Archive for January, 2016

Glorious grace (Genesis 46-47)

January 28, 2016

“For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.”  Hebrews 2:16

Brothers and sisters, “each of us are where we are by the help of many people.”

Allow the previous statement to sink in for a moment!!!  It you were asked to list 10 people who have been a great help in your life, how long would it take you to think of their names?

So often we overlook the glorious grace that has been extended to us through others.

If we were to ask Jacob this same question, how would he respond?

Jacob would have to place God at the top of his list.  In Genesis 46 we see God’s glorious grace at work in his life:

  • God has made a promise to him, Vs: 3-4
  • God has made a place for him in the world, Vs: 11-12
  • God would make an eternal place for him.

Brothers and sisters these same glorious gracious things have been provided for us.  Check out Hebrews 3-4.  The writer reminds us of this fact, “There remains a rest for the people of God.”

Consider Genesis 47:

  • Jacob stands before Pharaoh and gives the following commentary for his life: “few and evil have been the days of my life.”
  • Jacob’s focus in this moment is on his own failures and frustrations of life.
  • Jacob’s story is our story when we think of all we have done on our own.

But greater still, “God has blessed this man even though he has been less than perfect.”

Jacob should have said, “God has been glorious in giving grace to me.”

Romans 9:15 “God will have mercy on who he will have mercy.”

Rejoice this day in the glorious grace that has been extended to you.  Reach out to others with the story of glorious grace.  Fight through the tough times knowing God’s glorious grace will win the day!!!

 

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Peace with who you are (Genesis 43-45)

January 27, 2016

“And Joseph said to his brothers, I am Joseph!…”  Genesis 45:3

In these days of media craze it seems that everyone is spending time on social media in an attempt to build up who they are or to inform the world of how unhappy they are with who they are.

Consider this fact:  “God created every person for a distinct purpose.”  If that purpose is lived out in a person’s life, he or she will be at peace with who they are!

Question:  “Are you at peace with who you are?”

Consider Joseph in Genesis 43-45.

In chapter 43 we see Joseph’s brothers trying to come to a place of peace:

  • Judah volunteers to be a pledge for his brothers, Vs: 9.
  • Jacob pleads for mercy before God almighty, Vs: 13.
  • Joseph proclaims, “God be merciful to you Benjamin, Vs: 29.

Consider this fact:  Our Messiah is the Son of God Almighty.  Jesus came to provide mercy for all men.

In chapter 44 we see Joseph’s greatest test of these men’s lives.

  • The brothers understand they are being judged for their sin against their brother.
  • The brothers finally are willing to stand up for what they have done.

In chapter 45 we see God’s plan for Joseph revealed.

  • Joseph fully understands His purpose for life.

God sent him ahead of his family to preserve life, Psalm 105:16-17.

  • Joseph fully understands Heavens plan for life.

Joseph proclaims, “God sent me here.”  By obeying Joseph was being used to provide a place for his family to live, eat, and prosper.  This is truly a picture of God’s great love for all men, John 3:16; 14:1-6; Ephesians 1:4-7.

Joseph is fully at peace with who he is!!!

Brothers and sisters, the only way we can come to this place is if we both see and submit to God’s plan for our lives.  Maybe you are struggling with God’s plan or maybe you are living out your plans?  If so, I challenge you to consider Joseph’s life.  Consider the joy that comes when we live for a purpose greater than our own!!!  This is truly living.

If you are not at peace with who you are, seek God’s plan and you will come to a place of peace because you will finally be living as you were designed to live.  If you are at peace, reach out to those who are not at peace.

Who will they turn to? (Genesis 41-42)

January 26, 2016

“Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.”  Genesis 41:57

In every crisis whether large or small, people turn to someone or something for help!!!  For example, “If we have a Heating or AC problem, we turn to brother Don in our church.”  It is our automatic go to because we believe and trust in his ability to solve the problem.”

Question, “Where do the people in your spear of influence turn with they have a spiritual crisis?”

When we consider Joseph’s spear of influence as we approach Genesis 41 we would not expect anyone to turn to him.  He has spent the last 12 years as a slave in prison in a foreign land.  But to our shock, the leader of Egypt turns to Joseph for answers.

When Joseph is called to give answers, Vs: 14, we see the following in his life:

  • Joseph gives credit to God, for the wisdom he possesses.  Vs: 16  (Daniel 2:28)
  • Joseph clearly understands God’s hand in all of this.  Vs: 32
  • Joseph openly points out God’s grace in all of this.  Vs: 36

Brothers and sisters, “In moments of crisis, we have a choice: “Lift up our view or lift up God’s view.”

