Believe your big risks will be rewarded. Believe what you ask for is possible. If you’re ready to see a spark in your life, pray boldly. Pray daringly. Pray with fire. And remember God’s listening to your Dangerous Prayers.
This three-week series teaches us to pray bold prayers.
Heavenly Father, as hard as this is for me, I’m asking You to search me. Search me, God, and know my heart. God, test my motives. Reveal to me my anxious thoughts. Show me anything in me that offends You. God, I want to see in me what You see in me so I can become more like Jesus. God, I ask You to search me.
We need to understand that there’s a real difference between real hunger and not-real hunger; or, the kind of hunger you find in real Christians and the kind you find in not-real Christians. The hunger of a real Christian starts off slowly but grows over time, so that by the end of life a real Christian is more hungry for God than he’s ever been.
By contrast, the hunger of a not-real Christian starts off strong but diminishes over time, so that by the end of life, a not-real Christian is less hungry for God than he’s ever been. God is no longer as appealing as He once was. And so they no longer seek after God, but coast along with Him; no longer driven by desire, but by the force of habit or tradition or routine, and no longer motivated by an abiding passion for Christ, but by nostalgia or sentimentality. This morning I ask the question, “What are you hungry for?”
Many of us look back through the different stages and situations of our life’s story and we might say something like this, “The first twelve years were spent in such a place, and then our teenage years were spent somewhere else as Dad moved to a new job – perhaps they were followed by our university years – and then we moved on again to our first job and when we were first married . . .” and so on. For many of us in this congregation there were different challenges and encouragements marked each of the periods of our lives.There have been no seasons when God forsook us, but there may have been times when we were colder towards him. He, though, was always there for us, and so we confess that all the years of our life his mercies have been new each morning to us. So it was with Joseph.
While Joseph was going through his trials, he had realized that even though his brothers meant evil against him, God meant it for good. Even when Joseph was falsely accused, imprisoned, and forgotten, he knew that God was sovereign. This week we see that Jacob affirms Joseph’s interpretation of his life from God’s perspective. He is saying that Joseph was fruitful because he had endured these trials in God’s strength.
He uses the metaphor of a boy whose father is teaching him to shoot a bow and arrow. The boy isn’t strong enough to pull the bow back all the way and hold it steady on the target. So the father wraps his arms around the boy, puts his strong hands over the boy’s hands, pulls back the bowstring and aims it at the target. The boy is a strong archer because of his father’s strength. It’s a beautiful picture of being strong in the strength of God our Father.
What a moment. Joseph finally looses it and bursts into tears and deep sobs. When he manages to get enough breath and composure to speak…he cries out to them in Hebrew for the first time AAA-NEE-YO-SAPHE! I am Joseph! Imagine the look on these brothers’ faces. The text says they were stunned and speechless! The callous-free, fancy robe-wearing younger brother they abandoned, treated worse than a dog, and sold to slave traders was now the 2nd most powerful man in Egypt! Their brains were scrambled— “Is it really him? How’d he get here? Wait, what? What’s going to happen now?” Realizing their certain doom if this is Joseph, the brothers just stood their looking like they had seen a ghost. But I want you to notice something—Joseph says; “come close to me.” It’s not the common term used for simply moving closer. The word is not simply referring to proximity, but to intimate closeness…it refers to coming close to embrace or to kiss. When they move in close, he confirms his true identity by revealing to them the best kept secret in Canaan.
This week, we see Joseph flooding grace onto them by letting them know that God had helped him understand why it had all happened.
Special Guest: Rev. Mike Sherwood
This Sunday, we will take a break from our Joseph series. We will here from Rev. Mike Sherwood from England. Mike blessed us last year and I could not be happier having him here this year! Mike has an extensive ministry history including: Church planting, working with Christian Leaders, founding “In Church” Bible School for those attending City Gates and living in East London. Developed Curriculum and appointed teaching teams. He has also served as Regional Superintendent of Elim Pentecostal Churches. My favorite quote from Re. Mike is, “A learning Church is a growing Church. To follow Jesus is to stay in touch with people.” It my pleasure to give the pulpit this week to my friend, Reverend Mike Sherwood.