If you're here today and you want your destiny, I would not be being fair to the Word of God if I didn't tell you that there are going to be dry spots along the journey. Dr. Tony Evans says the process God uses to prepare us for our destiny isn't always comfortable.
Things can get worse before they get better, especially when you're being stripped of something that you're wrapped in. This is The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of The Urban Alternative. Just when we think we're ready for what God has in store for us, God thinks we're ready for more preparation and purification. We'll learn why as Dr. Evans talks about the purpose behind the detours in our lives.
Let's join him. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ today, you have a destiny. Now, from an eternal perspective, we know what our destiny is, and that is to be in God's presence forever, worshiping Him and working for Him in that eternal state. That is our eternal destiny.
We know that. But our concern or our focus is on the historical destiny that it has for you in this life. Part of experiencing your destiny is understanding your detours. When you look at Scripture, it is full of destinies being reached through detours.
There is no individual in the Bible who illustrates this principle of detours and its relationship to destiny like the life of Joseph. Now, I love a good suspense novel. I love a drama. I love a movie or a book with twists and turns along the way, where they've got a story, and then they've got a story within the story, and then a story within the story that's within the story that was in the story. So you've got all kind of things happening at the same time. Now, if I'm impatient, I go to the last chapter, because then I can see where all this stuff winds up.
Why don't we do that? Why don't we go to the end of Joseph's story? Look at Genesis chapter 50.
This is the end of the story. We go back up to the beginning of the story in a second, but let's go to the end, because the end helps us understand the concept of destiny, and 37 to 50 gives you the whole suspense novel. But Joseph said to them, that is his brothers, do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? You got a hint of destiny there.
Destiny is being in the place God has for you. Am I not in God's place? As for you, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result to preserve many alive. So therefore do not be afraid. I will provide for you and your little ones so he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Please notice that phrase, as for you, you meant evil against me and God meant it for good.
Watch it, watch it. That tells you something about destiny. It includes evil and good. It's not all good going to destiny. That's some bad stuff on the way to destiny. That's a bad people on the way to destiny. In fact, in our lives, there've been some bad choices on our way to destiny, but don't get stuck there because he says, even though there's bad, he says, God was doing good. So you got bad and good simultaneously taking place in order to wind up in the place God has for you. Now, what you don't want to do is add more chapters to the book than is necessary, but nevertheless, that is the reality and it involves some evil stuff that took place.
Let's go back to the beginning of the story. Chapter 37. We find in verse two, Joseph was 17 years of age. He is the 11th son of Jacob.
Joseph is born into a dysfunctional family. Let me tell you about his daddy, Jacob. Jacob, ever since he was a little boy, was a deceiver. He was a trickster. His name means trickster because he was always deceiving somebody out of something in order to get his way. He is a manipulator by trade, which explains his children because his children became manipulators.
Because what you and I pass on to our children are not only our looks, it's also our habits, be they good or bad. So the deceiver gave birth to deceivers. Jacob had 12 boys by four different women, which explains a lot.
Twelve sons of Jacob came from four different women. So you've got all kind of dynamics as you got all these baby mama drama in the context of the chaos of the family into which Joseph is born. Joseph's oldest brother, Reuben, has sex with Jacob, his father's wife. Chapter 35 verse 22. Oh, now you're reading your Bible. Talk about scandal. So he has a relationship with his father's wife and his father finds out about it.
So you can imagine the dynamic there. Two of his brothers, Simeon and Levi, are mass murderers. Simeon and Levi are mass murderers.
Chapter 34 verse 25. They talk a whole time of men into getting circumcised, I mean get spiritual, get circumcised. And while the men were healing, they killed all the men.
Because it's hard to fight back if you're a grown man and you've just been circumcised. They killed a whole town. So he's a murderer. He's got a brother, Judah, that has a sexual relationship with his daughter-in-law. I call this a messed up family. And that is the scenario into which Joseph was born. So if we look at family, we don't see a lot of the raw ingredients for a great destiny. Some of you here today, if you look at your family, how messed up it was with your mom and your daddy and your siblings and your scenarios and or maybe even the blended situation and on and on and on and on, it's just chaos.
But it gets worse. Verse 3 says, now Israel, that's Jacob, Jacob loved Joseph more than all his sons. So Joseph, who's right now the baby boy, there will be one to come after him, Benjamin, but Joseph, the baby boy right now, is the favorite of the daddy.
