Psalm 15–God’s Kind of Folks

 

So many times, we focus on what we should not do as God’s chosen people. We should not adopt the culture’s mentality. We should not chase the things of this world…In Psalm 15, David takes a moment to look at what the people God thinks are important, do each day. God is transforming us into his image. While we will never be perfect, until He returns and takes us home, he does highlight traits that set us apart.

God loves folks who are innocent and living a life that honors him. Those folks naturally speak the truth–about themselves, about others and are the helpful, selfless ones. They neither attack, nor defame those they call friends. While they do not have anything to do with the rough crowd, they keep good friends, and do what they say they will–no matter the cost. finally, they help, without keeping tabs and they are honest to a fault. In short, God loves people that seek him and desire to honor and become like him–no matter what it costs or what it takes. Help me, Lord to be one of those people!

God Bless You

Lord
    Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,
    who does what is righteous,
    who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
    who does no wrong to a neighbor,
    and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
    but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
    and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
    will never be shaken.

Charity Starts at Home–I Timothy 5 Part 2

As a Church, we are called to a higher standard.  It is our ministry to assist those in need.  But, it is also our birthright to care for our own.  Often times in an entitlement society, we forget that first and foremost, we dive in and care for our own.  As a home, we care for our own families as best we can.  As we give, the Lord provides.  As a community, the church dives in and helps those in need without judging or expectation. Finally, we as a body continue to encourage people to embrace life and never give up.  
 
When people lose what is important to them, spouse, career, health or home–it is easy for them to give up and just withdraw from life.  The  family of God is charged, not only with meeting the person’s physical needs, but, also with coming along side and helping them to start again.  Without the spiritual component, we would simply warehouse those whose circumstances have devastated them. 
 
But, we know that he who has begun a good work in us; will carry it to completion until Christ returns. Phil 1:6.  As a body, the church remains available and accountable to restore and release people to complete their Christ centered mission–sometimes that means support, sometimes that means encouragement–but, at all times it means we never abandon our own.  Charity starts at home, and we are the home of the family of Christ.
 
God Bless You
 
Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

We are Called to Be Better! I Timothy 5 Part 1

People are a terrible lot.  The way people treat each other is deplorable.  With the expansive media coverage and availability, people have become even more bold and open about treating others with an complete disdain; if they have no use for them.  In the US, there was always a sense of character that prevented people from treating the old, the sick or the vulnerable with anything but proper decorum. In the 21st century, however, those social protections have faded away, and people have become desensitized to the value of others.
 
Paul tells Timothy to remind the Church that we are called to be different.  We are to treat people with love and respect.  Realize that in Roman times people were the same–they placed little value on life.  That is why the church was called to be different.  We are to treat the elderly with love and respect.  We speak to them with kindness and humility. we reach out and help them to do the things time has taken away from them. 
 
In addition, we treat the young with grace, we treat women as the true treasures that God created them to be–we protect, respect and always treat people with honesty and purity.  It is the selflessness we find in walking with God that allows us to be the gracious, the strong and the vigilant in a world of selfish and awful people.  We must embrace our spiritual heritage and  be true people of faith.
 
God Bless You
 
Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

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.

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.”

The One Who Calls Us Is Faithful–Genesis 45 Part 2

The most enjoyable part of the Joseph story is that it does end well.  While the next five years were to be the most challenging in the history of famine and drought, it really was fine.  Joseph was sent by God to save the Egyptians and his family, and he was doing it. Now, he was reunited with his family and beloved dad; and, he was going to be able to care for them; never doubting, that God was in charge.
 
In our lives, sometimes, we miss the point.  Even when God blesses us mightily, it does not stop the circumstances of life happening around us.  We have to embrace the blessings, recognize his hand in them, and be grateful for his provision and his leadership. We cannot stop facing the day-to-day battles and struggles, they still exist! We can, however, face them, knowing that he who calls us is faithful–and he will do it! I Thessalonians 5:24 
 
Joseph knew what lied ahead would be as challenging as what had come before.  But, he also knew that the God that brought him to Egypt–would use him to save it, his family and the world.  Christians have to walk with that same confidence–knowing that the God who brought us this far, WILL complete the work he has started and he will protect, prepare and provide for our every need and desire. 
 
