Tag Archives: Third Day

Overcome the World

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33B

When met with adversity we meet Him. This may sound like I am suggesting to look on the bright side. While I think looking on the bright side can be good to gain a different perspective, Jesus had emotions just like you and I. He felt broken, torn, hurt, offended. It’s not unchristian to feel. We are made to feel emotion. It’s what sets us apart. What I mean is that when we are met with adversity it is an opportunity to give Jesus the driver’s seat. I’m trying not to quote Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel”, but that’s exactly what we should do in trials and suffering. Who knows us and our situation better than the one who knit us in our mother’s womb.

In Genesis 39 Joseph has just been sold to the Ishmaelites by his jealous brothers. They had planned to kill him, but decided they’d make some cash by selling him. The Ishmaelites sold him into slavery to Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard. Joseph must have been feeling hurt and betrayed by his brothers, fear of what would come next, sad that he had been forced to leave his father behind. This was truly a time of adversity for him, but the Bible says , “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man…” Did I read that right?!? Joseph who was almost murdered by his jealous brothers, sold into slavery, and now he has become successful? But this is not where the struggle ends. Just as in our own lives, because we fight through one storm does not mean there isn’t another on the horizon.

Joseph had become quite successful working under Potiphar until his wife tried to seduce him. When he realized her proposition he quickly fled, but she snatched his cloak from his back. Seeing this as evidence and an opportunity for revenge on Joseph she went to her husband to accuse his servant of assault, “See, here is his cloak he left behind.” Believing his wife’s accusation Potiphar quickly had Joseph detained. Once again, betrayed and let down, Joseph finds God’s favor. His good behavior and God’s spirit upon him earn him the position of watching over all the other prisoners, an assistant to the chief jailer. Over two years later through a series of unlikely events Joseph is asked to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. The dream’s interpretation indicated a famine was coming. Impressed with Joseph’s discernment Pharaoh promotes Joseph from prisoner to his personal assistant and head of all his servants and business of his house.

Later Joseph gained even more respect from Pharaoh and God continued to show him favor, even reconciling his relationship with his family and at last reuniting them. No mountain is too big or too small for God to overcome. The number of scriptures on overcoming adversity is overwhelming. If you don’t believe me reflect on your past. Think of all the times you have overcome. Did you really overcome with your own strength or was there something, someone supernatural carrying you through it.

If you are feeling stuck in struggle, suffering, sorrow take a moment to meditate on this, my favorite Psalm:

Psalm 91 (NRSV)

You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence; he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot. Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. When  they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.

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Don’t Let Drought Happen to You

I spent the first 19 years of my life living in a rural farming community in Northern California. Although my parents were not farmers the entire community revolved around farming. Weather reports often referred to whether this year would be a good or bad year for crops depending on whether Spring came early or late, rainfall, freezing temperatures, etc. Later I would work for a walnut shelling plant for a few months as a temp. I found out when you are a farmer a good chunk of the battle is the weather and no amount of money can make the rain fall or the temperature rise. Some of you not currently living in Northern California might be oblivious to the fact that during a drought it’s hard to even get the water to irrigate.

Watching the news last night I saw that the governor has declared California in a state of emergency for the driest year in recorded state history. His office is recommending residents to cut back on water usage by 20%. An interview with some of his staff showed billboards featuring a dirty, dusty windshield on which someone had written with their finger “Don’t Wash Me.” The staff explained, “This is the official California summer of 2014 car.” It’s a very unfortunate, yet much more fortunate truth that we do not get to control all the elements that make our crops bear fruit.

In the first half of Mark chapter 4 Jesus teaches a crowd from a boat out in a lake. He teaches there because the crowd gets so big this is the only way he can speak to them. Standing out on the water in a boat Jesus tells the parable of the sower. (A parable is a story that tells a special lesson or truth.) He describes a farmer who scatters seeds. There must have not been a shortage of seeds because this farmer was a little careless. Seeds fell in each of these places: on a path, in rocky places, among thorns, and lastly on good soil. If you have ever planted a crop you know that seeds that go anywhere but good soil are usually hard to grow unless they are weeds. Jesus proceeds to tell the crowd that the seeds on the path get eaten by birds. The seeds in the rocky places with shallow soil spring up quickly but wither when the sun comes out. The thorns choke out what grows among them, but the good soil brings fruit. In fact, the seeds on the good soil multiply 30, 60, even 100 times.

While you might be thinking that Jesus is just giving sound farming advice, he is also giving us discipleship advice. Don’t worry if you don’t understand, the disciples didn’t either. Unfortunately after Jesus’ message he didn’t get to go watch football like some men do after church, he had to explain this somewhat cryptic message he gave. He says that each seed represents a person. The seed which falls on the path is like a person who hears the Word, but Satan quickly puts doubts in their mind, doubts that they come to believe more so than the Word. The seed in the rocky places is the person who hears and accepts the word but whose troubles make the Word to fall away. The choked out seed among thorns is like the person whose worries and desires for this world (money, fame, material objects) choke out the Word. Lastly, the seed on good soil is like those who hear and accept the Word and produce a crop 30, 60, even 100 times.

We can assume the crop Jesus is referring to is disciples. In the last verses of Matthew 28 Jesus gives us the great commission. In short, he says to go and make disciples, make Christ followers. If we can take one thing away from this parable it is to make disciples. The seed in the nourishing soil is the one that is fruitful. Ask God how you can insure you are the seed on good soil. I don’t want you to be the Official California Summer of 2014 Dusty Christian with a drought in your discipler. In Matthew 28 Jesus says “All authority in Heaven and on Earth is given to me…” You have received his inheritance. Do not squander it on keeping the Word a secret. Be bold!

Let us pray:

Lord, I pray that you make me your vessel. May your Word be my nourishment, that whatever comes out of me is from you and the fruit it produces is for you. Even though I feel like a tiny, insignificant seed at times you give me the potential to be fruitful and multiply. I do not want to experience a spiritual drought. Thank you for being my spiritual sun and water, and soil that I may multiply for your glory. Amen.

My Grandpa's Garden 2011