Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Death of a Dream

 Joseph's story. (Genesis 37)

 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors.
 And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.
 Here we see that things were less than perfect for Joseph at home. I mean, having ten older brothers hating you, and never being nice isn't the ideal life, right? Add to that, he had a little brother that hated him as well.  His only consolation was that his father loved him a great deal at least - even if everyone else hated him. But even that couldn't change the fact that being hated by family is hard to live with.

 Think about it - If you were in his position, would you not wish for a way out? Would you not wish for things to be different? Of anyone, he had an excuse to be discontent.

 And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.
 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:
 For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
 And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
 He had this dream where things were better. Maybe he didn't fully understand the dream... but his brothers showed him respect in his dream, and that was a little ray of hope, a bright spot for him.  You know when something happens that hurts, and you can't do a thing about it - then something comes along, like a dream, and it gets you excited; you can't help but tell someone.  He did that... and was hated worse for it.  Imagine the let down that would have been.

 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. 
 Here he had another dream, nearly the same thing... surely this is from God! Surely this means something... the second is confirmation of the first.  He believes it is of God, and it does mean something - so he tells the others....

 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
 What a let down! Now his own father - the only one that loves him - is on to him for his dreams!  Talk about squelching what little hope he had.

 And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.
 Now they actually believe it... but they're still angry with him.

 And his brethren went to feed their father's flock in Shechem. 
 And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.
 And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. Se he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.
 The astounding thing here... his brothers hate him: They never can say anything nice to him, they've already killed a whole city because they got upset about something, and now they're angry with him... and he willingly presents himself as a messenger to them?  That takes nerve.  Or, maybe it takes trust... in the God of his fathers.

 And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou? 
 And he said, I seek my brethren: tell me, I pray thee, where they feed their flocks.
 And the man said, They are departed hence; for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brethren, and found them in Dothan. 
 Here he displays courage, and faithfulness like few would. How easy would it have been for him to go home and say he couldn't find them?  They hated him. Why would he want to go find them?  But no, he remained faithful to the task his father gave him, and went the extra mile (or five) to do the errand he was sent to do, no matter how unpleasant it had the potential of being.

 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. 
 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. 
 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. 
 Ah, and here we have mans wickedness coming to the surface.  These guys heard the dreams Joseph had, and while they hated him, they knew these dreams meant something, and they believed them. So their solution to the "problem" - to keep from having to humble themselves and bow to their little brother - was to step in, take matters in their own hands, and try to thwart what God had planned.  That was their first mistake... and one that would cost them a great deal.

 And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. 
 And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.
 Reuben was the only one that spoke against killing him.  According to the verses prior to this, he also hated Joseph.
 Reuben, of all of them, had the most reason to hate him.
 You see, Reuben was the first born. He held the birth right.  Because Joseph was Jacob's favorite, he was given things the rest of them never got - things that Reuben had a right to.
 It would have been perfectly natural, and expected, for Reuben's voice to have been the loudest in saying to kill Joseph.  Why is he the one that said not to kill him?   One word. Providence.

 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors that was on him; 
 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.
 Joseph - who could have gone back to Jacob and said he couldn't find his brothers, and been perfectly justified, because he had done what was asked of him - choose to go the extra mile to find out how his brothers were to tell his father; because although most all of them had done things that greatly displeased their father, and brought a stigma on him, and although Joseph was his favorite, and they all hated him... Jacob still loved them. He still cared how they got along with their work, and if they were alright.  Joseph choose to go alone among those who hated him, because he loved his father, and wanted to ease his mind about the others.    Because he made this choice, he was humiliated, and treated badly.   He came to harm, knowing full well that could happen... because he loved and honored his father.   How many of us would go into potential danger for someone we love?
 And keep in mind - had his brothers killed him, as he knew they could have, his dreams wouldn't have come true.  By obeying his father, and going the extra mile - out of love - he risked not having his dreams fulfilled.

 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. 
 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? 
 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. 
 They decide to sell him, and maybe rather than bring tons of guilt on themselves, they'll be rid of him while getting some profit by not committing the sin they originally intended... but they still persist in their sin.   But for the grace of God, they would have messed things up royally.  But God is all powerful, and merciful. He took even this, their greatest sin, that they meant for harm, and used it for good in spite of them.   And - He is the God of yesterday, today, and forever - He uses even our worst faults and sins for His purpose and the good of His Kingdom.

 Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.

 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard.

