THE SPIRITS OF FAITH PAST, FAITH PRESENT & FAITH FUTURE
Read GENESIS 37 & 39-44
How did Joseph’s brothers treat him? How would you have felt if you were Joseph, and what kinds of feelings towards your brothers do you think you would have carried with you forward in your life?
What are some other struggles you see Joseph encounter? How would you have felt? Do you think you would have been tempted to question your faith and God at any time during your ordeal?
In what ways can you identify with Joseph when you survey your past? Have you been hurt? Have you ever been treated unfairly or unjustly? Have you ever felt forgotten? Have you ever questioned why life took an unwanted and difficult/painful turn even when all you tried to do was please God and live the right way?
Read GENESIS 45:1-11
After years Joseph is reunited with his brothers. How would you feel, coming face to face with the very people who hurt you? People who were supposed to have loved you like a brother, but instead betrayed your trust? What is Joseph’s attitude and response? What are some lessons we might learn and apply in our own lives
THE SPIRIT OF FAITH PAST
First of all, Joseph sees God working in the events of his past. He acknowledges that the hurt of the past is real. He does not minimize the wrong done to him. But he recognizes that God has used all that has happened for a greater purpose.
Whatever pain or temptations to be bitter and angry he has dealt with over the years, it is apparent that Joseph’s faith in God has led him to a place of forgiveness. He will not be led by his emotions. He is not interested in remembering the wrong done to him, but rather in forgiving those who wronged him and reconciling the relationship. And did you notice? Joseph doesn’t want his brothers living in regret either.
(Sometimes, if we are honest, we can find ourselves wanting those who have hurt us living ever-conscious of their sin, rather than just rejoicing in their repentance and wanting them to live confident they are forgiven and free of the past.)
Joseph was able to see God at work in his past because, despite any struggles, he had never abandoned his faith. Even when put in a situation he could not understand, Joseph did what he knew to do–be righteous!
These are the lessons of FAITH when we look at OUR PAST that we can apply. See God at work, even in the hardship, and appreciate the purpose in it all. God did not cause the sin against you, but he used it when you responded in faith.
And continue to cling to righteousness even when times seem hard. Obey; seek God in prayer, fasting and scripture; love and serve others; pursue and welcome relationships in which we receive and give valuable discipling that encourages and teaches and helps us grow to be more like Christ; and share the gospel as we make disciples of all nations!
THE SPIRIT OF FAITH PRESENT
Joseph forgave his brothers knowing that, only reconciled and together could they be God’s nation! They were all Jacob’s sons. Together they were the house of Israel.
He also knew that the famine was not over. He needed to keep his faith in practice. He moved his family to Goshen; he continued to administer, organize and store. There were still lives to be saved.
In the same way, we must look at our present faith and ask, “Are we doing what needs to be done?” There are brothers and sisters to forgive and reconcile with so that, together, we are his glorifying church–his spiritual “house of Israel.”
There is forgiveness to be offered, relationships to pursue and nurture, people to serve, and LIVES AND SOULS TO BE SAVED!
THE SPIRIT OF FAITH FUTURE
Read GENESIS 50:22-26 & EXODUS 13:19
Joseph’s faith also looked to the future and Promised Land God’s people were meant to return to. In the same way, we are God’s people. Together we must live in faith today, knowing that it is all part of the journey to return to the promised land of paradise and heaven that God wants and has in store for us! And like Israel, we must ALL GO TOGETHER!