Our setbacks and defeats don’t have to dominate our lives or define us. The key is to continually surrender to His grace.
All right. Hey, great to be here with all of you. If you’re joining us for the first time I am Pastor Terry and the Lead Pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. You know, uh, we’re talking about our series, this summer series Surrender. And I just need to say from the beginning that my desire for all of you, in addition to wanting to see you strengthened and encouraged in the Lord is to have you also expand your trust base.
It’s something that I actually desire for myself as well, that I would love for all of us to learn how to allow God to help us to better let go and let God. And a lot of that is going to mean addressing our fears and, um, some of our past experiences, places that we have identified. Either out of our insecurity or out of a false sense of security as, you know, things that we can’t be without.
And yet there are times where God is going to remind us that moving forward is going to mean also letting go and trusting Him in ways that were maybe different than, um, what we would have been comfortable with in our past. But the Lord is trying to teach us how to break out of our comfort zone so that we can move into places of expansion and growth and new life.
And, you know, that’s His will for all of us. In fact, I just want to pray over this word and even now, Lord, I just ask that as we return to our study, as we make this space for you, as we give you the gift of, of our worship and thoughts in our minds. We bring them to a point of focus and intention that You would just meet us exactly where we need it most just as you have come to humanity and You gave Yourself Lord in Jesus.
So You would come to us and meet us in the place where we needed most. I don’t know where that place is. I know some of us are filled with great struggle. Other of us, others of us, maybe having a hard time with adjusting to new realities, or we look a little bit down the road and it’s intimidating. In all of these places
we want to ask you to help us to surrender. Reminding ourselves, as we talked about last week, that the center of Your will is the safest place in all the world. And Lord, we just want to, again, open our hearts to You. We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen. So I want to return again to the story, of the story of Joseph, and I want to draw a spiritual and emotional life from it.
I really do. And, and by the way, if, if you, if you’re just joining us and you’ve missed some of the previous weeks, uh, you know, feel free to catch up, you can do that, by just going online and looking at the messages from the past weeks and months, and even the previous year when we started out with, with this, uh, journey that we we’re now well into when we were caught off guard and we talked about what it meant to be resilient and to, to, you know, respond in ways that were more hopeful and positive.
And so there’s a lot of that. And then we’ve been connecting that a lot with the story of Joseph. So you can go back and review that you can do that through our app as well. And of course it’s available also in some of our other platforms, but we left off last week with Genesis 43. The brothers, the sons of Jacob were feasting as the guests of the mysterious and powerful Egyptian ruler who was known as
Zaphnath-Paaneah. It was a name that had been given to Joseph by Pharaoh and it meant, one who interprets dreams or even more precisely one who discovers hidden things and Zaphnath-Paaneah had been unpredictable. He had been, if you recall, hard to understand, and at times harsh, almost irrational. And, and then upon their return with Benjamin, he had become unexpectedly kind at hospitable to an extreme and you know, his invitation,
um, well the bottom line was this, there was unmistakable aura to the man. He, he seemed to possess, at least, at first glance, some of those supernatural powers the Egyptian said he did. I mean, he was young, not quite 40. He was handsome and, and shaven and made up and dressed, you know, with the finest that Egypt had to offer.
And that, you know, I guess it was kind of an invitation to dine at the palace was both unexpected and unsettling. When they arrived, you know, Zaphnath-Paaneah wants you to come and dine with him. It was an invitation they couldn’t refuse despite their concerns. And, and I’m sure that they were thinking things like, well, why, why would, why is he extending that offer, uh, the offer,
they couldn’t refuse, right? It just didn’t make sense. Why, you know, why, why had he taken such an interest in them? And then of course, when they started and they gathered there in the big hall, there were the seating arrangements and they were seated from the eldest to the youngest. And that was also a little troubling, I mean, who told him, how did he know?
