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2021 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - What To Do When Life Sucks

Levi Lusko - What To Do When Life Sucks

Levi Lusko - What To Do When Life Sucks

This is today the inaugural message propelling us into this conversation about hope that we've called look up. And we're praying that God would help to anchor our hearts in hard times and in difficult times. Spoiler alert, if you are at church today invited by a friend, we just told everybody in our church community the last few weeks, who do you know who's going through hard times? Invite them to come. And so it's like, oh wow, yeah, welcome to all of us. Like who's going through hard times? Well, congratulations on being a human being. So today is a chance. And these weeks of this series is a chance for us all to say, what do we do when we don't know what to do? What do we do when life's hard? And in those times what we're going to say, and say, and say, and you will not want to miss next week. Because if we're talking about looking up, I got to thinking, who do I know who knows a lot about looking up?

And so we're going to hear a little bit next week from my friend who's an astronaut, who works for NASA. And who better to know about how to look up than an astronaut? And so that's going to be amazing. But we're going to be looking through lots of different parts of the scripture. Next week we'll talk some about David. And this is a cool series, where you'll know exactly where I'm going each week. Because you can just peek ahead in the free PDF you can get at look up or by looking up the word lookup on YouVersion, and following along, if you're watching this on television or on the archive after the fact. But today we start by looking at the Old Testament character of Joseph. Joseph, one of the most just unique, amazing individuals in scripture. When we first meet him, he's 17 years old. And he is figuring stuff out. And so if you feel like, oh man, all the people in the Bible probably have halos. And they know so much. And they probably have like advanced PhDs in spirituality. This dude was like fresh out of puberty, OK, and just figuring out life like all of us are trying to. And he had some amazing promises from God to anchor his heart to.

And I want to talk to you today about what Joseph had to figure out. And that's this. Here's the title of my message, What To Do When Life Sucks. Does that help you? Anybody else feel like, OK, I'm in the right place here today at all? What to do when life just sucks, because sometimes, friends, it does. Sometimes, friends, in your journey it will. What we're going to learn about Joseph is that his brothers, when he was 17, threw him into a pit. And what I want to say to you today, what I feel like my assignment is to let you know that sometimes when you follow the dreams that God has for your life that pit happens. Pit happens. So what do you do when you find yourself in a pit? What I'm going to say and here's a spoiler alert, here's all these weeks. We're going to come at it from different angles. And it's going to be amazing. We've got to use them all, stitch them all together to do something great. But pit does happen.

So what do you do when life sucks? You keep your head in the clouds. Keep your head in the clouds. Psalm 105 verses nine through 11 says, "The covenant which God, He", it's the capital "He, made with Abraham in his oath to Isaac and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute to Israel as an everlasting covenant saying, 'To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance.' Moreover", verse 16, "He called for a famine in the land. He destroyed all the provision of bread". Who's He? God. So in this story, God destroys the provision of bread. "But before He did that, verse 17, He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters. He was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. The king sent and released him. The ruler of the people let him go free. He made him Lord of his house, this is pharaoh, and ruler of all his possessions. To bind his princes at his pleasure and teach his elders wisdom".

So Father, we thank you for these words. We thank you for your word. And we pray as we choose in this moment to clip into you, to anchor ourselves into you. We do so knowing that we have every reason to believe you are going to work and be faithful in our lives, no matter what we see. Because of how we see that you have been faithful and kept your promise to those who have gone before us. And so even as we now have our turn at the wheel, it's our moment in time. We have the baton in our hands. And all the people who have ever lived, it's our generation now, this generation that's alive on the face of the Earth. So I pray we would not falter. But we would trust in you and abound in the kind of hope that you want us to abound in. So we can be the light shining to the dark places in this world that we're meant to be. And we pray this in Jesus's name. Amen.

Now it's interesting to read Joseph's story from Psalms. Because if you're familiar with the story of the Bible, you know that Joseph's story actually takes place biographically, in the book of Genesis. This is a retelling of the story from the mouth of David. And it's not the only time that this happens. In fact, if you jot down in your notes Acts chapter seven, in the New Testament book of Acts, Joseph again comes up. And this is from the mouth of the disciple Stephen, who is the first person to ever be killed for following Jesus in the New Testament. He trusts Christ all the way to the end though. And with his last words he prays for God to forgive the people who are putting him to death. It's an amazing story, Acts seven. And the Bible tells us that with his face looking like an angel he fell to asleep. And everybody around him were just like stupefied.

Paul the apostle himself was there that day. And it rocked him to the core to see Stephen's faith. In Stephen sermon that he gave in Acts seven, he talked about Joseph and retold the story that David does here. And I intentionally choose for us to look at Joseph's life through the lens of David's perspective. And it's also powerful from Stephen's perspective. Because it shows us just what I prayed a moment ago. That it's possible to look at what God did in someone else's day and see how good he was looking at the story from beginning to ending and have your faith encouraged. Why? Because you're living your life in real time. Sometimes when you read the Bible and you read about someone doing something, you kind of forget that they didn't know what the story was going to turn out like in the midst of it happening. They were just dealing with the craziness of life.

