Friday, March 30, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 3/30 /2012
THE POWER OF A FAITHFUL LIFE, Lesson 45b
v. 7-12 FAITHFUL IN SPITE OF TEMPTATIONS,
Joseph was a good looking young man, (v. 6). Not that I would know, but beauty must bring with it its own set of problems.
As Joseph ministered in Potiphar’s house, he caught the eye of Potiphar’s wife. She began to flirt with him, (v. 7). After a short time, she became downright brazen in her approach, asking Joseph to “lie” with her. He refused her advances, but she persisted, (v. 10). Then, on a certain day, she was in the house alone and when Joseph came in she grabbed him by his outer garments and said “Lie with me”, (v. 11-12). Joseph left his garment in her hand and ran away. In this “trial by fire” he remained absolutely faithful to the Lord.
There are several features of this temptation that would have made it very attractive to any young man.
It was a temptation to fulfill a natural and legitimate need – The offer from Potiphar’s wife was for sex, pure and simple. God made us sexual creatures and many people believe they have the right to satisfy their sexual desires in any fashion they choose. God has a different opinion. Any sexual expression that takes place outside the boundaries of the marriage relationship is either fornication or adultery. Either one is a sin against God, your spouse, your future spouse, or yourself, ( V. 9; 1 Cor. 6:18-20). Joseph’s response to Potiphar’s wife was a response we should all adopt when it comes to dealing with sexual sin, (v. 12; 2 Tim. 2:22).
Joseph was a long way from home in a strange land – Some people might have adopted the motto: “When in Rome, do as the Romans”. A lot of people live like that. A salesman will do things on the road that he will not do at home. A young person will do things at a party they will not do at home. Joseph did not care where he was, he was determined to do the right thing.
He refused to violate the trust of his master and of his God, (v. 9). His family would have never known. Potiphar might have never known. But, Joseph knew that God in Heaven would know. And, that knowledge was enough to keep him pure. (Pro. 15:3; Heb. 4:13).
Mrs. Potiphar was surely a beautiful woman – Egyptian women were renowned in that day for their physical beauty. Surely she would have appealed to the male in Joseph. Nowhere in this text does it say that he was repulsed by her appearance. Nowhere does it suggest that she was an unattractive woman. Had he given into her advances, there can be little doubt that it would have been an enjoyable experience.
However, Joseph was interested in more than simply gratifying his flesh. He was determined to be faithful to God regardless of the personal cost. It was a decision he made long before he arrived in Egypt, and it was a decision he was determined to stand by. Joseph had some conviction and he had drawn himself some boundaries. As I mentioned earlier, we need to do the same thing. Then, when times of temptation come our way, there is no choice in the matter; we have already decided what we will do!
It came on the heels of a big promotion – A lot of people would assume that they had arrived. After all, Joseph had the Midas touch. He had the favor of Potiphar. He was the king of the roost at the big house. He did as he pleased. Some people might have concluded, “I can do no wrong. I might as well enjoy the fruits of my labors.” But, not Joseph!
It would do us well to remember that we are never more vulnerable to temptation than when we have just enjoyed a great victory. When we have been part of a great victory, we seem to feel like we can do anything. In those moments, temptation and failure are more real than ever, (1 Cor. 10:12).
It came at the perfect time and opportunity – Potiphar’s wife caught Joseph when there was no physical reason why they should not and could not commit adultery. The only thing that stopped them was Joseph’s integrity. He stood his ground, determined to do what was right regardless of the cost.
We need to remember that our enemy is a master of setting things up. He will put us in just the right places at just the right times. He will make sin look so innocent and easy. He will make it seem that we are fool to refuse him. I would remind you that “all Satan’s apples have worms”. I would also remind you that the opportunities he gives you to sin will lead to disappoint, disillusionment, discouragement and possibly death, (Pro. 13:15).
Let me make a few statements about this matter of temptation.
1. Temptation is never from God - (James 1:13)
2. Temptation is always from within - (James 1:14-15)
3. There is always a way out of Temptation – (1 Cor. 10:13) (How?)
Deal with it Immediately – Nip it in the bud!
Deal with it Realistically - Get away from it at all costs.
Deal with it Ruthlessly – Do whatever it takes to avoid it.
Deal with it Consistently - Learn to be consistent in your resistance.
