Friday, January 20, 2012

Nothing to Say?

I am always impressed with those who say little but say so much in what they say.  That comes from a guy who has spent his lifetime trying to say less.  We sanguines are often guilty of talking too much.  I found that Jesus told us how to be more focused in what we say.  If we want our words to count in life, here is the formula:  listen, and then only repeat what you are told.
In Matthew 10:27, Jesus said, "What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops."  Jesus also told his listeners in John 12:  49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
Interesting.  Jesus spoke opening what He heard from the Father.  And not only did the Father tell Him what to say but even how to say it.
I am encouraged to take more time alone in the quiet place to listen (reading of God's Word and silently listening through meditation) to what the Father has to say, and then be sure to speak to others what He says and how He says it.  That will make my talk meaningful.

One other caution.  He warns that we will be held accountable for every idle word.  That is a motivation to greater restraint.  Less words, less ammo to be held accountable for.  :-) 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Changing My World

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers; falsely accused by Mrs. Potipher; forgotten by the cup bearer and now is sitting in jail for two more years before. . . .   Pause.  How do I perceive or handle my injustices?  In conversations, Joseph confesses the injustices done to him without wallowing in misery because of them.  Even before seeing his brothers eight or nine years from now, and putting everything into perspective, I believe Joseph allowed all injustice to be resolved in the courtroom of God.  When asked by the cupbearer and also Pharaoh, he quickly attributed to God alone the ability to interpret dreams.  His was a life lived in the universe of a Sovereign who masterfully administers justice, provision, hope, even life itself.  No despair, just watching for God-purposes in all things.
   Now through the interpretation of Pharaoh's dream, Joseph is placed in charge of preparing Egypt for the seven years of famine.  But if you read the text carefully in Genesis 40-42, you will find that this famine was affecting the whole world.  So in essence, Joseph was used to make provision for the world's food supply.  Wow, talk about making a difference.  In addition, he was used by God to preserve his family and fulfill God's promises to his great-grandfather Abraham.
   Instead of trying to always reason out why we have experienced some set back or even injustice, why not lose the event in the courtroom of God and ask God to help us make a difference where we are (in slavery, the jail, or an exalted political position)?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Room to Think

We must be careful how quickly we get offended when someone shares a God-given truth that seems uncomfortable or detrimental for us.  Listen to what the Scriptures say about Joseph and his dreams.
 5 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
 8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
 9 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”
 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.  Genesis 37:5-10

What Joseph dreamed was from God.  Years from now it would benefit all his family as well as all those Israelites yet to be born.  In fact, because God knew the hearts involved, their reactions set the stage for the future.  His brothers hated him and intended to harm Joseph, but God intended it for good. (Genesis 50:20)  Note Jacob's response.  He initially rebuked him for what seemed to be impertinence.  But while his brothers lived in jealousy, "his father kept the matter in mind."  
   It is wise for us to not jump quickly to rebuke "truth" when it causes discomfort.  We should keep things in mind, take time to pray over and seek to understand it so that we can capture the mind of God. What may seem harmful to us in the first reading may really be intended by God for our good.  But it may take a while before we see it. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Did You Hear What You Just Said?

I'm guilty.  Bet you have been too.  We are talking to someone, maybe even making our case for something, and we don't hear ourselves.  If we truly listened, we may understand our mouths are saying far more than what they are saying.

James 4:17 tells us:  Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
John writes in 1 John 3:7:  Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 

Here is the funny thing:  we reveal something with our mouths we are not willing to admit and don't know it.  For example, a person told someone recently that they could not attend a service the next day.  Later in the conversation, the person was asked what they were going to be doing that they couldn't come.  They said they weren't sure, they may just stay at home.  I am not being legalistic about attending a service.  What I am pointing out is that they said they "can't" come rather than they were "choosing" not to come.  Nothing prohibited them.  They just chose not to.  Nothing wrong in saying they just weren't coming.  But to say they can't?  Now we are carrying out wrong behavior.
   We do this all the time about the disciplines that are lacking in our lives.  We know the steps we need to take to exercise, govern our diets, turn off gadgets to read or converse, to lessen the level of activity to focus on the important things.  We know the good we ought to do but we choose to not do it.  It is not that we "can't" do it.  We choose not to, and the results are natural.

   So what is revealed?  At best, we are deceiving ourselves.  But in regards to all the good we know to do and aren't, I would suggest it reflects a rebellious spirit in us that refuses to give up something to submit to the good things God has for us. 

So what is your mouth revealing lately??  I'm listening more to mine.  Hope I like what I hear.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Importance of Testimony

Most of you know I love history.  In a conversation I had on Sunday, I was not only reminded that those who forget their history are bound to repeat it.  But that the lesson of history is that we forget our history!!
But it is vital we look back and understand the importance God places on history and the retelling of it accurately.  I got off on a wondrous rabbit trail while studying this morning.  I went back through the genealogies of Genesis 5.  If you crunch the numbers, you find some fascinating truths that point to what I am talking about.
   Lamech (Noah's father) and Noah are the only two generations prior to the flood who could not have spoken directly with Adam.  Lamech certainly could have spoken with Seth, Adam's son.  So almost everyone up to the time of the flood could hear from the first created being about creation, the Garden of Eden, the Fall of Man, and the shame of sin.  And God's grace to them despite their sin.  Seth could tell of starting to "call on the name of the Lord." He could speak of his brother Abel's death at the hands of his other older brother, Cain.  And they could plead with each generation not to go the way of Cain and his descendants.
   You will find that Noah was alive at the time of Abram's birth.  In fact, some legends hold that Abram was trained in the home of Noah and Shem.  This is only legend.  But we do know it was possible.  In fact, Shem (Noah's son) outlived Abram by 35 years.  Think of it.  An eye witness to the total destruction of the earth by flooding told the story over and over again down through to the generation of Jacob and Esau.  Jacob, the one who would later be the father of all the tribes of Israel; the one through whose line the Messiah would come, could have heard first hand about God's provision of an ark during the terrible execution of His judgment against sin.  He could have sat and listened about how the animals came two by two.  About the curse on Ham after the flood.  About the tower of Babel and the splitting of the nations.  But also how God has faithfully kept His promises and His remnant safe through the generations.  So it is not a reach to understand how Moses may have had some insight as to how the beginning happened.  The Holy Spirit inspired writer also would have heard the stories passed down from someone who heard them from someone who lived at the time of the flood.  Amazing.

So tell YOUR story of Jesus, His works, your family's obedience to Him and the consequences you have faced when you haven't.  It is an encouragement and a warning to the next generations.  At this point in history, we may only live long enough to affect two or at the most three generations, but them we must tell.  It is our God-given responsibility.  Psalm 78