This past Sunday, my pastor finished up a sermon series about the life of Joseph. As he has a knack for doing, he made Joseph’s story come alive, and for the first time for me, Joseph was more than a random bible character, who was gifted a beautiful coat and then had a bunch of unfortunate events happen because of it. He became real. He became someone I highly admire.
You can read Joseph’s story at the end of the book of Genesis. I highly recommend the podcasts of Pastor Aaron’s sermons, found here (the series is called “Steps”). But I’d like to share a little bit of what struck me about his story, because it has affected me so deeply.
When Pastor Aaron began the story, he went way back, before Joseph’s birth. He began with Jacob, and described how dysfunctional Joseph’s family was, before he was even born. It was an interesting perspective I had never considered before.
But Joseph…Joseph was victim to the choices of others. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, for a small amount of money…because they didn’t like him. Slavery that was so harsh, most slaves didn’t live very long into adulthood. Because they didn’t like him. Joseph managed to do well for himself and get a great job. A good life. Until his boss’s wife wanted to sleep with him, and he refused. Multiple times. Avoided her every chance he had. Finally had to physically run from her one day, and what did she do? She told her husband he tried to rape her!! So Joseph the slave was thrown into prison, for a crime he never committed. A horrible, uncomfortable prison. Nothing like our prisons. And yet…if you read Joseph’s story, he never blames God. He never feels God deserted him. He’s not bitter or vengeful. Years later, when he’s made 2nd in command over Egypt, and his brothers finally come back into his life…he is kind to them. He has forgiven. Not once does Joseph say, “remember what you did to me??!!” He says, “it’s okay!! God used it, and used me!!”
Joseph stayed focused on God, living for God, no matter what happened to him. Joseph never allowed bitterness or hatred to enter his heart, no matter how unjustly he was treated.
I cannot unpack this story the way Pastor Aaron did. He has a gift. But I was so humbled and amazed at Joseph and the way he lived his life. And inspired. I want to live my life so focused on God that no matter where I am or what happens to me, I trust that He is with me and is still using me.
I’ve learned in my own life that we can’t control so much of what affects us. And I’ve learned that others can affect so much of our lives, even if it affects us negatively. Even if we hate what has happened to our life. Even if we want to hate the other person. But I’ve learned, like Joseph, that God is with us through anything. He is there when we’ve been treated unfairly, or we’ve been deceived. If we’ve been cheated or lied to. God never, ever leaves us and He doesn’t give up on us just because our circumstances have changed. God was with Joseph while he was in slavery, in prison, and in charge of Egypt. Always. And Joseph knew it and trusted God. He even forgave those who hurt him, without needing anything from them in return.
I want to be like Joseph. I want to live my life trusting God, no matter what. I want to forgive freely, without needing an apology. Even if the other person is not sorry, and has every intention of going after me again.
Some things that struck me during the sermons, from my notes:
-Joseph kept his story private. He didn’t gossip about what others had done to him. He didn’t share it, wanting vindication.
-Joseph didn’t check out of God’s plan because of his circumstances. He let God use him where he was. God uses us where we are. Even if it’s not where we want to be. Even if we hate where we are.
– Genesis 39:2-5 says that The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in everything he did, so Potiphar put him in charge of everything and therefor God blessed Potiphar’s house because of Joseph. The blessing on Joseph’s life affected everyone and everything around him, and our lives are the same. Even the things that do not acknowledge God can be blessed, because we are blessed.
-God was with Joseph in prison because that’s where Joseph was, and Joseph was with God while he’s in prison, because that’s where he was. God is where we are and we should be where God is, no matter where we really are.
-Pastor called them detours – those times in life when we seem to be off track from where we want to be or planned to be. We will all go through them. God is with us, even in the midst of detours. He doesn’t leave us if the plan seems to have changed.
-Not only was God present in Joseph’s detour, but Joseph was present in his detour. He accepted it and didn’t let the detour hold him back from God’s work and enjoying his life. (He wasn’t bitter)
-Life gets tough and a lot of believers check out. It’s easier to check out and go numb than to accept our detour and thrive in it.
-How many days/months have we wasted wishing we were someone else or someplace else? (I struggle with this one as a divorced mom. I hate that my kids are away from me so much, and there is nothing I could have done or can do about it. It just is, even if it’s hard and unfair. I’ve spent too much time lamenting in my sadness about it instead of letting God use it. That’s one I’m currently working on)
-Stand with your God in the midst of the detour, and everywhere, FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE
-Too often we use “I’ve prayed about it and this is what God said” as an excuse to shut down all the people around us, who might disagree with our choices or actions, because if God really said it, who can argue? (Don’t confuse your own emotions/desires with the voice of God)
-Asking for people around you to pray for something IS NOT a free pass to gossip about it
-Joseph was “detoured” to Egypt but rose above to leadership, until Potiphar’s wife lied and he was thrown in prison. But again…God was with him and he rose to leadership again. Lesson – God is with us through every detour, and when people sin against us and try to harm us, the Lord IS STILL WITH US
-Truth: God wants us to be holy and sometimes we get to be happy.
-The deception of sin is that it doesn’t feel like sin when we do it. It may seem like sin when someone else does it. And it always seems like sin when someone does it to us.
I felt like these past few messages not only gave me a new role model for my life, but they were filled with so many tidbits of gold. My sermon note taking was a little out of control, and I wanted to share the biggest points here. 😏 I feel so inspired to write and share when I walk out of a great sermon, to process it all. I’m thinking of starting a sermon reflections series here. Similar to this sermon reflection also. I would love it if it started some great conversations. 💕 And if you like podcasts, I HIGHLY recommend Pastor Aaron’s Steps series (or any of his sermons!! He has an amazing preaching gift.)
Has a sermon ever changed the way you look at everything? Do you have a bible character you greatly admire? I’d love to hear your stories. ❤️