So Joseph, for instance, we just read a moment ago that God was doing something very big. David says God was making promises to Abraham about the Nation of Israel. And they're living in it. But first, they needed to go to Egypt for a while. Because he had unfinished opportunities for salvation for those living in the land of Israel at that time. The iniquity of the... was not yet complete. That's a phrase that I love. He said I can't establish as a nation yet here. Because the iniquity of the... is not yet complete. I haven't given them enough time to be forgiven. I haven't given them enough time to turn around. And so I'm going to wait 400 years while you mellow out in Egypt. And then and only then will I raise up Moses to get you out. Because I love these people over here and refuse to judge them. So later on when you come into the book of Joshua and there's judges and there's battle, some of our sensibilities are like, oh my gosh, how could God do this? He's so vindictive. He's so cruel. He's so mean, after 400 years. He waited. He waited. He waited. He's long suffering. He is compassionate.

So if you have this image in your head of God is mean and angry and with a lightning bolt and wanting to put you in eternal time out, that is not his heart. That is not his spirit. He's waiting, waiting, waiting. He's pleading with you. He's saying, do not get judged. Do not end up, I do not delight in the death of the wicked. Be saved. Be converted. Be forgiven. Be refreshed. But if you will not receive his mercy, you will experience his justice. And so David's recounting this all from the promised land. Meaning he's able to say this all came to pass. We did go to Egypt for 400 years. We did come back out. The Red Sea did part. You did make a way where there was no way. We're here in the land now. So I'm recounting David saying God's faithfulness in my day. And it's encouraging me with the crazy in front of me. Because I see, oh wow, God didn't let the wheel go when there was crazy in front of them. So you were faithful to keep your covenant with Abraham. You're faithful. And they needed to leave to go to Egypt. And so you allowed a famine to come. They wouldn't have stayed there had it not been for the famine.

So it kind of shows you, by the way, that some of the hard things we face can with time turn out to be some of the best things that we ever go through. Because they're God's way of leading and guiding and steering. And maybe we wouldn't have been open to what he wanted to do had there not been that difficulty. So God used the famine is what David's saying. You used a famine. You sent the famine. You had a plan for the dry season. And even before that happened, you sent a man. He said you sent a man, Joseph, before you. You didn't just send the family of Israel into Egypt. You sent a man before them. That's an interesting sentence. You sent a man before them. And then the next phrase is, Joseph, who his brothers sold into slavery. So you're saying that when the brothers took Joseph by force, threw him into a pit, and he's like pit happens. I'm in a pit. And then pulled him out and we're going to kill him, but instead chose to sell him as a slave. You're telling me that was you sending him into Egypt? You have an interesting way of getting your work done. Does that mean you did the evil thing? No, you were using the evil thing. You were redirecting what man meant for evil. Joseph will say at the end of his life, what they meant for evil was evil. So he's not excusing what they did. But he's saying, but God meant it for good. He sent me here to save many lives. He was doing something bigger. He was translating, right?

Like I was in Columbia once. And in Columbia, I got to go to Pablo Escobar's favorite restaurant. And that was interesting. And they were like telling me like this is one of his 97 drug lord houses. And that was interesting. And this is where there's a billion hippos. Because he had hippos. And they've proliferated. And there's no natural enemy to hippos in this area. They shouldn't have ever been here. And I was like that's interesting. And then they're like, now you need to preach. That's also interesting. Because I'm now thinking about hippos, and Pablo, and narcos. And so I got to preach. But before me there was someone talking. And I couldn't understand what was saying. Because it was in Spanish. But then I noticed there was whispering happening behind me. And I was like, what is that? And I was like, oh. It's like, hello, I am your interpreter. And he would just whisper in my ear everything the guy was saying on stage. I was just, oh that's nice. Oh, he had a mint and everything.

And so I couldn't understand what I was seeing. But I understood it. Because I listened to what he was saying. That's the power of keeping your head in the clouds. That's the power of looking up. It's looking at what you're seeing. And what are you seeing? My brothers are selling me into slavery. What am I hearing? I'm sending you. You are my man. I'm sending you before your family. If I'm your King and I've allowed it, then I've got a plan to overcome it. I've got a plan to redeem it. It doesn't come as a surprise to me. There is such power in verse 17 of Psalm 105. He sent a man before them who was sold as a slave. What man's doing, what God's overturning, what's happening that the human eye can see, and what God is capable of doing in it. So this is us learning to have a split screen reality. What you're seeing, but what God's saying. You're listening for the translation. You see, he meant it for good. You meant it for evil. God meant it for good. He means well is something we're saying of people. He's doing something bad. But he means well. No, it's often not true. If he meant well, he would do well, right? But what God means when what we're seeing is evil is good is going to come out of it at the end of the story.

So that's David telling this, that Joseph going in was all God's plan. Joseph being in shackles was God's plan. Joseph being in this all was what? God testing him with the word he had committed to him. And that was the dream. That's the cloud, OK? So now we're backing up a little bit. Because Joseph is a little kid. And his dad, Jacob, is telling him about the dream that changed everything for him. The God dream for Jacob was the day that God taught Jacob how heaven works. It was a dream of a ladder, a ladder from heaven to Earth, not the other way around. And that dream was when God showed him and spoke to him clearly, you can have a relationship with me. Because of what I have said. And because of who I am. And it's not based on you. In fact, God chose to come to Jacob, Joseph's father, on the worst day of his life, when he had run, and cheated, and lied. And he had no one who was willing to help him. And on that day God said, I choose you. I love you. I'm for you. You're still a part of my family. And he showed him this is how heaven works. Heaven works not by us working our way to God.

