"At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion."
2 Timothy 4:16-17 (NKJV)
This week we continue to look at the phrase “But God” which appears 61 times in the Bible. During these times of uncertainty, the line between panic and anger can get pretty thin, but the Bible reminds us not to let our emotions run away with us. Instead we choose to keep our faith in the God, who raised Jesus from the dead (Acts 10:39-40) and to walk in His peace.
Anyone who dreams of the future is bound to be surrounded by negative comments. The pioneers of computers had many who saw no future for the invention and told them so. Reading back over remarks on the pointlessness of talking movies, courier services and home computers make us laugh now. Even Winston Churchill’s father once had trouble believing in the potential of his son. Jesus was put down too. He was killed and buried - that’s as low as you can go! But God raised Him from the dead and this same God is with you.
Paul writes in 2 Timothy that he was left without a single friend. But God was with him. Jacob was mistreated by Laban, his employer in Genesis 31:7. But God protected him. You too may have people in your life who should be there for you and fail. But God can walk you through the worst circumstances of your life.
Jacob said the same thing to his son Joseph in Genesis 48:21 when he knew he was dying: the Lord will be with you. The life of Joseph encourages us in a difficult time. Joseph had 10 older brothers and was his father’s favourite. Jacob had a wonderful, colourful coat made for Joseph, who chose to wear it to honour his father rather than bow to the feelings of his brothers. We should wear the joy, grace and blessing that our Heavenly Father gives us to honour Him and not seek the favour of men (Romans 5:17).
Joseph’s brothers were not happy that he showed off the favour he had and they first threw him in a pit, then sold him to slave traders. Arriving in Egypt as a slave, Joseph was purchased by a wealthy man. He obviously stood out - head held high among the downcast. The man’s household was blessed with Joseph working there because the Lord was with him. The lady of the house tried to get Joseph into bed, but Joseph had integrity. He refused and ended up in jail where he continued to help others, interpreting their dreams.
Throughout this time, Joseph held onto his vision of the future: that he was born to rule and to help others. God was with him and blessed everything he did. Many years later, Joseph is summoned before the Pharaoh to interpret a dream and Joseph does so, offering counsel as well. The dream meant there would be years of plenty followed by years of famine and Joseph recommended that Pharaoh have the surplus stored to supply during the famine. Pharaoh elevated Joseph to the position he was destined for: to rule Egypt and oversee this plan. Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt during the famine desperate to buy food. They did not recognize Joseph until he revealed himself to them. He tells them in Genesis 50:20 that although they had wished him harm, But God had sent Joseph to Egypt for the purpose of saving many lives.
We also are sent by God during difficult circumstances. God has a plan. We need to grasp hold of God’s goodness and power to stay positive and to have faith in a good future. If we haven’t already done so, the first step is to grasp a hold of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9). What better time to do this than at Easter, when we celebrate Jesus saving us by dying in our place on the cross. Join us on Friday for the first of our Easter services.
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT
- Have you ever experienced something you thought was horrible, but God used it to bless you or bless others through you?
- How can we remind ourselves each day that God is with us and He has good plans for our future?
- While in isolation, what can we do to prepare for our future? Is there a book to read, a preaching series to watch, a subject to study in the Bible?
- How have you been sharing the joy, grace and peace of God with others during this time?