(Creed) (Turn: Genesis 37)
Well I am grateful to be with you this morning. Well no one is more surprised than I am that I’m talking about what I’m talking about today. It’s something that, in prayer, God put on my heart a couple weeks ago, and for whatever reason, I feel really strong about.
Because I believe God is wanting to encourage some of you in seasons that are taking longer than you thought.
Not Covid Now I don’t want to disappoint you, but I’m not talking about Covid. That’s a season I think we all agree has gone on longer than we thought, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about your life, and your calling.
This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, (Genesis 37:2a)
How many girls wished they had those names?
Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. (Genesis 41:46)
Gonna read it again.
My title for this morning is: It Might Take Longer Than You Think
I want to inform some and remind others, contrary to what you may have heard, your presence on this planet has purpose. You are not the result of a relational accident. You are not the consequence of a cosmic coincidence, you’re been strategically, intentionally placed on this earth by God.
You were not born and then chosen, you were born because you ARE chosen.
God told Jeremiah “Before I formed you in your mothers womb, I knew you. Not only did I know you, I appointed you.”
God says “Your parents did not just come together because they needed physical intimacy, your parents came together because I needed you.”
You were not born and then chosen. You were born because you ARE chosen.
However, the story of Joseph teaches us something that I need you to understand.
This dream, this vision, this purpose, might take long than you think.
You know, it’s real interesting that when I look back at the 38 years of my life, how often, God’s timing is different than my timing. And even if I don’t realize it at the time, God’s timing is always better than my timing.
God says something very interesting to the prophet Habakkuk - In Habakkuk chapter 2:
Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. (Habakkuk 2:2)
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; (Habakkuk 2:3a)
An appointed time. So God didn’t tell him what the appointed time WAS. He just said that it’s for an appointed time. So God knows when the appointed time is, we don’t. I just want to tell you, it might take longer than you think.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3)
Wait a minute!!! How can it linger and at the same time not delay. How can it delay and at the same time not delay? It can’t both delay and not delay at the same time.
Maybe God is saying, “From your perspective, it is delaying, but from my perspective, it’s not delaying.” Don’t miss that. “From your perspective, it’s taking forever, but from MY perspective, it’s right on time.”
Just because it’s taking longer than you think, doesn’t mean it’s taking longer than it needs to.
God knows how to move the chess pieces of your life in strategic ways and in strategic places to get you to the right place at the right time - EVEN CONSIDERING YOUR ASSIGNMENT AND YOUR SPIRITUAL MATURITY.
See, when God is making moves in your life, he’s considering not just your assignment, but he’s also considering your spiritual maturity. See, your spiritual maturity is gonna contribute to some God ordained delays.
Consider the prodigal son. You remember the story. The son leaves home after receiving what he thought was his entire inheritance. But when he came back to the fathers house, the father gave him a robe, the father gave him a ring, the father gave him shoes. And I bet in that moment, the son was grateful that the father didn’t give him all of those things until that time.
So what’s happening here? Well I believe that the father knew the son was gonna go through a silly season in a strange land. And so the father kept some things in store for the son until the son got the silly out of him.
I was talking about this last week with my buddy David Goldman.
Is there anybody grateful that God didn’t give you everything he has for you during your silly season?
I wish we would be honest, that we had some silly seasons. And if you had one, you should be grateful that God didn’t give you the fullness of your dream when you weren’t ready for it. Because you would have done like the prodigal son and wasted it in a strange land.
So God said: “I held some of your influence back, I held some of your responsibility back until you got the silly out of you. Now that silly’s out of you, I can trust you with influence cuz you’re not gonna blow it.”
So while you were in it, you felt like it was delayed, but now that you’re on the other side of it, you’re like “Lord I’m glad you didn’t give me what I thought I wanted when wanted it. Cuz I woulda blown it.”
And you might be thinking “What does this have to do with Joseph?” EVERYTHING. This is his life. See this biblical character named Joseph is an incredible example of what I’m talking about.
His life teaches us how to handle when it seems like dreams, visions, are taking longer than you thought.
