Genesis 40 – What Do You Do When You Feel Like You Are Losing?

Home » Sermons » In the Beginning » Genesis 40 – What Do You Do When You Feel Like You Are Losing?

Auto Generated Transcript

Genesis chapter 40. We’re continuing along in the story of Joseph. For those that have not been a part of this, let me just remind us what Genesis has been about. We’ve really followed the story of a few different characters in the book of Genesis. The first 11 chapters of Genesis is of no one in particular, but it’s sharing for us the grand story of of God’s purpose in all of creation, that he he designed this creation for his glory. He made you uniquely above anything else you created in this world, because he made you in his image. Which means you’re you’re created to connect to your your God. And being connected to God, you discover the purpose of your existence, the worth of who you are, and you get to live a meaningful life and being connected to him. But in the first 11 chapters of Genesis, mankind rejected God and continued to run away from him. But what you discover in Genesis 12 is that God didn’t give up on us, that he continued to pursue us, and he comes to the life of one man and promises through that one man, Abraham, he he will bless all nations, all people, groups. And so from Genesis 12, we’ve been following the story of these individuals as God’s greater story has been made known in their life to bring about ultimately, Jesus. And we’ve read about the story of of Abraham. We’ve read the story about Isaac, we’ve looked at the story of Joseph or Jacob, and now we’re into the story of Joseph.

And that began for us the story of Joseph in Genesis chapter 37. But but here’s what we’ve discovered in Genesis chapter 37 is that just because you come to know God, just because you follow after God, it doesn’t promise you that there is going to be an easy life. And the reason for that is because we live in a fallen world. The curse of sin, the curse of rejecting God, has left us in a fallen world. And in that there is struggle. And Joseph’s life reminds us of that. In fact, as we started his story in Genesis chapter 37 and verse two, it tells us that he is 17 years old. That’s where we pick up on the life of Joseph Joseph. He is 17 years old. Genesis 37, verse two. And at 17 years old his own brothers betray him. They sell him into slavery to the Ishmaelites. The Ishmaelites take him to Egypt. When he’s in Egypt, he’s sold on the slave block to a man named Potiphar, who brings him into his household to serve as a slave. And Potiphar is the general of Pharaoh’s army. And so here he is in Potiphar’s home, serving as a slave, he still desiring to honor God where he is. But while he’s serving as a slave, Potiphar’s wife tries to proposition him, and Joseph rejects her.

And because of that, she falsely accuses him and he’s thrown into prison and deciding to walk with integrity rather than to give in to the temptation it costs him. He’s thrown into prison. And in Genesis chapter 41, verse 46, we are told Joseph is there until he is 30 years old. So from the age of 17 to the age of 30, Joseph spends his life as a slave and in prison. Struggle and difficulty is what Joseph faced. In fact, when he was thrown into prison. It tells us in Psalm 105 and verse 18, his feet were hurt with fetters, his neck was put in a collar of iron. And so Joseph is is certainly struggling in, in his relationship with, with this world and the difficulty that he’s facing being falsely accused when he tried to live as a man of integrity, he did live as a man of integrity and choosing to walk the path of integrity. It put him in a decision of giving into temptation to Potiphar’s wife, or or choosing to reject her and honor the Lord. And the consequence of that is he is falsely accused and he’s thrown into jail. Could you imagine this? This man has spent his entire 20s being locked up, being being treated so poorly, either as a slave or in prison. Sometimes both of those combined. And this is Joseph’s life and following after the Lord.

You know, the tendency is, as human beings, we often think to ourselves, you know, as long as I live a good life and I do what’s right, then good things are going to happen. And if I made bad choices, the consequence of bad choices or that bad things will happen. And proverbially that’s that’s generally true for our lives, right? But then there are times where no matter how good you might try to be, that it just feels like you can’t seem to be successful, that you’re you’re in this struggle and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and you might be about at your wit’s end, and you’re wondering how much longer you can go on. And many of those, those those thoughts, I would say are probably things that Joseph is wrestling with in this story that we’ve, you know, maybe, maybe we’ve walked through a season of life and we’re just worn out and worn down and and you wonder, are you ever going to feel like you’re winning again? In fact, the question we want to ask ourselves in Genesis chapter 40 is this what do you do when you feel like you’re losing? And Joseph’s life certainly becomes an example for us because he walks. He’s he’s faithful in the Lord in this. And he’s he’s teaching by modeling for us what it looks like, like in our own story when we’re we’re struggling day to day and we, we want to honor.

