The Meaning of Life

Meaning of LifeLeo Tolstoy was famous, influential, and well off when he wrote this.

The question–that which at the age of fifty brought me to the edge of the abyss–was the simplest of questions… “What will come of what I am doing today or shall do tomorrow? What will come of my whole life?”

Differently expressed, the question is: “Why should I live, why wish for anything, or do anything?” It can also be expressed thus: “Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?”

My deeds whatever they may be will be forgotten sooner or later, and I myself will be no more, why then do anything? I therefore could not attach a rational meaning to a single act of my entire life. The only thing that amazed me was how I had failed to realize this from the very beginning. How could anyone fail to see this? That’s what is amazing.

It’s possible to live, as long as life intoxicates us. But once we’re sober…

What are you living for?

References:

Leo Tolstoy, A Confession

Kevin Kim

Timothy Keller

God Knows How to Drink Coffee and Fix Computers

“God knows how to do everything… He knows how to drink coffee… He knows how to fix computers…” – Annie (my 7yr old) #kidtheology @coryburket

My friend Cory Burket put this out on Twitter yesterday. I just had to share it.

Why on Earth Did Jesus Come to Earth? The Big, the Small, and Your Predicament

Christmas Why Jesus CameWhat is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? -Psalm 8:4

The Big

God is Big.

God is Bigger than I am. He’s Bigger than you are.

Much Bigger.

He’s the One who Continue reading

The Election is Over — Now What? Genesis 48:17-20

Election Over -- Now What?When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know… “

…he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

Genesis 48:17-20

The Election is Over, Now What?

“When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased.” (v.17)

He put Ephraim, Joseph’s second born, ahead of Joseph’s first born, Manasseh — and Joseph didn’t like it.

How about this election? One man was put ahead of another. How did you like it? I find it interesting we find ourselves at this precise point in Genesis, the day after the election. Because Continue reading

Will God Come Through for You? — Genesis 45:4-28

Photo credit: NotAnyRon, Creative Commons

Read Genesis 45:4-28

Joseph says to his brothers, Come close to me. And they’re all terrified at what might happen to them, because they know what they did to Joseph years ago, and Joseph knows, and they know Joseph knows. But they come close anyway. (see previous post What God Says to You)

After they draw near, Joseph says, It’s me, your brother, Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! But don’t be afraid, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me into slavery here, because God sent me ahead of you to save lives. For two years now there’s been famine, and for five more years there’ll be no plowing or reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve you, a remnant on earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

Continuing to note the remarkable parallels between Joseph’s life and Jesus’, just as Joseph gave his brothers a pardon, our Greater than Joseph, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) And even as God sent Joseph to preserve the family of Israel, God sent Jesus to preserve you, and to save your life by a great deliverance.

So it wasn’t you who sent me here, but God. He made me like a father to Pharaoh, the lord of his entire household and the ruler over all of Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and tell him, This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t wait. You’ll live in the region of Goshen and be near me — you and all your family, your flocks, your herds, all you have. I’ll provide for you there because five years of famine are still ahead. Come down or you and your household will become destitute.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) Even as Joseph provided for his family, our Greater than Joseph provides for us.

You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it’s really me speaking to you. Tell my father about all the honor I receive here in Egypt and about everything you’ve seen. And bring my father back here, quickly.

Joseph directed his brothers to share his glory with their father. You and I are wise to share Jesus’ glory with our heavenly Father. Praising Jesus pleases the Father, even as praising Joseph pleased Jacob.

Then he throws his arms around his brother Benjamin and weeps, and Benjamin embraces him, weeping. And Joseph kisses all his brothers and weeps over them. Afterward his brothers talk with him.

When the news reaches Pharaoh’s palace about Joseph’s brothers, Pharaoh and all his officials are pleased. Pharaoh says to Joseph, Tell your brothers to load their animals and return to the land of Canaan, and to bring your father and your families back to me. I’ll give them the best land in Egypt and they can enjoy the fat of the land.

