Joseph Experiences the Greatest Grace

The Grace to Forgive

Genesis 41-50


August 16, 2015 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction (Galatians 5:13)


A.    Remember my main Question this month? How is YOUR Serve? How good are you at serving, and being a servant?

B.     All this month We are focusing on how GRACE helps us serve God, and serve people.

C.    Grace is amazing!


1.      What it MEANS is amazing – a kindness towards someone that does not deserve it!

2.      But also what it DOES in the life of a believer, a follower of Jesus

3.      In short, Grace enables every one of us to forget about ourselves, and to serve others


D.    It is not a popular goal – to serve


1.      We usually want to be in charge – to be the boss – to be able to tell people what to do every day, and get paid more than everybody while you do it!

2.      We usually want to have people looking up to us, and hanging on every word, and doing what WE think they should do

3.      We usually want to be successful, to gain, to enjoy life

4.      Oh, the last thing we all think about is the command to serve!


E.     There are so many, even Christians who believe the world is made up of two kinds of people:


1.      Those who serve, do meniel work, tend to the needs of people…

2.      And those who have worked hard, and earned the right to be served.


F.     Jesus says His kingdom only has room for servants!


1.      Matthew 23:10-12 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

2.      Mark 9:35  And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.

3.      Mark 10:44  And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.

4.      Luke 9:48  And said unto them, Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great.


G.    What does it mean, to serve? (Philippians 2:3,4)


1.      To supply another person’s needs

2.      To put someone else’s needs ahead of your own

3.      To make someone happy

4.      To do what someone else wants, instead of only what you want


H.    Grace Is The Power Behind Serving – the force that both makes it possible, and fruitful!


1.      So, To actually BE a servant, by nature, naturally, without grumbling, complaining, revolting and hating it – requires one powerful ingredient – ATTITUDE.

2.      And the most important thing God gives us so that we can serve, is the power of GRACE!

3.      Grace is an attitude that God first has towards us


a.       Towards those who hate Him

b.      Towards those that resist Him

c.       Towards those that crucified Him

d.      Towards those that mock Him – belittle Him, and amuse themselves by making fun of everything about God that they do not understand

e.       Towards those that want nothing to do with Him

f.       Towards those that are so selfish and uncaring about anything he cares about

g.      Towards unworthy, unlovely, ungodly people

h.      THAT is the kind of people that God shows grace towards!

i.        And God expects us to show that same kindness and attitude towards others!


I.       So, How is YOUR Serve? How good are you at serving, and being a servant?


1.      Young Joseph, back in Genesis shows us what grace looks like and what it takes to serve God the right way! Not OUR way, but the right way!

2.      There is just no way Joseph or ANYONE could ever serve under the conditions that Joseph gave of himself so freely, if it wasn’t for grace in his life!


II.    Background


A.    We first meet Joseph when he is a young 17 (Genesis 37:1-3)


1.      He was the Favourite Son of the Home (Genesis 37:3-11)

2.      He was a Busy Helper to his Dad (Gen 37:12-36; 39:1,2)

3.      And… He was HATED by his brothers – they actually wanted him DEAD. Settled for making a “few bob” off of him as they SOLD him into slavery!

4.      They RUINED His Life – at least that is what you and I would have thought!


B.     Joseph has experienced extreme swings of humiliation and defeat, and then honour and victory


1.      Loved by his father – favourite son

2.      Hated by his brothers

3.      Honoured by his father – with fancy, royal coat

4.      Sold into slavery by his brothers

5.      Honoured by Potiphar, his owner

6.      Unjustly accused and thrown into prison by Potiphar’s wife

7.      Honoured by the Prison Master

8.      Forgotten by the Butler, and left in prison even longer


C.    But each and every time, he has remained true to his God-given calling – to serve everyone!


1.      What a crazy calling!

2.      Yes, Joseph was destined for greatness – to become the Prime Minister of Egypt

3.      But the path to that great position was via servanthood!!!

4.      So, Everywhere he ended up, he served people. Took care of their needs!!!


a.       He even served the very people who owned him! The very people who had miserable control over his life

b.      THAT is the only reason you know much about young Joseph – not because he was wise, or rich, or smart, or good looking – but because he was a servant of all!

c.       And it was here, that Joseph found grace enough to serve

d.      He found something inside him that enabled him to see the needs of others, and see that God was still in charge of his life, and not Potiphar


