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.

This Is A Test–Genesis 42 Final

When we are going through testing from the Lord, we do not often realize that we are being tested.  Joseph sent his brothers home with plenty of grain, their money and supplies for the journey.  When they stopped for the night, they realized what happened and became exceedingly scared.  What was going on…had their ruthless behavior finally caught up with them–ABSOLUTELY!!!

What the brothers did not know was that God was testing them on their faith, their love for their father and their ability to tell the truth.  More importantly, God was testing dear old Israel on his ability to trust God one more time–he had seemingly lost his trust when Joseph was taken. God was simply executing the plan formed long before.  He needed his chosen people to realize they were a part of that plan and despite the reason–God was working all things together for good.

In our lives, unspeakable evil happens. death, sickness, violence, poverty and all kinds of drama and meanness that separates us from each other and tests the very fabric of our faith.

God uses that chaos in our lives to train us, to build our faith and to draw us to him.  It is not that God smites his kids–NO, he simply takes the mess that is our lives and uses it to test and prepare us for His kingdom work.

We cannot walk away after tragedy…that is when we have to huddle close and seek him intently.  He will NEVER leave us or forsake us.  God Loves us and wants to shape and mold us into an eternal thinking people that trust him and follow closely to benefit from his well designed and perfectly executed plan.

God Bless You

Joseph then ordered his servants to fill the men’s sacks with grain, but he also gave secret instructions to return each brother’s payment at the top of his sack. He also gave them supplies for their journey home. 26 So the brothers loaded their donkeys with the grain and headed for home.27 But when they stopped for the night and one of them opened his sack to get grain for his donkey, he found his money in the top of his sack. 28 “Look!” he exclaimed to his brothers. “My money has been returned; it’s here in my sack!” Then their hearts sank. Trembling, they said to each other, “What has God done to us?”

29 When the brothers came to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan, they told him everything that had happened to them. 30 “The man who is governor of the land spoke very harshly to us,” they told him. “He accused us of being spies scouting the land. 31 But we said, ‘We are honest men, not spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, sons of one father. One brother is no longer with us, and the youngest is at home with our father in the land of Canaan.’

33 “Then the man who is governor of the land told us, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men. Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take grain for your starving families and go on home. 34 But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. Then I will know you are honest men and not spies. Then I will give you back your brother, and you may trade freely in the land.’”

35 As they emptied out their sacks, there in each man’s sack was the bag of money he had paid for the grain! The brothers and their father were terrified when they saw the bags of money. 36 Jacob exclaimed, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”

37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. I’ll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.”

38 But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down with you. His brother Joseph is dead, and he is all I have left. If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave

Speaking of Dreams–Genesis 41 Part 1

In time, we all adapt–we acclimate to our circumstances and allow our lives to move forward.  Pharaoh’s cupbearer went back to his duties and quickly forgot all about the king’s tantrum that had landed him in prison.  He was serving his master, when all at once–his promise to Joseph came back and hit him like a ton of bricks. 
 
The Pharaoh had a strange dream, and its meaning escaped him.  Still as the dream spun though his thoughts, it began to consume him.  When he shared this with the cupbearer, the switch flipped and the cupbearer remembered Joseph–ugggh, the Hebrew that had interpreted his dream.
 
Certainly for the cupbearer and Pharaoh it was a good news scenario.  While the cupbearer had failed to send Joseph home, it made Joseph very available to bring him before the Pharaoh! Meanwhile, back at the prison, Joseph continued to serve God and pretty much everyone in Pharaoh’s jail.  Joseph, no doubt had adapted, but things had been quiet for a long time, so Joseph had probably forgotten about his dreams of ruling brothers, dad and anyone.  He probably figured he simply was not the guy God planned to use.  He was wrong.
 
We develop a mindset that we have God figured out.  In that realm, we ride a roller coaster of emotion that spikes when we see good outcomes and plummets when we encounter trials.  Ultimately, as we search over time through our lives–we begin to see God’s leadership and handiwork in the peaks and valleys. 
 
It is only when we finally learn to be content (acclimated) in all circumstances, that God can use us to do mighty things. We, Like Paul, must realize that–“Well fed or hungry; living in plenty or in want, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:12-13 That is where Pharaoh found Joseph and that is where God seeks to find us.
 
God Bless You

When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

A Nation is Born–Genesis 33 Part 2

 So, life in the new nation–Israel had begun; not in the way one would usually see the birth of a nation, but, instead–a true and organic nation built by the birth of a family. God changed it’s patriarch from a deceiver, to the chosen leader of the nation.  And the leader bought land on which to settle.  Unlike his grandfather before, Israel came to settle and grow.  His sons were establishing their own families, and for the first time since Terra settled in Haran, the people were settling in.  It was a strange sense for them, but, they had no idea, that these simple steps, would set in motion our ability to know and be known by God.

God made the covenant, first with Abraham, the again with Israel that all nations would be blessed through his family—we can affirm that that covenant is true. A world that knows about God; and people in every nation that are in relationship with God wave as a glorious  banner to the fulfillment of God’s original covenant. We, should wake each morning truly grateful for that covenant.  We should recognize that we are, by spiritual adoption, a beneficiary of that covenant.  With that, we should never hesitate to be a part of the execution of God’s plan to fulfill that covenant.

In my life, each morning—I am confronted with the very proposition, how is the world being blessed through me?  Most days, the answer truly remains a question mark.  But, like Israel as he settled in, we have no idea how God intends to use us, our families and those in whom we pour our lives. In the early 20th century, a tent revival preacher was coming to the end of his ministry.  He knew the end was near, because people were no longer coming to the tent in mass, and those that came, were not being moved as they once had.  Yet, as the week was drawing to a close, the old preacher gave the invitation and after several verses, only one person came forward to start a relationship with God.  Dejected, the old preacher tossed in the towel and retired.  What that evangelist did not, or could not have known–was that the person that came forward that night was none other than Dr. Billy Graham.  We remain faithful–then allow God to make the difference.

