“‘Here comes that dreamer!’,  they said to each other.   ‘Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him.   Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.’”   (Genesis 37:19-20, NIV)

The maltreatment of Joseph began with the evil plans of his brothers.

Joseph’s brothers resented Joseph on many levels: He was their father’s favorite son (and Joseph made no secret that he knew that his father’s favor rested on him); and Joseph made much of his dreams, in which he seemed always to be the hero.

The good news here is that God works on many levels, too.  Joseph’s circumstances were used by God to fit Joseph for God’s work; he used the brothers’ guilt to provoke confession and true repentance; and throughout, God was glorified for His love and His mercy.

Like Joseph, we do not know where life will take us; but we should never doubt that God is at work in our circumstances — however hopeless from our perspective — to transform us into the image of Christ; to bless others; and to glorify God.  If we are convinced of this, though we may fall down, we shall not stay down!  – Luther

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“I know the greatness of the LORD — that our Lord is greater than any other god.  The LORD does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths.  He causes the clouds to rise over the whole earth.  He sends the lightning with the rain and releases the wind from his storehouses.”  (Psalm 135:5-7, NLT)

More than forty years ago, J. B. Phillips wrote a book (which is still in print, by the way) titled, “Your God is Too Small.”  The title alone provokes the question: How big is your God?

The psalmist, as we see in today’s selection, had a big God.  There is a direct relationship between the size of our problems and the size of our God.  As I heard related several years ago in a sermon by Austin, Texas pastor Gerald Mann: “Big God, small problems.  Small God, big problems.”

Having a God that cannot be bossed, because He is all-powerful; that cannot be bought, because he has infinite resources; is a comfort, a joy, and an arsenal for whatever problems life presents!  – Luther

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“If someone claims, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.”  (1 John 2:4, NLT)

Here is the essence of knowing God: Obedience to His commandments.

It is not doing great things in God’s name that shows we know Him.  It is not acquiring volumes of knowledge about God that shows we know Him.  It is not the depth of our sacrifice that shows we know God.  To know God is to obey His commandments.

God’s commandments are to love God with all our being; and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  (Please see Mark 12:30-31.)

To be sure, to do great things in God’s name; learning all we can about Him; and sacrificing ourselves for His name’s sake are honorable ambitions.  However, unless these and other works begin at God’s initiative, our labor and our accomplishments are in vain.

Let complete obedience to our Creator and our God be our daily goal.  It is only through obedience that we become like Him.  – Luther

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