Bible Study

This is a copy of the Sunday School Lessons presented to an adult class each Sunday.

Name:
Location: Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States

Retired, Lobbyist in Washington,DC - Management - BS Chemistry and various continuing education courses

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Bible Study - Storm (3) - The Shelter of GOD'S Forgiveness - Psalm 32:1-7 - December 21, 2014

Bible Study – Storm (3) – The Shelter of GOD’S Forgiveness – December 21, 2014

This is lesson three (3) in our series entitled “Storm Shelter: Psalms of GOD’S Embrace.”

Our focus scripture is Psalm 32:1-7.

GOD’S forgiveness brings restoration and joy.

The writer of this psalm was King David. We are not sure at what point in his life he wrote the psalm. We are not sure what specific event in his life caused him to pen these words. It could have been any number of events in David’s life because he had done a number of things for which he was remorseful. His sin with Bathsheba and having her husband, Uriah, put into a position to be killed. David conducted a census when GOD told him not to. His disobedience resulted in a severe plague coming upon the people. David lived in a hostile environment.

2 Samuel 24:10:
10 David’s conscience troubled him after he had taken a census of the troops. He said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I’ve done. Now, Lord, because I’ve been very foolish, please take away Your servant’s • guilt.”

Since the psalm was not specific to a certain sin, makes it applicable to anyone, male or female for any unconfessed sin in his or her life. We have the opportunity to see David’s struggle and the conclusion he comes to. The psalm allows us to read our own circumstance or situation into the psalm and wrestle with GOD. Once we have come to the conclusion GOD desires for us, we can experience the shelter of GOD’S forgiveness, which is overwhelming as we see in the opening verses of Psalm 32.

Let’s read Psalm 32:1-2:

The Joy of Forgiveness Davidic. A • Maskil.

1 How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How joyful is the man the Lord does not charge with sin and in whose spirit is no deceit!

This is the first time the word “Maskil” was used in a psalm. It is thought that the word comes from a Hebrew word meaning “to make wise” or “instruct.” The word may refer to a general title for a contemplative poem, which is a psalm that needs to be pondered. It is in the pondering that GOD reveals truth because we seek truth. The person pondering still needs to decide what he or she will do with the revealed truth.

David began his psalm with a general statement. He does not say that he is the person but his statements imply that he has experienced this. When a heavy burden is lifted it gives the person carrying such a heavy burden great relief.
 
The King James Version of Psalm 32 begins with “Blessed is he.” “Blessed” means “how blessed” or “how joyful” which is how JESUS began the “Sermon on the Mount.” We know the Sermon on the Mount as the “beatitudes.”

Joy and happiness does not come from favorable circumstances but comes from an intimate, personal relationship with GOD. When a person knows there is nothing, such as unconfessed sin, failure to obediently serve GOD or anything to bock his or her relationship with GOD, he or she enjoys the fullness of the presence of GOD. There is nothing which comes between you and GOD. There are no hidden secrets but all of your life is laid bare before GOD. Some of it may not be pretty but none-the-less you have confessed it before GOD and asked HIM to forgive you. When a person asks for forgiveness, it includes the determination to stop and go in the direction which is pleasing to GOD.

We know in 1 John 1:9-10, the Apostle John wrote:

9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

JESUS gave HIS life that all who place their faith in HIM will know that their sins are forgiven and they will stand before GOD as righteous before GOD.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:20-21:
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He (GOD) made the One (JESUS) who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Christians sin and they are to confess their sins and repent. GOD’S part is to forgive, cleanse and restore. GOD knows the hearts of every person and responds accordingly. If a person is playing a game and sins with the expectation of confessing them sometime and GOD forgiving him or her, may be in for a rude awaking, which David alludes to in verse 6.
Transgression refers to “acts of rebellion.” A person who is a transgressor is breaking away from authority. Forgiven means to “lift up” or to “take away.” Only GOD can lift the burden of sin and completely eradicate it by the shed blood of CHRIST. We need to keep in mind that the shed blood of CHRIST reached back as well as forward to cover all who place their faith in the coming Messiah.

Covered means to hide or conceal. Most of us attempt to hide or conceal our sins but sin cannot be hidden from GOD.
   
Let’s read Psalm 32:3-5:

3 When I kept silent, my bones became brittle from my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was drained as in the summer’s heat. • Selah

David makes this psalm personal in these verses. 

When he tried to hide or not confess his transgressions and sins, he felt the weight of his wrong doing. Note he did not identify what he had done. Not confessing his transgressions and sins became such a heavy burden that he could not bear it. He groaned or made a roaring sound because GOD did not let him rest from such a heavy unconfessed burden. His bones screamed out from having to bear such a heavy burden. The heavy burden was the weight of unconfessed transgressions and sins. Consider having to carry a load that you can barely pick up and carry it for 24/7. It is painful and your heart’s desire is to get rid of it. It becomes a part of your life from which you cannot escape.

The word “strength” carries the idea of a twisted tongue due to the lack of moisture. I picture a person who has an extremely dry mouth and his or her tongue is sticking to the roof of his or her mouth. The words of David paint a picture of a person whose strength has been drained because of the heavy burden he or she is carrying, his or her mouth is parched due to the hot summer’s heat, his or her bones are screaming for relief and he or she cannot find relief. This person needs to have his or her burden lifted, water, the cool shade and rest to meet his or her physical needs. Only GOD can meet our Spiritual needs through faith in CHRIST. Even Christians need to have their Spiritual burdens lifted.

