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.
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.
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.
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.
(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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
14:52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from
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
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
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 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.
you take up stones to defend your tradition, let's look to the
scriptures to see what they say:
him Saul: Act 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a
voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
that created the world grow weary?
hangeth the world upon nothing; shall he who doth
this be unable to support his children?
be unfaithful to his word for want of power?
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
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
Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, [is] mount
Zion, [on] the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
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.