Tag Archives: hope

Your Articles of Faith

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV)

How important is it for you to know what you believe?

This may sound like a strange question; however it could be critical to how you behave. Remember Peter? He was the disciple that cut the ear off the guard who came to take Jesus. He was the one who walked on water until he took his eyes of Jesus. He was also the disciple who denied Jesus ‘three times before the cock crows’. This is the same Peter who tells us to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15(NIV)

If you have hope for the future, you must believe something. What do you believe?

Many times when Christians are asked a question about their faith, they frequently begin their response with something like: “This is what my pastor says…”, or “The church believes…”, or “The denomination believes…”, or “I was taught…” And some of you may say:” What difference does it make?”

Suppose that you were driving your car and a stranger stopped you and said: “Someone said the road might be flooded and it is possible the bridge is washed out.” Or suppose another stranger stops you and says: “The road is flooded and the bridge has been washed out.” Which person would you be inclined to believe: the first person who heard the road was flooded, or the second person who knew the road was flooded?

People are more apt to listen to you if your beliefs are ‘first hand’ and not from a second or third source. Can you imagine an automobile salesperson trying to sell you a new car based on what his boss said about the car or about what the TV ads say about the car? Would you wonder if the salesperson knew what they were talking about?

I would like to challenge you to write out your “Articles of Faith”. You may ask what are “Articles of Faith”? Articles of Faith are simply spiritual beliefs that you have. Various Christian denominations have written down six to eighteen of their primary beliefs they hold dear to their faith.

Articles of Faith are usually in a prominent place so that people could look at them to determine if this was the church they wanted to attend. They were helpful to people moving into a community as they selected the church they would attend. In more recent years, if the people are going to be involved in church, they will usually go by the name of the church, which may, or may not actually represent what the church believes. The types of beliefs written in the Articles usually deal with the three persons of the trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and The Holy Spirit. Another article may deal with God’s word, another with a definition of sin, another about baptism, another about salvation, another about heaven and hell. Some articles of faith include more beliefs and some of the have just a few but each of these beliefs helps to identify the body of church members that attend that specific church.

Most of the beliefs listed in the Articles of Faith may vary significantly between denominations simply because we interpret the Bible differently. As a follower of Christ, you should be able to state your beliefs and the reason that you hold to such beliefs. You should be able to give the interpretation that you believe the Holy Spirit gives you regarding that belief.

It is much easier just to accept whatever belief is popular so we do not offend anyone. However, God tells us to be a light to the world but if we let our light resemble what already exists, we will be unable to change the world. We will still be in darkness.

God wants to have a relationship with us. But, if we do not recognize the importance of that relationship, we will continue to follow our old nature.

Note: all scriptures used in this blog were downloaded from: www.biblegateway.com

Recognizing the Gift of the Empty Tomb

Have you ever opened a gift or something that needed to be assembled, but when you open it you think there is something missing?

When we celebrate Easter, we often overlook what is really taking place on in the tomb. We get so excited about the events leading up to the crucifixion but spend little time regarding the tomb. Both are equally important.

Jesus blood shed on the cross was to pay for our sins. It was to redeem us from the sins that we have committed or will ever commit. It was for everyone including Adam and Eve. God’s purpose was to restore our relationship with Him.

Beginning with Adam and Eve, God illustrated the importance of the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sin. In Genesis 3:20, the writer tells about God killing an animal to make a covering for Adam and Eve. Their knowledge told them they were naked and they were ashamed of their nakedness. They tried covering themselves with leaves. But the leaves were unacceptable for covering their nakedness; it required the shedding of blood.

Throughout the Old Testament the principle of shedding blood for sin was practiced in what they called the sin offering of the people.

 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22(NIV)

On the cross, Jesus took the sin of the whole world on his shoulders. His blood was shed for the atonement of our sins. In other words, His blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins past, present, and future. This in itself would have been a great gift, but it is not the complete gift God intended.

