Monday, April 23, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 4/23/2012
JOSEPH: A PORTRAIT OF THE GLORIFIED CHRIST, Lesson 53c
v. 54-57 HE PICTURES CHRIST IN HIS POWER
v. 56 His Saving Power
Joseph had the keys to the granaries. He literally had the power of life and death over all the people. Joseph used his power wisely! He became the Saviour of the people. Jesus – He possesses all saving power! What can save the soul of man? Faith and obedience in Jesus Christ! (Acts 16:31; Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 10:13).
Bruce Revel tells about taking a cruise on a large ocean liner. Soon after boarding the craft, he found out that everyone would be required to participate in a lifeboat drill. One requirement was that everyone had to wear a life jacket. When the alarm sounded, all passengers and crew gathered at the appointed location. The scene was amazing. Every man, woman, and child on that ship was wearing the same kind and color of life jacket. Finely dressed ladies with expensive jewelry were wearing exactly the same kind of life jacket as the cleaning women. Men in elegant tuxedos wore the same life jacket as the men who worked in the kitchen. This is a beautiful illustration of the reality of the church. Every time the people of God gather, it is like that lifeboat drill. No matter what our status or economic level, everyone must have the same life preserver--Jesus Christ.
v. 49, 54 The Sufficiency Of His Power
Joseph had sufficient grain for all those who came to Him, both Egyptians and strangers! Jesus – His blood is sufficient for whosoever will! It doesn’t matter who comes, or what they may have done in their life, they can come to Jesus and receive eternal salvation ( John 6:37). The price is right too ( Isa. 55:1; Rev. 22:17).
Many years ago in Liverpool, England, a home for sailors caught fire and many men were trapped on the upper floors of the rapidly burning building. A ladder was brought. Some of the men climbed to safety, but the ladder was too short to reach the top floor. It looked as if the poor souls on the top story were doomed to a wretched death.
Suddenly a British sailor rushed from the crowd and hurriedly climbed the ladder. Precariously he balanced himself on the uppermost rung and reached up to take hold of the windowsill. With his hands locked on the window ledge and his feet on the ladder, he called for the trapped men to clamber down over his body to the ladder. One after another the frightened men literally scrambled over the brave sailor's back until all had escaped. The rescuer came down the ladder himself. His fingers were burned and his hair was smoldering, but no one died in that fire thanks to the sailor's sacrifice.
Once we were as hopeless and helpless as the men trapped in the burning building with no way out. We were utterly doomed by our sins, but Christ reached out to save us. He offered Himself as the bridge between death and life. By His sacrifice we have been saved. Jesus alone can bridge the gap between God and man, (1 Tim. 2:5). Our best efforts fall far short of reaching the safety of His salvation, (Isa. 64:6).
v. 44, 55 The Singularity Of His Power
Joseph alone was the saviour of the people. Jesus - There is no other force known to God, or man, which can save the human soul! It is by faith and obedience in Jesus ( John 11:25-26 ). In these 2 verses, Jesus summed it all up very clearly! Jesus alone has the power to transform a sinner to a saint! It doesn’t matter what they promise or what they claim; only Jesus is qualified to save the human soul. The price He paid to be able to do just that is what a person would have to do in order to become a Saviour!
An anonymous author made this striking comparison: "Socrates taught for 40 years, Plato for 50, Aristotle for 40, and Jesus for only 3. Yet the influence of Christ's 3-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity.
Jesus painted no pictures; yet some of the finest paintings of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci received their inspiration from Him. Jesus wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world's greatest poets were inspired by Him. Jesus composed no music; still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratorios they composed in His praise. Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by this humble Carpenter of Nazareth.
His unique contribution to the race of men is the salvation of the soul! Philosophy could not accomplish that. Nor art. Nor literature. Nor music. Only Jesus Christ can break the enslaving chains of sin and Satan. He alone can speak peace to the human heart, strengthen the weak, and give life to those who are spiritually dead."
A minister saw a line of people filing in and out of a toolshed and went over to investigate. Inside lay the body of a man who that morning had been found at the foot of a steep hill nearby. The people were trying to identify him. As the minister looked at that lifeless form, he saw that one hand was grasping a long stalk of straw. Apparently the man had grabbed it, desperately hoping it would keep him from falling over the edge.