To be very transparent.  It is not easy to do the correct thing when you have been in the shadows all of your life.  However, the right thing to do is to lift up Jesus.

Here is how Joseph did this:

  1.  Joseph has the Spirit of God, Vs: 38.
  2. Joseph has the favor of God, Vs: 51-52

These two things make all the difference when the crisis comes.  In Joseph we see a man who prefigures Jesus who is truly the advocate for all men, I John 2:2.  In Joseph we see a man who understands his every success is a gift from God.  When Joseph names his sons he gives glory to God for both preserving him and blessing him.

It is my prayer that all believers would be used of God in the day of crisis to point others to Jesus!!!  It is my prayer that all believers would understand their crisis is God’s moment to shine through them.

If the story was told (Genesis 38-40)

January 25, 2016

“It happened at that time that Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite, whose name was Hirah.”  Genesis 38:1

In the midst of Moses sharing the story of the life of Joseph we are given a glimpse, by God, of the life of one of Joseph’s brothers.  His name is Judah.  His place in history is very important, because it will be through his family tree that the Messiah will come, Ruth 4:18-22; Matthew 1:1-6.

Here we see the details of the departure of Judah from God’s plan for his people:

  • Judah marries a foreign woman and is the father of three wicked sons.  For his efforts, the sons seed dies with them.
  • Judah acts wickedly in sleeping with his daughter-in-law.

I am reminded of Pauls’ direction to the church,  II Corinthians 6:14-7:1.  This direction is very important to our journey in life.

  • God gives a child to Tamar that will be in the line of Jesus.

Application:  “This chapter helps me to place many thinks in perspective.”  I am amazed at the grace of God in blessing Judah despite his sinfulness.  I am amazed that we are reminded to celebrate one greater than Judah.  His name, Jesus!  He came and did all the will of the Father.  I am amazed at how often people celebrate what we we do, but they should be celebrating this fact:  “The only good in us is Jesus!!!”  I know I would be far worse than Judah had the right man not been on my side.”

This day, let us decide to walk in the path of Joseph who:

  • Refused to sin against his God, 39:9
  • Refused to take glory that belonged to God alone, 40:8

In the end, “His faithfulness would pay off.”

Galatians 6:9 “Do not grow weary in doing good.  For in due season, we will reap if we faint not.”

A dreadful and delightful journey (Genesis 30-31)

January 22, 2016

“If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God saw my affliction and labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”  Genesis 31:42

“How was you recent trip?”  This was the question that was possessed to me by a good friend.  As I thought about the trip, I remembered the dreadful part of having to drive so many miles in so short of a time.  However, greater still was the many thoughts of the delight I had in seeing so many people I love.

Question, “how would you describe your present journey?”

Consider the continuing story of Jacob.  It would seem that his journey is dreadful:

  • Jacob has dysfunction in his family life, 29:31-30:24 (12 children by 4 women).
  • Jacob has dysfunction with his father-in-law, 30:25-45.
  • Jacob is mistreated over and over again during twenty years of life in a foreign land, 31:1-55.

We could spend hours reliving the dreadful part of Jacob’s journey.  And by the way, “it was his own dysfunction that landed him here.”

However, consider the other side of Jacob’s journey.

  • God speaks to Jacob in the moment, Vs: 3 “its time to go home.”
  • God has been speaking all along, Vs: 10, “God was directing Jacob despite his dysfunction.”
  • God has loved Jacob all along the way, Vs: 42.  God has consistently been on His side.

We again could spend hours reliving the delightful parts of Jacob’s journey.  Jacob’s God is the God of Bethel (28:18-22).

Brothers and sisters, “He is also the God of Bethel for all who submit their lives to Him.”  It is true, we have both dreadful and delightful days on our journey.”  But God’s truth is clear, “If God be for us then who can be against us, Romans 8:31.”

Today I challenge you to take heart in your tough moments.  Trust in the God who came to be our mediator, I Timothy 2:5. Trust in the God, who walks with you, Hebrews 13:6-7.  Trust in the God, who will guide you, John 14:26-7.

Because Christ is in our lives, over our lives, and for our lives, “we have victory in Jesus!!!”  Even in the dreadful moments.

 

The ladder of success (Genesis 27-29)

January 21, 2016

“So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy.”  Romans 9:16

“The ladder of success” is a term that simply describes the path that someone did take or should take to be successful in some area of life.

For example, “Joe climbed the ladder of success in computer science.”  To understand his success we would need to examine each step and its process.”

