Joseph Hero of the Faith (8)

Today’s post is no. 8 in my series on Joseph. We have already considered Joseph’s character and what was different about Joseph from his 11 brothers. Today is considering why Joseph’s brothers behaved as they did. If it is helpful here is the link to my earlier post on those behaviours Joseph Hero of the Faith (3)

Where did these bad character traits come from.

The answer is in the bible. Since the fall of Adam and Eve, we are all born into sin. That is our human condition. Reading the bible we see that there were these particular sinful characteristics which ran through this family and their influence increased through the generations. We are familiar I am sure with phrases such as “Like Father, Like Son” or “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”.

The bible doesn’t whitewash sin or sinful behaviour and it presents the people of the bible to us warts and all. We see their good parts but we also see their flaws, weaknesses and sinful nature. We only have to read the account of King David to see this. This is why the bible stories are so relatable and we can still learn from people who lived many generations before us.

The first thread of sinful behaviour which really stands out in the family line is Deception.

Examples: – Abraham pretending Sarah was his sister rather than his wife. (Genesis 12:13 and 20:2). This was not a complete lie so there was some truth mixed in. It was only a half-truth though and Abraham purposely did not tell the whole truth which was then misleading and had consequences for others. He kept back the whole truth because of fear.

Deception with a mix of truth is especially dangerous. It’s one way that we as Christians can be vulnerable to false doctrines and teachings today. You can read more about the dangers of deception here Deception – The Gibeonites Story

This same deceitful behaviour was repeated by Abraham’s son Isaac who also pretended his wife Rebekah was his sister (Genesis 26:7) Again the root cause was fear.

Rebekah takes deception further when she persuades her son, Jacob to impersonate his brother Esau and deceives Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing which belonged to Esau. (Genesis 27:6-23). The root cause here being selfish ambition. A blessing stolen.

Your brother came with deceit and has taken away your blessing

There are many more examples of deceitful behaviour spreading its influence through all branches of the family -Uncle Laban deceives Jacob into marrying Leah, Jacob’s sons deceive the schecemites and kill them (Genesis 34: 13-31), Jacob’s sons lied to Jacob that Joseph had been eaten by wild animals and was dead (Genesis 37:29-35)

The other sinful trait which influences this family is Envy and Jealousy.

Examples: Sarah became jealous of Hagar and her son Ishmael (Genesis 16:5-6), Jacob was jealous of Esau, Rachel was jealous of her sister Leah’s children (Genesis 30:1), Leah was also jealous of Rachel’s relationship with Jacob (Genesis 30:5), Laban’s sons became jealous of Jacob (Genesis 31:1). Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him.

This jealousy led to actions which had consequences for all involved. You can read more about the dangers of jealousy here Beware of Jealousy.

The next bad characteristic is Favouritism

Rebekah favoured Jacob over Esau (Genesis 25:28), Isaac favoured Esau over Jacob (Genesis 25:28), Jacob favoured Rachel (Genesis 29:30) Jacob favoured Joseph (Genesis 37) and Joseph favoured Benjamin (Genesis 43:34).

One of the problems with favouritism is it leads to families becoming fractured and split. People take sides. Factions are developed and there is disunity. Resentment, bitterness and anger start to foster and an often overlooked one – Rivalry develops.

Rachel and Leah become rivals for Jacob’s love and affection. They were rivals in who could give him most children which led to the involvement of their handmaidens to provide more and more children. This rivalry influenced their children and the subsequent relationships between the brothers. This was not a harmonious family and so it did not take much to stir up resentment between Joseph and his brothers.

These sinful traits all feed off and influence each other and they got stronger in each generation. The same traits also came through both lines of the family. They were destructive forces in the lives of these families and we see the effects.

This is the problem with the inherent nature of sin. It’s desire is to have us and master us. Once we open the door to it then it’s influence slowly spreads like poison affecting not just us but those around us.

The Lord warned Cain about sin and how it wanted to work in his life.

If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Genesis 4:7

How then can we rule over sin in our lives.

The good news is that we can and there is a way. Jesus Christ is the answer. Jesus has broken the power of sin over us through His death and resurrection and now through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, we can rule over sin rather than sin ruling us.

Through Christ Jesus, we as disciples of Jesus do not have to accept the things of the past. We can get off that treadmill of sinful behaviour.

