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

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

Time to Get Spiritually Fit–I Timothy 4 Part 1

The greatest lesson to learn in the spiritual world is the lesson that walking with God is a daily discipline.  Planet Fitness is growing across the nation as a franchise because it is set up to make daily discipline less traumatic, expensive and stereotyped.  People can go there on their schedule, with little cost and no one judging them.  That is the way the church is called to be. 
 
People that seek a relationship with God, need to understand that the relationship is ongoing.  It is not a 1 and done scenario.  Just like exercise only works if done consistently over time–walking with the Lord requires daily attention with time in the word and in prayer. Still, as we are learning that truth, it must be learned in a place that withholds judgement and gives encouragement.  We, as the body of Christ, need to be the ones encouraging the daily walk with God and the spiritual discipline in our lives.
 
Paul made it clear that we cannot be the ones condemning folks for not checking the boxes.  It is not about the boxes! It is about a daily discipline of simply seeking God, and training our spirits to humbly follow him.  We are not expected to be perfect, we are simply expected to seek him daily.  Thanks Lord, for remaining available daily and for welcoming our spiritual training without judgement or condemnation.
 
God Bless You
 
The Spirit makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth. They will tell you not to get married. They’ll tell you not to eat this or that food—perfectly good food God created to be eaten heartily and with thanksgiving by believers who know better! Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God’s Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy.

6-10 You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching. Now pass on this counsel to the followers of Jesus there, and you’ll be a good servant of Jesus. Stay clear of silly stories that get dressed up as religion. Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart.

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.

Israel’s Final Blessing–Genesis 49

The blessing of Jacob to his sons is an amazing prophecy of what was to become of the nation of Israel.  As one takes the time to read the text and then look at the nation’s development, the words of Israel are spot on.  His words also speak to the idea that the choices and behaviors of a person can become the culture of a family.  

As one looks at each of the brothers, you cannot help but notice their personalities affected and shaped their clan.  It was their temperaments and behaviors that either blessed or cursed their nations in years to come.  It had to be alarming to Rueben, Simeon, Levi and Benjamin to hear the prophecy of their future–and yet, their lives and temperaments had already set a culture that would follow for hundreds of years.

So what about us?  Should we fall prey to the natural tendencies within our  family history? If we are like Joseph, Judah or Dan–probably so.   But, the awesome news is, that in Christ, we are new creations.  We can change our culture and become exactly what Christ has called us to be–His ambassadors.  People with an eternal mindset and a heart to serve others.  If we will, then our family histories will resemble a life like Christ and He will be glorified in our journey and in our families–no greater gift exists. 

God Bless You


Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob;
    listen to your father Israel.

“Reuben, you are my firstborn,
    my might, the first sign of my strength,
    excelling in honor, excelling in power.
Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel,
    for you went up onto your father’s bed,
    onto my couch and defiled it.

“Simeon and Levi are brothers—
    their swords[a] are weapons of violence.

I will scatter them in Jacob
    and disperse them in Israel.

“Judah,[b] your brothers will praise you;…
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,[c]
until he to whom it belongs[d] shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

13 “Zebulun will live by the seashore
    and become a haven for ships;
    his border will extend toward Sidon.

14 “Issachar is a rawboned[f] donkey
    lying down among the sheep pens.[g]
15 When he sees how good is his resting place
    and how pleasant is his land,
he will bend his shoulder to the burden
    and submit to forced labor.

16 “Dan[h] will provide justice for his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan will be a snake by the roadside,
    a viper along the path,
that bites the horse’s heels
    so that its rider tumbles backward.

18 “I look for your deliverance, Lord.

19 “Gad[i] will be attacked by a band of raiders,
    but he will attack them at their heels.

20 “Asher’s food will be rich;
    he will provide delicacies fit for a king.

21 “Naphtali is a doe set free
    that bears beautiful fawns.[j]

22 “Joseph is a fruitful vine,
    a fruitful vine near a spring,
    whose branches climb over a wall.[k]
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
    they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
    his strong arms stayed[l] limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
    because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
    because of the Almighty,[m] who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
    blessings of the deep springs below,
    blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
    than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
    than[n] the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the brow of the prince among[o] his brothers.

27 “Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
    in the morning he devours the prey,
    in the evening he divides the plunder.”

28 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.

A Father’s Dying Wish and Blessing–Genesis 47-48

It is a really amazing story, Israel was very pleased to have spent 17 years in Egypt with the son he had thought was lost.  At the end, however, he needed to solidify the notion that this was not his home and these were not his people.  So Israel called the Prime minister of Egypt in and simply told him, “Son, I do not want to be buried here.  I want to be buried back home.  In addition, son–your two boys that greeted me when we were brought back together, are now my boys.  They each get a share of inheritance as would Reuben or Simeon.  So in effect, Joseph received a double portion of Israel’s inheritance.

In looking at our lives, we have to take Israel’s view of our world.  We can never see this place as our home.  No matter how nice or easy it may seem, we await our opportunity to go home.  Paul said in Philippians 3:20-21,

But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior.21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.”

 
We can never be too comfortable or attached to this world.  It will always disappoint; and, it will always take our lives.  Nothing in the world or it’s culture will move us toward becoming like Christ.  That is why Paul said in Colossians 3:1-2 to set our heart and mind on things above not on earthly things.  Like Israel, we need to long for and expect a home in Heaven– where we will be blessed, as were the Son’s of Joseph…
 
God Bless You
Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. 29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”“I will do as you say,” he said.

31 “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff…Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty[a] appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

“Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine. Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers. As I was returning from Paddan,[b] to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

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.”