When the Casket is closed

Genesis 49:31
There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife; and there I buried Leah.

Leah was the wife Jacob never wanted. The hated and despised one. The tender-eyed.

For Jacob loved Rachel. She was the woman of his dreams. She was the one he wanted, not Leah.

When Rachel dies Jacob builds a memorial at her grave. But there is no record of Leah’s death. No grand celebration service, No towering memorial.

Leah lived her whole life doing everything she could to earn Jacob’s love. Always living in the shadow of her younger sister.

But yet as Jacob nears the banks of the river with his life’s journey drawing to a close, it is then perhaps that Jacob looks back and realizes the true, pure love that was before him all along.

Perhaps after the casket is closed and Leah is dead, he then can truly understand how much she meant to him. He doesn’t request to be placed beside his beloved Rachel, but he simply says bury me with Leah.

Though this may be a sign of Jacob’s appreciation and realization of the importance of Leah in his life, after the casket is closed it is too late.

James 4:14
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

As the vapor of our lives swiftly passes with each fleeting moment we are faced with the sobering fact that each day we live may very well be our last. The unexpected appointment we have with the chilly hand of death may come at any moment, without notice.

It is with this thought in mind that we must needs come to realize that each day we must very well choose to show those whom are dear to us just how much their presence in our lives means to us.

Don’t be like Jacob and wait til the casket is closed and the funeral is past to realize how much they meant to you.

Show them now. Make time for them. Tell them you love them. Life is too brief not to.

Don’t allow regrets to be as flowers laid across the grave.

Hug them tightly. Forgive even when no apology is given. Laugh and Love. Cry. Feel.

Don’t take for granted the precious time God has given you. For one day the clock will strike 12 and eternity will take hold.

What will you have left unsaid, when the casket is closed?

Silence.

Well folks it’s been a little bit since I posted on here and I apologize for that. I’ve had a couple people ask me when I was gonna be writing more and I’m gonna be transparent with you in this post.

I have been facing some battles in my mind, struggling with unfulfilled dreams and plans of where my life would be at this current moment.

I have had to try to encourage myself in the Lord, let alone try to encourage others.

Over the past two weeks I’ve sat down and tried to write but every time I’ve tried, nothing. It’s like I keep trying to drive the car full speed ahead and keep hitting the same brick wall over and over again.

Sometimes there’s just nothing to say. Just Silence.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you expected it to. Plans fall through. Dreams are shattered. Goals are unaccomplished. And you are left with nothing to say.

Unlike my first post, there are times in life that you can’t even manage to get out a simple Why.

There’s just nothing.

I am reminded of the patriarch Jacob in the moments after his world caved in, being told his beloved son Joseph was dead.

Past the point of comfort, with nothing to be said, all he is left with is silence and a bloody coat.

How many times do we find ourselves in that same place as Jacob? Mourning over our own bloody coat representing every lost dream, every heartache, every dead Joseph. Refusing to be comforted by those around us, even refusing comfort from God.

Like Martha, we bury our Lazarus, and have no desire to bring him back out. No faith of the resurrection of our Lazarus, no return of our Joseph.

Silence becomes our only companion.

What is there to say when unspeakable tragedy hits us unaware? When words of solace are nowhere to be found and all there is to be heard is the absence of words.

While we sit and mourn over what we believe we have lost, Joseph is on the other side of the desert insuring our survival.

While we seal the tomb, Lazarus is listening for the call as the resurrection looks for the sprouting of faith.

I have found myself many times in this place of Silence and if perhaps you find yourself there right now, I believe I have a word from the Lord for your situation.

Perhaps in the silence, God is speaking. You need only be still and listen for his voice in your situation.

When all you have to offer is no words and bitter tears, He hears and He understands. Your tears are being stored as a memorial ever before His face.

On the other side of the silence, Joseph, your dreamer is alive and well. Don’t give up on your dreams! Don’t give up on your prayer requests! Be faithful through the Silence!

At the end of the road, you may very well see and realize this solemn truth:

Sometimes Silence is your Salvation.

Knowing Joseph

Exodus 1:8
Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

It was told of Abraham. several times in scripture, that he would be the father of many nations. From the child of Promise, Isaac, would the promised seed be given.

In multiple instances Jehovah is referred to as the God of Abraham, The God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. It was with these three Patriarchs that God repeated his Promise.

Out of Jacob, later named Israel, came the 12 tribes of Israel. But out of all his sons, those born to him from Rachel were the most favored.

Joseph and Benjamin.

Seeing as most of have heard the story of Joseph countless times (Genesis 37-50), I will not take time to write the whole story here. I will only build a foundation for the thought brought to us by this post.

