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God Is with Me, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
August 18, 2021 9:00 am

God Is with Me, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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August 18, 2021 9:00 am

From being sold into slavery by his brothers, thrown into prison, and then rising to power and being reunited with his family, Joseph’s life is a beautiful picture of God’s sovereign plan.

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Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. How would your life change if you really believe that in everything God was with you, that he'd been with you? For Joseph, it meant that wherever he was, wherever he was, he would just serve God. Wherever he was, he applied himself and he said, what's it look like to serve God in this moment, in this place where I am? Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Bidevich. Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the popular Old Testament story of Joseph and his multicolored coat. In fact, it's been described as amazing and technicolor. But today pastor J.D. is explaining that this is more than just an interesting musical storyline. From being sold into slavery by his brothers, thrown into prison, and then rising to power and being reunited with his family, Joseph's life is a beautiful picture of God's sovereign plan. We're picking up the story in Genesis chapter 50 as Joseph is reflecting back on his life. There are a couple of ways that you can interpret Joseph's life.

First and most importantly, you can and should interpret it as a picture, as a premonition of Jesus. Of course, unlike Joseph, Jesus was not just sold into slavery. He was put to death. But like Joseph, he would be raised from that pit to sit onto the highest throne of the land. And like Joseph, instead of exacting vengeance from that throne, he would use his exalted position to forgive and save his brothers.

And like Joseph, he would weave tears of joy when we were reconciled to him. Jesus is the whole point of this story, as he is every story in the Bible. The whole point is to show you that in all things, God is fully in control of history, working out his perfect plan to put Jesus on the throne, and then to save and glorify the church through his exacting vengeance on the throne. And then to save and glorify the church through his exalted reign and resurrection.

Okay? But in light of that, the other way you can interpret Joseph's life is as a picture of what it looks like to live with the assurance that God is with you because Jesus is on the throne. Just like God was in complete control of Joseph's life, working it all for his good plan, so he is in control of your life because you are sons and daughters of Abraham, just like Joseph was. He is working all for his good purposes in your life, just as he was with Joseph's.

All right? Verse 19, chapter 50, you meant it for evil. You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. I know that God's got a purpose in everything, Joseph said, even in the bad things. Even in the bad things, he was overriding what other people meant for evil.

He was overwriting it for good. Now, a couple of things here that I want to make sure you see. First, believing this does not reduce the sin of others. Notice that Joseph doesn't downplay what his brothers did.

He calls it evil. You see, I say that because sometimes as a means of coping with our past, we try to downplay the bad things that people have done. Part of experiencing God's healing for your past, listen, involves facing up to the fact that people have sinned against you. And you don't want to cope with it by just saying, well, it wasn't that bad, it was bad.

It's just that that's not where the discussion stops. God overwrites the evil that they did with good. Second, knowing that God has a good plan in everything doesn't mean you can always see it. I mean, here, sometimes you can. Here in Joseph's life you can, but in the middle of it all, Joseph couldn't see that.

He hadn't read the book of Genesis. Recently, my wife and I together, we read the book Seven Women by Eric Metaxas, Seven Women Who Changed the World. And there's a chapter in there on Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie Ten Boom was the Dutch Christian who in World War II was put into a concentration camp. Because she was helping to smuggle Jews and help them escape the Holocaust. So when she ends up in a concentration camp, she's there with her sister, Betsy, and she said it was everything that you would think it would be.

It was awful. She said the torture, the execution. She said one of the overlooked things that made it so bad was just the filth.

They never let us shower. And she said, we just stayed in filth. And because of that, there were just these, it felt like swarms of fleas always around us. She said, my sister, Betsy, who was stronger in faith than I was, one day looked at me and says, you know, the Bible says we are to rejoice in all things and give thanks and everything, which means we need to thank God right now for these fleas.

And Corrie said, you are out of your mind. There is no way on God's green earth I'm ever going to say thank you for one of these fleas. She said, my sister looked at me and said, well, then you're in sin.

I'm going to thank him for the both of us. And she bowed her head and thanked God for those wretched fleas. She said, we, in our barracks, we would meet every day, every afternoon, we'd meet and we'd have a little time of worship with just a small group of us. And we'd say Bible verses to each other.

