How beautiful is a soul set free. God is able to work out His purposes through the hurts and heartbreaks of our lives - if we allow Him to entwine His will into our choices.
All right. Hey, so good to be able to share this moment with all of you. My desire is that you would be blessed to all of you who are a part of the Cornerstone Church online community. We, we love you. I love you. Want to see you blessed, strengthened, encouraged. And 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.
And we love the fact that you are with us right now. Uh, for me, it’s a big deal. Now this week, we’re going to pick back up today. We’re going to talk about yes, The Way of Blessing, but we’re going to talk about it from the context of, of the idea of freedom and forgiveness and the beauty of a soul set free. In the past few weeks, we’ve sat with Psalm 1 and we’ve sought to know it’s wisdom.
Again, referring to the Psalm one more time. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the way the sinner nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord. And in that law, he meditates day and night, it’s going to be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season. Whose leaf
also shall not wither and whatever he does, it will prosper. What a great promise! And then the Psalm shifts and takes a bit of a different turn. He says the ungodly. They’re not so they’re like the chaff that the wind drives away. Those who are referred to here as the ungodly are those who live life without a reference point to God. They’re kind of closed.
And the scripture says, therefore, the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. And I was thinking about the last half of that Psalm in relation to the people in our lives. Yeah. The people in our lives.
Cause that Psalm was referrering to those who, um, are not a blessing. I remember something that Mother Teresa said about how we can learn from all the people in our lives. She said the good and the bad, the helpful, and even the hurtful, she said, “Some people come into your life has blessings and some come in your life has lessons.
And I know this. God wants us to be a blessing. He really does. An example that other people can draw life from and encouragement from not a warning to remind people of what not to do or become, but, but an example, an appointed inspiration. A life giver, a wounded healer, all the things we talk about.
That’s what I know God’s will is for every one of us. Now, it doesn’t mean we’re going to get it all right. And we’ll never do that, but it, it, it does mean that we will want to keep learning and we’ll want to keep learning from our mistakes and stay humble and lean into God’s mercy and love as a way of life. Right?
Now in the coming weeks, I want to dig into that a bit more. I want to shift back into the idea of, of learning, how to grow from our mistakes and how to adjust. And I want to talk about how we, you and me, can bless even with our flaws, right? So I want to shift again and explore, okay, the way of blessing,
by re-engaging the last portion of the book of Genesis. The majority of our focus in the coming weeks, I need to say this will, however, not be, not be, on Joseph, whom we drew so much life from in 2020, and in the early portion of 2021. I mean, we really used his life. Sat with his life, learn from his life, walked with Joseph and gleaned so much strength from him.
But we’re going to be shifting away from Joseph to having a focus, which is what happens in the latter part of Genesis, uh, to his father, Jacob, and, and, you know, I’m talking about the man whose name was changed to Israel, right? And we’re going to zero in a lot on the blessings. Cause it’s the way of blessing.
We’re gonna zero in on the blessings that he gave to his sons, specifically his two grandsons. Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. And, um, you know, we’re basically, we’re talking about the ones who would become the 12 tribes of Israel who would ultimately enter into the promised land, but to get there, to get to Jacob and the blessings we do need to see, well, we need to complete the circle briefly.
You need to briefly complete the circle with Joseph, because so much of the story of, of Jacob and Joseph they’re, they’re intertwined. But it, but I guess if I were, you know, kind of putting one more thing out, there would be this, that today’s message really is more about how to negotiate our anger. And as I mentioned earlier, the freedom of forgiveness and the beauty of a soul that is set free.
And so, you know, I need to say this don’t miss you’re blessing because we have one last message that’s mostly focused on Joseph. It really is a beautiful word. It’s gonna set us up for where we want to go in the coming weeks, as we shift over to Jacob and there’s so much life in it. And so, you know, let me just go ahead.
I’m going to pray for the blessing, and then we’re going to revisit, reconnect and sort of set the table. But along the way we’re going to learn. I really do believe this, learn how to be a better blesser, less bound up by anger. And even now, Lord Jesus, I do, I do ask that Your spirit would come and just bless this time.