The inclusion of the word “Selah” is not clear but it is reasonable that it was a musical term. It likely served as a pause or a musical interlude. It gives those singing or reciting the psalm an opportunity to pause, reflect, pray, confess or ponder as GOD reveals burdens and truth in their lives.

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not conceal my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and You took away the • guilt of my sin. Selah

So what was the solution to relieving oneself of such unconfessed transgression and sins? ACKNOWLEDGE IT TO GOD!!!

David bared it all to GOD. He did not hold back. He did not conceal any sin or transgression. When he did, GOD took away the guilt of his sin. The refreshing water of forgiveness hydrated his Spirit. Remember JESUS offers us living water but so often we fail to reach out to receive that which HE offers.

Now pause “Selah” and ponder such power and magnificence that only can come from GOD. Man is powerless to lift and “take away” the burden of transgressions and sins. But JESUS did.

Let’s read Psalm 32:6-7:

6 Therefore let everyone who is faithful pray to You at a time that You may be found. When great floodwaters come, they will not reach him. 7 You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance. Selah

David admonished all who were weighted down by the burden of transgressions and sins and were faithful to GOD to pray to HIM and confess them to GOD while HE could be found. We need to explore the statement, “at a time YOU may be found.”

Does this mean that there will be a time when GOD will not be available? GOD, throughout the ages, has warned all people and nations of impending doom, unless they repent. When HE withdraws HIS protective hand, doom follows. A person can remove themselves from GOD’S protective care by the hardening his or her heart toward GOD. They may conclude that it is too late or they may be angry with GOD that HE is taking action against them. GOD never leaves but we can leave HIM.

While a person’s heart is tender toward GOD, he or she needs to acknowledge HIM and seek HIS forgiveness. It takes an act of the will to come into the presence of GOD to seek forgiveness. The danger is that we tend to put it off. Our hearts may become hard toward GOD because of unconfessed sin. Unconfessed sin places a barrier between us and GOD. GOD appeals to all people but there comes a time when we cut ourselves from HIM due to the hardness of our hearts.

Seek GOD while HE may be found. David gives a promise when we do. When trouble comes into our lives, HE shepherds us through those troubling times and HE will never leave us or forsake us. It does not mean that we will not experience trouble but trouble will not over take us when we look to HIM. The word “trouble” can refer to narrow or tight places.
We all find ourselves in tight situations just by living. 

JESUS spoke a parable in Matthew 7:24-27:

24 “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!”

Is your foundation built upon JESUS, the rock?

David used the term “YOU are my hiding place.” Do you recall who wrote a book entitled “The Hiding Place?” It was Ms Corrie Ten Boom. JESUS had to be her hiding place because trouble came when during World War II, the German soldiers came looking for the Jews they were hiding in their home. The Germans eventually discovered what they were doing and arrested them. My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Corrie when she came to Spartanburg many years ago.
 
Selah. It is time to pause and ponder
.
Let’s read Psalm 32:8-11:

8 I will instruct you and show you the way to go; with My eye on you, I will give counsel. 9 Do not be like a horse or mule, without understanding, that must be controlled with bit and bridle or else it will not come near you. 10 Many pains come to the wicked, but the one who trusts in the Lord will have faithful love surrounding him. 11 Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Stubbornness is a barrier to building the right relationship with GOD and obediently serving HIM. GOD knows human nature because HE made us. HIS desire is for every human to seek HIM and build a personal relationship with HIM. When we place our trust in HIM, HE will lead, guide and direct us according to HIS plan and purpose.

Do we want a relationship with GOD such that HE has to guide us like a stubborn horse or mule? Or do we want a relationship with HIM such that we are in an intimate, loving, dynamic partnership/relationship? When we have built the right relationship with GOD, we have HIS faithful love surrounding and caring for us. A right relationship produces trust and we can shout for joy in all situations because of GOD’S protective care.

The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:6-7:

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (KJV)

Earth is not our final destination. This life upon earth is precious but it is temporary and prepares us for eternal life with CHRIST and GOD. GOD cares for each of us and HIS desire is for us to have such an intimate relationship with HIM that the things of earth pale in comparison to our final destination. That is why we can shout for joy! Heaven is the destination of every Christian. Are you a Christian? Have you placed your faith in CHRIST? If not, you can ask HIM to forgive you for your sins and for HIM to come into your life. Salvation is just the beginning of an awesome journey with GOD through faith in CHRIST. Blessings!!!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Bible Study - Storm (2) - Shelter of GOD'S Salvation - Psalm 27:1-14 - December 14, 2014


Bible Study - Storm (2) – Shelter of GOD’S Salvation – December 14, 2014

This is lesson two (2) in our series entitled “Storm Shelter: Psalms of GOD’S Embrace.”

Our focus scripture is Psalm 27:1-6.

GOD Himself is my salvation through faith in CHRIST.

King David wrote this psalm. Again, it is uncertain at what stage of life David was in when he wrote it. But whatever stage of life he was in, he had gained enough experience with GOD to write about their relationship.

When we first start our walk with GOD, we see GOD in a certain light but as we continue our journey with HIM, we learn greater truth. False notions are dispelled and replaced by truth as we build an intimate relationship with HIM. It is interesting that GOD allows us to exercise false notions because, for some of us, that is the only way we learn truth. Or at least that has been some of my journey with GOD because I am stubborn.

We allow strongholds to come into our lives. Some strongholds are good but others prevent us from discovering truth. David recognized, through experience, that GOD was his stronghold.

What is a stronghold? It is a place a person goes to for protection. It could be going to a certain person or place where he or she feels secure, safe and protected from harm. It can be a physical, Spiritual or artificial place.