Many people believe that the straws of religious ceremony and good works will save them from eternal condemnation. Our own efforts are flimsy straws. We all need to acknowledge our lost condition and trust Him who died for our sins. If you say, "I'm not that bad." Listen! You are still clutching that last straw of self-righteousness. Let go and rest your eternal destiny on Christ Jesus.
v. 57 The Scope Of His Power
Joseph’s power reached into all the world. Jesus – His grace can reach anyone ( Rom. 5:20). No one in the world is beyond the saving touch of Jesus Christ. All that will keep anyone outside the saving power of Jesus is for them to refuse to come to Him!
A young man who had lived a wild and reckless life was stricken with a fatal disease. As he lay dying, he was visited by an earnest Christian who told him of his need for the Savior. Realizing he could not meet God with his load of sin, he opened his heart to the Lord and obeyed the gospel. As the end approached, the promise of John 3:16 gave him his greatest comfort and peace. When he could no longer read the text for himself, he asked his mother to open the Bible to that verse. "Put my finger on the word 'whosoever,'" he said. "That invitation is broad enough to include even me!"
Some in, and out, of Egypt probably refused to come to Joseph for help. They probably starved too! Many will also refuse to come to Jesus, and they will go to Hell. But whoever looks will live though bitten by sin (The Brazen Serpent – Num. 21:4-10; Isa. 45:22).
Conc: We serve a glorified Lord today! Greater in power and glory that Joseph or any other earthly ruler has ever hoped to have. We serve a Lord who is busy on behalf of His people and is busy reaching out into a lost world seeking to save the lost.
A Certain man was traveling on an ocean liner. He was leaning over the ship's rail tossing something in the air and catching it. "What is it you are tossing in the air?" asked an onlooker. "A diamond of great value. It is all I have in the world," said the man. "What an awful risk to keep tossing it up so carelessly!" "No risk at all. I've been doing it for the last half hour, and I can catch it every time." "But there might come a last time," remarked the onlooker. The man laughed and tossed it up again-,but this time he missed. For a moment, the man stood aghast. Then he cried out, "Lost! Lost! Lost!" Baker commented, "You say the story is not true--it is true! The ocean is eternity. You are on the vessel of life. That diamond is your soul. And you have been trifling with it."
If you are lost today, you do not have to stay that way! If you will come to Jesus today, He will save you eternally. What will you do with Jesus this morning? He will save you, bless you, keep you and take you home to Heaven some day if you will receive Him as your personal Saviour. If not? Well, He will still be the King of Kings and your judge as well.
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“What Will You Do With Jesus” By Allbert Simpson (1897)
Jesus is standing in Pilate’s hall, Friendless, forsaken, betrayed by all;
Hearken! what meaneth the sudden call? What will you do with Jesus?
What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be; Someday your
heart will be asking, “What will He do with me?”
Jesus is standing on trial still, You can be false to Him if you will, You
can be faithful through good or ill: What will you do with Jesus?
Will you evade Him as Pilate tried? Or will you choose Him, whate’er
betide? Vainly you struggle from Him to hide: What will you do with
Will you, like Peter, your Lord deny? Or will you scorn from His foes to
fly, Daring for Jesus to live or die? What will you do with Jesus?
“Jesus, I give Thee my heart today! Jesus, I’ll follow Thee all the way,
Gladly obeying Thee!” will you say: “This I will do with Jesus!”
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Sunday, April 22, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 4/22/2012
JOSEPH: A PORTRAIT OF THE GLORIFIED CHRIST, Lesson 53b
v. 45-53 HE PICTURES CHRIST IN HIS PERSONAL LIFE
v. 45 The Name He Is Given – Literally means "The Saviour of the World". Joseph’s new name is symbolic of the office he is to fill in Egypt. He is to be the Saviour of the entire world. Jesus stands for "Jehovah is Salvation". His very name declares His office and His mission is to a lost and dying world. He is Saviour and He alone! Men may seek salvation in other names – Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, Etc., but, there is salvation in only one name, and that is the name of Jesus ( Acts 4:12)! Men do not need to understand the deep theological truths of the Bible in order to be saved, they just need to know that Jesus is the Saviour of the World!
