Monthly Archives: June 2014

Job 19-20; Acts 9:23-43

But Peter sent them all outside, knelt down, and prayed. Turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. He gave her his hand and helped her get up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive. This became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.  

Acts 9v40-42

What I love about this, is how it looks exactly like Jesus. 

If we go back to the two parallel accounts in Mark 5:35-43, and Luke 8:49-56, we see Jesus raise a the daughter of a synagogue ruler. He brings Peter, James, and John into the room with him to show them what they will be given the authority to do in his name. I love that Jesus models exactly what he wants his disciples to do, just like a Rabbi would.

And then Peter, being a good disciple, repeats the same thing later on.

He empties the room, prays, tells Dorcas to get up, and takes her by the hand. Just like Jesus did.

There were two takeaways for me from this story. 

The first is that I need to have the faith that Peter has, both in the power of Jesus, and in himself, that he will be able to do the things Jesus did. What would it look like to have that sort of faith? 

Would it look miraculous?

It would at the very least mean listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit, instead of the voice in my head that says, “God isn’t really going to heal that person. Don’t bother, you’ll just look foolish and make God look like he isn’t there.”

When is the last time I prayed in faith, for healing over someone who was sick? 

I haven’t faithfully prayed that since I was in 6th grade, and my best friend’s mom died of cancer anyways, despite all the prayers.

What I forget is that Peter had surely seen people die, yet he still had the faith to call Dorcas back to life.

The second takeaway is the power that Jesus modeling for his disciples had. Do I model a lifestyle for people like Jesus did for his disciples? Could I be bold enough to say, as Paul did, ‘Follow me, as I follow Messiah.’? 

Leadership in the Kingdom looks like having faith, modeling a life worth living, and above all serving others. I need to do a bit (a lot!) more of that in my life.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Job 16-18, Acts 9:1-22

Job 16:17 Although no violence is in my hands and my prayer is pure.

Job 17:12 The light is near, they say, in the face of darkness

Job 19:18 He is driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world

Saul, renamed Paul after his experience on the road to Damascus, thought he was a religious man, born a Pharisee  of Pharisees. He was in a state of religious zeal while on his way to imprison Christians. Yet Christ stops him asks, “Why are you persecuting me?” And even after walking with God as a mature Christian, Paul was plagued by a ‘thorn in the flesh’ suffering from an illness.

Job has a similar sentiment from the catastrophes in his life. He says, “I was at ease, but He shattered me.”

Both Job and Paul thought they knew God, but when God spoke, something larger and different than their preconceived image of Him was imparted. I don’t know if these men were so different than I am today. I believe in the power of the blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse us from all unrighteousness; yet, I too, have felt the stinging pain of rejection by family, friends, and others. Their arguments and pronouncements can cause me tremendous guilt. Or worse yet, I start pointing a finger at someone else. Also, like Job and Saul, I listen for the voice of God in heaven to speak. In reality, I catch myself being snippy with someone or allowing myself a few mean-spirited moments. Before asking forgiveness, I feel stressed, helpless, and disillusioned with myself. The only thing to do is what Job and Saul concluded … I can only seek God’s live and let go of this need to ‘do perfect.’ When I listen, God reminds me that I am His and that He has made me to be a warrior for truth. Drawn in, I return to a deeper conception of His grace and mercy over me; my perception of even His judgments is broadened to accept the good, the bad, and the ugly in me. And more importantly, the beauty of His holiness.

Janet

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan

Job 13, 14, 15; Acts 8:26-40

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. Acts 8:35-38

It took me a while to decide to get baptized after becoming a true believer.

I wasn’t convinced, because I had been wounded in the past. And when I started thinking about it again, the feelings of rejection that I felt because a pastor had told me he wouldn’t baptize me when I had asked to be, reared their ugly head and I got scared.

The church that I was attending at the time held baptisms in the summer when the pools were opened. Everyone gathered as a family in Christ and we had a big picnic. Before the merriment ended, we gathered around the pool and celebrated with those people who had decided to show their commitment to Christ through the symbol of baptism.

Before the scheduled day, I approached one of the pastors and we talked. I realized that this time it really was my choice, because it was my walk with God. I was re-introduced to the New Testament passages that discuss and demonstrate baptism; and the story of Philip and the Ethiopian really stood out to me.

