(Summary of Sunday Sermon, 14 June 2015)
MY SPIRIT, MY RESPONSIBILITY, MY OFFENSE
Aren’t we pretty quick at shifting blame to others? Every mistake or fault on our part is promptly cast off as someone else’s problem. The Bible says that comparing and complaining won’t get us anywhere, because our spirit is our responsibility.
Let’s drive home this truth by taking a leaf out of Joseph’s life. Genesis 37-48 describes the twists and turns in Joseph’s life. Joseph was the apple of his father Jacob’s eye. Once he had a couple of dreams that turned his life into a nightmare. He dreamt that bound sheaves in his brother’s field bowed down before his sheaves and also that the Sun and the Moon bowed before him. Imagine his brothers’ fury! This boy had not had wedged his way into their father’s heart, but was now also hinting that they, his brothers, were to bow before him some day! Boy, it sure didn’t go too well! It is similar in our lives too. We might have a fantastic dream and vision. But not everybody around us will join in our excitement. We must take care to not let that affect us and cause us to be offended.
Joseph’s brothers’ envy and hatred grew in leaps and bounds. One day, the unsuspecting Joseph visited his brothers at their work place sporting a new robe that their father had recently made for him. Seeing their chance they took hold of him, stripped him off his coat and dumped him in a pit intending to kill him. A little later they saw some Ishmaelite traders going past. His brothers traded Joseph to them for 20 shekels (unit of money). Then they dripped his coat in an animal’s blood and convincingly sold a concocted story to Jacob of how Joseph was killed by wild animals!
What a pitiable condition! The son of a wealthy man now sold as a slave and believed to be dead!
FROM THE FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE
Joseph was sold as a slave to the household of Potiphar in Egypt. Over a period of 10 years, he slowly worked his way up the chain of command of servants Unfortunately Mrs. Potiphar’s roving eye fell on young Joseph. One day, she attempted to seduce him to sleep with her. He refused and ran away shrugging off his coat. The mistress thoroughly humiliated, exacted revenge on Joseph by alleging that he had attempted to rape her. Enraged, Potiphar threw Joseph into prison. The prisons of those days were dark dungeons with bitter food and water.
Rotting in prison, he had every opportunity to be offended with everyone in his life. Starting from his brothers’ right up to the Potiphar household, all the people in his life had only harmed him. Psalm 105:18 says, ‘They hurt his feet with fetters, he was laid in irons.’ Joseph suffered terribly!
One day, two of Pharaoh’s men who were his fellow prisoners had a dream. Joseph interpreted the dream and explained that one of them would be killed and the other promoted. He requested the ‘soon-to-be-released-cupbearer’ to remember him when he got out. Sadly, the man forgot about Joseph. He remained imprisoned for another two years. The Bible says that God was with Joseph.
Two years later, the Pharaoh had a dream. None of his magicians could help interpret it. Then the cupbearer remembered Joseph and told the Pharaoh about him. Joseph was brought forth and asked to interpret the dream. When he not only interpreted about an impending famine but also provided counsel to the Pharaoh to overcome it, the Pharaoh promoted Joseph to be second in command in the country. God helped him deal with the famine situation so well that Egypt soon became a superpower.
God had lifted Joseph up! Clearly with God all things are possible!
Soon, the famine in Egypt spread to Jacob’s land too. When his brothers came searching for food to Egypt and bowed before him, Joseph could have taken revenge. He had more than enough reasons to be offended by his brothers. But he refused to let his offenses affect him. Even though he had all the opportunity to punish, imprison or kill his brothers, he refused to do that. Instead, he gave them grain freely. He even blessed them with the best of the land.
WHY WAS JOSEPH DIFFERENT?
How was Joseph able to be so different? How did he guard his spirit? The Bible says that Joseph had a dream. God had given him a vision for his future. The actual meaning of the verse which describes Joseph’s dream is being bound firmly by the God given dream. From head to toe, the dream took hold of Joseph. It helped him stay holy because he knew that if he forgot or betrayed the dream, God would take His vision away.
Our vision helps us walk in holiness.
The Israelites were given a dream. The dream and vision of a Promised Land in Canaan – a land flowing with milk and honey and a land where they would live in houses not built by them. God sent Moses to deliver them out of slavery in Egypt. But somewhere along the way they started grumbling against God. They accused God of wanting to kill them in the wilderness. They were offended by Moses and by God Himself. As a result, except for Joseph and Caleb, every other person in the first generation-runaway-slaves-of-Egypt died without reaching the Promised Land.
Do we have promises for our lives? No devil or person can strip us from that dream. The only people capable of letting our offenses thwart our God given dreams are we ourselves.
SO WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
God has given us promises. If we don’t know what they are, let us spend time with God and seek them from Him. People might talk negatively or gossip about us or treat us adversely as we reach towards our dream. But let us decide to not be offended.
Instead of having a pity party, let us worship the living God. Let us join Joseph in saying that it was God’s plan for a greater good. Joseph’s dream led to the protection of the Israelites tribes. Many years later, out of Judah’s tribe came Jesus Christ. May our God-given dreams work towards Jesus’ Second coming.
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