Sunday, November 27, 2016

Beside Yourself


In about the year AD 58/59, the Apostle Paul was arrested in Jerusalem for claiming that Jesus had been raised from the dead and was the Messiah promised by God. Paul was subsequently transferred for his own safety and held under house arrest in the Roman port city of Caesarea on the Mediterranean. After 2 years the new governor of Judea, Festus, who lived in Caesarea, was visited by the King Agrippa and his sister Bernice. Festus called for Paul to be brought before him and the King so that they might hear his case and decide what should be done with this Jew turned Christian.

We read an account of that hearing towards the end of the New Testament Book of Acts. Paul is concluding his defense before Agrippa when we get to Acts 26:19 where he sums up 30 years of ministry and his service to the Great Commission in just one sentence.

Acts 26  NKJV
19  "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,
20  "but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
21  "For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.
22  "Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come — 
23  "that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles."
24 ¶  Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!"
25  But he said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.
26  "For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner.
27  "King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe."
28  Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian."
29  And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains."

Both Agrippa and Festus were stirred by the passionate confidence of the Apostle Paul. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ and wanted everyone to understand the love and the goodness of God. Festus told Paul to calm down … take it easy … don’t get so worked up … you are beginning to sound a little crazy … you are beside yourself! Keep this up and people are just going to think you’re a lunatic.

Paul responded, “I’m not deranged …”  I’m telling you the truth and it’s reasonable that I tell everyone – King Agrippa knows what I’m talking about. “Do you believe?” … “I know that you believe!”

King Agrippa replied, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

What a sad ending … if it was the end. Paul had been living under house arrest in Caesarea not far from the Governor’s Palace. Agrippa was fully aware of all that had happened in Jerusalem. His father was the one who beheaded James and his grandfather sought to kill Jesus when He was yet a baby in Bethlehem. Agrippa was a Jew but Paul simply refused to let what others thought about him or what they might do to him stop his witness for Christ.

Yes Paul was beside himself but he was not crazy, out of control or mad.

About 3 years earlier Paul was in Macedonia writing his second letter to the Church in Corinth. Paul started the Church in Corinth but others had taken it over and were attempting to discredit Paul and turn the hearts of the congregation to a new leadership with a new way of doing things. Those new Church leaders in Corinth accused Paul of being a bit overbearing, old fogy, out of touch and just too zealous for Christ and the Church.

Paul wrote in:

2 Corinthians 5
13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you.
14  For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
15  and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

Beside ourselves … what an accurate description of a person who has moved off the throne of their own lives and moved over to allow God His greatest room to work. God wants to work in us and on us so that He might work for us and through us. The love of Christ compels us! What compels you?

It is often us letting God work “through us” which seems the most challenging. After all, who wants others to think we are a bunch of religious fanatics?  Who wants to be considered a “fool for Christ sake”?

1 Corinthians 4:10  We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored!

People who do not know the love of God which is found only in a relationship with Jesus Christ, cannot understand why we think like we think; why we feel what we feel; why we believe what we believe; or why we do what we do. The part that concerns me is that people might never come to know the love and the will of God if I am unwilling to be a little outgoing, get of my comfort zone, get beside myself and share Jesus.

Let’s not forget those 3 Powerful Points Paul Preached in Acts 26:20:
1.  Repent
2.  Turn to God
3.  Do Works Befitting Repentance

What greater work can we do than to witness to others about God’s love! Go ahead … Get Beside Yourself and tell everyone about Jesus …

Wednesday, November 23, 2016



Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever.

This was written by King David who knew as much hardship, disappointment and betrayal as anyone who has ever lived. However, above the pressures and problems of life, King David also knew the overcoming goodness of God and without respect to the tragedies of life, David never ceased praising the Lord and giving Him thanks for all He had done and would yet do.

God called David a man after His own heart and it was from this heart and lineage God raised up a Savior, Jesus the Christ.

