Monthly Archives: November 2011

Joseph, The Prototype of Him Who is To Come

A significant portion of Genesis is devoted to the life of Joseph. It the story of family, government, investment and prosperity in a down economy, relationships, discretion and everything else that life presents today. It is no wonder that God lays out in the very first book a great example of life at its fullest. The greatest lesson of all is Joseph’s life with God. He is in a sense a prototype of Jesus Christ.  We can learn much from studying the lives of the men and women that God highlights in the Bible. They show us each individually pieces of what the ultimate life of Christ embodied.

Joseph’s life was by no means easy, but it was full of success. Most everyone knows the story of how his brothers threw him in a pit and he was captured and taken  to Egypt and ended up at the right hand of Pharoah to handle all his business (prototype alert – who is at the right hand of God?).  Pharoah was not a right-winged Israelite, but he could recognize that the spirit of God worked in Joseph when Joseph’s brother did not. Imagine that!

Genesis 41:38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?

Joseph was good at what he did and the whole country of Egypt thrived even when the the world was in famine. Joseph respected and listened to God.  It was more than just obedience, it was love,  respect and thankfulness for all God can do. I imagine Joseph had great human qualities but it was God that was the wind in his sails. He was human just like us. He experienced hurt and injustice throughout his life. In forgiving his brothers, he listened to God so as to bring about change, restoration and help for them.

Forgiveness can be slow. It can take time, not because God is dragging His feet, but because the humans involved may be slow in believing. God can work at lightening fast speed if we let Him. Joseph wanted his family restored immediately but it became a developing story because of human lack of understanding and receptivity. So he trusted God to help him with the timing. God will do that for us too when we rely on his wisdom and grace. Sometimes God has to teach us to move on in some cases for our own well-being. Regardless, God has our best interests at heart.

Egypt got the benefits of God because Joseph obeyed God. Pharoah listened to Joseph. He realized it so much so that he acted on what he recognized and respected Joseph and the God that he represented. God desires the best for everyone including Pharoah and the Egyptians. Today everyone can have the spirit of God residing in his own heart because of what God provided through Jesus Christ.  That is amazing! We are coated with amazing technicolor spiritually as we move through life and its ups and downs. As we respect God and as we recognize the work of His son, Jesus Christ, we realize the spiritual side of life down to the smallest details through the three ‘R’s’ of the divine life: recognizing, realizing and respecting.

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Maturity

Newborn babies receive milk from their mothers. It is food that has already been digested, filtered and repackaged in an easily digestible form for those whose digestive systems are immature and are not fully ready to receive solid food and break it down for themselves. Solid food has to be introduced later gradually as the young infant’s system is able to break down complex chunks of food and utilize the nutrients for growth.

Paul speaks about the symptoms of immaturity in the body of Christ  throughout the book of  I Corinthians:

I Corinthians 3:1-3 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk (link – milk), not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? (NIV)

To grow up in Christ takes time, the Word, and practice. In Romans, God shows us the the beautiful wholeness we have in Jesus Christ. What God wrought in Christ is the foundation of our believing and as we believe we, have the completeness and assurance that only God can give. The wisdom and understanding of God’s heart is given to us and we become more and more seasoned in that assurance. We exhibit that confidence in our relationships with others. We grow up.

In Corinthians, we can read about the failure to practice that which has been set out in Romans. It is a reproof epistle, so things like, quarreling, jealousies, following one man over another, division and several other things are addressed. If we look at Christianity today, we cannot help but wonder what God thinks of so many denominations, non-denominations and organizations who claim to be the body of Christ. Honestly, religion seems very divisive. We all recognize this.

The subject of maturity in God’s word is a topic in Hebrews 5:12-14:

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat (Link – meat). For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

When we get to the place where we take on the responsibility to work the Word for ourselves and not just sheepishly (baa!) accept somebody else’s pre-digested material without even thinking about it, we grow. It is not wrong to have teachers, but not to the end we become spiritual hitchhikers and passively accept infant pablum. As we practice the Word in our lives we learn to exercise discretion and biblical perception in handling life’s situations. That is when we, ourselves, become good teachers.

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Off The Treadmill – God’s Moment!

The greek word for ‘time’ in Ephesians 5:16 is ‘kairos’.

 13But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.15See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:13-16)

E W Bullinger in his Companion Bible, ‘Appendix 195’, defines two words for time:

1. chronos, time, duration unlimited unless defined;

2. kairos, a certain limited and definite portion of chronos, the right time or season;

I am so excited this morning because this distinction has brought clarity to something I practically have known for a while. ‘Kairos’ is an opportunity; ‘chronos’ is the continuum of time.  I always thought this verse meant ‘get busy!’  So often we schedule ourselves into a busy lifestyle with good intentions, ‘burning the rubber on the road’ without producing the results we would expect for all that activity. So how is that ‘redeeming the time’?