As we engage Your words together, You know our needs, You know our struggles, You know our shortcomings, You know the areas of our lives that, um, are not so easy and You know the relationships that have been difficult for us, and some of them are still hard. And I do ask that You would speak to us through this word and through the example of Your servant from the Old Testament, that is my prayer for all of us in Jesus name.
Amen. So let’s do a quick reset and I do mean quick. I’m not going to spend a lot of time going back over the ground that we’ve covered, you know, months back. But I do want to start back at Genesis 45. I want to read through this verse from the ESV translation says, “Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him.
He cried, make everyone go out from me. And so no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers and he wept aloud so that the Egyptians heard it. And the household of Pharaoh heard it. We’re talking about the emotion of years that float out of him like a fountain deep within, and then through the veil of tears and a voice filled with agony.
The great Zaphnath-Paaneah, as he was called, declared himself to be to his astonished brothers, their long lost, and assumed to be dead, brother Joseph. They were, the brothers, transfixed, shocked and they looked at one another. It’s not possible, no way. And look what it says here. Verse three. And Joseph said to his brothers, I am Joseph.
Is my father still alive, but his brothers could not answer him for, they were dismayed shocked, stunned at his presence. Stunned, silence filled the room. And so Joseph said to his brothers come near to me please. And they came near and he said, I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And I think based on that response on the response that, that were told they had that they were scared.
I think they were absolutely terrified that last phrase, “That you sold into Egypt.” I think Joseph sensed it in their eyes. And so he said, no, no, no, no, no. Verse 5 do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here. No, no, no. It’s not about that. God sent me here before you to preserve life.
No, you sold me. I love this. It’s worth mentioning. You sold me. God sent me. Both were true. God sent me to preserve life. Not take it. That’s right. He sent me here to save our family. You know, Joseph, I think you can see this. And I didn’t talk about this before, but he was blessing his brothers with two distinct gifts.
Wasn’t he, in this moment. One was with the assurance of their safety. Basically. He was saying, don’t worry, you’re safe. Don’t worry. Oh, by the way. It’s hard to receive a blessing when you don’t feel safe, it’s hard to receive a blessing when you don’t feel safe. That’s why I think it was so prudent and right, and wise and sensitive of Joseph to calm his brother’s fear, you know?
And then the other thing, notice it, it was a remarkable statement. He said to them and don’t be angry with yourself. What was he doing there? He was, he was, I hope you can see it. He was freeing them to forgive themselves. He was helping them to lift their guilt. You know, it’s one thing to be angry with another and, you know, that’s a place we need to be careful of, because the Bible reminds us that we are to be angry.
But do not sin right. And there are times where anger is indeed justified, but I think so often it’s not, but even when, when our anger is justified, it needs to be managed and treated with care. Doesn’t it? Because anger is a powerful thing. And it can very easily get out of control. It can get out of control in our lives and it can get out of control inside of us.
And there are a lot of things I think, happening right now in the culture that that could create a frustration that can easily show up as anger. And I think we do need to be, be careful with that. I really do. And I think we need to kneel at the cross as it were. I mean, some of us may need to literally kneel in prayer.
And surrender that, that anger lest it overwhelm us? Um, another thing we may need to do is reinforce ourselves in God’s love so that we are not defined by the anger or captured by it. So there’s this idea of surrendering our anger, but also, you know, reinforcing ourselves in, in His love has the dominant theme of our life.
So that anger can’t really get a foothold in and tie us up. And I mean, I think within the framework of anger, out of control, a lot of other things, you know, um, bitterness can saturate us in ways that, uh, bind us, literally wrap us up and just to corrupt our heart and destroy our ability to be positive.
We, we don’t want that. We don’t want that. We don’t want to be bound up by anything. I don’t want that for you. I don’t want it for me either. But you know, so, so it’s one thing to be angry with, with someone else or with something that’s out there that’s going on. And we got to watch that anger, right? You don’t want, we don’t want anger to start defining us.