Hopefully, you know the story that’s found in the book of Genesis. But if you don’t, here’s the story from 10,000 feet.
Joseph was young boy who had 11 brothers. 12 boys total. And Joseph was his fathers favorite. His father even made him a coat of many colors. And his brothers hated him for it. And what makes matters worse is he would have these dreams that his brothers, and even his whole family bows down to him. And his first boo-boo, he tells them. He basically says “So you guys are gonna bow down to me! Isn’t that weird?!” And they’re thinking “Yeah weird. So weird that we might have to kill you.”
So they steal his coat, and throw him in a pit. And then at the last minute they decided to not kill him, but to sell him as a slave and tell his father that he had been killed.
He ultimately ends up in Potiphar’s house - Potiphar is one of Pharaoh’s officials. A big uppity-up.
And everything is going good until an unfortunate encounter with Potiphar’s wife. She tries to get him in bed, but because he’s a man of integrity, he rejects her, so she accuses him of rape. It’s a whole thing. And Joseph ends up in prison.
But he still continues to rise to the top and in a very short time he becomes in charge of the whole jail. And he's still interpreting dream, and so when Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt has a dream, he calls for Joseph, who interprets Pharaohs dream and Pharaoh is so pleased he puts Joseph in charge of all of Egypt! - Joseph is 30 years old at this time.
And then huge famine hits the entire region. And the only place that has food is Egypt.
So Joseph’s brothers (who betrayed him, conspired to kill him, threw him in the pit, and ultimately sold him into slavery, and lied to their father that he was killed) go to Egypt to buy food and they find themselves in the presence of the leader of Egypt, who they don’t realize is their young brother who they sold in slavery. Joseph recognizes his brothers but his brothers don't recognize him.
And so they bow before him, and Joseph thinks about his dream and thinks “Well well well… Not so far fetched now is it.”
There’s this whole ruse about “Well maybe you guys a spies and I should kill you!” And they’re saying “WHAT?!” And Joseph hides his silver cup in one of their bags and accuses them of stealing it. But the whole thing is a ruse, because Joseph knows it's his brothers.
Ultimately he reveals himself to his brothers with incredible kindness and forgiveness. And takes care of them as his own family despite them betraying him when he was 17.
Joseph teaches us how to manage what I call Middle Seasons.
We might say, the season of revelation, is not the season of manifestation. The season where you see what you’re supposed to do is not the season you actually do it. The season of announcement, is not the season of fulfillment.
And the struggle of the Christian is not revelation, it’s not manifestation, it’s the middle. The struggle is not in the announcement. When God announces something, we know how to respond to that. It’s not fulfillment, when God fulfills what he promises, we know how to respond to that. The struggle for believers is the middle.
And I believe that God put this word on my heart because I’m talking to somebody that’s in the middle.
The middle season is when it seems like “God, you teasing me!!! I thought when I was working for Potiphar, that was the promise. But you’re teasing me and I went to Potiphar’s house to the prison.” Joseph teaches us how to handle the middle.
The challenge many of us have is not the beginning of a dream, or the end of a dream, but the middle. How to handle the middle. And if you’re looking for some answers, this text here with Joseph, provides us with some insight.
See, I chose this text because it exposes us to what seems like an insignificant detail of Joseph’s story. Very often, when Joseph is preached, this is what’s preached: The beginning of the dream. And the end of the dream. But this text, shows us in the middle.
Joseph was 17 years old when he first got that dream. Do you see that? But the text says he was 30 years old when he starts working for Pharaoh. He gets the dream at 17, and it’s not until he’s 30 that he sees it come to pass.
And many times, we feel like the dream is never gonna come to pass, but in the spirit, you’re still 17. Do you see what I’m saying? And God might assign you and I, certain things at certain spiritual ages. And we might be upset that it’s not happening now, or confused that it’s not happening now, and God is saying “You do know that it took Joseph from 17 to 30.” And I’m not saying it’s gonna be 13 years for you, it could be 13 months, it could be 13 days, I don’t know. But the point is, there are times when certain aspects of the dream take longer than you think. But it is always the right time.