God Bless You
 
So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

The Full Circle–Genesis 44 Part 2

The recurring theme continues to appear–Judah, the patriarch of the lineage of King David and Jesus appears before Joseph–no excuses, no lies–he says, We are without excuse, but, for the sake of my father and brother–take me instead! This was the same guy that said some 20 years before, 
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.”
 
In Proverbs, Solomon reminded us that if you raise a child in the way he should go, when he is old, he will not depart far from it. Judah lived with his statement for 20 years and now, he was making things right–he sold himself into slavery for the little brother he should have defended before.  Little did he know, His ancestor would make the same offer for all who have sinned–“Take me instead!”
 
We still benefit from Judah’s negotiation. Our salvation, like Benjamin’s, rests on the grace and mercy of a holy God.  It was the selfless sacrifice of Jesus, that made it possible for us to have a personal relationship with God!
 
We are called to be as selfless–Jesus said it best, “If anyone would be my disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross–Daily, and follow me!” Luke 9:23.  It is not about some magic prayer, it is simply laying your life on the alter and trusting God to return it complete and restored! God is not cruel–He is a dad. Like any dad, he will not hand a child a snake; when the child asks for bread.  He will not return a slap for a kiss. He loves us, and only wants peace and freedom for our lives–now and for eternity! That is why he said–“Take me instead!”
 
God Bless You
What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

18 Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’

21 “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22 And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23 But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 

30 “So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, 31 sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32 Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’

33 “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”

What a Difference a Day Makes–Genesis 41 Part 3

It was official, 13 years after being tossed aside by his brothers, Joseph’s dream was coming true.  He was officially the chief operating officer of all Egypt.  The import of that change is staggering.  It showed the Pharaoh believed God and allowed this Hebrew to come in and manage during the good times.

Remember, Joseph built the nation and structure in a time of great plenty.  Record crops, record peace and an administrator (Joseph) that was probably cursed by the average farmer–for so unduly taxing their land. Joseph thrived–he married, had kids and forgot quickly about the betrayals and imprisonment.
 
He also forgot the original dream of going home. After all–God tapped him for a mission; and, while he did not know its eventual outcome, he knew it was his job to humbly and gratefully carry out his part.
 
In our lives, sometimes we have to simply accept God’s plan and not question each twist and turn.  We learn in Joseph’s life, in Job’s life, in David’s life and in our own–that most times, God refuses to tell us why he is doing things a certain way.
He expects our trust, and He rewards our faith with execution of a plan that is uniquely made for us. 
The ultimate goal is spiritual, not physical. He wants for us to have an eternal perspective that enjoys the present, but is not tied to it. We, like Paul grasp the concept–whether well fed, or hungry; living in plenty or in want–We can do all things through Christ–who strengthens us! Philippians 4:12-13
 
God Bless You

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On,[d] to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[e] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[f] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

From Inmate to In Charge–Genesis 41 Part 2

Joseph had no way of possibly knowing that God was ready to change the entire world through the faithful walk of a local prison trustee.  He had long given up the idea of home, family and freedom and had quietly adjusted to his routine.  But, then God stepped in.  It was time to execute a plan some 12 years in the making.
 
Joseph was escorted to Pharaoh and knew immediately after hearing his dream the will of God for the life of Pharaoh. He spoke the truth, no fear, no expectations and the Pharaoh placed him in charge of all of Egypt’s operations.  Joseph had been in preparation for this job for a long time–now, as Egypt’s prime minister, he would fulfill God’s mission for his family.
 
God’s timing is never the same as our timing.  We battle through the trials, temptations and tribulations of life; never quite knowing if or when God is going to use us to shape his plan. It is most important for us to remain faithful, humble and ready to step up–for whatever he has planned for us.  When it is time, he will make it obvious that his hand is in it, and we simply need to trust Him and move forward.  It is a great gift to be able to fully rely upon God and watch him change us, and others through us.
 
God Bless You

So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.

“It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.

Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt,

but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land.

The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.

The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.

You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”