The Lord. We want to follow after him. But but things just aren’t going our way. And so where is God in this? And how do how do we respond? Well, if you picked up the notes this morning, point number one, your notes is this what do you do when you feel like you’re losing? Be filled with God’s presence. Be filled with God’s presence. You know, your primary calling in life is not to pursue the absence of trouble, but rather the presence of God. In fact, for the life of the believer, because you follow Jesus there, there’s not a promise in Scripture that says to you, and now everything’s going to be easy. And when you when you think about who you you model your life after what it means to be a disciple, it means you exercise a discipline towards a certain direction. And and the one that you follow is Jesus. And when you think about Jesus’s life, Jesus lived a life pleasing to the father. But Jesus’s life certainly wasn’t easy because he lived a life to please the father. In fact, because he lived a life that pleased the father, there were certain adversity that came along with that. And in Romans chapter eight verse 17, it even almost promises us as believers that because you pursue Christ, there will be challenges in the life that you lead in the Lord because of your faith in Jesus.

And so being filled with with God’s presence is not not this idea of the absence of trouble, but but rather seeking after the the presence of God knowing. And we live in a fallen world, and because of the the fallenness of this world, sometimes there will be days that are easier than others. But this world is broken. But it doesn’t change who God is and God’s desire to be in relationship with you in the journey that you experience in relationship with him, be filled with his presence in the New Testament. It commands us to be filled in the spirit. The idea of being filled in the spirit simply says this that your life is surrendered to the Lord. What God desires for you is what you desire from him, that you would surrender yourself to what it is that God desires to do in you and through you. And so you are filled with him. You know, it’s it’s it’s important to remember that when it comes to me, when it comes to being filled with the spirit, it doesn’t always mean that you feel the spirit. Does that make sense? Two different fills here. I come from the south, so sometimes your fills still sound the same. Um, but but to be filled with the spirit is not the same as feeling the spirit. In fact, there are times in your life where you may be completely surrendered to God and filled with His spirit, but the situation doesn’t necessarily feel good.

But, but, but it’s an opportunity to demonstrate where your faith truly lies. Do you believe what God says? Or do you walk in a different path? In fact, when it comes to understanding the idea of being filled with the spirit, the Bible gives you promise after promise to rest in knowing that you face challenges in this world. But those challenges become an opportunity to demonstrate what your life is ultimately about. Is it dictated by circumstances or something greater? And Jesus says to his disciples at the end of Matthew chapter 28, after they saw the crucifixion of Christ, and they knew the hatred that existed for Jesus, Jesus gives him this promise. Matthew 28 verse 20 I am with you always. Or in first Peter chapter five, verse six, to humble yourselves before the presence of God, and he will exalt you in due time. Or in Jeremiah 2913 he says this you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart. The best way to learn to be filled with his presence. Is to surrender to his presence and his promises. I mean, do you remember at the end of Genesis chapter 39, the the final thoughts that God gave to to Joseph at the end of the story? He wanted Joseph in the midst of the difficulty he was facing.

Here he is as a slave, and now he’s thrown into prison. But God reminds him of this along the way, and the difficulty that he is going through. The Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love. And at the very end, verse 2323, the Lord was with him. Just because you face adversity doesn’t doesn’t negate the promises of God and His presence in your life, as if God is saying in these verses that he knows that before Joseph, they’re still going to be some challenges. But the one thing that he wanted to remind Joseph is that God was going to be with him wherever he went, as if God is saying at the end of chapter 39, Joseph, it’s still some there’s still some adversity before you, but I don’t want you to lose sight of this, because this is the very thing that defines who you are. I mean, who your God is will determine who you are as a person. And so therefore, to have a proper understanding of of the Lord and the midst of any situation that you face in life will help you determine who you should be in light of any circumstance that you go through. And so being filled with his presence becomes essential for God’s people, no matter the circumstance that we’re in. But we should say, especially in adversity, the reminder of God’s truth and his presence in our life becomes vital to our well-being.

And I can even think as a church over our last 15 years plus of existence, this this year, 2024, I would say, has been one of the more difficult seasons for our body. And it’s because it seems many of our families are going through something personal, difficult in their lives. And, you know, as a pastor, I do my best to show up when I can to be there to support. I’m not perfect, so please give me grace. But but I work hard, okay? And I try. I try to do the best I can to show up. But can I tell you one of the things when I, when I do show up and, and I’m there with families in adversity, the one thing that I want to remind all of us of is not anything profound that I have to say. But but the simplicity, the simplicity of what God says to us. Um, there’s there’s common verses that I go to in my own life that I like to share with other people to, to hold on to when they go through difficulty. In fact, I’m going to give them to you this morning. That way, no matter what you’re going through, you can remind yourself of these verses. These aren’t the only verses to do. You might have your own special verses you like, but you take these verses with you.

You share them with other people when they go through some difficulty. But Hebrews chapter six, verse 18, it says this it is impossible for God to lie. We, we who have fled for refuge, might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hopes that before us we have this as a sure and steadfast anchor for the soul. So a couple things he’s saying in this verse. Look, it’s important to remember in regardless of your circumstances, your circumstances will always change. But the one constant that will forever remain the same is who God is. God does not lie. He is the same. And it’ll tell you in Hebrews and 13, just yesterday, today and forever, right? He is always consistent within his own nature. So if you’re going to cling to something, you need an anchor for your soul. There comes a time in life where we feel like we are losing and we are losing bad. Everything seems to be falling apart. And when you go through those moments, you think to yourself, God, I just need something. Just give me something to cling on to, something I know that’s going to hold me up when everything else seems to be falling apart. And Scripture saying this, that anchor for your soul. It’s the Lord. It’s the Lord and it’s the truth that God gives to you. That’s a that’s what’s phrased in Hebrews chapter six.

He’s he’s telling us in Hebrews six the promise that the Messiah will come to redeem your soul. And it reminds us in chapter 13 that that Messiah is the same yesterday, today, and forever, that you can hold to him when everything else might be falling apart. In fact, I love how Jesus said it in John chapter 14. If you remember in the context of this story, this is when Jesus is in the upper room with his disciples. He just told his disciples he’s about to die. The disciples feel like their world is falling apart. They’re thinking to themselves, we’ve followed you for three years. We’ve given everything to pursue you. Now you’re about to be killed. If you’re going to get killed, they know where your followers, what’s going to happen to us. And then Jesus gives these words. But not your heart be troubled. You believe in the father, meaning you. You put trust in the father. He says, trust also in me. And the reason we’re able to do that is because the one constant, the one consistent thing that you can cling to is the goodness of who God is. So be filled with God’s presence. When life is difficult. And the question is, what is your life going to be about? What’s going to give you ultimate meaning? What’s going to help remind you that you matter? What constant can you hold to as an anchor for your soul? And the answer is the Lord.

The only one who can add ultimate meaning to your suffering is the Lord. Yeah, I find it interesting sometimes when people people look at suffering in this world and their conclusion is, oh, there’s bad things that happen, there must not be a good God. And therefore they reject God altogether. They think there there must not be a God at all, because there are bad things in this world. And there’s a few things I would say to that one. This isn’t the world God created. This is the world that God created under the curse of sin. Right? And so we see the difficulty of this world because of sin, not because of the Lord, but it’s because of man’s rejection of God. That is that’s what brought the curse of sin. And that’s why we face adversity day to day. The reason God created you and me. God created you for relationship. God created us to experience that relationship and what the Hebrews refer to as shalom peace. What we desire within our souls, that we would experience that harmony in all of creation towards our relationship with God. That’s what God ultimately wants to restore. So just because rejecting God because bad things happen is like it’s it’s cutting your legs out from under you. And the reason for that is, look, some people look at the bad things of this world, and they actually use it to, to take themselves from a position of atheism to really at least some form of theism.

And the reason they do that is because they begin to acknowledge that when their soul recognizes bad things in this world, it’s communicating that they realize they were made for more. If if there is no God, then there is no purpose to your life and there’s really no purpose in suffering. In fact, there’s no purpose in anything. I mean, when you think about what atheism, the idea of atheism is just saying to us, things came into existence randomly for no real reason. You just happen to exist because this is the way you fizzed and you exist this way, and other things fizz and exist in a different way, but there’s nothing more valuable. And one thing or another, they all just happen to just exist. And since there’s no ultimate meaning, there’s no ultimate morality. If there’s no ultimate morality, who cares what you do or don’t do? And what happens to you? You don’t matter. But you won’t live that way. And the reason you don’t live that way is because your soul acknowledges that there is a purpose to your design, and the only way you can make sense of it is that there is a creator who made you for a reason, and we discover in Christianity how personal that gets, and a God who becomes flesh to give his life for us.

