Summer Growth Spurt! - Joseph – A Story of Forgiveness!
Grow this summer in Forgiveness, Grace, & Maturity
Pray for the offering! Two of the sweetest girls on the planet are Hannah & Rebekah Hoffman. Their Dad, Jay, has been to the village in Zimbabwe. The same village WCC adopted back in 2005. Jay & Colleen told their daughters the importance of cows in the village so Hannah & Rebekah want to purchase one cow. But the price tag is pretty steep – about $450. So next week they are going to sell cow themed candy in our lobby. Candy like Milky Way bars, Cow tails and Milk-Duds. Would you be sweet on them and buy some candy to help them purchase one cow?
I think it would be easy to rationalize here and say – it’s just one cow. What’s one cow going to do? And it’s also easy for all of us to rationalize and say – my few dollars won’t be missed! But that’s not true! I am a very upfront in your face kinda person. Pick up your handout and notice the top right hand corner of the back page. We have weekly need of $33,227.35. This enables us to turn on the AC, pay staff & missionary salaries and accomplish the ministry of Jesus of making disciples namely by loving God & loving people! We’ve met this need 3 times in the last two months! I want to throw down a church wide challenge! In my 25 years at this church these two sentences summarize the overall giving at WCC: A few people give allot. Allot of people give a little. I want to see that be reversed. Can you imagine the lives that would be changed if everyone gave the same percentage, not the same amount? If everyone gave at least 10% a miracle of God would unfold before our eyes – cows would be purchased, Haitian & African orphans would have a place to call home, and the gospel would be tangibly sent and taught all over the world enabling people to realize their greatest need – forgiveness!
A man named Roger Ledding was being introduced at a banquet so the emcee says, "Next we have the chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, Roger Ledding, who is here with his lovely wife, Beverly.” So Roger stands up and walks to the podium and says, "I'm a little nervous. Getting up before this distinguished audience and speaking today, but not nearly as nervous as I will be tonight when I go home with my wife, Audrey, and explain to her who Beverly is!"[i] That situation shouts two extremes. One is funny! I can just see him motioning to his wife, “Honey, there is no Beverly! I don’t even know a Beverly!” The other extreme would be the complete opposite of funny – sadness - there would be tears & embarrassment. What if there was another woman? What do you do when you find that the person you need to forgive happens to be part of your own family? Open up your Bibles today to Genesis 45! Do you need a Bible or a message outline? Just raise your hand! (Locate this yellow card)
Today we begin a summer long series called Summer Growth Spurt! This summer I pray we take steps to grow in the areas of forgiveness, grace and maturity! We spent the month of April talking about forgiveness. But I don’t believe we’re done yet! So let’s look at forgiveness through the life of Joseph! The story of Joseph is found in Genesis chapters 37–50! The word Genesis means “origin, birth or beginning!”[ii] Bruce Wilkinson & Ken Boa said, “Genesis was written to present the beginning of everything except God: The beginning of the universe, mankind, the Sabbath, marriage, sin, sacrifice, salvation, the family, civilization, government and nations”[iii] as a whole. Within those subjects you find a bunch of people: Adam & Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah and his wife and their three sons – Shem, Ham & Japheth and their wives. From Shem comes Terah. From Terah comes Abraham. Abraham of course is the start of the big three – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Actually, it should be called the big four – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph! Let’s find out why! Go to Genesis 45:1. Then Joseph… Anyone here come from a big family? Anyone part of a blended family? Anyone care to admit you are part of a dysfunctional family? Joseph is a mixture of all three! I need you to go back to Genesis 35:23! Now those names are not listed oldest to youngest because Joseph is Jacob’s 11th son! Look at Jacob’s Family Tree! Jacob has 12 children from four women. Two wives and two servants from his wives. His two wives are sisters. Leah is the oldest and bears him six sons, but Rachel is Jacob’s favorite! This has the making of a Jerry Springer episode! Let me ask you something. If Rachel is Jacob’s favorite wife what’s that make Joseph? Go back to Genesis 45:1! (Read 1-4) Because they thought he was dead! Why would they be thinking that? Turn left to Genesis 37:1! Is it possible to hate a family member? Joseph’s brothers hated him so much! The Bible gives three reasons why! Reason #1: He was a tattle-tale! Read Genesis 37:1-2. Who likes a tattle tale? Not a wise move if you want to wins friends and influence brothers! It gets worse but this reason is not his fault! Reason #2: Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son! Look at verse 3. It appears to me that Jacob caught this bad habit from his father Isaac. Isaac loved his son Esau more than his son Jacob. You would think Jacob would have learned from that experience, but apparently did not! No matter the reason playing kid favorites hurts everyone!
