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How to Escape Your Prison

As we have been studying the life of Joseph, we have seen him go from the highest honored brother in his family, to the one they want to throw into the bottom of a well. At Joseph’s lowest point, we see him raised out of the well only to be sold into slavery to the chief executioner in Egypt. We have studied one painful story after a next in Joseph’s life, yet God’s favor and faithfulness is evident throughout his life. Even when Joseph was being tempted by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph choose to honor God by fleeing from the situation. Now instead of facing Potiphar’s wife, he’s facing an accusation and finds himself in Pharoah’s prison. Even though Joseph didn’t do it, he’s in prison, not for something he did wrong, but for something he did right. So here he is not at the bottom of the well, but at the bottom of a dungeon. This guy’s life is up, down, up, down, up, down. But no matter when he’s up, or no matter when he’s down, the Lord is with him.

 

The gospel is not that if you follow Jesus, everything in your life is going to be awesome. The gospel is that no matter what you go through, God is with you. And that’s what we see in Joseph’s ups and downs. God is with him and blesses Joseph in the bottom of this dungeon.

 

Genesis 39:20-23

Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

 

But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

 

At a time when Joseph could be questioning God’s plan for him, facing deep despair and loneliness, we see Joseph thriving. He’s taken the opportunities that are before him and stewarding them to the best of his abilities. Knowing that the Lord is with him, Joseph’s posture is completely different. He’s owning his situation. He’s not there for something he did wrong. He’s there for something he did right. Yet he’s like, “You know what, I’m still gonna own it.” You’ve got to own it, before you offer it.

 

Maybe you’re in a dungeon right now. Maybe you’re there not because of something you did wrong, but because it’s something you did right. It could be a health dungeon, financial dungeon, or even a relationship dungeon that you find yourself in. Joseph’s secret was that he was willing to own the situation first before offering it. Without making any excuses, be honest with God where you are and then believe that He will be with you in it.

 

Genesis 40:1-4

Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.

 

What’s the cupbearers job? His job was to take a drink of the King’s cup to make sure that it has not been poisoned. What about the Baker? What’s his job? The baker makes sure the King’s food hasn’t been poisoned. So you’ve got these two trustworthy people, right? You’ve got the baker making sure the food’s good and then you got the chief cupbearer making sure everything the King drinks is good. We don’t know what happened, but something goes down. Maybe the King gets poisoned or food poisoning. We don’t know what happened, but both of these guys wind up in prison with Joseph.

 

Genesis 40:4-8

After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

 

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”

 

“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

 

If you remember at the beginning of the life of Joseph, he had dreams that he shared with is family and those didn’t go so well. Joseph could be thinking. “If I trace back all of the problems in my life, it comes back to one of those dreams.” But we know that God doesn’t waste pain.

 

Romans 8:28

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

God can use ALL things, even pain. God doesn’t have to waste anything. Joseph is getting back into a little territory we call redemption territory. Now he’s dealing with dreams again. Joseph is taking everything he’s been dealt, and still giving it to God. He’s caring about his fellow prisoners. Even though the cupbearer and baker felt discouraged because no one was there to interpret the dreams for them, Joseph was ready and willing to be used by God, even in a dungeon.

 

Genesis 40:8-14, 16-23

Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

 

So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put them cup in his hand.”

 

“This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.”

 

When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head  were three baskets of bread. In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of a basket on my head.”

 

“This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”

 

Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand—but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

 

The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

 

I’m telling you, Joseph can’t get a break. We wouldn’t blame Joseph if he was like, “I’m done trusting God!” But instead no, he just kept doing what he knew how to do, which was to live his life for God. He continued to keep a posture that no matter what hand he’s dealt, he’s going to give it back to God. Even in pain, he’s going to turn and give it back to God. Because nothing needs to be wasted.