Today we are looking at the second part of the gift, the ‘missing’ part. In Luke 24, Luke is telling us of the events of the early morning of the third day after the crucifixion.

The women went to the tomb very early because they wanted to give Jesus the correct ceremonial preparation for burial. At this time, the women were expecting to find Jesus in the tomb. However, they had some concern about how they would get into the tomb. But when they got there, the stone had been rolled away. The gift was unwrapped.

When the women arrived at the tomb, God had already un-wrapped the gift. The large stone that secured the tomb had been rolled away. The gift had been exposed but the women still did not recognize what the gift was. All they saw was an empty tomb. They were deeply concerned, wondering what had happened to Jesus. They wanted the gift to match their expectations.

It was then that two men in gleaming clothes appeared to the women and said:

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Luke 24:5b-7(NIV)

Jesus was not there. God had raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus was victorious over death. The sin of Adam and Eve that caused a spiritual separation between man and God had been overcome by Jesus. Jesus was alive. We can now enjoy a renewed relationship with God. We can now have the gift of eternal life with God our Father.

When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, there were two trees in the garden: The ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ and the’ tree of life’.

When Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the ‘tree of good and evil’, God removed them from the Garden so they would not eat of the ‘tree of life’.

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22-24(NIV)

When Jesus shed his blood for the forgiveness of our sins, He forgave all the sins of men, including the sins of Adam and Eve. Jesus was victorious over death. The death that resulted from Adam and Eve eating of the’ tree of good and evil’, no longer has control of our lives. We now have access to the second tree, the ‘tree of life’. If we accept his gift, ‘the tree of life’, we will live forever with Him.

Prior to Jesus death, He told his disciples these words in John 14:1-3(NIV):

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Because the tomb was empty, we also have the gift of an eternal home with Christ. Jesus had gone to prepare us a place, not just any place but a mansion.

Throughout the Old Testament, God promised his people that he was going to give them a Messiah. He was going to take care of his children. He promised to make the Children of Israel like the sands of the sea. Through the Prophets, God told what would happen in the future. He predicted that Jesus would be crucified and that he would prepare a place for those who believed in Him. Jesus kept all His promises mentioned in the Bible.

The women were so excited when they learned that Jesus was alive that they went to tell their friends the good news of salvation. They wanted to share their gift of the empty tomb.

“When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.” John 14:9(NIV)

The other believers were still uncertain about the gift. They were confused. In fact Peter even ran back to the tomb to see for himself what had happened. Even though Jesus told them what would happen, they still were not ready for the gift that Jesus gave them

The women went to the tomb expecting to find Jesus’s body. It was not there.

Peter ran to the tomb hoping to see Jesus’s body. It was not there. Jesus was alive. He was victorious over death!

What would have happened if Jesus was still in the tomb? Where would you and I be today if the women would have found what they were expecting and Jesus was still in the tomb? Would they have had anything to tell the others? Would there be any hope for a future with God? If Jesus was still in the tomb, would you and I still be burdened with our past sin?

If Jesus were still in the tomb, we would have no hope for the future. Our life on earth would be futile. We would have nothing to live for and nothing to tell other that would allow them to get rid of their burden of sin and to enjoy the hope of eternal life with God. Jesus is our only hope.

If Jesus were still in the tomb, everything that God has promised in the Bible would be of no value, because we would not be able to believe any of the promises He made. But the good news is that Jesus was not there! He had been raised from the dead just as God had promised.

  • God does keep his promises.
  • God has forgiven our sin.
  • God is preparing a place for us. And
  • God is going to return to take us home with him.

Are you going to tell others about the gift in the empty tomb? The women were so excited about the gift that they hurried back to tell the others about the gift. Jesus is alive.

Jesus died on the cross to take care of our sinful past, but He was raised from the dead to prepare our future with Him. Have you accepted the ‘gift of the empty tomb’ or do you believe that Jesus is still in the tomb?

