A Pretty Simple Premise

Ps 111.10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments.

Here’s the premise (and the promise):

Fear the Lord. If you do, you get wisdom. The more you obey His commandments, the more understanding you get.

Our Authorities

Romans 13.1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

God Himself has instituted and ordained our governing powers; they are our authorities. Furthermore, God holds the hearts of our authorities: Proverbs 21.1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.

Romans 13.2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

Clearly, we are to obey our governing authorities: Their authority comes from God, and we are to obey God. Damnation is a severe consequence of resistance.

Is it ever right to resist authority? In Acts 5, the apostles were commanded not to teach in Jesus’ name. They responded in verse 29: Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Why should we submit to our governing authorities if we don’t like what they do? Don’t we live in a democracy? Don’t we have the right to protest? After all, our governing authorities gave us that right.

Romans 13.3-5 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

Before you protest, before you rant and rave:

  1. Be sure you are obeying God. How to know if you are in obedience to God? Read His Word. Study it: 2 Timothy 2.15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
  2. Be sure your actions are motivated in love, and be sure you love rightly. Love God first. Luke 10.27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
  3. Be sure you are acting, speaking, and thinking in peace. Remember, peace has nothing to do with how you feel, nor with circumstances or people around you. Peace is a right standing with God. Romans 14.19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
  4. Be sure your efforts are to bring glory to God. Proverbs 6.16-19 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

What if you’re right? What if you are acting in peace (bringing others to God in love)? Edifying others? Glorifying God? The apostles, and Jesus Himself, certainly stirred things up, but they were obedient, always giving glory to God and honoring Him and His Ways. 2 Corinthians 4.2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

God divides. His truth divides, His Word divides: Hebrews 4.12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Allow God to decide the divisions. That is not our job; it is His. We are to speak the truth in love, and let God work in the hearts of others.

We are to remain steadfast and loyal to God alone. If He prompts to enter into political activities, then enter in. However God directs you, work in obedience to Him. But remember: God instituted our governing authorities; He guides our authorities with their hearts in His hands; and He loves us abundantly, overwhelmingly, and perfectly.

Knowing that, knowing God, is peace.

The Simple Key to Safety and Protection

TheSimpleKeyToSafetyAndProtection

My devotions took me to Ezra 3 this morning. First to back up:

In Ezra 1: 1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. 4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

5 Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem. 6 And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.

A contingent of Jews headed back to Jerusalem to live.

In Ezra 3, the priests, “builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God. 3 And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.

The Jewish people knew they had enemies all around, people who didn’t want them there, who scorned their God, and who wanted power over them. But the Jews remembered Who they served. They had the Book of the Law. They knew.

They knew the blessings God had promised if they would adhere to His Law (Deuteronomy 28.1). They knew the curses God had promised if His people would not hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God, to observe to do all His commandments and his statues which He commanded them that day. (Deuteronomy 28.15).

Deuteronomy 28. 1 And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: 2 And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God…. 7 The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. 8 The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

SO many blessings, in verses 1-14!

But then the curses, if they would not hearken unto God:

Deuteronomy 28. 21 The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it. 22 The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish…. 25 The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth…. 33 The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed always.

Pestilence, consumption, inflammation, fleeing from enemies: sound like anywhere you know today?

The people of Ezra’s time knew that, in order to receive the protection and blessing of God, they would have to bow down and obey Him. They knew that their people had refused to listen to God for centuries, and God had, indeed, taken them away captive from their homeland. They knew that, without God’s protection, they would open themselves up to disaster, disease, tribulation, and suffering. Why would they want to go through that again?

They built an altar and worshiped God, as He commanded. They offered burnt sacrifices to atone for their sins. They humbled themselves before their Almighty God.

And they continued in their obedience: Ezra 3.5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.

Are you seeking safety, protection, and peace? Humble yourself before the Lord God. Worship Him. Read His Word to find out how to obey Him. Call out to Him for guidance. Walk in obedience to Him. God always blesses obedience. He will bless you.

Ask for God’s eyes and heart to discern what His protection looks like. King David was a man after God’s own heart. He was often in the midst of danger, and he was spurred into action to go to war for God. Maybe that doesn’t look like safety and protection to many of us. But it did to David. Read his Psalms. David knew he was completely under the protective Hand of the God of Israel Who loved him. David had the peace of God that passes all understanding.

