Tag Archives: Church

Joseph Reveals Himself To His Brothers

“Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.” (Genesis 45:1)

The moment of reconciliation. It is to this end that all of the actions of the preceding four chapters have been leading. It staggers the mind to think of the lengths that God has gone to in order for this very moment to come to pass; this point of reconciliation between the sons of Jacob wherein Joseph once again takes his place among them. We are reminded as we look back over the space of more than 20 years at Joseph’s dream, a dream where his eleven brothers bowed down before him (Gen. 37:5-7), that God truly does see the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Yet would we even begin to imagine all of the things which God brought to pass in order to make this happen? Would someone entirely unfamiliar with this account of the life of Joseph even begin to guess what would transpire in fulfillment of the prophetic dream?

Nevertheless, we know that God did these things for one end: to bring the sons of Jacob back together in the safety of the land of Egypt. All that has been leading up to this moment — the testing, the accusations of espionage and theft, the threat of placing Benjamin into slavery — were done to bring the brothers to this point in time. Do we not greatly underestimate what God will do in order to bring people to the place where He wants them?
The reconciliation between the brothers and Joseph is a portrait of the sinner’s reconciliation to Christ. All of the moments of fear, trepidation, anxiety, guilt, confusion, and frustration which the sons of Jacob experienced during their dealings with this enigmatic “governor of Egypt” are hallmarks of many of our own experiences when Christ was drawing us to Himself. Some roads longer than others, all of us were brought through moments of emotional pain, struggle and inner turmoil until we reached the point when our hearts were ready and the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to us.
It is worth noting that before the actual moment of reconciliation begins, Joseph sends every other person out of the room. “Cause every man to go out from me“, he cries. It seems to be our practice as Evangelicals to want those making an initial decision to come to Christ to go to the front of the church and announce their decision in front of everybody. But isn’t this most crucial moment in a person’s life really between them and the Lord? Sometimes we act as though their conversion is only validated by a showy presentation in front of the entire congregation. “They must confess Christ with their mouth and not be ashamed of Him”, we explain (as though there will not be time enough for public proclamation later). There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with giving an altar call, but we do well to respect what is going on at the moment between them and God. Seldom do we really know everything that has been going on in the person’s life which has brought them to this point. We do not know all that the Spirit of God has been doing in their heart in order to prepare them for the Lord Jesus Christ to reveal Himself to them and reconcile them to Himself.
Joseph’s steward and many of his other servants played a part leading up to this moment, yet when the time came, Joseph sent them all out of the room. It was just the brothers and Joseph. Why? Because the moment of reconciliation was just between them. Many of us will play a role in bringing others to Christ, but perhaps we are mistaken in insisting that we be there at the actual moment when the person is reconciled to God. Maybe our Lord is politely sending us from the room for a moment so that He might rejoice in private with that person, just as Joseph did when his brothers were reconciled to him.To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,


[This post was originally published November 9, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]


Which Bible Version Do You Prefer?

A few weeks ago, I purchased a copy of the new Spurgeon Study Bible published by Holman Bible Publishers. This Bible uses the text of the Christian Standard Bible, a recent update of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, produced by the same publisher. My thoughts so far on this particular version is that it is an excellent English rendering of the Scriptures that seeks to blend the accuracy of a strict word-for-word translation with a clearer thought-for-thought wording where the original meaning might not be as readily understood by the 21st Century English speaker. They have labeled this approach “Optimal Equivalency” and it seems like a very good translation strategy, particularly for younger readers or new Christians.

Personally, I really enjoy reading a lot of the newer Bible versions that have hit the shelves in the past decade or two, although I do concur with the thoughts of many that we might be getting a little excessive with just how many new versions and constant updates of these versions are continuing to flood the market. And every time I see a new translation or update, I am reminded of just how passionate people can be about which Bible versions are superior to others. Some go so far as to be very dogmatic and rigid about which versions are indeed valid at all and which ones are corrupt, heretical, or outright perversions intentionally designed to lead people away from God. While most of us would never be so adamant about defending one translation over another, I believe that a lot of Christians have a particular version or versions that they certainly feel more comfortable with and maybe trust a little bit more because it is a version with which they are more familiar.

