THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER
This is a fun one, because this is where we talk about a move that you see all the time in Mixed Marshall Arts Fighting. And the move is called the choke out; this when you choke someone out, they lose oxygen, they either get scared and tap out or they literally pass out. Both happen all the time; it’s very, very common. The choke out is one of the signature moves to take someone down. I believe that there’s an enemy trying to choke out your dreams, trying to cut off oxygen from your vision. I want to talk about a guy in scripture named Joseph. Joseph had a great dream. He had this dream that he was going to be a leader. Not an uncommon dream, a lot of people dream of being a great leader, and that’s what he dreamed of. The problem was it didn’t go very well in his life. He had all kinds of problems for many, many years. He had many reasons to believe his dream was going to be choked out. And maybe that’s you today, maybe you’ve got a dream, but you feel like it’s being choked out of you. So what do you do in that situation? Let’s look at some scripture and let’s learn how to avoid destiny blackout; how to keep your vision from getting choked out. Pull out your notes if you would, we’re going to be looking at Genesis chapter 37, 38, 39, 40, and 41. We’re going to be skimming this story very quickly to pull out some morsels and nuggets about how we can avoid destiny blackout. Let’s start in Genesis chapter 37 verses 5 through 8. Just to give you a little background real quick: Joseph was the son of his father and mother, but his father had another wife. This was very common back in the day. And so Joseph’s brothers come from another mother and the same dad, then Joseph comes from the same dad, but a different mom, so basically, all these brothers didn’t really like Joseph much. So now Joseph goes from favored son, to hated son, to slaved son, right? To slave in the crazy home, to slave now in prison. God blessed Potiphar’s home just because Joseph was there. Could it be said of you and me; just because we are in our office, our office gets blessed? Just because you’re in your family, the family is blessed. Could it be said just because you’re in this church, our church is blessed? Just because you’re here, just because you showed up, we’re blessed. The truth is some people are just a blessing with whatever they do. I love people like that; don’t you love people like that? Did you know it says that in scripture that Potiphar had no worries? He’s like everything’s fine, I don’t, I don’t even have anything to do anymore. Why? Josephs got it covered. Then Joseph ends up in jail and Joseph took care of the jail. He had that jail spic and span, like unbelievable. I mean it was crazy. I’m telling you, Joseph had the skills to pay the bills. This guy had some talent. He could organize anything, everyone liked him, he’d get everyone in teams and get everything happening, get everything going smoothly. He organized them; it says the jailer had no worries because of Joseph. That’s how good he was at what he did. What does that teach us? Number two: Never allow setbacks and false accusations to choke out the dream. Just because you got a setback, and I mean this is a bad setback. I’m pretty sure you’ve had a setback, but I don’t see you being sold into slavery. That’s a setback. Now look, I know your spouse may have left you, but you weren’t sold into slavery by your spouse. Listen, I know some bad things have happened to you at work, but no one owns you. I mean that’s bad, that’s real bad. And then when you’re owned, you’re falsely accused and thrown into a prison. This, this is going from bad to worse. Joseph by the way ends up in the king’s prison, the king’s dungeon. That’s a different place. This is not, this is, this is not where most criminals go. This is a special prison, and this prison is for people that are doing the white collar crime. Anyone who did the other crimes just got killed frankly. They didn’t have a prison population issue, they killed everybody. Because that was not a problem. I mean they, they really saved a lot of money on prisons. They’re like oh, let’s just kill him. Okay no problem, that’s cheap, a lot cheaper to just to grab a knife, slit a throat, we’re done, bury him, okay we’re good. And so they didn’t have that as an issue. They had a small prison, but the prison was for special people that, that the king was punishing for a season, okay. And so Potiphar, because he was in charge of the king’s guard, which means he oversaw the prison, knew he had access to this prison. Joseph ends up in that prison. I wonder how much knowledge Joseph acquired from this prison. See it’s one thing to go serve hard time in some very difficult maximum, you know maximum security prisons. I mean you’re going to