Summer Growth Spurt! - Joseph – A story of forgiveness!
We are going to get to Joseph in just a minute but would you first help me show all our Dads in attendance today how much we appreciate them! Happy Father’s Day, Dads! Consider our Global Café your man cave today. Enjoy a pastry on us! It’s good to be a guy! Since its Father Day let’s send our congratulations to Dustin & Adriene Mowry. Dustin is the proud father of Tanner James born on June 12th at 1:20 in the afternoon! Tanner weighed 8lb 9oz and is 20.7" long.
If you were asked to pray for Tanner or any newborn, what words would you pray? May I suggest something like…? “God Almighty, we praise you for this little person. May he sleep at night and play by day! That’s so funny. It’s usually the other way around! May he eat well and keep it down. No one prays for their child to be a “spewer” or milk launcher. This child doesn’t need a bib, they need a blanket! May he grow up to know you and fear you! And when he becomes an adult may he follow Jesus just like Peter, James and John! God Almighty, please watch over this little creation of yours.” That’s a sincere prayer, right? Now let me ask you, what happens if in our estimation God doesn’t? God doesn’t watch over that child? Open up your Bibles today to Genesis 45. Who needs a Bible? Who needs a message outline? While you are looking up Genesis 45, welcome my friend Jeanna Volp who has an exciting announcement to make! Once again, thank you for being generous.
Who likes dogs? If you like dogs you’ll love this story. Meet Tommy, a 7 year old German shepherd. Tommy was a stray and was adopted by Maria Lochi, a member of the Santa Maria Assunta Church in Italy. Maria not only took the dog into her home she also took him to Mass every week. Unfortunately, Maria died and Tommy attended her funeral, but it didn’t stop there – every time the church bells ring sounding the beginning of Mass, Tommy shows up and sits quietly. The priest commented, “The dog has perfect attendance.”[i] Something tells me none of us are going to have perfect attendance. In light of that, please – worship somewhere, read your Bible on your own and start giving your offering online. Why give online? Because it creates consistency. If you are not here physically you can’t give and many do not make up what they miss. Currently our giving is $30,000 less than it should be. Give as God has blessed you so we can keep loving God and loving people!
For two weeks we’ve been studying the life of Joseph. Why, because Joseph’s life is a story of forgiveness. And you will GROW if you choose to forgive. Let’s read from Genesis 45:4. Vs. 4: Joseph chose to forgive his brothers for selling him to people they did not know. Vs. 5: Joseph encourages his brothers to forgive themselves for what they did. Joseph now provides inside information - specifics - top secret stuff. (Find verse 6. Read 6-8a.) It appears to me that Joseph is giving God both the credit and the blame. God did this. Do I DARE say this – maybe the One you need to forgive today is God?
The storms that passed through Ohio this week were a bit dicey, but nothing compared to what Moore, Oklahoma experienced a few weeks ago. How many of you use Twitter? Back on May 21 some 75,000 people used the hash tag #PrayForOklahoma. People like Beyoncé, Katy Perry and even President Obama were tweeting messages like “Our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today.” Some think that’s a big waste of time. British comedian Ricky Gervais, an ardent foe of organized religion tweeted, “I feel like an idiot now…I only sent money.”[ii] Folks like Gervais conclude – why should we pray to God? I do find this interesting. A person doesn’t believe in God but when natural disasters strike they blame the One they don’t believe in. Hmmm? I am going to put verse 8 on the screen. "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.” Let the words of Joseph sink deep into your soul.
You can live your life shaking your fist at God. You are not doing a good job of running the universe. I can’t believe you let my child die. What’s up with 400 years of Egyptian captivity? What’s up with 6 million Jews being systemically exterminated? How can three girls be held captive for 10 years? A tornado rips through a town? You didn’t watch over me like the Psalmist promised you would. OR you can live your life this way. You can get on your knees and take your clinched fists and open them up to God. That’s what Joseph did. Let’s read all of verse 8!
That’s not what I would have said. At least not at that moment. Joseph could have raised his fist to God just like any of us. YOU sold me as a slave! His brothers did the selling but God could have stopped it. The story doesn’t stop there. Joseph was sold to Potiphar. Potiphar had a wife who took more interest in Joseph than her own husband. She was warm for Joseph’s form. She would chase him around the house saying, “Come to bed with me.” Most men won’t run from that temptation. They run to it. But Joseph isn’t like most men! He tells her NO in Genesis 39. So she shouts rape and Joseph goes to prison for doing what’s right! Joseph spends more than 2 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
But what does Joseph say in verse 8? God made me ruler of all Egypt! He doesn’t remember the negative. He only sees the positive. My family and I went to Cedar Point last week. We rode to the Gate Keeper twice. The first time I rode it I repented. “God, I confess. I’m sorry for everything I’ve done wrong in my life. I won’t do anything like that again if you just get me off this ride!” Did you know that Cedar Point now offers a Fast Pass option which means for $85 instead of $45 you can go directly to the front of the ride? You don’t have to wait in line! You don’t have to bear the burden of the heat!
