God Meant It For Good.

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“God Meant it for Good!”

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday, 6th January 2018

I’m still in the flow of where we were last week.  Foundations!  Solid, deep, secure foundations!   

Bring on all the prophetic declarations and revelations for 2019.  We need fresh eyes and fresh vision for the coming year.

But I really feel that God is wanting us to start the year from a place of being grounded in everything that we already know to be true – and not only that – to be walking in it.

Remember what it says in:

Luke 6:47-48,  “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.”

There’s a place that I know most of you have found already, where no matter what life brings, you are securely grounded on a Rock Who has become your life.  But all of us need encouragement and strength for the journey.

And I’m hoping that this message will be just that!  An encouragement!  And a strength!  And perhaps an inspiration!

It’s only by the grace of God that we can stand.  It’s only by His grace that we can lift our eyes to the coming year and have faith that He has already gone before us.

God’s Grace, for many this year, will open doors, it will make a way where there seems no way, it will provide opportunities that are brand new – never been seen before.  And as I shared from those prophetic words last week, it will be putting into place the divine strategies that God is going to reveal to us.  So grace abounds in all of that newness of life.

However – grace will abound and will speak to others, as you face and come through the vehement storms.  Vehement means they can be forceful, aggressive, fierce and intense…   and Grace will cover you, it will protect you, it will strengthen you to come through.  People around you will see grace in action because of your ability and grace to overcome.

Whatever season you are going through – His Grace will uphold you.

Psalm 1:3 speaks of what the person who is grounded and planted is like.

“He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.”

There’s a theme that you will see coming through my message this morning, that’s all about seasons… and it’s about the bigger picture.

We all experience seasons that are dry and difficult.  But when we are planted by the river, when we are grounded in the Word, when we are standing on the Rock of our faith – we will always come through that season.  And in the end – there will be a prospering.  God’s Word promises it!  

Your leaves will not wither and fall to the ground.  You will not die an eternal death.  Your life will bring forth its fruit in its season.

Whether it’s winter, spring, summer or autumn…  there’s a reason and a timing for every season.

And can I be as bold to say – whatever season you are experiencing, you have to continue to be planted in the house of God.

Psalm 92:12-15,  “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord Shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing, To declare that the Lord is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

This is one of my favourite scriptures.  God cares about you in your youth, your adulthood, your middle age…  but he continues to care about you in your old age, and promises you freshness, fruitfulness and flourishing.  In fact age isn’t the issue.  It’s your heart, your character, your submission to His calling…  that’s the issue.

You will flourish!  If it’s not your season right now – don’t worry.  You will flourish and bear fruit!  But you need to stay planted in the house of the Lord.  

I know I’m speaking to the converted – otherwise you wouldn’t be here…  but I’m putting it out there in the spirit realm.   People who are planted will grow!  If you’re not planted, your leaves wither.  I’m not talking about salvation.  I’m talking about whether you will flourish or not flourish.

Even in old age – there’s a season for bearing fruit, if you stay planted and grounded with solid, secure and deep foundations.

The storms will come.  Don’t throw your hands in the air and say – “how come there’s a storm going on?  I’m a good faithful Christian!  I love Jesus.”

Just know that God is doing something in the storm.  He’s strengthening you.  He’s equipping you to stand!  He’s preparing you for your fruitful season.

God isn’t evil.  He doesn’t cause evil.  He doesn’t do evil!  But If you will submit to Him even when it is tough, He will turn your storm into something that blesses you beyond your comprehension.

Romans 8:28-29,  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

God works all things together for good – if you love Him – if you are called to His purposes.  He doesn’t just use some things…  He uses all things for good.  And in the process we are conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

What a deal that is!!

The story of Joseph takes up a huge slab of the Book of Genesis.  We’ve been given very detailed insight into all that Joseph experienced early in his life, and we need to glean as much as we can from him – because it’s all there for a reason.  

But Jospeh’s attitude and response to God, to his circumstances, to the people he found himself with…  it was extraordinary!  

He never gave up.  He never stopped trusting God.  And even in the deepest pit or the darkest dungeon, he didn’t shrivel up and die…  because he was a tree planted by a river…  And when you are planted by the river of God, you can’t help but flourish.  You can’t help but prosper.