And the more we have opportunity to cling to that, the more we discover a hope that transcends the adversity that we face. In fact, there was a man by the name of Victor Frankl who who was sentenced to Auschwitz in the concentration camp. And Viktor Frankl in the concentration camp, talked about his struggle for value in life and discovering a purpose in life through the adversity he faced. And he said, what brought him to that place is how he lost everything. They were trying to strip away his dignity as a human being. He lost his property. He lost his family. He lost his his possessions. And he said he got to the to the lowest point when they stripped his body of of even its clothing. And then they turned around and they just handed him rags to put on. He realized the rags had already been worn by an individual who had already lost their lives in a gas chamber. And when he puts on these clothes, he reaches into the pocket of of this gentleman who wore it before him, and he found a prayer written on a piece of paper. And in that prayer was Deuteronomy chapter six, verse four. Hero Israel, the Lord your God is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.

And in the midst of them trying to strip him of his his dignity as a person, Viktor Frankl went on, he he wrote the book called Man’s Search of Meaning. And this is what he said. There is nothing in the world that would so effectively help one survive even the worst conditions, as the knowledge that there is a meaning in one’s life. He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how. And when you discover who you are in light of who God is, then you find an ultimate purpose that transcends any circumstance in this life. Because you know what you’re created for in God is eternal. And so, number one, what do you do when you feel like you’re losing? Be filled with God’s presence. Number two is this flourish where you are planted. Flourish where you are planted. You know, the old adage is you can’t always control the cards you’re dealt, but you can determine how you’re going to play them. And some of the greatest servants of the Lord are people who have endured some of the most difficult adversity in life. There is a sweetness to them in their relationship with the Lord, having having walked that road. And it’s important for all of us to look. Look for places where God can use you. You don’t wait for circumstances to change. Sometimes we have this temptation of saying you know, one day I’m going to follow the Lord, and one day I’m going to serve the Lord.

But it’s only until I get to this point. It’s only until the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s only until I’ve reached this certain plateau. Then when I get there, then I’ll start serving the Lord. And Joseph’s going to teach us in this story. It’s not about waiting till things are perfect, but discovering how God can use you in the midst of a storm. Right now, God wants to use you as a light in darkness. How can God use you? Not for you to wait to get to that place, but in the position in which you find yourself? And this is what happens in Genesis chapter 40. It says verse one. Sometime after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against the Lord, the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard and the prison where Joseph was confined. So this is setting the story that Joseph’s life hasn’t necessarily gone the way that he would want it to go. But but God is completely there, and God wants to work through his life, and it’s starting to set the tone of how God is going to work through Joseph’s life, to minister to the baker and the cupbearer.

And you think in terms of these two individuals, these are important positions in Pharaoh’s kingdom. These would have been very trusted positions if you wanted to kill the Pharaoh. One of the easiest ways to do that is to put some poison in something he eats or drinks. It would have been the cupbearers job that before the Pharaoh took a drink of anything, that the cupbearer would test the drink to make sure there was no poison in it. And so the cupbearer would have been someone certainly, that the that the Pharaoh would have trusted. In fact, if you were a cupbearer, you wanted to make sure also that your Pharaoh was popular before the people. So part of your job was to make sure everyone always viewed him positively, because if he made any enemies, your life was at risk too. So these two positions are important. And now Joseph is put into the same place that these individuals are found. And then in verse four, the captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with him, and he attended them. And they continued for some time in custody. And one night they both dreamed the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. And when Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled.

So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, why are your faces downcast today? Joseph is in verse four. He’s he’s serving them. He’s he’s carrying a heart of hospitality towards people in need. That’s a biblical calling for all of God’s people, that we should be a people of hospitality. And in being hospitable to those around him, caring for them, ministering to them. He then sees in verse six an opportunity to more specifically be engaged in life because of some adversity that they that they’re facing. And so Joseph saw his obstacles as opportunities not to wait till God got him to a certain place so he could start serving him again. But in the midst of the difficulty that even he was going through, he saw those obstacles as opportunities to point to the glory of who God was. And because of this, Joseph was he was thinking outside of himself. I think this is so important to see that, you know, for many people, and I know this is not true for any of you here, because all of you are wonderful. But for many people who might find themselves in Joseph’s shoes, the tendency of our human nature would be like this. Oh no, my my plight in life is so difficult. I want people to sympathize and empathize with me. So I’m going to share my story over and over and over again and just talk about me until I get to the place where someone finally helps me get out of here.