Having experimented with using several different versions on this website for Scripture quotations, going forward I would like to reference primarily one translation in order to remain consistent and avoid confusion (especially my own confusion!). I praise God that this website has gained quite a few regular readers recently and I really want to proceed carefully and prayerfully in deciding which version to choose for this. In articles that I have read in my own research, some have commented that they will not even read a blog or listen to a preacher that doesn’t use, for instance, the King James Version while others feel just as strongly opposed to those who do. It would be truly sad to alienate readers by using a version that they do not trust. In my opinion, there are several very good translations that would work nicely for the purpose of this website, but I would be very interested to know how those of you who take the time to read these posts feel before deciding. Below you will find a poll asking which, if any, Bible version you prefer and would most like to see quoted and referred to in these Bible studies.

Even if you are not a regular visitor, I would greatly appreciate your opinion. Please feel free to share any detailed thoughts in the comments section if you would like. Lord willing, in the coming weeks we will conclude the reposting of our Genesis study and will move over into a new study in the Gospel of Matthew. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the new posts as they come out. As always, may the Lord richly bless you in the study of His Word and thanks for reading!

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,



Our Exceeding Great Reward

“After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. (Genesis 15:1)

After Abraham’s meetings with Melchizedek and the King of Sodom, the Lord speaks to him in a vision and says, “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your Shield and your exceeding great Reward.” What comforting words these must have been! I am your Shield, the Lord tells him, I will protect you. As we saw before, Abraham had defeated a much larger army under the leadership of Chedorlaomer and chased them all the way to Hobah, near Damascus. The possibility must have entered his mind that this army could very well regroup and return for retribution against him and his small militia. But the Lord confirms to Abraham that He Himself is a Shield for him and will protect him.

God also reinforces to Abraham that He is his “exceeding great Reward.” Abraham has been offered vast wealth and riches from the hand of the King of Sodom and he has declined to accept even a shoestring from him (Genesis 14:23). I wonder how many who witnessed Abraham’s refusal of this offer that day thought to themselves, “How foolish!” Those who went with him into battle accepted payment for their part (v. 24), what did they think about Abraham telling the king, “No.” Along with the murmuring within the camp that must have been going on, Abraham’s own flesh must certainly have put some doubt in his mind as to whether or not he had made the right decision. We know that he had to be having some anxiety about the possibility of being attacked and about whether he had made the right choice in turning down the King of Sodom. When God tells someone Fear not, you can be sure that this is not merely a formality! That person is feeling fear.

If I may paraphrase what God is saying to Abraham here, He tells him: “I know that you’re worried and afraid, Abram, but you do not need to be. When you were fighting in battle, I was right there with you, protecting you. I will do it again if necessary. You did the right thing by turning down the King of Sodom’s offer, it was not what I wanted for you. But you haven’t lost anything: I am your Reward, a Reward that is far greater than all the riches of this world!” What Abraham is literally being told is that God Himself is his payment, his compensation. Not that God will provide the reward, He is the Reward! And His worth is “greatly multiplied” beyond that which the King of Sodom had offered.

God’s words to Abraham at this time are the most intimate that we have seen thus far. The Word of the Lord came unto Abram, as surely as it does to all who love Him. The Lord calls him by name here saying, “Fear not, Abram…” What a comforting reassurance that we belong to Him when He calls each of us by name (John 10:3). And what God declares that Abraham now has is of greater worth than anything else He will ever give him: Himself. Beyond all of the manifold blessings that God will give unto him throughout his life, this is the greatest. God Himself is His Reward.

