Tuesday, 22 November 2016

On the way to the Palace 17 =Before the Pit

“ Now when Joseph reached his brothers, they stripped him of his tunic ,the {distinctive } multicoloured tunic which he was wearing ; 24 then they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty,there was no water in it”- Genesis 37:23-24 AMP Amplified Bible .
“When Joseph reached his brothers ,they ripped off the fancy coat he was wearing ,grabbed him and threw into a cistern.The cistern was dry ;there wasn’t any water in it”.- Genesis 37:23-24 MSG The Message 

;”And we have known and believed the love that God hath for us. God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him”.-  1 John 4:16 KJ21 21st Century King James Version
"So we know that God loves us. We depend on it. God is love. Anyone who leads a life of love is joined to God. And God is joined to them”.- 1 John 4:16  NIV R New International Revised Version
“And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him”.- 1 John 4:16  AMPC Amplified Version Classic Edition
“So we know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love. God is love. Everyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in them”.- 1 John 4:16  ERV English Revised Version
We have experienced and we have entrusted our lives to the love of God in us. God is love. Anyone who lives faithfully in love also lives faithfully in God, and God lives in him”.- 1 John 4:16 The Voice 

Joseph eventually found his brothers and got close enough to give a scream of joy and excitement at seeing them. Perhaps a hug from one of his brothers would have completed his joy. Instead it appears they gave him a rude welcome and dragged off his coat from him. If Joseph thought this was a joke initially, the reality of the situation hit him when he got thrown into the pit.

It is interesting to note that ­­­­­ one of the first things his brothers did before throwing him into the pit as they planned was to take away his coat of many colours. Let’s imagine the situation a little bit here. Did the brothers ask for the coat nicely or just drag it off him ?I am tempted to believe the latter was the case.Was there a fight as they were doing this or did he willingly give it to them.It must have all seemed strange to Joseph,perhaps he was yet in another dream.

 I must admit that it was only when I began to teach this series that the Holy Spirit pointed my attention to that tiny bit of detail the writer of Genesis had put(Genesis 37: 23).Before Joseph was thrown into the pit, his brothers took away his coat of many colours. That was a coat that may have infuriated them so many times in the house as Joseph wore it about as it showed that he was the preferred son, the  beloved and chosen one.I am so glad that   we are also chosen( 1 Peter 2:9) &beloved(1 John 3:1) . God in his infinite mercy has chosen to make us his children and this makes the devil mad. 

Severally I had glossed over the passage and listened to several sermons on from the "Pit to the prison to the Palace" but did not fully realize that before he got thrown into the pit, he was stripped of the symbol of his father’s love .This is still a tactic used by the enemy, an age long tactic that causes us somehow to begin to doubt the love of God because we sometimes tie his love to the things that surround us..

It is this doubting of the love of God or an absence of the knowledge of the great love the Father has for us( 1 John 4:16) that makes us begin to look for alternatives on the way to the Palace.Surely the enemy suggests to us that God cannot love us that much and perhaps he is too busy running the universe to care about us but how far from the truth this is (Psalms 37:23 New Living Translation NLT).And perhaps even if he does care for others , we are not good enough to demand his complete attention to detail and if only we were better at praying, giving, soul winning etc,God would love us more.

 But the truth is we cannot be loved more by God than we already are presently.And  this love is not based on works because  the Scriptures  tell us that ever before Jesus did anything, as he was baptized, God’s voice from heaven affirmed him saying “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased(Matthew 3:17;17:5) and the great news is that God loves us as much as he loves Jesus(John 17;23). Period.

 On the way to the palace, we need to realize that the pit or pit situations are inevitable but one of the secrets of successfully coming out of the pit to the palace is to remember that the truth that God’s love for us is eternal (Ephesians 1:5;Jeremiah 31:5; Psalms 103:11).Nothing we can ever do or have done can change his decision to love us(1 John 4:10;Romans 8:35-39).

Yours in His Love ,

Grace Tom-Lawyer 

Friday, 28 October 2016

On the way to the Palace 16-"the dreamer cometh 2

"They said one to another, “The master of dreams comes!"- Genesis 37:19 MEV Mounce English Version 
19 The brothers said to each other, “Here comes the big dreamer. 20 Come on now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns, and we’ll say a wild animal devoured him. Then we will see what becomes of his dreams!”21 When Reuben heard what they said, he saved him from them, telling them, “Let’s not take his life.” 22 Reuben said to them, “Don’t spill his blood! Throw him into this desert cistern, but don’t lay a hand on him.” He intended to save Joseph from them and take him back to his father.
23 When Joseph reached his brothers, they stripped off Joseph’s long robe,24 took him, and threw him into the cistern, an empty cistern with no water in it.  Genesis 37:19-24 CEB  Common English Bible 

Joseph’s brothers  were jealous  of him,mostly because of   his dreams. Unfortunately they did not deal with this deadly  emotion(Songs of Solomon 2:15;) which we see led them to consider  murdering him. And although we may read the story with shock, sometimes our actions are not very far from theirs.How many times have we killed someone by hating them or speaking words that  damage their reputation( Matthew 5:21;1 John 3:15 ) . While it may not be physical murder, the assassination of another’s character is on the other side of the same  coin as murder.

The primary reason for their wanting to get rid of him was because of his dreams.They not only plan to kill him but also have a plan for a cover up(Genesis 37:19-20).Somehow in the process of doing evil,there is always a need to do more than originally bargained for.They could not just kill him without thinking of a cover up, even if it meant deceiving their father whose love they were craving for.