Maybe they asked one another, did you mention to him our ages? How does he know that? And then of course, Benjamin was given more food than the rest of them. And you know, what do you do? It was just, it was unsettling, the whole thing. But as the night went along, his kindness and largesse overwhelmed their fear
and there was an unmistakable joy as they prepared to start their journey northward back to Canaan the next morning with Simeon and Benjamin and their sacks full of grain. I mean, by any estimation, things had gone so much better than any of them could have envisioned and they had no idea what was coming.
The, the final tests that they were about to be given. Let’s look at Genesis 44, first one together, look what it says. Then he, that’s Joseph, commanded the steward of his house, fill the men’s sacks with food as much as they can carry and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack and put my cup, the special cup, the silver cup in the mouth of the sack of the youngest with his money for the grain and Joseph’s steward did as he was told.
And as soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. And I can just imagine them this little caravan as they rode off into the morning light as the Dawn opened up on the Egyptian day with the beauty of the desert and the pastels. I mean, a beauty that is distinct. And, and I’m not gonna say unrivaled because there are many types of beauty in this world, but desert beauty is a beauty all its own.
And if you ever get a chance, just even to see some of the beauty of the desert in our, you know, in our beautiful state of California, you know, Joshua tree, but even, even just not that far away and, you know, Bryce canyon and Grand Canyon. And Zion, and just some of the amazing places that, you know, even, even Death Valley is absolutely gorgeous. The desert beauty is unlike any other kind of beauty it’s, it’s sedate.
And at the beginning of the day, it is just, uh, in it’s own way, almost astonishingly good. You can, you can just move your soul. Uh, and I think they must have felt, you know, a million bucks to use the phrase. I mean, they must have felt so happy. Everything was great. This was all too good to be true. Clearly Jacob’s prayers have been answered.
Uh, the God of their fathers had delivered them once again, you know, I’m sure that as they moved along and they were joking and they were, you know, singing and haranguing one another needling one another as only brothers can do. And just having a great time heading home again with Simeon and Benjamin and bags packed full with grain.
Oh blessed, man, we are so blessed. I’ve known that feeling. I think you have too. When everything’s going great, we’re happy life is good. And you know, and those seasons of our life just enjoy it, you know, receive the blessing. Don’t rush past it. It’s okay. One thing I can tell you don’t be the bearer of bad news.
Have to say it. They won’t last, but we can have more of them, right? By retaining a really good attitude and I think it makes them even more meaningful in one of those stretches where things are just going well. And we feel blessed in every direction. You know? Look what it says in verse 4. Cause, here’s the “but then”. It says they had gone only a short distance from the city.
Now Joseph said to his steward, get up, follow after the men. And when you overtake them, say to them, why have you repaid evil for good. Is it not from this that my Lord drinks. And by this that he practices divination. You have done evil in doing this. It’s a, a classic frame up. Basically what Joseph instructs the steward to say is, you know, you have stolen our masters special cup, a cup that they had planted in the sack of one of the brothers.
And the implication was you have stolen the cup that he uses to ascertain certain mysteries. And that’s how he predicts the future. It was a kind of a mysterious superstitious thing, but remember they, they didn’t know what to do with Zaphnath-Paaneah. They didn’t know. I mean, there was something different about the man that was for sure.
They just didn’t know what it was. Verse 61. When he overtook them, he spoke to them, these words, and they said to him, why does my Lord speak such words? Is these far be it from your service to do such a thing, behold, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan.
How could we steal silver or gold from the Lord’s house? Right? I mean, they were basically saying, look, we’ve already proven ourselves to be honest, man, we’re not thieves. We’re not thieves. Why would we, why would we do that? There’s no, we have no reason to do that. And then they say this, which whichever of your servants found with it shall die.
And we also show be, um, your Lord servants, you know, my Lord servants. And, uh, I have to believe that, um, even though it’s not mentioned here, I’m just going to assume it was Ruben who made the statement? I call him Ruben, the escalator. Uh, you know, if you find that in any with any of our bags, you know, uh, that one will die, you know, we’ll see.
