Last Sunday we kicked off Roses & Thorns, a new series in relationships and it was eye opening!
Roses and thorns comes from the dichotomy (a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different) between its beauty (delicacy) and its thorns (pain).
You can so easily focus on the beauty that you forget about the Thorns and get pricked! The rose expresses what happens in relationships.
There is beauty in all of us. In fact, the bible says:
“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it.” Psalm 139:14
We are wonderfully complex! We are some complex people! Why? Because we also carry that same dichotomy. We are beautifully made! However, we all have to deal with something called sin. Sin is the thorn in our side!
Relationships are made up of beauty and thorns. God wants to remove thorns in our lives, so we learn how to handle this delicate, beautiful gift of relationship.
This is the reason why relationships are so complicated. Have you ever thought, ‘why is it in the beginning of our relationship our spouse, or significant other, was the bomb dot com and after you got married that was not the case?’
Because in the beginning we are all in what I call the infatuation state. We just see the beauty. We see the delicacy and we become enthralled and focused on only the good things.
But when we make the commitment to move forward in the relationship, or when we want to become more serious, that’s when we begin seeing the thorns.
In the beginning of the relationship we focus on the beauty and not the thorns. When married, we tend to focus on the thorns and not the beauty.
In order for you to focus on the beauty, you cannot focus on your spouse or significant other. You must focus on yourself and God.
God is what will help us see the beauty in others. God is the one that helps us see the beauty in ourselves. We cannot love others until we learn to love God and ourselves…PERIOD.
Got made relationship. He made all things good. (Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…)
Sin messed everything up. So, we must go back to God in order to see others with love, grace, mercy, and beauty and not with the pain that sin causes.
How do we do this?
WE MAKE GOD OUR NUMBER ONE SO OUR SPOUSE WILL NEVER FEEL LIKE NUMBER TWO.
Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' - Matthew22:37-39
Your neighbor can also be your spouse or significant other.
I cannot say I love God with all my heart, soul and mind if I mistreat my neighbor...AKA...my spouse.
God is a relational God. The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. That’s a relationship. God created Adam and right away saw something that was off. Adam was lonely. He needed companionship. He needed relationship.
In Genesis 2:18, says: “18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."
The moment man focused on himself, and not God, that which was beautiful, and good, turned into hurt, and pain.
The only way we can redeem it is if we make God first.
THERE’S A PROCESS TO SEE THE BEAUTY IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS:
If you want a blessed marriage/relationship… Make God first in your life.
You want successful kids… Serve God first.
You want financials blessings...be generous.
It’s the difference between making a temporal difference and making an eternal difference.
Don’t seek things—Seek God first!
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
Single? Seek the ONE while you prepare for number two. Become the type of person you’d want to marry, because you attract what you are.
And to the Spouses that don’t have their significant others in church. Seek God first until your number two has an encounter with God!
If God is your number one, your spouse is your number two. However, she/he will never feel like number two when you are seeking God first.
The goal is to seek the ONE with your TWO! That’s the priority. If you place things in right priority, God is going to bless your life according to scripture.
Here’s what the word says,
4 In his pride the wicked does not seek (God); in all his thoughts there is no room for God…6 He says to himself, "Nothing will shake me; I'll always be happy and never have trouble." Psalms 10:4-6
Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. 1 Chronicles 28:9 NLT
What happens when you lose something that is very valuable? You look even harder. You turn the house upside down. You are relentless is seeking that which is valuable to you.
If God is valuable to you, wouldn’t you turn your life upside down just, so you can find His ways?
This is not just sitting down for a devotional time, this is about God being woven in everything you do!
SO, HOW DO WE SEEK GOD TOGETHER?
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
It may sound Intimidating for some but it is hard to stay mad at or want to divorce someone you’re praying with.
HOW DO WE SEEK GOD?
• PRAY TOGETHER.
• READ GOD’S WORD TOGETHER.
• WORSHIP TOGETHER.
• CREATE YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL TRADITIONS.
• DO LIFE WITH GOD.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
God needs to be woven into every area of our life. Find a way that works for your family to intertwine God.
ACCORING TO A FAMILY LIFE SURVEY
• FEWER THAN 8% OF CHRISTIAN COUPLES PRAY TOGETHER REGULARLY.
• OF THOSE COUPLES THAT DO, FEWER THAN 1% DIVORCE.
Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Psalm 127:1
Those are hard statistics! You cannot build the beauty if you are focused on the pain. God can truly transform your relationship when you put him first.
Don’t miss tomorrow as we explore another dichotomy – Fighting Fair! Invite a friend!
The last few weeks have opened up a new perspective into the life of Joseph. Joseph has been going through the mill. His life was composed of people doing some really messed up things to him.
He was rejected by his siblings, sold to the Midianite traders, got extradited to Egypt, and sold him as a slave to Potiphar. Then entered into another set of challenges that landed him in jail after being falsely accused of rape.
In all of this, God was with Joseph and blessed him and everyone around him.
In jail, Joseph learned 3 lessons:
1. God is sovereign. When it rains the Lord reigns.
2. God is his source. Even in the pit, God made sure that Joseph was blessed.
3. Submission. Submitting to God’s plan even if it is tough.
It was in this predicament that Joseph honed his skills. Became better at dreaming and at interpreting dreams. He also became a really good administrator. Everywhere he went he got promoted!
He became indispensable. Desirable. Irreplaceable.
The king had a dream that no one could tackle. He called the best and the best couldn’t help him.
Confidence without competence is carelessness.
Joseph passed all the tests. He had confidence, he was competent, and he was complete to do what God called him to do.
Confidence with competence is completeness.
Joseph not only was ready to interpret the king’s dream, but he was ready to bring a solution.
The dream was a warning about 7 Years of great abundance in the land and 7 Years of great drought.
