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JOSEPH SERIES: ENCOUNTER WITH PAINFUL PAST

The seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt ended, and now it is the second year of famine that had spread throughout the land and into other countries. This famine reached Hebron in southern Canaan, where Jacob and his family resided, and when he heard that corn was being sold down in Egypt, he sent ten of his sons on the approximately 300 miles journey to Egypt to purchase food. Scared that something might happen to the youngest son Benjamin if he traveled with his brothers, Jacob kept him home.

Upon meeting the governor, they unknowingly bowed down to him, fulfilling the dream that Joseph shared with them when he was a teenager while part of the family in Canaan. It had been twenty-two years since the brothers had seen Joseph, so they did not recognize Joseph, the governor of Egypt, who oversaw the selling of corn. Additionally, he was clean-shaven, dressed in the Egyptians’ official garments, and communicated with them using an interpreter; however, Joseph recognized them but did not reveal his identity. Instead, Joseph harshly questioned them and accused them four times of being spies, which they repeatedly denied. In their response, they told Joseph about their family, “Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not” (Genesis 42:13).

Joseph acted like he did not believe them; thus, to make them prove their innocence, he said, “Hereby ye shall be proved: By the life of Pharaoh ye shall not go forth hence, except your youngest brother come hither. Send one of you, and let him fetch your brother, and ye shall be kept in prison, that your words may be proved, whether there be any truth in you: or else by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies.” However, before this took place, Joseph placed his brothers in prison, and after three days, he met with them with a change in his requirements. He said, “This do, and live; for I fear God: If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die” (Genesis 42:18-20).

Unwittingly in Joseph’s hearing, his brothers recounted Joseph’s pleas, which they disregarded when they placed him in the pit and sold him to the Midianites. Now they felt after all these years; God was possibly punishing them for their actions. At this point, Joseph’s emotions got the best of him; so, he left them and privately cried.

Upon returning to them, Simeon was chosen to stay in prison while his nine brothers returned home. Joseph had his steward fill their sacks with corn and the monies they used to purchase the corn. He also gave them provisions to eat along the way. Only one of the brothers discovered the returned monies during their journey home; however, this caused them to become fearful and say, “What is this that God hath done unto us?” This fear was compounded when the others discovered their monies in their sacks when they got home.

After arriving back in Canaan, the brothers told their father what happened to them, Simeon imprisonment, and the requirements placed on them to purchase corn in the future. Jacob was distraught over the things they said, and he adamantly declared he would not allow Benjamin to go to Egypt despite Rueben offering the lives of his two sons if he did not go back to Egypt and return with Benjamin in hand. This chapter ends with the words of Jacob, “My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.”

As I did in the previous blogs of this series, I will end this blog with points that I think are helpful for all of us to remember:

  1. If you are experiencing famine and God reveals where provisions are, go after it.
  2. No matter the age, parents are concerned about their children’s well-being.
  3. It may take years for your dream to come to fruition, don’t lose hope; it will come.
  4. Years prior to this time, Joseph’s words to the chief butler would lead one to believe he wanted to return to his father’s household. However, after his elevation to the governorship, marriage, and the birth of his first son, it appeared the pain of the past no longer tormented his mind and that he was no longer thinking about returning to his father’s house. No doubt, his brethren’s appearance opened back up emotional feelings that Joseph probably thought were dead. Furthermore, running through his mind probably was how he should treat them and would they recognize him. Think about this. What will you do when you come face to face with the people that abused you in the past? What will you say; how will you react?
  5. Be strategic in your revelations
  6. Being without his natural family for so long, Joseph missed the love of his father and brother Benjamin. Now that he sees his half-brothers and hears that his father and younger brother are still alive, he yearns to see them. It is natural to yearn to see your family, especially after long times of separation.
  7. Take your time when making decisions.
  8. Let the fear of God motivate and direct you.
  9. Rather than retaliation, show mercy.
  10. Reaping can make you reflect on what you sowed.
  11. Don’t be fooled; people remember what you did and what they did.
  12. Take responsibility for your actions.
  13. Reliving painful experiences can be gut retching.
  14. Some memories are harrowing even after a long time has passed, and when remembered, they will bring you to tears.
  15. Joseph did not hold a grudge when given the opportunity, but he showed compassion to all of his family. Can you do that?
  16. In allowing his brethren to return home, Joseph showed trust. Are you willing to trust those that offended you?
  17. Amid trouble, people will question God’s involvement in their situation.
  18. People cherish that which reminds them of the one they love.

