Life Lesson Series – Listening

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I originally posted this back in December but thought it was worth a re-post for this series. 

This is one life lesson that is very much a learned skill and discipline. Ask yourself, How often do you truly listen to the world around you? When in conversation how often do you truly engage the person and listen to what they are telling you? More times than not, I catch myself thinking of my response more than I am actually listening to what is being said.

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say”. Bryant H. McGill

I love the quote above and think it’s absolutely true. It’s amazing how much more we get out of a conversation when we truly listen to what is being said instead of just hearing them speak. Another aspect of listening and respect is to have eye contact with the person you are conversing with instead of looking at our phones or fidgeting with this or that.

As a kid I had to go to speech therapy 2 times a week for a couple of years so that I could learn how to speak properly. Being born with a cleft pallet caused this process to take longer for me than it did other kids but looking back on it now I realize what a blessing that was, as it taught me how to listen. Time after time, my therapist would say a word or a sentence and then I would have to repeat it back to her. Another benefit of this is that with time I learned how to read lips proficiently. This ability has proven very beneficial over the years.

One of the things I had to overcome and still struggle with to this day is that I have a tendency to look at people’s lips when talking with them instead of making eye contact. As I said earlier, eye contact, is another key component of showing someone respect and something that I made sure to teach my children how to do. When you keep eye contact with someone as their speaking to you, you will also notice that it allows you to see more. Maybe not into their souls but it allows you to see more deeply into the person.

The life lesson of listening is one that is typically overlooked but over the years, at least for me, as become one of the most critical for me. Listening is one discipline I am constantly having to work at, as it is easy for me to be distracted but is also one of the most needed. Another component of listening, especially to God, is to simply be still. In  Psalm 46:10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

In order to truly hear God, we must learn to be still and allow Him the opportunity to speak to us. To often I find myself going through the motions with God – my prayers become one-sided and I don’t take time to pause and let Him speak to me or during my study time, I may find myself trying to understand a particular passage of scripture and I simply breeze through it without actually taking the time to study or meditate on it, giving Him the opportunity to speak to me.

Again – Listening, to me, is one of those skills that we can never master but by being diligent to try, we can greatly improve the relationships around us.

Would love to hear your thoughts! Really, I would love hear your thoughts. Honestly, ………….I will listen.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

Life Lesson Series – serving continued

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I ended the last post saying that Love was another component to serving others. I have not always had a desire to serve others. Actually, for most of my life, my desire was to see how I could get others to serve me. Ok, that was a little sobering to actually type out but being honest, that is the truth. Now there have been times over the years where I willingly gave of my time, money or other resources without regard to what was in it for me but not very often.

Several years ago I remember hearing this verse in a sermon and was immediately captivated by it: Matthew 20:28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus, God’s son, came to serve us and give is life as payment for our sins. Why did He do this? What was his motivation in serving us and ultimately giving his life in exchange for us? A love so great, so vast that even infinity doesn’t come close to measuring it. A love which desires to be in fellowship with you and I, regardless of our transgressions. Imagine someone loving and caring about you so much that nothing, not even death would ever deter them from having that relationship with you.

That’s exactly the kind of love Jesus has for you. We only need to accept what is truly the perfect gift. Once we do, we can begin to faintly understand the depths of His love. It is His love found within that compels me to serve others as He served us. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, seeking opportunities to help those in need. The tendency of most people when they see something about helping those in need is to think about those folks that may need help with material things such as money, food, shelter, clothing, etc. And yes, that’s part of it but to only focus on that aspect is to not fully engage in serving each other.

What about those who are in need of companionship, a word of encouragement or to feel needed. Surely all of us would agree that each of us desire to know that we are loved, at least a little. So maybe instead of asking how we may be able to serve one another, maybe we should ask how can we show love, one to another.  1 Peter 4:10 – Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 

As faithful stewards. Faithful meaning to do what we are called to do. Steward meaning to wisely use what we have been given. To serve others, extending God’s grace in all it’s forms, that we may show others that God loves them. Jesus was real clear about this as we find when reading Matthew 22:37-39  – 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

Peace and thanks for reading!!

