From The Pit To Progress

Written by gregdenham on March 17th, 2009

In Genesis 37, we read of how Joseph was betrayed by his brothers. Does it get any worse, or more hurtful than that?

We all fail, and at times we will fail in relationships. However, betrayal is something entirely different. Joseph’s brothers did not fail him – they betrayed him. Their wounding of Joseph was intentional! Betrayal is a trust that is exploited for personal gain.

It is …
“I am going to befriend you, but my agenda is to use you!”
It is …
“I am going to tell you that I love you, but I don’t really love you I just want something from you!”
It is …
What BERNIE MADOFF, the former chairman of Nasdaq, pulled off. He was someone people thought they could trust their life savings with. After all, as the former chairman of Nasdaq, Bernie was certainly qualified to invest money and manage it. But Bernie betrayed that trust. Bernie exploited that trust. Bernie even targeted Jews and Holocaust survivors and stole 65 billion dollars from them! It’s an abomination.

The betrayal of Joseph, however, was the ultimate betrayal! It was the betrayal of blood. It was the betrayal of natural affection. It was an abomination!

Joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers. A pit is a place of isolation and loneliness and fear. Joseph was treated like as a mere commodity and was sold into slavery by his brothers where eventually he ended up in the Egyptian home of Potipher. But that was not the end of Joseph’s adversity. Just when Joseph began to get his feet on the ground, he was falsely accused of sexual assault against his master’s wife and thrown into prison.

Yet, against all odds and the most adverse circumstances imaginable: Joseph kept the faith!

He became BETTER rather than BITTER, STRONGER rather than WEAKER. Joseph kept moving forward! And, ultimately, he became the Prince of Egypt (which we will talk about in the weeks to come). And with his God given administrative skills being put to use in Egypt, Joseph was able to save both the Egyptian people and his OWN BROTHERS (the very brothers who had betrayed him) from the famine that had come to the region. He became a “savior of Israel”, and in this way, Joseph is a type of the Lord Jesus!

Try to put yourself in Joseph’s shoes.

Can you relate? Do you feel that life has dished you out a raw deal? Have you been betrayed by someone you trusted? There is hope. Be encouraged and learn from Joseph!

Joseph kept his eyes on the Lord and kept moving forward. He did not allow himself to have a “VICTIMS MENTALITY” that paralyzes progress.
You don’t hear Joseph saying …
“I have been injured”
“Life has not turned out as I hoped”
“I will hold my injury or perceived injury for a long time”
“I will fuel my bitterness that such circumstances took place!”
“I will choose to not go forward because I have been mistreated”
“I will allow my pain to paralyze my progress”
AND, last but not least, “I WILL BLAME MY BROTHER’S FOR MY HORRIBLE LIFE!”
No! That was not Joseph. He wasn’t playing the blame game like many do today. There is no mention of Joseph partying in the pit. No mention of him ever wallowing in self pity!

But the path of “self pity” is the path that many choose today.

They play the blame game. They fail to take responsibility for THEIR own actions. I heard about a guy who tried breaking into a school building and fell through a skylight. What did he do? He blamed the school for his injuries, sued them and was awarded $1,500 a month for life.

The secret of Joseph’s life was that he was a man who chose to serve the Lord as God even when he was mistreated.

Joseph was a man who chose to be under the Lord’s influence (Genesis 39:9). Joseph was a man who understood that life is more about how you RESPOND rather than what HAPPENS to you. Joseph was a man who understood that HE STILL had a CHOICE to serve the Lord faithfully no matter what the circumstances!

I want to encourage you, that you STILL HAVE A CHOICE too!

No matter what has happened to you. No matter what is going on. You still have a choice. And, the right choice is to get out of “the pit” and commit your life to follow the Lord Jesus and move forward. And, the Lord will help you every step of the way and He will provide! Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 Our Father’s love and grace in Christ, is greater than any pit or problem we are facing. We are “… more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37 “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” I John 5:4-5

Chuck Swindoll wrote, “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church … a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable … The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.”

Onward, Christian soldier! Victory in JESUS.
Greg :)
2 Timothy 4:7

9 Comments so far ↓

  1. Sarah Denham says:

    Wow Dad..

    Thank you so much for posting this blog!! i love what you said..

    “Joseph was a man who understood that HE STILL had a CHOICE to serve the Lord faithfully no matter what the circumstances! ”

    it is all about choices and attitude, rising above the situiation with a GOOD ATTITUDE, moving forward and helping build the Lords Kingdom daily.

    it was also nice to be reminded of this statement

    “He became BETTER rather than BITTER, STRONGER rather than WEAKER. Joseph kept moving forward!”

    that is what i want to do in my life..

    so thank you dad for posting this encouraging blog..it has been a huge blessing!!

    love you LOTS!

    Sarah

    Commit your ways to the lord– TRUST also in HIM. Psalms 37

  2. Shelly Cunningham says:

    This message is SO IMPORTANT! It is so critical to focus on the blessings in our life. They are endless in CHRIST! We are RICH as children of the KING!

    The recent trials in my life posed temptation to grow bitter rather than better. To allow weakness to take hold, rather than to allow God to make me stronger.
    I thank God in my weakness He is my strength! HE gets ALL the glory!

