Joseph’s Patience – Part 2

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. Gen. 37:5

It goes without saying that in any race, the contestants endure because they are aware of the nature of the reward awaiting them. There needs to be a catalyst for one to endure any hardship. The catalyst for Joseph’s perseverance was because he had a dream. Yes, one day, Joseph dreamed a dream. In fact, he dreamed a series of dreams. I am glad to say that Joseph did not day-dream, and it is important for us to make note of that difference. Joseph dreamed an actual dream.

We all know that day-dreaming amounts to nothing. Day-dreaming, as it is popularly known, is another word for wishful thinking. But an actual dream can indicate something tangible.

In spiritual terms, we could liken day-dreaming to the desires for this material life that most believers have. Dreams like “coming to America”. “Coming to America” is like going to heaven for most people. Here in Africa, that is Dream No. 1. But going to America is a material dream and, in the Spirit, this amounts to wishful thinking for God does not reside in America. God is everywhere; but the even more important fact is that God desires to live in us, wherever we are.

On the other hand, we could liken an actual dream (under the Old Covenant) to a spiritual vision. A spiritual vision talks of having our spiritual eyes enlightened. A spiritual vision shows us the riches of God’s heavenly Kingdom – in us! Can you visualize that? Not just seeing God’s heavenly riches; but having those riches in us. Such a realization is way beyond what we can humanly imagine; it needs the hand of God to reveal these things. That is why the Apostle Paul tells the Ephesians:

“1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Eph. 3:1-5)

It is a revelation!

In other words, therefore, we can say that Joseph had a spiritual revelation. This is the same revelation that Moses had:

“24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; 26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” Heb. 11:24-26

Yes, through the revelation that Moses received, he

“had respect unto the recompence of the reward.”

We could go on to talk of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10:

“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

And many other men and women of faith.

It was the spiritual vision that made all these men and women to endure suffering. They understood God’s plan for their lives and, for that, reason, they persevered. There is a worldly plan and there is a heavenly plan, for our lives. We need to choose the right plan.

We cannot wait, like Joseph, for a dream in the night to lead us to a heavenly vision of God’s plan for our lives. Such a dream may or may not come. In any case, Joseph is an Old Testament character, and there are so many things that we under the New Covenant cannot carry on in the same fashion as the Old Testament figures did.

Under the New Covenant, we have the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit in us. The Holy Spirit gives us our dream, the heavenly dream. This is what will enable us to persevere. We need that spiritual dream in order to persevere. Most believers have only a material dream. They have dreams of worldly riches, and worldly success. Such cannot persevere. When persecution comes, they easily crumble.

But a spiritual vision will have us standing tall and strong no matter how hard the winds of this world may howl.

Seeing The Cross – Part 1

11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.

12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it. Jer. 1:11-12

This scripture is talking about visions and dreams. Jeremiah saw a vision. People today are having visions and dreams of every sort; but Jeremiah also had a vision, a vision from God.

In this two- or three-part series, I want to discuss the significance of what Jeremiah saw in light of the New Covenant.

First, let us consider God’s reaction to Jeremiah after Jeremiah had told God what he had seen. When Jeremiah told God what he had seen, God answered him:

“… Thou hast well seen…”.

The word “well” implies a commendation. It implies approval. In this scripture, in simple but powerful terms, God tells Jeremiah that He approves of what he had seen. In other words, God was pleased with Jeremiah.

Do you know how difficult it is for God to be pleased with man? For a man to please God is probably one of the most difficult things that can happen in the spiritual world. This is because we are so wicked! Actually, God’s final word on man is found in Genesis 6:6 where the Bible says that it “grieved (God) at his heart” that He had made man. Take a moment to meditate on that.

And – impossible as it might seem – man has gotten only worse since Genesis 6:6.

But here we see God praising Jeremiah. Why was God pleased with Jeremiah? It was because Jeremiah saw exactly the thing that God wanted him to see.

Had Jeremiah seen something different, God would most certainly have told him, “Jeremiah, you have not seen well!”

But here we see God telling Jeremiah, “Thou hast well seen”.

Clearly, therefore, God is pleased with the man or woman who can see in the Spirit. In fact, I believe that the only person with whom God can be pleased with is the man who sees in the Spirit. This is because when one sees in the Spirit he sees exactly the thing that God wants him to see, and God is happy with such an one.

We read in the Gospel of John 4:23: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.”

When it says “worship”, the Bible is not talking about a praise and worship session. On the contrary – as we shall see in the next part of this post – it is talking about the totality of our way of life with the Lord. It is talking about our walk in the Spirit. We must walk as the Lord walks.

Jeremiah therefore was not someone who dreamed a dream or saw a vision in the natural. He was a man who first caught something in the Spirit and subsequently walked in the light of what he had seen.

This pleased the Lord exceedingly.

[Seeing in the Spirit is a way of life!]

Image2397

The Simplicity of Godly Men

10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.
17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
Gen. 28:10-22

It is incredible how simple the men and women who knew God in the Bible were. It is incomprehensible to me that someone would meet God face to face and the only thing he could think to ask of God was safe passage, food and raiment. But this was exactly what this great partriarch did.

