Proper Priority and Respect–1 Timothy 6 Part 1

It is easy to forget that all we do in life, as a believer, we do to honor God.  Paul as he was ending his letter to Timothy and one last principal that he saw as a priority for the Pastor–the teaching of proper priority and respect.  In the church, we cannot allow our faith to be used as an excuse for how we behave.  Paul reminded Timothy that as slaves, the believers needed to be the best and most respectful slaves in the country.  Masters needed to treat their slaves with benevolence and respect.  The priority lies in honoring God–not in the position of employment.

The same holds true in position in life–rich or poor, leader or follower, pastor or new believer–the key is to live a life that honors God first and foremost.  Paul wanted Timothy to see that the prestige the world offers; is simply a distraction to what is really important–following the Lord.

In our lives, we face the same struggle in where we work, in what we own and with whom we do life. Our duty and desire is to follow God.  We recognize that God leads and orchestrates our journey and we are content to follow–wherever it leads.  As we do, he will bless us, provide for our needs and prepare us for the real life of eternity with him.  We have to learn to be content in whatever our circumstance, and allow him to create the life we are to lead.

God Bless You

All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare[a] of their slaves.These are the things you are to teach and insist on. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Teach The Truth–I Timothy 3 Part 2

The world has a way of infiltrating the Church. Certainly, it is because the body of Christ is made up of people.  No matter the time or place, the more people get involved in the faith, the more they want to help God out by incorporating their personal beliefs and traditions into our worship of him.  So many churches have split or died over the silliest issues–carpet color, music, placement of furniture–and a host of trivial matters that do not impact the faith in any way.

Paul tells Timothy–keep it simple.  Worship God, and him only.  Don’t allow the church to define itself by dietary principles, or other man-made traditions.  Allow Christ to be what defines the church. Make him the object of worship.  As we do this, the faith will grow and sustain those who believe.  

In our lives, we too must focus on the truth and the Savior.  We cannot let tradition and man-made rules to drive people from Christ and into the hands of the enemy.  We need to follow him closely and teach the truth to those whom will listen.  All the while, remaining on guard for the attacks of the enemy. God always wants to make it simple–trust him and allow him to lead.  He will make you exactly what you need to be!

God Bless You

The Spirit clearly says, in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.

 

It All Comes Back–Genesis 43 Part 3

There was no doubt that the heart of the brothers was different.  As they brought Benjamin to Joseph, they could see his attraction.  They were astounded as they learned the silver was accounted for and Simeon was returned.  Clearly, from their perspective, this was too good to be true.
 
Joseph was also amazed.  There in front of him was his little brother.  He had not see him for 20 years.  His father was alive and well, and God had kept his word and made Joseph the ruler over his family.  Not only had God shown himself faithful, He showed Joseph why all had occurred the way it did.  He would never have been able to save the family from Israel’s tents.  He would never have been able to store the food and prepare Egypt in any other capacity.  So, now as the reality flooded back–the only emotion remaining was peace and gratefulness.
 
In the right time, God reveals Himself and his plan to his own.  We have to be paying attention to the signs; and we have to remain hopeful and grateful as the signs appear.  We can never give up–no matter how lonely or how dreary life seems to become.  He will not abandon us, and he will not fail us–despite what the enemy tries to make us believe.  We, like Joseph, need to stay focused upon the mission and release the anger, bitterness and regrets we have collected on the journey.  If we will, it will all come flooding back–we will see the glory of God’s plan and be engulfed in the power of his spirit.  He knows the plans he has for us–He will carry that plan out until we join him.
 
God Bless You
“It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.24 The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. 25 They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.

26 When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. 27 He asked them how they were, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?”

28 They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.

29 As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.” 30 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there.

31 After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.”

32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. 33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

The Day Israel Let Go–Genesis 43 Part 2

It was the moment they had all been waiting for…Israel agreed to send Benjamin to Egypt.  This was a significant moment in the life of God’s people.  After losing Joseph, Israel had lost his trust in God’s plan.  His only living reminder of his beloved Rachel was young Ben.  Years had passed and life had progressed, but, Israel remained extremely protective of his youngest son.
 
With the famine, however, came the crossroads–would the patriarch of this people allow them all to starve to protect Benjamin? Israel finally resigned himself to letting go and trusting the God that had provided for his family since the dawn of time.  The amazing part of the release was that it would be the act that truly restored the family and Israel to where God wanted them to be.
 
