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In Genesis 41 we read Pharaoh of Egypt is troubled by a dream. His cupbearer had previously had some dreams and Joseph who was in prison with him at the time, interpreted them. So when the cupbearer was restored to his former position by Pharaoh he was able to tell him of Joseph’s ability. God had set up this whole situation for such a time as this.
Now Pharaohs were known to consult all kinds of manner of magicians, soothsayers and the like but when Joseph was called to interpret this dream concerning seven years of plenty and seven years of famine, Pharaoh believed him and did as Joseph recommended which placed Joseph as the chief overseer of all the land. God once again set up this situation for such as time as this, for during the famine in Israel, Joseph’s family representing all the Israelites came to Egypt begging for food and Joseph was ready to satisfy their hunger.
Many years later in Daniel we see a similar situation arise. The Israelites were at that time in bondage to the Babylonians when king Nebuchadnezzar consulted magicians, conjurers, Chaldeans, diviners who could not interpret a dream that troubled him. He hears of young Daniel and calls him ,’htell me the interpretation, in as much as none of the wise men of my kingdom is able to make known to me the interpretations, but you are able, for a spirit of the holy gods is in you.’ Again God had set up this situation and positioned Daniel for such a time as this.
In both cases, the leaders were mighty kings in the eyes of the world. In both cases worldly spirits were not able to interpret the dreams. Then why Joseph and Daniel? The secret was that the Holy Spirit was IN them. Several times in the Old Testament the Spirit comes UPON people for mighty acts but in both Joseph (Genesis 41:38) and Daniel (Daniel 5:14) the Holy Spirit was IN them, indicating the favour of God was upon these two young godly men.
And so we fast forward to the New Testament. Peter and John are baptising people with the Holy Spirit by laying on hands. Simon, a new believer who formerly practiced magic asks to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit power (Acts 8:19). Peter answers with a resounding NO and reveals Simon’s wrong motive through a word of knowledge (Acts 8:21-23).
To receive the gifts of God, we need to surrender our lives to God completely, trust Him no matter what happens in our lives and act upon what he has endowed us with – the power of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:38, ‘And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’
(Inspired in part by a sermon by Brian Houston DREAMS AND VISIONS, Hillsong Sydney 4th January 2020) Posted 25-1-2020
THE STING OF DEATH - Sunday Sermonette by Marlene Anne Morphew
Dying to our self is like the sting of a wasp. Yet the Apostle Paul explains in Romans 6:23 why it is vital we die now. Death stings because we know, whatever the immediate cause, the root cause is our sin.
Death is the wages of sin. That's what Paul means when he says in 1 Corinthians 15:56, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” Death to self on this side of heaven or the final death before we take all our sin to hell. Which is the greater sting? Which causes the most suffering? Yet we fight the death to self-daily.
Yes death has a sting for sin is the cause of death. Sin caused death to arise (Genesis 3). It entered into the world by it, and is supported in its empire reign through it. It gives it its resistless power, which reaches to all sorts of persons, young and old, rich and poor, high and low, bond and free. It gives it all its bitterness, agonies, and miseries; and it is by that it does all the hurt and mischief in the world. Thus it may be compared to a sting, for its poisonous and venomous nature.
Sin is a transgression of the law of God. The strength of sin, its evil nature, and all the dreadful pain of it, and sad consequences are discovered and made known by the law; the Word of God. The strength of sin through the corruption of human nature; which is tempted and provoked the more to sin, through the law's prohibition of it. The more it is forbidden, the more appealing it becomes.
All sin is committed against the great lawgiver, God Himself, who is able to save and to destroy. Sin tramples on God’s governing power and authority, which makes the transgression the more horrible.
Yet it is the very law of God and His Word which binds sin upon a man's conscience, accuses him of it, pronounces him guilty and judges him to death for it.
‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). What hope of escape from this sting?
‘Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account’ (Romans 4:8) by confessing, turning away from sin and receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
THE TREE, THE TAX-MAN AND THE TRAVELER –
This trio, tree, tax-man and traveller collide in an unexpected, life-changing encounter in Luke 19:1-10.
God planted the sycamore tree seed in the right place at the right time to serve this one purpose. Though it grew rapidly to 3 metres in the first year, it had to be nurtured by the elements for six or seven years to reach full maturity
When the parents named the man, little did they know how prophetic it would be. For Zaccheus means pure, clean but at the time of this encounter he was not living up to the meaning. What does the Word of God reveal about him?
• He lived in Jericho (v1).
• He was rich, wealthy (v2).
• He was a chief tax-collector. A man not well liked, even despised by the citizens, not only because of his occupation but tax collectors were known to use their position for dishonest gain – collecting more than was owed and keeping the balance for themselves (v2, 7).
• He was overseer of a household; family and servants, a hospitable man (V5, 9)
• He showed eager curiosity by running ahead of the crowd (v4).
• He showed initiative by climbing the sycamore tree in order to see Jesus over the heads of the people along the road (v4).
• He was healthy, agile perhaps not yet middle aged (v4).
• He was seeking to see Jesus and he obtained his goal (v4).
• His name was known to Jesus and his open eager heart was visible to the Lord (v5).
• Jesus recognised a “ready harvest field” in Zaccheus (v5).
• He responded immediately to the inviting word from Jesus, “Zaccheus, hurry, and come down, for today I must stay at your house”. (v6)
• Zaccheus received Jesus gladly (V6).
• He was convicted by the Holy Spirit (v8).
• He recognised his wrong doing and became a repentant thief (v8).
• His heart was soft towards correction and restitution - even generous (v8).
