Thursday, December 8, 2016

Spiritual Fitness Lesson 8 Pearl Harbor Day


Today is the 75th Anniversary of the surprise attack of the Japanese Navy on the United States of America at Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, the “Sleeping Giant” was awakened in the spirit of Americans and drew hearts and lives into action. We aggressively positioned ourselves in every theater of conflict ongoing in World War II. The insertion of US Forces brought about a turn in the Allied efforts on every front ultimately leading to victory over every enemy in the Pacific, Europe and throughout the world.

The overall cost was great but not greater than the cost of doing nothing in such a critical time of need. That sleepy Sunday morning brought a temporary tactical victory to the Japanese which did not last long nor serve them or their people well in the end.

Just before 8 am on December 7, 1941, the first of what would be hundreds of Japanese war planes began dropping bombs in a barrage that lasted 2 hours. By 10am the Japanese had managed to destroy nearly 20 American naval vessels, including 8 enormous battleships, and more than 300 airplanes. The casualty list includes 2,335 servicemen and 68 civilians killed, with 1,178 wounded. Included are 1,104 men aboard the Battleship USS Arizona killed after a 1,760-pound air bomb penetrated into the forward magazine causing catastrophic explosions.

The following day American President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan and 3 days later the US Congress also declared war on Germany, Italy and the Axis of evil.

WWII ended more than 12,000,000 casualties later with VE Day on May 8, 1945 followed by VJ Day on September 2 of that same year. It’s hard to discriminate when it comes the value lives and the pain of war but one can imagine that the Japanese people suffered the most and have suffered the longest since that ill fated morning of December 7, 1941, now 75 years past, “A day which will live in infamy.” This thought is born from the immediate devastation and the lasting plague experienced by the Japanese as a result of America dropping the 2 atomic bombs, one on Hiroshima on August 6 and the other on Nagasaki on August 9. This was the first time the world had witnessed such total devastation unleashed on a civilian population. It broke the will of the Japanese to continue fighting.

One might well imagine it would have been better to have left the sleeping giant alone. However, German forces under the crazed leadership of the demented Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler, were very close to deploying their newly developed atomic bomb against Great Britain and on to America. Without those brave men and women who gave their lives in the Allied efforts to stop these brutal sadistic aggressors bent on genocide and world domination, we would all be speaking either German or Japanese today from our modern day concentration camps until we became of no further use to the state and then euthanized.

It is always better to wake up, stand up, suit up and show up to the tasks at hand than it is to sleepily allow others to defend the freedoms which if lost will lead to our total ruin. To none do we owe our proud American heritage more than to those who stood their ground and gave their lives on that December morning 75 years now past. God bless their memory and God bless America!  

Spiritual Fitness Continued:

God will prepare you, position you and give you great potential. However like Joseph, Your greatest day will not come before you face and pass your greatest tests!

Catching up on the story of Joseph we understand that Joseph was 30 years old when he was brought to Pharaoh and set over the land of Egypt. By the time the story gets to Genesis 42, the first part of Pharaoh’s dream had been fulfilled. The seven years of plenty have come and gone and now the whole Middle East was in its second year of severe famine.

Joseph is 38 years old with a wife and two children. He has not seen his father or heard from his brothers for the last 25 years. His plan is working and he is in complete control of all the food supplies in the known world. God spent years preparing Joseph and positioning him for his greatest day. However, Joseph’s greatest day would not come before Joseph faced and passed his greatest tests.

Many times it is not the outward physical hardships which provide our greatest tests in life but rather those inner struggles we face with hurt, betrayal, fears and those feelings that we’ve been done wrong which we all face from time to time. However:
·        We never stop our pain by causing pain to others.
·        Hurting others will not help you.
·        Your victory is not always in the defeat of your enemies.

Joseph would find these things out as he exercised himself in godliness. Let’s learn some new spiritual exercises as we pick up on our story in

Genesis 41
53 Then the seven years of plenty which were in the land of Egypt ended,
54 and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. The famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

Meanwhile, back in the land of Canaan, in the town of Beersheba , which is only 25 miles east of what is now the Gaza strip in Southern Israel and only 30 miles northeast of the Egyptian border, Joseph’s family was also affected by the famine. Jacob, now 130 years old with seventy mouths to feed, heard that there was grain in Egypt. Jacob was a wealthy man and he decided to send his ten oldest sons to Pharaoh’s court to buy grain. The story continues in:

Genesis 42
1 ¶ When Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, "Why do you look at one another?"
2 And he said, "Indeed I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down to that place and buy for us there, that we may live and not die."
3 So Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt.

5 And the sons of Israel went to buy grain among those who journeyed, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6 Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth.

