Living with Integrity - Message 8
March 13, 2022
I. INTRODUCTION: Today, we conclude Living with Integrity, survey of Joseph’s life.
• Genesis 37:18-28; Psalm 105:7-25
A. This morning’s message is entitled, Providence (I think that is the theme of Joseph’s life).
- Providence is action by God sustaining our world and arranging our lives.
- Sovereignty is an attribute of God referring to authority to rule and control the world.
- Providence is the way God works out His sovereign will in our lives and world. (is/does)
- Theme: Ephesians 1:11 (NLT)—…He makes everything work out according to His plan.
- God worked His will through Joseph’s life and He does through ours as well.
B. Story: Joseph sent by Jacob to check on brothers who were pasturing sheep (Genesis 37:12-17).
- Genesis 37:23–25 (NLT)—23So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. 24Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. … [Joseph was crying out, pleading, but they refused to listen (42:21).]
- Judah suggested—and his brothers agreed—that Joseph not be killed, instead, he should be sold as a slave to traders who took him to Egypt. (Genesis 37:26-27)
- We’ll see how God worked His providential plan over Joseph’s life in Egypt.
II. How God works through hardships:
A. #1 - Suffering strengthens faith. (Genesis 39:1-5. C/R: Romans 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:7)
- In Egypt, Joseph was purchased by Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh’s guard. (Genesis 39:1)
- At 17 years old, Joseph became a slave in a foreign, pagan, land; he lost his freedom, but he did not lose his God; in his pain, he developed greater intimacy with God.
- Genesis 39:2-5 (NLT)—2The Lord was with Joseph [he knew it], so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph [seen in Joseph’s demeanor], giving him success in everything he did. [also seen in results] 4This pleased Potiphar, so he soon made Joseph his personal attendant. He put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. 5From the day Joseph was put in charge of his master’s household and property, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. [God’s purpose] All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished.
- Joseph’s imprisonment caused suffering, created insecurity and vulnerability, separated from family and friends; in Egypt, he had only God, but he learned God is enough!
- Joseph, who was self-centered, if not arrogant, before he was enslaved, learned to rely on God—and it was evident to others; Pharaoh saw what God was doing in this young man!
- APP.: Is your freedom constrained, by employment you don’t enjoy, an over-bearing boss, a lack of resources, health limitations, or the need to care for another person?
- Do you experience the comforting, strengthening, Presence of God in your suffering?
- Faith (trust, reliance) is developed through intimacy with God; it will be seen by others!
- ILL.: I felt alone, overwhelmed by law school workload, turned to God every day.
Another way God uses hardship…
B. #2 - Struggles develop skills. (Genesis 39:12-23. C/R: Matthew 25:23; Ephesians 6:7–8; Philippians 4:13; Colossians 3:23–24)
- Joseph served Potiphar successfully for years (?) until his wife tried to seduce him and he rebuffed her, resulting in her falsely claiming that he tried to rape her. (39:1-18)
- Genesis 39:19-21 (NLT)—19Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. 20So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. 21But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. [Hebrew ḥě·sěḏ, steadfast devotion, unfailing favor, based on prior relationship] And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden.
- God will cause others to notice your attitude and become interested in your motivation.
- Genesis 39:22-23 (NLT)—22Before long [?], the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. 23 The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed. [Presence of the Lord, power of intimacy with Him!]
- Joseph mastered running Potiphar’s household, in what became a pleasant environment with limited freedom; now, he learned to practice management skills under pressure, in a difficult environment, aided by God, who influenced the warden to view him favorably!
- APP.: Are you working a job, exercising responsibilities, that you don’t really enjoy?
- ILL. After leaving law, worked for six years, in two churches, as an administrator.
- Can you see that God is developing competencies He will use and influencing observers?
- Ephesians 6:7–8 (NLT)—7Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 8Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.
A third way God uses hardships…
C. #3 - Hardships develop humility. (Genesis 40:20-23; 41:8-14,33,37-40. C/R: Philippians 2:3-4; James 4:6–10,13-15; 1 Peter 5:6-7)
- As he watched over the prison and the prisoners, Joseph demonstrated the ability to interpret dreams (actually God’s ability) for Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker.