This is a massive, valuable lesson for every one of us as we launch into 2019 from a foundation of truth, and as we position our lives upon the Rock. 

We know Joseph had dreams.  And he shared his dreams with his brothers.

Genesis 37:7, he says:  “There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.”

Genesis 37:9,  “Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”

These were God dreams.  And the funny thing is, the brothers knew exactly what they meant…  maybe not the the fullness of it, but they recognised that they were the stars and they were the sheaves – bowing down to their brother.

There’s a lot of family history and personal history tied up in this story.  And a lot of it is messy and dysfunctional.  But God came into the midst of it all in order to bring about his purposes.  And right there is the key to everything!  Plus God’s purposes are far bigger than even you might have thought!  We’ll come back to that in a minute!

So with Joseph being the favoured son of their father, and now coming across like he’s elevating himself above them all, it was a bit too much, and his brothers plotted to get rid of him.  And they did.

By the way – in all this, the bible never suggests that Jospeh had pride.  He may have been a bit naive – he’s only 17 years old – but he was never proud.

We just haven’t got time to go into all the detail here.  But instead of actually killing Joseph, the brothers threw him into a pit.  When they saw some Ishmaelite traders passing by on their way to Egypt, they decided to sell Joseph as a slave to them.

So Joseph ends up as a slave in Potiphar’s house in Egypt.  Potiphar is an Egyptian officer and captain of the bodyguard – and so he has intimate connections with the courts of Pharaoh.

By now, a lot of us would be emotional wrecks.  We’d be out of our mind with anxiety.  Separated from everything familiar – all those that we loved.  Living in a totally different culture.  We’d be saying, “God, how on earth has this happened? Why have you abandoned me?”

But not Joseph.  I’m sure he had his moments, but in this environment, Joseph was getting all the training in Egyptian culture and politics for his ultimate calling.  

I don’t know about you, but all the difficult and stressful things, and all the things I learnt and went through in my previous careers…  I can see how it’s all positioned me and equipped me for what I’m doing now.  I feel as though it was all undergirding my true calling.  

When I worked for Ansett – a hundred years ago, as an inexperienced young man, I found myself, on my own, having to console angry and distraught parents whose unaccompanied children, who were in an aircraft flying overhead, so close…  and yet had to turn back to Sydney because of bad weather.  Imagine if you had a 4 year old on that plane – by themselves…  I’d be distraught too!

I just about encountered the depth of every human response throughout my time in the travel industry.  If you’ve seen those airport shows on TV – that’s exactly what it’s like.  

I don’t know if they still do it – but back then, the airlines would deliberately overbook flights.  And most times, there were people who didn’t turn up or were running late.  We called them “no shows.”  Which is what they factor in…  But when you had to face the fact, again working on your own, that you had 63 people and only 60 seats in the aircraft – and it was Christmas…???  It’s interesting! 

I’m actually feeling a lot better sharing all this – debriefing, even 35 years later, feels so good!

In our time of counselling in Brisbane, we were confronted with some hair raising situations – threatened suicides – actual suicides – distressed marriages – extremely dysfunctional people…  and these were mostly Christians.  I’ve heard every word from the gutter that you could ever hear!  Not normally from Christians – but sometimes.

But God was doing something in Venese and I.  He was training us – building us – undergirding us…  You can’t shortcut that process – and you can’t get it through theoretical study – even though we had that too!

All Venese’s years as a Registered Nurse was a big part of her preparation.  

I’m sure you could all look back on your own life experiences and say the same thing.  We’ve all been through those seasons!

But to be fair – I was never thrown into a pit, or sold into slavery.

In it all, Joseph still prospered – because his character always shone through.  He served Potiphar faithfully, and Potiphar positioned him as overseer of his house and all his possessions.  And Joseph learned the ways of Egypt.

I’ve been falsely accused of a few things along the way, but I’ve never had the accusations that were laid against Joseph.

Potiphar’s wife continually tried to seduce Joseph, but he remained faithful to his master – with integrity.  She hated him for it, and she falsely accused him of attempting to rape her.

Joseph then ended up in jail…  but even in jail, Joseph rose to a position of responsibility.

Genesis 39:21-22,  “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing.”

Joseph ends up interpreting the dreams of a couple of palace workers who were put in prison under his care.  The interpretations comes true.

Jospeh asked one of them, the chief butler, to remember him to Pharaoh.   But the butler forgets.