The unanimous decision to get rid of Joseph this way by the group was challenged by  Reuben,who spoke against the plot(Genesis 37: 21 ). While it may seem laudable that he did this, it is still heartbreaking to see that he refused to take a full stand against evil( Genesis 37:22;1 Thessalonians 5:22 ).He suggested rather that  Joseph  be thrown into the cistern(pit). More light however is thrown into the reason for this suggestion when the writer of Genesis informs us that the intention of Reuben was to save him later(Genesis 37: 22), but alas good intentions have never saved anybody.

 It appears that it is  the values of the company which Reuben kept that eventually influenced him(1 Corinthians 15:33; Proverbs  13:20;22:24-25). It seems he was afraid to tell his brothers outrightly that no harm should be done to Joseph as  he tries to reason with them, reminding them of the fact that Joseph is their brother hence he  should not be  killed(Genesis 37: 23).In an attempt to save Joseph but still remain popular with the crowd,he offered the alternative of throwing him into the cistern ( pit). The man on the way to the Palace is one who will take a stand against evil and make it known(Exodus 23:2).

But if killing Joseph  was not an option, why keep him in the cistern(pit) as Reuben suggested. Would it ever be possible for the relationship to remain thesame if Joseph was rescued from the cistern( pit). Was Joseph not going to tell their father of how he had been thrown into the  cistern(pit) and could the rescue by Reuben not be his own way of getting back to his father’s favour considering that he had offended him greatly by sleeping with  his step mother( Genesis 35:22;49:3-4).

Although the other brothers seem to have taken Reuben’s advice initially, there is no record of a response to his suggestion which may indicate either a begrudging attitude towards his suggestion or a disregard   for their eldest brother.Or perhaps it could be that his brothers read in between the lines knowing that his declaration for the protection of Joseph was not entirely genuine.There is no need to remain in the company of people who do not encourage us to do good as we may find ourselves in a compromising position(Proverbs 12:26; 13:20).

The man on the way to the palace may sometimes seem to be at the mercy of others but God's sovereignty will prevail(Romans 8:28;).On the way to the Palace,we must be careful to ensure that we do not keep a company that makes it difficult for us to do right,rather it should be one that strengthens the gifts and callings of God on our lives(Proverbs 27:17;1 Samuel 18:1-3) . 
There is no need to remain in the company of people who do not encourage us to do good as we may find ourselves in a compromising position.Although Joseph's brothers thought his fate was determined by their actions,the hand of God was working behind the scene to bring his purposes  for Joseph to come to  pass(Genesis 45:7; Psalms 105:7) .

Yours in His Service,

Grace Tom-Lawyer. 

Friday, 21 October 2016

On the Way to the Palace 15- "the dreamer cometh"

17 The man said, “They left here. I heard them saying, ‘Let’s go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan.
18 They saw Joseph in the distance before he got close to them, and they plotted to kill him. 19 The brothers said to each other, “Here comes the big dreamer. 20 Come on now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns, and we’ll say a wild animal devoured him. Then we will see what becomes of his dreams!” Genesis 37:17-20

  There is a certain joy that comes when we accomplish goals we have set out(2 Timothy 4:7). Sometimes we may not meet these goals according to our time schedules and although they may be well behind time, the joy of accomplishment is usually better than the bitter gall taste of having not tried at all.

Joseph  must have experienced this joy when he  eventually found ­­­his brothers, although this meant  travelling further  northwards. He accomplished the task he set out to do because the man on the way to the Palace  is a finisher and one who  can be trusted with responsibility.

But although Joseph took great pains to find his brothers, his extra mile effort was not appreciated. The man on the way to the Palace is one that recognizes that not all his extra efforts  will be appreciated.

Imagine Joseph bursting with joy to meet his brothers after a long search.Instead of a hug, a  rather unexpected  unpleasant welcome was what he received.His brothers  saw him  from afar and began to contort a murder plan.
How did these brothers who probably played with each other and carried baby Joseph at one point reach the state where they start a murderous plot. 

We are given a clue by the writer of Genesis in an  earlier recount. Several verses prior to this, we are told the brothers of Joseph hated him and were jealous of him. Although there was hardly any physical manifestation of Joseph’s  grandiose dreams, they believed in them strongly enough to plan to kill their brother .The brothers of Joseph did not deal with their jealousy and this eventually led to murder.They got to the point when they could not stand their brother any more. Somehow I wonder if they spent time on the fields talking to each other about Joseph or will I say gossiping about Joseph, talking about what their father did, his latest display of love in a mocking manner. 

Their words on seeing him enlighten us as to what the real issue was . With three little words,they state the problem as Joseph a “the dreamer cometh.”The translation above says the big dreamer cometh. The man on the way to the Palace is recognized by his dreams. These dreams shape his life, decisions and actions and bring restrictions to him. The dreams of the man on the way to the Palace  both  identify and limit him.

The brothers believed so much in his dreams and did not want the position they saw themselves in the dream. Rather than recognizing that God in his sovereign wisdom had chosen Joseph, they acted like they are more in competition.The man on the way to the Palace should realize that not everyone including relatives would applaud him.He will acquire enemies even within his household where many would prefer to compete rather than complement him.

The man on the way to the Palace must be emotionally mature so as not to be dissuaded by the mocking of others as they recognize his dreams. The size of a dream does not isolate it from mockery.  No dream however will be accomplished without an effort by the dreamer(Ephesians 3:20).He must be wholly devoted to his dreams till people can recognize him from afar off because of them, as they did Joseph, a man who eventually got to the Palace.

Yours in His Service,
Grace Tom-Lawyer.