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Surely Goodness and Mercy Will Follow Me, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
September 13, 2023 9:00 am

Surely Goodness and Mercy Will Follow Me, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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September 13, 2023 9:00 am

As we continue through Psalm 23, we’re finishing up a look into the life of Joseph. Joseph’s life was characterized by betrayal, injustice, confusion, and—above all—years and years of waiting.


Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Bittovitch, and we're so glad that you're joining us today. As we continue our teaching series through Psalm 23, we're finishing up a look into the life of Joseph. You see, Joseph's life was characterized by betrayal and justice, confusion, and above all, years and years of waiting.

But in the middle of this waiting, Joseph trusted that God was in control. And pastor J.D. shows us that God is always good, even when the arc of God's goodness is much longer than we typically think. His goodness and mercy will follow us. So let's open up to Psalm 23 and return to our teaching.

Here's pastor J.D. Y'all, I want to be clear. Hear me, please. Okay, dial in.

They lean in. I want to be clear. The point of Joseph's life is not, hang on.

No matter how bad today is, one day you're going to get promoted to be the prime minister of Egypt. That is not the point. Joseph's story is first and foremost given to us, like just about every story in the Old Testament, as a foreshadowing of Jesus. Jesus said the entire Old Testament was given to paint for us the patterns of the Messiah, to show us. Luke 24, Jesus said, to show us that the Christ, the Messiah, should suffer and rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all the nations. Which means Joseph's story ultimately gives us a glimpse of Jesus's story.

I mean, think about it. Think about what I just said that Jesus said. One day, many years into the future, another one, another descendant of Jacob, would walk the same path that Joseph walked. Like Joseph, he would be betrayed by his brothers, then lied about and falsely accused. Like Joseph, he would be raised from that pit of seeming death to sit on the highest throne of the land, where he would offer salvation to the nations of the world. And like Joseph, instead of using that throne to exact vengeance on his betrayers, he would forgive and restore him. And like Joseph, he would weep tears of joy when his brothers were reconciled to him. We see in Joseph's story a pattern that is repeated over and over and over and over throughout the Old Testament, and that is God's righteous servant suffers. And through that suffering, he offers salvation, not just to the Jews and the religious people, but he offers salvation to the nations of the world. So Joseph's first and foremost implication is to show us who Jesus is.

Let's see y'all listen here. If you and I are in Jesus, then ultimately our stories are now wrapped up into his. And that means the same providence we see at work in Joseph's life and in Jesus's life, we can also expect to be at work in ours also. Joseph shows us that, he shows us what it looks like to exercise the faith of Psalm 23 in a time of waiting. Specifically, I think he demonstrates four ways Psalm 23 teaches us to wait.

You're writing stuff down, here you go. Number one, he shows us that we gotta wait patiently. Let me say it again, God is always good. He's always working for good, but the arc of God's goodness is longer than we typically expect. And I say that to you not just as a Bible teacher, I say that as somebody who has experienced it multiple times throughout his life. Sometimes like Joseph, you just don't see a resolution until far into the future.

We're talking decades between when Joseph was betrayed and when he saw it all work out for good. Decades of God, this doesn't feel fair. And God, what were you doing?

Where were you? Sometimes you have to stick around to the very end to see that the goodness of mercy really have been following you all the days of your life. And for many of us, we're not gonna see that this side of the resurrection. Think about how many Bible characters experience life this way. Not just Joseph, but David was like that. Job was like that. Even Jesus and his disciples were like that. Do you ever imagine how long those three days between Jesus's crucifixion and his resurrection, how long that must have felt like to those disciples? Those three days are a picture of where you and I are living right now.

We wait between Jesus's humiliation and his ultimate vindication and resurrection. When the Duke of Wellington fought Napoleon at the famous Battle of Waterloo, many people knew that the fate of Europe hung in the balance, right? Well, whatever happened in this battle was gonna determine the future of Europe and everybody was on pins and needles and people in England were waiting anxiously for the news of the battle.

