An Unexpected Journey

After throwing Joseph into the pit to die, Joseph’s brothers sat down to eat. Their jealousy and hatred was appeased as they did away with him. Life could go on now without the strife of seeing their brother in his colorful robe receiving the favor of their father. They would no longer hear the dreams Joseph was having of them bowing down in worship of him. They had removed the object of their jealousy, but deep within there was an uneasiness.

God’s timing is perfect, even for an unexpected journey.

Sitting there eating their lunch conflicted with the victory of revenge and the weight of guilt his brothers saw a caravan in the distance coming towards them. This time his brother, Judah, spoke up, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother – our own flesh and blood!” His brothers agreed and when the caravan came by Joseph’s brothers pulled him from the pit and sold him for twenty pieces of silver. And so Joseph was sent on an unexpected journey to Egypt.

The jealousy and hatred of Joseph’s brothers was meant to kill Joseph. The enemy was accessing his brothers to harm Joseph and to keep the dreams God had for Joseph from being fulfilled. Joseph wasn’t killed, but being sold as a slave was almost as bad. Not only had Joseph been stripped of his father’s robe, he was taken away from his father, away from his home, and from everything familiar.

He was on his way to a different country,

a different culture,

a different language.

He was stripped of his identity; his name, his position, his job,

on his way to be sold as a slave.

Once again Joseph found himself rejected and alone. Again I wonder, “What was Joseph thinking as he travelled with that caravan down to Egypt?” “What were the thoughts running through his mind?” “What were the prayers he was praying to God?”

“What did I ever do to deserve this?”

“Just wait until I get back at my brothers! I’ll show them!”

“I’ll never see my family again, I’m so alone.”

“My dreams will never come true now?”

“God, I don’t understand what is happening, what will happen to me in Egypt?”

“God, thank You for Your protection over me, though my brothers wanted to kill me, I am still alive.”

“God, though I may never see my family again, I know You are always with me, You will never leave me”

“God, I trust You, and if those dreams were from You I believe they will come true in Your time and in Your way.”

Think about your life journeys. Have there been some journeys that you thought you would never travel? Have there been journeys that others have put you on because of jealousy, or hatred? As in the bottom of a pit; when life sends you on an unexpected journey, your thoughts have a powerful affect on who you become along that journey, and who you are at the journey’s end.

You can’t always determine the pits you are thrown into,

and you can’t always determine the journeys you find yourself on,

but you can determine your thoughts while you are there.

While pit experiences may seem hopeless, with no way out, unexpected journeys also bring opportunity for fear and self-pity. Fear of the unknown can paralyze. Self-pity can breed unforgiveness, and bitterness which result in loneliness and isolation. The enemy of your soul can use an unexpected journey to rob your identity, kill your dreams, and destroy your destiny.

But, once again as in the bottom of a pit, if you choose to turn your focus to God and fear Him and trust Him, your unexpected journey will be worked together for your good. An unexpected journey is intended to define you as God created you to be, give you experience needed for your dreams to be fulfilled, and to lead you into the destiny God has for you.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Isaiah 43:1-3

 

Ever found yourself in a pit?

Joseph found himself in the bottom of a pit that day. God intervened through his brother Rueben who convinced his brothers not to kill Joseph, but to throw him into a pit to die. Rueben secretly planned to come and rescue Joseph.

Not knowing of his brother, Rueben’s, plan, Joseph found himself stripped of his robe and left for dead at the bottom of a pit. All the love of his father, Jacob, couldn’t save Joseph from the hatred and rejection of his brothers. All the favor of his father couldn’t lift him out of the pit he was in. Was this the end of Joseph, was this the death of his dreams? His brothers thought so.

