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.

 

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.

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.

Free at Last–Genesis 45 Part 1

Joseph couldn’t stand it any more.  He had tried and tested the brothers and found that they truly changed. The brothers had at least prioritized the feelings of their father above their own.  Joseph had to tell them the truth–what a reveal.  I am sure the feelings of the brothers were a mix of confusion and outright terror.  After years of guilt and shame, they had just weathered the ordeal of being accused of being spies; then, they were seeking to save the life of their brother.  Now, after all that, it was the object of their guilt that held their very lives in his hand. 
 
For Joseph, he was finally free.  He was free from slavery, free from confusion and free from the pain of being separated from his family.  He was managing Egypt and preserving the lives of that nation and the lives of the future nation of Israel.  It was a happy day for him.  It was also a strange day in the palace.  The servants, guards and staff watched Pharaoh’s right hand guy become a puddle.  In the end, it was a great day–the day God’s plan came into sharp focus.
 
In our lives, we may have to walk a number of miles on the journey before we begin to see God’s plan take shape. Then, as it does, if we will continue to humbly follow and allow him to continue his efforts–then we will see his plan come into sharp focus.  As it does, we will find that our lives matter–to our families, and often, to so many more folks we would never have known or influenced–except for God’s influence.  That is when freedom rings and we experience the joy of seeing him, not us, doing the amazing work in our lives.
 
God Bless You
 

Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.“I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors.[a] So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser[b] to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.

“Now hurry back to my father and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me master over all the land of Egypt. So come down to me immediately! 10 You can live in the region of Goshen, where you can be near me with all your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and everything you own.

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.”

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

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.”

Wrestling With God–Genesis 32 Part 2

It seems that when all is going well, people tend to accept the status-quo.  However, when life turns upside down and the wheels fall off–then we start planning, praying and wrestling with God.  Such was the case with Jacob.  He had been in the employ of his uncle/Father-in-Law for the last 20 years.  He had 2 wives, 2 maidservant wives and 11 kids.  God blessed him with tremendous wealth in livestock and supplies and he literally had the world by the tail.  Then, things turned dark at Uncle Laban’s and it was time to go home.  As he approached the land of his youth, his brother–from whom he stole the birthright and blessing–heard of his approach, and sent 400 men to meet him, there stood Jacob, upside-down and wheeless!!
 
Jacob did what we do, he wrestled with God, his promises and his plans.  Jacob and God wrestled through the night, then at daybreak, God blessed Jacob–he changed the man he was–“The Deceiver”, to the “Chosen man of God”–Israel! From that time until now, Israel has been distinguished from all other peoples; just as Jacob had been set apart from all other dads.  Israel was now the patriarch of a nation–not simply a father of a rag-tag family.
 
Like Jacob, we also find that, in the times when we are most dependent upon God for our very survival–we tend to have our greatest impact.  It is when we can focus on God–not on ourselves and/or what we possess, that we can see him bless us in ways the world could never imagine.  It is not that we should pray to be turned upside down, it is simply learning to look to him first and always when those times come.  Then as we seek him and his blessing, understand, that is what he wanted to do all along.  In Psalms 37:4 it says, “Delight yourself in the Lord–and he will give you the desires of your heart!”  Israel would soon see, no truer verse had ever been written!
 
God Bless You
 

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. 24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

27 The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[f] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”

But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[g] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

31 The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel,[h] and he was limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the tendon attached to the socket of the hip, because the socket of Jacob’s hip was touched near the tendon.

World’s Plan be Darned, God’s Plan Always Wins–Genesis 30 Part 2

So, after Rachel finally gave Jacob a son, Jacob knew it was time to be his own people and return home.  Still, even after 15 years of service to his uncle–he really had nothing to show for his labor.  So, he struck a deal with his uncle, to help him build his own fortune. Laban told Jacob he could have the sheep and goats that were not normal.  the dark, the spotted and the striped.  But, as God was doing this for Jacob, no matter the conditions, the strong sheep and goats were the ones that were not “perfect”. 
 
Laban was both amazed and furious–he was the master of negotiation–he always won.  Yet, with his silly nephew, each of his negotiations only improved Jacob’s lot in life.  The part that Laban forgot was that his Nephew–the father of his grandchildren, had been sent to him by God and was God’s chosen–the ones that God himself prepares, provides for and protects.
 
We are also God’s chosen–we are the ones that God prepares, provides for and protects.  The world takes its shots at us and tries over and over to get the better of us.  If we fail to listen and follow God’s plan, we find it could happen.  Yet, if we continue to trust God, follow Him closely–then we see that no matter what the world throws at us, God will continue to bless us and make our path straight.  Certainly, it is confusing and maddening to those following the world’s system, But, to heck with them, our God loves us and will forever seek to bless us despite the world’s attempts to cheat.  Never lose heart, never give up–for our God is an awesome God!
 
God Bess You
After Rachel gave birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me on my way so I can go back to my own homeland. 26 Give me my wives and children, for whom I have served you, and I will be on my way. You know how much work I’ve done for you.”…

“Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: 32 Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. They will be my wages. 33 And my honesty will testify for me in the future, whenever you check on the wages you have paid me. Any goat in my possession that is not speckled or spotted, or any lamb that is not dark-colored, will be considered stolen.”

34 “Agreed,” said Laban. “Let it be as you have said.” 35 That same day he removed all the male goats that were streaked or spotted, and all the speckled or spotted female goats (all that had white on them) and all the dark-colored lambs, and he placed them in the care of his sons. 36 Then he put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob, while Jacob continued to tend the rest of Laban’s flocks…So the weak animals went to Laban and the strong ones to Jacob. 43 In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and female and male servants, and camels and donkeys.

Jacob’s Covenant–Genesis 28 Part 3

We talk a great deal about God’s love and covenant with us–rightly so, his covenant with us is what saves us and restores the broken relationship between us and God.  But, after God showed Jacob his activities with men and made his promise to follow and make him the patriarch of his nation of priests, Jacob realized how special the relationship with God was.  In that moment and in that place, Jacob also made a covenant–he promised with a memorial pillar to honor God’s covenant by following him and giving a tenth of what he had to God.  What a promise from the man that wheeled and dealed to get a birthright and a blessing.
 
Jacob’s journey had his attention.  Jacob knew that it would be dangerous, and would yield no good thing–apart from God protecting and blessing him.  Jacob was wise enough to acknowledge that and give God the glory, as well as his promise to yield to God’s leadership and blessing.
 
That is all that God requires of us. We simply covenant to follow and trust God to forgive our sin and transform us into his image. Then, he will protect, provide and prepare us for the journey and for eternity with him.  For our part, he realizes we are a work in progress–as was Jacob.  He will lead us to be and do the things that mature us and prepare us for now and eternity.  He loves us and only wants is best in our lives–Let’s commit to following him on the journey.
 
God Bless You 
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel,[e] though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord[f] will be my God 22 and[g] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth