Dirty Jobs: Tearing Down the Walls

It is as we open the door for people to change, as we start rebuilding lives rather than watch them continue to unravel that we find the true goal isn’t just between two people, but between us and God.

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Reconciliation Advances through Repentance (Gen. 50:15-20) So far in the account of Joseph, running towards reconciliation, we’ve seen testing, we’ve seen fear and cowering, but this is the first time that we get to see repentance. 15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” With Jacob’s death, we see that rebuilding a broken relationship is a process more than a pinnacle moment.16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. 18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

They send a manufactured letter superficially on behalf of their father, but finally the brother’s throw themselves before Joseph—fulfillment of the dream he had as a boy—his brothers bowing down to him not in ignorance of his identity but in acknowledge of his faithfulness and their sin. You would think repentance would make them appear weak—and yet in their weakness they find grace. Joseph is able to put on for a moment the glasses of God—perfect 50:20 vision to see the world as God promised it would be. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Tearing Down the Walls”

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Dirty Jobs: Avoiding Revenge & Rebuilding

As we have seen throughout our Dirty Jobs series, our relationship with each other is a reflection of our relationship with God, there is a spiritual component to Running towards Reconciliation, but there is also a practical component.

After Joseph’s brother Judah offers to take the place of his brother Benjamin, he becomes overcome with emotion and is finally ready to reveal his true identity. In the process he shows us that:

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Reconciliation Avoids Revenge and Starts Rebuilding (Genesis 45:3-5, 8-10) Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” (Doing well?) But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

If you’ve ever seen Undercover Boss, there is always that shock at the revelation that the person you’ve interacted with is something more than he appeared. But you can understand the shock and cowering response of the brothers. If this was a movie, this would be where the crowd is cheering for the brothers to get what they deserve, this is the Hatfields and McCoys, Israel versus Palestine, escalation and retaliation without end, and yet Joseph voices a theology that is the center of his life: God has ultimately been in control even when life felt out of control. Joseph has to actually draw them back because they are expecting what’s natural to come from Joseph. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Avoiding Revenge & Rebuilding”

Dirty Jobs: Planning with People in Mind

Joseph doesn’t just stop with getting to know the issues facing the people or traveling the land, he takes the proactive step of…

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Planning With the People in Mind (Gen. 41:47-49) 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

We have a tendency as Americans to plan with the short-term in mind. College students on average change their major seven times. People over 60 years old in the United States now hold 43 billion dollars in student loans. No real long-term plan. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Planning with People in Mind”

Dirty Jobs: Be BOLD

It is as we are faithful in all circumstances, as we prepare in the midst of less than satisfactory moments, that we get the opportunity to..

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Be Bold- (v 12-14) Joseph listened to the dreams of the cupbearer and the chief baker. The cupbearer sees grapes ripening on the vine—holding the Pharaoh’s cup in his hand squeezing out the precious liquid. While the baker has birds eating from the basket on his head, bad news that he would soon be bird food. 12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. Joseph follows up his interpretation with boldness, seeing a door opened by God: 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. We oftentimes hold back from being bold—because we worry about what people might think, how they might response—and yet when God is working through us, what need is there to worry? He is in control. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Be BOLD”

Dirty Jobs: Wrestling with Waiting

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Frank was a type A personality, he liked to do things efficiently and effectively and so he wasn’t much for being patient. He also didn’t have a long fuse when it came to negative conversations. In fact, patience and bad news seemed to be the epitome of wasteful. Why should he be patient, why should he wait for something to happen? And at the same time why should he read the negative stories in the newspaper or watch the 10 o’clock news, it wasn’t like he could change the outcome. When he got a call from his wife during a busy day at work, she talked slowly and didn’t seem very upbeat. Frank interrupted her and exhorted her to be brief and positive. After all, he didn’t have time. She paused for a moment and then cheerfully replied, “I discovered the airbags in our new BMW work great!” (Dr. Paul Chappell).

