Forgotten

In PrisonI would imagine that Joseph had plenty of reasons to think that life was unfair.  Joseph may have had dreams of great things ahead, but instead his brothers kidnapped him, threw him into a pit, and sold him to be a slave in Egypt.  While Joseph eventually prospered as the chief slave in Potiphar’s house, there came that day of temptation when Joseph said “no”, Potiphar’s wife said “go”, and Joseph wound up in prison accused of something he didn’t do.

While in prison, Joseph managed a level of prosperity as God was “with” him.  When the Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker ended up in prison with Joseph, Joseph interpreted their dreams for them.  Things turned out exactly as Joseph predicted.  Things were looking up.  The cupbearer would be close to Pharaoh himself and could put in a good word for him.  Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. (Genesis 40:23)

It’s not hard to relate to Joseph’s life.  Things don’t always turn out the way we expect them to, or as soon as we hoped for.  Does God even care?  Does God even know?

Beloved, God does care, and when the time is right, it will happen.  Sometimes the other people involved in your future aren’t yet ready.  Sometimes you haven’t matured and learned what you need to learn.  The cupbearer may forget, but God does not.

On the Bus

BusLet me just get it out there.  I hate dieting.  I do not enjoy doing the kinds of things I need to do when my weight has gotten out of hand.  Some people seem to be able to eat whatever they want and they continue to look fit and trim.  Not me.  I only have to look at a finely crafted Christmas cookie and I will gain five pounds.  And believe me, there were a few cookies laying around my house recently (notice the “past” tense).  As much as I hate dieting, I have to reluctantly admit that there are advantages to being at a healthy weight.  There are a lot of ways to lose weight, but the way you do it isn’t as important as getting it done. It’s like getting on a bus to get to your destination. It doesn’t matter which bus you get on, as long as it gets where you’re going. The most important thing is picking a bus and staying on it.  By the way, I’m back on the bus.

One of the hidden treasures to dieting is learning that you can actually be successful at self-control. Esau was a guy lacking self-control.  When faced with choosing spiritual blessings or a tasty stew, he chose the stew.  And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” (Genesis 25:32)

Are there areas in your spiritual life where you’re struggling?  Are there areas of sin you think you can’t change?  Get on the bus beloved.  You can do this.

One Language

tower_of_babelThe Lord said, “If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. (Genesis 11:6)

After Noah’s flood, as humans began to repopulate the planet, a group of people began to build a tower reaching to heaven to keep God from ruling over them. When God saw their rebellious determination, God confused their language, and their building stopped.

We often think the “Tower of Babel” story is about the evils of one language, but it’s more about the power of understanding.  It’s not wrong that men learn to understand and speak each other’s language.  It’s only wrong when man’s goal is rebellion against God.

It’s a good thing to understand each other.  In fact, the concept of healthy communication is a powerful thing. When businessmen understand what their clients are asking for, business goes better.  When a husband and wife learn to understand what the other one is trying to say, things are much happier.  There is a kind of power that comes from understanding, but that power is only bad if it is aimed at rebelling against God. When your life is aimed at pleasing God, and you work hard to listen and understand those around you, you will go far.  Does that make sense?  Understand?

Coming Back

mount-of-olives-12-30On that day His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley… (Zechariah 14:4)

That’s the day that He comes back.  And you know He will indeed one day come back.  If you’ve been reading through the prophet Zechariah, you’ve probably noticed how many times the prophet “nails” events in the future.  Zechariah is the one that prophesied that the Temple would be rebuilt in the days of Zerubbabel.  He’s the one that prophesied that the Messiah would ride into town on a donkey.  He’s the one that prophesied that the Messiah would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver.  And that’s just some of the prophecies.  If he was right about those things, how accurate do you think he’ll be when he says that the Messiah will one day return, stand on the Mount of Olives, and the mountain will split in two?  He splits the mountain so the Jews who are trapped in Jerusalem will be able to escape those that are trying to wipe them out.  It is almost like the dividing of the Red Sea.

God knows how to deliver His people from their times of difficulty.  It’s what He does.  Are you going through a rough patch?  God knows how to shake things up in such a way that you are able to endure it (1Cor. 10:13).  Hang on beloved, He’s coming back!

Names

names-of-jesus-12-23For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Names don’t seem to mean as much today as they used to.  These days, parents seem more focused on coming up with “interesting” spellings or unheard of syllables.  In ancient days, names encapsulated the character of the person being named.  Even though you and I call Him Jesus, Isaiah gives us a few more names as well, names that describe our Wonderful Savior.

You may be facing difficult decisions.  You may be struggling with pain or tragedy in your life.  Be sure to make an appointment with our Wonderful Counselor.

Maybe you are feeling small and weak. Maybe you are in need of a miracle.  Jesus isn’t powerless, He’s the Mighty God.

I miss my dad.  He was the rock in our family.  I wish at times I could talk some things over with him.  Though my earthly dad is gone, I have an Everlasting Father.  And He’s a good, good Father.