Consider the flip side of strongholds. We can allow strongholds to come into our lives when we open ourselves to evil and addictions. When we do, it takes the power and strength of the LORD to break them and deliver us from them.

But here David is speaking of GOD being his stronghold. GOD is his refuge and strength. GOD is his go to person for security and safety.

If we read past verse 6, it seems that David’s confidence in GOD is being challenged. It seems that David is unsure of GOD. Some Bible scholars believe that Psalm 27 is actually two psalms which have been merged into one. Verses 7-14 seem to reflect a different relationship with GOD than verses 1-6. David seems to be in the discovery stage of his relationship with GOD in verses 7-14, which he goes through and resulted in the firm relationship he has with GOD which he wrote in verses 1-6.

We will take a quick look at verses 7-14 at the end of this lesson.

Most Christians go through Spiritual swings in their lives as we form our relationship with CHRIST. It can be an unsettling time but it can be a time of learning when we learn about ourselves and GOD. During such times is when relationships grow and truth is discovered.

Let’s explore!

Let’s read Psalm 27:1 - My Stronghold – Davidic Psalm.

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom should I be afraid?

When darkness comes into our lives, the one thing we desire most is light. Light is hope. We can hope in ourselves, our friends, our position, our wealth, our intelligence, our family and the list goes on or we can hope in GOD through our relationship with CHRIST. Hope and trust go together and comes from experience.

David makes it clear that the LORD is his light and his salvation. Salvation is GOD’S protective custody for those who place their faith in HIM through faith in CHRIST. Salvation is GOD’S secure, safe place for HIS children whether here upon earth and in heaven. If we were to fall into an icy lake and someone plucked us from the frigid waters and placed us in a warm, dry, safe place we would have been saved. When GOD comes to our rescue from dire circumstances, it builds our strength and trust in GOD. This, in turn, builds our relationship with GOD and thus as David stated, we can say with confidence “whom should he fear?” David’s trust in GOD did not come from wishful thinking but it came from his relationship and experience with GOD. He knew that GOD had delivered him from dire circumstances.

I know for certain that GOD has delivered me and our family from dire circumstances.

A stronghold is a place of refuge which gives a sense of peace because of its location, strength, protection and security that it provides. Through experience and a genuine relationship with GOD through CHRIST, it provides a sense of peace based upon the experience of walking with GOD. JESUS made it very clear in John 14:6:

6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

So how do we come to JESUS? Most of us want solid proof before we take a step of faith. But taking a step of faith is just that, faith. It is stepping where there is no obvious step. Faith and trust go together.

We must keep in mind what JESUS taught as recorded in Mark 10:13-16:

13 Some people were bringing little children to Him so He might touch them, but His disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 •I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 After taking them in His arms, He laid His hands on them and blessed them.

Children trust without much questioning. GOD’S desire is for HIS children to trust HIM as they build a secure relationship with HIM.

We discussed strongholds earlier. Strongholds can be good as we see in verse 1 in our focus scripture. But strongholds can be enslaving when we allow Satan and evil to come into our lives and establish strongholds such as various addictions and practices that appeal to our physical pleasure. The Apostle Paul addressed the abolishing of strongholds in 2 Corinthians 10:3-4:

3 For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, 4 since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds.

Only GOD can abolish the strongholds in our lives. If you have a stronghold in your life, seek deliverance from GOD through faith in CHRIST. Ephesians 6:10-20 focuses on spiritual warfare:

10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the • saints. 19 Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the • mystery of the gospel. 20 For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.

Let’s read Psalm 27:2-3:

2 When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell. 3 Though an army deploys against me, my heart is not afraid; though a war breaks out against me, still I am confident.

David had experienced personal attacks. There were those who wanted to annihilate David but he saw his enemy’s efforts thwarted by GOD. David even witnessed an army deployed to take him out but he was confident of GOD’S protection. David did not stand out and say
“ninny, ninny, boo, boo” to his enemies, well maybe once or twice, but his trust and confidence was in GOD. He did his part and GOD took care of the rest.

David had such confidence in GOD such that even if war was declared against him, he was confident that GOD would take care of him. That kind of confidence and trust comes only from a solid relationship with GOD based upon experience. It is not wishful thinking but comes from a solid relationship and a heart that knows and trusts GOD.

Let’s read Psalm 27:4-6:

4 I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple. 5 For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity; He will hide me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high on a rock. 6 Then my head will be high above my enemies around me; I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy. I will sing and make music to the Lord.

If we asked one desire from GOD what would it be? What is the desire of our hearts regarding our relationship with GOD?

David’s relationship with GOD was such that he was content to dwell in HIS presence for eternity. David had witnessed the beauty and fullness of GOD but he wanted more. GOD was his protector and security. David wanted to just be in the presence of GOD, gazing at HIM and pondering HIS majesty. Gazing is an intent, probing look.

David knew what it was like to have an advantage on the battlefield. The person with the best and longest view had a tactical advantage. His head being higher than the head of his enemy gave him a distinct advantage. By GOD lifting up his head, it sent a clear message to his enemies that GOD was on his side and they were no match to GOD.

Do we enjoy being in the presence of GOD? Have you ever been in the presence of GOD and known the peace that only HE can bring to us? I can understand why we cannot see GOD and live in our human body. Such an encounter transcends all earthly joy and expression.

GOD covers and conceals us with HIS banner of love. It is a shelter that covers and prevents any enemy from penetrating it. We are secure when we are in HIS presence, under HIS tent and cover. GOD gives us the vantage point to see the enemy that GOD has put under HIS control. When David saw that GOD had taken care of his enemies, he could worship GOD in the peace and security of GOD’S protective care by offering sacrifices, shouts of joy, singing and making music. That is total confidence and trust in GOD and HIS ability.

