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Gen. 39:1-23 - God Has A Wonderful Plan For Your Life? - Part 1

We’ve all probably heard the statement: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Heck, some of you might have even told other people that yourselves. But then the realities of life hit us upside the head time after time: pain, sickness, broken relationships, abuse, shattered dreams, temptation, sin and death. So where is this wonderful plan for my life? Where is God in all this? Is this His plan, because I’m not seeing the “wonderful” in any of it.

But those are great questions. When we explore what God is up to in our lives, we discover that His good plan is NOT a plan for our ease and comfort, but rather a plan for our death and resurrection - dying to sin and to our old self and rising to a whole new life in Him. He loves you and I too much to leave us unchanged. And this process can be hard and painful, as Joseph discovered, and the pathway along which you are called to walk may be similar to what Joseph will be experiencing.

Yet along that difficult path, Joseph found that the Lord was with him, even when he felt most abandoned and alone. In the light of Joseph’s experience in Egypt, we too may discover that even when God’s wonderful plan leads us into trials and temptations, His grace is sufficient for us. Maybe Joseph even grew up hearing about God’s wonderful plan for his life. He was the favorite son in a favored family.

But then everything in Joseph’s life seemed to go horribly wrong. Joseph was sold as a slave and purchased by an Egyptian official named Potifar. God’s wonderful plan for Joseph’s life seemed shattered by a combination of jealousy and greed. Where was God at the crucial moments of Joseph’s life when his dreams were being shattered? Maybe he was even thinking about that very thing on his way into Egypt and his days as a household slave?

Yet Moses informs us no fewer than 5 times in the opening 5 verses of Gen. 39 that the Lord was with Joseph in Egypt, giving him success and causing him to find favor with his new employer. He wants to make sure that we don’t miss the point, that just because life is hard and isn’t turning out the way you’d hoped, that doesn’t mean God is against you or that His wonderful plan for your life has been kicked to the curb.

God can be with us in Egypt, in bondage, and in a set of frustrating circumstances where we are experiencing the consequences of other people’s sins against us, just as much as He is with us in the sunnier days in Canaan, where everything seems to be going according to YOUR plan.

Maybe some of you reading this today can relate to this! You might be dealing with a difficult situation in your life right now: you might be experiencing painful trials that have radically changed your prospects for the future and condemned you to a life you certainly wouldn't have chosen for yourself. What in the heck is God doing? We don’t know, but it's one thing to declare that “the Lord is with us” when there isn’t a cloud in your sky. It’s quite another to be able to confess that “the Lord is with us” in the valley of darkness.

So before the break in the text talking about Judah, the events in Joseph’s life took a dramatic turn for the worst, and we can only imagine what this man was thinking. We’re gonna discover that Joseph was one of the most remarkable men in the Scriptures. There’s not one word recorded concerning Joseph’s reaction to all these negative circumstances that are coming his way.

Remember, dad had put the ornate coat on the guy, his father tagged him as top dog of the family, the one who would have the authority over the governance of the family, he would get the biggest share of the inheritance. Then, all of a sudden, his father sends him to his troubled brothers out of concern for their welfare and then his brothers reject him and sell him off.

And of course, in that is a fascinating picture of Jesus Christ who was also sent by His Father to His brothers, the Jews, who also rejected Him and betrayed Him and sold Him off for shekels of silver.

So here’s Joseph on top of the world one minute, and the next minute, through no fault of his own, he finds himself being a slave in Egypt and not one place do we find him grumbling or complaining.

And what we will come to discover is that this is what makes him most like Christ. That this man had an iron trust that the Lord was leading and guiding and really sovereignly ordering his life. On top of that, all this is taking place when he’s just a kid, he’s 17 when he was sold. So the depth of spiritual maturity we find in this man is just remarkable. So let’s dig in...

Vs. 1-2 - “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.”

What I had you underline is really the dominant theme in this man’s life. Joe’s gonna do some amazing things in his life, and what we need to understand right out the gate, is that Joseph is NOT the central character in the narrative. It is God who is the central character in this story. No less than 7 times in ch. 39 are we gonna see this theme that the Lord was with Joseph.

This is something GOD had done, God has done this, God has done that, and the idea here is this: Joseph didn’t have ANYTHING that isn’t available to every person seated or standing in this building today! And that is the simple exercise of faith! The Lord working in powerful and profound ways is something that is available to each of us.

Also understand that the Lord’s not going to force Himself upon us. “The Lord was WITH Joseph.” He doesn’t force Himself on us, that would violate free agency or free will.

But as James says in {#5} James 4:8 - “Come near to God and He will come near to you.” If you wanna be “With God” He would absolutely love to be with you! So that is the dominant theme here, and if we have that desire, then that can and really should be the themes of our life as well.

Remember, Jesus has given us the promise of {#6} Heb. 13:5 - “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”

So, we’re told he was sold to this guy Potifer, an interesting individual, his name means - “Devoted to Ra” or “One who was sent by Ra.” Ra is the Egyptian sun God, so this is a guy who was raised a pagan. We read here that he was captain of the guard, and that was more of a police position than a military position, and it means that he was kinda the Chief of Police on a national level, think head of the secret service. This is the guy who would be directly involved in the personal protection of Pharaoh himself, a very high ranking Egyptian official here. We’re also told he was a wealthy man, and through Joseph he’s about to get a whole lot wealthier.

Again, here’s Joseph; one minute he’s sorta living the dream, and the next moment he’s a slave to a high ranking cop. That’s going from good to bad in a real hurry. Often times in life we don’t have much to do with many of the circumstances we find ourselves in - no doubt there are times we wind up where we wind up because of poor decision making on our part - but there are a number of other times in life where the circumstances around us suddenly change, through no part of our own, where stuff just comes our way that we had nothing to do with.

Though we may not be responsible for finding ourselves in those circumstances, we ARE responsible for what our RESPONSE to those circumstances are. Here’s a very negative set of circumstances coming into this young man’s life, and yet, what is going to be his response? Join us next week as we continue the text and find out.

Blessings to you all.


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