Job 12-14; Psalm 100; Revelation 13

“But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.” Job 12:13 NLT

Job’s friends were trying to make sense of his suffering.  Even though Job himself, didn’t understand, he pointed them to the one who he knew did.  He knew where true wisdom could be found.

“O God, grant me these two things, and then I will be able to face you.  Remove your heavy hand from me, and don’t terrify me with your awesome presence.  Now summon me, and I will answer! Or let me speak to you, and you reply.  Tell me, what have I done wrong? Show me my rebellion and my sin.  Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me your enemy?” Job 13:20-24 NLT

There have been times in my life when my faith has been stretched and I wonder what God is doing.  I can relate to Job, when I think that God’s silence means that I have done something wrong.  But, I’m learning to lean in and trust in the waiting.

“Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches.  Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling.  “But when people die, their strength is gone.  They breathe their last, and then where are they? As water evaporates from a lake and a river disappears in drought, people are laid to rest and do not rise again.  Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep.  “I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed.  But mark your calendar to think of me again!  Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death.  You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork.  For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins.  My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover my guilt.”  Job 14:7-17 NLT

I am thankful that I don’t struggle without hope.  Even when things seem dark, I know that light is coming.  Jesus is near. I grapple with Job’s questions and vulnerability.  He didn’t have the knowledge of Jesus like I do. Yet, he still pressed in, when it would have been easier to fall away.

Help me to remember Lord, in times of silence, you are teaching me to depend on you.  Thank you for friends who point me to you.  Thank you for your word and your promises.  Help me to praise you in the midst of suffering. Amen.

“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness.  Come before him, singing with joy.   Acknowledge that the Lord is God!  He made us, and we are his.  We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise.  Give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the Lord is good.  His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

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Job 8-11; Revelation 12

Human suffering is wrong. We are not made for it and yet it is a tangible reminder that things are not right with the world and points to something, someone beyond our understanding…God.  The unwelcome twins, Grief and Pain settle in with Job and refuse to leave. It’s a full body-mind assault 24/7 and brings him to the very edge of life. Even his wife begs him to put an end to his suffering, “Curse God and die,” but he can’t. His belief that God hears his pleas and is somehow good and just beyond his meager understanding serves as the thin thread that keeps him hanging on.

Job can not look to his righteousness and intellect to save him, “But how can a mortal be righteous before God? Though one wished to dispute with him, he could not answer him one time out of a thousand. His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed?” Job 9:2-4.

 The God who created the universe and continues to provide life and breath withholds healing. Job may feel a million miles away from God, but that doesn’t change the reality of His existence: “When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.” Job 9:11.

 But then Job asks, if not prays, “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it is now stands with me, I cannot.” Job 9:33-35.

Job’s seemingly rhetorical questions prove to be prophetic. The great arbitrator, the Messiah comes and takes on the curse intended for all mankind. I don’t have to suffer the consequences of my sin. Jesus goes to the Cross and his Resurrection breaks the power of sin and death over us. Once a stranger,  I am invited into the very presence of God having been made clean by the righteousness of Jesus.

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night has been hurled down.” Revelation 12:10.

 The evil spell is broken. In this world, I will know pain, grief and sorrow, but because I hold on to Jesus, I will never be separated from God. He endured that separation, so I would never have to. I am always invited, always welcomed into God’s presence. Short and sweet, God wins.

Dear Father,  thank you there is so much more to life than what I see and understand. Thank you, Jesus for taking up my sin and shame and making me whole so that I am learning what it means to enjoy the Father’s presence. Let suffering and pain remind me that I am made for your Kingdom. Today Holy Spirit, with my feet firmly planted in this world, show me how to live as a citizen of your country, under your authority and free from the accusations of the enemy. Your word is the last word and stands forever. Amen

 Kathy (klueh)

 From the archives. Originally published December 16, 2016.

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Job 4-7; Psalm 99; Revelation 11

Job has always been an inexplicable book to me; one in which I tread carefully, reverently, lightly.

The three friends and their wrong counsel can spin me round in such a web of confusion. It can sound so right. Was Job spun round? The shattering rebuke from the Lord at the end of the book instills fear in me.

In Chapter 4, it is Eliphaz who speaks:

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:

“If one ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?
Yet who can keep from speaking?
Behold, you have instructed many,
and you have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
Is not your fear of God[a] your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope? ESV

I will say, I walk carefully with my words- because I often think of Job’s friends.

Job teaches me the unsearchableness of God; the darkness that can and maybe will surround each one of us; the truth of a faith that is greater than self; greater than understanding in moments of pain, torment, suffering, and sorrow.