D.    God was with him AS he served (39:2)! Don’t miss that!


1.      God is NOT with the proud, arrogant, superior minded leader

2.      God is with the humble, the broken, the little man

3.      Not in their depression, but in their determination to be a blessing – to serve!


E.     God’s Perfect Timing (41:2-36; Ecclesiastes 3:11) – it wasn’t Joseph’s


1.      Joseph was always exactly where he needed to be… DOING exactly what he needed to be doing


a.       Even in prison, forgotten

b.      He was right where God needed him


2.      It was THEN that Pharaoh had two really weird dreams


a.       One about fat cows being eaten by sickly skinny cows

b.      And one about full, healthy ears of corn being eaten up by wimpy, sickly ears of corn


3.      No one had any good explanation about what they meant

4.      What was going on?


a.       God was at work! (40:8) And Joseph believed it.

b.      God was moving and shaking everything so that He, and He alone could get all the glory through the life actions of a lowly, Jewish servant named Joseph!


5.      Joseph was brought before Pharaoh and asked to explain the dreams


a.       Seven years of prosperity

b.      Followed by seven years of the worst famine imaginable

c.       So, you and all Egypt had better get ready for it


F.      The Honour of a Servant is the Greatest Honour of All (Gen 41:37-46)


1.      Pharaoh saw something in Joseph – he saw the Spirit of God at work in him (41:38)


a.       Joseph had no ambition – some might say that was wrong, but God liked it and so did Pharaoh!

b.      Pharaoh saw softness towards authority, and towards others

c.       But he also saw firmness and stability towards corruption, and self-centeredness


2.      And so Pharaoh honoured Joseph! A Jewish slave boy!


a.       Made him second ruler over all of Egypt (41:40)

b.      Gave Joseph his own name on the ring, so that whatever Joseph needed to do, he could be trusted and obeyed as if he was Pharaoh himself

c.       Honoured him with royal clothes and jewellery

d.      Caused everyone to bow before him, as if HE was Pharaoh

e.       Put Joseph in charge of the actions of every person in Egypt

f.       And in charge of saving Egypt from the coming famine

g.      And gave him the best wife of the whole country

h.      And he was only 30 years old (40:46)


G.    But God’s GREATEST WORK was yet to happen!


1.      Joseph has been exalted, honoured, proven to be the real deal, empowered, put in charge!


a.       There was nothing left for him to do but just enjoy the good life

b.      Or that is what he might have thought


2.      But God always has something bigger at work


a.       Seven years of plenty, pass – quite quickly too

b.      Then came the seven years of famine – and they will pass ever so slowly


III. Message


A.    Colliding Worlds (Genesis 42:1)


1.      All the surrounding countries and people filed into Egypt to purchase grain (41:57)

2.      Troubles and disasters often are the results of man’s sins

3.      But troubles and pressures sometimes are the perfect will of God acting to push us into the place He wants us and where we need to be


a.       Ceasar’s tax in Luke chapter 2 – pushed Mary and Joseph to have to travel to Bethlehem so that Mary would give birth to Jesus not in Nazareth where she and joseph had a home, but in Bethlehem where the Messiah had to be born (Micah 5:2)

b.      World War I – a war to prepare the land of Palestine for people of Israel

c.       World War II – a war to prepare the Jews for the land of Palestine


4.      God was using famine, and world-wide troubles to drive people into His will (Gen 42:1)


a.       He is using the famine to drive Jacob’s sons down into Egypt to face their guilt

b.      AND… God is using the same famine to force Joseph to face his brothers

c.       It is amazing, because nomads like Jacob’s family would have stayed a million miles away from big cities, big governments, politics and government programmes!

d.      Yet, here were ten brothers, standing in line, waiting to buy grain for bread so that they and their families didn’t starve!

e.       And just ahead, was their brother Joseph


B.     Breaking Men (Genesis 42 - 44)


1.      Jacob’s sons come into Egypt, not once, not twice, but three times – God was breaking their hard hearts


a.       First time (42:1-28)

b.      Second time (43:15 – 44:3)

c.       Third time (44:4-34)

d.      They met Joseph over and over and over, but do not know that it is Joseph

e.       Each time they meet this Prime Minister, they leave defeated, more broken, and guilty


2.      Joseph is watching all this play out before his eyes (42:9)


a.       They don’t know he is Joseph – it has been 20 years since they last saw their little brother

b.      They don’t know that he understands every word and every whisper between themselves


3.      Joseph put them through some hard tests


a.       Very necessary tests for his brethren to pass

b.      A tinge of revenge maybe as he tested them, but not hateful

c.       First, Sent for his younger brother Benjamin – had not seen him since his birth 20 years earlier


1)      Worried that they had mistreated Benjamin like they had him

2)      So he put Simeon in the prison

3)      And sent the other 9 back home to get Benjamin


d.      Secondly, wanted to know if they were still liars, and thieves, interested only in money, like they were when they had SOLD him for 20 silver coins!


