Feb 1, 2015 - Rev Andrew Forrest
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When in your life have you wondered whether God was with you? Have there been times in your life when you thought God was absent?
What happens when you believe God isn't with you? Do you see a difference in how you act when you believe God is with you and when you believe God isn't with you?
What would you do if you were certain that God was with you all of the time -- even in your difficulties and challenges? How would you act differently knowing this truth in your circumstances?
As you read the story of Joseph in Genesis 37 and 39, what stands out to you? What new insights do you learn about God?
This week in Cornerstone, we kicked off a new sermon series, Joseph. For the next couple of weeks, we will be looking at the life of Joseph as told to us in Genesis 37, 39-45.
As part one of the series, Rev. Andrew Forrest focused on the question: When we face difficult and challenging circumstances, is God with us? In other words, can you judge from your circumstances whether God is with you? It is easy to think God is with us when things are going well. But when things are not going as well, we may think God is not with us and that God's silence indicates God's absence.
Re-read Genesis 37. Joseph is the son of Jacob and the great-grandson of Abraham. He is one of 12 brothers. In these verses, we learn that Jacob favors Joseph above all of his other sons. He even gives him a colorful coat to show how much he favors him. Joseph's brothers are extremely jealous of Joseph. They throw him into a pit and -- after deciding not to kill him -- they sell Joseph into slavery and tell their father that Joseph is dead -- likely killed by a wild animal. So, is God with Joseph when he is thrown into the pit and sold into slavery?
Re-read Genesis 39. Joseph is taken to Egypt. The writer of Genesis tells us that the Lord was with Joseph and Joseph becomes successful. But then his master's wife makes false allegations against Joseph and he is thrown into prison. Yet, we learn from these verses, that the Lord was with Joseph and he gains favor in prison.
So, can we know whether God is with us based on our circumstances?
The story of Jesus shows us that God is with us all of the time, even in difficult and challenging circumstances. Jesus was sinless and perfect, yet he was poor, betrayed by his closest friends, tortured, and killed. But his death was not the end of the story. Jesus shows us that the silence of God is not the absence of God. Just as the crucifixion wasn't the end of the story, Joseph being in prison is not the end of the story. God is still working.
Difficulties and challenges are part of life. God is faithful even when we can't see it. Our difficulties and challenges are not the end of the story.
I challenge each of us to spend time in Genesis 37, 39- 45 every day over the next two weeks and ask the Holy Spirit to stir in us what He would have us learn from Joseph's life. I pray that, through God's grace, we find a new confidence in, and awareness of, God's presence with us in every moment of our lives.
Blessings and peace in Christ,
Associate Pastor, Cornerstone