Slaves were expected to perform grudgingly, only under fear of whipping, so when Joseph showed up whistling at his work, his boss was taken aback. Joseph made all the other slaves look bad because he did more work, did a better job, got things cleaner, cooked better. Whatever task he was assigned, he outdid expectations.
Eventually, Potiphar promoted him to managing director, in charge of his entire household.
As Christians, we should exceed expectations regularly. In our service in church, on outreach in the field, taking care of the needy of the world, we must strive for excellence and not offer a second-best or good-enough “sacrifice with blemish.”
At the end of 13 years of this trial, Joseph went from slave to vice president. God saw his faithfulness and excellent service and promoted him. We can expect good things if we exceed expectations.
Nicodemus can’t understand being “born again.” How can a man enter his mother’s womb and be “born again?” he asks.
Judas Iscariot reasoned that it was time to cash out on Jesus. He reasoned Jesus wasn’t going anywhere after all, and that he should make the most of three years of following the loser named Jesus.
Job’s friends reasoned against their friend. Instead of consoling him, they blamed him. You must have sinned because look at the proof: God’s not with you anymore.
The very same logical fallacies atheists accuse us of using, they too use! (When a pseudo-intellectual brandishes an exotic Latin fallacy, it tends to quiet the non-Latin speaker.)
As Christians, we too can “reason” ourselves out of the will of God. We can “reason” our way of out going to church, tithing, outreaching, our marriage, etc.
To avoid this pratfall, bathe your decisions in prayer. Make sure you don’t spend your time praying trying to convince God that He ought to approve your previously determined decision.
Posted in Christianity
Tagged Bible, decisions, Faith, human reasoning, Jesus, Job's friends, Judas, life, lifestyle, Nicodemus, thoughts
To prevail, pray.
Genuine yet regarded as an impostor — 2 Cor. 6:8 NIV
Despite your sincerest efforts, people will doubt you. It happened to the Apostle Paul. He was accused of being a false apostle because he didn’t want gentiles to get circumcised. (He was vindicated by the head honchos in Jerusalem, but still itinerant preachers cast doubt over his person.)
If it happened to Paul, to Job, to Jeremiah, to Daniel, to Amos, to David, to … to JESUS, why be surprised if it happens to you.
This is not to say that you, or anyone, is perfect. It is only to say that we live in a fallen world, and we are not the only ones to possess a cynical sin nature. Others can view us how they want.
In those moments, may our God strengthen us to keep fighting the fight of faith, to keep trying, to not give up.
It’s not just a matter of surviving but surviving well.
They didn’t even smell of smoke. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had been thrown into the fire by the despot. While inside, they walked around with Jesus and suffered no harm. King Nebuchadnezzar beckoned them out. Astonished, he forgot all about their disobedience in not bowing to his idol. He recognized that Jehovah was the only true God.
They not only survived, but they survived well. No smell of smoke on them.
Joseph survived prison well. He didn’t execute bitter revenge on his brothers who sold him into slavery.
As the years pile up, we pass through evil, wrongs perpetrated by family or friends. The challenge is not go cynical. The challenge is have the light-hearted delight for life of a child still.
We are taught to never look back, but sometimes we NEED to look back.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life — Psalm 23:6 NIV. There are times when all we see ahead are difficulties and trials. We forget how God has blessed us in the past.
Take a look in your rear view mirror. You’ll be surprised how God has changed the landscape.
They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. – Acts 5:41 KJV
Peter and disciples had just been arrested for preaching Jesus. The Sanhedrin whipped them and warned them to stop. Threats and beatings are what made them rejoice.
Are you suffering for Christ? Take heart. That is what the disciples did. They didn’t get discouraged. They didn’t ask, “Why, God?” They praised God for the difficulties and dug in. They prayed for strength to continue.
Don’t give up, if you are fighting the good fight. Rejoice for the opposition, for the reverses, for the trials. Things appear to be spiraling out of control. In reality, God has everything under control and will work it all out in ways you can’t imagine.
For many people, the negative rant you hear in your head actually goes audible. And science can’t adequately explain it, so they pretty much dismiss it. It’s wonderfully consoling to know that you are not going crazy. Those voice are actually real. Robin Williams confessed to hearing voices in an under-reported interview: “You have an idea there’s a dark force when you’re in that space, and it’s totally the opposite of doing the right thing… You’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump!’” Unfortunately, he ultimately listened to those voices and hung himself.
Those voices are demons. They hate all humans. They come to us because of sin. They literally want to take you and me to Hell. In the name of Jesus, you can rebuke them, and they have to flee. Read the Bible. Confess your sins to God. Get some mature Christian to help you with prayer. Begin to director your life more and more towards God and away from sin.
My mom was a counselor in the Sylmar juvenile hall facility in the L.A. area, at the time, the largest in the nation. Kids would come to her to share the frightening secret: they were hearing voices. Frequently, those voices were telling them to kill, either another person or themselves. Guards and psychologists had told these kids they were crazy. My mom no. She prayed for them. They got free from the voices. They had opened themselves to hear those voices from their gang activities (violence, drugs, murder, other things).
As we saw from Robin Williams, you don’t have to be a gang-banger to wrangle with demons. The further you stray from God’s plan, the greater the danger you can actually to start to hear these mean voices.
I feel for the girl who’s cutting, the guy who’s taking anti-depressants, the alcoholic who’s gone over the edge. You can be a supposed mirth-filled person (like Williams) and be struggling privately with deep melancholy. Whatever the case, Jesus IS the answer. Doping people up doesn’t help. Counseling can help. But the real solution is God.
Posted in Christianity
Tagged cutting, demons, Faith, hopeless, inspiration, Jesus, life, lifestyle, suicide, thoughts, voices in my head
People are either a blessing or a lesson.
That is beautiful because it almost rhymes and expresses profound truth. So we should not despise the people who are lessons to us — the frustrating ones. It appears to me that is generally cute to despise others: “I don’t hate people. I just feel better when they’re not around,” one T-shirt says. And thus we families that fall apart. Since we can’t get along with others (we are unwilling to work at building relationships and blame others, not ourselves), we wind up with loneliness.
This is my plea for you to work at relationships, to restore, to forgive, and to give without expecting in return. Demolition is much easier than construction. To tear down feels pleasurable. But the rubble left is no fun. It is better to build, even if it is costly. Build your family, your friendships, your church.