1)      Put money back in their sacks (42:25)

2)      Framed them like they were thieves

3)      Let’s see how they react to being framed and falsely accused

4)      Will they just keep the money?

5)      Will they blame someone else?

6)      Or will they remember what THEY did to young Joseph?


e.       Thirdly, he tested their ability to sacrifice themselves for another (44:1-34)


4.      What was going on? God was breaking some hard, calloused hearts


a.       Joseph had a hard time doing all this to his brothers, but he HAD to know (42:23,24)

b.      Bringing back old memories - It was a remembering time – secret sins will be exposed


1)      Remember; they had covered up their deed


c.       It was a reaping time – what they had sowed, they were now reaping, experiencing


1)      Simeon was put into PRISON (42:24)

2)      They blamed no one, but accepted this all as from God (42:27,28)

3)      And Benjamin was at risk

4)      And now they were going to be accused of being thieves!


d.      It was a repenting time – grieving


1)      They all realised just how much they had hurt their younger brother

2)      They realised just how helpless he was

3)      And they all wished they could make things right

4)      But they had no way to do that – or so they thought!


e.       Look at the result - Judah broke beautifully! (43:8,9; 44:33)


C.    Joseph’s Greatest Serve! His GREATEST act of service!


1.      Joseph had ONE MORE great act of service to do


a.       Could have just ignored them – rejected them as they came – acted like they were dead to him

b.      Could have punished them, and paid them back for all the hurt THEY had caused him

c.       Could have ruined their lives

d.      But he didn’t do any of that!


2.      Realised GOD had been in control all along (45:8,9) – he decides that he is not going to go against God now (42:17)

3.      Loved and Missed Them Dearly (42:5-9)


a.       He kept looking at them – staring (42:7,8)

b.      He didn’t know exactly what to do at first – spake roughly to them

c.       No bitterness in Joseph’s heart


1)      Already had forgiven them LONG AGO!

2)      Loved them dearly – no hatred, no anger at all!

3)      Not like Jonah, or Esau


4.      Took GREAT care of them from that day forward (43:18-23)


a.       Again, he did not seek to punish, hurt them, nor cause them to experience his pain

b.      Had amazing plans for them – couldn’t wait to get the whole family down to safety in Egypt

c.       Already in motion – supplying all their needs back to them


5.      Forgave them, over and over and over! (45:1-8)


a.       Told them to NOT grieve or sorrow about what they had done to him!

b.      WOW! You normally WANT the other person to fall and gravel in anguish and remorse

c.       THIS is the greatest act of service


1)      To forgive those that had hurt him

2)      Joseph evidently forgave his brothers sometime after being sold

3)      He forgave Potiphar for owning him and treating him as a slave – never resented Potiphar

4)      He forgave Potiphar for ignoring his rights and for believing his ungodly wife over Joseph, throwing him into prison

5)      He forgave the Butler for forgetting him

6)      AND… He forgave those that had hurt him the most - Joseph forgave his own brothers!

7)      And I think you can add a few more people Joseph purposefully forgave


a)      His dad for giving up on him when he was sold by his brothers

b)      His dad for causing all this problem in the first place

c)      His mom for dying when he was around 17 when she was giving birth to his only younger brother Benjamin


8)      I think you would agree, that Joseph had quite a list of people to forgive well

9)      If he  had never forgiven each and every one of them, he never would have been the servant he was, and God would NEVER have used him like He did!


6.      Honoured God, not himself (45:5-8)


a.       Told them over and over that it was not them that had been in control all along


1)      He had no pride in his ability to love those that hated him

2)      He thought nothing of his scars or pains

3)      He only knew that God had been in control all along!


b.      THIS is the GREATEST TRUTH in the whole world…


1)      That GOD sent Joseph ahead of his evil brothers

2)      That GOD was at work in every life – even in the lives of those that did not follow God, or care about what they were doing

3)      That GOD was working EVRYTHING out for good


c.       YES, THEY had hated them – that was not of God

d.      Yes, THEY had sold him, and then lied about him, and then carried on as if they had nothing to worry about…

e.       But they did not count on GOD actually taking everything they did, no matter how wrong and evil, and despicable, and making it turn out good!


7.      THAT was just a shadow of what Jesus would have to go through (Acts 2:23,24) – exactly what Jesus went through, by the hand of GOD – not just of Romans and Jews, but at the hand of almighty God!