And so the tendency when we go through difficulty is to put the attention on ourselves and, and talk about all the things that we’re going through. But but Joseph in the story is doing the exact opposite. And the answer is how is he able to or the question is how is he able to do that? And and the reason is, is because he’s found his life content in the Lord. He knows whatever he has gone through, wherever he is, the Lord is there. And the Lord has already been there. That nothing that he’s going, going through is outside of God’s sovereignty and his will. And so Joseph is just looking for the opportunity of how God can use him right where he is. And because Joseph has found himself content in the Lord, he’s then able to think beyond himself, to minister to other people. It’s when your soul is in this place of of tension, when you feel insecure in your life, that your tendency is to kind of gravitate internally in, in yourself and look at at you. But when you find your life satisfied in Christ and content in him, and discover your purpose and value of who you are in the Lord, then you’re able to look beyond yourself because you’re confident in who you are in Christ, and therefore you’re able to minister to others.

And this is exactly what what Joseph is doing. He wasn’t without problems, but he was with the presence of God. And he didn’t wait for a better opportunity before he simply just started serving the Lord where he is. So when we talk about flourishing where you’re planted, let me just tell you, there’s a few things that I think flourishing, what flourishing should look like in the life of the believer. If we’re going to live for the Lord, no matter where we are. The first is this you’ve got to think outwardly. God called you to live on mission and God. God redeems you in him for a purpose. And so we want to think outwardly, and we’re able to do that because of everything Jesus has done for us, that God didn’t abandon us. He sees us in our brokenness and our struggle in this world. He pursued us to give his life for us, that we can find freedom in him, identity in him, and therefore live for a purpose because we’ve been given a purpose in Christ. And so we’re able to think outwardly as God has worked in us, he wants to work through us, and we can look beyond us to what God desires to do in this world, which means we don’t live as consumer Christians, but as missional Christians. We don’t live as just simply givers.

But or excuse me, takers, but rather we become givers in the Lord. We don’t live our Christian life for just simply convenience or comfort, but to see the change that God desires to produce in us and through others. As we rest in the Lord, we we discover that in point number two is you. You use your gifts to serve. You use your gifts to serve. Can I tell you in talking about this this year and seeing some of the difficulty our families have faced, one of the things that I have appreciated as a pastor is when I get a call or I know there’s a problem and I make a time to show up. Many times I’ve not been able to even beat our own church there like I even tried. I tried these last couple of weeks, a couple hospital visits, and trying to get there before someone else did, and I still couldn’t do it. It is incredible to see the body of Christ in in the way that they care and serve. And this is what Joseph’s doing. He just tells you in this first four verses, he’s just in that jail, in the prison, just caring for people around him. Hospitality. God, how can you use me? This is a broken place. How can I care for people around him? And then? And then you discover Joseph’s also got a special talent. Apparently he’s also a dream interpreter.

Right? And so in this story, he goes to interpret the dreams of of the cupbearer and the baker. And I don’t have time to read through all, all the dreams as they lay them out. But in verse nine of verse 15, it gives you the dream of the cupbearer, and the dream of the cupbearer goes like this. He has a dream of a grape vine, and it has three branches, and in one hand he’s got the branches, and the other hand he’s got the pharaoh’s cup. And all of a sudden off those three branches, it just blooms with grapes. And and he takes those grapes and he squeezes it into Ferris cup. And Pharaoh drinks it and he says, now what does that mean? And Joseph interprets the dream. He says, in three days Pharaoh is going to lift you up, and you’re going to be restored to your position, and you’re going to be handing the cup to Pharaoh again. And the baker thinks, well, that’s great, right? And so in verse 16 to verse 19, he’s like, since that was such a great interpretation, I’m going to share my dream. And so he shares his dream and he’s got three baskets on his head. And on the top basket there’s bread and he’s to take this bread to the Pharaoh. But before he can get to the Pharaoh, these birds come down and they just eat all the bread.

And he says, now what does that mean? And and Joseph gives the interpretation. He says, in three days you’re going to be lifted up, but instead of being lifted up to your position, you’re going to be lifted up in a tree because they’re going to hang you and birds are going to eat you. That’s that’s your interpretation. And so Joseph Joseph gives them that, that interpretation of the dream. But you know, when you look at this, I think it’s important to see the way that Joseph is, is willing to step into where God has him in the midst of, of adversity. He doesn’t use that as an excuse to be a light in darkness, that these obstacles for him are opportunities. And he starts off by using just hospitality and caring for people around him. And in so doing, then God gives him a privilege to to use more of his gifts and this ability to interpret dreams. And the same is for you, right? God has you in a particular place to to make a difference in this world, and you don’t need to wait for things to be perfect. You just need to flourish where you’re planted. God how can. Can you use me in my situation to just care for the people around him? And as you care, God can continue to use your gifts as you serve. Now here’s a question for you.

Does a part of that need to be interpreting dreams right? Is that is that God’s plan for your life? Here is Joseph interpreting dreams. So when you go through difficult times, should you interpret dreams? Um, I think that’s an important question to ask when. And it helps us think through Scripture and how we interpret it. Let me just tell you, when you read narratives in the Bible, narratives in the Bible aren’t necessarily prescriptive for your life. They’re just telling you the story. So just because Joseph interpreted a dream in the narrative form doesn’t mean all of God’s people interpret dreams. In fact, let me let me give you a few thoughts one. God can use whatever he wants as long as it doesn’t violate his his nature, right? God can work in this world however he chooses to, as long as it doesn’t violate who he is. Right? Uh, two dreams are used by God in both the Old and New Testament. Here’s here’s some references for you of different places. There’s a lot in the book of Genesis and the way God used dreams and visions in Scripture. Um, there are even reports today in, in some of the most unreached places in the world where there’s very few Christians or maybe no gospel being declared that people come to know the Lord. And when you ask them, how did you come to know the Lord? They will point to dreams and visions of the Lord.

So those reports still happen today. But but with that, I think it’s also important to know that dreams are something that false teachers and false prophets use. Um, and the reason for that is if if I were just to show up to you and say, I’m going to give you a truth about God and you should believe it, and your question back to me is, why should I just listen to you and what you’re telling me? And if all I’m telling you is, you should just listen to me because of who I am, you’re going to be like, get lost, Buster. You’re crazy. Right? Like that doesn’t make any sense. I’m not going to listen to you just because you tell me to listen to you. That’s stupid. But. But when it comes to trying to look like you have some sort of authority, what what false teachers and prophets want to do is to appeal to something beyond themselves, something supernatural, and their tendency and the warning and the Old and New Testament is they will often do that claiming dreams and visions. Well, you should do this because, well, God told me to through this dream and vision. In fact, if you want a couple of verses on that Deuteronomy chapter 13, verse 1 to 5 says, it warns you. It says many false prophets will come to you claiming a message from God through dreams and visions.

Don’t believe them, especially if they contradict God’s Word. In fact, it tells you in verse five what you should do is take them out and stone them. That’s what it says in the Old Testament. In the book of Jude, in verse eight, it warns of the same thing that they’re going to try to come on some sort of authority, greater themselves to try to convince you in what they have to say. And what they’re going to use to manipulate you is, is dreams and visions. Can I just tell you this as a as a church, when you think about, okay, how does God want to use me? What does God say in the Bible? If you go to the to the New Testament, to the epistles, the epistles are letters written to the church to live out, live for God’s glory in this world. Uh, the epistles start in the New Testament and the sixth book. Right. So, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, the book of acts, and you have Romans. Romans is the first epistle, the 26 books. You have the sixth book, an epistle, the 26th book is the last epistle, the book of Jude. So here you have these, these 21 books, uh, writing to the church, these epistles, and how they’re to live for the Lord. And do you know what it doesn’t say in there? You should be a dream interpreter. Nowhere in any of those epistles does it prescribes for the church and how to live for God’s glory.

Does it declare to you that you need to be a dream interpreter? Uh, in fact, when it talks about signs and wonders in Scripture, in the epistles, the only book that really addresses any sort of signs and wonders is written to the church of Corinth, and it’s only from a negative view. It’s saying to you, hey, you guys are abusing these things, and it’s telling you what not to do, not what you should do. So it’s telling you in order to live for God’s glory. Do you know? You know the best thing that you can do? There’s no the God of the Bible by knowing the Bible. No. God’s word. When it comes to living your gifts for the Lord. One of the best things that you can do is learn the truth of who God is. And in order to live for his glory, we don’t chase dreams. We pursue the Lord. In order to pursue the Lord. The best thing to do is is to know his word. Uh, there is, uh, I was reading a book yesterday by Jen Wilkin and JT English on theology, and and in there they use an illustration and they say this. Do you remember they said, do you remember the story? Um, uh, or the movie elf. And in the movie elf, there comes a moment where he got a job.