God wants to have a relationship with you.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9(NIV)

God had a relationship with Adam and Eve and was looking for them in the cool of the evening. God is looking for you too. He wants a relationship with you too. He was willing to send Jesus to the cross and raise him from the dead so that He can have a relationship with you. He wants to have an eternal relationship with you.

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog were from: www.biblegateway.com

 

Religion versus Politics

In recent weeks, the people in the Unites States have been bombarded with political statements. We have watched grown men ridicule each other about insignificant issues unrelated to running a country. Many people have hung their heads in disbelief as the debate monitors have allowed personal attacks against their fellow statesman.

The public really wants to know how each candidate will deal with the crises of our economy, our morality and the invasion of our country with terrorist. We want to know how they are going to change the country to make it a better place to live.

Have you ever wondered why the politicians behave the way they do?

If you are a follower of God, listen closely! Is it possible that politicians learned that behavior in church?

For years churches have been arguing about what the church should be doing and how we should be living. Here are some things they argue about.

  • You should attend this or that church.
  • You should be baptized this way or that way.
  • You only need to be baptized once v. every time you change churches
  • You should say, or not say, “The Lord’s Prayer”, the Apostle’s Creed, if you are going to worship the way God wants you to.
  • You should only use the …version of the Bible because it is the only one that is inspired.
  • You should always use traditional music not contemporary music (or only use contemporary music not traditional music) in worship.
  • If you are a Christian, you cannot….and still go to heaven.
  • We should not use guitars in worship or we should not use the organ in worship.
  • The thermostat needs to be turned up, or turned down so I can worship.
  • We should have a Wednesday night service if we are going to worship the way God wants us to.
  • (And the list goes on)

The world has been watching the church argue for year while never addressing what we should be doing to tell of God’s love to the people without hope. If your hope is built on the church you attend, perhaps you have been serving the wrong God. God has never told us to have large church congregation. What He told us to do was to “make disciples”.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20(NIV)

It is not a certain denomination that was told to make disciples; it was each and every person that has accepted God’s gift of salvation. Make disciples, and then bring them to church. Do not bring them to church and hope they will become disciples. Jesus called his disciple individually; he did not have a large meeting and pick them from those that attended. Jesus wants a personal relationship with you not a gang relationship.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47(NIV)

The numbers of people committing suicide is drastically increasing because people do not have any hope for the future. Many of them have been told they were losers. The use of illegal drugs has increased because people are unable to deal with their situation. But God says:

 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:9-10(NIV)

God is the only hope available to people. Are you telling them about it? or Is it possible that the politicians learned their behavior in your church?

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:11-12(NIV)

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog were downloaded from www.Biblegateway.com

Finding Yourself or Finding God?

We live it a society that has many artificial foods. Each product is intended to be just like the genuine product. In fact, they even use a name that indicates that you cannot tell the difference between the two products. When many of these products are tested years later, the results of the test show that the product may in fact be harmful.

Christianity is no different that these foods. There are people who will try to convince you that you can become god. Many of you have heard the phrase “I can do all things.” People will tell you that it is in the Bible so it must be true.

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) Paul says: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. When you read the entire text you will find that Paul is giving God the credit for all that God has allowed him to do. However, the message that people like to hear is: “I can do all things by my own strength.” This makes them feel important. They believe they can do anything they want to do.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. 1 John 4:1-3(NIV)

Being focused on self and wanting to be god is not a new concept. It has been around since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Today people are still listening to Satan’s argument. However, if we want to know real thing, we will find that the opposite is true; we cannot do anything without God’s strength. The Bibles says if we want to know the real joy of following Jesus, we must deny ourselves, in other words, we must become nothing and let Christ become everything.

Luke says it this way in Luke 9:23-26:

Then he said to them all: Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Luke 9:23-25(NIV)

What are the results of following your fleshly desires and doing whatever you please?

