God reliance—As seen in Joshua

The character trait we’re looking at tonight is God-reliance.  How do you think you can become God-reliant? We’re going to look at Joshua to see how he learned. Joshua began his training with Moses as teacher. Moses has the testimony of doing “as the Lord commanded”. Joshua observed how Moses waited for God’s commandment before he acted.

When the Israelites left Egypt, Moses told the people to not fear. When the Egyptians pursued (Ex. 14:13, 14), Moses reminded God would fight for them. God parted the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape, then He closed the sea upon the Egyptians that were chasing them.  Joshua saw and remembered the testimony of God’s deliverance. …The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. (Ps. 19:7b)

Throughout their wanderings, Joshua saw God’s provision of water and manna and quail. He saw God’s presence leading them, all these things he remembered. All this time he was building a trust relationship with the Lord.

Moses noticed Joshua was different from all the others. He had trust and strength and an obedient spirit. When the Amalekites fought against Israel, it was Joshua Moses trusted to choose and lead the men in battle (Ex.17:8) Joshua obeyed Moses. He felt the heat of the battle that could have been their destruction. Moses held his hands up in the air with the rod of God till they were so weary he couldn’t hold them up any longer. When his hands were up, Joshua was tasting the victory, but when they were down, Joshua knew they would be defeated. If it were not for Aaron and Hur holding Moses hands, they would have been defeated. Of course Joshua didn’t realize all that at the moment because he was busy fighting. God told Moses to tell Joshua why the battle seemed to turn against them sometimes and how they were seeing victories at other times. God was honoring Himself and strengthening the faith of His people. Joshua listened to Moses and believed. It was recorded so Joshua could read about it over and over again. Joshua was in training to be the next leader.

Joshua was one of the spies that were chosen to go into the land and check it out. He went in faith, envisioning his people inhabiting the land. He tasted of the goodness of the land. He trusted God. He also felt the crushing blow of the unbelief of 10 of the other spies. Only he and Caleb believed God. Joshua felt the pressure of unbelief all around him as he tried to convince the people that God was well able to keep His promise. In all this Joshua was still practicing being God-reliant.

Joshua observed how his teacher responded to the rebellion of the people by falling on his face before the Lord. Joshua and Caleb both rent their clothes. They felt the hot displeasure of the Lord toward His rebellious disbelieving people when God sentenced them to 40 years of wandering in the wilderness with no place to call home.

Still, Joshua did not become bitter or try to take things in his own hands, he was even more concrete in his faith as he continued to rely and God and fear Him.

After the death of Moses the Lord spoke to Joshua. He commanded Joshua to “arise and go”.  God promised “every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon that have I given you, as I said unto Moses.” (Josh. 1:3)

Joshua told the people in three days they would enter the land. The people saw the Jordan River still flowing between them and the land, and they didn’t have any boats. How would they cross? When the Israelites were fleeing from the Egyptian army they were trapped with an army behind them, mountains to the sides, and the Red sea in front. God parted the Sea for them to cross over to safety.

God told Joshua, “…as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. I will not fail thee, nor forsake the.”  (1:5)          Joshua remembered how God was with Moses and He wanted God to be with him the same. He believed God. Three times God reminded Joshua to be strong and courageous. He told him to do all that Moses had commanded him to do.

Probably one of the best verses in the Bible to help us live God-reliant lives is Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Now Joshua told the people in three days they would go in the promised land, but they still had that river to cross.  The same peoples were in the land that was there during Moses’ time. The last time the Israelites got there, Moses sent 12 men to spy he land. Only two brought a good report back and wanted to by faith go in and possess the land. This time Joshua only sent two spies. These two brought back a good report. They told Joshua the people of the land feared them, and stated how God delivered the land into their hands.

