God’s Leadership Criteria–1 Timothy 3 Part 1

It is difficult to live a life of faith.  As one draws closer to God–the enemy attempts to derail and nullify them in their faith.  So, when Paul coached Timothy on picking his leadership team, he laid out some petty difficult restrictions.  Paul was no snob.  He did not set out requirements simply to exclude folks he would not like.  He set out criteria that set men apart from the crowd.  He encouraged Timothy to surround himself with  men of faith that demonstrated in their daily lives a humble submission to God’s leadership.  As they walk in faith, Paul lists qualities that would become apparent.

In our walks, God does not call each of us to be leaders in our church.  many would argue, however, that he calls each of us to be qualified to be leaders.  As we look at Paul’s list, he enumerates qualities that come from humbly following God–great reputation, great family and a focused spirit that honors God–in good times and difficult ones.  We understand that our control is limited, but, that if we do follow him, we are more likely to see these qualities than if we do not.  In first Peter 5, Peter warns us, “Be on guard and alert–our enemy roams around like a roaring lion–seeking whom he may devour!” When we are preparing to lead, we can be assured that that warning is in large print and embossed upon each day.  It is an honor to lead–but it is a responsibility and task whose accolades are in no way equal to the responsibilities and the costs.

God Bless You

Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
8 In the same way, deacons[b] are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. 9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.

Setting Leadership Priorities–1 Timothy 2 Part 1

As Paul instructed Timothy in how to lead a church, it is highly important to understand that as Paul set priorities, the first item on the list was prayer.  We can never grasp the rare gift and honor we have of being able to approach the throne of God and simply speak our hearts, minds, hurts and dreams openly without fear of judgement or rejection.  

Prayer is talking to God as we talk to each other.  Sometimes, our prayers need to recognize the character of God and simply adore Him for who he is. Sometimes, our prayer needs to be transparent and confess the things that are standing between us and God–our thoughts, lack of faith or actions; that dishonor him and us. In all our prayer, we need to thank God for all He has done and provided in our lives–recognizing, that without him, we would be nothing, we could do nothing and we would have nothing.   

Finally, we need to trust that He cares about our needs and the needs of others; and, He never minds for us to intercede on others behalf, or even, for us to openly ask for what we need.  We need embrace this personal relationship with God–and treat it as personally as any other relationship we hold dear.  We can never be afraid, we can never doubt–that God loves us and wants for us to have a rich and meaningful life.

God Bless You

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.

Stay Put and Teach the Truth–1 Timothy 1 Part 1

Each of us, as God’s chosen, are given a mission and journey to follow the Lord with humility and a grateful heart. Paul was coming to the end of his days, and his most dear disciple,Timothy, was now leading the church at Ephesus.  Paul had built that church and stayed their for nearly 2 years.  Then, as he returned to Jerusalem, he was arrested and ultimately found himself in Rome.  The letters to Timothy were written as encouragement and coaching on how to lead his church, and how to trust God.

Paul was called by God to be the apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people).  As the Jew of Jews, it was an amazing transformation–that lead him all over Asia and Europe preaching the news of Christ’s life and salvation.  As he began caching Timothy, two principles emerged–stay where you are and teach the truth.

Many in the area were trying to subvert the Gospel and make salvation about what you know or where you are from.  Paul, and now Timothy, were teaching the truth–Salvation was, is and always will be about Christ and what he has done.  Amidst all the opposition, Timothy was doubting how useful his ministry was.  Paul was reminding him–stick with it, God has got this!

In our lives, we see the open and apparent evil in our culture.  We see the church literally being forced to remove the welcome sign in our town.  The Gospel is under fire from all sides–schools, entertainment, the courts, government.  Still, in the midst of the battle, God says to us–“Stay where you are and teach the truth.  I have got this!!!” We can never consider the notion that no one is listening.  The truth is that the enemy is listening, and it is driving him nuts. It reminds him that we win in the end.  Stand firm and speak the truth!

God Bless You

 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy my true son in the faith:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

A Father’s Dying Wish and Blessing–Genesis 47-48

It is a really amazing story, Israel was very pleased to have spent 17 years in Egypt with the son he had thought was lost.  At the end, however, he needed to solidify the notion that this was not his home and these were not his people.  So Israel called the Prime minister of Egypt in and simply told him, “Son, I do not want to be buried here.  I want to be buried back home.  In addition, son–your two boys that greeted me when we were brought back together, are now my boys.  They each get a share of inheritance as would Reuben or Simeon.  So in effect, Joseph received a double portion of Israel’s inheritance.

