Trust God. He is in Control.

This is a story of a man named Joseph. At a young age, his brother’s sold him (Genesis 37:28) to be a slave in Egypt. But the Lord was with Joseph and everything that he did was successful, so his master Potiphar made him an overseer (Genesis 39:4) of his entire household. Now Joseph was handsome which lead Potiphar’s wife to desire him. She tempted him to come to bed with her numerous times, but Joseph was a man of God and did not want to sin against Him. One day, Potiphar’s wife was out again to tempt him. Joseph refused but she was able to catch him by his garment and left his garment in her hand. Then she reported to her husband that Joseph tried to rape her – this lead to Joseph’s imprisonment despite his innocence.

This was the story that happened before Genesis 40. That’s why in Genesis 40 you would read that Joseph was already in prison. But even in prison the Lord was with Joseph, he was put in charge of all the prisoners.

Joseph with Cupbearer and BakerThis chapter starts with a story about a cupbearer and baker who was put to prison, and Joseph was put in charge of them. Now, was this coincidence? I don’t believe so. God has a plan. He was always in control of Joseph’s life. He was always there, allowing everything to come into place.

When the cupbearer and baker had dream, Joseph notice that they were sad because no one was able to interpret what they saw. And I like what Joseph said in Genesis 40:8, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”

What can we possibly learn from what Joseph said?

First, Joseph acknowledged God. It’s amazing to see Joseph’s response to his situation. He was sold to slavery. He was accused of rape. He was put to prison. But despite all that has happened to him, he still acknowledged God. He didn’t hold a grudge against God. He responded well, knowing God is, and has always been in control. How about us? When problems come our way, or when things do not go as we expended it to happen, do we grumble? Do we hold a grudge against God? Do we see the trials in our life as God’s blessing? Do we see just like what James 1:2-3 says?

2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Secondly, look at what Joseph said next, “Tell it to me, please.” Why would Joseph ask them to tell them their dream? If he believes that God can only give the meaning of these dreams, then why would he ask them to tell it him? Was he going against his belief that he can interpret it, and not God?

Do want to know what I’ve realized? Joseph said this not because he believes that he can interpret it, but because he knows God is with him. He believes that despite everything that has happened in his life, God is still with him and God will give him the proper interpretations for their dream. Joseph has a faith that we should learn to imitate!

Joseph saw that God hasn’t left him despite the situation of his life. Joseph saw all of these things happening for a certain reason. What could be that reason? Did Joseph foresee everything that the Lord will be doing in his life? That is something that I don’t see clearly in the bible, but one thing is for sure – He knows everything that is happening in his life is God’s hand upon, and he knows that God is good! He said to his brothers (who sold him to slavery) when they encountered them again:

 Genesis 45:5-8

5 Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Indeed, God was and has always been in control. When the cupbearer and baker shared their dream to Joseph, he was able to interpret them. The cupbearer was reinstated to his position, in pharaoh’s court, just as Joseph said. And when pharaoh had a dream, it was Joseph who also interpreted. It was the cupbearer who told pharaoh that Joseph can interpret. Was it coincidence that all of these things happened? I don’t believe so. Joseph interpreted pharaoh dream and through this pharaoh saw the Lord was with Joseph. So he made him second in command to him. The Lord was indeed good!

You may be going through a tough time in life. You might not understand why things are happening this may. Take heart. If you know God and he is your Lord, take heart that your life is in his hand and he is in control. If you don’t know God and he is not your Lord, I suggest you make him your Lord first and allow him to take control of your life.

The Lord loves us. May we learn to trust him – he is in control. No matter the situation. No matter the circumstance. Let us find joy in our trials and let us always give glory to God despite whatever is happening in our life. If you would read Joseph’s response, he has always acknowledged God in his life. Despite the success that has happened in his life, he has always acknowledged that it is God’s work and not his.

May this message bring you hope. May this message turn you to trust God and hope in Him. There are so many things to learn from Joseph’s life. May we follow his response in his life and trust God that he is under control.

I can never understand it

I can never understand it. At most, the best that I can understand is what I experience from other people. Although what they are giving is still flawed and imperfect. We live in an imperfect world. Everyone has the capability to love but to be able to consistently and perfectly give unconditional love, for me, seems impossible. At one point, a person can still go with his or her own selfish desire. The question is, right now, how much do we really understand God’s amazing and perfect love?

I know we’ve experience it. We have come to know God’s love through what he has done for us in the cross, or we might have experience it first hand in the blessings he has given us. I believe it’s much more than what we think we know.

Ephesians 3:18

18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

 

How wide? How Long? How High? How Deep? It’s a rhetoric question that means there is no limit to it. I have fallen a lot of times, and I still see His love following me and chasing after me.

Falling Down

I’ve made a mistake and in a split second, I hear a voice speaking in my heart that He will forgive me. I wanted to run, but He was already ahead of me – not wanting me to wander from away from the truth. I can’t understand it. I can’t understand why He loves me that much. All I can do is give in and rest again in His embrace.

