Friday, January 16, 2015

The Cream Always Rises to the Top

Joseph is one of the most accurate types of Jesus in the Bible. Others to be considered: Melchisedec, Isaac, sacrificial lambs, Joshua, etc.

But in Joseph, we find no fault. He was sold into slavery by those of his own household for 20 pieces of silver. He was falsely accused and imprisoned. “He never said a mumblin’ word” when he was taken from judgment to prison.

Here is something that strikes me, Joseph could have, maybe even should have, exacted revenge on so many…
      1. His rotten-to-the-core, conniving, jealous, lying, treacherous brothers who perfidiously sold him into slavery.
      2. That salacious, dark-hearted, lustful wife of Potiphar who lied about a good man for spurning her advances. Note that Joseph never accused her, never cried out against her wickedness.
      3. Those human-trafficking Syrian merchants who sold Joseph into Egyptian servitude.
      4.  Potiphar himself, who chose to believe his scandalous wife on the spot and had a good, innocent man committed to prison.
      5. The Butler. He was blessed to be reinstated to his office as cup-bearer to the Pharaoh, and should have rendered to Joseph props at his earliest convenience. But he forgot! How could you forget the one formerly called a dreamer, but is now the consummate interpreter of dreams?

Joseph could easily have couched himself as the victim, but became a victor. He might have taken on the role of vigilante, but became the savior of the ancient world. His attitude, compassion and spirit of service are exemplary. He foreshadows impeccably the coming Savior Who would come unto His own, yet His own would receive Him not. He would be the object of false witness, rage, jealousy, treachery and betrayal. Yet, on the cross, He Who could have presently called 12 legions of angels to deliver Him and destroy His abusers, chose forgiveness.

Perhaps today, you will be wronged. You will be overlooked, under-appreciated, vilified or worse. You will have the power to hold a grudge, get even, give them a piece of your mind. Or, you can take the example of Joseph, or even Jesus and bless those who persecute you.

One allows you to get even, the other allows you to rise to the top. The Cream always does. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Accusations of a Small Man

Job 8

Bildad the Shuhite - get it? Shoe height?

It is said that some people are a blessing where ever they go. Others are a blessing whenever they go! 

Bildad is a small man because of his inflated conception of his own wisdom. He represents religion, making mention of God, but having no understanding of Him. Bildad is an OT Pharisee who would fit in well today with some of the judgmental brethren.

See if the way he deals with a needy "friend" sounds familiar to you. Here are his accusations against righteous Job.

"You are full of hot air" 2
"You just don't get God" 3
"Your kids are sinners" 4
"You aren't praying like you should" 5
"If you were right with God, surely you'd prosper" 6
"You forget God" 13
"You are a hypocrite" 13
"If you were right with God, you wouldn't be forsaken" 20
"You won't get any help from Him because you are a sinner" 20

It is no wonder this poor, put upon man, Job, concludes later on "miserable comforters are ye all!"

When you happen upon a brother or sister in pain, have some compassion and use wisdom as you minister to them. Be very careful about making accusations, veiled or overt. God pairs us with needy souls to minister, to reach out to them, to lift them up, to offer hope and tangible assistance. Don't be the small, judgtmental, accusatory person who exacerbates misery.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

My Favorite Christmas Songs

If I told you, dear reader, what I really felt about most of our Christmas trappings, you wouldn't care to touch me with a thirty-nine and a half foot pole. But, patience, please.

There are so many redeeming things about Advent. (Forgive the pun please! Argh, there I go again!) Much of which is contained in the rich teaching of the carols. I will share my favorites, the creme de la creme of carol writ.

1. Joy to the World. NOT a Christmas song! Sorry about that friends. Isaac Watts' church did not observe the Christmas holiday. This powerful song is indicative of the second coming of Christ. Please note carefully the words and rejoice with me in the anticipation His coming, not as a lamb, but as a lion.

He rules the world with truth and grace 
And makes the nations prove 
The glories of His righteousness 
And wonders of His love, 
and wonders of His love 
And wonders, and wonders of His love

2. Hark, the Herald Angels Sing. Well, we are not sure angels sing, but it's a nice notion. After all, Gabriel does blow a mean trumpet. The chocked-full-of-doctrine verse follows...

Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with men to dwell
Jesus, our Immanuel
Pleased as man with men to dwell
Jesus, our Immanuel
3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Saviour lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

4. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. (please read the story behind this song)

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"

5. Adestes Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful)

6. O Holy Night

Do I like any of the Christmas fluff stuff? A partial list: Silver Bells; I'll be Home For Christmas; I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas (written, ironically by Jewish Irving Berlin); Tender Tennessee Christmas; Colorado Christmas; Mariah's songs back when she could still sing.

