. . . Because of God

Many of us are familiar with the story of Joseph.  We have the main points in his life down pat: his coat of many colors, his dreams, and his interpretation of others’ dreams.  We know of him being sold into slavery by his own brothers, his life in Egypt, the accusations of Potiphar’s wife, and his imprisonment.  But how closely do we pay attention to his actual relationship with God?  Do we focus more on the “From the Pit to the Palace,” side of things than on his integrity before God?

In his story, Joseph appears to start out as a young man who is a bit boastful and can’t wait to tell every listening ear his dream.  (I’m not saying he was boastful, just that it appears so).  His dreams became so that they incurred the hatred of his brothers.  This hatred would boil up within them until it filled them with violent intentions.  At one point, they thought murder was one option to rid them of this dreamer.  Instead of killing him, they opted to get rid of him while making a little money on the side.  They sold him into slavery.

In what appeared as the hardest time of his young life, Joseph’s relationship with God deepened.  This showed in the way God cause him to be prosperous and favored no matter where life put him (Genesis 39:3, 21).  Joseph also displayed the importance of his devotion to God in not sinning against God (Genesis 39:9) and in his refusal to take credit for all that God was doing through him (Genesis 40:8; 41:16, 28, 32).

God blessed Joseph with this incredible gift yet in his humility and dependence upon God, he denounced any accolades of his own.  He considered himself to be a vessel, realizing that “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace,” (Genesis 41:16).

The humility of Joseph took him far in life.  Eventually, he became second in command over Egypt.  Had he gotten big-headed I’m sure the story would’ve turned out quite differently.  If he had reverted to the “Me, Myself and I” attitude that a lot of people seem to display, Joseph’s story would not have been noted as the legacy we now know.

“It’s not in me,” Joseph readily proclaims.  The Bible tells us, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).  The Apostle Paul out-and-out tells us what Joseph already proclaimed.  We don’t have it in us!  Any gifts, any abilities, any special insights, and any favor – we have it because of God!  There’s no room for a self-sufficient attitude when God is trying to work in you.

When Daniel went before king Nebuchadnezzar to interpret his dream, Daniel, like Joseph, admitted his frailty as a human.  He said, “This secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living,” (Daniel 2:30).  He did not consider himself anything special just because he could interpret dreams rather, he gave glory to God, “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his,” (Daniel 2:20).

Standing before Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was asked, “Art thou able to make known unto me the dream which I have seen, and the interpretation thereof?” (Daniel 2:26).  Daniel answered much like Joseph did.  He said, “There is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days,” (Daniel 2:28).

It is amazing the miracles that God can perform through the one who will not compete with Him to gain the credit.  When God instructed Gideon to go against the Midianites with only three hundred men, He did so, “lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me,” (Judges 7:2).  When there is competition for glory, God will retain His!  If one is in competition with Him they are “against” Him and God can’t work mightily through them!

It’s not just an Old Testament thing.  Peter said, “Why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12).  Let’s face it, we are human, and unless God puts it in us – unless God gives it to us, we don’t have anything to offer this world.  “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven,” (John 3:27).

Let’s do a credit check today.  Not to decipher our financial status but rather our relationship status with God.  It’s not “Me, Myself and I,” but it’s God working in us.  Let’s stand with Joseph and declare, “It’s not in me: God shall give . . . an answer . . .” (Genesis 41:16).  Everything that we have or are able to do in life is because of God.

Blessings to you . . .

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In the unsure moments of life . . .

In the unsure moments of life, we have a God we can depend on! “For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” Isaiah‬ ‭41:13‬

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A new attitude for a new day . . .

A new attitude for a new day . . . “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

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In Christ, we are the possessors of the promise!

In Christ, we are the possessors of the promise! If God promised it, it is yours!  “. . . So whatever the LORD our God takes possession of before us, we will possess.” Judges 10:24

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Opinions

Opinions, everyone offers them.  Sometimes they are solicited, and sometimes not.

Opinions can be a welcomed, new perspective on a matter.  Then again, opinions can be discouraging whether the basis of them is right or wrong.

The thing we must remember about opinions when referring to people is just that, they are someone’s opinions.  What that means is it may or may not be factual.  It may or may not be the best option for your case.  It only means that is the way another views whatever matter is before them.  It is their best evaluation of the situation.

Does this mean they are wrong?  No.  Does it mean they are right?  No.  An opinion, again, is what it is, an opinion.

Does that mean we shun all opinions given to us?  If we are wise, the answer is no.  The reason being, that while opinions are opinions, the Bible constantly encourages us to seek wise counsel.  Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise,” and there are many more verses written like this that support these same thoughts.

As much as some would like to ignore the fact, there are people who know more than we do and we can glean from their knowledge, expertise, and experience concerning the different matters of life.  We do not know everything in and of ourselves and so prudence demands that we get close to wise counselors and partake of what they have and can teach us to enrich our lives.