In order to be truly free, one must detach one’s self from his greatest point of attachment. In other words, as Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me; let him deny himself, take up his cross–daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23.  Israel had to place his most protected treasure on the alter and trust God to take care of it. 
 
In our lives, we each have things we consider ours at all cost–our families, our careers, our prized possessions or even simply our name and reputation.  God calls us to release those things into his care.  If we will, He in turn will bless them and return them in a way we would never expect and only dream possible.  Israel released Benjamin; he was about to receive back so much more…
 
God Bless You 

Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. 14 And may God Almighty[a] grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.”

Miracle From a Mess–Genesis 38

God took a small detour in his story of Joseph.  While small in time, it is one of the biggest stories in the Bible–Judah and Tamar.  Tamar was Judah’s daughter-in-law.  Her husband, a very evil man, was put to death by God. Judah refused to allow his third son to be her husband for fear he would also die.  So,Tamar tricked her father-in-law into sleeping with her; and she became pregnant.
 
Judah was furious and was going to publically burn her alive; until, of course, he found out it was his child–and a creative but proper way of fulfilling the family obligation for continuing the lineage! He then protected her and she had twin sons.  This is a kind of an odd Bible story–until you realize the child Perez just happens to be in the lineage that ultimately led to the birth of Jesus.
 
Life throws curve balls! Some seem insignificant, outrageous and even plan ending.  But, at days end, our God is greater than ANY curve life can throw.  Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for the God for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”
We see in this side story–God used a series of events that would clearly not make a church highlight film–to further his plan to save us and restore us.  It was a miracle made from a mess–sounds like our lives!
 
God Bless You
about three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.”Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”

25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”

26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez.[a] 30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.

How to Deal With a Dreamer–Genesis 37 Part 3

He was, after all, the spoiled one.  Special coat, always being singled out by their father–who does he think he is! That was the rumbling of the hearts of Joseph’s brothers.  He had a way of getting under their skin that caused the to not only hate him, but to hate Israel as well.  So, on that fateful day, as he approached–getting rid of him seemed like a great idea.  The issue was how.  To kill him or to sell him…fortunately, the brothers’ greed was even more powerful than their hatred.  So without even a thought, they sold their little brother, “the Dreamer” to the Mideanites and faked his death to answer questions from their father.

The punishment they will have exacted upon their father would be unbearable.  the journey Joseph was embarking upon, unbelievable–but, the brothers would find that this choice would shape their lives and the lives of the rest of the world.  They had not seen the power of God as he uses it to shape men’s lives.

We need to be watchful and prayerful as we also seek to make choices in our lives.  We should be like Joseph–who sought God and followed him despite the circumstance.  The alternative is to be like the brothers that act and react to circumstance never giving a thought to how their reactions could affect the lives they touch and their own lives, as well.  We are God’s chosen–we can take hope from that.  That hope will transform us into the people we were called and have been created to be.

God Bless You

So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.

23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.

25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.

26 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.

28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels[b] of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.

Back to Square One–Genesis 35 Part 1

Once again Israel’s young life had been turned upside down.  After the attack upon his daughter and the slaughter of the Canaanite’s that were responsible, God called Israel to purify and start again.  So it says that everyone got rid of their personal idols and they resettled in Bethel, the place where God and Jacob wrestled and God changed his life.  As they traveled, The other locals were afraid and no one dared pursue them as a people.  Once again, God prepared, protected and provided for his chosen people.  When they arrived, they set up an alter and a memorial; and there they worshipped God.
 
When our lives get turned upside down, we should also follow the model.  We need to purify our lives by simply evaluating and acknowledging what personal idols do we house.  Then as we identify them, we, like Israel, must walk away from them and worship God and him only.  Then, we need to go back to where we started and worship God as we did when we began our relationship with him.  As we do, we will experience his peace and power in our lives.  Our enemies will fear us, and we will see a shining pillar of his presence in our lives…Not  a bad trade.  Help me, Lord to exchange my idols for your peace and freedom.
 
God Bless You
Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem. Then they set out, and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.

Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel,[a] because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.

Their God is Their Stomach–Genesis 25 Part 3

There is no accounting for what drives people.  Isaac waited a quarter century to have sons. When his sons arrived, there was a clear distinction; Esau was a burley–“Man’s man” and Jacob was an inside guy.  God told Isaac and Sarah–Jacob would continue the lineage–but, Isaac loved Esau.  He loved his talent, his rugged style and the yummy food he made.  So much so, that Esau clearly felt confident he had his future made.  He became cocky–self absorbed–his God was his stomach.

