Monthly Archives: April 2013

Revival is is Not Packaged, Manufactured, Sold or Taxed

Fishing season is coming up. My husband has already been dangling some bait. He is very particular about the bait.  The livelier it is, the bigger the chance for success to catch a hungry whopper! He is an expert at snagging a boatload of fish!

Genuine relational belief in God is very attractive.  I’m not talking about pre-fab believing, like doing all the right things that are expected. I’m talking about a human being that emanates all of the fruit of the spirit and genuinely cares for others and enjoys all things God.

Joseph, in the Genesis record was able to affect nations and influence a large number of people because he had connections to the true God. In the beginning of the record, his brothers didn’t seem to like him. They regarded him as a  goody two-shoes. As the Joseph record evolves, it all changes, not overnight, but slowly over the course of many years they matured and coalesced and became the future of the first nation of believers.

Joseph had to have had great thankfulness for the faithfulness of God. During certain periods of his life, he may felt lonely but he was steadfast. The amazing thing about him was that at those times, despite some people not liking him, he got the attention and honor of some pretty key individuals. Joseph rose to the top in Egypt, not because of his ambition, but because of his regard for God.

When God becomes real in a person’s thinking, a revival takes place. It is contagious and affects others, one way or another. The hope, peace, joy, expectation and genuine love is unmistakably from God and belongs to God. It cannot be bought, sold, invented or manipulated. God never controls us, we accept, protect and guard our hearts because we choose who we worship and follow. Choice is a valuable commodity. When we lose that choice howbeit ever so subtly or blatantly, we need to take note. Our choices are at the root of everything we do.


Have you ever been involved in a complex situation which seemed out of control with no answers on the horizon? Sometimes when I’m in those situations, I start questioning myself. From there it could go into guilt, sadness and hopelessness. When I start feeling guilty about something, it jars me awake and I then do what I’m supposed to do: ask God and honestly seek His resolution.


God’s solutions to the events in Joseph’s life attracted attention and glory for God. Joseph made many decisions. He chose to go to prison for refusing his master’s wife’ demands. He chose to explain the visions of the baker and the butler. He chose to help Pharaoh. He chose to do his best to provide for Egypt against the famine. He chose to help his family and provide for them as God worked with him. The bottom line is: Joseph chose to listen to God and that is what made him a success.

When Joseph explained Pharaoh’s dreams, he started with God:

Genesis 41:25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.

28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.

32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.

Pharaoh accepted what he said and put things in action:

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? 39And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: 40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

 These actions changed the course of Egypt’s history as well as brought about changes in Joseph’s family that continues to effect us today. I would call that revival!

 
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Finding My Way

In several of my posts I have written about two recurrent themes that are near and dear to me in my quest for truth. First: What is church and where can you find it? Second: What does the mystery mentioned in Ephesians 3 look like in reality? Actually both questions have the same answer.

On the day of Pentecost, God set in motion the greatest movement of all times.  It started with those in the first century that believed what Jesus Christ was all about and accepted God’s gift of holy spirit  as an inner assurance of the new birth and connection to the body of Christ of whom Jesus Christ is the head.

Holy spirit makes an individual one with the Father as well as one with the son. We are one with each other as we walk in their light together. This is the church.

I John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

God is the all in all and he made Jesus Christ the head of His church. The born again believers are the body of Christ and work in connection to the head spiritually. Jesus Christ is not absent, retired, or inactive. He is building the church. There is only one head of the body. The synergism in the church all rests and thrives on this set-up. No one earthly organization is THE body of Christ.

The current popular concept of church has evolved through the ages. In those early days after Pentecost it was the people that were the church, not the buildings. Soon people started to organize and frame the human concept of church. Bigger was better needing a building and a boss. Crosses were later put on top of  buildings, stained glass in windows and pews and pulpits became furniture.

Even today when a group starts out as a small home unit like in the book of Acts, priorities can change. I have seen this evolve as a small living room circle gets rearranged into rows and a coffee table as a mini-pulpit.  From there it grows until there is an invisible altar rail. Soon instead of faithful seasoned elders and deacons, we hear about reverends, clergy and laity; none of which is written about in the Bible.

