Joseph was in one of his darkest hours; he was lonely, downcast, about to give up his dreams and questioning his place in God. Suddenly, the call came from one of the king’s guards, “Joseph! Get cleaned up. Pharaoh is calling for you!”
In that moment, I believe the Spirit of God came mightily upon Joseph, and his heart leapt with excitement. He was about to understand what it was all about. As Joseph shaved and trimmed his hair, he probably thought, “This is the beginning of what God promised me. Now I know I heard from him. The devil has not been in control, and my life hasn’t been wasted. God has been directing everything the entire time.”
In a matter of minutes, Joseph was standing before Pharaoh listening to his dream. Joseph gave the interpretation of the coming famine and told Pharaoh he had to gather and store the nation’s grain. “Someone must be in charge of the storehouses. You have to find a man who is full of wisdom to oversee it all” (see Genesis 41).
Pharaoh looked around and then turned toward Joseph. “You! I appoint you second ruler. Only I will have more power in the kingdom than you. You will oversee it all.”
How quickly things had changed! The day came when Joseph stood before his brothers and was able to say, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20, NKJV), and later he stated, “God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout Egypt” (Genesis 45:7-8).
Dear friend, very soon you’re going to understand your present fiery trials. God is going to bring you into the promise he gave you, and suddenly it’s all going to make sense. You’ll see that he has never forsaken you. He has been training you, preparing you, teaching you to trust him for everything. He has planned a time for you to be used, and that time is just ahead.
Does our heavenly Father favor certain individuals among his children? Doesn’t the Bible say God is no respecter of persons? When it comes to salvation and his wonderful promises, God treats us all alike, but he also puts his special favor on those who respond wholeheartedly to his calling and yield their lives to him entirely!
Job said, “You have granted me life and favor, and your care has preserved my spirit” (Job 10:12, NKJV). David said, “For you, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor you will surround him as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12).
Our heavenly Father puts a special garment on those who completely give him their hearts: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).
Joseph responded to the Spirit’s call, surrendering all, and as a favor from his father he received a robe that set him apart. However, that favor of his father cost Joseph relationships and brought him rejection, misunderstanding and mockery: “All his brothers…hated him” (Genesis 37:4).
Why did Joseph’s brothers turn on him? The key is in verse 11: “And his brothers envied him.” When they saw the robe Joseph wore, they knew it spoke of favor and righteousness. They hated it because it reminded them of the Spirit’s call they had rejected. Joseph was a reproach to their halfhearted lifestyle.
You see, Joseph’s brothers indulged in petty talk and self-centered living. Their hearts were occupied with lands, possessions, the future, but Joseph’s was elsewhere. He spoke of the things of God, of supernatural dealings. God had given him dreams, which in that day was synonymous with hearing the voice of God.
Lukewarm believers around you will want to talk about their cars, houses and jobs, but you’d rather talk about eternal things, about what God is saying to you. Soon you’ll become a reproach to their half-heartedness. They will envy you because you represent the call of the Holy Spirit they are tuning out. Yes, Joseph was of a different cloth, and that difference made him hated and envied among his brothers. Beloved, the same will happen to you if you are sold out to Jesus!
Numerous Christians, including pastors, have told me they are continually harassed by former sins. They say, “if you only knew what I once did, you would understand why I’m so down. My sin still hangs over my head, and I battle constant guilt over it. I believe the Lord has forgiven me, that his blood is sufficient to cover my iniquity, but I don’t have the peace that comes from that knowledge.”
Others tell me, “I believe I’m forgiven, but my mind is continually bombarded with hellish thoughts. It can happen anywhere, even in church, and it makes me feel so unclean. I have a hard time believing I am pure in God’s sight.”
These believers forget that Satan also tempted Jesus with awful, ugly thoughts during his wilderness testing. Today, the devil sends little foxes into your life to make you think you’re hopeless, that God is mad at you. They inject thoughts into your mind meant to destroy your faith in the power of Christ’s blood over you.
Dear friend, you are not to listen to those mental invasions. You have to cut them off and cry, “Holy Spirit, I know you’re beside me. Help me!”
