Summary: There’s more to life than power, position and prestige. Find out how Joseph saw through all of this to the real meaning of his existence.
Trusted: Lessons from the Life of Joseph
Week 5: “Trusted with a Heritage”
After final song, go to Video [Word on the Street interviews asking, “How do you want to be remembered?”]
INTRO: Regardless of what you think about those answers (and there were some pretty crazy ones, eh?), it is evident that in the heart of everyone is a desire to do more than simply exist. People really want to be remembered after the grave; they want to leave a heritage.
Truth is, I’m no different. I, too, want to extend my influence beyond just the few years I have on this earth. And I bet you do as well.
To show you what I mean, I brought a couple of items with me this morning that help me in my own quest for living what I call a “beyond the horizon” kind of life. Let me show them to you briefly, okay?
First, I want to show you our family crest. Understand, however, the motivation behind this is not primarily the symbol, although I do appreciate it and understand it. What really strikes me about this crest each time I see it as it hangs in my home office is not the “what” of the crest but the “who” of the crest – the man who passed it on to me! You see, this family emblem – the symbol of our heritage – wasn’t purchased at a store or bought online at familytree.com. No, it was passed down to me by my great grandfather, Rufus Theodore Stiles, whom I named after (RT, get it?). My parents were able to bring this back from the Stiles homestead in Blue Ridge, Georgia a few years ago, and they so graciously gave it to me as a reminder of the people who passed on to me my last name. Essentially, they entrusted me with a visible witness to my heritage.
I also want to show you another symbol of my heritage that means a great deal to me: my grandfather’s Bible. We called him Pop. What a man (and funny, too)! He is the son of the man I was named after, and the father of my dad. Whenever I leaf through it or scan its pages, I’m reminded of my grandfather’s deepest passion and most valuable relationship: the one he had with God through Jesus Christ. Pop was God’s man for his family, his church, and his community. And whenever I see his Bible, that heritage jumps out at me. In fact, according to my wife, sometimes it jumps out of me, for I have been wonderfully accused on numerous occasions of what our family calls “Pop-age.” What’s “Pop-age? It’s when the traits of my grandfather – and father no doubt – start oozing out of me unknowingly and almost uncontrollably. We usually start laughing together, but inside I’m thanking God for the mystery of heritage.
You see, both these items speak to something bigger than me. They speak to a heritage or name that I have been left with: Stiles. These symbols tell of something bigger than my place (where I live), my position (what I do), my pride (what I’ve accomplished), my prestige (what I’m called) or my philosophy (what I think). They speak to my heritage. They speak to my great grandfather, RT; my grandfather, Pop; my dad, Roger. Yes, they tell me about people. For that’s what a heritage is all about – people!
TRANSITION: Similarly, the word heritage is the best word to describe how Joseph looked at his life. It really sums up how he pieced together the many different events of his existence. Take your Bible and locate Genesis 45, would you? This is the key chapter in the saga of Joseph, for it’s the missing piece to the puzzle, and links all the other chapters before and after it. We now finally understand the “why” behind all the “what.” Follow along with me as I read the first 11 verses:
(NOTE: I’d like to read chapters 42-44, as well as chapters 46-50, but time won’t allow. I encourage you to read these surrounding chapters to get a feel for the whole scenario of Joseph being trusted with the heritage of the Jewish nation and how he proved faithful to do exactly that!)
Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, "Have everyone leave my presence!" So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. 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. 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 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. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ’This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’