You’re also directed to tell them: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. Don’t worry about your belongings, because the best of Egypt will be yours.

Part of Joseph’s purpose was to move everyone closer to him, to the land of Goshen. Our Greater than Joseph, Jesus has the purpose of drawing us closer to Him. (see previous post What God Says to You)

So the sons of Israel do all this. Joseph gives them carts, as Pharaoh had directed, and he also gives them provisions for their journey. He gives each of them new clothes, but to Benjamin he gives three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of new clothes. And he sends his father ten donkeys, loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. Then he sends his brothers away, and as they’re leaving he says, Don’t quarrel on the way!

Remember how Joseph’s brothers quarreled in Genesis chapter 42? We’re being punished because of what we did to Joseph! One said. Didn’t I tell you not to hurt him! Reuben said. But you wouldn’t listen!

Of course when they were arguing, Joseph was right there before them. Though the brothers didn’t realize it, Joseph, being fluent in Hebrew, understood every word they said. So he knew their propensity to bicker. Even as Joseph knew their tendency to argue, our Greater than Joseph knows our tendency to argue. And even as Joseph commanded his brothers not to quarrel on the way, our Greater than Joseph, Jesus, commands us, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

So they go up out of Egypt and come to their father Jacob in Canaan. They tell him, Joseph is still alive! In fact, he’s ruler over all of Egypt. Jacob is stunned and he doesn’t believe them. But when they tell him everything Joseph said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent for the journey back, the spirit of Jacob revived. And finally Israel says, OK, I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I’ll go and see him before I die.

 

Will God Come Through for You?

I’m working on a book right now about Kent Brown, a friend of mine who lived a most improbable life. He was in the Navy and present in Guantanamo Bay during the Bay of Pigs incident. He was a photographer for the Navy in the Gulf of Tonkin when the Vietnam war started. And Bobby Kennedy’s people had him take photographs at the Ambassador Hotel the night Kennedy was assassinated. Later he was given high level clearances by the FBI. He carried a Halliburton attache case handcuffed to his wrist, a gun in a shoulder holster, and a backup gun strapped to his ankle as he flew around the country transporting top secret documents. He was living a life most young men only dream about, until broken marriages and a broken body from a freak accident brought him to the end of himself. He lost his family, he lost his job, he lost his house, he lost it all.

It wasn’t until he was at the end of himself, he gave his life, utterly and completely gave his life, to Jesus.

Maybe you’re like Joseph’s brothers were, or like Kent Brown was, struggling to put food on the table, no pride left, no dignity — nothing, nothing left. If you are, then you’re just the kind of person Jesus is looking for. Joseph was waiting for his brothers to reach the place where they had no pride or dignity. Jesus is waiting for some of us to reach that same place.

Because so often it’s not until we’re at the end of ourselves, before we finally feel moved to completely surrender ourselves over to Jesus, even as Judah gave himself to Joseph in the previous chapter. (see previous post What Does God Want)

But though our difficulties and trials may be great, in the end, God has a way of coming through.

He did for Joseph’s family.

He did for my friend Kent Brown.

He will for you and yours.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Matthew Henry

Jon Courson

 

What Does God Want? Genesis Chapter 44

What does God wantTo read the last post on Genesis click on Starving But Afraid to Return: Genesis 43.

Read Genesis 44

In our last post we left Joseph’s brothers feasting and drinking freely with Joseph. After the end of chapter 43, one might think the brothers are out of the woods, so to speak. But look what happens next.

Before the brothers leave for home, Joseph gives the steward of his house these instructions: Fill up their sacks with all the food they can carry, and put their silver in their sacks. Also, put my silver cup in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver and grain.

So the steward does as Joseph instructed.

Morning comes and the men are sent on their way. They aren’t very far along on their journey when Joseph says to his steward, Go after them, and when you catch them, say, Why have you repaid good with evil? You have the cup my master drinks from and uses for divination. This is a wicked thing you’ve done.