Now, the opposite of that is invalidated opinions or harmful opinions.  The thoughts of others that can put a grinding halt on your life and mission.  These interferences disrupt the flow of your day if you allow them and can be a damper on the fire that God has placed inside of us.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul, being at the forefront of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through many regions of the world in his day often came under the scrutiny of others’ opinions.  One particular time that stands out to me was when he and the other 275 passengers aboard a broken ship had to either swim to shore for safety or float there on pieces of the broken ship (see Acts 28 and chapters prior for the entire story).

Once on shore, Paul gathered sticks for a fire, and out of the heat, a snake bit him and attached itself to his hand (Acts 28:3).  When those on the island that were gathered there saw this, they claimed that Paul was a murderer who may have escaped the sea but was still going to get his just desserts (Acts 28:4-5).

Paul, not phased by them or the snake, shook the creature off and went on about his business while the others stood to see what would become of him, expecting him to fall down dead.

When Paul didn’t respond as they thought he would to the snake bite, their opinion of Paul changed quickly in the eyes of these people.  They changed their view of him based off of what they could see with their natural eyes and started to call him a god (Acts 28:6).

That is a very dramatic turn from being labeled as a murderer and then having the script flipped to the people claiming he was a god.  This shows us how quickly, and how circumstantially, people’s views of you can change.

The problem is, that too many people have halted what God has placed in their hearts because of the opinions of others.  Too many have let others revoke their dreams or dictate their calling when it is the Father who knows His good will and thoughts toward you (Jeremiah 29:11).

Constantly looking to others for validation can hinder the mission God has placed you on.  If Paul had succumbed to their opinions, as one labeled a murder, he could have tucked-tail, turned, and hid in a corner, which would not benefit where God placed him and what God wanted to do through him.  By the way, while on that island, some were able to be healed due to the Paul becoming aware of their illness and being able to pray for them (see Acts 28:7-10).

If Paul allowed his head to get puffed-up when others claimed he was a god, he would have been no good for God’s mission in that place and in the places he was traveling to.

Please, and I mean, please with fervency on top, let me reiterate, that there is much wisdom in wise counsel.  Almost the whole book of Proverbs reads as wise counsel on what to do and not to do and the one who wants wisdom would be wise to follow it.  And verses like Proverbs 19:20, which says, “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end” really stand out on the importance of seeking and following through on wise instruction.  DO NOT neglect this great gift of available wisdom.

But, don’t let the invalidated opinions of others sway you from your calling.  If you are unsure about a matter, seek good, godly wisdom (as noted above).  Also, never forget that the greatest source of wisdom and knowing of what to do in an unsure time is to look to God Himself.  Proverbs 19:21 says, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”  “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

If you are having a hard time figuring it out, pray for a heart of discernment because we DO NOT want to lean on our own opinions if they are wrong, either.  Don’t get hung up on self.  Again, we have these nuggets of wisdom from Proverbs: “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits” (16:2), “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (16:25), and “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts” (21:2).

Above all, we want to be right with God for it is what He thinks of us, His knowledge and His perspective about our life, and what He wants from us and for us that matters the most.

Overcome the obstacles of false opinions, seek wise counsel, and look to God above all else.  He is your confident source for all of life’s decisions.

God bless you.

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Praise From God

Many of us are familiar with the sons of Jesse being ceremoniously paraded before the prophet Samuel to see who would be anointed as the next king of Israel (1 Samuel 16).

As with most people, Samuel viewed the potential candidates according to what he could see, judging by their physical appearance.  But it was God who interrupted his erroneous train of thought and informed Samuel the criteria by which He judges is far from the world of human perspective, saying, “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Praise from God will never be about what everyone else sees.  Praise from God will never be given based on what is done on the outside of an individual.  Outward rituals and performances never impress our God so much as the inner moving of one’s heart.

God has always been in love with the inner man, for it is only in that place of hiddenness where one’s true character and motives reside.  In this place, God’s eyes and knowing go beyond the scope of the visible.  God’s view of a person is more thorough in reach and scope than any human eye can fathom in that secret place inside.

People work strenuously to put on a show for others.  Do the right things, say the right words, and they will see that you are a good person.   Performance in a certain way will gain you the right audience and praise from people, right?

How we behave on the outside can be an overflow of the true character on the inside, but this is not always so.  While things may look good on the outside, the heart is what matters to God the most. And it is what’s in the heart that receives praise from God.

Paul wrote in Romans, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God” (Romans 2:28-29; emphasis mine), meaning it doesn’t matter the rituals and performances one does on the outside to make themselves to appear to be a child of God, rather it is “the circumcision is that of the heart” that matters most.

My friend, we are living for the praise of God, living to please Him with our lives.  Outward rituals will never impress Him like a true heart that has been changed from the inside out instead of one trying to work righteousness from the outside in.

There are a lot of things that can touch your heart, but when living for God and loving Him touches it more, then something beautiful takes place there.  Something that cannot be ignored by the Father.

Prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” Psalm 139:23-24. 

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The Common Thread

There are many things that make us unique creatures.  We all have something that is particularly special about us.

You may be that one with the personality that instantly lightens up a room when you enter in.  Or, you may be a great analytical thinker – a real go-getter and problem solver.

Perhaps you are a great encourager who puts a smile on the face of others.  You may be a great cook, a tinkerer, and a fixer of many things.

