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Jack Graham - The Collision Course


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    Jack Graham - The Collision Course
    Jack Graham - The Collision Course
TOPICS: DESTINY: Your Future - God's Favor

Take your Bibles and turn with me now to the thirty-seventh chapter of the book of Genesis. We are telling the story of Joseph right out of the Scriptures, this wonderful man, God said, a successful man. Why? Because the hand of the Lord was on him and, therefore, God gave him great success. The secret of his success, the dreams that God placed in his heart. And in these dreams he fulfilled the destiny that God had given him. The fact is every child of God favored by the Father, just like you, God is giving you dreams for your future, for your family, for your ministry, for your life, for your career.

God gives us dreams today and if His hand is upon us, if we stay under the mighty hand of our God then we know that those dreams will become our destiny. We have the uniqueness; just as Joseph was given a coat of many colors, describing his uniqueness and his favor from the father, we also are favored. And just as that coat was a patchwork kind of quilt, a mosaic, if you will, it's really a picture of Joseph's dreams and our dreams and how God weaves and works together all things to this beautiful, colorful life that He has given us. And Joseph had this marvelous coat, and he had these great dreams. And you would suppose it would be clear sailing. And yet we discover that his dreams nearly died. They almost died in a pit when he was sold by his brothers and even before that, left for dead in a pit that seemed to be so deep that his dreams would not survive.

You know the Christian life is positive; it is hopeful. We live in confidence and in certainty. And yet it is not without tests, it is not without trials. And our dreams can face distress and difficulty and darkness. There will be times in your life that the bottom falls out and you will wonder why, and ask what happened. Joseph was this remarkable man and yet he had a collision course on his way to his destiny, a crash on his way to destiny. Verse 23. This is after Joseph went to see his brothers on an errand for his father. His brothers saw him, hated him; threw him in a deep well, a cistern where many died. Even in the ancient world today we're uncovering with archeology these kinds of cisterns or wells with human remains, skeletons there.

So we know many died. Some were devoured by animals. His brothers who despised his dreams and hated him, when they saw the dreamer coming, they said, "Let's throw him in and kill him". So they took away his coat, stripped him of the coat of many colors, threw him to this pit. But then notice what happened in verse 23: "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 cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty and there was no water in it. And then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, 'What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.' And his brothers listened to him. And then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt".

What a terrible twist of events in Joseph's life! Left for dead and then sold as a slave! Satan must have been whispering in Joseph's ears "What about your dreams now"? "Where's your God now"? "If there is a God, He must not love you all that much". And yet Joseph persevered; Joseph pressed on. And he learned some things there in the pit and beyond the pit that would ultimately put him in the place that God had planned, the pinnacle of power in Egypt. I want to give you four lessons learned in the pit, and I believe that it's so important that we learn these lessons. Have you ever noticed that we often train people for success but we rarely train people for failure. That's really backwards because there's more failure in life than success. And there's a great deal of failure on the way to success.

So I can't answer many of the questions that we have, the why questions of life, but I can help prepare you from God's word and train you for the testing times of life which will come to all of us. If you have a dream, I guarantee you your dream will be challenged. I see Dr. Cooper here this morning. When he was 37 years of old, I believe yea He wanted to be an astronaut ultimately, I was just re-reading his story. He wanted to be an astronaut, raised in Oklahoma. Got into the Air Force with the intent of being an astronaut, that was his first dream, but then God gave him another dream and that was the dream of preventative medicine. And as a result of that he developed a plan for prevention, that primarily at that point in his career included exercise and getting people moving. And he wrote Aerobics. It was publish forty years ago. And he became, therefore, the progenitor, the father of Aerobics. And we've been on the trails exercising.

A man really changed the world in many ways because of a dream God had for him. But it might surprise you, in the early days not many people accepted his evaluation and the need for exercise. I mean we take it for granted today. Most all of us know that you need to get moving if you're going to stay healthier. And yet in those days the idea was if you were sick, go to bed. You know, if you had a heart condition don't exercise; you might kill yourself. And so when Dr. Cooper moved to Dallas he set up a little office and the medical examiners or some board got after him because they thought, "you're going to kill people putting them on those treadmills and testing them like that" and so on. And others came against him. You know when you have a dream count on the fact that some who don't share your dream will fight you and resist you!

So what do you do when that happens? Number one, remember God is in control! Therefore, don't demand to understand. Even if you could understand, it probably wouldn't help you all that much this side of heaven. Please, don't get the idea that there won't be struggles in life or sufferings in life. In spite of what we may hear from some pulpits today, it's not all sweetness and likeness and light. There are hard challenges in life that we all must face. And when these things happen, it could be a financial crash, it could be a marital crisis in your life, a problem with your children. It could be that, you could have a spiritual crisis going on crisis of doubt, or identity, whatever it may be. When you have a crisis it's not time to so much demand to understand, but to trust in the plans of God for your life. When you have these dreams and they turn to disasters or your dreams turn to nightmares.

