One of the keys to breakthrough in all areas of our lives is learning to surrender our negative thoughts and attitudes. Pastor Terry continues his exploration of the life of Joseph.
All right, what a blessing to be able to share this moment together with you. Hey, if you’re joining us for the first time, I’m Pastor Terry, I’m the Lead Pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. You know, for the past few weeks, we’ve been really zeroing in on our summer theme of Surrender. And it’s not really about, you know, giving up and quitting.
That’s not what we mean, waving the white flag. Uh, although there’s an element of that, that I think we are talking about because we’re talking about what it means to let go. And let God to allow Him to have His way when He’s trying to get us to be more attentive to something He’s trying to either break us into our break us free from. Has to do with expanding our trust base. Yielding when the Lord is calling us to move in a way that He has for us.
And so. Uh, even now, Lord, I, I just pray for Your grace and Your blessing. And if there are things that You want us to be open to and listening for, as we share this word together, I just ask that You by your Spirit would come and, and work in us. And we devote this time to You. We create a sacred space in this moment.
We try to push aside the distractions and give you a mind. Um, that’s attentive and, and worshipful. We come to You with a listening ear in Jesus’ name. Yeah. Amen. So in the next few weeks in this kind of represents a bit of a shift because I’m going to be sharing for the next few weeks. Uh, I want to explore the theme of surrender through the lens of a man that I shared about in some of the past series, a man named Joseph who’s
one of the most remarkable men in all the scripture. He’s a beautiful man and I don’t. And if you’re a new here, which I know some of you are, you don’t have a real background understanding of the Bible. Uh, the Joseph we’re talking about is actually not the Joseph who married Mary and helped raise Jesus.
No, that’s the Joseph of the New Testament. We’re actually talking about the Joseph of the Older Testament. The one whose life story takes up such a significant part of the opening book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. Joseph, the grandson of Abraham the, well, he was the great Abraham was his great grandfather.
Uh, Isaac was his grandfather, Jacob, his father, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And then Joseph. God uses Joseph to be a great deliverer, a life giver. And even more than that, he is such an example for all of us, you know, um, his life is so relatable. I mean, any of us who’ve ever experienced and I, I just find it astonishing that things that happened thousands of years ago can be so relevant for today, but it is.
I mean, any of us who’ve ever experienced relational pain or are experiencing that now. Any of us who’s who have experienced loss in life. And maybe some of us are experiencing that right now. I mean, really, as a nation, we’ve been walking through loss. Right? And some of us, we understand that anybody’s, who’s ever felt shame or regret or disappointment with ourselves or with others or with life or with just even God.
I mean, Joseph. Connects, right? He, he, he really does. I mean, he’s probably the most Christ-like figure in all the Older Testament. I, I, there are reasons why I say that, but there’s, he’s just an astonishing figure. And man, and again, an example, and I want to return in these next few weeks into his story and
and watch how it intersects with the principle of surrender and letting go and the power of trust. And, you know, we’re going to watch Joseph as he, as he has to work through his pain and the pain of his past and a pain which he will be forced to revisit and, and surrender one more time. I mean, I think because some of us can relate to that.
I mean, in, in Joseph’s mind, that was something that was behind him. And what we’re going to find is that through a series of events, God has another layer of healing to work in his life. And it, and yeah, there’s going to be a need to surrender again, things that he’s thought he’s left behind. He’s going to have to revisit that. And he’s going to have to learn to trust God there, but there’s even more than just Joseph.
I mean what we’re going to see, and it’s just amazing. It’s remarkable. And I’m super excited to talk about it because, uh, I think we forget, it’s not just about Joseph. Who’s being invited into a point of surrender. His brothers, um, the one who perpetuated such pain and hurt they are going to have to,
learn how to surrender their guilt and their shame. They’re going to have to learn how to receive forgiveness. And that’s another story, another part of the story. So there’s Joseph, having to work through his hurt. There’s the brothers learning how to work through their shame and their regrets. And then there’s going to be Jacob who, you know, he’s the father.
He, he’s so scarred. I mean, one of the things that we will see in the coming weeks is how scarred he is by the loss of his son. The trauma of what he is assumed it happened because, remember, he was told by the brothers, by his other sons that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast and they held up a portion of his coat and was, they had put blood on it.
