More Greatness? More Pain!

Egypt 2The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.  Genesis 39:2

Joseph was sold to a prominent Egyptian; Potiphar by name. The man apparently knew talent when he saw it, and Joseph ended up being the manager of his household.

Potiphar’s wife apparently knew talent and studly-ness when she saw it too. Twice she tried to get him to have sex, the second time rather forcefully. She held on to his tunic as he got away.

joseph-resists-potiphars-wife-39467-wallpaperHell hath no fury like a woman scorned. She showed Joseph’s tunic to her husband, claiming that he tried to rape her. He tried to escape when she screamed, leaving his tunic behind she told him.

So Joseph found himself back in another pit. Do not pass “Go,” do not collect 200 denarii.

Still, greatness, ummm, finds a way. The warden saw greatness in Joseph and made him his number 1 guy. He never even checked on anything Joseph did!

But where did his greatness originate? God! Genesis 39:23 tells us that “…the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.

In fact, where does any greatness originate? God! Here is where it is worth noting that America has been a great country. Before becoming a nation, it was the destination of people seeking religious freedom, who saw themselves very much like the Israelites in their Exodus from Egypt. American was founded on Christian principles.

America is in a decline which seems to have been somewhat arrested, but unless we fully return to God, our fall will continue.

Joseph, however, never backed away from God. It’s what got him in trouble with his brothers as well as Potiphar’s wife, but it’s what took him on that weaving path to ultimate greatness!

Dreams were a primary gift to Joseph from God. They were the start of God communicating Joseph’s future. They became God’s means of bringing Joseph to the fore throughout his life. In prison, Joseph’s interpretation of their dreams foretold the fates of a baker and butler who were prisoners with him.

From God Jacob accurately interpreted their respective dreams; the butler would be restored to prominence in Pharaoh’s house, and the baker would be executed. Joseph asked the butler to remember him when he returned to Pharaoh’s grace. As often happens in the world, people forget those who help them, and the butler was no exception. At least at first.

But Pharaoh had a very disturbing dream one day:

Famine DreamPharaoh had a dream; and behold, he stood by the river. Suddenly there came up out of the river seven cows, fine looking and fat; and they fed in the meadow. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them out of the river, ugly and gaunt, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the river. And the ugly and gaunt cows ate up the seven fine looking and fat cows. So Pharaoh awoke. He slept and dreamed a second time; and suddenly seven heads of grain came up on one stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven thin heads, blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them. And the seven thin heads devoured the seven plump and full heads.

That sparked the memory of Joseph for the butler, who told Pharaoh about Joseph. He had Joseph brought in, saying he had heard that Joseph can interpret dreams. Joseph, true to form, gave God the glory:

It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.”

At this point I want to emphasize this quality in Joseph. He always gave credit where credit was due – GOD!

The dreams boiled down to the message that there would be seven years of great plenty, followed by seven years of very great famine.

Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph’s interpretation that he put him in charge of all affairs that would allow Egypt to survive the approaching disaster.

NEXT: This was an event of such magnitude that one might expect to find corroborating accounts in other historical sources. Dr. Lennart Moeller, author of The Exodus Case, believes he has found just such evidence. We’ll take a look at what he found.

Quote for 6/24/2018

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation.   Psalm 68:5

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Psalm 68 is all about all of the things that God does for us, especially how He takes care of the downtrodden. It is also filled with praise for His power and Majesty: “Sing to God, sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name Yah, And rejoice before Him.”

God does not come to us out of weakness, but out of strength. He comes to us from a place of authority, His holy habitation.

When a president manages a country, he or she does it from the capital where power is centered. All of the resources needed are there. All of the authority resides there.

So does God preside over creation; from His place of authority, holiness, and power!

Greatness and Its Cost

Technicolor DreamcoatThen he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”

10 So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” 11 And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.   Genesis 37:9-11

There was an article once about how trying to be a great employee isn’t really the best play. Why? Most people are average. Most people don’t try that hard. Most people resent someone who raises the bar and threatens their softer work habits. Including managers. Great employees can find themselves the targets of sabotage and even layoffs!

I experienced this when I worked extremely hard to upgrade the classes I taught for a major corporation. My manager was so impressed that he invited me to England along with some others on staff to introduce my improvements to our adjunct faculty in Europe.

I worked even harder to ensure a successful presentation and handoff of the courses and materials to our European counterparts. I anticipated every question I could think of, every request they might make. When the voiced their appreciation and even excitement over my efforts, one “colleague” from the states muttered loudly enough for all to hear that I was sure trying to show up everyone else.

JealousyAll I ended up doing was making enemies of my fellow staff members back home!

Joseph, son of Israel, put himself in the same position. Or you might argue that God put him in that position. God gave him dreams to show him that he would become great. Maybe he should have kept his mouth shut and avoid ruffling his brothers’ feathers, but then the following chain of events would never have happened.

