The children of Ephraim
Meditate on the advice of the Spirit of God:
When we take a quick look at the lives of the biblical characters we admire, we see their qualities and achievements, but we pay very little attention to their flaws, tests, pains, personal struggles or even failures. We imagine that a blessed person has an easy life, because their relationship with God guarantees complete external happiness, every prayer is answered and they are immune to problems. However, it’s nothing of the sorts.
The purpose of faith is not to make things easier, but to give us the condition to go into battle with a guaranteed victory.
An example that illustrates this well is the life of Ephraim, the second son of Joseph.
We know that the firstborn’s blessing goes far beyond the right of receiving a double portion of his father’s inheritance. This is why, when he realized his father was about to die, Joseph called his two sons to come with him, so he could bless them.
The main blessing belonged to Manasseh, but the Most High, through the hand of Jacob, went against what He had already determined and chose Ephraim, the youngest son. His younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations. Genesis 48.1-20
To receive a blessing of this magnitude from the patriarch Jacob must have made his life very special, because it put him at the forefront of the twelve tribes, but it also meant that he needed to be ready for major attacks.
Apart from this great day, his story is full of pain, dramas and achievements.
Ephraim walked in the ways of his father Joseph, with fear and righteousness. His children were Shuthelah, Ezer the Elead, and a daughter named Sheerah.
A peculiar situation reveals his family problems, when his two sons, Ezer and Elead become cattle thieves and are killed during an attempted robbery. 1 Chronicles 7.21
Imagine how much pain and shame this father and son endured, because they were both well respected in Egypt for their exemplary character and conduct, but God allowed them to experience their problems in the public eye.
Scripture reveals that for many days, Ephraim was dismayed and mourned the death of his children. We do not know how long he mourned, but this suffering was certainly compounded by a mix of pain, loss and not feeling worthy of such shame.
On the other hand, while steeped in sadness, his wife gave birth to another child. Ephraim was so disappointed with life that he marked the child, giving him the name Beriah, because tragedy had come upon his house. 1 Chronicles 7.23 He wanted everyone to know how devastated he felt.
And, among this confusion, caused by her father’s grief, grew a young woman named Sheerah. A woman whose personality was like no other of her time, she had a bold and innovative spirit. She founded three cities: Upper and Lower Beth Horon and Uzzen Sheerah. 1 Chronicles 7.24
Perhaps, her father focused on the loss of his two sons and missed out on enjoying his daughter’s achievements, the progress of his firstborn Shuthelah and he did not realize that through Beriah, the Most High would fulfill His grand promise to him.
Though Beriah bore the brunt of his father’s pain in his name, he built his own story because his eyes were set on the future. He looked forward and carved the story of Ephraim into eternal records by having Nun and Joshua as descendants. 1 Chronicles 7.25
Joshua was one of the leaders of the Hebrew deliverance in Egypt and was used to conquer the Promised Land. Through him, the tribe of Ephraim occupied the central part of Canaan, a mountainous region that was extremely fertile and safe, which brought him much prosperity. Later, the name of Ephraim was used as a synonym to represent the 10 tribes of Israel.
Ephraim didn’t only have reasons to cry and remain discouraged, because God blessed him in other areas of his life. By focusing and regarding only the negative, he lost the privilege to enjoy the fulfillment of the promises.
What was once a cause for sorrow and shame would be turned to honor and unspeakable joy.
We understand that an unbeliever may pass through afflictions and lose their hope, because without God, no harm can turn to good. However, those who are of the faith have a great advantage, because they know that all things work together for good to those who love God. The “losses” of today guarantee the victories of tomorrow; the shame and humiliation of today guarantee the honor of tomorrow, crying may last for a night but joy comes in the morning. This is how to live by faith.
