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Intro: As I read the story of Joseph, I am convinced that he had his act together. He is a man who knows how to handle himself in all kinds of situations.
For the last while, we have been occupying ourselves with the details of Joseph’s relationship with his brothers and his father. Those events are the primary emphasis of these chapters. But, it is easy to forget that while Joseph was dealing with his brothers, he was also managing a crisis in Egypt. By the time Joseph faces this time of trouble, he has become master of crisis management. Consider the trials he had already faced and overcome.
· His mother died while he was young.
· His family was in a state of constant upheaval.
· There was jealousy, hatred and infighting within his family.
· He was betrayed and sold into slavery by his brothers.
· He was lied on and falsely accused in Egypt.
· He was imprisoned.
· The butler, who promised to help him, forgot about him for two years.
· He was suddenly promoted to a position of prominence, power and responsibility.
· He suddenly finds himself occupied with preparing an entire nation to deal with a famine.
· In every crisis he faces, Joseph displayed exceptional wisdom and faith.
In this passage, we are allowed to witness how the Lord used Joseph to prevent a nation from descending into starvation and anarchy. We get the see Joseph use all his skills of Crisis Management.
Genesis 42:1-47:12 is a parentheses passage. As we pick up the story of Joseph today, we see that the verses we have read are a recap of Gen. 41:53-57. In that passage, the people are hungry and they come to Pharaoh for help. His advice to them is clear, “Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do,” Gen. 41:55. That is what the people did, and they survived that famine as a result. The people were brought to the end of themselves and of their own resources. They turned to Joseph because they knew there was no future apart from him.
What Joseph did was to take steps to save the nation. He took steps to bring everything in Egypt under the authority of the throne. You can see this played out in these verses.
· Joseph took control of their Purses (v. 13-14) Joseph took control of all the money in the land. All of the people were placed on the same level. There were no longer rich people and poor people, there were just people. Every dime was brought under the control of the throne.
(Note: That is where our money needs to be as well. We should strive to bring every cent we possess under the control of the Lord. Let Him use it in His work as He sees fit)
· Joseph took control of their Possessions (v. 15-17) When the money ran out, the people traded their livestock and their possessions for food. Everything they possessed was brought under the control of the throne.
(Note: Shouldn’t the same thing be true in our lives? Everything we have should be dedicated to the glory of the Lord. If you possess anything that cannot be dedicated to the Lord to be used for His glory has no place in your life.)
· Joseph took control of their Property (v. 18-20) when their money was exhausted and their possessions were all gone, they gave Joseph their land. He brought that under the control of the throne.
(Note: Again, everything we possess should be relinquished to God for Him to use as He sees fit. After all, it all came from Him anyway, James 1:17.)
· Joseph took control of their Persons (v. 19; 21) When their money, their possessions and their property was all gone, they willingly gave themselves up to be the servants of Pharaoh, in exchange for food to eat.
(Note: We need to consider self. Sometimes we are able to give the Lord everything we own, but we keep ourselves back for our own use. He would have us surrender the totality of ourselves on the altar for His glory, Rom. 12:1-2. After all, if you are saved, He owns you already, 1 Cor. 6:19-20.)
· Joseph took control of their Positions (v. 21) Joseph moved the people from the country and other outlying areas and brought them into the cities, where work and food distribution could be more easily managed.
(Note: Just a reminder, but you and I really have no say in where we go and what we do. We belong to Him and He chooses where we serve; how long we serve; and what happens while we serve there. He is the Lord of His people, James 4:15; John 3:27.)
· Joseph took control of their Production (v. 23-26) At the end of the famine, everything in Egypt was under the control of the throne. Joseph was in absolute over everything and over every person in the land of Egypt, Gen. 41:44. He graciously gave the people seed to sow on the land and allowed them to keep eighty percent of everything they raised. Everything they produced was subject to a twenty percent tax.
This is what Joseph did to be sure there was grain during the famine, Gen. 41:44. And, this is what he did to ensure that the people would succeed after the famine. Everything Egypt produced was brought under the authority of the throne.