Again, I can't answer your why questions, but I can point you to a God who is in control always of your life! And just because things don't make sense now doesn't mean they won't make sense. I'm certain that when we get to heaven one of the common expressions we're going to hear in heaven is "Ah-ha! That's why that happened! That's the reason for that pain! This is why I experienced that heartache! God was in control and working in my life all along". Just because you don't understand doesn't mean you will never understand. By faith we see, but ultimate we will see by sight, we will know. The old song says, "We will understand it better by and by". The prophet Isaiah said, chapter 55 of Isaiah, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts (God speaking), nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts".

So if you're in a big old pit, anybody here in a big old pit today? You're in the pits! Remember, God is in control! You should prepare for crisis and loss and failure in life because life is tough. Jesus said, "In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer; I've overcome the world". So when we face one of these crisis times in life, as all of us have and will, that's not the time to panic; it's not the time to despair; it's not the time to freak out and run away! That's the time that we can rise to the challenge and overcome every obstacle because we know that God has a plan, that He is in control of our lives! It is so true. His ways are not our ways. And one day when we do see clearly what this all about, we'll thank God even for the times we hurt, the times that we crashed, the times that we were in those pits. In the meantime trust God: God knows what He's doing. He is ordering your steps and orchestrating your life.

The second thing is remain faithful no matter the cost. That's what Joseph did. Notice what happened when Joseph, sent to Egypt and sold to Egypt as a slave, began working in Egypt. Chapter 39, look at the first several verses of chapter 39 in Genesis: "Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. And the Lord was with Joseph", I love this sentence, "the Lord was with Joseph and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. And his master saw that the Lord was with him (that's a key) and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. (God's favor in his life). So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. (Look at verse) From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; the blessing of the Lord was over all that he had, in house and his field".

Joseph was large and in charge even though he was a slave. Why? Because he stayed faithful; rather than giving up and quitting on his dream, somehow even in the midst... now remember, he's just a seventeen year old boy when he's sold as slave into Egypt. Just a youth! It would have been easy for him to have given up. But rather than giving up, he somehow got up in the power of God and he began to work hard. Joseph couldn't understand, he didn't know why he was there. He could have had no clue yet as to what God was doing and ultimately God was going to save His nation Israel and his own family through him. So what did he do? He just stayed by the stuff. He kept trusting God, letting God use him, and he was diligent, he was industrious, he was conscientious, he was obedient, he was reliable. Put that on your resume! The hand of the Lord was with him and He made him a successful man. And everything he touched was transformed. Even this pagan Potiphar knew that there was something different about this young man, so he put him in charge of everything.

The point that I'm making is he remained faithful and steadfast and served the Lord even though his dreams were at this point diminished. Let me ask you, what kind of servant are you? What kind of servant of Christ are you? Are you a fair-weather Christian? Some of you, your children got sick and you quit on God because you couldn't understand what God was doing. Or maybe someone hurt you, insulted you, abused you, took advantage of you. And you decided to give up. You stopped serving the Lord. You lost your job. Your career path took a huge distraction if not a dead-end and you stopped serving God! You just sort of quit on God because your dreams seemed to be gone.

Years ago I wrote in my Bible as a young man these words: "You can tell the size of a Christian by what it takes to stop him". And Joseph refused to allow circumstances to keep him from living for the Lord. No one could seemingly be more mistreated than this man, and yet he was faithful. He reminds me of Jesus who endured the cross and despised the shame; Jesus whose body was broken for us on the cross. As He died, every ounce of his being was crying out, "Quit"! But He didn't quit; He finished the work the Father sent Him to do. He paid the price in full. Aren't you glad Jesus didn't quit on you at the cross? He loves you and gave His life for you, and rose again because in every dark night there is a resurrection coming for the follower of Jesus.

So what are you supposed to do when life bottoms out and you're in some pit, or you're out there some place, you don't understand where or why God has placed you there? You just keep on praising. You keep on serving. You keep on loving. You keep on giving. You keep on wit, some of you, you know, your finances are in trouble and what have you done? You just stopped giving! You quit being faithful to the Lord. But if you will stay open to what God is doing, if you will stay obedient to what God is doing in your life, stay optimistic about His purposes and plans for you, be faithful to Him! Be faithful even unto death! Job said "God, even if you slay me, yet will I trust in You"! The Scripture says, "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as you know, your labor is not in vain in the Lord".