On October 5, 1973, Brenda and I moved from Bossier City, Louisiana to a small town in the English countryside named Newbury. If you have every watched Downton Abbey, a popular series on TV, you will see the area in which we lived. Highclere Castle is the house and grounds they use to film Downton Abbey and Brenda and I lived just about 2 miles or less from that now famous house. Newbury is a beautiful setting for certain. I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to leave there.

Some years ago now, a young lady from Newbury named Mary Norris met and married a man from London whose last name was Allerton. They had 3 children. A son named Bart who later became a preacher at Bramfield in Suffolk, England; a daughter they named Remember; and a third child, a daughter named Mary.  

This Allerton family of 5, along with a 13 year old boy named John Hooke whom they’d taken in, and several of their friends didn’t care for the politics of Great Britain and the beautiful countryside around Newbury simply could not keep them satisfied. The Allerton’s decided to relocate. So, they all got together, pooled their resources and with high hopes for the future made a move.

Within a few short months Mary Norris Allerton, wife and mother, became part of a group of people you might know. The group includes:
·        Richard Britteridge
·        William Button
·        Robert Carer
·        James and Margaret Chilton
·        Richard Clark
·        Tomas Tinker, his wife and his son named Thomas
·        John Langmore
·        Sarah Eaton
·        Elizabeth Winslow
·        Roger Wilder
·        Governor John Carver
·        Ellen More
·        Jasper More
·        Mary More
·        young John Hooke
All together there were 51 or 52 people in the group. Mary Norris Allerton went from Newbury, England, straight into the pages of our history books, Mary Norris Allerton, wife of Issac Allerton, is listed among those who sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 only to succumb to perils of that first winter in the New World and die before ever enjoying any of the hopes with which she began her life’s greatest journey.

Mary’s husband, son and two daughters survived to celebrate that first Thanksgiving despite the great loss they personally suffered along with so many other families. With half of their friends dead within the first 3 months how in the world could anyone have been thankful that year?

Although we have all experienced pain and loss in the past we nonetheless are thankful for the things we still have and for the blessings we have received from the hand of God. Which one of us would not paint our lives a little differently if we could but be the author and the finisher of our faith?

Mary Norris Allerton, wife and mother, did not get to participate in that first New England Thanksgiving but her husband and her three children did. Not only did they enjoy that first Thanksgiving but they all lived long and prosperous lives. Mary’s youngest daughter, also named Mary after her mom, became the oldest living member of those first Pilgrims who sailed as passengers on the Mayflower dying in New Haven, Connecticut in 1699.

The daughter Mary not only enjoyed that first Thanksgiving but she lived to enjoy yet another 78 Thanksgiving celebrations in the New World her mom gave her. What a legacy … what a future … what a life.

Tonight we turn to the book of Psalms and read reasons we have to be thankful. (Almighty God created the world and also created a Promised Land for His children)

Psalms 136  NKJV
1 ¶  Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
2  Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever.
3  Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever:
4  To Him who alone does great wonders, For His mercy endures forever;
5  To Him who by wisdom made the heavens, For His mercy endures forever;
6  To Him who laid out the earth above the waters, For His mercy endures forever;
7  To Him who made great lights, For His mercy endures forever — 
8  The sun to rule by day, For His mercy endures forever;
9  The moon and stars to rule by night, For His mercy endures forever.
10 ¶  To Him who struck Egypt in their firstborn, For His mercy endures forever;
11  And brought out Israel from among them, For His mercy endures forever;
12  With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm, For His mercy endures forever;
13  To Him who divided the Red Sea in two, For His mercy endures forever;
14  And made Israel pass through the midst of it, For His mercy endures forever;
15  But overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, For His mercy endures forever;
16  To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His mercy endures forever;
17  To Him who struck down great kings, For His mercy endures forever;
18  And slew famous kings, For His mercy endures forever — 
19  Sihon king of the Amorites, For His mercy endures forever;
20  And Og king of Bashan, For His mercy endures forever — 
21  And gave their land as a heritage, For His mercy endures forever;
22  A heritage to Israel His servant, For His mercy endures forever.
23 ¶  Who remembered us in our lowly state, For His mercy endures forever;
24  And rescued us from our enemies, For His mercy endures forever;
25  Who gives food to all flesh, For His mercy endures forever.
26  Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven! For His mercy endures forever.

With respect to the pressures and the pain we have known in our past it would do us well to remember three key truths during this special Thanksgiving season in America:

1.  God is good!
2.  His mercy endures forever.
3.  We owe Him our thanksgiving.

Give God thanks tomorrow along with a grateful nation of people who have truly been blessed.

Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Long Game


The Pilgrims:
·        September 1620 the Mayflower left England
o   Varying reports detail 102 passengers plus a crew of between 25 and 30 men bringing the total number to about 130 people.
o   65/66 days of sailing to reach the upper New England coast of the Americas
o   The voyage met with rough seas which cracked a main support beam. It was temporarily but satisfactorily repaired with a passenger’s “jackscrew” which had been brought aboard as cargo to help in building homes in the new world.
o   On the seas 1 passenger and 1 crewman died. Another man was swept overboard but caught a trailing rope and was drawn back aboard.
·        The winter of 1620/21 was harsh for the Plymouth colonists and by the spring of 1621 only about half had survived the rest having died from the cold and lack of provisions.
·        In March 1621 things begin to look up when a Native American Indian walked into the settlement, made friends and began helping these new immigrants.
·        The first traditional New England Thanksgiving was held in the fall of 1621. It was not about any one moment but rather about all the steps it took to bring about the hope and vision of those who had joined their lives together for one common cause.

Today we still connect ourselves to these Pilgrims and their brave adventure. Our nation, our world and indeed even our very lives have all been shaped, guided and blessed by the decisions of generations who have pledged their lives to discover their purpose and pursue their destiny.

Life is a long game. From conception to birth and from the beginning unto the end, life is joined to life and life takes time. Life is a long game. Moments are meaningful but life is about more than any one moment. 

(Note: Read from Matthew 1:1-18 connecting the people and life stories.)

Matthew 1  NKJV
1  The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
2  Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.
3  Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.
4  Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.
5  Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse,
6  and Jesse begot David the king. David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.
7  Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa.
8  Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah.
9  Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah.
10  Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah.
11  Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
12  And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel.
13  Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor.
14  Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud.
15  Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob.
16  And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
17  So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.
18  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

Once again, life is a long game filled with so much long game potential.

It is imperative that we recognize those things in life such as family, education and career as long games. We can ill afford to play a long game with a short game strategy. When we allow single moments to make our decisions or overshadow our lives we run the risk of missing all the potential life has to offer.

Have you ever had the temptation to see your whole life in light of only one moment or allow a single moment to paint your whole future? Some people are more prone to look at life in light of their current moment. If the moment is good, life is good … if their current moment is terrible, they feel like their whole life is terrible. Not to say problems aren’t formidable however: Emotional snapshots are poor indicators of the potential hidden in the problem.

With God’s help you can take your thoughts captive in any moment and cast down the imaginations which lead many people to temporarily despair. Young David of the Bible often spoke to himself and steadied his heart, calmed his mind and encouraged himself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6)

Psalms 42:11  Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

We must have and maintain the passion emotion affords however we must also hold fast to the purpose for which we are called and for which we have entered into this race of life. Believe me when I repeat: God has a plan!

The Pilgrims met with such difficulties and disappointments they could have easily given up and felt their efforts and the lives they lost were all for nothing. However, history tells another story … it’s the same story told throughout the Bible and is epitomized by the truth we find in:

Romans 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

God has a Plan - Life connects to Life with Purpose – Play the Long Game 

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Nation Under Siege

A Nation Under Siege

The Character:  Esther

What can we do when we feel as though our nation and our people are under siege and those in leadership do not have the either God’s or the people’s best interest in their hearts?

Esther is a prime example of someone God can use in times of crisis within a nation and when the leadership of the nation apparently care more for their own position and promotion than for the safety, security and future of the nation.