We don’t want to start allowing that to just be kind of the overwhelming, uh, aspect of, of how we are viewing life or experiencing life, because that’s going to show up in our relationships. But at the same time, that anger is one kind, but there’s another kind of anger and that’s when we’re angry with ourselves.
And that anger is, is another thing altogether. Isn’t it? It may involve deep seated guilt and, and regret. It may haunt us. I mean literally and defeat us, taunt us, torment us. The what if and why did I. What’s wrong with me, right? That kind of anger that we have for ourselves and Joseph, I mean, Joseph says his brothers were bound that guilt and shame wrote upon them like an oppressive master.
And they had been carrying that weight, like a heavy burden for two decades. And even though they had to let some of that go it’s it’s, it clearly was still with them. And it’s hard to live. You. It’s hard to live with an evil deed and a lie, you know, sustainable joy. And this is a point worth making sustainable joy
is nearly impossible when we carry the burden of a secret sin. Sustainable joy is nearly impossible when we carry the burden of a secret sin. That’s why the Lord calls us to confess our faults, um, to pray, to confess our faults one to another, that we may be forgiven and have prayer. And so there are times where I can, I can take my, my sin, my guilt, and my shame, and just lay it at the feet of Jesus at the cross.
I won’t be rejected. You won’t be rejected ever. But we might or might find ourselves in a pattern where we do this and it gets very frustrating. There might be some of us that we just really do need to get a dimension of freedom through confession and having someone pray with us for forgiveness and cleansing and renewal.
And again, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to struggle from time to time, but the dominant theme of our lives, this is God’s will for us would be freedom. Would be freedom. You know, how. How, how beautiful is a soul set free? How beautiful is a soul set free? You know, it’s, it’s one of the reasons why Jesus brings such loyalty from us because when we know we have been set free, when we know we’ve been forgiven, um, you know, we love the One who has been forgiven much.
Jesus said, loves much. I think about Mary Magdalen and the scriptures and how the Lord freed her and how loyal her love was because of that. I think about Peter and how God forgave Peter, and how he gave himself back to God with everything he had, because the Lord had restored him. I think about Paul on the Lord said, you know, that’s who you were.
And Paul never forgot who he was, a blasphemer, a persecutor. A murderer with blood on his hands. He said he did it in ignorance, but he, how could he be free of that? Only in Christ. And that made him want to want to throw himself all the more into the service of Jesus. But let’s go back here to the exchange that occurs.
Verse 6, Joseph says, because the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing or harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not, look, it was not you who said yes, you did, but it was not, but it was not you who sent me here, but God, I mean, you sold me,
yes. But God was involved in this and He has made me a father to Pharaoh. Like a counselor to him and he, he relies on me. And he’s, and he’s given me an amazing amount of authority as you can see, lord over his house and ruler over the land of Egypt. For Benjamin, it must, must’ve been just, uh, the youngest brother, a shocking revelation for all these years.
He too had lived under the illusion that his older brother, Joseph, the one spoken of by his father, uh, with tears and whose name his brothers were oddly reluctant to utter. Why did they ever really talk about Joseph? You know, I mean they, all Benjamin knew is that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast.
And now this great man Zaphnath-Paaneah, as the Egyptians referred to him, was looking into his eyes and telling him he was Joseph. Wait, sold in Egypt. Oh, what, what? Sold into Egypt? Who? I see Benjamin. Who, who sold, who sold you into Egypt? What are you talking about here?
Joseph turns his eyes down, I think in that moment. Wow. And Simeon and Levi and the others say nothing. I see Judah. He looks away. What do you do in that moment? All right. What was, what? Remember Benjamin has no idea all these years he’s been living with something that wasn’t true. Just like Jacob, their father and the family secret. The lie that no one talked about.
