Archive for October, 2010

I Know

October 29, 2010

In life there are some things a person just knows.  For example, “If you touch a hot grill with your bare hand you are going to get burned.  If you walk out into the street during rush hour traffic you are going to get hit by a vehicle.”  However consider this, even though you know these things, you could still get burned and you could still get run over if you are distracted from what you know.

I chose both of these scenario’s because I know people who have been distracted and touched a hot grill.  I have known people who have gotten so distracted with thoughts or talking on the cell phone that they walked out in front of traffic, not waiting for the light to change.

Question, “Are there things you know, but have been distracted from?”  Consider all that Job is going through, “He has lost his children, his wealth, his wife does not understand, Satan is against him, and his friends are no help at all.”  It would truly be enough to cause a man to lose all hope.

However Job continues in his faith even though his friends keep reminding him that they believe he is facing adversity because of his sin, Job 18-19.  In chapter 19 Job describes the depths of his agony, “Even young children despise me; when I rise they talk against me,”19:19.

Job cried out for mercy in Vs: 21, “Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends; for the hand of God has touched me.”  At this moment, what would you say to Job?  What advice would you give this man of faith? Or better put, “What do you know?”

Here is what Job knew, “For I know my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God,” 19:25-26.  Job knew that His God had redeemed him and this redemption guaranteed him resurrection from the dead and a place in heaven.  So for Job he knew this troubled water would not be the end of his story.

As I was praying after reading this I asked the Lord, “What do you want me to write about?”  It was so clear that I was to challenge each of you to consider what you know.  The fact is truth that is not tested is only theory.  However truth tested because a reality in which the person can say, “I know.”

So what you and I believe will really come out when we are tested. However if we get distracted from what we know because of sin or doubt we can live in fear and frustration. Consider what James writes about in James 4:1-10.  When you are fighting and arguing it reveals the wicked desires of your hear and you will fail to live by what you know.  When you are fighting Satan, you must first be submitted to God before you can have victory, but you will forget this and fight in your own strength.  You see I know I cannot defeat my enemy but my God can, because as I have submitted to God I have discovered Satan is no match for God.  Job is allowing God to be his redeemer in everything.

I know He is my redeemer and I know He will redeem everything in His time for His glory and My God.  Oh how I pray you can come to the place of this truth in your life.

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Open To Reason

October 28, 2010

“The longer the conversation went the more heated it became.”  Does the previous sentence seem strangely familiar to you?  Certainly everyone who reads this blog has familiarity with conversations that get heated.

Consider Job, the longer his dialogue with his three friends went the more heated it became. If you are following the dialogue, Job 15-17 you realize this is round two.  Job’s three friends have already taken one shot at him and now they take a second turn.  But this time the onslaught gets worse as Job’s friend accuses him of not only being in sin but now that sin includes not fearing God.  Here is how he describes it, “Should a wise man answer with windy knowledge,” 15:2.  As I read this it became clear that this guy thought Job was blowing in the wind with his words.

Job’s reply comes quick and it is cutting, “I have heard many such things; miserable comforters are you all,” 16:2.  Job continues by sharing how devastated his life has become, “My face is red with weeping and on my eyelids is deep darkness, although there is no violence in my hands, and my prayer is pure,” 16:16-17.

The fact is, Job’s friends and even Job were locked into their position and they were not open to reason.  This was clear to me as I read James 3. As you know James 3 is the strongest of teachings concerning our speech.  As I read the chapter I realized these guys were cutting Job to pieces with their words.  Why were they doing this? James answers, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice,” 3:16.

Only when we listen to God with a pure heart can we really reason with anyone in conversation. “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, and sincere,” 3:17.

Certainly the conversation in the book of Job was anything but this.  And sadly enough in most heated conversations we fail to have the wisdom that is from above because our ears are closed because of the obstruction of sin.

I found myself praying that God would create a pure heart within me and that I would always test my heart against James 3:17 before I shared in conversation with anyone, especially those that the conversation will certainly have differences of thought.

Maybe you are struggling in a conversation that you have already had or you need to have?  Let me encourage you with the Psalmist words, “Be still and know He is God,” 46:10. As you and I listen to God He will show us what is in our hearts and He will cut out the sin and create within us a clean heart that is ready to hear from heaven and to submit to heavens direction.  When this happens you and I will speak with power and every strong hold will be broken down in Jesus name.

