Monthly Archives: December 2015

Job 21-23, Psalm 101, Revelation 16

Back and forth, round and round they go. I have always had a hard time understanding the book of Job. Are his friends there to help or hurt? Is Job really a righteous guy or a selfish sinner? I think the answers to all of those questions are yes!
Boy can I relate to Job. One minute I am praising the Lord for his Sovereign hand and the next minute my selfishness rises up and takes over. It only takes one bad day or even a bad moment for my sinful and jealous heart to take over and look around for all the injustices in my life. I become self- righteous in my thinking- I’m a good person. I work hard to serve the Lord and do the right thing. Sometimes I even make sacrifices with my time, energy and resources and yet, there are so many around me who give nothing and still seem to prosper. And soon enough I find myself saying, like a spoiled child, “That’s not fair, Lord.” How many times do we sit in bitterness watching others prosper?

Like Job, how often do I feel justified in my own actions or thinking, secure in the works I have done? How often do I plead my own case and compare my deeds against others?

23 10-12 “But he knows where I am and what I’ve done.
He can cross-examine me all he wants, and I’ll pass the test
with honors.
I’ve followed him closely, my feet in his footprints,
not once swerving from his way.
I’ve obeyed every word he’s spoken,
and not just obeyed his advice—I’ve treasured it.” (The MSG)

And then, in my defense I compare my good deeds to others and ask the Lord why they are prospering while I am not!

21:17-21 “Still, how often does it happen that the wicked fail,
or disaster strikes,
or they get their just deserts?
How often are they blown away by bad luck?
Not very often.
You might say, ‘God is saving up the punishment for their children.’
I say, ‘Give it to them right now so they’ll know what
they’ve done!’
They deserve to experience the effects of their evil,
feel the full force of God’s wrath firsthand.
What do they care what happens to their families
after they’re safely tucked away in the grave? (The MSG)

Ultimately, my saving grace is Jesus. It’s knowing that the Lord God Almighty is sovereign over all. His plans are higher than mine. In Job’s own words, “He is singular and sovereign. Who can argue with him?”His sovereignty is hard to except when things are going all wrong in our lives or when our friends or family are prospering without trying. When the friend gets pregnant easily and we’ve been trying for years. When the sibling gets a new car while we are driving a beater. When your friend’s husband gets as promotion or your co-worker builds a brand new house in the neighborhood you’ve been looking at…. Like is not fair nor is is always something we can understand or comprehend but God knows!

We know from reading revelation that there will come a day when the wicked receive their due wrath. We can rest assured as believers in Jesus that each and every bad day is predetermined by the Lord. The next time I am sitting in my self-righteousness and self –pity as others prosper without trying, I need to remember Revelation 16:15 Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed.” Jesus is coming back. He will make all things right and my reward is secure in Heaven.

 

Thank you, Jesus for not having my same attitude. You gave up fairness and came to earth completely selfless, giving your love to us. You are the greatest give we don’t deserve but desperately need. Thank you and happy birthday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Job 18-20; Psalm 141; Rev 15

Is God trying to punish me?

“How dare you go on persecuting me, saying, “It’s his own fault? You should fear punishment yourselves, for your attitude deserves punishment.” Job 19:28-29

Several years ago, I had a wonderful science teacher who led me to a new poster in his classroom. Before I could see what was on the poster, my teacher instructed me to close my eyes and he positioned me up against the poster. Then he told me to open my eyes and tell him what was on the poster. Since I was so close, I couldn’t tell for sure… all I saw was a bunch of dots! Then, he said… “slowly move backwards so you could see the poster from a different perspective.” I did, and what was once a collection of multi-colored dots was, in fact, a picture of Abraham Lincoln as he is seen at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.! Why didn’t I recognize who was on the poster when I was up close? Could it be that simple? That viewing something from a different perspective or relying on someone who has that different perspective, holds the answer to understanding what we’re dealing with right in front of our faces?

Perhaps one of the most significant burdens of suffering is our often unanswered question, Why? As humans, I believe we have an innate desire to make sense of things that happen to us. So if we must endure something difficult, we at least deserve a reason for our suffering, don’t we? God, can you at least give us that much?

Suffering often plunges us into introspection, where we hash out (and often re-hash, again and again!) how we may have earned such awful consequences. Surely God wouldn’t let us hurt so badly unless we deserved it as punishment. Right?

Not so fast… It’s anyone’s guess where we got the idea that suffering must be a consequence of sin. Sometimes God does allow suffering as a discipline, but that is only sometimes. As a result of the fall, pain is an unavoidable part of life. It’s here to stay until we’re with our Heavenly Father for eternity.

The Bible, shows us that it isn’t only us that needed to deal with difficulties and pain. Looking at Job, we find that God was extremely pleased with Job for the way he lived. And yet, God allowed Satan to test Job’s faithfulness. Not a shred of Job’s pain came as a result of sin. Job wasn’t merely a halfway good man; he was characterized as “blameless… a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil” (Job 1:1). If anyone didn’t deserve to suffer, Job was that man… and yet… he did!

God’s purpose in allowing Job to bear huge pain was the opposite of punishment… He held up Job before Satan’s face as a pillar of integrity (Job 2:3), a man who brought glory to God, a man whose life put Satan in his place.

When, not if, we go through difficult times, perhaps a paradigm shift, of sorts, in our thinking process, might have us seeing things or issues we’re dealing with differently. Perhaps start with the fact that our God loves us always and would never do anything to hurt us, and consider how our life can be a testimony of faithfulness to God rather than a tale of sin’s afflictions. We might be amazed what God will do through the situations that hurt us. The lesson might not be obvious in our time, but in God’s perfect timing, He may allow us to see our trial through His eyes as a means of stretching us in ways we would not have otherwise been able to do on our own. It comes down to faith, doesn’t it? What will we do when we’re put into those places of struggle, pain, and suffering? Move closer to Him or turn our backs and walk away? A good friend of mine said to me one day that “You’re either walking towards God or away from Him… it’s your choice!”

International Christian best-selling author Chip Brogden shared a story we can all benefit from… “One man’s experience drives him to curse God, while another man’s identical experience drives him to bless God. Your response to what happens is more important than what happens!”

Lord, I don’t like that pain is a part of life, but I thank you that you’re so gracious to spare me from the suffering my sins deserve. Please help us to honor you even when our questions remain unanswered! Amen…

gstefanelli (Greg Stefanelli)

 

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Job 15-17; Revelation 14

Job’s friends got it right at first, they sat with him for a week without talking. However, they couldn’t help themselves and had to open their mouths and show they weren’t as wise as their initial actions showed.

Job lets them know how he feels as a result of their “comforting” words in chapter 16, “miserable comforters are you all.” A great reminder to speak the truth in love.

In summary of these few chapters, Eliphaz gets up and says what we often wish were true. If you live a good life, you won’t deal with messy, depressing, hurtful situations. But,

The wicked man writhes in pain all his days,

through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless. (Job 15: 20)

So, unfortunately, as much as we try, sometimes we’ll make mistakes and God will have to let us have it. So, Job, fess up, what did you do? Job replies that he didn’t do anything. He’s a good guy and for unknown reason God’s just out to get him. He’s lost all hope and thinks he is about to die. Both sides of this conversation show a deep reliance on human intuition rather than God-grounded thinking. Granted, they didn’t have any written Scriptures to go on at the time, so they have a way better excuse than us for speculating.

Fast forward from one of the earliest stories in Scripture to the time yet predicted in the future. From the depressing outcry of a human man to the throne room of God. Revelation 14.

I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps,
3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
6 Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.
7 And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.
Is it any wonder that our human speculation often falls short of God’s plan? Even with this vivid description my mind swirls as I try to imagine that throne room. The throngs of people, the presence of holiness, the clear standard of right and wrong.
Lord, even when I can’t understand, help me to trust You completely. Help me not to keep trying to fit Your infinite ways into my finite box. Thank you for your patience and your awesomeness that is beyond comprehension. Can’t wait to worship at Your feet fully aware of all You are ~Amen
Erin (6intow)

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Job 12-14; Psalm 100; Revelation 13

 

“In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:10

“He makes the nations great and destroys them; he enlarges nations and dispenses them.” Job 12:23

What is true for the individual is true for the nations. Our existence is dependent upon God the Creator. We are witnessing one of the world’s greatest waves of immigration as hundreds of thousands risk their lives to flee their homes and find refuge in Europe. Chaos and confusion abounds, but not for God. Life and death, war and peace have been going on ever since Adam and Eve left the Garden. The Bible bears witness to this and assures us that God sees and understands. He does not stand indifferent and in the distance.

What shall we do? Despair? Join forces with Henny Penny and declare that the sky is falling? Job offers a much more solid response:

“Though he slay me, yet I will hope in him… If a man dies, will he live again?  All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made.” Job 13:15… Job 14:14-15.

The Psalmist grabs hold of our fearful hearts and anchors them in the reality of the Kingdom of God:

“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3

Our hearts and minds need not give way to fear and anxiety. God is real and He sees all; He is near and He will not leave us. May He give us the grace to follow him faithfully.

Klueh

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Job 8-11; Revelation 12

Job’s story–each time reading over it, I learn a bit more. At first, I approached him as his friends did: thinking these holy words (as part of scripture) rang with authority and truth–he MUST HAVE done something wrong to deserve this. Friends who point the finger at him. Friends who tell him what he needs to do to fix it. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, Job is spun and pulled to different perspectives–and it’s no wonder even his words can’t land on a still spot.

“‘You formed me with your hands; you made me,
    yet now you completely destroy me.
Remember that you made me from dust—
    will you turn me back to dust so soon?
10 You guided my conception
    and formed me in the womb.
11 You clothed me with skin and flesh,
    and you knit my bones and sinews together.
12 You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love.
    My life was preserved by your care.

