Sunday, June 24, 2012


Last week - Jacob became Israel
Today - Joseph - 11th. son of Jacob

Full Story - Gen. 37 - 50   12 chapters (omit chapter 38)

Three themes:  I.  God's Provision/Providence - He cares, He provides
                      II.  God's Purpose - His reason
                     III.  God's Presence

Story of Joseph - the highlights.
            Loved by Jacob - Gen. 37:3
            Despised by his brothers

At age 17 - he had two dreams - (12 sheaves of grain) (sun, moon, and 12 stars)
In both dreams 11 of the 12 bowed down to his object.

Led to extreme hostility:  Therefore, the brothers sold him into slavery!!!

In Egypt.... Gen. 39:1-2 - made steward over household of Potiphar. prison  Gen. 39:20-21- made trustee to the prison warden

Vs. 40 - he interprets dreams while in prison which leads to (vs. 41) Pharoah's dreams.  (cows, grain heads)

So.... Gen. 41:41 - leads to Gen. 41:46 which leads to Gen. 41:50-52

When his brothers come to him for food, they are recognized by Joseph - Gen. 42:6
Later, he revealed his identity - Gen. 45:3-8 - (very important to see Joseph's attitude)

So....the whole family came to Egypt. 
        death of Jacob - Gen. 50:18-20

(Joseph died in Egypt, was embalmed, and carried to the Promised Land during the Exodus.)  Ex. 13:19

Examine:  3 Themes in the life of Joseph
Ask:  Is is true for me also???

I.  God's Providence (His care, to meet needs, to provide)
Obvious that God did this for Joseph; what about me?
NOTE:  A.  "Providence" describes attitude as well as actions.  Not just capable to meet our needs, but willing to do so.
So Jesus + Father" - Matt. 6:4, 6, 8, 9, 31-32
B.  His promise is to meet needs, not wants.  Example:  Paul - Phil. 4:11, 4:19

*The "doctrine of sufficient grace" - 2 Cor. 12:7-9  God's grace is sufficient to meet real needs, not perceived needs.
Objection:  what about those who starve, slain, succumb, murdered, martyred, etc.
On one hand, to skeptics, this is "Cop-out Theology!"
On the other hand, the testimony of millions of Christian sufferers, is "His grace...... sufficient".  When it comes to those times of deep distress and suffering, He gives sufficient grace to endure what's happening now.

II.  God's Purpose  (obvious for Joseph, but for me???)
Jer. 29:11 - "plan" = purpose, design, reason
Joseph is an illustration of Rom. 8:28 - God works!

Question:  How much does God orchestrate? (pre-determine?) what happens?  Vs.
how much does He use situations and circumstances we create?

ANSWER:  not always clear, simple.  BUT, know we have a providential Father with a plan and a purpose who is active and able!!!

III.  God's Presence - "was with Joseph in slavery, prison"
On one hand, it may not have been a "felt" presence, however, there was always an active presence.

So... Heb. 13:5 - for Christian sufferers, God's presence is more important than answers!!

1.  Was this true for Joseph?  Was God providential, purposeful, present?

2.  Is it true for me???  Does He meet all my needs, have a plan for me, with me all the time?

if so---
3.  Will I embrace it?  - more than believing it intellectually.  It is acting on it and living accordingly.

If answer is "yes" - then 2 more challenges:
1)  Will I embrace these truths in difficult times?  - when world unravels and comes apart?

2)  Will I embrace these truths in comfortable times?  (which is often more difficult)
It is often much easier to trust in His providence when times are bad, then when times are good.

1 Pet. 5:7

Monday, June 18, 2012

Declaring Your Name

1 Cor. 16:13 - "rise up....."

Many men WANT to rise up...... rise higher, do better.
Question???  Why don't we???
            - don't know how to rise up?  what to rise to?  afraid of God's calling?  - where it might lead, what would have to do (have to give up?  take up?)
or:  because we're sinful, selfish, insecure?  - don't want to serve the Lord, want to serve self.
or.... because have tried and failed until given up in despair?

On one hand, there are no easy answers.
But, there is one helpful story - Jacob(deceiver, supplanter, manipulator) becoming Israel (one who struggled with God and prevailed)

Some background to Gen. 32:22-31

Jacob - 2nd. son of Issac and Rebecca (grandson of Abraham)
           - A twin - heel grabber (deceiver, trickster)
          - bought the birthright, stole the 1st. born blessing, fled to Haran
          - worked 20 years, acquired family and wealth and NOW headed home.

Was Jacob doing well at this point?

On one hand, he has wealth, servants, 2 wives, 11 sons, huge herds of animals.  He's done well.

On the other hand,
         - he has a first wife that he doesn't love, and his two non-wives create constant rivalry with the two wives in the household.
         - he's been at odds with his father-in-law employer for 20 years.
         - recently left there without notice!!!  (chased down and released because he was 'family')
         - going home to the father he deceived 20 years ago.
         - is facing the brother he stole the blessing from (who is approaching with 40 men)

Jacob's life is a shambles.

SO... he decides to pray!  (reasonable idea!)
                          to get serious with God.

AND, something significant happens in the midst of that prayer time.

