My dear friend,
Do you also feel that everything is just becoming too much to bear? Economics harden, financial solutions become almost impossible and solutions seem to be nowhere in sight. Do you also feel like calling out:
“Lord, where are You?”
“ I call, but You do not answer!”
“ Why are the non-
“What do or did I do wrong that Your promises are not fulfillled to me?”
I think that we can make a very long list of questions like these but instead of keeping yourself busy in this trend, let us look at what the Word of God tells us!
James 1:2 reads as follow: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations”
All joy? Is it possible? No Cobus, you do not know what you are talking about! It is just impossible.”
Do you know friend, to me it also sounded impossible the day that I lost everything and was declared bankrupt. I was furious with God and blamed Him for this mess.
In Matt 22: 29 it is written: “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” You see, I also erred not knowing the scriptures and I believed the lie that God brought all these things upon me or allowed them to happen to me.
In James 1: 13-
You see, our Heavenly Father tempts no one. We are being carried away and bound by Satan and therefore God warns us in Ephesians. 6: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Now, why am I being attacked and tested? We find the answer in 1Peter 1:6&7 “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”
You see dear friend, because of my faith and focus on Jesus, He will give me the glory and joy to show the world how a child of God reacts when times become hard. The question is: “Where is your focus when these tests and tribulations come your way?”
You may tell me that it is not easy at all, and that circumstances are overwhelming you.
In 1 Corinthians 10:13 God assures you that you will be able to withstand and endure it for the text says: “ There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Therefore, what I will not be able to bear, will never come my way and challenge me. So, whatever comes my way, I will be able to bear and God will also provide the outcome for me.
So we are back at the question: “Where is my focus?”
Let us look at two examples from the Bible.
The first one is Joseph.
We read in Gen 37:3-
I see the following: A young boy who was his father’s favourite, and was also thoroughly aware of it, and who makes it very clear to his brothers that he is untouchable. He actually challenge them to do something bad to him. A young boy hated by his brothers because of his attitude towards them. In our own words today, we will call this chap a spoilt brat.
This hated young brat, is sent by his father to enquire about the well-
We read in Genesis 37:18 and 23-
And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.”
Can you imagine Joseph, thrown into a pit and sold to strangers as a slave. Can you hear his begging and promises that just fell on the deaf ears of his brothers. Promises like: “I am sorry. I won’t do it again”, helped nothing. He was tied to a camel and just pulled away. Whenever he tried to resist, the camel just pulled him over and dragged him. All his begging was in vain.
Joseph was then taken to Egypt and sold as a slave. Let us read from Genesis 39:1&2 “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.”
Here we find Joseph in a foreign country, with foreign cultures and a foreign religion. He understands nobody and is then sold to Potiphar as a slave.
Where, do you think, was Joseph’s focus at this stage? It was on the Lord for the Bible says: “And the Lord was with Joseph.” All that kept Joseph standing, was his focus and his trust in God that he has learnt from his father! His real character that was built into him from childhood, now appears. Not the arrogant selfprotecting one, but the absolute trust in the God of his father. The faith and trust that he had in God, shone from him so brightly, that Potifar appointed him to rule over his household.
Dear friend, you and I are challenged for what we believe in, so Joseph was also tested. We read in Genesis 39:7&8 about it: “ And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand.”
The ‘bait was cast before Joseph but he refused. Later the offer was repeated and, when he refused again, it had serious consequences for Joseph. Let us look in Genesis 39:10-
When Joseph withstood the temptation again, look at what happened: Genesis 39:17-
Potiphar’s wife tells a lie to her husband and the lie was believed. Joseph was not even allowed to defend himself or to tell his side of the story. He was immediately cast into prison–
My dear friend, how many times were you in the situation where lies about you were believed and you were sentenced or you had to suffer? I think that Joseph asked the same question.
What happened to Joseph in the prison and where was God? We read in Genesis 39:21 “But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”
The Lord was with Joseph. Also in this darkest hour in Joseph’s life, where everything turned against him, the Lord was with him.
Do you know, friend, God is also there for you in your darkest hour and He wants to show His grace to you? He promises in Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Although I may feel that I am far away from God, He assures me that He will never leave me.
Because the grace of God was with Joseph, he was in command of the prisoners.While he was in prison, both the Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker were imprisoned. Genesis 40:2&3 “And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.
Both had dreams that they could not interpret and on seeing their despair Joseph came to them. Gen 40:5& 8 “And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison. And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.”
Joseph then interpreted their dreams. He said to the butler and asked him as well: Genesis 40:13-
But Genesis 40:23 states: “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.”
Every morning Joseph woke up with the hope that he will be freed, and every evening he went to bed with the thought that it might be tomorrow. So the days went by, one by one.
When did the cupbearer remember Joseph?
Genesis 41:1&8 “And it happened at the end of two years of days, Pharaoh dreamed. And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.”