Evangelist Ron Dunn tells the story of a man who was one of the wealthiest people in the United Kingdom in the 1950s. Over the course of his life, this man had acquired an art collection that was worth millions of dollars. He had paintings by Rembrandt, Gauguin, Monet, and many other great artists. This rich man had no heirs. His only son had been an RAF pilot and was killed in action during World War II. So when he died the estate was to be liquidated. His will directed that the art collection be sold at auction.
Buyers from all over the world came to London hoping to acquire some of the famous paintings. When the auction began, the first piece brought out for bidding was a painting the audience didn't recognize. The auctioneer explained that it was a portrait of the owner's beloved son who had died in the war. It had been painted by an unknown artist and wasn't even a very good portrait, but the will stipulated that it was to be sold first.
The auction began, but no one wanted to bid on the portrait. Despite the auctioneer's cajoling and coaxing, there were no bids. Finally, an elderly man in the back of the crowd raised his hand and asked permission to speak. He explained that he was a servant of the owner and had served faithfully in his household for many years. He had seen the son grow up and loved him very much. He said he wanted the painting but didn't have much money so he was able to bid only a few dollars.
The auctioneer accepted his bid and tried to get others in the crowd to raise it, but no one would. Finally, he declared the portrait sold to the elderly servant. Then, to the shock and amazement of everyone present, he announced that the auction was over. It turned out that the will further stipulated that the person who bought the painting of the son was to receive the entire art collection without further charge. Whoever got the son got the whole lot.
That's the way it is with Christianity: whoever gets the Son gets the whole lot.
v. 45 The Nature Of His Bride – Joseph became the husband of a bride taken from among the heathen Gentiles of Egypt. Jesus came to this world to save His own people Israel, and they rejected Him, (John 1:11). When this happened, He turned to the Gentiles and they became the inheritors of His salvation, (Luke 2:32). Now, whosoever receives and obeys the Gospel message becomes a part of the Bride of Jesus (The Church), (John 1:12; John 3:16; Rev. 22:17). Jesus is still making up His Bride, by the way!
v. 46-53 The Nature Of His Business – Joseph knew the times of plenty and famine were coming. Therefore, he used the 7 years of plenty as a time of preparation for the 7 years of famine to follow. When Jesus ascended back to the Father’s right hand and sat down, that does not imply that He does nothing! His work of redemption is finished, that’s true. However, He is still involved in several important ministries on our behalf.
1. He Is Preparing A Place For Us In Heaven – (John 14:3; 1 Cor. 2:9). What kind of place can He make in 2,000 years? After all, it only took 6 days to accomplish His creative work!
2. He Is Making Intercession For You – (Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34 ), the comfort of knowing that He is praying for the sinner!
3. He Is Standing Up For Us As Our Advocate – (1 John 2:1-2).
4. He Is A Living Reminder To His Father That The Price Of Redemption Has Been Paid In Full – (Rev. 5:6). See the proof in Christ’s call to Thomas, (John 20:27) – A scarred hand! You see, every time the Father looks toward the Son He remembers the cross! He could never forget, but when He sees Jesus, He remembers that we are in Him and that our price has been forever paid by the precious Blood of the Lamb!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Nothing But The Blood” By Robert Lowry (1876)
What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh! precious is the flow That makes me white as snow; No other fount I know, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
For my pardon, this I see, Nothing but the blood of Jesus; For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Nothing can for sin atone, Nothing but the blood of Jesus; Naught of good that I have done, Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
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Saturday, April 21, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 4/21/2012
Gen. 41:39-57 JOSEPH:
A PORTRAIT OF THE GLORIFIED CHRIST, Lesson 53a
1 Cor. 10:11 - Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Rom. 15:4 - For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
The Old Testament Scriptures are filled with many clear portraits and types of Jesus. Some of them are:
1. Noah’s Ark – Gen. 6-9
2. The Manna – Ex. 16
3. The Tabernacle and the Offerings – Exodus and Leviticus
4. Aaron’s Rod that Budded – Num. 17
5. The Red Heifer – Num. 19
There are many, many more. So many in fact, that if one looks hard enough, he can find Jesus Christ on every page of the Old Testament. Truly, the Bible is a Book about Him ( John 5:39).
