- 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
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
who had taken him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. 3
Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight
and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. 5 It came about that from
the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the Lord’s
blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field. 6 So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he
did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate.
“Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house,
and he has put all that he owns in my charge. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because
you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” 10 As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to
lie beside her or be with her. 11 Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was
there inside. 12 She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. 13 When
she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has
brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. 15 When he heard that I raised my voice and Lit
called outscreamed, he left his garment beside me and fled and went outside.” 16 So she left his garment beside her until his master came home.
17 Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; 18 and as I raised my
voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”
master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail. 21 But the Lord was
with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22 The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge
all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. 23 The chief jailer did not supervise anything
under Joseph’s charge because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made to prosper.