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God Meant It for Good

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
July 24, 2023 2:00 am

God Meant It for Good

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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July 24, 2023 2:00 am

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Have your Bibles with you. Turn with me if you would to Genesis chapter 50 and we're going to be looking at verses 15 through 22. We're going to be looking at verses 15 through 22.

To bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today. So do not fear. I will provide for you and your little ones. Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father we come before you tonight just lifting up our brother John Key as he has surgery tomorrow where they're going to put in a pacemaker. We pray Father that that procedure will go well and there'll be no problems with it and that Lord it will do its intended work. I pray Heavenly Father for my brother Don Carroll as he is in the hospital right now suffering with congestive heart failure. We pray Lord that you'd be with him and comfort him and help him Lord that the fluid around his heart Lord might dissipate.

And that he might be made well. Father we thank you for this passage of scripture that we are looking at tonight. And we pray Heavenly Father that you would help us that we might see the truth that is in there. Not just for what happened so many years ago with Joseph and his brothers but how it applies to us today. Father we are being called here to understand your sovereignty. We are being called here Lord to bow before that sovereignty and to realize Lord that you are God and that you work all things together for good. Father that's hard for us to understand sometime when we see things that are going on in our life that that we don't like and that hurt us and we wonder how can good come from it. And yet you have said Lord that you work all things together for good to those that love you and are called according to your purpose. Guide us and direct us through this passage. We'll give you praise, honor and glory for what you do for us. And it's in Jesus' precious and holy name that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. Years ago I read a book that powerfully impacted my life. It was written by A.W.

Pink called The Sovereignty of God. And there was a footnote in that book that has had me thinking and just impacted me powerfully for 40 years. And I wanted to share that footnote with you. An esteemed friend who kindly read through this book in its manuscript form and to whom we are indebted for a number of excellent suggestions has pointed out that grace is something more than unmerited favor. To feed a tramp who calls on me is unmerited favor but it is scarcely grace.

But suppose that after robbing me I should feed this starving tramp. That would be grace. Grace then is positive demerit in the one receiving it. Years ago I was preaching in a church in Virginia. It was a series of revival services. And they had me set up that I would go eat my supper before each meeting with different people in the church. Second night I was there this big red headed guy came up to me and said, Doug you're supposed to be eating with me and my family tomorrow night and I live way out in the boondocks and you'd never find it so I'm just going to come and pick you up and take you there.

And so I said that'll be great. So that next evening he came and he picked me up in his pickup truck and we took off back to his house. As we were riding I asked him the question, tell me about your relationship with Christ and how did it come about and what happened. And he told me that his adopted father had very powerfully impacted his life. He went on to tell me that when he was very young that his real father was an alcoholic and that his real father had a very horrible temper.

And that he would get mad at him and just anytime that he would just please him and he would beat him. He said one day he went to school and he said he was just covered with bruises and cuts and he got into school and the teacher immediately sent him to the school nurse. The nurse immediately sent him to the hospital. The hospital checked him out.

They called the police. The police arrested his daddy and they gave him to a foster family. He said this foster family, the father and mother, he said that he had never met anybody in his life as kind and as loving as they were. He said that there at the very first, the first day, they gave him brand new clothes and gave him toys. And said they took him to sporting events and he said that's when he started going to church. And he said he just, it was the happiest that he'd ever been in his life.

But he said he was scared because he felt like he might do something wrong and just mess everything up. And then it happened. He was playing in his living room and as he was playing, he hit his adopted father's trophy, a bowling trophy.

It fell off the mantle, hit the floor and the arm fell off the man on the trophy. He said, oh no. He said, my daddy will hate me for this.

He'll beat me for this. He said, I've got no recourse but to run away. And he took that trophy and he put it up on the table, took his knife out, little pocket knife and put it right beside it and 27 cents. And he said he took off running. And he said he went down the road and as he was going down this road and didn't have any idea where he was going, he said all of a sudden a car started pulling up behind him. And so he looked back and it was his adopted father. He said his adopted father slammed on the brakes and jumped out.

