Monthly Archives: March 2020

113. Christmas 2021

This has once again been an extraordinary year, a strange year in so many ways. This year all of us have lost something, whether it is finances, our health, loved one, our freedom, holidays, time with our families, our right to practice sports or even our right to watch sports. We all lost something. This made me think again how fragile this life is and how we should live life to the fullest and appreciate all the little things in life. I have truly learned that small things can bring as much joy and maybe even more than the big things in the long run. I have also learned to live in the present, in the moment, as we do not know what the future holds. I am a planner by nature, but this year truly taught me that yes, I can plan, but my hope shouldn't be in my plans, but in Him who holds the future and all that it entails. In the present moment is the greatest gift and we shouldn't miss that.

This Christmas we should take this gift of the present and unravel it. We should learn to slow down and breathe. We should appreciate the smile on our children's faces, the friendly gesture of a stranger, the flowers blooming, the lunch that we are able to have with family and friends, the days that we get off to recuperate, the ability that we have to exercise etcetera. We should look at our lives with new eyes and see how really blessed we still are.

Also this Christmas we need to look at what Jesus truly came to do for us. He came to take us into Heaven with Him. He came to give us zoe life, true life pulsating within our veins. He came to set us free from the burdens here on earth. He opened up the way for us to a better life. That is why He came. He wants us close to Him, with Him in Heaven. After He rose again He is seated in Heavenly places at the right hand of God the Father and we are seated there with Him, now already. Therefore we need to focus our attention on what is above and not on what is going down here on earth (Colossians 3:1).

This world is always going to be full of surprises, some of them good, but some of them bad, like COVID was and still is to most of us. Curve balls are going to be thrown at us, but when we are focused on who we are in Heaven, then we will not stumble and fall. Jesus opened up the way for us so that we can be citizens of Heaven, priests, royalty, His beloved children, His bride. He came to set us free from the bondage of sin rampant in this world and to open up the way for us into His Kingdom. He came to give us a better life, now already. We just need to step into who we are in Him and set our minds on His Kingdom and believe the truth about us. He did everything for us, it is now pulsating on the inside of us, we simply need to take it as our own.

Focus this Christmas on the gifts that Jesus came to give you. Focus on the glorious Savior who gave up everything to give you a future and a hope. Glory in that, rejoice in that and move into 2022 knowing that He is already there, providing for you.

Father thank you so much for sending Jesus for us, a little baby in a crib, rescuing the whole world from the destructive power of sin. We glorify and praise You! Thank you so much for presenting us with this new life. We love You. Amen

11. Be ready to be tested

Last week we saw how God helped Joseph. He had no experience running a household, and he was still so very young. But despite all that, God placed him in Potiphar's house and blessed everything he did. In fact Potiphar's household was so blessed that the only thing that he had to worry about was what he was going to eat that day. It is truly amazing when you think about how God truly helped Joseph and blessed his work in every way.

But with these blessings came a test. God allowed Joseph to be tested, to see if he will continue to live an honorable life, or if he will compromise at the first chance that he got. This test came in the form of Potiphar's wife. She fell in love with Joseph and insisted that they have an affair. Now this might have been tempting in the flesh for Joseph. He could have cemented his role as head of the house by adhering to her request. But Joseph stood strong and we can clearly see from his answer that he has a very high regard for God too:

"Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" Genesis 39:8, 9

Joseph was a man of integrity and even with a temptation such as this he stood strong. The Bible says that day by day she tempted him. She didn't take no for an answer. But Joseph stood firm.

Temptations come our way on a daily basis too. But the Bible tells us that we will never be tempted above our ability to resist:

"God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:13

God is faithful and will help us in our temptation, just as He did for Joseph. He provided a way of escape for him and He would do the same for us too.