Of all the types of Christ found in the Old Testament, however, one seems to stand out and above all the others. That is the life of Joseph. As you study this extraordinary man’s life, many parallels with Jesus begin to appear. Among them are:
1. Both were beloved of their Fathers – (Gen. 37:3; Matt. 3:17; 17:5).
2. Both were hated by their brethren – (Gen. 37:4, 8, 11; John 15:25).
3. Both were rejected and conspired against – (Gen. 37:18-20; Matt. 27:28-36; John 11:53).
4. Both were mistreated and delivered up to die – (Gen. 37:23-25; Matt. 27:28-36).
5. Both were delivered from the pit of their death – (Gen. 37:28; Matt. 28:1-6).
6. Both were servants – (Gen. 39:1-6; Phil. 2:5-7).
7. Both were exalted by God – (Gen. 41:14; Acts 5:30-31).
There are many more parallels that could be mentioned, but these are sufficient to demonstrate to us that Joseph is a very good picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we come to Genesis 41, we find Joseph having endured rejection, slavery, false accusation and prison. Now, he stands before Pharaoh and is made Prime Minister of all Egypt. We find him exalted and it is this aspect of his life that we want to consider today. At this time in Joseph’s life, he paints a wonderful portrait of the glorified Christ. In these verses, we will see what happened to Joseph and how it parallels what Jesus is doing today. Let’s observe together this man Joseph and think on this thought, “Joseph: A Portrait Of The Glorified Christ“
v. 39-44 HE PICTURES CHRIST IN HIS POSITION
v. 40 His Greatness – (As Ruler) Pharaoh placed Joseph in the place of supreme authority. The Ring in v. 42 signifies this and only Pharaoh himself was greater. We see this as Jesus, when He ascended back into Heaven, He sat down at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 10:12). Today, Jesus is the ruler of the universe! He has been given this authority by another, and that One is His Father ( Phil. 2:9-11, John 5:22). Men may not recognize Him as such, but Jesus is Lord this morning and He is THE absolute power in the universe! He will prove this one day soon ( Rev. 19:11-16 ).
v. 41, 44 His Giftedness – Joseph had demonstrated his ability to discern dreams, (v. 26-36). Now he proves that he can do what he has promised and provide for the needs of the Egyptian people. He proves that he has what it takes to get the job done right. The same applies to Jesus. While here on earth, and through the pens of the Apostles, He has promised those who receive Him many wonderful things. Now that He is seated in the place of power and authority, He proves daily that He can and will do exactly what He promised He would do. Among the things He has promised us are:
1. His Personal Presence – (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5).
2. His Gracious Provision – (Phil. 4:19).
3. His Abundant Power – (Eph. 3:20; John 14:12).
Daily, Jesus proves afresh that He is worthy of our love and worship. He continually declares His giftedness in doing what He has promised to do ( Rom 4:21).
v. 42-43 His Glory – As Prime Minister, all the pomp and glory of Egypt was his. As Joseph rode through the streets, the people bowed before him and lifted his praises. He was a glorious site to behold. Jesus, when He was on this earth, He was more of an ordinary man, (Isa 53:2), but, what a difference there was in Him when He got home! Peter, James and John got a little taste of it in Matt 17:1-2. John, the Beloved, got the full picture of what the risen Christ looks like in His glory, (Rev. 1:13-18). I don’t know about you, but I know who this Savior is, and one day, I will see Him in His glory ( Rev 22:4) , in a city that needs no light but His, (Rev 21:23).
