Living with Integrity – Message 4
February 13, 2022
I. Introduction: We continue a survey of Joseph’s life, called. Living with Integrity.
Genesis 40:23; 41:1-7; Psalm 105:19-22
A. The title to today’s message is Opportunity.
- Theme verse: Galatians 6:10 (NLT)—…whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone…
- The opportunity I am referring to is recognizing and taking advantage of a situation to influence someone toward God by expressing your faith.
- “I can’t do that. I work with unbelievers, or for the government, so it’s not allowed.”
- It feels like you—or at least your faith—is imprisoned, well, so was Joseph!
- In prison (Genesis 40), Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief baker,who was put to death, and chief cupbearer, who was released and restored.
- Joseph asked the cupbearer to mention him to Pharaoh, thinking it might be his chance to be freed, but the cupbearer forgot about him (Genesis 40:23).
B. Set the scene: Genesis 41 (NLT)— 1 Two full years later, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing on the bank of the Nile River. [Egypt depended on annual flooding of the Nile to provide fertile land for the nation’s food.] 2In his dream he saw seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river and begin grazing in the marsh grass. 3Then he saw seven more cows come up behind them from the Nile, but these were scrawny and thin. These cows stood beside the fat cows on the riverbank. 4Then the scrawny, thin cows ate the seven healthy, fat cows! At this point in the dream, Pharaoh woke up. [Pharaoh was considered to be the incarnation of the god Horus, whose mother, goddess Isis, was depicted as a cow.]
5But he fell asleep again and had a second dream. This time he saw seven heads of grain, plump and beautiful, growing on a single stalk. 6Then seven more heads of grain appeared, but these were shriveled and withered by the east wind. 7And these thin heads swallowed up the seven plump, well-formed heads! Then Pharaoh woke up again and realized it was a dream. [Dreams of kings considered to be important divine messages.]
- From this part of Joseph’s story, we will learn how to respond to opportunities.
II. Responding to opportunities… (Genesis 41:1-57)
A. #1 - Rely on God. (Genesis 41:8-13. C/R: Isaiah 41:10; John 6:44; Hebrews 13:5-6; James 4:10)
- Genesis 41:8-13 (NLT)—8The next morning Pharaoh was very disturbed by the dreams.
[Damage to livestock or harvest was a sign of weakness or illegitimacy of Pharaoh.] So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. [to discern the will of the gods]
When Pharaoh told them his dreams, not one of them could tell him what they meant.
9Finally, the king’s chief cup-bearer spoke up. [After two years of saying nothing.] “Today I have been reminded of my failure,” he told Pharaoh. … 12There was a young Hebrew man with us in the prison who was a slave of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he told us what each of our dreams meant. 13And everything happened just as he had predicted. I was restored to my position as cup-bearer, and the chief baker was executed and impaled on a pole.”
- It seemed every time Joseph tried to help someone, he was betrayed and mistreated.
- When checking on the welfare of his brothers, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery; while faithfully serving his Egyptian master Potiphar he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison; after interpreting the dream of the cup-bearer, he was forgotten.
- Joseph must have felt abandoned by people (he was)—and by God (he wasn’t)!
- Hebrews 13:5–6 (NLT)—5 …For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” 6So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” [APP.: Do you believe that?]
God did cause, or at least allow, Joseph to suffer through repeated trials; why?
- To be humbled, to learn to rely on God alone, not depend on people to deliver him.
- God cares more about our character than our comfort.
- He’s more concerned about preparing us for His purpose than fulfilling our plans!
- No person or prison can prevent us from fulfilling His plan for our lives. (Romans 8:28)
- God arranges opportunities, removes obstacles, for you to express your faith—even to the person who, right now, has no interest, or is even antagonistic, toward the gospel.
- God prepares people to hear and understand the story of Christ by His Spirit; they can’t understand it solely with human reason, it is spiritually discerned. (John 6:44; 1 Corinthians 2:14)
- APP.: Are you watching for where God is working, preparing people to hear?
- Are you ready to respond when God opens the door, provides the opportunity?
When responding to opportunities…
B. #2 - Recommend God-given solutions. (Genesis 41:14-36. C/R: Proverbs 3:5-6; Luke 12:8–9; 2 Timothy 1:7-8; James 1:5-6)
- Genesis 41:14-16 (NLT)—14Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once, and he was quickly brought from the prison. … 15Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.”
16“It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.” [Doesn’t seem like a wise thing to say!]
- We’d understand if Joseph claimed he could interpret dreams to gain the king’s favor.
- Mentioning the Hebrew God to this idol-worshiping king, couldn’t be a good idea.
- But Joseph knew God; his relationship with God was a fact in his life, so he didn’t determine whether he spoke of God by how it would be received.
- Genesis 41:17,25-27, 29-(NLT)—17So Pharaoh told Joseph his dream. …
25Joseph responded, “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God is telling Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do. [He consistently mentioned God.] 26The seven healthy cows and the seven healthy heads of grain both represent seven years of prosperity. 27The seven thin, scrawny cows that came up later and the seven thin heads of grain, withered by the east wind, represent seven years of famine. …
29“The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt. 30But afterward there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten in Egypt. Famine will destroy the land.” …
33“Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt. 34Then Pharaoh should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years. 35Have them gather all the food produced in the good years that are just ahead and bring it to Pharaoh’s storehouses. Store it away, and guard it so there will be food in the cities. 36That way there will be enough to eat when the seven years of famine come to the land of Egypt. Otherwise this famine will destroy the land.”
- Joseph expressed the guidance of God; he didn’t conceal the source of his advice or try to use the opportunity to benefit himself.
- When we see an opportunity to assist, we must be sure that we provide God’s guidance, and identify it as such, since only His opinion is right, only His insight true.
- Sometimes we don’t tell people God’s perspective on moral matters because we fear rejection, but when we do that, we deny people to opportunity to encounter God.
- James 1:5-6 (NLT)—5If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6But when you ask Him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. [not yourself, not human “wisdom”] Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.
- APP.: Do you express God’s perspective, offer His advice, in situations you encounter?
When responding to opportunities…
C. #3 - Represent God in every assignment. (Genesis 41:37-57. C/R: Proverbs 16:3; Matthew 5:16; Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Peter 3:15-16)
- Genesis 41:37-40 (NLT)—37Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials. 38So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” [Pharaoh’s gods provided no help!] 39Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. 40You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.” … [Joseph was now 30 years old, in Egypt 13 years]
- When we faithfully represent God in every encounter with others, they will see our godly character and the conviction of our faith, which attests to the reality of our God.
- Genesis 41:47-48 (NLT)—47As predicted, for seven years the land produced bumper crops. [Confirming God’s revelation.] 48During those years, Joseph gathered all the crops grown in Egypt and stored the grain from the surrounding fields in the cities. …
- Joseph continued to practice his faith even as he served the Egyptian king.
- Genesis 41:51-57 (NLT)—51Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.” [comfort from God, healing] 52Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.” [Attributed his accomplishments to God, not to self.]
53At last the seven years of bumper crops throughout the land of Egypt came to an end. 54Then the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had predicted. … 56So with severe famine everywhere, Joseph opened up the storehouses and distributed grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt. 57And people from all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world. [Which would provide for the preservation of God’s people.]
- APP.: What assignment has God given you? Spouse, parent, son or daughter, teacher, employer, employee? Do you represent God in the way you carry out your calling?
- Matthew 5:16 (NLT)—In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
Memory verse: Galatians 6:10 (NLT)—Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.