Monthly Archives: December 2009

Job 29

Respect

Job’s mini-autobiography in the twenty-ninth chapter of his book is truly inspiring. It is clear that he was afforded much respect by those that knew him or knew of him. It would be easy to assume that he was respected because of wealth or position, but that was not the case. The key to Job’s popularity lies in the following verses.

For I helped the poor in their need and the orphans who had no one to help them. I helped those who had lost hope, and they blessed me. And I caused the widows’ hearts to sing for joy. All I did was just and honest. Righteousness covered me like a robe, and I wore justice like a turban. I served as eyes for the blind and feet for the lame. I was a father to the poor and made sure that even strangers received a fair trial. I broke the jaws of godless oppressors and made them release their victims. – Job 29:12-17

The key words are:

  • Helped
  • Caused
  • Did
  • Served
  • Fair
  • Made

He was a man of action when it came to ensuring that needs were met, that the oppressed or downtrodden were represented and not ignored.

The result of those action-words by Job was quite evident.

Those were the days when I went to the city gate and took my place among the honored leaders. The young stepped aside when they saw me, and even the aged rose in respect at my coming. The princes stood in silence and put their hands over their mouths. The highest officials of the city stood quietly, holding their tongues in respect.

Everyone listened to me and valued my advice. They were silent as they waited for me to speak. And after I spoke, they had nothing to add, for my counsel satisfied them. They longed for me to speak as they longed for rain. They waited eagerly, for my words were as refreshing as the spring rain. When they were discouraged, I smiled at them. My look of approval was precious to them. I told them what they should do and presided over them as their chief. I lived as a king among his troops and as one who comforts those who mourn. – Job 29:7-10, 21-25

Job was not seeking fame, respect or honor. That was the natural result of how he lived his life, his living out his action-words.

What am I doing? What are the action-words of my life? And how are those action words applied? Is it something my Lord would approve of, or have to turn his back on in disappointment?

Lord, please help my action-words to be ones that honor you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Serving, Jan

Job 28

Fully Understanding

Most people are familiar with the parable of the blind men who examined an elephant. If you are not, the account is below.

It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),
that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant, and, happening to fall,
against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall!”

The second feeling of the tusk, cried: “Ho! what have we here,
so very round and smooth and sharp? To me tis mighty clear,
this wonder of an elephant, is very like a spear!”

The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,
the squirming trunk within his hands, “I see,” quoth he,
the elephant is very like a snake!”

The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:
“What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.”

The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said; “E’en the blindest man
can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!”

The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,
than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,
“I see,” quothe he, “the elephant is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen!

By John Godfrey Saxe (1816 – 1887)

Each man thought he understood the shape, nature, and function of an elephant. And while each man was right in his individual limited assessment, those of us who can see the entire elephant know that each individual man was entirely wrong.

Like the blind men examining the elephant, Job’s friends have been groping about in the dark trying to ascertain the shape of Job’s suffering and pain. And while each thought he understood, each understood nothing.

In response, Job asked a question about wisdom, twice.

But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding?  – Job 28:12 & 20

A little while later, in what surely was a God inspired utterance, Job made the following statement.

Then, when he (God) had done all this, he saw wisdom and measured it. He established it and examined it thoroughly. – Job 28:27

Like those of us with complete use of our senses examining an elephant, God has completely and thoroughly examined wisdom; he knows everything there is to know about it.

And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’ – Job 28:28

That says it all. Later writers of scripture said exactly the same words. The sum total of wisdom is to fear God and do good.

Father, thank you for showing me the truth about wisdom – something that like the blind men I could never understand in my limited perception. Thank you for sending Jesus to live in me so that I can have your wisdom. Thank you for life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Whose eyes are you seeing with? Jan

Job 27

Whirls Down

Katrina

In the dark early morning hours of August 29th 2005 New Orleans Louisiana was forever changed. Churning off shore and heading toward the city was a terrifyingly beautiful Category 5 hurricane. Although it decreased in strength to a Category 3 storm by the time it made landfall, the most devastating part was yet to come. As the center, the most intense part of the cyclone, was pounding the downtown area, storm-surge control levees began to fail. Massive flooding ensued. Some areas of the city were inundated with 15 feet or more of water. Wind destroyed windows and roofs at random. Belongings, and lives were carried away with the wind, rain, and flooding. Final death toll estimates are that over 1,400 people died as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The monetary damage, while still not completely understood, is over $100 billion. Post storm, thousands of people were trapped by the flooding for days, even weeks, trying to flee the destruction and terror.

Terror overwhelms them, and they are blown away in the storms of the night. The east wind carries them away, and they are gone. It sweeps them away. It whirls down on them without mercy. They struggle to flee from its power. – Job 27:20-22

Storms of life will come. It is just a fact of life, a sometimes very painful fact.

…and he sends rain on the just and on the unjust, too. – Matthew 5:45

The question is what will be the outcome on us? How will we deal with the aftermath?

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When others are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. – 2 Corinthians 1:4

While much of the world turned their attention to New Orleans and the cleanup immediately following the devastation of that city. Now, four years later, it is largely forgotten. The Federal Emergency Management Organization maintains a list published of the various organizations that are still engaged in efforts for the Katrina victims. Notice the makeup of this list.

  • Adventist Community Services (800) 381-7171
  • American Red Cross (800) HELP NOW (435-7669) in English, (800) 257-7575 in Spanish
  • America’s Second Harvest (800) 344-8070
  • Catholic Charities, USA (800) 919-9338
  • Christian Disaster Response (941) 956-5183 or (941) 551-9554
  • Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (800) 848-5818
  • Church World Service (800) 297-1516
  • Convoy of Hope (417) 823-8998
  • Dallas County Medical Society Project Access  (214) 948-3622
  • Lutheran Disaster Response (800) 638-3522
  • Mennonite Disaster Service (717) 859-2210
  • Nazarene Disaster Response (888) 256-5886
  • Operation Blessing (800) 436-6348
  • Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (800) 872-3283
  • Salvation Army (800) SAL-ARMY (725-2769)
  • Southern Baptist Convention — Disaster Relief (800) 462-8657, ext. 6440
  • Texas Nurses Foundation
  • United Methodist Committee on Relief (800) 554-8583

Of the 18 organizations listed, only 3 are not directly Christian related. They are comforting with the same comfort they have been given. Jesus has not forgotten them, nor have his people.

Father, may I never grow callous to the needs and suffering of others. Please help me see with Jesus’ eyes. In His name. Amen.

Lift Up. Jan

Job 26

Empty Space

In the twenty-sixth chapter of Job is a mention of a seeming astronomical anomaly.

God stretches the northern sky over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing. – Job 26:7

Up until just a few years ago it was believed that the Northern sky was nearly devoid of stars. If you look up you’ll see some constellation patterns, but that is all. However, with the advent of the Hubble Space Telescope that area of space revealed something astounding.

Click to Enlarge

In a five day multi-pass exposure of deep-space in the Northern Sky, Hubble uncovered thousands of Galaxies in just a very minute slice of sky. That’s Galaxies, not stars or planets. It is truly mind-boggling.

So, does this prove that the Bible is wrong? Of course not. That would be stupid. Job was a man just like us, he was merely speaking about what was known at that time. If anything, this discovery shows just how vast God’s creation truly is.

Lord, thank you for incredible beauty hidden in plain sight, just waiting to be discovered. You are an amazing craftsman. I’m looking forward to exploring it all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

He made it all for us! Jan

Job 25

But a Worm?

There used to be Christian comedian out there by the name of Mike Warnke. He apparently got into some trouble regarding lying about his past and disappeared off the radar. I remember seeing him once, many years ago, at a local church. One of the bits he did was a song that reminded me of the following chapter in Job.

Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

“God is powerful and dreadful. He enforces peace in the heavens. Who is able to count his heavenly army? Does his light not shine on all the earth? How can a mere mortal stand before God and claim to be righteous? Who in all the earth is pure? God is so glorious that even the moon and stars scarcely shine compared to him. How much less are mere people, who are but worms in his sight?” – Job 25

Mike Warnke’s song was set to the tune “A Mighty Fortress”. The section that stuck with me was as follows.

Oh Lord, I am but a worm.
So place your foot upon me
and watch me squrim.

That appears to be Bildad’s view of all of mankind, and how he feels that God views us. But is it really?

For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and by him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross. This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. – Colossians 1:19-22

Did you notice that now he (Christ) has brought us back as his friends?

Worms? Perhaps before Christ. But now, I think not! Too high a price was paid for me to think that I’m but fish-food. It would be an insult to Christ to live with that belief.

Father, thank you for living through Jesus and reconciling me to you. Thank you that I am no longer destined for hell, but instead am counted as your friend. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Transformed, a friend. Jan

Job 24

Trust in The Light

I don’t have much to say about the twenty-fourth chapter of Job. However, the following verse did stick out to me and made think about The Light.

Those who fight against the light do not know God’s ways or stay in his paths. – Job 24:13

The Apostle Paul called Christians Children of the Light.

For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. – 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Jesus also called those who believe in the light Children of the Light.

Believe in the light while there is still time; then you will become children of the light. – John 12:36

When Simeon prayed to God, while holding the baby Jesus, he had the following to say about him.

He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel! – Luke 2:32

Jesus later identified himself as the light of the world.

Jesus said to the people, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” – John 8:12

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the darkness. – John 12:46

So I see that Jesus himself is the light. And if I believe in him I am his child.

Father, thank you for lighting my dark world with the light of Christ. May I live my life as a child of the light. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Come into the Light. Jan

Job 23

God’s Commands

I read something today that made me stop and think.

I have not departed from his commands but have treasured his word in my heart. – Job 23:12

What commands?

The events of the book of Job would have taken place around 1700 BC.

God’s commands won’t be written down until hundreds of years in the future (about 1500 BC) when Moses receives them on the tablets, and then by direct conversation with God during the sojourn in the wilderness. So what commands is Job referring to?

In doing research, I found that there were earlier codified forms of law.

The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known tablet containing a law code surviving today. It was written in the Sumerian language ca. 2100-2050 BC. – Wikipedia

Then there is the famous code of Hammurabi.

The Code of Hammurabi (Codex Hammurabi) is a well-preserved ancient law code, created ca. 1790 BC in ancient Babylon. It was enacted by the sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi. One nearly complete example of the Code survives today, inscribed on a seven foot, four inch tall basalt stele in the Akkadian language in the cuneiform script. – Wikipedia

And there were others. So it would appear that there was enough law available from which of determine right and wrong. At least right and wrong as defined by man. But what about God’s definition of right and wrong?

For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. – Romans 1:19-20

The writer of Romans makes it clear that from the time the world was created people have had knowledge of God. The only issue has been, what they do with that knowledge.

Father, unlike Job I actually have your written word, your will for my life readily available. May I have a burning desire to do what it says so that in all my ways I please you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Read it, Live it. Jan

Job 22

Nothing to Gain

We value altruism in others when we see it, Mother Terresa, David Livingstone, Eric Liddell, and Florence Nightingale, to name a few. But rarely do we want to engage in that type of self-sacrifice ourselves. Yet even these undoubtedly good-hearted people had a motive beyond the mere desire to do good. They were motivated by a vision of the future, of entrance into heaven. I’m not saying that they thought their works would get them there, but their works were greatly influenced by their eternal destiny. So, they did in fact have something to gain.

Job’s so-called friend Eliphaz asked an interesting question.

Can a person’s actions be of benefit to God? Can even a wise person be helpful to him? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are righteous? Would it be any gain to him if you were perfect? – Job 22:2-3

No matter how good anyone behaves or thinks, it really is of no benefit to God. He does not need us in any way whatsoever.

Ponder that for a moment. God does not need you. Nothing you could ever do will change that…

The beauty is that he wants you!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God. – Romans 5:8-11

If we accept the offer of life, then he calls us friends. Wow!

Father, thank you for life and friendship that will never end. Thank you for making a way for me to come to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I gain everything! Jan

Job 21

No Need

A few weeks ago we had a guest speaker at our church. He spoke passionately about the persecuted church worldwide, how believers are being added in droves in those places where there is great darkness and sadness. He related a story of how one Chinese pastor prayed, “Lord, thank you for Communism.” The listeners were aghast until he explained, “Where Communism flourishes hope dies. It has replaces all religion and gods and makes man god. And when man finds that he is not enough, what is left? The gospel of Jesus provides the only hope.”

In America we are so incredibly blessed, beyond what we deserve at this point, that we have replaced God with materialism. We don’t need anything, and therefore we don’t need God.

Job described a similar situation.

The truth is that the wicked live to a good old age. They grow old and wealthy. They live to see their children grow to maturity, and they enjoy their grandchildren. Their homes are safe from every fear, and God does not punish them. Their bulls never fail to breed. Their cows bear calves without miscarriage. Their children skip about like lambs in a flock of sheep. They sing with tambourine and harp. They make merry to the sound of the flute. They spend their days in prosperity; then they go down to the grave in peace. All this, even though they say to God, ‘Go away. We want no part of you and your ways. Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey him? What good will it do us if we pray?’ – Job 21:7-15

Just like the rich man in Job’s example, in our post-modern American culture we are often met with the same response when sharing the light of Christ.

‘Go away. We want no part of you and your ways. Who is the Almighty, and why should we obey him? What good will it do us if we pray?’

Sadly, these folks will find out that they did need a savior in the end. But then it will be too late to obey him.

Father, may I not grow weary in showing others your way. Please help me to see with your eyes so that I never give up sharing the hope of Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I need Him. Jan

Job 20

Epitaph

There are some incredibly funny and poignant epitaphs on grave markers out there. Some of them are:

Uniontown, Pennsylvania:
Here lies the body
of Jonathan Blake
Stepped on the gas
Instead of the brake.

Silver City, Nevada, cemetery:
Here lays Butch,
We planted him raw.
He was quick on the trigger,
But slow on the draw.

In England:
Sir John Strange
Here lies an honest lawyer,
And that is Strange.

In Georgia:
“I told you I was sick!”

Hartscombe, England:
On the 22nd of June
– Jonathan Fiddle –
Went out of tune.

Ribbesford, England:
The children of Israel wanted bread
And the Lord sent them manna,
Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,
And the Devil sent him Anna.

In the twentieth chapter of Job I couldn’t help but think that many of the verses would make great epitaphs for people you didn’t like.

  • He will fade like a dream and not be found. He will vanish like a vision in the night.
  • He was just a young man, but his bones will lie in the dust.
  • He will vomit the wealth he swallowed. God won’t let him keep it down.
  • He will suck the poison of snakes. The viper will kill him
  • He was always greedy but never satisfied. Of all the things he dreamed about, nothing remains.
  • The arrow is pulled from his body, and the arrowhead glistens with blood. The terrors of death are upon him.
  • This is the fate that awaits the wicked. It is the inheritance decreed by God.

Somehow I can’t imagine these appearing on someone’s gravestone, but they probably should.

How will you be remembered?

Father, may I leave a legacy that will be fondly remembered. May I live my life in such a way that you will be proud. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thomas Stagg’s epitaph in the St. Giles Churchyard, London, England says it well.

“That is all”

Jan

Job 19

Disqualified

I recently read in the news how a South African female runner, Caster Semenya, was in the process of being stripped of her World Championship gold medals. There is some doubt as to whether or not she is really female. Marion Jones, an American runner in the 2000 Sydney Olympics was stripped of all five of her Olympic medals due to use of illegal performance enhancing drugs. And more recently Rashid Ramzi of Morocco was stripped of the gold medal he won in the 2008 Beijing Olympics for the same charge as Jones. There is a currently a dark cloud over Semenya while Jones and Ramzi are disqualified and disgraced.

He has stripped me of my honor and removed the crown from my head. – Job 19:9

Job was stripped of his honor, his crown removed. He was disgraced. However, unlike the athletes above, he did nothing to merit his disqualification.

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:25-27

It would seem at we too are in a race, one that must be run according to specific rules.

Follow the Lord’s rules for doing his work, just as an athlete either follows the rules or is disqualified and wins no prize. – 2 Timothy 2:5

When we do run the race described by Paul, according to the rules, we win a prize.

God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12

The crown of life, and more importantly the honor of being in God’s presence – his hall of fame – are the reward for a race well run.

Father, thank you for setting the course before me. May I run with endurance, lawfully. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m qualifying. Jan

Job 18

Broken Chain

Just a few days ago I was speaking with a man who longs for children. He and his wife have been trying to get pregnant for many years with no success. Having spent considerable amounts of money in an attempt to determine the cause, there still is no clear diagnosis.

Describing his angst John told me, “It is like there is this chain with links stretching back for generations, so many of them that I can’t even recall that far back. It just feels wrong to not continue that chain.”

This is more than some biological imperative to spread one’s seed. This mythic, spiritual, sacred. It comes from God himself in his very first instruction to mankind.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…” – Genesis 1:28a

This directive from God was so profound that Jewish law required a divorce if after ten years of marriage children were not produced.

To have someone carry on your family name, to be remembered long after your passing was a form of immortality. It was a high honor.

In reading through through Job there is an ultimate curse described.

They are torn from the security of their tent, and they are brought down to the king of terrors. The home of the wicked will disappear beneath a fiery barrage of burning sulfur. Their roots will dry up, and their branches will wither. All memory of their existence will perish from the earth. No one will remember them. They will be thrust from light into darkness, driven from the world. They will have neither children nor grandchildren, nor any survivor in their home country. – Job 18:14-19

This curse or judgment removes; the person, any trace of their dwelling or physical accomplishments, ability to procreate, all memory of them – their name, and no progeny. Their chain will be broken and forgotten.

However, John and his wife are Christ followers. His chain will never be broken because he is procreating into the eternal realm by investing his time, treasure and talent to ensure that others come to know Christ as Lord and Savior too. And doing such he has a glorious promise and blessing, rather than a curse, upon his eternity.

For I say this to the eunuchs (unable to have children) who keep my Sabbath days holy, who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me: I will give them—in my house, within my walls—a memorial and a name far greater than the honor they would have received by having sons and daughters. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear! – Isaiah 56:4-5

Not only is John’s chain unbroken, new links are being solidly welded into place daily.

Lord, thank you for welding links into my chain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Linked to eternity. Jan

Job 17

Hope

I’ve always gotten a kick out of the demotivational statement

“Since I gave up hope I feel much better.”

I see Job falling into the same line of thinking.

But as it is, my grief remains no matter how I defend myself. And it does not help if I refuse to speak… Here I sit in sackcloth. I have surrendered, and I sit in the dust. My eyes are red with weeping; darkness covers my eyes… My spirit is crushed, and I am near death. The grave is ready to receive me… My eyes are dim with weeping, and I am but a shadow of my former self… My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart’s desires are broken… But where then is my hope? Can anyone find it? – Job 16:6,15-16 Job 17:1,7,11,15

He sees his hope as dying, if not dead already.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12

I can see that Job’s heart is definitely sick, his “heart’s desires are broken” and he no longer has hope. But the Psalmist tells me that the Lord is watching those who wait with hope on him.

The LORD’s eyes are on those who fear him, on those who wait with hope for his mercy. – Psalm 33:18

He added later that I need to wait expectantly – in hope.

Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God. – Psalm 42:5

Jeremiah wrote that the person who does so is blessed – or happy.

But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. – Jeremiah 17:7

That means that hope is a huge antidote to despair. But something else is required to establish that hope. I see two things that can make it more tangible.

The first is past experience.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. – Romans 15:4

We can look through God’s written word and find it replete with examples of hope being fulfilled. In fact the following verses seem to me to be a synopsis of Job’s suffering.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust – there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. – Lamentations 3:21-33

As we know, silence would have been the best option for Job and his friends. And even though grief was allowed into Job’s life, compassion did come in the end.