Question:  “How does one climb the ladder of spiritual success with God?”

Let’s pose the question to Jacob (the younger son of Isaac).  Here are a few answers that Jacob might have given, if we would have asked him at the end of Genesis 29:

  • In Genesis 27 Jacob would have responded by saying, “I want what I want.”

Jacob’s father believed this as he was going to give the blessing to Esau who was not God’s choice but his.  Jacobs mother believed this as she was going to deceive her husband into giving the blessing to her favorite son.

This type of ladder always brings disaster!  The family was severed and hatred reigned.  But still God would use this failure to further His purpose, Romans 8:28.

  • In Genesis 28 Jacob would have responded by saying, “place conditions before God.”

Here Jacob is approached by God.  We see a ladder (steps leading to heaven).  We hear God, speaking from heaven.  This is the Great I Am showering Jacob with blessings.  Jacob declares, “the Lord is in this place.” Jacob places conditions before God:  If you walk with me, provide for me, and give me peace, I will serve you.

Is this the type of ladder we want to walk on?  Answer, “No.”  God declares to us, “unconditional love.”  He is the God man who made peace between heaven and earth, John 1:51; I Timothy 2:5; Ephesians 2:18.  God calls us to trust Him.

  • In Genesis 29 Jacob would have responded by saying, “I really do not know. Everything seems to be out of control.”

In this chapter Jacob (the ultimate deceiver) is deceived by his uncle.  Again we see God using this moment.  Isaac had prayed for Jacob’s family to grow (28:3) and now he is given 4 sons.  In this moment Jacob is over his head.  On the mercy of the unconditional love of God can make the difference.

God wanted Jacob to fully trust in Him.

Question:  “How have you been climbing the ladder of spiritual success?”  I want to challenge you to understand and apply the following:

  • It is God alone who gives us access to spiritual life, Romans 9:15-16.
  • It is God alone who gives us success along the path, Matthew 6:25
  • It is God alone we must seek every step of the way, Matthew 6:33

“Father, thank you for giving me undeserved grace and mercy in placing me on the ladder of spiritual success.”

 

 

 

 

Something familiar in this story (Genesis 25-26)

January 20, 2016

“And the Lord appeared to him in the same night and said, I am the God of Abraham your father.  Fear not, for I am with you and I will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.”  Genesis 26:24

As we turn the page, in our Bibles, to Genesis 25 we discover Abraham’s story coming to an end.  This man of God died with a glorious finish, “Old man full of years.”

As Abraham’s life ends we begin to see the life of his son, Isaac, moving to center stage.  Oddly, some might say, his life seems so familiar to us!  Here is a simple outline to follow as you read about his life:

Genesis 25:

  • Isaac is a man who prays.

He prays because he is blessed by the Lord, 25:11.  He prays because his wife is barren, 25:21-22.

  • Isaac is a man with a problem.

There are two nations living in his home.  God’s purpose is for the older nation to serve the younger nation.  The division in the home will become intense.  Jacob is a deceiver and Esau is reckless and defiant.

Genesis 26:

  • Isaac is called to trust God in a foreign land, 26:1-5.
  • Isaac is caught in a moment where fears causes him to take matters into his own hands, 26:8-11.
  • Isaac is clearly favored by God in this foreign land, 26:21.
  • Isaac is challenged by God’s enemies on every side, 26:22

Question:  “Does it seem kind of odd that Isaac’s life mirrors what happens in our lives?”  Certainly we know there are clear differences. Genesis 25 is unique to their story and time. Also, you and I are not one of the Patriarchs of Israel and we are not looking forward to the promise of an earthly nation.  However there is much we have in common with Isaac:

  • We are called to trust God in a foreign land.
  • We are sometimes caught in fear.
  • We are clearly, as Christ followers, blessed by the Lord.
  • We fight God’s enemies every day.

The joy of reading these chapters is in knowing that God is for us and we too can have victory through Christ our Lord.  Here is how Paul described this in Galatians 3:7-9

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[a] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 Praise be to the God of Isaac!!!  Praise be to our God!!!

Investments (Genesis 22-24)

January 19, 2016

“Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighted out for Ephron the silver that he named in the hearing of the Hittites…” Genesis 23:16

Question:  “Where can a person get good advice about where to invest?”

This question came to my mind as I considered the content of Genesis 22-24.

Keep in mind the following: God has given Abraham a son.  This son was the fulfillment of God’s promise of making Abraham into a great nation.  Most believe 17-20 years have passed between chapters 21 and chapter 22.  Chapter 22 begins with God’s command to Abraham, “I want you to invest.”

