Peninsula Community Church
Joseph: Dysfunction, Detours, and Destiny
September 20, 2015
Genesis 37:18-24 – They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”— that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.
Today, we will continue to examine the ups and downs of Joseph’s life. Specifically, we will focus on the fact that God will use whatever it takes to fulfill His purpose in us. We all have dreams and hopes. But, life can be cruel and our dreams and hopes can be thwarted. Instead of seeing our dreams fulfilled, we find ourselves facing detours and roadblocks that seem to prevent them from coming to fruition. Sometimes, we begin a journey toward what we believe is God’s will but the course we take can be very different than it should be. As we will see today, however, God can often use the roadblocks and detours in our life to position us in a way that God can fulfill His purposes in us.
When it comes to roadblocks and detours, I don’t know about you but I have mixed emotions about them. Sometimes it seems that detours come at the most inopportune time in our lives. You are late for work or you are having stressful day and out of the blue we are detoured. The problem with detours is that they are uncertain. Detours elicit feelings of fear. Detours challenge us. Many times the detours that come our way lead us to unfamiliar territory. And yet, detours can be a time of exploration and adventure. It can be a time to experience things that would not have been experienced otherwise.
As we study the life of Joseph, we find that in order for Joseph’s dream to be fulfilled he had to face three roadblocks and detours. In facing each roadblock, Joseph passed a significant test, and he was positioned in each case to be moved closer to the fulfillment of God’s plan. You see there are two times that we are tested most. We are tested in the successes of our lives and how we handle the success we are given. We are also tested in the low points of our life. The testimony of Joseph’s life is that he successfully navigated both the successes and the low points. He walked in humility, integrity, faith, and he modeled forgiveness at all times.
Now, let us take a moment and review the roadblocks and detours faced by Joseph. The first of these roadblocks or detours came by way of his brothers who threw him into a pit, and then devised a plan to trick their dad into thinking that Joseph was dead. Later, we find that when they saw a band of Midianite traders, they sold Joseph to them. He became a slave which is so antithetical to the dream that Joseph had. He was serving rather than being served. For us this morning, we could define this roadblock as rejection or abandonment. The road block of rejection is a tough roadblock as it effects our person. When we have been rejected it can effect the core of who we are. But we must remember that though we may be rejected by people, God does not reject us. For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it (Psalm 94:14-15).
The second roadblock came after Joseph was promoted to be Potiphar’s right hand man. He was so successful and favored that Potiphar recognized his skill and set him up to become the manager of everything he owned. Joseph had full reign in Potiphar’s house. He could do anything he wanted. Potiphar’s wife as we see in the story saw how handsome and good looking he was. She continually made passes at him but he refused to compromise his integrity. After one final push by Potiphar’s wife rather than give into the temptation, he ran. In so doing, he left his cloak behind and Potiphar’s wife used it to falsely accuse him. Potiphar was so incensed over this that he had Joseph thrown into prison. But while he is falsely accused, he is not forgotten by God.
And now we come to the third detour. We find that Joseph finds favor with the prison guard. He is able to come and go as he wishes. At some point in time Joseph finds that he has company in the prison. The baker and the cupbearer for Pharaoh had offended Pharaoh and he had them put into prison. Joseph and his new prison mates became close. So close, in fact, that when they had dreams they reached out to Joseph to interpret the dreams. The cupbearer’s dream showed the cupbearer being restored to his position as the cupbearer of the Pharaoh. For the baker, however, the interpretation was not so positive as Joseph said that the baker was to be hanged. The cupbearer made a promise that he would put in a good word for Joseph, but he forgot. This speaks to us of the broken promises that happen in our life. But, we must remember that God does not break His promises. He is true to His word. His word is yes and amen.
As we look at the detours in Joseph’s life we find there are great lessons to be learned. The first of these lessons is that God will use the detours and roadblocks in our life to bring about His will. Look at the timeline and what happens in Joseph’s life. If he had not been sold into slavery, he would not have ended up in Egypt. If he did not end up in Egypt, he would not have been notice by Potiphar. If Potiphar had not put him in charge of his household, he would not have been seduced by Potiphar’s wife and would not have ended up in prison. If he had not ended up in prison, he would not have met the cupbearer who had connections with Pharaoh. If he had not been forgotten, the timing of his release would not have been at the perfect time for Pharaoh’s need to be met. If he had not been able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams he would not have been promoted to Pharaoh’s right hand man, who would eventually control all of Egypt. Do you see the amazing course that Joseph’s life took? What seemed like major detours and roadblocks were actually God’s plan to position him for God’s glory and the fulfillment of God’s plan in his life. What seemed to be a plan for evil, God continued to use these things for good in order to make Joseph’s dream a reality.
Secondly, notice that with each roadblock or detour, the Bible tells us that God was with Joseph. Even though in the natural he did not see the hand of God or believe that things were working out the way they should have, God was there. This reminds me of the ever popular story of the footprints. There are times that we see God working less in our life but the reality is that he is actually working best in those moments. Because he saw God was with him and was working on his behalf, this aided Joseph’s outlook on life as he did not focus on what he lost but the integrity of his character and the presence of God in His life. Through it all he exuded the joy of God and the integrity of a man focused on God.
With God’s presence being with Joseph, we find that God made Joseph successful (39:2). God’s presence also allowed God’s steadfast love to be manifested in Joseph’s life (39:21). God’s presence was working through Joseph which gave him favor at every turn of his life (39:23). There was no doubt that the presence of God was the stabilizing factor in his life. He had been rejected, falsely accused, and forgotten but God was there and God was at work in him.
Thirdly, God uses the detours of our life to mold, shape, and prepare us for what He has for us and to fulfill the dreams and visions he has given to us. Here is the amazing fact in Joseph’s life. The detours that came to Joseph resulted in growth in him personally and the fulfillment of God’s plan practically. The testings of life can bring about growth and the release of blessing in our lives. It is noteworthy that scientists have found that the giant redwood trees of California require fire to grow and survive. They need the heat of fire to open the cone which contains more than 200 seeds. You see the seeds are not fully released until there is a fire. So it is with us, sometimes our greatest growth occurs in the furnace of difficulty. It is there that we come out as pure gold. Listen to Peter’s words in 1 Peter 1:6-7. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Peter of all people understood this. Our trials and the difficulties we face serve to purify and strengthen us if we allow them to. They will make us better or they will make us bitter.
Fourth, even when we have a directive from God it does not mean that we will not face adverse circumstances. Too many times, we interpret that God’s will is at work when we are in a place where everything is going well. If it is going well, then I must be in God’s will, but that is not the case all of the time. We can be in the center of God’s will and yet still face difficult circumstances. It is here that the promise of Proverbs 16:9 comes into play. Solomon stated that The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. It is so amazing that when our hearts are in alignment with God’s heart, He will direct us to the place we need to be. We don’t plan it, but it happens because it is God directing our steps.
Fifth, the one great solution to abandonment, rejection, false accusation, and being forgotten is forgiveness. If Joseph held onto the hurt and the pain of his past he would not have been able to welcome his brothers into the palace and they would not have been reunited in the way they were. We find this in Joseph’s words in Genesis 50:19-21.“Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. He not only speaks the words but he gives his words action. He lives his talk and he extends grace and forgiveness to the very one’s that deserve it the least.
So what are the detours of your life? What is it that may be a detour or a roadblock to accomplishing God’s will in your life. Perhaps it is the very thing that appears to be in the way that God is actually using to form and shape you and is using to bring about His will in you.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom