The Fight Of Faith IV
A.     Introduction:  There is a fight to faith. I Tim 6:12     
1.     Faith is agreement with God: You know what God has said, you believe it even           though you don't see it, and you express your agreement.     
2.     Often a period of time between when we believe God's Word and see results.
a.     The fight of faith takes place during this period of waiting.          
b.     The fight of faith is that time of standing after you have believed but                before you see results. Eph 6:13.          
c.     It is vital that we understand what to do during the waiting period.     
3.     We must understand some things about timing to fight the fight of faith.          
a.     God fulfills His Word 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.     
4.     Why is there often a waiting period, a period when you don't see?          
a.     There are obstacles from satan against which you must stand until it falls.               b.     God is at work behind the scenes for His maximum glory and your                                         maximum good.  Today may seem like the right time to us, but God,                knowing all the factors involved, knows next week is the right time.     
5.  We have been looking at Joseph, a man who had to wait many years before he           saw God's promises come to pass. Gen 37-50          
a.     God promised Joseph greatness (Gen 37:5-9) and the promised land for                him and his descendants (Gen 28:13).          
b.     His brothers, moved with hatred, sold him into slavery when he was 17.
1.     He ended up in Egypt, bought by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, and                     was put in charge of Potiphar's whole household               
2.     Joseph was falsely accused of rape and put in prison.          
c.     He eventually got out of prison at age 30 by interpreting a dream Pharaoh                had.  The dream warned of a coming famine.          
d.     Joseph was placed second in command in Egypt and put in charge of                storing food before famine hit, and then distributing it during the famine.     
6.     It took at least 13 years for Joseph to get from the promise of God (dreams                of greatness) to second in command in Egypt.          
a.     So far, God has brought much good out of Joseph's waiting      period.          
b.     Many idol worshippers have been exposed to the true God through                Joseph's life.          
c.     Joseph has gotten into a position where he can save his own family                and thousands of others from starving during the famine.     
7.     In the last lesson, we covered two key points about Joseph's story.          
a.     God didn't do the bad things that happened to Joseph (or set Joseph up).
1.     Joseph's circumstances were the result of life in a sin cursed earth.                      Gen 3:17,18; Matt 6:19; Acts 7:9,10; Mark 4:14-17; Matt 13:18-21               
2.     God's test in the circumstances was His Word -- would Joseph hold                     on to God's promises despite the situation. Ps 105:19          
b.     God took what the devil and wicked men meant for evil and brought                genuine good out of it in Joseph's life and the lives of others. Gen 50:20    
8.     In this lesson, we want to pick up the story where we left off.  Gen 41:57B.     Back in the promised land, Jacob and his family (Joseph's father and brothers) were      running out of food.  They decided to go to Egypt rather than die. 42:1,2     
1.     Ten sons went to Egypt to buy food.  Benjamin (youngest) left home. 41:3
a.     In fulfillment of his dream, Joseph's brothers bowed down to him (at least                20 years after the original dreams). Gen 42:6          
b.     Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not know him. 42:7     
2.     Joseph put them through some of tests to see if their characters have changed.          
a.     Joseph accused them of being spies and bound them for three days.          b.     Told them they must verify their story (sent by their father for food); told                them to go home and get Benjamin and meanwhile leave Simeon behind.          c.     On the return trip, the brothers found the money they had paid for the                food in their sacks, and became very afraid. 42:25-34     
3.     Jacob refused to send Benjamin to Egypt, but the famine got worse, and he had           no choice. 42:38;43:1,2          
a.     The sons went back to Egypt with Benjamin, presents from the land, and                double money. 43:15          
b.     They were ordered to come to Joseph's house, and were afraid. 43:18          c.     At the door of the house, they told Joseph's steward how they had found                the money in their sacks last trip.          
d.     Steward said: "I handled your money; your God must have done this for                you." 43:23 (heathen giving God credit = more good coming out of this.)          
e.     Once again, Joseph's brothers bowed down to him.     
4.     Joseph sold them food again, had their money placed back in their sacks, and his silver cup placed in Benjamin's sack. 44:1,2          
a.     The cup was found in Benjamin's sack, and Joseph declared that, for                punishment, Benjamin must remain with him. 44:17          
b.     Judah begged to stay in the place of Benjamin, saying the loss of Benjamin would kill their father. 44:30-34C.     Let's note some more key points in the story thus far.     
1.     Throughout the whole ordeal, Joseph did not respond negatively to God.
          a.     There is no hint of Joseph asking "Why me God?".
          b.     The only way you can do that is if you know:               
1.     God is not the source of your trouble; He is not being unfair to you.               
2.     He is causing even the bad to serve His purposes.               
3.     He will bring maximum good and glory out of it all.          
c.     Remember when Joseph did not sin with Potiphar's wife? Gen 39:9               
1.     This is strong evidence that Joseph did not blame God.               
2.     One of the easiest times to sin is when we are mad at God because we  think He has been unfair to us.     
2.     There is plenty of evidence that Joseph did not complain.          
a.     God was with Joseph.  God inhabits the praises of His people. Ps 22:3          
b.     Praise opens the door to God's deliverance; complaining opens the door to the destroyer. Ps 50:23; Acts 16:25,26; I Cor 10:10          
c.     In the midst of Joseph's difficulty, we see prosperity, not destruction. Gen 39:2-5; 21-23     
3.     We get an idea of Joseph's mental state during all of this by what he named his           children born in Egypt. Gen 41:50-52          
a.     Manasseh = God made me to forget; Ephraim = God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.          
b.     That is what Joseph was saying every time he spoke the names of his  children.  If this wasn't real to him, could he say those things?     
4.     You must know that God has not abandoned you in the waiting period.
          a.     You must know that even while you are waiting, God wants to /
will  provide for you in the waiting period -- in the midst of the difficulty.
b.   God does not abandon you while He works behind the scenes.
5.     All this brought the brothers to repentance over what they had done to Joseph.          
a.     42:21-23  When the brothers first went to Joseph and he accused them of being spies, they felt they were reaping what they sowed.          
b.     We can see a definite change in their attitudes. 44:18-34
1.     Judah begged Joseph to keep him instead of Benjamin.  Judah is the                     one who wanted to sell Joseph for money. 37:27               
2.     We can't do this to our father -- they certainly could and did earlier.          
c.     We can conclude that the brothers had to confess their sin to Jacob and ask forgiveness.  The passage of time brought it all out.          
d.     Consider these two points:                 
1.     Had God stopped the brothers from selling Joseph into slavery, the                     murderous attitudes of their hearts might not have been dealt with.               
2.     Maybe it took twenty years for them to get to the point where they could be brought to repentance.  Were the brothers worth saving?     
6.     When Joseph finally revealed himself, some interesting attitudes came out.          
a.     Joseph had truly, totally forgiven his brothers.               
1.     45:5  He didn't want them to feel bad or hurt for what they did.               2.     50:17  Even after Jacob died, Joseph did not want revenge on them.               
3.     50:21  He has forgiven them so fully, could treat them with kindness.          
b.     Recognizing the fact that God was at work helped Joseph forgive his  brothers -- you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. 50:20     
7.     Were these attitudes always in Joseph or did they grow and develop over time?  It doesn't really say, but consider these points:          
a.     Circumstances, especially difficult ones, expose what is on the inside of us.          
b.     One way God uses the difficulties that life throws at us is by allowing them to expose ugly / sinful attitudes in us which must be dealt with -- this is one way God brings good out of bad.          
c.     You don't know how patient / loving / full of faith you are or aren't until  circumstances bring those things out, or not. James 1:3     
D.     Part of the fight of faith, part of standing during the waiting period, involves      knowing how to look at things = your perspective on things.     
1.     In the last lesson, we said this involves a basic  Bible principle -- when you look           back over your life, you can see clearly that God was at work for good. Ps 23:6     
2.     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 is part of the fight of faith.          
b.     If you don't know He is working even when you don't / can't see it, you                may not have the strength to stand until you see.     
3.     Joseph knew how to look ahead and see God at work.          
a.     God made two promises to Joseph: the promised land and greatness.
1.     Greatness was fulfilled in his life time, but he didn't go back to land.                2.     Before Joseph died, he told his family:  when God takes you back to                     the land, take my bones with you. Gen 50:22-26; Ex 13:19          
b.     Heb 11:22 says Joseph did this by faith = agreement with God.          
c.     Made mention = remembered = he remembered God's promise to him and                his descendants. Gen 28:13; 46:3,4; 48:21     
4.     Some might say:  so what!  He went back to the land dead, just bones!!          
a.     No, Joseph had an eternal perspective; realized this life is not all there is.          b.     When Joseph died, he went to Abraham's bosom (paradies). Luke 16:22          c.     At the resurrection, Joseph and his body will be reunited, and his body                glorified.  Where is the first place his feet will touch?  The promised land!
1.     In fact, it may have already happened -- Joseph may have been among                     the company of OT saints whose bodies were raised when Jesus rose                     from the dead. Matt 27:52,53               
2.     Either way, God's promise to Joseph will be fulfilled, and Joseph was                          so confident, he realized the time element was an irrelevant detail.     
5.     Am I saying you won't see God's promises fulfilled in this life? No!          
a.     I'm saying:  learn to trust God for the right time of fulfillment in your life.                 It will make the journey much more pleasant and the fight of faith easier.          
b.     Timing is involved in God fulfilling His promises -- and an eternal God is                on a different time table than us.          
c.     But, He's got everything under control, and at the right time, you will see                His promise fulfilled.
E.     Conclusion:  It's all in how you look at things.  We see that in Joseph's story.     
1.     He could look back at the end of his story and see that God had worked in his circumstances to bring maximum glory and good out of them -- goodness and           mercy had followed Joseph.     
2.     And, by holding on to God's promise, he could look forward and by faith           see God working in his life so much so that he made his family promise to take           his bones back to Canaan.     
3.     Both perspectives enabled Joseph to stand and even prosper during his     waiting           period.     
4.     Trouble will come your way -- that's life in a sin cursed earth.          
a.     There will be times when you do not immediately see results.          
b.     But, God is at work, good is coming to pass during the waiting period --                you must be convinced of that.     
5.     No matter where you look -- backwards, forwards, or at your present           circumstances -- you must be able to see God at work.          
a.     You can only do that if you understand how God works. Rom 8:28          
b.     You can only do that if you cling to His faithfulness and to His promises.
6.     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.
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