Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; October 25, 2015; Genesis 39:2-5

This Sunday we will continue to talk about God’s Commitment to us, our commitment to God,  what it all means to us, and how that commitment manifests itself in our lives.

This Sunday, we will look at the life of Joseph the Patriarch and his life from the point of view of commitment to God.

During the Service, we will an opportunity to enjoy special music by Kelli and Marianna.

Scripture for this Sunday is Genesis 39:2-5. You can read it here: NIV and CEB

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Today we will continue with the sermon series about commitment.

I think of commitment as a sum of devotion, dedication, loyalty to a cause or to a relationship that gives us energy and strength to keep on keeping on. I think of commitment as an attitude that keeps us working towards a goal or in support of something that is bigger than ourselves. Commitment is about MEANING in our lives.

Commitment to God is what keeps us connected to God and to each other. Commitment is what translates into action. That is why, as we try to figure out what our church will become in the future and how we will continue making disciples for Jesus for the transformation of the world, we need to look at examples of commitment in the Holy Scriptures.

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Last week we looked at the life of Lazarus.

{Illustration}

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Our relationship with God starts with the Sacrament of Baptism. Whether we are baptized as babies or adults, we are making a commitment to a relationship with Jesus. When we make a commitment to a relationship with someone, we are saying that we will take seriously what matters to that person. When we make a commitment to a relationship with Jesus, we are saying that we will take seriously our participation in the life of the Church, and that we will do that with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness, because church matters to Jesus so much that he was willing to give up his earthly life to establish the Church. The Church is made up of people who have a relationship with God. Church is the bride of Christ; collectively we are “the wife” of God.

Today we will look at the life of Joseph. When we think of Joseph, we think of the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Coat.” In reality, the life of Joseph is fertile ground for many sermons with many different lessons. It is tempting, and it would be easy, to write a whole series of messages based on his life because he lived such a colorful life.

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Today I want to look at his life from the point of view of commitment to God.

First of all, most of us know his name but really do not know how he fits into the picture.

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Abraham had two sons: Ishmael (by Hagar) and Isaac (by Sarah). As Christians and theological descendants from ancient Judaism, we are mostly focused and interested in the life of Isaac.

Isaac and his wife Rebeccah had two sons: Essau and Jacob. Again, as Christians and theological descendants from ancient Judaism, we are mostly focused and interested in the life of Jacob.

Jacob had two wives: Rachel and Leah (and their two servants). Rachel gave him two sons: Joseph and Benjamin. Another ten sons and one daughter came from Leah and the two maidservants.

Because Rachel was Jacob’s favorite (that would also make a great sermon), Joseph was Jacob’s favorite, and this caused much anger and jealousy with his siblings.

Let’s take a moment and look at what it meant to grow in Jacob’s household. First of all, education happened at home. All that Joseph and his siblings knew about God came from Jacob, who in turn learned from Isaac and Rebeccah, who in turn learned from Abraham and Sarah.

For Jacob, every day was Sunday School day. He absorbed the stories of God interacting with Abraham and his descendants with his mother’s milk.

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It is safe to say that Joseph was called to ministry early in life. We know that as a kid he had a vision from God that angered his brothers (Genesis 37:1-11 – sheaves of wheat and also the sun and the moon and the stars).

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When opportunity presented itself, his brothers sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt where he rose in prominence until he became what is equivalent to Prime Minister or Chairman of the Fed. When famine struck the region, he was able to help his family weather the famine and to resettle them in Egypt, which eventually led to the enslavement of the Hebrews 150 or so years later, and the subsequent Exodus narrative.

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Today we are talking about commitment, and Joseph’s life is a prime example of how we grow in our commitment. As we live our lives, we grow in our commitment to God, which in turn strengthens our connection and commitment to each other. That commitment to God and to each other is what translates into action, into evangelism and into outreach.

As a young man, Joseph’s understanding of God was in the term of “I.” The prophetic vision that angered his brothers was “Joseph”-centric [“I saw a dream and I was put above you, you were bowing to me” {Genesis 37:1-11}]

After being sold into slavery and arriving to Egypt, we learn that Joseph was an able administrator and a conscientious worker and servant. The Bible explicitly states that this was because “The Lord was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:2). Joseph started learning that God is not about “I”; Joseph started learning that God is about “we,” or “team,” or “group.”

A few years went by. This is how Joseph revealed himself to his family after he became the Prime Minister of Egypt, “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” (Genesis 45:4-5).

What Joseph learned out of his enslavement is that God is doing something, and that all of us are in it together. No longer do we hear him say, “bow down to me.” Instead we hear, “God brought me here to serve and to help and I will help you because I can.”

Growth in commitment goes from “I” to “We”. As we learn about God and recognize God’s presence around us more and more we “climb” that mountain. We become more committed to each other, we want to spend time together not only in worship but also in fellowship and in mission and outreach (“…faith without works is dead…” James 2:17).

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We tend to go up and down that “mountain” and every time that we reach a new understanding, all of us have a tendency to marvel at how cool it is and how much more spiritual we are becoming. As soon as we start thinking in terms of “our own spiritualness and specialness,” that is when we realize all of a sudden that we have just fallen off of the mountain. If that sounds strangely familiar, re-read the story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:4-9). It happens to all of us…

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As time progresses, and as I spend time with God, I realize that every time we climb that mountain, we climb a little higher. And that gives me hope, because one day I may learn enough to just stay there, or God will take me there when my journey is over.

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