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Well…we made it back!  A little more junk, a lot more tired, sick of each other, and happy to have spent so much time together!  Yes, that’s an oxymoron isn’t it?

SILVER DOLLAR CITY AT CHRISTMAS:  A MUST SEE!   I have a TON of pictures of it, but that will have to wait for another day.  I must get this lesson finalized for tomorrow. 

SO, here we go…I took the lesson with me, and it’s all joggled around in my head, let’s hope it comes out alright. EEK!

I have to be honest here for a second, totally, blatantly, VERY honest:  I do not like arrogant teenagers.

Yes.  I work with teenagers.

And no, I still do not like arrogant teenagers.  At.All.  Period.

Oh yes, I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about, the ones that KNOW it ALL and don’t mind telling you about it.  Oh and the ones that KNOW IT ALL and make sure you feel really stupid whenever they talk to you.   Somehow, they imagine, that ALL that intelligence YOU gained in school and college, has suddenly flown RIGHT out of your brain.  And that NOTHING in the years that separate us, has given you ANYMORE knowledge….we are all stupid but them. 

THOSE teenagers.  UGH! 

And today’s lesson is about one those.  Joseph…poor stupid, favored Joseph….only by the grace of GOD did HE live to tell the story! 

And this lesson has Stages to it.  Just because it’s MY lesson and I’m putting it in Stages of Joseph’s life.  😉

The first Stage is:

I don’t know what I don’t know:   This is the phase of ignorance that we all start out on.  Oh yes…..we ALL start there.  No one is exempt from this one.  Hopefully, we move ON from this stage, but sadly, some don’t.  A LOT don’t.  

This Stage is where you are completely oblivious to everyone else around you.  You are only aware of yourself:  your needs, your ideas, your opinions, your desires, etc etc.  You are aware of OTHERS around you, but you really couldn’t care less.  It’s all about ME. 

(Really a sad Stage.)

Jacob (from last weeks lesson) favored Joseph above his other siblings because Joseph was born to him in his old age.  

Again, let me interject a little wisdom here for all of us parents.  We do not have favorites.  Or at least we shouldn’t.  My lovely children-of-the-corn know that MY favorite is whoever is being good at the time.   And I joke with them all the time how Austin is my favorite if he’ll get me a Pepsi from the fridge.  And then Chandler’s my favorite because he fed the dog.   Brooklyn’s my favorite if she got her shoes on first, etc etc.  It is a joke and they all know it.  I hope.  We’ll talk again just in case.  But the point is, I have 2 boys, and then I had my girl.  Everyone KNOWS how much I desired a girl, but that does NOT make her my favorite.  It makes her the one I get to dress up and do stupid girl stuff with.  I did the stupid BOY stuff with the boys too when they were that age, they just don’t remember that stuff.  LOL  Matching clothes and playing dinosaurs and superheroes…naming all the heavy equipment because my Dad drove them, and even learning dumb songs that go with all of them (My name is Stegasaurus…I’m a funny looking dinosaur….oh yes, I do still know all the songs!  LOL).  I love my children differently to a degree, but I love them all the SAME.  I can play dress up with Brooklyn.  I can have a serious conversation on pretty much any subject with Austin.  I can draw and tell jokes with Chandler.  I love them differently, but the same amount.  Make sense?

Well, Jacob, again, grew stupid in his old age and the entire family knew that Joseph was his favorite.

And Joseph didn’t fall far from that stupid tree because he made sure that his entire family KNEW about this dream of his.   Joseph the Dullard either didn’t realize his brothers hated him and this would make them hate him MORE, or, he didn’t care.  Either way….DUH UHHHHHHH!!!  He not only tol d them ONCE, he told them TWICE! 

Dream #1:  Gen. 37:6-7  Please hear this dream which I have dreamed!  There we were binding sheaves in the field.  Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright;  and indeed YOUR sheaves stood all around and bowed down to MY sheaf!

I love the brothers repy:  Shall you indeed reign over us?  Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?  So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

That’s the part I want to point out:  they already didn’t like Joseph with the fancy coat, but Joseph made sure they KNEW he was the favored one.  He rubbed it in their faces.

Please, let’s watch our words.  They are powerful. 

Stage #1:  Ignorance. 

Stage 2:  I know what I don’t know:  Through life changing events in Joseph’s life, he quickly opens his eyes to the world around him.  WOW!  There’s PEOPLE out there and they REALLY don’t like me!  Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut!  (Dana’s interpretation 😉  )

Joseph went through hell in a sort:  escaped a plot to kill him by being sold into slavery.  But through all of this, the Bible tells us that God was with Joseph.  These were really hard times for Joseph.  He lost his family, everything he ever knew, and was thrown into a role of servanthood instead of being served as he was no doubt used to.  But through all of the things he went through, God was with him and was molding his character into someone God wanted to use.  Which leads us to….

