Has anyone here ever met an optimist? The kind of person whoís depressingly cheery and whoís always bubbly and energetic and happy?
I have and let me tell you something... Those kind of people just make me sick!
The worst part about this kind of disgusting optimism is that itís Biblical! Not only that, but we all are to have that kind of attitude through rain, sleet and dark of night. You donít believe me? Let's look at a few examples of people who persevered in the face of incredible conditions...
A. Life before Egypt.
1. He was the youngest son of Jacob at the time of Genesis chapter 37.
2. He was treated the best of all the sons by their father at this time.
3. Because of this, the other brothers hate him to the point of planning murder.
4. By the end of Genesis 37, they just about have murdered him, but Reuben dissuades them for their fatherís sake.
5. However, behind Reubenís back the other brothers sell Joseph into slavery.
B. Life in Egypt.
1. The slave traders sell Joseph to Potiphar in Genesis chapter 39 and Joseph is promoted over Potipharís whole household.
2. However, Potipharís wife gets Joseph thrown into prison.
3. After two years in prison, Joseph is released from prison by Pharaoh and is promptly made second in command, just in time to prepare for a 7 year famine (chapter 41).
C. Brotherís return.
1. After two years of famine, the brothers come to Egypt to by food for their fatherís household (chapter 42).
2. Joseph allows them to get food, but plays with them a little bit.
3. The second time the brothers come to get food, Joseph eventually has them all arrested and brought before him.
D. Joseph Revealed - Genesis 45:1-8.
1. Would you not think that Joseph would have had every right to be angry at his brothers? By this time he has been in Egyptian service, and in and out of prison for 76 years!
2. But in a startling contrast to how we would act, he says:
a. God sent me here for a reason .
b. That reason was to preserve our family and our posterity.
3. Through all the trials Joseph had been through, he remained an optimist.
But you say:
"The Old Testament is outdated, antiquated and has no bearing on how I live my life so forget about it. Just because itís way in the back of my Bible doesnít mean I need it. I live according to the New Testament and those principles!"
All right then, continue on...
A. Just because Paul was a preacher doesnít mean he didnít suffer. Any fool can suffer but Paul preached through all sorts of things.
B. In fact, Paul suffered through - 2 Corinthians 11:23-28
C. This man had been through everything that the devil could throw at him yet:
1. Paulís in trouble again
2. Even in stocks, heís still singing... at the unearthly hour of midnight
A. They looked for the common good. Why? Because the common good is that the word must be preached.
1. Scene in STAR TREK 2, "Needs of the many..."
2. Preachers have this quality in abundance. They put up with...
a. Low pay
b. Intense scrutiny
c. Compromised family life - always making themselves available
d. Missionaries live under even worse conditions
3. We have no grounds to complain if we must miss a television show to visit someone in the hospital who may not even be a Christian. What is the common good?
B. They looked forward to heaven - 1 Timothy 4:6-8
1. Easier to apply and is usually more persuasive to our psyche
2. God had promised a crown of life and a mansion in heaven if we will follow him
3. We must then tell ourselves when tempted,
"If I can make it through this I can get my reward in heaven."
Some people havenít gotten to the point where they can look forward to heaven if they persevere.
The reason is that they havenít been saved. Now most of us in this room have been saved, but from time to time even the promise of heaven can not stop us from faltering.
However, if we have fallen out of our "race", God allows us to stand back up, dust ourselves off, and continue toward the goal of heaven if we repent.
So tonight, if you still havenít heard the starting gun for your race, or if youíve dropped out of the running, please, let us help set you on your way once again.
-- William Van Tassel, 2001 --