Prayer -Ukraine and Russia war

Lord God Most High, from your throne in heaven you see and know the truth of everything that is happening in our world today especially in Ukraine and Russia. We pray as Hannah prayed that you will thunder from heaven and break the strength of those who are wicked, strengthen your children in this hour of need, silence the boasting and arrogance of the evil one, deliver your children from evil today we pray, in Jesus’ mighty name Amen.

Then Hannah prayed and said:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance.

There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.

Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed.

The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry are hungry no more. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away.

The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.

For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s; on them he has set the world. He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.

It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be broken. The Most High will thunder from heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.

He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
1 Samuel 2:1-10

Amen

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Joseph – Hero of the Faith (4)

Today we consider Joseph’s character and what it was about Joseph which made him different from his brothers and a man after God’s heart.

Joseph was an example of long suffering and patience. It was 20/22 long years until the fulfillment of the prophetic dreams which God gave to Joseph. What must Joseph have been thinking throughout that time, especially when everything happening to him was the complete opposite of his dreams. He was a slave and imprisoned. The lowest of the low in status. Joseph showed incredible long suffering and patience throughout his ordeal. How did he keep going.

Joseph didn’t have the benefit at the start of seeing the big picture and how the story panned out. God chose to give Joseph two dreams when he was a young man – the sheaves of wheat bowing to his sheave of wheat and the 11 stars, sun and moon bowing down to him so Joseph knew only in part that he was destined for greatness from the interpretation of the dreams.

There are no examples in Joseph’s story of the Lord speaking directly to Joseph, giving him direct revelation, no burning bush experience or records of any angelic visitations to Joseph.

However, there are two verses (Genesis 39:2 & 21) which speak volumes and where it specifically says that “God was with Joseph”.

Those verses can be life changing when we take hold of them. The assurance of knowing God is with you.

That is what enabled Joseph to keep going and endure. Joseph knew and had confidence that God was with him. If God is for us who can be against us. Oh the confidence that must have inspired in Joseph to know that God was with him. That God had not forgotten or forsaken him even though his circumstances would suggest it. We must be careful not to harden our hearts towards God when we are going through difficult times, when can’t see the whole plan and we see only in part. Keeping our faith and trusting that God will never leave us or forsake us.

God still speaks today through dreams, visions, prophecies and we can make the mistake of thinking they are “now” words for this present time or the immediate future. We have to learn to submit the timing to God. The fulfilment may actually be for years in the future. We need to practice patience while we wait.

For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.“ Habakkuk 2:3

Don’t give up on your vision – is it time to revive something God gave you years ago? Have you given up on it? Don’t get discouraged – wait for it – if God has promised it – it will happen.

Joseph learnt patience from the things he endured. The Spirit of God was in him as the Egyptians recognised.

Patience and long suffering are not popular concepts in this current worldly culture of instant gratification. Dare I say it – They are not popular in the church either. They are Godly characteristics though which we are to pursue as the fruit of the Holy Spirit which the Lord wants us to bear.

Let this be our prayer today:

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
James 1:2-4

It takes time to grow

God is working in the darkness

Morning, I will resume my series on Joseph tomorrow but today for #ThursdayThrowback, I wanted to re-post this one from March 2021 as an encouragement to those who may like Joseph find themselves in a dark place at the moment.

We don’t often as Christians talk much about darkness and the night time but recently I’ve been thinking about darkness in a new light 😊 (excuse the pun but I couldn’t resist it)

When I was a child I was, probably like most children, frightened of the dark and the night time. I used to let my imagination run wild about things that were living in that dark time of night. I would hide myself under my bed clothes and make myself invisible. I was hidden, so in my childish thinking, if I couldn’t see anything then nothing could see me.

The bible encourages us to put away childish thinking and so I’ve been trying to understand darkness/night time from God’s viewpoint and think differently about it. It started with a prayer vigil that we held recently from midnight until 3 a.m. In preparing for that I discovered that the bible teaches us a lot about darkness and especially the midnight hour.

First off, I am reminded from Genesis Chapter 1 that God created the day and the night. If God created it then it is His and just as the sun, moon and stars belong to Him then so does the night – it belongs to God.

The darkness and the night belong to God and not the enemy.

