Tag Archives: faithfulness

Only God…

Gen 40 dreamsaGenesis 40  Wonder what life in Pharaoh’s Palace was like? We need to look no further than this chapter before us. There is intrigue, questions about loyalty and the power of the scepter! Sounds much like the story of Esther where a despot ruled and people fell or rose according to the king’s whim. This was not nirvana but real life. There were suffering and tempers that must be soothed. While the cupbearer and the baker walked the palace halls, Joseph walked the prison floors. All three would become entwined just because of unexplainable dreams and God’s intervention.  Two officials ended up in a dungeon where they met Joseph their newly appointed attendant. Even palace prisoners have a hierarchy it seems.

Committed to this prison for a crime he did not commit, Joseph weathered this trial with dignity, honor, and integrity. What are the possibilities that three men and three dreams would bring glory to the power of the Lord God Almighty? Only by God’s sovereign will! Joseph interprets the prisoner’s dreams which come true in a mere three days. He pleads with the cupbearer to remember him when he stood before Pharaoh but like us many times, the cupbearer forgot. The calendar pages turned and Joseph’s routine did not change—until that fateful day. Two years later when Pharaoh had unexplainable dreams the negligent cupbearer hung his head in shame and God’s plan was put into place. Joseph was not only released but became second to Pharaoh!

The life of Joseph teaches us how to take one day at a time and not lose hope. Are you losing hope because there seems to be no end to this saga you are facing? Are you prepared to remain faithful as Joseph did?

 

 

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In What Do You Delight?

hosea 6 fleeting sunrise.2ajpg

Hosea 6  Hosea reminds the Israelites that God sees their unfaithfulness just like the morning mist which disappears with the sunrise. Their sacrifices lay upon the altars but are not consumed because of their broken relationship.  God is calling them, and us, to delight in Him alone!  He delights in our faithfulness to Him, not sacrifices or burnt offerings. He delights in our acknowledgment of Him.

This week we heard a young Swede say: God is archaic! God’s words do not bring hope!  You should feel fear each and every day!  Yet, we who know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob know this truth: God is the God of peace and contentment. His words bring us hope “and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts..” [Rom 5] Hebrews reminds us that because God is omniscient we should be careful not to “be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings.” Instead, cling to this truth: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” [Heb 13] because  even if “Heaven and earth passes away, His words will never pass away.” [Mark 13 author paraphrase]

Beloved, where are you not delighting in God? Where have you fallen for the mantra of the idols of wood, stone, and that which perishes?  God says “return to me, and I will return to you.” [Mal 3]

 

Funerals and Eulogies

What words would you want to be said at your funeral? Think about it.

Joshua 24:29  We have walked from Egypt to Israel with this great man of God who now is called, like Moses, the “Lord’s servant.” If by some miraculous means you could hear what is said at your funeral what would that be?  What would you like God to call you? Joshua had served faithfully under the guidance of Moses and now the title of the Lord’s Servant is bestowed upon him. He was not only faithful but diligent to do all that the Lord had commanded.

Joshua 24a will wilson

Jesus told a parable that illustrates Joshua’s life in Matt 25. A man went on a journey but entrusted his property to his slaves. To one he gave 5 talents, to another 2 and to another 1. The men with 5 and 2 were faithful to reap where the Master had not sown. They heard the Master praise them and commend them; well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of the Lord. However, the one to whom 1 talent was given said: I knew you were a hard taskmaster so I hid the talent because I feared you and he handed it back to the Master. The Master said, thou wicked servant.  His talent was taken from him and given to the one who had reaped double.

God has blessed you richly with His talents to be used for His work. Joshua reaped his talents beyond what he could have imagined! He obeyed and received the blessing.

Beloved, May you obey so that you will hear the words bestowed upon Joshua: the Lord’s servant.

 

Prov 5 “The Price of Unfaithfulness”

ImageDid you ever purchase a bag of apples which look beautiful on the outside but when you open one it is filled with rottenness? Or do you recall Snow White who took a bite of the apple that outwardly was beautiful but inwardly was filled with poison that caused her to fall into the sleeping death which could only be broken by the kiss of the prince?  Unfaithfulness or infidelities are the poisons that rob us when we fail to be faithful to our vows. The effects are seen and felt both within ourselves but also in those we vowed to love till death do us part. “Mainstream sociologists would tell us that taking one’s faith very seriously—in word and deed—does indeed make a marked positive difference in the health and longevity of marriage.” [Gospel Coalition] It is not because they are perfect but they take their vows seriously in sharp contrast to the first century religious leaders who came to test Jesus in Matthew 19 on the question of divorce.  But the problem of divorce did not begin there, it began where Jesus said: “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hard hearts, but from the beginning it was not this way.” Thus the real crux of marital infidelity begins in the heart.  We see it in three ways:   

