Today we’re continuing our message series entitled “Faith Heroes.” In this series, we’re looking at Bible stories of ordinary who followed God and accomplished extraordinary things. We can learn important lessons for our own lives from their stories. We can be encouraged by God’s faithfulness in their lives.
Today’s message is called “God’s Leader.” I believe that God calls each one of us to be a leader for Him. In fact, each person on earth really is a leader to one degree or another. Each person is either leading people closer to God or further away from God. Some people lead more people than others, but everyone has an influence on others around them. Our goal in life as believers should be to lead as many people as possible to Jesus Christ.
Daniel 12:3 (NIV2011) Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
This verse speaks of eternity and eternal rewards. Those who are wise in this life will make it their priority to lead others to know God through Jesus Christ. This is not just a priority for pastors or evangelists, but for every believer. How do we lead others? We lead others in two main ways, through our words and through our actions. We teach with our words and we give an example through our actions and lifestyle.
Hebrews 5:12a (NIV2011) In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.
This verse was written to believers who had not grown as leaders who taught others about God. It’s basically saying that you can’t teach what you don’t know. So there is a process that God takes His children through to equip them to be leaders. To equip them to be teachers, whose lives match with what they are saying.
Today, we’re going to learn how is preparing you as a leader for Him. We’re going to continue the story of Joseph that we began last Sunday. God gave Joseph a dream of being a leader, even over his own family. But the sin of his brothers caused him to be separated from his family and sold into slavery. Would those negative circumstances destroy him or make him stronger? It can be hard to imagine God bringing good out of times of crisis. Trying times can lead to stress in relationships, finances and emotions.
Discouragement and worry can even lead to doubt in the goodness of God. Yet there is a way to persevere in difficulty and come through a stronger person. Difficulty in life does not have to defeat you. God is in control and directing the lives of His children, even in hard times. When you learn to see His hand in both the lows and highs of life, you will realize that He is working out everything for your good and His glory. The lows of life can prepare you to become a leader for God. So let’s see how God uses difficult times to prepare us to be leaders for Him.
Genesis 39:1-2 (ESV) Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master.
Joseph had been hated by his brothers who threatened to kill him. Finally they sold him into slavery with the Ishmaelites. Th slave traders took him to Egypt and sold him to the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, Potiphar. The first thing the Scripture tells us about Joseph in Egypt was that the Lord was with him. God had not abandoned Joseph, God’s dream for Joseph’s life was not over. As we read the entire chapter, we see that as Joseph served God in his new role, God blessed both Joseph and the entire household of Potiphar. The next lesson that Joseph needed to learn was to …
Potiphar’s wife took a liking to Joseph and began to seek to seduce him. Joseph was far away from family and undoubtedly no one would have known if he gave in. Yet, Joseph resisted her advances day after day. He told her that he would not sin against God and betray the confidence of his master.
Genesis 39:11-12 (ESV) But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.
There was no more time for talk, Joseph had to run from the house to resist the temptation. Undoubtedly the wife of the captain of the guard was a beautiful woman. No one would have known except the two of them and God. As we’ll soon see, the downside of resisting temptation would turn out to have very negative consequences. But Joseph desired to please God first and foremost and to …
Potiphar’s wife was furious at Joseph and immediately began to spread the story that he had tried to rape her.
Genesis 39:19-20 (ESV) As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison …
So, by resisting temptation, Joseph was falsely accused, the false accusations were believed and he was unjustly put into prison. What a turn of events. First being sold in slavery, then rising to manage the entire household of Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. But suddenly, all had come crashing down, through no fault of Joseph. In fact, this latest turn of events came from his following of God’s way. But it was all part of God’s process of making a leader of Joseph for Him.
God is at work in your life, preparing you to be a leader, an influencer for Him. God’s preparation of us always involved trials and temptations. Those trials and temptations can either destroy us or make us stronger, depending on how we respond. Many of you face temptations and trials in the workplace. Most likely your boss and co-workers are not believers. You may face temptations with improper relationships. Or perhaps you may be tempted or even ordered to do things that you know are not pleasing to God.
How should you respond? Will you compromise to keep your job or position? Or choose to obey God and trust Him with the consequences. Maybe you work from home or are retired. Even if you have no boss that you directly report to, you do have a Lord in heaven. Are you using your time wisely to serve Him? God uses our work to battle-test us so that our faith will grow stronger. It is His way of making you a leader for Him. Now let’s look at the …
Genesis 39:22-23 (ESV) And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.
Let’s think back for a minute. The Lord spoke to Joseph in dreams when he was living in his dysfunctional family and blessed him. When Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt, the Lord was with him and blessed him as a leader in Potiphar’s household. Now, Joseph had been unjustly accused and put into prison, but the Lord was still with him. The Lord blessed him by making him a leader in prison and gave him success. Whatever happened to Joseph, he trusted God and walked in God’s blessing. Was God’s blessing automatic? I would say no. What did Joseph do that showed his faith in God? He served God by …
While in prison, God began to move in Joseph’s life in supernatural ways. Not only had God previously spoken to Joseph in dreams. In prison, Joseph showed kindness to two fellow prisoners by interpreting their dreams through God’s wisdom. Not only did Joseph serve the prison warden, but also his fellow prisoners. When one of the prisoners was released, he was supposed to help Joseph get out, but he forgot him. Joseph spent two years in prison. Then one day, the Pharaoh had some dreams.
