Wednesday, 12 October 2016

On the Way to the Palace 14-Vulnerability& 3 other attributes

1And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I14 And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.15 And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?16 And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.17 And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. (Genesis 37:13-17) New Living Translation
17 “They have moved on from here,” the man answered. “I heard them say, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’”
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.-New International Version NIV

Joseph was called and asked by to  his father to go and check the welfare of his brothers .They were living in Hebron which was about 50miles away from Shechem. This must have been of great inconvenience to him but this man on the way to the palace was ready to do so.When Joseph got to Shechem, he  however did not find his brothers. It appears that as he continued the search for his brothers, he may have gotten  himself lost.

The next verse introduces Joseph as wandering when he was found by a certain man(Genesis 37:15). Although this man is unnamed, he proves to be of immense help to Joseph as we are told that he was found by him.

This certain man then asked Joseph the million dollar that we sometimes not want to be asked so we do not look at stupid  but when Joseph was asked, he answered truthfully  and said he was looking for his brothers.
The man on the way to the Palace is a man that is vulnerable enough to ask questions.He is not afraid to admit he does not know. Pride does not get in the way . It takes humility to learn anything(Proverbs 11:2,Psalms 25:9). Sometimes rather than simply admitting our ignorance, we subtly avoid it by giving spiritual answers. But for Joseph, the man on the Way to the Palace he was not ashamed to ask and because he asked, he was redirected. This saved him the many hours and time he would have spent in vain  searching all over Shechem especially as his brothers had left for Dotham. Joseph must have thanked the man while he redirected his search.

Joseph did not ignore the certain man because he was unknown, he reckoned that the man was God sent.The man on the Way to the palace is a man that recognizes destiny helpers. That certain man was a destiny helper whose conversation with Joseph helped him to  redirect  his steps. This certain man told Joseph that his brothers had moved to Dotham(Genesis 37:17).

Now Dothan was another 15 miles up north from Shechem. We see the heart of Joseph here as he moves further on to find his brothers.
It is easy to gloss over these facts but it takes a servant’s heart and one who really wants to do something to go another 15 miles. Joseph may have had his plans for the week when he left Hebron from Shechem, he may have calculated how long it would take and made some appointments which would all probably have gotten cancelled because he still had to  travel further north. Let us also remember that all of this travelling was not to get to a  sale of coats of many colours. It was all to go and check the welfare of his brothers who had not hidden their dislike of him.

The man on the Way to the palace is also someone who moves with the present word of God. When Joseph left home, his father had told him to go to Shechem(Genesis 37:14) but when he got to Shechem and did not find them, he was flexible enough to get the next word to move him to accomplish his mission. There are so many times we may be running with a word we heard several months ago forgetting that faith comes from hearing which is a present continuous tense(Hebrews 11:1). The man on the Way to the Palace must be ready at any time to check on what God is saying .

Joseph was also not dissuaded by the fact that the brothers had moved from Shechem. He was determined to fulfil the mission his father had given(Genesis 37:17). The man on the way to the Palace is a finisher. It does not matter the task at hand but once it has been committed to his hands, he can be trusted to get the job done. He does not allow seemingly obstacles to stop him from accomplishing his goals.

In this post, we have seen that the man on the way to the Palace is one that is vulnerable enough to ask questions,is one who hears a present word from God ,a man   that recognizes  destiny helpers and  certainly a  finisher.

Yours in His Service,

Grace Tom-Lawyer. 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

On the Way to the Palace 13-Availabilty 2

 And his brethren went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem .And Israel said unto Joseph, Are not thy brethren feeding the flock in Shechem? Come , and I will send thee unto them, And he said to him,here I am”- Genesis 37: 12-13 -King James Version (KJV)

 In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing-2 Timothy 2:21-26 The Message (MSG)

Although Joseph is the favourite son of Jacob, Jacob’s care for his other children is evident in the above conversation between him and Joseph. Some commentators have said that Jacob was a  shrewd businessman and as such, he wanted to know what was going on with his sons and his investments.While  we may not be able to judge Jacob’s motives for sending Joseph it is commendable that  he cared about the state of his children and his flocks. He did not leave it to chance. It is necessary for the man on the way to the Palace to emulate this and be  one who knows the state of his flock.