I found another usage of ‘kairos’  in Galatians 6:10 in the word ‘opportunity’.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

This shows the focus on quality of the moment, rather than the tick tock motion of time. It makes perfect sense to me that the opportune moment from God is the most fruitful moment! These types of moments are acquired (notice I did not say ‘achieved’). One can’t ‘work’ for opportune moments, they are provided by believing grace.

We are to grab those moments, open doors, opportunities and make the most of them, not backing away nor overdoing them. There is a season for action, (remember the Pete Seeger song? or better yet how about Ecclesiastes 3:1ff) a time to “Turn, Turn, Turn”.  Nothing is static and when an opportune turn shows up, seize the moment. Time in ‘redeeming the time’ is the ‘moment of God’. The more and more one understands God and believes, these moments pop up everywhere! It is not conditional on your station in life, or your career choice; it is about knowing and believing. This kind of time is certainly not mundane or boring. It is exciting!

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False Security of Privilege vs True Completeness

The Bible says numerous times that God is no respecter of persons (link – respect of persons). God makes it clear that all believers in this administration of grace were meant to receive holy spirit.  God is able to have a relationship with each and every person who chooses to believe.

God is the author of justice and fairness. Just the concept of providing a one-time sacrifice in His son Jesus Christ to justify all of mankind (John 3:16 For God so loved…) is a huge example of God’s desire for justice and justness is love. This is clearly laid out in Romans.

Natural man is self-centered and tries to initiate a measurement system himself that favors his own privilege.   Man always tries to insure his own success.  He seeks to fill his own incompleteness with fillers and value those things that seemingly add to his value. In his relationships to others he constructs a measuring stick by which he can measure his success.  This gives him a false security when he perceives his stock is higher than someone else’s. It is no surprise that in his strivings, he compromises certain tenets to maintain his position. This is very evident today in the media, politics, religion, sports, the arts and philosophy. It is everywhere.

Romans 9:29 And as Esaias said before, Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha.

In his justness, God has provided the human race with an out to striving. It doesn’t matter who you are, the playing field is even and Jesus Christ is passing the ball. Who ever heard of one player on a team trying to interfere with another player on the same team so he could get the ball and score the points and do the touchdown dance? It is certainly not easy to win that way! Jesus Christ calls the play, each of us does our individual part and that’s how the game is won.

 2 Corinthians 10:12For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (link – comparing with/among)

God says it is stupid to compare ourselves to one another.  We need to believe in the our completeness in Christ, do our parts heartily and reap the benefits. No one else can define our playbook.

Romans 14:4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

There are some amazing things God works through each individual when he/she lets God define the walk. Every person is capable of generating fruitful work for God.

1 Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Check out Luke 11:13! Why would God empower each person with the same measure of spirit if that were not so?

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Love of God is Love is God is love……..

So often when we refer to the love of God, we define His love by what we know from past experiences, or by definitions man has developed from his own vantage point.  The greatest source of what God’s love is comes from God, himself. 

We love him, because he first loved us. I John 4:19

God’s love is unmistakeable but there are many born again people who have not fully realized how much God loves them. This is due to wrong information about God through misinformation, mis-teaching and wily forces of manipulation. God, however, has not left us without witness (Romans 1:19, Isaiah 44:24, Acts 17:24-31, Psalm 19, Job 38-41) :

Acts 14:17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

 I John 4:1b Beloved, let us love one another:for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 

This type of love cannot be defined by man, the media, psychologists, scientists, and even theologians if they haven’t recognized it for themselves. It is impossible to love others the way God would have us to love, if we don’t know God’s love.

The first step is becoming a child of God. Next,  it is vitally important that one continues to get to know God.  The third step is believing it!

I John 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

When we recognize how much God loves us, it overflows to others. It is genuine love based on truth. It is not messy, sentimental, human love. We get to the point that even when people act weirdly or hurtfully towards us, we can still love them because we know they just haven’t seen or refused to believe how much God loves them. Some have filled the gaps in their hearts with other forms of of caulk to keep them busy.  That doesn’t mean we put up with nonsense, God’s standards are love.  God, in His infinite wisdom, shows us in His word how to personally deal with such scenarios and that’s love too! That kind of love is fearless!

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Idol Work is Idle Work

Isaiah 44:12-20

12The smith with the tongs both worketh in the coals, and fashioneth it with hammers, and worketh it with the strength of his arms: yea, he is hungry, and his strength faileth: he drinketh no water, and is faint.

13The carpenter stretcheth out his rule; he marketh it out with a line; he fitteth it with planes, and he marketh it out with the compass, and maketh it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.

14He heweth him down cedars, and taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest: he planteth an ash, and the rain doth nourish it.

15Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindleth it, and baketh bread; yea, he maketh a god, and worshippeth it; he maketh it a graven image, and falleth down thereto.

16He burneth part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eateth flesh; he roasteth roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warmeth himself, and saith, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:

17And the residue thereof he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down unto it, and worshippeth it, and prayeth unto it, and saith, Deliver me; for thou art my god.

18They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.

19And none considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?

20He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?

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