God never forsakes us. Joseph was betrayed and hated by his brothers, sold away and brought to Egypt. He was there, however, in the will and purpose of God. His trouble was managed and ordered by the Lord to save his brothers, the very ones who put him into slavery. Great was the faithfulness of the Lord to Joseph and even to the brothers. (Isaiah 25:1; Psalms 135:3-6, 115:3, 103:19)
Speaker(s): John Love
11:00 AM on 1/9/2022
P. Love –
Good morning. I want to mention that P. Bruce Moon and his wife, Robin, are here. Want to stand up so we can
welcome you from Mexico. Mexico City. He heard I was preaching so he came up today! Thank
you. No, I’m just kidding! It’s so great to have them here. P. Moon goes way back to remember
P. Dan, and he’ll be here to help us remember him this afternoon. Great messages this morning
at the 9:00 service about love. P. Eugene and P. Matt Gehret had two great messages on the
love of God. I know they were good because when I came here, I got here a little bit late this
morning and people said they were preaching about you. I don’t think they were but thanks
anyhow. So this morning if you would open your Bibles to Psalm 135. We’re going to look at a
couple of verses in the Psalms and share some thoughts this morning about the sovereignty of
God, and the importance of understanding the sovereignty of God.
In Psalm 135:5-6, the psalmist said, “I know that the Lord is great.” Can we say amen to that?
Psalm 115:3, Psalm 103:19, The sovereignty of God. We find comfort in it. By the way, those that
aren’t familiar with that term it just means the rule of God over everything about life in this world.
And as his children, certainly we recognize the sovereignty of God in our lives. For us as
believers, there are no accidents, are there? I mean we could say, God forbid, I was in a car
accident. Well, we can say that but we understand even those kinds of events that take place in
our lives, God is in everything, isn’t he? There isn’t a single thing or a single part of our lives that
God isn’t involved in, has control over and ordains for the lives of those who trust him.
There’ s a little poem that goes like this referring to the nature of God: Sovereign ruler of the
skies, ever gracious, ever wise; all my times are in thy hand, all events at thy command. Isn’t
All of it. No exceptions. Sometimes we believe that there are some things that
happen in our lives that maybe fall outside the realm of the sovereignty of God, only to discover
perhaps later rather than immediately that even those things were all carefully prepared,
designed, and controlled by the gracious hand of God.
We live in a culture today like never before. America seems to be filled with what we might call
“victims.” Some are legitimate. There are legitimate victims in life. And in a lot of cases, there
are illegitimate victims in life. In America over the past several decades, we have more people
play the blame game than ever before. Nobody is stepping up and accepting responsibility for
their own lives especially if things have not turned out well. I am this way because of my family. I
am this way because of my father. I am this way because my brother looked at me funny at the
dinner table once. A teacher one time called me intellectually deficient and I have been that way
ever since. I mean, a coach said to me once, I don’t think you’ll ever amount to much, and as a
result, that’s why I am homeless today.
Again, don’t misunderstand me. There are legitimate victims. And we understand that. We
empathize with them. We sympathize with them. We have compassion on them. And then
there are illegitimate victims in our culture today.
But there was one character in the Bible he never ceases to amaze me. When I think about his
story, when I think about all that he went through, he’s a bonafide victim. His name is Joseph. If
there were ever a victim that you could read about in the Scriptures, it would be Joseph. With all
that he went through and yet as the story unfolds before us and as we read the end of the story,
we come to this reality. He was not a victim. He ended up being a victor. He ended up
triumphing over everything that happened in his life. And believe me. God wants us to be able to
do the same thing no matter what happens to us. And listen. Over the past couple of years, a lot
has happened to us, and a lot more will probably happen to us.
But God says you can trust my sovereignty in the midst of it all. You can not only find
encouragement, hope, but you’ll be able to find something, to discover something that so many
people it alludes them. Rest. We can rest in the sovereignty of God. If Joseph were alive today, I can imagine all of the talk show hosts that would want to have him on their program, right? And not just for a day. Once they heard his story they would say, we have to have you here all week long. Maybe we could have you here – Oprah would have him
for a month! Just talking. Explain again how much your brothers hated you. Explain to me again
how they wished that you were dead. Explain to us how they threw you in that pit. Explain to us
what that journey was like when you took that caravan down to Egypt and realized that you went
from being the favorite son to the favorite slave.