All who take up the cross and fight the good fight of faith are in a constant battle. We all face evil thoughts that come because of our past, because of rejection, or simply because we live in wicked, sensual times. Yet when we apply Christ’s blood to these roots of doubt, it reaches into every cell of our being, including our minds, and thoroughly cleanses us. That blood transfusion brings freedom and true rejoicing.
You are not alone in your struggle. He has sent you the Holy Spirit who knows how to deal with the enemy and free you from all bondage. He is the still, small voice that will guide and empower you through all your battles.
Pray with me: “Holy Spirit, I want to grow in spiritual fruitfulness. I want to be rid of all hypocrisy, and I want gentleness, patience and love. I know you love me in spite of my lack of these things. So, stand by me and help me. Amen.”
There is an old gospel song we used to sing that goes like this:
Send him on down, Lord, send him on down
Lord, let the Holy Ghost come on down
We need him, Lord, send him on down!
The truth is the Holy Spirit is already here. He came down from heaven at Pentecost, and he never left!
Jesus promised, “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that he may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; but you know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17, NKJV).
Consider the phrase Jesus uses here: “But you know him.” Recently, as I read those words, I could not shake them off. I realized I really don’t know much about the Holy Spirit.
The church talks a lot about the Holy Spirit. We talk about being filled with the Spirit, living and walking in the Spirit, having the gifts of the Spirit, receiving the comfort of the Spirit. Yet it is possible to know all the doctrines of the Holy Spirit and still not know him. If I were to ask you, “Have you received the Holy Spirit?” how would you answer?
Some might say, “I received the Spirit when Jesus saved me. The Holy Spirit brought me into Christ’s kingdom.” Others would answer, “Yes, I have received the Spirit because I spoke with tongues when he came into my life. I pray in the Spirit, and tongues are evidence that I have received him.”
However, to receive the Spirit is more than a one-time experience. The word “receive” means “lay hold of that which is given.” It is to desire a greater knowledge of who the Spirit is and how he works in our lives. In fact, the Holy Spirit is not received by someone until he is allowed to take full control of that person’s temple. Pray for God to help you lay hold of his Spirit!
Moses had a disposition like many of us today, so there was only one way for him to stay in victory. He continually communed with the Lord. “So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11, NKJV). I believe the secret to holiness is very simple: Stay close to Jesus! Keep looking into his face until you become like the image you behold.
“But you are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3). The Lord makes his dwelling with his people who are worshipping; and where the Lord is, victory follows.
Christ says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37) and “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Don’t be afraid of failure. Keep going in spite of it. Worship God until victory comes! This may sound like an oversimplification, but the way past failure actually is simple.
When Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me,” he wasn’t speaking about self-flagellation. The cross is the Holy Spirit showing us how to live through the mind of Christ. It is a lifelong process of shedding our need for control and daily giving our will to God.
Say you’re a new Christian and are hit with a serious adversity, a life-threatening illness, tragedy or financial loss. Not only does it hit, but it begins to drag out. “This isn’t fair,” you might say. “I’m a little mad at God for allowing this to overtake my life.” We’re so full of questions and bereft of answers that we want to turn away. God seems insufficient and uninterested in our welfare.
Although we feel faithless, this is the time to stay faithful. These times of holding on to God rather than ourselves are when wisdom and maturity are established deep within us. This is the taking up of the cross of Christ.
Throughout our lives, giving up our own will and submitting to God will include seasons of heartache and soul-searching. There will be pressure from the enemy to pull away and reclaim our self-will. Satan wants nothing more than to separate us from the power of the cross. It is a certainty that we will become discouraged, tired, frustrated and sorely tempted.
Jesus addressed this on two fronts. “He said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.’” (Luke 9:23-24, ESV). First, he said to take up his cross every day. Our life in Christ is renewed every morning and requires the nourishment of prayer and time in the Word. This helps us to be alert to the nudges of the Spirit as well as the subtle attacks of the enemy.
Second, Jesus reminds us that the Christ-life is a kingdom upside down: controlling your own life will cause you to lose it; giving your will over to the mind of Christ will save your soul. The reward is a life rich with wisdom and the gaining of an understanding of God that is only accessed through adversity. Not only that, it provides us with opportunities to lift up fellow men and women who also struggle with letting go.