Do you ever dream in your sleep? Sometimes you might want to keep those dreams to yourself. Joseph did not. Reason #3 why his brothers hated him so much! Joseph would one day rule over them! Find verse 5. He has a second dream. Look at verse 9. Drop down to verse 11. Jealousy can fuel you / tempt you to do some crazy things! Joseph’s ten older brothers are envious, jealous and bitter. However, the time isn’t right and they have a job to do and that’s to graze the livestock. So Jacob sends them to Shechem, but grazing is not good there so they go to Dothan. Jacob tells Joseph to go find them and bring him back a report! Find Genesis 37:17. Honestly, I can’t say I blame them. But just because Joseph tattled, just because he’s his father’s favorite – just because he dreamed weird dreams is not justification for killing him.
But envy & jealousy can take potential and make it reality! The ten want to kill him. Let’s just smack him over the head and toss him in a cistern! Reuben shows some compassion. Find verse 21! They take his advice. They strip Joseph of his robe and toss him in a dry well. I can picture Joseph! “Guys, please pull me up. Please let me outta here. It’s dark. You guys are starting to scare me!” His cries don’t get to them! Reuben is not going to be able to save him, so God does! Find verse 25. (Read 25-27) If you think Joseph was yelling before! Now he’s begging – don’t do this to me! I won’t bug you again. I’ll never share another dream. I’ll never make another bad report.” His cries don’t get to his brothers. They sell him for the common price of a slave. To cover their tracks they kill a goat, dip Joseph’s robe in the blood and then lie to their father. Joseph goes to Egypt and is sold a second time.
Go back to Genesis 45:3! (Read 3-4) Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." As soon as they gathered in – I would have blasted them. “You little wretches! You little twits. I can’t believe you did this to me and oh are you ever going to pay! Guards, kill them all right now!” Joseph could have done that and no questions would have been asked! How do you forgive a family member? Realize who’s fueling your angry heart! Who wants you to stay angry? It isn’t God! I love the ministry of June Hunt! She has a little book called Anger-Facing the Fire Within! She cites the Bible providing four sources of anger. Hurt: Your heart is wounded. Injustice: Your right is violated. Fear: Your future is threatened. Frustration: Your performance is not accepted.[iv] Joseph can claim three of the four. My own brothers sold me, I lost all rights as a slave, and on more than one occasion I thought I was going to die! How can my angry heart become calm? Verse 4 again! Once again the Bible shows us what forgiveness is not! Forgiveness is not pretending the offense did not happen! They sold him to people they did not know! How do you forgive a family member? We are often angry with people and refuse to forgive because we believe they’ll get away with what they did! Your choice to forgive does not mean that consequences are ignored!
But truthfully, you’ve got to go deeper than that! Find verse 5. Saving lives. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Did you know that Joseph has been described as an “Old Testament Jesus.” He went through suffering at the hands of another. Jesus went through suffering at the hands of another. Is that what happened to you? Are you a New Testament Jesus? You went through suffering at the hands of another. How do you forgive a family member? Look at that person the way God looks at that person and realize they need what we all need – forgiveness!
Go back to verse 8. (Read 8-11) Do you want to be near God? Do you want God to provide for you? Joseph is staring at his brothers. What should they get? His wrath! What do they get? His forgiveness. Why don’t we receive God’s wrath? I read a story in David Platt’s book Follow Me. This is my version of David’s story.[v] If I walked up to you and slapped you in the face, what would you do to me? Slap me back, right? If I walked up to a stranger on the street and slapped him on the face, what would happen? He might get his friends and beat the living daylights out of me. What happens if I slap a police officer? He would probably cold cock me in the head and then arrest me. What would happen if I slap the President of the United States, or the Queen of England, or the Prime Minister of Russia? Serious consequences! In some countries – potentially death! Did you notice something? The higher the authority the more serious the punishment! Let’s go to the highest authority! What would happen if we slapped God’s face? Wouldn’t his response be His wrath? It is, except His wrath was taken out on His Son. God slapped his Son’s face instead of ours.
Watch this video – Plastic Jesus! If we refuse to forgive. Jesus becomes plastic like. Surface level. A check list of do’s and don’ts. Merely a religion. But when we forgive God provides!
[ii] James E. Smith, The OT Books Made Simple, 24
[iii] Wilkinson & Boa, Talk Through the Old Testament, 7
[iv] June Hunt, Anger: Facing the Fire Within, 32-34
[v] David Platt, Follow Me, 31-32