The Challenge Away From Home

Title: The Challenge Away From Home

Bible Book: Genesis 37

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Children; Graduation; Baccalaureate


[Editor's Note: This message below is too long for a commencement or baccalureate service, but the material here provides more than enough thoughts to draw out a useful, biblical and helpful message for graduates.]

The Challenge Away From Home

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

Today we will look at a man named Joseph from Genesis, chapters 37 through 50. In doing so, we will look at a man who was far away from his family, and we will see that he acted in a honorable and godly way though no one who knew him was present to view his behavior. To you who are graduates today, this young man is a perfect example of how a young man or young woman can act in a godly way when away from home.

Genesis 37:5-10 Joseph tells his brothers about his dreams.

Genesis 37:23-28 Joseph thrown into a pit and sold to a caravan.

Genesis 37:36 Joseph sold as a slave to Potipher, captain of guard.

Genesis 39:6-20 Joseph tempted and falsely accused of attack.

Genesis 39:21-23 Joseph put in charge of prisoners.

Genesis 41:15 Joseph interprets dream for Pharaoh.

Seven fat and lean cows/corn/grain

Genesis 50:17-21 Joseph forgives his brothers and saves Israel!

You have arrived at a milestone in your lives. You are graduates. You have stayed the course over many years and now you reap the reward for you labor. You are not like the little girl I heard about recently who came home from school all excited and exclaimed, "Mommy, Mommy, I made 100 today at school!"

"Oh, I'm so proud of you, tell me about it."

"Well, I made 50 in spelling, 30 in history, and 20 in English!"

You did not arrive at this elevated moment and hour on your own. You owe a great debt to many others.

1. First, you indebted to your parents.

I heard about a college graduate who was having photos made with his family following his graduation. Mom was trying to take a picture of their son in a cap and gown, posed with his father. "Let's try to make this look natural," she said. "Junior, put your arm around your dad's shoulder." The father answered, "If you want it to look natural, why not have him put his hand the my pocket where my wallet is located?" Your parents or guardians have helped you arrive at this hour with many years of hard work, great expenditure of funds, and no doubt a lot of sincere prayers!

One thing you will learn, as time passes, is just how smart your parents really have been through the years. "No wonder Monette gets straight A's in French," lamented one teen to another. "Her parents were born in Paris and speak French at home."  The girl complained, "In that case I ought to get A's in geometry, for my parents are square and talk in circles."

Actually, your parents that seem square today but they will look pretty cool once you get out into the world and have to face more and more responsibility.

2. You owe much to your teachers who have invested careers in your education.

Your teachers have worked for wages far below that of people with comparable education and abilities, and they did that because they were committed to helping you learn.

3. Most of all, you owe a debt to God.

He has given you a mind and years of life. Without His blessing, you would not be here today. Be sure you thank your parents, your teachers, and your Lord for helping you to arrive at this very special hour in life.

All of us here commend you on your accomplishment, but the great question is what will happen next? Will you go on to live a life worthy of the investment that has been made in you? And what do you need to be a success as you leave home? There are four areas of awareness and action which made Joseph a great success, even though he found himself far from home and in difficult circumstances.

I. You Need Conviction of a Divine Purpose

There is no issue more important in life than the sense of knowing that God has a purpose for your life. The life of every Christian has been designed by the heavenly Father to fulfill a specific purpose.

C. H. Spurgeon said, "There is not a spider hanging on the king's wall but has its errand; there is not a nettle that grows in the corner of the churchyard but has its purpose.... And I will never have it that God created any man, especially any Christian man, to be a blank, and to be a nothing. He made you for an end. Find out what that end is; find out your niche and fill it." How important that we view the events of our life from the divine perspective! God has a plan for our lives. (Inforsearch)

It sounds like the ultimate exercise in futility, but people do it anyway. Writing letters to deceased or fictional characters, that is. At Graceland in Memphis, for example, as many as one-hundred Valentine cards addressed to Elvis Presley arrive each February. And in London, the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes receives more than forty pieces of mail every week. These aren't like the letters little children send to Santa Claus; they are from adults who use valuable, fleeting time to send "dead letters" into oblivion. Are there any "dead letter" activities we get involved in as Christians? Do we do things with no possible expectation of a return on the investment of our time? Of course, we don't have to be productive every minute. We need to take a break. Even our Lord encouraged His disciples to rest. But what we have to watch out for are purposeless activities that keep us from doing what we should be doing. Let's stop our dead‑letter activities so we can become better living epistles. (Inforsearch)

A. Know that you are Saved

The young adult proceeding out into the world needs more than anything to know that he or she is a Christian. Have you fully trusted Christ to be your Lord and Savior? If not, do not venture further in your life without kneeling before Him and giving Him your heart and life.

