Joseph – A Man Favoured by God

I know God’s favour is evident even in my little life, yet I often misunderstand what favour really is. The life of Joseph gives a clear image of a man favoured by God.

Does favour include the logical expectation of rapid promotion, public approval, unlimited opportunity and untroubled living? Perhaps not!

Psalm 5:12

Favoured Young

After years of barrenness, Rachel, Jacob’s second wife but first love, conceived and gave birth to Joseph. I appreciate the way God honestly reveals the dysfunction within this large family. They were genuine people with real struggles! Jacob openly showed favouritism not only between his two wives but also among his children.

“Now Israel loved Joseph more
than any of his other sons,
because he had been born to him in his old age;
and he made an ornate robe for him.”

Genesis 37:4

Joseph received more than his fair share of his father’s attention. While his brothers worked, he stayed close to home in his ostentatious robe. Of course, the animosity increased between him and his older siblings.

Then came the God dreams of seeing his brothers and father bowing before him, thus escalated the problem.

“They hated him all the more
because of his dream and what he had said
His brothers were jealous of him,
but his father kept the matter in mind.
Genesis 37:8,11

Perhaps immaturity contributed to Joseph’s inability to keep quiet about his dreams.

Psalm 30:5

Favour Needs a Place

A mathematician would become extremely discouraged digging ditches. An anointed speaker feels powerless without a platform! A teacher needs students! A musician needs an instrument to produce a melody?

Although Joseph was showered with support,  frustration and disappointment grew when he could not find his rightful place.

“Come, let’s sell him…”
Genesis 37:27

His brothers reject and sell Joseph into slavery at the first opportunity. A slight diversion from their initial murderous plan. I can hardly imagine the level of confusion and discouragement that overwhelmed this young lad on his way to the unknown.  He was dragged away from all that was loved and familiar.

Is this your image of favour? It isn’t mine!

Even in Egypt, however, God’s hand directs Joseph. One of Pharaoh’s officials seeing potential purchases him.

The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered….
the LORD gave him success
in everything he did…
the LORD blessed the household
of the Egyptian because of Joseph.”
Genesis 39:1-5

Joseph rises like cream to the top! The righteous always do! The favour of God upon one man results in blessing for others. For the moment at least, the situation appears to improve.

Psalm 106:4

Often favour attracts adverse attention! It did with his brothers. Now it brings more of the same. Potiphar’s wife seductively pursues this vulnerable young man. Who would see? Who would know? Would anyone even care?

Godly Character

Yet Joseph does everything possible to protect his master’s honour and marriage. What is the reward for such integrity? A prison cell!

North American prisons resemble luxury suites in comparison to what Joseph experienced! This was no peaceful time off work!

“They bruised his feet with fetters
and placed his neck in an iron collar.”
Psalm 105:18

Yet even here, Godly character allowed Joseph to rise above circumstance finding favour with the prison official. Joseph continued to give himself for the benefit of others.

He even found a way to release others in their dreams while his own went unfilled.

“Within three days Pharaoh
will lift up your head and restore you
to your position.”
Genesis 40:13

Favour Takes Time

It is tempting to overlook the seemingly endless cycle of neglect, abuse, and suffering Joseph endured. We want to quickly rush past the process to happy endings. Favour cannot be rushed!

Psalm 90:17

For fifteen years Joseph worked out the true character of favour while living in the tension of unfulfilled desire. He came to understand favour is ultimately a call to serve.

Such commendation upon a life cannot be lived selfishly!

Wherever he was, Joseph served with uncompromising excellence. The favour of God is always and only for the benefit of others.

Did he ever lose hope of seeing his family? Did he doubt his calling? Were the dreams of long ago fading? Had even God forgotten him like people did?

“The chief cupbearer, however,
did not remember Joseph;
he forgot him.”
Genesis 40:23

I have more questions than I find answers for.

The Committment of Favour

For two more years Joseph continued unnoticed within the confines of prison. Then a need arose! Favour flourishes in the soil of someone else’s need.