It happened in the Temple of Solomon
Good morning Bishop, I was born and raised in the Universal Church, but I never had an encounter with God. At times, I would seek Him with great fervor and then there were other times I would be worshiping the devil. I have gone through everything you can imagine, from drugs to prostitution. I have stole, killed and destroyed families. All these things were done to fulfill the will of my flesh. I had five failed relationships that were filled with betrayals, arguments and drugs. When I finally met my current husband and came to live in Belford Roxo, I thought that I was now living at the far end of the world, excluded from everything and everyone. So, I returned to the Universal Church and there was a caravan to the Temple of Solomon. I went, even without conditions and without knowing anyone because I had one foot in the Church and one foot in the world. However, there was a desire to kill that useless and repugnant being I was and Jesus answered me in the Temple. He said, “I brought you to Belford Roxo to save your life. I answered your request for forgiveness and gave you new life”. Today bishop, I am a 27 year old woman that is being polished each day of the Fast of Daniel by the presence of the God that rescued me from the quicksand. Yesterday the devil tried to make me quit the Fast, but Jesus opened my eyes and my mind, and I stepped on the devil’s head with anger because I, Marcele Cristina, am an assistant who was chosen by the Lord Jesus! Though I’m not actually an assistant yet, I say this by faith, because I can already see myself entering hell and rescuing souls from the devil’s claws!
Thank you, Bishop Macedo, for not preaching what I would like to hear, but for teaching me to listen to what I need to hear. Thank you for not using sentimentality in your messages, which are actually the words of God Himself! I received the Holy Spirit on September 23, 2015. I am sure of this and that’s final!
Again, I would like to thank you Bishop. God bless you.
Maira M Francisco
Good evening, Bishop. It’s been quite a night. Today was a special day for me because I was away from the Church for about 4 years. During these 4 years, I came and went; one moment I was as firm as a rock, or at least I thought I was, but the following day my faith would be weak. My daughter and husband were the center of my universe. During the meetings, when the pastor said we should place God in 1st place, I understood what he was saying but I wasn’t able to put it into practice. That’s when I decided to plunge into the Fast of Daniel. Every day I am seeking the Holy Spirit like it’s the last time I’ll seek Him. Today, while listening to your message, you asked us to think about who is sitting on the throne of our lives. I went into my daughter’s room, where I could be alone. However, when I closed the door, my daughter started crying because she wanted to come in with me, but I didn’t let her in. I separated that moment exclusively for God. She was screaming on the other side of the door and I was on my knees seeking God. Then, the Holy Spirit came upon me with such joy, and it wasn’t an emotion, but a conviction that He was there with me, comforting me, embracing me… All I know is that I wasn’t able to stop crying and laughing and praising Him, all at the same time. It finally hit me that I wasted so much time away from His wonderful presence. I’m here now, smiling to myself, feeling like a lovesick teenager. I don’t even know how to explain it. I also understand now that my soul alone is not enough, I want to save many more souls for the Kingdom of God. Thank you Bishop, because it was through your dedication for the souls that it was possible for me to be born again today and have an encounter with this glorious God that I love so much.
I am here to tell you that, not only today’s prayer, but all the prayers made during this Fast have added to my spiritual life. It’s glorious to see how our God speaks and guides His Church. Bishop, during these 18 years that I’ve been a member of the Church, all the purposes of faith have been a brick in the construction of my spiritual life. I had the great privilege of receiving the Holy Spirit 18 years ago, which surpassed all the knowledge and studies I had acquired and gave me a new vision, values and direction in my life. In this Fast, I have asked for my mind to be renewed and for the gifts He’s given me to be improved so that I can be more useful in His work. Above all, I am remaining alert, so that I can listen to what He wants me to work on. In fact, what I’ve asked God to do is sift through my life with the finest sieve, so that I can be more pure and pleasing in His eyes. With every prayer, each day of this journey, I see change and growth before Him. The joy and strength in my soul grows with each prayer! Kind regards. I’m going to continue on this path because the results show how this purpose brings great joy to the heavens.