IV. Application


A.    Grace was what helped Joseph handle life


1.      Notice the unseen power behind everything going on – was GRACE


a.       Not manipulation

b.      Not money

c.       Not mood drugs

d.      Not politics

e.       Not smartness and great wisdom

f.       Not love

g.      Just God’s amazing grace and kindness – everything else runs out, wears out, falls out

h.      God’s grace is always sufficient!


2.      Grace did the following…


a.       Kept Joseph humble - Grace didn’t let success and worldly power ruin Joseph’s family and his walk with God

b.      Kept him serving, no matter who he met. Grace did all the serving of so many people

c.       Kept him focused on the needs of others ahead of his own

d.      Grace did the forgiving, not Joseph

e.       Grace helped Joseph believe God over circumstances

f.       GRACE did all that in Joseph’s life and circumstances!

g.      Grace did it!

h.      That’s why the apostle Paul begs us to “have grace”! Heb 12:28  Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear


B.     How can someone access such grace? Live by such power? And experience such a life?


1.      By humbling yourself.


a.       How to Get God’s Grace - God resists the proud, but GIVES grace to the humble

b.      1Pe 5:5  Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.


2.      By fearing the opposite taking over – bitterness


a.       Heb 12:15  Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled


3.      By asking for GRACE, to be kind, to give, to love, to SERVE one another


a.       Heb 4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

b.      God has ALL the grace/eneablement/power you will ever need! 2Corinthians 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.


4.      By believing God is in control, and decide to not fight Him

5.      Accept whatever is happening in your life right now, as the hand of God, getting you to collide with this one decision.


a.       1Pe 5:10  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.


6.      LIVE by grace, not by strengths


a.       So, The ONLY way to serve, and stay serving, and be blessed AS a servant, is by the power of God’s grace, being allowed to work in YOUR heart – even when it is not being allowed to work in anyone else’s hearts and lives! Grace can make serving bearable, and even enjoyable!

b.      1Co 15:10  But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

c.       2Cor 12:9  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.


7.      Start serving


a.       Grace comes upon those that serve

b.      God gives an outpouring of His Spirit to SERVANT people (Isa 42:1; Mt 12:18; and Joel 2:29)


1)      That does not mean that everyone will like or love you, but God will enable you!!!

2)      God was with Joseph, not because he was so good, and so innocent – because he wasn’t

3)      It was because he was tender, and teachable, and humble towards others

4)      AND, most of all, because he served others, without thought of reward

5)      Serving is a spiritual exercise (Rom 1:9; 7:6; 12:11) – you won’t do it long in your own strength!

6)      In simple words, You get grace as you serve others

7)      Doing EVERYTHING “As unto the Lord”

8)      Col_3:23  And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;


c.       Some of you USED to serve – you have gotten “busy” doing so many things, but are they acts of service, or acts of selfishness?


1)      Do you help serve in ANY ministry of this church?

2)      To experience God’s grace, you must!

3)      That’s why God gave you this church – to have a place to serve in!


d.      Don’t be so particular about who you will serve, or how you serve – Joseph would have never chosen to serve all the people around him, but that was God’s call. So Joseph served everyone!

e.       Grab a hymnal and start learning how to play the piano to help minister in a church service

f.       Grab some tracts, and go out with us on a Saturday afternoon for an hour or two and give some people the Gospel of the grace of God that can save their souls from a devil’s hell

g.      Volunteer to sit in with the kids in Sunday School and learn how to become a Children’s Bible teacher

h.      Get a D license and help drive the bus so that people and materials can be picked up and taken to church and home again

i.        Come along on Sunday evenings at 5:45 and join the choir to help minister in song on a Sunday

j.        Start tithing so that we can pay our bills as a church, and do all that we do as a church

k.      Start giving more than the tithe, so that we can financially support more missionaries

l.        Pray every day for your pastor and his family

m.    Pray for one another

n.      Pray for the persecuted Christians all over the world as they faithfully live by God’s grace under extreme circumstances just as Joseph did!

o.      Invite each other into your homes, and minister to one another as friends and as family over a meal

p.      Just start doing something by the grace of God instead of by your own ability


8.      Allow yourself to get hurt


V.    Invitation


A.    You will never forgive well, until you have experienced forgiveness by Jesus Christ

B.     You will never serve well, until you allow God’s Holy Spirit to humble you and transform you into a servant like Jesus – that is the Christian life!

C.    How is YOUR Serve? How good are you at serving, and being a servant?

D.    Will you believe only on Jesus’s sacrificing grace to save a sinner like you?

E.     Today you should do that!