During the 40 years of wandering, God had the people make an ark. Because Joshua believed and obeyed God, he commanded the priests bearing the ark to step into the Jordan, which was the barrier between the wilderness and the promised land. Joshua knew he couldn’t part the waters of a river, but he never wavered in his trust that God could. God said that day He would begin to magnify Joshua in the sight of Israel (3:7)

Even as God parted the waters of the Red Sea for His servant Moses and His people Israel, God parted the Jordan River for His servant Joshua. “That day God magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel and they feared him as they feared Moses all the days of his life.” (4:14)

Joshua was told to “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot for the place whereon thou standest is holy…”  Joshua’s teacher Moses had been told to take his shoes off his feet because he was on holy ground.

After a battle of defeat, Joshua didn’t know what to do. (7:6) tells us he rent his clothes (like he did way back when Israel wouldn’t go in the land) and he fell on his face before the Lord as he had seen his teacher Moses do numerous times.

Joshua read all the law of Moses as Moses had commanded him to do. He also wrote a copy of the law (v.32) and he also wrote the peoples response  of the decision to follow the Lord.

All of Joshua’s days he kept relying on God. For that reason he was able to lead others to follow God.

 

Kind Dorcas

Kindness or Caring

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even to them…Matt.7:12a

The characteristic that we are looking at today is caring, or kindness.

 

There was living in the city of Joppa a number of widows. Because their husbands were dead, they had no one providing for them. They did not have social security checks coming in the mail. Many of these ladies were poor. If you watched them day after day, as I’m sure many people did, you would notice they wore the same old worn out clothes. Depending on the kind of person they passed, they may have heard snickers behind their backs because of their old clothes. Perhaps some people looked at them in scorn. I’m sure many tried to avoid looking at them so they wouldn’t have to feel guilt about not helping them. Once in awhile they may have seen sympathy in the eyes of some.

In this same city lived a woman named Dorcas. When she looked at these women she probably had kindness mingled with sympathy in her eyes. The difference about Dorcas though was that she cared enough to do something for them. We don’t know where Dorcas got her money. We don’t know if she worked out of her home or not. What we do know is Dorcas saw these women and decided to help them. She would go home, pull out her material, cut what she needed, sit down and start sewing. When she finished she had a garment to present to one of the widows.  Dorcas did this for many of the widows.

She helped them in other ways also. Acts 9:36 says…”this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.” Perhaps she also brought food to them, or helped when they were sick or needing an extra hand to do something. Most of all, she showed them someone cared. Just knowing someone cares is a big encouragement. The women responded in like manner and cared for Dorcas.

One day Dorcas became ill and died. Her body was washed, probably a clean fresh garment was put on her, her hair was combed, and she was carried to the upper chamber and gently laid on a bed, ready for visitors to gather together and say their good-byes.

At this time Peter was in the city of Lydda which was not too far away, so two men were sent to see if he would come to them. Perhaps they wanted Peter to preach the funeral and offer words of comfort. Peter willingly went with the two men. When they brought him into the upper chamber where Dorcas’ body was, the widows stood by him weeping and showing him the garments she had made for them. Dorcas had shown these ladies kindness, and they were grieving that she was now gone from them. When we’re kind, we can’t help but make friends.

Peter sent everyone out of the room. He kneeled and prayed to God. God restored Dorcas’ life back and Peter was able to present her alive to her friends. Because of this many believed in Jesus!

Peacemakers

Matt. 5:9  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Peacemaking isn’t something that comes natural. As soon as a child can grab and hold on to things, he or she wants to keep them for themselves. They don’t care what others think. To b e a peacemaker you have to think about others. Pray God will give you the desire and the wisdom to be a peacemaker, then practice. Today we’re going to look in the Bible at three examples of peacemakers.

Abraham was a man that walked close to the Lord. The Lord sent Abraham from his country to another land that He promised to give Abraham. Abraham’s nephew Lot went into the land with him. The land was to be given to Abraham, yet Lot’s servants strove with Abraham’s servants over the land. Perhaps they each wanted to feed their herds from the best of the grass, and water at the best places. Maybe they each thought they should have the right. Really the only one with the promise was Abraham. Being a peacemaker, Abraham realized that staying together was not going to work. He invited Lot to choose the land he would like, stating that he would go the other direction.