Deal with it Confidently - We have the Lord’s great promise in 1 Cor. 10:13. God will make a way of escape, just be sure you look for it! The word “escape” means “egress, or way out”. It was used in ancient Greece to refer to a landing place for a ship. God will give us a way of the rough sea of temptation. Those temptations that we cannot escape, He will enable us to “bear” them. God’s promise to us is that while temptations will come our way, He will enable us to land safely on the other side.
The main reason Joseph was able to remain faithful in the day of temptation was because he saw sin for what it really was. He did not see it as a few moments of pleasure. He did not see it as his right. He did not see it as even an option. Joseph saw sin as an affront to Almighty God, (v. 9).
If you want to successfully navigate the troubled waters of temptation, then learn to see sin for what it really is. It is not a mistake, it is wickedness. It is not an affair, it is adultery. It is not an alternate lifestyle, it is an abomination. It is not a slip of the tongue, it is blasphemy. It is not an abortion, it is murder! Sin is a shame in any life; that is especially true when it is in the life of a Christian!
Joseph was faithful in spite of temptations. I don’t know about you, but I want to finish well! I would like to be able to say what Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith,” (2 Tim. 4:7).
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Amazing Grace” By John Newton (1779)
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil, A life of joy and peace.
When we've been here ten thousand years Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise Than when we've first begun.
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Thursday, March 29, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 3/29 /2012
THE POWER OF A FAITHFUL LIFE, Lesson 45a
A young man applied for a job as a farmhand. When the farmer asked for his qualifications, he said, “I can sleep when the wind blows.” This puzzled the farmer. But he liked the young man, and hired him. A few days later, the farmer and his wife were awakened in the night by a violent storm. They quickly began to check things out to see if all was secure. They found that the shutters of the farmhouse had been securely fastened. A good supply of logs had been set next to the fireplace. The young man slept soundly. The farmer and his wife then inspected their property. They found that the farm tools had been placed in the storage shed, safe from the elements. The tractor had been moved into the garage. The barn was properly locked. Even the animals were calm. All was well. The farmer then understood the meaning of the young man's words, “I can sleep when the wind blows.” Because the farmhand did his work loyally and faithfully when the skies were clear, he was prepared for the storm when it broke. So when the wind blew, he was not afraid. He could sleep in peace.
The story about the young farmhand illustrates a principle that we would do well to learn. There was nothing dramatic or sensational in the young farmhand's preparations. He just faithfully did what was needed each day. Consequently, peace was his, even in a storm. A short poem expresses this principle as it pertains to your life.
It isn't the things you do,
It's the things you leave undone,
Which gives you a bit of heartache,
At the setting of the sun.
When the sun sat each day on Joseph’s life, he could rest easy, because he has been faithful. When he was home with his father Jacob, he had been a faithful son. When he minded his father’s flocks, he had been a faithful worker. When he was sold to Potiphar, he proved to be a faithful servant. Because he had been faithful, the Lord blessed everything he did.
In this passage, we are allowed to see the faithfulness of Joseph very clearly. He remains faithful to His God, and to himself, in the face of some problems that would cause many others to fail. Of course, there is a word here for our lives today. As we pass through this life many situations will arise that have the potential to throw us off course. The world, the flesh and the devil will all conspire to get us to quit on God. They will do everything in their power to cause us to drop out or to fall far short of our potential.
God wants us to be faithful. He wants us to stay the course and run the race for His glory until He calls us home. Joseph teaches us how to be faithful in spite of what we may face in this life. Now, let’s look at “The Power Of A Faithful Life” and show you the areas in which Joseph was faithful to the Lord. God expects no less from you and me! Let’s not disappoint Him.
TODAY’S HYMN and Blessing!
“Living By Faith”, By James Wells (1918)
I care not today what the morrow may bring, If shadow or sunshine or rain, The Lord I know ruleth o’er everything, And all of my worries are vain.
Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm,
I’m living by faith and feel no alarm.
Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise, Obscuring the brightness of life,
I’m never alarmed at the overcast skies—The Master looks on at the strife.
I know that He safely will carry me through, No matter what evils betide; Why should I then care though the tempest may blow, If Jesus walks close to my side.
Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day, Our troubles will then all be o’er; The Master so gently will lead us away, Beyond that blest heavenly shore.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 3/28 /2012
WINNING YOUR BATTLE WITH TEMPTATION, Lesson 44d
V. 20-23 THE TRIUMPH JOSEPH EXPERIENCED,
I will be brief here, but I want you to know that Joseph benefited from his stand against temptation and sin. Let me point out three ways in which this is true.