Because where Joseph gets at 30, he’s not ready for at 17. The space is for your benefit. Because there’s something you get at age 30 that will crush you at age 17, if you don’t use the space wisely to prepare for it.
That boy at 17 could not be trusted with what he was given at 30. Nor would he have been mature enough to handle his brothers the right way.
Just because it’s taking longer than you think, doesn’t mean it’s taking longer than it needs to.
Let’s say that the Joseph’s dream comes to pass when he’s 18. This is the year after his brothers put him in a pit. Took his coat, lied to his father about him being dead. You think all that unforgiveness has gotten out of his heart in one year? You think he would have fed his brothers? You think he would have, at 18, or 19, or 20, or 21, or 22 where he would have said “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good?”
Sometime’s God’s gotta put some time in between revelation and manifestation because the people you have to help are people you haven’t grown enough to love yet.
No, you still have a little pettiness there, you still have a little unforgiveness there, and it’s gonna come out. So I gotta put some space so you can forgive.
Now listen to me, his family weren’t the only people that he helped. But included in the people that he was supposed to help were people that hurt him. And he needed time.
Most of us are glad that God did not give us a lot of what we wanted, when we thought we wanted it.
Come on, let’s be honest, some of us were still a little prideful, a little arrogant, a little greedy, a little thoughtless, a little lazy. Some of you still had a little temper.
So God’s like “I can’t give you that yet!” “Some of that stuff is too recent.”
“I need to give it some time to some of this can die down, so dead bodies and dead issues don’t resurrect.” “So let me put some time between your past trauma and your new season.” Is this too real for you?
Just because it’s taking longer than you think, doesn’t mean it’s taking longer than it needs to.
The delay is for your development.
I heard this preacher say: “Every delay is working in my favor.”
Oh man! Someone needs to write that on your heart “Every delay is working in my favor.”
So the question is: How are you using the space? How are you handling the middle?
There are 3 things that I see here that we can pull from Joseph’s life. And apply to our own to help us in the middle season. These are three things you need to develop during the delay.
Integrity is still important. Sometimes I observe the activity of others and I think “Look my expectation of you is not for you to be perfect, but can you at least have some integrity?!”
You see this very clearly in Joseph’s life when he runs into this incident with Potiphar’s wife. I don’t know if you run away from that when you’re 17. That’s too honest. There’s some stuff, I don’t know if you run away from if you’re immature. When you’re immature, you’re running TO stuff, you should be running FROM. It takes some maturity to recognize when you need to run away from stuff. It takes maturity to say “Sometimes I need to run from what I like.”
We see he has some integrity. He can be trusted with influence, because he has integrity.
If you compromise your integrity to achieve your dream, your dream will eventually become a nightmare.
You integrity is what really makes you you.
Your integrity makes you who you are, and when you compromise your integrity, you will never be satisfied. And you dream is not a dream, it’s a nightmare. You will be miserable.
Jesus says “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” When you lose yourself, no house, no car, no achievement, no accomplishment, will ever give you the satisfaction you’re after.
And a refusal to compromise your integrity is an act of faith. Just like Joseph, a refusal to compromise your integrity is a demonstration of your faith in God, to say “This ain’t the only way I can get there.” “I won’t sell-out to get there.” It’s an indication that you believe that God can get you there another way. “I’m not doing this to get that.”
I have ethics when I preach. I won’t preach bubblegum. So I may never fill a stadium. But I’m willing to live with that. Because if I fill a stadium and lose my integrity, I have nothing.
That’s Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego saying “God can and will deliver us, but even if he doesn’t, I’m still not doing that.”
This is for someone today - I know the game that they’re trying to get you to play.
GOD WILL GET YOU THERE ANOTHER WAY.
God told Abraham “I’ll make your name great.” “I’ll do it.” They may not do it, I’ll do it.
Now church you’ve modeled this. I’ve learned so much from you about this. Excellence. The middle is your opportunity to develop excellence.
Watch this: At 17 he perceived the dream correctly, but interpreted it inaccurately.