So did the apostle Paul. Paul endured beatings, shipwrecks, hunger, and thirst. But his heart was hard after God, and he knew implicitly that God had His Hand of Protection over him.

Peace with God comes with obedience. The peace includes giving our times, our circumstances, and our wills over to God, and accepting from His Hand all that happens, including death. If we are indeed obedient, we put all our trust in Him. In exchange for our obedience, God blesses us with His joy and peace.

Prayer for Unity

I have been burdened to pray these last times, for unity in God’s people through His Spirit. As children of God, we all have His same Spirit. When that Spirit is allowed full reign, when we are obedient to Him, then we all work in unity, toward the same purpose of glorifying God Almighty.

Please join me as I use God’s Word to pray. As I pray at different times, I direct His Words and my prayer to myself, to my marriage/family, to my church, to my community, my state, my nation, and my world. May my eyes look unto the Hand of my Master; and may He have mercy on us.

Romans 15.5-7

Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 

That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Psalm 123

{A Song of degrees.} Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.

Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.

Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

Psalms 90.12-17

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.

O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

 

 

Man with a Colt

ManWithAColtimage from google images

In Mark, chapter 11, Jesus sendeth forth two of his disciples, 2 And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. 3 And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.

And sure enough, certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt? The disciples tell them that the Lord has need of it, and the men let them go with the colt.

Whose colt was it? Did it belong to one of the men standing there?

I think that God put it in their hearts to let the colt go. And I think they followed the disciples and the colt, to see what was going on. Perhaps the owner of the colt knew of Jesus and His miracles. Perhaps the owner’s own wife or son or daughter had been healed. Perhaps he had been one of the crowd who had recently watched Lazarus come out of the tomb.

Imagine the owner’s feelings when he saw the garments spread on his colt, saw Jesus Himself sitting upon it, and entering into the city.

The crowd sang praises to Jesus: v9  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: 10 Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.

Note: The crowd cried “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” The word Lord, here, is the same word that was used back in verse 3, when the disciples told the men that “the Lord” had need of the colt. The language was referring to God in both cases.

The colt owner likely got his colt back after it was all over. Maybe he was proud that his own colt had been used for such an important occasion. Maybe his neighbors and friends, who knew of Jesus, came to touch the colt or look at it.

The man with the colt may likely have been one of the crowd, shortly thereafter, who cried “Crucify Him!”

What was the change? I believe, besides the powerful pull of our flesh, that it was the leaders: the Pharisees and scribes. Those Pharisees had immense power. (In John Chapter 9, the parents of a man born blind were afraid to admit to the Pharisees that Jesus had healed their son. Verse 22: These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.) It was a grave thing to be put out of the synagogue: culturally, socially, and emotionally. The Pharisees had the power to put anyone out, and they would use it. The common people were afraid to displease the Pharisees; they felt the Pharisees must be closest to God, since they served Him all day, and knew all the laws and how to follow them. In Matthew 15.12, the disciples were anxious that Jesus had offended the Pharisees.

It is an immense responsibility to have so much power. Luke 12.48 ends with, For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

And so the people, and perhaps the man with the colt, cried out, “Crucify Him!” And Jesus prayed His Father, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23.34).

This was the most horrible thing in the history of the world! That we could crucify our Savior! We didn’t know. We were blind. We followed the beliefs of the world.

But God made it all better. We cannot imagine, at any given time, that God can make everything all better. But He can! And He does.

That crucified man was God, Himself, and He rose from the dead to save us from our sins.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

We MUST look carefully at those whom we follow. We are to obey those in authority over us, obey our government. But we must carefully discern. We must use the wisdom God gives us.

Listen, God speaks: I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Psalm 32.8

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30.20, 21

We live in a momentous time. Take a careful look at who holds power: government, media, religious leaders, and celebrities. Please scrupulously groom your information sources. Use God’s Word as your plumb line and filter all you receive through Him. Pray for His guidance and counsel. When He calls you, be His hands and feet.

Matthew 9.36-38 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Will you be a laborer for God’s glory?

The Tug of Egypt

TheTugOfEgypt

As I read through Exodus, Numbers, and Leviticus in my daily devotions, I am again drawn to the lessons God has for us in all the books of the Old Testament. I understand that:

  1. The Old Testament is God’s Story to show us our need for Him.
  2. The Old Testament shows us our sin state.
  3. Egypt is a picture of sin.
  4. Joseph is a prototype of Jesus.
  5. God wants to show us that, without His intervention, we could not, would not leave Egypt/sin.

