My big beautiful family all met together at my son’s house for Thanksgiving. Looking around the table, I had to laugh to myself as I studied each one. If you have ever seen the TV show “Parenthood”, that is what my family reminds me of. All talking at the same time with drama abounding.
- Everyone of us there has had our own personal struggles. I looked at those who have been divorced and saw pain like they never imagined. I looked at the children who suffered through that pain through no fault of their own. I saw those of us who have made poor choices and learned great lessons from those choices, and some who were still learning and stumbling along. There were new people added to our clan that day by invitation that were instantly put at ease when they saw what a loud, raucous family we were. I found myself asking if I had done something different in my own messed up life could I have spared them all the pain. Was I, in my youth, at fault for their lives and choices and hardships.
Can you relate?
- Yet, I knew that I did the best with what I had as a younger version of myself. Isn’t that all the Lord asks of us?
- As we passed the traditional candle around and talked about what we were thankful for this year you could see Jesus in their midst. You could hear the growth in some and still see fear in some. I could see those guests who were instantly nervous and could think of nothing they were thankful for, and listened to my grandkids who used to say they were thankful for Disneyland, but now they talked about how thankful they were for family and that we were all together.
- I don’t mean to pop your bubble, but we are all a beautiful mess. There is no perfect family.
The Bible tells us of many dysfunctional families.
Today I want us to look at Joseph’s family.
- Joseph grew up in a dysfunctional family.
His father Jacob had four wives. He had eleven brothers scattered among those four wives.
He had one full brother, the youngest child of all, Benjamin.
- Genesis 37:3 says that Joseph was his father’s favorite son—the son of his old age. It means he was the first son by Rachel, the woman Jacob always loved.
- Joseph was always his favorite. All the brothers knew it.
- His family looked like this: one father, four mothers, twelve brothers plus one daughter (Dinah), and one favorite son.
- Trouble is brewing right under the surface in Jacob’s complicated family.
- Out of it will come Joseph who many years down the road will rescue the brothers who betrayed him. As the story opens, there is no reason—none at all—to see any of this in advance. At the beginning, we mostly see dark clouds on the horizon.
- Here is his story in one paragraph:
He was the favored son of his father Jacob. When he enters the stage of biblical history, he is 17-years-old. Because his brothers hated him, he was sold as a slave and taken to Egypt. After being falsely accused of rape, he was imprisoned with no hope of getting out. Because he correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, he became the prime minister of Egypt. Eventually, he welcomed his family to Egypt, which preserved the line of promise that had started with his great-grandfather Abraham.
And that brief summary only hints at the drama that surrounded his life.
- And so now we look at you.
Your background is no impediment to serving God. There is no excuse imaginable for you to blame your childhood for your behavior today. Nor can you truthfully say that God will never use you because you are too broken.
Yet God chose Joseph and used him mightily.
Though Joseph was God’s man, he did not have an easy life.
Here are some of the things his story teaches us:
- Trusting God when in the pit of despair.
- How to deal with sexual temptation.
- How to redeem a painful past.
- What to do while you wait.
- How to see God’s hand in all things.
- How to make wise plans.
- How God awakens a guilty conscience.
- The marks of true repentance.
- How to live for God in a pagan culture.
- Overcoming lingering bitterness.
- How to die well.
Not many of us come from perfect families. Actually, none of us do because there is no such thing.
- “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14).
- “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12).
- “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
“For there is no difference.” (Romans 3:22b)
No difference between rich and poor.
No difference between religious and pagan.
No difference between Jew and Gentile.
No difference between young and old.
No difference between housewife and harlot.
No difference between criminal and choirboy.
No difference between American and Kenyan.
We’re all in the same boat, and unless God does something, we’re all going to sink together. And He did!!
Because of Jesus!
We are all broken people. Some of us know it, some of us don’t.
If you can relate, this story is for you.
If you come from a broken home, this story is for you.
If you don’t get along with your brothers and sisters, this story is for you.
If you were abused, this story is for you.
If your friends lied to you, this story is for you.
If you’ve done jail time, this story is for you.
If your family doesn’t understand you, this story is for you.
Life isn’t easy for any of us, and for most of us it can be quite difficult. To say it another way, anyone looking for an easy life has picked the wrong planet to be born on.
- Since God Himself stands behind the universe He created, we should not be surprised to find His fingerprints everywhere, even in the tiniest details of life.
Christ is the power to make life worthwhile. Note that I did not say that Christ “has” the power, which is true, but that Christ “is” the power, which is slightly different.
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