The influence of sin and it’s bad fruit can be broken in our lives. Our old sinful nature has been crucified with Christ Jesus and we take up our cross daily. We confess our sins and He is faithful through His great mercy and love to forgive us our sins.

God is at work in us for His good pleasure and God desires to bring about change in us. We do not have to persuade Him. God wills to do it. Hallelujah. It is God’s desire to help us rule over sin in our lives.

We become new creations in Christ Jesus. The old has gone and the new life in God’s Spirit has come.

We no longer have to accept the influence of bad character or believe the lie that “I have always been this way and always will ” or “I can’t change, I have my father’s issues”. To agree with that thinking is to deny the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Change is possible through Jesus.

If we accept the truth about Jesus. Submit our lives to Jesus and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to work in us there can be change that is not just one off but will transform our thinking and behaviours for a lifetime.

That change may be instant in some areas of our lives but in others it may require time as we work out our salvation and learn to walk in the Spirit. We fall but we get back up again. We help and support each other with our struggles and weaknesses.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.“ Galatians 5:19-26

Thank you Lord that you have redeemed us from the power of sin in our lives and that you help us in our weaknesses. Refine us Lord and teach us your ways that we may walk like you. Amen.

Following Jesus

Transformational Change

Those are the words that the Lord spoke to me yesterday at church during our Easter service.

Transformational Change.

That is the truth of the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ and His shed blood in our lives.

When we come to and through the Cross of Jesus and understand and experience the Cross, we are changed.

We are transformed by its power.

The old person is no longer. We are new creations in Christ.

Transformation means a complete change in the character or appearance of someone especially so that person is IMPROVED.

We cannot NOT be changed by the Cross. We are changed for the better.

We are intended to become the best version of ourselves that God intended us to be through the power of the Cross.

It is a simple but powerful truth.

The Cross of Jesus is the place of transformational change.

You are not the same person you were before you came to and through the Cross of Jesus. Don’t rely on feelings, accept that truth and apply the truth daily in your life. There will then be fruit of the change that will show in your life.

Your circumstances may not have changed, they may never change but YOU HAVE CHANGED IN YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES. You now look at your circumstances from a different vantage point. You look at them from God’s perspective.

Do you want to change? Then come to the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is the only place where you will meet the Truth in person, Jesus, He who has the power to change you and for the better.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
2 Corinthians 5:17

There is power in the Cross of Jesus

Freedom Friday

I hope you enjoy this re-post today.

God wants us to be free.  He is the God who sets the captives free.  The God of deliverance.   

Jesus died and rose again so that we might live in freedom.   Not chained in any way.

The Holy Spirit desires to reveal to us those things in our lives or our mind sets which are obstacles or hindrances to us living fully as Jesus wants us to live. A Kingdom lifestyle.

The power of the gospel of the Kingdom working in and through us.  

Jesus wants to set us free from every oppressive work and lie of the enemy which is operating in our lives and restricting us.  

It might be fear, unbelief, guilt, lack of self-belief, un-forgiveness, trauma, depression, anxiety, sinful behaviour or addictions – there can be many things which restrict our spiritual growth as believers, hold us back and stop us stepping out in faith.   

Things which restrict the flow of the power of the Holy Spirit in and through us to others.

There is a word for this season from Isaiah 60:1

“Arise, Shine – for your light has come and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you“.   

I heard the The Lord ask me -“What is stopping you from rising – what is trying to stop you from doing things for me?    What is stopping you from shining?   What is tainting the light shining from you?”

In my case it was fear – fear which I didn’t even realise was there.  

The Lord showed me that a traumatic event in my childhood had left a mark of fear on my life.  

It wasn’t a gripping, completely debilitating fear which paralysed me but it still used to rise up out of the blue causing me to question and torment myself over things I had said or done.   Decisions made and actions taken – Was I right or wrong?

Fear brought its friends along too..doubt, anxiety and worry.

It caused me to worry about making mistakes and over analyse the decisions I had made.   

Thankfully the Lord set me free and healed me from this fear.  

Who the son sets free is free indeed.

Fear no longer has a part in me because of Jesus’ finished work on the Cross and His resurrection power.

I encourage you to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal things which may also be holding you back too or which may be tainting your light so you are not shining as brightly for Him.  

Jesus wants you to be free and He alone can set you free.

Amen 🙏 blessings to you this day.

Then…

Then is such a little word but it is can be so powerful. It’s a word which speaks of change. There is a before and THEN something happens which changes the story.

