Monthly Archives: February 2013

Repentance or Realization? – Genesis 50

Joseph’s brothers had about 30 years to think about their horrific sin in selling him into slavery and lying to their father about his disappearance. Thirty years to be sorrowful. Thirty years to repent. They clearly realized they had done wrong:

Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us” (Gen 42:21).

However, realizing they had sinned and repenting of that sin are two entirely different things. If they were repentant, they would have told the truth to their father. Even after their father’s death, Joseph’s brothers continue to sin against Joseph and against God. They lie to Joseph (a new sin) in an effort to cover their backs for their previous sins:

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died, ‘Say to Joseph, Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father” (Genesis 50:15-17).

The brothers use their dead father as a ploy to manipulate Joseph into forgiving them. This is not repentance either. Telling someone to forgive you is not repentance. They are simply piling sin atop sin. So often, one sin leads to another. One lie has to be covered by another…and then another…and yet another.

Joseph provides an interesting and educational response:

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” (Genesis 50:19-21).

First, he recognizes evil for what it is. Sin is sin. Second, Joseph leaves the judgment of that sin to God. He does not seek revenge. Third, Joseph recognizes that God had a purpose in allowing that evil. God did not approve of it, but he allowed it to fulfill his greater purpose. Finally, Joseph was merciful. Joseph’s nieces and nephews were not responsible for the wickedness of their fathers.

So, there are lessons to be learned from both sides of this story. Hopefully we are more like Joseph than his brothers.

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No More Grumbling About 10 Percent – Genesis 47

As Christians, we are no obligation to give a tithe (10 percent) of our income. However, it is certainly a good place to at least start. I have to admit that I sometimes (internally) begrudge God that small fraction. I grumble. Maybe only in the hidden recesses of my mind, but still I grumble.

Over the weekend I was reading in Genesis chapter 47 when I came upon this:

And at the harvests you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.” And they said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.” So Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt, and it stands to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; the land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh’s (Gen 47:24-26).

The people were pleased (even grateful!) to be given the opportunity to offer up 20 percent to Pharaoh! That seems ridiculous until you remember that they were all starving to death when that offer was made to them by Joseph:

Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.” (Gen 47:19).

These people were more than willing to give Pharaoh 20 percent in exchange for food to keep them alive. Alive for how long? Perhaps a few decades? Maybe 100 years for their youngest children? They all were going to die eventually anyway.

Now compare that to giving God 10 percent in thanks for what he has given me? That is only one-half of what they had to give to Pharaoh. Not only has God given me every nanosecond of my earthly life, he has promised me eternal life with him in paradise! Yet, I grumble about returning 10 percent. I have never gone hungry – never once in my 44 years. Yet, I grumble.

God could, if he chooses, take it all away from me today. He has given it all to me, so he has the right to take it all back at any time. No questions asked. That is the prerogative of the sovereign king of the universe. I have already been blessed beyond measure, yet I grumble. I have the certain promises of infinite blessings to come, yet I grumble.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24).

Paul answers that question for me. And for you if you repent and put your faith in him.

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:25).

Thankfully, even my grumbling is forgiven and, joy of all joys:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

Amen and amen!



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No One Actually Means No One – John 1:18

No one has ever seen God (John 1:18).

If anyone is teaching that someone has seen the Father, they are teaching a lie. It makes no sense for people to proclaim that they believe the Bible and also believe that they or one of their prophets have seen the Father. The text of John is very clear here. There are no problems with translation or interpretation. No one has seen the Father. Not you. Not me. No one.


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Perhaps Today – 2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

God is definitely patient with us all, but there comes a day (perhaps today) when his divine patience will end for you. Upon your death (perhaps today), you will face his righteous judgment. If you have not had your sins forgiven in this life by repenting and putting your faith in Jesus Christ (do it today!), you will be without hope. There are no second chances. Perhaps today is your last chance.

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Who are your Elders? – 1 Timothy 5:17

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17).

There is an implicit assumption in this text that the elders of the church have people to rule over. Are you in a Bible-believing church regularly under the watchful eye of the pastor and elders? Do they know your name and what is going on in your life so they can shepherd you as part of their flock? If not (and you are physically able), why are you being disobedient to Christ who established his church on earth?

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Examine the Evidence – Galatians 3:11

Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11).

It really could not be more evident that we are sinners. No one who is honest with themselves can look at God’s 10 Commandments and say, “I am perfect. I keep God’s law perfectly.” Examine the evidence of your life and your thoughts. That evidence is damning. We have all the evidence we need of our sinfulness. We have all the evidence necessary to demonstrate our need for a Savior.

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Our Kneecaps Declare the Glory of God

Imagine if your auto mechanic told you, “Well, you see there are these two beams in your chassis that, over time, were supposed to weld themselves together. Yours never did, so we need to get under the car, drop the muffler, and weld those beams together.” You would look at your mechanic like he had totally lost his mind. Your car does not weld itself together.

Yesterday my teenage son had surgery on his left knee to remove a 2cm piece of bone that was causing him pain. As described to me, when we are born there are two bones that will eventually fuse together to form each of our patellas (kneecaps). In some people, like my eldest son, these bones never fuse. As I lay awake last night I was pondering the miracles that are my own kneecaps. My bones fused. Totally unknown to me. I did not have to make them fuse, tell them to fuse, or even be aware that they were ever not fused. It all happened because my body is a miraculous self-building, self-repairing factory of enormous complexity. At one point in my existence I was a single cell which contained all the information to eventually (but not too soon or too late) tell the bones of my kneecap to fuse together. Miraculous! And many of you now reading this are probably feeling your kneecaps to determine if your kneecaps have fused. Maybe, maybe not. Either way, you did not and cannot will it to happen.

Likewise the bones at the top of the skull of a newborn are not fused when they are born. Yet, they too will miraculously fuse without any intervention. If they fused too early, the birth might not be possible. If they never fuse, the brain is left dangerously exposed. Yet, countless millions of babies are born every year with unfused bones that allow them to pass down the birth canal. And in countless millions of young children these bones are in the slow process of fusing as your read this. Miraculous!

So, I did not sleep as much as I probably needed last night. But, I did get to ponder the greatness and glory of God…as revealed by my kneecaps. Praise Him!

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A Burning, but Frustratingly Silent, Bush

I have been slowly slogging through a truly terrible book called “Experiencing God” by the Blackabys and working on a review. The twisted logic used to justify getting revelation through subjective experiences makes me want to throw my Kindle against the wall.

For example, they use the example of Moses’ life stating,“The experience of Moses beautifully portrays how God works in a person’s life.”Unfortunately, by “a person” they mean every Christian. God specifically called Moses, spoke verbally to Moses often, and knew him “face to face” (Deut 34:10). And, very importantly, Moses foreshadowed the coming of Jesus (Deut 18:15). The life of Moses should point us to Jesus. But, to the Blackabys, the life of Moses should point us to the mirror.

If that was not bad enough, they make the leap that because God spoke to Moses, he will also “speak” to you. They do not want you to recognize that they are equivocating on the meaning of the word “speak”. For Moses, it was actual, audible words. Remember the burning bush? “God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’” (Exod 3:4). You, on the other hand, are supposed to see the signs in your life and magically decipher what God is speaking to you. They even have a cool diagram showing how this works. It seems so scientific, but it is nonsense.

So, in your life, if you see a burning bush, you will not hear God with your ears like Moses did. But according to the Blackabys, God is trying to communicate with you (just doing a very poor job of it, apparently). What is God trying to tell you through that burning bush? That you should call the fire department? That using fireworks in the forest in July is a bad idea? Perhaps, you should call up your old high school flame? Maybe God wants you to quit your job and become a missionary to the indigenous Bushmen in Namibia? Or was that in the Australian bush? Or Bush, Louisiana? It is so confusing!

Believe me, I understand the desire to get a clear direction from God as to what to do next in your life. I often want that too, but that is not how he has chosen to work in the world. If you want to be a missionary to Namibia and are qualified, go be one. If you want to call up that old high school flame, but you are currently married, then certainly that is not God’s will for your life – don’t do that! You do not need new revelation to know that is wrong. But, by all means call the fire department before that fire spreads. And next year, go watch the professionals set off the fireworks; even though God will not be speaking to you using bright, colorful lights in the sky. Most importantly, look to the Bible where God continues to speak clearly and unambiguously.

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Blessed Assurance – 1 John 5:18

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

I hope that you too have the comfort of truly knowing salvation in Jesus Christ and the assurance of eternal life with him.


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The Holy Spirit, He – John 15:26

If you believe in Jesus, then you must also believe what Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit.

When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me (John 15:26).

Jesus teaches that the Holy Spirit is a person, not a mysterious force, power, or energy. Jesus says that the Spirit is a ‘He’ who is sent and who will testify.

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