13 “‘Yet your real motive—
    your true intent—
14 was to watch me, and if I sinned,
    you would not forgive my guilt.
15 If I am guilty, too bad for me;
    and even if I’m innocent, I can’t hold my head high,
    because I am filled with shame and misery.
16 And if I hold my head high, you hunt me like a lion
    and display your awesome power against me.
17 Again and again you witness against me.
    You pour out your growing anger on me
    and bring fresh armies against me. Job 10:8-17, NLT

And maybe that’s just what the enemy wants–to confuse minds and contort information. These chapters in Job and Revelation, they point to a spiritual warfare.

Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. Revelation 12:7-9, NLT.

I think on words in Ephesians, and try to get my head around it. Spiritual warfare is generally not the stuff of my everyday conversations. It’s not trending in my social feeds. I’ve hardly heard it discussed between believers. But today, I sit with these thoughts more than ever before.

Father God, I pray to walk in your truth–to hold fast to who you are, to embrace who you say I am, to see the world with new eyes. An enemy comes to destroy, deceive and divide. Help me to know the truth and walk in it.

Courtney (66books365)

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Job 4-7; Psalm 99; Revelation 11

“In the past you have encouraged many people;

you have strengthened those who were weak.

Your words have supported those who were falling;

you encouraged those with shaky knees.

But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart.

You are terrified when it touches you.

Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence?

Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope? Job 4:3-6

 

His friend Eliphaz begins questioning Job, reminding him of who he was and wondering why Job is not remembering his own words of encouragement for himself. Eliphaz  goes on to question why so many bad things are happening to Job and blaming it on sins that Job “must” be committing.

Though my trials are not the same as what Job experiences during his testing by the enemy, I have found that my own attitude in the midst of my personal trials mimics Eliphaz’ observations – I have moments when I lose heart, become fearful, forget my confidence in myself and in God, and feel hopeless.

There are days when I think I can’t go on, moments when I want to give up. I cry. I scream out loud. I ask, “why?” I succumb to the feelings of despair that have been building – which usually manifests in lounging on the sofa with a batch of warm brownies and cold milk, bingeing on my latest TV find.

After my pity party, I choose a trusted friend and ask to process, ask for counsel, ask for a hug; my eyes are once again open to the truth…I have been walking in my own weakness and not relying on God’s strength. I pray.

At least I can take comfort in this:

Despite the pain,

I have not denied the words of the Holy One.

But I don’t have the strength to endure.

I have nothing to live for.

Do I have the strength of a stone?

Is my body made of bronze?

No, I am utterly helpless,

without any chance of success. Job 6:10-13

Because I believe that God knit me together in my mother’s womb and knows every hair on my head, I believe that my circumstances aren’t a surprise to God. He knows what I am going to walk through and He knows the solutions to my problems. All I have to do is wait on His timing…patiently…for the answer, trust that God will bring me through, hold onto His Words for strength and encouragement.

I don’t have the strength of a stone nor a body of bronze, and without God I don’t have strength to endure. Without God I am utterly helpless without any chance of success.

Yesappa, Thank You for Your perfect timing. Thank You for helping me walk through the circumstances and keeping me strong. Help me continue to trust You and to fully rely on You. Help me stand firm in the knowledge that You are always with me, You will never leave nor forsake me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie,

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Job 1-3; Psalm 29; Revelation 10

Above the floodwaters is God’s throne from which his power flows, from which he rules the world. God makes his people strong. God gives his people peace.” Psalm 29:11 MSG

I’ve been thinking about God’s favor and who He gives it to. Because when I have a prayer go unanswered and have to wait, it feels like God is not blessing me. I heard a DJ on the radio say, “Who does God give favor? The shepherds, Mary, the lowly”…than I read Job.  Satan was sure that Job would curse God if he took everything away from him.

God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one like him-honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.” Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does-he can’t lose! But what do you think will happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.” Job 1:8-11MSG

But, Job worshiped God.

Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped. Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth. God gives, God takes. God’s name be ever blessed. Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God.” Job 1:21 MSG

Job cried out to God from an honest heart “What’s the point of life when it doesn’t make sense, when God blocks all the roads to meaning?” Job 3:23 MSG. Sometimes I think God wants to hear my honesty from a vulnerable heart. Like when Jacob wrestled with God until He blessed him. I am thankful for a God who comes into my messiness and loves me despite my questions. I am reminded that He came to this earth as a baby and can understand how I feel. That one day He will make everything right.

Then the Angel I saw astride the sea and land lifted his right hand to Heaven and swore by the One Living Forever and Ever, who created Heaven and everything in it, earth and everything in it, sea and everything in it, that time was up-that when the seventh Angel blew his trumpet, which he was about to do, the Mystery of God, all the plans he had revealed to his servants, the prophets, would be completed.” Revelation 10:5-7 MSG

Thank you Father that you meet me right where I am, in the midst of my struggle. Thank you for coming to earth to die for my sins. I praise you for who you are. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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