He started running and his adopted father ran after him and just picked him up and just bear hugged him. He said, what are you doing? And he said, I'm running away.

He said, why? He said, I broke your bowling trophy. And he said, you've been so good to me and I broke your bowling trophy. And the father said, son, we've adopted you. You're my son now.

We're going to adopt you in the future. It hadn't happened quite yet. He said, but I love you. And he said, that stupid bowling trophy is not going to come between you and me.

He said, he took my face and he held it in his hands. He made me look him right in the eye and he said, I want you to know you are forgiven. You were completely forgiven. If you mess up, I want you to tell me. If you foul up, let me know it.

But understand this. You are forgiven completely. My love for you will never change. By that time, tears were rolling down this man's face. And he said, preacher, that loving man drove the fear out of my heart and drove it out completely. He said, he started sharing the gospel with me, just going verse by verse with me day after day. And he said, finally, I grasped it and I got it and I trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior. But he said, you know, it wasn't just the words that he was saying. It was the love that was coming out of his heart.

He said, he knew that he, for the first time, understood what grace was all about. He said, I couldn't earn it. I didn't deserve it. But God gave it to me through Jesus Christ. I remember sitting in that car thinking to myself, I think I'm just going to sit back tonight and let him come and give his testimony.

That might be a whole lot better than anything that I can say. But I, all I could think about was grace. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I'm found. I was blind, but now I see.

I was talking to a man a few years ago and he'd been going to one of these secret friendly churches. And he said he noticed that they had changed the wording to the song Amazing Grace. And they had changed the word wretch.

And instead they put person in there. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a person like me. He went to the preacher. He asked him about it. So why did you change that word?

He said, well, that word wretch is just kind of offensive. And we at our church, we believe that we're just, you know, pretty good and honest and just good people. And what we need is just a little bit of aid from God. He said, then go ahead and just change the whole name because you've just taken the amazing out of grace.

And he had. Folks, I am convinced with all my heart that people in our churches today are lethargic and apathetic and dead because they don't understand what grace really is. If we could just for a moment step out of this relativistic world that we are living in where all we're being told all the time that there are no absolutes, there is no day of reckoning. If we could just see for one minute how sinful we really are and how our sin is an offense to a holy God. If we could just for a moment understand what Jesus really did for us on the cross and how he went to the cross and suffered immensely that we might have eternal life.

If we could just understand the agony and the anguish and the horrors of what hell is really like, then we would understand amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. This man's testimony came to my mind as I was studying Genesis chapter 50. As a little boy, he'd been almost beaten to death by his real father. He found it virtually impossible, very, very hard to believe that this adopted father of his could love him and totally forgive him. Grace was just foreign to this young boy. We see in Genesis 50 the same kind of dilemma for the brothers of Joseph.

Here's the situation. Jacob has died and the brothers get together and they have Jacob's body embalmed and then they carry him down to Canaan land. They take him to be buried in a place called the Cave of Machpelah. It was kind of like the family cemetery. They had had him embalmed.

They went through the funeral service. They had a time, a period of mourning, so all of this took about three months and then they came back to Egypt. By the time they got to Egypt, they were there and things were starting to get back to normal, but it doesn't take long for guilty consciences of these brothers to jump in and take effect.

The ten older brothers begin to worry and they say to themselves, Guys, we're in trouble. What we did to Joseph was horrible. We put our brother through a living hell. We threw him into a pit, then we sold him into slavery.

We never even went back to check on him. He was a slave for years. He was in prison for years and it's our fault. Now what is Joseph?

Joseph is the prime minister of Egypt. He's the second most powerful man on the face of the earth. For the last 17 years, he has been so good to us. He's been loving. He's been gracious. He's told us that we are forgiven. He's provided us with homes and land. He made sure that we had food.

Man, it's been the best of times for us. And Joseph did it all, but now Daddy's dead. Daddy's dead. And it could be that this was the event that Joseph was waiting on. Perhaps he was treating us so graciously, just so that Daddy could die with peace and he could die happy, but now that Dad's gone, maybe he thinks he can get the revenge that he's been seeking and wanting for all these years.

