Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Joseph 2

Genesis 37: 3-4

3 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 a richly ornamented robe for him. 4 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.

I want to start off by looking at Joseph as a young man. We start to get a look into Joseph’s life at the age of 17. I say Joseph was a prideful, young man, some call it spoiled. Without a doubt he was loved, and special concessions were made for him. As a matter of fact we read in verse 3 : 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age. SO Joseph was the baby of the family, a position that seems to have changed very little of the last 1500 or so years.

His father made him a robe. Many call it the coat of many colors. However this is not to be thought of as the coat of many colors that the country song was about. In fact it was quiet the opposite. This robe was made to show off. It was flashy, and showed the family wealth. It was a way to say look at me. While most robes were plain and one color, this robe was adorned with trinkets, and colorful.

It was more than just the robe that set Joseph apart. We see in chapter 37 verse 12 that Joseph has been allowed to stay behind while his brothers are out tending the flock. So there was also exceptions made when it came to passing out the work assignments, and that was a pretty big deal back then. There is little wonder that his brothers had quite a bit of animosity towards him.

Then to top it off, the Lord gives Joseph a couple of dreams. In verse 6-7 we read 6 He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: 7 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."

Then another dream in verse 9 we read: 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me."

Have you ever heard it said that some things are best kept to yourself? Of course right at the beginning of verse 6 we see that Joseph did not feel that way, because it starts off with him telling his brothers, listen to this dream I had…… I can see it now, here is Joseph the one who gets out of work all of the time, standing there with his flashy robe on telling his brothers hey listen, I had these dreams, and….well hey, I am going to be a pretty big deal, even the sun and moon shall bow to me! I can only imagine how that went over with the other brothers!
I have heard it said that for God to do impossible things he starts by humbling an impossible person, and we all know what is in store for Joseph, a truly humbling time is heading his way. The point I would like to make about this prideful behavior is are we guilty of the same? Do we flaunt what we have? Do we strive to take the easy way out? Do you find yourself wanting that pretty coat, and the special attention?

It is very human to want to be the best, but let us not confuse being the best at something with being admired, and held out as something special. We should all strive to be the best Christian we can be, yet accomplishing that goal is exactly what will typically keep us from becoming the favored one. We know that Joseph’s brothers wanted that attention. We know that apostles bickered over who was the favorite to Christ. Some apostles even had their mother show up and request special treatment. Yet as Jesus reminded them (Mark 10:43-45), and it still rings true today. If you want to be great among your peers you must first become a servant to them, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave to all. Most telling is what Christ says next “for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

So while it is Joseph’s pride that will start the chain of events in his life; it is that very same pride, that feeling of being better than, or more privileged than the next guy, that we must be on guard for. It is a very easy snare to step into, and once there it is hard to get out.

God Bless,

Monday, June 22, 2009

Joseph 1

OK so it has been a couple of weeks since I have posted to the blog. I have had more words than time, and as a result I just have not had the availability to get the words posted. However, this week looks to be the start of things getting back on track, and down to a low roar. SO I am going to make it a point to get back to posting what I am writing. For the last couple of weeks I have started a series on the men of the bible.

This week we will be looking at Joseph son of Jacob / Israel. Joseph has many qualities that we all can identify with, and each of us can learn a great deal about navigating our own lives by looking at how he handled his. Specifically we will be looking at the pride of Joseph, the faithfulness of Joseph through all of the hardships, and we will look at how Joseph handles the successes that the Lord blesses him with. All of the posts for the week will be listed numerically i.e. Joseph 1, Joseph 2. With today’s being Joseph 1

May the peace of the Lord be with you always,

Saturday, May 30, 2009

so now what? continuation of suffering

Often we suffer, through no fault of our own, nor does someone intentionally try to cause us pain. It comes through the circumstances of life.

Take a look at Ruth 1

3 Now Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died, and she was left with her two sons. 4 They married Moabite women, one named Orpah and the other Ruth. After they had lived there about ten years, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two sons and her husband.

Naomi had everything important to her taken. Her husband and her children were dead; to say she was suffering is an understatement. When she returned home and the people greeted her, she told them: (Ruth 1) 20 "Don't call me Naomi, “she told them. "Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. 21 I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty.

Like most people in life Naomi was bitter. She has hardship enter not at the hands of anyone around her, but just by the circumstances of her life.

We also have to remember that there is a battle going on for our very soul. While the Lord might not directly inflict pain, the devil will. Think of Job. By all accounts Job was a righteous man. The Lord said so, his friends said so, and the devil agreed. So the devil sets out to create hardship in Job’s life so that Job might turn from God. We know that God allowed it, because the Lord knew that Job would endure. Try as the devil might, he could not get Job to turn away from the Lord, yet Job suffered greatly. This happens in our lives as well. The devil wants you…..no …needs you to turn away from the Lord. If he is to win even one soul, it must come from that soul turning from God. He will get directly involved in your life to pull you off the path. Suffering will come directly from him, so that you might be moved.

The last way I want to look at suffering is as part of our Godly, righteous lives. If you follow the Lord, you will encounter suffering. Not because of the Lord, but for the Lord! In acts 9 we see the Lord speaking to Ananias about going to Paul after his encounter on the road to Damascus. We read: 15But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."

In Philippians 1 we read: 28without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him

In 1 Peter 4 we are reminded: 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

Part of fulfilling God work will involve suffering. We will be singled out; we will be ignored, in some countries even today people are still being killed for it.

Lastly yes we cause our own suffering. As little sense as that makes we as humans are very good at it. In Hebrews 12 Paul tells us: 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
The psalmist tells us in psalm 119 71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

When we choose to walk in a direction that is opposite of the Lord, life will become hard, not out of resentment from God, but out of his love for us. Think of Jonah He fled from the Lord. He was called and instead of following the Lord he ran as far as he could in the opposite direction. We all remember the story; He spent some time in a whale’s belly! Just like Jonah it is never too late for any of us. We can always change our course, and we too will find that we can escape the trouble we have found ourselves in.

The big question is the attitude we have about suffering. As you look at your life and assess the suffering in your life, you know that unless you are the direct cause of the suffering you might not be able to control it. If it is you, well that is an easy fix…..correct the problem! But what about when it is not? How should you approach life when you are suffering, and struggling? Should you be like Naomi? Do you let yourself become bitter? I think not. I think Proverbs 24 says it well: 10 if you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength! It is during our times of strife that our faith should be the greatest. God is at his strongest when we are at our weakest.

The bible has much to say on this topic:

If any man suffer as a Christian let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf . . .I Peter 4:16

1 Peter 4: 9So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

How should we act?

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

I Thessalonians 3:3 3so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.

Most of all do not be surprised by it.
12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

To sum up our how our attitude should be we only need to read 2Corinthians 4:16-18 16Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

But the question remains what good can come of suffering?

Lets start with suffering will test your faith. It is a chance to show the world how great our faith is, and a chance to glorify God
1 Peter 1:7
7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

We all have times in our lives that give us great opportunities to test, and prove our faith. It is easy to have faith when life is sailing along, but it is when life gets hard that our faith will pull us through, as well as show those around us how much more our faith is capable of accomplishing.

Our suffering allows us to comfort others when they are struggling:
2 Corinthians 1: 3-4
3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Without suffering ourselves we could never help others through tough times. If we never suffered and experienced the comfort of God’s love, then how could we ever relate that love and comfort to anyone else?

Maybe most importantly we learn not to count on ourselves, but to trust in God
2 Corinthians 1: 8-9
8We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.

Things in our life come up, road blocks, and suffering. Things that we not only cannot get around, but will never get through on our own. It is these times in our life that we understand that without the Lord we cannot do much, but with him we can accomplish anything. For many of us if we did not encounter suffering, we would never learn to trust in the Lord. We would stay convinced that we are the ones driving, and, all things in life are possible, only be cause we will them to be!