How many church services have you gone to? How many verses have you memorized? Ooh, God is so tickled pink by your goodness. Well, you better go through that ten commandment list one more time, bro. Because I swear to God, you are in huge trouble if you have fallen short. That is not how heaven works. Jacob learned that's religion. Good luck ever being able to do that. By the deeds of the law no one shall be justified. But thanks be to God that he sent His ladder down. And his ladder's name is Jesus. And Jesus said, I have come down from Heaven. I'm the ladder from heaven. The angels ascend and descend upon me. And if anyone comes to me, they can come to the Father. If anyone comes to me, they can be made whole. They can be made right.

So Jacob was being told, here's how heaven works. And that dream he taught to his boys. That story of God working through their family, this was all a part of Joseph's life. So Joseph began to see God clearly. Joseph began to trust God. And he too had dreams. God gave a calling to him. We all have individual callings. And the dream, the cloud, the head in the clouds for Joseph came specifically when, as following God, God showed him you're supposed to be a leader. You're meant to lead. It's very clear that you're a leader of men. And one night he falls asleep. And he has this dream. And he sees in the dream his brothers, who are all older than him, his older brothers, his 10 older brothers, all being subservient to him. And in the dream they're all working in the field. And there are sheaves of wheat, like Fantasia, all come to life and start like marching over to his like sheaf of wheat, and bows down and gives obeisance to it, like it was in a military parade of some sort. And so Joseph kind of wakes up like, wow, I've got my calling. I've got my dream. I'm meant to lead. I'm meant to be in charge. This is what God has destined me for.

And so the hard times came when he actually began to follow those dreams and follow those clouds that God gave to him. In fact, it was the dreams that got him into trouble. Because he told his family about it. And he was sharing with them. And you could make the case for oversharing with them what this was going to do. And they didn't like it very much. No, predictably, duh, right? And Joseph is super surprised by it all. But they decide we'll see if those dreams come to pass. Because they said, we're going to tear those dreams from your hands. Genesis 37 verse 18, "They saw him a far off". Even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. Then they said to one another, "Look, the dreamer's coming. Come therefore. Let us now kill him and cast him into some pit. And we shall say some wild beast has devoured him. We shall see what will become of his dreams. So it came to pass when Joseph had come to his brothers, they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him".

Which if you grew up in church, you saw the cartoon version of this. He was wearing a rainbow jacket. And they were super mad. Because they were wearing dull khaki colors. And he's wearing bright, festive garments. And they're like, dang it. We want bright clothes too. But the reality is what made them mad about his jacket wasn't just the color. It was the fact that his jacket had sleeves. It had long, flowing sleeves. And the tunics that they wore were all cut off at the shoulder. Translation, theirs was built for working. It would be like today at Christmas. Imagine your family all around. And your little baby brother opens up his Christmas present. And it's like an Armani tuxedo and a leather briefcase, right? And then you open up yours. And it's like a wrench, a hammer, and a Carhartt coveralls. You're like, real discreet, dad, right? So you're saying I'm going to have calluses. And baby bro's going Brooks Brother on me. You're saying he's destined for being upper class. And we are going to be clearly cut out for middle class. We're going to be shepherds.

So the emotion in their minds as they're ripping this jacket off of him, we're saying we'll see if you rule over us. We'll see if you are better than us. We'll take these sleeves from you. And Joseph now, who's all he's ever done is trust God, all he's ever done is try and follow God's call on his life, he's sitting in a pit. And so what does he do? We're going to see as we read and as you throughout the days of this week go through all these stories, you're going to see that he kept his head in the clouds even in the pit. And I jotted down, and you can do it too if you see the space where we have sermon notes section, you can see I jotted down six different things that you can do to keep your head in the clouds. Because listen, spoiler alert, easier said than done. It's like, that's great. But I'm actually in a pit right now. And it feels like I'm in a pit. And the circumstance is so big. And so let me show you very specifically when you feel like life sucks what you can do to keep your head in the clouds.

First thing is this. You can control what you can. You can control what you can and not obsess over what you can't control. Really quickly, the majority of the day to day details of Joseph's life are out of his control. When you are in chains and you're now being taken to an auction block and you're sold and a guy buys you whose name is Potiphar, who's the captain of the executioners basically for all of pharaoh's armies. He would put people to death if they were guilty of something that would warrant that. You're now in this guy's house. And he's like, all right, do this, do this, do this. What's out of control? Most of the details of Joseph's life were out of his control. And I think for a lot of us, that's where we live. We tend to focus on where we don't have control, instead of doing what Joseph did is, OK, what do I have control over? And what he had control over was being the best slave that he could be. I didn't get to pick the situation. But I sure as heck get to pick how I approach the situation. He's unlocking the power of perspective. He's telling us that we can choose how we face what we didn't pick to be in our life. He's saying you guys can choose to face your misery with God's mercy.

You can choose to even experience what makes you feel like you're falling apart, but to do so in a way that invites the favor of God. That you can face pain and prosper at the same time. This is challenging. This is unbelievable. But the text will tell us, as you read in the story, multiple different times Joseph became successful. What does it look like, this is what I wrote down in my notes, to suffer in your situation successfully? Because make no mistake about it. He's suffering. In fact, later on, his brothers will talk about that day and say, did we not ignore his cries, which is unbelievable to think about. Crying out, don't do this. Don't do this. His own brothers. He was suffering. But the Bible says, he was successful in his suffering, successfully suffering because the whole time he kept his head in the clouds, kept believing God's got a plan. So I'm just going to be the best that I can at doing this. I'm going to control what I can, which is what? Me, my mentality, my mentality, my outlook, my disposition, and the way that I approach my job with excellence.