5 “Oh that I might have my request,
and that God would fulfill my hope,
that it would please God to crush me,
that he would let loose his hand and cut me off!
10 This would be my comfort;
I would even exult[k] in pain unsparing,
for I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
11 What is my strength, that I should wait?
And what is my end, that I should be patient?
12 Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze?
13 Have I any help in me,
when resource is driven from me? ESV

Job teaches me the value in a heart that cries out to God from a place of pain; from a place of integrity. Integrity doesn’t always mean perfect uprightness- it can also mean authenticity; realness; realization; rightness.  In other words, when I see myself for who I am before God and declare it so- I am operating with integrity.

Job’s suffering is painful to witness; it is painful to watch. In this way, it is a shining reflection of grief as a whole. I have precious friends who have suffered greatly. They are no stranger to great grief; again and again. And the Lord has provided them such profound, heart-felt wisdom through their sufferings. I often feel that I am on holy ground. I was with them this past weekend- and had opportunity to discuss grief. My friend has shared how hard the first year is; how every season- grief is fresh and new; unexpected and uncontrollable. Scents, light, color, traditions- it all brings it forward. And we talked about how people struggle with those who are grieving; people just want those grieving “to move on” or “to be over it.” I shared that I think people find it hard to see someone in pain. It is hard to witness their suffering. People grow impatient with their suffering. It is especially hard when it is inexplicable, uncontrollable, and maybe- inconvenient. People suffer, and I walk with God when I walk gently into that space and don’t turn away.

711 “Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I the sea, or a sea monster,
that you set a guard over me?
13 When I say, ‘My bed will comfort me,
my couch will ease my complaint,’
14 then you scare me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I would choose strangling
and death rather than my bones.
16 I loathe my life; I would not live forever.
Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.
17 What is man, that you make so much of him,
and that you set your heart on him,
18 visit him every morning
and test him every moment?
19 How long will you not look away from me,
nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?
20 If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind?
Why have you made me your mark?
Why have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my transgression
and take away my iniquity?
For now I shall lie in the earth;
you will seek me, but I shall not be.” ESV

I handle Job delicately. It is a reminder to handle those who suffer and grieve with tender care; with the utmost humility; with the full realization that God alone is at work in the depths of a human heart- and that heart is holy ground; holy! ground. Tread carefully.

Psalm 99:9

Exalt the Lord our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the Lord our God is holy! ESV

Lord, help me to be tender and true. I lift up my precious, dear friends who have just navigated yet another “first year after loss.” I pray for them, Lord. Richly bless them.  I am grateful for You, Lord. Help me walk tenderly with those who grieve and help me, Lord. Be merciful to me. 

Rebecca (offeringsbecca)

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Job 1-3; Psalm 29; Revelation 10

He was about to lose his life as he knew it. I’m so thankful for these years reading through the scriptures, getting to know the people and my God better each time. But interestingly, the frequency and familiarity don’t make it easier–sometimes it gets a little harder.

I want to hit pause as I read the opening lines of Job–a man of integrity, a man who feared God and stayed away from evil, a loving father of sons and daughters, his home a place of feasting. He was considered rich by his community’s standards, and by my own standards his heart for God and family make him truly wealthy. He was a disciplined man, and his life had a beautiful rhythm.

And he was about to lose his life as he knew it.

This time around, it’s hard to keep reading farther. The loss, the wrestle, the tugging pull of assumptions, accusations, confusion–and a lot of that comes later. His pain is deep; he wonders many things; he wants to erase the wounding and lock it all away from light. There are many things loss dredges up to the surface that survivors must confront. This is hard work.

I know if I sit here longer with Job, I will learn things. Because there will be a time when life feels upended, and life as it was known is lost. How do I look at Job’s grief when I can’t even resolve my own? I turn the pages and focus on this: the voice of the Lord.

Across the seas and among the cedars and oaks, the barren places and wilderness, his voice echoes, strikes, wrings, and strips.

The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is majestic (Psalm 29:4, NLT).

I listen for your voice, Lord.

10 The Lord rules over the floodwaters.
    The Lord reigns as king forever.
11 The Lord gives his people strength.
    The Lord blesses them with peace (Psalm 29:10-11, NLT).

Courtney (66books365)

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Malachi 1-4; Psalms 2; Revelation 9

I grew up in the church, giving money to God.  But I was never taught that my money for God needed to be first and that it needed to be a tithe.  I didn’t fully understand how all that I had came from God and therefore I needed to place Him first, even in my finances.But when I was thirty and my husband and I started attending a new church, we heard a sermon about finances loud and clear.  It reflected what Malachi states in chapter 3:

“Will man rob God?  Yet you are robbing Me.  But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In your tithes and contributions.  You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you.” (Malachi 3:8-9 ESV)

Robbing God?  Yes, I was robbing Him by not putting Him first in ALL things and holding on too tightly to my money.  I thought that if I gave him too much that I would lose out on things for me.  But that accusation was followed by a promise.