learn all kinds of bad things, but if you go to a white collar crime minimum security prison, you actually may get a good education. I mean if my cell mate is Martha Stewart, I can learn a whole lot about business for a couple years. Does that make sense? And so again, I’m not saying that’s actually good, but you can learn a lot from, from certain people that end up in prison. So he was in the right prison. If you could be, he was in the right prison, you know if there is such a thing. So he’s around some, some of the right people. Sometimes the people that, that turn on you, and hurt you, and, and place you in a bad position, are placing you in a bad. You know what we focus on? We focus on the bad position, and what we don’t focus on is why we are in this bad position. Maybe there’s a good connection in the bad position. Maybe there’s some good. I’m going to say that again. Maybe there’s a good connection in a bad position. Maybe there’s someone there you’re going to meet, you’re going to get to know that’s going to be a huge relationship for you down the road. And so there are some critical hook ups, some critical connections that may be happening. Even when you’re in the worst of jobs, maybe they are too. You’re in the worst of situations, maybe they are two. And rather than just somehow believing everyone around you is just supposed to be at that level, and just you’re not. Maybe there not either and God brought you there together to hook up relationally, I’m not necessarily saying a dating relationship or anything like that. Maybe just a friendship, a connection. And so Joseph gets to meet some pretty important people. He gets to know some people that work for the king. And the kings are temperamental, they get mad and I’ll send the cup bearer down to the prison for a couple days; send the baker down to the prison for a couple days. That’s what happens here. And so now these guys are in prison and so because of this, they, you know they’re obviously very upset, they have dreams. You know we tend to dream what’s going on in our lives a lot of times. We tend to dream stuff. And he, they had these dreams. They get so frustrated with a dream, not knowing what it means that they go to Joseph. They said you know we heard that you’re kind of a dreamer; we heard you had a dream one time. Could you help us interpret our dream? It’s interesting that they go to Joseph about their dream, which means Joseph must still be talking about his. It’s really important to keep your dream alive that you never quit talking about it. Now, you need to talk about it in front of the right people, but you need to keep talking about it. Joseph is still dreaming the dream. And there’s the evidence; he did not give up on his dream, even though he was a falsely accused, imprisoned slave. This is not the position you want to be in. What did he do? He said you know I’m here, I’m stuck here, what am I going to do? I’m going to make this the nicest prison around. And that’s exactly; he started serving everyone around him. Look at Genesis 40 verse 12 through 15. After he interprets the baker’s dream, which doesn’t go so well. He says man, I heard your dream, I hate to say this, but I think God’s told me what your dream is. I think you’re going to die in three days and I’m really sorry. The baker flips out, he’s mad obviously. Unfortunately, three days later, that dream comes true. The cup bearer of the king, who apparently the king was also mad at, sent him to the dungeon, was also in there, says here’s my dream. And then he interpreted it, look what he says: “Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position; and you will put Pharaoh’s cup into 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. For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.” He says yo man, I’m innocent. How many times has that been said in prison, right? Sure you are. But in this case and there are cases where people truly are innocent. I mean it does happen. As much as we want to believe everyone’s guilty there, there really are some people that are truly innocent. Now there’s a lot of people that are not, they’re just in denial. But there are a few that truly are innocent, and Joseph truly was at this point. He says to the cup bearer: you know what I think? God’s going to allow you by his grace in three days to be restored to what you used to do for the king, and listen, when you get there, hook a brother up. Could you tell the king of my talents, could you tell him how comfortable you were down here, how nice and clean it is as opposed to the last time he got mad at you and threw you down here. Now Joseph’s down here, it’s all nice and clean, here’s my e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org, have him e-mail me, you know I’d love to hook up. I can tell them about my old member’s