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.
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.”
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
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
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.”
Probably, the actual name should have been the “Target” of many colors. Joseph was Rachel’s oldest–she died when Benjamin was born. Israel loved Joseph. He was obedient, loved God, loved his family and generally pleased his dad. Not so much with the rest of the clan. They were older and had their own families. They had shown on at least one other occasion that they would do what they deemed right–no matter the advice of their father.
So in light of the jealousy, the coat and Joseph’s dreams; poor Joseph was not on the list for “brother of the year”. It would have been a great deal more safe for him to keep a low profile; and, simply keep what God was showing him to himself. In the grand scheme of life, however, well, it simply would not have mattered. Joseph’s coat was not the target–it was his relationship with his father and Heavenly Father–that was the true target.
In our lives, when we chose to follow God closely and humbly–it was as if, we too, put on a coat of many colors, The enemy sees we choose to allow God to prepare, protect and provide for our life and needs. Our desire to please God impacts the world in the same way the coat impacted Joseph’s brothers.
It is why Paul urges us to put on the full armor of God (I Corinthians 6)–to protect us from our enemy. He prowls like a roaring lion (I Peter 5) seeking whom he WILL devour. Unless we are battle-ready and battle-tested, the enemy will take us down. Still, no matter what our preparation and intent–be ready for God’s plan to pull us in directions we would never have imagined. He is God–We Are NOT!!! Trust and follow him, and enjoy the coat, no matter what the color!
God Bless You
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate[a] robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.
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
34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi.[d]
35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah.[e] Then she stopped having children.
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
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.