The Fight Of Faith II
A.     Introduction:  There is a fight to faith. I Tim 6:12     
1.     There often is a period of time between when we accept God's Word about           something and when we see results.          
a.     Many Christians give up in between the time they pray and when they see                results.           
b.     They lose the fight of faith -- that time of standing until you see with your                eyes what God has already promised. Eph 6:13          
c.     It is vital that we understand how to fight the fight of faith = what to do                during this waiting period.     
2.     You must understand some things about timing in order to fight this fight.           
a.     Timing is involved in God fulfilling His Word -- He fulfills it at the right                time. Gen 21:2; Rom 5:6; Gal 4:4          
b.     You have to be able to trust God for the right time -- not passively                (whatever will be will be), but in faith (God is at work and at the right time I will see results).     
3.     There are three things you must understand about this period when you don't           yet see the fulfillment of God's promise in your life.          
a.     There are / is obstacles / resistance from satan against which you must                stand your ground until they go / fall.          
b.     God is at work behind the scenes for His glory and your good.          
c.     There are all kinds of behind the scenes factors unknown to us which God                is taking into account and causing to serve His purposes.     
4.     In this lesson, we want to encourage ourselves some more from God's Word           that He is at work behind the scenes, and that the obstacles will fall, will go, and  will not stop God from fulfilling His promise to you.     
5.     In this lesson, we want to look at a classic account of someone who had to wait           at least 13 years before he saw God's promise come to pass in his life, but when           it was over, he wouldn't have had it any other way!     
6.     We want to look at Joseph, the son of Jacob, and his story. Gen 37-50          
a.     Jacob, grandson of Abraham, had twelve sons -- Joseph was his favorite.          
b.     Joseph had dreams of greatness.  That, combined with his father's favor,                made his brother hate him.          
c.     His brothers sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt when he was 17.               
1.     Joseph was bought by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, and put in                     charge of Potiphar's whole household.               
2.     Joseph was then falsely accused of rape and put in prison.          
d.     He eventually got out of prison at age thirty by interpreting a dream of                Pharaoh's, and he was placed second in command in Egypt.               
1.     Pharaoh's dream was a warning of a coming famine.               
2.     Joseph was put in charge of storing food before famine hit and then                     distributing food during 7 years of famine.          
e.     During the famine Joseph's father and brothers came to Egypt for food,                they were all reunited, and all survived the famine.
B.     Joseph is sold into slavery. Gen 37:1-36     
1.     Joseph had some specific promises from God:The promised land for him and           his descendants. Gen 28:13  The promise of greatness. Gen 37:5-9     
2.     Joseph's brothers (hated and envied him) decided to kill Joseph, then changed           their minds, and sold him into slavery. Gen 37:4,5,8,11; 20-24; 25-28     
3.     These brothers were opposition to God's promises. Gen 37:20          
a.     They removed Joseph from the land, and demoted him to slavery.          
b.     That's life in a sin - cursed earth!  The earth is populated by a fallen race                who will oppose you and God's promise on purpose or by accident.     
4.     God knew the brothers were going to do this to Joseph.  Why didn't He stop it?
a.     Men really do have free wills -- and their choices produce consequences.           
b.     The human race, in Adam, chose the knowledge of good and evil, and God                is allowing sin and the consequences to run its course. Gen 3:6               
1.     Man's 6,000 years on earth will be a monument throughout eternity to                     what happens when men choose independence from God.               
2.     Sin and its consequences will not go on forever -- only until Jesus                     returns to earth.  And, in eternity, 6,000 years will seem like nothing.          
c.     God causes mens' choices to serve His purposes = gather a people for                Himself; bring glory to Himself and good to man -- that is exactly what                God is going to do in Joseph's situation.     
5.     Yes, but why did God let Joseph suffer?  You must realize, we ask that           question strictly from a human, time vantage point.          
a.     First of all, God does not owe anybody anything. Matt 20:1-16               
1.     We tend to focus on what we don't have and didn't get, instead of                     being grateful for what God has done.               
2.     We think in terms of "that's not fair" and miss the whole point.                    
a.     Fair = everyone goes to hell; everyone gets nothing but                          punishment.                   
 b.     Grace = Because God is good, He chooses to give us good we                          don't deserve.          
b.     Secondly, there is no such thing as an innocent person.               
1.     We are all born into a fallen race. Eph 2:1-3 -- by nature = PHUSIS =                     lineal descent, disposition, constitution, or usage; children of wrath =                     people with whom God was angry. (Beck)               
2.     God says there is none righteous -- not one. Rom 3:10-12; Isa 53:6          
c.     We are time oriented, but, in terms of eternity, 17 years of postponed                dreams is nothing.  Joseph doesn't care today!!               
1.     And, God used the situation for great good = maximum good.               
2.     And, God was with Joseph in a demonstrable way throughout the                     waiting period.     
6.     What if God had stopped the brothers from selling Joseph?          
a.     Would that have solved his problems with the brothers?          
b.     What would have happened to all of them -- including Joseph -- during the                famine?          
c.     What would have happened to Egypt during the famine?  (God's kindness                allowed them to live. Ex 9:16; 8:19; 9:20,21)     
7.     In dealing with questions such as why does God allow suffering, why don't           we see results immediately, you've got to recognize and believe:          
a. You don't know everything.          
b.     God is good and good means good.          
c.     God owes you nothing; be grateful for all that He has given.          
d.     The God of all the universe is not, never has been, nor ever will be unfair.                Gen 18:25C.     Joseph in Potiphar's house. Gen 39:1-23     
1.     God was with Joseph in a way that Potiphar could see. v2-5          
a.     Joseph prospered and had favor with his owner.          
b.     Gen 28:15 gives a definition of what it means to have God with you in a demonstrable way.     