Now we've become comfortable and secure. Joseph might see that and he might order his guards to come and get us, throw us in prison, let us suffer, and then take us to our death. Hmm. Let me ask you something. Why would they think such a thing? Had Joseph given them any reason to think that way?

I don't think he did. Why were they so paranoid? Well, here's my answer. I've discovered in 45 years of ministry that a person's character will greatly determine how he views other people. If a person is a liar, he has this idea that other people are liars too. If a person is a promise breaker, he thinks other people have to be promise breakers too. If a person is immoral, he thinks other people are just like him and they're immoral too.

I remember back in the 1990s when former President Clinton was in office and he got in trouble for all of his moral misconduct. And I can remember people saying, oh, you know, if any man was in his place, in his position, had the opportunities that he had, they would have done the same thing. Folks, that's not right. But why would people believe that?

Why? Because people with no morals expect others to be just like they are. So here were ten brothers who had always been selfish, who had always been unforgiving, and always been vengeful. And I have to believe it was their own lack of character that made them distrust Joseph. I think that they were saying to themselves, if we were in Joseph's shoes, then we would get revenge. If we were in Joseph's shoes, it would be payback time.

It would be our time to show us who's really in charge. So what did they do? Look at verse 16 through 17. So they sent a message to Joseph saying, your father gave this command before he died. Say to Joseph, please forgive the transgressions of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.

And now please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father. Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Now who were the messengers that they sent? I think they probably sent Benjamin.

Benjamin was the brother that didn't have anything to do with this, the younger brother, even younger than Joseph. And I think they probably sent some of their own sons who were the nephews of Joseph. What was the message that they sent? I think the message was this. Joseph, before daddy died, daddy gave us a message to give to you.

And what was that message? Daddy told us to tell you to please forgive us. We are sorry for what we have done. Daddy knew that we were sorry. And daddy wants you to forgive us and we want you to do it for daddy's sake.

That's what we want. Was that a true story? Did Jacob really say that before he died?

I don't believe that for a minute. I believe it was a scheming, manipulating lie to try to play on Joseph's emotions. Joseph had been right there with Jacob in his dying hours. And if Jacob had wanted to tell Joseph that, he certainly had plenty of time to do it, but Jacob didn't do it. I think these brothers were just flat out lying. And Jacob was dead, so they couldn't really go to Jacob and ask him.

Jacob could not answer because he was deceased. I remember right after college, I saw a movie called Paper Moon. And that movie, it was Ryan O'Neill and his daughter, Tatum O'Neill. And it was, they were playing a father and daughter in the movie. And they were scam artists. And they had bought a big plethora of family Bibles. And what they were doing, they would go to this, they would go get those Bibles and they would go to an obituary and find out who had died. And then they had gold paint and they would find out which, if a man had died, and then they would take the widow's name and they would print it out with that gold paint on the front of that Bible. Three days after the funeral, they would go and knock on the door. And they said, we want to speak to Mr. So-and-so. And the widow would say, I'm sorry, but he has passed away.

And they would say, oh no. So just a few weeks ago, he ordered this Bible for you. And this Bible is for you and he wants you to have it. It's $75, but we can't expect you to pay for that. And the woman said, oh, this is the last thing he did for me. I've got to have that Bible.

And she'd run in and she'd get $75 and bring it back and pay for the Bible. It's a great scam. Man, it worked. Why? Because the one who was deceased couldn't argue.

And folks, that's the situation here. Same thing was true about Jacob. Well, how did Joseph respond? He wept.

Why? Not because his dad had said it. He didn't believe that story. He wept because of his brother's lack of faith and mistrust of him. He had never given them any reason to doubt his integrity.

He had shown them nothing but graciousness. And when they send him that message, he thinks to himself, why do they doubt me? What did I do? Do they think I'm a hypocrite?