only jacket I got. You know I mean, I could tell him my story, you know he’s like I can really help the king out, I got some skills, I can help the guy out. Please let him know about me, right. So what happens? Look at Genesis chapter 40 verse 23: “The chief cup bearer however, did not remember Joseph, he forgot him.” Man, this is so typical isn’t it? He’s like okay, let me get this straight. I hook you up, you come down here, I get you a nice comfortable bed, you’re hungry, who gets you the food? Joseph. Who takes care of you? Joseph. Who makes sure they’re not beating up on you? Joseph. Who gives you even an interpretation of your dream? Joseph. So you go back to the king and do you remember Joseph? No, we forget about Joseph. Why? Because we’re good, because we’re comfortable, we’re alright. Have you ever taught someone something, taught them something big time, and it helped elevate their position, and when they get in the position, they forgot about you? Have you ever made your boss look good, and they get a raise off of the work you did, and then the boss tells you, sorry man, not this year? Have you ever helped someone through college and the moment they’re through college, they’re also happened to be through with you? Have you ever helped someone make a connection with someone, and the moment you need some help, they’re suddenly not available. Have you ever trained someone in your company and then all of a sudden, they step out and become your competitor? You think, you’ve got a be kidding me. I do all this for this person and you just forget about me. You forget all I’ve done for you, all the help I’ve been, all the ways I’ve connected you, and helped bring you up and then you blow me off, you got a be kidding me. You know what you learn in that situation? You learn, like the cup bearer, you learn that the cup bearer you thought was your friend, really what it was, he was your friend when he needed you, but the moment he didn’t need you anymore, when it actually served his purpose better; he just stepped right over you like they step on people to get to where they want to go. Happens doesn’t it? It happens. And you learn someone wasn’t a friend, they were an opportunist. What do you do when you’ve been forgotten, when someone’s hurt you, when someone’s turned on you, what do you do, do you get angry? I’m so mad, I can’t believe, and the next _____ _____comes to prison, hey how you doing? What’s your name? Oh, oh yeah, nice to meet you, so you’re the new baker, yeah, nice to meet you. You got in throne in prison too. Oh let me tell you about that cup bearer you got. You know that cup bearer? Let me tell you something about him. Does Joseph do that? Hm mm, what does he do? He prays, he says save us O Lord, he keeps serving, he says you know what? God has a purpose in this. I’m not going to worry about it. Let me ask you a question. Do you remember your God when things are going bad? Don’t you realize that the problems are a test? The whole purpose of your pain is God’s asking one question and one question only; do you really love me or do you love my stuff? Do you love me or do you love what I can do for you? Are you really into me or are you into what you may get if you follow me? So sometimes the Lord will allow you to not get his stuff, to not get the holy hookup, to not get all that he has for you. Why? Because he wants to know your heart. Are you going to worship God when you don’t feel it? Are you going to honor him when it’s not going well? Are you going to love your spouse three kids later, 25 pounds later? You going to love your spouse when they lose their hair? This is really important to me, really, really important to me. (Laughter) Are you going to love your spouse when things are not going well in the marriage? Are you going to still work for your company when they can’t bonus you? Are you still going to be faithful to your friends, even when they hurt you, didn’t even mean to, or maybe they meant to and you just forgive like we realize we’re all in the human condition and we are to forgive one another, because we all offend each other? Or the moment something happens, boom, I’m done with you. Oh God, I served you but then this happened to me so forget it, I’m done worshiping you. Well you know I was going to tithe, but I’m down financially. Oh really? So the tithe is about the last ten percent, it’s what you have left, because you finally have enough to actually give God something. Or is it about saying God, things are tight, I don’t know where we’re going to pay for this and that, but you know what? I am going to love you, and be faithful to you, and I’m going to give to your house, because you know why? You’ve been faithful to me God. What’s it about? It’s a test of the heart isn’t it? It’s always a test of the heart. Hard times test our heart.