We know that the best example of suffering is found on the cross. In Jesus’ last moments it is written in Matthew 27 and Mark 15 that he cried out "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" They both also record that Jesus cried out again in a loud voice, and then gave up his spirit. But what was said. Few remember that Jesus’ last words were words of submission to God in hi suffering. It is recorded in Luke 23 what his last words were 46Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. As his final act, Christ gives his spirit to God. In the midst of unimaginable suffering, Christ is not bitter, he is not resentful. He Turns his spirit over to God, and submits to the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings.

We will always have struggle in our lives; we will always go through suffering. These are nothing more than tests, and opportunities. They are chances to right our wrongs, correct our course, and Chances to glorify God. When we take the time to understand the suffering in our lives, see where it comes from, and use it as a way to glorify God; we start to understand that suffering is not always a bad thing. It is a welcomed opportunity. This is why Paul often looked back on his struggles with fondness. Not because he enjoyed pain, but because he saw the suffering for what it was just another trial of faith, just another way to show the world his love for God. Suffering will come in to each of our lives, directly or indirectly. It is how we handle it that will determine how much we grow in our relationship with the Lord. Will we allow ourselves to become bitter, or will we rise to the challenge, and fight on behalf of the Lord? We can be defeated, or we can defeat the suffering. We can rise to new heights with the Lord, hand in hand using each struggle as a stepping stone over the creeks and rivers of our lives. We might get wet along the way. The stones might be slippery, but when we navigate with the Lord at our side, we will never be swept away by the current.

May the Peace of the Lord rest upon you,

Friday, May 29, 2009


Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the
keeping of their souls to Him in well doing as unto a faithful creator.
(I Peter 4:19)

We talked of listening for God last week, but what happens when you listen, you pray, you are fairly sure of the direction you need to go, yet you are met with hardship? If you are doing it right, and walking the path, then why is it hard. Did you misunderstand? Did you miss the mark? Why does God do this to people? Does he do this to people? Basically, you ask….what’s up with that??

Tragically when people are faced with adversity while following the path of the Lord, instead of trying to understand it, they simply give up. IN John 6 we read:
58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." 59He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" 61Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, "Does this offend you? 62What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. 64Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." 66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

So if the people of Christ’s time were willing to ditch on him, you can bet that plenty of people today are ready to run at the first sign of trouble. Resist the temptation to become on of the fleeing masses. Stop and take a look at just what might be the cause of the suffering. Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:
Fist, the people around you can bring about quite a bit of suffering. If you remember that story of Joseph, you will remember that he was sold by his own brothers into slavery……His own brothers. Then he was imprisoned, and abandoned by the cup bearer, and the king’s wife. He was left to rot. Talk about suffering. Yet Joseph did not wallow in his suffering. Even though it was not brought about by his own doing. Look what he told his brothers, many years later, (Genesis 45:4,7) 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
This example shows that God will use even tough time, times of struggle, times that you have suffered by no fault of your own, for the good of not just you , but for the good of those around you.

Tomorrow I will take a look at how circumstances, the devil, and your own sin can play into your suffering. We will also take a look at how we should view suffering. As well as why we should expect it, and what positive effects it can have on our lives......yes I said positive!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Voice, the direction, and the failure

Psalm 81:13
13 "If my people would but listen to me, if Israel would follow my ways,

Once we have followed the steps and have learned the voice of God does that mean that we will never have problems again?.....If only that were true. Many things happen along the way, sometimes we hear the Word of God yet decide to take our own route, sometimes we fail to understand what God is trying to tell us. The point is that we will not always get it right. Here are some examples of two different ways to deal with the aftermath.

Men who fell short and recovered

Abraham: He lied about Sarah being his wife for fear he would be killed and his wife
taken from him. Yet he is called a man of faith and the friend of God.

Moses: He struck the rock and called forth water instead of speaking to it as God
directed. Yet the Bible states there has never been another prophet as great as Moses.

David: He committed adultery with another man's wife, then had the man killed to try to
cover his sin. Yet he was a great king and is called a man after God's own heart.