What is God’s Will for My Life?

I left off the last post with the question, What is God’s Will for My Life? You here this question or statement a lot while hanging out with Christians, usually something like – “if you could pray for me, I am praying that I would do God’s will”. Or maybe you hear – “I feel strongly that this the path God has laid out before me”. I wonder how many of us truly do know what God’s will for our life is? Has Dr. Del Tackett asked the question, I begin to ask that of myself. Am I truly following His path for my life?

He then got into this kind of open thought process: If only God had made it simple for us. Maybe if there was just one law that we had to obey, maybe then we could know beyond a shadow of a doubt. Maybe if Jesus had just narrowed it down for us we have a better chance of coming closer to be in God’s will. It was a clever way for the Doctor to infuse some scripture into the conversation as he asked us to look at some different verses. The first was James 2:8 – If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right.

Love your neighbor as yourself. Sounds pretty simple, do this and we are doing right. Why is this so hard for us? I mean, I like most people, and I can get along with just about anybody, but love them? like myself? That’s not so easy. Let’s look at another verse – Matthew 22: 37-40 – 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Now Jesus is answering a question posed by the Pharisees which was – what is the greatest commandment. Jesus makes it simple for them and us to understand – with all YOUR HEART, all YOUR SOUL and all YOUR MIND, Love the Lord your God. Got it and that one I can do. Love God, yes, I do love God so I can follow this commandment and I am good to go. But wait, there is another couple of verses in His answer. Verse 39 He says “the second is like it:”. Like it, let’s see, that means it’s just as critical as the first one and then we read again – “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Well there it is again, the whole loving the neighbor thing. But wait, what is a neighbor, surely that can’t mean everyone, just those we really know, right?  I want another verse please, maybe there’s an exception or something.

John 13:34 – 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I  have loved you, so you must love one another. Love one another and not just love like you love ice cream on a hot sunny day or maybe like you love milk gravy on your biscuits. Jesus is crystal clear when he says “As I have LOVED YOU”. To love others as Jesus loved me, can that really be what God’s will for my life is. I believe it is, no, I know it is, think how much different my life, your life would be if we, as Christ followers would actually obey these two commandments.

To accomplish this will take lots of courage, a willingness to make ourselves vulnerable and going back to last weeks post we already know that apart from Christ, we can do nothing. Sure we can try on our own strength but truly, it is only through Christ that we can ever reach a place that we LOVE OTHERS as HE LOVED US.

As we enter into Easter weekend, I think it’s a perfect time to reflect on just how Jesus loved us. He took all our short comings, faults, and sins to the cross and willingly gave His life, a perfect life for ours. Remember this, Jesus had never known separation from God but He knew that would be price to pay for all of our sins. And He did it anyway!! Through Jesus, we know that we will not be separated from God for all eternity. Because Jesus loved us, we can love others.

Peace and thanks for reading!!

A Look at Truth

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This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to travel down to Pine Mountain, GA and sit in on a morning session at IMPACT360. Impact is a one-year gap program designed to give young men and women the opportunity to establish a strong, Biblical world view before heading off to college, missions or wherever their next step is to take them. My son, Ben is a student there and has had an incredible time in his time there this year.

In addition to catching up with Ben, I was looking forward to listening to Dr. Del Tackett, author and creator of the Truth Project. My wife and I have gone through the Truth Project a couple of times now and appreciate the depth of the study and all the “truths” uncovered during the course of the series. Dr. Tackett, like many others, will come to IMPACT and teach the students over a three day time period. I went that morning expecting to hear from God through whatever Dr. Tackett’s lesson would be for the day. I had no idea as I sat down that morning of the deep, lasting impact the next three hours would have on me. Even now, a week later, I am just now really starting to process all the things uncovered for me last Tuesday morning.

There is no way to adequately cover everything that Dr. Tackett spoke of but hopefully, something I share of my own journey will be helpful to you, the readers, in some way.

As the session began, Dr. Tackett began with a review of the previous day’s discussion. In the opening, he said – “the nature of God is always truth”. This was so profound to me, of course it is, but wow, how simple was that statement. In a day and time where truth seems so scarce, there it is; there it’s always been since God spoke the earth and heavens into existence and created man – TRUTH, has been there all along.