In The Right Hands

October 27, 2010

I am always amazed at how ordinary things become extraordinary in the right hands.  For instance an orange round ball can hold people spell-bound when the ball is placed in Labron James hands.  An ordinary f-16 fighter jet becomes a source of wonder and amazement when controlled by one of the famous, “Blue Angels.” A piano becomes a vehicle to communicate the wonder of God through the hands of a wonderful musician like Pastor Dale.  Each of the things I just mentioned are taken to  a new level by the hands they are in.

Question, “Whose hands are your life in?”  Remember Job?  He is the guy who finds himself in the greatest of hardships and he just cannot figure out why.  His friends are wrongly convinced, it is because of his sin.  This morning I read Job 11-14, Psalm 44, and James 2:14-26.

Here is what I discovered, “Job knew his friends were wrong and he did not want to be in their hands.”  Job actually said of his friends, “You are worthless physicians,” 13:4.  Understand, if we place our lives in anyone else’s care, including our own, we are in the hands of people who are worthless in solving our greatest problem which is sin and self.

Job choses to stay right where he had been staying, in the hands of God.  Here is Job’s proclamation, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him,” 13:15.  Job knew that only God’s hands could accomplish what he needed in his life.

We discover in this text that God’s hands are mighty, Job 12.  The Psalmist wrote, “It is your right hand and your arm that deliver,” 12:3.  Brother and sister, trust in God’s amazing right hand and He will come through in His timing.  Did you get the last part of the last sentence?  We must trust in His timing.

On of the toughest parts of trusting in His hand is when it seems that He is lowering his hand with you in it into rough times.  I have discovered in these times that God is showing me, how much or how little I really trust Him.

The late Adrian Rogers wrote, “You will never learn that God is all you need until He is all you have.”  In this moment of Job’s life it was just Job and the Father.  In the end it was all he needed and brethren He is all we need.”

Secondly I discovered that God’s hand is a hand of mercy.  Job was not perfect and God would have to correct Job, but God loved Job and He extended mercy in His life and oh how many times has God extended mercy to His people. Consider James words in chapter 2.

Brothers and sisters we live in a world that is sinful and is in the misery of their sin.  As you and I proclaim His greatness, by our dependence, we are letting the world know of the difference He makes when lives are placed in his hand.

Who Is Right?

October 26, 2010

Their words were barely audible, but then they became audible as they raised their voices.  My two boys were having an intellectual discussion (Baptist argument) on a topic of great importance, like who should drink out of the milk container first or who should have control of the tv controller.

Daily at our home, my precious wife, is faced with the task of judging who is right and who is wrong.  When I am home, the decision is often in my court.  More often than not, both boys are wrong in some form or fashion.  Now be honest, these same things happen in your home as well.

As Job and his friends continue to go back and forth,Job 7-10, I discover Job’s wisdom. Job argues from the viewpoint that he is right in his life, but still yet he is a sinner and in fact he nor his friends have the right to stand before God and argue, “Who is right.”

Here is what Job said,” Though I am in the right, I cannot answer Him; I must appeal for mercy to my accuser,” 9:15. In chapter 10 Job admits that his very life has been as a result of grace, “You have granted me life and steadfast love. and your care has preserved my spirit,” 10:12.  So the bottom line for Job’s life is simply, “His existence was simply because of God’s mercy and grace.”  Will you amen this truth for your life?

Job knows if he stands before God, he could never hope to be right.  Brothers and sisters neither could we. So Job correctly reasons, “There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both,” 9:33. Question, “Is there anyone to cry out for mercy and grace in your life?”  The answer is yes!!!  The one who cries out with His very life is Jesus, I Timothy 2:5.  He is the mediator between man and the Father.

Here is the deal, “Jesus does not go before the Father and argue that you and I are right.  2000 years ago He went to the cross because we were wrong (In sin) and He sufficiently paid the debt for our sin.”  When we cry out for mercy and grace, Jesus payment is accounted into our lives and we have a right standing before God.

I am so thankful that I can say, “I am right before God because of His grace and mercy.”  Now here is the tough part, “Do we live this same way with those around us?”  Are we giving grace and mercy in the midst of strained relationship and sinful acts against us?