Do they think I've been playing a game with them for 17 years? He wept because his brothers still did not understand grace. People, I believe that Joseph is a pitcher of Jesus Christ. And I want you to consider what the brother's doubt and unbelief did to his heart. Joseph wept.

Their doubt, their distrust broke Joseph's heart. There's a doctrine in Holy Scripture that becomes more and more precious to me as every day goes by. It's called the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. And the doctrine says that if by the grace of God you have genuinely been converted, you have repented of your sins, trusted Jesus Christ, then by that same grace of God, you will persevere to the end. That's not easy believism or sloppy agape or greasy grace where somebody makes a profession of faith, they sign a card, they shake a preacher's hand, they join the church and then live like the devil.

No, that's not what we're talking about here at all. We're not talking about a person just doing what he wants to, living like he wants to and thinking that doesn't matter. If that's what's happened to you, then you have been deceived by indwelling sin, never truly saved to begin with. But what we're talking about here is someone who's experienced the grace of God.

God has taken out of him a heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. When that happens to you, then you know you are forgiven. The blood of Jesus has cleansed you. You don't have to doubt. You don't have to second guess yourself.

You can live in victory and you can die in peace. Joseph wept when his brothers questioned his grace. I believe that we grieve the Holy Spirit when we doubt or when we deny the practical truth of the doctrine of eternal security. With all that said, what did Joseph do to erase their doubts and let them know deep in their heart that they were truly forgiven?

Three proofs that I want to share with you. This is how God forgives and this is how God is calling us to forgive. Number one, remove the offending person's fear. Remove the offending person's fear.

Verse 19, Joseph said to them, do not be afraid for am I in the place of God? When you have totally forgiven a person, then you don't want them to be afraid of you. You don't want them to even be uncomfortable around you.

Now I'm going to be honest with you here and I don't like to say this but it's true. I have often broken that principle. I have often said to a person, well I forgive you and then I've still not treated them right after that. Maybe I've been a little bit cool. Maybe I've been a little bit aloof. Maybe I haven't talked to them like I did before.

There's just something wrong and they could feel it. It was okay for me because I did the pious thing. I told them I forgive them. I told them that they were forgiven but yet I didn't want them to forget what they had done and I wanted them to suffer for it. Listen to this verse of scripture, 1 John chapter 4 verse 8.

There is no fear in love because perfect love casteth out fear for fear has torment. When you haven't forgiven a person totally, you have a desire to punish that person. You want him to experience some torment and that person can sense it. They know what's going on in your heart. You were saying to them, I forgive you for what you've done but I'm not gonna forget it.

I don't want you to forget it either. In my former church, I had a man in the church that had committed adultery and it was a one night stand and he was as broken as anybody I've ever seen. He knew that what he had done was horribly, terribly wrong. He went to his wife. He confessed it openly to her.

He told her everything that had happened. He begged for her forgiveness. He said that he was repentant. He promised her it would never happen again.

He got an accountability partner to hold his feet to the fire and to be sure that he was walking as he should be. His wife was really hurt. She was broken but she believed that he was repentant.

She believed that he was serious, that his brokenness was real and she forgave him. About 18 months later, this man called me up and he said, Doug, I need you to do some marital counseling with us. I said, your wife said that she forgave you.

I said, what's the problem? He said this, it's the little things that she says and does. He said, we can be watching television and we're watching television and there's someone who's committed this act of adultery and she looks at the other person and she can see the hurt in their eyes and she says, I know how she feels because that's what's going on down inside of me. He said, sometimes it's a friend in the neighborhood or somebody in the community that's done this very thing and she immediately brings it up to let me know that this is how she feels and that she's not forgotten. Joseph didn't do that with his brothers. He says to them, don't be afraid of me. I have forgiven you and I have put those things in the past.

Number two, if you're gonna totally forgive someone, you refuse to take advantage of a superior position. Verse 19 again. Joseph said to them, do not be afraid for am I in the place of God? Now Joseph was the prime minister of Egypt.

He was the second most powerful man on the face of the earth. If he had decided that his brothers should die, all he had to do was give the order. Guards would have taken them out.

