The Importance of Going to Church

September 28, 2012 at 11:57 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 12 Comments
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In Psalm 73 Asaph was dissatisfied because it looked to him like the wicked were prospering and the righteous were being treated unfairly by God. We know that this line of thinking is wrong for a number of reasons. First, everyone is wicked by God’s standard of holiness, so, in a sense, any time someone prospers, it is a case of the wicked prospering. Second, there are none righteous apart from God. Third, it is impossible for God to be unfair. He is perfectly just in all His ways and in Who He is. These types of remedial truths are more evidently revealed in the New Testament than in the Old Testament (although they are clearly there in both), so, when Asaph began to correct his thinking, it is actually kind of surprising to us New Testament Christians to see what got him back on the right track.

If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children. When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;

Psalm 73:15-16

Remember, Asaph was a worship leader in the sanctuary. When he caught himself questioning God’s goodness, he got worried about how quitting his ministry position would affect other worshipers! That’s probably not the best reason to resolve to continue serving the Lord, but it’s certainly not a bad reason. And I really like what Asaph did next: he went to church.

Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.

Psalm 73:17-18

Church is essential for Christians.

Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.

Psalm 73:21-22

What happens at church to remove our doubt and re-establish our faith in God?

1. We get into fellowship with other Christians.
2. We hear the Word of God.
3. We sing songs of praise.
4. We remember we are part of a worshiping body.

Theodicy can be wrestled with and more easily defeated when we work as a team.

As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.

Psalm 73:20

Sometimes we reverently wrestle with God and the more-difficult doctrines of the Bible. But ultimately God is not a problem to be solved. He is a Person to be loved.

Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

Psalm 73:23-25

I said earlier that it is essential for Christians to go to church. But is it possible to be a Christian and not go to church? Of course, it’s possible. It’s also possible to be married and to go home each day to see your spouse, or to never go home to see your spouse. But which makes for a better relationship?

When I get back to loving God with the reinforcement of my brothers and sisters in Christ, then the “prosperity” of the wicked gets revealed for what it really is: a fantasy. It becomes revealed and reviled.

For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee.

Psalm 73:27

Asaph went to church without even being sure why he was going. But he left telling everybody that they need to go too.

But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.

Psalm 73:28

Don’t Get Too Attached to Your Coat

November 1, 2010 at 10:30 am | Posted in Genesis | 8 Comments
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What was so special about Joseph?

And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

Genesis 39:2, emphasis added

It’s not just that the Lord was all Joseph wanted. It’s not even that the Lord was all Joseph needed. The Lord was all Joseph had. We would all be better off if we realized the same truth. Joseph was a success and hero, but the real cause of it was that he trusted the Lord and wanted to honor the Lord.

It may have looked from a worldly point of view like Joseph was blessed to have Egypt, but from a Heavenly point of view Egypt was blessed to have Joseph. Remember the promise of God’s covenant. He would bless those that blessed Israel.

And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field.

Genesis 39:5

Joseph believed the covenant promise. To an Egyptian culture with 2000 gods that seemed to be fixated with death in its worship, Joseph must have seemed like a breath of fresh air as he emphasized life.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Proverbs 22:29

Joseph was diligent and hardworking, so God allowed him to work for the top men in Egypt. There is a principle for today in this lesson: If I am a lazy worker, I will probably wind up working for a bad boss. Both Jacob and Joseph had inherited their blessings from rich fathers, but God worked it out so they had to work hard and depend on Him.

And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured.

Genesis 39:6

It appears that God made Joseph physically attractive, and, while this is often an advantage in life, it was a cause of trouble for Joseph. Potiphar’s wife lusted after him. Joseph glorified God by rejecting her advances.

There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

Genesis 39:9

Joseph could envision the consequences of sin, but the only thing that kept him from falling into sin was that he knew Who sin was against.

And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

Genesis 39:12, emphasis added

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

II Timothy 2:22, emphasis added

This was the second time in Joseph’s life he had lost his coat, but he was clothed in Christ.

And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound. And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward. And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison. And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad. And he asked Pharaoh’s officers that were with him in the ward of his lord’s house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day? And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.

Genesis 40:1-8

Joseph focused on others – and gave the glory to God.

Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.

Genesis 40:13

Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.

Genesis 40:23

Should we be surprised the butler forgot Joseph?

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

Psalm 146:3-6

When Pharaoh had his dreams, then the butler remembered Joseph.

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

Genesis 41:14

Joseph dressed up for his appointment with Pharaoh. It is important to take care about our appearance, because that is how we are often judged by others.

Joseph lost his coat for the third time. He had been given a coat by his earthly father, and now his Heavenly Father gives him a coat through Pharaoh.

And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

Genesis 41:42

Joseph was given an Egyptian name.

And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:45

Joseph’s Egyptian name spoke of the abundance of life and the Sustainer of life. It pointed to the type of person who enjoys life and lives it with a purpose – who brings life to others. Joseph got a gentile wife, which is a kind of picture of Christ marrying a gentile bride after His rejection by the Jews.

Here is another similarity between Joseph and Jesus:

And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

Genesis 41:55, emphasis added

And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

John 2:3-5, emphasis added

When your provision runs out, look to Jesus, and whatever HE says: DO IT.

And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

Genesis 42:6

Joseph provided bread to the nations; Jesus Christ provided the Bread of Life.

For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

John 6:33

Jacob’s family had multiplied – often in immorality. Now God showed that He was still in control. It’s great to have a big family – except in a famine!

But Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him. And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan. And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

Genesis 42:4-6

This incident almost fulfilled the prophecy of Joseph’s dream, but one brother was missing. That fact may explain much of Joseph’s thinking in how he dealt with his brothers from that point forward. He knew that all the brothers – and Jacob – needed to bow before him. He also knew that the brothers needed to repent because, for all he knew, they could still hate him.

And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.

Genesis 42:7, emphasis added

The incident reminds us of the two disciples who encountered the resurrected Jesus on the road to Emmaus.

And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.

Luke 24:15-16

Even before Joseph’s brothers recognized him, they started to feel conviction.

And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required. And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter.

Genesis 42:21-23

He’s More than “All I Need.” He’s “All I Have.”

June 17, 2010 at 11:07 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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It can be heartbreaking to see people bowing down to the cult of celebrity in our times. Men and women, boys and girls, all of whom God so gloriously created for His Own glory, seem to persistently ignore Him, and to make idols out of silly individuals famous for even sillier accomplishments. Most people know more about Paris Hilton than they do about Priscilla and Aquila. We know more about Britney Spears than about the spear Saul threw at David. We know more about Heath Ledger than about the heath in the desert. How many of our children and young adults obsess over clothing, beauty products, hair styles, and weight loss, but could not begin to point to a Scripture that describes the true Biblical definition of “beauty?” We know more about what happened on the red carpet than about what happened on the Cross of Christ.

Even spiritually-minded people seem to feel as if God alone is not enough. All types of Heavenly beings are worshipped in place of Christ. The saints are adored and offered prayers. Christ’s mother is deified. Angels are worshipped as if they were creators instead of creatures.

This type of vanity must stop. What joy there is in realizing that God alone is worthy of worship and praise! What peace and power there is in knowing that there is only one Mediator between God and man – the man Christ Jesus! In God’s creation, man can find anything he wants. But only in God Himself can man find what he truly needs.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

Psalm 73:25


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