JOSEPH SERIES: OVERNIGHT ELEVATION

Two years passed without Joseph hearing anything about the request he made to the chief butler whose dream he interpreted while he was in prison. Joseph had said to him, “But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon” (Genesis 40:14-15). Fortunately, Pharaoh had two dreams the magicians and the wise men of Egypt could not interpret that caused the butler to remember the young thirty-year-old Hebrew prisoner named Joseph, who had interpreted his dream.

The butler told Pharaoh about his encounter with Joseph and how he interpreted his dream and the chief baker’s dream. After hearing the butler’s words, Pharaoh wanted an immediate audience with Joseph, who could possibly interpret his two troubling dreams.  So, Pharaoh sent for Joseph in the dungeon, but before appearing before Pharaoh, Joseph shaved and changed his clothes.

Pharaoh told Joseph he heard that he could interpret dreams; however, Joseph responded by saying, “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Pharaoh then proceeded to tell Joseph his two dreams. Though one dream had a pastoral setting and the other an agricultural setting, Joseph told Pharaoh, “The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do,” and he was given these two dreams because “God established the thing, and God would shortly bring it to pass.”

After hearing the interpretation that there would be seven years of abundance, followed by seven years of famine that would consume Egypt’s land, Joseph made some recommendations to Pharaoh. He suggested that a discreet and wise man be placed over the land of Egypt who would appoint officers to take up the fifth part of the harvest and store it under Pharaoh’s care during the seven plenteous years resulting in food for the years of famine.

Joseph’s plan sounded so appealing to Pharaoh and his servants that he choose Joseph to be the man, for he said, “Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?” Additionally, he made Joseph second in command, arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, gave him the ring he wore, and placed his gold chain around Joseph’s neck, symbolizing Joseph’s authority. Furthermore, Joseph rode in the second chariot behind Pharaoh, and in respect, the Egyptians bowed down to him.

Pharaoh renamed Joseph,  Zaphnathpaaneah, which means “a revealer of secrets” and gave him Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah, to be his wife. During the seven years of plenty,  Asenath bore Joseph two son; the first son Joseph named  Manasseh, which means “For God, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house” and the second son he called, “Ephraim, for God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

Genesis forty-one ends, revealing Joseph diligently carried out his job gathering up all the food and corn and storing them in cities throughout all the land of Egypt. When the first year of famine began, Egypt had food that Joseph was able to sell to the Egyptians and people of other countries who also came to Egypt to buy corn.

As I did in the previous blogs of this series, I will end this blog with points that I think are helpful for all of us to remember.

  1. Imagine how Joseph felt as days became weeks and then months without hearing anything concerning his release from prison. No doubt, he probably felt his dreams would never materialize. Dreams from God may be delayed but not denied. When all appears lost, keep hope alive.
  2. God gives dreams to believers and unbelievers
  3. When God gives you a dream, you may need someone to interpret it
  4. The answer to your problem may be found in prison. Great men are not only found in palaces; some are in prison.
  5. A troubling dream was the catalyst for Joseph’s release from prison. Your freedom can come from unexpected places.
  6. With God’s help during the past thirteen years while a slave and then a prisoner, Joseph had developed managerial skills. Though you are in uncomfortable situations, spend your time gaining skills. God prepares us for the promise.
  7. Elevate qualified persons.
  8. The first time Joseph’s garment was taken from him was for an act of betrayal.  The second time, he left his garment behind to escape from a seductress, and this third time he willingly gives up his garment to receive a garment of royalty.
  9. God used Joseph to bless and save an idolatrous nation.
  10. A wise person will save during harvest, so there will be substance during times of scarcity.
  11. God can change your life overnight. From being a prisoner, overnight,  Joseph received promotion, power, privileges, and prestige.
  12. Elevation can be so rewarding; you forget the painful process.
  13. God can prosper you in foreign territory.
  14. Ask God to help you to remember those things that you need to rectify.
  15. You have the solution to someone’s problem, or you could be the solution to someone’s problem.

JOSEPH SERIES: IMPRISONMENT

Joseph’s time in prison for a crime he did not commit is revealed in Genesis 40. Additionally, David wrote about Joseph’s imprisonment experience in Psalms 105:16-22, which states, “Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread. He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him. The king sent and loosed him; even the ruler of the people, and let him go free. He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: To bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom.” The scriptures and commentators are not clear concerning the time or times Joseph was shackled. I’m assuming it probably was on his way to Egypt after being sold to the Ishmaelites by his brothers and again when Potiphar incarcerated him for an alleged assault on his wife.

