A Baccalaureate Address

by Pastor Bob Hailey

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to the graduating class during your Baccalauraate Service. I have followed this class for four years, since my son has been part of this class. I have seen so much potential. I have seen hard work and willingness to sacrifice for the success of the team. I have seen hard work on the academic side as well. I have seen good attitudes in the face of obstacles. I am very proud of this class and what you have accomplished. There is so much potential for genuine success that God will bless each of you as you live out the rest of your life.

When I think of your potential, I am reminded of a poem written by Shel Silverstein, entitled:

The Magic Carpet

You have a magic carpet that will whiz you through the air,

To Spain or Main or Africa, if you just will tell it where.

So will you let it take you where you've never been before,

Or will you buy some matching drapes

And use it on your floor?

Genuine success does not come without facing obstacles and trials. When I think of these things, I am reminded of the story of a young man who lived over 3000 years ago. His story can be found in the book of Genesis 37-50. It is also told in the Andew Lloyd Webber musical: Joseph and the Technicolor Coat.

The Story of Joseph

There was a young man who was the favorite son of his father, Jacob. In fact, Joseph loved this son of his favorite wife so much that he presented him with a special unique coat. This made Joseph's brother quite jealous of Joseph.

When they are able to get him alone, they intend to kill him, but one of his brothers prevents this from happening. They decide however to sell him into slavery. The brothers dip Joseph's special coat in animal's blood to leave the impression with their father that Joseph is dead.

Joseph ends up sold as a slave in Egypt. He becomes a slave in Potiphar's household in Egypt. I'm sure he expect his father to come to his rescue, but that doesn't happen. Joseph works hard in Potiphar's household and is promoted to a position of authority.

Potiphar's wife is attracted to Joseph and tries to seduce Joseph, but Joseph remains loyal to God and to his master and refuses. He is then falsely accused of attempted rape. He is thrown into prison where he works hard to become the best prisoner he can be.

God works through Joseph to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh's butler and baker. The butler will be restored to a position of power. The baker will die. These interpretations come true. Later when Pharaoh has a dream, the butler remembers Joseph, and Joseph, with God's help, interprets Pharaoh's dream. There will be seven years of good crops and seven years of famine.

Pharaoh promotes Joseph to second in command in all of Egypt. He is the one in charge of preparing for the famine period. When the famine comes, things are so bad with Joseph's brotheras and his father that they have to come to Egypt to beg for food before Joseph. By this time, they figure tht Joseph is really dead. He tests them and finds out that they have changed. He, finally, reveals who is and is reunited with his father.

The Lesson from Joseph's Life:

A. Joseph was separated from his father, but he did not lose his faith. Even though, it seemed God had abandoned him. Even though, he was treated unfairly, he never quit believing in God and remaining loyal to Him. Throughout all of his time, God was with Him and was working out his ultimate plan. (Genesis 50:20)

B. God has a purpose for your life. If you would be genuinely successful, it will come as you carry out God's will in your life. God does not promise that your life will be easy and that there will be no problems. There will be problems, but most importantly, God promises us to be with us. That's all we can ask for and that was what Joseph received. This is the greatest gift of all.

C. In view of the fact that soon, you will be on your own and away from your parents, make a decision to serve God. When we look at life and all of the obstacles that we will have to face...when we look at life in view of the fact that one day, we all will die, there is only one thing that reall matters.

D. After trying for a lifetime to find real meaning in life, Solomon concludes:

(13) Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:

Fear God and keep his Commandments,

For this is the whole (duty) of man.

(14) For God will bring every deed into judgment,

including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."

E. In all that you do, I wish you the greatest success, but never forget what is most important. Love God and keep His commandments. It does not mean the end of problems, but is will give you a way to handle those problems and it is a lifetime in which you will never be alone! Paul encourages us with these words:

"(12) Therefore, young people, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Really live it. Talk the talk. Walk the walk, (13) for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

(14) Do everything without complaining, or arguing, (15) so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe..."