And it, it just was devastating to Jacob. That was his, his son of his wife, Rachel. And it was, um, a moment that, uh, a season in his life that traumatized him and it made him a fearful man. Right? And so, you know, he is going to struggle with letting go of Joseph’s full brother, the only other son of his beloved wife Rachel, Benjamin.
And we’re going to see that he’s going to have to let go. He’s going to have to surrender his fear. He he’s going to have to trust God with what he loves most in the world. And he’s going to have to get past this deeply entrenched, uh, uh, fear of losing again because of the loss that he experienced in his life.
So again, you, you see this multilayered kind of, um, you know, each one of them having to surrender something. Joseph, the hurt of his past, uh, revisited the brothers, their shame and their guilt, and then Jacob, his, his fear of losing again I can’t do that. I can’t risk. Can’t stand it. Again, it’s just for all of us who would follow in the way of Jesus,
there’s such a life here. In fact, I was reminded of Romans 15. I want to just put it right up there. Verse four, for whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction that through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope. Right? And the purpose of that is we’re told that the, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another and in accord with Christ Jesus…” That we are given these examples from the Older Testament,
um, cause that’s the specific scriptures that are being referred to here in Romans 15, that we’re giving these examples so that we might learn how to do a few things ourselves, how to endure, how to stay encouraged and how to live in relational peace and unity in Christ Jesus. Now, what I want to do then is I want to reset.
I want to reset the table so that we’re all approaching this with a kind of basic understanding of where we’ve been. When we get to Genesis 42, which is where we’re going to pick back up with, uh, remember what has transpired. Joseph’s brothers they have, you know, essentially just told their father, Jacob, about this mysterious and unsettling thing that had happened.
These, these events that had occurred and transpired. That honestly have caught them so completely off guard they don’t know what to do. I mean, if you recall, the only reason they had gone to Egypt in the first place was because of a famine that had scorched the middle east and it had been relentless.
It finally got to the point where they were desperate and Jacob agreed to send them to Egypt to go and try to buy grain. Egypt appeared to be the only place that had it. Incredibly, they had excess that they were willing to sell. Um, it, it evidently was due to the foresight of leadership. None of them could have known that that was actually a provision of God through none other than Joseph, who they assumed was dead.
Uh, in that moment, though, we got to remember, Jacob is risk averse and he’s not just risk averse, he’s stubborn. So you’ve got a very interesting combination. They can’t move without their father’s blessing, but their father doesn’t want to move because he’s afraid and he’s strong. And remember he had tried to wait it out in the first place.
Initially he refused to even let them go. He, he didn’t want them to go. He understood that, that there was some dangers there. He didn’t want them to go to Egypt, but he finally relented after much persuasion because it appeared that it was possible they might all starve to death. And he said, okay, then I guess we don’t have a choice with his back against the wall.
He sent his sons a small caravan of Hebrews to the land of the Nile and the pyramids. He sent them to by grain, knowing the potential for peril. He prayed that God would protect them and give the 10 of them favor, even though they were foreigners. He prayed for blessing. The only son who he would not let go was the youngest and his most treasured.
Again, the last connection to the love of his life, the wife of his youth, Rachel, who had died, giving birth to Benjamin, uh, Genesis 35:18 talks about how Rachel died while giving birth to her son. And that, interestingly enough, before dying, she named the boy Ben-oni, but Jacob changed the name of Ben-oni to Benjamin, you know, Ben-oni meant
the son of my suffering. I think she sensed she was dying when she gave him the name. She was in such great pain. Benjamin though was Jacob’s name for this boy. And he called him son of my right hand, son of my favor. And for, for Jacob Benjamin represented the most important things in his life. Right? For,
it was the last remaining connection he had to the woman he had most deeply loved and the son he had loved Joseph. I mean, it was all connected to Benjamin was the connection. Um, he was the one, right? What what’d you obviously did not know is that Joseph actually was alive. In fact, none of them were aware of that.
They all shared a common conviction that he was dead, that he had died in Egypt somewhere. None of them could have envisioned that Joseph had actually arisen to a place of such prominence where he was a prince. He was really second, only to Pharaoh self. Right? It was so far beyond the pale of conception that,
you know, it’s, it, it just couldn’t even register. And we’ll get to see that later on when Joseph reveals himself and that’s going to be a special moment, but again, for, for Jacob, Benjamin was the only thing he had left. So, um, you know, he, he, he sent and at the time, even though Benjamin, a lot of times we forget he was actually probably closer to 30 at this time.