Do the difficulties in life have you in turmoil?  Are you a nervous wreck? Are you struggling with tension and strife with others? Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  You know His name.  Call on Him.

Roots of Strife

kids-upset-at-each-otherA dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. (Proverbs 16:28)

Don’t you just hate it when people don’t get along?  Solomon gives us a couple of clues as to why there can be division between people.  Dishonesty and gossip can ruin just about any relationship.  What might start as a seemingly harmless little fib can escalate and morph into deep rooted division.

I’ve got two questions for you.  The first one is, “Who do you associate with?” If you spend lots of time hanging with people who are dishonest from time to time, or people who like to gossip about others, then you are setting yourself up for trouble.  It might not be trouble with those particular people, but these pernicious seeds will find their way into your other relationships. The opinions and advice you receive may result in the separation of close friends.

Secondly, “What kind of a person are you?”  If you are being dishonest with yourself about who you are, you may face another set of problems.  While you may be just fine living in a fantasy world of what you want to believe about yourself, there are probably people around you who really know the truth about you, and they will have a hard time with your self-deception.  Don’t get mad with people who tell you the truth.  They’re the ones who love you.

The Big Exam

dmv_lineMultitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. (Joel 3:14)

I don’t think I particularly enjoy tests.  I have vague memories of my school days, and though I did okay in school, I do recall that from time to time I didn’t study much for a test or two.  I know I didn’t study too hard before taking my driver’s test. You can guess how that went. In my older years, the tests I face tend to be medical in nature.  I’ve known people with medical issues who choose to skip the tests because they just don’t want to face the results.  Some tests are easier than others, but if I had a say in the matter, I’d probably choose to not take any more tests.  Yet take them I do.

There is a day coming when the ultimate exam will be given.  You may not like this fact.  You might not believe it will happen. But you will be taking the test. The one issuing the exam isn’t a professor or a doctor, but God Himself.  He’s going to judge you on the issue of sin. He’s going to ask you what you did with your life.  He’s going to want to know what you did with His Son.  Some aren’t worried because they try to live a good life and aren’t as bad as the next guy. But God doesn’t grade on a curve.  There is only one correct answer on life’s final exam.  Jesus is the one who paid for our sin. On the day that you meet God face to face, how will you answer?

The Source

river-sourceWhat do you really want in life?  Would you like help when you are facing tempting situations?  Would you like to be delivered from evil people? Would you like to be sure you don’t take the wrong path but learn to make the right choices in life?  Would you like to understand what those right choices are?  Would you like to come to a real, true knowledge of God?

If you were to do a study of Solomon’s words to his son in Proverbs chapter two, you will find answers to all those questions (in reverse order).  The answers all flow from one thing.

My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; Yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures… (Proverbs 2:1–4)

Making the right choices in life, help with temptation, and having a true knowledge of God come from one source.  All those rivers come from one spring. They all come from God’s Word (“my words”), and what you do with it.

When God’s Word is valued more than silver, and when it is studied and searched as if you are hunting for treasure, you will find those answers.  Pick up your Bible.  Treasure it.  Study it.  Do it.

With Him

father-sonIt seems that we are often surrounded by conflict.  It might be conflict within a family, conflict at work, or just arguing politics on Facebook.  Yet, there is a greater conflict, mostly unseen for now.  It is the conflict between good and evil and will culminate one day in the return of Jesus Christ.

These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14)

If you are among those who are “with” the Lamb, there are three things that God wants to remind you of.

You are called.  He knows your name.  He has something for you to do.  There was a day when you heard His voice, and He said, “Come, follow Me.”

You are chosen.  I still remember in elementary school sometimes being the last one “chosen” for a softball team.  Being chosen speaks of value.  You may not be sure of your own worth, but God is.  He’s chosen you to be on His team.

You must be faithful.  Being called and chosen are what Jesus does for me.  Being faithful is how I respond to Him.  I respond to His call by trusting Him.  I respond to His choice by being someone He can count on. I will serve my King.  Are you with Him?

In the Queue

netflix-watchingAnd behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it. (Ezekiel 33:32)

Ezekiel was living in Babylon. He had been taken captive along with the rest of his nation and was now living in a foreign country.  The Babylonian Captivity was a time of judgment on God’s people for their continued disobedience to God and His ways.  Yet even in this time of judgment, God continued to speak to His people, primarily through prophets like Ezekiel.

I guess being a prophet in Ezekiel’s day was a little like being Rodney Dangerfield.  He got no respect.  The people liked to come and listen to the prophet speak, but in reality, he was nothing more than entertainment to the people.  They had no intentions of actually doing the things that God was encouraging the people to do.

Where does God’s Word rate when it comes to things that influence the direction of your life? Is it a curiosity to you?  Is it perhaps even a bit entertaining?  God has no desire for His Word to simply be another item on your Netflix queue.  Though we may find great comfort and encouragement in God’s Word, there will also be times when it’s a bit hard on us.  God wants to keep your life on track.  Make it your goal to not just hear God’s Word, but to do it.