 It is also of note here that the writer of Genesis decides to use the name Israel here instead of Jacob. Throughout the book of Genesis, we see an interchange between the names of Jacob and Israel and it appears that Jacob is used usually  when the flesh is having the upper hand while Israel  is used when the spirit is more in control.
Since Israel is used in this case, I will like to infer that this errand was a divine one and the sensitivity of the man on the way to the Palace is seen again.Joseph responded appropriately.

This conversation between Joseph and his father reveals yet another virtue we must emulate if we will eventually get to the Palace like Joseph.
When  Israel (Jacob) called Joseph, he gave a brief recount of where his others sons were , expressed his concern for their safety  and asked Joseph to go and search for them.
Shechem was not anything less than 50 miles from where the family originally lodged  in Hebron and would require at some  days journey, not without inconvenience .However when Joseph was called to undertake this task, his reply is noteworthy –"Here I am ".These three words denote  Availability ,another characteristic of the man on the Way to the Palace.

The man on the way to the Palace is available, there is a readiness on his part to be sent, a willingness to be used .It does not matter to the man on the way to the Palace the task at hand rather it is the drive to please his master that is overwhelming.
Joseph said “Here I am” to his father’s request and did not end there but backed up his words by actually going to look for his brothers in Shechem. This is in contrast to the call of Moses whose encounter with God  essentially could be summarized as ”Here I am but send Aaron”  at the burning bush(Genesis 3).

The availability of the man on the way to the Palace is one that is not selective,when Paul was addressing Timothy , he said to him to become the kind of vessel God can use to do any and every kind of work (2 Timothy 2:20-21 The Message).

On the way to the Palace, there is no work too little or too big for the man, rather it is the desire to please his master that is the overriding factor.It does not matter whether the errand is to be done in secret or in the open . Whether it receives the applaud of men or not, the man on the way to the Palace is one that readily follows the beckoning of his master.No wonder Paul said that we make it our aim to please him( 2 Corinthians 5:9).
The availability of the man on the way to the Palace is backed by his actions. He is a doer ( James 1:22) Joseph did not only say” here I am” but he followed it up by going to look for his brothers.

Sometimes our words of commitments are not backed up by actions and this is not a new problem. Jesus illustrated this when he gave a parable to illustrate which son was eventually obedient in the parable of the two sons who were sent. One said I will go but didn’t but the other said I will not go initially but he eventually did( Matthew 21:28-32 ).

Availability is a mark of the man who will eventually get to the palace. He may not have all the qualifications but his readiness to be used will attract the grace in his life needed to carry out whatever task that is required(Paul the least qualified-1 Corinthians 15:9-10;Ephesians 3:8).

Grace Tom-Lawyer,
Yours in His Service.

“On the Way to the Palace” is the ongoing series of “Feasting at the Table” &this  continues on  Peace &Joy Radio every Saturday 11am GMT.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

On the Way to the Palace 9- Considering Jealousy

“Now the Patriarchs grew jealous of Yosef and sold him into slavery in Egypt. But Adonai was with him;” –Acts 7:9 CJB Complete Jewish Bible

“And the patriarchs, having become-jealous-of Joseph, sold him into Egypt. And God was with him”-Acts 7:9  DLNT, Disciple’s Literal New Testament

“Then the wrong in his heart makes him do the wrong thing. And the wrong thing he has done leads to death”- James 1:15 WE Worldwide English

 These evil thoughts lead to evil actions and afterwards to the death penalty from God”.-James 1:15-TLV Today’s Living Version

“Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer”- James 1:15 MSG The Message .

As long as we remain on this side of heaven, there will always be opportunities to become jealous of someone else as there will always be someone better, wiser, richer, prettier and an endless list if we choose to foolishly compare( 2 Corinthians 10:12).And since this is a temptation common to all, it is therefore wise for us to find out what really makes us jealous of another?