Pharoah has a disturbing dream. The cupbearer remembers!

“So Pharaoh sent for Joseph,
and he was quickly brought from the dungeon.
When he had shaved and changed his clothes,
he came before Pharaoh.”
Genesis 41:15

I love the “quicklies” of God! I want to ignore the long preparation to reach them, however. God gives Joseph both the interpretation and strategic wisdom on how to save a nation from destruction and multitudes from starvation.

Psalm 84:11

In a single day Joseph goes from

the dungeon to the palace,
darkness of obscurity to public view,
bound in chains to riding a king’s chariot,
loneliness to the comfort of home and family,
disgrace to honour.

Why? Favour was ready, when favour was needed!

The Confirmation of Favour

God did not forget Joseph or his dream. Joseph’s brothers appear on their faces before him. The final test in the confirmation of favour is power.

Power to retaliate! Power to execute justice! Or power to forgive!

Only here do we witness the response of one truly walking in harmony with God!

“He turned away from them
and began to weep.”
Genesis 42:24

It is impossible to continue in the favour of God without tenderness — even to our greatest offenders. Joseph foreshadows another Man, Jesus, who one day would proclaim from a brutal cross,

 “…Father, forgive them,
for they do not know what they are doing.”
Luke 23:34

The test of favour is extending grace, mercy and forgiveness to the undeserving.

Joseph weeps so loudly the entire palace hears the agony of his wails. Abuse by and separation from those he loved, could not quench the genuine love Joseph freely expressed.

Proverbs 3:3,4

Joseph had made peace with the pain of walking in God’s favour. He recognized God’s plan as perfect.

“And now, do not be distressed
and do not be angry with yourselves
for selling me here,
because it was to save lives
that God sent me ahead of you …
to preserve for you a remnant.”
Genesis 45:5-7

Favour Defined

As I consider Joseph, I recognize there is a high price to walking in God’s favour. It is a trust given to only those willing to be refined in the fire of affliction.

Favour often marinades in obscurity for extended seasons. It is the preparation of those God chooses for specific times and needs. God’s favour is never for personal promotion, but rather for God’s glory and the benefit of others.

Seek God’s favour, but carefully. Then be prepared to accept the training and tests that accompany it. Through the painful process, favour will allow the recipient to rise to unparalleled heights.

Joseph’s conclusion was,

“You intended to harm me,
but God intended it for good
to accomplish what is now being done,
the saving of many lives.”
Genesis 50:20

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Further Reading:

The 3 Keys of Effective Ministry! Secrets of Success!

Leadership 101 – Take it from the Eagles

Advent – Joseph a Man of Dreams

We all have dreamed dreams. Some have been realized; others await fulfillment. Do you have a dream? Is there something you are anticipating?

I love children’s dreams about virtually unlimited possibilities of doing and becoming. As youth, dreams form around making the team, being chosen for a lead role, getting a driver’s license or reaching autonomy. Years pass and new dreams encompassing marriage, owning a home and starting a family take greater shape. Later in life, minds fill with dreams of retirement and less toil.

Man was created with an innate ability to dream!

Dream

It is evidence of being formed in the image of God — the One who envisioned and spoke all things into being. Dreams enable us to reach beyond today’s reality, pushing present boundaries toward what could or might be.

Shattered Dreams

I remember well the excitement and anticipation with which each of our sons approached marriage. Filled with far-reaching plans and joyful hope, the future held promise.

I’m sure Joseph was much the same. How long his betrothal to Mary lasted, we aren’t sure. In the custom of the time, he would begin to prepare a house for his future wife and family as soon as he was engaged.

“This is how the birth of Jesus
the Messiah came about:
His mother Mary was pledged
to be married to Joseph,
but before they came together,
she was found to be pregnant
through the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew 1:18

I cannot imagine the upheaval of emotions that filled Joseph when he discovered Mary’s pregnancy: anger, betrayal, disbelief, fear, anxiety, confusion, disquiet. He watched helplessly as his greatest dream shattered irreparably before him.