So anytime, we are in the presence of God, studying His word, praying or worshiping Him through music, it means we are faced with Truth. Truth, God’s nature, exposes us and the culture around us. When we are exposed to truth, it calls us to action. We must decide to either ignore the truth as it’s revealed to us or to take action and do something with that which is revealed to us. Make no mistake, to ignore it (truth), is an action as it represents a conscience choice.

Just as I was beginning to wrap my head around this, the good doctor was getting into the next phase of the discussion. That we, through Christ are Equipped, Empowered and Set free to Flourish – Physically, Vocationally and Spiritually. In Genesis 1:22, we read – 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” So there’s the physical call to flourish and in Psalm 128:2 we find – You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. And finally, in Mark 4:20 – 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”

As he was sharing this I was processing the thought of flourishing spiritually and asking myself how well I was doing in this department. As I was pondering this Mr. Del said the following – “We tend to look inward at people instead of looking at the fruit they bear.” I looked at Mark 4:20 again: hear the word, accept it and produce a crop. I looked at it again and remembering the earlier talking point about truth – HEAR THE WORD (truth), ACCEPT IT (truth) and produce a crop (ACTION). In other words, it is not simply enough to know the truth, we are called to take action with the truth. The devil himself knows the truth and takes every action he can in preventing the truth from being told, shared with others.

So how do we share the “truth”, take action if you will. John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. I have camped out in John 15 over the last week, reading it over and over again. In verse 5 Jesus calls us to action by abiding in Him, and He will abide in us. In doing so, we will bear much fruit! Choosing not to abide in Him means we choose to do nothing. My prayer is that all of you who read this will take a moment and read this chapter for yourselves, with fresh eyes and an open heart.

In Thursday’s post I will share with you my thoughts as Dr. Tackett transitioned into the “Great Question”. What is God’s will for my life?

Thanks for reading! Peace!

Living and Leaving a Legacy

I recently had the honor of speaking at a funeral to celebrate the life of one of the greatest men I have ever known. Below is a copy of my preparation draft leading up to that day. I decided to post it as a blog post because, outside of my father, no other person apart from Christ has had a greater influence on me becoming the man I am today. Although most of you won’t have a chance to meet him this side of heaven, this will give you a glimpse as to what this man meant to me and countless others in his lifetime. As you read this, keep in mind, the impact, the potential each of us has to impact the world around us.

Living and Leaving a Legacy

A “Great” man stepped off of the pavement of this life onto streets of gold in eternity last Saturday morning. A truly great man, who devoted much of his adult life to teach kids the game of baseball and for some of that time, basketball as well. Any of us who ever had the opportunity to play for him, whether baseball or basketball always improved as a player because of his coaching. He has forgotten more about the game of baseball than most of us will ever learn about it.

But is that why we are all here today? to honor a great coach? Maybe in some respect, that’s true but it’s more than that – I think, for most of us, we are here because of a bond that we have with this man that goes well beyond anything we could ever learn from just playing a sport!! The lessons we learned from this man have carried on within us to this very day. His influence has not just been in regards to those he coached, no……, parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles have all been influenced by him.

Coach used the game of baseball to teach us about how to live our lives. Over the past week, as I have talked to several of you and read various posts, articles and such. I thought it was interesting how many times someone would say or write something like, “I didn’t realize it at the time but I learned this or that from Mr. Hilton.” Yes, we learned how to become better ballplayers from coach but more importantly we learned life lessons about – trust, respect, honor, loyalty, hard work, integrity, to just do the right thing and most of all LOVE. To pursue excellence is not only what he taught but how he lived.

Heritage by definition means “an inherited or established way of thinking, feeling, or doing”. All of us who are gathered here today are here because of the heritage established and handed down to us by Coach Hilton. Mark, I’m not sure but I maybe the only person here that can say – I played for your dad, coached baseball and basketball with him and also played for you. And as I think about your dad, and all the lessons he ever taught us….they really all revolved around one basic concept. To simply do the right thing. No shortcuts. Just do whatever it is that you need to do.