- His interpretations came true: the baker was restored, the baker impaled. (Genesis 40:1-19)
- Joseph asked the cup-bearer to mention him to Pharaoh so he could be released. (14-15)
- Genesis 40:23 (NLT)—Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.
- When we rely on people instead of God, we are sure to be disappointed, humbled, even humiliated; Joseph heard nothing, nothing happened, he likely gave up as time passed.
- Two years later, Pharaoh was disturbed by dreams no one could explain, so the cup-bearer told the king about Joseph, so he was brought from prison (Genesis 41:8-12).
- When asked by Pharaoh about his ability to interpret dreams, Joseph took no credit.
- Genesis 41:16 (NLT)—“It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.” [Seems unwise, not opportunistic, humble!]
- After interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams about the coming famine, Joseph offered advice about how to survive, but he did not suggest—or even offer—that he should be put in charge.
- Genesis 41:33 (NLT)—“Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt. [Then he described a plan to collect and store 1/5 of all crops and store it under guard to endure the famine.]
- Genesis 41:37–40 (NLT)—37Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials. 38So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” 39Then 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. [Didn’t understand.] 40You 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.”
- 30-year-old, Joseph (Genesis 41:46), a Hebrew, which Egyptians detested, was put in charge!
- Pride prevents us from being led by God; humility enables us to hear Him b/c we need to!
- APP.: I wanted to pastor right out of seminary, but God didn’t let me; I wasn’t ready!
- 1 Peter 5:6 (NLT)—So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time [which He determines] He will lift you up in honor.
God can work through hardships because…
D. #4 - Problems [can] fulfill God’s purpose. (Genesis 45:4-8; 46:1-7,33-34; 50:15-20,24. C/R: Genesis 12:1-3; 28:10–15; 41:50-52: Isaiah 46:9-11; Romans 8:28; Ephesians 1:11)
- Genesis 45:4-5,7-8 (NLT)—“…And he said again [2nd time], “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. 5But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. … 7God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. 8So it was God who sent me here, not you! And He is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt. [3x said God’s purpose was responsible for sending him to Egypt!]
- Joseph’s pain and problems, from enslavement at age 17 to promotion at age 30, furthered God’s plan; more precisely, it fulfilled God covenant promise to His people!
- God promised Abram, land, many descendants and to be a blessing to all families of earth (Genesis 12:1-3); He restated it to Isaac (Genesis 26:3), then repeated it to Jacob (Genesis 28:13-14).
- So God promised to preserve Abraham’s line of children, expand them into a nation, with their own homeland; the famine threatened to end the family and break God’s promise.
- God reassured Jacob as he left Canaan: Genesis 46:3-4 (NLT)—3“I am God, the God of your father,” the voice said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. 4I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again. You will die in Egypt, but Joseph will be with you to close your eyes.”
- Jacob died in Egypt at age 147 (Genesis 47:28), 17 years after arriving, and was buried in the Promised land of Canaan (brought back) as he made Joseph swear (Genesis 47:29-31; 50:13).
- After Jacob’s death, Joseph’s brothers became fearful of him (Genesis 50:15).
- Genesis 50:16-20 (NLT)—16So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us 17to say to you [?]: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. [They admitted their sins and offered themselves as slaves. (v.18)]
19But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. [Preserve 12 tribes of Israel; Genesis 32:28]
- APP.: Do you believe God has a providential plan for your life? A purpose for you pain?
- “I’m not part of God’s covenant promise; I’m not in the family line of Jesus, the Savior!”
- You are! You are a child of Abraham by faith through adoption. (Galatians 3:7,29)
- Furthermore, extending the covenant blessing to all families on the earth (which is offering faith in Jesus Christ, teaching truth and Christ-like living) depends on you!
- APP: Will you do your part if it means you experience suffering, struggles, hardships?
- Romans 8:28 (NLT)—And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.