And we had a small Bible that we, somebody had smuggled in, we'd read the Bible and it was the source of life to us. She said, one thing I could never figure out was the guards would never come into our barracks. It was the only place on the entire concentration camp where they wouldn't go. She says, one day it dawned on me why they wouldn't come. In fact, she said, one explained it to me. They would always walk by and look in, but they couldn't tell what they were doing.

If they'd have come in and found them worshiping, they would have beaten them or even worse, they could have killed them. She said, the reason they wouldn't come in was because of those fleas. She says, and Betsy looked at me and said, thank God for those fleas. Now here's my question for you. Who are the fleas in your life?

Can you thank God for the fleas knowing that he's got a purpose for them, even if you can't quite see it right now? Sometimes you die, of course, without seeing it. I've heard that life is, is in many ways, it's like a tapestry that every strand is in its place and it's beautiful. You flip it over on the back and it looks like this chaotic mess, all these strings and it just looks disastrous. Life for us looks like that side of the tapestry. What happens is one day in eternity, God just flips it over and you're like, oh, every single strand was in its place. Sometimes the growth happens in you.

Sometimes what God is doing is he's doing stuff in you. I've told you before this ancient culture of Japan was famous for its pottery. Lots of ancient cultures made pottery, but this Japanese people did something with their pottery that nobody else did. They would take the, the last stage was to take the pots and they would shatter them into a hundred pieces.

Then they would pick up the pieces and they would melt gold and piece back together the pots now held together by this gold that fuses the pieces together so that the value of the restored pot was much greater than the value of the pot before it was broken. And I've showed you, that gives you a picture of what Jesus will do in our lives. He lets life break us. He lets life crush us sometimes so that he can put himself into these broken parts of our lives, into these cracks and these, these, these parts of our lives that just feel like they're crushed so that the value that we have of knowing him through the pain is greater than if we had never gone through it. Sometimes the pain that you, you experience enables you to minister to other people that go through the same pain. God lets you become like Jesus to know what it means to suffer so that you can care for those in suffering.

The apostle Paul said it this way. He said, I went through all this suffering so that I could comfort others out of the comfort wherewith I had been comforted. I would have never known how to tell them that Jesus was sweet in the midst of this kind of pain if I hadn't walked through it myself. Maybe you went through that miscarriage. Maybe you went through that betrayal.

Maybe you went through that brokenness so that you could tell somebody else going through the same thing. Jesus is enough for this situation because I have tasted of him and I've seen that it is good. Will you let God put you through suffering if it means bringing salvation to other people? Here's what Romans 828, Paul's gonna, he's gonna summarize his life this way. Here's a verse that a lot of people know but very few people in my opinion understand.

We know, we know that for all those who love God like Joseph, all things are working together for good. He means it for good to those who were called according to whose purpose? His purpose. His purpose.

That's right. For those, what is his purpose? Oh good question. Paul's about to tell you. Those who he foreknew, here's his purpose. He prayed that sin to be conformed to the image of his son. What is God's purpose for you?

It's to make you look like and love Jesus. And so he will allow life to shape you in a certain way that you can experience the fullness and the beauty of Jesus. And I know that sometimes what you're going through makes no sense at all.

And you just got to trust. The story of Joseph doesn't mean that God's going to work it all out satisfactorily to your understanding in your lifetime but that God is going to work it out in the grand scheme of history. One day he'll flip over the tapestry and you'll see that there was not one spurious molecule that was not one wasted second, not one wasted event. He had a purpose for it all.

One day God's going to put Jesus on the throne and you can know as surely as Jesus raised from the dead that he is working out all of his purposes for good in your life. You say, JD, listen, I just want to see it. I want to understand. If I could just understand it for just a minute, then I feel like I could go through it. I understand that.

That's definitely how I feel. But I can assure you 10 seconds into eternity. It's not going to matter.

It's not going to matter. Here's how Paul, I love this verse, 2 Corinthians 4.17, for this light and momentary affliction. All right, hold on. Light and momentary affliction. Was Paul's affliction light and momentary?

