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

Danger Danger

The other morning I woke up thinking of the bible verses about Cain. The Lord warns Cain:

“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

I had a picture of sin as a lion crouching at the door just waiting to pounce and so I was very intrigued when that morning I saw a post by Alan at Devotional Treasures called Being in Him with a picture of lions in a safari park and warning us about the folly of not being aware of danger.

Alan said “I have seen this many times over the years with some believers in their walk with God; they dismiss the threats of evil before them only to be devoured by it later on”.

Then Andy also posts about the Great sin of Cain on the same day.

This wasn’t coincidence to me and it got my attention. I believe the Holy Spirit is speaking to us and warning us not to be ignorant of the dangers of sin and it’s effect on our walk with Jesus. We must actively resist sin and deal with it especially as the Lord warns us it’s desire is to have us and ensnare us.

The Apostle Paul tells us to:

“lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus” Hebrews 12:1

Sin can easily ensnare us because we all have our own weaknesses and temptations. We live our lives out in a generally hostile environment. We are in the world but no longer of the world. If we think we are immune to the temptation of sin then we are being unwise.

However, we should not be ignorant of this says Paul and of the enemies’ strategies against us. We have been equipped to deal with sin. As the Lord said to Cain – you should rule over sin.

So let us take captive the wrong thoughts, crucify our flesh, put on the armour of God, stand firm in our faith and pray. We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and follow His example of endurance and we rely on the power of God through the Holy Spirit working in us to help us overcome our weaknesses. We submit to God and resist the enemy. The Lord will through His grace provide a way of escape for us.

We are no longer slaves to sin because of Jesus’ victory over sin. Through Christ’s victory we too can rule over sin. When we fall we can get up again. We have forgiveness in Jesus.

These are not passive responses as we can see but require us as disciples of Jesus to take action. Be vigilant we are told in Scripture. Deal with sin. Don’t let it get a foothold in our lives.

The expression “playing with fire” came to me whilst writing this post.

Dear reader, if you or someone you know is “playing with fire” thinking they won’t get burnt by the danger of sin and putting themselves in temptations’ way. Stop – realise the danger you or they are in with regards to any sin or temptation to sin and turn around, repent and get out of it quick. Don’t delay.

Please stop playing with fire or you will get burnt.

Photo by Raúl Nájera on Unsplash

First Snow

Don’t get toooooo excited but we woke up to our first snow of the winter today as a result of storm Arwen. It wasn’t very much but it was still snow. We don’t get much snow where I live so for the children it’s great excitement. Making snowmen, sledging and all the fun things then you get cold, wet and can’t wait to head back in 🤣

I posted yesterday about our sins being washed away and becoming as white as snow in Pure Whites by Jesus’s blood and posted this bible verse:

“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.
Isaiah 1:18

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities”. Psalm 51

I love the snow and so it’s wonderful that it gives me another opportunity to blog these bible verses again today and be thankful for salvation in Jesus who cleanses us from all our sins. As I enjoy the snow today I am reminded again of this truth.

Bless you my friends and have a joyous day.

The dog enjoying his morning walk in the snow

Washed Clean

I saw these lovely old posters in a railway station today and they reminded me of the incredible blessing of being washed clean of sin by the precious blood of Jesus.

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7

No man made soap could ever wash away our sins and make us clean in God’s sight.

“For though you wash yourself with lye, and use much soap, Yet your iniquity is marked before Me,” says the Lord God. Jeremiah 2:22”

It is only the “son” the “light” of the world who can make us truly clean.

Thankfully, Jesus is always willing to cleanse us. His offer is open to everyone to come and be cleansed.

“And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Matthew 8:2-3

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”
1 John 1:9

Thank you Lord for cleansing us from our sins and making us clean and righteous in your sight. Amen

Have a blessed day 😊

Today..God is speaking

In the night, I was wakened with theses words “Today, if you will hear His voice DO NOT HARDEN your heart.” I felt a great stirring from the Lord to share these words with us all today so that we can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the true condition of our hearts.

The Lord is speaking in these days to us through His Holy Scriptures and through His Holy Spirit. He wants us to hear His voice above all others. Especially each day. What is God saying Today. Let us have ears to hear as the Spirit says, what the Lord is speaking to us, individually and corporately as His body of believers. His church.

I have posted below the scriptures which speak of our hearts being hardened. We are warned to guard our hearts against unbelief, sin, unfaithfulness and disobedience as these will hinder and stop us entering into what God has for us.

My dear friends, I pray that we will seek the Lord for His guidance today and repent of anything the Holy Spirit reveals to us through Holy Scripture which is causing our hearts to be hard. Sometimes we don’t realise that there can be a hardening of our hearts. It can be very subtle.

Many years ago, my husband was extremely ill and thought he was having a heart attack. His symptoms were of a heart attack and in the ambulance and at the hospital, the tests were showing a heart attack. He was very young at the time and you would not think he could be suffering a heart attack. He was very healthy and fit. Even when the ambulance crew came, they laughed with us at the very thought but all soon changed when the ECG machine tested his heart.

However, the Consultant at the hospital said that they would not diagnose a heart attack until the blood tests came back. It was the blood which would tell them the condition of the heart. When the blood test came back there had been no evidence of a heart attack.

The consultant informed us that it was a virus that was attacking my husbands heart. The virus worked by hardening the tissue around the heart and squeezing it and if the virus was left untreated it would continue eventually causing the heart itself to become hardened. Sin, unbelief, disobedience in our lives are like that virus. Left unchecked they will work to cause great harm to our hearts.

The good news was that the treatment of this condition which was affecting my husbands’s heart was so simple. It was a little tablet which you could buy cheaply and easily from any pharmacy, an anti-inflammatory tablet. It would quickly break down the effects caused by the virus. Praise God it soon did and my husband quickly recovered.

The same is true for us. The hardening of our hearts can be healed through humbling ourselves, confessing our sins before God, repentance and the cleansing of our hearts by the washing of the Word and the blood of Jesus. We become restored and healed. Our hearts are cleansed and softened.

I pray that you will be encouraged and challenged today. That you hear His voice and respond to God. Have a blessed day. Scriptures posted below for ease.

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years.

Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work. “Psalm 95:6-9

“For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. “Hebrews 3:7-19

“But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember?
Mark 8:17-18 –

Christ in our hearts. The King of Glory

Condemnation

I don’t know about you but I really don’t like the word Condemnation.

Judges use it when passing sentences on an accused who has been found guilty and sentenced to a punishment which can include death. It must be a terrible thing to be condemned especially to death.

The bible tells us that the wages of sin is death but that through faith and salvation in Jesus Christ there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus has paid the price of our sins, all of them, and justified us completely.

It is sad that many of us are still struggling under the lie of condemnation and guilt.

The Holy Spirit convicts us as believers when we do wrong but does not bring condemnation.

If you still feel condemned and that you deserve everything that happens in your life. That it’s a just punishment for what you’ve done then God wants to remind you that He is a gracious and merciful God. Forgiveness means forgiveness. Please do not get trapped in condemnation. God blots out our sins from His remembrance and remembers them no more. It is by grace that we are saved.

He is a God who abundantly pardons us.

If we still have a definite intention to continue to sin and disobey God then that is not walking in the spirit but in the flesh. As followers of Christ we are new creations in Him and the old sinful self has been crucified with Christ.

We are called to be holy just as Jesus was holy so that we can proclaim the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. 1 Peter 2:9

We do mess up though and make mistakes and it is the mercy and forgiveness of God that we need in such times. That is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He keeps us on that narrow path

Believing condemnation traps us and keeps us from moving forward and growing. Jesus wants to set us free from condemnation so that we can run the race He has for us.

The bible tells us that sin entangles us and ensnares us.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Hebrews 12:1-3

Jesus intercedes for us before Gods throne of grace. He is our compassionate High Priest. He has overcome the world and persevered and He knows that we too can overcome sin through His strength and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

He believes in us.

Don’t give up even if you mess up.

Jesus doesn’t condemn us so let’s not condemn ourselves or allow others to condemn us.

We are called to help each other when we get it wrong. Speaking the truth in love to each other. We can’t ignore bad behaviour or turn a blind eye or sweep it under the carpet because that does not help anyone and the body of Christ becomes sick. Hypocrisy is not the way.

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.’
Luke 11:34-36

In helping others let us not fall into the trap of criticism, condemnation and judging each other which can be wounding and lead to hurts that fester and cause bitterness.

Blessings to you today in Jesus 🙏