Apr 14

Grace Is More Powerful Than Resentment, part 2

[part 1 can be read here]

Jacob of course was devastated. But the brothers stuck to their story, lied and deceived their dad for years.

The brother that they had resented, the brother that they had came to hate, was gone. He would never brother them again. Or at least that is what they thought.

We aren’t told this in Scripture, but you and I can imagine the guilt that these brothers carried. Guilt about selling their brother to slave traders. guilt about lying and deceiving their dad. Every time Joseph’s birthday came around, there was another reminder of what they had done. The guilt was overwhelming.

Perhaps you are thinking about an incident in your life right now that you wish you had never done. Maybe you lay awake in bed thinking about what you have done and wishing you could do over. wishing you had a second chance. Well, I am happy to tell you that you can have a second chance. Oh, you may not be able to redo the thing that you wish you could have undone, but you don’t have to carry the guilt anymore. The Bible tells us about Jesus. And that he came to take away the sin of the world. The guilt that you carry, you don’t have to continue to carry. the sin that you have done? You can be forgiven of that sin.

Years later, there was a famine in the land. People were starving and Joseph was no longer a slave. He became the second most powerful man in Egypt. It’s an incredible story! The brothers went to Egypt to get some food. They had no idea that their little brother that they had resented and hated and even sold into slavery was now the one in charge of who got to buy food. But there they were. Needing food. Needing substance to continue life or they would starve.

The story leads us to a scene of them standing before Joseph, and he took off his Egyptian fancy robes and showed them who he was. They fell to their knees and place their heads on the floor kneeling before him. Can you imagine the emotions of how they felt? Here was the one person they figured they would never see again. Everything that they had done to Joseph all of those years ago was now racing through their minds. How would he treat them? Did they deserve forgiveness? All of these thoughts were in their minds.

Joseph, the one they had sold into slavery, is now in the position of giving or not giving them the food they need to live.

Joseph says, “brothers, I forgive you. Stand up, erase that guilt from your memory. I forgive you.”

To me this is one of the most powerful scenes in Scripture! The brothers standing in front of someone who they had done evil to. And that person, Joseph saying, “I forgive you. I give you grace. I give you mercy.” Wow! Grace overpowers resentment. grace destroys guilt.

What about you? Do you need mercy? Do you need grace? Do you need forgiveness? Has the grip of guilt overwhelmed you? I offer you the forgiveness of Jesus Christ! He alone can forgive sin. he is the only one who can give us a true second chance. I encourage you, pray to God. Give your life over to him. You will never regret this decision!

Apr 02

Grace Is More Powerful Than Resentment, part 1

Have you ever had resentment towards someone? unresolved resentment always leads to trouble. Or maybe you have allowed resentment to build into hatred and you feel like you have reached a boiling point.

In the first part of the Bible we are given accounts of some famous men. Men such as Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Jacob was the grandson of Abraham and he had a lot of kids. He had twelve sons and one daughter. Now I am an only child. My dad died when I was young so there was never an opportunity for my parents to have any more children.

So I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like growing up with that many bothers and sisters. But maybe you do.

And this is where some problems start in this account. Although Jacob had all of these children, there was one that stood above the rest in his mind and he became the favorite child.

His name was Joseph.

Now, can you imagine a dad having a favorite child? Perhaps you have seen this happen in families that you know or maybe it even happened in your own family. If it did, you can already identify problems that this presents. Not only did Jacob like Joseph better, he made sure that everyone knew it. He had a fancy coat made out of many different colors designed just for Joseph. This coat was a status symbol. When people saw this expensive fancy coat, they knew that this meant that Joseph was the favorite. Can you imagine the hurt that this created? Can you imagine the resentment that began to build among the other children? And to make matters worse, Joseph began to have dreams. One of his dreams was of stars and the sun and moon. In this dream there were twelve stars and eleven of them bowed down to the other star. Then the sun and the moon bowed down to that star. He told this to his brothers and said that he was the star that everyone bowed down to. His brothers laughed at him and said, we will never bow down to you! And the resentment among his brothers continued to build. It turned to pure hatred.

Add to that that Jacob often had Joseph check up on his brothers. He wanted to see where they were and what they were doing. These other brothers hated Joseph and began to plot revenge. Now, lets press pause on this Bible account for just a moment and ask ourselves a few questions? Does any of this sound familiar to us in our own personal lives? Is there someone that rubs us the wrong way? Is there someone that we resent? Maybe that resentment has been building for years and is developing into pure hatred. Have we began to plot ways to get back at them?

Well, Joseph’s brothers did. The Bible tells us that one day, Joseph’s brothers were in a little village, watching over their flocks of sheep. And once again, here comes Joseph. Doing what dad wanted him to and check up on his brothers. As he walked into that little village wearing that fancy coat, all of the resentment and hatred bold over and the brothers grabbed him and plotted to kill him. Resentment had turned to hatred and hatred was turning into murder. They grabbed Joseph and threw him into an abandoned water hole and the Bible says that they began to eat lunch. Imagine that! Imagine Joseph hollering up to them while they were eating! “Guys, come on, this isn’t a great idea! brothers. why are you doing this?”