I remember when I just started working I had to go on an audit with a team of people I didn't know at all. The manager seemed unapproachable to me, and I didn't want to upset him, so I just did my work with the team. Then one Sunday we had to work. Then at lunch we started talking and the manager started asking questions about God, maybe because it was a Sunday that we had to work. It quickly became clear that none of the team members were Christians. Now I wanted to make a good impression on the manager, as I had just started working there and I wanted him to give me a good review. But based on the questions he was asking and the answers he got from the team members I just couldn't keep quiet. I knew that he wouldn't like my answers and I was right. He grinded me with more and more questions after that, but I couldn't back down, I couldn't dishonor God. I was relieved when we could start working again. The next morning he called me into his office. I was shaking with fear of what he might say. And to my surprise he commended me for standing my ground that Sunday and he told me that he was a Christian and simply testing me. I was so relieved and so glad that I didn't back down. He gave me such a good review and said that I earned his respect that day. It was such a relief. I know it could easily have gone the other way too, but that day I realized that I will always stand up for God, no matter what.

God will always be faithful in situations where we feel the need to compromise. He will always provide a way out as He promises in His Word. We needn't ever fear. We need to stand strong against temptations as Joseph did. Next time we will have a look at how it turned out for him. But I am convinced that if he had given in to Potiphar's wife, he would never ever have been exalted to second in charge of the whole of Egypt and he would never have seen his family again. That one situation was make or break for Joseph and fortunately he aced the test.

May we all ace the tests that we need to write in order for God to exalt us to new levels. The exaltation might not come physically immediately, but we will be lifted up spiritually and the physical manifestation will follow. So stand firm for God and His wonderful Word. It will all be worth it.

Father, thank you that we can know that You make all things work together for our good. Thank you that You will never allow temptations to come that we cannot bear. That is such a relief to know. Thank you for providing us with a way of escape. You are so good and faithful. We look forward to walking this road with You. Amen

 

 

10. Be open to God's leading

Last week we saw how Joseph's brothers sold him to Ishmaelite slave traders and how they then continued with their scam by lying to their father about Joseph. They brought back his tunic, dipped in goat's blood, insinuating that Joseph was killed by a wild animal. This broke their father and he mourned for a very long time, sitting in sackcloth. This didn't even convince them to tell him the truth; they were too deep into their lies and couldn't back away then.

In the meantime poor Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold as a slave there. We don't know what was going through Joseph's mind at this stage, but it must have been frightening for him. He had never been far away from home, and now he found himself in the most civilized and biggest place in the world at that point. It must have been very intimidating for him. And to top it all off he was all alone, without his family close by and he had to work as a slave. So what his mindset was at this stage we don't know. But it must have been a very tough time for this young man. After all he was just seventeen years old.

BUT GOD. He was with Joseph in a mighty way:

"The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man. And his master saw that they Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. Thus he left all that he had in Joseph's hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate." Genesis 39:2-6

God used a terrible situation and turned it around for Joseph. God gave Joseph favor with Potiphar and He blessed his house and his field for Joseph's sake. How amazing is that? Joseph also did so well, that Potiphar made him overseer over his whole household. Joseph had no experience, he had no knowledge of running a household, but because God was with him, He helped him every step of the way.  God promoted Joseph to a new level. And I truly believe it was because Joseph was open to being used by God and he allowed God to work through him. Potiphar's only concern every day was what he was going to eat! Joseph was on top of everything else. It truly is amazing given his age and work experience. God was there with him, every step of the way!

When we are open to God's leading and ready to be used by Him, He will work through us for the glory of His Kingdom. I know that God will use situations in our lives that we deem as terrible and even devastating, to work out His good. He promises us in Romans 8:28 that He will do that for us:

"…all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."

All things, good and bad things, will work out for our good if we love God. Isn't it an amazing promise? We just need to continue giving our best and walking alongside God just as Joseph did. And we needn't be qualified for the job, we simply need to have a heart for God, then He will provide us with all the skills we need to do what He has laid out for us to do. For example, I am not a good writer. I really am not. I am a Chartered Accountant, so my strong point is number crunching. I am not really that strong in languages. And yet, I have written twelve books now and more than 500 devotions, and that is only because God wanted me to and led me to do it. It is truly supernatural, as I am not naturally gifted in this area. And God will do the same for you. If you truly want to exalt Him in all that you do, He will use you mightily for His Kingdom. He will give you the skills set that you need, do not be afraid. All that He wants to bless you with is on the other side of fear. So be courageous and allow God to work through you in wonderful ways. He wants to and will truly help you. Then you can give all glory to Him and exalt Him in every area of your life.

