#1 (THE "COURAGE" SERIES)
“THE COURAGE TO FLEE LIKE JOSEPH!”
TEXT: Gen. 39:1-23
INTRO: We need “COURAGEOUS PEOPLE” today! Today people are afraid to stand up for moral righteousness, we live in a time when moral absolutes are frowned upon. The standard of the day is to simply “accept” everything in the name of “tolerance.” The truth is that we need the courage to stand up for those things that God has declared righteous and stand against those things that God has declared unrighteous!
When it comes to sexual morality the world today is shouting a plethora of messages to our young people, many of them contrary to God’s Word. Some are saying that sex before marriage is just a natural expression of hormones so there is nothing wrong with having sex outside of marriage. Others say "everyone has sex; you’re strange if you don't" or “kids are going to have sex anyways so we might as well help them know how to do it right and be safe!” SO … who or what is right? Who will have the courage to speak up and take a stand, to tell this world that it is possible to flee from sexual sin?
ILLUS: YEARS AGO BABE RUTH WAS CALLED OUT AT HOME BY THE UMPIRE ON HIS THIRD STRIKE! THE UMPIRE WAS BABE PINELLI, AND THE TWO OF THEM GOT INTO A SHOUTING FIGHT OVER THE LAST STRIKE CALLED. THE CROWD WAS SCREAMING AT THE UMPIRE, ANGRY OVER THE CALL AS HE CALLED THE LAST STRIKE AGAINST BABE RUTH ... AND SO RUTH SCREAMED AT THE UMPIRE, "THERE'S 40,000 PEOPLE HERE WHO KNOW THAT THE LAST ONE WAS A BALL, NOT A STRIKE, YOU TOMATO HEAD!" PINELLI REPLIED WITH A MEASURED STATELINESS, "MAYBE SO, BUT MINE IS THE ONLY OPINION THAT COUNTS ... YOU’RE OUT!" WHILE IT IS TRUE THERE ARE MANY VOICES AND MANY DIFFERENT CALLS ON WHAT IS MORAL AND WHAT IS NOT ... THERE STILL IS ONLY ONE VOICE THAT MATTERS, IT IS THE VOICE OF GOD ON THIS SUBJECT, HE IS THE ULTIMATE UMPIRE OF THE UNIVERSE, NOT THE CROWD! -- Source Unknown
Sexual temptation has never changed; it has existed since the beginning of time! To many young people sex seems like something that will be good for them to experience, it looks inviting, it seems appropriate for the urges that begin when their hormones kick in, it just seems “normal” … but just because it looks like it will satisfy their needs doesn't mean it will! Tragically, they discover many years later that there was a huge difference between love and lust; they often wished they had waited.
ILLUS: YEARS AGO SEVERAL MEN WERE TRAPPED ON A SMALL ISLAND IN THE OCEAN. AS THEIR RATIONS OF FOOD AND WATER BEGAN TO DIMINISH THEIR THIRST FOR WATER GREW. IT SEEMED CRAZY TO THEM TO BE SURROUNDED BY SO MUCH WATER AND YET NOT BE ABLE TO PARTAKE OF IT! ONE NIGHT ONE OF THE MEN COULDN'T SLEEP; HIS THIRST HAD GROWN SO STRONG, HE KEPT STARING AT THE OCEAN WATER, IT LOOKED EXACTLY LIKE WHAT HE NEEDED SO HE GAVE IN AND BEGAN TO DRINK! BY MORNING HE WAS DEAD! WHAT LOOKED SO GOOD, WHAT SEEMED TO BE EXACTLY WHAT HE NEEDED TURNED OUT TO BE EXACTLY WHAT HE DIDN'T NEED, YOU SEE, OCEAN WATER HAS SALT IN IT -- IN FACT IT HAS EXACTLY 7 TIMES MORE SALT IN IT THAN THE HUMAN BODY CAN SAFELY INGEST. WHEN THE KIDNEYS DETECT THIS EXTRA SALT THEY DEMAND EXTRA FRESH WATER SO THAT THEY CAN SAFELY FLUSH THE EXCESS SALT FROM THE BODY ... THUS DEHYDRATING THE BODY EVEN FASTER. THE MAN HAD DIED OF THIRST FASTER BECAUSE HE REFUSED TO BELIEVE THE SALT HE COULDN'T SEE WOULD HURT HIM. IT LOOKED LIKE THE SAME WATER HE KNEW WAS SAFE, IGNORING THE WARNING HAD BEEN VERY COSTLY! SEX IS LIKE THIS BEFORE MARRIAGE, IT MIGHT SEEM O.K. AND WHAT YOU NEED, BUT IT CREATES ADDITIONAL THIRSTS AND CRAVINGS THAT YOUR BODY AND MIND IS NOT PREPARED TO HANDLE. GOD DIDN'T CREATE OUR BODIES FOR "SALT WATER" BUT FOR "FRESH" ... KEEP YOURSELF FRESH AND IT LATER WILL SATISFY ALL THE THIRSTS YOU HAVE. -- Source Unknown
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches that God's call for sexual purity offers the best protection for body, mind, and soul. God's Word also teaches that for those who have already broken this sexual purity they can experience forgiveness and still discover the joy of beginning sexual purity again, it is never too late with God's help and grace to be courageous and flee from sexual sin!
I. DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY 39:1-6a
A. Dreams & Rejection! 39:1
1. Joseph was a dreamer, he had dreams about being used by God in great ways … to one day lead others!
a. However he had a lot going against him, he lived in a very dysfunctional home; he had parents that practiced favoritism and brothers that hated him.
b. His brothers hated him enough to sell him and tell his parents that he was dead, killed by a wild animal … showing his bloody cloak as proof!
c. Yet, in spite of all this Joseph turned out to be one of the most consistent and obedient servants of God in the pages of the Old Testament!
2. Joseph is a good example of a young man who had many strikes against him and still he served the Lord faithfully!
3. What kept him going, what kept him straight??
a. It had to be those dreams that God kept sending him that gave him courage. God repeatedly let him know that he had a future, that God had a work for him to do one day.
b. These messages from the Lord built him up, so even when his family came against him he could still keep his head up high, he was strong as an adult because of the reassurances by God through his youth!
c. Do not underestimate the power of what you do when you are young and how it can strengthen you in your adult years, most of the battles of adult life are won in the formative years of youth!
ILLUS: THE ALASKAN BULL MOOSE EVERY FALL HAVE BATTLES FOR DOMINANCE. THEY LITERALLY GO HEAD TO HEAD IN COMBAT WITH ONE ANOTHER, THE ONE WITH THE STRONGEST AND LARGEST ANTLERS END UP AT THE TOP OF THE HEAP, AND THEY ALONE GET TO RULE. THOSE WITH SMALLER AND WEAKER ANTLERS LOSE WHEN THEY BREAK AFTER CONTACT WITH THE LARGER AND STRONGER ONES. BUT WHEN DID THE WINNER REALLY WIN THE BATTLE -- THE DAY THAT HE CONQUERED THE OTHERS? NO! HE REALLY WON THE BATTLE EARLIER DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS, FOR THOSE WHO EAT THE BEST DIETS DURING THE SUMMER, THE ONES THAT FIND THE BEST FOOD AND PARTAKE OF IT ARE THE ONES THAT BUILD THE LARGEST AND STRONGEST ANTLERS. LIKE US, WE WILL FACE BATTLES AS WE GROW, BUT THE VICTORY IN THOSE BATTLES ARE REALLY THE RESULTS OF HAVING PARTAKEN OF THE RIGHT DIET BEFORE WE FACE THOSE BATTLES. THOSE WHO FOLLOW GOD'S SPIRITUAL DIET, AND PARTAKE OF HIS MORAL LAWS WILL BE THE STRONGEST WHEN THE BATTLE FOR SEXUAL PURITY FACES THEM. COMMIT YOUR WAYS TO THE LORD AND HE WILL MAKE ALL YOUR PATHS STRAIGHT! -- Source Unknown
4. It is somewhat ironic that this chapter 39 deals with Joseph successfully conquering sexual temptation for if you read chapter 38 you will read about one of his older brothers Judah who committed sexual sin with a prostitute that turned out to be related to him and the pain that resulted from this sin.
5. Joseph is sold as a slave by his own brothers who then pretend to their father that he was killed by a wild animal.
a. Even with rejection, pain, and loneliness, Joseph refuses to let go of his dreams that one day God will use him in great ways.
b. Instead of becoming angry at God he keeps his commitments to God and lives a life of purity, he wants God's dreams for his life more than anything else!
c. He is willing to wait no matter how tough things get for him, without anger or bitterness!
B. Demonstration of Righteousness 39:2-6a
1. Notice the statement, "The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered..."
a. Yet he was a slave! “Prospered” here doesn't mean STATUS; it meant “ACHIEVEMENT.”
b. In other words, Joseph continued to work to achieve his dreams, for now this meant serving before ruling!
c. What a biblical principle this is for leadership -- even for today!
2. He realized that his dreams of ruling included several stages first, you don't get exactly what you want right away, there is a process to go through and for now this meant serving first!
3. He served well, he could and did wait for God to bring about the right time to set him up to realize the dreams he had!
a. Young people, sex is a beautiful part of marriage, God made it wonderful and not dirty! God intended it to bring great joy and not guilt, and His dreams for your life will include sex one day in a marriage union where it can be expressed in a committed relationship built first upon love, not on lust!
b. Until God brings you to that day in marriage there is a process; learning about another person, loving them based on who they are and not just what you can physically get from them, learning how to serve and give, later sex becomes the expression of committed love, not the avenue to it!
4. Joseph was content to wait for God’s timing, to serve and do his best, and his service brought blessing to an unsaved household like Potiphar's!
a. Joseph demonstrated righteousness while waiting for God's plan to fully unfold in his life.
b. It would be this service of righteousness that would later keep him from being put to death when falsely accused!
5. For Joseph there was no alternative to doing something other than God's way, no matter what he came up against, he wanted those dreams from God to become a reality more than anything else in life!
a. We can't experience God's best by unrighteous choices!
b. There is no right way to do a wrong thing!
II. DETERMINED FAITHFULNESS 39:6b-12
A. Disobedience Refused! 39:6b-10
1. Joseph was a fine handsome young man living in a pagan world surrounded by people who didn't live by God's standards, not unlike Christians today in this world!
a. Potiphar's wife reflected the loose sexual morality of the times, sex was o.k. as long as you didn't get caught – everyone did it! (Sounds very similar to our day!)
b. She attempted to seduce or lure him into a sexual relationship though she was a married woman.
c. Who could have found out, after all
he worked for her and there were no godly people around? And, how would he ever find a godly girl
in a pagan
d. The temptation was real and strong, yet he was stronger and refused to give in to temptation and the loose morality around him even when he could have gotten away with it!
2. What does Joseph draw on for strength?
a. His commitment to God and the dignity this created, he has a good self image created by his obedience to God's standards: "with me in charge my master concerns himself with nothing … How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" … in other words Joseph said, “I'm trusted by both God and man!” Joseph is not willing to exchange this trust for a few brief moments of sinful sexual pleasure!
b. Joseph is realistic about life, he has been blessed with so much that really counts, he doesn't have to have literally everything to be happy "My master has withheld nothing from me except you..." 39:9
c. He calls this temptation what it really was, “WICKED” & “SIN!” 39:9b He doesn't try and soften up what he is being asked to do, nor does he compare himself to others, he says this would be sinning against God and that's all he needed to know to refuse the temptation! It did not matter what culture said, it mattered what God said.
d. Joseph doesn't second guess his obedience to God nor does he put himself in a position where he would allow it to happen; "day after day he refused to go to bed with her OR even be with her." 39:10 (emphasis mine)
e. He stays persistent in his decision; he does not let himself be talked out of his position no matter what the arguments or potential benefits were!
3. For Joseph only God's plan for his life was of utmost importance, he would not sell out God's dreams for his life for a few moments of sexual pleasure!
a. He knew the day would come when God would bless him with a wife and children, and he could and would wait for that day!
b. His focus at this time in his life was to prepare himself to realize God's future dreams by serving now and preparing himself!
B. Decisive Reaction 39:11-12
1. The day came, when unknown to him he was alone in the house with Potiphar’s wife, I'm sure he didn't know he was alone because the previous verse had just said he avoided such possible circumstances.
a. But she trapped him, and probably knowing that he would resist she literally grabs him by the cloak to prevent an easy escape! Once again she asks him to go to bed with her!
b. Joseph however had so decided in his heart to be faithful to God's laws that when the moment came for sin he doesn't even think about it, he just runs leaving his cloak behind still in her clutches! (By the way, this is the second time a cloak or coat gets him in trouble later as evidence!)
c. There are times when you don't try and talk your way out of a temptation, you simply run! Sexual temptations fall into this category!
d. He was a young man with normal passions, this was a time to run and not discuss the situation or stop to rationalize it!
2. Joseph parallels here New Testament Scriptures which read "flee from sexual immorality ... honor God with your body." I Cor. ,20 "flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." II Tim. 2:22
III. DYNAMIC FAITH! 39:13-23
A. Devastating Revenge! 39:13-20a
1. Joseph's choice to do the right thing evoked an angry response by this worldly woman, she sought to make a mockery of Joseph and to get even with him for rejecting her sexual advances!
a. The world is becoming more hostile to the Christian message of sexual purity; they will mock our stand and may even seek to harass us!
b. Young people, you might find yourself the brunt of jokes over your stand on sexual purity, perhaps you will be treated harshly as a result of your stand on moral purity.
c. It might make your life more difficult, but it is the right stand to take!
2. Eventually your stand for Christ's standards will one day prove to be the wisest, especially in this day of sexually transmitted diseases, some of which have no cure and thus are a death sentence in many cases!
3. There is no indication whatsoever that Joseph regretted the stand that he took even though it cost him imprisonment, the fact that he served wholeheartedly in prison like he did for Potiphar indicates that he was still happy to live for God!