I’m reminded of a story. A time that Coach made me wear a catcher’s mask while playing second base.  I had just gotten braces and that same afternoon at practice, I took a shot to the mouth as we were taking infield practice. There was blood everywhere it seemed. After the bleeding had stopped, Coach had me grab my glove and head on out to second. He knew I needed to get back on that horse so to speak. As he hit ground ball after ground ball, I kept turning my head or looking up at the last instant. This is not what he taught. Finally, after several minutes he walked over to the catching gear and brought out a mask to me. One way or another, I was going to learn to keep my head down and watch that ball all the way into my glove.

Coach didn’t mind physical errors, that’s part of the game but mental errors, not giving the effort, that was unacceptable. And everyone here knows what you heard from coach whenever one of these lapses occurred. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I heard the phrase – “knock em bout”. (this phrase was our cue to take a lap)

And I do want to pause here and say that there are two things Mr. Hilton taught me by example: to respect everyone! You don’t have to like everyone or get along with them but you can always respect them. And the other was to just be honest – with yourself, and others alike.

I received a phone call from coach…I guess it was 7 or 8 years ago now…., he was calling to let me know that he was getting baptized and just wanted me to know. I asked him when it was and as soon as I hung up the phone, the date was marked in our family calendar. This was one baptism I wasn’t going to miss.  I tell you, outside of my own families baptisms, that was by far one of my favorite memories to date. Why? Knowing that he had accepted Christ and that I was able to see him publicly  professing his faith was just an incredible experience for me. Even now as we are here celebrating the life he lived here, i know that there is a day coming where once again, I will be able to sit and visit with coach. To reminisce and share stories once more.

It’s rare that you find anyone who exemplifies a Christ-like life but they themselves have not accepted Christ as their savior. And I can’t explain why Mr. Hilton didn’t come to accept Christ sooner than he did but there is not  a doubt in my mind, as I know, God used Mr. Hilton – Coach, to instill in all of us, biblical values, that if we incorporated and lived by, would help us to be successful in living out our own lives.

If Coach had the opportunity to step back one last time and impart one last lesson on us all, it would be this – Don’t miss heaven! One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is Philippians 4:8-9. The apostle Paul has written the church in Philipi to remind them of Christ’s love for them and to encourage and challenge them. Like Paul, Mr. Hilton had a desire, a love for people, especially kids and if he was here, I think he would use very similar words found in Philippians 4: 8-9; Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Today, we may mourn the physical loss of someone we loved very much but the life – the heritage – the legacy of this man will continue on for generations to come.

Peaceful, Easy Feeling – 11/5

The following was written on the plane ride home from Paris to Atlanta.

Monday was a hard day with trying to get last minute details worked out for my time away while anxiously awaiting 3 pm to arrive so we could leave for the airport. I spent a lot of the morning listening to MercyMe and Kari Jobe worship songs. Kari’s Revelation song is one of those songs that gets to me no matter how often I hear it.

I was thinking about what lay ahead and was most excited about getting the opportunity to work with young people between the ages of 18 to 28, in their environment. I was also excited about seeing South Africa for the first time as I have always heard how beautiful it was. I have always enjoyed traveling, seeing new things and meeting new people. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures – meeting new people but one I think too many people take for granted.

I was more than a little anxious about this trip even though I have traveled out of the country on several occasions before. I have never shared this publicly before but I seem to suffer from a condition from which I am not sure what it’s called or even if there is a name for it but I call it US Separation anxiety. The symptoms are thus: as soon as I step foot on the ground in another country I begin to suffer something like an anxiety attack. Nothing full blown or anything but just an overwhelming, uneasy feeling that resides within me until I am able to once again put my feet on US soil.

So now, I was about to go half way around the world for 9 days – all the while wondering if I was going to make it without freaking out. And not be able to focus on the work at hand. The flight over was uneventful outside of the turbulence we experienced the first couple of hours. I didn’t experience any weird feelings and was able to get some much needed rest.