It seems to me that the enemy has exploited our fear and twisted our thinking about the hours of dark and the night time. I have heard it called the “witching hour” and the enemy has used this time to his advantage and for his wicked purposes for far too long but he doesn’t have control of the night. God does. It belongs to God and as children of God and children of the light it can belong to us as our inheritance in Christ.

I believe it’s time for us as believers in Christ to rise up and to reclaim the darkness and the night times.

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.”
Isaiah 60:1-3

The bible teaches us that God does great and miraculous things in the night and especially in the midnight hour. God is working in those hours of darkness on our behalf and bringing freedom and deliverance to His people in the night time. He answers prayers in the night. He brings us dreams and revelation in the night.

Here are just a few examples of the amazing and miraculous things which I am reminded of which God has done in the night:

1. At midnight the angel of the Lord went through Egypt and God led the Israelites out of hundreds of years of captivity into freedom just after the midnight hour;

2. God sent an angel to free Paul and Silas from the prison at midnight. Salvation then came to the jailor and his family;

3. God also sent an angel at night to free Peter from the prison as guards slept and whilst the believers were gathered to pray for him;

3. God made His covenant with Abraham at night;

4. God showed Jacob in a dream the angels ascending and descending to the earth from heaven and also wrestled with Jacob in the night;

5. God gave Daniel revelation in dreams;

6. God gave Pharaoh a dream which enabled Joseph to prepare for a famine.

These are just a few amazing stories of God working at night to bring freedom and salvation to His people.

I am also reminded of the greatest story ever told.

When Jesus was dying on the cross as part of God’s amazing plan for our salvation and redemption, God caused there to be darkness over the land for 3 hours from noon until 3 in the afternoon. Jesus then died.

Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb, in a place of darkness, but a miracle was taking place during that time and on the third day His glorious resurrection took place.

Jesus the true Light of the world was then revealed and He had triumphed over death and hell and Satan.

Day always follows the night and light always breaks into the darkness.

Miracles can still take place in the darkest of times. God can be working for you and answering your prayer in this place of darkness that you may find yourself in right now.

Please do not give up hope. He is working on your behalf. He is working in our darkness.

Blessings to you all this day and night in Jesus precious name.

Thanks to Andy Holmes @andyjh07 for making this photo of the beautiful night sky available freely on Unsplash 🎁

Joseph Hero of the Faith (3)

This week we are looking at the story of Joseph and from the comments, Joseph is one of our favourite bible characters. His story inspires many of us on so many levels and gives us hope.

Today the question is- Why did God choose Joseph to fulfil His plans out of all the sons of Jacob.

There were 12 sons of Jacob after all to choose from. Plenty of choice. Joseph wouldn’t have been the natural choice in the culture of the day. He was the 11th in line, one of the youngest sons. In the natural pecking order you would generally start with the eldest male child. Any position of blessing, responsibility or favour would usually be assumed by the eldest son as the heir apparent.

However, God’s ways are not our ways. We see through the bible that God calls unlikely people to be heroes or heroines of faith because God always looks at people’s hearts and their character. God demonstrated this when it came to choosing a King for Israel.

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Don’t discount yourself from being used by God because you might think there are more qualified people around. It could be you God is looking for. Are you willing to answer the call? To say like Isaiah – Here I am send me.

Let’s look at the other candidates alongside Joseph. God knew what manner of men they were and would become.

There were Leah’s 6 sons – Reuben was Jacob’s eldest son. The heir apparent. He had not shown good character. Reuben slept with his father’s wife. This was wicked in God’s sight and extremely disrespectful and dishonouring to his father, Jacob. Reuben gave in to lust. By his actions Reuben lost his father’s blessing. Reuben appears to be someone who wanted immediate satisfaction. Jacob said Reuben was as “unstable as water”. A double minded man is not reliable. However, Reuben was the one who stopped Joseph being killed. He persuaded his other brothers to put Joseph in the pit with a view to rescuing him later.

Next in line were Simeon and Levi. These two men showed themselves to be violent, cruel vengeful men who also exhibited the deceitful characteristic sometimes seen in the family. We know that Jacob had deceived his father Isaac, encouraged by his mother Rebecca, by pretending to be Esau to receive the blessing of the eldest son. Laban who was Rebecca’s brother then in turn deceived Jacob into marrying Leah. Rachel then deceived her father, Laban over the stolen idols. Later we see Jacob being deceived by his sons into thinking Joseph is dead.

