- Sermon Notes
Intro: Adventures on the golf course.
Often forgetting the past is essential to moving forward. This is particularly true when it comes to those areas in the past that leave us immobilized, unwilling, or afraid to move forward.
This last week, we began to take a look at the life of Joseph in the book of Genesis. As we look at his life up to this point, the overwhelming theme is affliction.
After receiving a dream from God that he would rise above his brothers, his brothers plotted to kill him, but they changed their minds and sold him as a slave instead.
He was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of the king of Egypt. In Potiphar’s house, Joseph earned great favor and was entrusted almost everything in the household. All was well until Potiphar’s wife attempted to get Joseph to lie with her, but Joseph refused. As a result, he was thrown into prison, furthering the difficulty he had already experienced.
Joseph ends up ultimately being put in charge of the cupbearer and baker for the king of Egypt. Both end up having dreams and with God’s help, Joseph is able to interpret these dreams. He asked the cupbearer to remember him, but after being released from prison, the cupbearer did not remember Joseph for two more years.
Joseph was forgotten until Pharaoh, the king of Egypt had a dream that no one could interpret. He called for all the magicians and wise men in Egypt and they were not able to help with His dream interpretation. After coming up short in finding a proper interpretation, the cupbearer remembered Joseph. When Joseph appeared before the king he pointed the king to God as the One to glorify and gave the interpretation – there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. He then outlined a plan to prepare for the famine by storing up grain during the seven years of plenty. Pharaoh saw the wisdom of Joseph and set him in a place of authority that he might prepare the nation for the years of famine. He gave Joseph an Egyptian wife and placed him second in command in all the land of Egypt. This is where we will pick up our story today.
Read Genesis 41:46-57
After interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph is immediately put in place as second in command in all of land of Egypt. Joseph did not know the king of Egypt prior to this. No king would promote someone so rapidly, much less someone he just pulled out of prison, but Joseph had remained faithful to the one true King, the holder of his future. The Lord made way for victory in Joseph’s life and Joseph responded to all of his difficulty by receiving what God had given and moving forward.
I. God Causes All Things for Good
- Most who would get to the position Joseph ended up being placed in, arrived by bloodline, education, or accomplishment.
- Joseph had none of these things. In fact, his entire adult life was either as an enslaved foreigner, or as a prisoner.
- Joseph was the exception, not the rule. Joseph was truly exceptional in his response to difficulty.
- Certainly, his past would be difficult for anyone to overcome, after being sold, falsely accused, and forgotten, his life had been a picture of bad things happening to good people.
- As we see Joseph promoted to second in command in all the land of Egypt, we recognize that God was at work through it all.
Illus. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and was brought to Egypt, while serving in Potiphar’s house he was falsely accused and placed in prison with a dreaming cupbearer who would later remember him and introduce him to the king of Egypt.
- The Lord was up to something and later Joseph recognizes it.
Genesis 45:8, Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Romans 8:28, And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
- Before the year of famine came, Joseph had two sons and what he named those sons would memorialize his miraculous deliverance and understanding of
what God had done in his life.
- The name Joseph gave his first son is Manasseh which means forgetting. This is a reminder to Joseph that God was bringing about good, despite
the troubles he had endured.
- Often, we might cling to the past, the difficulties, keeping prior affliction at the forefront of our lives and thought process, but in order to move forward, the past has to be left in the past.
A. Surrender your past
- Joseph gives the glory to God and declares that he has named his son Manasseh because God had made him forget all his troubles and all his father’s
- Joseph named his second son Ephraim which means fruitfulness, because God had made him fruitful in the land of his affliction.
- Joseph gives his sons these powerful names so that he would remember what the Lord had done through his troubles and affliction.
- This was not only a powerful reminder for Joseph, but, for the generations to come.
- God allows difficulty in our lives at times, these difficulties can expose true character and can strengthen the resolve within a person.
- While there are lessons learned in trouble, trouble that stays around too long can be serious trouble.
- Joseph looked to the Lord and realized that surrendering the past and forgetting was best.
- This does not mean that Joseph wrote off his family, this doesn’t mean that what he experienced was removed from his memory bank.Rather, it means that he looked on his past from God’s perspective rather than through the veil of bitterness, and when he remembered his family, he remembered them with God’s heart.
Illus. Laying down my burdens.
- Joseph surrendered the pain, hurt, hard feelings, and bitterness associated with his past to the Lord. The Lord made him forget.
Illus. Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was reminded one day of a vicious deed that someone had done to her years before. But she acted as if she had never even heard of the incident. "Don't you remember it?" her friend asked. "No," came Barton's reply, "I distinctly remember forgetting that."
Philippians 3:13-14, But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
- Joseph made a decision to not let his trouble, trouble him anymore.
- There are many things we can hold onto, but when we truly surrender those things, we become free to move forward.
B. Look to Him for your future
- For Joseph, freedom meant remembering that God was still above all things and able to do all that He said He would do.
- For us, it is remembering all that God has done for us. It is remembering how much we have been forgiven.
Matthew 18:21-22, Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”
- Forgiveness will free us from the bitterness and bondage we carry towards another, towards our circumstances and those we come in contact with.
- Forgiveness will provide an opportunity to lay down our offenses, our fear in waiting for what will go wrong next, and look to the Lord.
Illus. Practical jokers.
Zephaniah 3:15, The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel. He is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
Illus. God gave Jeremiah a message to give to the people who were taken captive by the Babylonians. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
- When facing hardships choose to remain with God, keeping your life in His hands rather than choosing bitterness.
- God can cause all things for good, but if bitterness of fear takes over, the blessing of forgiveness and restoration God can bring may not be seen.
II. Choose Fruitfulness in Affliction
- While scripture does not specifically depict this, some believe that Manasseh and Ephraim are twins. Separate births are not recorded, only that they
were born “before the year of famine.”
- The reality of this is inconsequential, but is a nice picture for us because if true, that the son name indicated “fruitfulness in the afflicted land,”
would literally be on the heels of the son whose name represented “forgetting the past.”
- Ultimately, good fruit won’t come unless you first let go of the hurts, wounds, and disappointments in life.
A. Follow Him forward
- Despite what has been and what the past has looked like, you can make a decision to follow Jesus forward. This means that He will lead the way in what
is to come.
- Our situational responses then become how the Lord would have us respond, rather than our past defining our response.
Illus. Pre-marital counseling.
- Rather than consulting the past, the hurt, the pain, or confusion; consult the Lord.
Isaiah 43:18-19, Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.
- Joseph was fruitful in the house of his father, in Potiphar’s house, in prison, and here he is fruitful as the second in command of Egypt.
- Joseph was given an incredible promotion and he was fruitful in his promotion because he had been fruitful in his demotions.
- No matter the season, Joseph chose to remain fruitful in his life.
B. Fruitfulness speaks of what God can do
- In the land of one’s afflictions, fruitfulness can speak of what God can do with impossible circumstances.
- It is a life that responds with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
- This is a process whereby the fruit of your life then becomes the product of what God has done.
John 15:5, 8, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing… My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”
Illus. Letting the fruit of your life speak. Relating victory to the next generation, focusing on the good that is ahead, identifying with a fruitful life.
Genesis 41:46-57 NASB