God sees to the Horizon

 

Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, “Behold, we are your servants.” Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good,… Genesis 50:18-20a

Way back at the beginning of the story of Joseph’s life and dreams he hoped his brothers would listen to him. But here many years later we see that God had worked in Joseph’s heart to the point where it was Joseph who had learned to listen to them. He who had interpreted the dreams of a king had a more difficult task at hand, to listen to the fears of his brothers. Joseph had never been accepted. He was born to a different mother, he had been given a different robe, a different position and later an entirely different set of life’s experiences. But at the end of the day the deepest lesson Joseph had learned was to forgive his brothers and to see it all as good in the hands of God.

Have there been life altering circumstances brought into your life as the result of the sins of others? Have you been talked about, unjustly accused and suffered legal consequences all because of a lie? All of that and more happened to Joseph and yet God had chosen those exact situations to work together for good. And the most amazing thing of all about God’s goodness is not just that he turned his brothers’ sin into good in Joseph’s life, but that He also turned everything around for the good of even those brothers!

“God is good all the time” we often shout in church. But while we often think first of God being good to us we need to remember that he also wants to be good to our enemies. Jesus told us to forgive our enemies and Joseph shows us that we can also learn to listen to them. Take this moment to sincerely pray and ask Godimg_3260 if He has put someone in your life who has caused you pain, who you should be listening to and forgiving just as Joseph did. Choose now to forgive because God means it all for good: everyone’s good. We may see only the barriers of the bad things that they have done but God sees beyond to the horizon!!

Listening in the Construction Zone

Have you ever noticed that the construction zone and the destruction zone seem very much alike? Maybe that’s because both involve some smashing down and some digging up that are equally painful. Recently we experienced lots of digging up, filling in and then digging up and filling in again of several large pipes under our street. The issues were complex and the rerouting didn’t work the first second or even third time. One night they were smashing and pounding till 11 o’clock. My response to waking up to the racket was to put my jacket on over my pj’s  and march indignantly down the street to complain.

The tired foreman of the job took off his hardhat and politely answered that they couldn’t wait to go home either but they had to finish before they were allowed to quit. Sheepishly I went home realizing that I was not the only one who wished the work was done.  In Joseph’s life he also passed through a construction zone when he was unjustly thrown into prison.  Unlike me, Joseph was patient and continued to listen rather than complain. The heavy construction that God was doing in his life became a season of blessing and growth because Joseph chose to listen.

But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing.                 Genesis 39:21-22 kimg0748

On those occasions where I have followed Joseph’s ex
ample and tuned my ears to listen I have discovered as he did that it is God who is at work digging and pounding and He can’t stop till He has finished! God’s promises are real. He hasn’t abandoned us or forgotten the dream which He sent. In fact the painful circumstances which we are in today are what God is using to build the spiritual dream home which He has prepared for us for all eternity!

 

Listening at Work

Listening at Work is the second in the series Joseph Learned to Listen 

 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority Genesis 39:4

Joseph prospered because the Lord was with him and his master, Potiphar noticed, however this blessing wasn’t without its practical working out in the daily circumstances of Joseph’s work. Certainly Joseph wasn’t a lazy or incompetent slave. The Bible makes it quite clear that we are to work heartily as unto the Lord. Secondly, Joseph did not steal or defraud Potiphar and most importantly Joseph learned to listen to Potiphar.

Above all things a slave must be obedient. In order to be obedient a slave must listen to his master. This listening obedience is both a learned skill and an acquired virtue. Since most of us would love to be promoted, recognized for our good work and compensated fairly let’s take a closer look at Joseph’s story.