In looking at our lives, we have to take Israel’s view of our world.  We can never see this place as our home.  No matter how nice or easy it may seem, we await our opportunity to go home.  Paul said in Philippians 3:20-21,

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”

 
We can never be too comfortable or attached to this world.  It will always disappoint; and, it will always take our lives.  Nothing in the world or it’s culture will move us toward becoming like Christ.  That is why Paul said in Colossians 3:1-2 to set our heart and mind on things above not on earthly things.  Like Israel, we need to long for and expect a home in Heaven– where we will be blessed, as were the Son’s of Joseph…
 
God Bless You
Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. 29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”“I will do as you say,” he said.

31 “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff…Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty[a] appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

“Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Paddan,[b] to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

Israel Meets Pharaoh–Let the Blessing Begin!–Genesis 47 Part 1

It would be the only time this would happen…Not since his grandfather and father lied to a Pharaoh about their wives being their sisters, had a patriarch of God’s chosen stood before the leader of Egypt.  This time, the now 135 year old Israel, was finally at peace.  He had faced tremendous adversity and heartbreak–but now, God had restored to him all he could have ever hoped or dreamed.  
 
I am sure the young Pharaoh stood in awe of this man–the man who bore and raised the man that had raised him.  Joseph was a father to Pharaoh; and not only saved Egypt, but he saved all the known world. So, to see the love Joseph felt for this man, and to be blessed by him–had to be a great moment in the young king’s life.  Pharaoh gladly blessed him back with some of the finest land in Egypt and a job as shepherds of all Pharaoh’s livestock. Shepherding for Pharaoh would be no small task. 
 
We can never know the impact we have on the lives of others–God told Israel that he would bless the world with his lineage.  The blessing started in Egypt and carries through till today.  God has a plan for each of us, as well.  His plan could take us down roads and events we would have never imagined.  We, like Israel, will simply need to prepare to trust God in any and all circumstance and follow him by faith. We must remember, as we follow, what he has already accomplished in our lives.  
 
There is no question that God has control; there is only a question of whether we will trust him to execute his plan to the end.  If we will, then we will stand firm and see his glory in our lives. In addition, we will see the impact upon many others with whom we interact in our lives. There is little doubt that it is definitely worth the risk.
 
God Bless You
 
Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”

“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed[a] Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?”

And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” 10 Then Jacob blessed[b] Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

 

Isreal Reunites With God and Joseph–Genesis 46 Part 1

It was finally happening.  Israel and all his family were going to Egypt.  Israel would see Joseph for the 1st time in 20 years.  As the pain was fading, Israel’s recognition and dependence upon God returned and at Beersheba–he did something he had not done in a long time–he offered sacrifices to God.  It was no small thing, and God met him there.  God personally took Israel aside to reassure him that this plan was moving forward as he intended.  

In those moments, Israel had to feel completely content.  He knew that God had done all that he promised to do; and was preserving his family for generations to come.  Then, the moment when father and son reunited–the greatest moment in this man’s life.  The two men hugged and wept for what must have seemed hours.  Together again after all that they had endured.

It is in those moments, we have to continue to stake our faith in God–the author and creator of our story.  We  realize that life is tough, but, we carry on–knowing that God does work his plan to the end.  When we grasp that concept, we can then trust His leadership and continue to focus upon His grace and plan.  Then, at moments when we least expect, God reveals himself.  He shows us that He will care for us and will never forsake us.  That is why we must trust him–now and forever!

God Bless You

 

So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring…All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. 27 With the two sons[f] who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy[g] in all.

28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father[h] and wept for a long time.

30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

Heartbreak Erased–Genesis 45 Part 3

Imagine, what it would be like if you could erase your biggest heartbreak. If the thing that haunted you everyday would suddenly no longer exist–That is what happened to Israel.  Since Joseph had been taken from him some twenty years before, he had not had the will to live, much less the will to lead.  Sure, he did life–put one foot in front of the other; but, when his son died, in a way so did he.
 
Then, as he looked at his dwindling fortune, famine in the land,  all of his sons in Egypt, and Benjamin gone with no promise of return–his life seemed unbearable. In the midst of his grief, up rolls the boys– with grain, carts, treasure and with Benjamin.  Such relief and joy–then the bombshell.
Joseph was alive…His greatest heartbreak erased in a second.  Jacob was stunned, wary, confused and overjoyed all at once.  His son was alive and ruler of Egypt.  
 
In our lives, like Jacob’s, God continues to execute his plan.  As difficult as the journey may seem, if we remain faithful–God will bring us through this part and into the blessings he has prepared for us.  He will wipe away our tears as we stand before him.  He will erase our greatest heartbreak.  In the meanwhile, we can never give up on God; nor, can we ever give in to the enemies lies and temptations. We must cling to the promise he gave to Jeremiah, “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  Plans to prosper you–not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11.  Stay faithful, stay focused and he will set your path straight.
 
God Bless You
 
So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels[b] of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”