In Genesis, we read the story of Noah. The flood has come upon the earth and Noah, his family and the animals are in the ark. They obeyed God’s instructions and went into the Ark and then God shut the door.

“So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.”
Genesis 7:16 NKJV

It was after obedience that the THEN came and God shut the door. Sometimes, we are waiting for God to act and the THEN to happen but we maybe haven’t done our part to enable the THEN. Something at our end needs to change.

Dear brother Alan posted the other day about prayer warriors still being required. You can read that post here which I recommend if you have not yet read it. https://devotionaltreasure.wordpress.com/2021/12/31/2022-prayer-warriors-still-required.

There is an often quoted portion of scripture which contains one of the most powerful THENs in the bible.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV

Prayer changes things and brings about the THEN. If we want to see change then let us seek God’s Will and act on it. Let us be Prayer Warriors for change.

Bless you my friends.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Abdicating Responsibility

Abdicating Responsibility – Is there an area of my life or your life in which we have abdicated responsibility? Stepped aside from our God given responsibilities.

As followers of Jesus we are called to live our lives surrendered to Him. There are behaviours and characters that we are called to model as we live out our lives in a Godly way. The bible teaches us what such Godly role models look like.

Abdicate in the dictionary means to voluntarily give up an area of responsibility. It’s usually connected with great responsibility such as when a King abdicates their throne. Similar words would be to waive or forfeit. It’s a choice that the individual makes to do so. No-one forces us to do so or usurps us. We choose to step aside.

We all have roles in life which come with responsibility. I can name some of mine -wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee and there are many more. I’m sure you have roles that you can name for yourself.

I can have a role but not exercise my responsibility or authority in that role. I haven’t abdicated my actual role but I have abdicated my responsibility in that role E.g I can abdicate from exercising my parental authority.

I am challenged to consider prayerfully and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas in my life that I have abdicated responsibility and why. There can be various reasons for doing so which are personal to each one of us but I am confident that when God reveals something He does it for our good.

It’s that time of year when we reflect and consider changes or “resolutions” for the coming year. Perhaps this is a timely post for someone reading. Have you abdicated responsibility for an area of your life and the Lord wants you to make a change going forward. God will equip you with the grace, wisdom, strength, love and power that you need to make the change. We just need to acknowledge where we have gone wrong and ask God to help us going forward and to make an opportunity for change. I believe it’s never too late and there is no time like the present. God can make a way where there seems to be no way.

Have a blessed day my friends.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Thermometer or Thermostat?

When we were away at our church weekend we were reminded that as Christians we can choose to be thermometers or thermostats.

So we know a thermometer takes the temperature but it can’t alter the temperature. It just tells it as it is. There are plenty of us that can have an opinion on situations and dare I say point out what we think is wrong but we don’t do anything to bring about change or influence things for good.

On the other hand a thermostat actually changes the temperature. It can influence the temperature. If we want to change situations or circumstances and bring Godly influence then let’s be thermostats and not thermometers. We are filled with the Holy Spirit. We are God-Carriers. Let’s be the instruments of God’s righteousness and love. Let’s pray for change and bring God’s kingdom down to earth.

My dear friend Mary brought a word on being an atmosphere changer which I published on this blog some time ago. In light of the recent reminder about being a thermostat, I am including it again. Please have a read of An atmosphere changer…

Have a blessed day my friends.

Woman Interrupted…

So my normal pattern of blogging, if I have one to be honest as it usually is quite random, has been interrupted of late. Some of you may have noticed that I have not posted for a couple of weeks. I’ve also not been able to catch up with my fellow bloggers and read much of their blogs either so I’m looking forward to a WordPress binge at some stage. I’ve missed you.

So what have you been doing all this time I hear you ask that has caused me to be a woman interrupted.

Well some of it was planned and some was very unplanned. Some of it has been joyous and some not so, but in it all – the ups and downs the Lord has been there. God is so faithful. His loving kindness and strength keeps us and sustains us.

There have been holidays, birthdays, a 4 day music festival (now that was fun), a graduation, an eldest daughter moving back home, a new job for her, exam results for the youngest…not what she expected so that has required a lot of on going parental support and Godly wisdom, illnesses, looking after elderly parents, broken bones (not mine), supporting friends, volunteer work, prayer support, lots of actual work and more work and most of all…change! and more change!

