Our brother Peter Bartlett’s message for 28th June.   

Editor comment-  Can I suggest that folk actually look up and read the scriptures referred to and the surrounding verses/chapter(s), maybe one or two on each day of the coming week so that it also serves as a Bible Study for the following 7 days. Thank you Peter for your fellowship in the Gospel with BRBC

And Joseph’s master took him and put him in the prison, a place where the state prisoners were confined; so he was there in prison (Genesis 39:20)

I’ve never been in prison but I’ve been to prison numbers of times – all types of prisons from Wormwood Scrubs, Holloway (probably the most scary of all, walking with a warder through a room full of cat-calling women prisoners!), Princetown (Dartmoor) and many other levels in between down to Leyhill open prison. I have met prisoners who were hard men to start with, those who were hardened by their imprisonment and those who were changed by it and brought to salvation. All sorts of people – pure thugs, gangsters, highly intelligent career criminals, con men, molesters, armed robbers, burglars, petty thieves, many of them drug addicts or alcoholics and sometimes those who had just wandered and lost their way and very occasionally those who should not have been there at all. Without exception all have had one thing in common; they were made in the image of God.

Joseph was in prison – fallen from grace – regarded (and wrongly too) as an attempted rapist. A man with every reason to be bitter – torn away from family by brotherly jealousy and deceit – sold into slavery – lifted up to a trusty position only to be dashed to the lowest of the low. Yet in prison he found favour and became the trusted administrator – no bitterness or anger or resentment overtook him. He did not become overwhelmed with self-pity but rather was alert and sensitive to the situation and needs of those around him. He was not self-focused but focused on the needs of others. Why, what was his secret? God had given him a promise years before and his trust in God’s promise never wavered. As he pursued God’s way his release and elevation to the most important position in the country followed with the ultimate fulfilment of God’s promises as his family knelt before him (Genesis 44.14)

We can feel as if we are imprisoned by circumstances and even by these times, too. How will we respond? Like many of those in the prisons I visited? – with resentment, bitterness, complaint, rebellion and hardening of the heart? Or like Joseph, keeping our minds set on the declarations and promises God has given us? 

               We belong to Him (John 17: 6, 17-20)

I have engraved you on the palm of My hand (Isaiah 49:16)

I will open the windows of Heaven and pour out a blessing (Malachi 3:10)

You are Co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17)

I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake, nor let you down or relax My hold on you, assuredly not (Hebrews 13:5(b) Amplified Bible)

What made the difference for those in prison who came to salvation as opposed to those whose lives continued in destructive patterns? It was their attitude – the way they thought. Why did Joseph triumph over adversity – it was his life attitude – the way he thought – he set his mind on God’s promise. The Bible tells us to set our minds on the things that are above (Colossians 3:2) and so to behave (Colossians 3:.5-14) that we may have peace (soul harmony) (Colossians 3:15 Amplified Bible)

Even in hard circumstances, trials, loss or in lockdown or future restrictions, we can choose to focus on God’s promises (all yes and Amen in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20)) – to have a Godly mindset – to choose not to let life’s circumstances imprison our mind or our spirit.

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honourable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 Amplified Bible)

We are all made in the image of God – what marks us out and changes us to reveal that image is how we allow the promises of God and His presence in the Holy spirit to renew us in our minds and attitudes – which leads us, with Joseph, to action ordained by God.