I remember he was the one who had offered up his two grandsons at Benjamin didn’t come back. I mean, Jacob’s grandsons his sons anyway, verse 10. It says, he said, let it be, as you say, he was found with it shall be my servant and the rest of you shall be innocent. Then each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground.
And each man opened his sack so far so good. And as he searched beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest, I imagine each one, see, we told you, see, yeah, great. You know, nothing, but when it got to Benjamin the last one. Oh, that’s where it had been planted. He was found in Benjamin sack. And when they saw it, they tore their clothes.
Every man loaded his donkey and they, they returned to the city. I mean, it was like, oh no. And, and I’m sure Benjamin was saying, I didn’t do anything. When Judah and his brothers did though, were told, come to Joseph’s house he was still there. They fell before him to the ground. Joseph said to them, what deed is this that you have done?
Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination? And then the response that Joseph could not have anticipated. Judah again, you can see how he emerges. The quality that starts to come from Judah in his advancing years and Judah said, what shall we say to my Lord? What shall we speak? How can we clear ourselves?
Oh, can I say, God has found out the guilt of your servants. Behold, we are my Lord servants, both we, and he also, in whose hand, the cup has been found. And so far from abandoning Benjamin, the one who had been favored by Jacob has Joseph before him. And the one whom he had given more food to intentionally as a way of testing them, uh, Judah appeals that they be treated the same.
In other words, he doesn’t say, say, you, you know, take Benjamin. He makes the case that we’re all responsible for this and let this fall upon all of us. It was, uh, a very gracious commitment. Uh, of, of selflessness to not simply let Benjamin take the rap, but he said, Joseph says, far be it from me that I should do so.
No, I don’t only the man in whose hand the cup was found. That’s the only one I want. I will not treat you all as guilty when only one is guilty. No, the one in whose hand the cup was found, this is the one that will be retained in servitude. But as for you, you’re free go, go up in peace to your father.
You know, so what Joseph does, I think you can see it is he makes it easy for them. He waits for them to argue and debate just so they had done when he had cried years earlier, helplessly in the pit and they had debated his plight, but to his amazement, they did not, they had changed and that’s a good reminder of people can change.
I can change. Even habits that have been with us for many years can be changed. They can be, I have found that in Christ, I’ve had some things fall away just like shedding skin, if you will. I mean, just like little miracles, things that used to buy me have fallen away. You know, but, um, I have had others, things that have been with me since the days of my youth or as a product of trust injuries, or ways of being that, uh, maybe go all the way back to my upbringing and experiences of my younger years habits that have been formed, like well-worn grooves, uh, In my life that are so easily to fall back in and not get out of and much to my chagrin and even dismay.
And perhaps some of us can relate to this. When they arise. These traitors within they do damage to me, they hurt me. They hurt me sometimes deeply like a self-inflicted wound to the soul. If you’ve ever known what it’s like to, oh, I know you have to disappoint yourself to disappoint God, to hurt people.
You love. Uh, those places of struggle. It can be very difficult to recover and to feel hopeful. And maybe some of us are there right now. I want to encourage you. Don’t give up. The Lord is with you. You’re here. And there’s a reason that, uh, the Lord is reaching out to you in His love. Um, just enough that mean, I’m just saying it Lord never,
he, doesn’t give up on us and, um, he’s not going to rub our face in things. If we’re humble and repentant, he just won’t do it. Um, but you know, and what I’ve found is that when I’m willing to submit my brokenness to Christ, even my willfulness yes. Uh, sin and self self-will, um, when I’m willing to do that, when I, when I bring it to the foot of the cross shame at all right.
Stubbornness and pride laid before his feet in humility that they, I actually can ironically have, and I don’t know any other way to say it, but those shortcomings and those places of defeat and, and, and brokenness those places. Can I actually have a positive effect? Why? Because they can drive us away from pride and self-sufficiency, which is a lie of our culture.
And to into grace. Like out of the broken place, comes to the grace place, right? The broken spaces bring the gray spaces. If we allow them to, you know, break us of our pride for God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. This I have known in my own life. And, um, you know, what we, what we always talk about what I’ve been talking about.