Genesis 41:8 (ESV) So in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was none who could interpret them to Pharaoh.
None of the wisemen and magicians could interpret his dreams. Then the Pharaoh’s cupbearer, who had been in prison with Joseph remembered him.
Genesis 41:12 (ESV) A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream.
What had seemed inconsequential in prison, now served to have the Pharaoh call for Joseph to be released from the prison to meet him. Joseph would now have another opportunity to …
Genesis 41:15-16 (ESV) And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”
So Pharaoh told Joseph his two dreams, dreams that no one else could interpret. Joseph had great faith in God, that God would give him the correct interpretation. The Pharaoh held Joseph’s life in his hands. An unfavorable answer could lead to being put back into prison or worse, death. Yet, God had prepared Joseph and now he trusted in God’s supernatural power to interpret the dreams. God had prepared Joseph for this challenge and his faith was strong.
God also takes us through difficult or even unjust circumstances to build our faith as leaders. Perhaps at work you’ve been falsely accused or overlooked for a promotion. Or maybe, your trial involves a relationship that has fractured through no fault of your own. Could be with a family member, a relative or a friend. We’re tempted to complain, to get discouraged or to blame others or God. Yet each trying situation is an opportunity to trust God and believe that He is with you. As you serve God by serving others, He will bless you by giving you success. Oftentimes, God desires for our faith to grow to believe Him for supernatural power. As we do, He prepares us for the next stage of our lives with a growing faith as a leader. Finally, we see Joseph’s dreams as a teen come true by the …
Genesis 41:25 (ESV) Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.
So, Joseph, through God’s revelation, revealed to Pharaoh what his two dreams meant. The dreams predicted that there would be 7 years of plenty in Egypt, followed by 7 years of famine. Not only had God given Joseph the true interpretation, He also worked in Pharaoh’s heart to believe what Joseph said. God had not only given Joseph the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams, he also allowed him to …
Genesis 41:33-34 (ESV) Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years.
This part of Joseph’s statement to the Pharaoh was not part of the dream’s interpretation. The dreams had merely predicted what would happen to the crops. What was then needed was God-given wisdom as to what to do with that knowledge. Pharaoh needed to appoint a leader to oversee preparations for the coming famine. Did Joseph know that he was to be the discerning and wise man that was needed? I think so, he knew that he was on the cusp of having God’s dreams fulfilled. Then details on how to store food during the 7 years of plenty and disperse in the 7 years of famine were provided, by God’s inspiration. Joseph trusted that God would move on Pharaoh’s heart, a pagan, to bring about His purposes. Not only had God given Joseph the dream’s interpretation and wisdom as to what to do. Now, God promoted Joseph as a leader to …
Genesis 41:39-40 (ESV) Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.”
God had now taken Joseph from a 17 year-old shepherd, to a slave in Egypt, to a prisoner and now to second in command in all of Egypt. He was now the leader that his dreams had prophesied he would be.
Genesis 41:46 (ESV) Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt.
It had taken Joseph 13 difficult years to get to this point in God’s plan for his life. But as we look at the difficult circumstances that Joseph had gone through, each one had prepared him for this massive responsibility for an entire nation. God had taught him faith in God’s wisdom and supernatural power. He had learned to manage households and prisons. He had grown strong in resisting temptation, even having no other believers anywhere around. He believed in God’s dream for his life and would eventually be reunited with is family, as the dream had indicated. God had promoted him to be His leader in a pagan nation.
We can learn from Joseph’s life, how God has a plan for each stage of our lives. At each stage, God desires for us to grow in faith and responsibility in serving Him. To grow in the next stage of your life, God will require you to do new things you have never done before. God will give you opportunities to trust Him in areas you have never been challenged in before. Maybe the next stage for you involves a new position at work, or a new ministry in the church, or moving into a supernatural gifting God has for you. God wants to promote you as a leader to make a difference for eternity.
God puts each of us through a process to make us leaders for him. Although the process can be painful, we grow stronger in resisting temptation and persevering in trials. Realize that whatever you’re going through, God is with you. As you follow Him, He will give you success. Let your faith grow strong, as you serve God by serving others. He will give you supernatural wisdom and power to carry out His plan. Our promotion as leaders does not come from man, but from God Himself. Wherever God has placed you, He will give you the wisdom to carry out His plan. As Joseph was a leader in a pagan nation, so God calls us to be leaders both to believers and unbelievers alike. God is looking for those whose hearts are totally His to be His leaders. May each of us lead others as we follow Jesus.