Sermon preached by Penny Wheble on the 16th February 2014 at St Martin's Church in Walsall
A police officer pulls over a speeding car.
The officer says, ‘I clocked you at 80 miles per hour, sir.’
The driver says, ' sorry sir, I had it on cruise control at 60; perhaps your radar gun needs calibrating.’
Not looking up from her knitting the wife says, ‘Now don’t be silly dear, you know this car doesn’t have cruise control!
As the officer writes out the ticket, the driver looks over at his wife and growls, ‘Can’t you please keep quiet for once??!!’
The wife smiles demurely and says, ‘You should be thankful your radar detector went off when it did.’
As the officer makes out the second ticket for the illegal radar detector unit, the man looks at his wife again and says through clenched teeth, ‘Woman, can’t you keep quiet?!!!!!!’
The officer frowns and says, ‘And I notice that you’re not wearing your seat belt, sir. That’s an automatic £80 fine.’
The driver says, ‘Yes, well, you see officer, I had it on, but took it off when you pulled me over so that I could get my licence out of my back pocket.’
The wife says, ‘Now, dear, you know very well that you didn’t have your seat belt on. You never wear your seat belt when you’re driving.’
And as the police officer is writing out the third ticket the driver turns to his wife and barks,
‘WILL YOU PLEASE BE QUIET!!!!!’
The officer looks over at the woman and asks, ‘Does your husband always talk to you this way,
Ma’am?’ and she said, ‘Only when he’s been drinking’.
You’ve heard the saying, “honesty is the best policy!”
In the story of Joseph in Egypt, God taught this lesson to Joseph’s brothers; and I believe it's a lesson for us as well today.
God used Joseph to reconcile the family of Israel. The reconciliation of Israel’s family was only possible with complete honesty and humility!
And looking back at our text this morning, there are a few important things we need to note:
Remember, the Sons of Israel sold Joseph and told their father that Joseph was killed by a wild animal.
But God was with Joseph and Joseph continued to worship God even as a slave in Egypt.
Because God blessed him, Joseph became Pharaoh’s second hand man.
When his brothers came to Egypt to get food, Joseph recognized his brothers but his brothers didn’t recognize Joseph.
Now, as we look at Genesis 44…..
Joseph planned to trap his brothers with a lie!
Joseph secretly placed his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack and then accused the brothers of stealing.
Why would Joseph do that?? First of all, how did the brothers respond?
The brothers knew they were innocent and so they were willing to pay the penalty if found guilty.
The brothers thought they were as clean as can be; they were so confident about their innocence almost to the point of arrogance! They were saying, “Bring it on!”
But when they found out that their youngest brother Benjamin had the stolen goods, how did they respond?
Verse 13 –‘And so, they all grieved and tore their clothes and they had no choice but to go back to Egypt’.
The brothers were found guilty even though they thought they were completely innocent!
Hear again what the brothers said to Joseph in v16……
The brothers were willing to pay the penalty but what did Joseph do? V17 tells us that Joseph focused on Benjamin!
Why did Joseph try to “trick” his brothers?
The answer is in v18-34 isn’t it? ‘Judah, representing all the brothers, honestly confessed everything to Joseph and willingly sacrificed himself’!
Was that what Joseph was looking for?
If we jump forward to Genesis 45:1-6 we see that God used Joseph to reconcile the family of Israel. The reconciliation of Israel’s family was only possible with complete honesty and humility!
The application to our lives is simple isn’t it?
You see, we can be partially honest with God and think we are alright.
But God is looking for complete reconciliation with us! In other words, it is possible for us to think we are alright when we are actually keeping God out in many areas of our lives! God’s desire is to be with us always, full-time not part-time!
A shoplifter wrote to a Department Store which said “I’ve just become a Christian and I can’t sleep at night because I feel guilty. So here’s £100 that I owe you” and signs his name. But he also wrote in the bottom of the letter, “P.S. If I still can’t sleep, I’ll send you the rest.”
I ask this question, are we completely honest with God or only partially honest?
Joseph had power to do whatever he wanted with his brothers who were guilty of sinning
Does God have the power to do whatever He wants with us sinners?? God has the power to judge us!
As hard as it may have been for Joseph, he planned a way to get the brothers to be completely honest with him.
And hard as it may be for God (God hurts when we ignore Him), God can set up a way for us to be completely honest with Him! God’s desire is for us to be in fellowship with Him all the time!
So I ask again - Are we completely honest with God? God will work on us till we are completely honest with Him! Are we hiding things from God? Let's not fool ourselves, God knows everything and He desires complete honesty from us!
Paul gives us some guidance in his letter to the Corinthians
‘Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realise that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong – not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth’. (2 Corinthians 13: 5-8)
Is Jesus Christ truly in us?
Your heart is the control room of your life; and in your control room is a throne. Always check your heart; is Jesus Christ, who we call Lord, really sitting on the throne of our hearts with every situation? Or are you or someone else or the world actually sitting on that throne and Jesus just at the side?
We must be truly honest with God about everything!
And let us not forget the GREAT NEWS that in spite of our sinfulness, God still loves us! Jesus Christ died for all our sins once and for all; there is no need to hide anything from God!
Does God know everything?? Absolutely!
Is there anything that can separate us from the love of God??
Why do we try and hide things from God?
Our dishonesty with God is like a veil between us and the light, we can interfere with God’s love although God’s love is always there!
And to be completely honest with God, we must Know the truth and live the truth!
The truth of course is God’s Word, the Bible!
Are we really knowing God’s Word on a daily basis?
Let us be honest, how much of God’s Word actually goes into our brains on a daily basis compared to other stuff like entertainment, man’s wisdom, or simply the news? Do we read our Bibles regularly? Do we spend time with God?
To live honestly and truthfully, we must be knowledgeable of God’s Word more than anything else!
How can we truly live out the truth when we don’t know it?
Please take a moment now to examine your hearts…….
Lord, you are the Word of God
and you have the word of life for us all.
You are the source of hope, joy and life for us,
Speak to our hearts those words we need to hear,
That our words and our deeds may find new life in you. Amen