• Zaccheus acknowledged Jesus as Lord immediately (v8).
• He was a Jew “lost” from the true Spirit of Israel before he met Jesus (v10).
• Jesus spends the night in his home – oh, what teaching would have filled that household!
There is no further word about Zacchaeus. Jesus did not return to check his resolve for restitution. There is no indication he changed his job. Only the way he did his it.
On the outside he was probably very much the same Zacchaeus to look at but inside, in his heart he and his household were now all born again (v9) – WITH ONE WORD FROM JESUS he became a transformed man.
1 John 5:8, ‘For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and thethree are in agreement.’ (NASB)
When the Lord speaks. Listen!
(The term hat trick originated in cricket, where it refers to three wickets taken by a bowler in three consecutive balls.)
In this verse the Apostle John is expressing and proving Jesus is the “Christ”; He is the Son of God. There is no other idol, god or proposed deity that can make this claim. John proves this by presenting God’s hat trick.
The Spirit, the water, and the blood, are three things which testify to this fact. John chose these three things that are from God to be a witness of Jesus’ true identity. John is pointing out that all of them say the same thing……and these three agree.’
The order in which John listed these is chronological and intentional. At His baptism, Jesus received the Holy Spirit. The water is relevant during His ministry; and the blood came at the end of His life when Jesus sacrificed everything on the cross.
The Blood is Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. There, He gave His life as a ransom for mankind, so all who would believe would once again have a relationship with the Father. Hebrews 9:22 tells us that ‘without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.’ And 1 John 1:7, ‘the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.’ Why? For everyone must be cleansed from sin to appear before God. No sin can come into the presence of Holy God.
Jesus is indeed the Son of God and all who believe this by faith receive eternal life (Psalm 2:7; John 3:16).
BUT GOD: NO NEED FOR REGRETS …
Sunday Sermonette by Marlene Anne Morphew
The young Israeli boy Joseph was cruelly treated by his jealous brothers and suffered through many hardships – thrown down a well, sold into slavery, falsely accused, imprisoned yet God still rose him to be the chief overseer of Pharaoh’s household and property. When famine hits the Israelites, they hear of food in Egypt, they head to this kingdom of Pharaoh and beg for food. Not recognising Joseph at first, he finally reveals who he is and the family bows before him as he prophesied long before. What did Joseph do? ‘And as for you, you meant evil against me BUT GOD meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive’ (Genesis 50:20). Joseph knew God had been with him all the time (Acts 7:9) as he acknowledged the sovereignty of God.
In 1 Samuel 23:14, king Saul was in hot pursuit of David, in fear of David’s strength and power, ‘BUT GOD did not deliver him (David) into his (Saul’s) hand’, thus saving His anointed successor to kingship. Yet in 1 Chronicles 28:3, God thwarts David’s plan to build him a temple – ‘BUT GOD said to me, “You shall not build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood.’ “
Psalm 49:15, “BUT GOD redeems…’ Psalm 64:17, “BUT GOD fights for us..Psalm 73:26, “BUT GOD is our strength when we are weak.. Psalm 75:7, “BUT GOD is the judge … so we are not to exalt ourselves. Isaiah 17:13 assures us during hardship from outside forces, ‘BUT GOD will rebuke them and they will flee far away..’
1 Corinthians 1:27 tells us God’s kingdom is an upside down kingdom from His perspective. ‘BUT GOD has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong.’ ‘BUT GOD has so composed the body (of Christ) , giving more abundant honour to that member which lacked, that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.’
And no matter who shares the gospel, who waters the seed sown ‘BUT GOD causes (spiritual) the growth…..(1 Corinthians 3:6-7).
No matter what we have done, where we have made mistakes, the sufferings and hurts, the triumphs and wrong decisions, there is no need for regret for God has been with His children in 2019 and we can rely on His sovereign touch in 2020.
BOATS – Sunday Sermonette by Marlene Anne Morphew
Believers of Jesus Christ are not to be like a merchant ship, busy carrying cargo from one place to another as quick as we can, focusing on money to reach personal deadlines, and stacking up good deeds.
Followers of Jesus Christ are not to be like a cruise ship; always seeking the next thrill and “feel good” experience. Wanting to be entertained in comfort. Wandering aimlessly through the ocean of humanity for our own pleasure. Looking for the “love boat”; needing ears tickled and back scratched. Hanging about to have a good time, going from one conference to the next, never learning or growing, changing or being transformed. There is no permanent deck chair when serving the kingdom of God.
Disciples of Jesus Christ are not to be “rice” Christians. Expecting a floating restaurant; a BBQ boat, a feast boat. It is not about coming to a service and seeing what is on the spiritual menu. Not about preference of worship or preaching styles. Believers need to eat a balanced diet; eating the right spiritual food to stay healthy and strong to do the job of “fishing”.
Neither are believers in Jesus to become a submarine – so deep in the things of God no one can reach us. Invisible. There is a time to dig deeper in private study and prayer times but being wise enough to be able to answer people’s questions about faith in a language they would understand.
Then there are battle ship believers fighting warfare against demons but doing this constantly will make disciples weak and weary and open to the enticement of the very demons they are trying to defeat!
There is a place and time for all these (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) but what kind of boat is favourable to God?
In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus got into the fishing boat. Believers first and foremost are to be like a fishing boat, a Life Saving boat – bringing people safely on shore, delivering people out of the depths of darkness into the kingdom of Light onto the rock of Jesus Christ and fulfilling the commission in Matthew 28:18-20.
Christmas is a prime time to go “fishing”. Go out AGAIN, as Jesus directed for He blesses fishing boats.