Order in the Midst of Chaos–Genesis 30 Part 1

The family building competition was clearly getting out of hand.  Jacob now had 4 wives and more kids than he could count.  Sisters were trading servants and mandrakes for an opportunity to build a bigger set of kids–Why…well, their identity was wrapped into their family and home.  Jacob loved Rachel, but, this madness was probably driving him crazy.  He was to sire 13 kids–12 boys and a girl and in the midst of all of it, he was seeking to serve God.
 
As God’s kids, we spend a great deal of time, money and effort trying to help God out.  Funny thing is, God didn’t ask for our help. God created it all and manages it all.  When we try to help God out–it usually causes a mess at least; and often draws us away from God at the time we need to follow him most closely. Jacob’s wives needed to trust God and allow him to work his plan–his way.  Yet, even though they did not wait–he still used their chaotic behavior to further the mission and save the world.
 
We can take hope from that, as well.  If we will follow, God will carry out his amazing plan in our lives. If we try to run independent and make a mess of things, he is still faithful to take our mess of a life and use it to further his ultimate and amazing plan.  Never lose hope, know that God is faithful, even when we are not–he will take a messy life and work it into a world of peace and order.  He is an amazing God, and we are a blessed people!
 
God Bless You

When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”Jacob became angry with her and said, “Am I in the place of God, who has kept you from having children?”

Then she said, “Here is Bilhah, my servant. Sleep with her so that she can bear children for me and I too can build a family through her.”

So she gave him her servant Bilhah as a wife. Jacob slept with her, and she became pregnant and bore him a son. Then Rachel said, “God has vindicated me; he has listened to my plea and given me a son.” Because of this she named him Dan.[a]

Rachel’s servant Bilhah conceived again and bore Jacob a second son. Then Rachel said, “I have had a great struggle with my sister, and I have won.” So she named him Naphtali.[b]

When Leah saw that she had stopped having children, she took her servant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife. 10 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, “What good fortune!”[c] So she named him Gad.[d]

12 Leah’s servant Zilpah bore Jacob a second son. 13 Then Leah sai

Epaphras–Colssians 1 part 1

There are so many bible heroes that are well known–Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David and a host of others–but Paul opens the book of Colossians recognizing another Epaphras.  Not only was Epaphras pivotal in the building of the church in  Colossae, but he also ministered to Paul while he was in the prison in Rome–he almost died.  Paul saw in this man a servants heart and an evangelist’s passion.  Epaphras was the kind of missionary Paul was glad to see at work.

‘What kind of bible hero would we become.  Well to be great, one need only to become a servant.  Epaphras was not known for his great speeches.  He was not remembered because of his great writings.  Epaphras was known for his faithfulness and servant’s heart.  He was willing to lay his life down to serve others.  We have to have the same willingness.  When we walk like Epaphras walked and serve like he served, God only knows the impact we can and will have for the Kingdom.  So here’s to Epaphras–an unsung bible hero.

God Bless You

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,[c] who is a faithful minister of Christ on our[d] behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Ruth 4 final–you can’t make this stuff up.

Disney could not of created a better story.  Ruth married Boaz.  Their great grandson was David—A man after God’s own heart.  The King that would unite Israel and finally bring peace to God’s people.  David the patriarch of Jesus.  All from a Moabite woman that refused to leave her dear mother-in-law in a desperate situation.  So many times, the selfless act we complete carry such huge dividends that we are unable to get or minds around them.  Neither Ruth or Boaz acted the way they did for the impact and reward that followed—they simply acted in a way that honored God.

In our lives we do the same thing.  We often take steps to honor God with no expectation of changing the world…Yet, the world gets changed because we did.  That should be motivation enough to always behave in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel.  We may never see the impact, but, by faith we can know that God’s plan is flawless and our willing obedience and submission is a recipe for blessing and success.  Then, when we stand before him the crowd will roar and we will say, “what is all the fuss—and they will respond—Great job my friend the world was a bit different, because you changed it for the Lord!”  Well done—my good and faithful servants.

God Bless You

 13 So Boaz took Ruth she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”

16 Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. 17 The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” And they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Matthew 19 Final–With God all things are Possible

With God all things are possible.  It seems often that life is impossible.  Trials and temptations leave us stressed and feeling hopeless.  The great thing about God is that in the midst of the trials he is still in charge and executing his plan for our lives.  He is intimately concerned for us.  He is also amazingly generous in our lives.  We can never out give or out serve him.