Simplicity of faith, no nerves, no fear.

There is water, so let’s do this, right here, right now.

The passage gave me courage to ask the question myself – is there any reason I shouldn’t be baptized?

I decided there wasn’t any reason not to. I believed with my heart and confessed with my mouth. I wanted to show the world my choice to follow God.

My baptism experience was unique, not in the action itself, but in the participants. My church believed that it was important to involve the person who helped me begin walking my journey with the Lord. And so, just a few months before he died, my brother, who was integral in me finding out who Jesus really is, baptized me, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

In India, baptisms happen, but are rare. It is the active confession of a person’s faith in Christ, and their complete renunciation of the Hindu gods. Many Christians who seek to be baptized will be punished by their non-believing family members. Recently, a new believer in our church was threatened with rejection and homelessness by her brother, for planning to be baptized. Unfortunately, she was bullied into changing her mind, and did not follow through with her plan.

I feel blessed to be in a country where the freedom of religion is still comparatively protected. I feel blessed to be in a place where I could ask the question – is there anything stopping me from being baptized – and answer no. I feel blessed to have had the support of family and friend in my decision. The day I was baptized, though the heavens didn’t open up, and a dove appear above me, I did hear God say, this is my daughter, and I am pleased with her.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Acts, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Job, New Testament, Old Testament

Job 10-12; Acts 8:1-25

It’s such a hard thing when you see someone you love suffer. I’ll never forget the day my grandfather died. My grandmother let out an almost animal like wail of grief that seemed to slice right through me. There was nothing I could say or do that could make things better for her. To be honest, she was never the same after that day.

To be human is to know pain, yet it’s a helpless feeling to watch waves of suffering crash over loved ones and strangers alike. Suffering is never really expected; it feels foreign and wrong. Sometimes, I’ve sat with others in pain and done it well. Other times, I’ve been like Job’s friends, well intentioned, but the trouble started as soon as our mouths opened and answers were offered as to why…why horrible things happen.

Sometimes as a Christian, I think I need to have answers and that will make things better. The truth is, I don’t have all the answers, but God does, even if it is hidden from my eyes. Job understood this. He knew that his life and well being were held in the very hand of God:

Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind…To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his.  Job 12:9…12

Maybe, part of the answer is in quietly sitting beside the suffering one. Maybe it lies in being still; maybe it is found in acknowledging the pain and grief and not being afraid to help another carry it. Maybe part of the answer happens when we humbly invite the presence of God when the broken person isn’t able to.

You, Lord suffered and died on the cross  and understand our brokenness and pain. Give me humility and wisdom when it’s time to comfort and stand by others. Teach me when to speak and when to be silent. And always, even if it’s in silence, help me to point others to you.

klueh

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

Job 7-9; Acts 7:44-60

Job was a good man whose life was turned upside down. I get to listen in on his thoughts, weary from a battering attack on everything he knows.

“My life passes more swiftly than a runner.
    It flees away without a glimpse of happiness.
26 It disappears like a swift papyrus boat,
    like an eagle swooping down on its prey.
27 If I decided to forget my complaints,
    to put away my sad face and be cheerful,
28 I would still dread all the pain,
    for I know you will not find me innocent, O God.
29 Whatever happens, I will be found guilty.
    So what’s the use of trying?
30 Even if I were to wash myself with soap
    and clean my hands with lye,
31 you would plunge me into a muddy ditch,
    and my own filthy clothing would hate me. Job 9:25-31, NLT

His friend tells him: you weren’t good enough. Or your kids weren’t good enough. This wouldn’t have happened to you if you were good enough.

***

Stephen is a good man whose life is cut short by an angry mob that doesn’t like what (Stephen) tells them. They cover their ears from his words and vision, drag him off and stone him to death.

Saul was there that day. Perhaps he was a bad guy–the one who persecuted Christians. The accusers laid their coats at his feet. He stood there watching Stephen’s death. Approving. God was about to turn Saul’s life upside down too.