Explain it. Tell us about it. It’s fascinating. But the question is obvious to us. Why did he turn out to be one of the most forgiving, merciful brothers that we read about in the Bible? How did that happen? And how can it still happen
today when there are honest victims? But honest victims instead of looking at the hurts and the
wounds and the pain and suffering that others have inflicted upon them, they turn to God. And
they say God, I don’t want this wound to define my life. I don’t want what other people did to me
to define my life. I don’t want tragedy to define my life. I want you to define my life. I want you to
write my story.
The answer is simple. He was a man of God. He was not a man of the world. You see, if we are
merely children of this world, our thoughts do you know what they are going to do? They’re
going to cleave to the dust, right? The psalmist said that. “Lord, quicken me.” He knew that he
needed to be quickened by the Word of God. Otherwise, that downward propensity of the
natural man’s soul just cleaves to the dust.
But when we are quickened by the Word of God, when we get divine perspective about our
lives; when we gather together as an assembly of believers and we hear from God, and God is
always so faithful, is he not? To share with us his thoughts and his mind and his perspective.
He’s so faithful. That’s why we sing that beautiful hymn, “Great is thy Faithfulness Lord unto
me.” I’ve never met a believer when we sing that song say, no. I can’t sing that. He didn’t come
through for me once. He let me down. I’ve been disappointed ever since. Can’t sing that song.
No, we sing it. Why? Because we have seen the faithfulness of God in our lives. And part of that
hymn says, “all that I have needed the Lord has provided. Great is thy faithfulness.” We
acknowledge that. We know it’s the truth.
You get to the end of Joseph’s life and there was nothing about his life that pointed to the fact
that he was a victim. Nothing. I mean if you were a reporter for the, I don’t know, the Gazette in
Egypt, you could interview him and say, tell us that story again. And you’re not troubled by what
your family did to you? No. And you’re not disturbed? If you ever had a chance to get even with
your brothers, would you take it? No. I had that opportunity and I didn’t take it. Well, tell us
why? Because I know there is a sovereign God and I know that he is in control of everything.
Even when everything is completely out of our control, we have confidence that God is
completely in control. We know that. I mean, we have a big God, amen!
The psalmist said in Psalm 135, he is a great God. And the doctrine of sovereignty and the doctrine
of providence gives us so much confidence as we press ahead in our lives. So much hope. So
much rest. God works sovereignly in our lives. He works providentially in our lives.
Joseph even said at the end of his story to his brothers, he said to them, “am I in the place of
God?” Don’t misunderstand what he was saying there. He wasn’t saying he was God, but he
was – you could say it this way. God did arrange everything about Joseph’s life to put him in a
place where he could be someone that delivers and saves his family, saves his nation, and
really helps to fulfill all the covenant promises of God to the people of Israel so that the Messiah
could come and we could celebrate Christmas.
Think about it. Joseph could say to his brothers, wait a minute guys. Do you think I got here by chance? Do you think that I was just lucky, right? Did Joseph ever say that when he approached his brothers? When he was now prime minister in Egypt after they thought that he was long gone, maybe even dead? Did Joseph stand before
his brothers and say, lucky for you guys, I’m here to help you now. Imagine. There’s no luck
about our lives. It’s always providence. It’s always sovereignty. It’s always the hand of God even
when trouble comes. Even when – if you’ve ever lived near an ocean or you’ve been there
frequently, you know something about waves. They come in sets, don’t they? Surfers know this very well. Because sometimes I’ve watched surfers out on the ocean, and what I think is a good
wave they just kind of sit there on the board and watch it go by. I think to myself, you just
missed a good one. But they know what they are doing.
They wait. And they wait patiently. Waves come in sets and sometimes, isn’t it true, that the waves of affliction come into our lives in sets. You don’t think that’s true? Ask Job. He got a set of three killer waves that we read
about in the first chapter of Job. One wave after another wave after another wave.
And the Scriptures – listen to what Psalm 88:7 says. The psalmist said this about God, “you
have afflicted me with all of your waves.” Hardships. Sufferings. Loss. Setbacks, some of which
maybe here today we are experiencing. Sometimes those afflictions come in sets. But what did
Job say? Job said, hey, the Lord gave and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the
Modern day Christians would say the Lord gave and the devil took it away. But that would not
be acknowledging the sovereignty of God. Job beautifully described the sovereignty of God. He
said God gave it. If God allows it to be taken away, then that’s God. And blessed be his name.
He is in control of everything. I don’t always understand it. I can’t always figure it out. I don’t
even know why it’s happening and I wonder sometimes if God is even in it, but when it’s all said
and done, I’ll be able to look back on it and give praise to his name because he does that.
Again, Joseph didn’t say lucky for you guys I’m here, because it wasn’t luck. Lucky for you I’m
well connected. Pharaoh likes me a lot. No. Lucky for you I had a good resume and that’s why
I’m in the place I’m in. No, he said I’m here because God put me here. And you may be where
you are today because God has placed you there. You say but I’m in the midst of trouble. God
probably allows you to be there because he’s working out his wonderful plan and his amazing
program for your life.
We don’t usually understand it when it’s happening and it’s difficult, but God is a big God. He’s
in control of everything. He’s in control of you. He’s in control of me. He’s in control of your life
and everything that happens in your life. That makes him a great God. That makes him a
sovereign God. That makes him a God we can worship even in the midst of our trouble and
difficulties, and we should. It’s true. Some chapters in our lives they don’t – well, actually, you
could say this. They almost don’t make any sense whatsoever. Have you ever said that? Gone
through a difficult time in your life, maybe a set of waves has hit you, a set of affliction has hit
you, like Psalm 88:7. And you said to God, listen.
This makes absolutely no sense. I feel like what I am experiencing at this moment is almost a waste of time. But the good news is God in his sovereignty never wastes our time. Never wastes suffering. Never wastes – he’ll never waste a
setback or a difficulty or a loss or something that deeply troubles our hearts. He’s going to use it.
Sometimes things just don’t add up in our lives. Where’s God? Where’s the God who loves me?
Why has God allowed this to happen to me? All kinds of questions can surface from our souls,
but like Joseph. Maybe the most difficult times in our lives don’t make any sense until what?
Later. We look back on them and then they begin to make great sense. C.S. Lewis once said
this that the first words he believes he will speak when he enters into the presence of God will
be these words, “of course.”
Of course! Because he’ll see how it all unfolded. He’ll see the mystery of God’s great plan that involved his life, and he will say those two words “of course.” I think we’ll say the same thing. I didn’t see it even when I was on the earth. I didn’t recognize it for what it was. But remember something: if something reaches you as one of God’s chosen,
elect children, it must first pass through the gracious, loving, faithful hands of God. And if it gets
passed his hands, we need it. We need it, and it’s going to work in a profound way in our lives.
Joseph understood that only after the trouble, only after the storm had come to an end, only
after the trial. Haven’t we done the same thing? I mean in the midst of the trouble, we just beg
God to get it over with. Get me through it.
I cannot wait until it’s done. But then we realize afterwards – when I look back on my own life and I think of the most turbulent, the most troublesome times of my life, I keep reminding myself and I keep saying to God, Lord, I would not go back and change that again because of the work you did. Because of – like the program
that is offered here on Tuesday night’s. It allowed me to grow deeper. It allowed me to
understand your nature and your character far better than I ever could have if my life was just
filled with joy and peace and pleasure. I’ve learned so much through those difficulties. They
were so necessary in my life.
During the storm, it doesn’t seem to make any sense. The plan of God seems to be concealed
and hidden from us. Even at times, it looks like we have been abandoned. Jesus cried out on
the cross, “My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me?” Someone could say, a bystander
could say, God has forsaken him, but yet that was the perfect plan of God so every single one
of us could be sitting here this morning and we would never have to utter those words. Because
of Calvary, we will never have to ask God that question. God, why have you forsaken me?
Because in fact Jesus was forsaken at the cross, it gives us confidence and hope that we will
never have to utter those words. And even if we did, don’t worry about it. The blood of Christ will
cleanse you and forgive you.
Again, Joseph, did it all make sense? Absolutely not. But let’s never forget this: God is in the
details, amen! God is in the details. Sometimes we think he only cares about big things that are
happening in our lives, you know. We think of David and we think to ourselves, David, your day
is coming. You’re going to go out and you’re going to face the Philistine champion, Goliath, and
it’s going to be glorious and people are going to be talking about that for all of time. Forever they
are going to be talking about the great confrontation between David and Goliath. But you know
what? Long before David goes out and does battle against Goliath, he has to take care of his
father’s sheep. And when a bear comes to take those sheep, God, David said, delivered that
bear into my hands. And when a lion came to steal those sheep, David said and God delivered
that lion. In other words, all of it was preparation. All of it was in the sovereign plan and purpose
of God. All of it was providence. All of it was necessary to create the man of God that we call
today the man after God’s own heart. All of it necessary.
Isaiah 25:1, Imagine that. Plans formed of old. Faithful and sure. Hey, listen. Be encouraged. The
plans that God has for your life were not drawn up to fix something in your life that’s gone
wrong. It’s not an afterthought with God. In other words, nothing that happens in our lives
makes God go, Oh no! He gets the Son and the Holy Spirit. Look at this mess! What are we
going to do about that? I have no idea. I don’t know what we can do about it. Didn’t see that
coming. God doesn’t draw up plans for our lives like yesterday or moments either before it
happens or after it happens. Again, God has drawn up plans for our lives before the foundation of
the world. We take comfort in that. Job. 23:14, God’s plan for your life is going to happen. And
the good news is it’s going to happen on time. It’s going to happen on schedule because God is
never early. He’s never late. He’s always right on time.
Imagine the three Hebrew boys about to be put in that furnace, Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace,
and they’re talking to each other like why is this happening? We’re getting pretty close to the
furnace. It looks like – where’s God? Why isn’t he coming through? What’s going to happen? If
we go into that fire, it’s – no! Jesus is in the fire saying come on in guys. Come on into the fiery
furnace. I’ll make sure you have an air conditioned spirit. You’ll get through this. You’ll love this.
We’ll have fellowship together. And when you come out, not only will they see the glory of God
but you will be promoted in Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom. Stay with me. I stand ready to deliver
my people either from the test, the trial, the affliction or in the test, the trial or the affliction. He
delivers. The plan of God is perfect, amen! The plan of God is exhaustive including all of the
details and the plan of God promises to work together for our good in Romans 8:28. It may be a
secret that is the plan of God that seems to be hidden from us until the day that it begins to
unfold and we see the purpose of God. We begin to see the plan of God.
Some of us are familiar with the name Bill Belichick. Some of us hate him! He’s the head coach
of the New England Patriots. But he had a father. His father’s name was Steve, and Steve was
a great football man, too. Actually, a football scout right down the street here, the navel
academy. This happened during the 1950s. One year, Navy beat Army 14-0. The head coach was congratulated after the game but he immediately pointed to Steve Belichick and said he
won the game for us weeks ago. His amazing scouting and reports were so detailed and so
exact, that Navy won that game two weeks before they stepped onto that field. Good news.
God hasn’t just scouted your future. He’s planned your future. He knows those steps that you
are going to take. He’s even aware of your missteps.
He’s even aware of your failures, your faulters, your shortcomings, your sinful struggles, the things that cause you to be set back. He’s aware of all of it and he’s in control of all of it. And all you need to do and all I need to do is just
keep looking to him, and keep practicing what it means to exercise faith through everything that
happens in our lives. God did this before he created the world just like he chose us from before
the foundation of the world in Ephesians 1:4. Chose us to be victors not victims. Because I think,
honestly, I think any one of us we could go through life as a victim. I’m sure all of us could say,
well, this is what happened to me. My daughter, she Facetime me the other day, and she had a
strap. It was a belt, a strap. And she was showing here two young children. She said let’s call
Grampy and see what he says.
They showed me the strap. She said, what is this, dad? I said that’s the strap? She said, what does it mean to you? I said, that’s what we used to get all the time! She said, I know. Give it to someone today and they go to jail. I mean, I could go home and say to my father, you ruined my life because of the strap. I got the strap all the time. And my
seven brothers and sisters would say we did too. But guess what? Everybody is okay. Our souls
were not diminished because of the strap. Discipline actually helped. I say to my father today,
dad, you didn’t discipline me nearly as much as you should have. I expected him to say, ahh.
But he said, yeah, you’re right! Anyone of us could
Please enjoy these sermon notes from the messages preached at Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. These notes are provided to aid in your study and understanding of the Word. Note that these notes do not represent complete, word-for-word transcriptions. Also, they may contain omissions as well as some errors in spelling and structure, etc., as we attempt to provide them as soon as possible. Our hope is that these notes serve as a way to help you search and connect with messages on related subjects and passages. Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Greater Grace.