Father thank you that You are with us every day of the week. Thank you that You have good plans for us, that You want to use us in every single way. Use us Lord, lead us unto Your paths everlasting. We want to portray Your Kingdom to others, give us the skills set that we need to be able to do that. We love You. Amen

 

9. Walk in the truth

Last week we saw how Joseph was sold to Ishmaelite traders by his brothers. Instead of killing him as they had originally planned, they sold him and they lived with this regret and condemnation of what they had done for more than two decades. In the end as they realized, their revenge on their brother was not worth the heartache and pain they had to live with for such a long time.

Reuben wasn't with his brothers when they sold him to the Ishmaelites. Where he was we don't know, but when he returned he wanted to rescue Joseph from the pit, but then he saw that he was gone. He went to his brothers and heard what they had done. And instead of standing up against them and trying to make a plan to rescue Joseph, he instead devised a plan with his brothers to pretend that his brother had been killed. Not one of them wanted to accept responsibility and come out with the truth:

"So they took Joseph's tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. Then they sent the tunic of many colors, and they brought it to their father and said: "We have found this. Do you know whether it is your son's tunic or not?" Genesis 37:31, 32

They lied to their father. And notice how they even spoke of Joseph as Jacob's son instead of their brother? They were really getting themselves deeper and deeper into their own web of lies. Even pretending that they weren't sure that it was Joseph's even though they full well knew it was.

Jacob then broke down and wept for his son bitterly. He tore his clothes and put sackcloth on and mourned for many days, even saying that he will go down into the grave from mourning. It was such a sad occasion. His sons even tried to comfort him, but nothing helped. I personally think they were genuinely trying to comfort him as they felt bad, but they were in too deep and couldn't tell him the truth here.

Sometimes we do things that hurt others as well and we need to accept responsibility and try and make amends where possible. For once we get entangled into a web of lies; it is very difficult to get out of it. The brothers only told the truth to their father twenty years later and only because they found Joseph alive and well. They never would have told him if they didn't find Joseph. And those lies strangled them and influenced their lives for the negative. At the end of the day, if we don't come clean and make amends and ask for forgiveness, the only persons we are hurting is ourselves. We need to break free from a web of lies and walk in the truth.

Jesus said He is the way, the truth and the life, and when He lives within us, His truth will shine through. But if we are entangled in lies, we will battle to breathe and be the Christian that God created us to be. We need to break free and be filled with His truth and life, therein lies real joy and peace.

Walk on His pathway for your life; you will be glad you did. Break free from the past, from wrongdoing and see Him in everything. He has already forgiven you all your sin. Lay it at His feet and keep it there. Then walk in the fullness of all He has planned for you. He has a future and a hope for you. Cling to that and break free from past hurt. His hope for a better future will carry you through.

Father thank you that You have a future and a hope for us. We look forward to walking on this journey with You. Please help us to break free from our past mistakes, to correct it where we can and help us to walk in Your pathway for our lives. We really want to please You and thank you for loving us no matter what. Amen

8. Make amends

Last week we saw how Joseph was caught by his brothers, how his tunic was taken and how he was thrown into a pit. He must have been so surprised and devastated by their actions, but it was too late. He was literally down in the pit, the lowest point. But yet we saw how God was there with him and how He helped him even in these dire circumstances.

Now just after his brothers threw him into the pit, they casually sat down to eat a meal. Not bothered to offer Joseph any. It was then that their murderous plan changed. They saw a company of Ishmaelite traders passing by on their way to Egypt. Judah then had a bright plan:

"What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh." And his brothers listened." Genesis 37:26, 27

They then went ahead and sold Joseph for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites. They watched as Joseph pleaded with them not to do it, but they didn't head his call. They simply watched him leave, dragged behind the caravan of traders.

Human trafficking is a shocking practice that has gone on for thousands of years and unfortunately it still hasn't stopped. It is still a practice going on today. The brothers thought that is was better than killing him, but human trafficking is almost as bad as killing someone. In fact they kill the soul of the one sold. The brothers didn't realize it then, but they hurt their own souls in the process. For twenty plus years they had to walk with the guilt, the condemnation and regret of what they had done. It haunted them until the day that they found Joseph again. And even after living in Egypt with him for seventeen years, they were still afraid of Joseph after their father Jacob died. They were convinced that after their father had died that Joseph will take revenge on them. So all in all they walked in fear, regret, condemnation and guilt for almost four decades. Basically a lifetime.

