Thursday, March 31, 2011

rollercoasters and sovereignty.

inspiration: tonight's sermon at theWell.

i love Thursdays.
for the simple fact that i know that on a typical Thursday night, i will be at theWell, surrounded by other believers my age and that we will be worshiping our Almighty Creator together :)
tonight was definitely no exception.

we started a new series entitled "Letdown".
the question that was ultimately asked and answered was this:
The question is not "Have you been let down?" We all have. The REAL question is "How will we respond when we are let down?"

tonight, ernest led us through the story of Joseph.
if you've never read the story of Joseph, check out Genesis 37 through 45.
it's a long story, but if you're into rollercoasters, Joseph's story is definitely one!

in short, he was the 11th of 12 sons, who was loved and adored very much by his father (Jacob). he was despised by his brothers because of this fact. one night, joseph had a dream that he would one day reign over his brothers and they would bow down to him. after sharing this dream with them, they plotted to kill him, but chose instead to sell him into slavery. he was sold into slavery and taken to Egypt, where he found favor with Potiphar, one of the officials of Pharoah. he was well respected and given anything he pleased. but Potiphar's wife accused Joseph of rape, so Joseph was sent to prison. while in prison, he interpreted the dreams of a cupbearer and baker. eventually the cupbearer and baker were released from prison, but Joseph remained there. one day, the pharoah had a dream that no other religious leader could interpret, so Joseph was called upon. Joseph interpreted Pharoah's dream (which signified seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine). Joseph was elevated once again to a high place of power. he was appointed over all the land and over all the food supply once the famine struck.

when the famine struck the land of his brothers, Jacob sent the ten oldest sons (the ones who sold Joseph into slavery) to buy grain from Egypt. when the brothers arrive, Joseph recognizes them, but they don't recognize him. and after various conversations, Joseph convinces the brothers to leave Simeon behind, to return home, and to bring the youngest son back to Egypt. again, after traveling back home and returning with Benjamin and more conversations and craziness, Joseph finally reveals his identity to his brothers.

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. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.

-Genesis 45:4-8

Ernest gave us three principles that Joseph shared through his story.
1. Joseph forgives
and we are called to forgive those who hurt us, those who let us down.
forgiveness is not for the other person. it's for us.

2. Joseph initiates reconciliation
once we forgive, we must take steps to reconcile with that person. it's hard, but necessary.

3. Joseph trusts in God's sovereignty

joseph was a true man of integrity and was able to see God's presence in all of his circumstances, even the seemingly horrible ones.
and that was the pinnacle of the story for me: God's sovereignty.

i mentioned Joseph's story to be like a roller coaster earlier, so let me share my opinion of rollercoasters: i like them. sort of.
i didn't really like them as a kid. but over the last couple years, i've decided i kind of like the adrenaline rush they bring. i've never been on one that goes upside down though, so that will be the true test. if i can muster up the courage a loopdy-loop rollercoaster. and if i can hold my stomach while riding one. ;)

...but the thing about a physical rollercoaster is that it has a definite ending.
if you don't like it, you don't like it; but you only have to endure for a short period of time. if you lose your lunch, hey, the ride eventually ends.

but our lives are just like the rollercoasters we love (or hate).
there are ups and downs. corkscrews and loopdy-loops.
but we can't control the turns our rollercoaster lives take. we don't know when we'll be on an uphill coast or downhill race. we may be coming up to a corkscrew turn that makes our stomachs turn or we may be facing a loop that's about to turn our lives upside down, and we don't know it...

but God does!

he's using every single up, down, corkscrew, and loopdy-loop for His glory!

Joseph trusted in God's sovereignty: "so it was not you who sent me here, but God," he said.
Joseph stayed faithful to God in every situation he encountered, whether in high power or in prison. he remained a man of integrity. and God blessed Joseph in every situation.

He promises the same for us.

Romans 8:28 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

we must trust in God's sovereignty. that no matter what life throws at us, that no matter what direction our rollercoaster is headed, that He is there for us and that He is going to use everything for our good and ultimately for His glory!!

(and that is what i learned at church tonight :))

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