Remember, “But how can a man be in the right before God?” Only by mercy and grace.  I encourage you to give to others the grace and mercy that you have been given.  Ask the Lord to be the mediator between you and the person who has hurt you or has sinned against you.  Allow the grace and mercy of God to reconcile this relationship.  Cease asking, “Who is right.”  Cling to the mindset that says, “We all need grace and mercy!!!”

This Is Hard To Swallow

October 25, 2010

Do you remember those days gone by, when as a kid, your mom would hand you a pill and she would say, “Swallow this?”  I can still remember how I thought, when taking antibiotics that I was being asked to swallow a basketball instead of  a pill.  My mom used to say, “Oh, it doesn’t taste that bad.”  I later discovered this was simply a code that really meant you had better get it down fast because if you do not, it is going to taste horrible.

I was reminded of this as I continued my study of the life of Job, chapters 6-7.  I remind you that Job has been told by his friends, “You are in sin.  Confess your sin and God will restore you to favor.”  Here in these chapters we find Job’s response.

Job simply responds to his friends, “This is hard to swallow.”  “Can that which is tasteless be eaten without salt.  Or is there any taste in the juice of the mallow.”  Question, “Are there things in your life that seem hard to swallow?”

Consider what Job thought was hard to swallow.  First, he did not want to swallow the hurt he was facing.  The weight, shame, and sorrow he felt were more than he could take in.  Brothers and sisters we live in a world that has this weight daily and we have been called to visit and care for such people (James 1:25-26).  In doing so we are living examples of people who are sharing Christ with them.  Secondly, Job did not want to swallow the fact that God was against Him.  His friends kept on saying, “God is against you,”  Job would rather die than to be out of fellowship with God.  Thirdly, Job was struggling to swallow the type of friendship he was receiving.  “To him who is afflicted, kindness should be shown by his friend.”  Hard times are so much easier to swallow when you have a true friend walking with you.  Such people are like a glass of water with a bitter pill.  It goes down so much easier.

These things alone are hard enough to swallow, however there is more.  Job looked at his future and only saw more of the bitter pills to swallow, he would have been willing for God to crush him.  If he could have only heard the words of the Psalmist, “why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation, and my God,” Psalm 42:5.

In chapter seven of the book of Job it seemed as if Job had no hope. But there was and there is hope in God.  Maybe you are facing a hard to swallow time in your life?  If so, hope in God for He will see you through and you will have greater reason to praise His name.

Maybe you have friends who are facing a hard to swallow time?  If so, be sensitive to what they are facing and become engaged in their hard to swallow moment.  You could be God’s glass of water for them!!!

Listen To Me

October 22, 2010

This morning we continue the story of Job.  Just yesterday we read how Job finally spoke after seven days of silence in the midst of his storm.  Job thought he was making the best decision, but the three friends who were with him thought differently.

For the next 30 chapters these friends will go back and forth with Job trying to get him to listen to their viewpoint. The first friend speaks up in chapters 4-5. He is probably the oldest friend and he begins with a question,”Will you be patient while I speak?”

If there is one thing I have learned this week, It has been the need to listen to what others are saying.  But also to listen with a heart informed and filled with the word of God.  Job’s friend, I believe was sincere in his viewpoint.  Besides who else would have stayed seven days and mourned in silence with his friend.  But sincerity alone can do as much damage as someone who is intent on giving bad advice.

Consider the theology given to Job.  Job’s friend begins by correctly pointing out, “God will destroy the sinner, Vs:7.”  We know the sinner to be the one who refuses to come to Jesus.  He continues by correctly pointing out, “God delights in the saint, Vs:7b.”  Those who follow Christ will experience His blessings.  Next Job’s friend is correct in pointing out, “God disciplines the saint when he sins, 5:17-18.”  But what his friend does not do is to give an answer to the trouble that comes to the one who is walking in the will of God.

As I closed chapter five, I had this burning in my heart, to know the entire word of God and not just part of it.  As I read James 1:22, I felt the weight of not just knowing the word, but living the word out in my life.  Then as I read Psalm 41, I was reminded how life is tough and only a Holy God is always faithful and only God has all the facts.