I will still like to draw mainly from the writings of Selwyn Hughes especially as he did a very good work on this topic. According to him, one of the reasons for jealousy is expectations. There is a certain level of expectation that the society at large could put upon us that may ultimately influence our views of ourselves and our accomplishments.
Joseph’s brothers probably expected some amount of affection from their father and seeing it all  lopsided to Joseph did not go down too well with them(Genesis 37:3-4).

A second reason for jealousy could be a feeling of inferiority. This could be subtle and one that the man on the way to the Palace needs to guard against. Whenever Joseph wore his coat of many colours around the house, it probably  made his brothers feel inferior to him in a way and this eventually provoked jealous(Genesis 37:3-4). The coat of many colours which Joseph wore was usually worn only by royalty and  heir apparent.

The third and possibly the main reason for jealousy according to Selwyn Hughes is an insecure self. When we are unable to appreciate the uniqueness of our own being  and personality, then it is easy for us to become jealous of others. It takes a level of security to acknowledge and applaud the achievements and giftedness  of others. The seeds of jealousy thrive easily in the grounds of the heart of a person who does not have or has little self worth.

But becoming jealous of another does not usually happen overnight. With determined consistency, evil thoughts can invade our hearts and would require a counter action not to allow them breed and develop. While it is not a sin for these evil thoughts to invade our hearts, the issue comes when we allow them to dwell there as eventually they will  then determine our actions(James 1:15).               

There may be other reasons for jealousy but if we are to deal with this destructive emotion , we must first  be able to admit that we have been bitten  successfully by its poisonous sting. If we are in denial of this fact, then there is very little chance that we can correct it.  

Denial of this emotion will also render the making of excuses possible. We could put on a facade while this cancerous monsters eats us within. The man on the way to the Palace must guard against jealousy but when he realizes he has been bitten by her stings, must be able to admit this and take the necessary steps out of jealousy.

In our next post, we will consider steps out of jealousy.

Yours in His Service,

Grace Tom-Lawyer.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

On the way to the Palace 8-Joseph's Brothers' Jealousy

Joseph has now been given a coat of many  colours by  his earthly father and two dreams by his heavenly father(Genesis 37;3,5,9). This triad combination made him the right candidate for his brothers’ jealousy(Genesis 37:11).
Within the space of seven verses, the writer of Genesis records the hatred and  jealousy of Joseph’s brothers towards him (Genesis 37:4-11). 

Jealousy is one of the troublesome emotions of this life which the man on the way to the palace must deal with from time to time. As long as we reside on this side of heaven, there will always be plenty of opportunities  to become jealous  as there will always be someone out there better than us in as many areas as we can think of, especially when we make the erroneous choice to  compare( 2 Corinthians 10:12).      

One could say that Joseph’s brothers  were dealing with sibling rivalry  which shows a pattern for jealousy. Those who are close to us are not spared from the pangs of jealousy. We usually do not get jealous of strangers (we find it easier to admit to their superiority) but would most likely struggle to applaud our immediate circle, be it family, friends, co-workers or even church members.

Jealousy spans all areas of life and  affects all strata of people. No one is immune  from the temptation to be jealous neither is jealous  restricted to physical things such as wealth, beauty, but opportunities, privileges and even spiritual gifts and success in ministry as well. The neighbourhood preacher is most likely to be jealous of a fellow new kid on the block preacher who comes into town and has his congregation triple in size in a couple of months than the TV Evangelist who is a world wide figure..Yes the octopus like legs of  jealousy could also reach spiritual things. Paul confirms this by telling us that some people were preaching the gospel out of strife  and jealousy(Phillipians 1:15).

There are actually two kinds of jealously, one that is good and healthy as seen in the case of God being jealous towards us and wanting u not to have any idols before him( Exodus 20:5 ).The kind of jealousy we see exhibited by Joseph’s brothers is the green-eyed monster. The man on the way to the Palace is one who knows how to handle jealousy and not be swallowed by the green eyed monster.

So what is Jealousy? I have read several definitions but I think I prefer the answer given by one  of my most beloved mentors Selwyn Hughes of blessed memory who wrote Every Day with Jesus daily devotional  faithfully for over forty years.

