Intercessory Prayer

The Intercessory Prayer for 20 September 2020

Deacon Arlene Burton offers the Intercessory Prayer for 20 September 2020.

Brothers, Sisters and Friends we hope you are well. However, if you are not, please let us know.

Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate them. I continue to give God all of the glory and honour for this opportunity to have these discussions, which I pray will positively impact your lives, and mine.

On Friday I talked about forgiveness in families focusing on the relationship between David and Absalom. I want to continue with this discussion because there is another family that weighs heavily on my mind. Jacob and his family, in particular his son Joseph.

Both Absalom and Joseph were hurt by their families. Absalom was hurt because his Sister Tamar was abused by  Amnon, a half-brother. Joseph, on the other hand, suffered hurt directly at the hands of his brothers. Absalom took it upon himself to serve “jungle justice” whereas Joseph relied on his relationship with God.

Absalom’s response brought disgrace and destruction to his family and the lives of others, resulting in murder and suicide. Absalom also lost his life during the ordeal. On the other hand, Joseph’s response resulted in restoration in his family, and the lives of others.

What was so different about the lives of Absalom and Joseph? We have already considered Absalom, so it is now time to have a look at Joseph. I know, it is a life that has been repeatedly preached about but let us have a fresh look as we continue to discuss forgiveness. In previous discussions, a number of concepts that seemed to be related to forgiveness were described. However, there is still the issue of jealousy, which played a significant role in the life of Jacob’s family.  

What do some writers have to say about jealousy? Vine described jealousy as an act of envy (Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 3:3). Mention is made of Rachel’s envy towards her sister Leah (Genesis 30:1), being envious of sinners (Proverbs 3:31), and godly envy (2 Corinthians 11:2). We may hear it said that God is jealous. This is explained to be God’s attributes of holiness and justice. He is the sole object of human’s worship and does not tolerate man’s sin (Exodus 20:5). Holman refers to God’s jealousy as His intolerance of rival gods ((Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24). Reference is also made to the image of jealousy, which is a term for an idol (Ezekiel 8:3, 5). Here the meaning is either that the idol evokes God’s jealousy or the idol is associated with Asherah, the goddess of passionate love (2 Kings 21:7; 2 Chronicles 33:7).

Rachel and Jacob were the parents of Joseph and Benjamin. Initially, Rachel was barren and jealous of Jacob’s other wife Leah (Genesis 30:1). Leah was the sister who Jacob was tricked into marrying but he loved Rachel (Genesis 29:17-27). Do you see where the trend of jealousy started in the family? Would you say that it started with Rachel?

Everyone in his family knew Jacob (name changed to Israel, Genesis 35:10) loved Joseph more than all of his other children. He symbolised his love by making a special coat for Joseph. “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him.” (Genesis 37:3, NIV). Do you see any form of injustice, inequality in the family dynamics? Was love openly expressed to all of Jacob’s children except Joseph? What was the result in this case? “When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” (Genesis 37:4, NIV).

Joseph had trouble on his hands, which only seemed to multiply. As life continued, he had a dream, which he told to his brothers.

He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had.  We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

Genesis 37:6-8 (NIV)

Hatred seems to be another issue that will highly likely emerge from jealousy. Holman describes hatred as a feeling towards someone considered an enemy and this may result in volatile hostility. Joseph’s brothers saw him as an enemy who they became hostile towards.

What later happened? His father sent him to check on them where they were working and they took the opportunity to get rid of him. They first suggested killing him. Ruben suggested they put him in an empty cistern. Judah thought selling him was more beneficial so they agreed to sell him to Ishmaelite merchants. (Genesis 37:12-28, NIV). Interestingly, Judah expressed concern that they do not personally harm him because he was their own flesh and blood. Yet, he was okay with them selling him for someone else to do as they wish. What a conflict?

His brothers told their father Israel a lie. They put blood on his coat and gave the impression that an animal killed him (Genesis 37:31-34). Israel wept for his Joseph. “All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave’. So his father wept for him.”(Genesis 37:35, NIV). He experienced brokenness.

Joseph’s journey continued and he had a series of experiences. He became a servant in Potiphar’s house but his wife wanted extended intimate personal services, which caused Joseph to run. He still ended up in prison based on false accusations (Genesis 39). In prison he was forgotten after interpreting dreams and being promised by the cupbearer to assist him (Genesis 40). After time had passed, he was remembered when Pharaoh dreamt and no one could interpret it so the cupbearer recommended Joseph. He did so and was elevated to a high position of power and authority in Egypt, second-in command to Pharaoh (Genesis 41).