Questions arise as I read:

  • If Joseph is a prototype of Jesus, why did God use Joseph to invite his family to Egypt? I don’t think Jesus invites us to sin.
  • After Jacob and all the Israelites moved to Egypt, life was good. But then a new Egyptian ruler came to power. The Egyptians slowly but surely put the Israelites under subjection and forced them into slavery. Why didn’t the Israelites escape while they could, and go back to their homeland? Why didn’t even a few families decide that they should return to Canaan instead of staying in Egypt?
  • After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, and all the Israelites witnessed with their own eyes the power and magnitude of God, why, when any little problem popped up, did they cry to return to Egypt?
  • What is God’s lesson to me when the spies went into the Promised Land? Only two of the spies (Joshua and Caleb) gave a favorable report and encouraged them to go because God would be with them. And all the people sided with the scared reports; they spoke of selecting a captain to lead them back to Egypt (Numbers 14.4).

As I prayed and continued reading, God brought these lessons to me:

Jesus doesn’t invite us to live in sin. He goes before us, to prepare the land so that we may live there in God’s grace. God knows we choose sin (Genesis 6.5), and that we will be enticed into more sin, and that we will want to stay there. As Joseph was placed in Egypt to prepare for the Israelites to live there, Jesus came to Earth to live in our sin with us, to show us how to live and give us hope; and, ultimately, to show us that there is a way out if we obey Him.

The Israelites did not escape from Egypt while they could. It is the same with us and sin. We are enticed to live in sin. It looks good. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Life was good in Egypt. Jacob and his sons, the first generation of Israelites who lived in Egypt, established a home there. They had children who grew up there and had children and grandchildren of their own. They considered Egypt their homeland. The new pharaoh began putting stiffer and stiffer burdens on them. Still they did not leave.

Look at the Jewish people in Germany and surrounding countries in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. They did not try to escape their homes, even after they were required to wear the Star of David. They couldn’t imagine the evil to come until it was too late.

Look at the Jews exiled in Babylon. Even after they were allowed to return to their homeland, many stayed in Babylon.

Look at America. We live in a sinful culture. We are sucked into it: television shows we shouldn’t watch; products we shouldn’t buy but we do because we’re enticed by the ads and we believe they’ll make our lives better somehow; clothing we wear or allow our children to wear; jobs we take; music we listen to; movies we watch; ministries we assume without consulting God; friends with whom we associate and how we associate with them; Internet sites we visit, and amount of time online, both of which detract from our walk with God; words we use or continue to listen to that do not glorify God. These are every day sins we don’t even think about because they are an integral part of our lives, and EVERYBODY DOES IT. We are using our families and friends and neighbors and media as our plumb line, instead of God.

Is there any escaping this? To where do we flee? We haven’t a “homeland” as the Israelites did, no physical Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. My heritage is Irish and Czech, among others; am I supposed to try to go back to one of those countries, to live with “my people?” I was born an American, and this is my home. Just like the children of Israel: they were born in Egypt, their families were born in Egypt, and that was their home. They became slaves to Egypt / slaves to sin in a subtle way, and then there they were, crying to God to save them. [I think, in America, many of us have not yet come to the point to realize that we must cry out to God to save us. We have it too good, and we don’t want to be saved.] [We, as Christians, do have a homeland, by the way: it is the Person of Jesus Christ, and God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We get to carry our homeland with us all the time, and go to it for all eternity.]

God allowed the children of Israel, living in Egypt, to come to the point of crying out to Him. He needed them to understand their need for Him, to know that they could not save themselves; but to know that they needed to be saved. [God still works the same way. He brings each of us to the point where we know we must cry out to Him, know He is the only One Who can save us because we are slaves to sin and cannot save ourselves.]

After God displayed His glory to Egypt and the Israelites, after He saved His people from bondage, after His people witnessed miracle after miracle, proving that God loved them and had in mind a beautiful life for them; after all that, when the Israelites faced hardships and seemingly insurmountable odds, they cried to return to Egypt. (Exodus 14.11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Numbers 14.1-3 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?)

In our own lives, we easily forget the power of God that saved us, and that same power that is still available to us. The lure of sin is strong. Sin is our comfort zone; it’s where we lived for a long time, and we had conditioned ourselves to arrange our lives around it and make do. This new life of blind obedience to God, depending on Him for our daily need is too scary. We can’t see what it will look like, so we go back to what we knew before. The Israelites could not see into a future with God, could not imagine His glory in their lives on a day-to-day basis.

