Summary: This sermon deals with Joseph after his rise to prominence. How does he deal with those who hurt him along the way.
When Things Just Don’t Go Right Part III
We have been looking at the life of a young man named Joseph over the past few messages, and one of the things we have seen again and again is that even when you obey God, some things just don’t go right from our perspective. But setbacks are no reason to throw in the towel or give up. It’s the time to ask, "is God doing something far greater than me and my own circumstances."
We have watched Joseph go from the promise, to the pit, to the palace, to the prison and finally to Pharaoh’s throne in Egypt. This man whom his brothers thought would never amount to much of anything, is now in control of one of the most powerful nations on earth. Just because somebody tells you, "you can’t do it", doesn’t mean God can’t make it happen through you. The size of the goals for your life can have a lot to do with the size of the God you serve. The more you understand about God, the more you will realize the tremendous potential in your life.
In the darkest moments of Joseph’s life, he remembered that his God had given him a dream. He clung to the belief that God was going to make it happen. He never stopped doing his best. He never departed from a faithful moral lifestyle before His God. He never threw in the towel. He received his dream at about 17 years of age. He was almost 39 when the dream was fulfilled.
In the last message, we saw the need to think long term when God says He’s making a change in your life. We are into instant potatoes, microwave popcorn, and express mail ane e-mail. But God still makes saints the old fashioned way. God is still into taking his time to make us what we need to be, before He can put us in the position he wants us to be in. Make the most of where you are now, to be prepared when the door of opportunity comes knocking from God.
In today’s reading, Joseph is at the peak of power in Africa in the land of Egypt. But there are still some tests that Joseph must pass in order to become the person God called him to be. You see it’s one thing to get the position, but what you do once you have it can be equally if not more important.
The first test Joseph is going to face is how much will he attempt to become an Egyptian and how much will he seek to remain true to his roots. We would call it in the old days, is he trying to pass for something he really isn’t. Pharaoh gave him a new name. Son, we have to get you sounding like an Egyptian. People can’t go around calling you Joseph, it sounds to much like Hebrew. Let me give you the name Zaphenath-Paneah. Now that sounds good. And here’s a beautiful. religious woman to be your wife. Take Asenath as your wife. She’s the daughter of a priest.
Joseph is going to pass this first test. He is willing to serve in the capacity that Pharaoh wants him to, and he’s willing to have others call him what they like. But Joseph never became Zaphenath-Paneah in his heart. We know him today as Joseph. Whenever he is referred to in the Bible, he’s Joseph not Zaphenath-Paneah. He refused to forget his roots. Even with all the attempts to make him an Egyptian, Joseph saw to it that he remained one with the Hebrew people. Before he died some 80 years later, one his last requests to his people was "look, one day God is going to take you out of Egypt, and when you go, dig up my bones and take them out with you." His heart was with his people. His position didn’t cause him to forget his roots.
The second test Joseph had to pass, was what was he going to do about his past. He was in a position now to go and hunt down Potiphar and his wife for having thrown him in jail. He could take an army and pursue his brothers and pay them back for the wrong they had done to him. But you know something, Joseph decided to focus more on the present and on the future, than on getting even from the past.
Is there anyone here living in the past today unable to enjoy the present? How many lives are being eaten away, because of bitterness and the desire to get revenge for a wrong suffered in the past. As Christians, we are to be the first to be willing to forgive, and yet we find ourselves thinking, God if you don’t do something, then I’m going to have to. Really. Do we truly believe we know better than God? Do we really think our God is unjust and unfair because He didn’t punish so and so as we would have like for him to do so.