And I see all the brothers uncomfortable, ashamed. I see Joseph, even in this moment. It’s, it’s, uh, it’s a, it’s a long story. It’s a long story. It’s true. It’s true. Uh, they sold me, but it was God who sent me. You know, Joseph held in his hands in this moment the mystery. That we still wrestle with to this day.
How modern is this? How real, how relevant? I mean, he held in his hands, the mystery of human freewill and God — sovereignty, right? Human free will. God’s sovereignty. You sold me. God sent me. Human free will. God’s sovereignty. You sold me. God sent me, how can it be? That both are true, except that God is able to work out His purposes through the hurts
and heartbreaks of our life, that He entwines His will into, uh, the freedom and choices and the way in which we choose our path. Uh, the, that part of our life, though, for us, uh, a product of our own autonomy, God is nonetheless able to work His purposes and plans through the choices that we make apart from His, you know, control because He’s given us that gift and that’s, you’re going well, how’s that possible?
But it what it is, and it was. At the time of his selling, and in fact many years after that, it’s clear that Joseph had no, no sense whatsoever of what God was doing, that, that God somehow was going to use the nightmare he was experiencing in such a magnificent way. That his pain would become a portal of provision that God would shape him into a beautiful soul through the pain of his life.
And I remember something in Janet, uh, Oke says, she said, blessing, sometimes show up, I liked this one, in unrecognizable disguises. Blessing sometimes show up in unrecognizable disguises and CS Lewis, who, you know, I shared a lot about some of the things he wrote in that opening of the series in the Way of Blessing. You know, Lewis said this, that when we lose one blessing, another is often, most unexpectedly given in its place.
And initially I just, that was a quote I ran past. But then when you really think about what Lewis is getting at, when we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place. It’s it’s as if God’s goodness and grace shows up in ways that we couldn’t have anticipated. As long as we don’t get locked in into our anger defined by our, uh, despair.
Um, we don’t become bitter and dark in our thinking patterns. We stay open to God flexible. He can do and will do amazing things. You know, the dark years that Joseph had, I think he was just actually trying to do two things. I really do. And this is a helpful tool for us when we find ourselves in a dark patch of life.
One, I think he was simply trying to survive. And there are times where survival is. Victory is there, it is in a relationship too. He might say, Pastor, how could you say that? You’re you’re settling for such a low bar. Survival is victory. There are times where surviving is victory. Where to live to fight again
another day is a victory. Where us getting through this together and not falling completely apart. We, we need to be okay with that. There are some times where just fighting our way through a difficult place and holding onto God in the dark night of our soul is a victory. So there are some seasons where survival is victory.
And I think there was clearly a time in Joseph’s life where he was simply trying to survive. But the other thing that he did, which is also just huge and I look back on it, cause again, we’re talking about the crafting of a beautiful soul. He served God as best as he could, where he was. And you know, that’s, that’s just another take on, he bloomed where he was planted.
Right? This is the way, right? This is the path. Uh, you know, you, you get to decide, are we going to bloom where we were planted? Are we going to, to just fixate on, I don’t like this patch, you know, we can. Or we can figure out what God wants to do in it, which is what I, what, you know, and again, that’s my main point.
My main point, well, at least one, one of them is this, that there are times when we’re, when, when you know we are, all we’re trying to do in life is, is survive. Hang on, grab a hold of something or someone. And there are other times where, um, we’re really just trying to, to grow in the context of the adversity that we’re experiencing.
And Joseph, boy, he had been there. He had learned to survive, but even more, I got to say it, I have to say it. You combined these two thoughts and only had to, he learned to survive, but he had learned it was this what we’re saying to thrive. And he had learned to serve God as best as he could wherever he was.
And he retained a stubborn faith and a conviction in God’s goodness. You know, again, God meant it for good. And I was just, you know, I was trying to consolidate this into, uh, you know, what I call thriving principles. And I, I’m not gonna spend a ton of time here, but I do want to just give you some practical ideas about how do you thrive, you know?
