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Lessons from the Dungeon (Part 1 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
November 30, 2020 3:00 am

Lessons from the Dungeon (Part 1 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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November 30, 2020 3:00 am

Why do we exist? Many of us ask this question, seeking assurance that our lives have purpose and meaning. Find out how one man confronted these issues while imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. That’s the subject on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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The if you've ever wondered about the purpose of life. You're not alone. There's been plenty of ink spilled trying to answer that question today on Truth for Life. Alistair Begg explains how Joseph in the Old Testament learned a lesson from the dungeon that provides the only answer to life's purpose and meaning invite you to take your Bibles and turn with me to Genesis and the 40th chapter you will recall that we left Joseph in the dungeon. We learned a number of lessons from his response to the circumstances and finalized our study last time by paying attention to the fact that he sees the opportunity even though his own predicament was grave to look out for the well-being of others and he did not miss the chance to help others. He could so easily have done so. As a result of some selfish preoccupation, but he exercised his responsibilities in this privilege is with great care and compassion, and particularly as we are told here in the lives of two individuals. Individuals who had identified as being a cop banner and the chief baker.

Now these two chaps find themselves in the jail and delivered in the same dungeon as the one in which we discovered Joseph and in the course of time were told that they had these dreams and in the course of Joseph's response to these dreams. We are going to discover a number of lessons.

Lesson number one living life with a God centered focus.

What is that mean well it's considered here as we see Joseph's response it comes forcibly in verse eight.

When these two characters come to him and say we both had dreams, but there is no one to interpret them. No notice Joseph's response there in the second half of verse eight he says do not interpretations.

The long to God. Do not interpretations belong to God. He is about to offer an explanation as to what has taken place. But before he steps to the fore with this explanation with this interpretation. He explains the fact that his perspective is very clear. It is God who is able to do what is about to happen.

He doesn't boast of his own quickness. He doesn't boast of his own clear sightedness.

He doesn't seek the opportunity to draw attention to himself.

He merely wishes to be known as a servant of God and that is an obvious and immediate lesson in this, especially for those who have been given unique gifts from God. Such individuals need to make sure that since they have become excellent. By God's hand. They better not ascribing too much attention to themselves for in doing so, they may well obscure the grace of God.

Now, this principle is not a principle that is simply an Genesis for its runs the whole way through the Bible and there is perhaps no more classic statement on it then is made by Jesus in John chapter 15 I like for you to turn it if you would just to see that to which I'm referring John chapter 15 Jesus makes it clear to his followers. I am the true vine, and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me and I will remain in you know branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me, I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. And here's the crucial phrase apart from me you can do nothing apart from me you can do nothing. Jesus means exactly what he says there if we understand the statement in Colossians 117 as being an all-encompassing statement when it says of Jesus that in him all things hold together. The fact is that none of eyes can even read without his enabling. We are absolutely impoverished without the divine help and when a man or a woman begins to live life with that kind of focus.

They are no longer living with a self-centered focus or with a circumstance centered focus, but they are beginning to live with a God centered focus and the way in which we react to circumstances reveals our focus and Joseph from the many colored coats to the pit to the back of the camel to plot diverse home to the dungeon is completely God centered in his focus. You don't have a litany here of Joseph feeling sorry for himself because he has a God centered focus in his life is not what we saw in Genesis 39 verse nine. How does he respond to the temptation and part of her. His wife comes on and in a God centered way. He doesn't respond by saying I don't.

And this is an expedient thing to do is respond by saying I think we may get caught. He does not respond in any of the ways he respond by immediately introducing God. How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God. Chapter 41 when Pharaoh dreams his dream and he comes to Joseph and he says, verse 1541 I had a dream knowing get interpreted but I have had it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret great opportunity for Joseph to say. Glad you heard Pharaoh. Yes, I am quite an interpreter of dreams.

I must say yes I interpret my own dreams. I've interpreted the cupbearer's dream bigger dream and that I'm really a dream machine and all-around remission.

Now all you like me to do for you. Fear not somebody sets. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it look the next four words I cannot do it. That's the first thing you have to know I cannot do if you think you can step aside if you think you should sit down if you think everyone's waiting to hear from you. Take a hike, but if you think you can do it. You may just be the person God is about delays and strange way of operation.