As we approached Cape Town, I could feel the uneasyness beginning to creep into my thoughts. Instead of trying to calm myself down, I simply began praying that God would affirm the trip in my spirit and remove the uncomfortable feeling I was having. In that same instance, I felt God’s peace envelope my spirit and it is with me now has I write this some 9 days later and 5 hours from landing back in Atlanta.

I know some of you have felt God’s calling/prompting to take a mission trip and for whatever reason, you haven’t quite made it yet. I hope this will be an encouragement to you and just know that God is greater than any perceived or real problem/issue you may face!!

Peace and thanks for reading!!

A Study of Joseph – Rebuilding Trust

Have you ever been hurt by someone you trusted? That maybe the hardest hurt to overcome for any of us. It was no different for Joseph. Although he had forgiven his brothers, he still needed to know if he could ever, fully trust them again. So he had decided to hold onto Simeon and send the other brothers back to Canaan to face their father once again with one less brother. Oh the irony that they were now faced with! They would be telling Jacob the truth but how in the world could they ever explain what has now happened to Simeon.

And especially, after telling Jacob what had happened, they empty their sacks where it is revealed to all of them that the money they had been given to pay for the grain was still in their possession. So they are now telling Jacob the truth but he will not have any of it. Genesis 42:36 – Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!” Don’t you kind of feel for Jacob here? He has no one to trust and is adamant that Benjamin will not make the trip to Egypt. And this after Reuben offers up his two sons has ransom if he doesn’t return with Benjamin. For now, Jacob is done with all of it.

As time passes though and they use up all of the grain, they are faced once again with the prospect of not having food. This time however, Judah, makes the plea to return to Egypt with Benjamin to get the grain that they will need. Interesting comparison here between Reuben’s initial plea and that made by Judah. Reuben did not put himself on the line with his plea but rather, his two sons. Judah puts himself on the line; Genesis 43:9 – 9 I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. It is now cemented for sure that Judah is the true leader among the brothers.

As they present themselves again to Joseph, we now see that he knows they are at least being honest with him as they have indeed, returned with Benjamin. Notice how he greets them; he first asks about their well being but then gets right to the point and ask them about their father. Is he still alive? Then he turns his attention to Benjamin and blesses him. Joseph then excuses himself and leaves their company to regain his composure. Upon returning they all sit down to take part in a meal that Joseph had prepared for them.

Joseph still had one more test for the brothers. He needed to know if the brothers had truly changed or not by finding out what was truly important to them. At this point, I would challenge you to read the whole chapter of Genesis 44. Joseph had arranged it so that Benjamin would be forced to stay with him while the brothers would have to return back to Jacob, once again, without their brother. And throughout the chapter we see that the heart of these 10 brothers have been truly changed. And especially, where Judah is concerned, as he makes a desperate plea to Joseph to keep him instead and let Benjamin return to his father.

Truly Judah’s main concern is that of protecting both his brother and his father’s well being. Offering up himself in order to save his brother from slavery and therefore avoiding sure heartache for his father. Joseph finally knew that he could trust his brothers!

Trust is something that I think all of us can sometimes take for granted. And we shouldn’t! Our word, integrity is something we should guard and protect at all costs!! If we ever lose it, there is no guarantee that we will ever recover it. Notice, that at no time through all of this, has Joseph pointed out to his brothers their faults, misjudgements, lying and deceitful acts. They realize for themselves all that they have done and our forced to deal with it. The fact that it was Judah who makes the final plea to Joseph is fitting since he was the one who initiated the idea of selling Joseph into slavery some 22 years earlier.

One more segment of our study to go and that is the Reunion between Jacob and Joseph. Additionally, I will have one last look at the parallels between Jesus and Joseph.

Peace and thanks for reading.

A Study of Joseph – Pride Avoided

Finally, after 13 years Joseph is released from prison and not only that, he now finds himself as the 2nd in command of the whole nation of Egypt! As we pick up the story in Genesis 41:41-44, we see that Pharaoh announces Joseph’s rise to power in a big, big, way. After declaring that Joseph will be over all the land of Egypt, Pharaoh removes his signet ring from his own hand and places the ring on Joseph’s hand. And then gives Joseph a brand new wardrobe of fine linen garments to wear and lastly, he then places a gold chain around Joseph’s neck!.

After the makeover his complete, Pharaoh then has Joseph ride in his second chariot and while Joseph is touring the country, servants go before him calling out “Make Way”. Joseph has arrived, he has been delivered from the depths of prison and given a new life to lead. As part of this new beginning, he receives a new name from Pharaoh and also given a new bride, whose name is Asenath. Can you imagine if that happened in our day? The media would just explode with all kinds of coverage about the new kid. Where did he come from? What’s his background? Any skeletons in the closet? and on and on.

I imagine the people of Egypt during this time were also wondering some of the same things. And it had to seem to them, that this had just happened overnight. They had no idea that this new kid had been being groomed for this role over 13 years. They would have no way of knowing what Joseph had to endure during his life to get to this point. Sold into slavery, a servant for years, falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit and then sentenced to serve his life in prison.

NO CHARGE FOR THE FOLLOWING AS IT IS JUST THOUGHTS AS I AM PREPARING THIS:

What about us today? How often do we look at others and before we really know anything about them or the life they have had to live; pass judgement and decide what our response to them will be – sometimes even before we talk to them. Let me say this another way. How many Joseph’s do we know? Those people that we see, that seemingly have it all figured out and/or at least seem to not have the struggles we do. Do we take the time to get to know them, find out their story or do we simply hold to our initial judgement and leave it up to them to change our opinion?

I think the opposite is true as well. I think there are times when we see those people, that by worldly standards appear to be down and out, undesirable, uneducated, unworthy, etc. and we again, make judgments based on preconceived bias’ we have. Do we condemn them to never having the opportunity to gain our friendship simply because of their appearance. If so, shame on us!!

Ok, back to the study. Joseph answered his calling and did exactly what he had proposed to Pharaoh by going throughout the land of Egypt collecting all the excess grain and storing it in the different cities around the country. Genesis 41:47-49. There was so much excess in fact, that Joseph quit measuring the grains that were collected. For Joseph, the land wasn’t the only thing producing in abundance, as we read about he and his wife welcoming two sons into their family in Genesis 41:50.

It strikes me as I read about all of this that Joseph doesn’t become boastful are prideful. I think it would be easy for him to puff up and say “look, I knew I could do this, I just needed the chance. Look at how great I am managing all this”. No, what we see is the opposite as we look at Genesis 41:51-52 – 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[a] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[b] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

Joseph recognized and understood that it was by God’s grace and mercy that he was enjoying the life he was now leading. The trials and tribulations that Joseph had endured for those 13 years helped position him to have a grateful attitude and not one of pride. How are we doing with pride today? Do we recognize and honor God regardless of our circumstances or do we boast about what WE have done or if facing trials of our own, do we hold true and steadfast, giving thanks to God despite our plights?

If you take a moment and finish reading the rest of Genesis 41 , you will see that in fact, famine does come, not only to Egypt but the whole world. And as famine spreads across the country, people from everywhere make their way to see Joseph and buy grains in order to keep their families fed.

Next, we will look at restoration and the word that has to happen before that takes place….forgiveness!

Peace and thanks for reading!

A Study of Joseph – parallels of Jesus and Joseph

I know the last post was a bit lengthy so I will try and keep this a bit shorter. Here are some more comparisons between Joseph’s and Jesus’ lives.

The first is the exaltation of the two. For Joseph, enslaved, then imprisoned for false charges brought against him had to endure a heavy price by serving in prison for years. Jesus, was also falsely accused and was not only imprisoned but put to death by the cross, paying the ultimate price for the sins of all man kind! Joseph was exalted to be Pharaoh’s right hand man while Jesus was exalted to the right hand of the Father following his resurrection. The Egyptians now bowed at the feet of Joseph and one day, ALL the world will bow down at the feet of the Lord.

Philippians 2:8-11gives us the full picture –  5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself  by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The second is the Gentile bride. Joseph was given Asenath to be his bride. Obviously she was Egyptian and therefore, also, Gentile. Jesus, upon His exaltation, took a bride for Himself, which is the church, predominantly from among the gentile nations.