(Note: God doesn’t ask His people to give Him twenty percent. He doesn’t even ask us to give Him ten percent. He graciously asks us to give Him one hundred percent of everything we have. When we do, He will show us how much of that 100% that He wants invested in His work and how much of that 100% we can keep for our own use. Our checkbooks need to be brought under His control)
Some people criticize Joseph for his tactics in these verses. They see him creating a feudal system where everything is controlled by a central power. No one owns land, no one owns houses, and no one can get ahead in a system like that. Some people have a hard time believing that he instituted a 2o% income tax on the people. (Ill. I wish that was all we paid! – Income tax, Social Security tax, gas tax, road tax, county tax, city tax, sales tax, usage tax, plus assorted user fees.)
The people of Egypt did not criticize Joseph. In fact, they credited him with saving their lives, v. 25. They saw him as a savior of their nation.
In this passage, Joseph is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. The same advice that Pharaoh gave to Egypt regarding Joseph was given to us regarding Jesus, Ill. Gen. 41:55; John 2:5, “His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”
In Egypt, Joseph’s desire was to bring everything under his control He knew that unless he could consolidate power in Egypt, the country would tear itself apart when the famine came. He knew the rich would oppress the poor. He knew the nation would be ripped to pieces by rebellion, revolution and upheaval. To stop this from happening, Joseph took control of everything and brought it under his authority.
Jesus possesses the same desire in our lives. He knows that is we are left to ourselves; we will bring our lives to ruin. But, if we will yield control of everything we have and are to Him and His authority, He will bless us and use us beyond our wildest dreams.
Are the areas of your life I mentioned under His control? Does He control your Purse, your Possessions, your Property, your Person and your Position? Has everything been brought under control of the throne?
That was the introduction. Usually, there will be a short introduction and a long message. Today, there will be a long introduction and a short message.
In Joseph’s dealings with the people I see a few important principles for living that we must not pass over today. These principles can make all the difference when a crisis comes into your life. These principles teach us the real value of the crises we face in our lives. Let me share those principles with you today as we think about this matter of Crisis Management.
I. CRISES ARE NO
RESPECTER OF PERSONS
· When the famine came to Egypt, it came to everyone. The poor, the rich, even royalty were all affected by the crisis of the moment.
· The same is true in this life, every person in the world is affected by crisis from time to time. We have almost worn out the words of Job, Job 14:1; Job 5:7; and of Jesus, John 16:33.
· In my life it seems that I move from one crisis to the next. Of course, I am not alone; I see that happening to people all around me. This life is a life filled with crisis moments. No one gets out of this world without facing moments of crisis.
· That was how Solomon saw this life. Eccl. 2:17, “Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” Eccl. 2:22-23, “For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun? For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.” That is how I see it too!
II. CRISES CAUSE US TO
RETHINK OUR PURPOSES
· When this crisis came to Egypt, the people were told to do one thing, “Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do,” Gen. 41:55. From that moment on, the people of Egypt had just one purpose. They had just one duty. They were to obey Joseph and do exactly what He said to do.
· Sometimes it takes a crisis moment in our lives to remind us of our purpose in life. Sometimes, we lose focus in life. We find ourselves doing things the Lord doesn’t want us to do; going places He doesn’t want us to go; and being someone the Lord doesn’t want us to be.
· If we are saved, our first and foremost duty is to do exactly what they Lord tells us to do. That is our sole purpose before the Lord.
· We are to be who He wants us to be. We are to go where He wants us to go. We are to do what He wants us to do. Our primary duty is to yield the totality of ourselves to Him and allow Him to use us as He sees fit.
· There is nothing like crises to cause you rethink your purpose in life. When you distill it all down to the bottom line, our main duty is to be who He wants us to be! No one wants to come to the end of life and say, “I wish I had lived my life another way. I wish I had done something else with my life.”
· Whether we are in a crisis or not, we need to ask ourselves a few questions. “What am I doing? What does God want me to do? Am I being responsible and obedient to Him?”