According to Selwyn; “Jealousy is the feeling of coldness & resentment that sometimes stirs in our heart when another is praised-somebody with whom we matched ourselves in thought and to whom we imagined ourselves to be superior. It is the thing that takes the heart out of the congratulations we feel obliged to give; that keeps us silent when we hear people unfairly criticized,that makes us glad when they stumble or fall”.
 I describe it as the  pit like feeling we get when we hear about the success of another. Somewhere at the back of our minds, we wish that the congratulatory messages they received is showered on us instead. According to our standards, they are not as good as people have acknowledged and when presented with an opportunity, we may be quick to share their faults.This sometimes leads to gossip and slander.

The poison of jealousy is one that could sometimes create irrevocable damage if left unchecked as we see  in the life of Joseph brothers. These evil thoughts rather than being resisted became a permanent fixture in their hearts which eventually led to evil actions.
The man on the way to the Palace must guard against jealousy and we would explore more on this in our next post.

Yours in His Service

Grace Tom-Lawyer.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

On the Way to the Palace 7- Joseph's Dreams 3

"9 Soon Joseph had another dream, and again he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,” he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!”
10 This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?”11 But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father wondered what the dreams meant."  Genesis 37:9-11 New Living Translation NLT
11 Joseph’s brothers envied him and were jealous of him, but his father observed the saying and pondered over it- Genesis 37:11 Amplified Version AMPC

To make a surety of what God had said, Joseph had yet another dream about his future. Indeed both the Old (Deuteronomy 19:15) and New(2 Corinthians 13:1;1 Timothy 5:19) Testament advocate the importance of more than one witness for a matter to be established .

Now this second dream although similar to the first was on a larger scale. It was a build up of the former. This latter dream   had to do with heavenly bodies which although Joseph was familiar with ,was out of his control. Joseph woke up from this divine encounter and tried to get his brothers to appreciate what had happened. In addition to telling his brothers, we are told Joseph took a step further and also informed his father, Jacob ( Genesis  37:10).

Jacob was sensitive enough to decode the meaning of his son’s dream.  However unlike the reaction of his brothers, Jacob is said to have had two reactions to the dream. The very first of these was a  sharp rebuke(scolded in the New Living Translation) to Joseph, which was  followed by a thoughtful reflection as we are told he later pondered about the dream( Genesis 37:11). The man on the Way to the Palace must recognize that even fathers may not acknowledge their dreams and  could mistakenly disapprove of them initially.

But perhaps if Jacob had pondered first, he would not have rebuked Joseph but typical of us all ,he spoke before thinking deeply (James 1:19),Even after thinking, he did not have a full understanding of what lay ahead of his son. Unlike God, .our knowledge is limited and we only know and understand in part ( 1 Corinthians 13 9 ) .It is wisdom  therefore for us  not to speak  against what we do not understand, lest we find ourselves in a position where we are fighting against God’s purpose(Acts 5:39 ).

For Joseph, it was through dreams God communicated but with us today, although God may choose to use dreams(Job 33:15, the acid test of all our revelations(dreams, visions, trance etc) should be God’s written Word(2 Timothy 3:16). All revelations should undergo an examination under the light of the Scriptures. We should not allow ourselves to be moved by dreams  blindly and pursue things that are  not right erroneously saying  “we  have a peace about it”. Having a peace about something that is not right is contrary to the scriptures which  says righteousness and peace have met together (Psalms 85:10).Peace that is not  synchronous with righteousness is false peace that may have been achieved by the searing of our consciences following several arguments with the Holy Spirit who is gentle enough to be grieved and be silent (Ephesians 4:30, 1 Thessalonians 5:19).

On the Way to the Palace, our dreams must not just be good but  must line up with the Word of God and his will for our lives(2 Peter 1:2). God and the word of his grace is sufficient enough to keep and guide us(Acts 20:32) eventually to the Palace.

Yours in His Service,
Grace Tom-Lawyer.

