- Sermon Notes
You’re in His Hands
Intro: Mystery shoppers.
Our lives have been entrusted to us, by God and it is important to understand that in every situation, He is with us. Both in times we know we are being tested, and in times we aren’t aware. Many fall into the false idea that when things are going well, they are in God’s hands and He is with them, but in difficult times, they are not.
Perhaps you have asked the question in the face of trials, where is God in all of this? There is a tendency to think that the existence of hurt, pain, or injustice in this world means the God is forgetful, but He is not. Scripture makes it clear that God is mindful of you (Luke 1:48, Psalm 8:4), if you have committed your life to Him, your life is in His hands.
For the next three weeks, we are going to look at the life of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Jacob, and he was Jacob’s favorite son, the firstborn son of Rachel, the wife he had first fallen in love with.
As a young man, Joseph had two dreams that he shared with his family. In the first dream, his sheaf stood upright while those of his brothers bowed down; and in the second dream, the sun, moon and eleven stars all bowed down to him. What these dreams indicated was that Joseph would not just rise above his brothers, but even above his father Jacob as well.
Joseph’s brothers despised him. He was openly favored by his father. Given a special tunic with many colors. Great envy existed toward Joseph from his brothers. After telling his brothers about the dreams he had, scripture tells us that Joseph’s brothers hated him even more (Gen. 37:5).
At one point, Jacob sent Joseph to check on the older brothers who had gone away to pasture their father’s flock. When the brothers saw Joseph from a distance, they decided that they were going to kill him, but at Reuben’s insistence changed the plan and ended up selling him as a slave to some Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt for twenty pieces of silver.
In Egypt, he was purchased by Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh. As he is taken to Potiphar’s house in Egypt, we pick up our story in Genesis chapter 39.
Read Genesis 39
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.
Joseph put God first in each situation, knowing that his life was in the Lord’s hands. If you have come to the place today whereby you feel stuck, with nowhere to go. If you have felt like no matter how much good you have done or pursued, things don’t seem to be working out as you had hoped. I want to encourage you to put God first, because when you do, you can be sure that you are in His hands.
I. Choose Righteousness
- After being sold by his brothers, falsely accused, and forgotten, Joseph may have thought that the best thing would be to give up. Who could blame
- Rather than giving up, or letting go of the Lord, Joseph maintained uncommon character. He responded to affliction with a continued pursuit of righteousness.
Psalm 34:25, The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry.
- We choose righteousness in our lives when we pursue the character of Christ. When we choose a right relationship with God, which is based on faith.
Taking God at His word even when it makes no sense according to our understanding.
Romans 4:3, Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.
- Simply because he truly believed God would do what he promised, God looked at Abraham as righteous.
- Joseph understood, despite what was happening that He was still in God’s hands, and rather than giving up, Joseph held on.
A. Draw near to the Lord
- Joseph could have decided that enough was enough. He had tried to do the right thing and now it was his time to begin plotting a plan for revenge.
Illus., School shut down.
Romans 12:19-21, Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- It takes your whole heart to do this.
- Joseph chose to draw near to the Lord. In Genesis 39 alone, Scripture indicates the Lord’s favor and blessing upon Joseph 8 times. In 23 verses filled
with temptation, false accusation and being put in prison, 8 times.
- We understand that the Lord was with Joseph (vs. 2), Potiphar, his master saw that the Lord was with him as well.
- The Lord brought hope to Joseph’s hopeless circumstances. God helped him excel in his duties, so much so, it was evident that God was with him.
James 4:8, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
- Joseph continually placed his priority in what was right before the Lord. Drawing nearer to Him, rather than vengeance or bitterness.
Illus., When Tempted by Potiphar’s wife: Ch. 39 Vs. 9 How could I do this great and evil sin against God? When asked to interpret the cupbearer and baker’s dreams: Ch. 40 vs. 8 “Do not interpretations belong to God”
Illus. Dream interpretations were generally carried out by experts who had studied the available literature. This was a science. Joseph chose to consult God.
- This is important for us today. Who are we consulting to interpret our lives? It is important that we seek the Lord to interpret.
B. Leave no room for bitterness
- In Potiphar’s house, Joseph was faithful to all he was entrusted, and God was with him.
- After being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and put in prison, he remained faithful.
- When he found himself in prison, he didn’t allow himself to become bitter with God, rather, he demonstrated remarkable character.
- He did not let the disillusionment of difficulty spiral downward to depression and then bitterness or anger.
- He was so faithful in his duties while in prison, he became the “de-facto warden.” Each night after locking up the other prisoners, he would serve
his own integrity by locking the door to his own cell.
- His circumstances did not line up with his dreams, but he left no room for bitterness.
Hebrews 12:15, See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;
- God was bringing purpose to the position Joseph was in, and in this walk with Christ, even when you’re uncertain of the position you are in, consult
II. God has not Forgotten You
- As Joseph sat in prison, he could easily have begun to think that his life didn’t matter, that he was forgotten.
- No matter how hard he was trying, things weren’t working out.
Illus. Being forgotten during tryouts.
- What is important to remember is that in difficulty, God has not forgotten.
Psalm 34:18-20 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
- God doesn’t call us to understand every season, but He does call us to believe Him through every season.
Hebrews 11:8,10, By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going…for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
- There was a purpose for what Joseph was going through and while Joseph wasn’t sure exactly the outcome, he trusted that the architect and builder of his future was God.
A. He has a purpose to your position
- Many people try to do a play by play on their lives and try to figure out what God is doing and why. But some things are impossible to figure out until
the end. And with other things, it’s not until much later.
Illus. Searching for a home with many offers. Praying for an outcome.
- In Joseph’s times, a servant could earn his freedom. If Joseph had earned his freedom from serving Potiphar, he likely would have gone back home. Rather
than earning his freedom, Joseph is placed in prison.
- There is a plan God has for Joseph that we will see unfold, and that plan was not back home. In the chapters to come we will see exactly why.
- But in the story of our lives we don’t always know why we go through what we go through.
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.
- Joseph chose continually to love and draw near to God. Trusting, even when things were going from bad to worse.
B. He works for the good of those who love Him
- Sometimes God keeps us from harm and hurt that we are unaware of. Other times He works in the midst of the harm and hurt we are painfully aware of.
- The challenge and opportunity for us is to trust that in both circumstances we are aware of and those we aren’t, He is working for good.
Illus. Close calls, Eli running under the counter he wasn’t aware of.
- In the midst of being sold into slavery, falsely accused, and forgotten, the Lord remains the priority in Joseph’s life.
- He may not be able to see the “good” yet, but still he is trusting that there is a blessing coming.
Psalm 121:1-2, “I lift up my eyes to the hills--where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (NIV)
- When the psalmist wrote, I lift up my eyes to the hills, surely it was to obtain a different perspective, but even more than that, He was speaking of Jerusalem, which was in the midst of the mountains, 2,500 feet above sea level…lifting his eyes up to the hills, Jerusalem, where the temple and the presence of God was found…Your help, is found in looking to the Lord.
Genesis 39:1-23 NASB