I’ve discovered in this short time that change is pretty exhausting. It takes a lot out of you mentally and physically. It requires a lot of adaptation, learning how to do things differently or learning new skills and requires perseverance when things are tough. I have felt drained and more tired than I’ve felt before during this time so I need to rest more and draw nearer to God. Relying and drawing on Him. That’s the challenge for me. Resting. Resting and also putting some things to one side. Saying No to some things or some people when I need to and not feeling guilty about it.

I’ve discovered how much I miss my WordPress friends and blogging during this time too so normal service will be resumed as soon as possible 😊 in the meantime…..

Taking it easy my friends

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”
Psalm 23:1-3

Taking Stock

Today, I attended for the first time a breakfast meeting with Christians from all over our region of the Black Country in the West Midlands organised by “Love Black Country”. For those who may not be familiar with the Black Country it is an area outside of Birmingham which takes in the four boroughs of Sandwell, Dudley, Wolverhampton & Walsall. I myself live and work in the Dudley borough in the town of Stourbridge.

It is an area with a great industrial heritage, rich in coal, iron and other minerals and many specialisms developed in local industries of glass making, iron & steel works, chain making, leather working etc. A little known fact but the chain for the ship Titanic was made in the Black Country in Netherton and the first steam locomotive to run in America was built right here – it was called the “Stourbridge Lion”.

The area has, like other industrial areas, suffered over the years through various recessions and loss of manufacturing jobs etc. and areas within the boroughs have been and are still classed as deprived. However, as Christians we believe in a God who can bring about transformation. The churches in the boroughs have joined together as a network with a vision for transformation of the area through:

Listening to God. Working Together. Pursuing Transformation.”

Their logo is below and you can access their site here to find out more about them and the vision at https://loveblackcountry.org.uk

The Big Breakfast today was the first opportunity for, what I understand was a smaller than usual group, to meet together since the Covid restrictions were implemented and certainly for me was the largest group of people that I have met with for the last 15 months. It was a great time and I’m glad that my friend encouraged me to go – it was a very early start!! There were Christians from all denominations and sizes of churches represented. A great opportunity to meet other believers – we may have some differences in how we do things but we can still come together in unity with a common purpose to see our borough changed by the love of Jesus.

It was a time to remind ourselves how much has changed for Christian fellowships and believers during this time of Covid. A time to take stock. There has been, because of the enforced changes, great innovations and flexibility in delivering church meetings and fellowship online and the opportunities to use new technologies. We were certainly moved out of our comfort zones big time and for many it was a scary time, unsettling and difficult but there were great things achieved for God’s Kingdom. Today was a chance to hear about the experiences of others and reflect on what has happened during this period and thank God for the good things that the Churches were able to do to show God’s love and help their local communities. When people were looking for help they turned to the churches because there already existed a network of volunteers and programmes in place. Many churches were prepared and could connect with other local organisations to facilitate and provide help where it was needed. On line church services became more accessible to those who would not usually have entered a church building.

It was also a time of reflecting on the sad things which have happened – the losses, deaths, times of grief, isolation and difficulties which people have encountered. The speaker talked about us moving into a season of rebuilding and restoration but just as in the time of Nehemiah, it was important to go out and survey and ascertain the true state of the Church. Take stock of the damage. Nehemiah did exactly this. He went out before he did any rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem to inspect and review their actual condition which had been reported to him but he needed to see it for himself. He also wept over their condition. I thought that was a very wise and thought provoking statement. Before going forward it is important to look and assess our true condition and any damage or hurts sustained in this period which sometimes unless it is obvious to us can only truly be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. The hidden cracks in the foundations. It is good to have a time of reflection and assessment of the true state of where we are in God whether that is in the corporate sense or individually.

For some years previously, I had received a number of words and encouragements when praying about being in a season where God was wanting us to move out of our comfort zones.  I know that this resonated with a number of people that I regularly pray and fellowship with. There was a sense that as Christians we had become too comfortable whether that was in our fellowships, in our buildings, in our traditions and programmes. God wanted to shake us out of our comfort zones.  Like the mother bird stirring up her nest and pushing her young out – she does it for their own good – they have to learn to fly and leave the nest. As Christians, God is encouraging us to leave our comfort zones – move out of nests- the place we may have made our security and put our trust Him. He truly knows what is best for us and what will enable us to grow and develop in Him and to reach those who need to encounter Him. Covid has brought about an enforced period of change and this is an opportunity which many people have taken hold of to do just that – they have tried new things, new experiences and taken new risks. They have moved and I believe God wants you to keep moving forward, trying new things in Him and not going back to the familiar ways of doing things. It is certainly a time of change which isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Change will bring about transformation.