The well placed account of Esther teaches us that:

1.   God equips the called … He does not call the equipped.
a.   A calling is an invitation from God to come and be set aside to be prepared to serve.
b.   Esther was called and then she was
                                         i.    prepared
                                        ii.    positioned
c.   This all took time and attention --- It takes time to be equipped

2 Timothy 2
1  You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2  And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

In Esther’s case it years of God working in her life and bringing her to the place where she had a chance to shine. No doubt that the God who knows the end from the beginning was working all things together in her life to bring her to her appointment with destiny. She was called by God a long time before she was called by the King.

2.   It is the ordinary that gets us ready for the extraordinary.
a.   The ordinary every day, day in and day out, hum drum duties of life prepare us to be the greatest us we can be.
b.   The greatest you will ever be is you being great at being you.
c.   God made you and you will never truly master anything greater than being you.
d.   God has a plan and a need for someone just like you … it’s you!

Esther 4
13  And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: "Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews.
14  "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"

3.   Have faith despite the trials of life.
a.   Esther had a life filled with trials but she continued to trust God.
b.   But after all, she was the great, great, great granddaughter of Abraham.

Romans 4
19  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb.
20  He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,
21  and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.
22  And therefore "it was accounted to him for righteousness."

Esther teaches us that:
·        God has a plan
·        He is prepared
·        Everything can change in one moment

Let’s continue to trust God and perhaps do what Esther asked her friends and family to do in that all critical moment for her nation and her people:

Esther 4
15  Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai:
16  "Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!"
17  So Mordecai went his way and did according to all that Esther commanded him.

I am going to ask you to join me on this coming Tuesday, November 8th, for a day of prayer and fasting.
·        Pray for our nation.
·        Pray for those whom God may use.
·        Fast one meal that day and pray for our election process and that the people God wants to serve in the offices of our local and national politics will get elected.
o   Breakfast
o   Lunch
o   Dinner
·        Spend that time in prayer

·        Let’s humble ourselves before God on this critical day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Spiritual Fitness – Lesson Five



The first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, is generally understood to have been written by Moses as he led the children of Israel through the wilderness approximately 1500 years before the birth of Christ. If there were a most important book in the Bible, to many scholars and laymen alike, Genesis would claim that honor.

Genesis is the book of beginnings. The information God chose to include in this first book is vitally important to the growth and development of God’s Children. From the account of creation to the fall of mankind; from the great flood to the new world; from the covenant of Abraham to the twelve sons of Israel, history (His Story), reveals God working with man to bring him to his greatest day.

Genesis contains fifty chapters of crucial interaction between God and man as God guides, guards and rebuilds His dream. God is preparing a people, giving them instruction and examples to follow, so that they might rise up, take their stand, claim their inheritance and live His dream. Before concluding the Book of Genesis God included every principle necessary to life and life more abundantly. If you can’t find support for a doctrine within the principles contained in the book of Genesis then I would consider that doctrine to be in error. Genesis is a book of truths that transcend time.

Suffice it to say that I believe that the book of Genesis says it all. This is why we have been paying special attention to the life of one of the central figures in the book of Genesis. This person I am referring to is Joseph. Why Joseph?

Out of the 50 chapters in Genesis, 13 of those chapters are taken up with the story of Joseph’s life, from chapter 37 till the very last verse:

Genesis 50:26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Joseph is God’s chosen pattern for mankind’s journey through life. From that proverbial 98 pound weakling to the heavy weight champion of the known world, God walked with Joseph step by step through every challenge, transforming Joseph into the winner God had birthed him to be. We should all pay special attention to Joseph’s life story and add his character qualities to our life so that we too might be transformed step by step into the champion God sees in us.

Our first spiritual exercise for week 5 comes from Genesis 41.

Joseph is 30 years old and has been separated from his family for over a decade. He has been sold twice, spitefully accused of rape and put into prison. While in prison he became the head trustee and was also given charge to serve the King’s prisoners. Two of the prisoners we studied in Week 4 were the Chief Butler and Baker.

You may remember they both dreamed separate dreams in one night and the dreams troubled them. Joseph accurately interpreted the dreams and in only three days, just as Joseph told them, the Chief Baker was hanged but the Chief Butler was restored to his former position, waiting on the King of Egypt.