And so whatever menial job he was originally given no doubt because they would buy slaves all the time and burn through them. And they would start you off with, no doubt, very small levels of responsibility. He so quickly developed a reputation in Potiphar's house that they promoted him to the next opportunity and the next opportunity. And soon he was running the entire estate. He was the caretaker over it all. And the only thing Potiphar actually cared about was what he ate for lunch. Everything else, talk to Joseph. He was successfully suffering. He had not read the book of Genesis. He did not know what David knew. He didn't have a clue what Stephen was going to preach as far as the ending. He was in the middle of it, just like you are today. You're in the messy middle. You're in the thick of it. So what do you not know? A lot. What are you not in control of? A ton. But what are you in control of? Yourself.

You can choose to honor God. You can choose to say I believe he's got a plan. I'm not going to become bitter. I'm not going to become jaded. I'm not going to become small. I'm not going to become a victim. I'm not getting stuck right here. I'm just going to focus on what I can control right here, right now, today. And a lot of people allow what they can't control to keep them from doing what they can. But that just gives away all your power. And Joseph said, not this guy, 17 years old. He makes that choice. And you would think, well, man, suffering successfully, well God is surely going to honor that. Yeah, God honored it by his life getting drastically worse. As he goes from a palace he's running to a prison that he is once again back in the pit. Because even when you're trying to do good for God after bad things happen, guess what? More pit happens.

And so Joseph's back in the pit, which brings us to our second thing we need to learn. And that is to learn from our mistakes. Joseph teaches us you can, in the midst of your pit, keep your head in the clouds by learning from your mistakes. And I watch Joseph doing this. It's an amazing thing to see him progress. Because admittedly, I think he would even admit this, at the beginning when we first meet him, he is not the most diplomatic, right? So far as tact goes, he's lacking discernment of reading the situation. If you're a little brother and you have 10 buff bigger brothers. And you have a dream about their sheaves of wheat bowing down, you don't tell them about it over Lucky Charms, you guys, right? He does. And they already hated him and couldn't speak peaceably to him. And so he thought I'll help the situation out by telling them, hey guys, God told me you're all going to work for me one day. So that'll be great. It's like, ah, it's tough. It's tough. But you watch Joseph get better at reading. You watch Joseph just learn to read the room, learn to know how to talk to people, learn how to interact with people, which he shows us that one of the things we can do when we're in these hard times is develop ourselves. And that gives us yet another aspect of something we can control.

Here's an area of my character, here's an area of my life that I can grow in. And it can change me. And I can get better here. And by the time the story ends, I mean, he is just a master at winning friends and influencing people. There's like a spirit of Carnegie up on this cat. Because he is emotionally intelligent, and switched on, and self-aware. And he can read your mood and know how to cater what he says to you. He gets incredible at it. So that gives us another sense of purpose in the midst of a painful situation. I also love this. And I jotted this down that Joseph never let his big dreams keep him from doing little jobs. He never let big dreams, and I think if we're honest, some of us, the pit that we're in today, is just that our reality of our lives does not look like the dreams that we thought it would look like. And so God presents us with a little opportunity. And we won't do it, because it doesn't feel like the big thing we're sure that we are destined for.

But Joseph learned to take the small assignment. Before he ever got to run a whole country, he was willing to run one little house for Potiphar. And then when life got worse and he ended up in the prison, he asked the warden of the prison, is there anything I can do? Well, you could do this. And he does that so well, you guessed it. He became successful in his suffering. And soon, even though he was still a part of the prison population, pretty much the warden was like, just let me know how it's going. You can run the place. Joseph was running the entire prison and becoming successful. And God was with him in the prison. He had learned from his mistakes. He was getting better at reading people. And I think that Joseph is a challenge to all of us to say, OK, if I'm in a season of holding, if I'm in a holding pattern, if I'm in a time where it's like I don't know what you're doing, God, here, well, I'm going to take this as an opportunity to develop myself. So when I get to that, I'll be ready for it. And I'll be thankful for what I did here that I wasn't just killing time and being frustrated all the time.

Thirdly, jot this down. Joseph teaches us how to keep our head in the clouds by opting for the road less traveled, the road less traveled. Jesus said that there are two roads in any given situation. There's a broad road and a narrow road. And the broad road is the way that most people would go. And it leads to destruction. And the narrow road, the winding road, the going to the sun road is treacherous and gnarly. And few there are, he said, who find it. Now, culture has put this out there as you got the angel on one shoulder and the demon on the other. Paul would help us to see it as the battle between flesh and spirit. But basically, there are at all times the path diverging in the forest. And the question for all of us is, are we going to do what comes naturally to human nature? Or are we going to do what the Holy Spirit will call us to do in that opportunity? And if you had been through as many pits as Joseph had, it would be easy to justify and rationalize the broad road, the easy way out, the low road in those moments.

But I have identified two different ways where he took the road less traveled. He took the road less traveled when he came to being tempted. Because in Potiphar's house as he was thriving and successful, he also had abs, just so you know. He's one of four people in the entire Bible that we are specifically told he was handsome in face and in body, all right? So homey was jacked. And the Bible says that his master's wife began to cast longing eyes on Joseph. Potiphar's gone all the time chopping people's heads off and stuff. And so she started to get this like feeling like a lot of infatuation for Joseph. And so one day she just comes to him and says, lie with me. Let's have sex. My husband will never know. He's gone. Let's have sex. Now pause right here. If you're Joseph, why would you have any allegiance or any sense of honor for a God who clearly did not take care of you? Following you, God, got me here. So you know what? Thank you. Moses hadn't even given the Ten Commandments yet.

So I don't even know how technically he even knew not to do this, right? He clearly didn't learn this great sense of morality from his family. His family's sexual lives were a mess. His dad had four wives. And his son, Reuben, Joseph's older brother, slept with one of them, OK? So he clearly wasn't like, well no, my father wouldn't do this. And Reuben wouldn't do this, right? And surely there's a libido in that body somewhere. And he's like, you know what? Maybe I just will, right? But he didn't take the opportunity to have sex with Potiphar's wife. He said no. He said, no, Mrs. Potiphar, I can't do that. Because it would be a dishonor against your husband. And because my God would see. And it would be wrong in his sight. And he knew that there was even evangelism going on. Because the Bible says Potiphar knew that God was blessing his household, just because Joseph was in it. What if we serve God in our suffering so well that God blessed people who weren't even seeking him. I mean, that is a challenging statement. And Joseph thinks of all the damage it would do to his testimony, and his witness, and his influence.

And so I love it that he prioritized inside peace over being her side peace on this day. And he refused to go down that road. It would feel good for a minute. But I'm not forfeiting all the joy and the peace that comes even in this pit from knowing that I'm following God. I'm following his plan. I got my head in the clouds. And so I'm not tempted by what's here on the Earth in this moment. I'm thinking further. I'm thinking bigger. And she persisted, and persisted, and persisted. And finally she grabbed his clothes. And now the second time in his life someone's trying to tear a jacket off of him. How interesting. And at that moment he didn't stand there and talk. He jumped out of his jacket and ran out of that house buck naked. He just got out of his robe and just got out of that situation. And she now changes and screams rape and gets her husband to come home. And I don't think he really believed this had happened. Because the Bible says he put Joseph in prison. Y'all, if you're the chief executioner and you really think someone did that to your wife, I think you would chief execution them, right? I get the suspicion that he knew that maybe this was not true, but had to save face by at least making Joseph go away.

So it was a little bit of a count of Monte Cristo situation. So he just has to go out the back door and never be seen from or heard from again. And so now Joseph is like, what the heck? Now for standing up for you this bad happens. And then I honor you in the pit and even worse happens. And what does he choose to do? He continues to pick the road less traveled. And even all the way to the end when his brothers finally bow down before him, their sheaves of wheat are acknowledging his. They don't know it's him. And he's got all the power, second in command over all of pharaoh's armies. And Joseph chooses to forgive them. He could have had them all put into a dungeon somewhere. Let's see how you like it. Let's see how you like iron fetters, Simeon. Judah, get over here, right? Find the Princess Bride chamber and get them with the albino in there and just all of the stuff. But he didn't do that. He picked the road less traveled. He chose to extend forgiveness. Revenge wasn't even on his radar. Because he was living too high to even see it. He was flying high up in the clouds. But his feet were firmly grounded and planted on this Earth.

So he extended forgiveness. And I love that. Because he was capable of giving. This is what he learned. This is what maybe God's trying to teach us in this time. How the very thing we want is oftentimes in giving will lead to us receiving. What did Joseph want from the very beginning of his story? He just wanted someone to listen to his dream. But no one would. No one cared. No one wanted to validate his dream. So what did he learn to do in prison? He learned to listen to other people's dreams. So when the baker and the cup bearer get incarcerated, and they have dreams, what does Joseph do? Tell me about your dreams. Now wait, hold on. You want other people to listen to you. You have dreams, Joseph. Yeah, but tell me about yours. In listening to their dreams, it was time delay. Because it was years later. But God set into motion how he would get to come out of the prison when he would get to interpret someone else's dream, yet again, pharaoh's dream.

So the only way God allowed Joseph's dream to come true was by him paying attention to everybody else's. And maybe the thing that's keeping you back from your God given destiny is that you're focusing too much on your God given destiny. Maybe if you start to notice the other people in your life and start to care, maybe your dream will come true on accident almost as you're just following, blessing other people, serving other people, giving your life to make other people's lives. Imagine how much bigger your life could be, it's been said, if you would become smaller in it. But didn't Jesus say the way to receive your life is by giving it. Joseph, he got into the situation through dreams. It would be through other people's dreams that he would get out of it. And that leads me to my next point. Because all that he was learning along the way got to be utilized in his new role running Egypt during a famine, which was why God sent him in. God couldn't allow his people to go in there till an inside man was running the joint.

So once he was sent in as unique as the travel arrangements had been up until this point, once Joseph was installed in this role, you realize that he needed first to discover that you could tear my coat off me twice, but you can't have my character. And only then when his integrity was proven and baked in, and like Job said, tried with fire and come forth precious like gold, when God had tested him, tested him with a dream. Is it possible that today you're being tested by a dream he gave you that today seems like it's not coming? Are you tested by a dream? Will you keep your head in the clouds? Will you keep holding on to hope between now and then? That Joseph was able to utilize all he did and all he learned in his role that he got originally had him for all along. So what's the takeaway? The takeaway is this. Use your new superpowers. Use your new super powers. When you have gone through a pit, I dare you to believe it was for some purpose you got put through that crap. What was the suck that you went through? The suck fest was for a purpose.