So when the steward catches up with them he says what he was ordered to say. And they answer, Why are you saying these things? We would never do anything like that! We brought back the silver we had from last time. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master now? Tell you what, if you find the cup on any one of us, that person will die; and the rest of us will become your master’s slaves.

All right then, the steward says, It’ll be how you want it. Whoever has it will become my slave, the rest will be free from blame.

They all toss their sacks to the ground and open them up. Then the steward searches them, beginning with the oldest and working his way to the youngest. And there it is, the cup, in Benjamins sack. Right away they despair and tear their clothes. Then they load up their donkeys and head back to Joseph’s house in the city.

Joseph is still there when Judah and his brothers come in, and they throw themselves to the ground in front of Joseph. Joseph says, What have you done? Don’t you realize a man like me can find out what’s happened by divination?

What can we say? Judah responds. What can we say? What could we do to prove our innocence? God has exposed your servants’ guilt. We’re now your slaves — we ourselves and the one who had the cup.

But Joseph says, Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the one who had the cup will become my slave. The rest can go back to your father in peace.

Then Judah goes up to him and says, Please excuse your servant, my lord, please allow me to have a word with my lord. Don’t be angry with your servant, even though you’re equal to Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, Do you have a father or a brother? And we told you, We have an elderly father, and there’s a young boy born to him in his old age. His brother’s dead, and he’s the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.

Then you said to us, your servants, Bring him down here to me so I can see him for myself. And we said to my lord, The youngest son can’t leave his father, if he leaves, his father will die. But you told us, your servants, Unless you bring him back, you won’t see me again. When we went back to your servant, my father, we told him everything you said.

Then our father said, Go back to Egypt and buy some more food. But we told him, We can’t go unless our youngest brother goes with us. We can’t see the man’s face unless we bring Benjamin.

Your servant, my father, said, You know my wife had two sons. One of them went away and never came back, I said, He has surely been torn to pieces. And I haven’t seen him since. If you take Benjamin, and harm comes to him, I’ll die from grief.

So at this point, if the youngest isn’t with us when we go back, and my father, whose life is closely bound up with the his, sees he isn’t with us, my father will die. Your servants will bring him down to the grave in grief and sorrow. I myself guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father.

So please, let me remain here as your slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return to his brothers. How can I go back to my father if he’s not with me? No! Don’t let me see the misery that would come upon my father.

What Does He Want?

Imagine with me what Judah and his brother’s must be saying to each other at this point: What, what, what? What does Joseph want? Why is this happening? When will it stop? We gave Joseph our silver to buy food. We left Simeon as a prisoner. We went home, we came back, we brought Benjamin as requested. We brought gifts, almonds, honey, the best the land has to offer. We bowed before Joseph — four times so far! But no, none of that is what Joseph wants. So what then? What? What is it?

What does Joseph want from us?

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever asked those questions? Maybe like Judah and his brothers, you’re asking yourself those questions now: “Why is this happening to me? When will it stop? What does God want? What does Jesus want from me?”

The answer for Judah and his brothers concerning what Joseph wanted was this: Joseph wanted the brothers themselves. He wanted the brothers to give themselves to him. At the end of our text we see Judah offer himself to Joseph. And we’ll see in chapter 45, it’s not until Judah finally offers himself to Joseph, that Joseph reveals himself to Judah, and the rest of the brothers.

The answer for you is the same. It’s the same with your greater than Joseph, Jesus. He doesn’t crave your money. He doesn’t need your worship. He doesn’t want to imprison anybody. He doesn’t need your gifts. He doesn’t need your sacrifices. What does He want?

He wants you…

…to give yourself…

…to Him.

All of you. Everything. Everything you are.

He wants your life.

The moment you make that commitment, the moment you flip that switch in your head and your heart, to give all of yourself to Him — as Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, Jesus will begin to reveal Himself to you.

So do it! What reason is there not to? You only have blessings awaiting you on the other side of that commitment. So what are you waiting for? Flip that switch. Pray to Him right now. Give yourself, all of yourself, to Him

Do it, and like Judah and his brothers — your life will never be the same.

