When it's Hard Understanding God
Joseph (Beginning with Genesis 37-50)
Action Point = Always try to act as if you know that
God is in control.
Let me begin today telling you about my “Inversion Table”.
Some people love Inversion tables, and some people hate them.
If you don’t know what these are, let me tell you about them.
An inversion table is one of those apparatuses where, in a standing-up position, you strap your feet in foot locks, lay back on a vertical table and continue tilting backwards until your body is in a horizontal position.
You then continue tilting back until you are in a vertical position once again, only this time you are upside-down.
Some people love it. Some people hate it.
Those that love it think that it is
invigoration, relaxing, refreshing, therapeutic, stress-relieving and stress-releasing.
Those that hate it may think that those who love it
are a little crazy.
Let me be perfectly clear that no one in my family thinks that I am nuts, crazy or a little obsessed for going on my beloved, fantastic, life-changing, beautiful, relaxing inversion table just about every day.
When I say,"I'm going Batman", they know that I'm going to hang upside-down for awhile.
When people have tried an Inversion Table and hated it, it may have been for some of the following reasons.
Invigoration? No, Annoying and agitating.
Relaxing? No, Tense-inducing instead.
Refreshing? No, Anything that causes me to sweat is annoying.
Therapeutic? No, not for me.
Stress-relieving? No, stress-increasing as I’m not confident that I will not fall on my head or even worse,
be stuck upside-down the rest of my life.
Kind of like, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”
“I’m upside-down and I can’t get right again.”
As far as “Stress-releasing” No.
The only thing “released” is all of the blood in my feet and legs that is now congregating in my head, and boy am I dizzy.
Of course, for medical reasons, a Doctor may advise against an inversion-table for certain people .
Looking at Joseph in the Bible, it may seem like he was living much of his life on an Inversion Table, upside-down.
Yet, he lived as if he were right-side up and that God was in control and had his back.
Being discouraged often leads us to
Not Understand God.
That can snowball and turn your life upside-down if you let it.
Follow the following progression.
Not understanding God can lead to Discouragement which can lead to Disorientation which can lead to Miscalculation which can lead to Sin.
That may seem heavy, but it is a logical and natural sequence.
Not understanding God --> Discouragement --> Disorientation --> Miscalculation --> Sin
NOTE: Not understanding God can lead to Discouragement just as easily as being Discouraged can lead to our Not Understanding God and how that has an effect on our life.
It is interesting to note that you can delete some of the words, yet you can never delete "Discouragement" and "Not Understanding God" from your life.
In other words, you may not always get disoriented, miscalculate or sin, but you will always get discouraged and not understand God to one degree or another. That is normal and natural.
You can also pretty-much change the order any way that you want and "Discouragement" and "Not Understanding God" will still be at the heart ofwhat you will need to have to deal with.
Looking briefly at the life of Joseph can be helpful.
THE LIFE OF JOSEPH
Let's look at the life of Joseph in the Bible and see how he combatted this process and progression by always trying to act as if he knew that
God was in control.
He was only 15 when his mother died giving birth to his younger brother Benjamin.
His father was a deceiver.
His brothers hated him, were jealous of him, wanted to kill him at one point, but sold him into slavery instead.
He went to a strange land with a strange culture.
He was unjustly accused by Potiphar's wife of trying to make the moves on her when in fact the opposite was true.
Joseph was on the receiving end of the quote,
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
He was robbed of a fair hearing and trial and unjustly put in prison. While in prison, he was forgotten by a cupbearer that he helped to get out of prison.
Despite all of this, he maintained his character and the character of Jesus himself.
Years later when confronting his brothers, he forgave them.
"CIRCUMSTANCES" MAY BE OUT OF OUR CONTROL,
BUT OUR "CHARACTER" NEVER IS
We always have control over our character and how we behave.
Circumstances do not "make us" what we are,
they only "reveal" what we are at that point.
When you Sqeeze a tube of toothpaste, what comes out is what was inside in the first place.
What is inside will come out, nothing more or nothing less.
When we are squeezed during a tough circumstance,
what is inside will come out.
Joseph had to face many circumstances that were not his fault. Though not perfect, the Bible does not mention any of Joseph's "Character Failures" when facing "Circumstance Failures".
"Circumstance Failures" are when a "situation" around you falls.
"Character Failures" are when "you" fall.
Joseph is a great example of one could have experienced;
Not understanding God [Why is this happening to me?]
--> Discouragement [No matter what I do right, wrong things
--> Disorientation [He did not wonder where he was in life.
He knew he was where God wanted him to be
and he made the best of it]
--> Miscalculation [He made no major wrong moves]
--> Sin. [Though not perfect, the Bible does not mention any
Genesis 50:19 is at the heart of anything that you do not understand about God or how he acts. Read it in red below.