Lot chose the best of the land. Abraham willingly accepted Lot’s choice and turned to go the other way. He did not embarrass Lot or remind him that really the land was promised to him and he should have the best, he just wanted peace between them and their servants.

Sometimes to have peace, you must separate. Sometimes to have peace you need to give up your rights and let the other choose first. God blessed Abraham, the peacemaker who loved God better than himself.

 

The next peacemaker we’re going to think about is Isaac, Abraham’s son. He probably learned his peacemaking skills from his father. God renewed his promise of the land to Isaac. Isaac increased greatly in the land, but then he was asked to leave the location he was in. After leaving, he dug wells for water. These were wells that his father had dug previously, and the Philistines had come and filled up. After digging the first well, the people of the land came and claimed it for their own. Isaac moved on and dug another well that had been his fathers. Again it was claimed and Isaac moved on to the third location. When he dug a well there the people left him alone and Isaac finally felt that he could stay without disturbing peace.

Sometimes to make peace we have to walk away from a situation and sometimes even give up that which we believe should be ours.

 

The third example we want to look at is Gideon. Israel had turned from God, and He delivered them into the hands of the Midianites. The Israelites feared Midian and hid in dens and caves. They planted crops, but all that were found were taken or destroyed by the Midianites. Their cattle and sheep were stolen. Their land was being destroyed. After seven years, God sent a man named Gideon to deliver the Israelites. Gideon and his men outwitted the Midianites making them think a large army was after them. When the Midianites fled, Gideon and his men chased after them. At that point in this conflict, they called for the men of Ephraim to help them. The Ephraimites came and were able to kill two of the princes of the Midianites. This was a great victory, but when they saw Gideon they were angry with him. They felt insulted because they hadn’t been called to the battle at the beginning. Gideon wasn’t just a soldier though, he was also a good leader. As a good leader, he knew how to be a peacemaker. He knew as humans we all have pride (most of which is not good).  Gideon spoke wisely and humbled himself and lifted them up in praise. He asked what did he do in comparison to them. They got the princes, they had done better than him. After hearing this, they were peaceable again.

Sometimes being a peacemaker is just complimenting someone and letting them know you respect them and don’t think you’re better than they are.

 

Purity as seen in Paul

Isa. 1:18 object lesson  “Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, thy shall be as wool.”

Apostle Paul thought he was a pure and righteous man. He was a Pharisee. He fasted, prayed, tithed and studied God’s Word.

But his hands figuratively and possibly literally were scarlet with the blood of Christian martyrs.

One day God spoke to Paul from Heaven. Paul fell to the earth—giving up his righteousness, he trusted Jesus blood to make him pure and righteous before God. “But what things were gain to me, those I  counted loss for Christ. (Philp.3:7)  “And be found in him not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. (Philp. 3:9)

Paul tried living his life in God’s righteousness from that point. Sometimes he failed. “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Rom. 7:19 & 24)

One thing that kept him going was God’s promise of forgiveness. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in “Christ Jesus….”  (Rom. 8:1)

He lived so close to the Lord that even when the expert religious leaders tried to find fault with him, they couldn’t.  “And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. (Acts 25:7  But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death…” (Acts 25:7 & 25)

If Paul had problems, I’m sure we will but Prov.27:16 reminds us “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again; but the wicked shall fall into mischief.”

Character of Prayerfulness seen in Daniel

Daniel   A Man of Prayer

 

The character trait we’re looking at today is the character of a praying heart.

 

Daniel was a man of prayer who honored God—And God honored him.

 

When we first meet Daniel, we see his determination to live for God. In a strange land, confronted with strange ways, peoples, and gods, Daniel had already determined in his heart to remember the true God. He already was a youth of prayer. Right away we saw how God brought him in favor with the man watching over him, and with the king.  Why? Because Dan. honored God.  The Bible tells us that God gave him knowledge, skill, wisdom, and understanding.

