Browsing articles tagged with " Joseph"
May
23

Experiencing God in prison

By admin  //  Devotionals  //  1 Comment

‘I, Paul, [am] the prisoner of Christ Jesus …’ – Ephesians 3:1 (NIV)

There are some prisons we get into that are the design of the enemy, and when we find ourselves there we ought to break the devil’s bars and we shall be free. But there are other prisons that the Lord himself allows us to go into. There are times when God allows circumstances and situations our way that would seem to imprison us. We pray, bind and loose but we can’t get out. The truth is that we cannot bind God.

The Apostle Paul was quite a man. He was locked up in prison by the decrees of the Roman government yet he said he was ‘the prisoner of Christ Jesus’. Imagine this zealous crusader unable to go to all the places that burned in his heart to go and preach. Yet it was in understanding how to experience God in prison that he turned this prison season into one of the most fruit seasons of his ministry. You see, most of his epistles were written in prison.

There are two things we must do when we feel imprisoned. Find out if it’s God’s place for you in this season. Ask God. If you are where you should be then don’t try to run away even if you can (sometimes we can). It might be that you find yourself under a leadership that seems not to give you enough space to strive. If God shows you that you are in his place for you in this season then please stay in that prison. Secondly, when you find yourself in prison, instead of grumbling and complaining, open yourself up to God’s grace.

Take the example of Joseph. He was put into prison because of the lie of Potiphar’s immoral wife, but it was part of God’s plan for him. It was the road to the throne that God had prepared for him. We must not try to fight God when he allows circumstances and situations to land us in prison. Instead let us learn to experience God even in prison.

The bible says, ‘the Lord was with him (Joseph in prison), he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden.” (Gen 39:21 – NIV). In spite of the walls and chains of the prison Joseph continued to experience God.

The bible says, “the Lord was with him”. The truth is that even in prison God does not abandon us. God wants us to continue to experience his presence in our lives even in the wilderness seasons. He wants us to keep drinking of him and growing. A dear sister wrote me recently about the marital troubles she was facing. Her backslidden husband is now with another woman.  Then she added, ‘Nevertheless, God’s joy is still in my heart. I know he has a plan for me and for my family’.

There can be joy in spite of the prison as we begin to experience God’s presence. No matter what you face please determine to make “the Lord is with him” a reality in your life.

Joseph experienced the kindness of God in prison. Though God didn’t bring him out of prison immediately, he gave him a testimony of his kindness in that prison by doing a lot of things for him and touching lives through him. God wants you to experience his miracle working power in your prison. Often we are so focused on getting out of the prison that we are not open to God’s leading in any other area. But we need to remember that though we are in prison God is not in prison.

A bishop friend of mine was married for 14 years without any child though he desired, sought and prayed for it. But he was focused on God and on being all God wanted him to be. Because of that he and his wife were experiencing God’s kindness in many other areas of life, so much so that they were praying for barren couples who in turn were having children. They did not allow their prison to limit their usefulness. They adopted several children and some are pastors today. Their ministry grew so much that it became international. After 14 years God brought them out of that prison and gave them a baby boy of their own when the woman was very close to 50 years of age!

A time comes when God will bring us out of the prison, but in the meantime God wants us to experience his kindness in the prison in which he allows us to be. It will take trusting in his goodness enough to choose joy instead of grumbling and complaining; it will take choosing to feed on him daily staying focused on growing into his likeness. It will also take not allowing our outward prison to imprison our minds and so limit God and all that he wants to do through us while in prison.

Mar
30

History Lessons

By admin  //  Devotionals  //  No Comments

‘Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died…Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt’- Exodus1:8(NIV).

Genesis ends as the curtain is drawn on the life of Joseph after his great exploits in Egypt. And in Exodus we are introduced to a new generation and ‘a new king, who did not know about Joseph’..

And here we find the root of this Pharaoh’s subsequent misbehaviour to the God and the people of Joseph. His lack of knowledge of history was his undoing. Yet he had no excuse for not knowing about Joseph  because if he had researched, he could have known Joseph from the archives of Egypt. He could easily have discovered that far from being a threat, Joseph and his people had been a blessing to Egypt. So because he did not get acquainted with Joseph, he misbehaved.

Perhaps some of the misbehaviours in our day can be traced to a new generation that does not know about their ‘Josephs’ or their history. In the present world intelligent men are concluding that Christianity is backward and a threat to progressive thinking and advancement. Yet if only they understood history they would realise that much of the foundation of true science and civilisation has come because men believed in the God of the Bible. If only modern men understood how we arrived here they would not be as arrogant as to believe that the way forward is to kick out God. If this new Pharaoh had understood the role of Joseph and his people in developing Egypt into what it was in his day, he would not have been so quick to conclude that the way forward was to eliminate the Jews. Most people’s knowledge of history is what the modern so-called experts are interpreting it to be. Yet in the last half a century there has been a rise of a form of pseudo-history among intellectuals that seeks to rewrite instead of recite history. Satan knows how powerful history can be, so he tries to keep men from their history.

Now, the above is not as disturbing as the fact that we have this same problem in the Church. Today in the Church I am astonished at the lack of knowledge of our history. Our bookshelves are filled with glossy motivational books and ‘quick digest’ teachings from our newest Christian ‘superstar’. And so few know about or bother with the voices of our fathers from the past. We have forgotten the admonition of Bildad:

‘Ask for the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. Will they not instruct you and tell you?’ Job 8:8-10 (NIV).

Perhaps some of the shallowness in our churches today can be traced to our not seeking out what the former generations and their fathers learnt and allowing their voices to instruct us. These are voices ‘that still speak, even though they are dead’, because the truths they have found are still relevant to our day. The kind of spiritual diet of the average Christian in terms of his reading leaves much to be desired and can sometimes be very alarming. Let me say it here: Not all books are good books, even when they are called Christian books. We need to be discerning in what we read. So pray before you buy or read anything. And know your Bible more than any other book.

In the past it used to be that believers had a link with the fathers of former generations by singing their hymns, reading their thoughts and histories, and by hearing of them from the pulpit. But we have a fast-paced generation that thinks that the latest is the greatest. We are no longer listening to their voices and their hymns are no longer sung. True, God does new things in each new generation (and there are some good books from our time), but it is not so as to discard what he has given us in former generations. God’s work in the Church is cumulative – he builds on what he has done before. So we lose something if we completely disconnect ourselves from the voices from the past. For example the average believer has not read any book that was written a generation before him. We need a balanced diet if we are going to be healthy and this will include acquainting ourselves with our fathers.

In conclusion let me point out again that if you had the choice of only one book to read then read the Bible. And in all your reading give it priority, for only that is the Word of God and is enough to build you up. But God uses others also to build us up, so it is edifying to read good books. So where can one start if we want to learn from past generations? Let me suggest that you start with biographies of the lives of men and women who served God faithfully in other generations (missionary biographies are some of the best); then return to the old great hymns – learn, sing and meditate on them. Finally look for the classics and devotional writings from the past. You can begin with people like A. W. Tozer, Andrew Murray, and Festo Kivengere who lived last century and then progress to those further back in history.

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