Sunday, April 26, 2015

God's Presence with Joseph

It won't be long....
While the bright sun is busy burning off the crisp morning chill, Brad greeted us with his usual greeting, "I'm grateful you're here this morning." Today's message is designed to underscore once again that God's blessing is available to each one of us.

-- Next Sunday is our Spring Rummage Sale at Grand Lake Comunity Center/Twig Town Hall & Fire Hall. Sale will run from 9:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. But don't be afraid to come early as there will also be a Car Wash and Bake Sale as a fundraiser for the CHIC Youth Conference.
-- Men will meet Saturday night May 9 to prepare next weekend's Mother's Day breakfast

Chuck introduced our time of worship with a few words about home, followed by a passage from the book of John. "I am the bread of life." The trio then sang a Gaither song about feeling at home in the presence of Jesus, followed by the easy-listening tune "Jesus we just want to thank you." Then we all joined in singing a few pieces from the silver songbook.

The offering taken we turned to the Lord in prayer.

God's Presence with Joseph

Brad began by reading from Genesis 48:10-22, a story about the blessing of Joseph's sons. Why did Israel bless the younger rather than the older? What is God's blessing about?

The sermon today was a series of insights taken from the story of Joseph, and though the message was easy yo listen to and nourishing to the soul, it was not as easy to write about today, and these notes are but a pale shadow of the real thing.

Birth order continues to have relevance in some ways, but in the ancient world it was even more significant. It was an agricultural world, and the firstborn got the land because it was important to keep the land together for future generations.

Yet over and over in the Old Testament, things didn't work that way. For some reason it seems the youngest got the blessing. Abel and Cain, Jacob and Esau, etc. The stories continue to have surprising twists.

In our modern world who seems to be the ones with the blessing today? Athletes who make 12 million a year. Smart ones, attractive ones, wealthy ones are the ones who seem "blessed" in our current culture.

But God's ways are not our ways. And Joseph spends a lifetime learning about the meaning of God's blessing. He began at the top of heap, being his father's favorite son. Joseph had a beautiful coat of many colors that set him apart from his brothers, and it only made his brothers jealous. But it gets worse. He tells his brothers about a dream his had in which his brother's sheaves of wheat bowed down to his. And another dream in which even his parents bowed down to him. They were more than indignant. The brothers so hated him they threw him into a pit and sold him into slavery where he ended up in Egypt.

Despite no evidence of Joseph's character being humble and worthy of blessing, God is with him. Joseph did not earn God's blessing. Yet God did not abandon him there. In fact, everything Joseph put his hand to in Potiphar's house was blessed.

Unfortunately, in a turn of events in which he kept his virtue, he ends up in prison. It would appear not to be a blessing, yet God is at work in him, and present even there.

Brad then interjected: This week I want you to ask God to reveal Himself in your hard place.

While in the prison Joseph notices others there and is no longer self-absorbed as in his youth. He has softened, become more sensitive.

We picked up the story in Genesis 39 and 40. Joseph was given a wife in Egypt. Joseph's wife was Egyptian so that Joseph's sons were half pagan. But when Israel blesses Joseph's sons in Genesis 48, the meaning is this... everyone is available to blessing. Old, young, insider or outcast.... it makes no difference to God.

Brad noted that when the Promised Land was split amongst the twelve tribes of Israel, Joseph was not one so allotted. Instead land was split for his two sons, Ephraim and Manassah, parcels for the half-tribes.

The blessing is for everyone, and at any time. Brad closed with the story of Jesus on the cross, blessing one of the thieves on the other cross. God was there. And Jesus was in the tomb, He went in confidence that God would be there to bring Him back.

* * * *
After the service we had a semi-annual meeting in which we discussed status of the new church building, budget matters, and elected new officers. The most exciting news was that we are ready to transition into the new building at the end of May. are you ready?

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