Pit experiences are life-changing. Depending on the type of fear determines whether harm or good will come from it. The jealousy, hatred, and rejection of his brothers put Joseph in a place that looked hopeless. A place that Joseph couldn’t get out of himself. A place that his father, the one who loved him and cared for him, didn’t know about. What was going through Joseph’s mind? What were his thoughts about his brothers? About his father? About himself? About his dreams? Pit experiences give opportunity for the enemy to use his number one strategy against you, fear. Fear of the hurt and rejection of others. Fear of being cut off from those who love you. Fear of the loss of dreams. Fear of what will happen to you. Fear from the enemy consumes your thinking and results in self-pity. Self-pity in the bottom of a pit will only bring you harm. Consumed with self, you see things through your flesh, your understanding, your comfort, and your agendas. Hurt and rejection bring bitterness and unforgiveness. Being cut off from the love and favor of others can bring doubts that God loves you and is taking care of you. Loss of dreams can bring disappointment and hopelessness. Fear of the future brings worry and anxiety. If you give in to the fear of the enemy, consumed with self-pity, and believe the lies of the enemy as truth, though your brothers may pull you from the pit, you will come up changed. The fear of your pit experience will mark you for harm.

At the bottom of a pit you can either look at yourself or you can look up to God. If you choose not to give into the fear of the enemy, but choose instead to fear the Lord your pit experience will have a completely different outcome. When faced with fear you can cry out to God, your Creator, the One who loves you and promises to never leave you or forsake you, even at the bottom of a pit. The fear of the Lord will keep your focus off of self and on the Lord. It will remind you of God’s promises, that He is for you, that nothing can ever separate you from His love, that He has a hope and a future for you. This fear of the Lord, this focus on Him and on His promises, and believing His truths will bring a completely different perspective to your pit experience. A pit experience with the fear of the Lord allows God to do a deep work in you that requires your full attention. With humility you look up to God and cry out to Him. With a sincere heart you hear and receive His counsel. In brokenness and repentance you ask His forgiveness of anything that you have done that landed you in the pit. And with thanksgiving you rejoice in the ways God revealed Himself at the bottom of the pit and for how He has used the pit for your good. After being raised from the pit with the fear of the Lord your perspective of yourself and of those who put you in the pit will also have changed. The fear of the Lord will mark you for good!

Joseph wasn’t left in the pit for too long that day, but I believe it was long enough to get Joseph’s attention and to teach him some heart lessons before he began a journey that God had planned for him. He could no longer rely on his earthly father’s love and favor. He was beginning a journey that would separate him form everything he knew and loved. All the comfort and familiarity of home was soon to be behind him. But, his God, the One who loved him and favored him more than anyone ever could, had a destiny for him to follow. No jealousy, hatred, or rejection could keep God’s dreams from being fulfilled.

There was a pit experience I went through where I learned about the difference of my focus. I had recently gone through what I called “inner healing” with a woman who had a ministry to those who desired freedom from the strongholds of the enemy. Through her ministry the Holy Spirit revealed the doors I had opened to the enemy, I confessed my sin, received Christ’s forgiveness, and closed those doors in Jesus’ name. I was forever changed and some time later I felt as though God was leading me to a similar ministry. Several other women and I joined  together and discussed and prayed about beginning a ministry. We initially had the support of our pastor, but when it came time to put everything together we were told that it wasn’t accepted. I was devastated. I found myself at the bottom of a pit. I felt rejected. I felt the love and favor I once had was taken away. The dream of a ministry that was life-changing for me that I wanted for others was snatched away. My eyes were on me and I had all kinds of reasons why that ministry should be accepted. I found myself obsessed with thinking about all the reasons why I was right and my pastor was wrong. There was a battle of chaos going on in my mind. What I discovered after several weeks of this was that as long as I was thinking thoughts about me, how I felt, what I believed…my mind was in chaos. When I allowed my mind to consider what my pastor said I had peace. My mind was at rest. It totally didn’t make sense to me at the time because I was convinced I was right. But peace finally won. I realized chaos is not from God. If my thoughts, my ways, my reasons only brought chaos, then the ministry wasn’t of God. If submitting to my pastor brought peace and rest, than that was the answer God had for me. My flesh didn’t like the answer. I knew there were others that could benefit from that ministry, but in hind sight I see the wisdom of God. It wasn’t His time, it wasn’t His way. I had a lot more to learn and I am thankful for that pit experience because the lesson I learned from it has been for my good.

What pit experiences have you had? Have they brought you harm or have they brought you good? If you have been harmed by any fears you experienced in the pit, it’s never too late to look to God to find the truth He has for you to learn. Just humbly look up to Him and ask Him to show you any lie, any fear that was not from Him. Ask Him to reveal any unforgiveness or bitterness towards any one who may have thrown you into the pit. Confess any doubt of God’s love, any worry, or anxiety you have as a result of the pit. Confess your sin and ask God’s forgiveness. He will raise you up from the pit and set you on the journey to fulfill the dreams He has for you.