“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so often being presented today as something that will enhance a person’s life. Serving God is portrayed as a means to an end with the Christian’s focus being on the gifts he hopes to receive from the Lord rather than on the Lord Himself. Seeking to know what is in the heart of God has been replaced with a desire to receive what He holds in His hand. Our only purpose for fellowship with the Lord is that we might make known to Him our needs and requests; our prayer and communion with Him being no more than the vehicles and instruments whereby we seek to procure the material. But the day will come when we step from this life into the next and all of the material blessings are gone, no more of the worldly wealth remains, and all of our possessions are left behind. Our most precious possession that we will have in that day will be being in the presence of our dear Savior… just as it should be now.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,


[This post was originally published December 14, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

A Strife Between Abraham And Lot

“And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.” (Genesis 13:7)

I was reading a Question and Answer forum on the Internet a while back and came across a “question” posed about why adherents of a certain Christian denomination did something one particular way when the Bible clearly stated to do it another. Well, first of all, the practice in question was what would be considered a debatable or questionable “gray area” (not something clearly prohibited by Scripture) and second of all, the “question” was being posed by someone claiming to represent a denomination that does things very differently. In other words, the “question” was nothing more than a direct attack against this other denomination.

Naturally, it wasn’t long before a member of the denomination under attack came to the defense of his church’s practices and proceeded to set the questioner straight about why his denomination was in fact the one that was correct in this matter. As the two went back and forth and became more and more hostile, a third party interjected the snide comment, “I just love it when Christians fight amongst themselves.”

So often we as Christians get wrapped up in bickering between ourselves over issues of no importance that we forget that we are being observed by those outside the Body of Christ. We might be disputing something that we see as vitally important, but all the unbeliever sees is disunity and rabid sectarianism. Most unbelievers do not really know the difference between Methodists and Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians, or Calvinism and Arminianism. Furthermore, they don’t really care. What they are looking at is how we live out our Christian walk,  how we treat them, and how we treat other Christians. The Lord said that people would know that we are His disciples by our love for one another (John 13:35).

Genesis 13:7 points out that the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled in the land when the herdsmen of Lot and the herdsmen of Abraham disputed over that land. What did they think about these strange foreigners who served One God as they argued and bickered over whose cattle would drink from which stream? Did they shake their heads in wonder as these strangers in their land pushed and shoved one another over something so trivial?

“And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.” (Genesis 13:8)

Finally, Abraham himself  intervened and appealed to his nephew, Lot, reminding him that they were brethren. Obviously, there are doctrines of the Faith that absolutely cannot be compromised. We can no more have fellowship with the heretical cults who misuse and abuse the precious name of our Lord and Savior than light can fellowship with darkness. But those who do believe the fundamental tenets of the Faith are our brethren. They may call themselves by a different denominational title, they may choose to worship in a different style, they may do things a little bit differently, but if they are servants of the Lord Jesus Christ and they worship God in Spirit and in truth, then they are our brethren.

We gain nothing in quarreling with our brethren over inconsequential matters. All we accomplish in doing so is to further distance the unbelieving Canaanites and Perizzites in our own lands from coming to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,


[This post was originally published December 1, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]


And Lot Went With Him

“So Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.” (Genesis 12:4)

“And Lot went with him…”

These words are almost a footnote in Genesis 12:4. Abraham did exactly as the Lord had commanded him and, oh by the way, he also decided to bring Lot with him. So what was the problem with this? Well, we saw in verse 1 that God had told him to get out of his homeland AND away from his kindred. He was to leave his father’s house and all of his relatives and set out for the place where God was taking him. As far as I can tell, it seems that he and his wife Sarah should have really been the only ones to make the journey.