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21(NIV)

What happens when you sacrifice your fleshly desires, and follow God’s leading?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:25-26(NIV)

Throughout the Old Testament, God shows the results of His power and the results of man’s power. Repeatedly God overpowers fleshly man. For instance, in the story of David and Goliath, Goliath is thinking that he could do whatever he pleased. He thinks he is infallible. His daily routine was to come before Saul’s army and dare them to kill him. However, when David saw Goliath and heard what Goliath was saying, David was determined to slay the giant.

God had been with David when a lion attack his sheep and again when a bear attack his sheep. David had experience God’s power in his own life. He knew God would give him the strength to slay Goliath.

David got permission from the King to stand against Goliath. This is what David said to Goliath after Goliath ridiculed him for being only a little boy.

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-47(NIV)

David did kill Goliath. He did not kill the giant because he was god and could do it in his own strength. He did it because of the strength of the God of Israel.

Throughout the Gospels, the writers tell of God’s power through the life of His son Jesus. After the death of Jesus, God showed his awesome power by raising Jesus from the dead, thus overcoming death. It is because God gave Jesus victory over death that we will be able to live forever in Heaven. There has never been another person who has been able to overcome dead.

God has shown His love to us by sending His only begotten Son into the world that we may have eternal life. If we cannot believe the power and love that God has already shown to us, we will never have the eternal satisfaction of being reconciled to God for eternity. Adam and Eve were satisfied for a very short time as they tasted the forbidden fruit, but guilt soon took over and they hid from God.

Trust God with all your actions. Rely on His strength and not your own strength. God gives you hope for tomorrow but following selfish desires only brings hopelessness.

 

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog have been downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

Marching to the Beat of the Wrong Drummer: Rethinking Loudness in Worship

0718101523a What is the purpose of loud music in church?

Over the past several years, the loudness of music in churches has increased. This loudness can create a feeling of excitement. It can set the tone for the worship service. However, the loudness in many churches is above the threshold that is safe for the ear, this loudness requires ear plugs to prevent hearing loss. Because of the threshold of the music, churches should provide ear plugs for their parishioners and guests. In fact, our churches may be sued for hearing loss of the attendees if we are negligent in protecting our parishioners against physical damage.

When the Lord appeared to Elijah, there was a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire. Certainly there was an abundance of loudness during these events.  But God did not speak from them, in fact God spoke in a “gentle whisper”! 1 Kings 19:12(NIV) In other words, God may not be in the exciting situations we are involved in, but he is in the quietness we experience.

Dr. Barry Blesser (blesser.net) has done a great deal of research regarding loudness. Here are some things he says about loudness that I have applied to church worship. Loudness has three major functions: social reward, biological stimulation, and selective aural focus.

Social Reward

Loud music tends to cause strong group cohesion and a loss of individuality. For example, when we go to an athletic event, the fans are all encouraged to create a lot of loudness. This loudness draws the fans into a coherent group. It also causes a greater flow of adrenaline in the fans and the players.

This sounds like loudness is a great idea, it is good for the congregation to have a united sense of worship. However, what happens if the loudness that is caused by a group that is not there to worship God? What happens if the loudness is created for some other reason? What happens if the loudness is produced to get biological stimulation? What if that loudness is for selfish reasons?

Biological Stimulation

Music changes our emotion state. Soft music can provide relaxation or tranquility but loud music causes arousal. Soft music and loud music produce opposite changes to the emotional state of the individual.

Loud music stimulates the same regions of the brain as euphoria drugs such as cocaine. In other words, loud music functions as a self-medicating drug. Just as drugs tend to overpower cognitive judgment, so loud music also overpowers cognitive judgment.

Like the euphoria drugs, loud music helps us escape the guilt of our sin. It helps us escape the reality of our actions prior to worship. Turning a deaf ear to our sin and it’s guilt, does not prepare us for the presence of the Lord. But perhaps we go to church for the sole purpose of avoiding the guilty feelings we have about not attending or perhaps we didn’t especially want to be in the Lord’s presence anyway.  Like Adam and Eve, we are putting on leaves rather than seeking God’s forgiveness.

