Snippets from My Journal #16 November 13, 2018

November 13, 2007   (exactly eleven years ago today)

Lord Jesus, it was written of you in the book of Hebrews that You are ‘the radiance of the Father’s glory, the exact representation of His nature’.  Heb. 1:3  So I guess I could say that you are the mirror image of the Father.  How incredibly awesome is that!

But You say that You want us to be a mirror image of You.  I feel so inadequate! I want to and yet how often I stumble.  Will I ever be able to be a reflection of You, Jesus?

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I heard the Lord reply, ‘No, you won’t; you’re not able but I am.  It is My life within you that will make you a reflection of Who I am. Do not take on a responsibility you are incapable of fulfilling.  Just take Me and let Me do it in you.’

Lord, I’ve given myself to You a hundred times – maybe a thousand times over the years – and I still get frustrated when I want to be like You and I fail.

Jesus: ‘Did you listen to yourself? Did you hear what you just said? It is not by your effort; it’s by your surrender that you become like MeSurrender means to stop resisting, to yield, to give in, to cave in, to back down.  To surrender to Me is a moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day habit of yielding to what My Spirit says to you and what My Word teaches you. It’s actually simple on the one hand and extremely demanding on the other.  The principle is simple; but to live it consistently is where the challenge lies.

I realized as I pondered what the Lord said that the key to living a surrendered life is learning to hear the voice of the Spirit within.  I can’t submit if I don’t hear the instruction.  I can’t yield if I don’t hear the warning.

Lord, I cry out to You for the ear of a disciple. My mind talks too much; it never stops.  It’s as if I have this ‘radio’ on within me, always ‘broadcasting’ thoughts, ideas, feelings, opinions.  How do I turn it off so I can be quiet in Your presence and hear what You say to me?

Yes, Lord.  I heard that. The more I spend time in Your Word, the more my mind will come under discipline.  Thank you, Jesus.  Grant me grace to be faithful.

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Snippets from My Journal #10 October 2, 2018

March 12, 2016

The Lord has been speaking to me about the Beatitudes and this morning I’ve been meditating on Matthew 5:5, ‘Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.‘ NASB

I looked it up in the New Living Translation: ‘God blesses those who are humble for they will inherit the earth.‘  Hmm – that’s quite a promise.

The Message Bible provokes me to think of this Beatitude in a different way: ‘You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more and no less.  That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.’

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Sometimes we have funny ideas about what humility looks like.  I was thinking this morning that there are only two people in the entire Bible that are identified as humble or meek.  Moses was the first and Jesus is the second.  Both of them show incredible patience and compassion towards other people but both of them also had no reluctance to boldly confront unrighteousness, rebellion and hypocrisy.  These are the two the Bible lifts up as ‘humble’.  No weakness there….

I’m intrigued by the way the Message Bible rendered this verse: ‘You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more and no less.’  Never thought about it just that way but the wisdom of that statement really strikes me this morning. Humility starts with believing that the God Who loves us created us just the way we are for His purposes.  Accepting ourselves then is an act of gratitude and a recognition that He knows better than we do what we needed to be in order to fulfill our destiny.  It is also an act of faith in an all loving, all wise and all knowing Heavenly Father.

That being true, I need to repent for every time I have complained to myself or anybody else about my appearance, my height, my body type, etc., etc. How foolish of me and how ungrateful.  You, Lord, are the Potter, I am the clay.  It’s the Potter’s right to make me however He wants to and it’s grossly unrighteous for me to complain about the creation of my Heavenly Father.

So, Lord, I repent – I really repent. Please forgive me and I choose this morning to agree with You.  I confess my fleshly opinions – how wrong they were.  What an arrogant thing to do!!!  Forgive me for the hundreds of times I wished I was tall and slender instead of short and chubby.  Lord, I’m so sorry.  Please forgive me.  I choose You this morning and I accept exactly how You created me.  Your ways towards us are perfect – always. I choose to be ‘content with who I am’, Lord.