***

Job was always a confusing book to me, but the more time I spend in it, the more I see present day parallels. Who hasn’t felt like their world was crashing down? Who hasn’t been tormented by thoughts during the day and nightmares at rest? Who hasn’t lost a loved one and wondered why? Or a fortune? Or health? Who hasn’t examined their life looking for the key that unlocked destruction?

And friends–I know lots of folks who strive to be good enough. And don’t we all want to be good enough on some level? I know I can never be good enough to earn salvation, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to be good enough in other aspects of life. Whose approval am I really trying to earn?

What I know of God just from these scriptures:

  • He is the provider.
  • Whatever is lost, he can restore.
  • He can take a man like Saul and turn him into Paul–any life can be transformed powerfully by the very power of the Holy Spirit than any power of man.
  • Nothing escapes his notice.

Because of Christ’s death on the cross, I am good enough. He is my mediator, so that God’s love is not kept from me–he hears every prayer, sees everything. I don’t have to earn God’s love; he loved me first, before I even knew him.

Lord, may I seek to be everything you’ve made me to be for your delight. Thank you for the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about change. Thank you that you hold all things together, even when it seems they’re falling apart.

Courtney (66books365)

1 Comment

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

Job 4-6; Acts 7:20-43

I’m taking a professional development class through my school this summer on communication. One of the main points we talked about today was listening and barriers between our students and us. A key factor that contributes to miscommunication is passing judgment on this listener based on bias or assumption before fully understanding their situation.

Job endures countless hours of berating from his friends who don’t really see where he’s coming from.

My commentary states: “Eliphaz points out that Job is obviously guilty of sin…all of which Job denies and pleads for their mercy, stating that he is well aware of God’s power as well as his own innocence.”

Speaking from personal experience, nothing is worse than catching the blame for something you didn’t do. A few summers ago, I served in a leadership position overseeing the staff body of about a hundred college students who worked with volunteers and campers in some capacity. I was on a team of about six other leaders who were responsible for keeping camp running—pouring into our staff, hosting nightly parties, acting as a liaison between other entities at camp.

Our mentor, Mike, told as at the beginning of the summer that we were about to be blamed for just about anything and everything that went wrong. We were the buffer to catch the fall out from what ever broke during the next three months. There were so many moving parts at camp that if something went wrong at a party, or during camper registration, or in the middle of the night, or between some staffers, or on the ropes course we would just show up, hear someone’s problem and deal with what ever the situation was. A lot of the times people would blame us outright even if the fault wasn’t ours. Mike said when this happened, don’t try to explain. Don’t try to argue or justify yourself. Just bite your lip, say “Yes ma’am (or sir)” and deal with the problem.

It was a long summer.

I definitely think there is a time and place to hold ground and defend yourself. There are too many shoes our there to make ourselves constant doormats. At the end of the day, I don’t think Job is wrong when we states his case and falls on what he knows is true:

But now be so kind as to look at me.

Would I lie to your face?

Relent, do not be unjust;

reconsider, for my integrity is at stake.

Is there any wickedness on my lips?

Can my mouth not discern malice?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Job 1-3; Acts 7:1-19

Job lost his 500 oxen, 500 female donkeys, vary many servants, and his sons and daughters all on the same day. Job had everything beside his wife stripped from him.

His response?

Job tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped the Lord.

“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?  In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Job 2:10b

Job was not denying his pain – tearing his robe and shaving his head were significant representation of grief; however, he brought his grief to the Lord and chose not to sin.

So what is Sin?

Tim Keller puts it well:

Nearly everyone defines sin as breaking a list of rules. Jesus, though, shows us that a man who has violated virtually nothing on the list of moral misbehaviors can be every bit as spiritually lost as the most profligate, immoral person. Why? Because sin is not just breaking the rules, it is putting yourself in the place of God as Savior, Lord, and Judge (Prodigal God page 43).

While Job was in tremendous pain he chose to still worship God instead of lashing out in anger and bitterness. Anger and bitterness is communicating that God does not have control and he does not know what he is doing. Job chose not put himself as God and say I know a better way. He simply brought his brokenness to God.

As I am personally wrestling through a challenge it is easy to want to play God, ask why, and be bitter. I am reminded by Job to trust that God does have a plan and that I am called to say, “Lord, you are good and you are the giver of good things – even if they are hard – I give you the situation and my brokenness.”

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized