By Samuel O. Doku (Washington, DC). Senior Pastor Georges William Ntemi mounted the podium of transfiguration on Sunday and affirmed his love and admiration of Joseph’s story in Genesis and surmised that the Lord’s blessings are firmly dependent on overcoming trials, tribulations, and travails we confront in life. It informed the thematic framework of his homily.
He read Gen. 39: 19-21: “And it came to pass, when the master heard the words of his wife, which she spake to him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound; and he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison,” stated the blessed man of God.
Pastor Georges asserted that when someone makes you the center of his or her lies or prevarication, “don’t worry. God is watching. The Lord was with Joseph and granted him his favor in the eyes of the prison keeper. Today, the sermon is on the favor of God when you are in prison. Prison here means the prison of life; it could be a situation you find yourself in,” noted the consul of God.
Striking a balance between “pit and prison,” Pastor Georges noted that when you are thrown into a pit, you are on your own, but when you are cast into prison, you have others controlling your life on a daily basis. “In Prison, you are controlled by others but Joseph’s travail assures us that the ultimate control is in God’s hands. When people try to put you down and tell you that you can do nothing without them, tell them God is in control. Everything is in His hands,” stated the powerful man of God.
In a series of rhetorical questions, he asked: “What do you do when you find yourself in the darkest moments of your life? What do you do when things are not working in your favor? What do you do when the odds are heavily stacked against you and you find yourself in a difficult position? Imagine the life of Joseph. He was around 28-years-old when he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife.”
After being sold into slavery by his brothers, Joseph was serving faithfully in Potiphar’s household. However, one day, Potiphar’s wife accused him of rape he didn’t commit, and he was festooned in chains and thrown into prison.
Pastor Georges references the psalms. David tells us in Psalm 105: 17-19, “He sent a man before them, Joseph who was sold for a servant, whose feet
they hurt with fetters; he was laid in iron; until the time that his word came; the word of the Lord tried him.” Joseph cried, ‘God where are you?’ If you are a Christian, you would go through your own travails and difficulties one day. It’s God’s way of trying you. In prison, Joseph was faithful and still trusted God.”
According to the blessed man of God, when things are tough, one can ask provocative questions and that doesn’t make one become an unbeliever, for doubt doesn’t mean unbelief. And he provided the raison d’etre.
1). Champions are not chosen from the unscarred. He observed that one would not see the gates of Heaven if one has not been scarred by life’s predicaments of treachery, perfidy, prevarication, atrocity, and sheer brutality. “Scars of life are being wounded by your situation. You can be wounded by people close to you. You can be destroyed by family members. Christ was the innocent lamb scarred for our sake. He showed his scars to his disciples and told them he had been scarred for them. Scars are what will take you to Heaven. Scars will teach you humility; scars will teach you that you can’t do it on your own. You need God.
“Joseph died at the age of 110. Paul was beaten and bitten by a serpent. He died with scars on him. Paul died with the scars on him. Champions have the scars in their hearts. What carries them is the Holy Spirit. It’s faith. Faith will encourage you to keep going, for you will see light at the end of the tunnel. You will have your tribulations, but when you have them, remember the Lord is in control,” said the consul of God.
2). Adversity leads to achievement. “God uses adversity to prepare you for your destiny. Through adversity, the Lord trains you to be His champion. God will use your enemy to prepare the way for you. God used Pharaoh to prepare the way for Moses and the Isrealites,” said the apostle of God.
At this juncture, the powerful man of God analogized the human experience with that of the seed that is planted and rots before it springs up to bear fruits. After bearing fruits, everyone enjoys and praises the fruits.
“The life of the seed from the time it’s planted until it begins to bear fruits is just like us. The rotten stage is the trial and tribulations stage of us, humans. At some point, you will hear the devil speaking and discouraging you, but keep on going; keep moving on, for the Lord is with you, and He is putting you on a solid rock for success.”
3). God will use things that threaten to destroy you to your advantage and success. “It does not matter what’s going on in your life; God is in control. Joseph was put in prison because God wanted to shift him to the next level of glory. The Lord changed Joseph’s situation to showcase his glory to the people,” noted the blessed man of God.
4). God will turn your predicament into your profit. “Christ was beaten, mocked, mutilated, spit on, debased, and crucified, but he rose from the dead. We are still worshiping Him today more than 2,000 years after his death and resurrection. He is the son of the living God with the crown on his head,” stated Pastor Georges.
According to the blessed man of God, it’s important for Christians to free their minds from things that seem to imprison them. “Stop playing the blame program. Joseph didn’t play the blame game because he knew it wouldn’t do him any good. You are only a prisoner if you imprison your mind. A free mind is freedom,” noted the consul of God.
Here, Pastor Georges cited three examples of individuals who refused to allow themselves to be imprisoned by their contemporaneous situations and emerged victorious and successful. He mentioned a Holocaust survivor who survived atrocious conditions in the concentration camp of the Nazis because he refused to think he was in a concentration camp.
There is the story of America’s Got Talent contestant who was severely burned in an accident but refused to allow her condition to bar her from singing, resulting in her winning the contest. And there is the football quarterback whose rookie contract was nothing to write home about, but he didn’t allow how much he was earning to adversely impact his performance so long as he could take care of his family with what he was making. At the end of his rookie contract, he became the highest paid player in the NFL.
“Stop saying I can’t. Start saying I can. Trust the Lord. Stop complaining because when you complain, you don’t unite; you divide. When you don’t forget, you remember and that destroys your soul. When you complain, you don’t achieve anything; you lose your peace of mind. Remember God is changing your situation into a profitable one,” said Pastor Georges.
Pastor Georges then delved into three inevitably negative emotions that Christians must confront and how to overcome them. A). The first emotion is doubt. “As a Christian, you will be faced with doubt. Doubt will come your way, and you will ask, Am I in the will of God? That happens when things come to destroy you.
“But remember that doubt is not disbelief. Disbelief says there is no God. Doubt says if God exists, why am I here? Change your doubt into a question, and your question into prayers, and God will answer you. Gideon doubted God, but still God encouraged and empowered him to conquer the devil’s chief advocate, Baal. God doesn’t base your future on past circumstances. Call on Him and He’ll answer you.”
B). The second emotion is discouragement. “Discouragement affects especially pastors,” noted the powerful man of God. “Some Christians can drive us crazy. But God has called us to serve, so no one can bring me down. You can overcome discouragement with faith. Faith is the stimulus that drives us. It is the strength that overcomes the world.”
C). The third emotion is depression. “I have been betrayed by a loved one, a close friend. I was so depressed that I went into the temple and cried bitterly on the Lord because of deep betrayal. But one day, I rose and put all that behind me and became a great servant of the Lord. You can do all things through prayers. Luke 18:1 says we must pray without ceasing. Pray and have confidence in the Lord and sing his praises,” said the powerful man of God.