4. The normal punishment for adultery in Joseph’s day was a death sentence, so it is likely that Potiphar did not believe his wife’s accusation about Joseph’s advances on her since he had Joseph thrown into a special prison rather than have him executed, this prison was reserved for the king's servants who were on disciplinary sentences, this was not an ordinary prison reserved for harsh criminals.
a. God was using this situation to get the king's attention focused on Joseph.
b. If Joseph had yielded to sexual temptation he would never have realized the dreams God had given him to rule one day!
c. His obedience to God to say "NO" to sex actually set the stage for him to come to the attention of the King of Egypt!
d. While he experienced prison for doing the right thing this was only a temporary setback, it was actually the place that will bring him into powerful leadership!
5. Ever wonder how Potiphar and his
wife must have felt later when they realized Joseph had been elevated to the
2nd most powerful ruler in all of
a. You can almost hear Potiphar later visiting Joseph since Potiphar was captain of the guards: "you know Joseph, I knew all along you didn't have sex with my wife, you know that don't you?"
b. How about Potiphar's wife? I'll bet she didn't show up at too many state dinners once Joseph was ruling!
6. Yes, the world's views differ from ours as Christians, and yes, they might make fun of Biblical morality and sexually pure standards as taught by the Bible. But, time is on our side; God will demonstrate to the world the wisdom of sex within a monogamous marriage, indeed He is doing this again today!
ILLUS: JUDAY ANDERSON, WHOSE HUSBAND IS THE WEST AFRICAN DIRECTOR OF THE WORLD RELIEF CORPORATION GREW UP AS THE DAUGHTER OF MISSIONARIES IN ZAIRE. AS A LITTLE GIRL SHE REMEMBERS GOING TO A DAY LONG RALLY CELEBRATING THE 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES COMING TO THAT PART OF ZAIRE. DURING THE SPEECHES AN OLD MAN CAME BEFORE THE CROWD AND INSISTED THAT HE BE ALLOWED TO SPEAK, HE SAID THAT HE WOULD SOON DIE AND THAT HE ALONE HAD SOME IMPORTANT INFORMATION THAT WOULD GO WITH HIM TO THE GRAVE IF HE DIDN'T SPEAK. HE EXPLAINED THAT WHEN CHRISTIAN MISSIONARIES FIRST CAME 100 YEARS AGO HIS PEOPLE THOUGHT THE MISSIONARIES WERE STRANGE AND THEIR MESSAGE UNUSUAL. THE TRIBAL LEADERS DECIDED TO TEST THE MISSIONARIES BY SLOWLY POISONING THEM TO DEATH. OVER A PERIOD OF MONTHS AND YEARS MISSIONARY CHILDREN DIED ONE BY ONE. THEN THE OLD MAN SAID, "IT WAS AS WE WATCHED HOW THEY DIED THAT WE DECIDED WE WANTED TO LIVE AS CHRISTIANS." WHILE THEY HAD ALL BEEN TREATED IN A DEVASTATING WAY THEIR GODLY RESPONSE FINALLY WON THE DAY, JUST AS WITH JOSEPH … AND WITH US TODAY TOO! -- Source Unknown
B. Dependability Rewarded! 39:20b-23
1. Notice the important return to the same statement that started this storyline: "the Lord was with Joseph; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden."
a. Remember the umpire; ultimately it is only his call that counts no matter what the crowd thinks!
b. God was pleased with this young man, those dreams really were about to become a reality for Joseph, he had passed the test of character over and over again!
2. Joseph never gave up on his dreams for God's plan in his life, even when things didn't go well -- as long as things went well with his soul!
3. Joseph had learned well as a young man that it matters most what God thinks about his actions and attitudes, and how well he followed God’s plan for his life!
a. Obedience to God’s values will ensure the greatest possible success for His will in our lives!
b. What about those who have stumbled and fallen? Well, like King David who committed sexual sin -- he repented and God picked him up and he got going again!
c. Sexual purity is something you can pledge yourself to again; if you are a virgin young people stay one until you marry! ... if you have made a mistake already you can recapture that virginity by repentance and a new commitment to God to stay morally pure from this point forward, when God forgives sins He doesn't remember those sins against us anymore … we can start with a clean slate!
4. Joseph brought great blessings to
a. Joseph's commitments as a young man paved the way for many people to be blessed!
b. He stands in the Bible as one of the finest men of God recorded because he had the courage to flee from sexual sin!
c. It all began in his youth and an unswerving commitment to God's ways!
d. YOU CAN DO IT TOO … YOU CAN HAVE THE COURAGE TO FLEE LIKE JOSEPH!
CONCLUSION: Joseph could have had many reasons to be rebellious; he came from a dysfunctional home, got the raw end of several deals, was jailed unfairly and falsely accused of things he never did. BUT … God had touched his heart as a young boy and he had dreams of being used by God. He remained faithful to God and stayed morally pure even when everyone was against him. In the end, God was able to use him in great ways, including healing his family! He had the courage to flee from sin; it's worth it for both young and old!