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of Heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Malachi 3:10 ESV)

Boy does He make good on that promise!  Once we started putting God first in our finances, things started happening that confirmed we had made the right move.  From time to time we’re hesitant to give a full tithe because things are tight, but we do it anyway, God always makes it balance out.  Someone messes up an insurance claim, for example, then suddenly a check will come in the mail from somewhere else for the exact same amount.  That’s not coincidence, that’s God.

Lord, thank you for teaching me to trust You in all things, including our finances.  May we use all examples of Your grace as our testimony to our children and the world.

Kellie

 

 

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Nehemiah 10-13; Revelation 8

27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28 The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem—from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the musicians had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. 30 When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall. (Neh. 12:27-30 NIV)

Nehemiah is known for being a great leader and orchestrating one of the most amazing building project fetes of all time—rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem in 52 days. He did this by having everyone focus on the area right in front of them–not worrying about any other part.  He defied the opposition that came at him from all sides and was laser focused on the task set before him. Without the wall for protection, Nehemiah knew the temple could be destroyed again, the people would be afraid to live in the city, and Jerusalem would not be the Holy City of God. It was 12 years later, but finally Nehemiah gathered all the people living in and around the city to celebrate. There was a great procession filled with ceremony and fanfare, music and singing—all praising God for His goodness, His blessings upon them, and that He had not given up on them.

This is such a picture of my own life. There was a time when I was an exile from God living far outside His place of protection. I had no boundaries—no walls. The world had free access to me, and I didn’t know a different way to live. Yet, somewhere deep inside I knew there had to be a better way to live. I cried out to the Lord and He answered my cry.

One of the first things I learned was how important it is to build that wall, that boundary, to keep bad things out and good things in. Without that fortified structure in place anything you acquire (peace, emotional distance, emotional growth), any progress you make, can be torn down or stolen. Despite what I always thought, a boundary is a good thing. As we saw in earlier chapters of Nehemiah, people don’t like when walls are built. He encountered anger, intimidation, and threats. Did the enemy try to tear my wall down? You bet. Did things happen to try to distract me from my goal? Without a doubt.  Did I encounter intimidation and scoffing?  Yes–and from unexpected sources.  However, the wall withstood all of that!

From there, God started rebuilding inside of me. We sifted through the rubble of my soul. Piece by piece God lovingly reconstructed a shattered life. I was blessed to have an amazing therapist, a sister in Christ, as my guide. One of the first things we did after establishing boundaries was to purify me. We did this through confession, repentance, and renouncing anything in my life that was not of God. Slowly but surely God put the pieces of my broken heart back together. It was a long, painful process—much like rebuilding the City of David. But I, too, can celebrate with songs of thanksgiving for the goodness of the Lord.  He is faithful!

Heavenly Father I can do nothing but lift my hands in the air, sing songs of praises to you, and fall on my knees with gratitude for mending my heart, sealing the cracks, and filling it with your love. Where once it leaked out, it now overflows. May I be like Nehemiah and lead the procession joyfully proclaiming Your great name for all to hear. And may my voice join with the heavenly host singing praises of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, as this season of Christmas is celebrated. In His name I pray, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

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Nehemiah 7-9; Psalm 140; Revelation 7

Lately I’ve been quoting Revelation 7:9 a lot to individuals when talking about two things:

  • When will the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19&20) be completed?
  • What does God say about culture?

Here’s the verse:

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands… (Revelation 7:9 [ESV]).

The first question may be answered by stating it could happen in our lifetime. There are approximately 7,000 unreached people groups in the world. The Apostle John states that he sees people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. We have a long way to go. And if this is going to be a reality in the future — which I believe it will be — then even the return of Christ depends on these peoples being reached. The question for you this morning is, “What are you doing in your life to see these peoples reached with the gospel?” There’s a lot to yet be done before the Lord returns. In a sense we are on a war footing. How are you helping to win this war?

The second question is a really cool one. I believe God thinks very highly of ethnicity and culture. Did you catch the wording here? The Apostle John saw people from every tongue, tribe, and nation. He saw! I believe we take our ethnicity into heaven with us. If you are white now — you’ll be white in heaven. If you are black now — you will be black in heaven… For what purpose I don’t know, but let’s celebrate our cultural diversity as Christians around the world and look forward to a great time together in heaven.

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