Matt Redman has a great song I encourage you to listen to; It is Well With My Soul.
http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=WZGZY7NX

Welcome to my new Blog!

Intended for good

I chose the theme of this blog, “Intended for good,” because we all face situations every day that hold within them the opportunity for harm or for good. This theme runs all through the Bible and through all of life. The story of Joseph, recorded in the book of Genesis, tells of the strategies that the enemy meant for harm, the ways Joseph handled them, and of the good God intended for him and for the salvation of many.

Joseph was his father’s favorite son. Jacob’s beloved wife, Rachel, bore Joseph in his old age. Jacob displayed his love for Joseph by giving him a beautiful robe. A father’s favor will bring different responses from those in the family. Joseph seemed to feel entitled as he would often tattle on his brothers when he came home from tending the flocks with them. His brother’s response was that of jealousy and hatred. So much so that they couldn’t even say a kind word to him.

One night Joseph had a dream. The next morning he was quick to tell his brothers all about it. He described his dream in detail, telling them that they were all out in the field tying up bundles of grain when suddenly his bundle stood up and their bundles gathered around and bowed low before his. Of course this didn’t help their relationships, it just added fuel to the fire. Not only did Joseph have his father’s favor, he now had a dream that revealed even greater favor, favor that would raise him up above his brothers. And soon again Joseph had another dream that he promptly described to his brothers and his father as well. This time Joseph said that the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before him. I can only imagine there was some arrogance in Joseph because his father scolded him after he told them about the dream. Jacob didn’t understand his son’s dream, but he did wonder about it. But of course Joseph’s brothers were even more jealous. Jealousy leads to hatred, and hatred leads to murder. And that is exactly what they planned the next time Joseph went out to check on them as they were tending the flocks. Their plan was to kill him and throw him into a pit. They thought that by killing Joseph it would kill his dreams as well.

As a child of God we too are highly favored by our Heavenly Father. Our Father’s love for us is so high, so wide, and so deep, that each one of us is His favorite! He lavished His love on us when He sent His Son, Jesus, to the cross to take off our cloak of sin and shame and wrapped us in His robe of righteousness. This robe of righteousness represents favor, belonging. As a child of God we are royalty, holy, and set apart to reign for the glory of God. There are dreams and visions our Father has for us to dream. There are journeys He has for us to take. And there are destinies that He wants us to fulfill.

As a child of God we also have an enemy who is jealous of us and hates our Heavenly Father. He has strategies to get back at God through those who He loves. He has strategies that are meant to bring us harm. He comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy. He thinks that his strategies against us will kill the dreams God has given to His children, and will keep us away from God and from the destinies God has for us.

It didn’t look good for Joseph as he approached his brothers that day. There was a strategy for his harm, but God…

So, how about you? Are you a child of God? Are you among His favorites who have believed in His Son, Jesus? Has your cloak of sin and shame been removed and replaced with Christ’s robe of righteousness? If so, rejoice in the love of your Heavenly Father and in His favor over you! Trust Him to give you dreams that will set your life on a journey that will include strategies for harm, but will be worked together for good and for the salvation of many! If you are not yet a child of God, I want you to know that there is no greater joy in life than in being a favorite child of the Heavenly Father! There is no greater love than what God lavishes on those who belong to Him! If you want to know this incredible joy, this overwhelming love, and to be wrapped in His robe of righteousness, then I invite you to pray a prayer that will bring you into the family of God and become a favorite child of the Heavenly Father.

Dear Heavenly Father,
I come to You in the name of Jesus. I admit that I have not lived as a child of Yours. I have sinned against You and have not obeyed Your commands. I ask You to forgive me of my sin. You have said that if I confess with my mouth that, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, I will be saved.(Romans 10:9) Thank You Jesus for Your death on the cross that took my cloak of sin and shame, and thank You for the power of Your resurrection from the dead that wrapped me in Your robe of righteousness. I am no longer an orphan, but I am Your highly favored child, set apart for dreams, journeys, and a destiny of eternity spent with You!

If you prayed that prayer I would love to rejoice with you as a highly favored “sister” in the family of God.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28