As modern Christians, we are fortunate to have God’s Word at our fingertips. We are infinitely blessed to have God’s very Holy Spirit living within us! Even with what God has given us, it is a hard thing to live in day-to-day obedience to God and depend on His mercy and grace. It takes strength to step out in faith all the time, and to depend on God to provide whatever we are going to need. We can empathize with the Israelites in their desires to go back to what they knew.

[Sometimes it’s not we, ourselves, who are struggling with sin and the desire to return to it. Sometimes it’s a loved one. We can see it in someone else’s life. We must have compassion on those who struggle with sin. It is a strong force. Thanks be to God, He is stronger; but we must have patience, and pray for those who struggle.]

When the Israelites had finally reached their promised destination, when they were on the verge of entering into the Promised Land, when they had traveled in the wilderness for months, when they had lived day-by-day upon God’s provision of water and manna and protection, when they saw the gorgeous fruit of the land they could have; they gave up. The spies came back with a scary report, and everyone believed that the giants living there would swallow them up. They really thought that all this was for nothing, and they wanted to return to Egypt.

REALLY??? Well, yeah. It’s hard to believe that sin has such a strong a pull on us. Hard to believe unless you’re in the throes of temptation, yourself (or love someone who is). Whether it’s finances or sex or power or tobacco or alcohol or drugs or language or anger or fear or bitterness or food; we hear that siren call of sin – the one that’s personal to us. We’re ready to give up all the promises God gives us for the future, in order to have that one little taste again of the past.

If we want sin, God allows us to follow it.

FALL ON YOUR FACE BEFORE GOD, just as Moses and Aaron did so many times. Beg for mercy, beg for grace and forgiveness and strength and guidance. When faced with temptation, turn around and face God. Embrace Him instead of the sin. Ask Him. He’s there. He longs to jump in to save you from whatever it is.

But we must obey God.

Remember: God created the universe, and He created you. We live by His rules. [Also remember, His rules are for our good, and because He loves us.]

God is holy. He will not compromise; but He will forgive.

Read, ingest, swallow and digest God’s Word. He gives it to us for our good, because He loves us so much.

Read what God has to say. Learn His ways. Obey Him. God always blesses obedience.

Joseph so Blessed; Brothers Blessed-Anyway

JosephSoBlessed

Joseph, favored son of Jacob, had a hard life. His brothers were jealous of him and almost killed him. Instead, when he was 17, they sold him into slavery in Egypt. They thought they were done with him.

In Egypt, Joseph soon rose to the top of the totem pole in the house into which he was sold. God showed favor to Joseph, and the man of the house (Potiphar) trusted him with everything. Joseph must have been trustworthy, smart, kind, respectful, creative, and gracious. He must also have been good-looking, because the wife of the house lusted after him and did him wrong. Joseph refused the wife’s advances, the wife lied to her husband, and Potiphar had him thrown into prison.

As an aside, the verses dealing with this are Genesis 39.19, 20: And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto 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. My personal perspective is that Potiphar’s wrath was kindled against his wife. I’m guessing that he knew his wife’s heart, but could not publicly cross her. I think he was intensely upset that his wife had messed up a very good thing.

As in Potiphar’s house, once Joseph was in prison, God showed favor to him, and Joseph rose to the top of that totem pole. Genesis 39.21 – 23: But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.

Keep in mind that there is no record of Joseph being whiney or disobedient, or of his giving up or being subversive. We can assume that Joseph was obedient in all he did, as evidenced in his dealings with the king’s cupbearer and baker (Genesis 40). Again, even though Joseph was obedient, the cupbearer forgot about Joseph, and Joseph remained in prison for another season.

God caused Pharaoh to have dreams. Aha, says the cupbearer, I do remember my faults this day. And he led Pharaoh to call for Joseph to interpret the dreams. Joseph was candid about the interpretation of dreams being God’s hand, and was obedient to correctly divine the dreams. Pharaoh immediately discerned Joseph’s gifts, and promoted him to the top of Egypt’s totem pole, save only for Pharaoh himself. (Gotta wonder what Potiphar thought about that!)

The dreams foretold great abundance in the land for seven years, followed by seven years of great famine. Joseph arranged all so that Pharaoh prospered. And God arranged all so that His people prospered.