So it’s not like Benjamin is this young lad. Because we know Joseph was about 39 years old when he, you know, is reacquainted with the brothers, but Jacob was never going to let Benjamin go. That just wasn’t going to happen. It was out of the question. He was never going to surrender that. Never. But now they had something had happened when they went to Egypt.
It went fairly well, but not what they expected. And they actually had to leave one of the brothers there. They were able to come back with grain, but they were not all there. Um, Simeon was left behind and, and let’s, let’s look at how they told it to their father. Okay? Look what it says, verse 29, “It says when the brothers came to their father, Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told them everything that had happened to them.
And they said they kind of repeated the story. This, the man who was governor of the land spoke very harshly to us. They told him he, he was like, he was like upset with us. He from the beginning before we even, I mean, he accused us of being spies scouting the land. And we said, no, no, no, we’re not, we’re not, we’re not spies.
We’re honest men. Right? We’re 12 brothers actually, uh, sons of one father, one brother he’s no longer with us. That’s another story. But our youngest brother, he’s at home. Yeah, with our father in the land of Canaan. That’s where we come from. And then the man who was the governor, who they did not know it was Joseph, then that the man who was governor the land told us no,
if, if you’re telling the truth, this is how I will find out if you’re really are honest men, like you say, you are. I want you to go ahead and leave. I want one of you. I want you to leave one of your here with me and then take grain for your starving families and then go home. But you must bring your youngest brother back to me.
Then I know that you’re honest men, and you’re not spies. So all I really need you to do, um, leave one of you here. If you, who are you, you are say you are. Here’s what I want. Um, you’re you can have, you can add what you need. Oh, no problem. You can take the food. You leave one of you behind you bring back that younger brother
you say you have, and that will show me that, um, you are, and then you can, you can buy more grain and, uh, I’ll give you back your brother and, you know, that’s what I need. That’s the deal. It says that, um, they told Jacob this. After they told them about it. Jacob’s been listening while the, we may just assume that Jacob’s process it in, they’re repeating the story and while that’s happening, they’re opening up their sacks.
They’re getting the grain out and, um, you know, they, they, all of a sudden each one of them discovers something that is just super troubling to them because they didn’t realize, they just assumed that the money that they had used to buy the grain, um, have been, you know, taken. What they weren’t expecting
was it that each one of them had had the money that they had used to purchase the grain put back into the, well we’re told here, it says, and they empty out their sacks and they’re in each man’s sack was the bag of money that he had paid for the grain. Verse 35. “And the brothers and their fathers were terrified when they saw the bags of money.
It was like, oh, what is that? Oh, no, what happened? You said you bought the grain. Why do you have all the money? Father, that… we paid him? It must have been a mistake. We don’t know what happened. And then before they could even process it all out, look what it says, Jacob does. It says Jacob explained he just, he met immediately goes negative, big time.
He exclaims as he’s processing everything they’ve told him they’re all looking at the money. They’re stunned. They have the grain, they have the money. Simeon is left behind. It’s not making sense and Jacob just bursts out and he just says, “You are robbing me or my children.” And then he connects back in time showing you after all these years that the hurt is still there.
Joseph, he hadn’t heard that name uttered. Joseph is gone. Simeon has gone. Actually, Simeon was still alive. He was just in Egypt, uh, being held. It’s kind of a ransom, and now you want to take Benjamin. You want to take him too. And then everything is going against me. Boy, have you ever said those words? I have?
Oh man. That’s I mean, it is the classic overreacting to negativity, isn’t it? Everything is against me. Everything’s going against me. I see the old father, Jacob, hah. You know what he’s doing? He’s he’s catastrophizing, isn’t he? Tell me when someone says, well, there… is that even a word catastrophizing? I don’t know if it is actually a word, but if it isn’t, it ought to be, because I think it really captures what he was doing.
I think is something we all do. We’re all capable of doing is that when we get hit with things that rock us and they come at us, uh, we can in these highly emotionally charged moments. When we feel overwhelmed with pressure or things that are going against us, we can drop into a point of extreme exaggeration and we just start saying stuff.