Though in pain physically and emotionally, Joseph did not spend his time idly or complaining but instead, he maintained a good attitude for as stated in Genesis 39:21-23, “But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.”.

During this time, Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker offended him, and he put them in prison and while they were there Potiphar placed them in the care of Joseph. One night both of these men had a troubling dream, which they shared with Joseph in the morning. After hearing the dreams, Joseph, with the help of God, interpreted both dreams. The dream of the butler revealed he would be reinstated to his former position in three days and the dream of the baker revealed in three days, the king would have him hung.

Thinking the butler could help him get out of prison; Joseph said to him, “But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon. “Three days passed, and the interpretation of the dreams came to pass; however, the reinstated butler forgot about Joseph.

In closing, as I did in the previous blogs of this series, I will end with points that I think are helpful for all of us to remember:

  1. So far, Joseph experienced verbal abuse, physical abuse, and rejection from his brothers, false accusations from Potiphar’s wife, and faulty handling and judgment from Potiphar. His experience was painful, yet he continued doing the right thing with an excellent spirit. How do you survive unjust treatment?
  2. There was a responsible trait about Joseph that was recognizable by Potiphar and the warden for both of them to promote Joseph. Additionally, though he had Joseph imprisoned, Potiphar still recognized Joseph’s capabilities; so, he entrusted him with the care of the butler and baker. No matter where you are, you are what you are; no one or event can take that from you.
  3. Despite his plight, Joseph showed genuine concern for the baker and butler.
  4. Dream interpretation needs the help of God. When you have a dream, seek God for the interpretation, don’t attempt to do it independently.
  5. As expressed in Joseph’s words to the butler, “Life is not always pleasant, and sometimes you experience one mishap after another.”
  6. The people that you helped and care for can forget the kindness you bestowed on them

JOSEPH SERIES: FAILED SEDUCTION

After recognizing God’s presence and prosperity in Joseph’s life, Potiphar elevated Joseph to overseer of his household and entrusted him with all of his affairs.

Apparently, Joseph inherited his mom Rachel’s beauty for the Message Bible states in Genesis 39:6, “Joseph was a strikingly handsome man. As time went on, his master’s wife became infatuated with Joseph, and one day said, Sleep with me.” However, Joseph told his mistress that he would not comply with her wishes because he respected Potiphar, who trusted with all that he had, and he feared God.

Potiphar’s wife was relentless in her pursuit of Joseph and daily confronted him. One day finding herself alone in the house with Joseph, she grabs his garment and says, “Lie with me.” However, Joseph escapes her grasp but leaves his garment in her hands. Not happy with Joseph’s continued rejection, she calls the other Egyptian men into the house and says, “See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out.” Additionally, she repeated this scenario to Potiphar when he returned home. Since one of Potiphar’s primary responsibilities was supervising criminals’ execution, he could have executed Joseph; instead, he placed Joseph in the king’s prison for supposedly sexually assaulting his wife.

The scriptures reveal once again, Joseph’s capabilities and favorable relationship with God were noted by the warden of the jail, and eventually, he elevated Joseph and placed him over all matters pertaining to the prison.

In closing, as I did in the two previous blogs of this series, I will end with points that I think are helpful for all of us to remember.

  1. So far, in Joseph’s life story, we have not read of interaction between Joseph and God; however, in this chapter, we see Joseph feared God and was able to stand for what he believed amid hardship and testing.
  2. Encumbered by religious superstitions, Egypt was a nation that believed in thousands of gods. Feeling alone, Joseph could have rejected the God of his ancestors and accepted the Egyptian gods, but he did not.  
  3. Joseph’s relationship with God caused those connected with him to be blessed. It was noteworthy for Potiphar, a pagan, to recognize that God was with Joseph, and because of Joseph, he was blessed. People who may not be of the same religious faith as you; however, they can recognize the favor of God in your life. Recognition of someone’s gift can cause you to be blessed.
  4. In his places of confinement, Joseph was successful because God was with him. Is God with you?
  5. Just because someone’s socioeconomic status is lower than yours does not mean they can’t be a blessing to you. Treat everyone with respect.
  6. The road to the fulfillment of his dream was not easy for Joseph. Joseph needed training and administrative skills for where God was taking him. Always remember there is preparation before promise.
  7. The enemy will attempt to wear you down with his daily assault. Despite all obstacles, don’t give in to the enemy, remain firm, and committed to God.
  8. Don’t sacrifice your purity and integrity to please others. Fleeing is better than failing and falling.
  9. To all who will listen, the enemy will tell lies about you and wrongly accuse you.
  10. Though it may not appear so, God has a plan.