 Joseph went from being the favorite of a wealthy father - where there was a remote possibility of his dreams coming true - to being a slave in a foreign country, where it was impossible for his dreams to come true...
 As a slave in Egypt he would never see his family again. There was no way for the dreams to happen without the people that were in them there; and slavery is for life - there was no chance of it happening in the future.

 He was a slave, then a prisoner, for thirteen years... how many times in those thirteen years did he ask God "Why did you give me the dream/promise, if you never intended for it to happen?"   But as Isaiah 55:9 says... For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  God had other plans.

 It wasn't until twenty years after the death of his dream, that he saw the fulfillment of it.

 Joseph had to die to those dreams (and dreams die hard) before God could do His greatest work.   And in the fulfillment of those dreams, the line of the Messiah was preserved.  Joseph never got to see the Messiah come - but God rewarded him for his faithfulness. You know how?   When Jacob blessed his sons before his passing... he gave Joseph the double portion.  Joseph was given a double inheritance.

 We can trust God with our all - because often times the death of a dream is the birth of a work so far above our understanding... but so much better than anything we could imagine. No matter how long it takes Him to do the work - it's worth the wait.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

What Love Is - A Study of 1 Corinthians 13

    In this world of sin and lawlessness, we have little to no understanding of what love really is. Everyone has an idea of what love means to them, but seldom do you find real love, as portrayed in the Bible.

In order to truly understand love we must turn to the Bible where we find it’s source - it’s beginning and it’s meaning.

1 Corinthians 12:4-5 and 31
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
    1 Corinthians 13 then tells us what love is, and what it does.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
    Fine speech without love is like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal - a loud noise.  We listen to speakers, and often can tell their motives by their speech.  When we can speak very well it can become a point of pride for us, where we think of gaining glory for ourselves by our fine speech. We’re not seen as loving. Our pride speaks louder than our words. We are as a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal.  
     When we use our gift of excellent speech as a way to minister to others - not thinking of ourselves, but the good of others - we’re said to be loving.  Why is that? Because love is not selfish.

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
    Prophecy, understanding mysteries, knowing a lot, and having faith enough to move mountains - without love, becomes a point of pride - or selfishness .  As we know from Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” and we then come to nothing,  and when things are done out of pride rather than love, they don’t do good for anyone else either.

 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
    Again, providing for the poor can become a point of pride. Giving our bodies to be burned, when not done out of love for God or others, is utterly useless - it’s of no profit to us or anyone else.

    To love is to keep the commandments, which is possible only when actively seeking the Kingdom.
1 John 5:3
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.
Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Matthew 5:19
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

    What then is love, if it is of such importance?

    In this passage we simply learn what love is. Love for God and love for our neighbor is defined the same - If we love God, we will love our neighbor.  

Charity suffereth long, and is kind ; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Suffereth (3114 G) long (3114 G) = Is forbearing, patient, long-spirited, patiently endures.
Patience = (Websters 1828) To suffer. The primary sense is continuance, holding out, from extending.
The suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. Patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from Christian submission to the divine will.
A calm temper which bears evils without murmuring or discontent.
The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.
Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.
The quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge.
Is kind = (Websters 1828) Good will; benevolence; that temper or disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants or alleviating their distresses; benignity of nature. Kindness ever accompanies love.
Act of good will; beneficence; any act of benevolence which promotes the happiness or welfare of others. Charity, hospitality, attentions to the wants of others, ect., are deemed acts of kindness, or kindnesses.
Envieth not  = (Websters 1828) Pain, uneasiness, mortification or discontent excited by the sight of another’s superiority or success, accompanied with some degree of hatred or malignity, and often or usually with a desire or an effort to depreciate the person, and with pleasure in seeing him depressed.  Envy springs from pride, ambition or love, mortified that another has obtained what one has a strong desire to possess.
Rivalry; competition.
Malice; malignity.
Public odium; ill repute; invidiousness.
Invidiousness = The quality of provoking envy or hatred.
Vaunteth (4068 G) not itself = Doesn’t brag.
Is not puffed up = Isn’t prideful.

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Unseemly  (Websters 1828) = Not fit or becoming; uncomely; unbecoming; indecent.
Seeketh (2212 G) not her own (1438 G) = Doesn’t worship, plot against, desire nor require means for self.
Is not easily provoked  (Websters 1828) = Excited; roused; incited; made angry; incensed.
Thinketh (3049 G) no evil = Doesn’t invent, or keep inventory of evil. Doesn’t despise. Doesn’t suppose, impute or think on, evil. Doesn’t think worthless thoughts.

