Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Turn on the Ignition

Gen 39:2 The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

Gen 39 …20b And he was there in the prison. 21 But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

The theme of Gen 39, at least from the perspective of Joseph is that the Lord was with him, whether it was in the house of a foreigner, whose people hated Hebrews, or in the cell of a prison, whose walls hate anyone, the Lord was with Him. How can that apply to us? Often we ask ourselves, “Is God with me right now?” I know I do. I ask more often than I should. I should be confident to know He is with me, especially after He has told me to “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you.” But how does that translate over as applicable. We hear all the time of how God is with us, and He loves us, is with those that fear Him. Why is it then that we don’t always “feel” like He is.

See this is the part where I quote “We live by faith not by sight,” or I give you some cookie cut answers, as if the bible were just a magical box in which you stick your hand and pull out an answer. While those answers hold truth, we can’t just always aimlessly give answers to others without context, much less, without any practical application to their lives.

I can quote Romans 8:28 every time I have a friend who doesn’t understand why things happen as they do, but sometimes, that is like quoting an axiom most of the secular world often quotes: “Everything happens for a reason.” And I am not saying this from the outside, oh no, I am saying this as a person who loves having all the answers. But what good is having all the answers? What good does giving someone the answer to a question and then just leaving them there. That’s like giving someone who needs a lift your car, and not giving them the keys to turn the ignition.

So then what is the key? The answer is simple, yet so often we undermine its power. The Gospel. I don’t know who said it, I think it was Dave Harvey in his book “When Sinners say I Do” (and yes this is a marriage book) that says (and I paraphrase) “Today we treat the gospel as a simply a means to attain salvation, however, what we need to understand is its power to transform every aspect of our lives, especially our marriages.”

I have to say, at first I didn’t really understand that statement, but as I continued reading guys like Tulian Tchividjian, Paul Tripp, David Powlison, Oswald Chambers, Charles Spurgeon, you’ll see the overwhelming theme of these guys, is the gospel. We are so good at glorifying our sanctification above and beyond the means by which it happens. It doesn’t take place because I do good things and therefore God accepts me and makes me better. This is precisely what Paul calls “another gospel” in Galatians. It takes place because Jesus has already done it, and therefore, I am free to respond. I can love others because He already did it, I can love my wife because He already did it, I can work hard at work because He already did it.

How does this play into Joseph? Because like Joseph, God is with YOU. How do I know? Because this is the gospel. “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) Immanuel, “GOD WITH US”

We do a great job of quoting it when we evangelize and proclaim the gospel, but when was the last time we used these verses and spoke them into our own hearts in response to our most troubling moments? Try it, preach the gospel to yourself. No it won’t solve the problem you are facing, but it will solve the issue of having strength and power enough to endure.

True peace is not a tranquil lake scene with a beautiful sunset and a bird perched lovingly on a branch chirping away the sweetest of songs. No real peace, is tornado’s and winds, rain and lighting falling, torment all around, and that bird still sitting on that branch, singing the same sweet song. Not oblivious to the issues, but also, not oblivious to the presence of his God, who controls all things and not only sees our problems, but knows and understands them, because He Himself came down from heaven onto earth and dwelt among us. (Phil 2:5-8, John 1:1-15, Heb 4:12-5:2)

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