In Genesis 41:14 the promise made to Joseph two years ago, was fulfilled.“Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.”
Joseph then appeared before the Pharaoh and interpreted his dreams for him. The Pharaoh immediately realized that it was the truth, acted immediately and appointed Joseph for the task.
Then Joseph was in charge of the whole of Egypt, second in charge and just under the Pharaoh himself – a position of authority that God later used to save His children.
Let us now consider the way that Joseph had to walk to come to this stage:
Fathers home = Comfort zone
Pit = Being investigated
Potifar’s home = The fixing and testing of principles
Jail = Strengthened, equipped, trusting and waiting upon the Lord
Palace = Authority and power
Dear friend, this is also the way for us to our position of authority. On this way, however, we have to ask the Holy Spirit of God to guard and protect us and also to comfort us when we get hurt because you have to realize that we, as children of God are not guaranteed protection against being hurt. That is why Jesus says in John 14:16: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” If we ask Holy Spirit, He will comfort us, teach us and help us through what lies ahead.
Let us now also look at the road that Daniel and his friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had to walk. According to Daniel 2:49, they were already in a position of authority: “Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king.”
The king had a dream and only Daniel could interpret it. Please read Daniel 2.
In Daniel 3:1-
This happened just after Daniel had interpreted the dream of king Nebuchadnezzar.
This is a direct attack on the beliefs of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, their faith and their trust in God. If they do not worship the image that the king has made, they would be cast into the fiery furnace. The furnace was already burning and everybody could see it and smell the smoke from it. It was a terrifying sight for them to see.
Then the trumpets and all the other instruments blew!!!! Everybody bowed before the Image. Everybody except Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They stood upright while all the others lay facedown, flat on the ground before the image. There was nowhere for them to hide.
When the king saw them standing, he called them and asked them in Daniel 3:14-
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego actually said to the king “We refuse to compromise on behalf of our God, even though it may cost us our lives.”
Dear friend, how often do we compromise when we are under pressure? How many times do we focus on our circumstances, instead of focusing on God?
Daniel 3:19&20 “Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.”
The furnace was so hot when Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego were cast into it, that those who threw them into it was burnt to death.
Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego fell into these furious flames and heat. Do you realize, that you and I sometimes also have to go through fire? You may ask: Why through fire?
I read in 1Corinthians 3:11-
While Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego were in the fire, we read the following in Dan 3: 24&25: “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
The moment that the works, the lives and characters of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego were tested and found to be pure, Jesus, the Son of God was with them, visible also to all outside the fiery furnace. Then king Nebuchadnezzar called to them as follows: Daniel 3:26 “Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire.” They were recognised as “servants of the most high God,”
I also read the following, regarding ‘fire’ in the Bible: Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water to repentance. But He who comes after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire;”
John, the Baptist speaks here of Jesus Christ that will baptize us with fire. Why does Jesus have to baptize us with fire?
In the times of the Bible, gold-
I read in Genesis 1:26&27: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
Today, God still creates people in His image and likeness. He still creates people to rule and He wants to see His image in me and you when He looks at us in the melting pot.
I ask you friend, what does God see when He looks at you. Does He see the perfect image of Himself, or is there still too much of yourself for Him to see you? This is the question that only you alone can answer.
Should we not perhaps ask God to increase the heat of the fire that we are in?
“What?” do you ask, “Make it hotter? Increase the heat? I have it difficult enough under my circumstances?”
Do you know that God rewards us when we are pure before Him? James 1:12 says: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”
I pray that the Holy Spirit of God will write this message in your heart and will empower you to go through the fire. I now invite you to pray the following prayer with me. It is a prayer in which we ask Father to make the fire even hotter so that His perfect stature and Image will be visible in me.
“Father, I now come to You in the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. I confess that Jesus is the only Name on earth through which I can be saved. I declare today that I have accepted Jesus or that I now accept Jesus as my Saviour and my Redeemer. I confess now with my mouth and I believe in my heart that Jesus Christ died for me on the cross, was raised from the dead and sits at Your right hand. I thank You that I know on account of this confession, that I belong to You and that I am Your child. Our Father, I come to You now to confess all my transgressions, iniquities and sin. I also confess as sin that I have taken my focus away from You and focused instead on myself. I also confess that the worldliness came to the foreground in me, that I murmured and grumbled against You and I ask You to forgive all my sin.
I also now forgive everyone who transgressed against me so that my own sin can be forgiven. Thank You, Lord, that I could do this with the power of Jesus. I ask You now , O Lord, here, where I am in the fire, that You will make the fire hotter and purify me even more. I allow You to transform me to Your will.
Thank you, that I may know that You will send the Holy Spirit to comfort me, teach me and equip me to be serviceable for You.
I ask all this in the name of Jesus Christ.
Dear friend, I pray that Father will bless you and protect you, will make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
Cobus van Heerden