Of course, back then was a day with no advanced communication or cell phones or TV or telegrams. Quickest way news was gonna get back to England from that battle would be by ship. And so on the day of the battle, a large mass of people had gathered on the shoreline, the closest harbor where the ship was gonna come.

Many of them were parents or loved ones of English soldiers that were fighting in the battle. Well, a ship comes into view and begins to signal by semaphore, you know, where they flashed the lights in an early version of Morse code. It was a very foggy day, however, and so the message that was received on the shore in England from the ship off in the distance flashing the light, the message that was received was Wellington defeated. The people began to wail in despair.

They began to weep because they'd lost. But after almost an hour, the fog cleared because the ship wasn't able to come in because of the fog. The fog cleared and they saw the rest of the message as it flashed. Wellington defeated the enemy. Wellington defeated the enemy.

That was the whole message. When Jesus died, the demons start to scream out, Jesus defeated. But when the fog lifted on that bright Sunday morning, we got the rest of the message. Jesus defeated the enemy. See, when your loved one dies or you've been betrayed by the friend or the spouse or you're languishing in prison like Joseph, the demons start screaming in your heart, you are defeated. When your kid is wandering, when your body is sick, you are defeated. But there is a day coming when that fog lifts and you see that not one thing was out of God's control and not one thing was wasted and that Christ was victorious over all of it. God is always good, but the arc of his goodness is longer than we typically think.

That's how it has always, always been. Wait patiently, which leads us to our second way that we should wait. Wait confidently.

Wait confidently. Think about all the things y'all in Joseph's story that demonstrate God's sovereignty. Think about all the scope of all the things he's sovereign over in the story. The jealousy of Joseph's brothers lead to Joseph's being into slavery. God was sovereign over their jealousy. The fact that Joseph just so happened to be bought by Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh's army, that set him up to be held in the prison for royal prisoners where he would meet the butler. God was sovereign over that. The fact that the butler had a poor memory led to Joseph being right where they would know to find him when Pharaoh had his dream two years later. He'd gotten out on the day when the butler was released, he'd have gone home and nobody heard from him again. God was sovereign over the butler's poor memory. Y'all, even what appeared to just be bad luck was under the control of God's providence. I mean, think about it.

Let me have a little artistic license here, can I? When Potiphar's wife grabbed Joseph's coat when he was trying to run away, why did the coat rip so easily? What if he'd worn his nicer coat that day, the one that was double stitched and would not have ripped so easily? Without the evidence, Potiphar may not have believed his wife, which means that Joseph would have never gone to prison, thus never met the butler, thus never met Pharaoh, and thus never been in a position to save Israel. Y'all, that means in a way, Israel's entire future, the birth of Jesus hinged on a piece of cheap Egyptian fabric. God was sovereign over that. Scripture presents God is in control of everything, the wind, the rain, lightning, earthquakes, tsunamis, the flight of a sparrow, the blooming of a lily, the hairs on your head, good kings, wicked kings, every roll of every dice, the outcome of battles, the placement of every one of the billions and billions and billions of stars, your thoughts, my thoughts, angels, demons, even Satan himself, all of it is under the providence of God. That doesn't mean that God is the one acting in those things or that he is behind the evil, just that he is orchestrating all of those things for the accomplishment of his purposes.

Now, I know emotionally what your objection is right here, because it's mine. You're like, well, what about the ways I messed up my own life? I mean, God was doing this thing and I messed it up. From the good news, listen, if you're surrendered to Jesus, he uses even those things providentially as part of his good work in your life. I have to think, y'all, that in that first stint in prison, Joseph had to have said to himself, why did I have to be so braggy about my dreams?

What if I've just been more humble, more discreet? Joseph came to the same realization that David did in Psalm 23, that it's not just goodness that follows me, it's mercy. Steadfast mercy, Joseph says. Mercy means that even when we mess up, God responds to our mess up with never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever loved, quote Sally Lloyd Jones, which covers even our mistakes. And so we wait not only patiently, but confidently also.