Esau felt like the rules were not made for him; so, when Jacob offered him a nice dinner for the family birthright–well, there was no question that he would take the soup.  Esau was all about now.  He worried about his next meal, his next hunt and his next desire–long term thought was simply not a part of his routine.  When Jacob traded him the soup for birthright–it spoke volumes of the hearts of the men.  Esau never desired the responsibility of continuing the family line–he only wanted to hunt and fill his stomach.

In our world, not much has changed.  Most folks are like Esau–self-absorbed and self-reliant.  Their concern is for today, for themselves and not for God. People admire their rugged style, their false bravado and the way they take care of themselves.  The truth is–it takes an eternal perspective to see past the here and now.  When people live for eternity–the world feels they are foolish, weird and out of touch with the times.  Truth is, however, it is that perspective–that will change the world.  We have to look beyond our personal needs and trust God for who we are and what we have. That is the only life that will leave a legacy.  Those who live for now will only leave stuff and emptiness. Paul spoke of those people as the enemies of God in Philippians 3–“Their God is their stomach and they glory in their shame.” In short–Esau was not an enemy of his birthright, He was an enemy of God.

It brings to a head what Joshua said–“Choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” Joshua 24:6

God Bless You

 
 
The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.[f])

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.

The Sister Act–Genesis 20

The Sister line, again?? Well in fairness to Abraham, Abimelek was a fierce King that took whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted it.  But After all the trials and tribulations they faced, Abraham should have simply trusted and followed God.  He used the sister line, though and sure enough, at 99, Sarah was taken to become the king’s wife…I often wonder how beautiful she must have been that she would still be enticing to kings at nearly a century later. 

The great news for Abraham and his family was that God was there and would not allow anything to happen to Abraham and Sarah.  Even though Abraham had trust issues, God was faithful, in a big way!  As he had with the other leaders, God stopped Abimelek in his tracks and preserved Abraham and Sarah–in addition, he bought for them peace in a difficult country.  There was no chance that the King or his men would dare harm this group that clearly was being protected by God himself.

In our lives, we too must trust God and allow him to lead, guide and direct us in our journey.  In those times we doubt or fear, we MUST remember how he has protected and provided for us again and again.  He is amazing and loves us beyond measure.  He will protect, provide and prepare us for what lies ahead and never  forsake us–even when we forsake him. His record is amazing–So trust him and follow him closely and humbly!!!

God Bless You

Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”

Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”

Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”

Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.”

Hagar-Don’t Worry–Genesis 16 Part 2

Hagar and Ishmael were simply on the wrong side of the lineage.  Hagar did not plan to be her mistress’s baby factory–but when she was pregnant, it became clear she allowed the power to get between her and Sarai.  So, She ran away.  There she was, out in the desert, with no friends or family.  She had no means of support and yet she had a life to live and a child within her.  The big question she asks is, “Who cares for me?”  The great news was that God cared for Hagar and Ishmael.

God’s messenger met Hagar where she was, and told her two very critical pieces of information–1) don’t worry–God has got this–your son’s lineage will also be numerous. 

2.) Your Son’s lineage will be at odds with the rest of the world.  The news gave Hagar a new hope and she never doubted God’s car for her.  She named the place they met after God–She called it The God who sees me.  She then returned and submitted and Ishmael was born in Abrams 86th year.

It sometimes feels as if we are on our own.  We cannot seem to make progress and no one really cares what happens to us.  In those times, we are like Hagar.  We just want to get away and be left alone.  But, as with Hagar, God meets us where we are and makes it clear that he knows us, loves us and has a plan for us. 

If we, like Hagar, will recognize that and simply follow God and his plan–then he is free to prepare us for what lies ahead.  The critical step is that we trust him and follow him.  There are no short cuts–this is a journey that lasts a lifetime.  We have to play the long game and trust God even when it seems there is no hope or possibility of a good life.  When we do, we find that is when God does his best work.

God Bless You


 
The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?”“I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.

Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

11 The angel of the Lord also said to her:

“You are now pregnant
    and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,[a]
    for the Lord has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
    his hand will be against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
    toward[b] all his brothers.”

13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi[d]; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.