Do you know anything about the apostle Paul? He's not talking about like slow internet speed here. He's not talking about having Tom Warner cable as his cable service.

That's not what he means there. Paul was varsity when it came to suffering. He'd been betrayed by his friends, forsaken by his nation. He'd been beaten three times with rods.

He'd been stoned five times, not like the drinking kind, like with the rocks kind. I mean, he'd been through more suffering than most of us would have experienced in 10 lifetimes. Maybe some of you have experienced suffering at this level, but most of us haven't. It's not light and momentary, comparatively. But I know that God is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory. It's light compared to the weight of glory. It's not light compared to what it feels like.

It's light compared to what God is doing through it. And I know that in that moment, he said, I'm going to look back and I'm going to hardly remember the suffering because of the glory that is revealed through it. Let me think about this scene in Genesis 50. It's Joseph sitting there rehearsing with disgust, all the bitterness of the pain. Oh man, in that prison, do you know what it was really like? Do you know what it was like to be in that pit? No, he didn't even talk about it. He didn't even mention it because he's not even thinking about it. It's all washed away in joy and eternity.

You and I aren't going to remember either. When we've been there, this is why the writer says, the hymn writer, when we've been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun. We've no less days to complain our case than when we first begun. Is that right? No, it's not.

We're not going to complain our case. We've no less days to sing God's glorious praise through many dangers, toils and snares I had already come. It's grace that brought me safe thus far and grace that led me home. The Lord promised good to me. His word, my hope secured. He was my shield and portion and always would be as long as life endures. I knew it.

I knew that he was there every step of the way. Joseph life shows you there's not one wasted event, not one wasted second, not one spurious molecule in all the universe. He is in charge when you're in the pit and the prison as he is when he puts you in the palace. And in fact, what you find, listen, this is really important, is that the pit and the prison are the means to the palace. You see what Joseph's life shows you, and this is hard to hear and it's hard to teach.

And this is, it's very sobering. The path to God's blessing and salvation of the world involves suffering. God did not save the nation of Israel despite Joseph's suffering. He saved them through Joseph's suffering because of it. The apostle Paul would say, I therefore fill up in my body of what is lacking in the wounds of Christ.

Everything about that verse, it almost sounds a little blasphemous, doesn't it? Like what could possibly be lacking in the wounds of Christ? Didn't Jesus say it is finished?

He did. What's lacking in the wounds of Christ is this. It wouldn't matter if Jesus died for everybody if nobody ever heard about it. So what Paul meant is the way that they're going to hear about it, the way that they are going to obtain the blessing is through my wounds. When Jesus uses somebody, he doesn't call them to a platform, he calls them to an altar. It is through our suffering that God brings salvation to the world.

We have this idea that the abundant life is about slowly moving toward comfort and ease and luxury away from suffering and stress and worry. That's the blessed life. Oh, occasionally you'll have a sacrifice sprinkled in here and there that you're asked to bear.

That's not true. I don't care who says it, how slick their smile is, expensive their suit, or if they have their own plane. Jesus said, if you're going to come after me, you have to take up your cross and follow me. It was not despite my wounds I saved the world, it was through my wounds. What does it mean for you to carry the cross? It means that the wounds Jesus received, you're going to receive also. And just like salvation came to us through his wounds, salvation is going to come to others through ours.

Now I'm not meaning that you're like some kind of, you know, just where you love. I can't wait to suffer. I don't want to suffer. But it means I'm not surprised when it comes and I don't think God has forsaken me because God didn't forsake Jesus. And God brought salvation through Jesus. He didn't forsake Joseph and he's not forsaking me. How would your life change if you really believe that in everything God was with you, that he'd been with you? For Joseph, it meant that wherever he was, wherever he was, he would just serve God. He said, yeah, a lot of people were wrong with me and that's why I'm here. I may have been really unfortunate in a lot of ways, but I'm not going to be better.

I'm not even going to despair. Wherever he was, he applied himself and he said, what's it look like to serve God in this moment, in this place where I am? Here's what's more.