Daily I must walk in the grace of God so that when I reach out to others they may know that I am sharing the whole counsel of God.  Question, “Are their people in your life that you want to help?”  Do you find yourself saying, “If they would just listen to me?”

Dear brother and sister, there is such fallacy in this.  I am growing to where I want everyone to only hear what God says.  This is exactly what Job needed.  He did not need to hear from man but from God.  I realize Sherry’s family doesn’t need my viewpoint, they need God’s viewpoint as they discover how to walk in grace as God prepares mom for her homecoming.

The Best Option

October 21, 2010

When life is easy, decisions seem so much easier to make.  But when life is difficult, discovering the best option often becomes one of the most grueling processes of each day.  Over the years I have watched people who used to be so at ease, happy, and kind become stressed, sad, and mean-spirited in pursuit of the best option.  Certainly you and I have not only seen this in others, we have also been there ourselves.

Consider Job, he doesn’t understand all that is going on in his life and he is yoked with people who are sharing their opinion about his best options and for the most part they are sharing from misplaced priorities.  Seven days have passed (2:13) and now Job is ready to speak.

In his mind, the best option, Job 3, would have been if he had never been born or that he would have died in childbirth.  In other words, “If he could go back, he would have said, I don’t want this option for my life.”

Brothers and sisters I have discovered the worst option in any tough time is the option of listening to your own understanding.  James 1:19-21 confirms this, “Be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath.”  James encourages us to listen to God, cleanse ourselves of sinful hurtful thoughts, and pursue His will in our lives.

In Psalm 40 David cries out, “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart,”40:8.  Oh how I wish I could always say, “I want His option in my life.”  O how I wish I could say, “Your law always governs my decisions.”

Question, “Are you following His direction in your tough time?”  Consider Job in Job 3.  He cries out to God and says, “The best option is to never be born.”

How does a person know when they are not choosing the best option?  Such a person evidences three characteristics as Job does in this text.  First, they are always looking back, Job could not see God in the present because of the hurt so he looks back.  Second, They are always latched to the burdens of the moment.  Every moment is consumed with the hardness of the moment.  The option of believing God has something wonderful in this is seldom considered.  James teaches us to remain under the trial knowing that God is taking us to a place of maturity in this trial.  Finally, such a person is living in brokenness.  The joy of the Lord seems so far away.  Sadness has replaced the Spirit of God which leads us in expectation of triumph.   Here is how Job summed it up, “I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest, but trouble comes,” Vs:26.

If this is you, it has been me from time to time, I plead with you to read Psalm 40 and come to a place where you place everything in His hand and you leave it in the only place where there is wisdom, power, and true unconditional love and grace.

 

Misplaced Priorities

October 20, 2010

Yesterday Sherry and I spend the day cleaning out her mother’s apartment.  It was a day of both sadness and joy.  The joy came as I worked with my brother-in-law, who is so in love with Jesus.  We were able to laugh and to spend quality time together.  But there were also moments of sadness as we carried out so many things that had great value to mom but held little value to so many others.

Needless to say, the trips to the dumpster and the Rescue Mission brought a sobering reminder that at the end of one’s life, if he or she is not careful, the sum total of one’s life’s work will be of little value in eternity.

As I turned to Job 2, once again Satan comes to God and once again God holds up Job as one who follows Him in love.  Satan has a theory about humanity, “Skin for skin!  All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and flesh, and he will curse you to your face,” 2:4-5.  Little did Satan know but he was up against a guy who had his priorities in order.

However Job’s wife did not.  She gave Job some advice, “Curse God and die.”Wow, Satan must have been thinking about Job’s wife instead of Job when he spoke of humanity.  Question, “Would Satan be correct if he spoke this about your life today?”

Here is what I discover about Job’s wife.  First, she loved the delicacies of life.  When Job was prosperous and her children were prosperous she was as happy as could be.  I can see her throwing parties, showing off the house, speaking wonderfully about the children.  But I wonder, “did she give honor to God for all she had?”  James tells us that all good and perfect gifts come from above, James 1:16.

However things changed for Job’s wife when tough times came.  She loathed the disasters of life.  Friend, no one loves the disaster itself and I don’t think God would have us to say, “I love this disaster.”  But I do know that we are to praise the God who lead us to this place and we are count it all joy in what God is teaching us.  James writes, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,” 1:12.  The fact is, our trials show us where our priorities really are.