Will Ferrell got a job at the toy store, and he finds out Santa’s coming, and he gets so excited, he. Santa’s coming. He gets so excited, and he spends all night just making all these decorations for Santa. And the boss becomes so paranoid about it, he thinks Corporate’s involved. And then all of a sudden, Santa shows up and Will Ferrell begins to realize he’s like, that’s not Santa, right? He runs up to the Santa and he says, you smell like beef and cheese, right? And then the fight ensues after that. Well, the reason Will Ferrell was able to identify the false Santa is because he knew who the real Santa was. Because the same thing’s true for us. People are going to come say to you all kinds of crazy things about the Lord. But the way to really know who God is is to know God’s Word. That when people talk about him, you can recognize, is this the real Santa or beef and cheese Santa, right? Or is this a real Lord, I should say, or beef and cheese, Lord. But who is he that we would serve him? And the last is this we think about what does it mean to flourish? It’s think outwardly. It’s to use your gifts and then to speak the truth and love. And this is what this is what Joseph’s doing. Even though Joseph has to give a harsh message to the baker, he’s being truthful and and being truthful.

It’s loving. The reason it’s being loving is because it’s being honest with the baker where he is, so that he has still opportunity to turn to the Lord. In fact, in verse 20 it goes on and says this. On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. He restored the chief cup baker to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. Um, this is an interesting birthday, isn’t it? You’re like, you know, if you read about birthdays in the Bible, there are only two birthdays described in the Bible. It’s kind of weird. The only two birthdays in the Bible. There’s one in the Old Testament, one in the New Testament. The one in the Old Testament is Pharaoh’s birthday. The one in the New Testament is King Herod’s birthday when he kills John the Baptist. Like two birthdays and the only two birthdays they have, there are murders. That’s what happened. That’s like if you are looking for an excuse not to celebrate your birthday, this is your verse right there actually, groups in in America that read the Bible and and discovered this. And so as a group they do not celebrate birthdays.

And this is, this is the verse that they use. I’m not saying that. That’s right. I’m just saying if you’re looking for an excuse. Okay. But but the Pharaoh is like, it’s my birthday. What should we do? I don’t know, let’s give someone a promotion and kill someone else. That’s what they do in the story. But. But for the baker, this would have been a devastating, um, uh, lesson to learn, right? This would have been difficult. You’re three days, you’re going to die. You got 72 hours. Good luck. Right. But. But even more than that, because of the theology in Egypt, this would have been particularly harsh. And the reason for that is not because he’s just dying physically. It’s also a pronouncement of his soul eternally. If you think about Egyptian theology, one of the things the Egyptians practice was the mummification of your body. And the reason they did that is because they thought your body was eternal. It went with you. In fact, they would often bury you when when they would mummify you. They’d often, often bury you with your possessions because they believed you took all that with you. And so when the when the baker learns that he’s going to die but not just die, that his, his body is going to be ripped to pieces, it’s saying you’re eternally lost. And for Joseph, this would have become an opportunity to share the grace of who God is, that God wants to give him life eternally.

And so by giving the truth to the baker, Joseph gives him an opportunity to turn to the Lord. Now, we don’t get all of that in this passage, but that’s what it would have given, uh, Joseph, the privilege of being able to do as we go into this world with the truth of who God is, not to beat people up. But for them to truly find the freedom for which they were created in him. That God not only made him in his image, but he desires to remake him in him. And point number three, let me give you the last point of your notes. You got to I got five minutes. So here we go. Wait for the Lord to bring a harvest. Wait for the Lord to bring a harvest. I could not imagine what it would be like to be Joseph, 13 years a slave. In prison. Maybe some days he just struggled to get up, and when he was given the interpretation of the dream to the cupbearer, he said in verse 14, only remember me when it is well with you, and please do not please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh. And so get me out of this house. And then in verse 23, after the cupbearer was restored by Pharaoh, it says this.