Number three, we wait intimately. The theme that's running through Joseph and David's life is that even in the worst of times, they communed with God. In the worst of times, they feasted upon God, which is what this little stuff up here is all about.

I know some of you saw this and you wondered, what is all this stuff on the stage? Are we doing a foot washing? Have we become that kind of church now? No, it is to show you why Joseph was able to respond with confidence and kindness and forgiveness even in the worst situations. You see, in the prisons, Joseph, like David, kept embracing that God was with him. God prepared a table before him in the presence of his enemies and he feasted on God. That's where he made his home. He got sold by his brothers. He feasted on God.

He was wronged by Potiphar's wife. He feasted on God. That's where he went every time. Isn't it amazing how when life squeezed Joseph, what came out of him was joy, confidence, integrity, and forgiveness. That's because in times of waiting, he feasted on God. So that when life squeezed him, what came out of him was God. When you squeeze something, what comes out of it is what's in it.

So you compare that to over here. This is the exact same sponge, bought them both on Amazon. Exact same receptacle here, okay?

Exact same, there's no difference. No matter what I do to this, same amount of pressure, same amount of stress, nothing's coming out. Why?

It's not been soaking in water. If you want God to come out of you when life squeezes you, you've got to feast on him. What comes out of you in a moment of trial? Just ask yourself, in a moment of trial, what comes out of you? Is it trust and joy, integrity, forgiveness? When you go through a trial, do you respond in the words of Tony Evans with cussing, fussing, complaining, and blaming?

Right? You go through a hard time and you're cussing and fussing and blaming and complaining. You want to know why those things come out of you in your moment of trial? It's because of what you feast on when you wait. You nurse disbelief and anger and self-pity.

So that's what comes out of you when life squeezes you. You want to respond like Joseph responded, you got to soak where Joseph soaked. You got to feast where Joseph feasted. So you and I want to be soaked so much in God's promises, we often say here at the Summit Church, we want to be soaked so much in God's promises that when life cuts you, you bleed God's word. Thanks for joining us today on Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. Before we return to today's teaching, I wanted to make sure that you knew about something important. Every month we talk about our featured resource that we send to our loyal supporters and gospel partners. But did you know that we have a whole library of free resources on our website that includes our entire sermon library, daily devotionals, a weekly newsletter, Pastor J.D. 's blog, the Ask Me Anything podcast, and so much more. All of these resources are available free of charge, and it's all because of our generous supporters and especially our gospel partners who give financially to this ministry each and every month.

Nothing we do would be possible without them, including today's broadcast. Are you thankful for Summit Life and all of the other resources we provide? Then we would love to have you join the gospel partner team with a regular monthly gift. Just call us at 866-335-5220 or head over to to get involved today. But right now, let's get back to today's teaching with Pastor J.D. Greer here on Summit Life. Finally, number four, wait expectantly.

Wait expectantly. I've told you that you may not get to see the culmination of goodness in your lifetime, and that's true, but you might get to see glimpses of it. Joseph did.

Job did. God is a good God who loves to bless people. First, we love to quote and sing here at the Summit Church, Psalm 27, 13. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. In other words, now while I'm alive now, not just when I get to heaven in the land of the dead, it's not just in the sweet by and by that I want to experience God's goodness, it's now. How many of you would say, I need to experience God's goodness now in my marriage? I need to experience it with my children, in my relationships.

I need it now. And while by God's grace, I will wait patiently. I will wait until eternity if that's what it takes.

If God wants to Job me or Joseph me and I got to wait, that's fine, but I don't want to give up yearning for, asking God to pour his goodness out now in the land of the living. Some of you may not remember Kylie White. She was a member of our church for over a decade. In January of 2019, she went in for a routine eye exam at Duke when she received completely unexpected and devastating news. She was going blind. She noticed that her peripheral vision was getting a bit hazy and she was having some headaches, but she assumed it was nothing out of the ordinary that some glasses wouldn't fix.

