Hopefully, you remember Joseph’s story, but I bet many of you have never thought about this, but after all of the trials and hardships he endured, his greatest trial was the word he had received! Honest. Think about what David said about him:
“He [referring to Yahweh] sent a man ahead of them [referring to the people of Isra’el]. He sent Joseph, who was sold as a slave . . . Yahweh’s promise tested him through fiery trials until his prediction came true” (Psalm 105:17, 19)
Go ahead and start thinking about everything Joseph endured: when he was only seventeen, he was stripped down and thrown into a pit to starve to death. His cold-hearted brothers laughing the whole time he was crying out for mercy and then sold him to Ishmaelite traders who took him to an Egyptian slave market and sold him as a common slave.
Joseph’S greatest trial had nothing to do with being rejected by his brothers or even the indignity of being sold as a slave or even being cast into prison. No — what confused and frustrated Joseph was the clear word he had heard from God!
If you have read Joseph’s story, you understand what I am talking about, but for the rest of you, Joseph received some dreams where he had a tremendous amount of authority and glorified Yahweh. In his dreams, his brothers bowed before him and became a great deliverer of many people.
Now how that would come about; he had no idea, but for whatever reason, after everything that had happened, he still believed the Lord would fulfill those promises.
Oh, I don’t believe that Joseph was having an ego trip or anything like that. No, I believe that he had set his heart on his God and the word he received gave him a humble sense of destiny: “Lord, you have put your hand on me to have a part in your great, eternal plan.”
No, Joseph didn’t understand the role he would play in bringing God’s will to pass, and certainly the circumstances in his life seemed like the exact opposite of what Yahweh had put on his heart, but as His the servant, he had to bow!
Come on, think about it, how in the world could he believe that some day he would deliver multitudes, when he was nothing more than a slave himself? He must have been thinking, “Whoa; this doesn’t make sense. I realize He is supposed to be able to do anything, but how could my God be ordering my steps into this prison, into oblivion? Yahweh said He was going bless me, and folks would honor me and folks would bow down in front of me . . . but he never told me this was going to happen!”
For ten years Joseph faithfully served Potiphar’s household, but he was eventually misjudged and lied about. His victory over temptation with Potiphar’s wife put him in jail. I mean, what good is obeying the Lord, if it is going to put you in jail? During those times Joseph must have thought, “Did I really hear from the Lord?” “Did my pride invent these dreams?” “Could my brothers have been right?” “Maybe all these things are happening to me as a discipline for some selfish desire.”
Oh, maybe I am making all that up, even exaggerating a little . . . but aren’t those the questions you have been asking? Have there been times when you believed that your God showed you things he wanted for you? Maybe they were promise about your ministry, or some service you were called to perform, something special you were called to do . . . yet every circumstance was the exact opposite of that word? Have I struck a nerve yet?
Brothers (and sisters) have there been times when you thought, “Oh Father, this can’t be you speaking; it must be my flesh.” Sure, during those times you were being tried by God’s word to you, but our Father will also give you His promises and we can trust them, all of them!
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.