    With that said, I am so thankful for the counsel I received from you as my pastor. I was given so much gentle encouragement, scripture, hope, pointing me to Christ. Thank you for being instrumental in keeping my eyes and focus on Jesus. How big our God is. To take one day at a time! To not take on a victim’s mentality. These things are HUGE and made all the difference in the world in learning to press on through such a trial.

    I want to keep moving forward, I want to allow God to have His way in my life. I want to never forget I have a choice in how I will respond to whatever circumstances come my way. I have learned much of this through your example, God working in and through your life.

    Thank you!
    Pressing on,
    shelly

  3. Pat Pestoni says:

    Wow! This blog is so fantastic! I loved what you wrote Shelly. What an encouragement yhou are to the body of Christ. You truly blessed me. And thanks to our great pastors, Greg and Stephanie–they are such a blessing to us all. See you guys tonight. Love, Pat Pestoni

  4. Bob and Cathy Petree says:

    Praise God He gives us the Choice to choose Jesus and the Choice to walk with Him! Joseph truly loved and trusted in the Lord! To choose Better rather than Bitter, oh, yes, that is the way to go!
    Thanks, Greg, I enjoyed the blog! It met a need…loved you comments, too, Sarah.

  5. Attitude trumps aptitude. God doesn’t need us to show Him how well equiped we are to handle bad situations, whether is it being sold into slavery, falsely imprisoned, or losing a job to a flailing economy. God gives us grace abundant to persevere no matter what. We have everything we need in Christ to become better and stronger vs. bitter and weak, but our eyes, like Joseph’s, need to be stayed on the One who empowers us to live victoriously.
    “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phillipians 4:13
    thanks so much for teaching the Word with truth and grace,
    Marci Seither

  6. Todd H says:

    Only a comment for the songs posted on your site. WOW!

    We have been playing them over and over and we have been really been blessed.

    “Eyes on you alone” is our favorite song as well. There is something about this song tugs deep in my heart. A heartfelt prayer to our Lord to lead us.

    In many ways, it is a love song that stirs up a great deal of emotion.

    ***********

    Thank YOU, Todd — I’m so happy you have been blessed! Thanks for listening and taking the time to let me know. Blessings, Greg :)

  7. shelly c. says:

    Greg,
    Anxiously waiting to read your next blog!
    blessings!

  8. Jim Mc Farland says:

    Joseph, son of Jacob

    What would you say to a person who came to you stating that he has lost his home, been betrayed by his family, sold into slavery, wrongfully accused, wrongfully imprisoned and assumed dead?
    As a Christian who counsels those who have either had that done to them or did that themselves I am at times perplexed. To the one who has brought this upon himself I have all the answers. But to the one who has had it all happen to them by others, what exactly do you say?
    The counseling model that I was trained under has me sitting with this guy trying to make some sense of all this, trying to help him adjust, trying to be a real comforting presence and praying that he be relieved of his suffering instead of just offering flippant answers.
    But I think, if we reflect on Pastor Greg’s teaching of Joseph’s story, we can see a better way to talk to those who have experienced lost of home, been betrayed by family, sold into slavery, wrongfully accused, wrongfully imprisoned and assumed dead! And if these current economic times continue long, we will all talk to people who have experienced that a lot!

    I have learned over the years that God has created me for time and eternity and that God is more interested in the formation of my character than in my creature comforts.
    As we listen to Pastor and study Joseph’s story in Genesis 37 through 50 what we find is that God was transforming his life, using his experiences and placing him right where he will do the most good. His life experience, from being his dad’s favorite, to being the object of scorn of his brothers; and from being the head slave in Potiphar’s house to living in prison after being wrongfully accused by Potiphar’s wife all form and shape him for the times he is yet to live.

    We never really get to see Joseph’s internal struggle, just the details of the journey. I imagine, however, that he has some real dark and dreary days and has had an occasional pity party as he processed his way through his advertises. In the end God uses all of his struggles to transform him into the man who would save his entire family and the world.
    The climax of his journey of transformation is seen in Genesis 50:20 where Joseph tells his brothers (the ones who sold him into slavery because they were jealous) “Even though you meant to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today.”

    What exactly does God intend to use from our current misfortunes? What will God make of our struggles, failures, betrayals? What would happen if truly we surrendered our lives and lived in faith trusting our Lord Jesus to use us to make a difference in this world for His sake?
    What would happen if we decided to treat life’s situations as, “Transformation training”?

    **************

    Excellent, Jim!!
    THanks, Greg :)

  9. Shelly C. says:

    I thought this quote I read recently would be an encouragement as well.

    “It is a happy way of soothing sorrow when we can feel “HE careth for me.” Christian! do not dishonor religion by always wearing a brow of care; come, cast your burden upon your Lord. You are staggering beneath a weight which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to him but as the small dust of the balance.
    O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in His providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair, hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against the sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses. There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, His heart beats with pity for your woe, and His hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the morning. He, if thou art one of His family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not His grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that He loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness.
    What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence! With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same. If God cares for you, why need you care too? Can you trust Him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens, He has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God.”

    C. H. Spurgeon, Morning & Evening

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