In chapter two of Dan. we’re told about a troubling dream the king had about a great image. Because no one was able to interpret it, all the wise men were to be destroyed. Dan. immediately went to prayer and asked for mercy from the king’s wrath.

 

God gave Dan. the answer to the king’s dream. The first thing Dan. did after receiving the answer, was to continue in prayer, this time a prayer of praise and thanksgiving.  When Dan. went in to the king, he gave God all the credit and the praise for the interpretation. Dan. 2:47 shows us that the king honored God and Dan. Prov.21:11 says “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

 

The king dreamed of a tree cut down, with the stump left. God showed Dan. the interpretation of that dream also because Dan. was a man of prayer who knew how to get hold of God. (Dan. 4:1-37)

 

Dan. had a testimony of a wise man, in whom the spirit of the holy gods dwelt. When a king saw a hand writing something on a wall, all feared greatly. Because of Dan. testimony and prayer life, he was called in to tell what the meaning was. (5:11-14)

 

Dan. 6 tells us that Dan. had an excellent spirit. He was preferred above all others. We are told that three times a day he specifically went to his room to pray. Because others were jealous about this, they plotted against Dan. You remember the story of him being thrown into the den of lions, but do you remember that before he was thrown in, the king referred to him as a man whom served God continuously? When he came out of the den—unhurt—the king declared that men were to fear and tremble before Daniel’s God. The last verse in this chapter starts with, “So this Daniel prospered…”  Why? Because he was a man of prayer.

 

In chapter 8, God gave this man of prayer a vision from God Himself, of things to come.

 

When Dan. had been in the land of his captivity for about 70 years, he realized that the time was almost over and that God said He would lead His people out. Dan. knew they were there because they, as a nation, had not been people of prayer and honoring God. He spent time in prayer, confessing the sins of his peo-ple. He praised God and beseeched Him, for the people to take them back home. God sent His angel Gabriel to tell Dan. that he was greatly beloved. He told Dan. of the coming Messiah (Jesus), and of other things God was going to do.

 

Again in chapter 10 Dan. is fasting and praying. God again sent a vision and told Dan. that he was greatly beloved. Because he had been a man of prayer all his life, God had special blessings for him throughout his life. Others could see also that he was special.

Meekness seen in Moses

Meekness  Numbers 16

Matt. 5:5 says “Blessed are the meek; for they shal inherit the earth.”

One of the definitions of “meek” is: enduring injury with patience and without resentment. That’s a tall order to fill.

As a baby Moses would not have been special, he would have been drowned as the Pharoah commanded, BUT God intervened. The Pharoah’s own daughter saved him, so he grew up privileged. He lived in the king’s home, and was probably schooled by the finest teachers. In spite of all these privileges, Moses chose not to let his unusual circumstances be cause for pride in his life. He remembered that he was a Jew, his true mother was a slave, his people were hated. Rather than be proud that he was taken from that life, he identified with his people.

When God spoke to Moses from a burning bush and told him he was to lead the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, he responded with “Who am I?” He did not feel he was anybody special that should be entrusted to lead God’s people. In matter of fact, he did not even want to be a leader. He made excuses to God. He also told God he couldn’t go in his own name, but God told him to tell the people that “I AM” sent him.

Moses humbly and meekly followed God’s leading. It was not his desires or plans or wisdom or strength—and he knew that.

One day Korah, Moses and Aaron’s cousin accused them “…Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among then: wherefore then lift you up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?” (v.3)

What did Moses do? V. 4 “And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face.”

Listen to his humble yet responsible words to Korah, “And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi: Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to doeth service of the tabernacle of the Lord; and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them: And he hath brought thee near to him, and al thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also? For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the Lord: and what is Aaron that ye murmur against him?” (8-11)

Though Moses was meek and forgiving, God did not ignore this rebellion. Moses, his faithful and obedient servant, under the direction of God, called for Dathan and Abiram. Their father was the man chosen from the tribe of Zebulan to stand with Moses. However, when the two sons were called, they too spoke against Moses and accused him and refused to go to him.