About that time, one of brothers spotted a caravan of travelers and had this idea. “Bothers! instead of killing our brother, lets sell him to these slave traders.”Well they talked about it for awhile and decided, yes, that was a good idea. They ripped his colorful coat off of him and sold him to the slave traders who were headed to Egypt. They assumed that was the last they would ever see of Joseph. Then they had to figure out how to tell their dad. So the made up a story of Joseph being killed by wild animals. They tore his coat up and dipped it in blood and headed off to tell their dad with the coins they had made off of selling Joseph jingling in their pockets.

[To be continued]

Feb 27

Put it in the Basket

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Can you imagine parents being told that they had to throw their newborn baby into the river to die? In the Bible there is a book called Exodus which gives the account of slaves who are seeking freedom from oppression. The ruler of  this enemy nation is worried that the slaves they have are getting too powerful. So he issues a command to destroy all of the baby boys born to the hebrew slaves. 

When Moses was born, his mother did everything she could to hide him until he was three months old, Then she obeyed the evil command that the ruler issued and placed her child into the river. But she didn’t just put baby Moses into the river, she made a basket out of reeds, sealed it, made it water proof and designed it so that it would float. Then she placed it among the reeds in shallow water.

Now, can you imagine placing your 3 month old child into a basket and putting it in the river? I know I can’t! I have three little girls and I can’t ever imagine placing one of them in a basket, putting it in the water and hoping everything goes fine. As a dad of my girls, I would try everything else possible before doing that. And I am sure that Jochabed must have thought and prayed “God is there anything better that I can do?

I have come to believe that the Bible doesn’t say that the mother of Moses was giving up hope. No. Rather she was giving up her control of the situation. So here is another question that you and I need to ask ourselves. Is there something in our life that we need to give over to God? God is saying, give it to me. Put it in the basket and let it go. Let me have control.

Feb 15

Recommendation: The Third Target

51MlNw2lRuL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I rarely read fiction anymore. But I heard so much about Joel Rosenberg’s fictional books, that I read one this past week. It was very compelling. I read The Third Target: A J. B. Collins Novel that is a prequel to his newest book,The First Hostage: A J. B. Collins Novel. What makes Rosenberg’s book so gripping is that it is based on current events that are taking place in the Middle East. The book is full of suspense and at times, I could not put it down, even though I had more pressing things to take care of!

If you like fiction and pay attention to the ISIS situation that is taking place in the Middle East and around the world, then this book is for you.

Feb 08

Recommendation: Brand Luther

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Brand Luther: How an Unheralded Monk Turned His Small Town into a Center of Publishing, Made Himself the Most Famous Man in Europe–and Started the Protestant Reformation (very long title!) by Andrew Pettegree is a fascinating book which I recommend.

Though not written from a traditional biographical format, I learned quite a bit of new material on the reformer as well as gaining great insight on how the Reformation helped spread economical printing and how economical printing helped spread the Reformation. Both were essential for each other. 

With the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on the horizon, I am sure that many new books about Luther and the Reformation will be forthcoming. If many of them are as superbly written as this one was, I can’t wait!

Feb 04

Book Recommendation: Family Worship

9781433547805In Family Worship, author Donald Whitney calls Christian parents to make the worship of God central into the lives of our families.

After giving a brief overview of why Family Worship is desperately needed, he instructs in the how. He suggests that family worship should include three elements: Bible reading, Prayer and Singing.

This is a small book that can be read in less than an hour. But if read, will not only challenge you but will give practical steps on how to start or strengthen family worship. I recommend it.

Jan 31

Book Recommendation – week 4

627266In Anonymous, Jesus’ hidden years and yours, author Alicia Chole uses the life of Christ to model and remind us that who we are is developed when no one is watching. Likening it to the desert, she says that it is the desert where we find true life. Here are several quotes from her book.

“Unapplauded, but not unproductive: hidden years are the surprising birthplace of true spiritual greatness.”

“Trials do not prepare us for what’s to come as much as they reveal what we’ve done with our lives up to this point.”

“Every choice we make is an investment in a future we cannot see. Some invest wisely. Some invest poorly. As the clock keeps ticking, the stresses of appetite, applause, and authority expose the state of our hearts and the stability of our souls. May the God of grace strengthen us to invest each tick well.”

This book is well worth picking up and immersing your soul in. I highly recommend it.

Jan 31

Birth of Hester Ann Rogers

On this date, January 31, 1756, Hester Ann (Roe) Rogers was born. Born in Macclesfield, Cheshire England, she met and married James Hester. They ministered then in Ireland at Dublin and Cork, and then in London England. Hester eventually was John Wesley’s housekeeper and was present when he died in 1791.

Jan 30

Death of James Caughey

On this date, January 30, 1891, James Caughey died. Caughey was a Methodist preacher who emphasized revival and holiness.  Many were converted in Canada under his preaching.

Jan 29

Death of Evan Roberts

On this date, January 29, 1951, Welsh revivalist Evan Roberts died. His obituary in The Western Mail said this about him:

“He was a man who had experienced strange things. In his youth, he had seemed to hold the nation in the palms of his hands. He endured strains and underwent great changes of opinion and outlook, but his religious convictions remained firm to the end.”

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