Tell Pharaoh Thusly 


We’ll all familiar with the story of Joseph, how he was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, only to become a ruler in Egypt, and save his family from the famine of later years.

The ending of the story tells of a situation quite amusing on first reading.  Joseph carefully instructs his brothers, that when they are asked by Pharaoh, they are to claim they are cattlemen and not sheep herders, for shepherds are an abomination to the Egyptians. 

But as soon as the brothers appear before Pharaoh, they are quick to admit, contrary to their wise brother’s advice that they are sheep herders of long standing.  And not only that, but to aggravate the situation, they insist they need Egypt’s land for their flocks. 

These brethren never had the benefit of Paul’s sound instruction in Galatians about reaping and sowing, but they sure learned the lesson from their experience.  They were finished with lying and deceit, regardless of the consequences. 

Someone once said you can see a type of Christ over 125 different ways in Joseph.  But no matter the level of esteem we attach to a man, he’s still just a man.  Joseph was willing to lie to Pharaoh to protect this family, but his brothers would have none of it. 

The brothers laid the truth out, come what may, and God blessed them through Pharaoh for their honesty.  He gave them the best of the land, and made them to be rulers over his cattle. 

Gen 46:33   And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What [is] your occupation?

Gen 46:34   That ye shall say, Thy servants' trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, [and] also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd [is] an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Gen 47:1 Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they [are] in the land of Goshen

Gen 47:2   And he took some of his brethren, [even] five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh
Gen 47:3   And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What [is] your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants [are] shepherds, both we, [and] also our fathers

Gen 47:4   They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine [is] sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen

Gen 47:5   And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:
Gen 47:6   The land of Egypt [is] before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest [any] men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.

Dual (and Dueling) Nature

When we are born again (born from above, regenerated, given the circumcision without hands, etc.) our old Adamic sinful nature is not repaired. Rather, the new spirit, that which is born of God, is placed in beside the old nature. And now, a lifelong struggle begins. Our desire to do good is sometimes overcome by our old nature to sin.

Consider the rose. In it’s pre-bloom form, it is dangerous and has no beauty that we can see. There is no beauty in us when we are born naturally into this world. While the green leaves and stems may show promise of beauty and productiveness, it’s not assured. Later, the rose may bloom and show it’s beautiful fruit (blooms). Yet the beauty is only revealed in the fullness of time. The sharp, stabbing nature of the rose from before remains. It is both beautiful and fragrant, yet dangerous to handle.

Understanding the dual nature the born again child of God possesses helps us to understand what is going on in our lives, and guides us toward making better decisions. We can’t live sinless lives after conversion or our acknowledgement of God.

The Apostle Paul, whom I’m sure we would all agree was born again, knew this inward struggle and described it thusly:

Rom 7:13 ...But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Rom 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
Rom 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that [it is] good.
Rom 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

Strange Fire -

Does God Accept Our Excuses?

I’ve heard every good excuse for missing worship services – in fact, I’ve used most of them myself over the years.  Kids have a ball game scheduled Sunday pretty early (it happens).  Relatives came into town over the weekend.  Have to take or pick up someone from the airport.  Woke up angry, depressed, upset, tired.  Family reunion this afternoon.  Couldn’t get moving.  Weather looked like it could turn.  You get the idea. 

We always rationalize our absence with “God understands.”   And since we put so much emphasis on not judging one another, then the church should understand as well.  There are just some things more important than meeting on Sunday morning. 

Does God understand?  I read in the Old Testament about a worship service that was interrupted by Aaron’s two sons, placing strange fire on the altar and both of them being struck dead.  Moses instructs some relatives to carry the boys out so the service can continue. 

If anyone ever had an excuse to be away from church services, it was Aaron.  He had lost both his sons in an instant and was not allowed to grieve at all, but immediately was pressed into returning to his duties with God.

 How important is our reasonable service?  It sounds like God takes it pretty seriously. 

Is our excuse for missing services as good as Aaron's?

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

 Hbr 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

 Read the case of strange fire and the consequences in Leviticus, chapter 10.

Lev 10:1  And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. 

Naked in the World


Sometimes the obscure verses that appear out of place end up being the ones that hold much rich teaching.  The two verses below, in the Gospel of Mark fall into that category.  

Mar 14:51  And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about [his] naked [body]; and the young men laid hold on him: Mar 14:52   And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.

Perhaps this “story inside a story” is to teach us about the scapegoat – one who goes free while the other bears the sins… 

But when we examine some of the particulars and see the meaning of the linen cloth, it takes on greater significance.  

