Did you know that some people neglect one important healthy lifestyle tip? Did you know that walking with God is a very beneficial healthy lifestyle tip? Yes, spiritual exercises, according to Paul the Apostle, is more important than physical exercises. 1 Timothy 4 v 8 in the Holy Bible emphasizes this point. Yes, it is more important because such exercises are very beneficial in this current life and in the life to come. In other words, you reap double benefits: the present and the future life. However, physical exercises are only good for this present age.
Very few Christians nowadays can compare their walk with God the way Joseph walked with his God. You can refer to him as a dreamer, visionary leader or whatever name you want to give him. Joseph becomes an exemplary figure for Christians who are willing to walk with their God closely.
The whole story of Joseph unfolds to us from Genesis chapters 37, skipping chapter 38 going all the way to chapter 50. He is introduced to us as the son who was loved very much by his father, Jacob, because he was born when his father was old. His young brother was called Benjamin. He had ten half-brothers who were the sons of Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah.
There is one thing common about people who want to walk closely with their God – obedience. Isaiah 1 v 19 says, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.”
Walking with God requires obedience to His covenant. What strengthens obedience is the kind of faith one has in his/her God. If the faith in God is very strong, love is propelled towards your God and there is no force that can stop you from obeying your God.
Joseph is one of the favorite characters who walked with God in the midst of extreme temptations and tests with the likes of Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego, Job, David, Stephen to mention a few. Some people say greatness begins with wounds. Therefore, it is not surprising that through suffering in one way or another, God raised them to be great men of all times.
Let us go back to our hero of today, Joseph, and talk about his admirable obedience to his father as well as to God, his spiritual Father.
One thing we are sure of is that Joseph was not liked by his brothers. Favoritism from his father earned him an admirable multi-colored coat which in turn earned him hatred from his brothers. Secondly, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah misbehaved and Joseph brought the bad report to his father. Thirdly, the two dreams he narrated to the family about his family bowing to him worsened things for him.
1 John 4 v 18 – 19 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because God first loved us.”
It is, therefore, true to say that Joseph was made perfect in love. He loved his brothers because love covers over a multitude of sin. (1 Peter 4 v 8). Joseph did not mind about their hatred for him. He knew that God was love and that whoever does not love does not know God because God is Love. (1 John 4 v 8). Furthermore, Joseph knew that love conquers all so that he had to love his brothers even if they hated him.
Because of what is stated above, Joseph was not hesitant to follow his father’s order to take foodstuffs to them where they were herding the family’s sheep and goats. As he went along, he reflected on their bad behavior. They should be behaving well knowing that they were children of promise. God would use them to show the world that they were his special possession whose ancestor Abraham was a close friend of God and had a special covenant with Him.
Joseph again remembered the reaction from his brothers after narrating the dream of sheaves to them. He studied the animosity on their faces and accepted all the verbal attacks from them. When he dreamt the second time about the sun, moon and stars bowing to him, he felt compelled to narrate the dream to them in spite of their animosity. Yes, perfect love casts out fear and so he would not be afraid of them. Loving God meant also loving his brothers in spite of their hatred.
The seventeen-year-old Joseph had many things to thank God for as he carried the foodstuffs to his brothers: the multi-colored coat and the sweet dreams of honor and leadership which God had revealed to him. Had Jacob known the intensity of his sons’ hatred towards Joseph, he would not have sent him on this unforgettable journey.
As he searched for his brothers’ whereabouts in Shechem, one person told him they had already left for Dothan. He was not to go back to his father and report failure of not locating the whereabouts of his brothers. So he proceeded to Dothan oblivious of what would become of him.
When his brothers saw him approaching them, the only thing they had in mind was to put an end to his dreams by killing him. Reuben, the eldest son, wanted to rescue him from being killed. He suggested that they throw him into a pit from which he would rescue him later. Fortunately, it was a dry pit in which they threw Joseph.