Meanwhile, back in Canaan, the brothers were miserable. They got rid of their insipid brother, but their father was suffering. There was no consoling Dad over the loss of his favorite son. Jacob’s only consolation was Joseph’s younger brother Benjamin, whom Jacob smothered with protection. The saving grace for the brothers was that they daily lived with the guilt of their actions, and were evidently repentant.

Came the time of dearth in Canaan, and the brothers had to go to Egypt to buy food, else they die.

Joseph put them through some pretty tough paces before he revealed himself to them. He had to make sure they repented, and that they had not been treating Benjamin poorly. Joseph was satisfied, and revealed himself to his brothers.

The brothers, of course, were aghast. They believed Joseph to be dead or a poor and harshly-treated slave. They could not have conceived that he would be second in power to Pharaoh. All Joseph’s long-ago dreams came true, and the brothers bowed down to him, along with their father.

Granted, there are numerous applications and lessons to be derived from God in Joseph’s life. Mine are this: obedience, and God’s blessings. Joseph saw that at once. Look at what he thought was most important for his brothers to know first, in Genesis 45.4, 5 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. Joseph’s understanding was that it was GOD who sent him into Egypt, so that Jacob’s family could thrive.

In all that happened to Joseph, he remained obedient to God. He did not fight against his slavery or imprisonment; he didn’t try to escape. He could have become disgruntled, he could have developed a lousy attitude toward God. It might have been easy to think, “Well, if this is how God treats His obedient children, then I want out.” Joseph could not have foreseen, any more than his brothers could have, the future that God had planned.

And Joseph and his brothers would never have seen that future had not Joseph remained obedient.

At any point, if Joseph had rebelled, he would have taken his own life on a different path. And God could not have blessed it. God does not bless disobedience, but He loves to bless obedience. Granted, God will still bless those who are disobedient: look at the brothers. They were disobedient, but they were God’s children, and God blesses His children. Look at the nation of Israel: they were continually disobedient, and God still blessed them, even though they didn’t appreciate it. Look at America: as a people, as a culture, we are in full-blown disobedience to God. But He hasn’t annihilated us, and we aren’t eating worms as we deserve.

But the blessings of obedience are different from the blessed-anyway blessings. Disobedient people receive the fringes of blessings, like the dog eating crumbs under the table. Obedience brings full-on blessings, like a father beaming proudly at His beloved children, feasting at the table; like those children knowing they are fully loved and appreciated and respected; and blessings like living in peace, knowing they are fully taken care of.

Please: be consistent and single-minded about obedience to God. Obedience puts you in the palm of God’s Hand. It brings you into His protection (even though it might not feel like it sometimes). Obedience positions you to receive God’s full-on blessings.

And one of the greatest blessings is simply knowing you are pleasing your Lord.

How many Christians today are walking around, just being blessed-anyway? Missing out on God’s greatest blessings that He wants to shower on us? Thinking we’re doing okay with our own plans, doing it our way? How many Christians believe their way looks like a better plan than whatever God has? Can’t we just wait and see what God has in mind?

Please: be patient. Fall on your faces before God and commit to obedience, no matter what everything around you looks like, no matter what other people are saying or what their faces look like. God’s opinion is the only one that matters. Eternity belongs to Him, after all. You’re not just living for what you can get right here and now. You are living for God, for eternity. And when you live for God, your right-now is protected and blessed. We cannot comprehend what God has in store for us; and we will never see it unless we are obedient.

Ephesians 3.20, 21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Holding it Together

HoldingItTogether

Do you feel sometimes that it’s getting too hard to hold it all together?

Let it go.

Yep, really. Let go. Take a deep breath. Talk to God. If you are stressed out about overload, you’ll need to have a deep conversation.

God is the One Who holds all things, and Who holds all things together.

Colossians 1.15 – 17 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

These verses in Colossians remind us that

  1. Jesus is God
  2. all things were created by Him – ALL things, whether seen or unseen
  3. All things were created through Him and for Him
  4. He has gone before all things (He knows what’s going on and what’s going to happen, and how it all turns out)
  5. He is holding it all together.

Consider also Hebrews Chapter 4, that famous passage dealing with resting in God.

Hebrews 4.10, 11 For whoever enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following the same pattern of disobedience.

God desires, invites, us to enter His rest. We do that by obedience.