And when we’re under duress, listen, it is so easy when we’re under pressure. Um, and things are happening in a bad way. It’s very easy for us to surrender to the wrong things. It’s so easy to do. Negative thinking we start– bad decisions. Uh, some of us we retreat into, when we’re under that kind of pressure, and things are going in ways that are devastating to us,
oh, seem to be overwhelming to us we can drop back into addictive places. We can, we can close down our world. We can start to just speak death, death words. Over ourselves. Over our situation. Over others. Right? And instead, listen, instead of articulating faith, we spiral into a negative confession. Instead of articulating faith, we spiral into negative confession. Instead of surrendering our negativity to the Lord, we surrender to our negativity.
I think that’s part of what’s happening here. I mean, one of the things we’re noticing is that Jacob is just focused on what’s going wrong and he’s not really bringing the Lord into it. All he can say is all these things are against me. Right? So when we surrender to our negativity, we, we exaggerate what is wrong.
We emphasize, um, how defeated we are, uh, in, in, in, and one more thing that happens is we can surrender our creativity as well. You know, so instead of surrendering our negativity, we surrender our creativity and creativity because it’s incompatible with negativity. It, creativity is the key to problem solving.
I think we understand that that is we have to be able to think well. And so what negative thinking does is it shrinks our capacity to use our God-given imagination. And it also inhibits our ability to hear from the Lord. We’re so focused on what’s going wrong. We’re not focusing on what the Lord can do and what the possibilities are that are around us.
And I’m not saying it’s easy to do. Um, in fact, we often do the other foolish thing that Jacob does in this moment. And I think you see it. Do you see what he does? In our angst, we blame. That’s what he’s done. I mean, I’ve done like he’s he’s you did this, you guys did this to me. You’ve taken, you know, you want to take Benjamin, it’s all,
it’s, it’s focusing. We, we start blaming, you know, uh, I’ve done it too many times to count. I think. It’s your fault. It’s your fault. We let you know, we can lash out when we’re under pressure. Um, more emotional. We can lash out with foolish words, can’t we? We do need to be careful with our words. Lord, help us here.
Listen that so that in our anger, we do not sin. The scriptures remind us that to be angry, but do not sin. As Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry, but do not sin. Don’t let, and don’t let the sun go down on your wrath.” Uh, you know, let’s do our best to resolve and release before we sleep. It’s one of the reasons why it’s good to end the day in prayer, so that we can extinguish anger and fear from dominating us.
Right? You know, and if I, if I could push one more step further into that, the next and the next verse in Ephesians 4, it takes it even further. It says, “Nor give place to the devil. So be angry and do not sin and do not let the sun go down on your wrath nor give place to the devil.” Don’t give the evil one
a foothold to work his lies off of. So when we start fixating on a problem, we start allowing anger to overcome us. When we start speaking out words that are negative and death dealing, we are, listen to me, we are creating a foothold for the evil one to work off of. You know and I have found like Jacob, that the tendency in life, when we feel like everything is going against us or it’s wrong, some things are
going poorly. Um, you know, it’s, it’s easy for us to, to go negative and, and to turn out of our frustration out of our fear, out of our anger, um, but usually it’s out of our frustration and fear, I think yes, to turn on the people that God has given us to love best. Uh, let’s not do that. By grace, let us, when we’re under enormous pressure by grace, may the Lord give us the ability to be patient and to reign in our words to speak life.
Yeah, speak life in His name, not death. Not death words. Words of life. Not giving place to blaming and negativity and critical words that exaggerate the problem, but, and, and, but instead literally reminded of in that same Ephesians 4, you walk down that chapter and you see in verse 32, “Be kind to one another, be tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave, you.”
I thought about that. I thought about what we’re told in 1 Peter 3:8 & 9. It says that finally, all of you should be of one mind that’s the NLT. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, keep a humble attitude. And that ninth verse do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling.
But on the contrary, bless for this, you were called that you may obtain a blessing. What we’re being reminded of here is that we were created to bless and do we see how much of life will flow if we choose to surrender to the wisdom of these words. In our closest relationships in our friendships and certainly in our marriage between a husband and a wife, the power, power of blessing, instead of blaming. Uh, the power of, uh, articulating faith and surrendering our negativity
when we find ourselves in these highly emotive places where we’re feeling pressed on every side and we’re under pressure, we think things are melting down around us. How, if we can ask the Lord to help us, right? Cause the Bible reminds us in Proverbs 17:27. This is from a kind of obscure translation of the Berean study Bible.