Loud music with a strong beat activates the sacculus – the inner part of the ear that controls balance. The sacculus is connected to the part of the brain responsible for all forms of pleasure. However, when the maximum threshold is reached by the ear, the small hairs in the ear that cause us to hear, will permanently break off damaging the inner ear. The maximum threshold varies from person to person. The threshold of the music in many churches is now well above the safe threshold of the human ear.

Selective aural focus

In a quiet environment, one can hear a pin drop or hear people breathing. Loud music makes one deaf to the sounds that we hear in a quiet environment. In other words, loud music tends to dominate our aural focus.

Loudness tends to transport us to another world. It takes us into an environment where we are totally controlled by the loudness. You do not have the ability to block out the music you do not what to hear. We do not have ‘ear lids’ that can close and open to protect us from damage to our hearing. You cannot escape loudness.

Loudness overpowers the inner space of self-generated sounds or pictures. It overpowers our individual ability. It wants to control our entire being.  Loud music overpowers our ability to worship God.

Conclusion

Loud music causes us to lose our individual identity, causing our actions to follow what the crowd wants us to follow. Our Christian walk is individual.  God did not give everyone identical plans for their lives. Psalm 139:14 says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. God did not use a cookie cutter to make our lives. God wants us to live our lives in unity not uniformly.

Loud music in our church service results in blocking other sounds. In fact, it may even block the very words that God wants us to hear.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians says:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:15-20(NIV)

As Christians, our social reward, biological stimulation, and aural focus should be determined by the Holy Spirit, not by the effects of loud music. Paul says we should be ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’, not loudness. And it is to come from the heart, not from an man made instrument.

Perhaps it is time for us to rethink the use of loud music in worship?

We live in a society where the number of suicides, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and illicit sexual activity is at an all-time high. People are searching for hope. They are unable to find it, while the Christian faith is built upon the hope that we have in Christ Jesus, we are ashamed to tell others about the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Is our worship music bringing hope to the world or is it covering it up with loudness so the world cannot find it?

 

NOTES:

  1. All Scripture used in this article is downloaded from biblegateway.com
  2. The loudness research in this article was done by Dr. Barry Blesser and others.
  3. The application of the research to worship is that of the author.

What is the Best Way to Change Our Government?

The Bible tells us about an incident that happened hundreds of years ago. It is a situation much like what we in the United States are facing today. The incident is the time when Goliath, a Philistine  was insulting God’s people, the Israelites. He was making a mockery of God and His people.

The Israelites stood their ground each day as Goliath came out to challenge them to send someone to fight him. They would listen to the giant and cowered in their position, afraid the end was near. They were afraid to send someone to kill the giant, Goliath.

This went on for several days until David came to the scene to see how his brothers were doing. While David was there, Goliath came out to ridicule the Israelite army and God. But when David talked to his brothers about it, they got upset with him when he asking them why they didn’t kill the giant.

After David’s discussion with his brothers, King Saul called for David. Here is their conversation as recorded in 1 Samuel 17:32-37

 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.” 33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” 1 Samuel 17:32-37(NIV)

The king then tried to dress David in his own armor, but it was too heavy for David. David was not used to wearing armor, he was used to trusting in God for protection. So, David asked to go in the shepherd clothes because he was used to wearing them; that is what he wore as a shepherd.

Frequently when we come upon a difficult situation, we try to address the situation using the tools of the world, like the king wanted David to do. We think that the armor will protect us rather than trusting God to protect us. The problems we face in the United States today is that we are trusting in a political party to save our country. However, both political parties are wearing political clothing. They both use the same tactics to gain personal control of government, just like King Saul wanted David to do. The King wanted David to wear the same type of armor that both armies were wearing. But David wanted to wear the clothing that God had prepared for him. David knew that this battle was a spiritual battle, not a political battle.