In the Song of Songs 2:4 King Solomon, David’s son, wrote:

4 "He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love.

GOD wraps HIS children in HIS love, through an intimate, personal relationship through faith in CHRIST. This is the heart of our study. As we continue, these are a few my thoughts on verses 7-14.

Let’s read Psalm 27:7-14:

7 Lord, hear my voice when I call; be gracious to me and answer me. 8 My heart says this about You, “You are to seek My face.” Lord, I will seek Your face. 9 Do not hide Your face from me; do not turn Your servant away in anger. You have been my helper; do not leave me or abandon me, God of my salvation. 10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord cares for me. 11 Because of my adversaries, show me Your way, Lord, and lead me on a level path. 12 Do not give me over to the will of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing violence. 13 I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.

It appears that David questioned GOD’S availability to respond to him in times of trouble. But his heart spoke louder than what he saw. David knew some basic facts about GOD. When we seek GOD, HE seeks us.

To me these verses reveal the basis upon which David could reveal his heart toward GOD in verses 1-6. His trust and confidence did not come from something he had dreamed up in his own mind regarding GOD. His relationship with GOD was based upon experience. It was based upon things he had experienced as he journeyed with GOD. He had witnessed GOD’S hand protecting, leading and guiding him.

When he was obedient to GOD’S leadership, he had witnessed GOD’S unquestionable involvement in his life and circumstances. We see this revealed in verses 1-6.

Have you witnessed GOD’S involvement in your life? Have you cast your care upon HIM by placing your faith in HIS only Son, JESUS? Keep in mind that David faced many enemies. He faced very tense moments in his life but his confidence and trust was in GOD. The only way to GOD is to place your faith in CHRIST by asking HIM to forgive you for your sins and to come into your heart. That opportunity is available to you right now. Doing so makes you a born-again Christian, through the miracle of rebirth in your spirit. Being born into GOD’S family is the beginning of your personal journey with CHRIST to build your relationship with GOD.

An intimate, personal relationship with GOD through CHRIST, gives meaning to life. King Solomon wrote these words in Ecclesiastes 3:9-14:

11 He (GOD) has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one's lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor—it is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear (reverence, honor and respect) Him.

We need to keep in mind that GOD considered David as a man after HIS heart, yet GOD did not override his will when it came to his desire to sin. GOD provides a way to escape but it is up to us to take the escape route and “NO!” is one way to escape.

What we have been studying is David’s journey with GOD. His journey can enlighten us but our journey is just that “ours!” We can learn from others who have journeyed with GOD and CHRIST. But our journey is personal.

Since CHRIST gave HIS life upon the cross we have the opportunity for an even greater, more intimate relationship with GOD through faith in CHRIST. But we must keep in mind that even when we have the most intimate relationship, we must keep a careful eye upon the desires of our hearts. When we go astray, we are to repent, confess and GOD forgives and restores. Experience the shelter of GOD’S salvation and dwell in the house of the LORD forever by placing your faith in CHRIST. Blessings!!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Bible Study - Storm (1) - The Shelter of GOD'S Presence - Psalms 23:1-6 - December 7, 2014


Bible Study – Storm (1) – The Shelter of GOD’S Presence – December 7, 2014

This is lesson one (1) in a six week study entitled “Strom Shelter: Psalms of GOD’S Embrace.”

Our focus scripture is Psalms 23:1-6.

GOD is with each of us no matter what we are facing.

King David wrote the 23 rd Psalm. We are not sure at what stage of life he was in but he had had enough experience with the presence of GOD in his life that he knew and trusted GOD intimately through a personal relationship. Just because David knew GOD and had a personal relationship with HIM did not mean that his life was free of troubles. David had plenty of troubling times.

Our relationship with GOD through faith in CHRIST does not mean we will have smooth sailing through life. But we have the assurance that GOD will never leave or forsake us. GOD was David’s strength and an ever present reality in his life, yet David experienced life threatening issues. His trust in GOD brought him through those troubling times and led him to the point where GOD planned for him to be.

David was a man after GOD’S own heart, yet he sinned. But he repented and asked GOD to forgive him, yet he had to face the consequences of his sins.  

King David grew up shepherding sheep. He knew what a good shepherd needed to do to be a good shepherd such as: A good shepherd was to be alert at all times to care, protect and tend to needs of his sheep. He knew the nature of sheep. Sheep would often wander off while seeking grass to eat. He knew they could get tangled in briars or fall into a ravine or be attacked by wild animals or taken by sheep rustlers.

JESUS referred to Himself as the “Good Shepherd” in John 10:11-15:

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

As a shepherd, David became an expert marksman with his sling fending off wild animals. He even used his bare hands to protect his sheep. He used his rod to fight that which would harm the sheep and he used his staff to rescue or guide the sheep under his care.

David faced various situations while shepherding sheep. His experience shepherding sheep prepared him for his life’s journey with GOD. In certain ways his life reminds you of Joseph’s life’s journey regarding the leadership of GOD, which we recently studied.

In last week’s lesson, we saw how GOD uses the things we experience in life to prepare us to come to the aid of others and comfort them. Our life’s journey prepares us to comfort others with the comfort we have received from GOD during troubling times.

GOD can allow things to come into our lives or our choices can lead us to experience things as the result of our choices. Either way GOD is at work in our lives as the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:28:

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

GOD is involved in all things bringing about the best that come from the situations we encounter in life.

If you wrote a psalm expressing your walk with GOD, what would you write? You might write it down just to see what you would write. Have you witnessed GOD’S presence and guidance in your life? Do you love HIM? Does HE love you?