Joseph Reassures His Brothers
When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, “Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.” ’ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.”
And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.
18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.”
19 Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place ofGod? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; BUT God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.”
And he [Joseph who was the victim] comforted them [His brothers, the perpetrators, the assailants] and spoke kindly to them."
THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE
God can turn anything that may SEEM bad
into something(s) that ARE good.
Even though the tragedies in Joseph’s life were out of his control,
he knew that he "did have control" over his character and his reactions to his tragedies.
When faced with adversity we will be tempted to take one of four paths.
FOUR WAYS TO RESPOND TO PROBLEMS
Pretend there is no problem.
Deny it... Ignore it... Fake it
"Jesus said to Peter, 'Assuredly, I say to you that this night,
before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.'
Peter said to Him, 'Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!'"
Peter was telling Jesus here that Jesus was wrong.
2. Give up... Quit because the problem is too big
[Flight] [Take your ball and go home] withdraw.
Satan says; "Give up" or "Give in".
3. Face it with our own strength
[fight] (with a small "f")
But in our own strength, we will not last long.
4. Face it realistically with God's help
[Fight] (with a capital "F")
With God's strength.
God says; "Go on" with my help and guidance.
A BEAUTIFUL VERSE ABOUT HOW JOSEPH SAW GOD'S HELP
(It was in the definition of the names that he gave his two sons)
"To Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came... Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh:
“For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house.” 52 And the name of the second he called Ephraim:
“For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” -Genesis 41:50-52
Positive thinking does not make a situation better, God does.
Positive thinking only helps our reaction to it be better.
JOSEPH MAINTAINED HIS RELATIONSHIP
He did this no matter how much he could not understand
what was going on.
We can see in the life of Joseph, beginning with Genesis 39
that the Lord was with Joseph.
God was with him in the pit when he thought his brothers were going to kill him.
God was with him when they ended up selling him to a guy heading to Egypt.
God was with him when falsely accused by Potiphar's wife.
God was with him throughout his fake trial.
God was with him in prison.
God was with him when forgotten about.
God was with him when emotionally facing his brothers years later.
These were all difficult times when the "Circumstance Failed".
God was with him so that Joseph did not have "Character Failure".
In everyone of these bad situations, God was present with good things as well.
These good things helped Joseph through the hard time
to a better time.
Though there will always be things that can make us feel "Bitter",
God is present providing so that we will get "Better".
REVIEW OF LESSONS FROM JOSEPH
1. God can and will bring good from the bad in your life,
and that good will benefit many others as well.
"You meant evil against me; BUT God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.”
And he [Joseph who was the victim] comforted them [His brothers, the perpetrators, the assailants] and spoke kindly to them."
2. God will help you through so that you will remember the good
more than the bad.
“For God has MADE ME forget all my toil [Bad stuff] and all my father’s house.”
And the name of the second he called Ephraim:
“For God has CAUSED ME to be fruitful in the land of
my affliction.” [Hardships]
3. God never gives up on you even if your not understanding him
leads you to sin.
The Bible says;
“Love keeps no record of wrongs…”
I thank God that he keeps no record of our wrongs either.
Jesus erased them on the Cross.
4. Forgive others, because God has forgiven you.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.”
OTHER FAMOUS BIBLE QUOTES
“In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world.”
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?... in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."
"We know that all things [Even the bad] work together for good [Even when we can not understand when, where or how the good will be seen and experienced] to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose... [This promise is for Christians]
If God is for us, [and He is even when we cannot understand how] who [or what] can be against us?
He [God the Father] did not spare His own Son, [Jesus]
delivered Him [On the cross] for us all, [To offer the greatest GOOD to come out of the greatest BAD, namely our sin and separation from God if we did not have his ]
how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? [Things that we NEED, not necessarily things that we WANT. We may want UNDERSTANDING so that we don't go from Not understanding God to Discouragement to Disorientation to Miscalculation which can lead to Sin.]
in ALL [Even the BAD things that we do not understand] these things we are more than conquerors [We WILL endure with God's help] through Him who loved us." [He really DOES love you.]
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
[Though we may understand, God does.
And sometimes that has to be enough.]
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, [Look and keep looking for what He IS doing in the midst of the BAD]
And He shall direct your paths."
“The Lord is my shepherd... [He will shepherd you through]
He restores my soul... [He will restore you]
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
[He will walk with you through the BAD circumstance]
I will fear no evil;
You are with me...
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
So, no matter what the circumstance(s) in your life that has turned your world upside-down like an Inversion Table,
with the help of the Lord,
it can be well with your soul.
Lord, help me to be faithful to you, trusting You and your promises even when my life seems upside-down.
In Jesus’ name.
Word of Life Church
17525 W. Bell Rd.
Surprise, AZ 85374