Cinderella Story

Genesis 41

Ultimately, this is a story about God. God working His plan even though at times it may not have been evident from the outside. And while that plan was played out at a macro level on the world stage in the form of a famine in the land, it was also played out at a micro level in the life of Joseph. What if Joseph had not obeyed his father Jacob to go find his brothers? What if his brothers had received him well? What if he had refused Mrs. Potiphar? What if he had been self-absorbed and ignored his two fellow prisoners? What if the cupbearer had remembered him right away and not forgotten him for two years? Joseph consistently made the right decision, having oriented his life toward God, without knowing the long-term benefits…although circumstances along the way didn’t seem to confirm it. In making the right decision suffering would come before glory…foreshadowing Jesus who suffered before being exalted to the right hand of the Father.

The story’s told: “Robert Dick Wilson was one of the most brilliant men of his time. He was a Hebrew professor at Princeton Theological Seminary. One of his graduates was the famous pastor Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse who later on went on to pastor the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Twelve years after graduation Barnhouse went back to Princeton to preach in the old Miller Chapel. On that occasion his former professor Dr. Wilson sat on the front row to hear him. Barnhouse preached and afterwards Robert Dick Wilson came up, extended his hand and said to Barnhouse, “If you come back again, I will not come to hear you preach. I only come once. I am glad that you are a big Godder. When my boys come back, I come to see if they are big Godders or little Godders and then I know what their ministry will be. And Barnhouse asked him to explain. Dr. Wilson said, “Well some men have a little God and they’re always in trouble with Him. He can’t do any miracles, He can’t take care of inspiration and transmission of the Scriptures, He doesn’t intervene on behalf of His people. They have a little God. I call them little Godders. Then there are those who have a great God. He speaks, it is done. He commands and it stands fast. He knows how to show Himself strong on behalf of them that fear Him. You Donald have a great God and He will bless your ministry.” And he paused, smiled, said, “God bless you,” and walked away…”

Joseph saves the world. He’s at the top of the heap. How would he survive prosperity? By having his soul tempered through 13 years of suffering. He learned great dependence on God…he knew of God’s greatness, believed God’s word and trusted that God’s presence was with him. Joseph was a big Godder.

So how about you, are you a big Godder or a little Godder? Is Your God the God of the Bible, who not only created the universe, but is also Sovereign over it and actively involved in both world events and the lives of His people, or is He an ineffective and impotent God, unable to help in time of need and nervously watching events unfold? How big is your God?

May we be big Godders.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

Sovereignty & Judgment

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

This week I thought I would do a brief overview of the importance of the twelve books known as the Minor Prophets.

We are in the midst of reading Amos and Micah now in our plan. As I was trying to decide which book to write about, a thought struck me to do an overview of the Minor Prophets as a whole as many of us are tempted to just quickly read or scan through them.

Most of what you will read through this blog today I took directly from James Boice’s Commentary on the Minor Prophets.

The Minor Prophets emphasize basic attributes of God – His Sovereignty, Holiness, and Love. In these books we also find His judgment, mercy and salvation.

Central to the thinking of the Minor Prophets was the fact that God is the sovereign Lord of history and that nothing happens, either to Israel or to the gentile nations, that is not the result of His direct determination.

The locust plague of Joel was His doing. The destruction of Nineveh was from Him, just as its earlier repentance under the preaching of Jonah was God-given.

When Israel was invaded by Assyria and when Judah was invaded by Babylon, it was the Lord who did it.

Whatever problems the prophets may have with the specific nature of God’s actions—Habakkuk is one who had great problems—they never doubt for a second that the almighty God is in charge of history.

An awareness of holiness was the driving force behind their sharp denunciations of sin. It makes no difference where the sin was found, whether in foreign lands (Edom, as in Obadiah; Assyria, as in Nahum) or among God’s people—it was still an offense to God and called for judgment.

Nowhere in the Bible are there stiffer denunciations of sin and heartier calls for a deep and pervasive repentance than in the Minor Prophets. Apart from repentance, judgment falls.

The conjunction of love and justice is sometimes hard to understand but it is because of God’s great love for His people (even His love for Nineveh) that He sends prophets with the message of judgment and, indeed, eventually sends the judgment itself.

God knows that sin is an outrage against Himself, humanity, and even the one pursuing it. He knows that sin is destructive. So He judges sin—in the case of His own people in order to turn them back from sin to Himself.

Sin not only brings misery, it also leads to a final judgment from God that is furious, deadly, and eternal.

This offers a compelling reason for us to seek salvation from God today. His character has not changed and his promises cannot be broken.

As we learn from Micah, God does not desire to destroy His people but desires to show mercy.

