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In 1979 Dr. Larry Reynolds moved to Denton, Texas, to become the founding pastor of Southmont Baptist Church. During his twenty-eight year ministry at Southmont, the church grew to a membership of more than 1800. The church, which began in a small storefront, now meets on a campus that includes three educational buildings, a fellowship hall, an activities center, and sanctuary. After retiring as the Senior Pastor of Southmont in December, 2006, Pastor Reynolds has remained active in the Denton area conducting weddings, funerals, and leading Bible studies. He and his wife, Carol, have traveled extensively. In addition to five trips to Israel, they have visited Jordan, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Peru, Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Joseph

JOSEPH
Genesis 37:23-27; 39:19-20; 40:14-15, 23

1.  When I was a child often heard people say, “Life isn’t fair”…didn’t really understand that statement at the time, but think have a little better grasp of it now that I’ve lived nearly 70 years…
          --the good guys don’t always win…
          --everyone doesn’t live happily ever after…
          --the prince doesn’t always end up with the princess…
          --right does not always prevail over wrong…
          --truth does not always win over falsehood…
          --good does not always overcome evil…
2.  Harsh reality is that we live in a world in which things happen which seem patently unfair…for example it is unfair when--
          --a baby dies before it has chance to really live…
          --a child is killed in freak accident…
     --a young adult’s life is suddenly snuffed out in a moment of carelessness…
     --an evil, dishonest person steals large sums of money from an honest person…
     --a family is devastated by the brutal acts of lawless people…
     --a good person suffers horribly from a debilitating illness…
3.  What do you do when life deals you an unfair blow?…in the Bible there’s a story of a person who had more than his share of unfair experiences in life…referring to Joseph, the favored son of Jacob…and from his experience want to point out some things about overcoming unfair treatment…story of Joseph encompasses 14 chapters in Bible…told in chapters 37 – 50 of Genesis…it’s an incredible story from which there are many life lessons to be learned…want to focus on just three little pieces of Joseph’s story this morning…
--Genesis 37:23-27 – Joseph had been sent by father to check on his brothers…brothers didn’t think very highly of Joseph… like two young teenage girls talking about new girl at school…”What do you think about her?”“I think she’s sweet and smart and cute.””You’re right.  I can’t stand her, either.”…probably how Joseph’s brothers thought of him…was obviously his father’s favorite son…Joseph delighted in telling brothers of his dreams which seemed to indicate one day he would rule over them…finally they had enough of him and here’s what happened…(text)
--Genesis 39:19-20 – Ended up being sold in Egypt to man named Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s body guard…worked hard, won the trust of Potiphar and was given charge of the entire household…then another unfair thing happened to Jospeh…Potiphar’s wife began to pursue Joseph…though he resisted her advances, she made a false accusation about him…(text)
--Genesis 40:14-15, 23 – In prison Joseph correctly interpreted a dream for the chief cupbearer of Pharaoh…made only one request of the cupbearer…(text)

T.S. – At least three times in his life Joseph was the victim of unfair treatment …want share with you two things can learn from his example about overcoming such times in our lives…

I.  To overcome unfair treatment must resist temptation to become cynical toward people
1.     If anyone ever had reason to be suspicious, cynical, angry, and vengeful toward people it was Joseph…
--betrayed by his own brothers…
--lied about by the wife of a man he faithfully served…
--spending two additional years in prison because a man whom he had helped immensely simply forgot about him…
And all that happened to him before he was thirty years old…those experiences would have been enough to make any person bitter, cynical, suspicious, resentful, and desiring to lash out at others…
2.     But I think it’s significant Joseph didn’t respond that way…he didn’t sit around sulking and plotting at how he could get back at those people who had treated him so badly…instead, he seemed to do just the opposite…he used the unfair treatment he received from others as a springboard to bigger, better things in his life…
--if when brothers sold him into slavery he had been consumed with anger and bitterness toward them and with plotting how to get even with them, would never have reason to head steward in the household of Potiphar…
--if when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him he would have sat in prison feeling sorry for himself and consumed with hate for her, he would never have become the jailer’s chief assistant…
--if when Pharoah’s cupbearer broke his promise to Joseph and forgot about him for two years he had spent those two years brooding about that, he would not have been ready to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh when that opportunity came…
3.  What want you to see is that Joseph refused to let the mistreatment he received at the hands of some people to make him bitter and cynical toward all people…