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Iniquity (93 G) = Injustice. Moral wrongfulness of character, life, or act. Unrighteousness. Wrong.
Truth (Websters 1828) = Conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is, or has been, or shall be. The truth of history constitutes its whole value. We rely on the truth of the scriptural prophecies.
True state of facts or things. The duty of a court of justice is to discover the truth. Witnesses are sworn to declare the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Conformity of words to thoughts, which is called moral truth.
Veracity; purity from falsehood; practice of speaking truth; habitual disposition to speak truth; as when we say, a man is a man of truth.
Correct opinion.
Fidelity; constancy.
Honesty; virtue.
Exactness; conformity to rule.
Real fact or just principle; real state of things.  There are innumerable truths with which we are not acquainted.
The truth of God, is His veracity and faithfulness. Or His revealed will.
Jesus Christ is called the truth.
It is sometimes used by way of concession.

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Beareth (Websters 1828)  all things = To support’ to sustain; as, to bear a weight or burden.
To carry; to convey; to support and remove from place to place; as, “they bear him upon the shoulder;” “the eagle beareth them on her wings.”
To wear; to bear as a mark of authority or distinction; as, to bear a sword, a badge, a name, to bear arms in a coat.
To support or sustain without sinking or yielding; to endure; as, a man can bear severe pain or calamity; or to sustain with proportionate strength, and without injury; as, a man may bear stronger food or drink.
To entertain; to carry in the mind; as, to bear a great love for a friend; to bear inveterate hatred to gaming.
To suffer; to undergo; as, to bear punishment.
To suffer without resentment, or interference to prevent; to have patience; as, to bear neglect or indignities.
To admit or be capable of; that is, to suffer or sustain without violence, injury, or change; as, to give words the most favorable interpretation they will bear.
To bring forth or produce, as the fruit of plants, or the young of animals; as, to bear apples; to bear children.
To possess and use as power; to exercise; as, to bear sway.
To gain or win.
To sustain the effect, or be answerable for; as, to bear the blame.
To be the object of.
To behave; to act in any character; as, “hath he borne himself penitent?”
To remove, or to endure the effects of; and hence to give satisfaction for.
Believeth (Websters 1828) all things = To credit upon the authority or testimony of another; to be persuaded of the truth of something upon the declaration of another, or upon evidence furnished by reasons, arguments, and deductions of the mind, or by other circumstances, than personal knowledge.  
When we believe the authority of another, we always put confidence in his veracity. When we believe upon the authority of reasoning, arguments, or a concurrence of facts and circumstances, we rest our conclusions upon their strength or probability, their agreement with our own experience, &c.
To expect or hope with confidence; to trust.
Hopeth (Websters 1828) all things  = A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.  Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it.  Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.
Confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good; as a hope founded on God’s gracious promises; a scriptural sense.
That which gives hope; he or that which furnishes ground of expectation, or promises desired good.  The hope of Israel is the Messiah.
An opinion or belief not amounting to certainty, but grounded on substantial evidence. The Christian indulges a hope, that his sins are pardoned.
To cherish a desire of good, with some expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.
To place confidence in; to trust in with confident expectation of good.
Endureth (5278 G) all things = Stays under. Remains. Will undergo. Bears trials. Has fortitude. Perseveres. Abides. Has patience. Will stay behind.

Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
Never faileth (1601 G) = Never drops away. Is never driven out of course. Doesn’t become inefficient, or ineffective. Cannot be cast off.

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
    Prophecy, fine speech and knowledge without love will all one day be gone. Love is what makes all those things of any importance, and what makes them last.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Childish (Websters 1828) = Belonging to a child; trifling; puerile.
Pertaining to a child; as childish years or age; childish sports
Pertaining to children; ignorant; silly; weak; as childish fear.
Puerile = Boyish; childish; trifling; as a puerile amusement.
    Being foolish, silly and weak Christians is shirking our duty to be responsible, mature, sons of God.  We cannot be mature and responsible without knowledge of God and His ways.  If we aren’t responsible, we can’t truly love others as God tells us to

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
    We can’t know, or see things perfectly here on earth. We will see our own faults, as well as those of others; but with God’s help we can know how to act in love, and be a minister of Christ to others.

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Isaiah 40:28
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding.
    Love abides - is lasting - because God is everlasting, and He is love.
1 John 4:8
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.