But it says a man of knowledge restrains his words. We can say a woman of knowledge restrains her words and, and a man of understanding maintains a calm spirit, right? There’s something about retaining a calm spirit. It, instead of just exploding when things aren’t going well or things are building up and just start, you know, spewing out blame and exaggerating the problem and making it way more than it is.
We, we asked the Lord to help us create a calm spirit and, um, um, I’m not suggesting it’s easy. I don’t think it is easy. Uh, but I do think that when we find ourselves dropping into those places that the Lord wants to pull us out of them quickly. That’s how I look at it. You know, that, that our dominant, uh, fall back is not to just sit there and stew in negativity, but instead to allow the Lord to help us pop back up, if you will, to be a resilient person in terms of our blessing and not just being defined by what’s going wrong and,
and sometimes even to repent quickly and move on or to shift our attitude and resubmit it to Christ, you know? Oh, I, by the way, you know, when talking about restraining our words, that’s precisely what we’re going to in this, when you read the passage, you see that what follows after Jacob makes this, uh, you know, this declaration and everything that’s going wrong.
Rubin, almost like Rubin wants to match him in intensity. Right? Ironically, I think he’s, he’s trying to calm his father, but what he says is so ludicrous. And so, um, you want to talk about negative escalation in response to his father’s emotions. What Ruben does is he actually says something that turns, turns up the heat even more.
So instead of calming the situation, it’s like he takes the, the, the, the temperature gauge and turns it up even more. Look what he says at verse 37 Rubin said to his father, father, you may kill my two sons. If I don’t bring Benjamin back to you, I’ll be responsible for him. And I promised to bring him back. Now,
I think the last part of that was a good statement. Right? I’ll be responsible for him and I’ll bring him back, but he leads into it with. If I don’t bring Benjamin back to you just kill my two sons, which who, by the way, are Jacob’s grandsons and probably the one positive, the one positive thing I think it may have done is unintentionally,
I think Reuben’s out of the, the distorted, uh, offering of something that was meant to appease Jacob? I think it was so shocking. And so out there that it may have actually calmed Jacob down that unintentionally that it, it it’s so overwhelms his emotions because it was so bizarre that, that, you know, the idea of what I see Jacob going.
Rubin, Rubin, you got to be kidding me. Are you serious? That, oh yeah, that’ll solve everything. That’ll solve everything. Yeah. Look what it says, verse 38, but Jacob replied, “My son. No, no, no. My son will not go down with you. His brother, Joseph is dead. And he is all that I have left. And if anything should happen to him on that journey, on your journey, you will send this grieving white haired man to his grave.
No, we can say one thing, Benjamin, isn’t going anywhere. And it’s like Jacob saying, I think by this point, calmly. No, I’m not, no, I’m not going to risk it, but what about Simeon? Nah. What about him? I’m not, Benjamin is not going. Can’t do it. Can’t do it. Can’t do it. Do we see how the hurts of life can shut us down?
And how the fear of what could happen because of what has happened, that’s key, can keep us tied up. I think, the Lord really does want some of us just surrender our fear of being hurt again. If I can say it that way, he wants us to live out of a safer place. Doesn’t he a place of security, not a place of, of fear, a place of trust that says, come what may. I’ll be,
okay. Right. Listen, I can’t. This is, this is how we know we’re making progress. When we understand I can’t change, I can’t change yesterday. I can’t control tomorrow. Um, you know, but I can live secure in the grace of God today. Today. Today we can choose to surrender to his love and promise to his grace embrace.
Yeah. And when we do this, we can let go of things. And it’s not about, living in denial of reality. Uh, it’s not suggesting that, you know, we’ll be able to move forward risk-free. To be alive is to risk. You can’t, I mean, that’s the nature of our life in this broken world. But what we are saying is we don’t want to live at a live life, at any stage in our life, tied to the dock with ropes of fear.
No. Yeah to do that is to never know the adventure of faith on the sea of life. And, and, and you know what? I look at Jesus, I hear the master saying, launch out, launch out into the deep, let go, and let Me have My way in your life. Let go and let God. Yeah, so that, that means choosing to speak life and not words that are filled with negativity and death.
Right? So Lord help us to do that. Help us to do that. Help us to be life givers and life speakers, not bound up in our fears, not defined by a hurt, some loss, not afraid of tomorrow, but secure in today. Anyway, we’ve got a song we’ll share called Speak Life. I’ll come back around closing thought or two. So here we go.