1.     A bright, gifted young man who first name was Phillips was on verge of fulfilling life-long dream of being a teacher…having just finished his formal education, was appointed to teach at the Boston Latin School…to say the experience was a total disaster would be an understatement…the students treated this sensitive young man horribly …locked him in closet….spread explosive matches on classroom floor …even threw handful of buckshot in face…before year was over Phillips resigned in disgrace an utter failure at teaching…
2.     But not end of the story…did not let the actions of those students make him cynical about people…went on to become a minister…his last name was Brooks and Phillips Brooks was one of the most famous and effective preachers in American history…he also penned the words to one of our most loved Christmas carols, “O Little Town of Bethlehem” [Brian’s Lines, March/April, 1998, pp.13-14]

1.     All of us, at some time or another, will feel that we have been mistreated by another person…when that time comes, as surely it will, we can respond in one of two ways…
--from that bad experience can make general assumption that all people are untrustworthy, that everyone will let you down, that you can depend on no-one…and that path leads to a lonely, bitter, unproductive life…
--or can recognize that actions of one person not necessarily representative of all people …because one person lies/steals/cheats does not mean that all people lie/steal/cheat…
2.     If you want ability Joseph had to overcome unfair treatment must resist the temptation to let the actions of a few people make you cynical and bitter toward all people…

II. To overcome unfair treatment must resist temptation to become cynical toward God
1.     Joseph had amazing ability to see God’s hand in the difficulties of his life…no matter what happened to him, he never lost faith in God and in his belief that God was at work in his life…
2.     Joseph had long time to think about what his brothers did to him and all that followed in his life because of what they did…and years later, when his brothers came to Egypt to buy grain he revealed his identity to them…their natural response was to be frightened because they assumed that Joseph would punish them for what they did…but look at what Joseph told them in Genesis 45:7-8…he said, in effect, “You did not send me here, God did it!”
3.     One of my favorite passages in the entire Bible is Joseph’s statement to his brothers recorded in Genesis 50:20 – “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”
4.     And at every step of the way along Joseph’s difficult journey we see evidence of his dependence on God…for example—
--When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him he said, “How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?” (Gen.39:9)
--To the baker and cupbearer in prison who were downcast about the dreams they couldn’t understand he said, “Do not interpretations belong to God?…” (Gen. 40:8)
--To Pharaoh who called Joseph before him to interpret his dreams he said, “It is not me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (Gen. 41:16)
5.     What want you see in that is Joseph, even when didn’t understand what was going on around him, never lost faith it, confidence in, became cynical toward God…

1.     In midst of experience that we see as grossly unfair, it is important to remember God is at work in our lives in such times…when we grapple with trying to make sense of something which seems from our point of view utterly tragic and totally senseless, we are much better off reaching out to God rather than lashing out at God…
3.     One person put it this way:  “We have a tendency to type-cast God, to decide for ourselves how He should work in our lives.  We determine what we want to do, how we want to live, with whom we want to relate.  Then we take our plan to God for His approval.  And when our plans don’t work out, we cry out in despair, ‘Where is God?’” [Brian’s Lines, March/April, 1998, pp.13]
2.     And from Joseph we can learn God is right along side us…He is constantly at work in our lives…He is ever walking beside us…and to overcome unfair treatment we must not lose sight of that and become cynical toward God…

1.     Perhaps you’ve heard the incredible story of Samuel Mudd…he was a medical doctor in the Washington, D.C. area who received a knock on is door late one night…there was man with a broken leg which needed treating…unknown to Dr. Mudd the man was John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln…Dr. Mudd was later arrested and unjustly convicted of harboring an assassin…he was sentenced to life in prison…sent to Fort Jefferson Florida…but apparently God had a reason for Dr. Mudd to be in that prison at that time…an epidemic of yellow fever swept through the prison…270 of 300 prisoners caught the disease…Dr. Mudd began to treat the prisoners and as a result of his tireless effort only 38 of them died…the surviving prisoners petitioned President Andrew Johnson for Mudd’s release…on March 11, 1869 he received a full presidential pardon…
2.     When unfair treatment comes our way it helps to look for how God can work in our lives in such times…
Conclusion
1.  The name Joseph means “increaser”…if you want your life to increase in meaning and quality, especially in the face of unfair treatment, do what Joseph did…don’t become cynical toward people and don’t become cynical toward God…