As many as there are people on this earth, there are just that many ways to think, do, and perform the things that make you uniquely you.

All the different features and skills – they are remarkably you as God’s unique design.  Knowing this, David says, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” (Psalm 139:141).

But in the community of humanity, looking through the scope of everything that makes us us, there is one thing many fail to remember.  Universally speaking, we all have this common thread: “The rich and the poor have this in common, The Lord is the maker of them all” (Proverbs 22:2, NKJV).  

Not one of us placed ourselves here (truth).

Not one of us was spawned from higher dirt than others (how absurd).

Not one of us gave life to ourselves (can I get an amen).

Through our many differences, there are more things about us that are the same.  And with God being the maker of all, there really is no reason for any to sport a superiority complex or to live under an inferiority complex.

In the grand scheme of humanity, we are all God’s beautiful creation.

Above Photo Source

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The Golden Rule

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31

This is the Golden Rule, as we call it today.  God’s people are to know how to treat people in any circumstance, whether the times are favorable or if they find themselves in times of adversity.  God’s people are to respond to situations and people in the same manner as Jesus did.

Philippians 2:5 tells us, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”  The way we view things, people, and situations are to be filtered through thinking about how Jesus Himself would respond.  How did He handle the adversities He faced?  What was His attitude like toward those who mocked Him and so forth?  All in all, if we were to take inventory and compare our responses to that of Jesus, would they match up or even come close?

In order to be identified as a  Christian, after all, it means that we are of Christ, we are His followers, and we are Christ-minded.  If we’re not, can we truly call ourselves Christians?

The greatest commandments Jesus taught was this: “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these,” (Mark 12:29-31, emphasis mine).  Loving people, and treating people as one would want to be treated is to be a priority for being a follower of Christ!  It is one of the greatest commandments and it cannot be ignored!

Today, where do you know you need to view others as Christ did and respond to them in love, with patience, and the courtesy of our Savior?

Most, if not all of us, may be a continual work in progress in this area.  People are not always kind, but we can choose to be kind.  People are not always loving, but because we want to represent our Savior well, we can, as He did, choose to be loving.  The choice is always up to us on how we treat those whom we interact with daily and the random strangers that come across our path.

May we love people well, no matter who they are.

“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

Excerpt taken from Jesus Teaches His Followers

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O Lord, this day we are praying…

O God, this day we are praying for your leading and guidance in our lives. In our flesh; in the humanness of our hearts, we don’t always know the right thing to do. We don’t always know the right path to walk. Teach us, O God, according to your Word. Help us to keep our feet on the path you have for us and please bless the steps we take. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

“He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths,” Micah 4:2.

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God, My Satisfaction!

“Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled.” Luke 6:21

God’s people live with an expectation of being filled.  These verses really hone in on our life with and without Christ.  Without Him, it is truly a life of lack compared to being spiritually satisfied and complete in Him.

One that hungers has not yet retained enough within him to turn over the plate and say, “Thank you, but that’s enough.  I’m done. I am completely full.”  Spiritually speaking, he that hungers has a need for more, for more of Him.  And that’s okay because that one recognizes that it is only in Christ where his soul can truly be satisfied, knowing, “Ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power,” Colossians 2:10.  This is where the malnourished soul is embraced and filled with the satisfaction of the Savior.

David celebrated finding satisfaction in God alone.  He says it like this:

“Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.

How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” Psalm 36:5-9

In the verses preceding these, David describes different characteristics of those who don’t look to God for their filling.  He describes them as wicked and with whom “there is no fear of God before his eyes” (Psalm 36:1).  These have rejected God’s way, His path, and salvation for their lives.  They live a life in opposition to the Father’s good plan and have chosen to fill themselves with the pride of self rather than seeking a life that can be made complete in Him (Colossians 2:10).

Opposite that, we who know God recognize, as David did, God’s mercy through it all.  We recognize His daily faithfulness.  We see His righteousness through the clouds of evil.  We know of His lovingkindness because we have experienced it for ourselves countless times over.  And with that, we place ourselves under His trust, sheltering under the “shadow of thy wings.”

In God, we are “abundantly satisfied.”  We rest, hope, and live in the blessings of the Lord (Acts 17:28).  And these blessings aren’t necessarily something we are seeking from the Lord, but they come as an overflow of being attached to the Lord.  

Our relationship with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, has poured out into our lives a  certain filling that the wicked of the world will never be able to comprehend.  That’s why when things aren’t okay, or when plans go awry, or when pain is introduced into areas of our life we wish it would avoid, we can still securely rest in the hope of who God is in our lives: our true soul’s satisfaction.

With God, there is a “fountain of life.”  Fountains are not stagnated.  Their waters are always moving and flowing and fresh.  God flows life over, and for,  and through His children.  He is our sustaining grace, renewing us day by day with His strength and love (2 Corinthians 4:16).

There is not a moment when God is absent or withdrawn from the lives of His children.  He is not only their breath, their joy, their song, and their life, but in God, we find everything we need, and we are completely filled in Him.  With God, we are abundantly satisfied.

  “And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” Isaiah 58:11

What a beautiful picture!   Be filled in Him today.  

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