B. Sense that you are Special

Former Senator Dwight W. Morrow searched in vain to find his railroad ticket as he was on a train leaving New York City. "I must find that ticket," he muttered. The conductor, who stood waiting beside him, said, "Don't worry about it Mr. Morrow. We know you had a ticket. Just mail it to the railroad when you find it."

"That's not what's troubling me," replied Morrow. "I need to find it to know where I'm going."

We too may forget where we are headed if we do not regularly consider the principles in God's Word.

II. You Need Commitment to a Determined Purity

A. Materially Pure

Make a commitment today that you will use your gifts and blessings in an honest way. Be pure in handling the money and possessions of others and those that belong to you.

B. Morally Pure

A father was examining his son's report card. "One thing is definitely in your favor," he announced. "With this report card, you couldn't possibly be cheating."

III. You Need Consecration for a Dedicated Persistence

A. In the Face of Rejection

Joseph faced rejection from his own brothers but he didn’t let it ruin his heart or mind. You will not succeed at every turn from this point forward, but always remember that it is the jagged places on the hillside that climbers use to climb upward. You can learn as much from rejection and hardship as you can from success, and sometimes you can learn even more.

B. In the Face of Temptation

Joseph faced powerful temptation, but his devotion to God and to his promises kept him from caving it to lust. Friends, the world and your own heart will draw you to places you must not go. Stand tall for the Lord as you proceed in life. Character is what you are when you can commit a misdeed and know that it will never be known.  Only the most devoted Christians will prove in those moments that he or she has a real faith and not a false faith.

C. In the Face of Frustration

A poor student was explaining his grades to his irate father. "You just can't beat the system, Dad. Last semester I decided to take basket‑ weaving. It's a snap course, and I figured I would sail through. Know what happened? Two Navajos enrolled, raised the class average, and I flunked."

Joseph had to be terribly frustrated. He was thrown in prison for something he didn’t do, but even then he did not let that corrupt his heart or destroy his attitude. No hardship Joseph faced deterred his dedication and honesty. This, and his great faith in God's timing, served to lift him far above his brothers. Anyone can act like everyone, but only a somebody and act like nobody else and rise above them all.

D. In the Face of Isolation

In prison, he was left in a long period of isolation. One man promised to help Joseph, but after that man was released, he forgot all about his promise. Still, Joseph was faithful to God and his highest moral code of ethics. When you feel all alone, turn to the Friend Closer Than A Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will never leave you, nor will He ever forsake you. Don't forsake Him!

IV. You Need Compassion with a Demonstrated Practice

A. A Blessing to His Family

Joseph ended up saving his own family, including the brothers who sold him into slavery. Honor your family name and you just may be the one who lifts your entire family to a higher level in the years to come.

B. A Blessing to His Nation

He was a blessing to the Hebrew nation. His redemptive attitude was so important to the history of God’s people. Your behavior does not just affect you, it rebounds to those all around you.

C. A Blessing to His Enemies

He even helped the Egyptians. Without his amazing walk with God, the famine that followed was certain to be a disaster to the Egyptian people.

D. A Blessing to His God

Most importantly, he was a blessing to God. He honored the Lord in all things. Far away from home, when no one was watching, Joseph was an honorable man. Can you do that? Once you leave home for further education or a career, can you be an honorable person? Sure you can! But, will you?


One morning in 1888 Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, opened the newspaper only to find an article about his own death. A careless reporter had confused Alfred with his brother who had indeed died. The shock of reading his own obituary was compounded by the realization of how the world saw him. To the general public he was simply the "Dynamite King," a successful industrialist who had amassed a fortune from explosives. There was no mention of his ideal of peace for mankind or his efforts to break down barriers. He would be remembered only for being a"merchant of death." Alfred determined right then that he wanted to do something to make sure the world would recognize the values to which he had devoted his life. He decided that this could be accomplished by the way he disposed of his vast wealth in his last will and testament. That's why today we have a prestigious award given to someone who has contributed significantly to the cause of world peace ‑ the Nobel Peace Prize. As Christians, we ought to be concerned about what the world will remember us for. [From Pulpit Helps, Mar 1992. Page 6.]

Posted in


Scroll to Top