"On the Way to the Palace" is the current series on your Bible Study Programme "FEASTING AT THE TABLE” aka F.A.T which is hosted by Grace Tom-Lawyer every Saturday 11am GMT on Peace &Joy  Online Radio.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

On the Way to the Palace 6- Joseph's Dreams 2

One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. “Listen to this dream,” he said. “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!”
His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. Genesis 37:5-6 NLT New Living Translation 
The jealousy fuelled by the coat of many colours was  again compounded by Joseph’s seemingly grandiose dreams. He had two dreams which he recounted to his brothers. Rather than blame him for telling his brothers, it may be more profitable for us to note that his confession was preceded by belief. Several people may claim to believe, but the authenticity of a man’s belief is reflected by his words. It is noteworthy  that Joseph believed enough in his dream to have actually mentioned it to more than one person. The man on the way to the Palace is one who believes what God has spoken concerning him.

Joseph was not careless but was meticulous and had the details of  dreams he dreamt. He thought well enough of them  to remember clearly  and if he had a diary, I am really tempted to say he must have written them  down.

In this first dream, the grain(sheaves) of Joseph’s brothers gathered round his and bowed down to it. His brothers rightly offered the correct interpretation to this dream but sneered at the fact of the possibility of their younger brother ruling over them(Genesis 37:8). This was something that they could not fathom as they  chose to follow the natural order of things as their yardstick for elevation .They failed to realise that the dreams were not self-generated and that Joseph had been chosen by God. This choice was what made Joseph different from his brothers.

Perhaps it was not difficult for them to relate to the fact that their father loved Joseph more than them all(after all, he was the son of the favourite wife) but with these dreams, God also seemed to be favouring Joseph and this was a cause of jealousy. Although they envied him, judging the end point of glory, they did not know the path that he was going to have to  take, The man on the way to the Palace is chosen and with this comes a cross that he must carry daily.

The man on the way to the Palace is one that has been chosen and not necessarily by the natural order of things. This could cause others to envy him.

We also have been chosen by God (Ephesians 1:4) and the path to which he has called us is one that would ensure that we eventually become  as  priests and kings (Revelation 1:6)like his son.(Romans 8:29;2 Corinthians 3:18). Although this is glorious, it is not without rigorous training and discipline which for the present may not be attractive (Hebrews 12:1 ) but the whole journey  will be worth it( Romans 8:18 ) .

Yours in His Service,

Grace Tom-Lawyer.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

On the Way to the Palace 5- Joseph's Dreams

When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”-Genesis 37:4-5  

Joseph was given a coat of many colours by his father as a symbol of love  but provoked hatred amongst his brothers . After Joseph received the coat, the next thing that Moses tells us is the fact that he had a dream. Some translations say that he had a special dream. Although they could not speak a kind word to him, Joseph did not hesitate to tell them about his dreams. The man on the way to the Palace is one who is not bullied by the reactions of others to the blessings he receives He did not just tell someone but his eleven brothers and we cannot really blame him for telling his brothers who understandably may have been the only family he had. But telling the brothers about the dream shows something else that is worth emulating. The man on the way to the Palace must be sensitive to recognize divine communications and leading. He is a man who can recognize the hand of the supernatural in the natural everyday life.

The response of his brothers cause many commentators to blame Joseph for their reaction to him but to be honest, to take on such a guilt is unnecessary. The man on the way to the Palace must not allow the enemy to put unnecessary guilt as regarding the responses of others to our dreams. There will be various responses to our dreams and the fact that people are family members does not mean they will necessarily applaud our dreams.

It is not every direction that will come in the form of dreams and it is important for us to differentiate between a good idea and a God given dream. In the era of so many motivational speakers, it is quite plausible to be deceived especially as some Scriptures such as Philippians 4 ;13 could be used out of context with the implication that as long as we can think of something, we can do it. But even if we can do it and it is something good, the real question to ask is “is this a God dream or a good dream?.  David wanted to build a temple to honour God (and this was a great idea). He told Nathan the Prophet who assured him that it was alright to do so but before Nathan left the courts of the Palace, he received a message  from God saying that he would raise a son of David to build him a house (1 Chronicles 28:3;  2 Samuel 7 ).

In summary, the man on the way to the Palace is one that is not bullied by the reaction of others to his blessings neither will he take om unnecessary guilt, he is sensitive and recognizes divine leadings being  a man who is not content to pursue a good  dream only but a God dream.

In His Service,
Grace Tom-Lawyer,