We should never walk that long with regret, condemnation, fear or guilt over things we had done. All of us do things wrong and all of us make mistakes. We all do. But we need to let it go. We need to go and make amends where possible. Where it was our fault, we need to go and apologize and help where we possibly can. We need to get it off our chest. Of course God forgives us when we ask Him. He doesn't condemn us anymore due to the wonderful work of Jesus on the cross. We can walk freely in His forgiveness and grace. But for our own sake, we need to go and make amends with those that we have wronged. It sets us free, it truly does. We needn't carry such a heavy burden if it is not necessary. Mistakes are often made, but it shouldn't be left alone to fester on the inside of us. We can make amends.

Do not allow these burdens to be carried around any longer. They will weigh you down and cause you to be heavy burdened and not ready to walk on the path that God ordained for you. He wants what is best for you. Always and in all things. He wants you free. He said that His burden is light, so rather cast away the burdens you are carrying and take up His yoke, light and free. Then you will be able to do what He wants you to do and to go where He leads you to go. The time is now. Make peace with the past and move on.

Father we are so sorry for the wrong things we did against others. We are truly sorry. We want to move on and be the person You created us to be. Take these burdens from us and give us Your yoke that is light. Thank you that You forgive us, You are amazing. Please help us on the road to make amends with those that we hurt. Please give us the wisdom and the courage to do it. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen

 

7. God is always there for you

Last week we saw how Joseph's brothers wanted to kill him, but how Reuben, the eldest intervened and convinced them to rather throw him in a pit. Reuben's plan was to rescue him later and take him back to his father, but his plan failed as we will see later on.

So finally Joseph arrived where his brothers were. We don't know what words were exchanged between them, but his brothers didn't waste any time in going through with their plan.

"So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it." Genesis 37:23, 24

First of all his brothers got rid of the tunic that showed that Joseph was chosen above them all, the object of their hatred, and then they cast him into the pit. I think Joseph must have been shocked. I cannot imagine that he saw this coming otherwise he would never have gone out to meet them. He must have known that they despised him, but this was going one step too far. I can just imagine how horrified he must have been at the turn of events.

But fortunately the Bible specifically mentions that the pit didn't have any water in it. God ordained it to be so; otherwise Joseph most certainly would have drowned.

So even in these dire circumstances God looked after Joseph. First of all He changed their mind about killing him and then He ordained that the pit didn't have any water in that he might drown.

The same is true for us. We might find ourselves in terrible situations. The COVID pandemic might be one of them. Some of us lost loved ones; others lost their businesses, whilst others lost income, hope, friends, potential, and family. Each lock down felt like a dire pit that we all are thrown into. Not being able to do what we would love to do, not being able to do what we want to do or to go where we want to go. It looked like a pit to me, with no silver lining, only mud.

But as I looked closer, I could see God's provision in it all. Indeed there was a silver lining for each of us. If we truly sat down and thought about it, God did come through for us in the way that we specifically needed it. For instance we were forced to spend more time at home with our children, we were forced to rest and not be as active as normal, we were forced to find joy in ordinary things, and because we couldn't do the things that we thought made us happy. We were forced to appreciate the small things in life, for as I realized it is the small things that ultimately result in the bigger things. God also made me see that He is testing me in the small things, for if I am not to be trusted with those, He couldn't trust me with bigger responsibilities in His Kingdom.

I want you to sit ten minutes with God today and ask Him to show you how He helped you in your times in the pit. Ask Him to show you how He provided for you and what you learned from it. Ask Him to show you these lessons, so that you can make a huge difference in other's lives too. Do not allow your 'pit' periods in your life be in vain. It never is. Learn from it, grow and help others through the same thing. It will be all worth it in the end, just like it was with Joseph.

Father, the times in the pit are terrible and I do not like it, but I know that You looked after me even in that. Please show me where You were during those times and help me to see how I have grown through it, so that I can be a blessing to others as well. Thank you for always being there for me. I love You. Amen

6. Stand up for what is right

Last week we saw how Joseph was searching for his brothers. They were supposed to be at Shechem, but instead they went to Dothan. Finally Joseph found them at Dothan. But he didn't receive the welcome that he thought he would get. Even from afar they plotted against him to kill him:

"Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, "Some wild beast has devoured him." We shall see what will become of his dreams!" Genesis 37:19, 20

They have had enough of him. They were past the point of thinking rationally. They didn't like the fact that their father treated him better than all of them. Plus they were not where they were supposed to be, so they didn't want another bad report given to their father by his favorite son. Killing him sounded better to them at that moment. They didn't think it through but reacted hastily.

Now Reuben was the oldest of all of Jacob's sons. And even though he didn't like Joseph either, he felt that his brothers were not thinking straight and that killing him was not the best way to handle the situation. However he didn't have the guts to tell his brothers to leave him alone. He rather took the safer route and told them:

"Let us not kill him. Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him" - that he might deliver him out of their hands and bring him back to his father." Genesis 37:21, 22

Reuben's plan was that they cast Joseph into the pit and then later he will come back and get him out of the pit and take him back to his father. He didn't have the courage to stand up for what is right and to confront his brothers. They had to listen to him because he was in a position of authority over them as the eldest. But he didn't. He was either too afraid of them, or he wanted to still feel a part of them and he knew that they would treat him differently if they saw him siding with Joseph. Either way, he didn't stand up for what was right.

This decision haunted them all for decades to come. We see that in Genesis 42:21, 22 when they came to Egypt to collect grain:

"We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore the distress has come upon us." And Reuben answered to them, saying, "Did I not speak to you, saying, "Do not sin against the boy": and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us."

The brothers and Reuben especially suffered trauma for at least two decades after they had cast Joseph into the pit. Fortunately God had a purpose for Joseph and allowed all things to work together for good for him. But the brothers didn't know that for two decades and they were haunted by their actions.

The lesson here is: Think carefully before you act. Think it through, sleep on it, pray about it, and do not act hastily. You normally do the wrong thing then. All your actions have consequences. Yes, when you repent you are forgiven by the blood of Jesus, but your actions still have consequences to be dealt with. Rather walk an upright path with God, follow His leading in all that you do and do not act out of your emotions. It normally just brings heartache and pain.

Secondly, when you know something is not right, stand up and say so. Reuben didn't protect Joseph from his brothers. Yes, he persuaded them not to kill him, but he still didn't stand up and told them to leave him alone. The same can be said of us. Many times at work, at school, between friends and associates we find that wrong things are being said, planned and done. It is then that we need to stand up and take a stand against it. We should not take the easy way out like Reuben. His plan of later rescuing Joseph backfired and it caused him so much regret, heartache and pain for twenty years thereafter. Do not allow that to happen to you. Rather face them head on and say your say. God will be with you. Maybe they will reject you and cast you out, but then I know that God will provide even better friends for you and will exalt you in due time for standing up for Him. Hallelujah!

Father, please give us the courage to stand up for what is right. Please help us also to think through our actions before reacting. Rather lead us with Your peace to the right thing to do. You are our Role Model, help us to act like You would have. Amen

5. God's protection in the lion's den

Last time we saw how Joseph told his brothers about his dreams that they will bow before him. Joseph was still very young and immature as he bragged about his dreams to his brothers who already hated him. We learned that we must be emotionally intelligent and wise as to what to tell other people. We shouldn't brag about how God blesses us. We should rather help other people and reach out to them. And be an example to others in our deeds.

As we read further about his life we see that Israel didn't send Joseph with his brothers to care for the flock. Israel kept him at home whilst his brothers had to work. We don't know the reason why, but we can assume that it was because he was his father's favorite and his father didn't want him to get hurt. But what his father did do was to send him to see what his brothers were up to:

"Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks and bring back word to me." Genesis 37:14

Now I am sure Israel had noble intentions by sending Joseph, or maybe he wanted to check up on his sons, as Joseph had in the past sent back gossip about his brothers' wrong doings to his father. Whatever the reason, Israel sent Joseph to look for his brothers and the flocks and bring back word to Israel.