If the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. And how difficult is that? You do nothing but love and care for the people around you. You serve the Lord faithfully and in so doing you serve others. And what they do is they forget about you. That hurts. And some of you know what that’s like to to pour into the hearts of people around you and, and in pouring into the hearts of people around you. You’re, you’re you find them not reciprocating in a love and compassion back towards you. And the question becomes, what motivates why you do what you do? Is it simply because of what you get from others, or is it because you’re confident in who you are in the Lord? Are you are you serving the Lord simply for his glory? Are you serving for your own glory? It’s not to say that it doesn’t hurt when people forget you, but it is highlighting the importance of what motivates why you do what you do. If no one ever acknowledged what you’re doing in the Lord from this day forward, would you still serve the Lord? I love the way Martin Luther was asked the question, what would you do if it was the end of the world tomorrow? And Martin Luther, the the 15th century? Martin Luther responded this way. He said, I’d plant an apple tree. And what he’s saying is, look, if everyone’s a Christian, no one’s a Christian.

It doesn’t matter to me. My life has already been decided by who I am in the Lord, and I’m just going to wake up and live for his glory. That’s all he’s saying. And my circumstances are not going to dictate who I am. My God determines who I am and therefore, no matter what he faced, he served the Lord. And the same thing is true with Joseph in this moment. He’s he’s learning to wait for the Lord to bring the harvest. Rather, he’s not trying to produce the results in and of himself. He understands. You know, when I face adversity, God certainly there’s an opportunity there to serve. And I want to serve. But I’m also not the Holy Spirit. And what God wants to do in their lives is going to be far greater than anything I’ll ever do in my own strength. And so while I serve, I also just want to wait for the Lord to produce the results. You know, one of the things that I have loved over these years of being a pastor here is seeing the results of what God’s doing in people’s lives. I can tell you, as a church, we are not a flashy church and we have no desire to be a flashy church. What we want to be is a faithful church. We want to be faithful to the Lord, his His Word, and how we serve and care for people around us for the glory of God to the benefit of others.

That’s what we want to be. And so we’re always asking the question, how can we be faithful to the Lord in the season that we’re in right now and learning to walk with him? And if you want to know, if you want to know the heartbeat of our church, the questions every every summer we sit down and assess where we’re at and and start to ask some questions and determining how we can continue to move forward in a healthy direction. But this is what we this is how we ask the question. We say, okay, how do we get someone from a from the lost world to, to a saved spectator in the church, to a fully devoted follower of Jesus, to a multiplying leader living on mission for him? What is our process to do that? That’s that’s what we’re after. Like we want God to reproduce what he’s doing in you, through you, in the lives of other people. And what does that look like? And I have loved seeing how God has just grown our family here faithfully every year, just seeing more people come to know Christ. In fact, I would say over this last few months, we’ve seen more people come to know Jesus than ever before. And many of our people that are coming to know Christ are the first generation disciples in their own family.

The first person that ever come to know Christ that we know of in their own family. And it is incredible to watch. And as we see it, we just see this wave of God doing beautiful things in his church. And you can’t help but think as you watch it, man, our best days are still in front of us. But it’s not because of us. It happens when God’s people are faithful to the Lord, waiting for God to bring the harvest, waiting for the Lord to do what it is that he desires among us. You know, I marvel what God’s doing here at ABC. But but can I just remind you, it really happens on these three points that we’ve talked about, that we’re filled with his presence, that we’re flourished where we’re planted, and that we wait for the Lord to bring the harvest. Let me end with this illustration. There was a a missionary, a famous missionary by the name of George Mueller. He he ran an orphanage for kids. In fact, it was a massive work where he took care of children. And and there was a man that wrote the biography on George Mueller. His name was Arthur Pearson. Uh, George Mueller went on and passed away in the late 1800s. Arthur Pearson wrote wrote the biography after that. He ended up passing away in 1911. He was even Arthur Pearson at one point was, uh, took over for Charles Spurgeon right after Charles Spurgeon passed away.

He was the minister in Charles Spurgeon’s church. But he said right after George Mueller passed, he went over to his Bible, and he flipped open to the Psalms and and the Psalms. He found a notation that George Mueller had written there in Psalm one and Psalm 37, verse 23. It says this. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord. And then George Mueller wrote off to the side and the stops to. And there’s an important place in the midst of darkness, in the obstacles of life, that you stand in there as a light. That you depend on the Lord. That you follow after him, serving God faithfully and waiting for him to respond. It’s not by our strength, but by his. And the reason we know that as God’s people is because the miracle that he even works in our own life. When you come to that position of recognizing your need for the Lord, and you surrender to him, that it’s God who brings that transformation in your life because of the cross of Christ and what it means for us. So as a church, let me just encourage you this morning, in the midst of adversity, be filled with his presence, flourish where you’re planted, and wait for the Lord to bring harvest.