He’s Touching Me (Job 17-20)

January 8, 2021

Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends,
    for the hand of God has touched me! Job 19:21

One of the hardest things for Christian parents to accept is the reality that their kids are sinners. Now as a first-time grandparent I still find it hard to remember this truth. If you don’t believe me, get several kids together when they are tired. Usually their sin natures come out when they are asked to share. This sin usually amps up to the point that sometimes kids will shout out, “make John stop, he is touching me.”

As a child grows they often grow into adulthood with the same childish (sinful ways). In our studies in the life of Job we have come to chapters 17-20. Job was still holding fast to his belief that what has happened to him is not a result of sin in his own life. With each round of arguments, his friends were bearing down that he was in sin.

I hope you are noticing that with each new chapter Job is leaning more and more toward doubting God’s intentions. In chapter 19, Job spoke about God’s hand being on him. Job knew God had allowed hard times to descend on his life (19:8). Job cries out for his friends (19:21) to have mercy on him. They were only on the outside looking in. Job was on the inside wanting to get out of this dark time in his life.

You and I must remember that Job was not the only one who did not know the way of this season of his life. His so-called friends did not now as well.

At this point we sense Job struggling with truth. Job was stretched in his mind, his body, and his spirit. But Job was holding onto what he knew about God. Read slowly through Job’s proclamation of what he knew about God.

25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
    and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I shall see God

Here is the big deal in my mind today: When I cannot see God’s hand I can still trust His heart.

Who is this Redeemer Job spoke about? According to Isaiah 53:4, it is Jesus. This Jesus came to this earth and was touched by the hand of God (stricken by God) so that by His wounds we can be healed. Brothers and sisters, let us never doubt the intentions of God’s heart or the power of His hand.

I love Romans 8:32

 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 

Oh my friend, I have become an adult but I still have a child-like faith crying out to God and to others, “He is touching me.” Praise be to His name!

Two questions to consider:

  1. What do you know about God’s intentions toward you?
  2. What situations do you need to place in His hands today?

How Quickly Things Change (Job 14-16)

January 7, 2021

I was at ease, and he broke me apart;
    he seized me by the neck and dashed me to pieces;
he set me up as his target; Job 16:12

It happens every time I read the book of Job. In spite of all my efforts to read Job with fresh eyes, I always at some point in my studies arrive at the old familiar ground of thinking about how quickly things change. When I consider Job I see him on top of things and then I see things on top of him. Job’s own testimony is of being at ease and then in the next moment being totally upside down.

Years ago, I heard an evangelist speak on Job 16:12. His sermon had a profound impact on my life. I can still remember his question. He asked it over and over in the message. I can still hear his boom voice as he asked, “if God took away all of your comforts (ease) would you still love and serve Him?”

Brothers and sisters, our friend Job faced such a moment in his life. The longer the trial lasted the more questions Job had. In Job 14:3 Job asked God to hide him until His wrath was complete. Brothers and sisters, I am reminded of how quickly things can get turned up-side down and I am reminded of how quickly they can be turned right side up.

Its true that no one wants to not be at ease. I can honestly write, I am not asking God for uneasy times. But I know and you know they will come (14:1). Tim Delina wrote, “We cannot determine what comes our way, but we can determine how we respond.”

Job was able to respond in faith because he had the correct foundation. I truly came away from my studies today asking God to strengthen my foundations in my times of ease so that I can stand in times when difficulty arises. I believe the writer of Hebrews helps us today:

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, Hebrews 6:19

28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, Hebrews 12:28

Two questions for our time in the Word:

  1. What have your recent storms taught you?
  2. How will you restructure your times of ease knowing what you know now?

A Desperate Man (Job 10-13)

January 6, 2021

How many are my iniquities and my sins?
    Make me know my transgression and my sin. Job 13:23

As we consider together Job 10-12 the man of God (Job) had become a desperate man. Brothers and sisters, as I wrote that last sentence I wondered, can it be possible for a man or woman of God to come to a place of desperation? I believe the weight of Scripture and the weight of countless testimonies point us to a “yes” answer.

Job did not understand why God had placed him in such difficulty. Job did not understand all the trials he was facing (10:3). But Job did know that His creator (10:9-12) was the only hope he had. Job had experienced the goodness of God and now in this difficult time, Job came to a place of desperation.

According to Job’s rebuttal of his friends (13:4), they were of no help to Job. They actually made things worse instead of better. Together Jobs friends had only one answer for what Job was going through. They believed Job must be in sin (11:12-13). I pray you take the time to place yourself in Job’s thoughts as you read these chapters. I was reminded of three truths as I read these chapters:

  • Be careful about judging others when you have not walked in their shoes, 12:5.
  • Trust in God’s unchanging character when the weather changes in your life, 13:15.
  • Take every feeling and thought before God, Job 10-13, He can handle it.

These truths come to us out of Job’s deep season of desperation. Oh I hope you and I lean into our times of desperation. I know there are things that God has reserved for the deep end of the pool of life. You will never discover them in the shallow end. There is nothing wrong with desperation as long as you are drawn closer to the Lord.

2 questions:

  1. Read Matthew 11:25-30 and ask yourself how can God lead you through desperate times?
  2. What lessons have you learned in your times of desperation? Write down your answers and commit to sharing them with others.

Taking a different look (Job 1-9)

January 5, 2021

10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?”[a] In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:10

As you opened the blog this morning, were you in a good mood, not a good mood, or somewhere in between? I find that I have to set my mind early in the day because my flesh has the view-point of a pity party from time to time. I confess that I even take the view of a victim at times. In these moments God reminds me to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:4-5).

This morning as I caught up in our Chronological reading plan, I found myself taking a different look at life. Somewhere along my journey someone either said or I read in a book that “if you think your life is tough, just look around and you will find someone who is having a more difficult time of life than you are.”

When I consider Job’s story, I take a different look at life.

Most conservative Biblical Historians believe Job lived at the same time as Abraham. This is why we study his life after Genesis 11. Job had been brought to redemptive faith in God as had Abraham, by faith. Job’s faith led him to live his life as a righteous man (1:1-5).

Job’s life story took a turn as God’s hedge was removed from Job. Up to this time Job had lived a life of blessing, but to prove to Satan that Job’s faith was in God and not in God’s blessings, God allowed Satan to make life difficult for job (Job 1-2). Here are three things you will discover about Job in chapters 1-9:

  1. Job’s world view was correct. In both good times and difficult times Job knew God was faithful. In both good times and difficult times Job wanted to be faithful.
  2. Job’s pain began to challenge his thought process:

Job’s pain was physical. He was in so much pain that he wished he had never been born.

Job’s pain was mental. I cannot imagine how his friends advice wore on him as well as his own mental anguish in attempting to figure out what was happening in his life.

Job’s pain was spiritual. Job could not wrap his mind around the why.

3. Job’s life story has become a testimony of our need to draw closer to God in times of difficulty.

Just like Job, you and I have learned that God is faithful in our journey of life. Just like Job you and I have learned that we are called to be faithful. We know the heart-break of difficult times. We have experienced the sadness of allowing the flesh to rise us. We have known the joy of God’s miracles in restoring all that is removed in difficult times. We know each and every day we need to take a different look at what is happening in our lives.

Take the time today to answer two questions:

  1. Compare your life to others and ask yourself, just how difficult is your life today?
  2. What is God’s message in your present difficulties?

The Worst Lie Ever (Genesis 1-3)

January 4, 2021

 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

This morning I want to ask you to join me in 2021 to read chronologically through the Bible. You can download our reading plan at http://www.jacksonfbc.com

This year I am going to do the blog a little differently. I am going to write less and ask you to engage in work in the Word more by answering two questions each day. I know todays reading is to be Genesis 7-9. Tomorrow I will catch up on the reading plan, but today I had to focused on Genesis 1-3. Without this foundation of creation, fall, judgement, and redemption our foundations would be skewed.

Take the time, if you have not already, to read Genesis 1-3.

For me personally I gleaned the following:

  • In Genesis 1:1-2:3 I rejoiced in the creative power of God. I rejoiced in the greatness of our uncreated Creator.
  • In Genesis 2:4-16 I rejoiced in the grace of God extended to all people. I was humbled as I realized how small I am. I am only a speck of dust in this world.
  • In Genesis 2:17-25 I rejoiced in the beauty of God’s creation of marriage. His love extends beyond anything we can imagine.
  • In Genesis 3 I wept as I saw the tragic story of humanity believing the worst lie ever.

For just a moment I want you to consider three lies Adam and Eve believed:

  1. They believed God was not a loving ruler.
  2. They believed they (the dust) could be like God.
  3. They believed they could rule their own lives.

Question: Are these same lies at work in our world today? You know they are. We see them in every part of our world. We know the answer for the lies is the truth of God’s Word (Heb. 4:12). Let this year be the year when we confront the lies of Satan and we tear down the strongholds of men’s lies.

2 questions from Genesis 1-3:

  1. How are the above lies affecting your life personally?
  2. How is the Bible confronting and overcoming the lies of the enemy?

Steady Now (John 5-6)

January 1, 2021

40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:40

Welcome to 2021. Yes, we made it! The Lord’s goodness is still flowing from the throne of Heaven. As we begin this new year, there are new heights of faith to reach and there will be new attempts by Satan to knock the church off its course.

When I think about where we are in this world, I think about a phrase I have used in stressful times. I have so many times said, “Keith, steady now. Have faith in God.” I said this just a few days ago when I read the news report that the new type of Covid-19 had been identified in the US. I also said this when I read a CNN article written by a reporter who was honest in saying. “we have done all that has been asked of us and it’s not working.”

Brothers and sisters, is there something we are missing? Have you and I found ourselves doing everything people tell us to do and still it is no better?

In John 6 we read of Jesus great miracle of feeding 5000 men plus their families. John pulls back the veil of people’s hearts and reveals that the multitudes wanted Jesus to be their king (6:14-15). But Jesus would have no part in it because they were unsteady in their allegiance. They were following Jesus for what they could get in the moment. They were fair weather followers. When times would get tough, they would not be steady.

Brothers and sisters, why do you follow Jesus? Brothers and sisters, where will you follow Jesus?

In John 6, I find truth that steadies my mind and heart:

  • Jesus is the Bread of Life-in Him I have eternal life.
  • Jesus as the Bread of life calls all people to embrace Him by taking to heart (by faith) all that He says He is.
  • Jesus as the Bread of life leads us in good times and in tough times.

Oh how I find myself being steadied as I write this. Let me simplify this even more:

  • Jesus is God’s Son (The Living Bread of Life).
  • Jesus calls all people to believe in Him.
  • Jesus calls all people to a life of courage in Him.

The crowds did not understand or believe this so they bailed out. What will you and I do in 2021? I believe the church will follow Jesus because we know He alone has the words of eternal life. Brothers and sisters, our calling is clear:

  1. We are to enter the area of life each day knowing we have eternal life in Jesus.
  2. We are to rescue the perishing knowing that God the Father is drawing people to the light.
  3. We are to shepherd the flock of God knowing that His Bread of Life empowers us to do the impossible.

Dear brother or sister, let us together move forward for the glory of God.

Doing Nothing by Yourself (John 4-5)

December 31, 2020

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing, John 5:19

This past weekend our grandson came to see us with his mom and dad. It was a special time together. My grandson (Colt Matthew) is full of life. I noticed in everything he did, he wanted to be independent. There were moments when he became frustrated because he had to ask for help and there were other moments when he became frustrated because we would not let him be independent because he was in danger of hurting himself.

I think you and I can see the point of where God is leading us on the last day of the year. In John 5 I found myself cut to the heart as I followed Jesus example of not independence but of total dependence on God. Beginning in verse 19 of chapter 5 Jesus defends His person as the Son of God.

I was amazed as I recounted Jesus earthly fellowship with God. His example challenges me in every way. Notice the following:

  • Jesus did nothing independently of the Father, 5:19.

Jesus joined the Father in all He was doing, 5:20-21. Jesus followed the Father’s directions and Jesus carried out the Father’s assignments, 5:23.

  • Jesus had no independent game plan apart from the Father, 5:30.

Jesus listen to the Father’s instructions. Jesus loved to do His Fathers will.

Brothers and sisters, this truth is amazing for me and I hope it is for you. Because of Jesus dependent mindset, the works Jesus did bore witness that He was sent by the Father. I wonder, what are you trying to accomplish in this life? Are you seeking to be seen as an independent person or are you seeking to be seen as one who is totally dependent on God?

It is my desire that my life and your life would give witness to the amazing truth that God is on the throne of our lives. If He is on the throne of our lives people will see us as light reflectors of the glory of the Lord.

What to do with the light (John 3)

December 30, 2020

21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” John 3:21

It almost always happens when Sherry and I travel and stay in a motel. As we are going to bed she will attempt to leave the bathroom light on so that we can see in the night. She will almost close the door with just a little light coming out. She will get in bed and then a few minutes later she will get up and close the door while saying, I cannot sleep with all this light in the room.

This is truly a problem. Sherry wants the comfort of the light but she likes the darkness of the night. In John three a guy by the name of Nick comes to Jesus at night. The light of Jesus (John 1:4-5) has been drawing this Pharisee. Others had been rejecting the Light (John 1:11) but this man was being drawn close (John 1:12). The question on his mind and heart was: what should he do with the light?

Nick was genuinely struggling between the light and the darkness. Jesus response to Him was truly a moment filled with light. Jesus said, “You must be born again.” For this to happen in Nick’s life he would have to believe in Jesus by faith (Heb. 11:6).

This faith comes to each of us when we are first in the dark. Jesus challenges Nick by pointing out that even though he cannot see the wind he feels its impact. Oh this is so good. Even though Nick could not visibly see himself being born again, he would be able to feel and see the impact of Jesus in his life.

Jesus came so that people could come to the light of John 3:16-17. What is so sad is when people reject the light.

We ask, why would people reject the light? Lean into John 3:19-20

19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.

People reject the light when they love their sin and when they do not see any need of walking in another direction. But when a person sees the light he or she is compelled to embrace the light. How does a person know they are in the light? What did Jesus say:

21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

  1. Our actions of life have changed. We want to be people who do what is right in God’s sight (John 3:21).
  2. Our attitudes of life have changed. Each day we want to make sure God is leading our lives. I love how the Psalmist evidences such a life in Psalm 139:23-24

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts![c]
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting!

As we approach a new year I would like to challenge you to walk more in His light. A dark world is desperate for the light.

Joy in the Winter (John 2)

December 29, 2020

10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” John 2:10

It happened at the end of our second Christmas Eve service last week. John and I were headed home around 11:15 Pm. As we got to the car John said, “look its starting to snow.” Brothers and sisters I could not help but rejoice. I had been asking God for weeks for a little snow. After we got home it started to snow even more (Which is a miracle in Jackson). I even went out and stood in the snow as it was coming down.

Now, I know for those of you who get a lot of snow you have a different view. I also know that people have different views about what brings joy into a person’s life. For some people its family, for others its fortune and fame. Question: What is it that brings lasting joy?

In the gospel of John we are realizing that true joy only comes from a relationship with Jesus. In John 4 Jesus says these timeless words to a joy searching lady:

The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 4:14b

Jesus offered this woman true joy. In our focal text in John 2 we see an illustration of how Jesus alone gives true joy. Take time to read John 2: 1-11.

Three things stand out to me:

  1. Jesus was invited to the celebration.

This was a wedding celebration that was the highlight of most people’s year. But the celebration ran out because the wine ran out. Now you need to know that wine in the Old Testament represented joy (not in getting drunk) but in the joy of the Holy Spirit. When the joy ran out, the crowd was in trouble.

2. Jesus invests in the celebration.

Jesus is asked to do something about the joy. Jesus investment leads to a greater joy than anyone could have imagined. Yes, it was wine and yes the wine would run out. But the illustration is clear, Jesus alone creates true and lasting joy.

3. Jesus is always inviting people to His celebration.

He is the one who offers us life and joy. I hope you will take the time today to discover the God who gives us joy. I pray you will take the time to drink in the joy of the Lord and I pray that you will each day give what you have been given!!!

Do you need a Light? (John 1)

December 28, 2020

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:9

Both John and I love flashlights. It must be a guy thing. One of the silly things we do with our flashlights is to see who can blind the other person with their flashlight, we are sinners by the way. A few nights ago we both said to the other, “my light is brighter than yours.” We both knew the only way to solve our debate was to go into a dark room and test our flashlights. I being the oldest went first. My light illuminated the dark room. It was impressive, that is until John shinned his flashlight. Dear friends, my light was nothing compared to his. His light greatly illuminated the dark room.

As you and I come to the end of 2020, I must ask, do you need a light? Let me dig deeper, do you need a better light than you have been following in 2020? In John 1 we are pointed to the one light that outshines all other lights. We are pointed to “The Light of the World.”

In John 1 we read about how John the Baptist mission in life was to be a reflector of the light of the world. Oh how encouraging this was in my life. I realize Jesus is the light that will give light to all who believe in Him. I realized the church has the same call as John the Baptizer.

Consider for a few moments the ministry of John The Baptist:

  1. His light reflecting was successful because he obeyed God’s call on his life.

In 1:20-23 John shined the light on Jesus and John took his proper place as a humble servant of Jesus.

2. His light reflecting was successful because he proclaimed the greatness of Christ.

In 1:26-31 John revealed to the world who this one is who came into the world.

3. His light reflecting was successful because he personally knew the Lord.

In 1:31-32 John confessed, I did not know the Lord, but the Lord told me that I would know Him when He spoke to me.

The third point is the first point in our journey of becoming a light-reflector for Jesus. Our confidence in being light reflectors in this anti-Christian world comes as we grow in our love and understanding of who He is. John the Apostle wrote: “The true light which giveth light to everyone was coming into the world.”

You and I know, Jesus own countrymen rejected Him (1:11). However, to those who believed on Him, everything changed. To such people, God made them into new creations. To such people God brought them into His Kingdom family.

Brothers and sisters, as we come to the end of 2020, I want to be His light reflector! I want to be in the number of those God sends into the darkness of this world to reflect the light of Jesus. In case you did not know why, the Apostle John tells us:

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Do you need a light? He is the Light!