So as we look closer at this we see that by all appearances Joseph has found peace among the gentiles in Egypt. His life is now going good and there is prosperity once again for that which is under Joseph’s control has Egypt enjoys 7 years of an immeasurable bounty of crops. For Joseph, however, he is still separated from his people, his family, and his home! He still has to deal with the fact that he was rejected by his family (brothers), cast aside if you will, for it was easier to get rid of him rather than to be confronted by him day after day.

Jesus, like Joseph, found acceptance among the gentiles (predominantly) after His exaltation as His bride (the church), was established. And like Joseph, Jesus was rejected by His people and His family.  He too was discarded as people found it easier to kill Him, rather than have to confront who He was, day after day.

For Joseph, the seven years of famine forced His brothers to seek help, salvation from death and therefor brought them once again, face to face with their brother. Likewise, we know that a day is coming in which, the nation of Israel, will endure extreme hardships that will force them to seek help, salvation from their plight and once again will come face to face Jesus.

The last parallel between Joseph and Jesus will look at is the reconciliation of Joseph to his family and Jesus’ reunion with those who have believed in Him. But that will be in the days to come.

Peace and thanks for reading!

A Study of Joseph – Life Repeats Itself

In the last post I mentioned two gentlemen that would play a significant role in Joseph’s life. Both men served in Pharaoh’s court, as one served as his cupbearer and the other his baker. These two men probably had no idea how they would help impact the world for years and years to come but God used both of them to help shape the events that would lead to Joseph becoming the 2nd most powerful man in ALL of Egypt! But first….

Joseph had been put into the same prison where the King’s prisoners were kept by Potiphar. And once again God let’s Joseph know that He is with him by granting Joseph favor in the eyes of the Prison Warden. So much so, that the warden is compelled to not only put all of the prisoners under Joseph’s direction but for everything that was done there! Obviously, this all sounds familiar as once again Joseph finds success in all that he does, for the Lord is with him.

Sometime after Joseph has built up his reputation with the warden we read that Pharaoh was offended by the cupbearer and baker and puts them into the custody of the warden where Joseph was. And Joseph is assigned to be their personal attendant. We are also told at the end  Genesis 40:4 that they were in custody for some time. And then beginning in Genesis 40:5 we see how dreams, once again, begin to play a significant role in Joseph’s life. I would encourage you at this point to read Genesis 40:5-23

Would it have surprised you if Joseph had told these guys to forget about their dreams, that in his experience, nothing good ever came from dreams. At this point, we can deduct that Joseph is around the age of 28 and has been enslaved for 9 years or so. And since the time of his dreams at age 17, he has had to endure a pretty hard life. Yes, God has been with him the whole time but according to worldly standards, prison is surely not the place you want to be making your way in this world.

Deliverance for Joseph is another 2 years away as we will see later and I would imagine at this point, Joseph is not praying for patience but patience IS what he is learning. Obviously he knows that God has blessed him and continues to do so by granting him favor in men’s eyes and making it possible for him to find continual success in all that he does. Even so, I think it’s incredible we don’t see any evidence that Joseph is bitter or angry with his position in life.

If we are honest with ourselves, we probably feel like we can relate to Joseph, I admit I do. Am I slave to someone or a prisoner…no but at times I do feel enslaved to this life and that sometimes, just as I feel like things are going great and I am feeling really great about life, circumstances change and I find myself asking “why me, Lord”? And like Joseph, when I take time to lose the bitterness or anger and look for the blessings in my life, I am overwhelmed by the Grace, Mercy and Love that God showers me with! And the blessings so greatly outnumber any hardships, trials and tribulations I may have experienced.

In this life, it sometimes seems that life repeats itself time and time again as I experience some of the same ups and downs over and over again. As I look at it now though, I see that in each instance, there were different lessons or experiences that have helped shaped me to who I am today. And maybe not for you, but for me, the toughest lesson for me to learn is patience. To know that in all circumstances of my life, God is with me, and through all things, God is wanting to not only reveal Himself to me, but grow me through it that I will be in a better position to serve Him and His purpose!!

Peace and thanks for reading!