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“ WE BOW DOWN” By Twila Paris (1984)
You are Lord of the Heavens and Lord of my life
Lord of the land and the sea
You were Lord of Creation before there was time
And Lord of all Lords You will be
We bow down and we worship You, Lord
We bow down and we worship You, Lord
We bow down and we worship You, Lord
Lord of all Lords You will be
You are King of the Heavens and King of my life
King of the land and the sea
You were King of Creation before there was time
And King of all Kings You will be
We bow down and we crown You the King
We bow down and we crown You the King
We bow down and we crown You the King
King of all Kings You will be
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Friday, April 20, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 4/20/2012
RESURRECTING A DEAD CONSCIENCE, Lesson 52c
HOW THE CONSCEINCE IS STIRRED
The brothers of Joseph have allowed their hearts to become hard. They have “seared” their consciences and have ceased to feel. In these verses, the Lord uses several events to bring their consciences back to life. By the way, God knows how to rip the callous right off a hard heart! Let’s watch Him do just that in these verses.
God Used Problems To Stir Them – The problem God orchestrated to awaken the dead consciences of these men was a worldwide famine, (Gen. 41:56-57). These men would have had no reason to go to Egypt otherwise! In fact, I believe they knew where Joseph was taken when they sold him as a slave, (Gen. 37:28). And, I believe that fact is exactly what they are thinking about in verse 1 when Jacob said, “Why do ye look one upon another?”
These men had also heard that there was grain in down Egypt. They were probably thinking, “Egypt! That’s where Joseph is! If we go down there we might run into him.” The famine has begun to awaken in them some feelings they had buried long ago.
God Used People To Stir Them – So, these boys head out to Egypt. Their father refuses to allow them to take Benjamin with them. Jacob’s words in verse 4 seem to indicate that Jacob still had some doubts about their involvement in Joseph’s disappearance. The whole story just didn’t make sense to the old man.
When the brothers arrive in Egypt, Joseph recognizes them right away, (v. 6-8). Joseph had probably been waiting and watching for them to show up. They don’t recognize him because he has adopted Egyptian dress and appearance. The Hebrews dressed in long robes. The Egyptians wore short ones. The Hebrews wore beards. Egyptian men shaved both their faces and their heads.
Joseph uses this opportunity to turn the screws on these men. He speaks roughly to them, (v. 7). He accuses them of being spies, (v. 9).
God Used Pain To Stir Them – When they are accused of being spies they try to defend themselves, (v. 10-14). Then, Joseph concocts a plan to really make them sweat. First, He demands that they send one of their number back home to get Benjamin and bring him back as proof of their story, (v. 15-16). They protest and Joseph throws them in prison for three days, (v. 17). Then, Joseph allows nine of the brothers to return home to get Benjamin while one of them remains behind in prison, (v. 20).
Having no choice, that is what they do! I went through all of that to remind you that God will do what it takes to awaken your conscience when you allow it to become seared. These men would have never thought of Joseph again had it not been for the famine. The famine drove them to Egypt. The trip to Egypt brought them face to face with their brother. Their treatment in Egypt awakened thoughts in their hearts that had lain dormant for two decades. God used some harsh measures to get their attention, but He has them where He wants them. He has them on the road to repentance and renewal.
If you belong to the Lord and you allow your conscience to become hardened, you need to know that you are going to wander off into sin. Your conscience will cease to warn you of evil and you will fall away. But, if you are His, He will not allow you to remain in that condition forever. He will come and get you and He will use whatever it takes to awaken your conscience.
For Joseph’s brothers, God used problems, people and pain. For David, God used a man of God who was willing to confront a king and also used the death of a child. For Samson, God used a Philistine prison, the loss of his eyes and the loss of his strength. For Peter, God used a little girl at a Roman fire. Who knows what He will have to use in your life and mine. But, one thing is sure, He will use whatever it takes to get our attention and to resurrect the conscience we have tried to kill, (Gal. 6:7-8).
HOW THE CONSCIENCE IS SAVED
As this story continues, the brothers have reached a place where their consciences have come back to life. They are certain that their troubles all stem from their treatment of Joseph. They confess their sin, (v. 21-23), not knowing that Joseph could understand their language. A secret that has remained buried for 20 years bubbles to the surface.
He sends the nine brothers home and keeps Simeon in prison. He sends his brothers home with the grain they need to live. He also puts their money back in their sacks, (v. 24-28). When they find this, they are filled with fear and with the conviction that God is actively working in their lives, (v. 28). They think that God is out to get them for what they have done. They think that God is intent on their destruction. In reality, God is intent on bringing them back to Himself. As I said, God knows how to get our attention!