Dungeon of Betrayal

 

Maybe you’re in a dungeon because somebody betrayed you. You’re in a dungeon because somebody did you dirty. If you’re a Christian and you don’t have a have a knife in your back, you’re playing it safe or not playing by faith. If Jesus could get betrayed, it shows us that we are capable of being betrayed as well. Though we will be betrayed, Jesus still calls us to love people who don’t deserve it. Pray for your enemy. Pray for those who persecute you. The problem is that we have our expectations on people and get upset when they don’t meet our expectations. Maybe you had expectations on a Christian that were way too high.

 

Your expectations should be as high as they can be on Jesus and Jesus only.

Jesus is the same yesterday, today forever. He’s consistent. Not saying you can’t have the wrong expectations on Jesus. I’m just saying you can’t you can’t have high enough expectations on Jesus. He’s never gonna let you down. He’s with you no matter what. But that expectation level is reserved for Him. I want us to be the kind of congregation that has healthy expectations on people because people need grace.

 

Jesus knows what betrayal is like because he was betrayed by one of his closest friends. Jesus had twelve guys that he spent every day with. Judas was one of his most trusted guys. Judas was in charge of keeping the money. But one day, Judas made an deal with the leading priests to capture Jesus.

 

Matthew 26:48-50

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

 

Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

 

Talk about personal betrayal. Judas could have given any signal. He could have walked up behind Jesus and pointed at him and said, “This is the guy.” Instead he chose to give Jesus a kiss that’s reserved for his closest friends. Jesus responded by calling him friend. If you were to look at the other gospel accounts, they all say the same thing. That Jesus looked him in the eyes, receive the betrayal, and called him friend. I think Jesus knew a little something about expectations. His expectations were high on God, not on people. His expectations on Judas was that he was human and that eventually he would let him down. The only one who doesn’t let us down is God. Let’s ask God to align our expectations higher on him and not on people. If you don’t, you will find yourself in a betrayal dungeon.

 

Betrayal leads to disillusionment and bitterness.

 

Disillusionment is when you start making vows because you realized people will betray you and let you down. Someone that is disillusioned might say something like, “I’m never loaning money to anybody ever again, because that guy screwed me over.” Now they are going to put themselves first to make sure they’re good. “If nobody looks out for me, I’ll make sure I look out for me.” That my friend, is the opposite of the life that God wants you to live. The Bible says, “The world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller, the world of the generous gets larger and larger.” The world of the stingy is a dungeon. Your world will be tiny. Instead be willing to put other people’s needs before yourself, even if that means they betray you. If you go in with those kind of expectations, that’s the kind of man and woman that God can trust with the big world.

 

Hearts don’t get healed in dungeons.

Hearts gets healed in the hands of Jesus.

 

Maybe you’re reading this today and you’ve got a broken heart. God can heal you. Nothing’s impossible with God. But if you live in a dungeon, you aren’t letting Him heal you. Get out of the dungeon. Let God lead you to a place of forgiveness. I dare you to just make a vow to yourself. Not that you’ll never trust again. Make a vow to yourself that you’ll never talk trash about that person ever again. If you can do that, God’s able to start healing you.

If you’re supposed to become like Jesus, how are you ever going to learn how to forgive if God doesn’t let somebody hurt you? We have to have thick skin but a soft heart. Tell God, “I’m gonna lower my expectations on others, but raise them on You.” We want to be the kind of people who extend grace and forgiveness and are not easily offended. Not saying you’re never going to get betrayed. I’m just saying, you’re gonna give it to God when it happens. You’re not going to vow to close your heart off.

 

Hebrews 12:15

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.

 

I want you to live a life not where everything’s perfect, but where God is with us in everything. So that when people see your life, it demands an explanation for the God that we love and worship. They go, “How come you’re not bitter?” You respond with, “Well, let me tell you about the God has forgiven me of so much crap. There is no room for me to be bitter.” I’m not telling you to fake it. I’m telling you to make a vow today, I’m not going to talk about that person anymore. Then watch God bless and heal that heart. Let’s start the journey of forgiveness today.

 

Pastor Justice Coleman
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