Joseph’s solution was to use the 7 years of abundance to save for the seven years of drought! The dream will always be about saving people’s life.
Joseph passed all the challenges that were placed in front of Him. However, the next challenge was going to be the hardest.
Challenges don’t stop when your dream arrive! They become more intensified.
The pit prepared him for the palace. Who better to deal with scarcity than someone who had to deal with scarceness most of his life? Who better to deal with forgiveness than someone who have been done wrong his whole life?
The next challenge was his biggest yet...FORGIVENESS.
In chapter 43, the story goes from Joseph becoming the second in command to bring given power and dominion over Pharaoh’s kingdom.
More than 7 years have passed, and the drought was hitting the land.
Joseph’s dad, Jacob, sent the brothers to Egypt to buy good fir the family. All went except Benjamin, the youngest who was also Joseph blood brother. He wasn’t going to trust his brothers with Benjamin. The bible says that Jacob said that he would die if something were to happen to Benjamin.
When they arrived in Egypt they went directly to Joseph, but they didn’t recognize him.
However, Joseph recognized his brothers.
The bible says this:
'Joseph recognized his brothers instantly, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where are you from?” he demanded. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied. “We have come to buy food.” Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground.' Genesis 42:6-7
Joseph continues by accusing his brothers of being spies!! Since his brothers didn’t recognize they went over who they were. Joseph then throws them in jail for 3 days!!
Now, before you think that he was getting even, I need you to consider this:
Joseph was testing his brothers.
He had his chance to get even if he really wanted to. He was the second in command and over 7 years had already passed since he was in power. He was a powerful man. He knew were his brothers lived. He could have sent an Army of soldiers to get even if he wanted.
Joseph was testing his brothers and waiting on the Lord for the right moment to restore his relationship with them.
Joseph was testing their:
**Forgiveness is relinquishing the desire of getting even. Forgiveness is not the instant restoration of trust!
This is important because many people bring others that hurt them back into their lives without any boundaries and without testing their honor, integrity, and steadfastness.
**Forgiveness is instant, but trust must be rebuilt over time.
Trust is based on works. Your words need to match your actions.
This is what Joseph did. He went back to his brothers and said, if you are not spies as you say you’re are not, then go back home and bring me the brother you said that stayed behind.
He also ordered one of his guards to fill their sacks with grain and to put the money they brought inside their sacks.
They left and, on the way there, they checked the sacks and saw the money and the bible said that they trembled!! They didn’t want the governor to think they stole the money.
They arrived and told Jacob, their father, what the king conditions were and the father refused to send Benjamin back to them.
Once they started running out of food again, the father had no choice...
'But Judah said, “The man was serious when he warned us, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you send Benjamin with us, we will go down and buy more food. But if you don’t let Benjamin go, we won’t go either. Remember, the man said, ‘You won’t see my face again unless your brother is with you.’” “Why were you so cruel to me?” Jacob moaned. “Why did you tell him you had another brother?” “The man kept asking us questions about our family,” they replied. “He asked, ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have another brother?’ So we answered his questions. How could we know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?” Judah said to his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will be on our way. Otherwise we will all die of starvation—and not only we, but you and our little ones. I personally guarantee his safety. You may hold me responsible if I don’t bring him back to you. Then let me bear the blame forever. ' Genesis 43:3-9
I will honor you! I will make sure that Benjamin is safe. What they weren’t willing to do with Joseph, they were willing to do with Benjamin.
The bible says that they all went back and when they arrived they brought double the money to back with them, and when they arrived they explained.
'“Sir,” they said, “we came to Egypt once before to buy food. But as we were returning home, we stopped for the night and opened our sacks. Then we discovered that each man’s money—the exact amount paid—was in the top of his sack! Here it is; we have brought it back with us. Genesis 43:20-21
That’s called Integrity.
The final test was of honor, integrity and steadfastness. When they were going back home, Joseph ordered for one of his servants to hide his Silver cup inside of Benjamin’s sack.
When they were on their way, shortly after, Joseph sent his house manager to stop them and ask search for the silver cup.
He did and, as predicted, the house manager found the silver cup on Benjamin’s sack and he said to them… “Why have you repaid my kindness with such evil?”
They were baffled and terrified!!
They bring them to Joseph and Joseph said, only the one who stole my cup will be my slave, the rest of you can go back home.
Judah, the one that told his father that he would be responsible, came forward and began to defend his brother. He told Joseph that if Benajmin stayed that it would kill his father, that he would die of sorrow…
'Now if you take his brother away from me, and any harm comes to him, you will send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave. ’ “And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave. My lord, I guaranteed to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.’ “So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers.' Genesis 44:29-33
Judah was willing to give his life up for His brother! The ultimate sacrifice:
Honor, Integrity, and steadfastness is often seen in the sacrifice of ourselves for others. And that, my friend, is when we become complete. That’s when our faith is the greatest. That’s when we look the most like Jesus!
'Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace. “I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. ' Genesis 45:1-5
YOUR LIVES! Joseph was concerned over the lives of his brothers, when his brothers weren’t concerned over his life.
They passed the test of trust: Honor, integrity, and steadfastness.
Joseph couldn’t stand it anymore. He probably wanted to reveal his identity a while back but he was much wiser person. He knew that restoration of relationship would take these 3 things:
3. Rebuilding of trust.
Years later, when Joseph father passed away, his brothers still didn’t know if Joseph was for real, if he had forgiven them and restored their relationship fully. And look what they bible says:
'So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said. But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. Genesis 50:16-20
There’s a design behind your demise. Your bad experiences aren’t meant to ruin you, they are designed as the motivation to save others.
Don’t miss this Sunday as we start a new series, Roses and Thorns. Bring a friend!
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