I would argue that Joseph is certainly the first really pivotal person in God’s plan of salvation. His fathers and grandfathers simply moved from place to place, had kids – not always the right way – and sort of started the ball rolling, albeit slowly. Joseph is the one where some real action toward salvation was taken. If anyone was centrally responsible for forming The Children of Israel, if anyone was at the eye of the maelstrom that turned the course of the great ship of history, it was Joseph.

It all started with the birth of greatness, the revelation that he would be the pivot upon which history would turn. It started with human nature, the evil that Adam and Eve brought into our race, rising up in jealousy and hate to try to kill greatness instead of appreciating it and valuing it.

They hated Joseph for his “coat of many colors.” That in itself was ridiculous; he didn’t make it for himself. It was a gift from their father. That was like hating another actor when I was in the theatre for getting the role I wanted. It was the director who made the choice, not the actor! Hating the actor was plain stupid!

When Joseph related his dreams that he would ascend to greatness, his brothers hated him. They blamed him for being chosen, not the One who did the choosing.

Pit of Despair

Don’t Even Think of Trying to Escape!

Joseph came to them as the tended the herds in a distant place. In their hate they took him, intending to kill him. One brother, Reuben, was not so hateful that he wanted to kill Joseph. Convincing his brothers to not kill him, “they took him and cast him into a pit” for safekeeping.  Reuben secretly planned to later deliver him safely home. However, while he was away from camp, a caravan of traders came along. The brothers decided to sell him instead of kill him, making some cash in the process.

 

When Reuben returned and learned what happened, he tore his clothes in grief. They took his colored coat which they had stripped off him and killed a small goat to bloody it with. They took it back to their father, saying they found it, but no sign of Joseph. It was assumed he’d been eaten by a wild animal.

Joseph was subsequently sold into slavery in Egypt. Things started looking pretty bleak, but if anyone can play a galactic game of chess, it’s our God! Stay tuned to be amazed as we not only follow the Biblical story of Joseph, but also look at historical evidence that agrees with God’s Word!

Quote for 6/23/2018

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.   Ephesians 6:4 NKJV

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Everyone has a part to play in Creation. Ephesians 5 discusses at length the roles of married couples. The much-maligned verse about wives obeying husbands is actually over-shadowed by the husband’s responsibility to live a sacrificial life regarding his wife just as Christ sacrificed Himself for the church.

So in Ephesians 6 children are instructed to obey parents. Once again, though, fathers are cautioned that this is not a license for abuse, but a mandate to bring them up well and to know God. He is not to treat them in a way that will incite bad behavior.

This seems like a lot to put on men, but that’s how God made us. Men want to be heroes! Why do we like action movies and sports? We want to be like that! We want to save the day, score the winning touchdown, rescue the damsel in distress, and save the defenseless child. These are the things that feed our being. That’s how we were made by God.

Is it a hard to be tasked with these things? Of course, but to quote Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own…

“It’s the hard that makes it great!”

Quote for 6/22/2018

As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him.   Psalm 103:13 NKJV

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Any parents out there? Did you ever have one of your little ones sick or injured? You know the pain, the ache in your heart bursting with pity and the absolute impotence to do anything but to hold them and dry their tears.

One daughter of mine was taken by ambulance to the emergency room a few years ago. She’s been plagued with one ailment after another her whole life. This latest insult left me in the driveway after the ambulance took off with my wife in there yelling at God.

“Do You need someone to suffer? Take me! Come and get me! I’m old, and she’s had enough! Do it!!!”

Not one of my best moves, I must admit, but you understand the pain I felt, the powerless feeling.

That’s how God feels about us, how much He pities us. The difference between me and God? He’s not powerless to help.

He sent His Son, Jesus to take the real pain for us.

Quote for 6/21/2018

Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.   Jeremiah 32:17

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I wrote an article about how God excels at both the very big and the very little, Extra Large to Extra Small, November of 2016. I had seen a science show in which they described how huge the universe is. Really smart guys with really big telescopes have concluded that the universe is actually spherical in shape. It has a horizon, which we can’t see past.

He also gets very detailed. Look at this medical illustration of a single cell. Marvel at its complexity, its design!f3-1_generalized_cell_s_c

But do you know what He does that surpasses even all of that, from the macro to the micro?

He loves us!

Considering how we have hurt Him over the eons with rejection and curses, loving us has got to be His biggest accomplishment by far!!

The Prince With God

Jacob Wrestles GodThen Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. 25 Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him…And (God) said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Genesis 32:24-25, 28

Jacob; schemer, deceiver, always looking for an angle. Why, that arrogant little $^%&* would wrestle God Himself!

In fact, he did! The verses above are part of the account of God visiting Jacob in the night. The two wrestled all night long, and Jacob would not give in.

I know…the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the Universe did not lose a match to a mere human being. Still, He was mighty impressed that Jacob wouldn’t back down. Finally, He touched Jacob’s hip – just touched it – and put it out of joint.

“Nice try, Sparky! Just remember Who’s your Daddy.”

Here’s where it really gets impressive. Jacob knows Who he’s tussling with. His hip just got dislocated, but he STILL won’t give in.

“I will not let You go unless You bless me!” Verse 26.

That, my friends, is a serious set of cojones! The man wrestles with God, who lets him think he’s getting somewhere. This goes on all night. The man, like a child who doesn’t know when the game is over, won’t let it go. God puts a serious move on him just to remind him of Who is who, dislocating his hip in the process, and the man still says this isn’t over yet. Not till I get a blessing from You.

God asks him his name, and he tells God. God replies, “Not any more.” New name? ISRAEL, Prince with God!

This, friends, is huge. Understand the use of the term “Prince” in the Bible. It is normally used in association with heavenly beings. Satan is the Prince of the World. Daniel refers to Satan’s Princes of the world, each with its own geographic territory. Unfallen angels are also referred to as princes, each with their own assigned duties. Recall that there is a special class of angels called “Watchers,” for example. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace.

Powerful Angel

Bring it…

When God calls Jacob “Prince with God” He is making a serious, universe-shaking pronouncement! He is not a prince of God, but a prince with God. Jacob is being elevated to virtually angelic status. If that sounds like a stretch too far, recall David saying this in Psalm 8:5 – For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

 

“A little lower than the angels.” Jacob is getting a promotion. Why? Because he will produce the Twelve Tribes of Israel through whom God will bring His own Prince of Peace into the world and save all of humanity in every time; past, present, and future.

Just as the Watchers are charged with watching over humanity, Jacob and his progeny are charged with being the sacred bloodline that will not just watch over humanity, but save humanity! If you still think that’s a stretch, consider Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the eternal place of the house of Israel with God. Isaiah 60:16-22 –

You shall drink dry the milk of the Gentiles, And milk the breast of kings; You shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

17 “Instead of bronze I will bring gold, Instead of iron I will bring silver, Instead of wood, bronze, And instead of stones, iron. I will also make your officers peace, And your magistrates righteousness. 18 Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, Neither [a]wasting nor destruction within your borders; But you shall call your walls Salvation, And your gates Praise.

God the Glory of His People

19 “The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the Lord will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory. 20 Your sun shall no longer go down, Nor shall your moon withdraw itself; For the Lord will be your everlasting light, And the days of your mourning shall be ended. 21 Also your people shall all be righteous; They shall inherit the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified. 22 A little one shall become a thousand, And a small one a strong nation. I, the Lord, will hasten it in its time.”

And so it begins…

Quote for 6/20/2018

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise child will delight in him.   Proverbs 23:24 NKJV

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Every parent at some point expresses the relief expected when the kids leave the house. Then a “friend” reminds us that once a parent, always a parent. It never stops completely.

If, however, you are one of those parents with great kids who are solid in their faith and wise in making their way in the world, you will rejoice. Partly because you’re glad to not have to constantly worry about them, but mostly because you are proud of them! All of the parental sacrifices and frustrations pay off with a sight of your family making their way successfully in the world and in eternity!

You’ll always want to give them advice. They will always come back to you when unsure of something, but the worries, the fear for them will be gone.

You will rejoice and praise God for the blessing of your children!

Quote for 6/19/208

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,   Philippians 3:20 NKJV

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I recently read about two women who were switched at birth. No one ever discovered this until they each happened to be genetically profiled to learn more about their history. The company automatically links people who are closely related. Both women found out they are not related to the families they were raised with, but were somehow related to each other!

What’s interesting is that both of them spent a lifetime knowing that they had their families and still having the profound feeling that they didn’t belong there!

Christian or not, we are all living in a world that has been overrun by Satan and his forces. We don’t belong here. We belong with God fully and completely. Whether Christian or not, we all have a feeling of emptiness without God in our lives. We have a feeling of somehow not belonging here.

Those without God know they need something. Those already cleansed by Jesus’ blood still yearn to make it out of this world and into God’s

St. Paul echoes this in 2 Corinthians 5: “For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.”

He makes clear in that chapter that he is not suicidal. He just wants to be fully clothed in his heavenly tent.

He wants to go home!

Quote for 6/18/2018

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”   Luke 11:13 NKJV

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First, we are indeed evil. Oh, we have our good moments, but every one of us has evil thoughts and actions much more often than we might care to admit. I personally think we sin more than we are aware; it’s so automatic in a lot of situations!

Still – when it comes to our kids we are mama and papa bears. Food, clothes, braces, education, and so much more! All for the asking!

Adam and Eve has complete and unrestricted access to the full presence of God. Nothing can possibly be better than that!

So, if we ask, God will send us His Holy Spirit to be in communion with us. We’re still in sin on earth. Full exposure to God will have to wait for heaven, but here on earth He will still be in direct communion with Him, guided by His Spirit.

Talk about providing for those you love!!