Moses commanded Korah and his company to come before the Lord the next day with their censers vessels) with fire and incense and meet before the tabernacle of the congregation. Korah gathered the congregation against Moses and Aaron and met there. The glory of the Lord appeared to all, and the Lord spake to Moses and Aaron to separate so He could consume them.

Again Moses and Aaron fell on their faces and humbly pleaded with the Lord for the lives of the people.

God told Moses to tell the people to separate from Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Moses told the people to “Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men…” (v.26)

The wicked men and their families stood in the doorway of their tents.

Moses, always meek, spoke”…Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind. If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the Lord hath not sent me. But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit: then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the Lord.: (28-30)

After Moses finished speaking the earth opened up and Korah, and the others with him and all their houses and goods went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed up on them.

Bravery seen in Esther

Esther

Do you think you’re a brave person? Do you admire those who are?

Today we’re going to hear about a brave woman with a big secret.

Matt. 5:10 says “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  It sometimes takes courage to do right, but God offers special blessings to those who do.

King Ahasuerus’ wife had displeased him and now he was looking for another wife. Now that’s not the way God says we’re suppose to do things, but that’s what this king that didn’t know God was doing.

(God’s word talks about marriage in Mark chapter 10. Jesus said God made them male and female and that they shall be one flesh. He goes on to say what God joins together, let not man put asunder, or apart.)

He sent throughout his kingdom to find the most beautiful women to choose from.  A woman named Esther was very beautiful and pleased him the most, so he made her queen.

What Ahasuerus and just about everybody else did not know was that Esther was a Jew. She really wasn’t from his kingdom. She was from the Jewish nation that was brought there as a captive.

One day one of the king’s most noble men, Haman, got angry with Esther’s uncle, Mordecai. Remember, he didn’t know this was Esther’s uncle. Mordecai wouldn’t bow to Haman, and Haman wanted to kill him and all of his people—the Jews.

Mordecai sent a message to Esther asking her to go in to the king and plead for her people. That doesn’t sound too frightening seeing she’s the queen. BUT, if Ahasuerus doesn’t hold out his golden scepter when his queen approaches, she could be seized and put to death. If her request doesn’t please him, she could be put to death.

Yes, Esther was scared. Courage doesn’t mean you aren’t ever afraid. Courage means you do what you know you should do even if you are afraid.

Esther asked the Jews to pray and fast for her for three days. Then she went in, knowing that she might die. She was relieved when the scepter was held out to her. Still she couldn’t blurt out that she was a Jew and desired that the king would honor her request, instead of his noble servant’s request.

Bravely Esther asked for the king and Haman to be guests at a banquet she would prepare for them.

Never was a banquet planned and prepared with such urgency. Everything must look, smell and taste delicious. The banquet room must be spotlessly cleaned then pleasingly decorated. Each servant must be immaculate in dress and behavior.

The king and Haman entered and were treated royally as the king should be. The request that Esther made that night was that the king return the next night for another banquet.

Again everything was prepared to perfection. This night Esther was going to make her request, and possibly be sentenced to death.

After dining, the queen revealed who she was and pleaded for her people. The king was angered that his noble servant wanted to kill all of his queen’s people and he went out of the room. Haman was shocked and fearful to find out that Esther was a Jew. He started pleading for his life. When the king returned he thought Haman was further insulting his wife and he ordered Haman to be hung.

Esther’s bravery saved not only her and her uncle from destruction, but all the Jewish people.

Bravery is a good character trait that we need to cultivate to see grow.

The story of Kate Shelly goes well with this lesson as well.

FORGIVENESS AS SEEN IN JOSEPH

Have you ever had someone wrong you? Is it easy to forgive? Sometimes people say hurtful things and sometimes it’s hard for us to forgive them, but God tells us we’re suppose to.  In the sermon on the mount. the Lord teaches, (Matt. 6:12,14, 15) “And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

I don’t think any of us here has been wronged as much as Joseph was. Joseph’s life pictures for us some things about the Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph was the best loved son of his father Jacob. (Gen 37:3) “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children…”  God said of Jesus “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)  Jacob showed his special love for Joseph by giving him a coat of many colors. This hurt Joseph’s brothers. It also made them jealous and angry. As those feelings grew against Joseph, so did their hatred.