I want to give encouragement to you, I know life can be a series of ups and downs – sometimes, it’s mostly down. No matter what you are going through, God loves you. You might have turned your back from him. You might have failed Him. You might have sinned against Him. All I know is, He still loves you. Just come back. Come back to Him and talk to Him. He longs to be with you.

Finding Strength Through Prayer

I want to be strong. I want to be tough. I want to be unafraid.

Trying to be strong has a correlation with a particular fear that you may have. For example, you want to be physically strong. You try to build muscle through working out because there is a particular fear that you don’t want to be bullied by anyone. Another example, you want to be emotional strong. Your whole family is down due to financial problems, but you don’t want to be affected by it, so you try to encourage everyone and carry the burden of showing everyone there is still hope. Because if you won’t do this, you fear everything might crumble down, and your whole family might end up losing their faith.

There is a particular fear that is wrong, but I believe there is a fear that is right as well most especially if it’s  fear for the well-being of someone else. Fear is an emotion and I believe the best way, to counter this feeling is through prayer. Through prayer, we can find the strength that we need to battle fear or other emotions related to it.

Let’s look at the Prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:32-38.

32 They came to a place named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here until I have prayed.” 33 And He took with Him Peter and James and John, and began to be very distressed and troubled. 34 And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.” 35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” 37 And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

Garden of GethsemaneGethsemane means “oil press” and currently, ancient olive trees are still found in this garden. We have to understand that this is a place where He and his disciples commonly pray. In John 18:2, Judas knew where to find Jesus because he knows where he would usually go with his disciples.
In verse 32 when they arrive in Gethsemane, Jesus ask his disciples to sit here while He prays but it’s surprising to note that from His group he specifically asked Peter, James and John (verse 33) to accompany him.

Jesus is 100% God and 100% human, it was perfectly normal for him to desire companionship during this time. Jesus was under heavy emotions that he felt very distressed and troubled. It was a very heavy feeling. A feeling of terrified amazement; gripped with terror. And Peter, James and John was the ones who was with him in the Home of Jarius (Mark 5:37) and Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2).

I believe Jesus wanted to teach Peter, James and John a lesson also. The three are leaders who will be able to teach the other not to rely on their self-confidence during this time. They need to learn to be alert, not to give in the temptation and most especially pray. Jesus addresses that in verse 38.

Only in the book Mark will see how Jesus address the Father in his prayer.

35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father!…

 

Abba means “papa” or “daddy” and it showed his relationship and intimacy with His father. Upon starting this prayer, He understood whom He was talking. Because in times of weakness:

  • Strength is gained through knowing who you have beside you
  • Strength is gained through knowing who you have supporting you
  • Strength is gained through knowing who you have taking care of you

Jesus prayed in and said “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

We mustn’t think that the Lord feared death or that the physical suffering ahead was overwhelming for Him. It was the thought of being separated from His Father that was so intense that it was to the point of death because of sheer agony. In Luke 22:44, Jesus had such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. He knew would be made sin for us – 2 Corinthians 5:2. He would bear the sins of the whole (1 Peter 2:24) and the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). And because of this, he would experience being forsaken by His Father (Matthew 27:46). The cause of His overwhelming anguish and distress, but he said “Yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Jesus did not wrestle with the Father’s will. He willing submitted to it. That’s why in verse 35 you would see He “fell to the ground” as a sign of surrender. Three times He prayed this and three times He acknowledge His father’s will.

He saw his disciples sleeping, and this is what He said.

38 Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 

He wanted to teach his disciples a lesson. They needed to be alert and sharp because a lot will happen in the next couple of minutes – Jesus will be arrested, disciples will be scattered (mentioned in the same chapter in Mark); Peter will deny Jesus, Jesus will be in Trial and then crucified. From Wiersbe Bible commentary – “Be alert as you pray! Keep your spiritual eyes open, for the enemy is near!” Judas is already coming with soldiers to hand over Jesus.

In times of weakness, the enemy will always target the flesh. How easy is it at times when we’re tired and emotionally down to get easily irritated. If we put our guard down, worldly pleasure or desire can easily lure us. Busyness resulting in physical deterioration can result in worrying and stress.

In this example, in the few moments the disciples will be scattered because their master will be arrested and crucified. They will abandon him and feel weak without a leader. But they are to be strong, alert and not give in to the temptation. They should remember the things Jesus taught them and remain spiritually connected through prayer.

That is our defence whenever we feel weak and vulnerable. Jesus modelled it. You may be going through a lot of problems and trials. Follow what Jesus did during this time of distress. He shared to His Father what he felt. He was Honest. He was connected with the Lord in prayer. He was Intimate. And He submitted to the will of the Lord. He Surrendered.

In the end, we find our strength in God alone. Remember you are HIS, and He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7 – Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

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Note from the author: This is an excerpt from my message in B1G South TOP (Time of Prayer) entitled “Finding Strength Through Prayer”. The B1G South ministry is the singles ministry of CCF Alabang. We have service every Saturday at 6pm at the 3rd floor of CCF Alabang. Everyone is invited! I would love to meet you if you have time to visit.

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