So what does Joseph do, number three: he never gives up. And we are never to give up. Spurgeon one time said, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, because you’ll know that he’s a dead preacher, I love quoting dead preachers. This guy was amazing, incredible man of God. He said this one time; he said triumph is just umph added to try. We just need to add some umph to or try. Don’t quit, don’t give up, don’t give in, just keep going, just keep trying. Maybe God had you hear this message at this moment to tell you loud and clear; don’t you dare quit, God’s still in it, he’s not done with you. When he is done with you, you’ll know it because you can give him glory for all he’s going to do. That’s the way God works. So what does Joseph do? Joseph stays faithful, he hangs in there, he keeps the place organized, he keeps the jail going, everything’s going smooth for him. The jailer had no worries because Joseph was in charge. Finally what happens, the king has a problem. And by the way, the number one way that you can be elevated to work in front of kings is that you solve everyone’s problems along the way. Did you catch that? Just solve everyone’s problem along the way, eventually the king. Listen: you know how God elevates you? He gives a bigger problem. People that do great things in the world, they just solve bigger problems. You, you want to, you want to be world renowned, solve world renowned problems, that’s how you do that. And so the king says, I had this dream and I don’t know what it means. And he brings all of his philosophers and sorcerers in and he says, what do you guys think this means, his magicians, everybody. _____ them all, what do you guy’s thing this means. Ah, ah, ah, do you know, I don’t know what…oh I think it means that you are a nice man and that you are. Uh-uh, don’t philosophize with me; tell me what it means. Well it means that you’re all powerful, and you’re really good looking, and no one’s really noticed the hair loss, and I think you’re a great guy. Stop it. What does this mean? Sire, we, we, we don’t know, we have no idea. Get out of here, get away from me. Does anyone know what this dream means? And the cup bearer holding that cup, just sat there and went oh, ding, ding, ding, finally about time. He goes sir, I’m kind of a little embarrassed, I just now remember this guy, I got his e-mail somewhere, his name is Joseph. He’s in your dungeon. Anyways, if you got to dungeon.com, you’ll see him there; he’s on the front cover, because he keeps the whole place up. Anyway, he’s a great guy. Ah, his name’s Joseph. In interpreted a dream for me and it came true. Well what was your dream? Well the dream was that three days after you put me to prison, that three days, that was my dream while I was in the prison, that you’d restore me and here I am you know, giving you your wine, which by the way, thanks for the job back. But he’s in prison and you know he interpreted my dream and he was dead on. Well how do you know he’s that good? Well because he also interpreted, remember the old baker? Oh yeah, I remember him. Yeah, he interpreted he was going to die before you killed him. He says you’re kidding me. He says yeah, he’s really accurate. Alright, bring him up; I want to meet this guy. Joseph gets his shot. So he comes up, he gets cleaned up, puts on his nice prison clothes; you know gets all shaved up, he’s good. He goes in front of the king and what does he say to the king. It’s very important what he says. He says I don’t interpret dreams, but my God does, and may my God have favor on this now. How can I interpret your dream? He brings God up right away, in front of a king. You don’t do that. The kings supposed to be God. And he acknowledges in front of the king, I have a God. Hate to break it to you, you’re not it. I have a God and he will interpret your dream. And so then the king told him the dream. He says man, I had this crazy dream, this happens and that happens, and so there’s these fat cows and these skinny cows, this is crazy you know. And so he says oh, I know what this means: the first seven years of the next seven years in the economy are going to be great. I mean things will be blowing and going, everything’s going to be awesome, everybody’s going to be building fat houses everywhere, the stock markets going to be going straight up, it’s all going to be good. Then the next seven years, it all falls apart. And then he says this, it’s very interesting. He says now what you want to do in the first seven years king, if you don’t mind me giving you advice, is you want to save 20% of the gross national product over the next seven years. The king says that’s genus. And he says if you do that, then you will have so much grain that all the world will come and borrow from you, and you’ll basically be China. Oh, okay, that’s awesome, that’s brilliant right. So we’ll save all this money. Basically at this point, he says that’s a plan that I just, you don’t have to do that king, but that’s what I would do. That’s what the dream means. I would save everything up for the next seven years, because the next seven years are going to be pretty tough and you’re going to need to have something. The king says woo, this guys brilliant. So he must turn to the cup bearer and go: you vouch for this guy? The cup bearer’s like, yeah, he’s unbelievable, alright, sitting there holding his cup, ya know, he’s like yeah, this guy, I’m telling you, you need to go look at that dungeon, you’re not going to believe how nice, you