One day, they had their opportunity to get rid of Joseph. Jacob had sent Joseph to see how his brothers were doing. When they saw him coming, their bitterness flared up and plans got wild. By the time he reached them, they already plotted to kill Joseph and even planned the lie they would tell their father so no one would suspect them of murder. Of Jesus the Bible tells us “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (Jn. 1:11).

One of the brothers, named Reuben talked the others out of murdering Joseph. He said “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him;…” (37:22) It continues to tell us Reuben’s plans “…that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again..”

When Joseph got to his brothers he did not suspect anything. He certainly had not come to do any harm to them. His cruel brothers grabbed him and tore his coat from him and threw him into the pit they had seen. This reminds us of Jesus, who was innocent, but was grabbed by cruel soldiers. His coat was also taken from Him. He was eventually led to the place of His crucifixion.

While Joseph was down in the pit pleading with his brothers to let him out, they sat down and ate their lunch. Reuben was not with them to foil their next plans. The brothers saw a group of Ishmeelites on their way to Egypt. Their camels were loaded with spices and ointments, so they knew they were merchants looking to buy and sell merchandise.

The brothers minds had again turned to killing Joseph, but now Judah spoke, “What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites and let not our hand be upon him: for he is our brother and our flesh.” (Gen.37:27)

They lifted Joseph out of the pit and sold him for 20 pieces of silver. Again, we’re reminded of Jesus. One of His own disciples sold information leading to Jesus capture, for 30 pieces of silver.

Now Joseph’s brothers had to face their father. They were good liars (not a good thing to be). They killed a young goat, then smeared its blood on Joseph’s beautiful coat. They probably had a sad look on their face as they showed Jacob Joseph’s coat and let Jacob come to the conclusion that a beast, perhaps a lion or bear, had killed Joseph.

What really happened to Joseph? He was taken out of his country to another land. There he was sold as a slave. No longer was he treated as the beloved son. Now he had to do whatever his master told him.

Joseph, we would say, had every right to become bitter and hard against his brothers. Would God expect him to forgive those who had been so uncaring and even cruel toward him?

Think of times you have disobeyed God and denied Him. Think of times you wanted to please yourself instead of God. Yet, He is willing to forgive us.

Do you think Joseph forgave his brothers? Let’s jump ahead to Gen. 42 and see what happened. The ten brothers who mistreated and sold Joseph, then deceived their father stood right before him. There was a famine in the land of Canaan where they lived, and all the other lands around. Extra food could be found only in Egypt. Due to a series of events, Joseph was the one to be thanked for that and was responsible for the distributing of the food.

The brothers didn’t recognize Joseph, but he recognized them. They didn’t understand him because he had learned the Egyptian language and spoke to them through an enterpreter. They had no idea what all had happened to Joseph of that he was even alive. It had been many years since they sold him. After all those years though, the brothers still felt guilt for what they did to their younger brother.

Joseph mercifully sent food to their home,and then waited for their return. When they finally did return, Joseph let them know who he was and let them know that he forgave them. They did not deserve his forgiveness, but he forgave them anyway. Listen to this, “And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” (gen. 45:5,6)

We have sinned against God. The Bible tells us  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Rom. 3:23). It also tells us “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Rom. 10:13) If we confess that we are sinners and trusting only Him, ask Him to forgive us , he promised that He would.

It takes character to forgive someone who wrongs us. Are you willing to let God build that character in you?

Letters Paul Wrote

Paul’s Writings

While Paul was a prisoner in Rome, he wrote letters to individuals and churches. These letters were inspired by the Holy Spirit and are a part of our Bible. They are the books from Romans through  Hebrews.

Paul had the privilege of staying in a house rather than in the prison. He was very grateful to those who sent necessities to him and who encouraged him.