V. 21, 23 He Triumphed In His Relationship With The Savior - Notice how the Bible says that the Lord continues to be with Joseph and to bless his life. Those who stay true to the Lord can be assured of His smile upon them and upon all they do. Those who stray from the path of righteousness will find themselves alienated from God and from His blessings in their lives. This is worth far more than any pleasure sin might offer! This was Paul’s fear - (1 Cor. 9:27).
V. 20-23 He Triumphed In His Relationship With His Own Self - Joseph’s integrity was intact. His reputation in Potiphar’s house had been undermined, but his character remained intact! He had successfully weathered the storm of temptation and he had retained the ability to look into the mirror without guilt! Friends, that is worth more than any thing sin can offer you!
V. 22-23 He Triumphed In His Relationship With Sovereignty - It may look like all Joseph got for his refusal of this woman was trouble. After all, he was thrown into prison. However, because he stayed true to the Lord, he was still in the center of God’s will for his life, even though it may not have appeared so on the surface. Before many years could pass, Joseph would be raised up by the power of God and would sit as second in command to Pharaoh. The best you can do is stay close to God, live holy and trust Him to being His best into your life in His time. Getting God’s best is always worth more than what sin can give!
Conc: Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ring-tailed monkey. For the Zulus of that continent, however, it's simple. They've been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can't get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him.
Friend, you are smarter than a monkey! Satan wants to trap you and he wants to destroy your life! Don’t let that happen! If you are save today and you battle with temptation, know that there is help for you in the Lord. Get to Him and get away from the evil! If you are lost, don’t let Satan destroy your life! He will tell you that you don’t need Jesus or the church to make it to Heaven. Don’t listen to Him! If you need the Lord today, whether it be for salvation, forgiveness, help to fight temptation or to thank Him for a victory over sin in your life, get to God right now. Let go of the sin and the thought of the thrills temptation is promising you and get to God today, while there is time!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Father, Hear The Prayer We Offer” By Love M. Willis (1856)
Father, hear the prayer we offer Not for ease that prayer shall be But for strength, that we may ever Live our lives courageously.
Not for ever in green pastures Do we ask our way to be But by steep and rugged pathways Would we strive to climb to Thee.
Not for ever by still waters Would we idly quiet stay But would smite the living fountains From the rocks along our way.
Be our strength in hours of weakness In our wanderings be our Guide Through endeavour, failure, danger Father, be Thou at our side.
Let our path be bright or dreary Storm or sunshine be our share May our souls, in hope un-weary Make Thy work our ceaseless prayer.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 3/27 /2012
WINNING YOUR BATTLE WITH TEMPTATION, Lesson 44c
The Character Of The Tempted -
By watching Joseph and how he conducted himself during this attack, we can learn how we too can stand when temptation stalks us!
V. 8 He Met It With A Firm Refusal - When the temptation came to him, Joseph was ready with a firm, “No!”. The Bible doesn’t say, but I am almost sure that Joseph had already settled this matter within his heart. He had already made the decision of what to do when temptation came. He had already decided that he would go with God and stay away from sin!
When we allow our minds to be unprincipled and uncontrolled, we run the risk of being unprepared for the attacks of sin and Satan. When temptation comes after you, it is hard to say “No!”, and mean it in the heat of the moment. But, if the decision has already been made, it is far easier to stand! That is why you have got to guard the mind and protect it from all the things that would enter it, pollute it and weaken your ability to mount a strong defense! I want to teach you one word that will help you in this matter of temptation. It is the word “No!”. Learn it and use it! It will help you! Spurgeon said it like this: "Learn to say no. It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin." This was the strategy Daniel and the 3 Hebrews boys adopted in Babylon and it worked like a charm. It still will!
V. 8-9 He Met It With A Faith-based Refusal - First, Joseph refused on the grounds that Potiphar had placed Joseph in a position of power because he trusted him. He refused to violate that trust. However, at the very foundation of Joseph’s refusal was his walk with His God. He knew that committing adultery with this woman might bring pleasure in the short term, but in the long term, it would mean violating the trust Potiphar had placed in him and it would cause a breach in his relationship with his God. And, even if Potiphar never found out, Joseph knew that God would know and he knew that Joseph would know. For Joseph, that was a price far too high to pay! His integrity before men, his walk with God and his ability to look into the mirror without guilt were worth more to Joseph than a few moments of physical pleasure!
Before you give in to that temptation and do that thing that looks so enticing, take a moment to think about the consequences. What will happen to your testimony in the eyes of others when they find out? What will happen to your walk with the Lord? Will you be able to live with yourself? For Joseph, the fear of the Lord was a powerful motivator! I realize that few people walk with that in their minds in our day. However, fearing God will keep you out of a lot of trouble! When you know that you will pay the price of chastisement, of being shelved and of a loss of fellowship with Him, it is worth saying “no” to a few temptations along life’s way!
V. 10 He Met It With A Faithful Refusal - Every day this woman tempted Joseph and every day he steadfastly refused her advances. He didn’t resort to mind games like, “Well, if the Lord didn’t want me to do this, He would just take it away from me.” He just faithfully stood for the Lord and against the evil! We need to get this truth: Temptation is going to come and God is not likely to take it away! He will strengthen us and enable us to stand against it, but we are going to have to fight it and learn to take a stand! Not everything that you are offered in life is good for you. You need the wisdom of God to be able to choose that which is pleasing to him and to refrain from that which is not!
There is something very important to notice in verse 10. Joseph refused to listen to her words and he even refused to be with her. He came to the place where he physically avoided her! This is a great step in avoiding sinning through temptation. Don’t flirt with it! Don’t try to prove you can handle it! Never come to the place where you think you have it whipped! If something is a temptation to you, then avoid it like the plague! Don’t be foolish enough to think that you can handle temptation and sin. They will show you short order that they can handle you, 91 Cor. 10:12.) On the TV show "Hee Haw," Doc Campbell is confronted by a patient who says he broke his arm in two places. The doc replies, "Well then, stay out of them places!"
V. 12 He Met It With A Final Refusal - When the big day came and this woman allowed her thoughts to find physical expression, she grabbed Joseph and said “Lie with me!” It was time to make a decision and he did! He spun out of that robe and ran out of the house, leaving her holding the garment! Joseph literally ran away from Potiphar’s wife to preserve his character. You cannot have it both ways! You can either give into sin and pay the price for your pleasure, (Prov. 5:11-14). Or, you can run from temptation and protect your testimony! "What are you doing, son?" the shopkeeper asked a little boy whose eyes were on a large basket of apples outside the storefront. "Trying to steal one of those apples?" "No sir," replied the boy. "I'm trying not to."
Before we leave this thought, I want to point out a few facts about temptation:
1. Temptation is never from God - (James 1:13) - Potiphar’s wife tried to blame Joseph and Potiphar for her lust, (V. 13-18). Some people even try to blame God for their sins, but God is not responsible for the things that tempt you! God tests His children, but He always sets the test up so that we can pass. Satan tempts us, but always to make us fail! Temptation is never from God!
2. Temptation is always from within - (James 1:14-15) - Temptation always comes to us based on the things we already want. Just like a fisherman baits his hook with the proper bait to attract the kind of fish he wishes to catch, Satan baits the hook of temptation with the very worm he knows we will like!
3. Temptation Must Be Handled Properly - (1 Cor. 10:13) - God will make a way out of temptation, but we must be active in finding the door out! Here are a few suggestions for dealing with temptation:
Deal with it Immediately - Don’t allow it to linger in your life and grow out of control. As Barney Fife would have said it, “Nip it in the bud!” Get before God and ask for His help!
Deal with it Realistically - Understand that sin is more powerful than you are. It will destroy you if it has an opportunity. Do not give it that chance! Jesus said this to His disciples, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”, (Matt. 26:41).
Deal with it Ruthlessly - Whatever you have to do to avoid the temptation is in order! Remember what Jesus said about this matter - (Mark 9:43-48). Regardless of what you have to do, get away from it! During the Falkland’s War, England’s Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, ordered the bombing of the British airstrips in Port Stanley to prevent them from being used by the enemy!
Deal with it Consistently - Learn to be consistent in your resistance. If you aren’t, you will be caught off guard and overcome! The same wind can send one ship east and another west. Which way the ship goes is determined by the set of the sails!
Deal with it Confidently - We have the Lord’s great promise in 1 Cor. 10:13. God will make a way of escape, just be sure you look for it! Most of give into temptation, not because we can’t get out of it, but because we don’t want out of it!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“God Will Make A Way” By Don Moen (1990)
God will make a way Where there seems to be no way He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me He will be my guide Hold me closely to His side With love and strength For each new day He will make a way He will make a way.
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Monday, March 26, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 3/26 /2012
WINNING YOUR BATTLE WITH TEMPTATION, Lesson 44b
V. 7-19 THE TEMPTATION JOSEPH ENDURED,
The Character Of The Temptation - Despite Joseph’s walk with the Lord and holy lifestyle, temptation still stalked him. These verses have much to teach us about how temptation can come to us as well.
V. 7 It Was Subtle - Potiphar’s wife began her temptation of Joseph by first “casting her eyes” upon him. He was a handsome young man, v. 6. This proved to be his Achilles Heal. When temptation comes into your life or mine, it will seldom appear as a full blown invitation to sin. Most of us would quickly see through that and would avoid it altogether. The Tempter is far more subtle than that! He will attack us is small ways that, on the surface, might not appear evil. I mean a teenage boy might have been flattered to know that he had caught the eye of a sophisticated, beautiful Egyptian woman.
Temptation is almost always subtle in the beginning, but if it is not stopped at that point, it will quickly escalate into outright sin! (for example: The temptation of Jesus, (Matt. 4:4-11). At first, Satan tempted Jesus to do things that, on the surface, didn’t appear to be evil. Beware of the subtlety of temptation and sin. If evil is tolerated, to any degree, it won’t belong before you are in over your head! A woman was bathing in the Gulf of Mexico. She was enjoying the comfort of relaxing on an inflated cushion that kept her afloat. When she realized that she had been swept about a half mile out from the beach, she began to scream, but no one heard her. A coast guard craft found her five miles from the place where she first entered the water. She did not see her danger until she was beyond her own strength and ability. That is what the flesh and the devil want to do to you!
V. 7 It Was Shocking - Potiphar’s wife came right out and propositioned Joseph! This was a blatant offer of sexual sin! Joseph wasn’t the only one being tempted, but he was the only one fighting temptation. It is interesting to see how temptation worked in the heart of this woman. First, she looked at Joseph in a way that was inappropriate for a married woman, then she fed the fantasies in her mind until they became realities! That is why sin must not be tolerated, even within the thoughts of the mind! They may begin there, but they will grow until they become reality! The very thoughts of the mind must be brought under the control of the Lord, (2 Cor. 10:5). Satan knows that outward sin begins within man’s heart, (Matt. 15:19, James 1:14-15). He knows that if he can get our minds to dwell on evil, it is but a short step to get us to live out that evil! The whole point here is that if the devil can get our minds to accept the subtle temptation, we will cave in when he comes against us with the full frontal assault!
V. 10 It Was Sustained - She offered herself to Joseph every single day! She is a woman completely consumed by her lust for this young man. His refusals did nothing more than make him more desirable to her. Joseph was a typical teenage boy. He had the same desires that inhabit all teenage boys. It must have been a difficult time in his life as this beautiful, older woman repeatedly offered herself to him! Yet, he remained firm in his resolve to be faithful to his Lord. What we need to learn here is that temptation is not going to go away! Neither age nor time will make temptations vanish.
As long as we are in these bodies, we are going to be tempted to sin against our Lord. Satan knows our weaknesses and he exploits them. He will repeatedly attack us in an area time after time. We can resist, yet he still attacks us. When the temptation subsides, we tend to let our guard down, and here it will come again! Temptation is a relentless force that we will battle for the duration of our lives! That is why we must never let our guard down and we can never think we have our sins conquered! Sin and temptation are always waiting to attack us and to overcome us, (Gen. 4:7).
V. 11-16 It Was Strategic - Whether this woman set this up or not we do not know, but there came a day when no one was in the house but Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. She saw the opportunity to fulfill the fantasy in her mind and she made her move. This is how temptation works! It will entrench itself within our minds so deeply that it becomes the center of our thoughts. It relentlessly pressures the mind to act on the desire. Then, when it sees an opportunity, it pushes us to bring our thoughts to life! You can see this progression in the temptation and fall of King David ( 2 Sam. 11:1-4). He saw her. She filled his thoughts. He took her into his heart and then into his arms! The pages of the Bible are filled with many examples of temptation: Eve, Adam, Cain, Abraham, Lot, Esau, Israel, Peter, etc. We should never think that we are going to be immune to it! Temptation hounds us all and it will master you if it isn’t handled properly. In this area, Joseph sets a great example!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Yield Not To Temptation” By H. R, Palmer (1868)
Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin; Each vict’ry will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue; Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
Ask the Savior to help you, Comfort, strengthen, and keep you; He is willing to aid you, He will carry you through.
Shun evil companions, bad language disdain, God’s name hold in rev’rence, nor take it in vain; Be thoughtful and earnest, kindhearted and true; Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown, Through faith we will conquer, though often cast down; He who is our Savior, our strength will renew; Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
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