Newsletter October, 2005

ORLANDO CHINESE CHURCH

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

October, 2005


Walking on the Path of God

Reading: Proverbs 9:10, Genesis 42:18, Genesis 50:19

Recently, the Taiwan Aboriginal Children's Choir came to testify for the Lord among us in music. They sang their hearts out to praise the Lord with love. We were deeply moved and our emotion was stirred. With the ending of the song “The Invisible Hands”, many eyes were blurred with tears. At that moment, the choir and the audience were touched in resonance by the invisible hand in the Spirit. 

Though they are orphans, they are not lonely because God is with them and fills their lives with love. The invisible hand comforts them and leads them to grow and walk steadfastly on life's pathway with blessings from God.

The same pair of hands has also called us and is guiding us on our life paths paved by God. Our prayer is to be able to keep up with God’s guidance and to live a victorious life.

In the Bible, we find many good examples of people who walked the way of God. In Genesis, we note that Joseph’s life was full of twists and turns. His path was set by God to have changed his position from a blessed son at home to a slave in Egypt, then to an overseer, a prisoner, and finally the ruler of Egypt. No matter what the circumstance was, Joseph was in harmony with God whom he feared and who was with him all the way. In the end, Joseph became a true victor in life.

God prepared Joseph's path for He wanted to use as His vessel to lead the household of Israel to Egypt, to keep them intact in the great famine, and to make them live in Egypt for over four hundred years. It was God’s plan for Joseph to lead the Israelites into Egypt, and for Moses to lead them out of Egypt four hundred years later. These were two critical steps of salvation predetermined by the Lord.

God Was With Him

Joseph’s achievements did not result from his own ability, but from the continuous guidance and help of God who was with him. “And the Lord was with Joseph, and he did well...” (Gen. 39:2-3). “And his master saw that the Lord was with him, making everything he did go well. And having a high opinion of Joseph as his servant, he made him the overseer of his house and "gave him control over all he had” (Gen. 39:3-4). This was how Joseph changed from a slave to an overseer.

Later, Joseph was put into prison because of a frame-up. The dreams of the Egyptian chief wine-servant, the chief bread-maker, and Pharaoh himself provided another turning point in Joseph’s life. God gave him wisdom in the Spirit so that he could explain their dreams. Joseph said, “Does not the sense of dreams come from God?"(Gen. 40:8). His explanations for the dreams were from God’s revelation, and therefore he was finally set free to have become the ruler of Egypt for his divine mission.

Therefore, Joseph relied on God every step of the way. Likewise, we should not rely on our natural strength, ability, nor wisdom when we walk the life path set for us. We should learn to rely on our Lord just as Joseph did. Only when we are covered with our Lord’s power can we do all things well.

Of God’s Own Heart 

Joseph was worthy of being God’s vessel because he was after God’s heart. He was the clearest type of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament because he truly manifested the life of Christ. In God’s sight, only Christ is the perfect Son dear to His heart. Through the life of Joseph, we can find the character of Christ as the Son of man:

  • Obedience to God’s Guidance: Illustration of Faith

In all circumstances, good or bad, Joseph was fully obedient to God and trusted in God’s guidance. When Joseph made himself known to his brothers, he said, “God sent me before you to keep you and yours living on earth so that you might become a great nation. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God: and he has made me as a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Gen. 45:7-8). His words are evident proof of his faith in God.

  • Exaltation of God’s Power: Illustration of Humility

Joseph was clear about his humble position before God. When Pharaoh entitled him to be the ruler of Egypt, he knew that, as a slave, he could never have gotten this high position without God’s guidance. He told his brothers, “…God has made me ruler over all the land of Egypt…” (Gen. 45:9). He exalted the Name of the Lord, testified for the power of God, and gave all the glory to the Lord. Thus, he set a great example of humility.

  • Battling against Evil Temptation: Illustration of Righteousness

Joseph won over evil temptations from his master’s wife. He rejected her sensual desire saying, “… how then may I do this great wrong, sinning against God?” (Gen. 39:9). Joseph refused to commit evil deeds and illustrated his heart for righteousness.

