Intended Harm Transformed

“His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. ‘We are your slaves,’ they said. But Joseph said to them, ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.” – Genesis 50:18-21 Yesterday, we continued to look at the story of Joseph and we saw that after nearly twenty years of misfortune and trial, He finally witnessed the fulfillment of his prophetic dream. This is the culmination of his story. After interpreting Pharaoh’s vision, Joseph was elevated to a position wherein his power was almost equal to that of the king. This was truly a display of God’s divine favor! Through this promotion,

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Overcoming Injustice

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.” – Colossians 3:23-25 Yesterday, we talked about God’s view of injustice and slavery and we looked at how His love for us never wavers, even when we are being mistreated. Today, I want to talk about how this is possible.  Viktor Frankl, an Austrian Jew who was imprisoned in a concentration camp during the Second World War, once wrote about his experience that, “The one thing they can’t take away from me is my ability to choose how I will respond.” This is the same sentiment that Paul asserts when he writes the

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Enduring Injustice

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.” – Colossians 3:22 Throughout the course of history, many people have read the verse above and taken it out of context. It’s horrifying to think that before the Civil War, pastors were using this passage in Colossians to teach that God condones slavery. However, nothing could be further from the truth! Satan loves to take the Word of the Lord and twist it into something evil, after all, what better way to deceive than to cloak darkness in light? The reality of these verses is that the Apostle Paul is teaching us how to endure a bad lot in life, even if what is being done to us goes against the heart of Jesus.  Slavery is not

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Love Lessons from an Ancient Civilization

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” – Philippians 4:3,4 We talked yesterday about showing radical mercy and what that looks like in our modern world. Today, I want to invite you to journey with me into how it played out in the First Century Church, amid the injustice of the Roman Empire.  In the ancient world, patricians, senators, and the wealthy were at the top of the heap. Everyone else fell into a class beneath them, with slaves being at the very bottom. Because there was so much inequality in that day, the Spirit of Jesus working through the Church took the culture by storm. Though their castes were different in the eyes of society, when they came together as brothers and sisters in

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Don’t Overreact, Over-Serve

“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” – Matthew 5:41 Yesterday we talked about how Jesus teaches us to respond to injustice when someone steals from us. Today, I want to look at the third and final illustration He gives about acting lovingly towards our enemies: give them more than they ask for! Allow me to explain: In Jesus’ day, Roman soldiers would often walk down the road with a heavy pack that held their armor and other items. Sometimes they would see a random person and say, “Hey you, take this!” and force them to carry the weight of their load, even though it wasn’t theirs to carry. Obviously, this was an injustice and anyone put in that position would naturally be upset. However, Jesus used this illustration to teach us how to transform oppression into an opportunity to love. Rather than viewing

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Divine Irony

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.” – Psalm 45:6 Yesterday, we talked about Henry VIII and how his life, as selfish and crazy as it was, gave birth to a church that has shared Jesus with millions. And today, if you’ll permit me, I’d like to continue using a lesson from history to demonstrate how sovereignly God works. Once King Henry VIII died, his only surviving son ascended the throne at just nine years of age, but he passed away six years later. Upon his death, his sister, Queen Mary (a.k.a. Bloody Mary) — who was the only surviving child of the king and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon — took the throne in 1553. Since the new queen was very much Catholic, she hated her Protestant father with a passion. She was determined

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God Has the Final Say

“Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, ‘I will be king.’ So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. (His father had never rebuked him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’ He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.)” – 1 Kings 1:5,6 When David was a very old man and close to death, his son Adonijah thought that he should be Israel’s next leader and take his father’s place. However, the king had already decided that Solomon, his tenth son and the child of Bathsheba, would be his successor. Nevertheless, Adonijah usurped the throne and quickly gathered a group of officials around him to crown him king and throw him a coronation party. Hearing of this, Bathsheba alerted the prophet Nathan, and the two of them went to the ailing David and

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Live and Love Like Jesus

“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.” – Matthew 21:12 Though there’s a lot to learn from the stories of Paul and Joseph where it comes to being stubborn in faith, no one exemplifies adamant conviction more than Jesus. He threw convention aside on many occasions, because He was doggedly determined to bring His Father’s heart to the world. He passionately turned over the money changer’s tables at the temple, repeatedly touched those who were considered unclean, and faced the scorn and mockery of His accusers in total silence. Though it must have taken every ounce of restraint He could muster, He stonewalled in the face of injustice and refused to react emotionally to the charges brought against Him. Yet while our Lord was tough and gritty

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