JOSEPH SERIES: THE DREAMER

From the announcement of his birth in Genesis 30 to Genesis 36, we do not hear any more about Joseph. Genesis 37 picks up the story of Joseph, and it is chronicled through Genesis 50.

In Genesis 37, we are informed Jacob and his family had traveled back to Canaan’s land. During that travel, Joseph’s mother, Rachel, died while birthing another son that his father named Benjamin. Therefore, Joseph’s family consists of his father Jacob, Jacob’s three wives Leah, Bilhah, and Zilpah, one sister and eleven brothers.

Joseph is now seventeen years old, and unfortunately, his brothers do not care for him because their father favored him and made him a special ornamented coat. Additionally, Joseph is known to be a tattletaler of some of his brother’s bad behavior, which causes friction among his family members.

The scriptures do not say whether Joseph dream dreams and interpret them often, but it shares two of his dreams that he naively and unwisely shared with his brothers. In the first dream, which was agricultural, he and his brothers were working binding sheaves in the field, and his brother’s sheaves bowed down to his sheaves that were standing tall and erect. In the second dream, which was celestial, the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him. God did not give Joseph the interpretation of these dreams; however, because of the description of the dreams, his family members discerned the meanings and came to their own conclusion. When Joseph shared these two dreams with his brethren, they became vexed and hated and envied him. When he shard the second dream with his father, Jacob rebuked him but mulled over the dream.

Joseph probably knew his brother had ill-will toward him but did not realize its extent until his father sent him on this errand. Joseph’s ten older brothers were tending the family flock in Shechem, and Jacob sent Joseph to see how things were fairing. Joseph first went to Shechem and did not find them but continued to Dothan when informed that the brothers had moved there with the flock. When his brothers saw him coming in the distance, listen to what they said one to another, “Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” However, Rueben was able to talk his brother out of doing so. Consequently, they put him in a pit to die where he pleaded for his safety while they ate a meal. When a company of Ishmaelite traders who were also known as Midianites passed by, the brothers followed the suggestion of Judah and sold Joseph to them for twenty shekels.

When Rueben, who was not present for Joseph’s selling, returned to the pit and found Joseph gone, he became extremely agitated. Nevertheless, his brothers sent home, to their father Jacob, Joseph’s stained coat, which they had stripped off of him, and dipped in the blood of a goat. Recognizing Joseph’s coat, Jacob was overcome with grief thinking a ferocious animal killed his beloved son, and despite their efforts, none of the children of Jacob could comfort him.

Meanwhile, Genesis 37 ends with Joseph arriving in Egypt and being sold as a slave to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. And I am ending this blog as I did in the previous one of this series with points that I think are helpful for all of us to remember.

  1. Within Joseph’s family, three areas caused problems between him and his elder brothers: his talebearing, father’s favoritism, and dreams. Are you suffering in your family because of these?
  2. Favoritism amongst siblings will cause alienation and division
  3. Being a tattletaler does not generate warm feelings.
  4. Jealous people will attempt to annihilate you
  5. You can’t tell your dreams to haters.
  6. When wrongful deeds are done, there is usually a cover-up.
  7. Though your dreams reveal success, getting there is not necessarily a smooth road.
  8. Once again, we see what you sow, you reap. Jacob deceived his father using his brother’s garment, and now his children use the bloody coat of Joseph to deceive him.

JOSEPH SERIES: THE BIRTH OF JOSEPH

JOSEPH SERIES: THE BIRTH OF JOSEPH

Joseph’s parents Jacob and Rachel, met in the land of Pandanaram when Jacob was sent to Bethuel, his mother’s father, to take a wife from the daughters of Laban, his mother’s brother. He also was told by his mother, Rebekah, to stay in Pandanaran until his brother Esau’s anger dissipates over their deception, which resulted in the loss of Esau’s patriarchal blessing from his father, Isaac.

Upon arrival in Padanaram, Jacob meets Rachel at the community well, where he assisted her with watering the families’ flock and introduced himself as Rebekah’s son. Jacob falls in love with the beautiful Rachel, and after a month of residing with Rachel’s family, he requests her hand in marriage. Laban, Rachel’s father, agrees with the marriage proposal after Jacob said he would work for seven years for Rachel. After seven years, Laban tricks Jacob and gives his eldest daughter Leah to Jacob. When Jacob realizes he has been tricked, he offers to work another seven years for his true love Rachel and after Leah’s marriage week was completed, Laban allows him to marry Rachel.

While they lived in Padanaram, Genesis 29:31 states, “And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.” Hence, for many years a rivalry occurs between the sisters over having children which also involved the sisters giving their handmaids to Jacob to bear children for them. Recorded in the scriptures is the birth of these children. Leah bore six sons named Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun and one daughter named Dinah. Leah’s handmaiden, Zilpah, bore Gad and Asher. Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid, bore Dan and Naphtali. Finally, Genesis 30:22-24 states, “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: And she called his name Joseph; and said, The Lord shall add to me another son. Rachel was prophesying another son for herself in the future, but little did she know she would die birthing that son.

Since God has given us the Word for correction and instructions, and hopefully, a wise person will learn from others’ experiences, at the end of each of the blog in this series, I will include points that I think are helpful for all of us to remember.

  1. When you want something bad enough, you are willing to work and make sacrifices for it. Jacob worked fourteen years to obtained Rachel.
  2. What you sow, you reap. Jacob deceived his father, and his father-in-law deceived him.
  3. Everyone has issues with which they must contend. No one’s life is perfect. Leah was hated, and Rachel was barren.
  4. A marriage conceived on deception will be laden with problems. Leah was complicit with her father in deceiving Jacob.
  5. God recognizes our worth and sufferings. God blessed Leah with children when He saw how she was being ill-treated.
  6. Some women are not satisfied with love alone; they also want children.
  7. Because of the culture in which they were born, Rachel and Leah’s fertility determined their self-worth.
  8. Jealousy can cause you to take advantage of others. Both Rachel and Leah gave their handmaidens to Jacob to conceive children for them. The handmaiden’s feelings were not taking into consideration.
  9. Joseph was born into a polygamous family.  Marital issues between Leah, Rachel, and Jacob will become generational issues

DON’T BE FOOLED

I am starting this blog by saying this is my perspective on the future results of the signed agreements between The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Israel at the White House on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. Those of you that know me and read my blogs know that I am very interested in Eschatology and I periodically try to share pertinent information as it relates to the future in my blogs. So, this signing piqued my interest and caused me to reflect on the Word as it relates to end-time events.

Before I go further let me say when I started blogging on January 2, 2012, the first fifty-six blogs that I did was on the book of Revelation; so, if you are interested in Eschatology or Revelation, I invite you to go back into the archive and read. God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” I don’t want you to be destroyed and I want you to know about the end-time; thus, I encourage you to read.

Now, back to the September 15, 2020 event. President Donald Trump worked hard to broker these agreements between these opposing parties in the last several months and for this accomplishment, he was nominated for the Noble Peace Prize which he hopes to receive. The President hopes that there will be peace and a normalization of relations between these nations. Other deals that President Trump is working on is an economic normalization between Serbia and Kosovo, and for Israel and Lebanon to sign a border demarcation agreement. Additionally, he hopes other Arab nations will get on board with the normalization; however, the Palestinians who feel Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank threatens the possibility of an independent Palestinian state has denounced these agreements. Plus other nations want to see a permanent solution for the Palestinians first before they make any concessions.

Though people throughout the world rejoiced over the signing of the document which is known as the Abraham Accords, I feel cautious and hesitant to do so because of 1 Thessalonians 5:3a, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” Furthermore, there are nations that the enemy is stirring up to cause dissension. This is in agreement with the words of Jesus in Mathew 24:6-7a “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” And since I feel we are near to the blessed rapture of the church I understand Israel needs to be in turmoil with those around them for them to sign a pact with the Antichrist. Hence, my suggestion is as we pray for the peace of Israel to watch, know that God is in control and that our world is being shaken.

Finally do not fear and don’t be fooled.  