And these last last week, I mean, you know, this, the safest place in all the world is the center of His will. He, he welcomes us right there. Paul called these things in his life. He called them thorns. Right? He said, he talked about having a thorn in the flesh kind of area. That was, um, well, it was a unique area of struggle is what it was.
He also talked about his struggle enrollment. And about having a new and an old nature. And he actually describes this battle within, and maybe some of us can relate to this. He describes it as two men inside of us fighting and struggling. And in the end, the apostle, the great apostle throws himself on the grace of God in Christ.
Jesus, listen to how he describes it in Romans seven. This is from the NLT says, and I know that nothing good lives in me. Look how honest it’s worse heart. That is in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t, I want to do it as good, but I don’t, I don’t want to do it as wrong, but I do it anyway.
I’m a walking contradiction, but if I do what I don’t want to do, I’m not really the one doing wrong. It is sin living in me that does it. That says this. The part of my, my broken nature that is prevailing over me. I’ve described this principle of life. The Apostle writes that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.
I love God’s law with all my heart, but there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me, send me, um, you know, oh, what a miserable person I am, who will free me from this life. If it is dominated by sin and death. And again, we’re not just talking about
sexual or immoral things. It could be attitudes. It could be ways of thinking about other people. It could be things like envy and jealousy and pride, stubbornness and willfulness and resistance and rebelliousness towards God. Um, a reluctance to go His way, a reluctance to surrender when He’s, when He’s calling us into places of release and, and all these, these are, these are the things that are all wrapped together, where we, you know, our unwillingness to forgive.
An unwillingness to trust God with our shame. Uh, we, we, we can even struggle sometimes just wanting to hold on to our failures and not really accept the forgiveness of the Lord because we don’t think we deserve it. I’m just saying Paul writes, who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death.
Thank God. The answer is in Christ Jesus Our Lord. How good is that? So you see how it is in my mind, I really do want to obey God’s law because of my sinful nature. I’m a slave to sin. And then he asked the question who will free me. I looked at the same passage from the message translation, and I just think is very illuminating.
Can I share it with you? I’m going to go ahead and do it verse 17, but I, I need something more for, I know the law, but still can’t keep it. Look how this render– is rendered. And if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions. I obviously need it. I realized that I don’t have what it takes.
I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decided to do God, but do good, but I don’t really do it. I decided not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions such as they are don’t result in actions, sorry. Even when I want to do right. There’s a part of me that holds back something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that he says, it’s predictable.
The moment I decide to do good sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that well, I mean that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me, covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge and I’ve tried everything. Nothing else. I’m at the end of my rope.
Is there no one who can do anything for me? I mean, look at this, look how rich this is. Isn’t that the real question? The answer. Thank God. Is that Christ Jesus can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but I am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
I, I think this is so wonderful and enormously relatable. You know, every weakness we we have and I’m going to say it loved ones. My brothers and sisters and friends, fellow travelers on this journey, this spiritual journey, because remember we’re spiritual beings on a human journey, not just human beings on a spiritual, uh, every weakness we have is an opportunity for Jesus to show his strength
in our life. Hope, thank you for that. Lord. Every weakness we have is an opportunity for Jesus to show His strength in our life, every broken zone, an opportunity for God to turn it into a zone of blessing. From a broken zone to a blessing zone, that’s what I’m talking about. That’s what God can do. And I’ve heard it said, and I’ve seen it happen.
And this is this. This is a beautiful way of summarizing what we just have been reading. And what we’ve just said, God can turn, listen a mess into a message, a test into a testimony, a trial into a triumph and a Victor. Well, a victim into a victory. There’s something about that. A messenger them into a message, a test into a testimony, a trial into a triumph and a victim into a video.
And let’s be clear, be clear that there may be sometimes things, you know, um, don’t go away so easy when we were talking about change, how the brothers had changed, and that’s got us to where we’re talking about how sometimes we will carry thorns in our life as this way. We can describe them things that even though we love Jesus, even though we’ve come to follow him, we do struggle and maybe stay with me on this.