Jonah: This preacher went the opposite direction when God called him to preach in
Ninevah. Later he preached the greatest revival in history. The whole city repented.

Peter: He denied Jesus, but later became a great leader in the early church.

Men who never recovered

Samson: He was an important judge in the nation of Israel and had great physical strength
given him from God. He began to deliver Israel from the Philistine enemy. But through
involvement with a heathen woman, Samson was taken captive and died while yet a
prisoner of the enemy.

Uziah: This king originally did what was right in the sight of the Lord and God made him
prosper. But Uziah sinned by entering the temple and performing duties which only the
priests were permitted to do. He was stricken with leprosy and died.

Saul: The first king of Israel, Saul was a man adored by the people and upon whom the
Spirit of God rested. Because of disobedience, Saul was rejected by God and another
king was selected to complete his task. Saul's life ended in failure, disgrace, and suicide.

Eli: Originally a great priest in the house of the Lord, Eli and his sons died in disgrace
because of disobedience.

Judas: Judas was a disciple of Jesus during His earthly ministry. He witnessed the great
miracles of Jesus and heard His teachings. Yet he betrayed Jesus and ended his own life
by suicide.

So what is the difference, you might ask. I find the best explanation in 2 Corinthians 7:10
10Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

We have to expect to make mistakes. We are not perfect. We will falter. It is a matter of knowing that it will happen, and be willing to put the hard work in to correct the transgression. The difference between the men on the first list and the men on the second is a simple as understanding that the men on the first list recognized their sin and repented. They took steps to correct the problem. They asked the Lord for forgiveness, and the asked for his guidance. They might have started off acting under their own motivations, but in the end they submitted to the Lord and had the patience, faith, and hope to wait for his will.

We can all learn to hear the Word of God. He does still speak to his people today, and he has a very specific plan to relay to you. Through the Holy Spirit his plan will be revealed to each of us, but will it always be easy to discern. Will it always be a spoke word? Far from it. God uses many different methods to relate his message to us. Let’s look at a few examples from the bible.


The following are a few of many Biblical examples:
-God warned Abimelech in a dream about his sin of taking Abraham's wife,
Sarah. Genesis 20:3
-An angel spoke to Jacob in a dream to remind him of his vow to God.
Genesis 31:11-13
-God used dreams to reveal His will to Joseph. Genesis 37.
-God appeared to Solomon in a dream and gave him the opportunity to ask
for whatever he desired. I Kings 3:5
-A dream was used to direct shepherds to return to their country by a
different route because of an evil king. Matthew 2:12-13


-God appeared to Abraham in a vision and made him a great promise.
Genesis 15
-The book of Daniel is filled with visions (as well as dreams). God used
these to reveal many things about the future of the world. He spoke to
many other Old Testament prophets through visions.
-God gave Peter a vision concerning the need to take the Gospel to the
Gentile nations. Acts 10
-God called Paul to Macedonia through a vision. Acts 16:9
-God spoke to Paul in the night through a vision. Acts 18:9-10
-The final book in the Bible, Revelation, is based on a vision seen by the
Apostle John.

The Holy Spirit

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
(Romans 8:14)

He that searches the hearts knows what is in the mind of the Spirit,
because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
(Romans 8:27)

Paul gives us so many examples of different ways God will communicate with us:

-On the Damascus road Paul was directed by a bright light and a voice from
Heaven. Acts 9:1-8
-When a plot was formed to murder Paul, he was warned by believers who
were used of God to help him escape. Acts 9:20-25
-Barnabas was used by God to establish relationships between Paul and the
other disciples. Acts 9:20-28
-Believers were used of God to help Paul escape the angry Grecians. Acts
-When Paul met an occultist, God gave him discernment to bring
deliverance. Acts 13:6-12
-Prayer and the Holy Spirit guided Paul into a special missionary ministry.
Acts 13:2-4
-Personal prophecy by Agabus confirmed the experience that awaited Paul
in Jerusalem. Acts 21:10-14
-God spoke to Paul through dreams and visions. Acts 22:18; 26:19; 27:23-24
-An effectual door of service for the Lord caused Paul to change his
personal plans. I Corinthians 16:8-10
I bring all of these to light to point out the fact that God is not limited on how he speaks to us. He uses many different things in our lives. That is why I often say that you must be still and listen, pay attention to what is going on around you. That is not to say that every dream, every vision, or every inner revelation is from God. We must remember to go back and read the scripture; God’s will never departs form God’s written word. The Lord has much to say to each of us He is the great Creator, and the great communicator. But we must listen, and open our hearts. The path might not always be smooth, and easy, but God will always offer direction is we will prepare our hearts, and open our minds to the Lord


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Making changes

Continuing from last week

We are told in Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

If we want to clearly hear the voice of the Lord, we have to start with shutting out the voices that lead us off the path. When we turn our attention to the Lord we allow ourselves to become born again. We allow Christ to enter and start the good work inside of us. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! If we are to start listening we have to start changing., and that change comes by giving our lives over to Christ. As I mentioned earlier, all of the people who are in the bible that talked with God, and heard his voice, were men who followed God. I want to be clear about one thing. They were not perfect men. SO often people think well I can never hear the Lord, because I will never be good enough. But as Paul reminds us in Christ we are new creations, not perfect creation, but new. The slate has been clean, and we are just as good as the next person….even the men in the bible. Will we hear as clearly, will we be as blessed? Well that is not for us to decide, that is up to the will of God. The important thing to take in is that you have to make that change. If you want to hear the Lord, you have to give him your heart, and have faith that he will keep his promises.

Christ told his disciples that there would be help; there would be a way to realize his plan. We read in John 16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. This is what typically is referred to as being led by the Spirit. Some examples are: Acts 8:29 The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." or Acts 11:12 The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them.

Once we have given our lives to Christ we allow the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of God to enter into our lives. The Spirit of Truth is with us always, gently whispering in our ear, leading us down the path to the Glory of God. Will you follow?


Friday, May 15, 2009

Which Voice?

SO if we do want to hear the Lord, we have to listen, but what does the Lord sound like? Well in John 10 we read: 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice.

So Christ is telling us that we will in fact know his voice, but his voice is not the only one rolling around in there is it? How do we know it is the Lord talking to us? Well we have to go with what we know. First we know our own voice. We are always running thoughts in our minds, we reason, and think to ourselves. So we know our own voice very well.

Who else might we find when we listen for the Lord? Well there is little doubt we will find the devil himself. Have you ever been in the middle of a prayer, or maybe reading the bible, and then right out of the blue you get the most off the wall thought. One that you do not have the least idea where it came from, but you know good and well that it does not belong in your head……you know what I mean……yeah, that one! Folks that is the devil stepping in to say hi! He creeps in and throws the most random things in just a quick thought, maybe a little mis-direction. With a little effort it is very easy to recognize the devils voice. It is the suggestion that springs forth, that your voice typically follows with Oh no you will not!

SO how will we know it is the Lord? Chris told us that we will know his voice, so it comes down to separating the Lord’s voice form all the others. It comes down to “logos” and “graphe” both are used in the bible both mean word. However one is the spoken word, and one is the written word.

Acts 17:11 gives us a good example: These were more noble than those in Thessalonica,
in that they received the word (logos) with all readiness of mind, and searched the
Scriptures (graphe) daily, whether those things were so.

The spoken Word of God always aligns with the written Word of God. They always
agree, there is no contradiction.

So how do we get to that point? How can we really learn to pick His voice out of all of the
others? Well we have some work to do on our part. Remember how I pointed out that the people that heard God’s voice so clearly in the Bible all had one thing in common? Well they all were in tune with the Lord. They searched him out, they made their lives a living example of His love.

Each of us have to do the same thing. There is a process to get to that point, and that is where we need to make sure we put the work in.

If I do not pick this up tomorrow, I will continue with it on Monday.