THE LORD'S TOOL BOX Hello everyone, I shared a message Thursday evening, December 20th, at a home fellowship in Eau

Claire, Wisconsin. It was actually fairly well received, except that a paragraph or two disturbed a couple of guys who were strongly biased towards a certain control doctrine. It is supposed to be a fairly rare doctrinal error, but for some reason I seem to have had more friends and acquaintances over the years, who have been on the receiving end of said control doctrine, so it has become a sort of piñata that I whack at from time to time. Even though my natural tendency is to avoid conflict, and I have never had a problem with losing my temper, at times, I can wax very passionately. I knew that at least two people were present who strongly support that type of Lord It Over doctrine, but I let it rip anyway. Most of the what I shared is about is a Roman 8:28 issue, but I found space to shoehorn in a couple of paragraphs concerning that brightly colored piñata that I mentioned earlier. Two others also spoke, so to save time, I didn’t read the scripture concerning Joseph, only referenced the story. I haven’t shared anything for a while, at HCS, so here goes. I also posted it at my WAYNE'S MINISTRIES website. Unlike some of the other material I’ve shared it is only a couple of pages long. THE LORD’S TOOL BOX Gen 37:13-36 (13) And Israel said to Joseph, Do not your brothers feed the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them. And he said to him, Here I am. (14) And he said to him, please go see whether it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks. And bring me word again. And he sent him out of the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.

(15) And a certain man found him, and, behold, he was wandering in the field. And the man asked him, saying, What are you looking for? (16) And he said, I am seeking for my brothers. Please tell me where they are feeding. (17) And the man said, They are gone from here, for I heard them say, Let us go to Dothan. And Joseph went after his brothers, and found them in Dothan. (18) And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. (19) And they said to one another, Behold, this dreamer comes. (20) Therefore come now, and let us kill him, and throw him into some pit, and we will say some evil beast has devoured him. And we shall see what will become of his dreams. (21) And Reuben heard, and he delivered him out of their hands and said, Let us not kill him. (22) And Reuben said to them, Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him (in order to rescue him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again). (23) And it happened when Joseph had come to his brothers, they stripped Joseph out of his tunic, the tunic reaching to the soles of his feet that was on him. (24) And they took him and threw him into a pit. And the pit was empty, with no water in it. (25) And they sat down to eat bread. And they lifted up their eyes, and looked. And behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead, with their camels bearing spices and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. (26) And Judah said to his brothers, What profit is it if we should kill our brother and hide his blood? (27) Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him. For he is our brother, and our flesh. And his brothers listened. (28) And men, Midianites traders, came by. And they drew up Joseph and took him out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. And they brought Joseph into Egypt.

(29) And Reuben returned to the pit. And behold! Joseph was not in the pit! And he tore his clothes. (30) And he returned to his brothers and said, The child, he is not. And I, where shall I go? (31) And they took Joseph's tunic, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. (32) And they sent the tunic reaching to the soles of the feet, and they brought it to their father. And they said, We have found this. Do you know whether it is your son's coat or not? (33) And he knew it, and said, It is my son's tunic. An evil beast has eaten him. Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces. (34) And Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days. (35) And all his sons, and all his daughters, rose up to comfort him. But he refused to be comforted. And he said, For I will go down into the grave to my son mourning. And his father wept for him. (36) And the Midianites sold him into Egypt to Potiphar, a eunuch of Pharaoh, the chief of the executioners. So Joseph’s brothers hated him and wanted to kill Him, but the Lord still had plans for Joseph. Joseph was sold to a merchant caravan and taken to Egypt to be sold as a slave. While there he became a servant and was unjustly sent to prison. What was meant for evil, God used for His own purposes. While there Joseph went through many trials and God refined his character. I won’t go into detail on that, but I would encourage you to read the several chapters in Genesis that relate to this story. I will skip to chapter 45: 4 – 7. Gen 45:4-7 (4) And Joseph said to his brothers, Please come near me. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. (5) And now do not be grieved, nor angry with yourselves that you sold me here. For God sent me before you to preserve life.

(6) For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be no plowing nor harvest. 7) And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. Joseph told his brothers, “And now do not be grieved, nor angry with yourselves that you sold me here. For God sent me before you to preserve life.” What his brothers meant for evil, God meant for good. In the New Testament we find a verse that parallels this idea of God taking what others mean for evil and in His time, He turns everything around for good. You can probably guess what verse I am referring to: Rom 8:28 (28) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Just as the Lord changed the evil that Joseph’s brothers meant for him into good, Jesus is also able to take adversity, persecution, sickness and many other negative life events, which the enemy means for evil, and use it for His glory. Keep in mind that evil may not always come in a form directly attributable to an enemy. Job’s friends were his friends, but they did not understand what God was really doing. Even Christians can do what they think is right and justify it with various Biblical quotations, but really be in error. They may enslave, neglect, provoke or cause mischief to others, Christian or not. Some may not be bothered by their actions and others are bothered, but justify their attitudes or errant behaviors. No matter what the source or motivation, whether intentional evil, or merely misguided intentions, Jesus can use all things to His glory. That doesn’t mean that God is justifying the deed, just that He is able to take that misfortune, and turn it around for good. For example, it is rare, but some Christians teach that the scriptures define female children as a father’s property, so that

even if a girl comes to majority age, she is not considered emancipated, but instead her rights are “transferred,” by the father, to her new husband, if the father allows her to be given to a husband. Although God can and does allow such enslavement, sometimes for decades, for His own purposes, that does not justify that doctrine, which is Old Testament, at best, and a cultural practice of patriarchal Jewish origin found in the extrascriptural laws of the Talmud, which Jesus often confronted. To demand this type of control and domination one must rationalize away key New Testament passages such as Ephesians 6:4, Gal 3: 26 –28, and Mark 7:8 and ignore the clear example of Jesus, in regard to His respect for women, which was in stark contrast to that of the cultural and religious customs of the time. I suppose if one is truly desperate, in addition to Old Testament practice, one could use the various New Testament scriptures about slave master issues, but that would show that very control issue for the atrocity it is. This same type of scriptural shoehorning can be used to justify lording it over other Christians or gagging half of the royal priesthood because of their gender. Note that I am NOT denigrating 1st Corinthians 11 or the responsibility of young people, male or female, to respect their parents. I am saying that those who have control issues tend to go way beyond the mandate of their responsibility, and ignore the complementary requirement of a meek and gentle spirit that avoids control and domination. Back to Jesus using all things for His glory. Jesus may also use difficult times in our lives to modify our goals or redirect our paths. He may also use such events to fine-tune our sensitivity to His voice, so we are better able to catch the adjustments in His marching orders that come day-by-day and hour-by-hour. Many of us do well at following His broad and general commands, or finding opportunities to minister in Jesus name, but flounder as we fail to respond to His ongoing guidance and corrective directional tweaking. Turn left. Turn right. Stop here. Continue forward. For those who accept the challenge that comes with learning to hear His still small voice with precision, that is a task that often takes a life time.

Jesus will use all of the tools in His toolbox to work things out for good for those who love Him and who are called according to His purposes. Much like the dark moment in a novelist’s story precedes a triumphant ending, the darkest times in our lives often come just before great victories and blessings. Always remember that Jesus is able to take our most trying times and use them for our benefit – both to increase our faith and help us become progressively more mature, and more and more like Him.

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