And he did it for a reason: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”.

These men did not desire a simple life for simplicity’s sake; rather, it was because they had their sights on something else.

It is so interesting how the men in the Bible had a singular vision. They did not see “all over the world”. They had a singular focus. And their focus was not on worldly things, however ‘spiritual’ they might appear. They focused on something heavenly, something truly spiritual.

Here we see Jacob’s singular vision: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”.

We need to understand that scripture cannot be interpreted in the natural. This is why our minds have absolutely no place in God’s plan of revealing things. The “father’s house” that Jacob is referring to is the land that was given to Abraham and his offspring by God through a promise; and anything that is promised by or given by or is of God in any way is spiritual. That is why a born-again believer is spiritual throughout, and if we are not we need to be.

And Jacob says, ‘That I go back there in peace’.

The Godly men and women of old had only one reason for living in this world: to accomplish God’s righteousness in their lives. As far as this world was concerned, all Jacob wanted were the bare necessities. He had his sights elsewhere: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”. That is a spiritual statement, if ever there was one!

Today, the concept of “bare necessities” has been bashed into submission by a materially-minded gospel. I once actually saw a prominent preacher say on television: “God wants you to have ten houses!” That’s not a fable; it is a fact.

If you are poor or if you are deficient in anything of this world today, you are labeled: ‘You have no faith!’

And yet we see Jacob praying to God, ‘If you will only give me safe passage in this world, food and raiment’, that was enough.

The men and women who knew God in the Bible did not think too much of this world. They knew God could bless them with the things of this world if He so desired. But they did not set their hearts on those things. They looked for something spiritual. That is the bottom line: they looked for something spiritual.

In Hebrews 11:9-10 the Bible speaks of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the following manner: “9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

These three men looked for something spiritual.

The Apostle Paul humbly says in 1 Timothy 6:8, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”

Paul uses the same language Jacob used. The apostles looked for something spiritual!

And yet, all these simple men were the truly great men of this world. The Bible says that these were men “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38).

The great men of God did not look for the great things of this world. They looked for the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom in their lives. They looked for that deep inner work of the cross in their hearts.

How far away the church has gone that we cannot use the same language today that these men used! It is so sad how the church has left the spiritual path and has turned into a carnal entity, believing that the things it justifies itself in seeking after are what is in God’s heart.

God in His magnanimity has no problem with us owning these things, and probably they are good for this world.

But even after we receive them we should hold onto them with our fingertips, because they are things that God will not allow into heaven. You cannot drive a Hummer into God’s heavenly Kingdom. And not even a healthy body will be allowed into that Kingdom. God will gladly welcome a healthy spirit into His Kingdom, but not a body, however healthy. The Bible in 1 Cor. 15:50 says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Sometimes it takes us eons to finally believe the Word of God!

There are ‘ministries’ today which have turned healing into the de facto Kingdom message.

But the message of the Kingdom of God is the singular message of the cross of Jesus Christ.

I love the gospel of the cross. You can go to heaven and back, but you will not find any other gospel that zeroes in on what God wants to do in our lives.

I thank God for the revelation that He gave to the Apostle Paul: “Christ, and him crucified”!

[Below: I give you praise, Lord, for health and strength and for the revelation of the cross in my life]

The Simplicity of Godly Men

10 And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.
11 And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep.
12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.
17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,
21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
Gen. 28:10-22

It is incredible how simple the men and women who knew God in the Bible were. It is incomprehensible to me that someone would meet God face to face and the only thing he could think to ask of God was safe passage, food and raiment. But this was exactly what this great partriarch did.

And he did it for a reason: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”.

These men did not desire a simple life for simplicity’s sake; rather, it was because they had their sights on something else.

It is so interesting how the men in the Bible had a singular vision. They did not see “all over the world”. They had a singular focus. And their focus was not on worldly things, however ‘spiritual’ they might appear. They focused on something heavenly, something truly spiritual.

Here we see Jacob’s singular vision: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”.

We need to understand that scripture cannot be interpreted in the natural. This is why our minds have absolutely no place in God’s plan of revealing things. The “father’s house” that Jacob is referring to is the land that was given to Abraham and his offspring by God through a promise; and anything that is promised by or given by or is of God in any way is spiritual. That is why a born-again believer is spiritual throughout, and if we are not we need to be.

And Jacob says, ‘That I go back there in peace’.

The Godly men and women of old had only one reason for living in this world: to accomplish God’s righteousness in their lives. As far as this world was concerned, all Jacob wanted were the bare necessities. He had his sights elsewhere: “So that I come again to my father’s house in peace”. That is a spiritual statement, if ever there was one!

Today, the concept of “bare necessities” has been bashed into submission by a materially-minded gospel. I once actually saw a prominent preacher say on television: “God wants you to have ten houses!” That’s not a fable; it is a fact.

If you are poor or if you are deficient in anything of this world today, you are labeled: ‘You have no faith!’