Now as it happened Joseph's brothers weren't where they were supposed to be. They were supposed to be at Shechem, but upon arrival Joseph didn't find them there. Instead a stranger told him that they had decided to rather go to Dothan. Joseph then set out after them and found them there.

And it was there at Dothan that Joseph walked into the lion's den. He had no idea what was waiting for him there. We will look at the detail next week, but let's just say his brothers weren't too keen on receiving him as they knew that Joseph would send a bad report back about them as they weren't where they were supposed to be.

We might all face Dothan situations in our lives. Some might be our own doing, but most of the time we walk innocently into a situation, only to find that we have walked into the lion's den. After all the Bible tells us that the devil walks around like a roaring lion looking for whom he may devour. He is prowling around regularly and given the chance he will pounce. In the natural a person without any armor will have no defense against a hungry lion in the wild. He won't stand a chance. But yet, when he has armor on, plus weapons his chances are better to fight back. But the best, basically full proof protection is if there is a sturdy electric fence between the man and the lion. Then the lion might be roaring and looking for prey, but the person would be safe.

We are often in very difficult situations. We find ourselves surrounded by trouble, whether it is relationships, sickness, financial difficulties, crime etc. We might innocently be in the wrong place at the wrong time, prey for the hungry lion. But when we have the armor of God on and the sword of the Word, we can fight back and know that we are protected. And when we walk in the shadow of the Almighty, so close to Him that we can feel His breath, when we take Holy Communion and anoint ourselves with the oil of His grace, then it is as if an electric fence is erected between us and the hungry lion. In the presence of the Almighty is our protection and we can know that He will work all things for our good (Romans 8:28).

"He who dwells  in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust." Psalm 91:1, 2

Joseph stepped into the lion's den, and yes he was captured and taken away, but he wasn't killed and God was with him every step of the way, ensuring that His plan prospers and that Joseph be exalted in the end. We might also wait years to see the good outcome that God has ordained for us, but know that it is coming. He will most certainly allow all things to work together for your good. With God by our side, we have protection against the lions. We should just remain with Him, side by side, knowing that we are safe within His will for our lives.

Father thank you that You are our protection and fortress in the lion's den. If we walk close to You all things will work together for our good, we look forward to it and we trust in You. You know best. Amen

4. Use your God given emotional intelligence

As we saw last week Joseph wasn't really popular with his brothers. He tells tales about them to his father and he is clearly more loved by their father than them. Jacob made that perfectly clear when he gave a unique multi colored tunic for Joseph and not for the rest of them. They hated Joseph for that. And then something happened that made them hate him even more. Joseph had dreams.

The first dream was:

"There we were binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf." Genesis 37:7

His brothers hated Joseph even more after this dream, and understandably so. I don't know what Joseph expected after telling them that, but he didn't learn his lesson, for when he had another dream he didn't hesitate to tell them:

"…this time, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to me." Genesis 37:9

Now I don't know about you, but I don't know how I would react if someone told me something like this. I would think them arrogant and boastful, definitely not humble as the Bible requires. But I realize that Joseph was still very young and immature. Maybe he wanted to get even with his brothers for treating him badly by telling them the dreams, or maybe he was just genuinely young and naïve, thinking that they will respect him when he told them this. Whichever way, we can definitely learn from this.

We should be very careful to boast about things, especially if it is things that we believe that God is doing in our lives. For example we shouldn't brag about how quickly we got rid of the flu to someone who genuinely struggles to feel better. We shouldn't brag about how well our child is doing in school academically to someone who we know has a child who struggles. We shouldn't brag about our child's sporting abilities to someone whose child genuinely tries but just doesn't have the talent. That is not testifying about God to other people, that is pushing them away.

We had that experience now in COVID. We own two coffeeshops in a hospital and needless to say it has been a tough time for us since March 2020. Now God has looked after us and provided for us, but we had a 60%+ decline in business year on year. Then clients would come into our shop whose businesses are in either telecoms or electronics or supermarkets. Now these industries did extremely well during the pandemic. Then they will say how much God has blessed them and that they are just so glad that He has looked after them and they would go on and on. Now they believe their testimony is great, but in fact it made us feel worse. It made us feel as if they prayed and it went great for them, but we prayed and it didn't. So what is wrong with us? Now I realize most of them meant well, but we need to learn from it and not do the same to people who are not strong in the faith. Fortunately we are strong and we have learned many things from Above during this time, but we all need to be very careful that our 'testimonies' do not cause damage to other people's faith.