2.     Keep in mind, all of this good happened to him while he was waiting = in the           fight of faith to hold onto God and His promises.     
3.     Notice:  Potiphar could see God was with Joseph, Joseph was promoted, and God blessed others -- all while Joseph was waiting. v3-6          
a.     God is being glorified.          
b.     Behind the scenes, God is weaving this all into a plan to bring great good.          
c.     And, God has not abandoned Joseph just because there is a waiting period.      
4.     39:7-20 -- Joseph was falsely accused of rape.  He had trouble on top of trouble, opposition on top of opposition.  Why?  That's life in a sin - cursed earth!!          
a.     Opposition from the world = Potiphar's wife.          
b.     Opposition from his flesh = physical / sexual desires.          
c.     Opposition from his own mind and emotions = I've got a right to do this; no one will know; etc.          
d.     39:10 -- Notice, the wife came after Joseph day after day.            
e.     Yet, Joseph kept standing, stood his ground. 39:9,12          
f.     He did the right thing and got lied about!! Why?  That's life!! 39:14     
5.     Why didn't God expose this woman at that point?          
a.     Remember, God owes no one -- including Joseph or you or me -- anything!          
b.     And, God was with Joseph in a demonstrable way in prison, causing it all  to serve His purposes = His glory and the greatest good.          
c.     And, the truth has come out!!  Here it is in the Bible!!  And, no doubt, the  truth came out when Pharaoh finally released Joseph from prison.     
6.     You must understand this principle in the kingdom = putting off short term           pleasure for long term good and eventual lasting pleasure. Heb 11:24-27     
7.     In Joseph's case, God -- because of His all knowingness -- could see where all this would lead, and how He could use all of the choices in the situation for great good.     
8.     Joseph went to prison falsely, but he prospered in prison. Gen 39:21-23
D.     Joseph in prison. Gen 40, 41:1-36     
1.     Joseph met Pharaoh's butler and baker and interpreted their dreams. 40:1-23          
a.     Notice, Joseph is still trusting God, looking to God. 40:8          
b.     40:14 -- Joseph still has hopes of getting out; hasn't abandoned his dreams.               
1.     Hasn't given in to "I guess prison must be God's will for me".               
2.     Part of standing is holding on to God's Word despite what you see.     
2.     40:23 -- But, the butler forgot Joseph.  Why?  That's life!!          
a.     Could God have reminded the butler?  Of course He could!! But, He has something more spectacular in mind.          
b.     If Joseph's case would have come to Pharaoh at that point, he may well  have been released, but there would have been nothing about him which would have caused Pharaoh to promote him.     
3.     Two years later, Pharaoh had his dream. 41:1-7          
a.     41:8 -- The wise men and magicians of Egypt couldn't interpret it.          
b.     The butler remembered Joseph, and he was brought before Pharaoh. 41:9          
c.     Joseph immediately gave God glory for dream interpretations; he has not  lost his confidence in God, despite being surrounded by unbelievers. 41:16          
d.     Joseph interprets the dream and tells Pharaoh: God is speaking to you.           
e.     God cares about Pharaoh.  He is showing Himself to Pharaoh as God  Almighty. 41:25,28,32         
 f.     Remember, God is always working to draw a family to Himself.      
4.     Pharaoh realized he needed a man in charge with the wisdom of God to handle the famine program, and Joseph was promoted. 41:38-45          
a.     Joseph carried out a plan to gather food during the years of plenty and  distribute it during the years of lack. 41:46-49; 53-56.          
b.     All countries came to Egypt for food.  How many pagans do you think  heard Joseph's story, heard about Joseph's God who provided all this food  for them? 41:57     
5.     Joseph's own family will come to Egypt for food -- he will be reunited with them, and they will be saved from death -- all because Joseph was in the  position he was in.     
6.     Sometimes, because we live in a sin - cursed earth, the only way to Oregon is by the rough, dangerous Oregon trail -- but it's worth the trip!!
E.     There is still much more to say about Joseph's story, and about why we don't      always see immediate results.     But, are you beginning to see some major points?     
1.     God has a will and a plan for our lives. Rom 8:28          
a.     His will = blessing, sonship, conformity to the image of Christ.          
b.     His plan = what He does with our free will choices; how He uses those                choices to accomplish His will.          
c.     We see this clearly in Joseph's life.               
1.     God's will = the promised land and greatness.               
2.     God's plan = how He used the choices made to bring His will to pass.     
2.     God is able to bring maximum good out of peoples' choices.          
a.     Look what has happened up to this point in Joseph's story as God uses                peoples' free will choices.               
1.     Many idol worshippers have been exposed to the true God through                                    Joseph's life in the waiting period.               
2.     Joseph has gotten to a position where he can save the lives of his                     family and thousands of other people.         
b.     To fight the fight of faith, to stand until you see, you must know and                believe that God is at work behind the scenes for His maximum glory and                your maximum good, and He will fulfill His promises.     
6.     More next week!!
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