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

Joseph Hero of the Faith (7)

We’ve been looking at Joseph’s character over the last series of posts, which had so much to encourage and teach us about Godly character as disciples of Jesus, but today’s question is Why Egypt? Why was it necessary for the action to take place in Egypt.

Jacobs’ family lived in Canaan. They were shepherds with livestock who moved their flocks around in search of pasture. Their environment and pastures were suitable for that but not for large scale agriculture. The famine that was coming was going to be devastating on an unprecedented scale and preparation was key.

It was not uncommon to have famines in those times. We read in the bible that there had been several famines already. In Abraham & Isaac’s time they had been forced to travel to foreign lands to buy food. This famine was going to be different though. 7 years was a long period of famine. It was going to affect a large number of people.

Where was a fertile place that could produce enough food to sustain the people and surrounding nations over seven long years with planning and preparation. Egypt was the answer. It was a natural resource.

The river Nile regularly flooded and the delta region around the Nile with its mud flats was rich in minerals and natural fertiliser. It was an extremely fertile region and capable of producing great harvests. A land of abundance.

Joseph was found and placed in the place where the resources were. God put those resources in his hands to be a blessing to many.

Has God given you a vision or mission field but at the moment you just don’t see how it’s going to be possible because you don’t have the resources currently. If God has given you the vision then He will provide. He is Jehovah Jireh. The Lord who provides. God knows where the resources are and can make them available to you for His glory and His purposes. God will provide according to His riches in glory.

God can provide not only the resources to make the vision come to pass but can also direct your paths to the place that is ready to receive. Your mission field. The place of harvest. God can take you to a place which is fertile and ready to receive God’s Word. You might already be right in that fertile place. A place where the soil of men’s hearts, through the work of the Spirit of God, been turned from stone into flesh, softened and ready to receive the Good News of Jesus.

Prepared in prayer with tears of intercession for men’s souls. Brother Alan posted recently the passionate plea of John Knox “ Give me Scotland, or I die”. What passion in prayer for the lost. You can read that post here John Knox

The Nile valley was so fertile that any seed which was sown didn’t need to be ploughed into the ground. The ground was so softened by the regular floods it was ready to receive the seed and the seed could immediately take root and grow.

The fields by my home ploughed ready for the seed

The Lord will show us those people whose hearts are prepared ready to receive the Gospel of Jesus. They are out there desperate and thirsty for the gospel. Jesus told His followers that the harvest was great. There are people who are open and desperate to hear the Good News of Jesus.

Then He (Jesus) said to them, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” Luke 10:2

One of the greatest lies the enemy would have us believe is that people are not interested in what Christians have to say. They are interested. People are hungry for the Truth and are looking for it in all sorts of places. Be encouraged and bold that the Lord will direct your steps to share with those who are open and ready to receive.

If the ground is hard and not ready to receive then the seed is going to wither and die. Have you seen what happens when a heavy rain storm falls on hard ground. The water can’t penetrate the ground quickly enough and there is flash flooding. The ground was not prepared ready to receive the rain let alone the seed. It doesn’t penetrate the soil but runs off.

We don’t want run off.

We don’t want our words to run off like that water but we want them to penetrate and water the soil of men’s hearts. Ploughed soil is ready to receive. Ground that is broken up is ready to receive the rain. Little raindrops from heaven. Little words sent in due season.

If the soil is not ready to receive then it needs to be prepared. If those around you currently are hard hearted to the gospel message then we can intercede in prayer for them before God’s throne for the Holy Spirit to minister to their minds and hearts. For those hearts of stone to be turned to hearts of flesh. We can cry out for them to God. May our cries reach the ears of our Father in Heaven who sent His son to seek and save that which was lost.

If you are like me then I’m sure you have experienced rejection by people who were just not ready to receive you. It can be discouraging and cause us to hold back in future. I am learning that I need to recognise the conditions and discern when to sow and when to reap. To be led by the Holy Spirit and move on if the conditions are not ready yet.

Jesus told those that He sent out to minister that if there was no Peace in the house i.e the place was not ready to receive them – then their peace would return to them. If the disciples were not received then they were to shake the dust from their feet and move on.

And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.
Matthew 10:14

Even though those disciples must have encountered some of the rejection that Jesus warned them about, they still returned with joy to tell Jesus the things they had accomplished in His name.

We will do likewise. We will rejoice over those who receive Christ and come into the Kingdom of God.

Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5-6

The seed sprouting in the fields

Joseph – Hero of the Faith (5)

As we have already seen in the previous post, Joseph demonstrated patience and long suffering through his troubles, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit of God.

Joseph also showed that there was no bitterness or desire for vengeance in his heart even after all that had happened to him. When the opportunity arose for Joseph to take revenge on all those who had wronged him, when he was in a position of authority and power as second only to Pharaoh to be able to do so, he chose mercy and forgiveness instead.

Its when you have the power yourself to inflict wounding on those who have wronged you but you refuse to do so, that is the power of God in action. When you bless them, that is the power of God in action. When you feed them, that is the power of God in action. When you love them that is the power of God in action.

Joseph was willing to help the Egyptians in their greatest hour of need. These were the same people who had cruelly mistreated him, enslaved him and wrongly imprisoned him. They were foreigners to him, not his tribe or nation. He had no loyalty to them or reason to help them.

Joseph was also willing to help his family, those who had once betrayed him, stripped him of his robe, tried to kill him, put him in a pit with no water or food, sold him into slavery, and abandoned him. He could have sent them packing when they came begging for bread but he didn’t. He had the power of life and death in his hand. He chose to grant them life and provide for them.

Joseph showed incredible forgiveness towards his brothers for their betrayal and cruel treatment of him. Not just in word but as we have seen in and through his actions as well.

Jesus gave a similar command to us, His followers:

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.

35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.

Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36.

Joseph’s brothers themselves could not understand how Joseph could possibly have forgiven them. You see they still thought as ungodly men. They were worried that Joseph would change his behaviour once Jacob was dead so they pretended that Jacob had told them on his deathbed that Joseph had to forgive them.

They failed to understand the grace and mercy that Joseph showed them. That is why God chose Joseph over them. They couldn’t grasp the ability to forgive and not seek revenge.

Some people cannot understand how God can forgive us our sins and all the cruelty and wickedness in this world but He does through Christ. Jesus has paid the price for all our sins, justice has been met and now there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus who himself forgave his enemies from the cross. Freely we have received so freely give.

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

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.

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.

Each of us an “Emmanuel” too!

Each of us an “Emmanuel” too!

http://lordmychef.com/2021/12/17/each-of-us-an-emmanuel-too/
— Read on lordmychef.com/2021/12/17/each-of-us-an-emmanuel-too/

This is a beautiful post by our dear brother in Christ which I was blessed to read today. I hope you find it a blessing too in thinking about Joseph’s character and behaviour from Jesus’ story as an example to us.