VIDEO The Forest and the Trees – Israel’s Final Blessing

Then Jacob said to Joseph: “God Almighty … said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’” Genesis 48:3-4

“He couldn’t see the forest for the trees” suggests that getting too close to a problem blinds one to the bigger picture. It means to step back and refocus your perspective.

What were the “trees” in Jacob’s life that were so distracting that they could have taken his focus off God’s plan for his life? The sins of his son, Judah; the supposed death of his beloved son, Joseph; a famine in Canaan that threatened to destroy the seventy-plus members of his household; the anxiety of sending ten of his sons to Egypt in search of food; the possibility of losing his youngest son, Benjamin, as collateral for food; moving his household to a new land and culture—and those are just the ones we know about. But Jacob kept his eye on the prize: God’s promise to create a nation through Abraham, Isaac, and now, him.

Don’t let the “trees” you encounter today take your eyes off of God’s “forest”—His everlasting plan for your life.

He that fears not the future may enjoy the present.  Thomas Fuller


Genesis 48:3-14 Israel’s Final Blessing 2/15/15

 

Pastor Brett tells the story Israel’s twighlight of life to illustrate how Christians today ought to align their priorities today, for no one is guaranteed tomorrow.

The Dilemma of Obedience

feet arrows
Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision. —1 Samuel 3:15

God never speaks to us in dramatic ways, but in ways that are easy to misunderstand. Then we say, “I wonder if that is God’s voice?” Isaiah said that the Lord spoke to him “with a strong hand,” that is, by the pressure of his circumstances (Isaiah 8:11). Without the sovereign hand of God Himself, nothing touches our lives. Do we discern His hand at work, or do we see things as mere occurrences?

Get into the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance (1 Samuel 3:9). Every time circumstances press in on you, say, “Speak, Lord,” and make time to listen. Chastening is more than a means of discipline— it is meant to bring me to the point of saying, “Speak, Lord.” Think back to a time when God spoke to you. Do you remember what He said? Was it Luke 11:13, or was it 1 Thessalonians 5:23? As we listen, our ears become more sensitive, and like Jesus, we will hear God all the time.

Should I tell my “Eli” what God has shown to me? This is where the dilemma of obedience hits us. We disobey God by becoming amateur providences and thinking, “I must shield ‘Eli,’ ” who represents the best people we know. God did not tell Samuel to tell Eli— he had to decide that for himself. God’s message to you may hurt your “Eli,” but trying to prevent suffering in another’s life will prove to be an obstruction between your soul and God. It is at your own risk that you prevent someone’s right hand being cut off or right eye being plucked out (see Matthew 5:29-30).

Never ask another person’s advice about anything God makes you decide before Him. If you ask advice, you will almost always side with Satan. “…I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood…” (Galatians 1:16).

by Oswald Chambers

Power of the Holy Spirit is of God

Acts 1:4-8

Have you ever felt inadequate to live the Christian life? If so, then you are exactly where God wants you to be, because you have discovered a vital truth: No one has the power in him- or herself to live a holy life. We are all in the same boat, but there is someone else with us who has the power we need—the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus gave His disciples the task of preaching the gospel to the entire world, they had absolutely no ability to carry it out. That’s why He told them to wait until the Holy Spirit came. In the same way, if we hope to accomplish what God desires in our life, we need to live with full dependence on the third Person of the Godhead.

The power of the Spirit is God’s divine energy and authority released in believers’ lives for the purpose of righteous living and fruitful service. When we walk in the Spirit, we’re relying on His strength to accomplish God’s will. As a result, we experience the following benefits:

• We may get tired, but we won’t burn out.
• We’ll trust God instead of trying to manipulate our circumstances.
• We may experience distress, but we won’t become desperate.
• We won’t become overwhelmed with discouragement or obstacles, knowing the Spirit within us will enable us to do what He’s called us to accomplish.

When we do God’s work by His strength, in His way, and with His wisdom, we’ll be blessed no matter what goes on around us. Walking in the Spirit doesn’t mean life will be easy—but we never have to walk through it alone, because our Helper is always with us.