The first leg of the trip that Abraham makes out of Ur of the Chaldees brings him to the city of Haran. Genesis 11:31 tells us that it was Abraham’s father, Terah, who brought the family to this place after Abraham’s brother, also named Haran, died. Perhaps Terah was grief-stricken at the loss of his son and wanted to find a new beginning in a new place. Maybe he even founded this new city himself and named it in honor of his memory. Whether or not Abraham should have even joined his father in going to Haran is uncertain from what we are told in Scripture. In Stephen’s testimony before the Sanhedrin recorded in the Book of Acts, we are told :

“…“Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran,  and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living.” (Acts 7:2-4)

So God had instructed Abraham even before he went to Haran that he was to depart from his father’s house and go to the land that He would show him. Whether God had led Abraham to first go to Haran with his father and then later go to the land of Canaan or whether this was entirely Abraham’s decision cannot, in my opinion, be concluded from the what we are told. But it is at least curious that after Abraham is told to leave his father’s house that he actually follows his father to another place. Many have referred to this time in Abraham’s life as the “wasted years at Haran”, and perhaps they were. We do know for certain that God’s plans for Abraham’s life were put on hold as he waited in Haran for his father to die.

But what about Lot? Well, with Lot we can be certain that it was not God’s intention for him to accompany Abraham to Canaan. We need only to look at the next few chapters and see the enormous amount of grief and trouble that he caused his Uncle Abraham for many years to come! In Genesis 13:6 we will see that the land that God had provided for Abraham was simply not big enough to hold Abraham and Lot. It was never God’s plan for Lot to live there. What God’s plan was for Lot I do not pretend to know. He obviously provided for Lot’s safety in spite of his being “out of place” when He enabled his Uncle Abraham to rescue him from the captivity of the kings who warred against Sodom and Gomorrah (14:16), and later sent angels to lead Lot and his family out of Sodom (19:15). So, we can surmise that the Lord would certainly have provided for Lot had he not joined Abraham in Canaan, and the lives of both of them would have went a lot smoother, we can be sure.

Taking On Unintended Responsibilities

At first glance, it really doesn’t seem like Abraham did anything wrong. In fact, we might even consider his actions rather commendable. Poor Lot had lost his father in Ur of the Chaldees. Then, his grandfather, Terah, died in Haran. Wouldn’t it be the right thing for Abraham to now take this young man under his own wing? Except for the commandment and calling he had received from God, it probably would have been. Let us first understand that Lot was not a small child in need of a caretaker. He was a grown man. Second, we should understand that the callings of God are never to be used as a guise for self-centeredness. It is wrong to shirk our God-given responsibilities under the premise that we are doing so in order to honor and follow the Lord (see Matthew 15:4-6). Had Abraham abandoned a responsibility to look after Lot so that he would be free to  go off on his own journey, that would have been a different matter. No, he voluntarily took Lot with him with the idea that he was doing what was in his nephew’s best interest, even though the Lord had told him to go without his kindred.

How often do we do the same type of thing? We take on responsibilities in our walk with the Lord that He never intended for us to take. We do not follow exactly what God tells us to do because we try to go beyond what He wants us to do. He tells us to teach a Sunday School class, we apply to Pastor the church; He tells us to witness for Him to our next door neighbors, we volunteer to go on a mission to Asia. Aren’t these things in fact better than what He has called us to do? We might think so, but when we do this we are bringing “Lot” along with us on the journey and it is going to cause us trouble.

Bringing Too Much Baggage

Abraham’s bringing of his nephew Lot with him is also a picture of failing to make a “clean break” from where we were so that we can go to where God wants to take us. God has called us out of the place where we were before we knew Him to go somewhere entirely new. We cannot bring the things of our old life with us on this journey. When He says to us: “Follow Me”, we must walk away from where we are, forsake our old lives apart from Him, and follow. Peter and Andrew left their fishing nets behind (Mathew 4:20), Matthew walked away from his tax collecting office (Matthew 9:9), and Paul “resigned” his position as a Jewish leader (Philippians 3:4-8).

When the Lord calls us to follow Him and we bring along our extra baggage, when we fail to lay down our fishing nets, or walk away from the position that we held before we knew Him, we are not listening to His call. When we retain the same habits, when we keep all of the same friends and acquaintances, when we do not completely depart from out of our own country and from our own “kindred”, we are bringing along Lot with us and we can be sure that he will cause us a great deal of trouble.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,


[This post was originally published November 22, 2009]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]


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