  • Willing to Give in Love: Illustration of Love

Joseph had genuine love. When he saw his brothers, instead of hating them for selling him into slavery, he couldn’t hold back his brotherly love for them. He also loved to serve his father. After he made himself known to his brothers, he asked them to go quickly to his father to pass on these words, “… come down to me straight away…”(Gen. 45:9) and “…there I will take care of you…” (Gen. 45:11). His love for his father made him even more blessed by the Lord and provided a great example of love. 

  • Forgiving Others’ Wrong: Illustration of Grace

Though his brothers had done evil to him, he accepted them without reservation. When Jacob passed away, his brothers were afraid that he might turn against them with punishment. However, Joseph gave them comfort with kind words , “So now, have no fear: for I will take care of you and your little ones”(Gen. 50:21). Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers’ wrong is a good example of grace. 

All these characters illustrate the life of Christ as the Son of man.

Molded by God

Joseph was not born to know how to be dear to God’s heart. He had to be molded. None of us were born with the natural life and character that are dear to God’s heart. We all need to be molded by God so that we can have the image of God’s Son.

  • Life Changed by God

Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob, his father, who gave him the best colorful garment. Such favoritism nourished his desire to show off by telling his brothers about the vision in his dream. The showy nature was Joseph’s natural life. However, God changed him to become a different man.

  • Path led by God

To train him, God moved Joseph far away from his father’s house where he was spoiled, and took him to Egypt where everything was different. Changing from a youth with extravagant life to a lowly servant, Joseph had to learn to rely on God rather than his adoring father. What would he have been like if God had not led him away from his father? His whole life would be a waste and useless. Later, God put him in prison for years. Though his body was behind bars, his spirit was set free because God was with him. He was drawn closer to God and his spiritual life grew to maturity. Instead of blaming God and others, he knew for sure that it was part of God’s plan and followed His guidance obediently. When the time was right, God set him free to use him because he then had grown in the life of Christ.

  • Success Valued by God

Joseph’s life may seem to be very unsuccessful to many. First, his own brothers sold him as a slave in Egypt. When things started to turn on the bright side, his master’s wife framed him and put him into prison. Though he managed to explain the sense of the chief wine-servant’s dream, he was totally forgotten after the chief was set free. He was not set free till years had gone by. Such a life path seems very unfortunate. However, the Bible tells us that everything that he did went well. Even when he was behind bars, the Lord was with him and made everything he did go well (Gen. 39:23).

God considers success differently from man's way. Every step in Joseph’s life was set after God’s purpose and good will. Through these trials and experiences, Joseph’s natural life was broken and he was molded into a useful vessel for God. Therefore, we should also learn to trust in our Lord in times of trouble and to accept the molding by God.

Fearing God

Because Joseph was a man who feared God, he trusted in the Lord, being obedient to God’s plan, and accepting God’s molding through suffering. When his life turned bright, he never took the credit but gave all the glory to God. We clearly see that Joseph’s spirit was never low in times of poverty, nor conceited in times of fortune. Instead, he trusted in the Lord all his life. He is truly a great example for us all.

What does “fearing God” mean?  We find the answer in Joseph’s words to his brothers: “… I am a god-fearing man” (Gen. 42:18).  “Am I in the place of God?” (Gen. 50:19).

To fear God means to be humble before God. We should clearly know our position and keep ourselves at the right position before God. To do so, we must admit that God has the authority in all things. We should never place ourselves in the place of God.

Conclusion

Thank God for setting Joseph’s life as an example for walking on God’s path in the Bible so that we can better understand the path of God:

It’s not a path of difficulties, but of reliance.

It’s not a path of suffering,

but of experience and training.

It’s not a path of bondage, but of freedom.

It’s not a path of setback, but of victories.

May we encourage one another in the love of our Lord and walk a purpose-driven life hand in hand on the path of God. (Han)