Leadership in the first century existed and started with the apostles.  In Ephesians 4, God records other functioning gift ministries in the body such as prophets, pastors, evangelists and teachers.  These are positions of service through which God in Christ in an individual energizes to help build up the church of God. The goal of the ministries is to help individuals rise up to their calling and function as individuals in the collecting body of Christ. All born again believers are ministers of the word to bring hearts to the one true God. For various reasons, certain abilities, desire and believing, God utilizes individuals to specifically involve themselves in His projects. Gift ministries are under rowers not overlords. They don’t carry a neon sign. Their lives weave in and throughout life knitting for the Master, sometimes recognized, often not.

Our current religious system is set up with all flavors and sizes of church. For me, I have no problem attending any or all of them that are based on God, His word and His Christ. We all need fellowship with others who believe and who live for helping others find their way to God. We live in a world that is designed to pull people away from God, not toward him.

I absolutely treasure my relationships with those who are humble to God and have learned the true grace ethic of discipleship. Fellowship with others who love and trust God is absolutely wonderful. We all need to help and be helped. We are not developing a brand of theology, but a way of life and trust of God. Ultimately, no one can do that for anyone else. We all have the power of God if we choose to utilize it. We can help by reminding each other of what God has given us through His Word and His spirit. It is the best way to grow up in Christ:

Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

 

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People and ‘Real’ationships

‘Real’ationships are an amazing study and perhaps no greater revelation can be found in Genesis chapters 42 and 43 about Joseph’s relationships with his brothers.  It is a story of true forgiveness, redemption and reconciliation: the three  ‘R’s’ of relational wholeness. There is so much embedded in this record that just a surface reading is not enough, but it is significant piece of learning how humans interact where two forces, good and evil exist together.

On the one hand, we read about Joseph whose goodness is revealed as the story in Genesis continues. Joseph trusted God as he rose to the top in Egypt. On the other side of the story is the record of Joseph’s brothers and their very human nature. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers due to their jealousies, anger and rebellion. They, for the most part, were entrenched in fear.

Fear affects thinking.  It causes misjudgment, hard feelings and uneasy relations. Imagined scenarios are the result, not reality. Have you ever had a difficult interaction with someone and you realized that they were thinking evil of you and there was nothing you could do to convince them of your genuineness towards them. In dealing with hurts, sometimes time has to heal (like a pulled muscle). At other times it means pulling away (like burning your hand when the potholder slips). Pulling away need not be permanent as we see in the record of Joseph, but it requires protection that only the wisdom of God can give.

In chapter 42 and 43 of Genesis, E.W. Bullinger (The Companion Bible) points out 4 steps in the reconciliation of Jacob’s sons. The whole record of Joseph from the time of being thrown in a pit to the time when he is united with his brothers is over the course of 22 years. The first step on Joseph’s part is to speak roughly to them. His brothers didn’t recognize him. Joseph, however, did not immediately break down, reveal his heart to them and they lived happily ever after. He needed to see change in them otherwise he was in danger.

After his second action of throwing them in jail, he overheard them making references to the fact that they were remorseful over what they had done to to their brother. The scene of him stripped of his beautiful coat at the bottom of the pit in anguish popped up during there incarceration. They were scared. Their fear was punishing them not God. This conversation showed Joseph some of their change in heart (the beginning of repentance).

They had come to Egypt to buy corn during a famine. Joseph sold them food and told them to go back to their land leaving Simeon behind in jail (interesting choice). He asked them to bring back their youngest brother (who was his full blood brother having the same mother).  Joseph had their money put back in their packs secretly (Bullinger’s 3rd step) and sent them on their way. When they discovered the money returned, again they had fearful thoughts. Guilt does nothing but breed more fear. They were carrying a lot of baggage in their heads, not just on their animals. Have you noticed that people who carry a lot of baggage tend to read its weight into relationships they have? That baggage conjures up negative emotions in their hearts and it is difficult dealing with them. Fear is at the base of it.

Finally, as the famine continued they went back to Egypt with the youngest son of Jacob in tow and were treated well in Egypt. Joseph still did not reveal who he was. Joseph gave them more supplies and sent them home, however he planted a silver cup in Benjamin’s pack unbeknownst to them.  Joseph sent guards after them to search for the silver cup and it was found in Benjamin’s pack. Benjamin was the favored brother of Jacob.  Judah asked to take the punishment for the theft instead of Benjamin because of the hurt that it would incur to his father to lose another son. It was at this point finally Joseph could reveal who he was and after 22+ years Judah had changed and matured. Only God could have provided the way to effect the change.  Look at the blessing gave Judah at the end of his life in 49:8-10:

Genesis 49:8 Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. 9 Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up?10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Our difficulties with people and situations we find ourselves in can best be dealt with by giving the situation to God. A fellow blogger wrote that this is like getting on a moving sidewalk and moving forward through life regardless of the scenery. I like that analogy!