Honour

Where did he go so wrong? Wasn’t he faithful to God? Hadn’t he tried to follow the Lord? How could this happen? Why?

The weight of disappointment and hurt must have been unbearable! Despite his personal pain, Joseph chose to act with the same integrity and honour that previously marked his life.

“Because Joseph her husband
was faithful to the law,
and yet did not want to expose her
to public disgrace,
he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”
Matthew 1:19

Joseph prepared himself to protect Mary regardless of any backlash! Undoubtedly, others questioned his sanity in making such a choice. Nonetheless, Joseph’s faithfulness and integrity blazed forth in spite of his own doubt and confusion.

His dream died a brutal death! Time to cut the loses! Walk away!

A Dream

What do you do when dreams shatter like broken glass on a concrete floor? Walking away may seem easy, even logical. The dark disintegration of man’s expectation is the perfect atmosphere for God’s revelation, igniting hope from hopelessness.

Expect

“But after he had considered this,
an angel of the Lord appeared
to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary
home as your wife,
because what is conceived in her
is from the Holy Spirit.
She will give birth to a son,
and you are to give him the name Jesus,
because he will save
his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1: 20,21

Things are not always as they appear. Mary is pregnant but not because of unfaithfulness.

If Joseph was confused before, this dream may have intensified rather than answered the questions dominating his thoughts. Could this be possible? Was God really going to entrust him, a carpenter, and Mary, an unknown maiden, with the raising of the Messiah?

Every parent feels the overwhelming sense of responsibility that surrounds the birth of a child. How much more these parents and this birth?

A Man of Action

Joseph’s preset pattern of obedience to God set him in motion. Secure in his identity, he didn’t break his stride when faced with circumstances that would topple most men. On the basis of only a dream, he took immediate action.

“When Joseph woke up,
he did what the angel of the Lord
had commanded him and
took Mary home as his wife.”
Matthew 1:24

Trust

Walking humbly in obedience to God mattered more that anything else including human reasoning or influential voices of others. God’s word carried far more weight than the words of even his most loyal support community. At what point did Joseph exchange his

doubt for courage,
fear for faith,
anxiety for peace,
anger for hope,
or betrayal for trust?

In the midst of shattered dreams, obedience demands strength and resolve. He drew deep from the well named “Trust in God”. The steadiness of a man’s steps prove the soundness of his faith! Joseph was far more than a carpenter. God spoke to his identity: “son of David“, a man with a heart after God!

The steadiness of a man's steps prove the soundness of his faith! Click To Tweet

Faith Journey

There was nothing normal about this marriage. Perhaps there never would be! At some point Joseph had to make peace with his reality. There was no jubilant wedding night or honeymoon — two becoming one flesh.

A trip to Bethlehem, an untimely birth, strangers coming with well wishes and surprising announcements, prophetic utterances in the temple, more strangers with gifts and homage …. each confirming the identity of the Holy Child.

Peace

The dream of having a “normal” life died a thousand deaths! The desire for a secure home for Mary and Jesus probably remained foremost in Joseph’s heart — to provide for and protect his household.

Just when things seemed to begin to take shape, another dream!

“…an angel of the Lord
appeared to Joseph in a dream.
Get up,” he said, “take the child
and his mother and escape to Egypt.
Stay there until I tell you,
for Herod is going to search
for the child to kill him.”
Matthew 2:13

Get up! Escape! Sounds more like a nightmare than a dream! Would Joseph ever experience the luxury of “normal”? Maybe! But not today!

The same outright obedience that had marked Joseph’s life to this point continued. His steadfast faithfulness to both God and his family were enough to stir him from deep sleep. Packing their few belongings, they moved on. Before the awakening of dawn, there came a fresh realization that perhaps the worst was not yet behind them. They became refugees on the run!

Unshakable!

I am amazed as I consider Joseph, this incredible man of God. What an example of unshakable faith in God’s sovereign will.

“So he got up, took the child
and his mother during the night
and left for Egypt,
where he stayed until the death of Herod.”
Matthew 2:14

Faith

Wherever God led, however long the exile, regardless of questions, Joseph led his family with faith.

What kind of man walks with consistency at such great personal sacrifice? God knew Joseph could be trusted along every rocky road of this journey. God’s only Son was safe in the hands of this loving, passionate servant.

Is faith blind, or does it see without light? Is the breaking of a dream the end, or the beginning of something beyond understanding?

Dream Fulfilled!

Twice more Joseph would be directed through dreams:

“After Herod died, an angel of the Lord
appeared in a dream
to Joseph in Egypt and said,
“Get up, take the child and his mother
and go to the land of Israel,
for those who were trying to take
the child’s life are dead.”
Matthew 2:20

and

“…Having been warned in a dream,
he withdrew to the district of Galilee,
and he went and
lived in a town called Nazareth.”
Matthew 2:22

Can you imagine the relief? At home with the threat over! Safe at last!

When one says “yes” to God, there is no way of knowing where “yes” will lead. “Yes” is unconditional agreement to God’s choice, God’s ways, His thoughts, His desires. The path of “yes” is often paved with sacrifice.

Hope

I have learned much from looking at the life of this not-so-secondary character in the Advent story. Each of us, at some point, will face the reality of broken dreams, failed promises, and unrealized hope. Then, what?

Joseph presents a powerful example of

faithfulness,
honour and integrity
selfless commitment
sacrificial obedience
passionate service
and unshakable faith.

May God see in us, what He saw in Joseph, a true son of David — one “who will do everything” He desires.

“… God testified concerning him:
‘I have found David son of Jesse,
a man after my own heart;
he will do everything I want him to do.’ ”
Acts 13:22

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Never! 8 Things God Will Never Do

8 Things God Will Never Do

I have often said and written, “Nothing is impossible for God!” Actually, there are a number of things that are impossible for Him. If you are curious or think I’ve fallen off the rails, read on! Discover what God will never do.

I am so enthralled by the wonder and majesty of all God is and the glory of His splendor, I have never seriously thought about the things He will never do. Until now!

1. God Never Makes Mistakes

God will never say, “Oops! Made a mistake there! Let Me try that again!”

God never makes mistakes

I think of Joseph’s fifteen year journey through rejection, slavery, and imprisonment.  Surely this was a horrific mistake! God had given him prophetic dreams of becoming a powerful leader.

As second only to Pharaoh, he embraced his brothers,

“As for you, you meant evil against me,
but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result,
to preserve many people alive.”
Genesis 50:20

It took fifteen years for the steep learning curve Joseph was on. In the prison Joseph:

  • learned Egyptian language and culture
  • developed leadership skills
  • allowed God’s Lordship over every area of his life
  • embraced humility over pride
  • chose a lifestyle of continuous forgiveness
  • obtained wisdom for every circumstance
  • allowed perseverance to work godly character in him

the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
Psalms 33:11

It may be difficult to clearly see, but God’s plans for you are always good. Always!

2. God Never Changes

We change clothes, houses, cars, workplaces, hairstyles and shoes. Quickly and often, we change our minds. Because we live in constant transition, it is difficult to believe God never changes.

“Whatever is good and perfect comes to us
from God above, who created all heaven’s lights.
Unlike them, He never changes or casts shifting shadows” ”
James 1:17

God never changes like shifting shadows

We can count on the fact that God never changes, or even shifts

“I the Lord do not change.
Malachi 3: 6

3. God Never Has a Negative Thought

It may be scary but let’s consider the thoughts we think. My list would include, pride, judgment, rebellion, and discouragement. Add to that self-righteousness, self-pity, self-promotion, self-sufficiency… Maybe we should stop there!

No wonder the bible advises us to take our thoughts captive!

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
They cannot be numbered!”
Psalm 139:17

Every thought of God originates in His loving, gracious and excellent nature. His thoughts towards us are beyond number and profoundly wonderful.

What is more, God never has a better idea than His first one. His thoughts are completely flawless. God never thinks a negative thought!

God never has a better idea than His first one. His thoughts are completely flawless. Click To Tweet

4. God Never Stops Loving

Since we are so close, let’s back up a page in the bible to Psalm 136. Twenty-six times in twenty-six verses we read,

“His love endures forever.”

God's love never fails

I think He is trying to tell us something. Nothing can separate us from His great love.

 “I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers,
 neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

Be thoroughly convinced, nothing can separate us from God’s unfailing love.

5. God Will Never Let You Go

One of my favourite verses is Hebrews 13:5 AMP:

I will not in any way fail you nor give you up,
nor leave you without support.
I will not!
No, I will not!
I will not in any degree leave you helpless
nor forsake nor let you down, nor relax my hold on you.
Assuredly not!”

God will never let us go!

I am not desperately holding unto His hand; He has a relentless grip on mine. He has no intentions of letting go. Assuredly not!

6. God Never Fails to Keep His Promise

There are over 5400 promises in the bible. Most are conditional; none have failed! What God has spoken, He will do.

“… I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”
Jeremiah 1:12

I have begun to circle texts where God says, “I will”. He repeats these words more often than I previously thought,

“I will gather…”
“I will save….”
“The Lord will deliver…”
“I will freely pardon…”

The bible overflows with the promises of God. They are guaranteed promises, we can stand on.

Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed;
every one was fulfilled.”
Joshua 21:45

7. God Never Sleeps

“He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”
Psalm 121:4

The word “watches”, means “to watch and to keep.” Day and night, in good times and bad, God is constantly watching over and protecting us. Six times in eight verses, He confirms it.

No matter what is going on in our lives, we can rest. God is awake and alert. We can rest our full weight on Him!

“In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.”
Psalm 4:8

God never sleeps! He holds us firm!

 

God is alert and awake! We can rest our full weight on Him! Click To Tweet

Even on restless night, we need not fear, for God’s ear is open.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you
great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
Jeremiah 33:3

God has us covered! He is watchful eye is on us. I rest upon His strength.

8. God is Never Defeated

Kings may oppose Him, rulers may defy Him, but no army will defeat Him or border stop Him.

“God is never defeated.
Though He may be opposed, attacked, and resisted,
the ultimate outcome can never be in doubt.”
—Brother Andrew”

The reason?

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Matthew 28:18

God holds the “all”: all authority, all power, all might, all wisdom, all strength, all glory, all dominion. Whenever the devil tries to get the upper hand, God reveals Himself and triumphs over all. Nothing can or will ever outdo the cross of Christ.

And More!

God is never surprised, thrown off-guard, or bewildered. He sees and knows the future as clearly as the past. He never says, “I didn’t see that coming!”

God is never surprised!

never worries! He is never late! Although I wish His timing was more in tune with mine; a little early would be nice.

Given some thought, you will easily add to this list of God’s “nevers”. He functions in complete alignment with his holy and perfect nature. Never contradicting who He is.

I’m growing to love the never aspects of God’s character. As a matter of fact, I find deep assurance and confidence in pondering His “nevers”. He remains consistently and fully trustworthy.

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More reading:

The Lord is my Helper! “I Will Help You!”

Creating a Culture of Honour – Honour God! Honour All!

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Stay connected!

 

From Curse to Blessing – God’s Redeeming Character

Curse to Blessing

Since we all live real lives with dusty feet and bombarded minds, it is hard to fully fathom the truth sometimes. As Christians we are bound to blessing. In every situation, we are victorious in Christ.

As I read my bible, I am often overwhelmed with God’s great grace in turning curses, failure, and disgrace in blessing. It is evidence of His redeeming character.