The doctor there told her it was caused by the degenerative incurable disease that would slowly take her sight over five years. She said it was ironic because earlier that week she'd read the verse in Corinthians for we trust not in things that are seen, but in things that are unseen. And she'd asked God to help her trust in things not seen. In fact, she written in her journal that that was supposed to be her theme verse for the year. She'd written in her journal and I quote, Lord, help me this year to fix my eyes, thoughts and affections, not on the temporary, but on the eternal.

I want a faith that depends on you at every turn and eyes that are focused on you and you alone. She said she was not expecting God to answer her prayer this way. She was in her thirties. She had four children, two biological children and two adopted children. The doctors were saying that there was no way that she would see them walk across the stage to receive their high school diplomas.

Listen to her words though. As I listened to the news of my diagnosis, I heard in my heart, God speak over me truth. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. I knew God was going to work in my life through this. December of 2019, almost a year later, she wrote, God has shown me more of him in the midst of this suffering than he has in all the years before. As painful as this has been, I'm learning what it means that my spiritual sight is far more valuable than my physical sight. I do not bank my hope on any healing for my coming blindness as the doctors assure me that there is none. I bank my hope on the suffering savior, Jesus Christ, who is far more precious to me than sight or my ability to drive or be independent or even to see my four children's faces.

These things are inconsequential in light of eternity. She then said, she said, shortly after my diagnosis, I was praying when I saw a vision in my mind and that vision, Jesus was leading me blindfolded in the midst of the most beautiful landscape that I'd ever seen. Although the me and the dream couldn't see it, it was me the narrator that could see it. Once I got to an overlook, Jesus took my blindfold off. In that moment, I realized God was showing me that I can trust my good father, even with a blindfold in his hands.

I can give up my sight for a short time here on earth because I trust my father knows what's best for me and he's always working for my good and for his glory because what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. I shared that story with you at the end of 2019, as an example of, I think it was actually beginning of 2020, as an example of amazing faith and suffering. I even included the story in a book I published on what are you going to do with your life? That's part of the story is told.

What I have not shared with you is what happened next. After she moved to Atlanta, her sight continued to fade. She said it was like a tunnel whose walls got closer and closer every week, shutting out her sight slowly.

The doctor said that eventually it would just close down to a small hole and then it would disappear. She said for a while she'd prayed for healing, but eventually she just given up continuing to ask. She said, just set me up for disappointment. She said, but then I was at a prayer meeting one night and a friend speaking, I believe that the gift of prophecy said to her, listen, Kylie, you don't get to be an overcomer without having obstacles. I think God wants you to ask for healing. And if the answer that he gives is no, or not now, well then God will use that disappointment to cultivate greater love and trust for him and you.

But, and this was the key part, don't limit him because you're afraid of disappointment. God can handle your disappointment. This friend then put her hands on Kylie's face and said to her, you see your view of God is also like this.

I made that small little tunnel. Kylie said it was about the same amount of that I could see physically. He said, your view of God is like this, but God is like this.

So don't limit him. She said, she heard God whisper so clearly in her spirit. One day when she was out in the community, she said, I heard him say in my spirit, Kylie, let it go. Open your hands, ask me.

She said, every time I read another story of a miracle of Jesus, it was as if I would hear God say to me, just ask me, Kylie, you are my beloved daughter. You can ask. But each time she said, I came up with three reasons why I couldn't or shouldn't. But one afternoon with the spirit of God heavily working in my heart, I asked as plainly and confidently as I could, God heal me.

I believe you can. And I'm your daughter asking her father for something that you've told me to ask you. I don't understand it. And I know I don't have to, but I trust you. And I know you're able, Jesus, if you will, heal my eyes. She then wrote, a month later, if I could have saw her a few weeks ago when she was telling me the story, she shared with me some of her journals. She then wrote, a month later, I went back to the Duke eye clinic where they did their usual battery of tests. But this time when the doctor came back in to give me the report, he had a look of disbelief and genuine bewilderment on his face. He told me that all signs of the disease were gone. He sat there and I quote, stuttering, explaining that in every other case he'd seen, my disease gradually thins the retinal cell wall until it is completely gone, but that the walls of my retinal cell had actually thickened since January.

