- Sermon Notes
Intro: Secret Cove
Letting go is often 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. At times we may forget how much our God is capable of. We may see our history or our circumstance and feel hopeless or embittered. As Christ followers, we aren’t made to live like that!
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, there is a consistent theme of affliction. Seeing what God did in the midst of Joseph’s rollercoaster life can encourage us for the ups and downs of our own journey.
Read Genesis 41:46-57
The Lord made a way for victory in Joseph’s life and Joseph responded to all of his difficulty by receiving what God had given and moving forward. Life may be full of attacks, trials, old hurts, and new; however, God is still active and willing to carry us through. If we trust in Him, He has straight paths (Proverbs 3:5-6) through and out of our affliction. So, let’s remind ourselves that no season is out of bounds for God and the amazing works He wants to do.
I. God Works All Things for Good
- Joseph had gone through a lot to land where he did. He was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. He was made overseer of his master’s household, only to be falsely accused and convicted. He was thrown into jail and left their, even forgotten by the cupbearer who was to advocate for him. It seemed like he was constantly getting robbed of his hopes.
- And yet he never abandoned God, he never cast righteousness aside, and the Lord was constantly with him.
- As we talked about last week, it can be so discouraging to feel as though everything keeps going wrong. Sometimes life hits us with wave after wave of challenge, hurt, and disappointment.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
- Joseph was down but not out! Even in the midst of each mess, God brought favor to him.
- Eventually, when Pharaoh needed an impossible task achieved, the cupbearer finally remembered Joseph! And after God gave him the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph was set in charge of all of Egypt!
- This is such a powerful example of what the Lord does. He takes our circumstances, even the dark and difficult ones, and He does His great work in it!
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.
- Through all of the troubles of Joseph’s past, God crafted a brilliant future. He took jealousy, betrayal, slavery, slander, imprisonment, and more –in spite of the sin of this world– and worked them into something unimaginable!
- Let’s recognize that we serve that same God. He was masterfully working in Joseph’s affliction, isn’t He powerful enough to do the same in ours? Isn’t He kind enough to want to?
- It’s easy to review the receipts of our life and feel as though we have gotten a bad deal. The struggles and mistakes of our past can taint our hope for the future, and drown our joy in the present.
- God wants to take all of those dark things and transmute them into light! We might cling to the past, but in order to move forward in God’s good timing, the past must not weigh us down.
II. Surrender Your Seasons
- Joseph was now in charge of managing the seasons to come, both plentiful and famined. He had been through various levels of ease and hardship, and Joseph had learned that there were blessings to be found throughout every season. He knew that God was the source of the good found in the hardships.
- If we want to move forward in the path that God has for us, we ought to give every stage of our life over to Him.
- There will be seasons of abundance and seasons of want. There will be seasons behind, and seasons ahead. And there is always the now season.
- If we want to get the most out of it all, then we need to surrender it all.
- Joseph oversees a season of great abundance. So much so that he quits trying to quantify how big the blessing is. “…it was beyond measure.” (Verse 49)
- When God blesses us, He can so easily outdo our expectations.
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
- We can so easily take our abundance for granted. Instead of honoring the blessings for what they are, we can become accustomed to them.
- The thing is, there are almost certainly going to be seasons of drought as well. When that space comes, our attitude can be just as fleshly.
- We can find ourselves dishonoring God in our hearts in any level of ease or difficulty.
Philippians 4:11-12 …I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
- I hope we can grow in gratitude before the Lord, and have contented hearts in spite of the ease or difficulty of our season.
- If we can trust God within the good times and the bad, we can truly surrender our past, present and future.
- Let go of your past
- During the years of plenty, Joseph has a son and names him ‘Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”’(Verse 51)
- Joseph had a lot of trouble piled up in his past that could have turned his heart bitter, that could have spoiled his present and comprised his future.
- Too often we see people turn away from God because they just can’t get past the past. Often forfeiting the redemption that God had in store.
Illus. The Remembering Tree
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. He forgave His brothers.
- That forgiveness untethered him from the cycle of past hurts that can keep us stunted and rob us of our hope.
Illus. Bungy Run
- There are many damaging things we can hold onto, but when we truly surrender those things, we become free to move forward.
- Follow Him forward
- Joseph had a second son and named him ‘Ephraim, “For,” he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”’(Verse 52)
- He wasn’t going to let the troubles of the past stop him from rejoicing in the present or having hope in the future.
- Despite what has been and what the past may have 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. Counter Encounter
- Rather than being paralyzed by the past, the hurt, the pain, or confusion; seek the Lord. We serve the God of the impossible, able to do things that have never been done before.
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.
- Jesus is our hope and path, He is the very Way (John 14:6) we need to follow. This is hope for us, a direction. The way forward must always be in and through Christ.
- No matter the season, If you follow Christ, God will make you fruitful. You will be a blessing, and you will be blessed. Just as Joseph’s son’s namesake, you’ll be fruitful even in affliction!
- Fruitfulness Speaks of what God Can Do
- 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.
- He knew that this blessing was from the Lord, emphasizing God’s work in the naming of his sons: God has made me forget all my trouble God has made me fruitful.
- Even when Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams he starts by saying:
Genesis 41:16 Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
- Every blessing, every fruit, every gift and good thing in our lives can be a representation of God’s goodness! When we move forward by the Lord’s hand and in His way, we honor Him and demonstrate to all what our God can do!
- It is a life that responds with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
- Good fruit thrives when you let go of the hurts, wounds, and disappointments in life. And in the land of one’s afflictions, fruitfulness can speak of what God can do with impossible circumstances.
- By letting go and moving forward with Jesus the fruit of your life then becomes the product of what God has done. And it is good!
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.”
- What are you holding onto? Are you abiding in Christ or living in the past? Let us move ahead in the way of Jesus, daily choosing a life with Him and all the good fruit that comes from it!
Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. During the seven years of plenty the land brought forth abundantly. So he gathered all the food of these seven years which occurred in the land of Egypt and placed the food in the cities; he placed in every city the food from its own surrounding fields. Thus Joseph stored up grain in great abundance like the sand of the sea, until he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure. Now before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore to him. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” He named the second Ephraim, “For,” he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” When the seven years of plenty which had been in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, you shall do.” When the famine was spread over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. The people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth.