Monthly Archives: November 2009

Job 15

Trust

Job’s ‘friend’ Eliphaz the Termite brings up an interesting thought in his second response to Job.

Why, God doesn’t even trust the angels! Even the heavens cannot be absolutely pure in his sight. – Job 15:15

I had to ponder this one for a bit, God doesn’t trust the angels?

So naturally I’ve done some digging. I looked up every reference to Angel or Angels in the New Living Translation of the Bible. Then I extracted those that might fit the Termite’s premise. I have to conclude that he appears to be correct.

Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other message than the one we told you about. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. – Galatians 1:8

Then there was war in heaven. Michael and the angels under his command fought the dragon and his angels… 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

For God did not spare even the angels when they sinned; he threw them into hell, in gloomy caves and darkness until the judgment day. – 2 Peter 2:4

Their king is the angel from the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon – the Destroyer. – Revelation 9:11

And I remind you of the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority God gave them but left the place where they belonged. God has kept them chained in prisons of darkness, waiting for the day of judgment. – Jude 1:6

Don’t you realize that we Christians will judge angels?  – 1 Corinthians 6:3a

In that day the LORD will punish the fallen angels in the heavens and the proud rulers of the nations on earth. – Isaiah 24:1

Ultimately the issue of trusting the angels is one of foreknowledge and predestination. We have no way of knowing what God knew or did not know about the fallen angels prior to their rebellion. Perhaps his omniscience works differently outside of our time-limited reality, I would be inclined to think not. But, we do know that there were incredible numbers of angels that chose to follow Satan, who are now awaiting their judgment. They did not prove to be trustworthy.

So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the Devil. Anyone who does not obey God’s commands and does not love other Christians does not belong to God. – 1 John 3:10

If someone does not obey your directives can you trust them? Obviously the answer is no. Thus there are at least some angels that God cannot trust.

Which leads me to ask, “Can God trust me?” Hmm…

If my past experiences and failures are any indication I would have to honestly answer, no.

Father, I want to be trustworthy. Please forgive me for failing to obey those things that I clearly know I am supposed to be doing or not doing. And during those times of ambiguity, which are few, please let me clearly know what you desire of me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Can God trust you? Jan

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Job 13 & 14

Doldrums

So far in reading through the book of Job, this has been the most difficult section for me. What does God want me to focus on? Is there anything specific in these few chapters that speak to me?

Doldrums – 1. a state of inactivity or stagnation.

Yeah, that would be pretty accurate right about now.

I’m am focusing on a few verses.

If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom. – Job 13:5

Man’s days are determined;you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. – Job 14:5

But it isn’t like there is some “Aha” moment going on. Maybe that is the point. Will I be faithful to continue reading, looking, digging, asking, even if there don’t seem to be any gold nuggets lying around?

Sort of like Job. He is in a severe state of another doldrums definition himself.

Doldrums – 3. a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.

So I continue. I read. I pause. I pray. I wait.

Lord, may I always seek your will and your wisdom. May I not just blather for the purpose of filling space – like Job’s friends. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Pause. Jan

Job 12

Number 15,431

A few nights ago as I was sitting in my rather comfy desk-chair, my loving wife came over to me, gazed intently at me, and then unceremoniously yanked hair number 15,431 out of my head! Noticing my surprise, my beautiful wife batted her eyes at me and pronounced, “It was gray.”

You see I have brown hair, sort of, and those of us with brown hair have about 110,000 hairs on our heads. Actually my hair is a now mixture of brown and gray, and to be honest my hair count is now probably well below 100,000. Therefore I can’t afford to lose any more!

Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life. – Proverbs 16:31

Just when I’m starting to look Godly… Yank.

Seriously though, have you noticed that we just don’t value the aged in our society anymore? We consider them an inconvenience, a financial burden. The bible speaks quite differently about the aged.

The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. – Proverbs 20:29

While young people may have brute force behind them, it is those with years of hard gained wisdom that can best direct them in using it. But, sadly we seldom ask for their advice and wisdom these days. Instead we relegate them to warehouses called nursing facilities and visit on holidays and birthdays. But that is a topic for a different time.

John Eldredge, in his book Way of the Wild Heart wrote about the Sage, a person who has wisdom due to years of Godly living. Job likewise speaks of the same people.

Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to those who have lived many years. – Job 12:12

A Sage is someone who has gone through the stages of life identified as; child, cowboy, warrior, lover, and king. He has moved through them all, gaining experience and wisdom along the way. The end-game is that the gray-haired king steps aside for the incoming king and now exhibits his God-given glory in the role of adviser. At least that is how it is supposed to be. Of course if his wife has plucked all of his gray hair out, how will anyone know he is wise?

Lord, thank you for wisdom from the aged. May I show those in my life the respect that they truly deserve. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m looking more like Friar Tuck every day… Jan

Job 11

Expectant

I found it hard to find something to wrap my brain around in the eleventh chapter of Job. Just like Bildad, Zophar accuses Job of being a windbag. But then Zophar adds as much hot air as the previous three. At least Job was honestly expressing his anguish. This friend’s diatribe was about prodding Job to confess sin. There was one thing that Zophar said that stood out to me because of a parallel I see in the New Testament.

If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer! – Job 11:13

The word prepare is the Hebrew word, kuwm, which connotes something as being firmly established, or securely determined.

It reminded me of the following passage.

Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting a gift. But Peter said, “I don’t have any money for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!” – Acts 9:4-6

The crippled man’s gaze was firmly established on Peter and John. I don’t think it would be twisting, or reading into, scripture to assume that he held out an outstretched hand, palm open and uplifted toward the duo. His heart was in the right place – unquestioning expectation of receiving something that he could not provide for himself. And then he received more than he could ever have hoped for – not money, but complete healing!

If as Zophar said, we would prepare our hearts and lift up our hands to him in prayer, we would receive more than we could have ever hoped for.

If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. – Matthew 7:11

But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. – James 1:6

He wants us to ask, and then to firmly believe that we will receive.

Lord, please help my unbelief. May I firmly believe. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Palm up and open. Jan

 

Job 10

Painting behind me

Dash

I have a very large painting of a few Seagulls hanging prominently in my living room. My wife thinks it is rather ugly, frankly I’m not too excited by the composition myself – Seagulls are rats with wings. However, since our living room has a Palm-Tree border, this painting works with the decor of our home. But that is not the reason it is given a place of honor.

Next year it will be 25 years since a friend of mine gave it to me as a gift. He found it by some trashcans in an alley behind a doctor’s office and asked if I’d like it. I thought that the frame might be reusable so I accepted.

I’ve had the painting from 1985 – 2009 so far. It some ways it seems like a long time, but that dash between the years is just a blip in the grand scheme of things.

Which brings me to the idea of the dash.

I found an interesting dictionary definition of dash. It is, “a dash is used to note an abrupt break or pause in a sentence or hesitation in an utterance”.

The reason this painting has meaning for me is due to another dash. It is 1972 – 1986.

Todd Wilson

1972-1986

My friend, Cecil Todd Wilson, gave me this painting when he was 13 years old.

Just a few short months later, Todd (he hated to be called Cecil) was riding his bike home from school in the rain when he accidentally turned his bike in front of a car. He died instantly from the impact.

The dash of his life was not even a full 14 years long. His time was up. The dash notes an abrupt break, and a pause.

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment – Hebrews 9:27

Had Todd lived he would have been 37 this year. As I was reading in the book of Job I was reminded of how brief life really is.

Please remember that you made me out of clay and that you will return me to the dust again. – Job 10:9

Why did you take me out of the womb? I wish I had breathed my last breath before anyone had laid eyes on me.Then it would be as if I had never existed, as if I had been carried from the womb to the tomb. Isn’t my life short enough? – Job 10:18-20a

From the womb to the tomb is just a dash. The question is, what do we make of that dash? Will anyone remember that we were even here? Will your life have mattered? Nearly everyone is forgotten after the third generation. Don’t believe me? What are your great-great-grandparent’s names? Where did they live? What did they do? Very rare is the person that is remembered longer.

But thankfully, if we know Christ as our Lord, and more importantly if he knows us, then the dash becomes irrelevant. And a number at the end of the dash is not the end. Christ will never forget us. Everything about us is indelibly written in his books.

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

Some day the painting my come down; it may be damaged, it may lose meaning to those that come after me, it may no longer match the decor. But Todd will never be forgotten.

If you look closely at Todd’s grave maker you’ll see that it has a rather different dash. It says “Asleep in Jesus”, because he knew, and is known of the the Lord. He is not forgotten, no matter how many generations may pass until Jesus’ return. The dash is just a pause in the relationship, I will see him again.

Father, thank you for the dash of my life thus far. Please give me the wisdom and ability to make the most of it. Help me to fulfill your great commission. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Womb – Tomb – Infinity. Jan

Job 9

Daysman

I was raised reading the King James version of the Bible. So for me the archaic English is usually not a problem. In the past few years though, I’ve been reading from some newer translations, primarily from the New Living Translation. I find that it is accurate and much easier to read. Yet on occasion I will jump back into my trusty, well-worn KJV to read some passages. I did a few days ago and encountered the following verses.

For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. – Job 9:32-33

What specifically stood out to me was the word ‘daysman‘. I’d never encountered it before. My KJV had a little number four next to the word, so I followed the reference to an alternate meaning – ‘umpire‘. Ok, batter up… No, not really. So I dug some more.

According to the Easton’s Bible Dictionary,

This word (daysman) is formed from the Latin diem dicere, i.e., to fix a day for hearing a cause. Such an one is empowered by mutual consent to decide the cause, and to “lay his hand”, i.e., to impose his authority, on both, and enforce his sentence.

I sensed there was more, so I looked up the word umpire.

From a Middle English word, noumpere. It “comes from the Old French nonper, made up of non, “not,” and per, “equal”: as an impartial arbiter of a dispute between two people, the arbiter is not equivalent to or a partisan of either of them.”

This brings things into a much clearer light. If I had simply read a modern translation I would have missed the nuance of what was being asked.

He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both – Job 9:32-33 (NIV)

If I was to simply look at the word arbitrate, or mediate, I would miss the fact that Yakach, the Hebrew word used, is really referring to someone that is not partial to the case, different, entirely set-apart from either party, someone who has no vested interest in the outcome.

But really, someone who has no vested interest in either? How could Job ever hope to have a case like that decided in his favor vs. God?

Likewise, how could we? The Bible tells me that my righteousness is literally just as disgusting as used maxi-pads (Isaiah 64:6). So no matter how much good we, or Job ever did, our effort would never measure up. The daysman would have to rule against us.

What we need is a mediator, one who stands in the middle bridging the gap to bring both parties of a dispute together. Thankfully we don’t have a daysman, we do have a mediator.

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus – 1 Timothy 2:5

Unlike Job’s wished for daysman, our mediator is like us. But, he is also God. Therefore he is quite partial to the case, on both sides. He is intertwined with both parties and he does have a vested interest. He came to Earth for the specific mission of bridging the gap. Since he is the one doing it, my works or lack thereof are not a consideration in the case. The only thing that is considered is have I relied upon Jesus to place his hand on me, and allowed him to move me into his father’s presence.

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus as my mediator. May I always rely on his righteousness and not mine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Game over, all three of us win. Jan

Job 8

Shoes

A number of years ago I found a terrific brand of black work shoe that I truly like at Payless Shoes. They have an air-pillow insole, leather uppers, and they are oil and slip resistant. The heel is about one inch high, and the sole is about half an inch high. That means they are comfortable and durable. Additionally, being at least half an inch off the ground means that I can step right through most puddles without worrying about getting my feet wet. I hate wet squishy shoes. And living in Florida where it rains a lot means there are plenty of opportunities to find puddles, so shoe-height is important to me.

There is an old Indian proverb that says, do not judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.

If I could remember the brand of shoe I wear, I’d recommend you get some and walk a few miles in them.

Which brings me to Bildad the Shuhite. His opening words to Job must have cut like a knife.

How long will you go on like this? Your words are a blustering wind. – Job 8:2

Translation: “Job, you’re such a windgbag! How long will you go on polluting the atmosphere with your mouth?”

This is a guy who has not stopped to put on Job’s moccasins. He has no true concept of what is really going on in Job’s life, but he’s decided that he knows the path Job has been on and which one Job must take. I think he is walking right into some pretty nasty puddles of condemnation, and Bildad’s shoe-height isn’t enough to keep his feet from soaking in the stinking sop. Instead of simply sitting and mourning with his friend, he joined in the self-righteous parade.

The sad thing is that I’m just as guilty. I may not say things to someone’s face, but in my heart I have. I’ve harbored thoughts and doubts deep down about a person’s motives, walk, and relationship with God based upon their external circumstances. But that is exactly where the crux of the matter lies, the heart. God looks at the heart, not the external. He will allow whatever is necessary to accomplish his result of molding our heart into one that is in the image of his son’s. So, while I’m busy being shoe-deep in crud, thinking self-righteous thoughts, God is shaping someone’s heart to be what he desires it to be.

If I’m honest I have to admit that I’m more Bildad with the rather low shoe-height than I am Jesus. But I want to be different.

Heavenly Father, please give the desire and ability to look at the heart, not the external. Please give me a discerning spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Put on Jesus’ shoes and walk above the puddle. Jan