In fact, they were back to beyond their original thickness. He said, I can't understand it. In all his years of practice, he had never seen anything like it. I explained to him that Jesus had done this, and he responded, well, that's an intangible, I don't know how to measure here at Duke. Kylie writes, so listen to this, isn't this our God, bigger than we think, more powerful than heat we know.

He is still in the healing and resurrection business. Our prayers are often too small, our vision of who he is so limited, our faith too shaky to ask or risk or trust. He has used that imagery so many times with me over the last months, my hands near my cheeks saying, this is all you can see.

And then he puts his hands on mine and says, I know I'm bigger and he pushes my hands back. I'm way out here. I have limited faith, limited prayers, limited perspective, limited understanding, but he is limitless. He wants to blow our minds with how good he is. We just have to have eyes to see it, hearts to ask for it, and a faith to believe it.

I love that story for so many reasons. In trial, God gives us a new kind of site. And one day, one day he restores everything. It may or may not be in this lifetime. It may not be on this or this side or that side of the resurrection. Lots of people don't get to see the fulfillment in their lifetime.

The majority even don't get to see it in their lifetime, but we are right to hope for it. And you have the kind of God you can ask for it. In the meantime, I want you to know, like Kylie experienced that God is always good.

And even if the arc of his goodness is longer than you typically expect, you can be sure he is pursuing it infallibly. Even when I can't see it, you're working. Even when I can't feel it, you're working. You never stop. You never stop working. And not one thing, not one single thing is wasted.

All of it has meaning. So we sing. Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight. And while I wait, I want breakthroughs now. I want breakthroughs right now, but if not, I'm content because I still know the Lord is my shepherd. I got no needs. I got no needs.

And I can feast on his presence now if I have to wait. When the scan comes back positive or the pregnancy test comes back negative, you don't get the job. You don't get picked for the team. You don't get into the school.

It just doesn't work out the way that it's supposed to. I know that you're with me. The Lord is my shepherd. And if I got the shepherd, I'm good because I know he's always good. Even if the arc of his goodness is longer than sometimes I would expect.

In the meantime, I got you. The Lord is my shepherd. That's a powerful word from Psalm 23 and the life of Joseph right here on Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. Here at Summit Life, we are so grateful that we've already met some of our 2023 goals and expanded this program into brand new areas so even more people can hear your rich gospel teaching every day. JD, where are some of those new areas for us?

Yeah, that's right. We had a goal for this year of expanding into places like Atlanta, Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, San Antonio. To be honest with you, when these opportunities were put in front of us, we did not have the resources to obtain them. But we just sensed in our spirit that this is what God wanted us to do and to go through that door. And so we stepped out in faith. And the good news is that we have a listening audience, you who responded with generosity and they believe in the kind of things they hear here and they want other people to hear them. And they were so generous in how they donated to Summit Life so that we could go into these new cities.

And we're already hearing great stories, great reports of how God is at work there. We want to invite you to continue partnering with us by sharing this program, sharing our free daily devotionals and our podcast or by giving financially so that we can keep offering everything that we do free of charge. So go to JD Greer dot com and find out how you can be a part of the ministry here at Summit Life. One of the most tangible ways to partner with us as we seek to take the good news of the gospel to the ends of the earth is by becoming a gospel partner. Our gospel partners support the work that we are doing by donating a monthly gift of $35 or more to this ministry. When you do, we'll send you a copy of Goodness in the Middle, our study through Psalm 23 that coincides with the teaching series we're hearing now on Summit Life. To give, call us at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220. Or visit us online at JD Greer dot com. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Join us tomorrow for all new teaching from this series called Suffering, Saving and Serving. That's Thursday right here on Summit Life with JD Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-29 01:21:19 / 2023-10-29 01:32:48 / 11

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