Jonah and Jesus

“Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17)

The Bible’s most famous “fish story” has been the target of skeptics for hundreds of years, but it was confirmed by none other than the one who Himself had prepared the great fish: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

Jonah may actually have died and gone to “hell.” “Out of the belly of hell [Hebrew Sheol] cried I,” said Jonah, “and thou heardest my voice” (Jonah 2:2). The testimony of Jesus was similar: “Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [i.e., Sheol]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10; also Acts 2:27). Jonah also prayed: “Yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God” (Jonah 2:6). His prayer ended: “Salvation is of the LORD” (v. 9), and this is the very meaning of the name “Jesus.”

Thus, 900 years before Christ died and rose again, Jonah died and rose again, a remarkable prophetic type of the mighty miracle that the Lord would accomplish one day to bring salvation and life to a world dead in sin. Only the power of God could direct a prepared fish to save Jonah, then three days later allow him to preach repentance and salvation to the lost souls in Nineveh. Then, finally God Himself, in Christ, died on a cross for the sins of the world, and this time it took the infinite power that created the very universe itself to bring His own soul back from hell and, three days later, to rise again. This is “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20). Truly, “a greater than Jonas is here” (Matthew 12:41). HMM

Certainly Not Just Intensity of Prayer

Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

—1 John 3:21-22

Intensity of prayer is no criterion of its effectiveness. A man may throw himself on his face and sob out his troubles to the Lord and yet have no intention to obey the commandments of Christ. Strong emotion and tears may be no more than the outcropping of a vexed spirit, evidence of stubborn resistance to God’s known will….

No matter what I write here, thousands of pastors will continue to call their people to prayer in the forlorn hope that God will finally relent and send revival if only His people wear themselves out in intercession. To such people God must indeed appear to be a hard taskmaster, for the years pass and the young get old and the aged die and still no help comes. The prayer meeting room becomes a wailing wall and the lights burn long, and still the rains tarry.

Has God forgotten to be gracious? Let any reader begin to obey and he will have the answer.   SIZ020-021

Lord, help me to obey Your commandments. Help me to live in obedience, so I may know the Father’s love. Amen.

 

Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, He shall strengthen you

Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the Lord.—Psalm 27:14.

 

I Ask not that my course be calm and still,

No, here too, Lord, be done Thy holy will:

I ask but for a quiet childlike heart;

Though thronging cares and restless toil be mine,

Yet may my heart remain forever Thine,

Draw it from earth, and fix it where Thou art.

C. J. P. Spitta.

 

True union with God is to do His will without ceasing, in spite of all our natural disinclination, in all the wearisome and painful duties of our condition.

Francois De La Mothe Fénelon.

 

When persons have learnt to look upon the daily course of their ordinary life, with its duties and troubles, however common-place, as their offering to God, and as the safest school for themselves of perfection, they will have made a very important step in the spiritual life. Another step, so simple that it is often despised, is to do everything, however ordinary, as well as it can possibly be done, for God’s sake. A third is to be always pressing forward; when a mistake is made, or a fault committed, to face and admit it freely; but having asked God to supply the deficiency caused by our own infirmity, to go on steadfastly and hopefully.

H.L. Sidney Lear.

 

Life-Giving Stream

“And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live.” Ezek. 47:9

The living waters, in the prophet’s vision, flowed into the Dead Sea, and carried life with them, even into that stagnant lake. Where grace goes, spiritual life is the immediate and the everlasting consequence. Grace proceeds sovereignly according to the will of God, even as a river in all its windings follows its own sweet will; and wherever it comes it does not wait for life to come to it, but it creates life by its own quickening flow. Oh, that it would pour along our streets, and flood our slums! Oh, that it would now come into my house, and rise till every chamber were made to swim with it! Lord, let the living water flow to my family and my friends, and let it not pass me by. I hope I have drunk of it already; but I desire to bathe in it, yea, to swim in it. O my Saviour, I need life more abundantly. Come to me, I pray thee, till every part of my nature is vividly energetic and intensely active. Living God, I pray thee, fill me with thine own life. I am a poor, dry stick; come and make me so to live that, like Aaron’s rod, I may bud and blossom and bring forth fruit unto thy glory. Quicken me, for the sake of my Lord Jesus. Amen.