So God had to give him some time so he could process his interpretation of the dream so by the time he got to 30, he was able to see “Oh, this dream was never about me. - When I told my brothers about it, I told them about me. And me being elevated over them.” Because when you’re dreaming while you’re spiritually immature, your dreams are about you. And God’s saying “I can’t bring you into this dream, because you’re going to (watch this) execute it wrong, because you haven’t interpreted it right. What you’re seeing is right, but you’re interpreting it wrong. So I gotta give you some space to mature you so that you can actually process WHY I’m giving you this influence.”
I’m not impressed when you can tell me what God is going to do, I’m impressed when you can tell me why.
I’m not impressed when you can tell me “God’s getting ready to bless me and blow my mind.” I’m impressed when you can tell me why. When you can tell me “He’s getting ready to bless me, so I can be a blessing. I have a vision of what I’m gonna do with it when he gives it to me.”
Man I’m telling you. You’re in a pit, and you get out, and you end up back in a prison, I don’t care how much you speak in tongues, that make you wanna cuss.
“So God let me get this straight, I was in a pit, thinking I was gonna die, you get me out and now stuff finally seems like it’s working out, and now I’m back in a prison? For something I didn’t do?”
Makes you wanna quit. Makes you wanna say “Why do I want to keep living with this integrity? Because I’m in prison, because of my integrity.” The only reason he ended up in prison, was because of the integrity he had with Potiphar’s wife. It just makes you wanna quit. But he had endurance.
He had endurance that outlived the pain. That outlived the prison.
A refusal to quit, when all you have is a dream, but no indication that it’s even close.
Because for Joseph, that thing when from revelation to manifestation in the blink of an eye. When no one was expecting it. He’s literally in prison.
Behind the Scenes There’s something going on behind the scenes that Joseph doesn’t realize. That someone on the outside remember how Joseph interpreted a dream for him. And they’re having a conversation WITH PHARAOH about Joseph, and Joseph doesn’t realize it.
I think somebody needs to hear this. And I mean in a good way. People of influence who can make decisions in your favor, maybe they’re having conversations about you and you don’t know it. While you’re in prison, maybe conversations are happening in the palace about you.
And I can’t tell you when, I just want to tell you to endure. I just want to tell you, one day, your name is gonna be called. “Joseph, Pharaoh wants to see you.” And when you come out of the prison this time, you’re not going back. You’re ready now.
As I close:
Adoption story - nearly 2 years - Let me tell you how this played out in mine and Jordan’s life. Early in 30’s, Jordan and I decided that what God had for us was adopt a child. And not just any child, but we believe God had ordained us to parent a specific child. He knew which one, we didn’t. So we go through this whole thing of getting the home study, and putting our name in the ring, and securing a lawyer, and learning the laws, and saving up money, and hiring an organization. And then… We wait. We wait almost 2 years. Meanwhile everyone around us is getting pregnant and having babies, and even being matched for adoption! People in our own family! And we wait.
And I remember, we’d get news that someone else is having a baby, and we’d be so happy for them and celebrate with them, and we’d get in the car in the wife would just cry. And it felt like “God, you’re teasing us!!!” And then one day, we get a call that changed our life forever. A young lady in California, 3 months pregnant was interested in us. And now here we are, 4 years later, with a baby girl that’s a miracle in every way. And she was right on time. Not our time, but God’s time. Now let’s say we’re a year and half if, and we decide “This is never gonna happen!!!. Let’s just cancel it, the waiting is too painful.” We would have taken ourselves out of the game, right before our breakthrough.
And I truly believe that for some of you, your breakthrough is right around the corner. If you don’t quit. It’s fine to want to quit, so long as you’ve already decided you won’t quit. Did you hear that? You can enjoy the luxury of wanting to quit, so long as you’ve already decided you won’t quit.
And I sense in my spirit, fatigue in God’s people. Some of you are like “Pastor, I’m trying to endure but I’m so tired.”
The bible says that “Times of refreshing come from the Lord.”
I believe the Lord wants to refresh you right now.
Father I thank you right now. That times of refreshing from the Lord, and you’re refreshing your people. And you’re renewing their strength. You said that if we wait on you, you will renew out strength.