God wants us to testify of His goodness and grace, He does. But we need to be sensitive to the leading of His Spirit so that we testify when we should. But also that we rather keep our mouths shut and listen and support others when it is not going that well for them. In supporting and encouraging others when they are down in the dumps does much more good than to 'brag' about all the blessings from God whilst we can clearly see that it is not going that well with the person in front of us. We need to use our God given emotional intelligence and rather live as an example to God and support others where we can.

I believe God gave these dreams to Joseph to encourage him and give him strength in the difficult times that lay ahead for him. I don't think it was dreams to share with his brothers, especially when they already had a strained relationship. His dreams did come true when his brothers bowed before him in Egypt, but I truly believe that those dreams were the forerunner to encourage Joseph and to show him the future. These dreams helped him to see his gift with dreams and to enable him to unveil to the Pharaoh his dream when the time came.

Father thank you for blessing us with so much. Please help us to know when to share these blessings with others as a testimony and when to rather keep quiet and help others where they need it the most. Please give us the emotional intelligence to know the difference. Amen

3. Treat all people the same

As we have learned last week, Joseph was born into a house filled with jealousy. His aunt was jealous of his mom due to his father's devotion to her and his mom was jealous that her sister had six sons and a daughter and she had only Joseph. But love Joseph she did and his father also. He was Jacob's favorite son by far. We don't know much about Joseph's early childhood, for when he is introduced in chapter 37 of Genesis he is already seventeen years old.

Now when he is introduced he is feeding the flock with his brothers. Upon returning home he brought a bad report about his brothers to his father. Whether they deserved that bad report we don't know, but judging by their character that we read about in the Bible, I bet that it was true. On the other hand it made him very unpopular with his brothers. Joseph was still very immature and didn't think through the consequences that his actions might have.

We are often in situations like that too. Often people disappoint us, do things that hurt us or simply do things that are not right. We then need to sit still, assess the situation, pray about it and ask God for guidance and even sleep on it. Most of the time we will take much better action, than when we rush head on into a situation and simply make matters much worse. I have experienced this several times in my life, where I was so sorry that I didn't just wait before reacting. If I had waited I would have been calmer and I would have handled the whole situation differently. Joseph's actions didn't win him any favors and if he was more mature I am sure he would have handled it differently.

Now Jacob on the other hand was mature, but he also didn't act correctly. The Bible tells us:

"Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son in his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors." Genesis 37:3

This was not right of Jacob. Yes, I understand that personality wise you might get along with one of your children more than the other, but you love and treat them the same. You should never differentiate between them.

Jacob didn't just secretly love Joseph more than the others; he also blessed him with a tunic of many colors. Such a beautiful tunic was unheard of in those days. His other sons being shepherds probably had dull robes with which they can look after the flock. But Joseph was special and received the best of the best. And this made his brothers mad:

"But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him." Genesis 37:4

Jacob's love for Joseph was no secret and it made life more difficult for Joseph. No doubt he liked the love and attention from his father, but it made his day to day life difficult with brothers who hated him and who couldn't speak well or positively to him.

Sometimes we do the same. Maybe as a parent we subconsciously treat the one child better than the other, or as a teacher you give the student you like a better mark than the others, or as a boss you want one of your employees to succeed more than the others even though they are not the best candidate for the job and so I can go on. We need to be careful not to give special privileges to one and not the others in the same position. At the end of the day we are not truly helping that person as the others will see it and treat them with disdain and maybe even make life difficult for them. Of course we cannot like all people the same, but we need to treat them the same when we are in a position of authority over them. Rather leave the promotion to God. He will lead the right person upward based on His divine plan for their lives. In HIs hands they are safe.

Father, please help us to behave in a correct and godly way. We don't want to react too quickly to people's actions towards us and we want to treat all people that we have authority over in the same way. Please help us with that. In our flesh we are weak and we cannot do it, but with You by our side all things are possible. Amen