- Sermon Notes
God Makes Good
Intro: Sickly Duckling
Too often we look around at our circumstance and focus on the difficulties, obstacles, or pains that besiege us. It’s easy to only see the bad. It can be harder to imagine the good that might come out of the grind. However, we serve a God with the will and wisdom to create great blessings even from real struggles.
Our God can make good where there once was evil, He can bring light out from darkness. Just as He can make water spring up from a rock in the wilderness (Exodus 17), the Lord can bring about good in even the most unlikely of circumstances.
Today we are going to continue to study the life of Joseph. We will see the fruit of God’s handiwork after years of trial, and learn how Joseph has been shaped by the Lord’s goodness!
Read Genesis 45:1-15
Joseph’s heart had been shaped by the Lord. Trial after trial, God proved His great purpose, and now Joseph allowed the fruit of God’s blessing to pour into the lives of his family. When we have seen long seasons of difficulty, it can be easy to lose sight of the good. Let’s recenter our focus on what our God can do and is doing, and allow Him to bring His plan to fruition in our own lives!
I. Choose a Redemptive Perspective
After all that Joseph had been through, this climactic moment really spells out the theme of his life. God had worked miracles out of menace, and this wasn’t lost on Joseph.
He had the power and the opportunity to repay his brothers for the evil they had done to him. But, in spite of all the hardships, disappointments, and betrayals that Joseph had endured, his life was not marked by bitterness.
What about us? It can be so easy to look upon our past, at our lives, with an ugly bitter view. Bad things do happen, there may be a lot of darkness dimming our perspective.
Matt. 6:22-23 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
This verse in its context seems to be referring to a person’s perspective on wealth, I think the same truth speaks to our perspective on life.
The perspective you have will either fill you with light, or filter all the light out. When you look at your life, are you able to see the good that God filled it with?
God granted Joseph the privilege of a redemptive perspective. He recognized that the Lord was at work in it all and had placed him there in Egypt for a greater purpose (vs. 8).
God’s Plan is bigger than Our Problems
Throughout his journey, Joseph was blessed to see beyond his problems. His brothers ire, his slavery and imprisonment, the waves of trouble and tragedy that seemed to wash over his life, none of this could thwart God’s plan to bless and prosper Joseph.
Illus. When it Rains…
Sometimes, the problems in our life seem too big or too plentiful to overcome. We can feel trapped, hopeless, or overwhelmed.
When those seasons come, we need to recognize that as alone as we may feel, we don’t have to be! And if we are walking with Jesus – walking in the plan the Lord prepares for us – then we are never alone!
Eph. 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
This word to the Hebrews reflects God’s heart toward us, his people. He has a plan for us. All we need to do to be in that plan is trust and follow Him!
As difficult as it may be to walk on when we don’t know exactly what is around the corner, I hope that we can be encouraged by Joseph’s story!
The setbacks Joseph faced God only used to further His perfect plan!
Joseph’s life is a demonstration of our God’s power to redeem every circumstance and strife. God took Joseph from dreamer to redeemer, and used him to save Egypt and his own family, even though they had wronged him so painfully.
Let us cling to the same hope! That our God is big enough to carry us through our troubles. That when Christ said he had overcome those things that might overcome us (John 16:33), He meant it!
Not only that, but He is powerful enough to REDEEM the ashes for beauty (Isaiah 61:30.
Look through the lens of God’s purpose
When Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, he brings them assurance that they don’t need to be “grieved or angry with” themselves (vs. 5).
He makes it clear in this passage that God sent him to Egypt to enact a powerful plan. He used the cruel intents of the brothers to bring about a greater purpose!
For all that we struggle through in life, it can be a real challenge to understand what God might be up to. When we are in a dark place, it can be easy to only see dark, and lose sight of the light of Christ, our future and our hope.
Illus. Sleep Training
Hebrews 12:11, All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
As we grow in the maturity of our faith
Even as we review our past we can get fixated on the pain of faults, failures, hurts and betrayals.
It’s like when we look in the mirror, and instead of seeing our whole face, we zero-in on our insecurities, our least favorite features, our scars.
