- Sermon Notes
1. The only thing that is predictable about our world is that it is unpredictable. Life is truly crazy.
2. A while ago, a friend sent me a funny story which perfectly illustrates how our crazy world works.
ILLUS – How our crazy world works.
3. And this crazy world can leave a sour taste in your mouth.
4. Have you ever started a day, before you even get out of bed, and you just know it is going to be a bad day?
5. A while back my wife, Heidi, showed me a funny cartoon that captures that feeling so well in the form of a prayer.
ILLUS – Morning prayer.
6. Perhaps you have also noticed how quickly that sour taste from the world can turn into a bitter heart.
7. But God does not want our hearts to get bitter because of the problems and pains of this life.
8. Jesus promised us freedom.
John 8:36, So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (NIV)
9. Tonight, we are going to look at the example of one of my favorite men in the Bible, his name was Joseph.
10. In Genesis 41, we will discover important principles for how God healed his heart so that Joseph could be Free Indeed.
1. After Joseph turned 17, his life fell apart.
a. He went from being his father’s favorite son to a slave.
• Sold into slavery by his older brothers.
• Sent away from his family and taken to Egypt.
b. Then, in Egypt, Joseph went from a slave to a prisoner because his master’s wife falsely accused him of making advances while his master was away.
c. When the years are added up, Joseph spent 13 long years of suffering either as a slave or as a prisoner in Egypt.
2. Then, in Genesis 41, Joseph’s life dramatically changed.
a. One night, Pharaoh had two dreams, and no one in Pharaoh’s court could interpret them.
b. Word was sent to Pharaoh regarding Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams and he was immediately brought into Pharaoh’s presence.
3. God gave Joseph the ability to interpret both of Pharaoh’s dreams, they were in fact one and the same:
a. Egypt would experience seven years of abundance,
b. Followed by seven years of severe famine.
4. After interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph proposed an administrative solution; store 20% of the grain harvested during each of the seven good years to use for food during the seven years of famine.
5. Pharaoh was thrilled with Joseph’s proposal and immediately elevated him to second in command over all in Egypt. The only person greater than Joseph was Pharaoh.
6. Joseph was finally free from slavery and prison; but was he truly free?
Transition – The names Joseph gave to his two sons born before the famine began reveal the answer and why it was so.
I. Let God Make You Forget (51)
• I am not talking about the little things of life.
• I am talking about deeper things, the wounds from others, the hurtful words, and the harmful deeds.
• If you want to be Free Indeed, then you must Let God Make You Forget.
Transition – There are two different ways to “forget.”
A. There is a “wrong way” to forget
1. Joseph’s wife gave him two sons.
a. The first one Joseph named Manasseh.
b. The second one he named Ephraim.
2. The meaning of the name Manasseh is significant for it means, “making to forget.”
3. What was Joseph forgetting? Joseph said, “God has made me forget” …
a. “All my trouble.”
b. “All my father’s household.”
4. What did Joseph mean when he said that?
5. Was Joseph saying that God gave him the ability to “write off” his family?
a. Did Joseph disown his family?
b. Did he divorce himself physically and emotionally from all attachment to his family?
ILLUS – A friend’s motto whenever he got hurt.
APPL – The problem with this approach is that you are never Free Indeed.
• You may think you have written that person off.
• But bitterness is still written on your heart.
• If that bitterness is permitted to remain it will corrupt who you are and all that you do.
Proverbs 14:12, There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
Transition – So how did God make Joseph forget?
B. There is a “right way” to forget
1. The Bible reveals that God gave Joseph a divine perspective. For proof, just look at Joseph’s words to his brothers 20 years after they had sold him into slavery.
Genesis 45:5, 7, And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.
ILLUS – God also gave the Apostle Paul a divine perspective when he was imprisoned for his faith in Jesus.
Ephesians 3:1, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles
APPL – Why did God give Joseph a divine perspective on his suffering?
• Because Joseph stayed close to God.
• During those years of suffering, Joseph was touched by the fact that God is on the throne.
• God had not forgotten Joseph, nor had He forgotten His promises.
• He was convinced that nothing came his way without first passing through God’s sovereign hands.
APPL – We live in a world that hurts innocent people. But our God knows, sees, and hears the cries of His people.
John 10:27-30, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
2. God wants us to have His perspective, so that we may also have His heart, just like Joseph.
3. Joseph had compassion for his brothers.
4. After his father, Jacob, died, Joseph’s brothers were afraid that Joseph would seek revenge.
5. But Joseph did not seek revenge against his brothers. He promised to provide for and bless his brothers and their families instead.
Genesis 50:19-20, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
APPL – Joseph’s words are a picture of God’s love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-5, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (NIV)
6. By the way, Joseph gave his sons Hebrew not Egyptian names. If Joseph had “written off” his family, he would have named his sons Tut and Ramses.
7. Also, by calling his first son Manasseh, Joseph was forced to remember the reason why he gave him that name.
a. Whenever Joseph said, “Manasseh” he would remember his past trouble but from God’s perspective.
b. Each time Joseph said, “Manasseh” he also remembered his family but with God’s heart.
8. And Joseph was free before he ever received an apology from his brothers.
ILLUS – Stephen, the first Christian martyr’s example
Acts 7:59-60, And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord do not hold this sin against them!” And having said this, he fell asleep.
APPL – Forgiveness is a choice.
• In fact, I believe many do not feel forgiven by God because they struggle with forgiving others.
• They are not Free Indeed.
ILLUS – The example of Clara Barton.
9. We must conclude that God healed Joseph’s heart to such a degree that he was able to live
in the present without being ruled by the pain of his past.
a. He was not trapped by the pain of betrayal.
b. He was not bound by the pain of false accusations.
c. God had healed the deep wounds in Joseph’s heart.
d. Now God could use Joseph for greater things.
APPL – Deep wounds? Bitter trials?
• God wants to heal your heart.
• God wants to make you forget.
• God wants to give you a Manasseh.
II. Forgiveness Brings Fruitfulness (52)
A. God expects good fruit from us
1. The name Ephraim means “double fruitfulness.” It speaks of abundant blessing.
2. Joseph recognized God had made him fruitful because we cannot bear good fruit without God.
a. Joseph was fruitful in his father’s house.
b. He was fruitful in Potiphar’s house.
c. Joseph was fruitful in prison.
d. And He was fruitful in Pharaoh’s kingdom.
APPL – Now, each tree is known by its fruit.
Luke 6:43-44, For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit; nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush.
3. Jesus told us the key to bearing good fruit.
John 15:5, 8, I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.
APPL – Can a person truly abide in the Lord while carrying a grudge?
4. What does good fruit, the kind of fruit that God desires and expects from us, look like?
Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
B. Be fruitful even in places of affliction
1. Joseph was fruitful in the land of his “affliction.”
a. Egypt was not a land “flowing with milk and honey.”
b. Egypt was a place of bondage and affliction.
2. The word affliction means “a state of hardship and trouble, misery, poverty, suffering.” It includes physical, spiritual, and emotional affliction.
3. Yet in this place, Joseph was fruitful. Why?
a. Because Joseph did not wait for things to get better in Egypt.
b. Joseph was fruitful in the midst of the affliction he suffered.
APPL – But how can we bear good fruit in a place of affliction? It all depends on where you go to satisfy the hunger and thirst of your soul.
Psalm 63:1, O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Galatians 5:1, It was for freedom that Christ set us free
Genesis 41:50-52 NASB
50 Now before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore to him.51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,”he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”52 He named the second Ephraim, “For,”he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”