Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
"Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him." Genesis 37:17b-18 (NIV)
Today, there will be a moment. No one will snap a picture of it. It probably won't make it into the journals of those who journal. Or linger in the thoughts we carry with us to sleep tonight.
It will come.
It will go.
It will slip by seemingly unnoticed. But its affects won't slip. They'll stay. And if fostered, grow to epic proportions.
This moment where something creeps into our heart and pulls our focus from right to wrong. It will be just a hint of distortion. The smallest amount. But a slight and seemingly insignificant amount of skewed thought will take root.
Beyond what you can even imagine.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is where Moses goes to Pharaoh and sings that song, "Oh Pharaoh, Pharaoh, woah ohhh, gotta let my people go. Huawh! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah."
Totally a loose translation, but you know what I'm talking about.
But here's an astounding chain of events to trace and consider. Why was the nation of Israel in captivity? Why was the entire nation of Israelites — all God's people — all twelve tribes — enslaved in Egypt?
As I trace this story backwards I find it's because of one seemingly insignificant moment.
The course of history was changed because a few family members got a little cranky and a little jealous of their brother Joseph. Envy and anger slipped in. Just a hint. But just enough.
It doesn't take much.
Joseph was thrown in a pit and eventually sold as a slave.
Years went by.
Years of heartbreak and confusion passed.
Eventually, Joseph landed in a position of great power in Egypt and had authority to provide food for his family. So, all 11 of his brothers and their families moved to Egypt. Joseph and his 11 brothers make up what became the 12 tribes of Israel. As these tribes multiplied they became the nation of Israel.
What the brothers meant for evil, God used for good. He saved the Israelites from the famine. But there were still lasting effects of the brothers' choices that came out years later.
After Joseph died, "Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. 'Look,' he said to his people, 'the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.' So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. (Exodus 1:8-11)
So, the entire nation of Israel suffered oppression and slavery. Why?
Because a few brothers on an ordinary day got a little jealous and allowed anger and envy to slip in.
And the moment it slipped in, the course of history changed.
In a moment.
May we never assume our moments don't matter. The decisions we make every second of every day matter.
There are no little moments or little sins.
There is a domino affect to it all.
So, I fall hard upon soft grace. I thank God for this realization. I ask Him to make my soul even more sensitive, more aware, more in tune to my constant need for forgiveness.
Though I am weak, I walk in the strength of utter dependence.
And I refuse to beat myself up for mistakes made yesterday. Today is a new day. A new chance to set things going in a different direction.
Joseph's brothers had years to try and rescue Joseph — find out where he was — help him — set their past mistakes right.
Years. They had years. But they never did set about to turn things around.
Don't let today slip by.
Watch for a moment today where you are given the choice to let anger, envy or something else negative slip in. Recognize it. Refute it. And replace it with God's spirit of love.
Dear Lord, You made me. You know me. I need Your help where I am weak. Make me aware of any place where I'm off course today. Give me the desire to do what pleases You. I want to do your will. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
We have witnessed devastation recently that is so vast that there are some who still don’t believe what has actually happened. The television accounts have allowed us to see a part of what has happened, but there is no account as detailed as that experienced by those who have been in the midst of floods, wildfires, earthquakes, tsunamis or any other disaster. Lives have been lost, and uncivilized behavior has raised its ugly head, primal behavior driven by desperation and deprivation.
Every day even small acts of negativity and destruction occur among us. People can be unkind, and in their own personal fear and insecurity, they can be cruel. The associates, teammates, friends, and acquaintances we see every day are often walking around with a world of pain locked inside. On the outside they attempt to deal, thinking the world cannot see, the pain that has caused their hopelessness to make them do and act in ways that are clearly driven by a lack of faith. Faith in themselves, faith in each other, faith in God.
Yet, truly...All we have is faith – faith that God is still in control; faith that if God’s people who are called by His name would humble themselves and pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, that He will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal the land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
All we have is faith that America will seek God while God may be found – from the White House to the outhouse, from the pulpit to the pew, from the high-rise to the hut. All we have is faith, and it is our faith that helps us dare to hope when we remember that the unfailing love of the Lord never ends! Great is His faithfulness; every morning new mercies we see.
Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, mourns for God’s people in the midst of their own destruction and devastation. It is through the prophet Jeremiah that we understand not only God’s judgment, but God’s mercy and hope for humanity. It is through Jeremiah that Israel is called back to God in the midst of destruction.
We find ourselves today as a nation, a city, a town, a team, a community, affected by all that has happened as related to economics, catastrophic weather, employment, personal crises, and family dysfunction. We are in a position where only our faith will see us through. Our faith will cause us to stay connected to the call and cause of Christ even in the midst of despair and destruction. Our faith will cause us to examine our lives and our walk with Christ. It is our faith that helps us to continue to walk with Christ and not walk away feeling abandoned and betrayed by people and situations. After all, scripture tells us that God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Scripture tells us that the righteous have never been forsaken nor their children begging bread. Scripture tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all other things will be added unto us. It’s in our times of distress and despair that the enemy causes us to question God and His word. Yet, we the faithful, need only react to the negativity thrown our way daily by standing on scripture, living in love, and believing in the face of anything and everything that challenges us. As Hebrews 11 says be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not yet see. Faith will enable you to look at the people and circumstances around you and KNOW that God will handle them while you seek Him who empowers you to do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
Faith is all that we have...and EVERYTHING we need. It is in Lamentations 3:19-24 that Jeremiah declares, “The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
It is very simple, "If GOD be for us WHO can be against us?!"
All we have is our faith! Stand, Walk, Run...He will blow under your wings until you are flying above all the loss and tragedy and challenges life has thrown at you!