wouldn’t even think it’s a dungeon anymore, it’s crazy man. They changed the name of the dungeon, it’s like dungeon a la beautiful, it’s crazy. (Laughter) You should see it down there, right. And so then at some point, at some point Potiphar could have spoke up and said hold on, this guy raped my wife, you got a be kidding me. Notice he doesn’t do that. What does that tell ya? See that’s why I believe my, my theory’s right, because he could have said, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, this guy, uh-uh, no. We are not letting him become the leader of Russia, you got a be kidding. This guy was all over my wife man, you got a be kidding me. And he doesn’t say that, he says sir, probably a good move. Because I got admit, my household was running good. We always want to run stuff. Let’s make, oh I want to run this big organization. Really, are you running your own checkbook good? Ah man, I want to organize this whole office. What does the trunk of your car look like? (Laughter) Oh I’m sorry, let me get out of there, I’m going to back up, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. See the thing is, we all want to step up and run all this stuff; are, are you running what you got? Why don’t we start with that, run that well first, okay? And so what does the, what does the king do, Genesis 41:39: then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace and all my people are to submit to your orders, only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” He says only because I’m the king, am I going to be over you. Do you understand how humble that was for the king to say? The only reason that I’m even over you frankly, is because I’m in charge, but you’re that sharp. So what happens to Joseph? Favorite kid, hated kid, enslaved kid, enslaved to crazy person, falsely accused, enslaved and in prison, and then when God wants to do his work, he can grab a hold of you and say now you are ready for what I have. Listen, that’s the way God works. He will take you from the most obscure place and raise you up. That’s what God does.
So what are we supposed to do? Be like Joseph, number four: He did what he could with what he had, where he was. He was good at organizing and he could tell some dreams.
And he just kept organizing and telling dreams, and organizing and telling dreams, and administrating and telling dreams, and working hard and telling dreams, and eventually God used that to raise him to the highest heights. Now favorite part of story: Joseph right, this is so cool. Joseph’s brothers eventually, okay let’s fast forward 14 years later, right. Now we’re in the middle of this famine, or we’re at least 7 years in. Famine hits us bad, couple years into the famine, we’re probably 9, 10 years in; his brothers show up to Egypt, they’re so hurting. All the world is walking their way to Egypt, because they hear there’s grain there. They all show up, they’re giving; I mean it’s unbelievable; this is like Egypt becomes the worldwide pawn shop. People are like alright man, I got this, I got these three donkeys, I’ll give you three donkeys and two camels for that one bag of grain. I mean they’re making deals that are ridiculous, right? That’s how pawn shops survive, because they’re like oh man, that one thousand dollar _____ ten speed, I’ll give you a hundred bucks for it. And the guys so desperate, he’s like sure that’d be great, I need the hundred dollars, right. And so they’re doing deals that you just wouldn’t do unless you’re desperate. So they’re like alright, you can have all this stuff, you can half my household if you’ll just give me three more weeks worth of food. I mean that’s how bad things are, right? And Joseph’s not gouging, but the price of grains going up, and going up, and going up on the market, I mean they are just making money hand over fist, crazy money, right? So Joseph is now the man, he’s in charge of the whole place, he’s on the cover of Egyptian People Magazine. I mean this guy’s got it going on. He’s got the bling, bling, man, he’s got the chariot with the spinners, I’m telling you, he had it happening. (Laughter) He had a life that was unbelievable, right? He’s got all these workers, and servants, and his whole family’s married, and now he’s got kids, I mean all, the whole deal, right? He’s got the Egyptian look going down now, he scraped the whole Hebrew look, he’s got the Egyptian look going down. All of a sudden his Hebrew brothers show up. And they show up and they’re like excuse me sir, we understand this is where you get grain. And Joseph recognized them and he’s like oh my goodness. And so he tells them, finally he reveals himself, this is over a series of events, I don’t have time to go into it. He reveals himself, he pulls off his Egyptian you know, gear and he’s like yo man, I’m just going to undo my hair. Look, I’m Joseph, I’m, I’m that kid that, remember me, I’m the one you sold, I, I, that’s me. They freak out; they’re like oh my goodness. No way your Joseph. He gives them grain. What does that mean? That means his dream came true. Their grain, their production, their leadership bowed to his. He gave them the grain. That’s not my favorite part, I got two favorite parts, here it is. It’s my favorite, one of my favorite, first, first favorite part is this: What if the people who have hurt you the most, God is going to raise you up. You got to be comfortable with this, God may raise you up to save the very people who have hurt you. Wow, God may raise you up to help those who didn’t help you.