And so now you've got activated superpowers. So don't forget to use them. Don't forget to utilize them. Everything Joseph got to experience and learn unlocked things in him that were then to be utilized down the road. Now that I've run a house I should never have been in and now that I've run a prison I didn't deserve to be locked up in, Oh OK, I'll use those same skills running this country. Jesus said that if you're poor in spirit, you're blessed. So do you feel poor in spirit today? How lucky. Why? Because yours is the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said if you are mourning today, you are blessed, lucky. Because what? You shall be comforted. And comfort is only ever given that it might be multiplied as it flows through you. Those who have received comfort are meant to give comfort. Blessed are the meek. For they shall inherit the Earth. Lucky. You're meek. You're going through something. This is hard. You're in a pit. You're going to inherit the Earth. I firmly believe if I believe anything, whenever God allows you to face pain it's always because he's preparing you for power. It's always because he's settling you. He's strengthening you.

I looked into the eyes of a friend who I love and who is in a pit right now. And it looks like there's no way out right now. And he asked me with desperation in his eyes, he says, is it worth it? You've been in pit. What's on the other side? He goes, sell me on the pit. Sell me on the pit. Because I just want to do something to bolt from this pit. Because there are some things we can do to make the pit go away. Following God to go away. And I fumbled for a while trying to articulate how for me in the pits that I've been through, and it's all personal because it's all different, but for me, I cherish the pits. I cherish the hard times. Because in those times God came near.

And as we continued to talk, what finally caused his eyes to light up, what caused him to stand up, now it's 2:00 in the morning. We're sitting in this horrible situation in Franklin, Tennessee. Because nothing was open. But he finally stood up when I said to him, I don't know. I just feel like the more you suffer, the more you weigh. And that gave him some sense of I want that. The more you weigh. He said because I feel right now like I'm just being blown away by this pain. I said, but eventually, God just makes you weigh more. You become stronger. You're not a lightweight. You're a heavyweight. There's a weight of glory. There's a substantial to you. You feel it. You're aware of it. I weigh more. And I believe that's a part of the superpowers of going through hard times, of going through pain, is that if you learn to hold on to hope when it hurts like hell, you come out of it heavier. You come out of it with more of God's glory on you and capable more of receiving deep spiritual truths and the knowledge of his presence and aware of his whisper. And you then can use those super powers to bless and help other people.

What does that look like? Joseph as a kid, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, super oblivious, right? My favorite Joseph moment since you asked in the whole Bible, the whole Bible, is just how good of a leadership person he was. Meaning he was like Napoleon, kind of strategy, and grain silos, and we'll put this distribution center over here. And here's how I see the city running. Like it's just amazing that some people are wired that way. But he clearly, clearly, someone say clearly, was not very good at actual day to day life stuff, OK? Here's the proof, Genesis 37. Joseph's brothers were all feeding the flock with their sleeveless outfits. And Joseph's dad says, hey, could you go check on your brothers? This is Genesis 37 verse 13. They're feeding the flock in Shechem. Why don't you go and help them? And Joseph said, here I am. Because he never let big dreams keep him from little jobs, even if it wasn't maybe what he was born to do, put on this Earth to do. And then verse 14 he said, go see if it's well with them. Make sure they're all right. So he sent him out to the Valley of Hebron to find his brothers.

Now verse 15, "A certain man found him. And there he was wandering in the field". Clearly not good at this, not a great natural sense of GPS, just wandering in the field, head in the clouds, right? He's like, what are you looking for? Here they are, right? So not really switched on, but post-pain, post-difficulty, post-pit, post-palace, post-prison. He became more aware of what was in front of him and was able to use that superpower to the degree that look at Genesis 40 verse 7. When two of pharaoh's officers had become incarcerated, Joseph's running the prison. Joseph says to the pharaoh's officers, "Why do you look so sad today"? Why do you look so sad today? How challenging is it that a man who's lost everything and at the point we read this verse, Genesis 40 verse 7, has been in this situation for 13 years, or 11 years and it will be two more of this guy forgetting about him, that he's able to say, why are you sad? That's a man using his new super powers. He's using that he weighs more. He's been switched on. He's not just wandering in the field. He's aware of these people. He's saying, God, you've got someone for me today.

Who do you have? Who's going to be put to death that I can show light to? Why are you so sad today? How many of us perhaps would feel less sad if we opened our eyes to see other people around us that are more sad? What purpose would it give us? If we could stop just for a minute just saying I'm barely hanging on here. I can't think about anybody else. No, but maybe the way God's going to heal you is by you focusing on other people, using your new super powers. Number five, we're almost done. Don't bottle your emotions, Joseph teaches us. Or let them have the last word. What do we do? We accept them. We process them. But then we declare God's truth over them. OK, so we're not saying your feelings don't matter, ignore them. That's a train wreck. We're being honest enough. Read Joseph's life. Underline every time it says Joseph wept, Joseph cried. Caution, you might need to highlighters. This dude is bawling constantly, right? And he should be allowed to. So this isn't Monty Python. We're not jumping around with one leg saying it's merely a flesh wound. He's gushing out from the knee. It's actually a problem. So we're being real. We're being honest and not bottling up our feelings.