[Image via Fenway71 - Creative Commons]

References:

Bible Gateway

Blue Letter Bible

Jon Courson

Notes:

Joseph’s brothers bowed down to him, fulfilling Joseph’s prophetic dream, a total of five times:

  1. Genesis 42:6: Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground
  2. Genesis 43:26: When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground.
  3. Genesis 43:28: They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.
  4. Genesis 44:14: Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him.
  5. Genesis 50:18: His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
 

Jesus is God?

Photo by iko, Creative Commons

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

-C.S. Lewis

I and the Father are one.”

Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”

“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

John 10:30-33

For more see Believing God Today:

Shocked by God — Seriously!

Photo by sea turtle, creative commons

Hi, I’m on vacation, hiking in the North Cascades National Park with family. So you’ll see a guest post today (with a short comment from me at the bottom) and a few posts with links to people who write better than I do, until Saturday, July 28. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

The following is a guest post by Kassidy Lane. Kassidy is the manager of Oregon Painting and Repair. He is a disciplined follower of the paleo diet and I’m pretty sure his body fat content is less than what you find in a carton of 1% milk. He lives in Springfield, Oregon with his wife, two kids, two dogs, and an undisclosed number of chickens. He is my favorite nephew (in a tie with all my other nephews, but don’t tell him that). Most importantly, he is a lover of Jesus Christ.

So I was in church last Sunday and I’m not proud to say that It was one of those services where I could not wait for it to be over so I could get on with my day. I had a long list of things I planned on doing and felt I did not have enough time for it all.  My pastor said something to the effect of how some people think they don’t need God, how they have it all figured out, and how those people need to be shocked and completely surprised by God to see and feel his awesome power. One thing I know for sure and I’ll never forget, he used the word “shocked” when he shared this with us.

As the service ended I rushed out without talking to anyone so as to have more time to get my many tasks done.

Later that day I was up on a ladder, painting my neighbors house, and was electrocuted by around 220 volts/amps (don’t really know which), when my arm came in contact with a power line. I was lit up for about two seconds, then I fell 12 feet to the ground. It was by far the scariest thing that has ever happened to me. The electricity went in my right wrist and out my left wrist leaving a burn about the size of a quarter. The 220 volts passed directly through my heart and, from what I have read, could have killed me.

I just hugged my family and I cried like I have not cried in years!

God really got my attention and I hope to remember Him and His awesome power and His Grace in my future days!

-Kas

Kas’s story is so timely. As I’m posting this for Kas, I’m trying to find my Kindle. I’ve been trying to find it all day and it’s really bothering me. At the same time the wounding of the 59 and the killing of the 12 by the gunman at Dark Night Rises in Aurora, Colorado is all over the news, which really puts things in perspective. What’s a lost Kindle compared to losing a loved one? I’m betting there were more than a few families and friends of those who suffered, who let the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word – before the shooting. (Matthew 13:22) After the shooting, I’m betting most of these people have turned their hearts toward God. I’m betting the little worries of this life, and the pursuit of wealth don’t seem very important right now.

Turn your heart toward God. Don’t wait for the shock to come, or the tragedy.

You’ll be glad you did.

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

-Jesus Christ, Matthew 13:22-23

God vs. Basketball

God vs. Basketball

So I spoke with a 20 something who wrote a blog post about basketball yesterday. His post received a lot of attention and reaction which prompted me to say,

“Wow, your basketball post got a lot more reaction than most of my blog posts.”

“Yea,” he said, “but I’m posting about basketball, you’re just posting about God…”

Hmmmmmm.

What’s ultimate in your life? Basketball? Football? Video games? Work? Or, dare I say it, shopping? It should be noted, the 20 something who made this comment, did so sarcastically. He knows Who is most important. But it’s a great reminder, to recommit yourself to…

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”

-Jesus Christ, Matthew 22:37

Make Him your ultimate.

Put Him, before everything else.