God however, hasn’t forgotten a thing.

When Pharaoh can’t find anyone to interpret a strange and distressing dream that he has, the butler finally remembers the young Hebrew in the jail who could interpret dreams – with accuracy.

We know the story.  Joseph is called into the courts – interprets the dream – this time he gets the position of overseeing all of Egypt, with only Pharaoh himself above him.

What an incredible story – but it’s even more incredible as redemption continues to unfold before him.

Because of Joseph, Egypt prospers…  even more so in a time of famine and drought, as all the nations around them come to Joseph to purchase grain.

Joseph’s brothers end up coming to buy grain for their family.  They bow before Joseph – the now ruler of a great nation, not knowing of course who he is.  All the dreams of the past come true. 

In one of the most emotional and powerful reconciliations in the bible, Joseph’s family ends up coming into Egypt, being provided for by Joseph, prospering to the extent that they become thousands upon thousands – and become the nation of Israel – even within a foreign land.

But get this.  If Joseph hadn’t been rejected by his brothers – if he hadn’t been sold into slavery in Egypt – if he hadn’t ended up in Pharaoh’s jail – if he hadn’t been called to the courts to interpret Pharaoh’s dream – if Joseph hadn’t been faithful wherever he found himself positioned – his own family would have most likely starved to death in the famine…

It’s one of the most powerful stories of redemption and reconciliation in the bible.  But it all happened because a young man’s heart refused to become bitter – refused to become resentful…  His godly character continually overrode his circumstances.

And get this…  probably the most amazing thing of all.

Not only did Joseph save millions of people’s lives throughout the Middle East,  if Israel had not survived the famine – the lineage of Christ would have been destroyed.

So do you think God knew what he was doing?  

We get so tunnel visioned about our own little lives – and how unfair some things seem to be – but often times God has generations and nations as the bigger picture.

Finally Joseph himself then understood why he had been through every experience of his life to that point.

After some extraordinary parts of the story, Joseph finally reveals who he is.

Genesis 45:4-8,  “And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”

It sends shivers up my spine to get such an intimate insight into such an extraordinary, God ordained story.

Again, in Genesis 50:19-20:

“Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but  God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.”

The reality is – sometimes people mean evil against you.  Every moment of every day the devil means evil against you.

And you might find yourself struggling in some deep pit of a circumstance.  Or you might find yourself betrayed and rejected by those that you actually love and care about.

You might be falsely accused.  Falsely judged.  It’s all lies, but you can’t defend yourself.

You might feel like you’re locked in a prison of some kind – and nothing seems to make sense.  You’re confused and anxious.

But God!!!   The evil that others or the devil himself meant to come against you; God means it for good!  In other words, He has a plan that is far smarter and greater than any other plan, and He can turn even the worst of situations into something that brings glory to His name.  

And in the process – you will flourish.  You will prosper.  You will find your season of tremendous fruitfulness.  If you love God – and if you choose to walk in the calling and the purpose He has for you.

There’s an opportunity right now for you to climb out of the pit and walk free of the prison, because those things are more within our mind than anything else. Are you going to take the opportunity to set your mind free and trust God?  Are you willing to believe that all things will work together for good.  Even if that “good” isn’t clear right now! 

Let the foundations of integrity and godly character rise up within you and refuse to curl up and wither away.  Plant yourself by the river and be refreshed.

Because if the enemy can shift you from your foundation – if he can throw vehement streams against your house, which he will – and you’re not grounded and deeply secure on the Rock of Jesus, then who knows what plans might be aborted in your own life and the lives of those coming after you throughout the generations.

Joseph’s response to life, to false accusations, to persecutions, to the threat of death…  it all points forward to what Jesus Himself went through and how He responded also – except with Jesus, it was hundreds of times worse.

If we are to be made more and more into the image of Jesus, I can understand why our lives would also be moulded and changed by the things that come against us.

Let’s turn our eyes from Joseph to Jesus.  He is our Redeemer!  He is our Reconciler!  He is the One who forgave us, had compassion on us, restored us, and lead us into a land where we would prosper – not just in material ways – but to prosper in our soul.

In this season of 2019 – you will prosper.  You will flourish.  And you will be fruitful.  Because it’s not about your circumstances.  Its about how you respond.  

And it’s all about Jesus!

 


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