In repayment for the kindness showed to the Chief Butler and the dream interpreted, Joseph asks only that the butler remember him when he returned to his royal position. However, the Chief Butler forgot Joseph.

Let’s pick up the story with the last verse in:

Genesis 40:23 Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

Genesis 41
1 ¶ Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream …
8 Now it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them for Pharaoh.
9 ¶ Then the chief butler spoke to Pharaoh, saying: "I remember my faults this day.

The butler told Pharaoh how that when he was in prison with the Chief Baker they both dreamed dreams which troubled them. Yet, there was a young Hebrew man in prison who accurately interpreted their dreams and so it happened, just as this man had told them.

It had been two years since Joseph showed kindness to the Chief Butler. All that while the Chief Butler had been living his dream life and enjoying the palace and had not even once considered Joseph, the man who had comforted and helped him in his trouble. The Chief Butler was doing well but what was going on in Joseph’s life during these two years? Prison!

What did Joseph do for those two years? Joseph worked on his:

1. Faithfulness

For two full years after Joseph interpreted the butler’s dream, after the butler was restored to his former position, Joseph continued to faithfully exercise himself to Godliness and allow God the time and space to be God.

* Joseph was faithful, trusting and depending on God and not on the arm of the flesh.
* Sometimes people forget … but God never forgets.
* God has a plan for my life and He has not forgotten me.
* God’s timing is perfect.
* Joseph trusted God with his present circumstances and with his future.
* The absolute best thing we can do is to be faithful where we are for as long as we are where we are.

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

* Ability is nothing without faithfulness …
* God will make the faithful able, but He cannot make the able faithful.
* What we do while we wait on God will often determine how long we wait.
* Do not be weary in well doing for in due season you will reap if you faint not.
* A part of being faithful is learning to wait on God. Wait patiently on the Lord and while you wait … BE FAITHFUL!

The second exercise for this week is:

2. Flexibility

Genesis 41:14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh.

Joseph was the son of a very wealthy and well known man in Canaan. Joseph had every reason and every right to feel like he had been treated with disrespect and wrongfully imprisoned. Many men would have seen this as their chance to protest their treatment and claim their innocence.

Joseph could have easily refused to cooperate with the requests to clean himself up. He could have taken the attitude that if Pharaoh wanted to see him let Pharaoh see him in his daily dungeon clothes, unshaven and poorly cared for. But Joseph didn’t allow himself the luxury of making it all about him and the injustices he had been served. If God was going to promote Joseph, Joseph needed to give God His best chance and that would require Joseph being flexible instead of inflexible, hard and unyielding.

Joseph simply recognized authority and submitted himself to the ones who had been allowed by God to have power over him. People, especially people in leadership positions resist the proud … even God resists the proud! Joseph was flexible … if they want me to shave, I’ll shave …

* Don’t be prideful … God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
* Humility is not being quiet on the outside while screaming on the inside.
* Humility is not appearing submissive to those over you while telling your three best friends how you are being mistreated.
* Humility comes from a heart that is truly dependent on God.

Genesis 41
15 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it."
16 So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, "It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace."

* The truly humble will be flexible.

Flexibility is the ability to embrace change or transition in a graceful manner.
* God’s new wine cannot be poured into inflexible containers
* Ability without faithfulness is nothing … so also … ability without flexibility is not all it could be.
* When told to bathe and put on new clothes, Joseph simply went with the flow of God.
* Whether we are called upon to lead, follow or get out of the way … what is that to us, unless we are inflexible and filled with pride.

Joseph was neither … not that Joseph’s troubles did not matter to Joseph … certainly he had wants, desires, skills, abilities and dreams … however … he exercised himself to Godliness and remained flexible, embracing change and transition in a graceful manner. He knew it was best in his situation to simply do what he was told by those who had the current right to tell him. All that would change in time providing Joseph remained behaving in such a way that it made it easy for God to promote him.

Proverbs 3:4  And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man.

Luke 2:52  And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Some wrongly imagine they need only the favor of God and not man …

Joseph continued to rub the anointing oil of a right relationship with God and man on his life. This kept Joseph flexible, pliable, moldable, easy to work with and out of the stubborn ruts of life.