Second favorite part of this, is that the boys did not recognize Joseph. What does that tell me? It tells me that when God is through with you: your friends, your family, you go back to the high school reunion, the family reunion, they’re going to go that isn’t you. Come on, is that, is that little Joe, is that little Joe, you got to be kidding me? The dude who’s in charge of all of Egypt, he’s got all this stuff going on and he pulls up in the bling, ling chariot, I mean, it is you? Because when God is done with you, he has so much planned for you that your friends and family from way back won’t even recognize you; that’s how much God has planned for you. So I want to encourage you. The heart of this message is really simple: Do what you can with what you have, where you are. I got a question for you and we’re going to close. The question is this. When people say I just, I’m choking out man, I can’t go any longer, I can’t. Really? You really can’t go any longer; I mean you’re really done? I’m not sure I buy it. I’m not sure I really believe there’s nothing else you can do. Oh marriage is just over, there’s just nothing else I can do. Really? Why don’t you go home and vacuum today? That’s something you can do. Man, there’s just nothing I, nothing else I can do on my job. Really, nothing at all? Yeah, just, just nothing. Why don’t you go clean the office? Clean the office, what are you talking about man. We have people to do that. Why don’t you help them? There’s just nothing I can do man, you just don’t understand, I, I, I, just, I just can’t lose weight. I mean I’ve been on diet, after diet, after diet. Well why don’t you just actually stick to one, that’s a shock? You mean, oh wow, stick to one, I’ve never done that. (Laughter) Are you sure there’s nothing you can do? My health is just over with, it’s just done, there’s just nothing I can do. I don’t buy it. There’s always something you could do. You can write down something from this message. Write this down: There’s always something else I can do. Business owner; my business is going under, it’s just done, there’s just nothing else I can do. Really, there’s nothing? Because I bet there are ten options and you’re just too arrogant to try. Or dare I say some of us need to hear this: Maybe you’re too humble to try. It’s time to get over yourself either way and say you know what, there’s something left to do. I’m going to give this a shot, I’m not done. There’s always something else, there’s always another option. God makes a way where there is no way. When God opens a door, no man can shut it. That’s the point. (Crowd noise and applause) There’s always something else, don’t quit. Let’s not quit, God’s not done with you. Lets pray. With your head bowed and your eyes closed, I just want to encourage you as we pray. Maybe your prayer today is if you don’t know Christ, is to receive him in your life. You can pray a simple prayer and ask Jesus to come into your heart right now. You can say Dear Jesus: I realize I need you in my life. I believe he died on the cross for me to pay the price for my sins. That you rose again from the grave, proving that you’re God. And I ask you to come into my heart and change me from within. I want to make you the boss, the Lord, the coach of my life; I put you in charge. I want to follow you from this day forward. As much as I understand, I want to make you the boss, the leader. And I thank you that you died on the cross for me.
With your head bowed and your eyes closed, if you just prayed that pray, Christ comes into your life. Maybe your prayer today is that you’re already a Christ follower, maybe your prayer is to say God, I’ve given up hope and I shouldn’t. I refuse to allow those people, that person, or this situation to choke my dream out. I’m going to refuel my dream and the fuel is always the same, it’s faith. Refuel your dream with faith again and do something. Well we love you, thank you for your word. I pray God that we follow you. Thank you God that we can reignite, re-enliven, refuel our dream. We refuse to allow our destiny to be choked out, in Jesus name, Amen, amen. Isn’t God good? (Applause) His word’s so good.