The problems we have with government are not caused by political parties, they are cause by sin. You cannot use political jargon to counteract spiritual problems! If you want to change this country, first humble yourself before God then do what God wants you to do so that God can be victorious. Don’t be like the Israelite army and just stand there while the government continues its downward slide. Trust God and do something, just like David did when he trusted God.

If you are not willing to submit to God, then you might just as well get used to the country deteriorating as you prepare for  your final destination. However, if you are willing to submit to God, you will begin to experience peace, hope, and love as you prepare for your final destination. You will be able to see God making the changes, when you are willing to let Him make the changes.

NOTE: Scripture used in this article was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

Brothers

In Genesis 30:23-24 the writer tells of the birth of Joseph. Joseph was a special child of Rachel and Jacob. He had only one brother and ten half-brothers that were born to Leah, Jacobs first wife.

These were the sons of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 1 Chronicles 2(NIV)

Joseph was a very special child to his father Jacob. However, to his brothers he was a ‘daddy’s boy’. He was also a dreamer and was having dreams that indicated he would be rulers over his brothers. In fact Jacob had a special, colorful robe made for Joseph. Of course, this made his brothers jealous.

The brothers obviously didn’t believe Joseph. In fact, Genesis 37 tells of  how the brothers treated Joseph. As you recall, Jacob sent his son Joseph to check on his older brothers who were herding the family sheep.

When the brothers saw Joseph coming, they decided this would be a good time to get rid of this dreamer for good. The plan was to throw him into a pit to die. But then some Midianite merchants came by and they decided to make some money on the deal and sold Joseph.

They needed a story to tell Jacob, so they took Joseph’s coat of many colors and dipped it in blood. They could show Jacob the blood and tell him that a wild animal must have killed him. For several years this seemed to have done the trick.

Well the Midianite merchants sold Joseph to one of Pharaoh’s officials. However, after a series of successes and upsetting trials along the way, Joseph was made governor of the land. (Genesis 42)

Jacob was faced with a drought and sent his older sons to Egypt to buy grain. What the brothers didn’t know was that Joseph was the person they were to buy grain from. However, Joseph recognized his brothers and asked about Benjamin and he wanted to see Benjamin.

After Joseph worked out a scheme to get all the brothers together, he told them who he was. He forgave his brothers and was united with his family again. He then invited his family to come live in Egypt until the drought had passed. Joseph was indeed ruling over his family.

There was another family that had a special son with four half-brothers. But this family had sons that were conceived by Joseph and a special son, who’s name was Jesus that was conceived by the Holy Spirit. (See Matthew 1:16)

We don’t hear a lot about these brothers but Matthew 13:55 indicates that Jesus had four half-brothers, James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas.

These brothers were no different than Joseph’s brothers. We read in John7:2-5(NIV):

But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.John7:2-5(NIV)

There came a day when Jesus sent his son into the world to check on his children. They didn’t believe who he was. The wanted to get rid of him because he claimed to be the Messiah. They crucified him on a cross. Jesus was put into a grave, just as Joseph was thrown into a pit. But God raised Jesus from the dead and put him in a place of leadership, in the same way that Joseph was taken from the pit and placed into leadership.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8(NIV)

You see, Jesus appear to his brother James after his resurrection and James realized who Jesus really was. As a result of James believing who Jesus was, he became a pillar in the church, and wrote the book of James. This small book of James talks about temptations, warning the world of sin, and telling them to follow Christ. In fact, James was martyred in AD 62, because of his faith in Christ.

We can be born and raised in a Christian home, but that doesn’t guarantee we will believe. Everyone must come to a point in their life where they see Jesus for who he is and what he has done. We can be brothers but until we accept Christ personally, we are blind to the truth just like the brothers of Joseph and Jesus were blind to the truth.

Are you suffering from a ‘drought’ in your life? Perhaps now is the time that you need to turn to Christ and accept the gift that he has for you? God’s desire for you is to restore you to a place of fellowship with Him. He wants to give you love, peace, and hope. Are you ready?

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIVunless otherwise noted.

 

The brothers obviously didn’t believe J