When we develop such a nearsighted perspective, we need to apply some corrective lenses. We need our eyes refocused on our greater hope, on the bigger picture.
Joseph was now able to understand the seasons and signs that led him to his current place.
He no longer looked back at his life with pain, bitterness, or anger. He chose to look back through the lens of God’s divine purpose.
Take it the Way God Meant it
At the end of Joseph’s life, after his father dies, Joseph’s brothers again become worried that he was holding a grudge. I love Joseph’s response:
Genesis 50:19-21…Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
God meant it for good! There is so much evil that this life may throw at us, but our God is so clever and so capable! He can take whatever may come and use it in His grand plan.
Word Study: Meant is drawn from the Hebrew word Chashab (khaw-shab’) literally: to weave.
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.
We have a choice here. Do we accept the intended effect of evil, or do we remind ourselves of God’s miraculous purpose. Do we accept the good that He makes from evil?
Illus. Made for Good
Some of us have been through some truly ugly things, situations and hurts that still ache in our hearts and spirits.
These things can be so hard to heal from, but as our trust in God grows, and we learn to surrender the past to Him, a picture of redemption often starts to clarify.
Though there are some things that we may never see redeemed until we are in eternity, we can still stand on the hope that God’s plan and His purpose will prevail. What was meant for evil, God meant for good.
We are Free to Forgive
How was Joseph so capable of forgiving his older brothers? He wept with them, hugged, and kissed them. He held no ill will towards them… how?
It can be such a struggle for us to forgive those that have wronged us, especially so when they cause real damage in our lives. This is true whether someone sinned against us, or we made damaging mistakes of our own. How can we forgive like Joseph did?
That’s the thing, Joseph was so focused on the good that God brought about through his hardships, that the evil intent of his brothers hardly mattered!
Joseph was secure in the Lord. He had power, authority, healing, and hope. The sins of the past had been redeemed for the Lord’s good purpose. Even if his brothers would want to betray him again, they had no power over Joseph any longer.
We serve a God with the power to redeem. He spares us from our hurt and sin, heals our hearts and spirits, and sets us up in His calling for us. Even in the midst of hardship, the Lord can weave together His plan.
When God brings about His will in our lives, when the healing work is done, forgiveness is not only possible, but necessary.
Matthew 6:14-15“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
This is an important reminder, but again, it isn’t always an easy feat. When the hurt that we carry and the darkness of our story overshadow the blessing and the redemption God offers, we can struggle to forgive.
The truth is, church, we need to forgive. We need to surrender our understanding of the past and the present to the One who defines our future.
This is an important step if we ever want to get to where Joseph was, operating in the fullness of the Lord’s calling.
Joseph could be seen as an echo of Christ, who endured the unimaginable though innocent, and still forgave those who worked against Him, even in the midst of the suffering.
Illus. Jesus was loved by his father, hated by his brothers, betrayed, sold for silver, made a servant, tempted but without sin, falsely accused and made no defense, placed in prison, and endured an unjust punishment. Despite it all, He gave grace and mercy, making a way for all who rejected him, all who denied him he forgave and he does not waver in his forgiveness.
Luke 23:34 … “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”…
With the power to condemn and convict, He chose grace and mercy.
Christ forgave because the Lord had a plan in all of this. What the world intended for evil, the Lord meant for good. The sacrifice of the only begotten son of heaven was the means of all our redemption.
The very hope we have – which extends beyond this part of eternity and into forever – is Jesus. No matter how ugly this life can get, our eternity is unimaginably good.
God used great evil to bring about a definitive good.
Psalm 30:11 “You have turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”
Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, “Have everyone go out from me.” So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 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. Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not delay. You shall live in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children and your flocks and your herds and all that you have. There I will also provide for you, for there are still five years of famine to come, and you and your household and all that you have would be impoverished.”’ Behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth which is speaking to you. Now you must tell my father of all my splendor in Egypt, and all that you have seen; and you must hurry and bring my father down here.” Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. He kissed all his brothers and wept on them, and afterward, his brothers talked with him.