Here's what's more. He learned from that perspective to give grace. You see where he says that last little phrase, do not fear, I'll provide for you and your little ones. It's because he knew that God had a good plan. Listen, a plan that involves salvation, not only for Joseph's brothers, but for Joseph. It was because of that, because he knew the good thing that God was doing in history, that he was able to extend grace to the people in his life. Joseph's ability to forgive here is amazing, isn't it?

Absolutely amazing. It's not a feeling that he had that came from him being some kind of superhuman that made him different than us. He was just like you and me. It was a choice, listen, that was grounded in the knowledge that A, God had been in control of everything in his life, and B, that God is showing great grace toward him and his family too. I mean, you guys have heard of the golden rule, right? Golden rule is do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Jesus upgraded that at the end of his life to the platinum rule. Do unto others as I have done unto you. I want you to start treating other people with the grace that I've shown to you. Some of you have people in your life that you cannot forgive.

And I want to explain to you why. The reason you can't forgive them is because you feel like they damaged you. You feel like they took something away from you that you can't have back.

Years of your life, things about yourself, and you hate them for it now. But what if you believed without taking away from the evil that they did at all? That behind all those bad things, that was a good God who was taking care of you and working all things for good.

Psalm 91, it's always been one of my favorite Psalms. Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most high will rest in the shadow of the almighty. That sounds good, doesn't it?

Yeah. Surely he will save you. He'll deliver you out of the deadly pestilence. He'll cover you with his feathers. Under his wings, you'll find rest. He'll deliver you out of the deadly pestilence.

Under his feathers, under his wings, you'll find refuge. You won't fear the terror of night, or the arrow that flies by day, the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side. Ten thousand might fall at your right hand by those arrows and that pestilence, but it'll never even touch you. If you say the Lord is my refuge, no harm will ever overtake you. He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike so much as strike your foot against the stone.

Here's the thing. I strike my foot against stones all the time. I got up the other night at 3 a.m. I'm working my way through the living room and I find one of those little corners that seems to be just designed for your barefoot. And you just kick it and I'm like, where is my guardian angel?

Where is he? Where was my Nicolas Cage that was watching over me making sure that nothing happened? Maybe the arrows of somebody's criticism have penetrated you deeply. Maybe it's been much worse in criticism. Maybe physically they have harmed you. Maybe you've gone through the storm of a bad relationship or the pestilence of bad health or bad finances. You don't feel like you've been shielded from those things. You ever feel that way? Is this psalm not true? Is it just sentimental poetry that we quote to ourselves and pretend like nothing's happening? Was it not true for Joseph?

Would Joseph have read this and been like, yep, that's my experience. Arrow didn't touch me. I didn't go through the pestilence.

There was no danger at all in anything that I did. The only way it could be true is if God was somehow in all those bad things using them and transforming them for good. Ultimately, the arrow that flew in midday was not doing damage. God did shield me, but the way he shielded me was not by not making the arrow or by making the arrow go away. He transformed that arrow of hate as it was flying through the air. He transformed it into a surgical instrument of good in my life, just like he did with Joseph. I may have gone through the storm.

I may have gone through the storm, but God transformed the storm into rivers of blessing in my life. Here's how the psalm ends. David says this, I'll be with him in trouble. Well, God says, I'll be with him in trouble. I'll deliver him and honor him.

With long life, I will satisfy him, and I will show him my salvation. I know that even in trouble, God is with me, overriding the pain for good and using it as a part of his salvation plan. Several years ago, I read a book called The Bishop of Rwanda. It's written by a pastor named John Rusihana who went through the genocides that took place in Rwanda several years ago. He was a Tutsi and said, multiple of my brother and my family were killed in this thing. He said, it's one thing to survive a genocide.

It's another thing to try to live in a country that is dealing from the wounds of genocide, people killing other people and people who are now having to live side by side with people who destroyed their family. He said, and I learned probably more about forgiveness in those post genocide years than I could ever expect to learn in a lifetime. He said, there were two lies from the pit, two lies from hell, he said, about forgiveness that most of us believe that absolutely paralyzes.

Listen to these. He said, lie number one is that you're supposed to wait till the person shows they've repented before you forgive them. He says, ultimately, your forgiveness is not a response to them. It's a response to Jesus. It's about what you believe about Jesus, not about them.