They would have killed them right there on the spot. So in a way, he was like God to them. He was determined in their future that he refuses to take advantage of that position. He doesn't want their fear. He wants them to love him and love him as a brother. In verse 20, Joseph said to his brothers, but as for you, you meant evil for me.

The only reason that Joseph said this was because they are the ones that brought it up. They confessed it and you know it's much easier to forgive someone when that person comes to you and they say I've done you wrong. I'm asking your forgiveness.

I'm confessing this to you and I ask you to forgive me for what I have done to you. Folks, this story teaches us that no grudge, no bitterness and no unforgiveness is worth it. Does this mean that a true Christian can never be bitter? That a true Christian can never be unforgiving? That a true Christian can never forgive you? That a true Christian can never be unforgiving? That a true Christian can never hold grudges? No, it doesn't mean that because I'm an example of one who has done those very things, but it does mean that that bitterness, that unforgiveness, that anger is sin and it's a sin that we've got to fight. If you have unforgiveness in your heart, God will make you so miserable if you're a Christian that you won't be able to stand yourself and you may stubbornly fight it for a while, but if you're a true believer, God will break you of it.

I know because I've experienced that myself. Alistair Begg said this, misplaced words and unkind glances have great potential to cause division. We all know how easy it is for friendships to be torn apart through such seemingly minor offenses, but if we trace the problem to its root, we'll discover that at the center of our disunity is the ugliness of pride and the exhortation of self. How easily we say, if she thinks I'm going to apologize, she's got to be crazy.

If he wants me to say I'm sorry, he's going to have to do something first. I didn't start it. Therefore, I don't need to end it. Thirdly, you should show them the providence of God. Verse 20, but as for you, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good in order to bring it about as it is this day to save many people alive. Of all the things that I've shared with you about Joseph, I think this to me is one of my favorite. It shows that Joseph knows his God, not just with his head. He knows his God with his heart. Joseph was saying God is so good and God is so sovereign that he can take wicked people that do wicked things and bring those things into my life. He can take those ugly things, filter them or strain them through the filter of his love and use it for my good and use it for God's glory. Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. Potiphar's wife lied about him and had Joseph thrown into prison.

Are those good things? Those are wicked things, but what did God do with it? God used it to take Joseph and raise him up to be the prime minister of Egypt and because he was the prime minister, he could take care of his family. He could take care of the people of God.

He could feed them and minister to them. Pontius Pilate ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. The Jews brought in false witnesses to lie about Jesus. The Roman soldiers took Jesus and nailed him to a cross. They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. For God took what happened to Jesus on the cross.

He took the shedding of Jesus' blood, the death of our Lord and Savior and used it to purchase our salvation. Folks, when you can say to someone who has hurt you or disappointed you or broken your heart, you can say to them, I forgive you. I forgive you because in the overall tapestry of God's plan for my life, it was meant to be.

Do you think about that for a minute? It was meant to be. Something that went on in your life. Maybe somebody broke your heart.

Maybe somebody hurt a family member. Somehow God is going to take that ugly, wicked thing that they meant for evil and God's going to turn it around and use it for good. Your good and for his glory. I want to close by reading you the last paragraph of R.T. Kendall's book on the life of Joseph.

He said this. For Joseph to say God meant it for good was the easiest thing he ever did. He had forgiven them long, long before. What is more, Joseph was thinking beyond the sphere of this present earthly journey. When we become enamored with heaven, there's no place for holding a grudge.

What is more, it was true. God meant it for good. Joseph was only telling them the truth and we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you and praise you for this great passage of scripture that teaches us, Lord, that you are sovereign and that all that you have before us for your children is even though people might mean it for evil, that you will use it for good. Help us, Lord, that we might believe that, that we might trust in that, that we might know, Lord, that you are a God that loves us so deeply, that you can work even bad things in our lives for good. And it's in Jesus' holy, wonderful, precious name that we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-23 20:12:28 / 2023-07-23 20:25:00 / 13

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