Do you have a promise from God?
Are you waiting for it?
Does it seem like it will never come?
I guess that just about everyone can say a resounding yes to those questions, but I have to ask another.
Are you handling it properly?
I have often spoken on similar lines, but this time the story is based on Joseph.
it will be from a different perspective perhaps and I hope to share a few keys that may help you know what to do and how to go about it, so let’s start...
God was working to a plan! Many years beforehand, He made a covenant with Abraham that he and Sarah would have an heir. God is not a liar. Neither is He bound by time. If He said it, what He said is truth and it will happen.
25 years after making that promise, when it seemed totally impossible, Abraham and Sarah (not Abraham and Hagar) had that son.
The promise was fulfilled.
This was around 1897 years before Christ.
Abraham’s heir, Jacob, was on the receiving end of that same promise and it applies to us also today.
His birth was not under pleasant circumstances.
Sometimes the thing we really love, does not, or perhaps I should say cannot arrive immediately.
The other person can fail in fulfilling their part, do it differently, or only partially fulfill it. This is but one reason to keep quiet and be careful in what we share—how much we share—to whom we share and when, as we talk about our hopes, dreams and expectations and in particular, our ministry vision.
There are two good reasons for being quiet and it is not because we are being secretive. The first one is that we just might not yet see the full picture and acting prematurely can actually wreck God’s plan.
We could get sidetracked and go off onto a tangent that, although it seems great, is not going to get us to the right destination at the right time.
We talk of the sorting of the sheep from the goats. That’s coming later. Right now, the Lord is sorting sheep from sheep!
I am often asked to visit churches in other countries and, although I would like to do so more than I do at present and the Lord says that I will do so, I do not know the timing. In essence, God has not yet given permission, but when I get the green light...I’m off and running, but until then we all must chafe at the bit and learn something everyone hates...exercise patience. If not, then we will do what He never asked us to do...yet.
At first such delays and disappointments will hit us all. The issue is how we handle such things. Sometimes we might not know why our plans do not seem to be working, or working as fast as we would like, but there is always a good reason. Father knows best! We later found out that if we had gone when we originally planned, we would have been killed in an Arab country and perhaps our bodies dumped in the desert, never to be found!
This is one reason why we need to exercise patience and listen to the voice of the Lord!
Another reason for keeping quiet is that we can telegraph our moves to the enemy. In WW2, many different kinds of posters like “Walls have ears” abounded. It helped prevent spies from finding out the Allies plans and setting traps.
Similar things can happen in the realm of the spirit also. This stuff is real. It is no spiritual fantasy. Marjorie and I are constantly told to be silent about many of our plans. In my own exuberant, almost childish excitement, I am prone to blab too much, telling just about everyone what we are going to do and got hurt in the process, because of the negative treatment and opposition often received—by Christians. We sometimes get better treatment by non-believers.
One problem is that we think that most other people “think like us”. They don’t! They might not have had the same revelation. They might get a huge dose of spiritual jealousy and if they don’t have what you have, do not want you to have it too. Dream-killers are around! Sadly, many of them are fellow believers. Spiritual jealousy does exist.
A pastor has a serious and accountable position, caring for the Lord’s sheep. We use the term “my church” or “my ministry” and understand why, but in reality they are the Lord’s sheep...not ours. It is His Church, not mine. When the Lord took me to hell for a 45 minute visit, I saw pastors there! I am fully aware that what I say and do has to thus be “right” before the Lord. He told Timothy to lay hands suddenly on no one. This relates to doing it too soon.
Never be in a hurry about appointing a church leader. Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. 1 Timothy 5:22
Returning now to our main message, the passage of interest is-
It is not that God “forgets”. He never does that, but He has an appointed time for things and when that time arrives, it then happens and so it seems that He then “remembers”. I hope you see it.
Come now to Genesis 37. It is approximately 17 years later and Jacob showed partiality to Joseph. I know we can have “favorites”, but we really shouldn’t. Our love and affection should be impartial and equal to all. Although the firstborn was supposed to have the inheritance, Jacob did not treat all his children equally and it created the environment whereby the other children started to resent Joseph. I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of sibling rivalry. As the last child of my own parents, I was sometimes treated like a boy, even after leaving my parents’ home when I got married. Those of you who are parents need to “do it right” or risk problems in the family environment. One thing to avoid is doting on anyone.
Jacob doted on Joseph so much that he made him a “coat of many colors” and this really got up the others’ noses.