Why? Because he was the son of his old age. So Jacob loved Rachel. Rachel gave birth to Joseph. Rachel died a year earlier.
So Rachel is gone. So the love he had for Rachel, who gave birth to Joseph, is transferred to Joseph. Joseph is his favorite because it came from Rachel.
He came from Rachel. He loved him. Well, he loved Joseph more than all the sons because he was the son of his old age and made him a varied color tunic, a multicolored coat, or you and I would say an elegant robe.
He didn't make anything for anybody else. He made a robe for his favorite kid, the baby in the family. When he made them this special coat, notice what happens. Verse 4, his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all of his brothers and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.
So now you got a sibling situation because daddy's playing favorite. Now let me tell you why they hated him all the more. Not just because he got a pretty robe. That would have been enough of itself, but that's a robe that goes to the oldest son because it was the firstborn who was to be the most recognized and the firstborn got a double inheritance. So they understood what this robe meant. This robe meant that he was going to be treated like the firstborn even though at this point he's the lastborn and it says, and they hated him and would not speak to him on friendly terms.
They talked about him, they degraded him, and there were sibling conflicts and some of you know what it's like not to be able to communicate with brothers or sisters or siblings because of what went down with daddy and mama. But it ain't over because now Joseph has a dream. Verse 5, then Joseph had a dream and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He says, please, verse 6, listen to the dream I had last night.
Verse 7, behold we were binding sheaves in the field and lo my sheaf rose up and also stood erect and behold your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaves. Now they already don't like you, boy. And you're going to tell them you had a dream where they bowed down to you.
So what was their response? Verse 8, and their brothers said, are you actually going to reign over us? So they hated him even more for the dreams he dreamt and the words he told them.
But not only that, we ain't finished. Verse 9, now he had still another dream. This boy need to stay up. This boy having too many dreams. He had another dream and he related it to his brothers and said, lo I have still another dream and behold the sun and the moon, eleven stars, were bowing down to me. He related this to his father, to his brothers, and his father rebuked him and said to him, what is this dream you have?
Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come and bow ourselves down before you to the ground? His brothers were jealous of him because he shared a dream. So we've got a confusing situation here. We've got a young man who's dreaming big dreams. This is a big dream. In fact, it was a God-given dream. It was a, as you'll see it unfold, it was a God-given dream of where he was going to be one day. And don't we teach our children to dream? We ask them, what do you want to be when you grow up? That's asking from an employment standpoint about a dream. We're asking them about a dream.
In fact, we need to ask that more spiritually. What do you want to be for God when you grow up? What do you want to do? But what do you want to be? We're asking them to dream. We don't want them to say, well, I want to stay here and live with you for the rest of my life. That ain't no dream.
That's a nightmare on Elm Street. That's not what we're asking them. We're asking them, what do you want to become?
What are you looking forward to? He has a dream. Well, Dr. Evans, we'll come back with more on that in just a moment. First, the message we're listening to today is from Tony's series called Joseph, Detours to Destiny. In these lessons you'll learn to trust that even in the midst of unexpected and unwanted detours, God can be directing you toward something beautiful and equally unexpected.
We want you to get your own copy of the messages in the Detours to Destiny series as our gift. Just visit tonyevans.org before time runs out, make a contribution, and we'll say thanks by sending all nine full-length lessons your way. Again, that's tonyevans.org, or call 1-800-800-3222, where resource team members are standing by around the clock to assist with your request. I'll have that contact information for you again after part two of today's lesson and this. How do you share the Gospel with confidence? What's God's plan for our communities?
Why does the Old Testament matter to your faith today? Those are just a few of the questions you'll get answered when you enroll in the Tony Evans Training Center, an interactive online study experience with Dr. Tony Evans, where you can grow in your knowledge of God's word and learn to advance his kingdom agenda in your life. Visit tonyevanstraining.org to get started today.
That's tonyevanstraining.org. So you've got family chaos. You've got a bad daddy background. Your birth mother has died.
Your brothers don't like you, can't stand you, don't want to have anything to do with you, and now you're going to tell them that you had a dream where they're going to be serving you. Joseph has made three mistakes, three very critical mistakes. Now, we know his brothers got issues. His daddy has issues. But he's made three mistakes. Let me review Joseph's mistakes with you.