As a young man, Joseph was easily identifiable amongst his brethren. Though you may mistake Reuben for Simeon or Judah for Levi, there was no mistaking Joseph when he walked in the room.

This was all because of the garment he wore given to him by His Father. Out of Love, Jacob had given Joseph a coat of many colors to distinguish him from his brethren.

Genesis 37:3
Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

One could say that at this time knowing Joseph meant knowing him by His coat.

But as the story goes between Genesis 37 to our scripture text in Exodus 1, there was many trials that Joseph had to endure.

Beloved by His Father. Hated by his brothers. Sold into slavery. Thought for dead. Lied on by Potiphar’s wife. Thrown into jail. Made second in command over all Egypt. Then he died.

This is Joseph’s life in a few, brief words.

But in Exodus 1:8 we find that as his life shifted from life in the field to life in command, there was a change took place in Joseph. From the dreams in Canaan to the Fulfillment in Egypt.

In the field, knowing Joseph meant recognizing his garment but in Egypt, knowing Joseph meant recognizing the God of Joseph.

When you thought of Joseph, you thought of His God. They were one in the same. Knowing Joseph meant knowing Jehovah.

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was also the God of Joseph. And all Egypt knew that.

Trouble came to Egypt when there arose a Pharaoh, who knew not Joseph. This shows us the importance placed on knowing Joseph. It was not the fact that he didn’t know Jacob’s son but it was that in not knowing Joseph, he knew not the God of Joseph.

So today I am faced with the thought-provoking question, What does knowing Alex Amos mean?

Do we live our lives as in a way that people will see the God we serve through the actions of our daily walk?

Some people may never walk through the doors of a church but will the life we live introduce them to the God of Joseph?

Though I could write pages on this subject I will close with this: Knowing Joseph meant knowing the God of Joseph.

What does Knowing you mean?

He sees the Scars.

Where would we be had it not been for Calvary? I believe this is a subject that we all can agree on, knowing that we would be lost with no hope of eternity or fellowship with God.

Calvary changed everything.

This April in countless pulpits this precious message will be heard across our nation. Thousands will sing and remember the Old, Rugged, Bloodstained Cross that our Savior died on for you and I. But when did Calvary become nothing more than just a song that we sing?

When did the cross become just a piece of jewelry that people wear around the necks? A symbol that instead of being at the forefront of our mind as it should be, has become a decoration for a holiday to only be seen seasonally.

We preach the Cross at Easter but only preach prosperity, feel-good, motivational sermons the rest of the year. So when did the Blood stop flowing in our minds?

Many people claim to preach the Gospel of the Bible but instead talk of a man made, G rated Gospel. The True Gospel is a Bloody Gospel. It is stained with suffering, pain, and unspeakable cruelty. Calvary was the opposite of the neat, smooth crosses and displays we see.

John 20:27
Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

Though we may often forget or put it aside, He never once has forgot the price He paid.

The old song goes like this: Does He still feels the Nails, every time I fail Can He hear the crowd cry Crucify again. Am I causing Him pain then I know I’ve got to change cause I just can’t bear the thought of hurting Him.

What a sobering thought this is to you and I! If this were to ever truly sink in, I believe we would go about our daily lives a little differently.

When a family is torn apart by sin, He sees the scars and remembers.

When division and gossip spread through our churches, He looks at His nail-scarred hands and He remembers.

When millions of babies are murdered by abortion every year, He looks back to the cross and He remembers.

When acts of terrorism and senseless violence become a regular occurrence in our schools and our world, He feels the wound on His pierced side and He remembers.

When those who have served Him all their lives now turn their back on Him, He takes a trip back to Calvary and He remembers.

This is the world He came to save. These are the people He suffered, bled, and died for. Knowing all these things would take place, this is why He came. These are those that He loves.

Though we may sometimes forget, He sees the Scars and He remembers.

Isaiah 53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions,
he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him;
and with his stripes we are healed.

He needs my Need.

In the Old Testament Before the Name of Jesus was ever proclaimed by the Angels, God revealed Himself through compound names to His People. Each of these names displaying a different attribute of His character and power.

Jehovah-Jireh. In Genesis 22:14, He revealed Himself to Abraham as The Lord our Provider.

Jehovah-Rapha. In Exodus 15:26, Moses knew Him as The Lord our Healer.

Jehovah-Nissi. In Exodus 17:15, Moses built an Altar and declared Him as The Lord our Banner.

Of course these are just three out of several names of God found in the Old Testament. Each of these declaring the things that God desired to do for His people. On the backside of a desert, out of a burning bush, God told Moses to tell the people that He was the I am.

Throughout time He has proved this very thing. If you need a Healer, He says I am. If you need a Provider, He says I am. If you need a Protector, He says I am. If you need Peace, He says I am. And the list goes on and on.