So again, I can't answer all your questions about why and what happened, but I can give you God's word and counsel regarding what you're to do when you get in one of these crisis times, one of these crash experiences in your life, and the first thing you need to do is to remember that God is faithful, remember that! And then remain faithful in the Lord. Because the fact is people want to know is your faith real? And if it works in the good times, does it work in the bad times? This Jesus you talk about that you say you love, if He's enough when things are going really well, is He enough when things are going really, really bad? The spirit of this man Joseph was such that the world took notice of him; he was different and it was the work of Christ in him.

And then the third thing is to reject bitterness, reject bitterness. If there's anyone who could become bitter, angry, and bitterness is anger turned inward, if there's anyone who could become resentful, it would have been Joseph. You know, his brothers hated him. His own family threw him out, wanted to kill him, couldn't do it, decided not to kill him but they robbed him of his coat. But, you know, they took his coat but they could never steal his character. He still had his character intact. And he refused resentment. Ultimately when his despiteful, hateful brothers stood before him, some thirteen years later, he would forgive them and provide for them.

It's a powerful story, but at this point let it be said that he rejected resentment; he refused bitterness in his life. There are so many angry, hostile, bitter people around us today. Why? Because of so much hurt and pain in their lives. Hurting people often hurt other people. People that have experienced heartache in their lives often become hardened by the beast of bitterness. And you know, eaten alive by bitterness, I should say. Bitterness is an acid that will destroy its own container. It will devour you. But rather than bowing to bitterness we should have a spirit not of revenge or hatred or seething rage, but a quiet confidence in God. He said, "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord".

Let God take care of your hurt, your pain and those who may abuse you or whatever. Don't allow bitterness to consume your life. First Peter chapter 2, verse 20 says this: "For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your thoughts, you take it patiently". In other words, you deserve it, you take a beaten, you know, no big deal. "But when you do good and suffer for it if you take it patiently (That is, you endure) this is commendable before God". So if you are opposed, if you are suffering because of the actions of another, don't be a victim to your bitterness and your brokenness in your life! Get over it and get on with your life. You can begin again in the power of God.

Don't bow down to any bitterness in your life at all. We'll talk about that a little more in another message. But one final thing, rest in the providence of God. When I say rest in the providence of God, remember the providence of God is that God's plan is in action, that His invisible hand is working in us, and we need to make sure that we don't push providence; that we don't manipulate in some way the will of God for our life. Like the little boy who planted radish seeds and kept pulling them up to see if they were growing or not.

Many times we're not willing to wait on God's timing in our lives. We want to just push through, we want to do something, even if it's wrong. Isaiah speaks of those who light their own fires in the darkness and the result is disaster; you need to go around kindling fires for yourself. Or like Jacob who is constantly, this is Joseph's father Jacob, constantly conniving and cheating and working his way, trying to make the latest deal to get ahead. No! Trust in the providence of God! Wait and rest in what God has given you! God's given you a promise in His word, you keep believing it! If God has given you a dream, Psalm 119, verse 49 says: "Remember, O Lord, Your word to Your servant; we have hoped in Your word... Remember Your word, O Lord".

You remember the word of God to you. Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and in due season He will exalt you. Joseph was buried in this pit, he was sold as a slave, he was forgotten in prison, he was attempted to be seduced by his boss's wife and falsely accused because of it, he was thrown into jail, then back into jail. Remember, he's just seventeen and it was thirteen long years between the promise that God gave him and the ultimate fulfillment of that promise! Thirteen long years of struggling and hurting and striving, and yet believing and trusting in God! Thirteen years!

If you're in a big hole in the ground, a pit and you don't know what, you don't know why, you don't know what to do, just say as the man in the Scriptures says, "Lord, we don't know what to do but our eyes are on You". Remember, God's in control! Remain faithful and serve the Lord no matter what, no matter the cost. Don't you dare bow down to bitterness. Refuse resentment and bitterness and anger in your life. That will only destroy you. And then rest in the providence of God, that He is working in your life, doing all things, "working all things together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose".

I don't think anybody likes speed bumps when it comes to chasing the dreams of their lives and as Christians we walk in joyful hope but that doesn't mean that we won't one day see ourselves like Joseph, sitting in the bottom of a pit wondering what happened to the dreams that God put in our hearts. But it's what you do in that moment, when you're in the pit, when it seems that everything is against you that you show your commitment to the Lord to pursue his dreams for your life. Are you going to give up or are you going to follow him. Are you going to allow yourself to grow bitter and hard, lash out against God or will you trust him and be faithful to him and rest in him no matter what. Only one of those paths leads to life and only one of those paths keeps your God-given dream alive so today I want to encourage you to not let yourself and your dream by the circumstances that are around you. Trust the God who made you and loves you deeply. Believe him, trust him to bring your dreams to life even if your dreams have seemingly vanished. Trust him to resurrect your dreams for his glory and your greatest good.
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