God's Creative Call

Thursday, October 06, 2011

I Never Thought I'd See The Day

Tomorrow, October 4, 2011 is the date for release of Dr. David Jeremiah's new book, I Never Thought I'd See The Day - Culture at the Crossroads. I already pre-ordered my book so I hope it arrives tomorrow! Meanwhile, I have thoroughly enjoyed the first three broadcasts on Turning Point T.V., and highly recommend this series.

The three broadcasts are available for viewing at David Jeremiah.org or they can also be seen at LightSource.com.  At the beginning of the video, you will see short presentation of The Account - which is Dr. Jeremiah's way to explain the campaign for moral change that started back in the 1960's - through a public relations campaign for a particular "client."

Not long ago in America, Jesus Christ was honored and respected as the One worshipped by the majority of citizens. But today Jesus and His name are profaned throughout our culture, especially in entertainment. Once Jesus is known for who He is, profanity will turn to praise.

Yesterday's broadcast entitled When Jesus Would Be So Profaned brought back to my memory the post I shared back on September 19th - The Paganism of the LBGQT Agenda Within the post, I had a cut and paste link to a blog that exposed one of the most vile demonstrations of profanity against Jesus Christ that I have ever seen.

During Dr. Jeremiah's sermon, he stated, quite emphatically, that the example he shared (Stephen Colbert's show which included both mockery of Christ and the act of receiving communion) was without doubt one example of utter blasphemy against Jesus Christ that saddened and angered all of us . But Dr. Jeremiah confessed that he was unable to show the utterly disgusting examples he found via the Internet. Perhaps he also saw what I did at that homosexual event in San Francisco.

This sermon was so awesome that I am compelled to work on transcribing it here. That way, when anyone does a search for Dr. Jeremiah's book and ends up visiting here, they can not only click over to view the video presentation, but also read the powerful biblical message that Dr. Jeremiah presents about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

It is for this very reason that my blog, Talk Wisdom exists:

Talk Wisdom's goal is to defend the tenets and values of Biblical Christian faith. We defend our Constitutional Republic and Charters of Freedom, especially when speaking out against destructive social and political issues. As followers of our Savior and Lord, we should boldly stand up for Jesus Christ in our present circumstances. He is our Savior, Lord, and King, and His love needs to be shed abroad in our hearts and in our world - now.

We must continually pray for the lost. We must pray that their mocking would turn to worship once they know about the REAL Jesus!

Again, don't miss this opportunity to learn about THE REAL JESUS!

Transcript will be forthcoming as time permits. The following outline will assist you in searching for the Scriptures mentioned during the video sermon presentation.

Dr. David Jeremiah
“When Jesus Would Be So Profaned”
Hebrews 1:1-3
October 2, 2011
Hebrews 8:1
I. Jesus: The Final Word From God
Hebrews 1:1-2
John 1:1
II. Jesus: The First Cause of Creation
Genesis 1:1
Hebrews 1:2
John 1:1-3
Colossians 1:16
III. Jesus: The Fullness of the Godhead
Hebrews 1:3
Colossians 1:19
John 1:18
1 Timothy 3:16
John 14:9
Hebrews 1:8
IV. Jesus: The Facilitator of All Things
Hebrews 1:3
Colossians 1:17
V. Jesus: The Forgiveness of Our Sins
Hebrews 1:3
Hebrews 9:25-26
VI. Jesus: The Finisher of Our Faith
Hebrews 1:3
Hebrews 12:2
VII. Jesus: Our Faithful High Priest
Hebrews 2:17-18
Hebrews 4:15
John 14:6

Hat tips to all links.



Question: How Do You Picture Jesus?

Dr. Jeremiah: The way people view Jesus in America has changed dramatically. Jesus has gone from the revered Son of God, to the subject of ridicule and jokes. I'm David Jeremiah welcoming you to the third part in a series called "I Never Thought I'd See The Day: Culture at the Crossroads." Today's message, "I Never Thought I'd See The Day When Jesus Would Be So Profaned" focuses on how our modern culture views Jesus Christ. In today's world, many people give Jesus Christ less respect than any other religious leader. And unless Christians aren't careful, they will find themselves in a culture where they treat their Savior with shocking disrespect, something I have rarely seen before. But if we present the picture of Jesus Christ presented in the book of Hebrews, we will see Him as He truly is. That biblical picture is coming up on today's edition of Turning Point.

Chorus: I exalt Thee, I exalt Thee, Oh oh Lord. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there is just something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Let all heaven and earth proclaim. Kings and kingdoms will all pass away. But there is something about that name.

Dr. Jeremiah: I have been in ministry four decades and over that time I have seen incredible changes in our world. Some developments have been beneficial, but others have taken our culture away from it's spiritual and moral foundations. In my latest book, I Never Thought I'd See The Day, I discuss some of the ways our moral values have declined and most importantly, how we as Christians can reverse this downward spiral.

Dr. Jeremiah: Stephen Colbert, who is the host of Comedy Central T.V. show The Colbert Report, spoofed a controversial ad designed for television that was about the Doritos brand of corn chips. In 2010, the makers of the Doritos product created a contest to choose a video commercial that would be shown sometime during the 2011 Superbowl. The commercial spoofed by Colbert was one of the entries received by Doritos though it was not chosen and did not air during the Superbowl. Nonetheless, it was picked up by various websites and ultimately spoofed on the Colbert Report. In the commercial, a priest is worried about how to boost attendance in his church. As he is praying for ideas heaven reveals the solution. Replace the bread or communion wafers in the service with Doritos.

[Audience groans]

After the commercial didn't air, Stephen Colbert decided to spoof it on his T.V. show. I will read this to you with the caveat up front that it almost made me cry and I'm sure it will have the same effect on some of you.

Colbert begins, "Now folks, I may be a devout Catholic."
 And the audience cheers and laughs. He pulls out a bag of Doritos nacho chips from beneath his desk.

 "I know that Eucharist is usually bread, but through transubstantiation, it becomes the body of Christ. So I honestly can't understand why Jesus can't be a Dorito. Doritos are unleavened and after all, He did "snackrafice" Himself for us and our sins. And remember at the Last Supper according to Mark 14:20, Jesus said he would be betrayed by one of the twelve - the one who dips with me in the bowl."
 Once again, there is audience laughter and an image of the Bible and the text of Mark 14:20 appears on the screen.

"They had dip," said Colbert, "therefore Jesus was a chip. Everybody knows the Catholic Church could use a little extra scratch right now. What better way than product placement. Next Wednesday, we can all get our foreheads marked with Dorito dust. For the right price, there is no reason why people can't be baptized in Mountain Dew. That would be the most extreme baptism ever. Once and for all, it would show Islam which religion is more radical."

Dr. Jeremiah: Unless you saw Colbert's commercial spoof on his show or on another website, you probably didn't hear much about equating Jesus with a corn chip, or about the saying, "he snackrificed Himself for our sins." Indeed, incorporating Jesus Christ into profane situations here in America is so common that it hardly gains any attention anymore. Never before has the biblical portrayal of Christ been so foreign to our culture.

In fashion, He appears on Urban Outfitters as "Jesus is my homeboy" tee shirts. On television he often appears in the animated shows of The Simpsons and South Park. On the big screen he has been the subject of The DaVinci Code. In a 2010 interview, Elton John provocatively stated that Jesus "was a compassionate, super intelligent gay man that understood human problems." Renowned atheist Richard Dawkins claimed that  "reborn Jesus would gladly wear an atheist for Jesus tee shirt today and "we owe Jesus the honor of separating the genuinely original and radical ethics that he held from the supernatural nonsense which he espoused as a man of his time."

In their book, "Dethroning Jesus," - opposing biblical scholars popular views of Christ - scholars Daryl Bouk and Daniel Wallace claim that the popular view of Jesus today is not of biblical Christianity, it is "Jesusanity."  Jesusanity is a coined term for the alternative story about Jesus Christ. At the center of the story is still Jesus, but Jesus as a prophet or teacher of religious wisdom. His role is one of teacher, guide, or example. Jesus' special insight is into the human condition, and the enlightenment he brings to it. In this story, the key is that Jesus inspires others but there is no throne for Jesus. He is one among many; the best perhaps, and certainly one we can learn from and follow. I never thought I'd see the day in America where Jesus Christ was fair game for comedians and commercial entrepreneurs. Especially those who profess to believe in Him, like the self-professed Catholic Stephen Colbert. My point is not to pick him out and criticize him above the others because he is actually one of the more tell-able stories in this report. Some of the material that I gained in my research I would never tell or speak of because it is so profane and vile.

The point is how easy it is for us Christians to get squeezed into the mold if we are not constantly filtering what we find entertaining and at whose expense.

Someone did some homework on the Colbert Report and said in the months just before the episode where I cited there were 1.2 million viewers of that program. And, according to an ABC Beliefnet poll, 83% of Americans say they are Christians I know that's an inflated number and I know that's not true but that is what they claim. So that means that 83% of the 1.2 million viewers of the Colbert program that night saw what I told you about. Using these unscientific numbers let me ask you why nobody ever said anything about it and you never heard about it, and it never got in the news? It went nowhere. If that's true then somewhere around 800,000 Christian people heard Colbert do that. We are so tolerant these days and so afraid of criticism we let it go by and we never raised our voice.

The Jesus that we need to know will not be found in the secular media. John Piper said that the degree to which the church is trained to distrust the Jesus of the gospels and to look for ever new human creations of Christ, the real Jesus will be blurred and his power to break free from the unbiblical traditions that bind him will be blunted.

Some of you know what "muzak" is. It is elevator music. It is the music that plays in elevators that you don't even know about until you stop and think - oh, there is music playing. When you are in an elevator alone, there is some music playing. It is background music. It plays in elevators and malls,  and in department stores. It sort of just gets into your consciousness without an invitation. Elevator music is always there so we don't pay to much attention to it. But our subconscious mind takes it in.

Cultural messages like the one I just told you that tends to be tolerated is like background music. Little by little it tends to slip into the consciousness of Christian Americans. It is like cultural noise, whether its in our lives from a late night comedian or whether it's from a pastor of a mega church, or it's in the news from the media, or from a new leader of a mainline denomination. Messages about Jesus are always screaming into our heads. And if we are not careful, those messages like a silently stored song, subconsciously change the way we think about the Jesus who is our Savior.

In the midst of this sordid view of Jesus Christ in our culture we have the Bible. And in the Bible, we have the New Testament. And in the New Testament we have the book of Hebrews. And I don't know if you know this, but there is more about Jesus in the book of Hebrews than in any New Testament book except the four gospels. If you want to know about Jesus, obviously, read the four gospels. If you want to know even more about Jesus, read the book of Hebrews. For the book of Hebrews is all about Jesus Christ.

Hebrews was written to a group of first century Christians, most of whom had been saved out of Judaism. Many of them had been exposed to the danger of giving up. They were under great pressure, having been ridiculed and persecuted by their families for having turned from Judaism to Jesus Christ. Many had accepted this adversity joyfully but others were ready to quit. So the letter of Hebrews appeals to these believers to keep their faith anchored in truth and confident in Christ. And the writer of Hebrews, whose identity we do not know, teaches us that no believer can cope with adversity unless Christ fills his horizons and sharpens his priorities and dominates his experiences.

And more importantly from a theological perspective, Hebrews is the only book that begins with the word God. Did you know that? It's the only one. Now, in the Greek it's not like that. For some reason, God caused the book to be translated into English so that the first word in the book of Hebrews is God. Most other books begin with the name of the human writer, Paul, Peter, or John. But, we do not know who the writer of Hebrews was so it begins with God. We have to allow Him to be the writer, right? God is the writer of Hebrews, as He is of all the other books. And the theme of Hebrews, as I have mentioned,  is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the one that these young Hebrew Christians need to know. He's the one they needed to wrap their lives around. Only Jesus Christ, in a full orbed [Note:  means "emblem of sovereignty" in this context] understanding of who He was could get them through the difficulties they were facing. And, my friends, I think that is true of our world today. I believe as Christians we get our thoughts and our minds on a lot of things and we turn away from Christ, and we wonder why we are having such a difficult time.

Jesus Christ is the one who has promised to be closer to us than a brother and keep us in the midst of every situation.  And just as the Hebrew Christians needed Christ we today need Christ in our lives - not as just our Savior, but as the constant friend and companion in our lives.  Not every book is so up front about what it's about, but if you turn to the eighth chapter of the book of Hebrews you will discover what this book is about. 

This is what it says in Hebrews 8:1 (NKJV) Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.

That is what the book of Hebrews is about. It's about Jesus! In the book of Hebrews, we learn that Jesus is better. He's better than everything. He's better than the angels. He's better than Moses. He's better than Joshua. He's better than the old covenant. He's better than the priests. In fact, the word betteris in Hebrews thirteen times! Jesus is better!

I remember reading a book some years ago by Max Lucado, and he was talking about Hebrews. He said, "the best just got better has become the favorite slogan. It's not because the previous product was poor, it's just that the current one is superior."

The book of Hebrews might well use the same slogan. The best just got better. Here in the first few pages of the book of Hebrews is the REAL Jesus. And I think that instead of spending our whole time railing on the world's comprehension of who Jesus is, we do well to focus our attention on what the Bible says about him. You know, there is an old adage that when you are trying to figure out whether a bill is counterfeit - don't study the counterfeit bill - study the real bill. When you know what that looks like, you will spot a counterfeit bill wherever you go! It's easy.

So we need to get back to knowing who Jesus is, according to the Scripture. Now in the first three chapters of Hebrews we learn several; things about him and I'm just going to take you through this because I'm so excited about preaching Hebrews because I get to teach about Jesus straight on. You know I preach about Jesus all the time but he is kind of like in the places between other things. But when you teach Hebrews, Jesus is the focus of every lesson. First of all, Jesus is the final word from God.

In Hebrews 1:1-2a:

Hbr 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

Hbr 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by [His] Son...

Now watch carefully what that says. That says that in the Old Testament, God spoke in various ways and in various times. He spoke to Adam a little bit, He spoke to Moses a little bit, He spoke to Abraham a little bit. He spoke to David and to Solomon here and there. He spoke in various seasons; from Moses in the Pentateuch all the way through the prophets ending with the book of Malachi. But listen, He never spoke it all to any one person or at any one time. So, it what "here a little" and "there a little" and we are blessed because we have the collection of what He said to all of them. But, there was never a time in the Old Testament where there was a full orbed, final word from God! But when you come to the New Testament we are told, "but in these last days he [God] has spoken unto us by His Son..." (Hebrews 1:2 NIV). We know that one of the titles of Jesus is He is the Word. In the beginning was the Word. Jesus is God's last word to man. When Jesus came into his place on this earth, he was simply God walking around in a body. When God wanted to communicate who He was to us, He took Deity and poured it into humanity. This is who I Am and Jesus walked upon this earth!

[audience applauds]

So Jesus is God's final word to man. If you are looking for another word from God besides Jesus, you are going to wait a long time. He has spoken finally, and Jesus is the message. Jesus us God's final word to man. When He spoke in Christ, He said everything that He meant to say. If you want to know who God is, study Jesus! If you want to know what God is like, God is a Spirit. If we try to understand a Spirit, we cannot, so God incarnated Himself in a human body so that now we can know how God is through watching Jesus. Jesus is God in the flesh. Jesus is the final word from God. But if you keep reading in the book of Hebrews you find that Jesus is the First Cause of Creation.

A lot of people read Genesis 1:1 that "God created the heavens and the earth..." and we all believe that but when you get to the New Testament we discover that the part of the Trinity that was involved in the Creation process was Jesus Christ! Did you know that Jesus Christ is the Creator God. You say Jeremiah, where did you find that? Well, I'm glad you asked. Hebrews 1:2 states that, "through whom (Jesus) He also made the worlds." If you didn't get that listen to John 1:1 -

Jhn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Jhn 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.

Jhn 1:3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

Dr. Jeremiah: Now that's about as clear as you can get and I want to say to people who don't believe that Jesus is the Creator God, what part of that don't you get?

Col 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.

Dr. Jeremiah: So we are building a little picture of Jesus. He is the last word from God and He is the first cause of Creation. Then the Bible tells us that Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead.

Hbr 1:3 Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Colossians 1:19 For it pleased [the Father that] in Him all the fullness should dwell,

Dr. Jeremiah: That means that Jesus Christ is exactly the same as God for He is God! This is one of the clearest statements in the Bible of the Deity of Jesus Christ.

John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

We can't see God, He is a Spirit. The Bible says you can't see God and live but you can see Jesus in the pages of the New Testament the Bible says you have seen God.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul says:

1Ti 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Dr. Jeremiah: And Jesus says if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.

John 3:19 He who has seen me has seen the Father.

Dr. Jeremiah: I want to be clear about this because one of the great debates about Jesus Christ today as I have read to you in the "Jesusanity" quote is that he is a good man but he's not God. You cannot believe that and call yourself a biblical Christian. Because the Bible teaches that Jesus is not just a good man, he is the God-man! And if we do not understand that we cannot understand Christianity.

[audience applauds]

Dr. Jeremiah: Here in the first chapter of Hebrews is one verse that is the clearest of proof texts the Deity of Jesus Christ:

Hbr 1:8 But unto the Son [he saith], Thy throne, O God, [is] for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness [is] the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Dr. Jeremiah: Here is God the Father calling Jesus, His Son God! You say 'I don't believe Jesus is God' well you and God don't agree! God says He is God and if you don't think He is God well then you have a problem with the Father! Because the Father said to Jesus, "Your throne O God, is forever and ever."

I read this about a biblical scholar named Scott McKnight who took his students in class through an exercise. On the opening day on Jesus of Nazareth, he gave a standardized, psychological test divided into two parts. The results are nothing short of astounding. The first part is about Jesus. It asks students to imagine Jesus' personality with questions such as, "does He prefer to go his own way or by acting by the rules?" Is he a worrier? The second part asks the same question of the students. But instead of asking "is he a worrier," it asks, "are you a worrier?" And the test is not about right or wrong answers, it is not designed to help students know Jesus. Instead, if given to enough people the test will reveal that we all think Jesus is like us. Introverts think that Jesus is introverted. And on the basis of the same questions, extroverts think Jesus is extroverted. Spiritual formation experts would love to hear that students in my Jesus class are becoming like Jesus. But the test actually reveals the reverse! Students are fashioning Jesus to be like them!

If the test were given to a random sampling of adults, the results would be measurably similar. To one degree or another, we all conform Jesus to our own image - and that's where we get into trouble. Because Jesus isn't who we want him to be - Jesus is who He is! Jesus is who the Bible says He is! The Bible tells us who Jesus is and if we would read our Bibles we wouldn't go down that strange road.

I don't know if this ever happens to you, but people come up to me periodically and if I preach on hell or judgment or something I'll get a letter or email. Invariably, I've had people come up to me and say, "Dr. Jeremiah, my God would never send anybody to hell." And do you know what I tell them? That's exactly right because your god doesn't exist!

[laughter and clapping]

Dr. Jeremiah: He doesn't exist - you made him up! We love to take our faith and when there are hard parts of it that we struggle with, we take the out! We excise them from our understanding. Like hell, we do away with it. You want to find a way to get everybody into heaven? Write a book about it, get on T.V., and everybody will think it is true. But that's NOT true! The Bible says that "it is appointed unto men to die and after that comes the judgment." Do whatever you want to it but you can't take it out of the book. Some people think that 'if I don't want it to be true, then it is not true.' Well, you know what? It's true whether you want it to be true or not!

So, if you want to get any place in your life, find out what is true and get on the bus! But don't go down all of these blind alleys trying to make the Jesus you say you love just like you are. Jesus is not!  He wants you to be just like He is. When you get on that track then something good will happen.

[applause, cheering]

Jesus is the final word from God. Jesus is the First Cause of Creation.  Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead.  And the Bible says in Hebrews 1:13, Jesus is the facilitator of all things.

Hbr 1:3 Who being the brightness of [his] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

He keeps this whole world from flying off in a different direction or going out of orbit and finally destruct. Jesus has got it into control. He was before history, he was at the beginning of history, he will be at the end of history, and he is the one that controls history. He is the Sustainer and upholder of this world. This is what Paul communicated in his letter to the Colossians when he said to these believers, "He is before all things:

Col 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.

There has never been a moment from the beginning of Creation that Jesus has not been performing this mighty work, holding everything together as the facilitator of the universe.

Jesus is the final word from God. Jesus is the First Cause of Creation. Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead. And the Bible says in Hebrews 1:13, Jesus is the facilitator of all things. And here is my favorite on all the list - He is the Forgiveness of Our Sins. Listen to what it says in verse three. In verse three it says:

... when he had by himself purged our sins,...

Christ is not only the revealer of God, He's the redeemer of man. This book of Hebrews is a book about cleansing, and here we are told that Christ purged our sins. He cleansed us. Please note where these words appear in the context of this verse. He who is before all things, and in whom all things are summed up, the one who is the Father's delight and the Father's glory, the one of infinite power and infinite glory; it was He Himself who purged our sins.

For what purpose did he come? He didn't come down to set up his kingdom; primarily he came to seek and to save those who are lost. The Bible says in Hebrews "he came to taste death" for every man. And not one of these things that people talk about when they say these wonderful things about Jesus is worth anything if He didn't come down here to purge our sins.

Think of it, folks. He who created the universe is the one who died for you.

The only one who could do that work on the cross was Jesus Christ. And the Bible says that He Himself purged our sins.

Now remember, I've been telling my people I've been teaching the book of Hebrews for a while and I always tell them about every week that the book of Hebrews was written to that group - the Hebrews. That is a really important thing to keep in mind that it was written to us but it was primarily written to the Hebrews. Now remember, the Jewish Christians knew all about the purging of sins. They had been brought up in Judaism and they knew through Judaism that the blood of bulls and goats and all of that - that their sins were forgiven in advance of the cross. In the Old Testament, the purging of sins was never, ever finished.

Hebrews 9:25-26 says:

Hbr 9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

Hbr 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

I want to tell you some Good News, this Jesus that I'm telling you about that you could tell I'm a bit excited over - this Jesus who is the final word from God, and Jesus is the First Cause of Creation and Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead and is the facilitator of all things, this Jesus is the forgiveness of our sins. And when we come to know Him, He not only hears our prayer for forgiveness, but because of who He is, He can do something about it.

{clapping and cheering from audience]

He can heal us from our sin. He's the final word from God. He's the first cause of Creation. He's the fullness of the Godhead. He's the facilitator of all things. He's the forgiveness of our sin. And He's the finisher of our faith.

Listen to what He says here:

Hebrews 1:3 And He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

In the Old Testament tabernacle, did you know that the high priests never sat down? In fact, in all of the tabernacle with all of its wonderful furniture; there was a lampstand, there was a laver, there was an altar, but there was no chair. If you were an Old Testament high priest you could never sit down because your work was never done. There was always somebody who needed forgiveness and you needed to be there as the high priest. But when Christ entered the Holy of the Holies in High Heaven, the Bible says that He sat down. Say that with me, "He sat down." And I want to tell you something friends, he didn't sit down because he was tired, he sat down cause He was finished!

[clapping and cheering from audience]

He sat down because what He cried on the cross was true. When he was dying on the cross, at the end of it he said, "IT IS FINISHED." And he paid the price for all of our sin and when he went back to heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father, He sat down to signify that nothing else ever needs to be done for sin. He did it all and it's DONE!

[Audience claps and cheers]

Hbr 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

You may be thinking well there is something that I need to do in order for me to go to heaven. Something I need to do for my sins to be forgiven. No, there is not anything that you need do - Jesus did it all. He did it all so well that when He got done He sat down! And He's not waiting for you to do anything except accept what He already did for you! And I'll tell you some more about that in a moment. I'm almost finished, but let me go through this list one more time. He's the final word from God. He's the first cause of Creation. He's the fullness of the Godhead. He's the facilitator of all things. He's the forgiveness of our sin. And He's the finisher of our faith. And here's that last one for all of us faithful Christians - He's our faithful High Priest. Did you know that? This Jesus who created the world. This Jesus who holds it all together. This Jesus who Himself purged our sins on the cross and went to heaven and sat down at the right hand of the Father. The Bible says that He is at the right hand of the Father, always there making intercession for the saints.

And over in the second chapter of Hebrews:

Hbr 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like [His] brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

Hbr 2:18 For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

What that means is that Jesus became for a limited time a little lower than the angels. That He might be one of us and walk among us, and live as we have lived on this earth. And the Bible says over in the fourth chapter:

Hbr 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.

Let me expel some of the nonsense that is out there about this fact. People say, "well if Jesus couldn't sin, how could he be tempted like we are?" Let's face it, I can't not sin. So if Jesus wasn't able to sin, there is this big argument. Was Jesus not able to sin or was he not to sin? Well, I believe Jesus was not able to sin. He was the sinless Son of God. So now they say, "well how could he have been tempted like we are?"

Now I remember reading this somewhere that "is a bridge tested fully when the first car drives over the bridge or is it tested fully when cars have been driving over that bridge for years and years and years? Let me ask you this question. Is a bridge tested when it is found first not to fail? Or is it tested when it is found never to fail?

Jesus didn't give in to any temptation so he felt the full brunt of it all. Whatever it is that you went through, you haven't faced anything like what Jesus faced. You know why that's true? Because you gave in! And the temptation of Jesus was to the fullest extent, yet He never sinned. And the Bible says that when I go to Jesus with my trouble, I can talk to someone who knows what it's like to be a human. He became like us and he exposed himself to all the hazards and perils of life and death and He was not protected from troubles and adversity. When we find ourselves immersed in the harsh realities of human experience where do we go? We go to Jesus.

Think of the blessing of it all. How He shares our labors. How He knows the dull, drab drudgery of some of the common tasks we have to do. The heavy misery of back-breaking toil. He shares our trials and limitations. He was poor with no place to lay his head. He was hungry. He was thirsty begging water from a Samaritan woman. He was weary and exhausted and sat for a while on the well. He bore our sorrows and our heartaches. When there was death in the home it brought tears to his eyes. When he looked upon the crippled, the leper, the blind and the helpless, his heart was moved to compassion. Anybody could approach the Lord Jesus and be welcomed. The poor, the weak, the publican, the simple. In Jesus, God is with us.

In all love and infinite blessing, my favorite name for Jesus outside of the name Jesus is Immanuel - God with us.

Yes, He is the Creator of the universe. He's the one that holds it all together. He's the one that purged our sins. But He's the one who hears your prayer when you cry out to Him in the darkness of the night. When you are going through that thing that you thought you never would go through. When you go through that thing that I've written about - a bend in the road. And you wonder if you know of anyone who has experienced what I've experienced. I'm telling you - there is One. There's One who felt the pressure of it all! And He is our High Priest.

Now I'm going to tell you something - if you haven't figured this out - I'm recommending Jesus to you. I'm recommending Him to you. The book of Hebrews says that we need to do something with Jesus. The Bible says you have to receive Him, you have to accept Him. The book of Hebrews says you need to consider Him, you need to accept Him. You need to be careful that you don't harden your heart against Him. In fact, in chapters 3 and 4, on four occasions we are warned against hardening our hearts against God. And the Bible says today - if you will receive Him do not hardened your heart.

You know people come to churches and they come to events like this and they've heard the Gospel so many times - on Christian radio, on Christian television, in their churches, in their Bible studies, but they still haven't yet received Him. And every time you hear the Gospel and you don't receive it, another little callous forms on your heart, and your heart gets harder. And the Bible warns us that now we know who Jesus is, there is something that we need to do with Him. John 14:6 -

Jhn 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

If you want to go to heaven some day, if you want to spend eternity with your Creator God, if you want to be with other members of your family who are Christians and have already gone ahead you better be sure that you have accepted Jesus into your life. Because He is your Creator, He is your Sustainer, He is the one who purged your sins, He's the one who is coming back some day and those who have received Him with be caught up together with Him and to be with Him and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

[audience clapping and cheering]

I went through my Bible in these first few chapters of Hebrews and I put a circle around the word "today" every place I found it. I've come to this conclusion: today is God's Word, tomorrow is Satan's word.

Let me tell you what I have been learning in studying the book of Hebrews. Also, before that in the study of the book of Galatians. Listen carefully, when God tells us to do something and we hear His voice clearly, the space between having heard what He told us to do and understanding it and doing it, does not belong to God - it belongs to the enemy. The Word from God says, "do this." The enemy says "no, you can do that tomorrow." Some say, "I'm going to do that someday. I'm going to get my affairs in order, then I'm going to take care of Christ." But the Bible says in between the command and obedience is the wasteland of the wilderness and Satan occupies that territory like no other part of your life. When you hear what God tells you to do - you should say, "TODAY!" But if you don't say that, you will hear tomorrow ringing in your ears. And, one of these days there will be a tomorrow that's too late.

D.L. Moody was a great evangelist. When he started to preach in Chicago, he would have four or five days of meetings. His method of preaching was that he would preach the Gospel with enthusiasm and passion. At the end of the service, he would say to the people, "I want you to go home tonight and think about what I've said, and come back tomorrow night ready to make a decision." He did that for a number of years, and one night he did that and the Chicago fire happened. And many of the people who were in his congregation, the night he had told them to go home and think about it and come back the next night, perished in that fire and never had a next night. From that day until he died, Moody never ever did that again. He learned the power of today. He realized that the message of the Gospel, when it comes home to our hearts, usually comes home to our hearts in a meeting something like this. Maybe a light goes on. Maybe you've know about Jesus but you've never trusted Him as my Savior. When that happens and you know God is speaking to you, the time to do something about it is not tomorrow, not the next time you meet with God's people, but TODAY!

Dr. Jeremiah's final comments:

Has your picture of Jesus been influenced by how our culture depicts Him? Do you find yourself laughing along with comedians when Jesus is made the object of crass humor? There is no better way to keep a biblical picture of Jesus in mind than by dwelling on the embodiment of Him in Scripture.


Please go to David Jeremiah.org to get the resources that will help you in your decision making about Christ, and/or your current walk with Christ if you are already a born again Christian.

If you are not already a Christian, please see my sister site, Angels Helper: Becoming a Christian

May God richly bless each and every reader who took the time to either view the video message or read the transcript.

Yours in Christ's service,

~ Christine

Hat tips to all links.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ambivalent Confessions?

Have you ever had an encounter and/or discussion with a fellow Christian believer who states (and, apparently believes) the following mistaken idea?

"As a Christian, I believe that Jesus is the only way for me, but I can't say He is the way for the others."

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason states:

Statements like this have become increasingly common among Christians of all stripes.

In both confessing Christ and retreating from the Gospel at the same time, these ambivalent confessions betray a deeply confused understanding of the Christian message.
 In the CD "No Other Name," I walk you through the error behind the well-meaning but misguided thinking. I hope it will equip you for your discussions with others about the Gospel.

A statement like, "As a Christian, I believe that Jesus is the only way for me, but I can't say He is the way for the others"might be considered as a well-meaning, politically correct type of communication, but as Greg stated, it is misguided thinking.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we know His Word, the Bible is the absolute truth. So when Jesus tells us in Scripture, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by by Me" then we know we are wrong to say "but I can't say He is the way for the others."

Standing firm for Christ and sharing the true gospel message has to be our utmost intention and goal in this life. No amount of political correctness will do! Did Jesus utilize political correctness during his three-year ministry on earth? NO. Of course not! He told the truth - even when doing so brought danger to him and his disciples from those who opposed our Lord and Savior.

We cannot shirk our duty as followers of Jesus by giving a wishy-washy version of the gospel message. We must be firm in our convictions, put on the whole armor of God, and use Scripture to both evangelize the world as well as ward off the enemy of our souls.

Eph 6:10   Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

Eph 6:11   Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Eph 6:12   For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, [fn] against spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places].

Eph 6:13   Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Eph 6:14   Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

Eph 6:15   and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Eph 6:16   above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

Eph 6:17   And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

Eph 6:18   praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints--

Eph 6:19   and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,

Eph 6:20   for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Dr. David Jeremiah has an excellent sermon about utilizing the Armor of God.

Go to David Jeremiah.org, click on the green box that reads "Watch Now - This Week's Broadcast" and watch "The Shield of Faith." Former broadcasts are also available at the site.

Hat Tips to all links.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Defending the Treasure

Monday, April 4
Defending the Treasure
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
2 Corinthians 4:7

Recommended Reading
2 Cor. 4:7-12

Depending on where you live, this past winter you may have joined a growing number of homeowners who installed an insulating "jacket" around their home's hot water heater--especially if the unit is located in a garage, attic, or crawl space. The goal is to protect the water--to help it fend off the persistent, relentless encroachment of freezing cold air. To the degree it is protected, the less energy the hot water heater expends to keep the water hot.
There is something more important we have to protect: the Gospel of the grace of God. That is the treasure Paul spoke about in 2 Corinthians 4:7. Amazingly, God deposited His treasure in fragile "earthen vessels" which are subject to the persistent, relentless, encroaching ways of the world and attacks of the devil. But Paul says the treasure is protected "that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (verse 11).
If you are feeling the pressures of life today, and if you are God's child by faith in Christ, God is committed to protecting the treasure He has deposited in you.
A sovereign Protector I have... and walls of salvation surround the soul He delights to defend.
Augustus M. Toplady
2 Samuel 18:1-19:43

Dr. David Jeremiah

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (New King James Version)

Cast Down but Unconquered

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you. - Bible Gateway

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Jacob in Egypt: God Preserves His People

Genesis 45:16-47:31

Do you ever wonder how the bits and pieces of your life fit together? Seeing God at work in the Bible can strengthen our faith and hope as we work through difficult situations we cannot understand.

GROUP DISCUSSION. What prayer request are you patiently waiting for God to fulfill?

PERSONAL REFLECTION. Reflect on some promise that sustains you as you wait for God to work in a specific way.

This study shows how the seemingly unrelated and perplexing events of the preceding chapters now serve God's purpose during the famine.
Read Genesis 45:16-46:27.

1. What is Pharaoh's reaction to the news that Joseph's brothers have arrived (45:16-24)?

2. What would this mean to the brothers, with their burden of guilt and fear?

3. Describe Jacob's reaction to the astounding news his sons bring back from Egypt (45:25-28).

4. How does God encourage Jacob in the present and for the future (46:1-4)?

5. When has God allowed you to see how seemingly unrelated events fit into the tapestry of his will for you?

6. How does 46:5-27 underscore God's faithfulness to the promises he made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?

7. Read Genesis 46:28-47:12. In what ways does Joseph's skill as a planner and administrator continue to be demonstrated as he arranges for his father's family (46:28-34)?

8. Describe the encounter of Joseph's brothers with Pharaoh (47:1-6).

9. What impresses you about Jacob, so recently in despair and ready to die, in his interview with Pharaoh (47:7-10)?

10. Read Genesis 47:13-31. How does Joseph's continuing strategy save the lives of the Egyptians (47:13-26)?

11. In what ways does Jacob's last request of Joseph show his faith in God's promise regarding his descendents and their own land (47:27-31)?

12. How can Joseph's story help you trust God in perplexing areas of your life?

Thank God that he is faithful and always keeps his promises.

Now or Later

What is your attitude right now regarding your particular circumstances? Spend time praying or journaling about this.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Family Reconciliation: Repentance & Responsibility

Genesis 43:1 - 45:15

What makes reconciliation possible? What elements are necessary on each side of a hurt or wrong in order to heal a damaged relationship? This study suggests answers for these crucial questions.

GROUP DISCUSSION. In our world where do you see the greatest need for reconciliation?

PERSONAL REFLECTION. In your life where do you feel need for reconciliation?

Joseph's brothers have now returned home from Egypt with a repost of their traumatic experience. As the grain purchased on the first visit to Egypt runs out, Jacob and his sons face increasingly difficult decisions. Although our experience may be less traumatic, we can learn principles of reconciliation from this complex family situation. Read Genesis 43.

1. As the famine intensifies, what pressures does it put on Jacob and his sons (43:1-10)?

They all realized that if they didn't go back to get more food, then their entire family would starve. The boys said that they could have gone and returned twice by now. Jacob would need to compromise and allow Benjamin to go with them.

2. What impresses you about Jacob as he sends his sons off (43:11-14)?

He was a man of integrity and told them to bring double the money so that they could also pay for the original load of grain. Perhaps the money placed back in the sack was a mistake. Reputation and honesty were important in his life. He also instructed them to bring gifts (balm, honey, spices and myrrh, pistachio nuts, almonds). He asked for God's mercy so that the two brothers would return. It appears that he relented on Judah's need to sacrifice his sons if something happened to Benjamin.

3. Think of a difficult situation you are currently facing. How can you trust it to God Almighty, the one for whom nothing is impossible?

The current cultural wars going on between those of us who want to establish and/or keep Judeo-Christian ethics and values in our land vs. those who seek a more pagan, secular humanistic society that disregards God and His Word. Three examples are the immigration problem, the comparison of Muslim extremism with Christianity, and the homosexual agenda that not only wants to change traditional institutions originally established by God himself (marriage = 1 man + 1 woman), but want to spread their propaganda onto unsuspecting children in order to change their minds and indoctrinate them into a liberal-progressive mindset. I have found resistance from some Christians to speak out on this issue. They call born-again evangelical Christians "bigots" and "homophobes" just like the secular humanistic groups who promote gay-behavior as a positive, normal and desirable thing. Then, there are Christians who insist on keeping their heads in the sand and don't want to open their mouths. I confess. In the past, I was one of them! But my research on this part of our cultural war has led me to realize that we need to take action. If we don't, we may very well lose our rights of religious freedom of speech and freedom of association in this country! This is what I say about that:

As a pro-moralist, I declare that the word “homophobe” should officially have it’s meaning permanently changed to the following: 1. People who believe that steering kids away from homosexuality is compassionate; promoting it under the guise of “fighting hate” is tragic and cruel. 2. People who object to the schools forcibly exposing their children to harmful sex instruction that conflicts with their values. 3. People (especially parents) who recognize that their rights are being eroded, trivialized and targeted for destruction by homosexual militants. 4. People who believe that schools can teach civility toward all without teaching that homosexual behavior must be accepted as normal and healthy. 5. People who recognized and are alarmed by the fact that the “hate crimes” curriculum is a tool by homosexual activists to advance their agenda of recruiting children. GLSEN’s “sexual orientation” theory presented to children is a blatant attempt to persuade those who are sexually confused to try the homosexual lifestyle. 6. People who recognize that leftist education elitists have no right to indoctrinate children with their immoral political or social beliefs. We need to ensure that school is about academics – not about immoral beliefs. Gay activists know that by undermining the values taught by parents, the hearts and minds of children can be changed. Therefore subversion, not tolerance, is their goal. 7. People who know that, “ there are powerful and convincing scientific and social grounds supporting our position that homosexuality is a harmful lifestyle that gays and lesbians can leave if they choose,” as stated by Jeffrey Satinover M.D. in his book “Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth.” 8. Parents who discovered that some homosexual groups are leading the effort to lower or abolish “age of consent” laws which currently prohibit adults from having sex with children (pedophilia). This is what has developed over the years as a result of the now exposed fraudulent scientific basis of the 1953 Kinsey report. Did you know that in order for Kinsey to obtain his “data” nine pedophiles molested and raped children aged anywhere from infancy to age 10 for Kinsey, who, interpreted the tears, groans and violent cries from the children to be “sexual climaxes”? Yet, despite all of this disturbing information, taking a stand against the gay agenda in public schools can lead to public vilification. “If you protest,” says Brian Camenker of the Parents Rights Coalition of Massachusetts, “be prepared to be stone-walled and sneered by public officials, smeared in the press, and denounced as a hate-monger and a bigot by gay activists.” Yet what choice is left to parents but to fight? “We’re facing an incredible evil here. It chills you to the bone.” Says Camenker, an Orthodox Jew brought closer to his faith by this struggle. “The only way we’re not going to get run over is if people wake up to what’s happening to our children.” “These people are bullies,” he continues, “People are afraid of them, afraid of being called homophobes. I don’t enjoy this, but this is America, and I’m not going to run away.” I’m not going to run away either, Brian.

The fact that the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian-based legal organization (www.telladf.org) is representing legislators, ministries, family organizations, and individual citizens against the demand of the homosexual legal agenda and has 19 victories in the defense of preserving marriage in America exclusively as the union of one man and one woman, shows that God's grace is bestowed upon our nation when we take action! The ACLU and its allies seek to override the will of the people and the constitutional process by using activist courts to force same-sex "marriage" on the country. In many states, ADF attorney and their allies have made the crucial difference. This organization needs our continuing prayers and support!

4. In 43:15-25 how do the brothers interpret Joseph's intentions?

They were worried that Joseph may be setting a trap to attack and overpower them, seize them as slaves and take their donkeys. They spoke to the steward and explained when they found the silver placed back in their sacks. The steward acknowledged their God (not Egyptian ones) .

5. What insights into Joseph's character do you see in 43:26-34?

Even though Joseph outranked the Egyptians there in the room, he still followed the laws of the Egyptian system that didn't allow Hebrews and Egyptians to eat together. Foreigners and shephers were lower in rank than any Egyptian citizen, so they needed to eat separately, too. Joseph was so overwhelmed to see his brother Benjamin that he had to leave the room to weep alone. I noticed that his brothers bowed to him (as predicted in the dream) twice.

6. Read Genesis 44. What final strategy does Joseph devise, and how does it test the brothers' character and loyalty (44:1-17)?

Joseph gave them all their silver back in their sacks. He also put his silver cup in Benjamin's sack. He then sent his steward after them to ask why they have repaid good with evil. They even challenged the steward's argument by saying that if anyone did steal, he would die and the others will become slaves. They tore their clothes in grief when the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. Joseph only wanted Benjamin to remain with him.

7. What does Judah's attitude in 44:18-34 show about the changes that have taken place in him and his brothers since their betrayal of Joseph 23 years earlier?

In the past, Judah showed no regard for Joseph or his father. This man who sold Joseph into slavery has now offered to become a slave himself for the sake of his young brother. He was also willing to die for them. This shows that God can change even the most selfish heart.

8. Restoring a relationship fractured by injustice and injury requires repentance, confession and acceptance of responsibility for the consequences. In what way have you, like Joseph's brothers, been involved in such a process?

(see # 3)

9. Read Genesis 45:1-15. How does Joseph explain to his brothers the reason for his being sold into Egypt and the purpose of his sufferings?

He demonstrated that God used even their evil plans against Joseph for a future, greater good. God used the brothers evil actions and turned it for good. He sent Joseph ahead to preserve their lives, save Egypt, and prepare the way for the beginning of the nation of Israel. God is sovereign and his plans are not dictated by human actions. Notes: When others intend evil toward you (me), remember that they are only God's tools. As Joseph said to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (50:20).

10. How can this perspective toward your own suffering make it possible for you to forgive someone who has grievously hurt you?

Knowing that God can use other's evil intentions and actions to fulfill his ultimate plan allows me to trudge on ahead despite being called names and regarded as a right-wing fanatic!!

I count it all for joy!

James 1
1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

Trials and Temptations
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
9The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. 11For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Listening and Doing
19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

11. To what extent can Joseph's experience give us greater confidence in God's sovereignty over the events of our lives?

For me, the description of all that occurred in Joseph's life shows that God's sovereign Will supercedes any person, place or thing that might attempt to disrupt His eternal plans for our lives. There were times when Joseph kept quiet where he could have blurted out (to his brothers) the harm they did to him and then, with pride, held an "I reign over you" prideful attitude.

The change in Judah is significant, too. God uses both scenarios in both lives towards his ultimate Will.

Notes: Judah courageously defended himself and his brothers and pled for mercy. ANd he offered to put himself in Benjamin's place. There are times when we should be silent, but there are also times when we should speak up, even if there could be serious repercussions. (The Afghan man who converted from Islam to Christianity and faced death is a perfect example. He could have kept silent (or renounced his faith in Jesus) to save his life, instead, he boldly proclaimed his faith in Jesus Christ and was willing to suffer any of the consequences. Now that's bold faith!!

When faced with a situation that needs a strong voice and courageous action, remember Judah, and speak up.

Ask God to give you the will to forgive one person in your life who has hurt you.

Now or Later
What other attitudes and actions might Joseph have shown to his brothers? Reflect on his choice to forgive and see God's hand at work in the circumstances of his life.

Joseph Governs Egypt: Faithful Service Rewarded

Genesis 41-42

We often take a short-term view of the Christian life that concentrates on what God odes for us now. Yet God has long-range purposes that focus on what he wants to accomplish in us for the future.

GROUP DISCUSSION. In your life who has been a model of faithful service to God without visible reward?

My neighbor Christine LaFata. During the 6 1/2 years that I have known her, she has been active in many ministry efforts as well as individual evangelizing. She, her husband and several members of their Peru missionary team went to Peru and ministered to over 700 patients in a weeks time. That is 100 patients a day! She has also helped lead our other neighbor's father to Christ before his death 6 months ago. Sadly, the couple disapproved of her doing this and they now have a rift between them. Many other examples, too.

PERSONAL REFLECTION. Think of someone whose example has encouraged you in your service for God. Thank God for that person.

There are too many to name!

Through adversity and disappointment God has been developing Joseph's character and has given him invaluable training. Now a sudden crisis reveals what kind of person he has become. Read Genesis 41.

1. What were Pharaoh's dreams, and why did they trouble him (41:1-8)?

The ugly cows ate up the healthy ones and the thin, scorched grain swallowed the healthy, full heads of grain. Pharaoh was also troubled that the magicians could not interpret the dreams for him.

2. How is Joseph brought into the situation (41:9-16)?

The chief cupbearer told Pharaoh that Joseph had once interpreted dreams for him and the baker. They turned out just as he had predicted.

What impresses you about Joseph as he comes from prison to palace?

Joseph told Pharoah that he could not interpret the dream, but God can! Joseph knew from Whom the power to correctly interpret the dreams came from. He made sure that he gave the credit to God.

3. What do Joseph's interpretation of the dreams and his proposal demonstrate (41:17-36)?

Joseph was able to prepare a plan for survival to prevent starvation over the next 14 years. I liked how Joseph took the responsibility to plan and then implement the plan into action. When I read about such actions in the Bible, it encourages me to take action against the secular humanism that is attempting to rid our nation of Christianity. God does not give us a plan of action for nothing! He wants us to implement it too.
(Sopranos billboard discussion).

4. Describe the responsibilities Pharaoh gives Joseph in 41:37-49.

He gave him a new name and an Egyptian wife. Joseph became governor of Egypt. He collected huge quantities of grain during the abundance, and saved it for the time of famine.

5. In what ways had God prepared Joseph during these twelve years in Egypt?

Joseph learned the importance of serving God and others. He was once a slave, then prisoner, then rose to prominence in Egypt as governor. Joseph took undesirable positions in life and was able to use such training and experiences for serving God.

6. How can Joseph's experience help you hang on during a time of hardship when there is little reward or appreciation?

Knowing that God can use everything, and anything, in our lives as a training program for serving Him is what really matters most. Reward and appreciation from others for doing God's work belongs to Him anyway! He deserves the glory, honor and praise for it all!

A friend at my blog said this: Surrendering the spirit, soul and body to the Lordship of the Messiah is not possible by the power of the flesh. HE lives in us. "Christ in you, the hope of glory." (see COL 1:27).

7. What do you think the names of Joseph's two sons tell us about the contrast between his present situation and his arrival in Egypt?

Manasseh means, "It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household."
Ephraim means, "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."

Joseph's 11 years as an Egyptian slave and 2 years as a prisoner were not allowed for no purpose! God was preparing him for his current role as governor of Egypt and because of this, he saved an entire nation from starvation.

8. Read Genesis 42. Trace the events which lead Joseph's brothers into his presence and fultill his earlier dreams (42:1-11).

Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt and sent ten of the brothers to get some. They bowed down to Joseph and requested grain. Joseph pretended not to know them. They didn't recognize Joseph.

9. Why do you think Joseph accuses his brothers of being spies (42:12-20)?

In recalling his dream, Joseph accused them of being spies. He accused them of wanting to see where the land was unprotected.

10. Describe how the brothers react to Joseph's orders (42:21-24).

They related such punishment towards how they mistreated their brother, Joseph. They thought he was dead and his blood was upon their hands.

11. As they return home, how does their situation take a turn for the worse (42:25-38)?

They discover that the silver they paid for the grain was in the bag. Jacob feared that Benjamin would die like Joseph (presumably did) and Simeon did, so he wouldn't let them take the younger brother back to Egypt.

12. In what ways does Reuben's response to his father's despair show his willingness to shoulder family responsibility (42:37)?

He told Jacob that he could put both of his own sons to death if he didn't bring Benjamin back safely.

13. In what way has adversity or disappointment helped you become more mature in your responsibility to others?

It has helped me to trust in the Lord more than my own strength when dealing with difficult issues in life. We all experience such times of longsuffering, but God is always watching over us and we must trust him with all, because it all belongs to Him anyway!

Thank God that he is always watching over us.

Now or Later
Trace in your own life how you have seen God use a difficult assignment to prepare you for a later responsibility.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Slave & Prisoner: Performance Under Pressure

Lesson 21
Slave & Prisoner: Performance Under Pressure
Genesis 39-40

How do you react when you are treated unjustly? How do you feel when you do everything you can to serve God well, only to have the bottom drop out of your life?

I don't like it at all. However, I have found that when sharing the gospel with non-believers and encouraging people to repent of their sins, I should expect negative and harsh treatment. Jesus told us that this would be so. When bad things happen in my life, I need to step back and confess any sin in my life and try to find out what God is teaching me by allowing this in my life.

GROUP DISCUSSION. Share a time in your life when you felt you were treated unfairly.
When I was working for a grocery store chain in the HABA division. My immediate boss was an overbearing, mean and critical man! I was told that I wasn't working fast enough or efficiently enough and thus did not deserve overtime pay when I stayed later to get all the work done. My boss made me stay later to finish some of the work, but he craftily made sure that I didn't go over the 40 hr. work week maximum so I couldn't collect overtime pay. I found out much later that this was illegal, but I was so grateful that I could finally quit that job when I got married that I didn't bother pursuing legal action.

PERSONAL REFLECTION. What is your attitude toward people who believe unjust accusations about you?
I used to worry when I knew that people didn't like me for my personal expressions and speaking out about ideological, political, and/or moral reasons. But over time, I learned that I am living my life to an audience of One. What others think or say about my faith, walk with Christ, and adherence to Biblical principles and ethics doesn't really matter. What matters is what God thinks about me. Following His ways and Word in my life is more important than the popular opinions and moral relativism of those who want to live in a secular humanistic society.

Joseph faced unfair treatment after he became a slave in Egypt. His example of perseverance under pressure and the way he coped with a shattering reverse can be helpful to us in similar difficulties. Read Genesis 39.

1. What are the steps to Joseph's success when he comes to Potiphar's house (39:1-6)?

Joseph was blessed by the Lord in all that he did. Potiphar noticed this and put him in charge of all that he owned. Potiphar's household was blessed because of Joseph. Joseph was trusted by Potiphar.

2. Describe the increasing pressure Joseph now experiences (39:6-12).

Joseph was handsome and well-built. Potiphar's wife tried to tempt and pressure him into having sex with her. He refused even though she continued to tempt him each day.

3. What can we learn from the way he resists temptation?

Joseph had gained the trust of Potiphar and he didn't want to ruin that trust. He stated that doing what she wanted was a wicked thing and a sin against God. Despite the temptation, Joseph refused her advances and even avoided being anywhere near her.

4. How does Potiphar's wife put pressure on her husband to get revenge on Joseph (39:13-20)?

The day that she tried to trap him into being with her alone in the house, Joseph ran but left his cloak behind. Potiphar's wife used that cloak as evidence when she lied to Potiphar and claimed that Joseph tried to seduce her.

5. How do you suppose Joseph might feel about this second injustice?

Unfairly accused, sentenced to prison and without recourse because Potiphar isn't going to believe that his wife was a liar. He probably knew that he didn't have a chance to convince Potiphar that he was innocent of his wife's charges.

6. When you have been in a situation where you were treated unjustly, how did you feel about God's letting it happen?

At the time, I wasn't thinking that "God let this happen to me." But as a result, I was glad to be able to get out of a job that I disliked anyway. The unfair treatment of my superiors there was all the more reason to quit that job. When I returned from my honeymoon, a month later I found out I was pregnant. I found a temp job working in an income tax prep office and learned a lot about income tax preparation. This enabled me to do our own taxes for many years.

7. In what way does Joseph now seem different than when we saw him in his father's house?

He was more humble than when he lived at home with his father and brothers. The Lord continued to bless him and the warden of the prison put him in charge of the other prisoners.

8. As the chapter ends (39:20-23), how does Joseph's prison situation parallel his experience in Potiphar's house?

They were similar because both Potiphar and the prison warden saw that Joseph was trustworthy and blessed by the Lord. They both put him in charge of things.

9. Read Genesis 40. Describe the new situation in which Joseph now finds himself (40:1-8).

The king's cupbearer and baker were put in prison with him. Each had a dream but didn't know how to interpret them. Joseph told them that the interpretation of the dreams belong to God. He asked them to describe their dreams to him.

10. In 40:9-19 how do the dreams and Joseph's interpretations differ?

Since these men were trusted in preparing and tasting Pharoah's food, one of them must have been suspected of doing a serious wrong which threatened Pharaoh's life. Joseph's interpretation of the cupbearer's dream was favorable and led to his release, but the baker's dream led to the baker's execution.

11. What are the results for the cupbearer, the baker and Joseph (40:20-23)?

The cupbearer was released and restored to his original position, the baker was executed and Joseph was forgotten by the cupbearer so he stayed in prison for 2 years.

12. At this point how do you think Joseph feels?

He probably felt betrayed, once again, by this ungrateful and lying cupbearer. He may have wondered if he would ever get out to the prison, but he didn't dwell on this and continued to work hard for the warden. He kept a positive attitude and the warden noticed and promoted him to administrator at the prison.

13. What impresses you about Joseph in light of these incredible disappointments?

He didn't give up hope. Despite the unfair treatment by other people, he continued to trust and rely on God in his present circumstances. At this point, the odds of Joseph getting out of prison probably seemed hopeless. But he didn't let his current circumstances get him down or defeat his trust in the Lord. Joseph's faith was deep, even in trying, unfair and troubling situations. We find out later that God sees Joseph's good efforts and even though it appeared that it would take overwhelming odds to get out of prison, two years later Joseph got another chance.

How can Joseph's example encourage us?

Remember that deep faith can get us through even the most trying, unfair, and troubling situations. The lies and mistreatment of others should not get us down to the point where we don't trust God anymore. That is exactly what the enemy of our souls wants us to do. Instead, we are to trust in the Lord with all of our heart, mind and soul even when we don't understand why we are going through a terrible or trying time in life. We can say, "Lord, what are you trying to teach me in this?" or "Lord, what can I learn from this?" For me, I almost always find out why something happened the way it did...even though I may only realize the reason(s) much later in life.

Thank God for giving us the example of Joseph's life.

Now or Later
Think about unfair treatment you have had in your life and how Joseph's example of grace under pressure speaks to you.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Joseph & His Brothers: Pride & Prejudice

Genesis 37 - 38

We often see how children tend to duplicate the weaknesses as well as the strengths of their parents. This trait is as evident in Old Testament families as it is today.

GROUP DISCUSSION. What strengths and weaknesses have you experienced in your own family?

PERSONAL REFLECTION. How have the strengths and weaknesses of your family affected you?

Jacob suffered as a boy from parental favoritism. Now we see how he perpetuates this practice in his relationship with Joseph - with disastrous results. Read Genesis 37.

1. How would you describe family relationships at the outset of the story (37:1-4)?

2. What kind of boy does Joseph appear to be?

3. In 37:5-11 how are the symbols in Joseph's two dreams interpreted by his family?

4. What are the varied reactions of Joseph's brothers when they see him coming (37:12-22)?

5. How do you think Joseph feels as he overhears their conversation (37:23-27)?

6. What plan does Judah propose, and why does it appeal to his brothers (37:25-28)?

7. What various motives do you see in the way the brothers report the news of Joseph's disappearance to their father (37:29-35)?

8. To what extent are you involved in a family situation with some of these elements, and what can you do to relieve the tension?

9. Read Genesis 38. When Judah finds his lineage in jeopardy in spite of having three sons, what does he do about it (38:1-11)?

10. What strategy does Tamar work out to establish her status as matriarch of Judah's line (38:12-30)?

11. In what ways today do you see God working his purposes for good in spite of evil and tragedy?

12. How can these chapters encourage us to trust God in the midst of difficult circumstances?

Thank God for his long view in working out his plans in spite of our sins and failures.

Now or Later
Look at the parallels in the deceptions of Isaac by Jacob and of Jacob by his sons, and the results.