I am discovering so much about my life during these last two years of great trials. I can honestly say, “I have adjusted my priorities in many areas of life and God is still adjusting my life for His glory.”  Like Job I am proclaiming, “Shall we receive God from God and shall we not receive disaster,” 1:10.

I pray that when people go through my things and when they replay my life that they can see my life had the right priorities and that my life always praised the Lord.  Here is how the Psalmist put it in 39:4 “O Lord, make me to know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am.”

When You Do Not Understand

October 19, 2010

Beginning today, I am going to slow down in the length of our scripture reading and for the next month I am seeking to go deep in a study of the book of Job and the book of James with a chapter of Psalm’s added to the mix each day.

The Lord confirmed this in my heart yesterday and even early this morning.  As some of you know, my wife’s mother is in the last stages of cancer. We are spending this week with her mom in caring for some of the needs she has while also giving her other family a break and some support.

Yesterday we took mom to the doctor and to lunch afterward.  At one point mom was so weak that I choose to gently lift her out of our vehicle.  I asked her to put her arms around my neck as I lifted her.  When she did, I felt the weight of her struggle but also I felt a renewed tenderness in her as she kissed me on the cheek. I will carry the memory of that moment long after God has called her home.

For me this scene brought a resounding truth taught in the book of Job.  When we are hurting God picks us up in His arms to carry us and all He asks us to do is to love Him and trust Him.  Mom did this with me and Job did this with our Heavenly Father.

The book of Job begins with a description of Job’s blessings in his faith, 1-2, and the blessings in his family, 3-5.  The chapter takes a strange turn as we see the blindness he had concerning the fight in heaven, 6-12.  At this moment, Job has no clue of what is next, wave after wave of hurt, 13-19.

Certainly we cannot often explain the hurt in this world.  We cannot explain why God allows some things to happen and some things He keeps from happening.  David could not either but here is what he could do, “I have become like a deaf man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes.  But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer,” Psalm 38:15.  David reminds us to not listen to our circumstances nor to listen to people’s wisdom.  Wait for God’s answer and trust Him even when we do not get an answer.

James drove this home with me, “Ask in faith, without doubting.”  God wants us to trust His sovereign plan even when we do not see the why.  We see this in Job as he battles in his faith, 1:21.  “The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

I am learning in these moments with mom to do this very thing.  I pray this translates into every area of my life and yours in Jesus name,

Where Is God?

October 18, 2010

With all that goes on in this world, one could be tempted to ask, “Where is God?” This morning as I read the book of Esther I pondered this very question.

The book of Esther is set during the time when God’s people have been allowed to return to the Promised Land.  There were those who were able to return but most stayed in exile all over the known world.  A young lady by the name of Esther was raised in the capital city, and at an early age experiences the death of her parents.  Her uncle assumes the duties of bringing up this young lady.

I thought, “How difficult it must have been to be raised without mother and father in a foreign land.”  However there is something amazing in this story, “Gods hand was on her life.”  Here is the commentary on her life, “Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her,” 2:15.

To everyone’s shock this orphan girl rises to become queen.  But be assured she was not there by chance nor was she there for her own selfish gain. God had placed her there to deliver her nation from certain death.  This is the story  of all stories.  Even though God’s name is not mentioned in this Old Testament book, He is there working behind the scenes on behalf of his people.

When Esther was going through the one year preparations to meet the king for the first time, I wonder did she ask, “God where are you and what are you doing?”  Maybe, in what you are facing today, you ask, “God where are you and what are you doing?”  Be assured God is positioning you to do His work in a great way.

Don’t be angry or afraid of what you are facing, God who is on the throne, is working His will.  Please do not become discouraged or tempted to give up on God because you do not see all the details.  God is at work and as Esther’s uncle wrote to her, “Who knows if you have been brought to the kingdom for such a time as this.”

The fact is God, had it all worked out.  If the Jews had been killed the line of Christ would have been broken.  However, Praise God, He had it all worked out and God’s people prospered and the line was kept in tact and Jesus came and gave His life on the cross, was buried, and rose again for our redemption and justification.

If you are wondering where is God, “I also encourage you to read Psalm 37 and I Corinthians 4.”  Here is how Paul ends I Corinthians 4, “For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power,” 4:20.