If we can take anything away from this chapter today, it is the truth that the conscience can be cleansed. If we have allowed our conscience to become dirty and damaged, it can be restored. Let me take a moment to tell you how to restore your conscience to a place of purity.
1. Confess and forsake all known sin – Consider your life in the light of the Word of God. Deal with your sins God’s way and get them out into the open through confession, (Pro. 28:13; 1 John 1:9; Psa. 32:5). That is what Joseph’s brothers did and it is what we need to do as well.
2. Seek forgiveness and reconciliation for all those you may have wronged – Before we can be right with God, we must be right with our fellow man, (Matt. 5:23-24; 6:14-15).
3. Make restitution to those you have wronged if possible – The Old Testament commanded this, (Num. 5:6-7), and the New Testament reaffirms this as well, (Philemon 19; Luke 19:8).
4. Don’t wait to cleanse a wounded conscience – When you have violated your conscience by ignoring its voice, deal with your guilt immediately, ( Acts 24:16). If you allow the guilt to remain, it will fester and your spiritual life will only deteriorate. You will experience depression, anxiety, and other emotional problems. The guilt will remain long after the offense has been forgotten. Get things right fast!
5. Educate your conscience – If you have a conscience that is easily violated, train it in the things of the Lord. Feed it the pure Word of God and not the teachings and traditions of men, ( Psa. 119:11). We must not train the conscience based on what our parents say; based on what old traditions have taught us, or based on what some preacher said. To have a pure conscience, we must train it on the Word of God alone. Let the Bible be your only guide for living and your conscience will become a trustworthy friend!
Conc: People may silence the conscience in this life, but one day, it will speak up loud and clear! When you stand at the judgment, your conscience will agree with every judgment handed down by Holy God. Every person needs to look within and examine the condition of his or her conscience.
Is your conscience pure? Is it helping you live for the Lord as it sounds the alarm when you approach thin ice in your life?
Has your conscience been telling you to “Pull up?” What has your response been? Have you been pulling up? Or, have you been saying, “Shut up, Gringo”, as you flip the switch and kill the system?
Maybe your conscience hasn’t spoken to you in a long time. Today would be a good time for you to come before the Lord and start the process of purifying your soiled and seared conscience.
Has the Lord spoken to you today? If He has, please come to Him and do what He is calling you to do.
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Bring Christ Your Broken Life” By T. O. CHISHOLM (1935)
Bring Christ your broken life, So marred by sin. He will create anew, Make whole again.
Your empty wasted years He will restore, And your iniquities, Remember no more
Bring Him your every care if great or small whatever troubles you oh, bring it all
Bring him the haunting fears the nameless dread thy heart he will relieve and lift up thy head
Bring HIm your weariness receive his rest Weep out your blinding tears upon his breast
His love is wonderful his power is great and none that trust in him shall be desolate
Blest Saviour of us all almighty friend! His presence shall be ours unto the end
without him life would be how dark how drear but with him morning breaks and Heaven is near!
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Thursday, April 19, 2012
JOSEPH, FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAITH, 4/19/2012
RESURRECTING A DEAD CONSCIENCE, Lesson 52b
I. HOW THE CONSCIENCE IS SEARED
If you remember the story of the early years of Joseph’s life, you will remember that his brothers sold him as a slave, killed an animal, put the animal’s blood on their brother’s coat, brought the coat their father and told him that they had found the coat. Jacob assumed the worst; he bought into the lie and declared that Joseph must have been killed by a wild animal, (Gen. 37:31-33). Then, old Jacob entered a time of mourning that lasted over 20 years.
As they sold their brother and watched his captors haul him away, it must have tugged at their hearts. When they lied to their father and saw the grief and anguish on his face, and as they lived with that grief year after year, it must have touched them on some level. But, as time passed, the feelings of remorse and guilt were silenced. After a while, they probably thought of Joseph less and less. They may have even come to the place where they believed their own lies. These brothers seared their consciences! They came to the place where their hearts stopped speaking to them about their guilt!