His family back home were experiencing challenges in acquiring food so they went to Egypt. Joseph recognised his brothers in Egypt but they did not know it was him. He tried to get back at them by bounding Simeon, calling them spies (Genesis 42), and even attempting to prove they were thieves (Genesis 44). Even then, he was hurting. “He turned away from them and began to weep,…” (Genesis 42:24, NIV). Joseph subsequently made himself known to his brothers. “And he wept so loudly….” (Genesis 45:2, NIV). He said “Come close to me”. When they did so, he said “I am your brother Joseph…” (Genesis 45:2, NIV).

His pain and longing for what I call his “root of family reference” came to the fore and exposed Joseph’s hurt. He wept. One could say that his love for them covered their sins. You know, he forgave them. Wow! What a powerful story of love and forgiveness? His great reunion was with his father.

…As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

Genesis 46:29-30 (NIV)

 I feel full just thinking about Joseph’s restorative story and imagining our great reunion with our heavenly Father who has forgiven all of our sins and saved our lives from destruction (Psalm 103). What a glory that will be.

What the devil meant for evil, God was working it out for the good of Joseph and his family (Genesis 50:20). Oh, what a contrast between Absalom and Joseph’s life. What do you have to say? Does it count to trust God or allow our own desires to destroy our lives and those around us? The harsh reality is that many times we do not realise that our will and desires are causing destruction to self and others. I pray that God will grant us an awareness to see, hear and appreciate our attitudes, thoughts and behaviours. I pray that we will make a purposeful effort to keep lining them up with God’s pathway through His Holy Spirit who works in and through us.

Let us continue in prayer:

Lord, we are so grateful, so grateful that You are a forgiving God. We thank You for Your renewable grace and mercies. Lord, we thank You for sustaining and keeping us safe through each day. We thank You that regardless of the craziness that is happening around us, we are still in our right minds.

Lord, we thank You.

We praise You! We adore You! Lord, we honour You! We glorify Your name! Hallelujah!

Most Righteous God, out of the depths of the earth, we come in the name of Jesus Christ asking You to forgive all of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Lord, we thank You for another week. Many of us are heavily burdened carrying weights that result in us having a dull countenance. Our energies are diminishing and our joy for You is significantly tempered. Dear God, restore unto us the joy of Thy salvation and grant us obedient spirits to sustain us.

Hear O Lord and have mercy.

Lord, we lift up the leaders of our country and pray for Your continued work in every heart and mind. We know that this country’s foundation is built on You. Help us to demonstrate this as leaders and citizens in our thoughts, beliefs and actions. Dear God, help us to be the keepers of our neighbours, the responsible and employable citizen where applicable.

Hear O Lord and have mercy.

Lord, we pray that as leaders of our churches, associations and related entities, we find the strength, energy and will power to persevere and carry out Your purpose. Lord, help us to remain faithful to Your work, committed to the building of Your kingdom and the empowering of Your people. Help us to realise that people are dying without knowing You.

Lord, we pray for our young people in this country. Lord, grant them hope, the desire to continue on a path that honours and glorify Your name. We pray for the education system and the zeal for learning among students as they try to understand the way forward.

Lord, the stealing in this country has escalated but we declare that You are the only true God of Jamaica and the gates and schemes of criminals will not prevail, in the name of Jesus Christ. We put every community in Your hand, every gunman, every thief, every bike rider and others who use their vehicles to carry our criminal activities. Lord, God Almighty, hold these criminals accountable.

We remember those who are still freshly mourning especially our Sister Jehan Johnson and family.

Lord, remember those on our usual sick and shut-in list. We also lift up to You the additional persons who are not well especially. 

Lord, we lift up the sick and shut-ins from our usual list. We also remember Sisters Iris Lawrence, Lelith James, Jennifer Nicholson, Virginia Muir, Marville (Cherry) Murray (Sister Iris Lawrence’s daughter), Janet Chen-Young, Joyce Bailey, Lucille Alexander, Jhada Graham, Ethlyn Atkins, Cherrie Lee, Brother George Gabbidon, and Andrew Robinson (Sister Claire Robinson’s son), Brother Danville Japp’s father, Mr. Isaiah Japp, and any family member who is currently struggling with the Covid-19 virus.

Lord, we pray for those who are regionally and internationally trying to understand the changes that are taking place in the world. We pray that the peoples of the world will understand the times and turn their hearts to You.

Lord, grant us Your peace, fill us with Your power and surround us with Your love in Jesus’ name, we pray with thanksgiving.

Amen.


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