The second thing which makes hope more tangible is grace.

John Bevere in his latest book, Extraordinary, equates grace with power. He makes a very compelling argument that God’s grace is his empowerment for us to succeed in life and live extraordinarily. Here is just one verse which shows the relationship of grace and power.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

It seems pretty clear, God’s grace = God’s power. So with that in mind I see that the writer of Romans is showing that hope is a product of the grace given us.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. – Romans 5:1-5

Again, I see that God’s power is what makes hope possible.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13

Thankfully, unlike Job we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us if we are Christians. And therefore we have his empowering grace – grace that gives overflowing good hope.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. – 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

So, are you in despair? Are you enduring a trial? Do you see no way out? Trust in God’s word and in his grace to give you all you need to come through it.

Father, thank you for hope. May I remember in my times of trouble where it comes from. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Hopeful, Jan

Job 16

Relentless

I noticed one of those Universal Truth things while reading the sixteenth chapter of Job.

Again and again he smashed me, charging at me like a warrior. – Job 16:14

No, it isn’t that God continually smashes us until we can’t take it any more.

The Universal Truth is that a warrior is passionate, tenacious, persistent, unwavering, and relentless in the pursuit of his goal.

Here are a few other scriptures that back up this assertion.

There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two of Moab’s mightiest warriors. Another time he chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it. – 2 Samuel 23:20

Benaiah was relentless in his pursuit of a lion, to the point of fighting the beast in a confined area on unstable ground. There was no way he was going to let his quarry escape.

Just two examples from Chronicles show the dedication required in a warrior.

The sons of Ulam were all skilled warriors and expert archers. – 1 Chronicles 8:40a

From the tribe of Zebulun, there were 50,000 skilled warriors. They were fully armed and prepared for battle and completely loyal to David. – 1 Chronicles 12:33

In order to be skilled and expert, fully armed and prepared, meant that continual training and discipline was required. These were not some unwilling drafted conscripts. These men were investing considerable time and energy to ensure they were more than up to any combat challenge.

Look at God’s example of what a true fighting force looks like in action.

The attackers march like warriors and scale city walls like trained soldiers. Straight forward they march, never breaking rank.  They never jostle each other; each moves in exactly the right place. They lunge through the gaps, and no weapon can stop them. – Joel 2:7-8

There is no wavering, no ambiguity, every man knows his place, and how to execute their battle strategy. They are impervious when disciplined and determined. However, the example below shows how a warrior’s lack of tenacity can be catastrophic.

King Jehoash, no moral prize here, has a hostile army of Arameans on his border pressing inward, so he visits the prophet Elisha and begs for mercy for the soldiers of Israel.

Elisha told him, “Get a bow and some arrows.” And the king did as he was told. Then Elisha told the king of Israel to put his hand on the bow, and Elisha laid his own hands on the king’s hands. Then he commanded, “Open that eastern window,” and he opened it. Then he said, “Shoot!” So he did.Then Elisha proclaimed, “This is the LORD’s arrow, full of victory over Aram, for you will completely conquer the Arameans at Aphek. Now pick up the other arrows and strike them against the ground.” So the king picked them up and struck the ground three times.  But the man of God was angry with him. “You should have struck the ground five or six times!” he exclaimed. “Then you would have beaten Aram until they were entirely destroyed. Now you will be victorious only three times.” – 2 Kings 13:15-19

Notice he is not rebuked for his sin, his leading Israel astray after false gods. No, he is rebuked for his lack of persistence, tenacity, and passion. Jehoash should have kept striking the ground until Elisha told him to stop. God desires passion and obedience. He’ll take care of the rest.

“Let’s go across to see those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the LORD will help us, for nothing can hinder the LORD. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!” – 1 Samuel 14:6

It the warrior is passionate, tenacious, persistent, unwavering, and relentless in the pursuit of his goal, God will indeed take care of the rest.

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. – Matthew 11:12

That is how God wants us to be about our desire to enter his kingdom and to bring others with us, forceful, passionate.

Father, may I live my life in passionate pursuit of you. May I press into the kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Press on! Jan