Examples

Look at Balaam (Numbers 23 & 24). The king of Moab hired Balaam to “come and put a curse on” the people of Israel. However, much to Balak’s distress, again and again Balaam could speak only blessing.

“But the LORD your God refused to listen to Balaam.
He turned the intended curse into a blessing
because the LORD your God loves you.”
Deuteronomy 23:5

What about Joseph? Sold as a slave by his brothers, falsely accused and imprisoned by his employer, forgotten by those he helped to release, ”

“They bruised his feet with shackles,
his neck was put in irons,
till what he foretold came to pass, 
till the word of the LORD proved him true.”
Psalm 105:18-19

This wasn’t a fifteen year cake-walk for Joseph. Yet, he learned to depend on the faithfulness of God to turn the worst of circumstances into the greatest of blessings.

You intended to harm me,
but God intended it for good to accomplish
what is now being done,
the saving of many lives.”
Genesis 50:20

Haman was determined to have not only Mordecai but all Jews executed. The book of Esther is a beautiful illustration of God turning the evil intentions of others into freedom for an entire nation. I could mention DanielDavid, Paul and the early apostles; the greatest example is Jesus Himself.

“…You disowned the Holy and Righteous One…
You killed the author of life, But God raised him from the dead…
Repent…turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out,
that times of refreshing may come
from the Lord.”

Acts 3:13-19

Undoubtedly, Jesus Christ  is the greatest reversal of curse to blessing, bearing the full weight of all curse to bring humanity full blessing.

Crown of Thorns

Expect Trouble

In Canada being a Christian may not always be popular, but it is still safe. Not so in many other nations, and maybe not for long here either. If true persecution for our faith arises, how should we respond? Actually my bigger question is, “Lord, how will I respond?”

“If you falter in a time of trouble,
how small is your faith.”
Proverbs 24:25

Perhaps, it would be wise to settle ourselves before the day comes. God delights in using trouble and struggle as a channel bringing spiritual good to many.

Afflictions have a way of humbling and teaching us:

“Then Job replied to the LORD:
I know that you can do all things’
no purpose of yours can be thwarted…
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know…
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
Job 42:1-6

Difficulties help us to see and understand in ways that were impossible for us before. It is proof of God’s nature to bring blessing.

“The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” vs 12

Yet the turn around does not always come in our lifetime!

Paul says,

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage
so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body,
whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
(Phil 1:20-21)

Christ must be first! Always!

Again eternal perspective offers solid ground ,

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving
for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

( 2 Cor. 4:17)

Back up a few verses and you see Paul is talking about being “hard-pressed… crushed… perplexed… persecuted… struck down“. Hardly light or momentary unless viewed from eternity!

The Source

Perhaps the first thing to do is a little self-examination. Perhaps God is using the opponent or critic to help us deal with a blind spot or sin in our own lives. Even when the opposition comes harshly or with poor attitudes it may be worth taking a moment and asking God what His thoughts are in the situation.

Ask God

Jesus wants us to see that our enemies can actually be our greatest allies. Listen to His command:

“But to you who are listening I say:
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
Luke 6: 27-28

Let’s Get Practical

When we begin to believe God intends to turn curses into blessings, it will change the way we see adversity.

Sit down today with pencil and paper; begin to write down every adverse thing that is coming against you and your family right now. It probably won’t take long to create a good-sized list.

Curse to Blessing

Now on a second piece of paper write out the opposite; write out what God’s blessing would look like. I remind you that in Christ, you are forever bound into blessing.

“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us…”
Romans 8: 39

The final step is completely destroying the first list!

David used the very sword of Goliath that was coming against him to defeat his opposing giant.  As a result, the whole nation followed in victorious courage. Quite often. the thing that is coming against us the strongest is the very place God desires to use to bring victory and blessing.

When the day is difficult,
the future scary
and the past painful,
remember God’s redeeming character.
When overwhelmed by circumstances
call on Him 
who delights to turn curses
into blessings.

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