Joseph, and the Grace to Serve

Why God Can Use Some People, and Can’t use Others

Genesis 37, 39


August 2, 2015 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction


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

B.     We are starting this month, with a focus 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.     Most often, serving has loads of bad meanings – stereotypes:


1.      Slave

2.      Disrespect

3.      Abuses

4.      No honour

5.      Low pay


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


1.      Those who serve

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


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


1.      Mark 10:45  For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

2.      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.

3.      Matthew 23:8-12 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 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.

4.      Jesus had other ways to look at serving and servanthood. He said it is the highest calling, the greatest work, the most rewarding status – to be known as a servant! (Matthew 20:25-28)


H.    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


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


II.    A Look At Hebrews 12:28


A.    I chose Hebrews 12:28 for our memory verse this month because it calls us to serve differently than we have ever learned. Differently than we have ever seen anywhere in this world.


1.      It demands that we not just serve, like an employee does, or like someone who has been forced to serve like a slave might do…

2.      But we are called to gladly serve by the power of God’s GRACE!


B.     Let’s summarise this command


1.      The apostle Paul says, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

2.      SINCE we are getting a kingdom that is eternal…

3.      Let us be gracious and kind

4.      So that we can serve God acceptably

5.      And serve God with fear

6.      And never forget to give Him reverence!

7.      That’s how I understand the verse! Let’s look at it in its parts


C.     Since we are getting a kingdom that is eternal…


1.      Think about it

2.      It cannot be destroyed

3.      It is the kingdom Jesus came to build – not the one politicians and dictators and corporate businessmen are trying to build

4.      But one where the devil is beaten and banished

5.      A kingdom of righteousness and peace

6.      A kingdom that never ends


D.    Let us have grace (be gracious and kind)


1.      To have grace means, to actually show grace towards someone – be gracious, be kind towards someone who doesn’t deserve it, and serve them ahead of yourself!

2.      Paul is commanding us all to BE gracious in everything we do

3.      We no longer have to worry about anything in the past upsetting us

4.      We are the winners

5.      We no longer have to fight for things – everything is ours!

6.      Christ has given us this kingdom – He fought for it on the cross (Luke 12:32)

7.      He expects us to now turn around and act like the richest people in the world, and give everything we can away!

8.      That’s the attitude of grace we all need!


E.     So that we can serve God acceptably


1.      You cannot serve God without an attitude of grace, humility, dependence upon God, and lowliness of mind

2.      We are prone to serve our own bellys – our own desires (Philp 3:18,19)

3.      We want OTHERS to serve OUR needs

4.      We even want GOD to do what we want

5.      But the purpose of our lives, in total, is to serve God (Luke 6:46)

6.      Even in heaven we will serve God (Rev 22:1-3)

7.      When we don’t get what we want, or are not honoured like we should be (like at a restaurant, or at a shop), we quickly :


a.       Start complaining, grumbling, murmuring

b.      We start blaming, and regretting

c.       We start planning our revenge for being let down

d.      That’s all because WE are not getting served acceptably


F.      And serve God with fear


1.      Fear displeasing HIM

2.      Fear disobeying Him

3.      Fear His wrath


G.    And reverence!


1.      First place

2.      Priority

3.      GREATLY honouring your Master

4.      Giving great respect to God – first place in our plans, and efforts

5.      First in our tithing, and in our schedule – do you schedule any time for just YOU and GOD? If not then you dishonour Him and do not reverence Him

6.      If you do not respect HIM, you will never respect and honour your husband, your father, your boss, etc.


III. The Power Behind Serving


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

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

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


1.      Towards those who hate Him

2.      Towards those that resist Him

3.      Towards those that crucified Him

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

5.      Towards those that want nothing to do with Him

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

7.      Towards unworthy, unlovely, ungodly people

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

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


D.    Grace can do a lot of things for you


1.      It is the foundation of all of God’s help (James 4:6). God never helps us without first giving us grace – in other words, he wraps every blessing in grace!

