Our sermon on Sunday at church was awesome. We missed last Sunday since we were in CO for the wedding, and our pastor started a new series on Joseph. This Sunday, he focused on the story of Joseph and Potiphar. In case you're not familiar with it, here's the text from The Message translation of the Bible. I don't usually read this translation, but for this purpose, I think it explains the story in easy-to-understand language:
1 After Joseph had been taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelites, Potiphar an Egyptian, one of Pharaoh's officials and the manager of his household, bought him from them.
2-6 As it turned out, God was with Joseph and things went very well with him. He ended up living in the home of his Egyptian master. His master recognized that God was with him, saw that God was working for good in everything he did. He became very fond of Joseph and made him his personal aide. He put him in charge of all his personal affairs, turning everything over to him. From that moment on, God blessed the home of the Egyptian—all because of Joseph. The blessing of God spread over everything he owned, at home and in the fields, and all Potiphar had to concern himself with was eating three meals a day.
6-7 Joseph was a strikingly handsome man. As time went on, his master's wife became infatuated with Joseph and one day said, "Sleep with me."
8-9 He wouldn't do it. He said to his master's wife, "Look, with me here, my master doesn't give a second thought to anything that goes on here—he's put me in charge of everything he owns. He treats me as an equal. The only thing he hasn't turned over to me is you. You're his wife, after all! How could I violate his trust and sin against God?"
10 She pestered him day after day after day, but he stood his ground. He refused to go to bed with her.
11-15 On one of these days he came to the house to do his work and none of the household servants happened to be there. She grabbed him by his cloak, saying, "Sleep with me!" He left his coat in her hand and ran out of the house. When she realized that he had left his coat in her hand and run outside, she called to her house servants: "Look—this Hebrew shows up and before you know it he's trying to seduce us. He tried to make love to me but I yelled as loud as I could. With all my yelling and screaming, he left his coat beside me here and ran outside."
16-18 She kept his coat right there until his master came home. She told him the same story. She said, "The Hebrew slave, the one you brought to us, came after me and tried to use me for his plaything. When I yelled and screamed, he left his coat with me and ran outside."
19-23 When his master heard his wife's story, telling him, "These are the things your slave did to me," he was furious. Joseph's master took him and threw him into the jail where the king's prisoners were locked up. But there in jail God was still with Joseph: He reached out in kindness to him; he put him on good terms with the head jailer. The head jailer put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners—he ended up managing the whole operation. The head jailer gave Joseph free rein, never even checked on him, because God was with him; whatever he did God made sure it worked out for the best.
Now, I've heard this story a million times, and I was a little disappointed when Brent started because I didn't think I'd hear anything new...boy was I wrong. In the past, I've heard this story tied to sermons about being faithful and obedient to God, standing strong in your beliefs and always striving to do the right thing. But, Brent turned it into a sermon on marriage, and it was awesome! He said that if Potiphar's wife was looking elsewhere for satisfaction (i.e. seducing Joseph), then she must not have had a strong marriage.
He told us that we need to learn 3 lessons from this story: 1) The Lord is with YOU always (Hebrews 13:5), 2) Do the right thing because it's the right thing -- not because of what you will get out of it, and 3) Guard your marriage.
He spend a lot of time talking about that 3rd lesson...and he gave us some pointers on how to do that...basically he gave us 3 things that will help your marriage become strong and happy and loving and what God wants it to be.
1 -- Both husband and wife have to follow Jesus
2 -- Deal with issues right away -- don't be afraid or too proud to ask for help
3 -- Pursue a one-flesh marriage -- don't let yourselves become separated...think of yourselves as 2 colors of clay that are squished together, you can still see traces of the original colors, but you can't separate them into two individual colors anymore
Then he went on to say that there are 3 kinds of marriage:
1- Selfish marriage - this is when an individual's selfishness takes over the relationship -- they start to look elsewhere, they think the grass is greener, and they think their needs are the most important. Brent said that EVERY MARRIAGE THAT ENDS IN DIVORCE IS THE RESULT OF A SELFISH MARRIAGE...I agree, and I don't think there's any simpler way to put it.
2- Contract marriage - this couple has the same issues as the selfish marriage, but someone says, "over my dead body will we get a divorce"...so they're not happy or healthy in their relationship, but they're staying together because of the commitment they made
3- One Flesh marriage -- This is what I described above with the 2 colors of clay, and in this marriage, the husband and wife say they're sorry to each other, they spend time together, they work less, they pray together and they go to a counselor when they need help. The biggest difference between this marriage and the others is the attitude of the husband and wife, and the effort they put into their relationship.
He also mentioned that couples don't just stay in one of these categories, they float around...and I don't know about you, but I want to have a One-Flesh Marriage...but it takes work.
I am so excited that I learned something new on Sunday, and it really made me evaluate my own marriage. If you want to listen to the whole sermon, click here, and listen to the sermon from 4/22.