You want to look through them. And for Christ's sake, you're saying, I forgive them for your sake, not for theirs. He said, the second lie is that forgiveness is a feeling, that you can't really do it until you feel it.

He says, it's not a feeling. He says, forgiveness is a choice that you make based on what you believe about God. You look through the wicked act that they did, and behind it, you see a savior with bleeding hands. And you say that I can't trust you.

And you say that I can't trust them, but I can trust him. And I trust that behind all this was a good God who never left me or forsake me. He said, that's not a feeling. That's an act of faith and feelings God will give. I return one more time to Corrie Ten Boom.

Listen to this. Corrie Ten Boom said that in the concentration camp, there was one guard that was worse than all the others. She said, I'll never forget his face.

The look of delight on his face that he would see us suffer. She said, I know I would never forget that face because 30 years after I was released, I was speaking at a church in Germany. And after the service, an old man came up to me because I took one look at him 30 years later and I knew exactly who it was. It was that guard. He said, he reached out his hand to me and he said, about 20 years ago, he said, I became a Christian.

And he dropped his head. He said, I'm so, so sorry. Can you ever forgive me for what I put you through that ultimately led to the death of your sister? I'll read to you her words. She said, I knew I had to take the man's hand as an act of obedience. I knew it. She said, but I didn't want to.

How could I, this is the man who was a part of the death of my sister. She said, but in my heart, I said, I know, I know I can lift my, I know I can lift my hand. I know I can do that that much. Jesus, you got to take it from there. She said, as I reached out my hand, the most incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder. It raced down my arm and it sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes and his, I forgive you brother. I cried with all of my heart for a long moment.

We grasped each other's hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God's love so intensely as I did right then. Forgiveness released from bitterness is not reconciling with your past by saying it's not that bad.

Forgiveness released from bitterness comes from a choice that you make based on what you know to be true about God. The behind every evil thing is a good God who said, I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.

And as sure as I've resurrected from the dead, I'm sitting on this throne. I'm working for good in your life. Joseph's life shows us that there isn't one wasted event, not a wasted second. Powerful encouragement from the scriptures today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. This message was titled God is with me, and it's part of our series called The Whole Story. We hope you'll join us every day of this study as we walk through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. If you ever miss a day, you can always catch up online at jdgreer.com. We have a great new prayer resource for you from Pastor J.D.

this month, and it's a book called Just Ask. Most of us don't have a happy, healthy prayer life. We struggle with prayer, the what, the when, and sometimes even the why. So, J.D., what is it that you think keeps people from truly praying? Yeah, Molly, I feel like a lot of people don't want to say this out loud, okay?

So if you're in your car, roll your windows up. We'll just have this as our little secret, but a lot of Christians aren't convinced that prayer actually does anything, right? And they're like, well, sometimes I pray and things happen. Sometimes I pray they don't. Sometimes I forget to pray, and the thing I should have prayed for happens anyway.

So how was this really, how is it really effective? What I want to show through this book, Just Ask, is exactly how God has hardwired the universe through prayer, that prayer is the means by which, it's the vehicle by which he does his work on earth. John Wesley, the father of the, one of the fathers of the great awakening in our country, famously said, God does nothing except an answer to prayer. Theologically, that's probably an overstatement, but the sentiment is this is the vehicle by which God releases his power in your life. If you're a parent looking for help with your kid, if you're a spouse looking for help in your marriage, you just ask. You ask because that's the means by which God will infuse his power into you, and it's such a necessary relationship that Jesus himself was driven to it.

And if it was necessary for him, it's going to be necessary for us, and I wanted to help equip you and move you down that path. Be sure to get in touch today so we can get you a copy of Pastor JD's book titled Just Ask. It comes as our way of saying thanks when you donate to support this ministry. Ask for this prayer book when you give a donation today of $25 or more. You can also request it when you join the team of monthly gospel partners.

It's quick and easy to sign up. Just call 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or you can give and request the book online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch inviting you to join us again tomorrow when we continue our series called The Whole Story on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-17 20:56:30 / 2023-08-17 21:07:57 / 11

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