A) Joseph didn’t complain 

For many of us we struggle to listen at our job because we think that we are meant for something better. Certainly Joseph would have been tempted to believe that he had greater skills than scrubbing floors, waiting on tables and taking out the trash. Yet in spite of all his training and preparation for a higher position we do not hear a single word of complaint from Joseph. Maybe our first step towards being better listeners is to stop complaining. We are unlikely to learn anything new if we are busy talking about what else we would rather be doing. img_4712

B) Joseph paid attention to details

Part of being a good listener is paying attention to detail. In my work as a translator I have learned to empty my mind of my own concerns and focus on the exact words of what I am being asked to translate. I need to hear every detail and then render it into the language of those listening to me. People hear the words from my mouth but in reality they are receiving the message from the one for whom I am translating. When we are at work we are to represent the wishes and goals of our employer. Whether we are cleaning a house, building a car or teaching U.S. history learning to listen to the details is important. If the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock it does not matter if I wish that they had settled in New York. On the assembly line no one will be impressed if I believe the steering wheel belongs in the trunk and I am unlikely to be praised if I decide that cleaning the library is more important than washing the dishes. All of these funny stories are played out a thousand times a day in usually less exaggerated form and reflect whether we have listened carefully to details. Joseph cared about details so much that Potiphar entrusted him with every detail of his household.  img_4520

C) Joseph listened first to God

While we are hearing what we are being asked to do at work, there does come a time when we need to first listen to God. Joseph had done so well in listening to Potiphar that he came to a prominent position in his household. This prominence came to the attention of Potiphar’s wife who desired to have Joseph for herself. It would have been far easier for Joseph to simply accept her advances and go on with his life, but Joseph listened first to God. Often our first tendency as Christians at work is to jump to this third position first. But unless we have stopped complaining and learned to listen to details, our obedience to God will not be much of a witness. Looking to another young man named Daniel we see that his stay in the lion’s den was not just about him praying. Daniel’s obedience to God was framed by his excellent service to his king. How is our life framed today? Have we learned to listen without complaint? Do we give people the attention needed to hear every detail? When we have become good listeners we will be more likely to hear the still small voice of God when He speaks. Listening to God and obeying him in our everyday lives allows us to be translators. We listen to God’s word and translate it into ordinary actions so that those around us can hear the message of the good news of salvation and focus their attention on Jesus Christ. img_4837

Joseph Listened – Part One

Often when we hear the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis it is usually associated with Joseph’s obedience. Joseph was obedient in every poskimg1030ition in which he served, first as youngest son, then slave, prisoner and finally governor of Egypt. But today we begin a short study on not on Joseph’s morality but on his listening . In the letter of James we receive the instruction to be listeners.

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath James 1:19

We begin in ancient days in which the power of the sons flowed from their birth order as well as from the mother to whom they had been born. Though Joseph was the second to youngest at the time the story begins, we do need to remember that he was the firstborn of Jacob’s beloved Rachael. Leah, Rachael’s younger sister, gave Jacob six sons, the first born being Reuben. The other four brothers were born of Rachael and Leah’s handmaidens. Though Jacob preferred Joseph because he was Rachael’s son, he also had earned the right to be trusted. When Joseph had his dreams he eagerly shared them with his father and when the meaning was misunderstood accepted his father’s rebuke without complaint.  Joseph’s life reflects how deeply he reverenced his father’s wishes.

 

Today let’s discover the value of listening even when we don’t like what we are hearing.

A) Listening means sharing our dreams with others

Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. Genesis 37:5

After Joseph had received his first dream it would have been easy for him to be very selective about who he told. If he wanted to be most confident he could have told his mother. But Joseph was both curious about the meaning and respectful of his older brothers’ wisdom in helping him to understand. Joseph’s brothers however were less than delighted by what they felt the dream meant. It seems even likely that some of the brothers even doubted that Joseph had a dream and supposed he simply made up the story for reasons of ambition.

B) Listening means hearing correction without argument

Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” So he told it to his father and his brothers….Genesis 37:9-10a 

If you are anything like most of us you do not rush to people who are critical of your dreams and longings. But Joseph after being harshly criticized by his brothers after his first dream went a step higher and brought the second dream to both the brothers and his father. It probably would have been much easier for Joseph simply to remain silent however Joseph had a great desire to listen to the opinions of others. At this point in the story even Jacob became angry with Joseph (probably much to the other brothers’ delight!) but we hear no push back at all from Joseph. In the face of rejection and accusation Joseph simply trusted that God must have something in store that he could not yet understand. Are you and I willing to still listen without complaint when people treat us unfairly? I believe these situations that are our greatest opportunities to learn how to listen.