Simeon & Levi deceived Shechem (the man who had disgraced their sister Dinah) and the men of the city into being circumcised. They pretended to make a covenant of peace with them. They then killed the men whilst they were recovering and could not fight back. Jacob was angry at their actions because he feared reprisals. They both lost their father’s blessing as well.

Next we have Judah – who failed to honour the promise which he had made to his son’s widow, Tamar. He did not keep his word. Judah was supposed, according to custom, to provide another of his sons as a husband to her. Both of her previous husbands had died but through no fault of Tamar. When she realised that Judah did not intend to keep his vow she tricked him into sleeping with her. Judah thought she was a harlot but left two tokens with her. When Judah heard that Tamar was pregnant he ordered her to be burnt because of her sins. However, Tamar revealed to him by the tokens that the baby was Judah’s and exposed his hypocrisy.

The bible doesn’t tell us much about Leah’s other sons Issachar and Zebulun so it’s not clear why they didn’t find favour in God’s eyes at this time.

Next we have Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher who were the sons of Bilhah (Rachel’s maid) and Zilpah (Leah’s maid). We are not told much about these sons either but there is one telling verse in the bible which tells us that Joseph “brought a bad report of them to his father”.

We are not told what they did to deserve a bad report but Joseph must have believed that Jacob needed to know what they were doing behind his back. Joseph demonstrates a moral code and a sense of right and wrong. He was not afraid to confront bad behaviour and expose it when necessary. That takes courage. Joseph was not someone who would look the other way whilst others did wrong.

In the body of Christ we are not to sweep habitual sins and wrongdoing by each other under the carpet either. To pretend it’s not happening. The bible teaches us how to deal with sin and wrongdoing amongst believers in a Godly way. How to confront the sinful behaviour in the right way, in love and in order to restore. If someone chooses to keep on wilfully sinning though without wanting or desiring to change that is wrong. If we allow that sinful behaviour to continue unchecked then it will become a shame and a snare to us.

The youngest son was Benjamin – Joseph’s brother by Jacob and Rachel. Joseph loved Benjamin but God didn’t choose Benjamin either. He may have had all the qualities of his brother Joseph but it wasn’t his time or his place in the story.

God saw something different in Joseph. God looks at the heart as we know and Joseph’s character and heart must have pleased him.

Brewing in the brothers’ hearts already was envy, jealousy & hatred towards Joseph caused by his being their father’s favourite. This was exposed even more when Joseph told them his dreams which inferred that one day he would be over them and they would all bow down to him. This enraged them and incited them into a plan to kill him, their own flesh & blood.

As believers in Christ we are one family. We must not fall into the trap of envy and jealousy (see my previous post Beware of Jealousy). The bible teaches us that all manner of evil dwells with envy and jealousy. There is no place for envy or jealousy amongst us.

If someone tells us their vision, their testimony, or are being used of God, being blessed, their ministry is growing, developing their giftings – what does it provoke in us. Joy for them and thanks to God or feelings of envy, jealousy, bitterness, resentment, inadequacy, life is unfair etc. We must be honest with ourselves and God- it’s a necessary place of healing and restoration to acknowledge those feelings so we can bring them into God’s light. Repenting of them and asking God through His grace to develop in us the fruit of the Holy Spirit instead. God wants to refine us so that we can truly be “in unity” with one another and with Him.

The wonderful news for us is that God’s mercies are new every morning. Through faith in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, none of us are disqualified because of our sins and wrong choices from service to God. We are all uniquely qualified through God’s grace for God’s work through us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s get to it.

Don’t discount yourself from being the person God is calling.

In At The Deep End – #TestimonyTuesday

A wonderful testimony from Andy today. It will encourage you to step out in faith and exercise the gift of God within you. Have a blessed day.

I knew that I had a teaching gift long before I knew anything (really) about the Bible. I accidentally volunteered to lead a Bible study group once, …

In At The Deep End – #TestimonyTuesday

Joseph – Hero of the Faith (2)

Yesterday’s post included a short summary of Joseph’s story and today we consider God’s Plan in Joseph’s story.

God knew that in Joseph’s lifetime there was going to be a severe famine. A famine that would last 7 long years and which would lead to starvation for many people if steps were not taken to prepare for such a devastating event.