Well, that's 9 minutes of your life you'll never have back, but thanks for reading and Feliz Navidad!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Soul, Why Are You Sad?

Psa 43:5  Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God. 

I have my Hope in Him
I have my Hallelujahs for Him
I have my Health, thanks to Him
I have HIM!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Blessed Thanksgiving!

Today, I borrow from the Messianic Psalm, 16

Psa 16:6  The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. 

The boundary lines you have set for me are the best! As Jabez said in I Chron. 14:9, you have enlarged my territory. 

The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places. 

I am a small-time preacher smack dab in the middle of fly-over country, pastoring a relatively small flock. Our "denomination" (I don't see Baptists as a denomination) comprises only 1/2 of 1% of our city. If my church dried up and blew away, the community would never even notice. To the world, I am a nobody, doing little and having nothing to show.

And yet, the Lord has granted me favor, blessings and influence beyond imagination. No way would I trade places with any individual on the planet. NOBODY has it better than I! Truly, the lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places.

I have a goodly heritage. 

Though I sing, I will never be mentioned along side Pavarotti. Though I preach, I will never be thought of as a Graham or Osteen. Though my bank account carries a positive balance, I am no threat to Warren Buffet on the list of "well-to-dos."

Yet, I have royal blood flowing though my veins. I am a child of the King. I am destined for a royal position in millennial government. I am the King's ambassador representing a much better country.

And for these other-worldly blessings, I render gratitude on this Thanksgiving holiday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How Long, O LORD? (Pt 2)

Psalm 13: 1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? 2  How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?

We continue today with our short series of blogs on the 13th Psalm, How Long, O LORD? Yesterday we discussed, How long will you forget me, O LORD?  All Christians have asked a similar question along with the following questions….

2. Why have you hidden your face Oh Lord?

Here, the psalmist indicates that he knows God is somewhere, just not evident. And which of us haven't been here also? Sometimes, everything is sunshine and roses. God's presence surrounds you like the warm sunshine of a spring day. The blessings are flowing, the windows of heaven are open, and things could not be any better.

But have you noticed, there is no Christian growth during those mountaintop seasons of your life? For you see, It's down in the valleys where we learn our lessons: lessons of faith and trust, doing our duty when we don't feel like it, our character is being built in the valleys when God's presence is not so evident and his face is not readily seen.

3.  How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily?

And now, the poor psalmist finds that he is talking to himself, reasoning out of a wounded soul, a place that he knows the answers are corrupted, skewed. He is seeking answers from heaven, but heaven is silent. Heaven is withholding wisdom.

Now we know that brother James tells us, If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally and upbraids not. I can tell you that God will always eventually give wisdom. But most often, it is on his schedule and not on ours. His schedule fosters growth, trust, and patience. If we always received wisdom whenever we snapped her fingers, God would appear to be a genie popping out of the bottle and saying,  “your wish is my command.”  Do you really want a God like that? If that were the case, really, you would be the god, and He would be your servant. I am glad it doesn't work that way.

There are those times where God wants us to commune with our own heart, listen to our selves talk, and wisdom will begin to grow out of these conversations with self.

It is when we begin asking ourselves questions like, Why me? What am I going through this for? Am I doing something wrong? What do I need to do? Is there a lesson I need to learn? that God can say, “now you're asking the right questions and the answers will begin to come...eventually.”

Open your eyes, open your heart.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Trusting God in Seasons of Despair

Ps 13:1 How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? For ever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from  me?

How long, O LORD? Which of us has not asked this very question? We have questioned it in our hearts and have even let the words escape our lips. We went through a time of suffering, anguish, pain, frustration, poverty, loneliness, etc. And, as time went on, we cried to the heavens, how long, O LORD?

“How long will you forget me?”

Here the psalmist feels that God has placed him on a shelf. That God is too busy for him, that God has forgotten where he lives and what he is going through. Like the children of Israel in slavery in Egypt. Like Joseph in prison, Like Noah on the ark. Like Job on the ash heap. And like Jesus on the cross as he cried, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?

Surely you have been here, haven’t you? If not, your day is coming. You feel like the heavens are brass when you pray. You feel as if there is a cloud hanging over you wherever you go. Your shoulders are slumped, your eyes are downcast, your strength is sapped, you have run out of answers, and you just feel as if God has forgotten you.

Oh friend, you have asked, “How long, God?”

Please tune in to the next post.

In the meantime, keep looking up – God will never leave you nor forsake you.