. . . 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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Devotional – “Jesus Questions Trust”

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8b

What would it be like to sit across from Jesus, face to face, and have Him question your trust? Would we be able to look Him in the eye as we pondered our answer? Would our heads be bowed, feeling unworthy to lift it and look into the eyes of love pleading with us to believe? What would be like? I imagine it would be self-revealing because in those questions we find where our hearts and our true belief lies. It reveals where we stand in our faith.

I have never read or heard of anyone, anywhere who tries so hard to get people to believe in Him, for their good, outside of Christ. He, who had pleaded with mankind through these pages of history to trust Him with their life and everything it entails. He, who has welcomed the problems and prayers of others into His person to carry so that we don’t have to.

Face to face. Pleading eyes. Questioning trust.

In Luke 18, that is what I see playing out. Jesus is telling a parable of a widow woman who just will not give up seeking justice. Day after day she sought the judge and became a downright pest about it. In her perseverance, she basically wore the man down until she was avenged.

Jesus used this parable to get the point of persistent prayer across. “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not faint,” (Luke 18:1, KJV). Jesus knew that men and women everywhere would have to believe that if they continually seek the Father, He hears them. “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full,” (John 16:24, KJV).

“Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Jesus questions trust. He questions whether or not anyone will believe in the promise and power of prayer. He questions if there is real, alive faith working in mankind somewhere. He questions.

One’s faith lies at the center of this questioning, for if we believed wholeheartedly, there would be no hindrance in bringing every request and problem before God in prayer. This is what Jesus is getting at. True faith unencumbered. True faith takes the shackles off of God’s promises and allows one to run freely forth, believing He hears, He knows and He will answer.

Bringing out the faith of people was a key in Jesus’ ministry. How often had He declared that it was by faith one was healed? In the story of the Ten Lepers, to the one who came back to “give glory to God,” (Luke 17:18, KJV), He said, “Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole,” (Luke 17:19, KJV).

How much are we missing out on through our lack of faith? Jesus is questioning us, will we have the faith to respond? Do we trust Him enough to bring all our cares, problems, and issues before Him, laying them at His feet?

The Bible says, “Thou shalt call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am . . .,” (Is. 58:9, KJV). “Here I am.” God is not far off. When we venture to trust Him enough to cry out in the midst of our mess, He responds, “Here I am.” The word “here” indicates a present closeness. “I Am” is the name God gave Moses to assure those in Egypt, Ex. 3:14. Whatever they needed God to be, “I AM” has got it all under control because He is God all by Himself. He does not exist because of another. He does not depend upon another. His power is not contingent upon another. He is “I AM!” And, the Great “I AM” says, “Here I am!” Can’t we trust Him?

Faith and prayer go hand in hand. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Heb. 11:6, KJV). Without established trust in Him and His promises, we are unable to effectively move God with our prayers. We are unable to please Him. Why? Because without that leading trust, the basic requirements of faith cannot be filled. “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” They must believe in His existence (previous paragraph) and they must believe that He is concerned enough to hear the call of them that cry out to Him and answer them. Trust.

“Shall he find faith on earth?” Our faith and trust in Him is the key that unlocks the door to victory. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4, KJV).

The persistence of the widow woman encourages us to keep coming and not give up. Hold on to your faith and trust in God and keep praying – keep laying it before our great God who hears and will take action. “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7, KJV). Jesus said, “I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Will there be some that really believe? The reason for this parable was to teach men not to give up – to keep praying and believing that God hears and that He is able to take care of it all. Do we trust Him enough to let it go and give it to God today? You may have to come every day and lay it on the altar of prayer – so be it. That’s how the widow got her case heard.

In this questioning of trust, Jesus is also demonstrating an open invitation for us to lay every hindrance down before God in prayer. Prayer works! Persistent prayer works! Persistent prayer plus faith works!

The pleading Savior is asking us to trust.

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“Your Content Reads More Than Your Cover!”

My Project 418-001

“The LORD is with you mighty man of valor!” Judge 6:12, NKJV

We’ve all heard the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  It simply tells us that what we see on the outside doesn’t always accurately represent what’s on the inside.  Books usually contain a lot of content within their pages and when one looks at the cover it is supposed to give an idea of that content.  Sometimes covers can disappoint you.  What they show can appear to be an exciting and promising read but when you get into the story it’s simply not so.  And vice versa.  Covers can inaccurately represent some great stuff on the inside while the outside seems to be dull and dreary.

Down through the years this phrase has been applied to people, and rightly so.  As we treat book covers and their content is often how we view other people.  We judge the outside without first getting acquainted with what’s written within.  As in Gideon’s case, sometimes we apply this same judging standard to ourselves, not recognizing the promise and potential in our own person.

It’s not all about how we see ourselves – it’s how God sees us!  God said, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee,” (Jer. 1:5, KJV).  The psalmist said, “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb,” (Ps. 139:13, NKJV).  What both of these verses tells us is that God knows us better than we know ourselves.  God can see inside of us where we can’t.  God knows when we lay down and when we get up, Ps. 139:2.  God knows everything about us and more!

As we do with other people we do with ourselves.  We can only judge by what we see.  God has often called and declared more for a person than they have seen in themselves.  Abraham was going to be a father of multitudes though he had no son.  God saw more!  Joseph was going to reign as second in command over Egypt though he was the bane of his brother’s existence.  God saw more!  David, out in the field tending his father’s sheep and considered to be the least in the family rose to be Israel’s greatest king and deemed “A man after God’s own heart.”  God saw more!

God sees more in each of us individually than we could ever imagine.  You may think that you are lowly and not measuring up but God sees more.  Like Gideon you might even feel as if you are the least, Judges 6:15.  But God calls you “mighty!”  God sees you as a force to be reckoned with!  Someone that God can accomplish great feats through if you submit to His will.  It’s all about what God says I am!  Your content reads more than your cover.  Be blessed today as you walk in this truth 🙂