God had made a covenant with Abraham that he would be the father of many nations who would be blessed through him. For that to be fulfilled Abraham’s descendants would need to be preserved out of the coming famine.

God could have chosen to sustain Jacob’s family miraculously (as God would later do by providing Manna and water for their descendants in the wilderness) but God had a different plan which would not only save Abraham’s descendants but many others too. That plan sounds like a forerunner for the gospel message to me.

Joseph’s story shows us God’s grace and mercy in action that God not only through Joseph fulfils his plan to save Abraham’s descendants but God also saves the Egyptians and many other peoples from other nations who came to buy food from Egypt during the famine.

God wanted someone to serve His purposes, to bring His plan to fruition and He chose Joseph to outwork that plan.

I can’t read the story of Joseph without seeing the signposts to Jesus and God’s plan of redemption for mankind.

When Adam sinned God had a plan to save mankind and His name was Jesus.

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

Jesus came not only to save Abraham’s descendants the Jews (Israel) thereby fulfilling the covenant promise to Abraham but also to save the Gentiles – the whole world.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Joseph’s story is undeniably one of hardship, suffering and pain which lasts for many, many years. He was betrayed by his family, sold into slavery in a foreign country as a young man, falsely accused of a crime he did not commit and put into prison. God did not cause those things to happen to Joseph but God used those circumstances for good instead of evil. God’s favour was on Joseph. He sustained Joseph through those hard times. Joseph learnt valuable lessons along the way and his experiences were not wasted.

There are many examples of suffering servants of God in the bible. Jesus himself was the suffering servant prophesied by Isaiah. The disciples and the early church believers suffered. The Apostle Paul suffered to take the gospel to the Gentiles. The Lord showed Paul what was in store for him and how he would suffer but he still chose to go.

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:15-16

God can allow us to go through suffering and hardship for the greater good. We see and hear stories of Christians all over the world suffering for the sake of the gospel every day. The difference which enables them is Hope. When we walk through the valley, God is with us. There is light at the end.

The bible teaches us that a life of faith will not be easy because the world is against us. We are not exempt from times of trouble but God’s grace and presence is always with us to sustain us. Don’t think you are doing something wrong or out of God’s will if you are going through difficult times – you may be right in the middle of God’s plan.

Joseph had this incredible insight into God’s plan which he shared with his brothers at the end of the story. This is how incredible and transformational this revelation can be. No bitterness on Joseph’s part but the realisation of what God has done through him.

for God sent me before you to preserve life; God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance” “so now it was not you who sent me here, but God”. Genesis 45 5-8

May we also like Joseph discern God outworking His divine plans and purposes in our lives for His glory.

Tomorrow we consider why God chose Joseph and why Egypt.

JOSEPH – HERO OF THE FAITH

This week’s posts are about Joseph – biblical hero and so much more than just a multi coloured coat and a popular musical.

The story of Joseph has much to teach us today about God’s “bigger picture”. Persevering until the perfection of God’s plans come to pass.

You can read Joseph’s story in Genesis chapters 37-50.

A brief summary of the story for the week ahead:

Joseph was a son of Jacob, grandson of Isaac & great-grandson of Abraham.

As such, Joseph was one of the heirs to the covenant blessing promised to Abraham by God that Abraham would be the father of many nations, and a blessing to many.

Joseph was born to Jacob in his old age by his favourite wife, Rachel. God had mercy on Rachel when she couldn’t have children and Joseph was born. Rachel then went on to have Benjamin but died in childbirth which caused great pain to Jacob. This was probably one of the reasons for Joseph being a favourite of Jacobs – he reminded Jacob of Rachel- resulting in the gift of the famous multi-coloured coat by Jacob to Joseph.

There had been a lot of competition between Rachel and her sister Leah as to who could give Jacob children and be his favourite wife which resulted in Rachel giving Jacob her handmaid so she could have children for her – Leah then did the same – result 12 sons & 1 daughter were fathered by Jacob.

This unhealthy competition between the wives led inevitably to competition between the children and resulted in envy & jealousy. This led to Joseph’s early problems especially when he told his family about his two dreams that he was going to be the greatest over them all. Who did he think he was – you can see the potential for trouble brewing.

One day Jacob sent Joseph away on a journey to see how his brothers were doing. They saw him coming and hatched a plan to kill him but relenting of that, they put him in a pit and sold him to passing slave traders.

Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold as a slave to Potiphar. He did well but Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. Joseph resisted her but he was thrown into prison.

In prison Joseph proved trustworthy and was put in charge of the other prisoners. Two prisoners who were servants of Pharaoh, his butler and his baker, both had troublesome dreams on the same night. Joseph correctly interpreted their dreams which came to pass. The butler was reinstated to his position but the baker was killed.

Two years later, Pharaoh has a dream about cows and sheaves of wheat which no-one can interpret, not any of the magicians or learned men. The butler remembers Joseph and tells Pharaoh. Joseph is brought from prison and interprets the dream. He tells Pharoah there will be seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. He then tells Pharaoh what to do to prepare.

Pharaoh is so impressed that he makes Joseph his second in command. Joseph puts his plan into action. The famine is widespread and eventually his own brothers come to buy food in Egypt. They don’t recognise Joseph and after some trials that Joseph puts them through, they are eventually reconciled. Joseph is reunited with his Dad and they all settle in the land of Goshen in Egypt.

Joseph’s story is no accident. This week we can dig into the story a bit deeper.

Coattails

This is the word that the Lord has spoken to my heart today.

Coattails”.

I believe this word will speak to someone’s heart today.

The Lord is saying that you don’t need to ride anyone else’s coattails for success.

The Lord has put in you the ability to succeed at what He has called you to do. The Lord will advance you in the right season. Promotion is in the Hand of the Lord.

If you seek to obtain favour from the world by doing things in a worldly way then you will not succeed in God’s Kingdom or in God’s work.

God did not create you to ride on someone else’s coattails.

God created you to be you. God is the one who will raise you up in due season.

Promotion comes from the Lord.

The Lord has taught you, equipped you, strengthened you and empowered you by His Holy Spirit.

“To ride on someone’s coattails means to become successful by attaching yourself to another’s success. A person who rides someone’s coattails is usually considered unable to attain success on his own. Coattails are the lower flaps on the back of a man’s jacket. The idea behind ride someone’s coattails is of someone holding onto the back of someone’s jacket in order to be pulled along without exerting any effort of his own.” Quote from The Grammarist

When leaders lead in Israel, When the people willingly offer themselves, Bless the Lord!“ Judges 5:2

Saturday Sunshine ☀️

Last week as I was walking to church, I started humming the song “You are my Sunshine, My only Sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray ” ☀️

It really made me smile because I knew that the Lord had put this song on my heart as a worship song to him. It’s a secular song but I knew the Lord wanted me to sing it to Him.

The only reason I discerned this was from the Lord was because I had been to a prayer conference the day before and one of the teaching sessions was about singing in the Spirit to the Lord. Not just singing in tongues but singing our own songs as the Spirit leads and also using different tunes/songs but with different words.

I started singing the song but I changed some of the words:

You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are gray
Oh Lord I Love you
How much I love you
Please don’t take your presence away.

Oh Lord I love you
I really love you
You make me happy
When skies are gray
You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
Praise and glory to you today.

I really enjoyed just singing along to a familiar tune but changing the words to praises as the Lord led me. I had such a joy in my heart at this spontaneity and freedom.

What are some of your favourite songs that you really enjoy singing and make you smile. Songs that bring you joy or move you emotionally. How about using those tunes and changing them up to a praise & worship song to the Lord as He leads you.

Have a blessed weekend my friends.

Is Your Word Your Bond?

This is an excellent post by Alan Kearns which blessed me and I am sure will bless you too. It is full of Godly wisdom and reminded me how important this subject is. I encourage you to prayerfully consider and ask the Lord to speak to your heart through this post. To reveal if there are any unfulfilled vows you may have made or if you have made wrong vows which are affecting your life in ways you may not have realised.

The Lord reminded me of the bible story of Hannah. She was desperate for a child and made a vow to the Lord if He gave her a child. Imagine the consequences if Hannah had not kept her vow and given Samuel back to God when her prayer was answered. We can make promises to God which we then do not fulfil. That has consequences but the Lord in His great mercy forgives us when we acknowledge our wrong doing and repent.

Stones Amidst The SandPhoto courtesy of Nathan Berry, Image Copyright 2022 TakeN Photography. “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall …

Is Your Word Your Bond?