This coat of many colors, was more of a multi-layered shirt-like tunic and the reference to colors is not really what you think. It may have been multi colored, but the real significance is that it represented abundance or plenty and at times indicated that the wearer was to be the heir! Little wonder they got mad. They got so mad at Joseph (but Jacob was the culprit) that they started slandering him. That was their evil report.
Pastors and Christian workers, never get jealous over someone else’s calling and anointing. Do not slander anyone. What is sad is that it often has bad consequences, to the point that the person can become bitter and negative, continually looking for faults in others and the blessing can cease! Their life can dry up.
It can get so bad that the perpetrators are actually doing the devil’s work, because he is the accuser of the brethren. I know that because I have been on the receiving end of such devilish junk. It got so bad once that I thought of taking legal action until the Lord told me to drop it, forget it, get on with my job and let Him handle it. He did! Please do not touch the anointing and please do not gossip.
Such things engender strife and contention and Joseph’s own brothers started hating him, simmering on it, hating him more, simmering on it more and more and the cycle goes on. Sad to say, sometimes fellow believers do this.
Genesis 37:5 tells us that Joseph had a dream. Now dreams can have no meaning whatsoever. Sometimes they can be plain crazy, but on occasions there is a meaning and they can often be interpreted.
Joseph’s dream was prophetic in nature, but it was for a future time. We want things “now”, but not “then” or "when".
It was all part of God’s plan and if you remember, God made a covenant with Abraham that includes us!
He told Abraham all about the blessing; all about the land; all about the good things (we want), but He also said that there would be a real issue; that they would have 400 years of dramas. We know of course that Israel was in bondage in Egypt for 430 years, but God brought them out—and a key part of the plan included Joseph.
This lad was an important part of the plan of God and God revealed it to him in this dream...but!
Joseph blabbed! He should have kept his mouth shut, but, as we are prone to do, got all excited and started shooting his mouth off before getting the full picture.
He had another dream later in Genesis 37:9.
I wonder what would have happened if Joseph had exercised a little more wisdom and discretion instead of shooting from the hip.
As usual, I ask questions. God wants us to know, not to hide things from us. We can come to Him and ask Him how things happened, why they happened and so on. My own prayer life has radically changed because we tend to get into a “give me” approach in prayer and come with a shopping list. That’s OK, but He know what we are like and what is happening before we cry out. We do not need to yell out. He is not deaf. Although Jesus spoke on persistence in prayer, He also told us that the Father Always heard Him and always means just that. If we know that God hears us, we can receive the answers, so praying the way God wants and how Jesus prayed is the key. See 1 John 5:14-15.
If God dwells In us, we do not have to “bring Him down” and seek, seek, seek seek. He is not a billion miles up in deep space but closer than you think. If we learn how to pray like Jesus, our prayer life would radically change...and our prayers would really be answered. Isaiah said that God hears us before we ask and whilst we are speaking, He will hear. Isaiah 65:24.
I rarely pray now (in the traditional way of thinking). I tend to have a family discussion with the Lord, sometimes with Marjorie and the Lord together and we discuss matters.
Anyhow, I’m getting sidetracked, (but am I really?). It seems to me that Joseph would have been better off seeking God in preference to shooting his mouth off to family, but God knew he would anyhow. Perhaps that was the only way God could get His plan to work.
The point I want to make is that, despite our weaknesses and frailties, immaturity and foolishness, God can turn things around, so if you have had a legitimate vision or dream from God in some manner, have enough common sense to sit on it and wait to see what comes next. Sometimes the things we are going through and the things that we really dislike and want to escape from, are the very things God wants to use to get the blessing to us; to get His plan to work.
Sometimes the dramas we face, are in a sense, self-inflicted. Job’s were. We focus on his problems, but they only lasted for 49 days. God never “allowed” the devil to inflict those things on him as we have been wrongly taught, but have to concede a legal truth as in a court of law in a court case and His hands were tied. Job finished up with twice what he lost!
Do you see what I am getting at? God could ask us to do a certain thing and we refuse to do it. He may ask us to stop doing a certain thing, but we continue in it. He could want us to go to a particular place, but we will not go there...or He may tell us not to go there, but we go anyhow and then, when the bottom falls out of everything, we start crying and complaining.
Is it remotely possible that God really wanted Joseph to simply move to Egypt voluntarily?
I really do not know, but he had to get there one way or another and probably had no intention of going anyhow. If so, then God may have had to “force the issue”. Never think that He will not take radical steps. He does. It is not all grace, grace, grace you know. We are still dealing with an unchanging God whose word never alters. Neither does His demands for holiness, righteousness, holiness, honesty, intregity and purity etc.
Jesus plainly told us that if we are not prepared to pay any price, including leaving your own home and family (if that is clearly what He wants), we are not worthy of being His true disciples. He did not say that He came only to bring peace. He said that He would also bring a sword.
Marjorie and I have experienced the traumas of having our own family turn against us, so we know what Jesus said is very real, but we also know that He is faithful and brings peace to the soul.
The issue is, “who” and “what” comes first? This is radical perhaps, but it is true and it is often seen in the bible.
One key word that is very unpopular is Obedience. 1 Samuel 15:22 is a classic example. I did a quick search on obedience and got more than 200 references, but what has this to do with Joseph?
Although The Law had not yet been given, is may be possible that Joseph had “broken” this commandment-
There is a spiritual principle at stake. Sure that (written) Law was not yet given, but in his immaturity and rashness, had he inadvertently broken it by talking too much? Let us see the full account of his dreams.
What happened and what did he do wrong?
God had a plan and was trying to tell Joseph about it, but Joseph let the cat out of the bag and it’s hard to get the cat back in afterward. Let us bring this into our own lives now and see how it applies to us. When God has a plan and wants you to get involved, He can tell you in different ways such as-
Check it out. Get confirmation to affirm that it is indeed God speaking.
Our problem is impatience, forgetting that the best wine is kept until last and that we are here as in Esther’s case, “for such a time as this”.
The Lord once shared with me His thoughts on “witnessing”, “serving” and “working for Him, saying that He would prefer people to Be witnesses rather than “witnessing”.
God’s plan included Joseph, but the boy got into all kinds of problems and they all started off when he could not shut up and tried to make things happen. You know the story. His brothers wanted to kill him, but we forget that the literal act is no different to the attitude of the heart.
The outcome was that Joseph was sent to Egypt, but God knew what was going on and the lad had to get there somehow. We need to exercise wisdom, discretion and patience in the dealings of God in our lives.
I believe in healing. I’ve seen enough in 50 years to know that the healing ministry of Jesus is real and that He wants us to heal the sick too, but I never discount the sovereignty of God.
Just before my last visit to India, a lump came up on the back of my left wrist close to the thumb joint. It was huge and I went to the doctor who told me it was a sebaceous cyst and he operated. I watched him pull stuff like cheese out, leaving a hole a little larger than the size of a pea. To avoid possible problems he placed a wick in it and bandaged it. That was late Tuesday. I was departing on Friday and told him the reason, testifying about the Lord. He told me I was not going anywhere, but to come back on Thursday to check. He gave me some kind of bandages with strict instruction about hygiene, reluctantly saying I could travel.
One day, I saw an ad from a skincare surgery and called the number. The doctor answered and when I told him I had a sore that would not go away, he told me to immediately come in and I watched him cut out a Basal Cell Carcinoma (skin cancer) from my arm. As soon as I hung up on that call, the Lord spoke very clearly, “I’m glad you did that.” I asked Him why He did not heal me and He told me that He wanted me to meet that doctor and talk to him.
The point I am trying to make is that we can be “correct doctrinally” and act “super-spiritual” but miss out on what God wants to do, forgetting His sovereign rule and dominion. We really need to listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice.
God wanted Joseph in Egypt to be appointed as the most powerful man in the known world, second only to the king, but it seems that the only way to get him there was through all kinds of problems.
He told his brethren, “I’m Joseph, your brother”—the title of this message.
The lesson we can learn about this is that sometimes life just sucks! Let’s be honest about it.
These are a few things that come to mind, but there may be more you could think of.
God is in the business of preparing people around the world for what is coming.
God is raising up men and women who will have a John the Baptist or a Joseph ministry. Let’s stick with Joseph.
He was raised by God to help his brethren, despite all the opposition and hardships he had to endure to get there. He was lied on, hit on by a conniving woman, enslaved, thrown in a pit, treated unfairly, forgotten and all this time, kept his dignity and righteous stand before God. Was it easy? No! Could you or I have done it? I wonder.
If you are going through dramas and problems in your own life, be it illness and you need money to pay for treatment, a job where there are no jobs, food when food is scarce, opposition of all kinds including violence, or plain old fashioned jealousy and envy leveled at you by others...including Christians, do not panic, become fearful and worry. God could be doing to you and for you what He did for Joseph.