I want you to feel so free to use bad words when you pray. I want you to feel free. I'm not saying cuss when you pray. I'm saying you should feel free to. You are forever henceforth absolved from the responsibility of protecting God from how you really feel. Unload it on him. He can handle it. You will not offend him. He has heard worse. He really is unshockable. So you bring it to him. None of this sensor, I need to filter it. Don't bottle your emotions. Weep if you want to weep. Scream if you want to scream. Cry if you want to cry. There's nothing he hasn't heard. And there's nothing he's not prepared to help you with. He's here to protect you. You don't need to protect him. As though, oh, I can't feel this way, because it doesn't line up with a nice, tidy theological grid or whatever. And God's like, I created the cosmos. I can handle it. Whatever grid you think you've got me trapped in, just tell me how you feel. But Joseph didn't stay there. Because his tears and how he felt, he processed again through the grid of God meant it for good. God meant it for good. No matter what was done, God meant it for good. So he didn't let his feelings have the last word. So bring God your authentic feelings. This is how I feel.

But then when he whispers behind you, and how does he do that? He does it right here. He declares his plans are for good and not for evil, to give you a future, and a hope. He declares that he is going to work all things together for good, for those who love him and are called according to His purposes that we might be conformed into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. So now we're going to bring the feelings, feel the feelings, acknowledge the feelings. But then we're saying, but here's something higher than feelings. Here's something higher than emotions. And it's God's word, which sets the pace for my life. So I accept how I feel. I just also happen to see something even more real. I'm keeping my head in the clouds. And Colossians 123 tells us that if we are not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, meaning we keep our head in the clouds, we will continue in the faith grounded and settled. So your job is to keep your head in the clouds. God's job is that he's going to make sure your feet stay firmly grounded and settled here on the Earth. So we offer the road less traveled. We use our new superpowers. We don't bottle our emotions or let them have the last word.

Lastly, we stay forward thinking. We stay forward thinking. We don't ever get trapped in a moment. Joseph, when you read about him, he's always like, well, when I get out of here. You're like, bro, you've been here for a long time. You're probably not getting out of here. But then these new prisoners come in. And he's like, hey, when you get out of here, put in a good word for me so I can get out of here. Because there's more in store for me. You just get the sense he never gave up hope. He never accepted this as his fate. I'm going to just forever live in this prison. This is just where I am. No, he believed God made a promise to his family. And it was not revoked. And this is merely a delay. And God has some purpose in it. So I'm going to do the good that I can. But we're moving out of here, man. This prison is not my home. Egypt is not my home. I'm getting back to Israel. So when the whole family moves to Israel and leaves Israel and is in Egypt with him, he gets old and dies. He's 110 years old. He's had a great life now. He gets to see his children to the third generation, which is awesome. Because at 17 he thought his life was over.

So I just encourage you to remember not to trust your perception of the situation. My life's over at 17. You're going to hold your grandchildren in your arm one day. I dare you to speak I will live and not die. This is not over. This is not final. I'm going to keep moving. I'm going to keep trusting. I'm not always going to feel this way. It's not always going to look as bad as it does today. There's always tomorrow. There's always something. So Joseph's 110. And he actually is dying. And his life actually on this Earth is over. But he's still forward thinking. He's still optimistic. In fact, this is Genesis 50 verse 24 he said to his brethren, "I am dying now. But God will surely visit you. And He will bring you out of this land".

Do you see this? The power of hope for what God has promised in the future generation. This is him watching Jaden in the Fresh Life leadership college video and going, I'm pumped that there's someone who's 20 years old, born the year 9/11 happened that God's doing a work in who's going to be sent out into the world. That's us as a church saying we are behind the next generation. That's our children and our children's children. That is us saying we will release the roar. We're going to fight for kids to have hope. This is Joseph. He's comforted by leaning forward, looking forward. God will surely visit you guys. He'll bring you out of this land. He'll bring you back to Israel. When the 400 years are over, they're going back, baby. You're not staying here. He's speaking Moses into existence. You see that? He's believing for a Red Sea parting. He's trusting for a Sinai revelation. He's speaking man have fallen from the sky. He doesn't even understand how what he is saying is going to come true. But he's forward thinking into the promises of God for the future, just like you need to be. How is the world going to be different tomorrow because of what God's going to do today through you?

Verse 25, "He took an oath from his brethren and said, 'God will visit you. And you have to make me a promise that you shall carry my bones up from here.'" This guy is amazing. He's like, you can bury me here, just make sure someone tells someone that when you're packing up to leave after the Passover and the blood, all that, make sure that in the things that you carry you bring my bones. Because I lived in Egypt. But I never belonged to Egypt. And I want my bones when they come resurrecting out of the ground at the last day to do so from Israel. This is a guy with his eye on the future, also master planner, right? He's planning out where he's going to rise from the dead from. Like this pretty awesome. I want my bones to spring out of the ground from Israel. That is forward thinking. This is where we need to live. This is where we need to be anchored. It puts into perspective COVID-19. It puts into perspective the craziness of this world, which is unprecedented, unprecedented, unprecedented. Every hard time is unprecedented always. And you what's bigger than that? Christ is coming. Do you know what's bigger than that? 10,000 years from now we're in heaven. You know what's bigger than that? God has overcome. He has defeated the grave. So when we anchor ourselves there, we're not being moved away from the hope of the Gospel.