FORGIVE

Let’s face the truth as long as you are living on this earth there will be someone that will hurt your feelings. There will always be the need to forgive and sometimes that person will not even know they offended you. So, to find out what our response should always be let me share the Word with you.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke to His followers and others about forgiveness taking place between individuals. The first recorded time that He spoke about this kind of forgiveness is in the model prayer found in Matthew 6:12. It says, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” He further expounds on this in verses 14-15, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Knowing we are all sinners, Jesus in this passage of scripture revealed there is a consequence for unforgiveness; if we don’t forgive others our Father will not forgive us.

The second time He addresses this issue with His followers is in Matthew 18, a chapter on humility and forgiveness. In this chapter, Jesus uses young children to teach His disciples important principles. He starts by telling His disciples how to be great in the kingdom, He then precedes to talk about the consequences and remedy of offending little ones and the actions of a shepherd in recovering a lost soul. Furthermore, Jesus gives instructions concerning reconciliation with an offender and ends with a parable of an unmerciful servant. The last two verses in this chapter state,” And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”

Amid Jesus’s teaching in chapter 18, Peter asked this question, “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” and Jesus replied, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” This means we are to forgive someone 490 times a day (Luke 17:4). 

What am I saying to you?

  1. Forgiveness is mandatory for your spiritual well-being.
  2. Unforgiveness opens the door for torment which can encompass physical, mental, and emotional turmoil.
  3. Unforgiveness allows your offender to control your life.
  4. Forgiveness is more beneficial for you than for the person that offended you.
  5. Don’t delay, forgive today.

GO YE

These are the instructions that Jesus gave to his eleven disciples in Matthew 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Also in Acts 1:8 during his last encounter with His followers, Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

However, according to the history of the early believers they continued daily with one accord in the temple holding steadfastly to the apostles’ doctrine and in prayers, they had all things common, they fellowship breaking bread from house to house and they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Acts 6:7a states, “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly.”

Ten years passed and the majority of believers were still in Jerusalem until in Acts 8:1b we read, “And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. In both Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8 Jesus said he wanted the Word to be ministered abroad, beyond the walls of the temple and the city of Jerusalem, and it took persecution to make it happen.

The, “Go ye” is the mandate not just for the early church but for us too. Therefore, could it be that God allowed the pandemic to cause His people to go into the world. Before the pandemic, most churches held the majority of their services inside of their edifice and if you wanted to hear the Word it was necessary to go into the church. When establishments were told to shut down and shut-in it forced churches to find a new way to meet and communicate with their members and the world.

Social media platforms, digital talk, and video calling services became the answer to reaching church members. It also caused the Word to go out into the world. Before the pandemic the main vehicles used to hear the Word 24/7 were television and radio; however, now the Word is being spread using social media platforms and the great thing is, it is free.

I believe the pandemic has caused the world to suffer but amid all the negative effects, a harvest of souls has manifested with the ministry of the Word. Ministries are reporting they are reaching more people, souls are receiving salvation and the churches are receiving the financial support that is needed to keep them afloat.

Yes, God has a way of doing things and turning what the enemy meant for our destruction for our good, and to fulfill His purpose. So, I believe like the persecution of the church in Acts 6:7, this pandemic is our persecution that has caused believers to “Go ye”

LIVING IN STRESSFUL TIMES

We are eight months into 2020 and for most of these months, we have experienced the effects of Covid-19. For me, two verses from the song, “Thank You” by Walter Hawkins voice how I am feeling. These verses are:

Tragedies are commonplace

All kinds of diseases, people are slipping away

Economies down, people can’t get enough pay

But as for me, all I can say is

Thank you, Lord, for all You’ve done for me, yeah

 

Folks without homes, living out in the streets

And the drug habits some say, they just can’t beat

Muggers and robbers, no place seems to be safe

But You’ll be my protection every step of the way

And I want to say

Thank you, Lord, for all You’ve done for me, yeah.

Don’t these verses describe what is happening in our world. We are living in a time of uncertainty with death, sickness, financial insecurity, chaos, and lawlessness taking over our cities and nation. I am finding that this season is causing me to sing hymns and other comforting songs that remind me that my hope is in God and He is in control. Also, I am thankful for peace and clarity of mind as I hear the reports of those that committed suicide because they no longer could handle the stresses they were experiencing.

When my mind wants to pause and rehearse painful thoughts, I put in practice Philippians 4:7- 8 “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” because I know it does not matter how long we have to endure this pandemic if I apply the Word to my life daily, I will be victorious while living in stressful times.