Good advice:  “Invest in God’s work.”  The return is out of this world!!!

In chapters 22-24 we see Abraham’s three investments:

  • In chapter 22 Abraham invests his son in the work of the Lord.
  • In chapter 23 Abraham invests in land for the work of the Lord.
  • In chapter 23 Abraham invests in a wife for his son in the work of the Lord.

These are amazing investments.  They picture for us God’s investment in our lives.  Consider this: God invested his Son so that we would be saved, John 3:16.  God is investing in a land where all Christ-followers will reside forever, John 14:3.  God invests in a bride for his Son.  This bride is the church,Ephesians 5:25-28.

Abraham’s investments reveal a faith that was looking forward to what was ahead, Hebrews 11:8-11.  Our investment reveal a faith that looks forward to what Jesus will do when he returns.

Oh how I pray that both you and I walk in faith with every investment.

Why not us? (Genesis 19-21)

January 18, 2016

“But he lingered.  So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.”  Genesis 19:16

As we return to our studies in the book of Genesis we find ourselves entering a moment in God’s redemptive history that is very familiar to those who are students of Scripture.  The story of the destruction of Sodom has been taught so many times.  Each of us are familiar with themes such as, “remember Lot’s wife.”

But it could be that we are not familiar with other themes or possibly we have missed the big picture of what happened here.  Think this through:

“If God destroyed Sodom for her many sins, including homosexuality.  Why does He not destroy other nations that are as guilty as Sodom?”  This includes the USA as well.  

Follow the path in Genesis 19:

  • Sodom gives us a picture of our world, 19:11.

Here we read of men who, in spite of their blindness, still try to carry out their evil deeds.  Paul writes of humanity groping in the darkness in Acts 17:26-28.

  • Lots rescue gives us a picture of God’s mercy to the word, 19:16

Certainly Lot was not a perfect man.  He longed for the riches in Sodom.  He had not gained a proper testimony in the eyes of his would be son-in-laws.  He wife had been consumed with Sodom ways.  His own heart was divided in that he could not bring himself to leave the city.  His own daughters were taken in by Sodom ways.

Despite all of this, Lot was protected by the God of great mercy.  “The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”  Psalm 34:22

  • God’s judgment is a picture of what is coming to our world, 19:20-24

Some day God will return to destroy this world and all who are in it,  II Thessalonians 1-2. That day will make the judgment of Sodom to be small in comparison.

As I came away from this chapter I was reminded how God has personally given grace into my life.  This day I came away with a greater sense of thankfulness to the God who had given grace into my life.  This day I came away with a greater hunger to share Christ while the age of grace continues.  Time is ticking and the day will come when it will be us.  Until then may we love Him and reach all with the message of the glorious gospel.

The purpose of the Lord (Job 40-42)

January 15, 2016

“And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than the beginning…” Job 42:12

Finally, we have come to the last chapter in the book of Job!!!  Chuck Swindoll, speaking about preaching through the book of Job, commented, “When I told my congregation, “This is the last message in the book of Job,” they stood and gave me an ovation.”

Job is a book that challenges us to the depths of who we are.  Job pulls from us the heights and depths of suffering in life.  We enter into Job’s hurt because we each have our own hurts.  We almost amen Job as he complains before God, because we do have a complaint department in our lives.  We recoil at Job’s friends because we also have had miserable comforters as friends.  But above all we, as Job, seek God’s purpose in our suffering.

Consider the last chapters of Job:

  • Job is reminded through two illustrations from God’s creation, “You are not like me.”  Job 40-41
  • Job recognizes his flawed thought process.  Job 42:1-4
  • Job repents of his false understanding of what God was doing, Job 42:5-6
  • Job represents his friends before God, Job 42:7-8
  • Job is completely restored by God, Job 42:9-17

If one is not careful he or she will get so wrapped up in the restoration of Job that he or she will fail to see the purpose intended by the Lord.

“Behold, we consider those blessed who remain steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”  James 5:11

The book of Job teaches us the following:

  • We live in a broken world where Satan seeks to destroy everything and everyone.
  • Satan’s main target are those who serve the Lord.
  • God allows us to go through stressful times to teach others about who God is and what He does in our lives.

We serve a God who is merciful and compassionate.  We are shining the brightest for Jesus when we are in trials and tribulations.

  • God will see us through every trial.  In the end we will be a people prepared for reward.

“Father let me never forget what Job learned.  Father, I thank you for caring for me in the midst of every trial. I thank you for overcoming Satan and for putting him in his place.  I look forward to the day I will be able to stand before you.”