The Fight Of Faith III
A.     Introduction:  There is a fight to faith. I Tim 6:12     
1.     The fight of faith is that period of time in between when you pray and when           you see results.          
a.     It is that time of standing after you have God's promise, but before you see                results. Eph 6:13          
b.     It is vital that we understand what to do during this waiting period.     
2.  We must understand some things about timing in order to fight the fight of faith.
    a.     Timing is involved in God fulfilling His Word, His promise -- 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).          
c.     Such confidence will help you stand until you see!       
3.     You must understand some things about this period when you don't see.          
a.     There are obstacles, there is resistance from satan, against which you must                stand until the resistance falls. (another lesson!!)          
b.     God is at work behind the scenes for His glory and your good. He is taking                into account behind the scenes factors unknown to us, and causing them to                serve His purposes.     
4.     In the last lesson, we began to look at Joseph, a man who had to wait at least           13 years before he saw God's promise begin to come to pass in his life.          
a.     But, when it was over, he wouldn't have had it any other way. Gen 37-50          
b.     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).          
c.     His brothers, moved by hatred and envy, sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt                when he was 17.               
1.     He 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 into prison.          
d.     He eventually got out of prision at age 30 by interpeting a dream Pharaoh                had.  The dream was a warning of a coming famine.         
e.     Joseph was placed second in command in Egypt and put in charge of                storing food before the famine hit, and then distributing food during the years of famine.          
f.     During the famine, he was reunited with his family after 20 years.          
g.     Because of his position, Joseph was able to feed his family as well as                thousands of others during the famine.     
5.     We don't want to take all of our time with reveiw, but it is important the we           restate some points from the first lesson on Joseph.  
B.     Joseph's story brings up a universal question -- why did God let all the bad happen      to Joseph in the first place?     
1.     Understanding in this area will help you stand, help you fight the fight of faith.            Some give up because they get angry at God when trouble strikes, not           understanding the "why".     
2.     Why?  Men really do have free wills -- and their choices produce consequences           both for themselves and for others.     
3.     Why?  God is allowing sin and its consequences to run its course.         
a.     Man's 6,000 years on earth will be a monument throughout eternity to                what happens when men choose independence from God.          
b.     Sin and its consequences will not go on forever -- only until Jesus returns.                 And, compared to eternity, 6,000 years is nothing.     
4.     Why?  God causes mens' choices to serve His purposes = bring glory to           Himself, gather a people for Himself, bring good to us.     
5.     Why?  God is able to bring maximum good out of peoples' choices because He           knows behind the scenes factors which He takes into account.          
a.     Viewed from our vantage point, the timing in Joseph's life seems all wrong.
1.     Why did't God stop the brother from selling Joseph into slavery?                                            2.     Why didn't God expose the woman who falsely accused him of rape?               3.     Why did Joseph have to stay in jail so long?          
b.     But, God saw the choices people were going to make and how He could                use them for maximum good to the most people including Joseph.     
6.     We look at suffering and say:  That's not fair!  He's / I'm a good person!          
a.     We must realize God does not owe anybody anthing. Matt 20:1-16          
b.     We think in terms of "that's not fair" and miss the whole point:               
1.     Fair = Everyone goes to hell.               
2.     Grace = Because God is good, he chooses to give us good we don't                     deserve:  salvation.          
c.     There is no such thing as a good person when you match us up to a holy                God. Rom 3:10-12          
d.     There is no such thing as an innocent person.  Eph 2:1-3     
7.     We stopped our study at the point where Joseph was distributing food during           the famine.  God, by using men's free will choices up to this point has done the           following:          
a.     Many idol worshippers have been exposed to the true God through the                waiting period in Joseph's life.         
 b.     Joseph has gotten into a position where he can save his own family and                thousands of others from starving.          
C.     We must make a key point about Joseph's story at this point:  God did not do these      bad things to Joseph.  God did not set Joseph up.     
1.     Many believe God sets up circumstances, does things to us, to test us, teach us,           see how we will react, etc. -- but, that is incorrect.          
a.     Yes, but God allows them, some would say.          
b.     God allows people to sin and go to hell -- that doesn't mean He wills it, is                for it, or is behind it in any way.          
c.     He allows men their free will choices and all the resulting consequences.     
2.     Joseph's circumstances were the result of life in a sin - cursed earth, not God           playing with him. John 16:33          
a.     In this sin-cursed earth, moths and rust corrupt. Gen 3:17,18; Matt 6:19           
b.     We interact with free will sinners who are influenced by satan. Eph 2:1-3          
c.     We have an adversay whom we must resist steadfast in the faith. I Pet 5:8,9
3.     What happened to Joseph has the fingerprints of satan inspired sinners all over           it. John 8:44; 10:10          
a.     His brothers planned to kill him and then lie about it.  They stole years of                his life by selling him into slavery.          
b. Potiphar's wife did likewise.     
4.     We must always read the OT in light of the NT.          
a.     Acts 7:9,10 tells us that what happened to Joseph was affliction.          
b.     satan is identified as the source of affliction and his goal is destruction. I                Pet 5:8,9          
c.     Acts 7:9,10 tells us God was with Joseph and delivered him.          
d.     Remember, God good, devil bad.  God and the devil are not working                together. John 10:10; Matt 12:24-26     
5.     Some might ask:  Why doesn't the Bible say the devil did it?          
a.     The Bible is progressive revelation.  The OT men did not have the light on                satan and his activities as we do in the NT.          
b.     The devil is directly mentioned only a few times in the OT.     
6.     Some say God sets up circumstances such as Joseph's to test us.         
a. No, circumstances are the result of life in a sin - cursed earth, men's free will                choices, and satan's activities. Mark 4:14-17; Matt 13:18-21          
b.     God's test in the circumstance is His Word -- will you continue to believe                Him / obey Him despite what you see?         
c.     Joseph's test was God's Word in the circumstance.  Would Joseph                continue to believe God's promises despite what he could see:  no one                bowing down to him; him out of the promised land. Ps 105:19     
7.     God is not "putting Joseph through all this"; God is using all this for maximum           glory and maximun good.          
a.     Some say:  Bad happened to me; God must have been behind it because                good came out of it.          
b.     God didn't send the evil, He used it.  That's what Rom 8:28 is all about.     
8.     Remember, God has a will and a plan for our lives.          
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 the                choices people make to bring His will to pass.     
9.     We see this clearly in Joseph's life.          
a.     God's will = the promised land and greatness.          
b.     God's plan = how He used the choices everyone made to bring His                will to pass.     
10.     God can take what the devil means for evil, what others mean for evil, the           circumstances that result from life in a sin - cursed earth, and cause them all to           serve His purpose and bring great good.          
a.     That is what God did for Joseph during the waiting period.          
b.     In Joseph's case, everything happened at the right time -- although it didn't                seem like it during the waiting period.     
11.     Joseph recognized that God was so in control of the situation (had everything           under control), he was able to say:  it is as though God sent me to Egypt.          
a.     Gen 45:5,7 -- God didn't send Joseph; his wicked brothers did.               
1.     Acts 7:10 -- Joseph's condition is called affliction, from which God                     delivered him.               
2.     But God used it all to bring idol worshippers to Him, and to save                     Joseph and his family from starving along with thousands of others.          
b.     Gen 50:20 -- Joseph was able to say: "As far as I am concerned, God                turned into good what you meant for evil; for He brought me to this high                position I have today so that I could save the lives of many people."                (Living)     
12.     Joseph could look back at the end of the story and see God at work in his           circumstances, causing it to serve His purposes and bring maximum good.
D.     There is a vital Bible principle involved here -- when you look back over your life,      you can clearly see God at work for good. Ps 23:6     
1.     But when you look ahead, you can't see it yet.  You only have God's Word.
a.     You have to walk by faith not by sight -- that's part of the fight of faith.          
b.     If you don't know He's working -- even when you don't / can't see -- you                may not have the strength to stand until you see.     
2.     David is another man of God who had to deal with time in between God's           promise (kingship) and when he actually saw it -- and he faced many           obstacles during that waiting period.     
3.     Look where the promise of goodness and mercy following us is found -- one of           David's most famous psalms.     
4.     David praises God's provision in a sin - cursed earth. v4          
a.     v1 -- The Lord is my shepherd and He will provide for me.          
b.     v2 -- He will lead me to provision as I walk through the troubles of life.          
c.     v3 -- He restores me when I'm weary.          
d.     v4 -- He leads me in the path of righteousness (the right way to go).          
e.     v4 -- As a result, I have no fear of the evil I encounter along the way.          
f.     v5 -- God makes full provision for me in the midst of it.          
g.     v6 -- When I look back over it all, I can clearly see God at work.     
5.     God doesn't set up circumstances to see how you'll react.          
a.     He leads you through the circumstances by the best route -- the one that                will bring maximum good.         
b.     That is what happend to Joseph.  That is what happened to Israel on                     the way to the promised land. Ex 13:17,18           
c.     There may be a period of time when it doesn't look like the timing is right                -- that is when you have to cling to God's Word and stand your ground.
E.     Conclusion:     
1.     To fight the fight of faith 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 promise at the right time.     
2.     Keep in mind, you won't feel like doing any of this when you most need to.     
3.     But, if you will encourage yourself from God's Word that He will fulfill His           promise at the right time, resulting in maximum glory and good, it will help you fight the fight of faith.     
4.     Still more about Joseph next lesson!!
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