Our first spiritual exercise for week eight is demonstrated through the life of Joseph who, although he was a great ruler and had many servants and assistants, nonetheless he remained:

1. Attentive

Attentive is simply described as the art of paying attention.

* Joseph was involved and up to date with what was going on under his command.
* Joseph was on the job, managing the most important affairs himself.
* There are some things which will only work for you.
* God demands that we participate in our miracles
* Your greatest day will demand your attentive involvement

If Joseph had been accustomed to sleeping late, playing games or shopping during his work days, looking for a new chariot or bigger palace when he should have been on the job, chances are he would have missed his brothers coming to buy grain in the crowd that day.

Chances are that Joseph could have missed the fulfillment of the first dream God gave him … his brothers bowing down to him.

However, Joseph was a man who exercised himself in diligent pursuit of earnest and honest labor. He gave an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Joseph remained attentive to those things he was responsible for. Joseph never got too rich to pay attention.

Exercise number two for week eight:

2. Restraint

Genesis 42: 8 So Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.

* Joseph had changed, his brothers evidently had not
* A life in God’s hands is a changing life --- you may not realize it day by day but wait 20 years and see what a difference He makes.
* Joseph knew their language and culture; they did not know his … Joseph’s life had moved on while their lives had not
* Joseph wanted to find out information, gain wisdom and insight for himself and he chose to not reveal information about himself at this point
* To keep the truth to one’s self is not a lie

We need to train ourselves to listen and learn instead of telling everything we know at the first opportunity we are given. There is an art and wisdom in holding your tongue and in being swift to hear and slow to speak.

Joseph did not have the habit of telling everything he knew. He restrained himself even in emotionally stressful moments.

Proverbs 25:28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.

Both God’s Word and our own common sense demand that we exercise self control and learn some self restraint so that we can act and not react to the pressures and surprises of life. Don’t show your hand before your opponent places his bet, especially if you have a winning hand … RESTRAIN YOURSELF!

Exercise number three deals with the:

3. Struggle

Genesis 42:7 ¶ Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he acted as a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them. Then he said to them, "Where do you come from?" And they said, "From the land of Canaan to buy food."

With the re-introduction of Joseph’s brothers into his life, Joseph enters into an evident season of inner turmoil and conflict of the soul. Over the next few encounters with his brothers Joseph seems to be wrestling with what he will do.

It is not immediately clear what the end will be. I believe that Joseph was struggling with feelings of betrayal and temptations to get revenge. Perhaps these were feelings which had been hidden for some years, almost forgotten, buried with the pain of the past and now, facing his brothers, the hurt of those lost years is brought to the surface in Joseph’s life. He can’t hide any longer … he will have to face the feelings and decide what to do.

* Struggle is often a necessary part of the process of life.
* Jacob his father had struggled with the angel to have his name and nature changed from someone who follows on another’s heels to a prince with God.
* Jacob’s struggle left him with an evident limp due to the angel disjointing Jacob’s hip. (Genesis 32)

That’s what happens when we wrestle with God, struggle with our greatest tests ... the tests which have potential to change our name, change our nature and prove us before God. We too are often left walking with a limp. Once we see our humanity in light of God’s greater plan we can finally deal a death blow to our own pride and ambition and give our life over to the will of God … it’s surrender.

* Peter did it with denying Christ and then his subsequent struggle and repentance;
* David did it with his greatest test after he had taken Bathsheba and murdered Uriah … he surrendered to God
* Moses did it after killing Pharaoh’s servant and hiding in the desert for 40 years … he struggled and he surrendered
* Jesus did it in the Garden of Gethsemane;
* And Joseph did it when he saw his brothers bowing before him …

What did they do? They struggled and wrestled with their hurts, fears and desires and finally came to the conclusion that God’s way was the only way for them. Each one walked a little differently afterwards … not only in their own strength, but dependent on God.

I have heard it said:

Never trust a person who does not walk with a limp.

Someone who still trusts in their own devices, their own abilities, their own wisdom, is someone who has not yet met God in His greatness and not yet ready for their greatest day.

Have you met your match in God? Have you gotten down into the struggle of who you are and who you could be? Have you surrendered to God?

No one can be fully given until they are truly broken.

Here are our goals for this week?

1. Pray you never get too rich or too important to pay attention. Or, you might just miss a key element which would have led you to your greatest day.
2. Don’t tell everything you know to everyone you meet every time you get the chance … restrain yourself … God might have a better way.
3. Embrace God’s way as your only way … surrender.

Do not discount those things which push you farther into God. Do not despise the breaking of the Lord. Ask yourself:
* What inner conflicts am I avoiding?
* Struggle with yourself; wrestle with your soul and find the pathway to God and true inner peace … you’ll find it when you surrender to Jesus!
* Herein will be realized your greatest potential.