Joseph Part 2: Hope through the Hurdles

Joseph Part 2
Hope Through the Hurdles
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
May 29th, 2016
Image courtesy of ponsulak at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Hope through the Hurdles

Even though God has a plan for us and gives us promises, that doesn’t mean life isn’t going to be tough. The road ahead is going to be full of hurdles.  And we need to maintain our hope through the hurdles.

God gave Joseph a dream, that one day his brothers would bow to him, but it would be more than 20 years before that promise would come true. And in that 20 years, there were a lot of hurdles in Joseph’s life.  It would definitely get darker before it got brighter for Joseph.

Let’s look at some of Joseph’s hurdles and see what we can learn from them.

1.  The Hurdle of Life’s bag of Lemons

Genesis 37:23-28
23 When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped off his robe, the robe of many colors that he had on. 24 Then they took him and threw him into the pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

25 Then they sat down to eat a meal. They looked up, and there was a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were carrying aromatic gum, balsam, and resin, going down to Egypt.

26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay a hand on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh,” and they agreed. 28 When Midianite traders passed by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him for 20 pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took Joseph to Egypt.

Joseph had just had a dream that his brothers were going to bow to him one day…and right of the gate, what happens?  It seems as though life is taking him in the opposite direction.  Instead of moving up in life, he was sold into slavery.

Now that’s a pretty big bag of lemons.  Not only was he sold into slavery, but it would have seemed as though he would never see his family again.  His life would have totally changed and the outlook would not look good.  So what did Joseph do with his lemons?  He didn’t make lemonade…instead he remained faithful and let God make the lemonade for him.

Joseph remained faithful during the most difficult times of his life:
He remained faithful at the bottom of the well,
He remained faithful while being sold to the Midianites,
He remained faithful even after losing hope of ever seeing his family again,
He remained faithful entering Potiphar’s house to become a servant.

…and we need to do the same.  We should remain faithful and hopeful in God’s promises through our most difficult times.

2. The Hurdle of Temptation

The next hurdle that Joseph faced was the hurdle of temptation.  Now at this point in Joseph’s life, things were looking better, in fact they were looking pretty good.

He had risen through the ranks in Potiphar’s house to the point that Potiphar had put him in charge of everything in his household and gave him authority over everything he owned.  Perhaps Joseph would have even have felt on top of the world.  I mean this was a far cry from being a shepherd boy…this was far better than being at the bottom of the well…He was living and serving royalty.

Life was pretty good…

But this can be a very dangerous place to be…  You see when life is good, we tend to let our guard down and Satan will often attack.  When life is good, that is when we will face some of our most difficult temptation and when we will sometimes fall the hardest…

Genesis 39:4-7
Joseph found favor in his master’s sight and became his personal attendant. Potiphar also put him in charge of his household and placed all that he owned under his authority. 5 From the time that he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house because of Joseph. The Lord’s blessing was on all that he owned, in his house and in his fields. 6 He left all that he owned under Joseph’s authority; he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome. 7 After some time his master’s wife looked longingly at Joseph and said, “Sleep with me.”

Uh-oh…there it is…Joseph was on top of the world.  He had risen through the ranks, was in good with Potiphar…and here comes the temptation.

Now this would have been some serious temptation for Joseph. First, we are talking about Potiphar’s wife and I’m sure that what Potiphar’s wife wanted, Potiphar’s wife got.  So to refuse Potiphar’s wife, would have been risky.  So it would have been tempting for Joseph to give in, in order to keep the peace and stay in everyone’s good graces.

Furthermore, this was not a one-time temptation.  Potiphar’s wife temped him over and over and she even became insistent and aggressive about it.

Look in Verse 11…
Now one day he went into the house to do his work, and none of the household servants were there. 12 She grabbed him by his garment and said, “Sleep with me!”

So not only did he have to resist this temptation once, he had to resist it over and over, from an increasingly aggressive (and probably beautiful) woman.