God Bless You

14 So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”

15 Esau said, “Then let me leave some of my men with you.”

“But why do that?” Jacob asked. “Just let me find favor in the eyes of my lord.”

16 So that day Esau started on his way back to Seir. 17 Jacob, however, went to Sukkoth, where he built a place for himself and made shelters for his livestock. That is why the place is called Sukkoth.[a]

18 After Jacob came from Paddan Aram,[b] he arrived safely at the city of Shechem in Canaan and camped within sight of the city. 19 For a hundred pieces of silver,[c] he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. 20 There he set up an altar and called it El Elohe Israel

Everybody Lies! Genesis 29 Part 2

There was an old medical drama series called HOUSE.  In the series, the main character, Dr. House had an axiom he lived by and openly shared with his medical team–“Everybody Lies!”.  Cleary the Axiom was true in this, God’s chosen family.  From Abraham’s “She is my sister”, Jacob’s “I am Esau.” and now Laban’s “I will give you Rachel”–there was clearly a pattern of deceit and intrigue among this family.

Jacob loved Rachel and made no qualms about it.  He was faithful and loyal to God and Laban to earn her hand from her father. Still, on the night of the wedding, Laban gave him Leah–A lovely lady, I’m sure–but not Rachel.  Still, when the morning came and Jacob found out, he was devastated and furious–As was Isaac and Esau, when Jacob deceived them.  Still, it is clear that God was going to use the switch to save the world.  It was, after all, Leah’s Son–Judah, that is the patriarch of the lineage of David and of Jesus!

In our lives and times, we should expect the same to be true–Everybody still lies. So when we face life’s gut punches,(situations where we are deceived, tricked or simply thrown one of life’s curve balls), then we need to stand up, dust ourselves off and look right into life’s face and say, “You hit like a sissy!”.  We do not know why things happen; but, we do know as Paul said in Romans 8:28–“All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose!” Help me, Lord to make the most of every situation you trust me to face!!!!

God Bless You

After Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month, 15 Laban said to him, “Just because you are a relative of mine, should you work for me for nothing? Tell me what your wages should be.”

16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had weak[a] eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. 18 Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”

19 Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” 20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.

21 Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”

22 So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. 23 But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. 24 And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.

25 When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”

26 Laban replied, “It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. 27 Finish this daughter’s bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work.”

The Journey Begins!–Genesis 27 Part 2

Isaac had no intention of yielding to God’s will–He attempted to subvert God’s plan by blessing Esau–not simply a “God Bless You” after a sneeze–this was dictating to God who would serve whom.  But, even though Rebekah saw and corrected Isaac’s intentional disregard for God’s will–Jacob was still in danger. So, It was time to leave for Jacob.  He was not much of an adventurer, but God was about to transform this scoundrel into the leader of his nation of priests. 
 
As with any transformation, this journey would start with one step–the most difficult one.  Jacob would have to leave the comfort of his home and protection of his family to start on his own.  In his case, Jacob’s journey was aided by his circumstances–he really felt like he had no other options, and at that moment, he felt all alone. 
 
In our lives, so much of God’s plan us seems dictated by circumstance.  Marriage, jobs, family and health often send us in directions we would have never have dictated.  Still, as we continue to trust and follow him, he will lead, guide and direct us through his plan for our lives.  Then as we look back–while we have no idea how he did it–we see we have become more like him, in our thought and deeds.  We see his hand in our steps, and we finally realize–like Jeremiah, in Jerimiah 29:11; that the father meant it when he said, “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!”
 
We will never understand his plan–until it is in his right time.  In the meantime–we simply need to trust and follow him humbly, gratefully and closely!
 
God Bless You

Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!”34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!”

35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob[a]? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”… 42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

The Power of Family Values–Genesis 24 Final

It is great, when a plan works.  As God prepared  the heart of Abraham and Isaac in Canaan–he was doing the same in Haran for Abraham’s family.  When given the story, not only was the family willing to step out in faith–but, Rebekah was also willing to trust God and leave the safety of home to go meet this Isaac.  What’s more, after traveling back through the desert, they arrive back at Abraham’s home only to find Isaac in prayer.  It was clear that God was a centerpiece in the lives of the family that Abraham’s Dad, Terah, raised.  That framework, was the very driving force that pushed his son to seek his daughter-in-law from a family with the same heritage and faith.
 
One can never underestimate the power of one’s lineage and family values.  It is the power of those values and traditions, that saved humanity during the time of Noah. Those values made Abraham a nomad for 25+ years, while he waited on God to provide an heir.  It is the same values that keep his chosen today praying for like-minded families to raise spouses for their kids. 
 
We pray for the spouses for our kids daily.  from their youth, we have instilled the critical nature of marrying Godly spouses that will be aligned in faith–to journey together.  It is no small thing–as seen in the life of Abraham, to properly raise and prepare your kids to marry Godly spouses.  That is how faith travels through the lineage from Seth to Noah; from Shem to Abraham and finally from Abraham to Jesus. Since prayer is the greater work, families must pray for unity and faith to continue as a family trait and tradition.  The world will hate it, and it becomes more difficult as each generation passes–but, with God, ALL things are possible.
 
God Bless You
When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. 53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. 54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there.When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.”

55 But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you[e] may go.”

56 But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”

57 Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”

“I will go,” she said.

59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

“Our sister, may you increase
    to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess
    the cities of their enemies.”

61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.

62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate,[f] and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.