God sees our hearts and is thrilled to prepare rewards for the efforts we have expended in our following him.  Like any dad, he does not love us based upon our efforts, but, he is thrilled to bless, direct and reward us for our faithfulness.  The distinction is understanding our behavior is not what saves us, but it is simply our faith that he is Lord and God has raised him from the dead that saves us.  Once saved, we cannot help but behave in a way that honors him.  We do it out of Love–not to obtain his Love.  None the less, he joyfully rewards our faithfulness and prepares for us an incredible inheritance in the kingdom to come.

Help me Lord to follow you knowing that I can never out give or out serve you.

God Bless You

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Matthew 19 part 1–The Pain of Divorce

The more things change, the more they remain the same.  The Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus with one of those real controversial issues of then and now—Divorce. Since Adam and Eve–marriage has remained under attack.  The enemy used sin to divide husband and wife at the beginning and continues to do so today.  The enemy has used strife, sexual immorality, social relativism and “tolerance” to so skew the lines that today as in Sodom and Gomorra, Greece and Rome the world has scrapped what a family is and replaced it with what people wish it to be.

Divorce inside and outside the church has broken many great people.  Praise God that he can restore the broken hearts.  He can bless new families that are committed to following him. As in Moses time, God allowed divorce then and does so now—but he hates it.  It is devastating and life altering.  He would rather see us cling to the covenant in all circumstance. He does continue to love his kids even after they have been broken.

As husbands, we need to love our wives and be the servant leader called for in Ephesians 5.  We need to be faithful in both word and deed. Our kids need to say of us—My dad loved my Mom and he loved us! Dads must be centered on God and his word and in prayer daily for wives and kids.  Wives must hold the family together as the chief of operations.  They have to turn the unruly group into a family and the house into a home. Most importantly, couples have to think and act as one. They are a united front against the world, its culture and the trials of parenting, finances and health.

Thank You, Lord for my wife—help her to remain secure in your love, my devotion and the plan you have prepared for us.

God Bless You

When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. Large crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick.

Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’[a]And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’[b] Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

“Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?”[c] they asked.

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful

Matthew 3 part 1 John the Baptist

In a coffee shop down from my office, one of the baristas is quite an accomplished guitarist and performer. He has become so good and so well known that he spends most of his weekends traveling around the country to be the warm up act for various Top rock and hip hop bands. The warm up band is an important part of a concert.  They keep the audience captivated for the main act and they set the tone for the evening.  While the warm up act is not the main thing, they still perform a critical role for the show. He is in high demand because he is very talented and very happy in his role. The same was true for Jesus’ warm up band.

Enter John the Baptist.  He was Jesus’ cousin.  He knew he was not God, he was however, the last prophet to appear before Christ’s ministry.  He was direct, he was rough and he had no intention of being the main stage band. He knew his job was to change the mind of the people to prepare for the Lord’s coming.  He told the folks to repent and follow God.  He chided the religious leaders for their lack of insight on the times and their people.  He simply told the truth and drew the masses that needed to repent. He could have easily fallen prey to popularity and tried to become the star—but, he knew that was not his role.

We also need to know we are not the main stage band.  We need to direct our lives in a way that sets the stage for God and for Christ in our lives. We need to be glad that we are not center stage and the star—that role requires too much humility and sacrifice.  We simply need to  walk in a way that brings honor and glory to the lord.  As we do, he lifts us up and provides for our needs.  Help me Lord, to rock the house for you!

God Bless You

3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”[a]

4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

Grieving–Esther 4 part 1

When was the last time you grieved for the family of God.  Mordecai saw the edict and literally grieved for the future of his people. He was not merely sad, he was inconsolable.  The level of distress was not his concern for himself, but for the folks he loved.  We should be as concerned for our church and church family.  We live in an age where every special interest and enemy of God has the ear of the courts, the Government and the media.  We, as the church, seem to be without voice, without standing and without an ally to take up our cause.

 In the midst of that, we do not grieve, we simply take on each day’s survival and hope for the best.  We need to grieve.  We need to heighten our level of concern to the point our Lord talked about.  “When my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves, turn from their wicked ways and pray then I will hear them, restore them and heal their Land.” As a family, we need to humble ourselves and be on our face before God, grieving at what the world has become.  Help me Lord to humble myself and seek your face.

God Bless You

4 When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly. 2 But he went only as far as the king’s gate, because no one clothed in sackcloth was allowed to enter it. 3 In every province to which the edict and order of the king came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting, weeping and wailing. Many lay in sackcloth and ashes.