Heads in the clouds, literally Son of Man returning from the clouds. And then it causes our feet to be grounded, settled. We can have peace and be at ease even in the suck fest of all suck fests when we have our heart anchored on the coming promise of God's kingdom, which will never be shaken. So to revisit our lesson from today, all these six things are telling us how to keep our head in the clouds. And this is what we can do specifically and actively to keep our heart future focused on what God wants us to do. This is what to do when your life sucks. I hope it helped.

All right, now, before we go, I want to pray for some people. And I specifically feel like there's some of you who are reticent to receive this. Because you like the pain from your past. You would never put it that way. But I think some of us, and I only know that because I've been there, have been nervous to be healed. Because it's the only thing linking us to a life that we once loved, especially if your story involves grief. There can be a sense in which you are reluctant to receive the full healing God wants you to experience. Because you feel like perhaps it would be a betrayal to what was precious that was torn from you. And I'll just admit I have felt that, some sense of if I ever am not fully sad all the time about my daughter, dying that somehow I'm losing something that links me to her. And the connection I feel to her in my sadness if I let God take that away, I'm not connected to her at all. It's a lie, of course.

But it was exposed when Lisa Harper a year ago was preaching at our church. And we were sitting in our backyard after dinner. And she and Jennie and I were just unbearing souls about what we were going through. And I just admitted to her some things. And Jennie did as well. And we were all praying. And she felt the Holy Spirit really impart some things to her she wanted to communicate to us. And so we held hands and prayed. And we are all bawling. But one of the things she said that I'll never be able to forget is she said, I feel Levi like the Holy Spirit is trying to use, laughter to wash away residual sorrow and grief you're holding on to from the death of... And hearing her say that just completely, I just felt like such a sense of relief and release. Because in my mind I was thinking it was the pain that was connecting me to her. But God was trying to say, no, you're healing will connect you to her. You're being healed from that pain. And that's what I see in Joseph. Because Joseph will have two boys. And he'll name one God has made me be able to forget. And the second one he will name, he has made me fruitful. And when you allow God to make you forget, not of course, forget where you've been and how good he's been.

Psalm 105 is proof we want to remember God's faithfulness. But when we forget what it means to be so clenched up that we're not letting God actually in to heal the nooks and crannies of our heart, when we think we're being loyal to something we once loved by staying bitter and by staying vengeful and by staying hateful, when we, like me, feel like that somehow links me up to hold onto the last little bit. But to open yourself up, whether it's the laughter of a child or whatever it is God wants to use to wash, to rejoice, to cause there to be singing, and dancing, and to feel a sense of I should be sadder than I am right now. And God, if you want to heal my limp, I'm not going to pretend I still have one. And I just today don't have any answers or put together package for you. This is not an ATM machine thing, where you punch you in the numbers and this is what spits out. But I'm inviting you to join me on a journey of walking with Jesus and experiencing the power of hope for your situation that is horrible and awful. And I'll never try to tell you to say it's not. But to tell you that even in the midst of that, there is one who is good.

So Father, we know you see us. We know you hear us. And we don't have to bottle up our emotions. Because you said you see every tear. We don't have to pretend we're not confused. Because we are. But we're yours. We're loved. We're free. And that's what I'm praying for your Spirit even right now doing such different things in lives. And we're opening ourselves up to you, to the prospect of what life with hope will look like and could look like.

If as we're praying, watching online, joining us at Fresh Life locations around the country, if you would say the Holy Spirit is doing something in my heart. I'm not even sure exactly what's all going on. But I'm open to it. Could I just ask that you raise up a hand just to say I'm in?

I want this hope. I want to want this hope. God, I pray your tender mercies upon these. I pray for the power to suffer successfully. I pray for prosperity in the midst of pain. I pray for joy. I pray for a bloom. I pray for radiance. I pray that there would be such deep laughter never previously felt possible. Unlock these superpowers in us, God. To levels from glory to glory, help us to become more like you, to trust you, to be a community of faith that would show a watching world what it looks like to hurt with hope.

You can put your hands down. Receiving blessings from God. And if you're here and you've never made the faith decision to follow Christ as your Lord, maybe you're religious, maybe you know some verses from the Bible, maybe you would have even called yourself a Christian the same way you would describe yourself as a Democrat, or a Republican, or a Visa or a Mastercard customer, a Christian like it's a box to be checked. When it's not. It's a Savior to be followed. It's a Lord to be revered. It's a God to bow before. And if as of this moment there's not been a time in your life when you allowed him to forgive you of your sins, because that's what Jesus did on the cross. And everything we're seeing in Joseph is just this picture of Jesus portrayed by his brethren, sold for 30 pieces of silver, laid low in a pit to be raised high in exaltation. And if you want to invite Jesus to come in to save you, to be your Lord, this is the moment. Now is the time. I'm going to pray with you. I'm going ask the church family to pray with us. But this is between you and God. You're saying to him:

I want you. I want you to fix me. I want you to heal me. I want to follow you. I want to pick up my cross come what may. If that's you I'm describing, say this prayer with me. Dear Lord, please come into my heart. Make it beat again. Fill me with your Spirit. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for the empty tomb. I will follow you.

And if you just prayed that prayer, I believe so much in the power of a moment to nail that down. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to count to three. And when I get to three, if you prayed that prayer, I want you just to raise your hand up saying, this is me. This is real. I've just given my heart to Jesus. When I get to three, shoot it up. God will bless you. One, two, three, shoot your hands up. Shoot your hands up. We're praising God for all the lives. Church online family, YouTube and Facebook, come on. God bless every single one of you.
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