Bible Study

Feb 2017
Greater Expectations

Tick, tick, tick…

The clock seems to spin as your life rushes onward. Needs arise. Difficulties need an answer. Problems need a defender. You have taken your cares to God in prayer. Now you wait and wait.

David knew about waiting. He was the baby of the family, so he was always waiting to do what his brothers did. He waited for God to make him king. He waited through the attacks of Saul. “Truly my soul waiteth upon God…my soul, wait thou upon God” (Psalm 62:1, 5). Some have erroneously claimed our trust in God is a blind faith—a leap in the dark. Not so with David. He gave reasons for his confidence. Twice David writes the refrain, “He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved” (v. 2, 6). He experienced, not once, but more than once “that power belongeth unto God” (v. 11). It is upon this God of all power David puts all his expectations. Don’t trust in oppression or robbery. If you are successful, don’t build your dreams upon your riches. Keep your expectations in God.

It seemed impossible for the Israelites to break free from Pharaoh’s grip. Keep your expectations in God.

They tried nine times without success! Keep your expectations in God.

They had their hopes dashed to pieces every time Pharaoh changed his mind. Keep your expectations in God.

They were frustrated each time Pharaoh compromised. Keep your expectations in God.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh…afterwards he will let you go hence” (Exodus 11:1). Four hundred years earlier, their deliverance, although arranged by God, was visibly procured by a gracious Pharaoh and Joseph. Now there was no hope in man. The people needed to trust only in God if they were to survive the wilderness trials and the occupational battles in the Promised Land.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11).

Feb 2017
Option C

Sometimes it’s simple, but other times it’s tricky. Whenever you last took a test, did you breathe a little easier when you saw it was multiple choice? However, maybe as you began to take the test, you realized it was not your ordinary multiple choice test. You had choice A, choice B, then somewhere down the list, there it lurked to paralyze your cerebral powers: “None of the Above.”

Pharaoh faced a test. The options were: A) Let God’s people go; B) Refuse and face judgment (Exodus 8:1-2). Pharaoh tries to pencil in his own option. It’s option C—Compromise. “Sacrifice to your God in the land” (8:25). “I will let you go…only ye shall not go very far away” (8:28). In future confrontations, he tries to mitigate disaster through compromise. God was not a game show host. With God, it was all or nothing.

In our own lives, we are constantly positioned to respond either A) All for God or B) Refuse and face consequences. Yet. we try to insert option C into the mix. We allow the circumstances to determine our action.

“But the children were really looking forward to it.”

“It’s only temporary.”

“I already paid for it; what a waste if we don’t go.”

On and on, we complicate the obvious answer with our imaginary option C. Anything other than complete devotion to God causes us to default to option B (which has the consequences). There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 16:25). Believer, you know better! Our refusal to stand upon principle places us in opposition to God. You cannot serve God and your corrupt desires for compromise. Moses will ask the fateful question in a few chapters, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” That’s option A and it’s the right answer. There is no option C.

Feb 2017
God Challenged

Are you vertically challenged? Maybe you’re mentally challenged? How about God challenged?

If you were raised believing anyone who sat on the throne was literally a god, wouldn’t you find it offensive to hear your slave’s God is ordering you around? When Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel,” for all he knows they have developed a new and improved God. No one had heard the name Jehovah until Moses heard it from the bush. So from one perspective, we could give Pharaoh a little room to receive this new development from Goshen. Obviously, the slaves had too much time on their hands if they are contriving this 2.0 version of their God. The name Jehovah was so new, God himself spoke to Moses and colored in the details. In Exodus 6, the Lord explains he is a personal (3), promise keeping (4), perceptive (5), powerful (6), possessive (7), and providing (8) God. This was a new revelation for everyone.

The clincher is what man does with the revelation from God. Pharaoh, surrounded by groveling magicians, never had anyone tell him what he needed to hear until he was already stiffened against God. As we know, this was his undoing.

In John 1, we learn of a new expression of God, the Word. All the mysterious conceptions of God were clearly tangible in the person, Jesus Christ, and he challenged everyone, “Take up your cross and follow me.” Just as Pharaoh had to choose his response, so every person must decide what they will do with God’s revelation. What complicates matters is, just like Pharaoh, we have been raised with the world’s message and our own natural delusion that we are gods. Normally it is not explicitly stated that way, but our preoccupation with our wants and ways is evidence we know the Lord as well as Pharaoh.