The book of Philippians tells about one of the men who delivered goods from the church to Paul. His name was Epaphroditus. While he was in Rome, Epahproditus became ill and Paul sent him back to Philippi with a letter thanking the church. Paul was rejoicing in the Lord and encouraged the other Christians to do the same. He knew he might be put to death, but that would put him in the presence of Jesus. Paul longed to be with Jesus.

Paul wrote a letter to Philemon about Philemon’s servant Onesimus. Onesimus had run away to Rome where he became a Christian. He and Paul became good friends, but Paul sent him back to his master with a letter. Paul asked Philemon to forgive his servant and charge Paul with whatever Onesimus might owe.

Paul wrote encouraging letters to Timothy, whom he met years before. Timothy was a pastor, and Paul taught him how he should live his life and how he should teach the people of the church.

All of Paul’s letters are full of teaching and praises to the Lord Jesus. After all, Jesus is the whole reason Paul travelled and preached. Jesus is the reason many people loved Paul. Jesus is also the reason many people hated Paul. Many didn’t want to believe that God sent His Son into the world to take our sins on Himself. They would believe He died, but many did not want to believe He rose from the dead. Many of the Jews especially became angry if Paul said they were the ones that had God’s Son crucified.

It was also the Jews that had Paul imprisoned and kept wanting him to be killed. Eventually Paul was killed. What did he do wrong? NOTHING. A more important question is, what happened to Paul after he died?

As he said in his letter to the Corinthians he was willing to “be absent from the body and present with the Lord” (2Cor.5:8)

That’s what happens to all those that receive Jesus as their Savior. When they die and their soul is absent from their body, they are then present with the Lord, which is far better.

To receive the Lord, you need to admit that you are a sinner (you do wrong things). You need to be willing to turn from your sins and to believe that Jesus paid the penalty (punishment) for your sins. You need to call on Him, believing that He only can forgive your sins and give you eternal life. He promised “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

Dear Journal

Acts 28

Our ship ran aground and broke up but all 276 of us made it safely to this island called Melita. Some swam here while others floated on pieces of the ship. We came to shore, shivering with cold. We were wet and tired from our struggle in the sea. The unceasing wind and rain added to our misery. However we met with blessings that we are thankful for. The people on this island are uncivilized and lacking in social skills as a general rule, but they have been most gracious to us. They saw our ship stuck and broken apart. They saw us struggle against the force of the wind and waves to reach shore, and they had compassion on us. When we got here, they had a fire burning and received each one of us.

I had a little incident that caused a great commotion amongst the islanders. I gathered some sticks to throw on the fire, not knowing that a poisonous snake was hiding there. When I threw the sticks in, the snake latched onto me. Of course I shook it off into the fire, but the bite did not affect me. The islanders kept watching, expecting me to fall over dead, and was sure I got bit because I was a murderer that did not drown at sea, but now would receive my punishment for my crimes. When I did not die, or even swell up, they thought I was a god.

A chief man named Publius lodged us for three days. His father was ill and God led me to lay my hands on him and pray. God graciously healed him. After that others came and God again had me lay my hands on them and pray, and He again brought healing to them.

The people showed us much honor, and when it was time to leave, they supplied us with all that we would need for our journey. After three months we departed for Syracuse where we stopped three days. We got a compass there to keep us on course. We went on to Rhegium and Puteoli where we found brethren that desired us to stay with them.

After seven days we set sail again for Rome. At The Three Taverns Christians met with us for a time of fellowship. I was greatly encouraged by this.

Finally we arrived in Rome. The other prisoners were delivered to the captain of the guard, but I was allowed to live by myself with a soldier to guard me. I took advantage of my freedom and invited the Jews to come to my home where I could preach to them about Jesus. As always, some believed and others did not.

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For the past two years, I have been in Rome renting a house. I receive all who come to me and freely preach Christ to them. I don’t know how long things will remain as they are, but I have learned;  “…in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Philp.4:11)

Paul