Rev 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 

Our righteousness is the righteousness of Christ.  It’s all we have.  And when we make the decision to depart from the church – from His righteousness and go back into the world, we truly are naked and exposed to our sin and depravity.  

Only with the linen, the righteousness of the saints – the covering of the Lord can we feel truly dressed while we continue in these mortal bodies. 

Hbr 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

A Saul by Any Other Name


Tradition is a terrible thing.  Jesus said it makes the word of God of none effect.  That's powerful.  One of our favorite traditions is to detail how Saul of Tarsus underwent a change so great on the road to Damascus his name couldn't even be used.  You know the details of that life-changing event.  And we always say Saul's name was changed on the road to Damascus. 


But it wasn't. 


Now before you take up stones to defend your tradition, let's look to the scriptures to see what they say:


Jesus calls him Saul:   Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?


The Holy Ghost calls him Saul:  Act 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.


Act 13:9 Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,


Ahh, there it is:  ALSO called Paul.  Paul was the Romanized version of Saul.  His name didn't change, we just get to hear the Latin version as he writes less and less to the Jews and more and more to the Gentiles. 


It's a minor point and we needn't quibble.  But we do want to present the facts and truth when we understand it.



The Consequences of Doctrine





All the Elect will Hear and Obey the Gospel



There is a doctrine in the world promoted by some that states all the elect will hear and obey the gospel at some point in their lifetime, and they further contend that those who hear and obey and later “fall away” were never really elect in the first place.




Here are some of the consequences of such a doctrine:


The doctrine maintains the elect WILL hear and by that hearing come into possession of eternal life.  While it is denied by those teaching it, in truth, that makes it little more than gospel regeneration for the elect. 


By implication, the gospel is more powerful than the life-giving voice of the Son of God.


Here are the certain consequences of this doctrinal stance:


a) If all the elect must hear, then events and circumstances must be ordained to orchestrate the preaching of the gospel to them that MUST hear.  How many steps until you are forced to accept the non-biblical doctrine of absolute predestination of all things?  


b) The elect cannot die naturally until they have heard (and in at least some small part, obeyed) the gospel.


c)  The need for organized missions becomes imperative.  


d) The support and financial requirements for these missions would also push an under-funded assembly towards a doctrine of tithing.


e)  Missions, money and attempting to preach the gospel to al the elect in all races, in all lands, in all time periods now create a situation where the job of salvation is on man’s efforts and you effectively have a works system.


e) When you have failed to reach the sinner with the gospel or he fails to respond accordingly to it, then you must judge him as non-elect by your very doctrine, and in so doing, have created a horrible situation wherein you are judging whether another’s name is in the lamb’s book of life.


The truth of the scriptures is clear.  The Lord knoweth them that are His.  He knew them before the foundation of the world, knew they would require redemption in this lifetime, and provided a way of salvation through His son.  Since he knows them from eternity past, and loved them while they were yet enemies, we know He alone can provide redemption, salvation, reconciliation and that none of it is by the preaching of the word.  He alone opens the ears to hear and grants eternal life.  The truth is some of the elect may live and die in this lifetime, secure in heaven, having never heard the name of Jesus Christ.



An Unworkable Theology


Popular religion makes an offer it cannot deliver, and offers it to those who can't receive it. It calls on those to believe the gospel who view it as foolishness, and requires those to accept Christ who hate Him. It urges them to meet conditions they cannot meet, in order to get what they do not want, so they can go where they don't want to go, in order to do what they have no intention of doing. It requires them to love what they hate and to hate what they love; to reject what they accept and to accept what they reject. How many people do you suppose would ever be saved from eternal woe and misery under such a system?