I can do a Joseph reply and notice the next two words these in the next two crucial words but God I can't. But God. That's what Jesus is saying to his disciples, he says, guys, I want you to understand. Apart from me you can do nothing. You needed me is not partial your need of me is total he flat out can do it that when you're prepared to understand that then we can talk from there and move forward. That's what it means to have a God centered focus and it is all about motivation of heart for God, who tests and knows the motives of our hearts deals with as according to the motivation of our hearts, and he will reward is according to the motivation of our hearts, and yet still we continue to judge people on the external activities and even may try to judge one another on the basis of Moses of our time will reveal all as it did here in the dungeon with Joseph. He doesn't draw attention to himself. He says I can do, but God will give the answer he desires later on in the chapter and verse 51 when his said two children are born to it. His first son is named the Nancy, and Joseph gives explanation as to why call the Manas. He said it is because God has made me forget all my trouble in my father's household and many second boy was born African descent is because God has made me fruitful. So whether it is facing the temptation of barter for whether it is in his experience of being dumped in the pit when it is in the interpretation of dreams or whether it is in the fathering of his children. At every point along the journey is centered is God. God centered, he realized that God's not going to share his glory with anybody else.

I tell you, there's a lesson from the dungeon here loved ones and to see the whole issue is that he looks at life from the bigger picture. He looks at life from the scheme of eternity. He looks at his unfolding circumstances in the light of history and he knows that he is simply a blip on the horizon that is medieval and and he also will be a figure of history. But while life's little day exits way out. He says I will live to the all honor and praise of God. I will live my life without God centered focus.

How about you, how about me you want to live with and I centered focus disappointment you want to live with a circumstance centered focus confusion.

The only way to his with a God centered focus for that is the only time we can be sure we're all looking in the same direction and where do we see God in Christ and how do we have them described in Hebrews 12, the author and finisher of our faith and what are we to do. We are to run the race that is set out before us, looking unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith others. Another element to this beyond the matter of the purely devotional because a God centered focus in outing in our life's this morning, cuts across the view of our contemporaries. Men and women throughout all of time have wrestled with the question posed in the psalmist words in Psalm eight what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the Son of Man that you should visit him. What is man that is the great question, and any of you have taken anthropology in college or university know that there is a tremendous amount of ink that is being spilled on trying to answer the question about our humanity. Who are we and why do we exist and all of those anthropologies and in confusion. Indeed, in the 60s when Lennon and McCartney wrote nowhere man. They were not simply describing an individual, they were essentially describing all corporate consciousness in a generation that was asking the question who am I why do I exist and where my going and was coming up dry every time they tried to answer and so they wrote. He's a real nowhere man living in his nowhere land making knowledge.

Nowhere plans for nobody is an expression of total futility and that's why in our university campuses today across some of the great campuses Britain full of young human potential that is dust of death which settles over scientific investigation and between the production of great literature and great art, and the absence of great art and great literature is directly related to getting the wrong answer to the question, what is man, and that is why so much contemporary art.

When you see it is so confusing to understand. You don't know where to stand on your head online on your site or whatever to do what what in the wide world is this song created will tell you sorry that is whatever you would like to do. You know, it sounds really centered trendy, but it's just bogus. And that's why you have to keep going back to a different centered perspective before you can get order and structure in art and full union order and structure in literature because the people wrote from a different focus. I'm speaking to some young people are going to go off and university I'm speaking to others who are here and you are reading books all the time you sit down there and you're getting these books from the self-help section you try to find yourself looking for yourself. I want to say you're there, you know know I'm looking for myself. I keep in these numbers is about people looking for themselves. I understand why because they don't have a God centered focus have to tell them you're going to find yourself do you meet God they don't know whether to view themselves in terms of spirituality in terms of rationality, as has been taught in classical philosophy and Eastern thought or whether they should view themselves as a great combination of physicality and materialism as Marx taught and all materialists and send an is the try and read this literature and find out who they are and what they are. They don't know whether to be pessimists with all the existentialists are whether to be optimistic with all the hedonists and so there like the guy in front of the 35 story window of the building. 35 stories up and as he passed the 20th floor somebody Aaron shouting so far so good. And that's largely way many people are living their lives, their living from Friday to Friday to Friday and it's so far so good. Turn up the music.

Give me another shot of courage they checked into the hotel California and they know they are checking out now. You see, the only answer is the answer that is provided here in the lesson from the dungeon from Jones. It is a God centered focus. The Christian view is the only answer listener John Calvin years and years ago the time of the Reformation. He says this man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself. He can never know who he is, unless he is forced Luke upon God's face and then descends from contemplating hitting to scrutinizing himself. You see the vital importance of a God centered focus in life without it, everything is turned on his head. Everything is upside down. The Bible is absolutely clear is unashamed or I know it's cuts across contemporary thought, but nevertheless it is clear Genesis chapter 1 just turned to look at it.