4 When Esther’s eunuchs and female attendants came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. 5 Then Esther summoned Hathak, one of the king’s eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.

6 So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

Everybody Loves Her–Esther 2

Esther learned the ways of a queen. She sought no special treatment and listened to the counsel of those who knew what to do and how to behave. She was no diva.  So when it was time for her to be presented to the King, she had won the hearts of all with whom she had come into contact. When she then was presented to the king, Esther also won the heart of the King.

When we seek God, follow his lead and submit to his teaching—he then allows us to find favor with those we come into contact with. We are somehow different and attractive because we are selfless and humble.  God helps us to live the way in which we were created to live and in that way we are special.  Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”  Help me Lord to listen and walk humbly according to your plan.

God Bless You

 12 Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics. 13 And this is how she would go to the king: Anything she wanted was given her to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace. 14 In the evening she would go there and in the morning return to another part of the harem to the care of Shaashgaz, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the concubines. She would not return to the king unless he was pleased with her and summoned her by name.

15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality

Esther 1 a picture of God’s Soveriegnty

The book of Esther one of the best illustrations in God’s word of the providence of God coupled with submission and humility of his chosen can allow God to provide and protect his own and Glorify himself before men.  The Story begins with the opposite lesson.  Vashti was unwilling to submit to the King and the result cost her position in the Kingdom and opened the door for God to provide and protect his people in a time and place that offered little hope off either provision or protection.

The study of Esther gives us hope that in the midst of oppression and dire circumstance, God himself shines the brightest through those that trust and obey him. Many Kings have reigned and fallen, but God’s plan has continued to progress and his people have continued to stand separate from the fates of the world. If we, like Esther and Mordicai, surrender to his plan and follow his leadership, we can stand as Esther did in peace that God will provide and protect those he loves.  Help me, Lord to surrender to your leadership and honor you with my life.

God Bless You

On the seventh day of the feast, when King Xerxes was in high spirits because of the wine, he told the seven eunuchs who attended him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas— 11 to bring Queen Vashti to him with the royal crown on her head. He wanted the nobles and all the other men to gaze on her beauty, for she was a very beautiful woman. 12 But when they conveyed the king’s order to Queen Vashti, she refused to come. This made the king furious, and he burned with anger.

13 He immediately consulted with his wise advisers, who knew all the Persian laws and customs, for he always asked their advice. 14 The names of these men were Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, and Memucan—seven nobles of Persia and Media. They met with the king regularly and held the highest positions in the empire.

15 “What must be done to Queen Vashti?” the king demanded. “What penalty does the law provide for a queen who refuses to obey the king’s orders, properly sent through his eunuchs?”

16 Memucan answered the king and his nobles, “Queen Vashti has wronged not only the king but also every noble and citizen throughout your empire. 17 Women everywhere will begin to despise their husbands when they learn that Queen Vashti has refused to appear before the king. 18 Before this day is out, the wives of all the king’s nobles throughout Persia and Media will hear what the queen did and will start treating their husbands the same way. There will be no end to their contempt and anger.

God is Peace and Grants Us Peace

In the midst of war and chaos—War among political parties, among shoppers in malls, among union workers and those who have now gained the right to work apart from unions.  Nations and terrorists, rulers and their own people.  Parents and Children, employers and their staff.  Churches and governments. Courts and the electorate.    There is absolute chaos throughout the World. But, our God delivers peace in the chaos. In the center of a Hurricane is the Eye.  Those that have experienced the true force of a Hurricane say that the eye is like a paradise after the force of the storm.dove-of-peace

God is that peace in the middle of the storm.  He does not promise a storm free life.  He actually warns that the journey will be filled with turbulence and trouble.  But he promises that if we fully rely upon him- he will be that eye in the storm.  He will be the haven where rest can finally happen. Please be aware that the eye is usually followed by more storm.  But the rest can mean survival for those who are facing the storm.

We need to brace for difficult circumstance.  But we must also dive into the loving arms off a God of peace.  We need to cling to him, cry on him, nuzzle into him and allow his unfathomable peace to pour over us. He told us—Fear not!!! I will be with you!

God Bless You

Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:9
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
1 Thessalonians 5:23
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 13:20
Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
2 Chronicles 20:30
And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.
Isaiah 9:6
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 52:7
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Matthew 5:9
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Acts 10:36
You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
Romans 14:17
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,
Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:33
The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
1 Corinthians 14:33
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
2 Corinthians 13:11
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Galatians 6:16
Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God.