But how can a holy God forgive sinners? The answer is the central point of Micah’s salvation message: God will send a Savior to deliver us from His own judgment on our sin.

If we come to Him seeking forgiveness, we will find Him ready to offer us mercy and love.

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

Helpful resources for further study – The Minor Prophets Volumes 1 & 2 by James M. Boice and Jonah and Micah, by Richard d. Phillips

Looking for Love

Genesis 29

In this tangled tale of romance, lies, deceit, love at first sight, spurned affections, costly misguided pursuits…it’s easy to ask, “Where is God in all this mess? Is He still in control?”

This story should serve as a warning for us who claim to follow Jesus of what happens when we live as if His presence and His prerogative have no impact on and really have no business in our lives. We live in the here and now with no thought of eternity. The daily pressures of life have pushed out any sense of connection to the God of the universe. We are missing out on the incredible destiny He has in store for us. A destiny He wants us to realize every day…to play a part in His redemptive plan for the nations, to impact the valley for His kingdom.

So where is God in all this mess? He is still seated on the throne. He is still working out His purposes…even in situations where our bad choices would seem to threaten them. Jacob is at the right place at the right time to be introduced to his kinsman. Although not his choice, God provides the right girl on his wedding night. He doesn’t override Jacob’s decisions…he allows him to make mistakes and reap the consequences. [God is not mocked…we reap what we sow.] God’s presence is evident in His orchestration of events, His love and grace are demonstrated in the boys He gives to an unwanted wife, seeking Leah’s affections as earnestly as she did Jacob’s.

And in our mess…when the world seems to be breaking apart at the seams – war in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Ebola outbreak in Africa, border challenges, unrest in Missouri, the unthinkable in a nearby church, not to mention our own struggles with health or finances or safety or whatever…God is still on His throne. He hasn’t lost control of His world, but He’s allowed us to make our foolish decisions, starting with our initial defiance. Wanting to write Him out of the script, we face the consequences of our own sin and rebellion. But God is still at work. He’s able to bring about His purposes in spite of our transgression. His presence is still with us. His love and grace demonstrated in His relentless pursuit of us…pictured so perfectly on the cross, price was no object in securing what He desired.

So whether you feel like you’ve been duped like Jacob, spurned like Leah, pursued like Rachel or came out on top like Laban, the gospel is good news for you. God’s not done. He delights to bring life from death, order from chaos, beauty from ashes, to restore what the locust has eaten. He’s a God who can and wants to transform your life.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster

A Bride for Isaac

Genesis 24

Big decisions…how do you go about making them? What role does your faith play in the process? How do you discern God’s direction?

Three major characters carry most of the action in this episode…Abraham, the servant and Rebekah. Each one demonstrates incredible faith in a tale that on the surface is just another love story. Could, except for the Main Character who is driving the action of the story. Abraham refers to Him as the LORD, the God of heaven and earth. Both God’s providence and man’s responsibility are clearly evident. Moses makes it clear that the LORD is orchestrating the events…the human characters respond.

So what can we learn about making decisions, about discerning God’s leading in the decision-making process? A couple of practical things that hit me right off the bat.  The servant really did want to know what God wanted…and he wanted the same thing. The psalmist writes, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” How’s that? Because when we delight ourselves in the LORD His desires become our desires, so that we begin to trust in the good that He reveals instead of our own version of good. And trust is key…we won’t follow Someone we don’t trust.

So how do we delight ourselves in the LORD? Time spent in His Word, in prayer and with His people. When walking with Jesus is a daily habit, it’s easy to delight in Him. As we do that, we begin to recognize His voice…My sheep hear My voice. When we hear His voice, then our job is to respond. Isaiah says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make all your paths straight.” If we are trusting that what He says is “Good” really is good, then it’s easy to walk down the path.

Notice also that the servant was practical and shrewd…as my wife says, “He used the brain God gave him.” He was in the right place at the right time. So we too to put ourselves in places and at times to cooperate with what the LORD is doing.

The servant was in constant prayer and responded to where the LORD led. He trusted God, but recognized the human players involved. He not only was cognizant of the LORD’s working, but was able to give evidence of it to others. He was active in his faith.

When I thought about my own life, I tend to get tripped up on step one…wanting what God wants. If I’m honest, I want what I want, and I want God to bless it. And in that moment I’m really not trusting the good He has for me. I want my own “good”. Even though I’ve found out time and again that my “good” is anything but.

What about you? Any big decisions coming up? How’s your walk with the LORD? Do you believe that He interacts with your world? If He was clear, would you really want what He wants?

May God give us the grace this week to discern His leading and the clarity and courage to follow Him.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on our Genesis series. Listen online at:http://www.centralchristian.org, or follow us on twitter: @ccclancaster