Mistake number one, the end of verse two. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to his father. He's a tattletale. He going, sneak it out. Let me see what the boys are doing. Daddy, Daddy, guess what? Guess what they did?
Guess what they're doing. Well, now, if your brother is telling on you to your daddy, you're not going to think much of your brother. Second thing he did was tell his dreams to folk who don't like him. You don't tell folk who can't stand you about dreams where they're going to be underneath you. Some dreams you need to keep to yourself.
Now, they may be God-given, but it's God-given to you or people who are going to support it, not people who are hating you already. There's a third mistake he made, sporting his tunic. Okay, watch this now. We read in the beginning of the chapter, he's taking care of flocks with his brothers. His brothers already don't like him and speak harshly to him. He's taking care of flocks with his brother. Now he gets suited and booted.
He's got on this multicolored, flamboyant tunic. Everybody else is riding up in a bike, he drives his car to the flock. And he wants to rub disfavoritism in the face of his brothers who already doesn't like him.
He is immature. So Joseph is going to have to grow up before he can realize his dream, which means he needs a detour. His father sends him on a trip to see his brothers. He says, I want you to go check on the brothers. So he goes looking for them.
He goes to check them, he goes to Dothan, he's looking for them. And when, verse 18, here it is, when they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. They said to one another, I love this, here come the dreamer. Here come the dreamer.
Okay, watch this. Here comes somebody who think he's something, because remember the dream was he going to be over us. Here comes somebody who think he better than us, think he's higher than us. Oh, in other words, watch this, his God given calling was already being rejected by his own family, because they weren't spiritual enough to understand it. So if you're pursuing the Lord and folk don't understand where you're coming from, they may be your nuclear family, your extended family, it could be even your church family.
They don't understand where you're coming from, but you know God is leading you. You see, they're actually complimenting him in reverse. Here come the dreamer, but that's what he is. In fact, that is how God is going to use him, as you'll see the story unfold. Now let's watch this as we come to a conclusion. They said, verse 20, let us kill him, throw him into the pit, and we will say a wild beast devired him.
Reuben said, no, no, no, no, no, let's, let's, let's, come on, we got to come up with something. Let's not shed any blood. So it came about when Joseph reached, verse 23, his brothers, they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the very colored tunic that was on him. I told you he was wearing this thing. I told you, now he going to visit his brothers, who were out with sheep and he's suited and booted.
He's wearing a suit, a royal robe, to hang out with some sheep, and sheep herders. He's strutting his stuff, and they stripped him of it. They stripped him of something he held in high value. It was given to him by his daddy. You see, sometimes when God is taking us on a detour, he allows us to be stripped of things we love the most, stripped of things we consider the most precious, the most valuable.
It looked like he was finally climbing the hill. He was being recognized as royalty, and now he's been stripped. It's like when you've been working in a job and you've been giving it all you have, and now you wind up with a pink slip when you've been doing better than everybody else, and you thought that was going to be a great career move, and you've been stripped. You can be stripped of your dignity when you've given the best you have, and somebody you care about walks out on you and you've been stripped. Because when you're on God's design detours, things can get worse before they get better, especially when you're being stripped of something that you're wrapped in that's covering you, that's close to you. It says, they stripped him of it, and they took him, verse 24, threw him into a pit. Now the pit was empty and without water.
Oh no. Anybody here today in a pit? That's a hole you can't get out of. That's a situation you can't fix. That's a wayward child that you can't control, that won't listen to you, that's staying on drugs and you're in a hole and you can't get out of it, and you can't get them out of it, you're stuck. It's a boss you can't get away from. It's a coworker who won't leave you alone. It's a family member who's driving you crazy.
It's a mate who is unresponsive, and you find yourself stuck. Because when God takes you on a detour, you often may wind up in a hole. He didn't create the hole, he didn't make the hole, but he was thrown into the hole. If you're here today and you want your destiny, I would not be being fair to the word of God if I didn't tell you that there are going to be dry spots along the journey. There's going to be dry spots where nothing appears to be happening and you find yourself stuck in a bad place. So I know what the dreamer is thinking. Here's what he's thinking. My dreams are shattered. I had these great dreams. I thought I was going to be something, be somebody, go somewhere, achieve something. And I ain't going from a royal robe to a hole. I'm down to my underwear because I've been stripped. This man's got to be disappointed.
