Hello Project Ezra! This week’s reading, Genesis 45, is part of the story of Joseph and his brothers in the land of Egypt, and is a wonderful reminder of the fact that God knows all and sees all, and that nothing takes Him by surprise. God knows our past and our future, and though we may experience pain and struggle, every pain has a purpose, and every struggle is toward a greater end, toward God’s glory. I know there are many things in my life that made no sense at the time I experienced them, but which I can look back at now and see a bit of God’s plan in action. In fact, I don’t believe that we as Christian believers think about this fact enough, and we certainly don’t express it to unbelievers well enough. Though we should be careful in how we express this, particularly when dealing with the difficult or painful life experiences of others, we need to tell those who don’t know God that there is a reason for everything that happens. That doesn’t mean God causes every difficulty, though he certainly allows them, and it doesn’t mean that we should even assume to be able to discern every reason. But is does mean that we can know that He is trustworthy, and that we can have faith and comfort in that. After all, sometimes we have to be knocked flat on our backs before we have the common sense to look up to Him. Let’s pray that through our outreach this weekend, and through God’s revealing of Himself through His word and His Spirit, that those we talk to we see the Savior through their pain and struggle, and turn to Him.
All for His glory,
INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND THE GROUP
READ GENESIS 45
This chapter demonstrates that nothing happens by accident
This is God’s world, and He orchestrates all things according to His will
Joseph told his brothers, who had sold him into slavery out of jealousy, that what they meant for evil, God meant for good
Nothing happens by accident, and God is never surprised by what we do
God’s nature – omniscient, omnipresent
This is just one example of God taking something evil and turning it to good
Though we don’t know why God does all that he does, we do know that God is trustworthy, and that there is always a reason
And we do know that the cause of evil in this world is not God, but us
When Adam and Eve chose to rebel against God, the world was cursed as part of their punishment
Since then, every man and woman has been born naturally inclined toward sin
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5 ESV)
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)
Why do bad things happen to good people? They don’t. They happen to us.
What is good is based on who God Is, on His character and nature.
None of us is good by God’s standards
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none who does good.
The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man,
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.
(Psalm 14:1-3 ESV)
If you look at yourself in light of God’s law, you will see that this is true of you, just as it is true of me.
We are not good because we have lied, and God is a god of truth
We are not good because we steal and covet, and although God has graciously given us all we need, we are not happy
We are not good because we commit adultery and look with lust. But God is faithful to His people and jealous toward them, just as we are to be in worship, and in our love for Him
We are not good because we do not love and honor Him as we should. Our thoughts and words about Him are often impure and disrespectful, and we do not love Him with heart, mind, soul and strength, as He has commanded, and as we know in our hearts we should do.
In the end we are daily in rebellion against God, worshiping ourselves and our own foolish desires instead of Him.
When we know the law we see that we are guilty before God
The knowledge of God’s law shows us what we deserve – Judgment and hell
Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4 ESV)
Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. (Romans 2:4-8 ESV)
Some would say they will be fine when they stand before God, because although they have done bad, God knows their heart
Indeed God does know your heart, and that is NOT a good thing!
God is a good and just judge, and thus will insure that sin is punished
For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14 ESV)
But the purpose of the law is not to drive us to despair, but to drive us to Christ.
By the law we know our sin, and by the law we see our need for a savior.
Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19-20 ESV)
It is to lead us to Christ that we may be justified by Christ
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Romans 7:7 ESV)
So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24 ESV)
Christ is our only remedy for sin
The penalty for our sin could not be ignored or forgotten, but had to be paid
2000 years ago Jesus Christ paid for the sin of those who would believe in Him on a Roman cross
On that cross, all God’s anger, hatred, and wrath toward sin was poured out on Jesus Christ
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV)
Now, if you have repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21), your sins and guilt will be covered by the blood of Christ and God will see you as righteous and good, because of Christ’s righteousness
Is that truth the reason you are here today? It could be.
Often people ask why God allows things to happen in their lives, and why they have struggle and pain
Nothing takes God by surprise, so there is a reason God allows difficulty
It could be that the things that have happened in your past were specifically to prepare you for today
In fact, it could be that the only reason you still draw breath is because God is being patient with you, that you may come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)
Could be the only reason I am still alive is so that I could be here to tell you
God works all together for good for those called according to His purpose
So regardless of God’s reasons, which I don’t know, He has allowed you to continue living is His world, and has graciously given you time to repent and turn to Him
For God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that they turn and live (Ezekiel 18:23)
So today, turn and live! Repent, put your trust in Jesus Christ, and live!