And then there’s that fascinating passage tucked right in there:

Hebrews 4.12, 13 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

God knows what obedience looks like, and He knows our hearts. Are you rushing around with a full plate, stuff spilling off in all directions? Are you feverishly covering that plate with all your might, trying to hold it all together? Are you trying to make that plate look pretty for anyone who is watching?

Drop the plate.

Let God clean up that mess. Kneel down on the floor with Him as He goes through each spill. HE KNOWS YOUR HEART. He designed you. He knows what delights you, what stresses you out, where your comfort zone is, where you need to go to strengthen your heart, and He knows your limits.

Things might look like a mess as you sort all this out with God. People might see you. They might smirk, or offer to help, or look away, or give a hug. Other’s responses are not your territory. That’s between them and God.

Deal with God. Find out what He’d like to see on that plate. Find out how He’d like you to divvy up your time and energy. His wisdom includes being able to see the Big Picture. Ask God why you cherish the things on your plate. Did you think you were doing them all for Him? Psalm 37.4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. It’s true; it’s always been true. Find your delight in God. Ask God what delights you. He created you and knows you; He wants to delight you. Ask Him to help you delete those things that are not delightful, but that are hard to give up. [You can try to find out why you like to hold onto them if you want, but it’s not necessary.]

Study carefully those things that God wants on your plate. The Holy Spirit will fill you with energy and a desire to accomplish those things. Lean on the Lord, draw from His strength, follow His guidance.

Find God’s rest. Delight in Him.

You don’t have to hold it all together; you just have to hold onto God.

Adorn the Doctrine

Titus 2.9, 10 Exhort servants to be obedient… shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

The word, “adorn,” caught my attention.

I desire always to be true to God’s Word. I want to never subvert His Ways, change what He’s given, or add to or mishandle His meaning.

But I do want to adorn His Word.

The Hebrew root of the word translated adorn is to put in proper order, i.e. Decorate

1 Peter 3.4b – 5a …even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves…

I am a servant of my Master, the King of Kings, Savior of my soul: Jesus Christ.

May I ever be obedient to His Word; may I ever seek Him, so that I know what obedience looks like; and may I ever adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

One Body, One Lord

OneBodyOneLord

A lot of thoughts are swirling around in my head right now, from my devotions in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13; and trying to link to a couple of Stu’s posts from Oct 6th and 7th. Something God is explaining to me, something I’m trying to grasp.

1 Corinthians 12 is about the gifts God gives us (teaching, healing, prophesying, etc.) and about how they all work together in the Body of Christ; and 1 Corinthians 13 is The Love Chapter.

1 Cor 12.4-7 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

On Oct 6th, Stu’s daily verse was from Gen 1.27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And my reply was, “Can you imagine- all the billions and gazillions of people ever created (note created vs ‘born’) and ALL in God’s image? He has so many facets, He is infinite!”

Jesus is God, and He is infinite. Also, we are created in His image. He works in/through all of us. Think of all the people who have ever been created, and all the gifts God designed into them; all working together as His body. In His timing, we meet up with one another, either face-to-face or through others, or reading/writing books, or radio / television, or online or whatever – we connect. God drops bits of Himself and His wisdom / Word / love through each of us unto others. We all work together for His glory!

Romans 8.28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I think we can also all know that all things work together for Him, for His glory. It is to the good to those who love God; and to the not-so-good to those who do not love Him. All to His glory. Isaiah 48.11b I will not give my glory unto another.

And one of His miracles is that He works this, His glory, through US! So, whether we feel like it or not, whether we think we’re doing any good at all or not, whether we are obedient or not, God WILL get the glory.

Stu’s verse on Oct 7 was Colossians 3:12 NIV Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

My reply: “Even when there is turmoil and sadness inside, we can clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We can put on Christ (Gal 3.27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.). Sometimes it feels like a front; sometimes it feels like a blanket. But it is always right.”

Here’s where 1 Corinthians 13 comes in. God is love. Whatever we think we know about love, we have to toss it if it isn’t God. Our love is not love. 1 John 4.10a Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us. 1 Corinthians 13 lays out some of the acts that we can do, some of the impetus that drives us; but if it’s not God / agape / love, then it is clanging, nothing, dismissed, ceasing, restrained, passing away.

Even when we don’t feel like it, we can still show God’s love. We can put on Christ (think avatar or actor), and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4.7).

God always blesses obedience. When we obey, even stiff-necked obedience, God blesses us. If we are disobedient, God will use someone else. But we will miss the blessing.

Be a willing, active part of the body of Christ.