Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for September, 2011

Secret of a Successful Man

The story of Joseph in Genesis has a couple of themes that stand out:  faithfulness and forgiveness.  Forgiveness comes at the end, but faithfulness is woven throughout the story.  Joseph’s life in Egypt takes place in three scenes, and each is summarized by almost identical words.

As a household servant, in Potiphar’s house.  “The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered” (39:2).  His master noticed this so he trusted him implicitly and entrusted everything to him with two exceptions:  his food (v. 6) and his wife!  Joseph was faithful to that trust and refused to take advantage of his position, even though it cost him everything, landing him in the dungeon.

As a prisoner.  “The LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did” (39:23).  The warden noticed this and put him in charge of all the other prisoners.  Joseph was faithful to that trust, even through the disappointment of being forgotten by a fellow prisoner who promised to put in a good word for him when he was released.

As governor of all Egypt!  After God showed Joseph the meaning of the king’s dreams (41:16) and suggested a wise solution to the coming famine, the king said, “You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you.  Only I…will have a rank higher than yours” (41:39-40).

No matter what situation Joseph found himself in–
–God was with him – glorifying Himself, making him a blessing to others and preparing Joseph for the next step.
–He was faithful to God and served others to the best of his ever-increasing ability. 

What are my tasks today?  I invite God to be with me, ask Him to make me faithful, and beg for His blessing.

A Wild Week

I look at my calendar and laugh.  Last week was an amazing drama as the Lord has changed our plans more times than I can count, and yet keeping one step ahead of us the whole way. 

On Monday morning, we were returning from a visit with friends two hours from home.  On the way, a phone call directed us to go straight to the hospital where my father-in-law had been taken.

On Tuesday, elderly relatives we’d been planning to visit on Wednesday called to say they weren’t up to it.  So that was crossed off our calendar.  But we were needed to help with Dad for those two days.

On Wednesday, friends from over an hour away whom we’d invited for Thursday supper called to say they had been called to our town that day to attend to a dying relative, and could we get together Wednesday evening instead of Thursday?  Sure!  And we had a great time together.

On Thursday, we were to meet friends for lunch before taking Dad from the hospital to a nursing home for recuperation.  But early that morning our friends cancelled due to a busy schedule, leaving us with a clean slate for the day.  And what a wild day it was!   For fun, trace our adventure that day (a comedy compounded by the complexity of loading and unloading wheel chairs and a walker into and out of the car at each stage).

–Dad’s discharge from the hospital gets changed from afternoon to morning.  The next step will be a nursing home for a few days of therapy.  We stop at their apartment to pick up my mother-in-law (in a wheel chair) and head for the hospital.

–Nursing Home #1 (nearer home) has no vacancies, so we take him to Nursing Home #2.  Put his things in the drawers, answer questions and fill out papers for 45 minutes.  After they serve us lunch, we return to his new room. 

–Cellphone rings.  We are informed that there is now an opening at Nursing Home #1!  So we try to gather all the pieces and head for the door.

–On our way out the door, cellphone rings again and informs us that Nursing Home #1 can’t take us for another hour or so due to an activity in progress.

–We load up anyway and head for town and get an ice cream cone (in the car) Smile

–Finally we get to the nursing home and get settled without further ado!  Everyone is tired and yet tickled at the way that day unfolded. 

God, what do you have planned for me today?  Another lesson in flexibility?  I hope I’m learning!

Angels Visiting

An angelic visit could be a terrifying experience (as people like Mary, the shepherds, and the women coming to Jesus’ empty tomb can testify)—unless they came incognito. Two such visits occur in Genesis 18 and 19.

Three “strangers” visited Abraham (Genesis 18) to bring the long-awaited news that he would finally have the son God had promised him 24 years before.  This was a visit of blessing to a man who was known later as a “friend of God.”  No, he wasn’t perfect, but his heart was God-ward.

Two of those strangers proceeded on to visit Lot (Genesis 19) to bring a message of doom.  Everything would be taken away from him who had gravitated to the city of Sodom with its wealth, avant-garde lifestyle, and easy living (Genesis 13:5-13).  He was in the wrong place at the wrong time when God decided He’d had enough.  And though his family was forcibly ushered out of town by their angel escorts, the attraction and worldview of that place had made such an imprint on his wife and daughters that he “lost” them, too.  His wife turned back and was frozen forever in that pose, and his daughters, well….

Interestingly, Lot himself is given credit for being a “righteous man” who was distressed by the life of his townspeople (2 Peter 2:7-8).  When he protested their assault on his guests, notice their verbal attack:  They accused him of being judgmental, intolerant!  Hmmm—sound familiar? 

Walking with God

Two men in the first chapters of Genesis are said to have “walked with God”—but with differing outcomes.  Oh yes, both were approved by Him, but God’s plan for each was unique and remarkable.

Enoch “walked with God” and escaped death; God took him up to heaven just like that!  What a way to go!  He lived only 365 years–young in those days (Genesis 5:21-24).

Noah also “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).  But God had other plans for him, including preserving human and animal life for over a year on the ark while the earth was flooded.  He lived a normal (for then) lifespan of 350 years and became the ancestor of everyone on earth today.

So if I “walk with God,” what will my life be?  That’s up to Him. I may live long or be taken prematurely.  From a human perspective, I may be successful or ordinary.  Be that as it may, I want to live each day as He unfolds it, walk with Him and please Him. 

Playing with a Purpose

Every evening my husband and I enjoy a few rounds of the Internet game, Wordsplay.  It’s on the order of Boggle.  We compete with people around the world—maybe 50-100 of them at a time, depending on how many are playing.  Each player chooses a “name”—usually not their real one.  We are delighted when we see someone who calls themself “Phil 4:19” or “God is love.”  We’d love to know who they are,  where they live, and all the details of their lives.  They are our brothers and sisters in Christ who are anonymous to us for this time.

Winner

It’s been even more fun recently since we figured out how to join a team called “Jesus is Sovereign.”  Some of the others on this team are “Truth” and “Way” and “Thankful” as well as “Alex” and “Barbie.”   We call ourselves “Blest.”   Sometimes our team even comes out on top when our scores are all added together! 

Why do I love this game?

–Word games are a lot of fun, and maybe it will help prevent Alzheimer’s Smile.

–It’s a reminder that we’re part of God’s family spread all around the world. We look forward to meeting our teammates someday in heaven.  (If you’re one of them, please let me know!)

–We hope that the team name, “Jesus is Sovereign,” will be a witness to people who haven’t yet joined God’s Worldwide Team!

The Appeal and the Real Deal

This is the second in a two-part series on the temptation of Eve in Genesis 3. Last week’s posting dealt with Satan’s slick salesmanship. 

Now let’s look at Eve’s perspective.  What did she see (verse 6)?

–Physical appeal:  good for food.  (Hmm…Did Satan say “sinfully delicious”?)
–Aesthetic appeaI:  pleasing to the eye.
–Intellectual appeal: desirable for gaining wisdom.

When she ate it, did it live up to the advertisements?  What happened to her and her husband? 

Alienation
— from their own selves (They covered themselves.)
— from God (They hid from Him.)
— from one another (They blamed someone else for what they’d done.)
— from nature (“Cursed is the ground because of you..It will produce thorns and   thistles for you….)

And pain
–To the woman: “In pain you will bear children.” (Gen. 3:16)
–To the man:  “In pain you will eat food from the ground.”  (Gen. 3:17)

Now, was it worth it? 

Puny Humans vs. Sovereign God

I think God has a great sense of humor and has included lots more of it in the Bible than we ever see.  After reading Psalm 2 this morning, where God is laughing at those puny kings and leaders who shake their fist at him, I turned to Genesis 11.

Human leaders get together saying, “Come, let’s build a tower up to heaven and make a great name for ourselves—or else we might be scattered over the earth” (which is what God had commanded Noah’s descendants to do in Genesis 9:1). 

God says, “Come, let’s go down and see what those people are doing and confuse their language.” 

Man’s rebellions ambitions and God’s sovereign plans—which wins out?  God’s, of course!  I’m glad I’m on his side.

It’s All About Whom?

I’ve just begun to read through another new Bible.  This one will eventually be given (with my notes) to my grandson Josiah.  As I began in Genesis, this is the facet that caught my attention:

Before Adam and Eve sinned, they were other/outward focused—to God, to the work God had given them to do, and to each other.  There was harmony, communication, and cooperation—even with the earth, plants and animals. 

When Satan came to tempt Eve, it was “all about you” (or, from Eve’s perspective, “All about me!”):

The benefits touted by the tempter:

–“You will not die.”
–“Your eyes will be opened.”
–“You will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

In today’s words, “You deserve it!” 

Just one more thought about his promise, “You will be like God…”  Doesn’t it sound familiar?  Isn’t that ambition what got Satan kicked out of heaven in the first place?    (Isaiah 14:13-15)

It is true that we were made “in God’s likeness” in terms of moral, intellectual and relational capacities.   And we are urged to be like Jesus in the perfection of his character.  But we must not presume to think that we could ever approximate His wisdom, knowledge, sovereignty, and Wholly/Holy Other-ness!  That was the problem of Satan which he passed on to the human race, and we are suffering the consequences even today.

(More next time about Eve’s response and the results of her action.)

Corn in the Soybeans

“What are those corn plants doing in the soybean field?” I mused as we drove by. 

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Of course, I know that they’re “volunteers,” the product of seed from an earlier corn crop.  But I’m always looking for spiritual analogies in the physical world.  Could this be like my sin nature?  Supposedly my life is all made new and those things like selfishness, pettiness, negativeness and pride should be eradicated—right?  Well, to my chagrin they do pop up like those unwanted corn plants which no longer belong and which spoil the perfection of a soybean field.  I’m thankful that “If I confess my sin, [God] is faithful and just to forgive my sin and cleanse me….”       (1 John 1:9) 

Fellowship—more than food

What does “fellowship” really mean?  As I just read the book of 1 John again, this word jumped off the page several times at the beginning of the book.  In Christian circles, often this word is used for merely chatting together over food, as in the over-used phrase, “food, fun and fellowship.”

So I looked up the word on some online dictionaries.  Here is a typical definition(excluding those relating to academia which is an entirely different thing).  (The underlining is mine.)

1. a. The condition of sharing similar interests, ideals, or experiences, as by reason of 
         profession, religion, or nationality.
    b. The companionship of individuals in a congenial atmosphere and on equal terms.
2. A close association of friends or equals sharing similar interests.
3. Friendship; comradeship.

The underlined concepts are very helpful in understanding what John is saying in the following verses:
 
1:3  We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
 
1:6  So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness….
 
1:7  But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other…
This special relationship is with God and with God’s other children, our spiritual siblings and is based on the prerequisite of living “in the light.”
 
What are the interests, ideals and experiences we have in common with God? 
What are those we have in common with our spiritual siblings? 
 
 

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