2.      It offers forgiveness and restoration to the most unworthy of people

3.      It brings unworthy people into the family of God – Ruth

4.      It manages the worst of despots and hardest of husbands and wives – Esther

5.      And it goes after those that hate us and reject us, always seeking to reconcile and restore what sin has ruined – Hosea and Gomer


E.     The question is, How do you and I have this grace that we need, so that we can serve God and serve others acceptably?

IV. Background


A.    Listen to the commands of the New Testament


1.      Ephesians 4:1-3

2.      1Peter 5:5

3.      Philippians 2:3


B.     I think you will agree, that we all have a lot to work on in this area of our hearts, so pay close attention, and don’t let anything distract you from the life principles we are about to see in the stressed out life of a young man named Joseph!

C.     Outline of Preaching for August


1.      We Need Grace to Serve

2.      The CALL to BE a Servant

3.      The Ups and Downs of Servanthood


D.    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!

E.     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!


V.    Message – Joseph, and the Grace to Serve


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


1.      Everything was going great for Joseph


a.       He had a great Dad – Jacob, who had just been converted and was getting known now as Israel, a prince with God

b.      Had a big family (11 brothers, and one sister)

c.       He had a walk with God – was the great grandson of Abraham. Knew all about the Lord God, and loved Him, and tried to follow Him like all his family before him did!


2.      And God begins to challenge him to be more than just a young man. More than just a son of Jacob. More than just a part of a family.

3.      God begins to call this young man to the highest calling ever


a.       Oh, not to be president of some big corporation, like…

b.      Nor to be some Prime Minister of some great country like…

c.       Not even to be some great movie star like…


4.      God called Joseph to be HIS highest title – to be a servant!

5.      Let’s see how Joseph fared


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


1.      It was easy for Joseph to serve others at this time

2.      He was loved the most, and always preferred and honoured above everyone else – even above the older brothers and sisters


a.       Was honoured with a beautiful coat, robe, like royalty wear

b.      He wore that coat every day, everywhere


3.      That resulted in him being hated by almost everyone in that home – no matter how much he served them – the coat sort of always got in the way!

4.      That made it hard to be a servant – hard to serve his family


a.       It was not his fault, but boy did he reap envy and hatred and wrath from his siblings!

b.      Most of the family felt that that honour went to his head, because he kept having these dreams of being someone important

c.       Oh that drove everyone crazy!


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


1.      Jacob send Joseph on an errand


a.       Well, one day, Jacob was worried about his sons– how they were doing with the sheep and cattle (no X-Boxes in those days, just hard work all day)

b.      So he calls for Joseph to go and check on his brothers, and then return and tell him what they were up to – whether they were loafing on the job, or actually working hard and taking care of the flocks


2.      Joseph was glad to do it. Remember, serving his father was easy. Checking on his inferior brothers was easy.


a.       He probably did this a lot. Maybe was known as the family tattle-tale.

b.      So off he went

c.       He was simply doing his father’s will


3.      And he first discovers they are not where they are supposed to be (37:15-17) – they had moved onto another field miles and miles away. “Hmmmm. Dad is going to hear about this” he must have said to himself!

4.      He finally caught up with his brothers

5.      But, they were not happy – they only wanted one thing – to get rid of Joseph (37:18-28)

6.      And got rid of him, they did!


a.       Joseph comes up to them like nothing is wrong, and they grabbed him, and threw him right down into a hole in the ground – a pit!

b.      And then they argued – they argued and debated about how to get rid of this spoiled brat of a brother who was still just a teenager, and didn’t deserve all the honour and attention he was getting in their home

c.       One said, LET’S KILL HIM

d.      Another said, LET’S SELL HIM

e.       Back and forth they debated

f.       Until they saw a group of Midianites passing by and asked if they wanted to buy their brother

g.      And the price was settled – 30 silver coins – the price of a slave

h.      His own brothers sold him into a foreign country, into slavery in far away Egypt. They took Joseph 150 miles away from home! It might as well have been a million miles away! He would never see his family again! He was no longer a simple serving brother. He was a slave – with no rights, no protection, no friends, no hope!