C) Listening means accepting fully the responsibility trusted to us

Then he said to him, “Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me Genesis 37:14

At this point in the story we discover that Jacob wanted news and he chose for Joseph to go, listen and bring back to him how the others were doing.  Joseph by his lifestyle, by his responses and by his respect had earned the right to be trusted. When others around us find us to be good listeners we may be astonished at the things we are asked to do. We often judge ourselves on how well we are able to say something, but others and more importantly God value highly our ability to listen. !

Most of us say often that we would like to hear from God. Today’s question is, “Are we ready to listen?” kimg1000

 

 

 

 

Somebody is listening

With all the fire and fury pouring out from both sides about the election it might be time to remember that somebody is listening! What do we want to pass on to the next generation?kimg0702

James 1:19 … Everyone should be quick to listen slow to speak & slow to become angry

 

 

 

Maybe today is a good time to have our hearts more open and our mouths more closed!

Listening to God

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The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10

During long hot Summer days, one of my favorite places to sit is on a rock in the middle of a stream. Hearing is such a strange thing when seated among the quiet sounds of water gently running over rocks. Though the sound of the water is small,  it fills our ear wells so much that a word spoken from even a short distance is somehow carried away.

In the same way we can often be like little Samuel. God was speaking and all he could do at first was to run to Eli and ask what the words meant. Eli wasn’t listening. Eli had no more communication with God because he had long ago stopped his ears to the Spirit’s quiet voice.

God was still speaking. God was still close but Eli was seated in the stream of the world’s voices and couldn’t hear. So God began to speak to the Samuel. Samuel didn’t yet know the Lord so when he heard his name being called, he didn’t recognize that it was God’s voice. In confusion, Samuel went again and again to Eli. Samuel’s repeated requests finally awoke a memory in Eli’s heart and he knew that God wanted to speak with Samuel. Eli may have sadly remembered too late for himself that he should have been seated in another stream. He should have found a rock in the midst of the stream of God’s voice. But he knew what Samuel had to do, so he gave him this instruction.

“Go back and lie down, and when the voice comes again, say, ‘speak for your servant is listening”.

Samuel did as Eli instructed and then God came again calling his name. In the same way, if we want to know God’s heart and direction we must , like Samuel be listening and ready to serve. Maybe today God’s voice has awakened something in your heart that no one else can hear. The only sure way to know is to wait on him. He will pass by again. When you hear His voice passing by then like Samuel say, “Speak for your servant is listening!” He will bring you to the stream of His presence and seat you on His rock. There in the stream of the Holy Spirit’s presence your spiritual ears will be filled with His voice. All other voices will dim. All other faces will fade. There in His presence you will know what only He alone can tell you. My prayer is that you will be blessed today, come and sit before Him and be a listener to the voice of God.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.        Helen Lemmel

Listening to a Friend

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And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. Luke 10:39

In the last devotion we talked a little about faithfulness. The first mark of faithfulness is listening. Why is it that when everybody is talking, no one is listening? We all have a deep-seated need to be heard, but we may not stop to realize that the most important part of being a faithful friend is to be a good listener. Until we hear what someone else is saying we don’t really know them. The same holds true in our relationship with God. Until we get quiet long enough to just sit quietly listening, we are missing the chance of knowing what matters to Him. Maybe we are something like Mary’s busy sister Martha. Martha had a good heart. Martha had invited Jesus to come to her house as a demonstration of friendship. But Martha was so preoccupied with all the preparations that she neglected the opportunity to simply sit at Jesus’ feet and listen. She was losing out on the chance to get to know Jesus. But Mary saw her chance and began building a faithful friendship by listening carefully to His words.

So let our prayer today be, “Lord slow us down, help us to put the brakes on our busyness and help us become a  faithful friend.” Let’s choose today to determine to listen and allow God’s word to take root in us. God already knows what we have to say, but the only way we can learn what He has to say is by listening!