It appears Joseph took the fast pass to Egypt. When you read verse 8 that’s what it looks like but that’s not what happened. Joseph suffered and God allowed it! And despite his suffering, Joseph is now gloating. “Look at me now! I’m the ruler of all Egypt. I walk like Egyptian. I talk like an Egyptian. I have one of those cool goatees and ride in a chariot. But I will forever be a Hebrew. Because of God, I’ve got it all!”
So how are you going to live your life? I need you to turn to Acts 7! One day I’ll do a series on Stephen. Stephen is speaking to the Jewish religious leaders. He’s trying to convince them that Jesus came back from the dead. Before he gets to Jesus he presents three Old Testament examples: Abraham, Joseph and Moses. Stephen brings up Joseph! Find verse 9. (Read 9-10a)
We all go through troubles. I stopped at Kroger and bought two gallons of milk. I put them in the back of the truck. I drove home and pulled into the garage and then walked into the house. I totally forgot the milk. I left them in the truck all night and into the next day. They’d still be there if Tricia hadn’t gone looking for something in the truck. What a waste. Trouble might spilled milk or curdled milk. /On an airplane, a flight attendant asked a man, "Would you like dinner?" The man responded, "What are my choices?" The flight attendant answered, "Yes, or no."[iii]/ Silly me, I was thinking chicken or fish!
There are only two choices in this world. Either there is a God or there is not. If there is a no God then we are all truly alone. Everything is random; everything happens by chance. Maybe fate will direct you or luck will shine down on you, but ultimately we’re just specks of muck on a godless planet. There is no plan. There is no purpose. There is no future. You live in this world some 80 years fighting to get ahead. Issues of injustice are never resolved – some people actually get away with murder. Some people draw the short straw and live only a few years while others live to be a hundred. Troubles come and troubles go but they don’t make any sense!
OR there’s a God and nothing’s by chance. God made you and long ago the world was perfect. Perfect means – with God and not without Him, life would be filled with good and not evil – the earth would be thistle-less, thorn-less and weed free. There would be no tornadoes or hurricanes. No murder or being murdered. But once the fruit was bit - sin entered the world. Sin means we can’t be in the presence of God. Life became temporary instead of eternal. But just as God created mankind; he created a plan. My Son will suffer and die for sins he did not commit. He will rise from the dead. And anyone who believes in him and follows Him wholeheartedly will be saved!
If you are having trouble with what God has done in your life look to Joseph. Despite being sold, falsely accused and sent to prison – Joseph is now the ruler of all Egypt. Think of it this way!
You were abused as a child. Maybe your Mom, maybe your Dad. But if you forgive them you can say, “look at you now!” The bitterness is gone.
You are born in this world without arms and legs just like Nick Vujicic.[iv] But instead of cursing God you embrace him. How easy would it be to conclude that you are unloved and not needed? Not Nick. God has used Nick to reach thousands for Him. Look at him now!
Ben Thompson is the lead planter for City Campus Church. He and Shaina have one child – their daughter Chaia. Chaia is having trouble with mental development because of calcifications developing in her brain. She is getting worse not better. The doctors presented two options this week. One is an experimental treatment that is not even FDA approved. It would require Chaia being in a Cleveland hospital for the month of July. The other option is do nothing and if the calcifications increase they will eventually compromise her brain or heart and she would die.
Now I think that whole thing stinks. I would love to see Chaia stand before this crowd 12 years from now and say, my body looked bleak as a child, but look at me now. And if Chaia dies – one day in heaven she’ll say, “Look at me now.”
Come pray for Chaia – God, please watch over her. Come pray for our students at SITS. God, watch over them now. Come pray, God please watch over ME!
I participated in two funerals this week. Eileen Lamneck and Chuck Blackwell. I promise you neither of them are giving God the “what for” right now! Why did you let me hurt? Why did I experience this pain? They are not shaking their fists at God; they are thanking Him for sending Jesus.
[ii] Daniel Burke, Who hears #PrayersforOklahoma www.cnn.com
[iii] Good, Clean Funnies.com
[iv] Nick, Vujicic, Unstoppable, 1