It always amazes me how God can redeem some of the most painful and ugly situations. I was reading the very last chapter of Genesis regarding Joseph. Joseph had been betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. They had dealt treacherously and cruelly with him. But Joseph’s eyes were always on God. So that at the end of this chapter Joseph was able to say to his brothers, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

Earlier in Genesis 45:7 Josesph said to his brothers, “But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here but God.”

Make no mistake Joseph suffered because of what his brothers had done and not just for a week or two, but for years. Yet, by God’s grace Joseph was able keep his gaze on God and His plan. Joseph’s story, or really God’s story is truly humbling, because it is a tremendous reminder of God’s sovereignty, wisdom and love that is soo incredibly different than the inclinations of our very human hearts.

Last Sunday our pastor askedsked us if we knew Jesus was coming back in the next 15 minutes would we be willing to declare an international amnesty (day so to speak)…and forgive those that have wronged us, so that when we went to face God at those end of those 15 minutes…our hearts would be clean before God? It is a powerful question to contemplate.

There is a great cost to unforgiveness in this lifetime and in the next life. Is it worth it?

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

That word stronghold is an interesting one. It implies a fortress, which is a great comfort to us when God is our stronghold or fortress. But what if the thing that has a strong hold on us is not God…but our stuff, our bank account, our comfort, our pleasure, our kids, our relationships, our careeer, or even our ministies…etc. The scripture suggests that our salvation and light come only from God…and we can be fearless when He is our stronghold. I’ve had the privilege of watching a number of people around me dislodge false strongholds in pursuit of the LORD. It is really quite amazing to see a peace and confidence settle in their spirits, just like Ps. 27:3 states, “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.” We become, as I recently heard in a sermon, spiritually “bomb proof” and while we may hurt and experience heartache we we are not panicked because we know in whom we have believed (I Timothy 1:12)

April 15, 2017

The End Game

I have been reading in 1 Peter 4:7. Peter makes the statement that the end of all things are near and then he gives these directives: Be clear minded…self controlled so you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. He goes on from there speaking about being hospitible without being grumpy (paraphrase) and using our gifts for God. I find it curious that He doesn’t say the end of all things is here…so for heaven’s sake PANIC. Those words are not there. He doesn’t say the end of all things is near so have a good time and escape through whatever it takes to help you ditch reality. He also doesn’t say the end of all things is near so just think about you and your family. Rather Peter challenges us to do things that that will make a difference for eternity and they are simple things to do basically on a good day. But this is the end of the world we are talking about and he is telling us to pray, love, be hospitable and use our gifts. These are the actions that God is pleased with and gets behind and yet these actions are decidedly difficult to live out when we are afraid for our future. Truly they are impossible to live out apart from God. Peter wraps up that section by saying, “If anyone serves, he should to it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” That strength of God is what will help us to be clear minded, self controlled, praying, loving, hospitable and serving others regardless of what lies ahead. “Lord, help us to keep our eyes on you when things look so terribly bleak. Help us remember you didn’t create us for panic, but for your glory so that we may carry out the good works you have called us to do regardless if the end is near or not. Thank you Lord for the strength you give and most of all thank you for blessing it is to be your child and know that you are on the throne and I don’t need to panic. In Jesus Name. Amen

April 15, 2017