---Elder Ralph Harris

Spiritual Tweezers

Thorns in the flesh should be looked upon as opportunities for prayer, for spiritual growth and a fresh realization that the Lord's grace is all sufficient for whatever that thorn may be.
Thorns are the messengers of Satan reminding us of past sins, past and present failures. The devil seeks to stop us in our onward path of a spiritual life, just as a thorn would discomfort an otherwise pleasant walk. If left untreated, infection sets in and everything comes to a halt. This is the devil's aim. The Lord whispers sweet peace to us but Satan screams accusations. Of whom shall we listen? The point is: stop listening; stop considering; stop thinking and start praying. You need to hear your own voice in prayer to God and if you receive no answer, then keep praying. Paul prayed three times, Elijah prayed seven times, the poor widow wearied the unjust judge continually until he granted her request.
The devil transforms himself into an angel of light, he uses the Lord's name in vain, he will convince you this is God's will...but it is not God's will...if you feel the sting of a thorn then know that it is NOT the will of God. Our Lord speaks in a still small voice and one of comfort. He needs no thorns to present His view for His record is true. If the path before you is the path of righteousness, if it is one where your soul finds itself rejoicing, do not let the thorn in the flesh impede you. God's grace has already forgiven you. God's grace will strengthen you to make the trip. God’s grace has delivered you, is delivering you and will yet deliver you. Fears, bitterness, grudges, unreasonable guilt, lack of faith are all thorns but prayer will tweeze those thorns right out. And do not forget this: When you feel that all-sufficient grace of God, then move forward in confidence for the Lord has tried the way before you. He is walking right beside you and will carry you when you cannot walk. Believest thou this? You should because everything I just wrote is supported in the Word of God.

Elder David Montgomery


A Moment in History...

That a maker is required for anything that is made is a lesson Sir Isaac Newton was able to teach forcefully to an atheist-scientist friend of his. Sir Isaac had an accomplished artisan fashion for him a small scale model of our solar system which was to be put in a room in Newton’s home when completed. The assignment was finished and installed on a large table. The workman had done a very commendable job, simulating not only the various sizes of the planets and their relative proximities, but also so constructing the model that everything rotated and orbited when a crank was turned. It was an interesting, even fascinating work, as you can image, particularly to anyone schooled in the sciences.

Newton’s atheist-scientist friend came by for a visit. Seeing the model, he was naturally intrigued, and proceeded to examine it with undisguised admiration for the high quality of the workmanship. ‘My! What an exquisite thing this is!’ he exclaimed. ‘Who made it?’ Paying little attention to him, Sir Isaac answered, ‘Nobody.’

Stopping his inspection, the visitor turned and said: ‘Evidently you did not understand my question. I asked who made this." Newton, enjoying himself immensely no doubt, replied in a still more serious tone. ‘Nobody. What you see just happened to assume the form it now has.’ ‘You must think I am a fool!’ the visitor retorted heatedly, ‘Of course somebody made it, and he is a genius, and I would like to know who he is.’

Newton then spoke to his friend in a polite yet firm way: ‘This thing is but a puny imitation of a much grander system whose laws you know, and I am not able to convince you that this mere toy is without a designer and maker; yet you profess to believe that the great original from which the design is taken has come into being without either designer or maker! Now tell me by what sort of reasoning do you reach such an incongruous conclusion?’

Sir Isaac Newton Solar System Story (from the book: ‘The Truth: God or evolution?’ by Marshall and Sandra Hall, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI)


God has a strong reserve with which to discharge this engagement; for he is able to do all things. Believer, till thou canst drain dry the ocean of omnipotence, till thou canst break into pieces the towering mountains of almighty strength, thou never needest to fear.

Think not that the strength of man shall ever be able to overcome the power of God. Whilst the earth’s huge pillars stand, thou hast enough reason to abide firm in thy faith. The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply thee with daily strength.

While he is able to uphold the universe, dream not that he will prove unable to fulfil his own promises. Remember what he did in the days of old, in the former generations. Remember how he spake and it was done; how he commanded, and it stood fast.

Shall he that created the world grow weary?

He hangeth the world upon nothing; shall he who doth this be unable to support his children?

Shall he be unfaithful to his word for want of power?

Who is it that restrains the tempest? Doth not he ride upon the wings of the wind, and make the clouds his chariots, and hold the ocean in the hollow of his hand? How can he fail thee? When he has put such a faithful promise as this on record, wilt thou for a moment indulge the thought that he has outpromised himself, and gone beyond his power to fulfil?

Ah, no! Thou canst doubt no longer.

O thou who art my God and my strength, I can believe that this promise shall be fulfilled, for the boundless reservoir of thy grace can never be exhausted, and the overflowing storehouse of thy strength can never be emptied by thy friends or rifled by thine enemies.  Now let the feeble all be strong, And make Jehovah’s arm their song.


-- C H Spurgeon

  Psalms 48:2  

Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, [is] mount

Zion, [on] the sides of the north, the city of the great King.

The Weaver

My life is but a weaving

Between my God and me,

I do not choose the colors,

But He worketh steadily.

Oftimes He weaveth sorrow,

And I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the top,

While I, the underside.

Not till the loom is silent,

And the shuttles cease to fly

Will God unroll the canvas

And explain the reasons why.

But, the dark threads are as needful,

In the skillful weaver’s hand,

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern he has planned.