Gen. 32:22-31

What is the significant thing?  His confession.  Gen. 32:27  of his .....
1.  Name, character!
2.  His predicament - at odd with all - where to go?
3.  His failure(s) - relationships, especially with his family - (of his own doing)
4.  Ineptness  - A. problems - of own making
                          B.  seems unable to "fix" them
5.  Need ... of God, God's blessing - forgiveness, assistance, correction, transformation
Interesting thing:  when he confessed, he got the blessing

Jacob spent 30 years trying to "Rise Up" but is going  "downhill"

He finally recognizes it and that leads to the turning point - Jacob into Israel.

Declaring (to self and to God) (admitting, owning) your name. (who and what you are)

#1.  Admitting your name is the 1st. step in rising up.  - because we don't fix what's not broken.

#2.  Admitting your fault is part of the naming.
Some of the problems:  Esau, Laban, Leah, Isaac - "can't help where we came from but can help the response"

#3.  This is common to all people (not just men!!)
Example:  Peter - "though all others forsake You....", "love me more than these?"

#4.  It is designed to help (lift) us UP!!  - this whole concept of confession of who we are.
The point is not "know your place" (push you down)
The point is - see the truth, know your need

#5.  It's only the first step.  (not the arrival, completion)
Naming leads to God's blessing, God's assistance!
Then go forward, trusting God, becoming what you should be.
Note:  The family didn't start calling Jacob "Israel" the next day!!!

#6.  It's not just a one time thing. - have to do it repeatedly in life.
Example:  Paul - 1 Tim.12-17 - he still recognizes who he is. - Vs. 15

Summary verse - from Peter:  1 Pet. 5:5 (b) "..... all of you, cloth.." and 1 Pet. 5:6

NOTE:  next morning Jacob didn't look blessed.
BUT:   1. He was
and       2. He knew it
and       3.  in time ... he ceased to be Jacob and became Israel.

Also Note:  Rise up won't happen if you won't admit who you really are!!

Monday, June 4, 2012


The issue is justice, i.e. - rightness or oughtness
- the state of things being right or being put right, being made right.
- things being made to BE as they ought to be....

We all have
A.  An inherent sense that justice should prevail.
B.  a realization (understanding) that justice doesn't (always) prevail.  Many times things are not made right.

So......... Question??? 
Can there be (perfect) justice?  (and note:  if it's not perfect, then it's not justice)
Will justice ever prevail?  Is it possible in this life?

For an answer, look at Kant's Practical Argument.   Immanuel Kant (1724-1804).  An 18th. century German philosopher who was not a Christian.  He did believe that God exists but that it can't be proved.  (Agnostic theist)

Kant argued that:  for justice to exist, there must be......
#1.  Another life or another world - afterlife, life after death, because just is not always reached in this world/life.  Without this, there will never be true justice.

#2.  A final judgment (another life with judgment there) - a cosmic court/a final judgment of all which was not set right in this life.

#3.  A morally perfect judge - who is absolutely good and just - whose character cannot be corrupted.  So he would always judge rightly, fairly, justly

#4.  An omniscient judge because even if morally perfect, just have all knowledge to judge rightly.  (Must know all things about all facts)

#5. An omnipotent (all powerful) judge with the power to enforce - to follow up, act on his perfect judgments.

According to Kant, "if you had all these, you could have justice."

The Christian response - "we do have all these things.  Therefore, there will be justice."

So........ justice will come!!!!   BUT.........

I.  Not Yet.  Matt. 24:1-14 - we're not in that other world yet.
II.  NOT FOR FREE.  things will be put right but at what cost???   It was very costly - death of Jesus Christ.
1 Pet. 3:18 - just for the unjust
1 John 2:2
All injustice is a result of sin and the sin nature.  It required that God come in the flesh, die on the cross, and pay for those sins.

Meanwhile??  What are we supposed to do while we wait for justice??

#1.  Bear up and be patient.  Rev. 6:9-11 - how long?  be patient. Injustices are not over yet.

#2. Be faithful - keep on keeping on.  Heb. 11:32-39 - didn't receive justice but were faithful --- Faithfulness = and expression of faith.

#3.  Be active, or be pro-active - don't sit idly or passively by while we wait for the Lord's return, but be doing what He called us to do - work at fixing it.
Pro-active scriptures:
Ex. 23:2 - do not pervert justice
Ex. 23:6 - do not deny justice
Deut. 24:17 - do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice
Deut. 27:19 - cursed is the man who withholds justice
Ezra 7:25 - appoint magistrates and judges to administer justice
Isa. 1:17 - seek justice
Isa. 56:1 - this is what the LORD says;  "Maintain justice and do what is right.."

#4.  Practice mercy - Matt. 23:23  Luke 23:34 (a) - grace and truth

And: #5.  Remember... that you are part of the problem!!!
(when you fail to give brother/sister/neighbor/fellow man their rightful due, you are acting unjustly!!
(whether it's assistance, comfort, encouragement, time, attention, recognition)
There is no injustice in this life that is not caused by people and we are all part of "people".

Summary passage:  Micah 6:6-8 - concerning worship and giving God what is due  - He calls us to justice, mercy, and humility.