And yet we see Jacob praying to God, ‘If you will only give me safe passage in this world, food and raiment’, that was enough.

The men and women who knew God in the Bible did not think too much of this world. They knew God could bless them with the things of this world if He so desired. But they did not set their hearts on those things. They looked for something spiritual. That is the bottom line: they looked for something spiritual.

In Hebrews 11:9-10 the Bible speaks of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the following manner: “9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

These three men looked for something spiritual.

The Apostle Paul humbly says in 1 Timothy 6:8, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”

Paul uses the same language Jacob used. The apostles looked for something spiritual!

And yet, all these simple men were the truly great men of this world. The Bible says that these were men “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38).

The great men of God did not look for the great things of this world. They looked for the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom in their lives. They looked for that deep inner work of the cross in their hearts.

How far away the church has gone that we cannot use the same language today that these men used! It is so sad how the church has left the spiritual path and has turned into a carnal entity, believing that the things it justifies itself in seeking after are what is in God’s heart.

God in His magnanimity has no problem with us owning these things, and probably they are good for this world.

But even after we receive them we should hold onto them with our fingertips, because they are things that God will not allow into heaven. You cannot drive a Hummer into God’s heavenly Kingdom. And not even a healthy body will be allowed into that Kingdom. God will gladly welcome a healthy spirit into His Kingdom, but not a body, however healthy.

There are ‘ministries’ today which have turned healing into the de facto Kingdom message.

But the message of the Kingdom of God is the singular message of the cross of Jesus Christ.

I love the gospel of the cross. You can go to heaven and back, but you will not find any other gospel that zeroes in on what God wants to do in our lives.

I thank God for the revelation that He gave to the Apostle Paul: “Christ, and him crucified”!

[Below: I give you praise, Lord, for the revelation of the cross]

A Vision of the Church!

God is a God of vision. Indeed, that is what faith is all about. The Bible says in Hebrews 11:1  “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Then it continues in verse 2: “For by it the elders obtained a good report.”

All the people that we read of in the Bible who were involved in God’s plan, men and women, were always individuals of vision. Have you ever wondered why Jesus was descended in the flesh from the tribe of Judah and not of Reuben or Simeon, or any of Jacob’s other sons? The answer is clear enough. When the brothers stood before Joseph and besought him for Benjamin’s life (Genesis 44), it was Judah who laid his life on the line for the lad’s freedom. Judah was willing to take Benjamin’s place.

Now, we must understand that Benjamin is a figure of the Church. In the Book of Genesis, Benjamin represents the Church. We will look into that in a later post. But the point I am making here is that when Judah saw in the Spirit – or, rather, when God granted Judah to see in the Spirit – he saw, not Benjamin, but the Church. And, immediately he saw the Church – its significance, importance, glory; and the place it has in God’s heart – he let go everything, even his own life. (Some years earlier, when he and his brothers were selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites, Judah had not the same vision. He and his brethren were blinded by jealousy).

But now we see that something caused a change in him. It was a change of such magnitude that he was willing to lose his life. This echoes Paul’s words in Colossians 1:24  “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church”.

Thus Judah carried the mantle of leadership amongst Jacob’s 12 sons.

And it was not only Judah. Everyone you find involved in the physical lineage of Jesus were people who walked in a revelation of the Church. That revelation made them willing to share in the sufferings of Christ, albeit in a figure. And that, dear brethren, is what our calling is all about – identifying with Christ in His sufferings and death! We are called to lose our lives.

This is not a matter that we can take lightly. Today’s Church is a very light Church, because it has no revelation of the cross has only an intellectual knowledge of it. Lacking in that revelation, it cannot nor does it have the willingness to share in Christ’s sufferings.

What am I saying here? God is looking to us to get a revelation of the Church, a revelation which will enable us to lose our lives.

Consider we are talking about Jesus’ lineage in the flesh. If that is the case, how much more we, who are the spiritual Israel (Galatians 6:16) – how much more are we called upon to walk in that same revelation of the Church and, even more importantly, how much more are we called upon to give our lives for the Church? We, being the true spiritual Church must walk in greater revelation – and lose our lives in greater measure.

This was always God’s plan and purpose for us since the laying of the foundations of the world; and all the people who form Jesus’ bloodline in the flesh were people who walked in some kind of the revelation of the Church in their lives.

Let me give you an illustration of what suffering with Christ means. There was a time when I encountered some opposition in the church. Poor man that I was, not realizing that God was giving me an opportunity to identify my life with Christ’s by walking in an attitude of love and forgiveness; on the contrary, I developed a hard heart towards these men. I moved into defense mode.

But we are not called to defend ourselves. Many years later, when I came to understand the gospel better, I realized the deadly mistake I made. Today, occasionally, such a situation will arise, but I am quick to seek to lay down my life, take up my cross and follow Jesus. That is the only way I can be sure that I am walking in fellowship with God. It is not an easy thing to do, but along that road there is grace. That is the advantage of walking on the road of the revelation of the Cross.

The true gospel is a revelation – a revelation of Christ, and Him crucified.