Sometimes, no matter how eager we are for good news and for action, there are periods of life where things come to a sudden and drastic stop.  Where we get to discover the airbags of our new car, or cancer diagnosis puts our plans in a holding pattern, bankruptcy makes retirement a dream; grief guts us of any hope for the future. If you’ve been to the DMV on a busy day, you’ve probably experience the frustration of waiting. So far in our sermon series Dirty Jobs, we’ve looked at a few of the dirty jobs Joseph was required to perform in hopes of being a man of God in the midst of a world falling apart. Joseph’s story appears to continue declining series of starts and stops, once the favored son and the hated brother, he was thrown into a cistern and sold as a slave. In the house of Potiphar he excelled as a manager only to be caught up in a miscarriage of justice when his master’s wife claimed he “made sport of her” and now for all his faithfulness and all his willingness to honor God with his life, he is the newest resident of the Egyptian criminal justice system. Even though he has excelled once again behind bars, given greater responsibility—it is still being done behind bars.

If you struggle waiting, you’re not allow. I know a lot of you are baseball fans, some of you are die-hard Cubs fans, others are wise Cardinal fans, but the Wall-Street Journal did some analysis of America’s pastime and found a lot of time just passing by. In their study time begin innings racked up 42:41, time between pitches took up 1:14:49, and all in all, nearly 90% of the game is spent waiting. So baseball game a decree–hurry up!

How do we handle the Dirty Job of wrestling with waiting when we aren’t hanging out for a leisurely day at the ballpark? Although Joseph was in a family line chosen by God, with huge promises, he was left wrestling with waiting, waiting for freedom, waiting for justice.  Joseph’s story behind bars gives us three insights into how to respond in Genesis 40:

(v. 1-4) Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.

WAITING ON GOD OFFERS US A CHANCE TO BE FAITHFUL TO GOD: Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Wrestling with Waiting”

Dirty Jobs: Attention

Today we continue in our look at the story of Joseph and the Dirty Jobs he must confront to move forward with God’s plan. Even if you’ve lost battles before with lust, with desire, Joseph reveals the key comes down to…

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Attention (Genesis 39:8-12) But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. 11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Attention”

Dirty Jobs: Appetites

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If you’ve been to a county fair most likely you’ve gotten to watch and laugh at the pie eating contest, or you have seen on ESPN the skinny Asian guy who beats all the chubby others guys in a hot dog eating contest, with a stomach that is described as elastic. Reuter’s Life! shared a story that you probably haven’t heard of, it was from Taiwan in 2008, at Dayeh University, where the students were having a contest to crown one team the “Big Stomach King!” That is something to write home about, right? In Taiwanese fashion, the contest was with rice balls and cheese and had over 30 teams involved.

One 23 year old man had just pulled his team into first place, downing two full buns of rice balls and cheese, even helping out downing some of the food on his teammates plate, when he started throwing up persistently, passed out, and died. “I can’t say why he died,” said Huang Te-hsiang, the university’s dean of student affairs. “He had been in the contest before. He was a strong guy.” The graduate student, surname Chen, was on course to win the five-year-old annual competition, a publicist said.” What was the prize that drove him to keep shoving food down his throat, long after his stomach was filled up, what prompted the unending urge for more?…The publicist added, “He would have won T$2,000 ($60).” He had a devouring appetite was ultimately was misapplied.

Today, that is really at the heart of our focus today, as we discuss the hungers and appetites within us that when misapplied can be life-threatening.  In our sermon series Dirty Jobs we have been looking at the life of Joseph, as his story unfolds in the book of Genesis, and the dirty jobs that need to be confronted to move forward. Dealing with the issues that are easy to ignore but imperative to address. Someone came up to me after last weeks sermon on jealousy and said in there decades in church they never heard that topic covered. Isn’t that how it works? We are great at avoiding dirty jobs. Out of sight, out of mind.  Yet, Mike Rowe in a Dirty Jobs episode took on the job of Garbage Collector for Chinatown. As you can imagine, after a while, even if you don’t see the trash, it starts to stink. The same thing happens in our lives, when we ignore the dirty jobs our lives begin to stink, our relationships begin to spoil, our appetites go unchecked.

As we look at the next chapter in Joseph’s story from Genesis 39, we find that after being sold into slavery by his brothers for 20 shekels, the slave traders heading to Egypt made a pretty penny by selling him into the home of an Egyptian named Potiphar. He is described as the captain of the royal guard, and he became a possession in a household where things were going to begin stinking when left unchecked and where the Dirty Job of Outlasting Lust would come to the forefront. He was now in a situation where everyone seemed to be controlled by their…

Appetite (Gen. 39: 2-4,6) The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned…So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Continue reading “Dirty Jobs: Appetites”