Stage #3:  I know and grow.   This is the stage I hope everyone eventually gets to.  This is the stage where all the things you have learned not only mentally, but emotionally and spiritually begin to GROW and people notice the change in you.  I don’t just have the MENTAL knowledge, I have the experience with God to show as well, and it is evident to the people around me.  MATURITY in your faith.  Awwwww….is this making sense now? 

I think I may have FINALLY reached this stage in my life.  I thought I had before….but God was not done perfecting me and I’ve learned a lot.  I am by no means DONE learning….oh not even CLOSE, but I’ve reached that stage where the evidence of the maturity is there.  Or at least, glimpses of it between the STUPID things I still say and do.  I’m still not perfect. 😉  And I am a big enough girl to know this. 

BUT, my effort into knowing and learning about God is there with a closer relationship with God. 

Joseph showed evidence of his maturity and because of it was promoted to second in command of what was, the most powerful nation on earth!  His experiences he had, he allowed to MOLD his character into a Godly man!

I cannot TELL you how many people I know that have hit hard times, hit bad times, and instead of learning and GROWING and maturing from them, they allow them to hold them back.  In a sort of mental and emotional cage, if you will.  Too afraid and bitter to allow God to help them, they just hunker down and wait for it all to be over.   Oh I know I have done the same thing in my life, so NO judgement from me!  But, being older and wiser, I can recognize it for what it was:  hiding and not growing.  Not seeking God’s counsel and wisdom and comfort and LOVE to help me out of my cage!  Nope, I just sit there in the fetal position in the cage, sucking my thumb.  I’ll just wait it out. 

But in THIS stage, we recognize WHO God is and who I am in Christ, and THAT grows us!  This is an EXCITING stage!  Probably one I’m still sitting in, but again, I’m not perfect and I know this.  But this next stage is what keeps me GOING and GROWING!

Stage #4:  Doing what God called us to do.  Joseph by this point is a VERY powerful man!  And he is doing exactly what God called him to do!  He has essentially helped an entire nation during the worst famine they have ever known by listening and OBEYING God!  Through those dreams God gave him, and the experiences that he had in his life, he had the maturity to KNOW what he needed to do:  and that was flat LISTEN and do what God told him to do. 

Oh yes…..and those naughty brothers that sold him into slavery and hated him…..(and this is probably how I know I am still not here yet, part of me would have wanted to REALLY make them squirm!  LOL) Joseph had EVERY opportunity and authority to do his brothers REAL harm, and yet, he CHOSE not to! 

Genesis 50:19 says:  Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?  But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day…..and he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Joseph fully realized that God was always with him, and used all those horrible experiences to grow him and mature him and because of his maturity in Christ, was able to forgive those that hurt him.  And he spoke kindly to them.

I have to be honest here and say there are a few people that have hurt me along the way that I am not sure I would be able to speak kindly to.  I’d love to think I could, but if I was honest, it would only be by the GRACE OF GOD that I didn’t spit in their face.  Yes, that’s harsh and gross, but I would be a big fat liar if I didn’t speak the truth.  

But, I am also aware of areas that I have grown and matured, and when confronted on the occassion of having to be in the same place with people that have hurt me…..well, I faired pretty well.  I sure didn’t LIKE being with them, I didn’t do anyone any physical harm, and there was no spit flying out of my mouth.  I was able to smile and give the kind word and then quickly move on before something happened that made me rethink my firm hold on Christ…. 😉  And it was ONLY by the grace of God Almighty that helped me to do that.

Wow….maybe I’m moving up to the 4th Stage by DEGREES.  A little toe here….maybe a whole ARM there…..maybe eventually my entire body will be there…..maybe….if I keep working on myself…. 😉

Our goal is not to STAY in the Ignorant Stage.  We are to move PAST that.  Our GOAL should be:  making it all the way up to where God is able to USE US.  And that is where I’m at:  I WANT God to use me!  I WANT to go to Cambodia and China and Mexico or WHEREVER and work with the orphans!  I honestly wouldn’t mind going and STAYING. 😉  Mike isn’t there yet though…..we’re working on him. LOL 

 But I WANT God to use me no matter where I’m at.   I want to please Him and be the person He wants me to be.   That’s my goal….and I’m getting there….slowly….but I’m getting there.

Homework.  It’s my blog and I can give homework!  LOL  I want you to take an HONEST look at yourself and ask God to show you what Stage you are at.  Are you still ignorant of the people around you…skating through life.  Are you in the midst of the hard times where you are finding out there is something more out there and God is molding you?  (Part of me is STILL here! LOL)  Are you growing?  People noticing the Christ in you?  Or are you fully where God is able to use you beautifully?  What a wonderful place to be! 

We want to be where we can see things through GOD’S eyes and GOD’s perspective, and not our own.   Crisis doesn’t necessarily make character, but it DOES definitely reveal it:  good or bad.  We need to be able to grow GODLY character and in times of adversity, it will show.

Oh yes….I can hear it now:  Dana….your CHARACTER is showing! 🙂