Do your actions mirror Pharaoh’s response? Are you challenging God by saying, “Who is the Lord?” You know how things turned out for Pharaoh. Whether people believe it our not, there will be a showdown, a God challenge if you will, where you either fear Him or face the consequences.

Are you God challenged?

Feb 2017
Listen to the Old Man

Would you like some advice? Do you think a 130 year old man (who has seen his share of blessing and betrayal; terror and triumph; wonder and worry) would have advice for you?

The last few chapters of Genesis focus on Jacob in a unique way. He has a lot of wisdom to offer, but the most important tip he has is in Genesis 47:9, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage…”

You probably were not expecting that to be the best tip from Jacob, but listen to what the old man is saying.

The children of Israel are about to experience privilege and blessing in the land of Egypt for more than a century because of Joseph’s wisdom. You can see the contrast between the Egyptians and the Israelites in Genesis 47. While the Egyptians run out of money, herds, lands, and freedom, the children of Israel are given food, herds, land, and freedom. While the Egyptians are becoming slaves of Pharaoh, the Israelites are earning favor. Yet, Jacob says it is all a pilgrimage. Do not grow attached!

It is a subtle insight into the mindset of this old man and he must have taught it to his children. It was not caught though. The children of Israel obviously enjoyed their choice position in Egypt too much for too long. It took a couple hundred years of slavery for God to eradicate the pleasure of Egypt from His people. Even with all the slavery and persecution, once God delivered His people from Egypt, it has been said, “God got his people out of Egypt, but getting Egypt out of his people was another story.” If only they had lived life as a pilgrimage! They would have been better for it. 

God’s blessing in this life is not designed so you can anchor yourself to this terra firma. The more you indulge yourself with the blessing of this life, the more indelibly its impression upon your identity. The more comfortable you become, the less delight you have for eternal things. Keep your eyes looking ahead for the greatest blessing. Like Jacob, see this life as a pilgrimage. “These…confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on this earth. For they…seek a country…a better country, that is, an heavenly” (Hebrews 11:13-16). This was the signature of those champions listed in Hebrews 11. They did not settle for the pleasantries of this life. They saw it as God’s blessing to accomplish His will through their lives. The promise given to Abraham was still echoing through their minds. 

“I will bless thee, and make thy name great…and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:2-3).

Take the advice of an old man. Live this life as a pilgrimage. Use God’s blessing now as a tool to bless others. Keep looking forward to the eternal blessing. 

Feb 2017
Too Much of a Good Thing?

Have you ever had that kind of day where everything went the wrong way? And it was so bad you finally said, “I can’t take it anymore!” Certainly, you have.

Have you ever had a day so full of good things and great news that you finally had to say, “I can’t take it anymore”? Jacob had that kind of day.

There are some sermons you hear in your life that forever echo in your mind whenever you reread a passage of Scripture. As a student, I sat under the teaching of one of the most joyful preachers I have ever known. Pastor Jim Schettler preached about the life of Joseph and especially these last chapters in Genesis. What I share with you today is my desire to forever record this wonderful sermon.

Joseph is a picture of Jesus Christ, and the tearful revelation of his identity sends the brothers off with an excitement unmatched. They rush home to Jacob with wagons and donkeys loaded. They burst into Jacob’s tent and share the news, “Joseph is living!” This spikes the old man’s heart, but there’s more. Not only was he living, he also was lord over all the land. But there’s more! Not only was he living and lord, he was loving. The reality of Joseph’s forgiveness was a glue that drew the family together unlike anything else. Not only was he living loving and lord, but he also was longing for them. He was preparing a place for them in Goshen—the choicest of places for them to live. Then Benjamin comes in loaded with all the extra clothes and money and exclaims, “He’s loaded!” Jacob has had all the good news he can handle. He can’t take anymore. The spirit of Jacob was revived.

As we see Christ in Joseph, you will notice he is alive. The most important announcement ever proclaimed, “He is not here, he is risen” (Luke 24:6). He is Lord of lords, and at his name, every knee shall bow and worship Christ (Philippians 2). he sincerely loves you and desires full pardon so you can be restored to Him. He is loaded with all blessings. Your God can supply all your needs according to his riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). What is most dear, he is longing for you. He is preparing a place for you so you can be with him in the best of the land forever and ever.

How’s that for good news?

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