nothin’,” the girl said. “They’re studying him!”

Today we’re going to study the family background of a man named Joseph.

While families have changed, there is a sense in which they haven’t changed. Joseph’s family lived some 4000 years ago. While the culture has changed, we’ll see some of the same moral failures in his family that you’d find in some of today’s families.

God is still in the business of helping people survive imperfect families.

TRANSITION: Let’s consider briefly how…



Abraham, the father of God’s chosen people, had a son Isaac. Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob is the man who eventually became Joseph’s father.

In Genesis 29 Jacob falls in love with a woman named Rachel. Her dad says work for me seven years and you can. Wedding day rolls around, His father in law tricks him. He wakes up in the morning laying next to her less attractive older sister Leah. Jacob is allowed to marry Rachel too in exchange for promising to work another seven years.

Read Genesis 29:30 – Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah.

This is important because it gives us a hint of the dysfunction and favoritism that will nearly ruin his family.

So Jacob is now married, not just to two women, but to two sisters. The fierceness, competition and jealousy between these two sisters must have been intense. But, it got worse. Leah was the one who started getting pregnant and bearing children; Rachel did not. Leah is feeling a bit superior, and Rachel is becoming enraged.

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