It never occurred to me before that this is truly the foundation of humility but it makes so much sense to me this morning.  The very essence of pride is considering one’s own opinions and attitudes superior to everyone else’s, including the Lord’s!  What a horrifying thought!

I repent of pride, of arrogance, of thinking You could have done a better job of fashioning me in my mother’s womb!  I am appalled, Lord, at my attitude.  Cleanse me, cleanse my heart of any and every opinion or attitude I have that is rooted in pride and train me in the humility of Your Beloved Son, Jesus.  It’s not my outward appearance that really matters, it’s my heart.  All  I ask is that You conform me into the image and likeness of Your Beloved Son.

Pause

Oh Lord, You are so amazing.  Thank you for speaking to me. Seal Your words in my heart.

The Lord just showed me that He created me with a need for discipline in eating in order to train me to be just as disciplined about feeding my soul with His Word.  I’ve never thought of that before, never made that connection.  Thank you, Holy Spirit, thank you.

The Presence of God #7 July 10, 2018

In Your presence is fullness of joy.  Psalm 16:11

If you have participated in a worship service where the presence of the Lord invaded the place, you know already that a liberating joy comes with it.  It can be so powerful that people will lose the awareness of those around them and express their worship without any thought to what anyone might think of them. I have seen people take off running around the sanctuary, weeping at the altar, dancing like David did and shouting the praises of God with all their might. Personal dignity takes second place to responding to the sweeping presence of God in a service – or, for that matter, in your private prayer time at home.

Great revivals of the past have witnessed many a phenomenon. Dozens of people face down on the ground.  No one pushed them – they fell to their faces of their own accord in utter submission to the presence and power of God.  Some lay still for so long that it was feared they were dead.  They weren’t – they were just absorbed in God.

As we consider these reports, some of which I have witnessed myself, we are challenged to realize that the greater the presence of God, the less we care about what people around us think. Our focus is to worship the Lord.

And we will also discover that in that blessed atmosphere, the Spirit of God will frequently deal with our integrity.

Integrity may be defined as being governed by the truth, even when it hurts. According to Psalm 15:4, a blameless man ‘makes firm commitments and follows through, even at great cost.’  Words mean something and for the disciple of the Lord, keeping our word should be a top priority.

integrity

Integrity is demonstrated in a number of ways: 1) godly stewardship over money and goods, 2) purity in moral issues, 3) reliability in our words, and 4) a hunger for truth.

Jesus said a great deal about money in the Gospels and I believe it was John Wesley who said that the last part of a person to be converted is his wallet!  Being ‘squeaky clean’ in our financial affairs is a demonstration of integrity and honors the Lord.  Maintaining our integrity may cost us but the person with integrity will not be swayed.  Too many people can be bought if the price is right.  For the disciple of the Lord, being ‘bought’ is never an option.

Where morality is concerned, integrity is key. Undisciplined private lives lead to public humiliations – secret affairs that lead to broken marriages, promiscuity and children deprived of a parent.  Winston Churchill once said: ‘The price of greatness is responsibility.’  The greater the position one attains, the greater the responsibility to maintain moral integrity.

We will all one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of what we have done, ‘whether good or bad‘. (2 Cor. 5:10)  In I Corinthians 3, Paul described the scene by saying that our works will be tested by fire.  If they survive the fire, we will be rewarded.  If they don’t, we will still be saved but ‘as one escaping through flames.’ (vs. 14-15)

With regard to our words, integrity means that you tell the truth and what you say is what you will do.  You can be depended on to keep your promises.  It is impossible for God to lie.  We believe His word is true and He can be utterly depended upon to keep His word. We are called to do the same.

A child does not need to be trained to lie – it comes naturally! Rather we ALL need to be trained to tell the truth.  Once we have been born again, the Spirit of Truth comes to dwell within us.  So if we walk in the Spirit we will only tell the truth!  Simple honesty, straightforward conversations, showing up when you said you would, paying what you said you would pay – all of these are evidences of integrity.

Integrity will also stir up in us a hunger for the truth.  Sometimes that means changing our position about certain beliefs.  Life is a journey of learning and many of us were taught things early in life which we later discover are not quite true.  Perhaps you were taught that the gift of tongues is not for today, or your denomination held to a particular interpretation about the end of days.  As you grow in the Lord and learn more of the Word, you may discover that what the Word of God says does not quite agree with what your denomination told you.

What are you going to do?  Integrity loves the truth.  You choose to receive the greater understanding of the Word, even when you know it may cost you – perhaps in relationships with others.

Let me add something very important right here. In growing in truth we must also grow in graciousness.  John wrote that Jesus was ‘full of grace and truth’. (John 1:17)  It is possible to be full of truth but lacking in grace! The Word of God is not a club to beat people with; it is the Sword of the Spirit, not your sword!

Job teaches us another caution. He was blameless yet when the pressure was on, his self-righteousness began to spill out.  He said to his three friends: ‘ I will never admit you’re right; till I die, I will not deny my integrity.’ Job 27:5  Self-righteousness and integrity don’t mix very well.  Job was ‘righteous in his generation’ but had allowed a certain measure of pride (self-righteousness) to creep in.  Our character is tested when we are under pressure and in Job’s case, what came out when he was squeezed was self-righteousness.

Fortunately, he came to his senses in the end and humbled himself before God.

Application:

The reward for integrity is the manifest presence of God and the reward for dwelling in His presence is integrity.  They work together as long as we maintain a teachable and humble spirit to submit ourselves to the dealings of God in our lives.

As I heard a pastor say years ago: ‘Don’t let the devil make you proud of your humility!’

 

The Presence of God #2 June 5, 2018

“When God shows up, there is no limit to what can happen,” said the preacher one summer evening many years ago.  His statement floated back into my mind as I was pondering this week’s lesson.

There is no doubt that when the manifest presence of God invades a community that has gathered for worship, that gathering becomes not only memorable but life-impacting for each person present.  I had the privilege of being in just such a gathering last night.  I will never forget it.  Miracles of soul and body occurred, including the healing of a woman who had been afflicted with MS for thirty-one years!  The joy of the Lord invaded the place as the worship ascended powerfully and passionately from the people to the very throne of Almighty God.  It was a night to remember and the tangible sense of His presence still lingers nearly 24 hours later.

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We love the manifestation of God’s presence in our midst and pray to be ever open to however He chooses to grace us with such a tangible Presence.  What we must know just as convincingly, however, is that His ‘unconscious’ Presence is every bit as real as when we feel His closeness.

God has unique ways of letting us know He is with us.  He shows up in unpredictable and unprecedented ways during times of awakening and/or revival.  But the fact remains that He is just as much at work in us and for us when we are UNCONSCIOUS of His presence as when His Spirit blows through our congregational meetings in such power that we literally feel His presence.

We are very much like Peter, James and John on the mount of Transfiguration. Having seen the glory of God as Jesus was transfigured before their eyes, Peter said, “Lord, it’s good for us to be here.”  We would like gatherings like the one I was in last night to be the norm of our experience. But like Peter, James and John, after a powerful worship experience, we have to ‘come down the mountain’ and back into daily life.  Does that mean we relegate what we experienced to a place in our memory and turn away to ‘mundane’ living?  No – what it means is that we take His presence with us into what we otherwise view as ‘mundane’ living.

The unconscious presence of God only means that we don’t feel Him close to us yet He is ALWAYS with us and His presence is more real than what we can see with our eyes or touch with our hands.  It is only the ‘sense’ of His presence that we sometimes lack, NOT His Presence itself!

I am reminded of Jacob.  He left home to run away from his brother, Esau, who wanted to kill him.  Having reached “a certain place” (Gen. 28:11) Jacob took a stone to use as a pillow and went to sleep, tired from his journey.  There was nothing spectacular about the place, no sign that said, ‘This is a sacred spot’.

But as Jacob slept, God visited him in a dream which made Jacob know that the God of his grandfather, Abraham, was his God as well.  The promise God made to Jacob in that dream was too good to be true! (Gen. 28:11-15)  Jacob’s life was radically changed from that moment on.

But notice – Jacob was at a place where he felt nothing at first – no sense of God’s presence, no heavenly music, no fellowship with others of like mind. Just Jacob with his head on a stone, falling asleep.  Yet that very place was pivotal not only for Jacob but for countless millions throughout history.  The name of the place was Bethel, which means ‘the house of God’.

After he woke up from the dream, Jacob said, Surely the LORD is in this place and I did not know it.’ (Gen. 28:16)

Jacob’s declaration is one that we could make many, many times throughout our lives: God IS in this place but I was not aware of it!

The FACT of God’s presence with you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year is an absolute reality whether you ‘feel’ Him or not.  It’s NOT that He is with us when we feel Him and has left us when we don’t.  NOT AT ALL!

He is with you when you’re struggling and when you’re having fun.

He is with you in your most embarrassing moment and when you have it all together.

He is with you when you’re tired and afraid and when you feel like you could kill a lion with your bare hands.

He is with you when you’ve messed up and when you’ve won a great victory.

He’s with you!  He’s promised it and God cannot lie.

I will never leave you nor forsake you.  Hebrews 13:5

I am with you always, even to the end of the age.  Matt. 28:20

He’s just like that – always with you. Why? Because He passionately loves you and provides you with everything you will ever need to become like His beloved Son.

To enjoy His presence, we all must learn to appreciate His unconscious Presence and honor it by faith even when we don’t feel it.  For without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:6

I wish that all of us would frequently experience the kind of gathering we enjoyed last night where the manifest, tangible Presence of God swept over an entire congregation, where everybody was engaged with it and lifted higher in worship and praise.

But I pray as well that our worship and praise, our confidence and trust would be just as  passionate when FAITH is the vehicle rather than feeling.

Keep seeking His Face!

 

The Power of Words #3 March 20, 2018

In the book of James, chapter 3, verse 2, we read these words: We all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. NASB

The Passion Translation renders this verse like this: We all fail in many areas, but especially with our words. Yet if we’re able to bridle the words we say we are powerful enough to control ourselves in every way, and that means our character is mature and fully developed. James 3:2 TPT

This verse from the book of James reminds me of Proverb 18:21: Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.

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As I ponder these verses, I find myself deeply grateful for the promise in Lamentations: The Lord’s kindnesses indeed never cease for His compassions are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness! Lam. 3:22-23

I need His grace every day for life, for health, for patience, for perseverance, for every thing I will encounter during each day and most certainly, I need His grace every day to to keep my words pure and right in His eyes.  The tongue is something we must use every day.  How we use it has a great deal to do with the course of our life. One day at a time, as disciples of the Lord Jesus, we are called to have dominion over the words of our mouths.  Therefore, success in controlling our tongues is something we need to pray for daily.

It is the Holy Spirit, who dwells within each born again disciple of the Lord, who can teach us and train us what to say and what not to say, when to speak and when to keep silent. Jesus said in Matthew 12:36 that we would give an account of ‘every careless word’.  We need the daily cleansing of the blood of Jesus every day, don’t we?  I John 1:7

It is in our everyday conversations that we succeed or we fail to live up to the standard Jesus set before us.  Not only should we show some self-control in how much we say – lest we wear people out with our non-stop talking – but also in the words we choose to use with family, friends, co-workers and people we run into from time to time.

Can you bridle your tongue when your heart is under pressure? That’s how you show you are wise. An understanding heart keeps you cool, calm and collected, no matter what you’re facing.  Proverbs 17:27-28 TPT

For example, think about the prophet Samuel. He went to the house of Jesse at God’s bidding in order to anoint the next king of Israel.  In ancient Israel, the firstborn always received double the inheritance so it should come as no surprise that when Samuel saw Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son, he assumed that Eliab was the likely candidate.

He looked on Eliab and said, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before me.’  I Sam. 16:6  Imagine how Eliab and Jesse must have felt to hear the prophet of the Lord make that statement.

But Samuel was wrong in what he said. God quickly stepped in to correct him. ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. I Sam. 16:7

The respected prophet of Israel had just made a big mistake.  His tongue had gotten him in big trouble!  Samuel had to walk back his comments, admit he had been wrong and go through all of Jesse’s sons until he saw David, the youngest and heard the Lord say, ‘This is the one. Anoint him.’

It is not easy to admit that you’ve been wrong. Nothing challenges our big egos like being smacked in the face with evidence that says very plainly you blew it. You misread a situation or misjudged a person and SPOKE IT aloud.  We die a thousand deaths when that happens, don’t we?

Yet, my dear friends, though it hurts our pride and may even cause others to question our judgment in the future, the inner peace that comes from the Holy Spirit when we are honest about our failures more than compensates for the humiliation of ‘walking back’ what we have wrongly said.  When a prophet of God of the stature of Samuel is willing to humble himself and repent of his failure, he sets an example for all of us.

Perhaps David remembered this scene later in life after he had sinned with Bathsheba and was confronted by the prophet Nathan.  If you will read the account in 2 Samuel 12 David sets the same example that Samuel did.  When made to stare squarely at what he had done, David makes no excuses, he offers no rationalization.  When Nathan declares, ‘You are the man.’ David repents immediately, does not deny his guilt and accepts the humiliation.

We generally find it very difficult to recognize our own self-righteousness.  We are quick to judge others but very slow to see the same sin in ourselves.  As in David’s case, our own sins have a way of blinding us to our own truth, and we fail to see obvious shortcomings within ourselves.  That was David. And it’s all of us.

The only man in all of the Bible who is called ‘a man after God’s own heart’ (I Sam. 13:14) committed one of the most shameful sins a man can commit. Yet, as soon as he saw what he had done from God’s perspective, he said – out loud – ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ 2 Samuel 12:13  We cannot lightly dismiss this confession for we’re talking about the king of a nation.  His admission had huge repercussions for his reputation.  A cloud of shame hung over him for a long time in the eyes of the people.

But God wasn’t finished with David and it was this David who wrote Psalm 51, the most amazing declaration of sin, guilt, forgiveness and restoration.

Application:

Perhaps we have repented for words we should never have said. Perhaps we’ve forgotten some for which we have never repented.  The cleansing power of the Blood of Jesus is available to us right now.  He is willing to cleanse us from every sin, including every word we’ve spoken that was displeasing in His sight.  Let us repent from our hearts for every word that was out of character and/or opposed to the standard of integrity Jesus set before us.

He’s a forgiving God to those who repent but He also adds, ‘Go and sin no more.’

Yet if we’re able to bridle the words we say we are powerful enough to control ourselves in every way, and that means our character is mature and fully developed. James 3:2 TPT

Shadow of Things to Come #15 August 15, 2017

In last week’s lesson the brothers of Joseph prepared to return to Egypt for more provisions, this time taking Benjamin with them.  When Joseph saw his younger brother, the scripture records that ‘he was deeply stirred’.  He quickly left their presence for he did not want to weep in front of them.  He invited them to dinner at his own home and as portions of food were distributed to each of his brothers, he ordered that five times as much should be given to Benjamin.

After the meal he commanded his house steward to ‘Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack.  Put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and the money for his grain.’ Genesis 44:1-2  Joseph arranged yet another test to see how his brothers would react.

They had hardly left the city when Joseph sent his personal house steward after them to accuse them of stealing his silver cup.  When the brothers, horrified, protested vehemently that they would do no such thing, the steward starting examining the sacks til he found the silver cup in Benjamin’s. Their protests turned to shock and panic.  Hurriedly they made their way back into the city and to Joseph’s presence.  Keep in mind they still don’t know who he truly is.

Judah steps up and stands before the “Egyptian” to intercede on behalf of Benjamin for their father’s sake.  In response to the accusation, Judah confesses, ‘What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants.  Behold, we are my lord’s slaves both we and the one in whose sack the cup was found.’  Gen. 44:16

It is very important to note the word ‘iniquity’ in Judah’s confession.  There are three words used several places throughout the Torah and the Prophets: sin, transgression and iniquity.  Each has a specific meaning.

SIN means literally ‘to miss the mark.’ The Greek counterpart to the Hebrew word means ‘to miss the mark and not share in the prize’. So SIN causes man to lose a portion of the inheritance intended for him. SIN starts in the mind, in the motives, even before a physical action takes place.

TRANSGRESSION means to revolt or rebel, to break away from just authority; it implies a soul ready to pursue more and more evil; to step over the boundaries, cross over the lines into wickedness.

INIQUITY is of a different nature. Iniquity speaks not of a behavior or an individual sin but refers to the results of sin in your bloodline. Just as you inherit physical features from your ancestors, so you also inherit spiritual tendencies and inclinations.  The Scripture is very clear: ‘You shall not bow down and serve them for I, the LORD your GOD am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.’ Exodus 20:5-6   Notice very carefully, that it is NOT the sins or the transgressions of the fathers, but the INIQUITY – the ungodly tendencies and character traits that are handed down from generation to generation from ancestors who did not know God and/or did not repent of their wickedness.  To give a simple example: how many of you have heard someone say,  ‘I know I’m stubborn; everybody in my family is stubborn. It’s just the way we are.’ That is INIQUITY – an accepting and agreeing with something the Bible calls sin and considering it instead as a ‘family’ characteristic with no intent to change it.

Keeping this understanding in mind, look at what Judah said to Joseph: God has found out (or exposed) the iniquity of your servants.  Judah is declaring that a recurrent sin in the family line has met its ‘waterloo’.  What was that iniquity? The family tendency that has gone unchecked? The practice of covering up the truth – deception.

Abraham lied about his wife, not just once but twice.  Years later, Isaac did the same thing though he was not even born when Abraham had lied about Isaac’s mother! Jacob used deception in his relationship with his brother, his father and Laban.  The brothers deceived their father into thinking that Joseph was dead.  Do you see the line of ‘iniquity’ from generation to generation?

The time had come to stop it. How? By confession and repentance.  From verse 18 to verse 34, Judah comes clean on behalf of himself and his brothers and offers to remain as a slave of Joseph in place of Benjamin.

Standing there listening to his brother’s confession and seeing the terror on the faces of the others, Joseph could not control himself any longer.  He was now convinced that their repentance was sincere and therefore, he put everyone else out of the house.  Weeping he declared to the eleven men before him, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?’

Gen45

He drew them closer to him and explained everything that had happened since that fateful day when they sold him to the Ishmaelites. But here are the most important words he spoke to them in that moment:

‘Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life…God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant upon the earth and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.  Therefore it was not you who sent me here, it was God…’ vs. 5-8

We learn from Joseph certain characteristics of true forgiveness.

First of all, Joseph put everyone else out of the room before confronting his brothers with the truth of who he was.  He did not humiliate them in front of the Egyptian servants.

Secondly, he made NO reference to the pain he had personally endured, but instead focused on what he had learned through it; namely, that God had a purpose and a plan for sending him to Egypt and therefore he did not blame or condemn his brothers even though what they did was deeply hurtful to him on a personal level.

Thirdly, he ‘rewarded’ their betrayal with good! In verses 9-13 Joseph instructs his brothers to go quickly and bring their father down to Egypt.  He promises to care for them and provide for them for the rest of his life.

Application:

Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers was expressed with kindness, protectiveness, and blessing.  Not a shred of self-righteousness or retaliation came out of his mouth.  The years of suffering had turned him into a man of God.  His message to us is loud and clear: Don’t waste your sorrows!  Let God use them to mature you, refine you and perfect you into the man or woman He created you to be.

 

Shadow of Things to Come – Lesson #11 July 18, 2017

Thus far in our study of Joseph’s life, we have looked at events through his eyes.  This week I’d like us to take a different perspective.  Let’s look through Pharaoh’s eyes.

Pharaoh was the most powerful leader in that day, a man who was revered but also feared. He was considered unreachable and untouchable, but somewhere under all that external power there was a man with a soul who found himself in a desperate situation.  He’d had two deeply troubling dreams and was frantic to find someone – anyone – who could interpret them.  You see, the most powerful men are still men and have needs like everyone else. Thanks to his Cupbearer, Joseph was brought out of prison, presented to Pharaoh and after giving God due honor, the young man interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and followed the interpretation with profoundly wise advice.

Pharaoh'sdream

Pharaoh watches and listens to this ex-prisoner.  What was going through his mind?

He’d probably never heard of Joseph; didn’t know the young man existed! But God, when He is about His plans being fulfilled, will surprise even the greatest of men.  We must conclude that the Spirit of God was at work in Pharaoh even though he did not know the true God at that point.  Why do I say that? First of all, he rejected the interpretations of his magicians.  It takes a certain inner perception to know when you have not received the right answer.  It also takes the same to recognize true wisdom.  That kind of wisdom comes from the Spirit of God.

There are three men who put themselves on the line, who risk everything in this event.

First, the Cupbearer.  Remember that this man had already been imprisoned once before so you can be sure that he was very careful with his words.  Once was enough!  But seeing the distress that Pharaoh was experiencing, he came forward to inform his employer that a Hebrew prisoner had the gifting that Pharaoh needed.

And Pharaoh listened!  It takes a measure of humility to listen to a servant.  It also takes a serious measure of humility to acknowledge the wisdom that emerged from a prisoner just released from Pharaoh’s own dungeon!  When God is at work, and you have a measure of humility like Pharaoh, you will listen to someone you otherwise would pay no attention to.

Pharaoh exercised a simple form of ‘faith’, if you will, by doing what his Cup bearer recommended and he was greatly rewarded.  His best decision that day was to agree to the release of the Hebrew prisoner.

Secondly, Joseph risked his own life – literally – by giving the interpretation and following it with unsolicited advice.  Pharaoh could have had him instantly killed if he was displeased in any way with Joseph’s words.

Instead, hearing the interpretation of his dreams and the wise counsel that followed, Pharaoh put all his eggs in one basket.  Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?  Gen. 41:38  He promptly elevated Joseph to a position of great authority and responsibility.  The very one whose wisdom he recognized, he appointed to bring that wisdom to fruition.

There are several ways by which we can recognize when the Spirit of God is at work.  First of all, His activity produces peace.  Pharaoh’s troubled mind was now at rest. He understood the dreams, their meaning and the appropriate way to apply them.

Another evidence of the Spirit of God at work is an unhesitating authority.  Joseph listened to Pharaoh and then responded in a calm and clear manner.  Pharaoh could tell that Joseph was fully confident that God was speaking through him.  That gave Pharaoh confidence which then produced trust.

The Spirit of God at work is also simply straightforward – no manipulation or mental gymnastics.  In other words, Joseph basically said: ‘this is what God is saying and this is what to do about it.’

Keep in mind that Pharaoh didn’t know Joseph but he didn’t ask for any credentials, nor inquire about his track record of success.  Pharaoh heard, his inner man recognized the truth of what Joseph was saying and he acted on it immediately.  That, my friends, is faith.

Thirdly, Pharaoh put himself and his own reputation on the line before everybody!  He had rejected the “experts” but took the words of an “unknown” with full confidence. If Joseph was proven wrong after a year or two, Pharaoh would take the heat for it.  Clearly his conviction of Joseph’s authenticity was profound.

Rarely do we think of Pharaoh’s perspective when we talk about Joseph’s life, but we must take encouragement from how Pharaoh, a pagan, received the work of the Spirit of God and acknowledged the same without apology? No political correctness here!  Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?

Political correctness has become an issue in our day that has affected individuals, congregations and groups. It is stunning to see how totally absent it was from this scenario in Joseph’s life. Not one of the key players bowed to political correctness, but chose instead to listen and heed the Spirit of the Living God.

Application:

Fear of criticism and rejection weaken the strength of our commitment to God, to His Word and to His ways.  It is time to learn once again that when all is said and done, it is to HIM that we owe all our allegiance.  Fear has no place in the one who professes to love the LORD.  The times in which we live demand that we stand strong in our faith and courageous to live and speak the truth of God’s Word in our day to day lifestyle.