Wherever Reuben had disappeared to, he was not there to see Joseph being sold into slavery to the Ishmaelite traders who were headed into Egypt. They sold him for twenty pieces of silver which was a lot of money those days. According to his brothers it was a better way of getting rid of the dreamer other than killing him with their own hands.
Although Joseph may well have thought that God had abandoned him, we can see God’s providence working through Reuben’s opposition to killing Joseph, through the timely arrival of the Ishmaelites, and through Judah’s suggestion that selling their brother would at least produce some gain while killing him would not.
Back at Jacob’s homestead, the ten brothers came up with the multi-colored coat smeared with goat’s blood as the garment they had found to indicate that the dreamer had been devoured by a wild animal. Of course, Jacob recognized his special coat and wept for his departed son refusing to be comforted for many, many days. It was good riddance for the dreamer, but they had underestimated the grief their father would undergo.
At this point, it is important for us to pause and comment about Joseph’s life so far. At first Joseph was an overconfident and arrogant young man – too arrogant for his own good. He did not think it enough to be the favorite of his father, the child who received special treatment. When God gave Joseph a dream that he would one day lead his family – not only his eleven brothers, but also his parents – Joseph thoughtlessly told everyone about it. His father rebuked him for this. His brothers wanted revenge of some kind and they got it.
In Joseph’s leadership phase, it took a life-changing incident to capture his attention and start him on the road to change. Thrust into slavery in Egypt, he began to learn what he did not know. He came to understand that leadership is difficult and carries a huge amount of responsibility. Over the years, Joseph suffered betrayal and learned hard lessons in human nature, relationships and leadership. This process molded his character, granting him both patience and humility which are necessary qualities needed to be a good leader.
Once more, according to Isaiah, the prophet, people who are obedient would eat the best of the land. Joseph’s obedience to his Egyptian master won over his heart. He was appointed as Head Slave ensuring that he supervised his fellow servants. Potiphar, Pharaoh’s official, as his master was called further noticed that his house was getting more and more blessed in everything with the continuous stay of Joseph as his right-hand man. Therefore, it did not take long for Joseph to be appointed the manager of Potiphar’s estates. Everything went on well and the boss was not concerned with any matter of his estates.
Some people say when you are given a bitter lemon, make sweet lemonade out of it and you will enjoy that bitter lemon. Joseph’s brothers thought Joseph was suffering as a slave in Egypt, but they did not know that his leadership qualities had been exposed and developed to the extent that he was enjoying fringe benefits of some sort. God had not abandoned him.
Satan gave a bitter lemon to Joseph to swallow. However, Joseph turned the bitter lemon of jealousy, hatred and betrayal emanating from his brothers into sweet lemonade which he enjoyed drinking at Potiphar’s house. He remained faithful to his God without harboring signs of bitterness and revenge against his brothers who had sold him into slavery.
What about you my friend? What bitter lemon has Satan given you which you are wrestling with? Is it unfair dismissal from your employment? Is it betrayal from your loved one? Is it jealousy? Is it poverty? Have you started enjoying sweet lemonade from the bitter lemon?
Whatever it is, God wants to be a friend to you both in good and sad times. Trust him in bad times the way Joseph did and you shall have a good testimony. You shall testify that God is the God of reversal and that he can reverse whatever Satan is afflicting you with. Like Joseph, you shall say to your ‘enemy,’ “You meant it for evil but God turned it into good.”
Other people are not lucky to have such healthy lifestyle tips – walking with God because they have never thought of befriending Him. Amos 3 v 3 says, “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?”
The only way to approach God is through Jesus Christ, His beloved Son whom He gave to the whole world to save people. John 3 v 16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
You need to believe in Jesus Christ in order to be given the power to become God’s child who is born of the spirit and not of blood and flesh.
When you accept Jesus Christ in truth and in spirit, He will guide you to please God even in difficult circumstances. Like Stephen the martyr in Acts Chapter 7 v 54 – 60, you will be ready to forgive your persecutors and pray for them, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.”
I can assure you that it is a marvelous thing to experience walking with God as it is a healthy lifestyle tip worth emulating.
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