III. CRISES CAUSE US TO
REEVALUATE OUR PRIOTITIES
· When the crisis came to Egypt, suddenly, things like money, possessions, lands and power meant nothing. What good is money when there is no food? What good are lands, power and stuff when you are starving to death? These people wanted to survive and they knew their possessions would not see them through. They needed help they could only get from Joseph.
· As people move through life, they sometimes focus on things that don’t truly matter. When that happens they might just lose the things that really do matter. Consider:
Ø People who put their jobs ahead of their families.
Ø People who put the recreation ahead of their marriages.
Ø People who put their plans ahead of God’s plans for their lives.
Ø People who live their lives to gratify their flesh and satisfy their wants, with no regard for what God wants from them.
· A crisis has the power to cause us to rethink the things that are most important in life.
Ø When a crisis comes, you are reminded just how valuable your relationship with your spouse is.
Ø When a crisis comes, you are reminded just how important family is.
Ø When a crisis come, you are reminded how valuable your church family is.
Ø When a crisis comes, you are reminded of just how important your relationship with the Lord is. (Ill. Needs, disease, death.)
· Why wait for a crisis? Look at you own priorities today. Who really comes first, you or the Lord? What is your real priority in life, you or others?
IV. CRISES CAUSE US TO
REESTABLISH OUR PRINCIPLES
· You will notice that all the land in Egypt came under the authority of the throne, except for the lands that belonged to the priests, v. 22. The priests were cares for by Pharaoh and their needs were met by decree of the king. Joseph was unwilling to take over sacred things, for they were more important than the immediate crisis.
· When we are thrown into a crisis moment, we will learn what is truly sacred to us. We will find out what we can’t live without. We will discover that many of the things we love and cling to so tightly are mere fluff. When hard times come, we will find out what truly matters in our lives.
· What are the things you would not be willing to give up under any circumstances? What is it that you won’t sale? A crisis will reveal those things to you. You will hold on to those things that truly matter and gladly turn loose of the things that do not.
· You see, the crises of life do not make us, but they do have the power to reveal what we are made of and what we value in life.
(Ill. Matt. 7:24-27 - Ill. The houses looked the same and the storm did not change the houses. When the floods came, they merely revealed what the houses were standing on.)
If you have built your life on the shifting sands of this world, the crisis will destroy your life. If you have founded your life on the bedrock of God’s Word then the crisis will not take away the things that matter most! No matter what you may lose in the crisis, you will still have the things that matter to you.
I have seen people shaken by the winds of adversity; assaulted by the waves of affliction; and I have seen them lose much of what they had in this world. But, I have seen many of those same people come out of that crisis stronger than when they entered it. Why? They built their house on the unchanging principles of God’s Word and they survived their storm. Others, who had nothing but the changing principles of this world, lost everything when the storms came.
· Why did Joseph thrive when others around him failed? He saw every moment in life as a “God moment”. He realized that God was at work in him and around him all the time. Thus, in everything he did, Joseph sought to honor his Lord. In good times, Joseph lived for the Lord. In hard times, Joseph lived for the Lord. Joseph understood that all of life, even the times of crises, were part of God’s plan!
Conc: Someone said that “the hardest part of the Christian life was living it.” I say “Amen” to that! It is a real struggle for me to bring all of my life under His authority. How about you? It is a real struggle for me to keep my Purpose, my Priorities and my Principles in life in line with His will for me. How about you? But, I find that it is worth the effort. When my life lines up with His will for me I can live in confidence and power, and that is how He wants me to live.
As you look at your life right now, can you honestly say that everything you have and are has been brought under His authority? Can you honestly say that your Purposes, Priorities and Principles are all aligned with Him?
When I look at the life of Joseph, I am reminded that he never did get free from crisis. There always seemed to be another battle in his life. But, I find that is the way things are for us as well. I also see that God enabled Joseph to live a godly life for His glory. I am convinced that He can do that same thing for you and me.
You do have a crisis you want to bring to Him? Do you need to come and get your life lined up with His will? If He has spoken to you, please obey His voice and come and He leads.
Portions of this sermon came from a sermon by Dr. David Jeremiah