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A TEST OF CONSCEINCE Genesis 42 What do you do when your family is awful? In todays language when your family sucks?

When instead of a life giving refuge it becomes a place of deep pain and abuse. Believe it or not the Bible actually speaks to this. When you and I struggle with how to resolve a painful past, especially when it concerns our family we can know that Joseph, the man whose life speaks to us through this series, Every Day is A Winding Road understands. You say that your familys awful? Joseph understands. His brothers were going to murder him and settled for making a profit and selling him into slavery. Welcome to the dysfunctional family! But Josephs story is one of hope that can help us understand how to face and overcome the pain of our past. Josephs experience shows us three things are vital when seeking to resolve a difficult past. A SUBMISSION TO GODS TIMING, A TEST OF CONSCIENCE AND A BASIS FOR TRUST. The first thing Josephs experience in Genesis 42 reveals is his submission to Gods timing. Joseph had experienced some very radical things

in his life. He was sold into slavery, falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison. In prison Joseph looked beyond his pain to care for the needs of others, only be forgotten. Joseph is released from prison and made Prime Minister over all the land of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. Joseph is probably 9 years in to his term as Prime Minister before his encounter with his brothers. It has been close to 20 years since he has last seen them. The point is that in his new found position and leadership he doesnt ride off to set everything straight and make everything right with his family. Thats a lesson I find so hard to learn. Its a lesson of Gods timing and recognizing and respecting what God is doing in other peoples lives as well as our own. One of the prime examples of this in my own life happened when Sandi and I left the church we had planted in Winnipeg to plant a church in Vancouver and for an avalanche of reasons spent a year of transition in Williams Lake. Sandis brother was in leadership in a church plant that had gone wrong and wondered if we would help get it back up and running.

Somehow Sandi and I missed each other in this because I thought that going to Williams Lake would be the opportunity to help her badly divided family to resolve some of the issues that had so seriously fractured them. Sandi, who many of you know is much wiser than me, finally asked me what in the world was I thinking. In my strength I didnt heal any fractures I probably created more. As I observe Josephs actions I realize how badly some of us want to make things right in our family. The dysfunction of our past haunts us and we may even be overwhelmed that we have not been able to make things right. But notice verse 6, 6Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of the sale of the grain, it was to him that his brothers came. They bowed low before him, with their faces to the ground. This is important. Joseph was the victim. He didnt go to his brothers to figure things out His brothers came to him. Even though they didnt know that it was Joseph that they bowed before, their steps were out of a place of need and even humility qualities that hadnt been obvious in their lives before. Josephs experience challenges us that God has a time and that timeline is often in respect to not only what God is doing in our life but equally what he is doing in the lives of our

family members. It was 9 years after Joseph was lifted to a position of authority and leadership before he encountered his family. That time was about what God was doing in Josephs life. Joseph needed God to bring him to the place in his life where he was prepared to face his family. The lesson of Joseph isnt go make things right with your dysfunctional family and be buried under guilt until you do. It is respect Gods time line in your life. When Josephs brothers appeared he was finally ready to face them, and even then he was overwhelmed with emotion. Equally important, the time line wasnt only about what God was doing in Josephs life. It was about Gods movement in the lives of the other family members. We need to recognize this because sometimes this causes us a lot of pain. We may think Im ready. I can handle it. I can face the past and find peace. But the other person or people just arent ready and sometimes it feels like insult on top of injury. But the twenty years that passed before Joseph met his brothers was as much about what God was up to in their lives. Joseph challenges us, respect Gods timing.

But that moment finally arrives. Youve been praying. Youve been waiting and suddenly the door swings wide open and the opportunity has arrived. We can read about this moment in Josephs experience. 6Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of the sale of the grain, it was to him that his brothers came. They bowed low before him, with their faces to the ground. 7Joseph recognized them instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger If youve had a moment like Joseph where there was deep hurt from the past you can possibly imagine how he was feeling. The way his heart started beating faster. The battle between the longing of his heart and the fear that nothing may have changed and that these brothers had as much capacity to harm in this moment as they had in the past. Things get crazy when it comes to family because no matter how badly weve been hurt theres this irrational longing for family. But notice how Joseph responds. 7Joseph recognized them instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger. Where are you from? he demanded roughly. Why did Joseph act that way? Look with me at verse 8 and 9. 8Joseph's brothers didn't recognize him, but Joseph recognized them.

And he remembered the dreams he had had many years before. He said to them, "You are spies! You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become." What was Josephs childhood dream? That one day his brothers and father would bow down to him. Suddenly the dream came into sharp focus. Here were Josephs brothers bowing as a fulfillment of how actively God was at work through all this awful stuff to save an entire family from being wiped out in famine. Josephs actions werent vengeful. They reveal such relational intelligence. Really he gave them a TEST OF CONSCEINCE. Notice how Joseph does this. We read 21Speaking among themselves, they said, "This has all happened because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his terror and anguish and heard his pleadings, but we wouldn't listen. That's why this trouble has come upon us." 22 "Didn't I tell you not to do it?" Reuben asked. "But you wouldn't listen. And now we are going to die because we murdered him." 23 Of course, they didn't know that Joseph understood them as he was standing there, for he had been speaking to them through an interpreter.


Now he left the room and found a place where he could weep. Returning, he talked some more with them. He then chose Simeon from among them and had him tied up right before their eyes. And then in verse 25 we read, Joseph then ordered his servants to fill the mens sacks with grain, but he also gave secret instructions to return each brothers payment at the top of the sack. Why did he do this? Because it would reveal the primary ingredient for any relationship to move ahead and grow deeper and that is TRUST. Joseph would know without a shadow of a doubt the condition of his brothers hearts. What would they do? Would they care? Would they be honest with themselves and reveal that finally they cared as much about the welfare of the family as they did for themselves? This is evidence of incredible relational intelligence. Lets be honest, relationships can be brutal. Family, friendships, confrontation can devastate us. Sometimes it can incapacitate us. And there are at least two extremes. We can close ourselves off to everyone. Weve experienced pain and so we just withdraw and we dont let people in. Dont get me wrong. Our heart still cries out

for relationship and to be loved but were afraid to take the risk. But the other extreme is equally as dangerous and often leads to the same place. We long to belong so badly that we blindly walk into all relationships and are constantly taken advantage of. Joseph looks gently into our eyes and says I understand but heres how you practice relational intelligence. Recognize Gods timing in your life and in others, test peoples conscience and establish trust before expecting intimacy. But remember Josephs life points us to one greater than himself and thats to Jesus. What do we read about Jesus? One of the ways Isaiah describes him is 3 He was despised and rejected a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Jesus didnt hold back. If he did where would we be? But heres the point as you follow Jesus into the world and serve others you can expect to be despised and rejected. If youre always protecting yourself you will serve no one. But like Jesus you will need those primary relationships of love like He had with His Father. A place of safety and security and belonging that empowered him to pour his life out for others.

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