How did Joseph respond?

Vss. 6-8
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome. 7 After some time[d] his master’s wife looked longingly at Joseph and said, “Sleep with me.” 8 But he refused.

Vs. 10 Although she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her.

Vs. 12 She grabbed him by his garment and said, “Sleep with me!” But leaving his garment in her hand, he escaped and ran outside.

Each time, Joseph, refused.  He did not give in.  He remained faithful, to God through the hurdle of temptation.

And when we are at the top of our game and when life is good and we are tempted to let our guard down for just a moment, this is when we need to be prepared to face the hurdle of temptation.

No matter what happens, we need to respond as Joseph did…
We need to remain faithful and we need to refuse or even run from temptation.

3. The Hurdle of Time and Patience

The next hurdle that Joseph faced was the hurdles of time and patience.  As we said earlier Joseph had to wait over 20 years for God’s promise to come true.  20 years…That’s a really long time for us to wait for a promise (that’s almost half my life).

And the truth is, many of us are waiting on a promise from God even today.  
We are waiting for a job,
we are waiting for the tables to turn,
we are waiting for children,
we are waiting to graduate,
we are waiting for life to get better,
we are waiting for a wife or a husband,
we are waiting for children to return to the Lord,
we are waiting for rest,
we are waiting for change,

And the truth is, that no matter what promise of God you are waiting on…you might be waiting for a while.   But that is okay because the waiting… is just a hurdle.  We must be patient and remain faithful to God through the hurdle of waiting.

4. The Hurdle of the Past and Forgiveness

The last hurdle that Joseph had to face was the hurdle of the past and forgiveness.  We’ve already talked about all of the trials that Joseph faced and about all the lemons that life threw at him.  And the temptation for Joseph would have been to be angry and hurt at all that life had given him.  He could have even felt that life or even God, somehow owed him something and to let bitterness (of what his brother’s did) grow in his heart until he became a bitter, sad human being.

But is that what happened to Joseph?
Absolutely not…Joseph never let the past get to him.  He never let his circumstances determine his attitude, his work ethic, or his faith.

When He was a servant, he was a good servant; when he was in prison, he was a good prisoner; when he was put in charge of the famine, he knocked it out of the park and he never, ever, ever let go of his faith and he never ever let his circumstance determine who he was.

Imagine, how different this story would have turned out if he had let bitterness grow in his heart for 20years.  He was in a position to imprison, enslave or even put to death his brothers who had thrown him in a well and separated him from his family.  But Joseph new, that there was no reason to get angry over the past, Joseph knew that God would work things out, Joseph knew that God would deliver on His promise…And so forgiveness, was only natural to him.

And when Joseph’s brother’s finally realized who he was…and it dawned on them, just how Joseph might feel towards them…they were terrified, but Joseph was able to respond with love and forgiveness.

Genesis 45:3-8
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But they could not answer him because they were terrified in his presence.

4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please, come near me,” and they came near. “I am Joseph, your brother,” he said, “the one you sold into Egypt. 5 And now don’t be worried or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting. 7 God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.[b] 8 Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Joseph never became bitter, Joseph never held on to resentment…instead Joseph remained faithful and hopeful in the promises of God…through all of life’s hurdles, Joseph remained faithful and hopeful.

And this is what we must do through all of the hurdles in our lives.

Let me be clear, getting through these hurdles isn’t easy.  I don’t want to pretend that there isn’t any pain, and that there isn’t a struggle.  But here is the thing, we can struggle, endure pain, shed a tear and feel tired… and remain faithful and have hope at the same time.

We aren’t being a bad Christian, when we hurt, we aren’t being a bad Christian when we don’t smile through the difficulty…

But we are being a bad Christian if we lose hope…
when we let he hurdles win, and we don’t remain faithful….
when we give up on God and his promises…

We can have hope through the hurdles…we can have hope through the pain…


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