If we are not careful we can make some assessments, some judgments and draw some conclusions that take us down the wrong path in life. How do we keep from doing this … our 3rd exercise:

3. Perspective

All we know is the little we know until we know more. At times when we know more the little we know is just blown away. Yet, so many people guide their life by the little they know … their own limited perspective. “Do you know who I think I am?”

Genesis 41:33 Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt.

Now I imagine many of us would have used this moment to be a little more self promoting. After all, this was most likely the first time in several years that Joseph had been treated to such fine things. He had a fresh shave, a bath, and new clothes and was standing in a place that probably smelled a whole lot better than his current prison cell. I imagine the change felt nice and desirable.

Think Joseph wanted to stay in the palace or go back to the prison?

How many of us might would have changed the interpretation just a little to say: “Now therefore, let Pharaoh appoint me over the land of Egypt …”

Come on now … we all know who we think we are … many men are legends in their own mind, serving delusions of grandeur, sadly mistaken and so often frustrated when not recognized or chosen …

Perspective can be broken down phonetically and understood as:

Per = according to
Spective = small view

There is a story about a man getting on a public transport bus in downtown NYC with his three young children. He sits down and allows the children to run the isles, move from seat to seat and be loud and bothersome while he just sits there and looks out the window. Finally one lady had enough and voiced what everyone else on the bus was thinking. “What’s wrong with you mister – are these your children – they are out of control and you need pay attention to them. They are bothering everyone on the bus and you don’t even care. That’s not what a good daddy does. People like you shouldn’t have children.”

With that the man snapped back into the moment and readily gathered his children around him, quieted them and hugged them. He then turned and apologized to the lady and everyone on the bus and told him he was sorry and that his wife, their mother, had just suddenly passed away at the hospital where the bus had last stopped and he was unsure how to tell them and what he needed to do.

Now there is a paradigm shift … that will change one’s perspective …

Your perspective is basically how you see things from your viewpoint … it may not be real … it may not be how others see it and it may not be how God sees things. We don’t know until we know and then we still may not know it all. We may simply need a new paradigm.

Life must be viewed from the big picture … sometimes we have it and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we must put ourselves in other people’s shoes so we can gain a greater perspective.

With the wrong perspective you could have the sails on your ship set to catch a wind that never blows.

Joseph knew there were things beyond his perspective and beyond what he was currently aware. Joseph attempted to view the situation he was in through Pharaoh’s eyes and not just his own. Some people in Joseph’s situation might have even been happy about the coming famine and hope it taught his captors a good lesson or two. However Joseph had a different perspective. 

Put a knife to your throat when you dine with a King … it’s probably not all about your hunger … get a greater perspective! (Pro 23)

James 4:13-16 tells us not to boast in our own arrogance about tomorrow saying that we are going to a certain city and make a profit … rather we should always say, “If the Lord wills” … this will allow for God to have a different view than we may have.

* Don’t get your heart set on your own ideas. God may want to do it another way or He may not want to do it at all.
* Don’t assume or be presumptuous
* Be not wise in your own eyes but acknowledge the Lord …
* Don’t always be focused on how things affect you – put yourself in other people’s shoes first before you try to tell them about yours.
* Don’t get stuck in that early selfish stage of human development where you think everyone sees things from your vantage point
* Don’t get depressed when life does not unfold according to your expectations, assumptions or perspective.
* When the decision is not yours to make don’t assume you know all the factors that form the answer.
* Endeavor to see things from God’s big picture perspective – He wants to be good and merciful and helpful and caring to everyone – and He may want to use you in a bigger way than your pride or perspective will allow.

Isaiah 55
8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

If time permits, create a paradigm shift with the late night sleepy travel story between Dallas and Texarkana. (By myself making the trip in the rain; sleepy and dozing off; opened vents; slapped myself; sang; still couldn’t stay awake. The rain was mesmerizing … I needed to get to Texarkana to meet Brenda and go home from there. Why didn’t I just pull off on the side of the road and sleep … “I was flying my airplane!”)