Connecting Point – November 15, 2023

 

Psalm 105:19 is a challenging verse for us; it reads, "Until the time came to fulfill His dreams, the Lord tested Joseph's character."  Most Christians know the story of Joseph.  Joseph was the favored son of the patriarch Jacob, who was despised and hated by his brothers because of Jacob's favoritism towards him, and because of his dreams which depicted that he would one day rule over his brothers.  As a result of their hatred, Joseph's older brothers captured him, contemplated killing him, and then sold him as a slave to some traders who brought him to the land of Egypt and sold him to a man named Potiphar. Joseph did very well in his new vocation, and was rewarded by being put in charge of his master's household. In that position, however, he was aggressively approached by his master's wife, who wanted him to commit adultery with her. As a result of Joseph refusing to give in to her advances, the woman declared that he had tried to rape her. He was then imprisoned, and spent several years as a prisoner. What an incredible downward spiral Joseph had experienced. He had gone from a favored son of a wealthy sheepherder to being a slave, a falsely accused rapist, and a prisoner for life. We also know that Joseph's story didn't end there. He was released from prison because he alone (by God's power) could interpret the Pharaoh's dreams, and eventually became second-in-command of the entire nation of Egypt, the greatest nation on earth at that time. At the end Joseph was reconciled with his brothers and reunited with his father, constituting perhaps the greatest "riches to rags to riches" story in the history of mankind.

Many years after Joseph's life, one of the Psalmists (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) wrote that the Lord used those circumstances in Joseph's life to "test" his character.   In other words, the Lord used the unfair rejection, adversity, difficulties, shame and hardships Joseph experienced to build in him the kind of character he would need to be a great man of God and a great leader of people.

The Bible teaches over and over that the Lord is far more interested in our character 

Let me ask you, "Have you ever experienced rejection, adversity, unfair allegations against you, and hardships in your life - and have you wondered why the Lord allowed you to experience such difficult circumstances in life?" We all experience adversity and difficulties in life.  Because life is filled with natural disasters, physical diseases and unfortunate accidents, hardships are a part of life. Because our world is filled with self-focused, sinful individuals, we all experience from time to time jealousy from others, rejection by others, adversity, shame, unfair allegations, unfair treatment and hardship in life. The truth is, we all live in a broken world filled with problems, difficulties, ungodliness and the inhumane treatment of others. None of that is orchestrated by the Lord, but the Bible does indicate in our text and many other verses that the Lord uses the adversity and unfairness we experience in our lives to shape our character and develop in us a real and genuine Christ-likeness.

Several scriptures promote this truth. Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-4: "We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us - they help us learn to endure.  And endurance develops strength of character in us . . ." James wrote in James 1:2-4:  "Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything." The Bible teaches over and over that the Lord is far more interested in our character than He is in our careers or our comfort.  He will allow hardship and adversity to come into our lives in order to develop the "character of Christ" in our lives, but we must always remember that, "God is in the midst of all things, bringing about God for those who love Him" (Romans 8:28).  Joseph finally and fully understood that, because at the conclusion of his life he said to his brothers, "God turned into good what you meant for evil" (Genesis 50:20).  The Lord is still doing that in lives today, as we submit to His will, learn from our circumstances, and allow Him to develop His character in our lives!

As you think and pray today: 1) Pray for the Lord to show you what He is striving to teach you through the adversity and problems you are experiencing; 2) Thank the Lord for what He is doing in your life, and ask Him to do and allow all that needs to be done to create in you the "character of Christ"; and 3) Confess your faith and trust in the Lord, believing that He will develop His character in you, and believing that He will turn into "good" that which the Devil and others means for evil in your life.

While you're praying, I also encourage you to pray for our 2023 Christmas Missions Offering that goes directly to support Missionaries, Missions ministries, and Missions projects. This year's Christmas Missions Offering will be utilized to support:

  • The building of 5 houses for homeless families in Guatemala

  • 6 months of funding for our Life Transformation Center that ministers to children, teens, and senior adults in New Orleans' Hollygrove/Dixon community

  • The construction of a Church facility in Kenya

  • Training for 800 Pastors and Church Leaders in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic

  • Benevolence Funding for the elderly and disadvantaged of our region

  • Supporting the Baptist Village ministry in Israel that is housing displaced people

  • 100 Celebration Missionaries as well as 2469 North American Mission Board missionaries and 3552 International Mission Board missionaries

Also, be praying about what the Lord wants you to give to our 2023 Christmas Missions Offering. As you receive direction from the Lord, plan to give generously to our Christmas Missions Offering. You can give online at www.celebrationchurch.org/give (select your campus, then designate Christmas Offering) or by using the Christmas Missions Offering envelopes that are found in our Worship Centers. For more information about the Christmas Missions Offering and it's intended recipients, go to https://celebrationchurch.org/christmasoffering/

CLICK HERE TO GIVE
Sweet Christmas events for our Celebration Women and their Friends will occur December 1-7 at different Campuses. These special times of worship, fellowship, and food give our ladies the opportunity to break away from the craziness of the holidays so they can focus on strengthening their relationship with the Lord and having fun together. You can find the dates and times of your campus' Sweet Christmas at celebrationchurch.org/aspire.
And be sure to invite your female friends to join in with them. It will be a great way for our women to start their Christmas season.

Join us this Sunday at our Campuses as we conclude our THE STRUGGLE IS REAL sermon series. If you're traveling or working, you can join us online at YouTube.

Remember, Jesus Changes Everything,
  
Pastor Dennis Watson
Lead Pastor, Celebration Church
dennisw@celebrationchurch.org
  dennis.watson.96
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