The Bible tells us that it is possible for a person to do just that. 1 Tim. 4:2 says, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” This verse refers to people who have ignored their conscience to the point that it no longer speaks to them. They have silenced the warning system until it can no longer be hard.
In 1984 an Avianca Airlines jet, flying over Spain, crashed into a mountain. Everyone on board the jet died instantly. When investigators found the “black box” they were amazed as they listened to the cockpit recording in the minutes just prior to the crash. The plane’s collision avoidance system began to speak to the pilot, warning him of an object that was in the flight path of the plane. The computerized voice of a female speaking English was heard to say, “Pull up. Pull up. Pull up”, over and over again. After a few moments of this, the pilot was heard to say, “Shut up Gringo!” And with that, the pilot turned off the system. He just ignored the warning, flipped the switch and few moments later, everyone was dead.
That is what happens when the conscience is ignored! When we start to do something we know is wrong, the conscience tells us to “Pull up. Pull up.” If we heed that voice and pull up, all is well. If we ignore that voice and do as we please, we have begun the process of “searing the conscience”. The next time, the voice of the conscience will not be heard as loudly or as clearly. If we continue to ignore our internal warning system, the conscience will eventually stop warning us at all.
Every time we ignore the voice of the conscience, we are retraining the conscience. We are teaching it that things which it believed were harmful are now all right. When we retrain the conscience, we are not headed toward a crash!
Of course, our culture tells us that we need to “silence the voice of guilt”. They say that only weak people have problems with right and wrong, because there really is no right or wrong. Everything is relative! Our culture tries to silence conscience.
We need to be very careful about how we treat the conscience! If the conscience tells us something is harmful, we need to heed the voice of the conscience. It is dangerous to go against the conscience when it sends out a warning signal. If we ignore the signals it sends us, we will eventually silence the voice of the conscience. When the conscience says “Pull up!” We must never say “Shut up, Gringo!”
There were some church members who had an old lab dog. They kept that dog in their yard and they used one of those invisible fences gadget to keep the dog in. Those things work by inflicting an electrical shock through a color on the dog’s neck when he gets too close to the fence. Before the dog gets a shock, however, he gets a series of beeps. These beeps are a warning sign that the dog needs to turn around or he is going to get into trouble.
Well, this old dog knew what that fence could do, but if he saw something outside that yard that he wanted, so he would still go get it. That dog would back up as far away from the fence as he could get. He would bare his teeth and he would start to run toward the fence. Before he got to it, he would start to howl and he would run right through the pain.
That dog learned that if he ran far enough, he would get beyond the range of the fence. The pain would stop and he could go where he wanted. He ignored the warning signals so he could escape the fences in his life.
People who ignore the warning signals in their conscience are doing the same thing. They ignore the pain in their heart and they keep running until the signal stops. That is a dangerous game!
As I said, the conscience must be trained. The conscience is not infallible. It only knows what it has been taught. As a result, some people have an overactive conscience. They are referred to in Romans 14 and 15 as weak. People who have been raised in an atmosphere of legalism, and who have been taught that everything is wrong tend to have a very sensitive conscience. They may believe that some things are wrong, when those things are, in fact, not wrong at all. The conscience can be trained by tradition. That person needs to retrain the conscience by teaching it the truth of the Word of God.
By the same token, some believers have a strong conscience and know that they have liberty in the Lord. However, they must always take into account their weaker brothers. They must not do things that would cause a brother with a weaker conscience to violate his conscience. That is the clear teaching of (1 Cor. 8:1-13; Rom 14:1-8).
Be careful that you do not “sear” your conscience! The word “sear” gives our word “cauterize”. When a wound is cauterized, heat is used to seal off blood vessels to stop bleeding. The word originally meant “to brand; to mark by branding”. Branding causes a scar and a scar had no nerve endings; it cannot feel! A conscience that becomes seared is a conscience that ceases to feel! Don’t let that happen to you!
TODAY’S HYMN and BLESSING!
“Lord, Take Control” By UNKNOWN
My Heart, my mind, my body, my soul,
I give to You, Take control.
I give my body a living sacrifice,
Lord, take control, take control.
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