Have a blessed day in the Lord. Perhaps a day to take stock and reflect.

Stir(red) hearts

Do you experience times when you read something in the bible and it’s like “wow, I never thought much about that before”. I had one of those moments today.

I was reading in the Old Testament about the time the Jewish Exiles were allowed to return to Jerusalem and their homes after spending 70 years in captivity in Babylon with the purpose of rebuilding God’s temple which was the fulfilment of the prophecy given by the Prophet Jeremiah.

The bible simply says “He (God) stirred the heart of Cyrus”.

“In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, the Lord fulfilled the prophecy he had given through Jeremiah. He stirred the heart of Cyrus to put this proclamation in writing and to send it throughout his kingdom: “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build him a Temple at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Any of you who are his people may go there for this task. And may the Lord your God be with you!” 2 Chronicles 36:22-23

It was God who stirred the heart of the King, Cyrus to bring His Will to pass and for prophecy to be fulfilled. God planted the seed of the idea into Cyrus. Now Cyrus still had a choice when he felt that stirring. He could have deliberately hardened his heart against it. He could have refused to follow through with what God had planted in his heart as Pharaoh had when it was time for the Egyptians to let Gods people go. God had to show through His miraculous demonstrations of power to Pharaoh that His people were leaving and nothing was going to stop it.

God not only stirred Cyrus’ heart but He also stirred the heart of His people, the leaders and the Priests to respond and want to return to their homeland. Perhaps the people also needed God’s stirring to get them moving. Perhaps some of them had grown comfortable where they were now and accepted this was to be their way of life, their place. God had different ideas. He wanted to bring them back to their inheritance. The land He had promised to their fathers.

Then God stirred the hearts of the priests and Levites and the leaders of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. And all their neighbors assisted by giving them articles of silver and gold, supplies for the journey, and livestock. They gave them many valuable gifts in addition to all the voluntary offerings” Ezra 1:5-6

I believe God is still at work stirring hearts in those in authority over us in these day whether, Kings, Queens, Presidents, government officials, bosses or others. God is also still stirring hearts amongst His people to get us moving and serving and doing in order for His purposes and plans to be fulfilled. He uses His church to show His love, grace and mercy and declare His salvation and power.

As a bird stirs up her nest to get the chicks to leave, I believe God is stirring hearts to move out from the comfort zones and into unfamiliar territory.

Perhaps God has been stirring your heart to lead you into something new. A new journey, a new opportunity or a new mission. Perhaps, you have had prophetic words or a dream from God and God is stirring up other hearts to enable that to come to fulfilment.

Lord stir up our hearts today according to your holy purposes so that your plans may be achieved through us your holy people. Amen 🙏

An atmosphere changer…

My friend Mary shared a story with our prayer group the other day about being an atmosphere changer.

Mary lives at home alone and during the afternoon she had gone into her bedroom and found it was freezing, freezing cold. A really Icy cold. She couldn’t work out why as the heating was on in the rest of her house.

Mary soon discovered that the cause was her air conditioning unit which had been switched on. This really puzzled my friend because she hadn’t switched it on. No-one else had been in her bedroom so there was no reason for it to be on.

Now if you are like me then I probably would have just switched the unit off and not given this another thought, but my friend is a very wise and discerning lady. She wanted to know more so she asked the Lord if he was trying to tell her something through this.

She felt the Lord say that just as an air conditioning unit changes the atmosphere around us, Jesus wants us to be atmosphere changers wherever we are or wherever we go because we carry the Holy Spirit within us.

This is such a simple truth but really powerful when we grasp hold of it. We are already atmosphere changers because of what we already carry within us through Christ.

Have you ever noticed that there are some people who when they walk into a room everyone notices. The atmosphere changes. These people influence the behaviour of those around them. We often refer to these type of people as charismatic.

The root word of charisma in the Greek is charis which means grace, kindness, life.

We have received all of these things in Christ so we are Charismatic people. You can say that to yourself today with confidence. I am charismatic because of Christ Jesus in my life and I am an atmosphere changer. I am carrying grace, kindness and life with me today wherever I go.

With this in mind let us go out today with joy..let the mountains and the hills will break forth before us. Let’s see what atmospheres we can change today. Amen

Blessings to you today.

Charismatic in Christ