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Posts Tagged ‘gospel’

Joseph is a man who’s life bleeds character. Joseph’s story is one of abandonment, heartache, injustice, steadfastness, faith, and redemption.

You see, Joseph had a dream. Joseph was given a dream by God. He had no idea what it meant or how it would even come to fruition, but he had it. Joseph was also a punk kid who didn’t have very many hardships in the beginning of his life. He was the favorite child among his brothers. He was given much freedom and favor from his father. This made for some bitter brothers.

Joseph’s family had a different dream for him. It was not one of success or even joy.

Let me give you the big picture of Joseph’s life.

  • Assaulted by his brothers and abandoned for dead
  • Sold into slavery by those same family members
  • Framed for committing adultery with the wife of his boss, Potipher
  • Thrown into prison
  • Served as prison admin.
  • Forgotten by a man who could have freed him from his prison days.
  • Stayed in prison life for two full years after that hope
  • Went from prison administrator to right hand of pharaoh
  • Saved a nation from famine
  • Reconciled the broken relationships with the same family members who assaulted, abandoned, and sold him into slavery.

That is a ton of bumps in the road for Joseph. He knew deep grief and hurt. Joseph had times of believing in the false summit. Potipher was high up in the kings army, maybe that could be his way to the top? A cup bearer being reinstated to a job even closer to the king, could that be his way out?

God gave Joseph a dream. There was something just for him to do. Nothing about the road that got him to his dream was easy. Joseph never treated God like an easy-button God either. He never asked for an easier situation of circumstance. I am sure he might’ve had unrecorded words with God, but he never took control of his path. Joseph believed in the real summit. Joseph held strong to his dream. Not only did he hold strong to his dream, he held strong to the dream giver.

Everything Joseph did along his path cultivated his character. Everything he was in charge of equipped him for the greater dream.

John Maxwell described Joseph’s process as one “who paid the price of preparation.” He also stated that, “every time Joseph faced adversity, he used it to develop his character. Joseph was able to follow each setback with a comeback.

Joseph spent thirteen years cultivating his character before he was appointed right hand man to pharaoh. By that time his character showed that Joseph was not bitter about any of us unfortunate turns in the road and mistreatment’s. Joseph did not right his wrongs.

One important aspect about Joseph’s story for me is that when Joseph entered into his dream, he did not “arrive.” Joseph still depended on God. He still spent time cultivating his character. In the world’s eyes, Joseph obtained the top job. He made it. But it is in those moments where God will always point upward and say, “keep going, you’re not there yet.

Does your path resemble an unknown way that is cultivating your character?

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I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the stories of great decisions in the bible. I am sitting here shaking my head at how many people made the decision to give up life as they knew it for something completely unknown. For some, they didn’t even get to see anything that resembled what God asked them to do. Their fruit would be seen long after they had left.

Would I say yes to that? Would you?

Abraham believed God wanted to tell a story through him, so he packed up his family and all he had and left for a desolate land that only held the mirage of a dream.

Noah built a huge arc with the faith that what God wanted to say through him would come to fruition

Moses was on the run only to be asked to go back and take on Pharaoh to let thousands of his people go into freedom. He believed God was going to do something through him.

Job went through living hell, grief, abandonment, and loss for his faith. God had a story to tell through him that he would never sign up to tell for himself.

Hosea said yes to a life full of loss and betrayal from his wife all for the sake of a story being told through him.

The disciples walked away from everything known to follow and lead an unknown life.

Paul said yes to God telling His story through him. He abandoned life as he knew, and believed, it to be for the sake of God doing something with him.

Every one of our lives goes through the process of abandonment to get to a place where God wants to speak and act through us. Every one of us has to make the decision to leave something known to walk in faith towards something unknown and unpredictable.

The truth is that the life you really want will always take you down the road of abandonment. Sometimes that life is rich in pain, frustration, and question marks, but it’s still the story He is telling through you.

Abandonment is a scary word. It’s risky. It has no comforts, only hope.

It is one thing to say yes to abandon a life that needs it, but what about saying yes when it will mean hard and pain?

I can’t wrap my brain around those who said yes to God using their lives to tell a story they would never choose for themselves. Hosea’s life was just plain hard and heart wrenching. Mary said yes to potential scrutiny, shame, ridicule, and shunning. God asked to tell a story through them.

Would I? Would you?

Is your life a story God is telling that you would not choose to tell for yourself? Is He asking if you would be willing? Even if this story leads to hard and pain, would you be willing? If He wanted to tell a story through your life that was only to bear fruit after you were gone, would you do it? Are you living this way now?

Living out faith doesn’t always look like favor and bliss. It doesn’t always resemble “blessings” and good fruit. Sometimes faith looks like persevering in the midst of a sea of tears and question marks. Some stories bear the harsh contractions of waiting and being misunderstood.

Scripture says that “some people escaped the edge of the sword and some died by it,” but all are walking in faith.

Would I? Would you?

 

 

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Servanthood is one of those words that can ignite the groans of “oooh!” in unison. Service has been given a bad name in our culture. We associate service with something that will require forced effort. There is that fear that voicing a desire to serve will land you right into the volunteer position in the nursery. (No offense to those of you who are in the nursery and love it!) We can assoicate service with doing those things others do not not want to do.

In the past, we have assoicated service with those who are lower class; one labeled as servant. We have even lumped service into catagories of people like missionaries, church staff, volunteers, and those who are in service jobs.

What does service have to do with relationships and living a life following after Christ?

Jesus lived a life of service. His service was redefining life for everyone around him, all the time. Jesus was in the business of taking our concepts and blowing them right out of the water. Sometimes service looked more like a conscious effort for Jesus, but his whole life was lived out of service. Jesus made sure everyone he came into contact with walked away feeling more valued and loved. He walked and talked truth in a way that redefined life as everyone knew it.

One of the greatest examples of service came from the night Jesus washed his disciples feet. While there were conversations going on about popularity and requests for the greatest seat, Jesus silently grabbed a basin and towel. He stripped down to next to nothing and knelt down before his friends. One by one he washed the mud and grime from their feet. Silence must have hushed over the crowd in a hurry. What was their most popular master doing?

That night, Jesus redefined importance and value in a tangible way. That night, in a quiet upper room, the savior of the world, displayed one more way of laying down life for others. Jesus displayed humility in a way that no one would ever forget.

Service is about the heart. Service is what happens as the overflow of your heart from knowing who he is. You can’t help but spend yourself when getting to know who he is.

For Jesus, servanthood was never contingent upon who the other person was. Service is not only about giving to those you know who won’t hurt you, or even to those who can give back. Jesus washed Judas’ feet minutes before he walked out on him. Jesus washed all of his disciples feet even though hours later they would all desert him.

Jesus served because he knew who’s he was. That never changed. Service comes from knowing our identity is in him. Service is about giving grace, unconditional love, and risk.

John Maxwell states, “the insecure are into titles. The secure are into towels. Service has nothing to prove, nothing to lose, and nothing to hide.”

Service is the overflow of your heart as God gets a hold of you. It no longer looks like conscious effort, but life lived out. It can look like encouragement, listening, caring, sacrificing, loving, grace, forgiveness, and just giving you.

How will you serve today?

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It seems like I am all about some bittersweet moments lately. I don’t know if that is a sign of a softer heart for me, or just more of an awareness of my own messy heart.

It is bittersweet when I find myself in those times where the same bible story seems to be every where I go, and in every other sermon. It always takes about three times before I stop and wonder why I am hearing something on repeat. That particular topic seems to creep into conversations out of no where. Now I am just at the point of chuckling.

Right now I have a top three-topic list going on right now. Among those three is the topic of God as father.

I have been camped out in John for a while. In John chapter five, Jesus has just finished healing a man on the Sabbath. Leaders in the Jewish community were not happy with what Jesus was doing. Jesus stuns this Jewish group by referring to God as his father. The Jews were outraged by the fact that Jesus would claim to be God’s son. They were also mad because Jesus was considering himself equal to the father.

Every time I have read this passage, I have just glazed over these words. Not this time. I can’t shake the fact that I think Jesus was redefining yet another relationship aspect with God. Jesus was modeling an intimate label with God. Not only that, I think Jesus was telling us that it is okay for us to call God, father. God calls us his children.

This is a bittersweet statement for me. I am so thankful for a God who wants to be known by me as father, but I have no idea what the word father really means. I don’t have good associations at all with the word “father.” This statement from Jesus feels overwhelming to me. I desire to know God the way Jesus describes him to be, but this is a relationship I just do not get. My heart feels the weight of my loss

In the past there have been great glimpses of “father figures” for me. To be honest, at times, I get so ticked that I even had to have “father figures” in my life. It reminds of the loss of a father who should have been, well a lot of things. Nonetheless,  I have been blessed with great male mentors, counselors, and second homes. These are just glimpses. I still mourn the loss of knowing what father really means. I mourn understanding healthy intimacy from my father. I hate that.

I know God as provider, gracious, forgiver, savior, perfect love, leader, powerful, beautiful, and faithful. Father will always be a hard one for me.

My prayer has been for him to open my eyes to that side of who he is. I am praying for God to show himself as father to me.

How do you know God as father?



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Yesterday, I talked about settling for a fig tree kind of faith. The Gospel’s are full of faith resulting from seeing God by way of proof. To be honest, I don’t think that faith accompanied by proof is faith at all.

Jesus’ response to one of those “proof” situations was stating that we will see “greater things than these.

In just skimming through the gospel’s, I saw “greater things than these” just at a glance. Maybe it will fire you up too!

Just in the Gospel of John:

– Changes water into wine

– Causes a scene at the  temple

– Healing at the pool of Bethesda

– Healing an official’s son just by giving the word

– Feeding 5,000 people with a loaf of bread and two fishes

– Walking on water

– Heals a man born blind

– Takes on hard conversations from the Pharisee’s every other day

– Changed the whole outcast village of Samaria

– Raises Lazarus from the dead

– Washes his disciples feet

– Predicts his death

– Arrested, flogged, and crucified

– Three days later he rose

These are some seriously great things! Just at a glance! Imagine if you read the details behind these greater things. You just might experience the greater things of forgiveness, salvation, grace, his timing, boldness, courage, redemption, restoration, and love. Those are some great things.

Now imagine all the tabs God wants to make with your life…..

What are your greater things?

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I have referenced before that trust is hard for me. I am pretty skeptic when it comes to taking a step in faith. My first instinct is to protect myself. My logic assesses the situation and then weighs the trust level. This mentality makes faith hard for me. It would technically be called “controlled faith.

The gospel of John is my go-to book in the bible. When I want to read about Jesus, it is John’s perspective that I run too. When I want to read about God’s love, John is where I start. When I just want to be reminded of a man who believed and understood that God loved him, John is my boy.

I am always drawn to the faith of the first twelve disciples. I love reading about their questions, skepticism, and remarks, when they were first introduced to Jesus. I also like watching their responses shift to being blown away by Jesus.

Lately, I have been stuck on Nathaniel. Nathaniel was the brother of Philip. Nathaniel was a skeptic. His response to his brother’s claim of finding the Messiah reminds me of what I might have said. Nathaniel’s response was one of question and maybe of self protection.

What draws me into this story is how quickly the shift in trust and belief happens. Jesus takes Nathaniel’s skepticism head on. Jesus calls out Nathaniel in personality and truth. Jesus describes Nathaniel as, “one without deceit.” Nathaniel, I’m sure taken aback, responds with confusion. Jesus simply states, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.

It took one way of being known by Jesus. One thing shifted the faith of Nathaniel. Skeptisim melts to embrace. Protection changes to trust.

It took something tangible for Nathaniel to believe. Mind you it was not something big, but something. It took a fig tree kind of faith for Nathaniel to believe.

I started reading on and in the proceeding two chapters there are numerous stories of people believing after witnessing a miracle. People would also demand a miraculous sign before they would believe what Jesus was saying.

I had to ask myself, do I have fig tree faith? Do I only let down the walls of self-protection if I see something tangible regarding God? Do I settle for fig tree faith when God is telling me, “you will see greater things than these?

I want to believe in the God of “greater things.” I know my trust comes with proof. Where is the faith in that? Honestly, there is no faith. Faith happens when we are waiting in hope in the unseen. Faith believes in the not yet and hopes in the dream of some day. God is known in those places. Faith is the place of “greater things.

Are you settling for fig tree faith?

How are you hoping in the unknown?

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We have just entered the Lent season. Lent is marked with a time of remembering, through sacrifice, the great gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Lent lasts for a duration of forty days. Some people take this time to give up something they love such as: sweets, coffee, certain foods, Facebook, or just doing something that a person values the most.

Some people also add something to their routines. An example of this would be, adding more time to read, more silence in your day, praying a certain amount of time, studying a passage in scripture, the Luke challenge, or maybe some discipline.

Lent takes some adjusting to. The idea of Lent is to sacrifice something we love or adding something to our routine as a reminder of what Christ did for our lives. But this year I have realized something different. Christ came to give us “life and life to the full.” In order to experience life, there needs to be some sacrifice involved. Christ surrendered his whole life to gain all of life for us.

There is a direct correlation between sacrifice and experiencing life. Everytime I sacrifice something for lent, I am amazed by the things I crave. There is life to experience by putting our own self aside. Christ gave up everything and he gained life to the full.

This Lenten season, I don’t want to forget that life to the full is experienced through surrender and sacrifice.

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