Keep in mind John 3:16-21:

16 “For God loved the world •in this way: He gave His •One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God. 19 “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”  

Let’s read Psalms 23 - The Good Shepherd- A Davidic psalm.

1 The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

GOD is our refuge and strength. When we have the right relationship with GOD, we lack nothing.

David embraced GOD. He had experienced the love and care of GOD in his life. David had built trust in GOD.

David knew the attributes of a good shepherd and GOD met those expectations. GOD was all sufficient to him and he lacked nothing because he had experienced the presence of GOD in his life. This is GOD’S desire for each of us. That is why HE allowed JESUS to come to earth to live in the flesh and give HIS life that those who place their faith in HIM will know HIM intimately. Knowing that we have a personal relationship with GOD through CHRIST is vital to all Christians. The word “Knowing” is interesting. To “know” can be head knowledge, which can come up short in our life’s journey but can lead to heart and experiential knowledge. As we walk with CHRIST and learn of HIM, we gain intimate personal knowledge. We build an intimate relationship with HIM because as we journey with HIM, false notions and myths are exposed and cast out of our lives and replaced with truth. So when the storms of life come into our lives, our relationship with CHRIST stands because we have built it upon the solid foundation of truth.

2 He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

Sheep need to rest and they need water. Notice that GOD does not force the rest but allows the rest: “let’s me lie down.” We all need rest and when we rest, we need the security that GOD is watching over us when we do. It is difficult to rest when we are uncertain what might be looming around us.

Also, notice that GOD leads HIS chosen to pause and drink from the still waters. Sheep will not drink from rushing water, therefore like a good shepherd GOD makes certain that HIS chosen take the needed rest that they need at just the right times in their life.

Consider water as the Holy Spirit. Christians need to rest from busy activities and be refreshed by the indwelling Holy Spirit. GOD leads them to take such a needed rest.

3 He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake.

The presence of GOD in our lives restores, reassures and refreshes us when we pause and focus on the path forward. When we move forward, we are assured that we are moving in the direction GOD has chosen for us to follow.

GOD’S care for David renewed his life such that he could continue toward the goal that GOD had for him. There are times when we need to pause and reflect on our relationship with GOD. It is easy to get into the doldrums just dealing with the routines of life. His faith and trust in GOD, regardless of circumstances, led him to be at the right place at the right time.

4 Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff —they comfort me.

There were dark times in David’s life but even in these dark times GOD was with him in a mighty way. It was GOD’S power and strength that protected and comforted him. It was David’s faith and trust in GOD that prevented him from taking matters into his own hands.

GOD used HIS rod, which was what shepherds used to fend off that which would harm the sheep and HIS staff which shepherds used to rescue sheep that were in trouble or potential danger. The shepherd’s also used their staff to guide the sheep to keep them on the right path and out of trouble. David had built such a personal relationship with GOD that he trusted GOD with his life and journey through life.

In the darkest times in our lives we are to rely upon and trust GOD because what we learn in the light we are to practice in the dark.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Trouble comes into all of our lives but when it does, GOD is there with us. When we keep our eyes fixed upon HIM in troubling times in our lives, we experience HIS presence. In these dark times HE shines HIS light into the darkness and we know we are secure in HIS care.

When we are in right relationship with HIM, HE prepares a feast for us in the midst of turmoil and in the presence of our enemies. During the times of uncertainty, we can cast our cares upon HIM and enjoy HIS presence, protection and care.

In the midst of our enemies, GOD does not cut short HIS care and provisions for us. HIS arms are long enough to reach us no matter how deep we think we have dropped from HIS presence. HE anoints us with HIS presence whether our enemies are physical or emotional.

HIS care for HIS children is a witness to their enemies who are also enemies of GOD. When a feast was given, the guest’s heads were anointed with fragrant oil by the host. Often it was an olive oil infused with fragrant spices.

Another thought regarding the anointing the head with oil. When a shepherd led his sheep back to the sheep fold after being in the field, he rubbed the sheep with fatty oil (often animal fat) mixed with spices. It is thought that this had healing properties and was soothing to the sheep. GOD cares for HIS children even in the midst of trying times. We need to relax and allow GOD to apply HIS healing balm to our troubled hearts.

6 Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

Because of the love of GOD for us, we place our trust in HIM. When we have built a genuine relationship with HIM, through our faith in CHRIST, only the best can continually be ours to claim. This does not mean that life will always go smoothly. It does mean that our walk with GOD is in unity, harmony and in step with HIS will for our lives. Whether we dwell upon earth or die and go to heaven, we belong to GOD.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:4-9:

4 Indeed, we groan while we are in this tent (human body), burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 5 And the One who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment. 6 So, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we • walk by faith, not by sight, 8 and we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him.

David had an intimate personal relationship with GOD. He trusted GOD because he had experienced HIS loving care. GOD was faithful to him and he was faithful to GOD. Therefore, no matter where he was or his circumstances, GOD was with him and he trusted GOD to lead and guide him.

Trusting GOD to lead and guide us as HIS children is one thing but do we have the relationship with HIM to respond and put into action that which HE calls us to do?

The Apostle Peter wrote in 1Peter 5:6:

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.

GOD cares so much for you that HE allowed HIS only SON, JESUS to come to earth and give HIS life for you. Place your faith in CHRIST now by asking HIM to forgive you for your sins and to come into your life. When you do, you will receive eternal life by being born into GOD’S family and begin your life’s journey with HIM as HIS child.

Father help us to build such a relationship with YOU that we will respond to YOUR leadership and guidance and get to know YOU in an intimate, personal way. Keep in mind we were not made for time but for eternity. To be absent from the body is to be present with our LORD. Blessings!!!

 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bible Study - Prepare to Minister to Others - 2 Corinthians 1:1-7 - November 30, 2014


Bible Study – Prepare to Minister to Others – November 30, 2014

This is a single lesson focused on our relationship and unity with CHRIST carrying us through the difficult times as a teaching experience. The comfort we receive from CHRIST during these difficult times prepares us to help others when they go through similar times in their lives. We will begin a six week study entitled "Strom Shelter: Psalms of GOD'S Embrace" December 7, 2014.

The focus scripture is 2 Corinthians 1:1-7.

Let’s read 2 Corinthians 1:1-2:

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Timothy our brother: To God’s church at Corinth, with all the • saints who are throughout Achaia. 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote several letters to the Christians in Corinth. Two of his letters are included in the Bible. Paul’s first letter was lost as recorded in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11:

9 I wrote to you in a letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. 10 I did not mean the immoral people of this • world or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters; otherwise you would have to leave the world. 11 But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer who is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.

Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is what we know as First Corinthians. His third letter was lost and his fourth letter is what we know as Second Corinthians.

First Corinthians addresses a number of issues such as - divisions in the church, intellectual pride, immorality, freedom of choice, disorder in worship, resurrection of CHRIST. Paul had planned to visit Corinth for a third time but he delayed his visit. Instead he wrote his letter that we know as Second Corinthians. Paul did visit Corinth once more after he wrote his letter we know as Second Corinthians.

Paul opened his second letter to the Corinthians with a positive greeting. The Corinthians had encountered a number of issues and in dealing with them had gained valuable experience. Dealing with these various issues equipped them to minister to fellow Christians experiencing the same type of issues.

Paul began his letter by establishing his authority as an apostle of CHRIST. His title as an apostle of CHRIST was not self imposed but his title was given to him by the will of GOD. He authenticated Timothy as a fellow Christian and a co-laborer with him.

His letter was directed to fellow Christians throughout the large area of Greece and Macedonia called Achaia. The city of Corinth was the capital of Achaia, the southern half of present-day Greece.  Paul intended for his letter to be circulated among the Christian groups\churches throughout that area. Paul indentified Christians as saints. Saints are set aside to obediently serve GOD as HE leads them by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Christians are saints. Paul greeted them with a blessing, grace and peace, from GOD and CHRIST. Even though they had their issues, Paul was embracing them in unity as fellow Christians.

Let’s read 2 Corinthians 1:3-5:

The God of Comfort

3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows.

When troubling times come into our lives, physical comfort does little to bring about true comfort to our inner being. Some people try meditation, medication, alcohol, drugs, etc. which mask the problem. True comfort flows from GOD Who ministers to our inner being. When GOD, through our relationship with CHRIST, brings peace and comfort it satisfies. Christians know that HE has the power to bring about the best which can come from our circumstances. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:28:

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

GOD is in all things working to bring about the best result for HIS children.

Physical satisfaction is temporary but Spiritual satisfaction remains. When Christians trust GOD in circumstances they have placed their cares upon HIM and trust Him to bring matters to a satisfactory conclusion. That does not mean Christians can park their brains but to be obedient to that which GOD reveals to them that they can do.

Let’s read 1 Peter 5:6:

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.

Satan’s desire is for GOD’S children to be miserable and to try to bring satisfaction through food, drink, drugs, sex, gambling and all sorts of things that can become addictive. These things simply mask the core issues in our lives.

As Christians, GOD’S comfort flows like a gentle stream from HIM through us to bring healing to us first and then to others. The comfort we receive from HIM is available to flow to others who are encountering similar or the same problems. Ground zero is a personal relationship with GOD through faith in CHRIST. Our faith grows as we trust HIM more.

Our relationship with CHRIST does not make our troubles go away but because of our relationship with CHRIST, HE helps us to endure them. This earthly life is not our destination. The destination of all humans is eternity.

GOD has revealed HIS plan for all humans to be with HIM for eternity which is for each person to place his or her in HIS only Son JESUS. That choice is for each person to make. Being a Christian does not mean that the troubles of this world will go away, it just means GOD will come to our aid during times of trouble.

The scope of trouble covers health, mental and physical, addictions, financial, relationships, natural disasters, war, accidents, death of a loved one and the list goes on. When Christians go through such issues, they are equipped to help others who are going through them. Often, we can help others just by listening and being a friend. Wise counsel is always good. Seek fellow Christians who have the gift of wise counsel. Trust GOD to lead you in how you can help others.

Let’s read 2 Corinthians 1:6-7:

6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is experienced in your endurance of the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the comfort.

We just completed the study of the life journey of Joseph. His faith in GOD resulted in him seeing the hand of GOD at work in his life. His faith and trust in GOD built a strong relationship with GOD which resulted in his ability to forgive his brothers. His journey created in him a tender and humble heart. Joseph in his teen years was self-centered but GOD had a plan for his life and molded him into the person and leader HE desired for him to become.

The Apostle Paul made it clear that the things we go through in life equip us to help others in their journey through life.

Alcoholics Anonymous is successful because alcoholics speak to other alcoholics. Narcotics Anonymous operates the same way. Instructors of various types train others because they have first learned or experienced the things they are instructing.

When fellow humans have gone through issues in life, they are often equipped to help others in the same or similar circumstances.

The Apostle Paul was admonishing fellow Christians not to become discouraged when they encounter various issues in life but know that GOD is preparing them for possible ministry to others. Their faith is being perfected, which pertains to the person. Consider 1 Peter 1:3-9:

3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. 5 You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Joseph was serving GOD yet he was physically in prison but not Spiritually. Joseph was a slave for 13 years before he was elevated to second in command in Egypt. GOD placed him in that position. His life’s journey prepared him for leadership and to bring glory to the one true GOD of the Israelites. GOD used Joseph to preserve HIS chosen until HE raised another leader to lead them from Egypt to the Promised Land and to reveal Himself to them. The Israelites learned of the one true GOD as HE revealed Himself to them and taught them as they journeyed to the Promised Land.

We are all on a journey to eternity. Our life upon earth is but a passage to eternity. Will our destination be the Promised Land of Heaven to be with GOD for eternity or to eternity without GOD? The choice is ours to make. Placing your faith in CHRIST guarntees your place in heaven and your rejection of CHRIST will mean eternity outside the gates of heaven. Ask CHRIST to forgive you for your sins and for HIM to come into your life now. Eternity is but a heartbeat away.

Next week, we will begin another six week study entitled “Strom Shelter: Psalms of GOD’S Embrace.” Blessings!!!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bible Study - Overcome (6) - Overcome - An Earthly Mindset - Genesis 50:15-21 - Novembeer 23, 2014


Bible Study – Overcome (6) – Overcome An Earthly Mindset – November 23, 2014.

This is lesson six (6) and our final lesson in this series entitled “Overcome: Living beyond Your Circumstances.”

Our focus scripture is Genesis 50:15-21.

We can trust that GOD is at work on our behalf. This is true for those who are to receive salvation and those who have received salvation. GOD is sovereign and is in control.

Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. (Genesis 45:1-8)

1 Joseph could no longer keep his composure in front of all his attendants, so he called out, “Send everyone away from me!” No one was with him when he revealed his identity to his brothers. 2 But he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and also Pharaoh’s household heard it. 3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But they could not answer him because they were terrified in his presence. 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please, come near me,” and they came near. “I am Joseph, your brother,” he said, “the one you sold into Egypt. 5 And now don’t be worried or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting. 7 God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Joseph and Pharaoh had a unique relationship. Joseph’s relationship with GOD produced a special, trusting relationship with Pharaoh.

Let’s read Genesis 45:16-20 (Pharaoh invited Joseph’s family to relocate to Egypt.)

16 When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace, “Joseph’s brothers have come,” Pharaoh and his servants were pleased. 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and go on back to the land of Canaan. 18 Get your father and your families, and come back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you can eat from the richness of the land.’ 19 You are also commanded, ‘Do this: Take wagons from the land of Egypt for your young children and your wives and bring your father here. 20 Do not be concerned about your belongings, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’”

Pharaoh invited Joseph’s family to come to live in Egypt and they did.

How long did Jacob live in Egypt? 

Let’s read Genesis 47:27-28:

27 Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the region of Goshen. They acquired property in it and became fruitful and very numerous. 28 Now Jacob lived in the land of Egypt 17 years, and his life span was 147 years.

Keep in mind that GOD changed Jacob’s name from Jacob to Israel as recorded in Genesis 35:10:

10 God said to him: Your name is Jacob; you will no longer be named Jacob, but your name will be Israel.

Jacob was 130 years old when he traveled to Egypt and settled in the land Goshen. In 17 years Jacob died.

Jacob knew that his days upon earth were coming to a close, Joseph requested his father to bless his two sons Manasseh, his oldest son or firstborn and Ephraim, the younger son. Jacob agreed. Joseph positioned them so that Jacob would naturally place his right hand upon Manasseh and his left hand upon Ephraim. Let’s read Genesis 48:17-20:

17 When Joseph saw that his father had placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head, he thought it was a mistake and took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s. 18 Joseph said to his father, “Not that way, my father! This one is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know! He too will become a tribe, and he too will be great; nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his offspring will become a populous nation.” 20 So he blessed them that day with these words: The nation Israel will invoke blessings by you, saying, “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh,” putting Ephraim before Manasseh.

If interested you can fast forward to the dividing of the Promised Land and read, in Joshua 13 how it was distributed. The land was distributed according to the character of the tribe’s founder. Joseph’s descendants from Ephraim and Manasseh were given the richest and most fertile land in all of Canaan because of Joseph’s Godly character.

GOD does not depend upon circumstances in hopes that they come out according to HIS plan and purpose but HE sees the entire plan from beginning to end and HE controls events such that they come out according to HIS plans and purpose. Yes, people have choices. Those who choose to do the will of GOD are rewarded.

Joseph was seemingly dealt a harsh hand in life but it was according to GOD’S will and purpose.

Genesis 49:29-33: (Jacob’s dying request)

29 Then he (Jacob) commanded them: “I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave in the field of Ephron the Hittite. 30 The cave is in the field of Machpelah (mak-PEE- luh) near Mamre, in the land of Canaan. This is the field Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite as a burial site. 31 Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried there, Isaac and his wife Rebekah are buried there, and I buried Leah there. 32 The field and the cave in it were purchased from the Hittites.” 33 When Jacob had finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and died. He was gathered to his people.

Joseph bid his dad farewell.

Let’s read Genesis 50:1-3:

Jacob’s Burial

1 Then Joseph, leaning over his father’s face, wept and kissed him. 2 He commanded his servants who were physicians to embalm his father. So they embalmed Israel. 3 They took 40 days to complete this, for embalming takes that long, and the Egyptians mourned for him 70 days.

Jacob died and the Egyptians mourned his death along with Joseph for 70 days. Joseph told Pharaoh that his father had requested that he be carried back to Canaan and buried. Pharaoh agreed and they did as Jacob requested.

Joseph’s brothers had a dose of reality. Their father was dead and would Joseph now take out his revenge on them? So they hatched a plan to save their necks.

Let’s read Genesis 50:15-17:

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said to one another, “If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him.” 16 So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before he died your father gave a command: 17 ‘Say this to Joseph: Please forgive your brothers’ transgression and their sin—the suffering they caused you.’ Therefore, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when their message came to him.

When Jacob died at some point in time, reality set in for Joseph’s brothers. Once the patriarch died, there was nothing to hold Joseph back from punishing his brothers for selling him into slavery.

Notice in verse 15, they concluded if Joseph was holding a grudge he would repay them for their evil deed. So they put their heads together and came up with a solution. They would send Joseph a message which began in verse 16 “Before he died your father gave a command:” We do not know if this really happened or they made it up. They referred to their father as “your father.” They wanted Joseph to know that his father requested him to forgive his brothers for what they did to him because they were his brothers. They are family and families depend upon each other. They need to be in unity.

They used the word “transgression.” Transgression in Hebrew means sin and carries the idea of a breach in relationship between two parties because of “a defiant violation of GOD’S law,” “a brazen revolt,” or “rebellion.”

They also made a connection between GOD and their identity as “the servants of the GOD of your father.” They went beyond family ties to spiritual ties. Joseph might have thought “Gee! Why didn’t this dawn on my brothers when they thought about killing me or selling me into slavery?”

The point was they had realized what they had done. Joseph’s heart was broken because they did not know his heart toward GOD and toward them. They were family and he had forgiven them as he had told them in Genesis 45:4-8 when he identified himself as Joseph, their brother.

Joseph wept.

Overcoming an earthly mindset is often difficult. Our earthly mindset is often to get revenge. We have to decide whether or not to accept an apology for something done to us or make an apology for something we have done to another. Our ego gets in the way. When we forgive it needs to be a complete release. Will we remember the issue? Yes, but we need to remind ourselves that the matter has been forgiven just as GOD has forgiven us for our transgressions. GOD not only forgives but HE forgets our transgressions when we confess them.

Let’s read Genesis 50:18-19:

18 Then his brothers also came to him, bowed down before him, and said, “We are your slaves!” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?

Joseph brothers came into his presence and bowed before him. They told him that they were his slaves. They were willing to give up their status as his brothers, their family name, and freedom and become Joseph’s slaves. Being slaves was a better alternative than being killed or tortured.

Joseph was in a unique position. In that day, it was a common practice for people, especially people with power to take revenge. He could have taken advantage of their vulnerability. But he overcame the earthly mindset to take revenge and chose to forgive because he saw the hand of GOD at work in his life.   

Joseph put their minds at ease by telling them not to be afraid because he was in the right spot at the right time to accomplish GOD’S will, plan and purpose. The question Joseph asked, “Am I in the place of God?” revealed his heart. Only GOD can judge and take vengeance. Joseph was not GOD. GOD would be their judge but as far as he was concerned he forgave them.

Joseph may have recalled the dream he had as a young lad as recorded in Genesis 37:5-11:

5 Then Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the field. Suddenly my sheaf stood up, and your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 “Are you really going to reign over us?” his brothers asked him. “Are you really going to rule us?” So they hated him even more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream and told it to his brothers. “Look,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun, moon, and 11 stars were bowing down to me.” 10 He told his father and brothers, but his father rebuked him. “What kind of dream is this that you have had?” he said. “Are your mother and brothers and I going to come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

Let’s read Genesis 50:20-21:

20 You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people. 21 Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

Joseph uttered a hallmark statement in verses 20-21. It revealed a forgiving heart which had been shaped by the love of GOD. His brothers meant to do Joseph evil but GOD used it for good and the preservation of his family and many other families. GOD had taken their evil intent and turned it into good. Joseph never said that what his brothers had done was good because it wasn’t but GOD used it for HIS plan and purpose.

Do we see the value in our lives?

Christians may wonder why their lives took certain paths. When we look back over our lives many can see the hand of GOD leading and guiding us to the exact place HE wanted us to be.

Joseph recommitted to his care for them and their children. The tone of his voice was sincere, tender and kind. GOD had forgiven them and so did Joseph. Often, the toughest job is to forgive ourselves for what we have done.

Let’s read Genesis 50:22-26: Joseph’s Death

22 Joseph and his father’s household remained in Egypt. Joseph lived 110 years. 23 He saw Ephraim’s sons to the third generation; the sons of Manasseh’s son Machir were recognized by Joseph. 24 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will certainly come to your aid and bring you up from this land to the land He promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 25 So Joseph made the sons of Israel (Jacob) take an oath: “When God comes to your aid, you are to carry my bones up from here.” 26 Joseph died at the age of 110. They embalmed him and placed him in a coffin in Egypt.

Joseph’s family remained in Egypt until he died at 110 years old. Joseph made his brothers promise him that when GOD came to their aid and lead them back to the Promised Land, they would carry his bones to the land GOD had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It would be about 359 years before that request was fulfilled. Exodus 13:19:

19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, because Joseph had made the Israelites swear a solemn oath, saying, “God will certainly come to your aid; then you must take my bones with you from this place.”

Hebrews 11:22:

22 By faith Joseph, as he was nearing the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions concerning his bones.

Again, GOD gave Joseph a vision and a hope for the future for the Israelites.

GOD has a vision, plan and purpose for each of HIS children. Give your life to HIM and allow HIM, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, to lead and direct your life. Blessings!!!