And maybe he's even disappointed with God. God, how could you let me be in this hole when you said you loved me? How can you let me be in this hole when you told me to trust you? How can you let me be in this hole with my own family members doing me in? How can you let me be in this hole when these folks treat me this way? How can you leave me in this hole? And when you're in a hole and you have no way out, you feel like you're in a hopeless situation. You're on a detour because detours are designed to contribute to construction because God must address our character. He must mature us if He is going to trust us with the destiny He has for us. Okay?
Let me close. Verse 27 and 28. Come, and let us sell Him to the Ishmaelites. Look back at verse 25.
Then they sat down to eat a meal, and they raised their eyes and looked. Behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites were coming from Gilead with their camels bearing Aramaic gum and balm and myrrh on their way to bring them down to Egypt. Verse 27, Come, let us sell them to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on Him, for He is our brother and our own flesh.
And His brothers listened to Him. Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled them up and lifted Joseph out of the pit and sold them to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph to Egypt.
Joseph's in a hole. Some Ishmaelite traders come along and they say, You know what? Let's sell him. Let's get rid of him. So for some silver, they sell their brother—watch this—into slavery. He's a slave now. He's being bought and sold like cheap property. One minute he's living large. One minute he's in the White House.
Now he's in the outhouse. One minute he's got significance. The next minute he's a nobody. All he is is a slave, sold like cheap labor. He's up here one minute.
He's down there another minute. And the man had a dream about a destiny, and they took him to Egypt. They sold Joseph out of the pit to slave traders who bought him. He didn't have a chance to say goodbye to his daddy. He got ripped away from his family, didn't get to see his brother, who would come later, Benjamin. He was sold like cheap property to slave traders who brought him to Egypt.
Now why am I going through that? Because we started at the end of the book. And at the end of the book, chapter 50, it said, Has not God brought me to this place? The place he's in is Egypt. He says, God brought me here so that I could deliver you. So God's plan for Joseph was to get him to Egypt so that he could fulfill his destiny. But it ought to get him to the last chapter. He had to back up here to the 17-year-old chapter.
He had to strip him of his tunic, give him his dream, separate him from his family, sell him into being a slave so that they would go to Egypt so that God could fulfill his destiny. So you may be in a bad place right now. You may be in a pit right now. And there may be no water, no nourishment, no support.
You may feel like you're the lone ranger by yourself. But I want to call on you in the middle of your pit to tell God you're available to the Ishmaelites. You're available even if you have to be a slave for God to take you from here to deliver you over there so that you wind up in this place. Dr. Evans will come back in a moment to wrap up today's program with a word of prayer. But first, if you'd like to get a full-length copy of this message, check with us for details on the lesson called The Purpose of Detours. Better yet, get it as a part of Tony's nine-part series called Joseph Detours to Destiny, a collection filled with hope and encouragement, regardless of where life seems to be taking you. Remember, this powerful series on CD or digital download is yours as our thank you gift when you make a donation to help support Tony's ministry. As always, you can reach out to our resource center at 1-800-800-3222 to get the details. That's 1-800-800-3222.
Or visit us online at tonyovens.org. There's a saying that kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give. Dr. Evans believes kindness is a gift that our society can't afford not to give. Take the time to show kindness to those you meet today, and in the name of Jesus, look for opportunities to demonstrate kindness to someone who needs a touch from God. You'll help make your community a better place when you demonstrate the love of God through your acts of kindness.
Well, coming up next time, more on the life of Joseph and a look at how sidestepping one disastrous detour led him straight into another. Right now, though, Dr. Evans is back to lead us in prayer. Let's pray. Father, I thank you for the Word of God that goes forth through this ministry and for every ear that hears it. I pray that you will use the Word in the life of each person individually so that they know that they are hearing from you and are transformed by what they hear. I pray that that transformation touches them at their place of need, wherever they're hurting, struggling, wherever they're in pain, or wherever they're celebrating. May you be the center of that, and may they be able to say because of the Word that they've heard and because of the true God that they're interacting with right now, that you have showed up and shown off on their behalf, doing good by them no matter what their circumstances happen to be. Thank you for how you're going to touch every listener today in your own special way. In Jesus' name, amen. The alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
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