7.      As far as everyone acted and believed, Joseph was finally dead and gone!


a.       His father was broken hearted.

b.      His brothers would never tell what really happened to him


8.      Joseph was in chains, and was forced to work as a slave in Potiphar’s house now


a.       Here, now, in Egypt, it made it hard to be a servant

b.      Alone, missing his family, full of hurt

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


9.      You see! God was with Joseph yes, but God was with him AS he served (39:2)! Don’t miss that!


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

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

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


D.    Potiphar made Joseph the HEAD of his entire household (39:3-23)


1.      Just look at the result of that attitude!


a.       Potiphar saw an attitude, and energy, a joy in Joseph’s demeanour! How refreshing it is to be around someone who just wants to be a blessing to those around them!

b.      So Potiphar started giving young Joseph more and more responsibilities in the household

c.       And Joseph gladly did whatever he was asked

d.      And Potiphar would honour Joseph, and appreciate him, and reward him for his hard work, and gracious attitude


2.      Potiphar ultimately made it easy for Joseph to be a servant.

3.      Joseph GLADLY served such a loving, kind, appreciative master/employer!

4.      But it was THEN that he faced the most intense and harsh temptation


a.       Potiphar’s WIFE became attracted to such a kind, hard working, attentive young man

b.      And she began to try and seduce him

c.       Again and again she tried

d.      And again and again he would walk away


5.      And then everything went terribly wrong


a.       He did everything right

b.      Yet everything went wrong

c.       PRINCIPLE: The life of a servant is no guarantee of protection from troubles and disasters

d.      He was almost trapped

e.       Then he was lied about

f.       Then his own loving, kind, appreciative master believed everything AGAINST Joseph – dumped Joseph into prison. Never even asked for Joseph’s side of the situation!

g.      Then he was sent him to prison without any justice, no court date, no defence, no rights!


6.      That would have been a very hard time to be a servant

7.      Yet, even in prison, what did Joseph end up doing?


a.       I know what you and “I” would have been doing…

b.      Screaming for justice – for our lawyer

c.       Demanding our rights

d.      Going on a hunger strike

e.       Bragging to all the other prisoners about how innocent I am, and how this was totally unfair

f.       Sitting and sulking and crying and moaning about having to endure such hurt

g.      But none of that is what Joseph did.


8.      Joseph served – was a servant


a.       Something inside Joseph drove him to allow himself to be humbled, to be hurt, and his needs ignored. Something drove him to see the people around him needing to be served.

b.      That something was God’s grace, that was active in his life


9.      And God stayed with him AS he served (39:23)


VI. Application (Philippians 2:3-8)


A.    Oh this is not the end of the story. It is not even the middle

B.     But it is the theme of the life of Joseph – the life of a servant, whom God blessed, and used to save a lot of people!


1.      Oh the emptiness of a life without the presence of God

2.      And Oh the need for grace in our hearts to make room for the Lord


3.      God’s grace is what enables, equips someone to be what God created us all to be – servants!


C.    So, 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


D.    Did you know that Jesus served you and me (Philp 2:5-8)


1.      He gave up everything, and took on the form of a WHAT?

2.      He Allowed cruel men to torture and crucify Him, in OUR place, so that HE could bring us to God

3.      All because of GRACE! (Ephesians 2:8,9)


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


1.      Probably bad, like mine

2.      Pride keeps me from just being honest and humble and real, and low

3.      Oh that word, LOW

4.      Lowliness of mind

5.      How much I depend upon respect

6.      How little Christ got!

7.      God’s grace that saves, will always be enough to enable all of us to SERVE too!