It rings out with striking emphasis in the contrast to what's going on around us. Then God said, Genesis 126 let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, and over the livestock and over all the earth and all over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him male and female he created them. What is the Bible say this morning. Listen, this is fabulous. The average teenager thinks that he emerged from a pile of sludge where his DNA introduced itself to itself and he said on a course from their and he doesn't like his school and he doesn't love his friends and he can't stand his parents and since he was born without reason prolongs himself with chance and will die in oblivion. He says to himself, why don't I just check out right now what I want to say hey let me tell you something young man you exist because God made you, he made you purposefully he made you with dignity and he made you in order that you might glorify and creation God has vested man with the ability to rule over his world to possess it and subjected to the rule so that other creatures would serve him. That is mainly abuse creatures.

It doesn't mean we abuse our world. It is mainly abuse the beauty of what God is provided for as we are to be the stewards of his creation, but we understand clearly that the bumper sticker that is increasingly flying around on the back of cars is absolutely wrong.

It says the earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth as with every error. There is just that element of rightness about it to cause manifold confusion. But here's the deal, loved ones, that is pantheism and the Bible says sorry the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, and we are the stewards of God's creation and the reason that we exist is because God has purposely fashioned us and made us for his pleasure and Joe Smith understood my brothers can do this to meet Potiphar's wife can try that with me. I can end up in the dungeon here that may be my tomorrow but I know that absolutely today desires on the spatter and I know he watches me that God centered focus allows a man or woman to go to bed at night with her head on the pillow and fall asleep and awake and doing your dance. It is the day that you have made I will rejoice and be glad in it. I know I don't of a job. I know that this is not so good.

And that's not so great in these things have happened, but God as long as God is God will be okay for the name of the Lord is a strong tower the righteous run into it and there's you going for your lunch today and you find that the table is already prepared for you and the placemats are there in the cutlery and the glasses in the little bit of floral arrangement in the middle your city or sell my, what an amazing explosion has taken place while I've been at church that all of this would just cast itself up on the table. Such a silly idea is a greater chance of taking a million alphabets up in a small airplane dropping them on the Sahara desert and then forming up in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark than there is of the world involving Joseph understood you understand it to. Unless you choose to deny atheism is a lie. Agnosticism is confusion and I say, especially to those of you who are in search of yourselves. You can go for a month of Sundays to sit and have people talk to you about who your granny was in your uncle was in your great-grandfather and all that stuff you will never know who you are or why you're here or what you're supposed to be doing in the world until first you gaze into the face of God as revealed in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and acknowledge him to be who he is and then you can discover who you living life with a God centered focus valuable lesson from the dungeon from part one of today's message on Truth for Life with Alistair Begg as Alastair mentioned, it's vital that we look on Christ as he is revealed in Scripture without adding to or subtracting from what the Bible teaches today at Truth for Life were excited to offer a double feature documentary film that explores this idea that this offer includes two full-length feature films, titled American gospel. Each film takes an in-depth look at how the gospel has been altered even distorted in America to the point where many have adopted their own man-made beliefs. I'm concerned that people today don't know who God is the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed the Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness and truth keeping cash flow 4000, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. How does not go together you'll find these American gospel documentaries simply fascinating. As you watch you learn more about the watered-down version of Christianity that has taken root in our country and even around the world, you will gain a deeper insight into the false teaching that has become popular teaching that removes the hard parts of the gospel like God's judgment, sin, or the reality of hell. Our team considers these to be must see films. They feature interviews with dozens of biblical preachers, including Alastair and we are thrilled to offer them packaged together on DVD for our cost of only five dollars. That's along with free shipping and the link for streaming order American gospel when you go to Truth for and when you do, please consider adding a generous end-of-the-year donation a check out to support the teaching you hear on this program you're giving upholds our mission to teach the Bible in a way that is clear and relevant to everyday life. We teach from the Scriptures, 365 days of the year so that God's word will go out and be heard by as many people as possible, and it's our hope and prayer at the many who listen come to trust Christ for salvation by Bob Lapine. Thanks for joining us before listen tomorrow as we continue learning lessons from the dungeon and find out how Joseph handled delivering some devastating news part of our series called my times are in your hands the Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life learning is prolific

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