Maybe there are seasonal struggles, seasonal thorns, so that the thorn that I maybe struggled with in my younger stage of life or the stage where some of you are at right now is not the same thorn that we might struggle with in our middle stages of life. And perhaps there are some of us in our more advanced stages of life, where our thorns are different.
Our struggles are different. Maybe, maybe it’s more about fear. It’s more about, you know, what will happen to me or, you know, the loss of things. The Lord is there too. You know, he’s there at every stage in every place, but we all will have. I think there are unique thorns that we struggle with now. Some of those thorns will come in and out and stay with us through the course of our life.
And that’s, you know, they’ll, they’ll rise up from time to time. We just gotta be honest about that. Something has gone miraculously takes away and we just, we just stand in awe at God’s ability to, to heal us from something. And it becomes an amazing testimony of His grace, but there are things in our lives that we will struggle with probably for all the days of our lives.
And you go, well, how can you say that? Where’s your faith? Why aren’t you supposed to be optimistic? I am, because I say that even those things become opportunities for humility, for, uh, a deeper understanding of God’s love that it reaches even beyond my own failures and struggles and how it just makes me love the Lord even more.
And when I, when I realized that His, His love is not dependent on my obedience, although He calls me to places of obedience. And if I can say it this way, His blessing will often be connected to that obedience. But His love is unconditional in Christ and He invites us to follow Him. As Paul said, the love of Christ constrains me.
He didn’t say the law constrains me, you know, the knowledge of good and evil and the, the, the legal aspect of, of scripture he could have, but he didn’t, he, he didn’t say, he said the love of Christ constraints me because many waters cannot quench love. And in the end it was Jesus is about God’s love. For God
so loved the world that He gave. Uh, it is also is about the ugliness of sin and its impact that it requires God, such a beautiful thing that He, Jesus became, um, broken for us. And every time we receive communion and like, some of you are doing at Riordan today, you know, every time we receive communion, uh, we, we experienced a reminder of how much we are loved, even in the context of that brokenness.
So there are some things that, that are going to rise up from time to time in our life, and we’re going to feel defeated and setback. And I just want to say that they don’t have to dominate and define us. That is what I am saying. The key is to continually surrender to His grace. And it’s, it’s something that, again, it’s one of the values of, of communion to me and why I do think it has tremendous meaning. You know, the cross invites us to surrender to His love.
Doesn’t it? It’s just surrender to His better way. I was thinking about something that, uh, E. Stanley Jones, uh, wrote. He said that if you don’t surrender to God, don’t think that you don’t surrender. Everybody surrenders to something. If you don’t surrender to God, don’t think that you don’t surrender everybody surrenders to something.
Every person in this world is surrendered to something. The question is, who are we surrendering to? Romans 12 says this. And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you, let them be a living and a holy sacrifice. The kind he will find acceptable.
This is truly the way to worship him. Romans 12, 1 and 2 from the NLT. In other words, surrender to the Lord. A sacrificial surrender as a way of life is true worship. It’s also the pathway to true joy and happiness. It was Elizabeth Elliot. Another writer that I greatly admire. She said anything, listen to this one.
Anything given to God can become a pathway to joy. Anything given to God can become a pathway to joy. Let’s just finish up the passage here, but watch what happens. Then Judah went up to him and said, oh my. I used to go back to Joseph and Judah, and he’s going to plead for his brother. Watch this.
Judah went up to him and said, oh my Lord, please let your servant speak a word in my Lord’s ears and letting all your anger burn against your servant. For you are like Pharaoh himself. My Lord asked his servants saying, have you a father or a brother? And we said to my lawyer, yes, we have a father and old man and a young brother, the child of his old age, his brother is dead.
That was, they were talking about Joseph and he alone is left of his mother’s children. And his father loves him. Then you said to your servants, bring them down to me that I may set my eyes on him. And we said to my Lord, the boy can not leave his father for if he should leave his father, his father would die.
But then you said to your servant unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see my face again. And when we went back to your servant, my father, we told him the words of my Lord. And when our father said, go again, buy us a little food. We said, we cannot go down. If our youngest brother doesn’t, you know, goes with us, then we will go down for, we cannot see the man’s face unless
our youngest brother is with us. And then your servant, my father, said to us, you know, that my wife bore me two sons, one left me and surely has been torn. And I said, surely he has been torn to pieces and I’ve never seen him since. But if you take this one also from me and harm happens to him, you will bring my down my gray hairs in evil to Sheol – the place of departed spirits, to death.
Now, therefore, as soon as I, as I come to your servant, my father and the boy is not with us. Then as his life is bound up in the boys’ life. As soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, I hear these is going to die and your service will bring down the gray hairs of your servant. Our father was sorrow to Sheol to his death for your servant became me.
It became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father saying if I don’t not bring him back to you, then I will bear the blame before my father, all my life. Now, therefore, please, this is what I’m asking. Can you please let your servant, let me remain. Please instead of the boy as a servant to my Lord, I will, I want to take his place, let the boy go back with his brothers for how can I go back to my father?
The boy is not with me. I want to give my life for his, I fear to see the evil that would, would find my father. I, I am moved by the loyalty. Judah offers himself, uh, touched me as a ransom. I will pay the price with my own life to honor my father and to set my brother free, by the way, who does that sound like?
Who does that sound like? But a descendant of Judah who would for the sake of the Father and our benefit take our place on the cross. How, how amazing is that? I’m talking about the Lion of the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Judah, our savior Jesus. Wow. What I want to do now, before I come back around, is have us share a song it’s called “Scars” and watch how this song weaves together
the idea of these two themes that we have sat with, right? The themes of trusting God and then with our wounded places and the scars of our life. And then also how the Lord becomes the one who bears the scars for us. Watch the connection how this is woven together. Here we go.
I’m thankful for the scars. You know, the song combines the two elements of we’ve been just like I said, sitting with one scars of life and the other, the scars, the one who gave Himself for us, isn’t it it’s that we might be healed and whole, and, and we might get better as God’s will for all of us. Hey, I do want to remind everybody I get to do this.
This is our time of giving, you know, you can, you can give, uh, so many of you do so beautifully, wonderfully. Thank you. By the way, for being such a wonderful church. Both those who are here close in San Francisco. And those of us who are, you know, in the Bay Area and those of us who are connected now in different ways, as part of our, um, you know, online community, you too are part of our church.
And, uh, I just wanna remind everybody that you can, you can give, uh, you can send it in to our offices. You can give online and you can give, you know, like I do on the app. But, um, you know, what a blessing to be able to honor the Lord with our first fruits and, and to be part of something bigger than ourselves, that brings honor to Jesus.
But I, I keep thinking about how much we are loved. I keep thinking about how the Lord doesn’t give up on us. He doesn’t rub our faces in our shameful places. He, he creates pathways of restoration. He’s a healer, He’s the giver of life. He loves us. He loves you so much. Like I say, you are greatly loved. If you will receive Jesus.
Um, you will have Him with you always even unto the end of the age and then beyond. And I would say that if you’ve never done that, if you’ve never opened up your heart to the Lord or he right there, and you actually do believe just welcome into your life, if you want to just as simple as saying, Lord, I, I absolutely need you.
I’m broken and I need you as my savior. And I welcome you in, and by the way, if you want it, you want to get baptized. We’ll figure out a way to get that done. You just let us know. But to the rest of us, I want to say, let’s keep growing. Let’s keep contending for breakthrough and let’s allow the Lord to heal us so that even, uh, even the wounds become scars and those scars become testimonies of God’s grace.
That’s part of what He does. So my prayer is we remember how good He is because He’s so good and He’s so God, and He wants us to what… Sow good and sow God. My prayer for you truly it is. Young middle stage flies, life and old. I really pray this prayer. The Lord would keep you in every way in these anxious times, they would keep you in your spirit and your soul and your mind and in your body.
I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.