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At The Well Again

In John 4, is one of my favorite sections. As I learn more and more about this record, the more I marvel at what God has done for us. As Jesus talks to the woman at the well, the conversation is a foreshadowing of the relationship involved in true fellowship, in spirit and in truth. This relationship would transcend cultural barriers, religious barriers, race barriers, and gender barriers. Jesus makes a great statement at the end of this section:

John 24:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain (Mt Gerizim); and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

It is interesting to note the location  and history of this well:

John 4: 3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. 4 And he must needs go through Samaria. 5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

In this record there are ‘Jacob’ and ‘Joseph’ references about the spot that Jesus stopped for a drink. Wells were very significant in those cultures, they were essential for life. It was evident in the Old Testament and New Testament.

Many scholars put a huge emphasis on the administrations of the Bible.  Some scholars divide the book into seven or eight sections along God’s time line. (See ‘The Big Picture’ section in the tabs above) References to the past administrations are often referred to in other sections. It isn’t God who divided the Bible up into testaments, chapters and verses. Man did it. God is faithful and we learn from all sections of the Bible. We are reminded in John chapter four of the significant past events that occurred in this very place. The promised seed from Genesis walked in the same areas in the gospels. He was the living water!

The Samaritans were a culture of half-breed hebrews due to frequent intermarriage with people who were transported to and settled in Samaria which was north of Jerusalem. There is a large amount of historical evidence about the antagonism between the Samaritans of the north and Judeans of the southern area around Jerusalem. Yet in this recorded conversation, Jesus’s attitude toward her was not one of contempt but a reaching out to her heart:

John 4:9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew(Judean), askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

Jesus Christ is the end of thirst. There is absolutely no substitute for him. If you have ever known spiritual thirst for God, there is no farther to look than to His son whether you are a Judean, Samaritan, Gentile, male or female. He is the living water and brings life into tired parched lives.

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An Answer of Peace

egypt_manAfter Joseph settled in in Egypt, he became very successful in prospering his first boss, the captain of the guard. Joseph managed his household until the captain’s wife put him in a bad position by lying and Joseph was thrown into prison. While he was there, two cell mates joined him. These men had some strange dreams that perplexed them and God gave Joseph the explanations of the visions. One of men became Joseph’s ‘get out of jail free’ card and brought Joseph before Pharaoh who also had some dreams that troubled him. Pharaoh asked Joseph to interpret his two-part dream. Joseph’s response was electrifying:

And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace. Genesis 41:16

Joseph was able to give Pharaoh the answer he needed. The answer would have far-reaching effects on not only Egypt, but on Joseph’s family and Israel as well. Joseph fully acknowledged the role of God in giving him the understanding of the visions.  God is the only one that can give supernatural revelation.  It is up to God to reveal the meaning for His own purpose. When a man or woman is given revelation to speak what God wants spoken, there is always a very good reason for the revelation and it is solution-orientated. God’s gift in operation is an infusion of love in a challenging world. This is not about a gray bearded man standing on a street corner yelling ‘sinners repent’ at all the passer-bys.

And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Genesis 41:32-33

The vision was doubled and God had Joseph explain that when a vision is doubled, it is established and will happen soon. God is ‘the master’ of communication. We can apply this same principle when we hear from God. God gave Pharaoh a picture from two different angles just to establish it for him. Pharaoh accepted God’s love and he got an ‘answer of peace’. God is eager to help!

Today we have all the tools for our own quest for an ‘answer of peace’ in all situations. God wants us to have peace. We are human so that it can be challenging to believe. We absolutely need God’s assurance daily. How many times have you presented a challenging situation to God and then just happen to be reading in a certain section of the Bible and the answer just pops up in your reading. Or how about the times you have wondered about something and then you meet up with someone that says the right thing at the right time and you know it is from God. It might come from a little child, a friend, family member or a complete stranger (like a stewardess on an airplane).

Pharoah indeed took heed to what Joseph spoke and his respect for Joseph was very clear.

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

Every person who acknowledges God’s resurrection of Jesus Christ and accepts God’s provision of Jesus Christ as our lord has the spirit of God resident within. We also have the magnificent instruction manual to operate it and we have God’s genuine, eager love.  Yes, life is messy, but we can always have an answer of peace!

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