  1. We fail to realize the ways of the enemy’s seducing power. We should be wary of this because we saw in the Garden of Eden how Satan seduced and then deceived Eve. The author of Proverbs begins:  be attentive, pay close attention. Open your ear gate and incline it to listen with intent.
  2. We need to put safeguards around our emotions and our hearts lest the enemy draw us away through what looks inviting but only leads to death. Eve saw the fruit as good for food, would make her wise but failed to obey God’s warning not to eat from it.  Snow White saw that the fruit was good for food but failed to see that the outer covering was deceptive. It was desirable but a beautiful outer covering shielded what lay within.
  3. We fail to recall the counsel of God or add to his words. Eve truly recalled that the tree was not to be eaten but she added not touch it. Truly Satan’s words are as seductive and smoother than olive oil but in the end bitter as wormwood which lead down to the well of spiritual death.

 Failing to be attentive, failing to place safeguards around our marriages opens our ear and eye gates to the deception of the enemy’s ways. When we taste that which is forbidden we face the consequences as the Proverbs father told his son. Thus the father’s wise advice is to protect yourself in your youth lest your body be ravaged with sin’s poisons. Listen now so that one day you will not recall and say I hated the discipline of my father’s counsel, and my heart spurned reproof both by him and my teachers. Know this principle: “For the ways of a person are in front of the Lord’s eyes and the Lord weighs all that person’s paths.”

The bottom line begins here: Pro 4:23 Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life.  And Mar 12:33 “love God with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” Today, whether you are married or single, divorced or in a remarriage know this: God is always willing to restore and bless the repentant. Will you purposefully choose to be faithful?

 

Satan’s Defeat and Christ’s Promise

ImageIn 1903 a Sikh named Sundar Singh struggled to know the truth. After he grew he became bitter and angered at God but on this day, 19 December 1903, he began to pray that God would reveal himself—if he really existed. If not, Sundar planned to throw himself in front of the morning train. For seven hours he prayed. “O God, if there is a God, reveal yourself to me tonight.”  As he prayed a man appeared before him with nail-pierced hands, saying, “How long will you deny me? I died for you; I have given my life for you.” He knew it was Christ. From that point on until his death he proclaimed the truth of the gospel message even in the midst of hardship and persecution in the Tibetan region.

As we read the words of Revelation we are reminded of this one man and countless others who gave their lives to serve and to reach the lost with the gospel message. Today as we read Revelation chapter 12 we find solace in one thing and that is once again God’s mercy is overflowing to the ones who recognize the Son of God as the Messiah. He will protect them and prepare a special place just as he did for Sundar in his travels about India and Tibet. He remained uncompromising in his faith and his walk for Jesus. And we must do that as well.

In the future miracles will prove that there are true believers through three acts/attitudes (1) the blood of the Lamb which they now know is their cleansing of sin, (2) the word of their testimony, (3) they did not love their lives so much that they would want to preserve it but rather will be willing to suffer and die for His Name’s Sake.

If we are faithful the words of Jesus will be a living reality: permission to eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God, not be harmed by the second death, the hidden manna and a new name written in glory, authority over nations, a new white garment and his name forever etched in the book of life, and to join Christ upon his throne. [Rev 2&3]

We must be about the business of sharing and praying for the many who are even today being martyred for all of these three things. Are you/am I  prepared to be an overcomer this day? Cling to His promise: I will protect  you and I will never leave you nor forsake you.

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Psalm 108 “When Morning Gilds the Skies”

ImageWhat was your morning like today? Did you wake up chipper and raring to go or dragging? How do you begin your day, with or without a time alone with God? King David was both a morning person and also a night owl. Although busy with kingdom issues, David found time to be alone with God in reading and in prayer. God was his priority no matter the kingdom or family issues before him. We would be wise to learn from him how to juggle our thoughts and our time.

Ps 108 begins with this thought: my heart is fixed or steadfast, my heart is confident or as the MSG puts it “I’m ready, God, so ready from head to toe.” When we begin our time alone with God can we say we are ready to hear from him or are our minds so saturated with the busyness before us that we find it hard to focus?

David continues on to share how he gets ready to be with God; he sings and praises God with all of his heart. This alerts our mind to focus in on who God is and prepares us to listen to him. What song comes to mind when you think of praising Him? Here’s one of old:

                   When morning gilds the skies

                   my heart awakening cries: 

                   May Jesus Christ be praised! 

                   Alike at work and prayer,

                   to Jesus I repair: 

                  May Jesus Christ be praised!

In vs 2 David says awake, O stringed instrument and harp. Long ago often they would place their stringed instruments near to their place of sleep much like you place your alarm clock by your bed. But instead of that buzz, buzz, buzz, they would hear the breezes flowing and touching the strings which would cause the strings to vibrate and awaken them with beautiful music. What a beautiful picture of how God’s gentleness touches us.

Once awake David, as he did in Ps 57:7-11 and Ps 60: 5-12 (repetition of this psalm), began to give praises to God for his lovingkindness and his faithfulness. He is overwhelmed by the thought that God is so great that these two attributes extend beyond the sky. God is limitless as are his attributes; they span the universe that even we cannot see or fathom.

As you ponder who God is and think ahead, why not make a date with God for your time alone with him  in the wee hours of the morning and let His breezes awaken you to His soft voice proclaiming His lovingkindness and faithfulness. What a marvelous tool to start our day!

“Are You a Forward Thinker?”

Image A precious friend has recently left us for eternity. One of his family members wrote: “I know that Sonny, already has a project and is busy at work in the kingdom.” Another friend [Bob] passed away many years ago but his memory is always before me. He was known for this verse: I would rather stand at the entrance to the temple of my God than live in the tents of the wicked. [Ps 84:10] It is easy to picture both busy in the work in heaven for their work here on earth was a mirror of their heavenly mindset; always looking to serve in whatever capacity to whomever God brought across their path. They were what I call, “forward thinkers” for they would often reference heaven as their destination. It made up their mindset. Is this our focus too?  

Have you ever met someone you would call a “forward thinker”? Their mind is always on the eternal perspective not the temporal. As we saw in Matt 24, the disciples were as of yet not “forward thinkers.” Their minds were on the here and now as was evidenced by the fact they were enamored by the beauty of Herod’s temple. To enable them to change their mindset, Jesus takes the opportunity to once again disciple through two parables about faithfulness and stewardship. The third story explains or ties up the Olivet Discourse and is about end time judgment. Hampton Keathley IV wrote: “These parables are designed to teach the imminent return of Christ. It could be real soon, or it could be a long time away. But either way, we need to go ahead and live our lives but stay prepared. We need to live and work like the master is going to be back any minute. Because we are going to be rewarded for how hard we worked while he was gone.”

In addition, Jesus is preparing his disciples to recognize there will be an accounting; a reckoning of that which the Lord has entrusted to us, be it oil, talents or ministry to the least of these. Also, there are two groups: the faithful vs the unfaithful. To the faithful is given eternal life, blessing and admittance and to the unfaithful there are the words accursed along with weeping and gnashing of teeth and exclusion. Jesus’ repetition of a truth using different words helps us to see and to understand. Think of it this way. Just as a recipe has many ingredients so the stories have ingredients to teach a basic truth or truths. A recipe can call for baking powder or leavening, it matters not what you label it, it serves the same purpose: it is key to make bread rise. The “ingredients” (oil, talents, ministry) in these stories are part and parcel of the whole; they are explaining how faithfulness and stewardship are God’s gifts to be a part of his whole recipe/plan for men. Each parable gives a different view of how each ingredient brings the recipe to its full completion. By using illustrations of day to day life in the familiarity of his audience, and in this case the disciples, they began to see through the illustrations about weddings, talents and the “least of these.” But how did all of that work to bring about God’s plan? This is the “aha” moment! As they listened, and later pondered, they began to see what James said later: So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. The key is “by itself.” Just as if you misunderstood the use of baking powder/leavening as key ingredients, so in life if you misunderstand how faith and works cooperate to achieve the whole you will miss God’s plan, His recipe. Without the baking powder/leavening your recipe is flawed and so without both faith and works we cannot be true stewards of God’s gifts to us.  We cannot separate faith from works…they are part and parcel of the whole recipe.

Jesus calls us to be salt and light to the world, be wise and discerning, use the time you have been given, use the talents that were entrusted to you. We are not to just be “waiters but also watchers.”  We want to enter eternity and hear, “Welcome, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’  Jesus said the fields are ripe for harvest. Each of us has been entrusted with oil/talents/ministry. How are you using yours?

ImageThis is a key question for all of us and the Word has the answer. We all need to realize that accounting will truly happen. Are we ready? Are we prepared? Do we have the answer?