As you may have figured out by now, life is not the bed of roses we assumed we were getting when we decided to live for God. Though we may enjoy the field of roses from time to time, we also feel the sting of thorns many times as well.

People get sick. Jobs are lost. Promises are broken. Lives fall apart. And this my friend is everyday life.

One of my students this Past Sunday morning made a simple yet profound remark that many have yet to learn. They said that living for God is going to be a harder life than one spent in the world. Though this is a topic for another time, so much truth is found in such a small statement.

We all find ourselves sometimes at the end of the rope, begging God for a break. Wishing that life was easier. That the cross would bear not so heavy.

In my Previous Post I addressed the Why’s in Life, and if I may let’s just imagine for a moment that those why’s are taken out of the equation.

Cancer, Diabetes, and Heart-attacks are never a thing. Loved ones never get sick. Bank accounts, pantries, and gas tanks are always full. The bitter chill of death is never felt again. Promises are always saw through and lies are never told. Our Hearts never get broken. Love always wins. Valleys are never walked through and permanent residence on the mountain is found.

Though this life may sound appealing to us all from time to time we must realize the one error that in a way explains the necessity for the why’s in our lives.

If there was never a Sickness would we have need of a Healer? If life never fell out from under our feet why need a Peace-speaker?

There are instances in Scripture where Jesus simply sent forth His word and Instantaneous Healing occurred. But yet when Jesus hears of the sickness of his dear friend Lazarus, He sends no word of Healing. On the contrary He allows his best-friend to die. Why? If there was no death, there would be no need for the Resurrection.

In Closing, this is a lesson learned the hard way but so valuable when truly understood. Oft times God allows the Why’s to happen in our life in order to show Himself strong and remind us that it is in Him alone that we can trust. He doesn’t need me to go forward, He already has everything. But in order to show forth His Power, He needs my Need.

When all you can say is Why.

Prayer. The Most Powerful and Precious Tool accessible to each one of us.

Many times when we kneel down to pray, we make it our goal to come up with the most elaborate, eloquent prayer we can come up with. We find this kind of praying in the New Testament where it had become a doorway for the Pharisees to boast of their godliness instead of a sincere conversation with their Creator. Though it is true that in Prayer we are talking to the King of Kings, we must also remember that the King desires a personal level of relationship with us where we will be comfortable pouring our heart out to Him in private conversation.

Sometimes, however, if you have not yet experienced, it is impossible to pray with many words. Brokenness and Confusion cloud your mind from all other vocabulary other than one small, heart wrenching word… Why?

All our life we have been told that it is a sin to question God and His reasoning for some of the things He chooses to do and allows to happen in our lives. We are taught to just accept it and move forward. And Though this saying may have some truth to it, I am led to believe that this is not entirely the case.

Many times in the scripture we find instances where people, just like you and I, questioned God concerning circumstances in their lives. King David himself, the man after God’s own heart, several times prayed that same word that so many times is all you and I can say. Why God?

Psalms 22:1
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

My Nana Vaughn was my very best friend. She was the one that I went to for everything and somehow she always had exactly what I needed to hear. Though I love all of my family dearly, Nana was the closest person to me in my life.

In the latter part of 2014, my Pap faced a lot of sickness and had to undergo heart surgery. During this time there were several instances that we thought we were going to lose Him. My Nana stayed by his side through all of it, except for the times we would make her go home to rest.

A few months later we could tell a little difference in Nana which we just put off as all of the stress she had been through taking care of my Pap during his sickness.

One morning in June of 2015 we took my Nana to the Emergency room thinking she had broken a rib from a fall she had experienced prior. Never had we prepared ourselves for the words we would hear a few short hours later. We left Holston Valley Hospital that day to walk the darkest valley I had ever had to face.

My Nana had Pancreatic Cancer.

We were told that she would make it til at least Christmas but just three weeks later on July 11, 2015 God chose to call my Nana home to be with Him.

I cannot tell you how many times that year I found myself crying, pleading, and yes sometimes screaming to God for an answer as to why He chose to take my Best-friend from me.

Coming on 5 years later, I now can see some part understanding as to Why God moved the way that He did but I have to realize that it is not in my ability to truly understand the Why.

His ways are so much Higher than ours, in such a way that our finite minds cannot comprehend the greatness of his power.

I have however learned that it is okay to ask Why. When I come broken before Him and bring my simple words of question, it opens the door for Him to bring in His peace and speak to my Heart.

In closing, At Calvary we find the greatest example of why it is okay to ask Why when Jesus himself proposed the question to God before He accomplished his Passion.

Matthew 27:46
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

When all you can say is Why, Ask on. I have learned He is always right there ready to speak the answers to your Heart.