Like how do you, how, how do we walk in the way of blessing when it’s hard? I just thought I have to, I want to do this. Because again, we’re shifting next week. We’re going to be looking at, uh, Jacob and watching blessing from a very different approach and angle and sitting with things. But I want to, I want us to just think about how do we cultivate, uh, a beautiful soul, um, when things are hard, loved ones.
And I know for some of us, it has been hard. It is hard can, one of the things I just going to get, just some, just some thoughts. He, joseph’s shrunk his world and determined to honor God one day at a time when he was in the middle of that tough place. He, he shrunk his world and determined to honor God
one day at a time. There are some seasons where it’s best for us not to try to look too far down the road. We were better off just keeping our eyes on the path ahead of us and doing our best to just honor God in whatever way we possibly can on this good day. A second principle, he governed his attitude. That is, he refused to become brooding, negative, bitter.
He was not an angry man. He was not an angry man, even when things were awful, he was not an angry man. Three. He, he, he, he continued to like people. I mean, even, even after people had done so many things to him, that’s amazing to me. Right? I mean, you look at it. People should have treated him better. His brothers. Potiphar, even the butler.
I mean, you know, I’m going back into places that we covered months ago in the earlier part of the book of Genesis. But I, it just shows up and then this is not a person who closes down relationally. He’s not, he’s not again, just only thinking about himself and how he can’t trust people, cause they’ll always let you down.
And I know that it’s a real thing. Right? You get, we get hurt. Uh, we get our love taken for granted. We get, uh, enough pain shooting into our relationships and damage there. It’s not so easy to keep staying open and liking people because we go cause in the back of our mind, we’re thinking you’re going to disappoint me.
You are going to disappoint me. And what Joseph reminds us of and one of the reasons why I think his soul was so beautiful was because, because he, he didn’t, he didn’t let them that stopped him from liking people. And ultimately it worked to his advantage. Our thing is that he retained an ethic of diligence.
He was a faithful steward to his father, to Potiphar, to the prison warden. And finally to Pharaoh. He was trustworthy. He did quality work. He lived with integrity. He was a person of character. He didn’t just talk about his faith. He lived it. Does that connect with any of us? Not, and by the way, not just when it was convenient, but also when it costs him something, I think that’s important because a lot of us are going to have an opportunity in the context of our friendships, relationships, family, uh, workplace, certainly in the workplace where we get to decide what kind of an ethic are we going to model, uh, you know, so that when those moments come, when we do talk about Jesus and by the way, anyone who loves the Lord needs to talk about. I never heard anybody
who loves someone and then never talks about them. So, but when we do that, if it’s being backed up with an ethic of, of diligence and an integrity of character, again, not perfection, but a consistency that speaks of, of quality. Then those words actually carry more weight in the, in the eyes of others. They do. A couple more things.
He did, real quick, he forgave and he surrendered his anger. We talked about that so that it didn’t own it. And then lastly, he trusted God in God’s goodness, even in the valley, he just hooked onto it. Right? I think about a mountain climber sliding down on his way to the crevice. Right? And they just slammed
that, you know, that hook, that hammer, that ice, uh, whatever, they call that into the, into the snow and it holds them. That pick that’s it? And it holds, and, and I, you know what I think, I think that’s, that’s a conviction when we say I’m going to trust in your goodness that all things will work together for good to those who love God and are called according to Your purpose.
Lord, I trust in Your goodness and we just secure ourselves right there. And it can keep us from sliding. I just, again, God is good. I don’t understand why this is all happening. I don’t understand why people are doing this, but I’m not blaming God for what people do. God sent me. You sold me. God sent me, but it’s okay.
God’s been with me and God is good. He really, he really does model the way of blessing and what it looks like to live a life that honors God and blesses others. I’m talking about how Joseph showed us a life that was set free for, as Jesus taught us, the one who has been set free is free indeed. And my prayer for all of us, I do believe Lord, it is your will. Freedom in every way and in every dimension.
So with that in mind, let’s share this song and it’s a reminder of how good God is. And then I come back around one more thought to share, and then the closing blessing.