Numbers 27 Part 2–End of Mission

It was a heart rending moment, I am sure, for Moses when the Lord said–it is time to go. He had led the Israelites for over 40 years and now at the edge of the promised land, he had to die. There were many days that Moses wished he had simply honored God’s command–but, he knew this day would come and he met it bravely and thoughtfully.  As a great leader, his first thought was not to beg for a second chance–it was to make sure the people had a worthy leader.Joshua had been with Moses since Egypt. He had always honored Moses and God. He was one of the spies that said,”Lets do this!”  He was ready to lead the people.  So God transferred the authority of Moses to Joshua through God’s priest Eleazar. Moses laid hands on Joshua and commissioned him to lead the people into the promised land. At that, Moses had completed the mission God had given him. It was a daunting mission, and clearly it took an amazing servant to complete it.  Moses was that servant.It is the prayer of my heart to be that kind of servant. To follow the Lord’s leadership and commands.  To walk faithfully to the end of the mission.  It is often thankless, frustrating and daunting. Still, we are assured that God is with us and will lead us throughout the amazing journey.God Bless You

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites. 13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin,both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)

15 Moses said to the Lord, 16 “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things,appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,[a] and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him,as the Lord instructed through Moses

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.

Stay Put and Teach the Truth–1 Timothy 1 Part 1

Each of us, as God’s chosen, are given a mission and journey to follow the Lord with humility and a grateful heart. Paul was coming to the end of his days, and his most dear disciple,Timothy, was now leading the church at Ephesus.  Paul had built that church and stayed their for nearly 2 years.  Then, as he returned to Jerusalem, he was arrested and ultimately found himself in Rome.  The letters to Timothy were written as encouragement and coaching on how to lead his church, and how to trust God.

Paul was called by God to be the apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people).  As the Jew of Jews, it was an amazing transformation–that lead him all over Asia and Europe preaching the news of Christ’s life and salvation.  As he began caching Timothy, two principles emerged–stay where you are and teach the truth.

Many in the area were trying to subvert the Gospel and make salvation about what you know or where you are from.  Paul, and now Timothy, were teaching the truth–Salvation was, is and always will be about Christ and what he has done.  Amidst all the opposition, Timothy was doubting how useful his ministry was.  Paul was reminding him–stick with it, God has got this!

In our lives, we see the open and apparent evil in our culture.  We see the church literally being forced to remove the welcome sign in our town.  The Gospel is under fire from all sides–schools, entertainment, the courts, government.  Still, in the midst of the battle, God says to us–“Stay where you are and teach the truth.  I have got this!!!” We can never consider the notion that no one is listening.  The truth is that the enemy is listening, and it is driving him nuts. It reminds him that we win in the end.  Stand firm and speak the truth!

God Bless You

 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy my true son in the faith:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.

Israel Meets Pharaoh–Let the Blessing Begin!–Genesis 47 Part 1

It would be the only time this would happen…Not since his grandfather and father lied to a Pharaoh about their wives being their sisters, had a patriarch of God’s chosen stood before the leader of Egypt.  This time, the now 135 year old Israel, was finally at peace.  He had faced tremendous adversity and heartbreak–but now, God had restored to him all he could have ever hoped or dreamed.  
 
I am sure the young Pharaoh stood in awe of this man–the man who bore and raised the man that had raised him.  Joseph was a father to Pharaoh; and not only saved Egypt, but he saved all the known world. So, to see the love Joseph felt for this man, and to be blessed by him–had to be a great moment in the young king’s life.  Pharaoh gladly blessed him back with some of the finest land in Egypt and a job as shepherds of all Pharaoh’s livestock. Shepherding for Pharaoh would be no small task. 
 
We can never know the impact we have on the lives of others–God told Israel that he would bless the world with his lineage.  The blessing started in Egypt and carries through till today.  God has a plan for each of us, as well.  His plan could take us down roads and events we would have never imagined.  We, like Israel, will simply need to prepare to trust God in any and all circumstance and follow him by faith. We must remember, as we follow, what he has already accomplished in our lives.  
 
There is no question that God has control; there is only a question of whether we will trust him to execute his plan to the end.  If we will, then we will stand firm and see his glory in our lives. In addition, we will see the impact upon many others with whom we interact in our lives. There is little doubt that it is definitely worth the risk.
 
God Bless You
 
Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”

“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed[a] Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?”

And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.” 10 Then Jacob blessed[b] Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

 

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.”

From Inmate to In Charge–Genesis 41 Part 2

Joseph had no way of possibly knowing that God was ready to change the entire world through the faithful walk of a local prison trustee.  He had long given up the idea of home, family and freedom and had quietly adjusted to his routine.  But, then God stepped in.  It was time to execute a plan some 12 years in the making.
 
Joseph was escorted to Pharaoh and knew immediately after hearing his dream the will of God for the life of Pharaoh. He spoke the truth, no fear, no expectations and the Pharaoh placed him in charge of all of Egypt’s operations.  Joseph had been in preparation for this job for a long time–now, as Egypt’s prime minister, he would fulfill God’s mission for his family.
 
God’s timing is never the same as our timing.  We battle through the trials, temptations and tribulations of life; never quite knowing if or when God is going to use us to shape his plan. It is most important for us to remain faithful, humble and ready to step up–for whatever he has planned for us.  When it is time, he will make it obvious that his hand is in it, and we simply need to trust Him and move forward.  It is a great gift to be able to fully rely upon God and watch him change us, and others through us.
 
God Bless You

So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.

“It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.

Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt,

but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land.

The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.

The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.

You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

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.”

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.”

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.