Monthly Archives: January 2010

Job 37

Obviousman

One of the things I truly enjoy is reading comics, some people call them the funny pages. Wiley Miller is the the creator of one named Non Sequitur. The name is Latin for “does not follow“, or loosely translated, “that doesn’t make sense“. He has several running story-lines and a cadre of assorted characters. One of my favorites is Obviousman. His super-skill is pointing out the things in life that are obvious or nonsensical. The crest emblazoned on his super-uniform is the word DUH with a red slash through it.

While reading through the book of Job I was struck by how Elihu is the equivalent of Obviousman. His revelations are mostly “DUH” statments.

Just look at how he starts out in chapter thirty-seven.

My heart pounds as I think of this. It leaps within me. Listen carefully to the thunder of God’s voice as it rolls from his mouth. It rolls across the heavens, and his lightning flashes out in every direction. Then comes the roaring of the thunder—the tremendous voice of his majesty. He does not restrain the thunder when he speaks. God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We cannot comprehend the greatness of his power. – Job 37:1-5

Duh!

Tell us something we don’t know Elihu. What a comfort he must be to Job, “Let me tell you everything you already know about God…”

Sady, many of us are Elihu’s or Obviousmen. We parrot things that others already know, but rarely do we take time to dig and wait on the Lord to reveal truth to us. God hides things from us for many reasons.

There are secret things that belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we may obey these words of the law. – Deuteronomy 29:29

Sometimes he wants us to pursue him. We learn so much through the chase, things we would have never learned otherwise.

But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. – 1 Timothy 6:11

But you Jan… follow, pursue.

Lord, please grant me the wisdom to know when I’m being obvious, when being silent is the better course of action. Also, please grant me the wisdom to know what to say when you want something said. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Duh! Jan

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Job 36

Life Interrupted

When we think of a life being cut short we think of an untimely death, or perhaps some debilitating injury or disease. But I noticed a different form of life interruption today.

In the book of Job, Elihu says the following about those who do try to follow after God, those who are not engaged in open willful rebellion.

If troubles come upon them and they are enslaved and afflicted, he takes the trouble to show them the reason. He shows them their sins, for they have behaved proudly. He gets their attention and says they must turn away from evil. – Job 36:8-10

How does God show them the reason? How does he show them their sins? How does he get their attention?

But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity… Be on guard! Turn back from evil, for it was to prevent you from getting into a life of evil that God sent this suffering. – Job 36:15,21

I’ve always known that God allows suffering in our lives so that we change, but I’ve never seen it spelled out so clearly before.

God allows, even sends, suffering to interrupt our lives to effect change. Having what could potentially be a life of sin interrupted by God is blessing, not punishment.

Are you suffering?

Examine your life. Is God trying to get your attention? If so, please listen – and change.

Then take Elihu’s advice, which is pretty good in this instance.

Instead, glorify his mighty works, singing songs of praise. – Job 36:24

This echoes a verse from the New Testament.

Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Other translations say to be thankful “in all things”. Note that we are not asked to be thankful for all things, but in them. Praise to the one who is truly worthy changes our perspective and has the ability to restart an interrupted life – in the right direction.

Father, may I be quick to examine the circumstances of adversity, of suffering and trouble, to determine if they are a gift from you, or an attack from our enemy. If it is the former, please give me the grace to change – quickly. If the latter, then please give me the grace to stand up under it and come out on the other side still praising you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Restart your life. Jan

Job 35

Sin’s Effect

What is the price of sin? What effect or effects are there as a result of choices we make or don’t make?

In the passage below, Elihu, one of Job’s friends, commented about sin’s lack of effect on God.

If you sin, what do you accomplish against him? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him? If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him? No, your sins affect only people like yourself, and your good deeds affect only other people. – Job 35:6-8

But is that really true?

In 1961 a scientist by the name of Edward Lorenz was working on some weather prediction models. Instead of entering the number .506127 into his computer, thinking that it would make little difference, he entered .506 and walked away for a short time. When he returned he was astounded at the result; the resulting computer weather simulation was completely different than what he expected. Later, while writing and speaking about this discovery he said, “One flap of a butterfly’s wings could alter the weather forever.” In a 1972 conference the scenario was posed as the question, “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” The conclusion is that a minute alteration in wind-pattern could have radical results.

Therefore I disagree with Elihu, for two reasons. The first being as a result of Edward Lorenz’ work. Sin can and does alter God’s perfect will for our world. One tiny act that is outside of God’s desire for us affects the course of our lives and that of others. If even one person doesn’t make it to Heaven, then God’s perfect plan is disrupted – we’ve affected him.

The second reason I disagree is because of the following words from Jesus.

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

The world spoken about is not the globe, it is the inhabitants of it. If you love someone, and they make choices that are contrary to what you know is best for them, it pains you. Lest you think that I’m making it up that it pains God to see us sin, look at the following verses.

Now the LORD observed the extent of the people’s wickedness, and he saw that all their thoughts were consistently and totally evil. So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them. It broke his heart. – Genesis 6:5-6

God’s heart was broken over man’s sinful condition and depravity.

So, sorry Elihu. Sin affects both people and God.

Father, please help me to not flap my wings in ways that would disrupt your perfect plans. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Ride the current of God’s will. Jan

Job 34

How Great?

A few days ago my wife commented that I treat, or speak with, everyone the same. (Or words to that effect.)

I wish that were entirely true. In thinking about that statement I find that I do guard my words around those whom I don’t know, or moreover, do know – if you catch my drift. However, I also tend to be less careful in my choice of words and display of emotion around those I am comfortable with and in whose presence I feel secure.

But I do understand what she was saying. I generally am not impressed by people, power, authority, position, rank, or title. They are human beings created in the image of God, just as I am. A janitor deserves the same level of attention from me as the senator he serves.

I found Job’s friend Elihu expressing the same sentiment about God.

He doesn’t care how great a person may be, and he doesn’t pay any more attention to the rich than to the poor. He made them all. – Job 34:19

Just like God, I do however make distinctions based upon a person’s life situation, choices, attitudes, and behaviors. Just like God noticed Job, I too notice people who deserve it as a result of what they do with what God has given them.

Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and will have nothing to do with evil.” – Job 1:8

I would say that Elihu’s statement about God not paying more attention is not entirely true. God was obviously proud of Job. But it wasn’t because of anything Job owned, or position he held. It was because of how Job lived his life.

Scripture is clear that I’m to treat people as I want to be treated. It does not say anything about them needing to be believers or even nice. In fact Jesus tells me to do it for my enemies, or those who consider themselves my enemy.

“But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other cheek. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give what you have to anyone who asks you for it; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do for others as you would like them to do for you.

“Do you think you deserve credit merely for loving those who love you? Even the sinners do that! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, is that so wonderful? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, what good is that? Even sinners will lend to their own kind for a full return.

“Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don’t be concerned that they might not repay. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. – Luke 6:27-36

This was also expounded upon in James’ letter.

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others?

For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives? – James 2:1-4

So I find that I do treat people differently based upon their spiritual condition and maturity, both in the Lord and physically. But I do not put on a false face, or at least try not to. I think that is the heart of what my wife was saying; that I’m always the same person no matter whom I’m with. Prayerfully I will always remain true to the image of God that he’s created, and is refining in me.

Father, may I always be me – a bearer of the image of your son Jesus. In his name, Amen.

Only me – Jan

Job 33

Am I Listening?

God has given me many creative and organizational talents. Unfortunately due to those gifts, one of the things that I’m guilty of is doing things in my own strength, wisdom, and ability.

Yesterday while busily preparing the evening’s program for Wildmen I realized that my stress levels were rising. I had taken notice that I was the only leader in the room. I knew that one of the leaders was scheduled to be out that evening to celebrate his wife’s birthday; and that another leader was returning that evening from an out of town trip and probably would not make it. However, the remaining two were nowhere to be seen.

Just as the waves of worry started to lap at the edge of my consciousness, something much higher up flicked me on the head. It was as if a voice said,

“Have you asked Me about it yet? Do you think that this has caught Me by surprise?”

I was tempted to ignore it, but thankfully I realized that it was God.

But God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in bed. He whispers in their ear and terrifies them with his warning. – Job 33:14-16

The enemy was trying to get me to focus on temporal things, not eternal.

I stopped, prayed, thanked God for the fact the He has everything under control and knows exactly who should be there.

The moment I concluded my prayer, one of the other leaders walked into the room. Shortly thereafter the other expected leader arrived. But wait, there’s more. The one I didn’t expect also arrived shortly thereafter!

God knew. He wanted me to listen. He wants me to rely on him, not on me.

Lord, thank you for a lesson in focus. May I go to you first and not last. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Are you listening? Jan

Job 32

Sometimes

One of the things that I’ve noticed as I advance in years is that I tend to care less what people think about me. I don’t mean that I willingly or openly insult people, or do obnoxious things just because I have the ability. No, what I mean is that I am not a slave subservient to fashion, or the opines of the group. I am much better able to stand alone as an individual. I can express a contrary position whether I have supporters or not.

Yet, I also see that there are others of similar advancing age, and older, who gravitate towards the opposite condition. They seem to become less bold, more timid in their dealings with others and the world around them. It is as if they are afraid to rock the boat because they are no longer agile enough to balance themselves when it moves.

Although Elihu the younger is addressing his companions in the following verse, I think it applies quite well to the latter group that I named.

But sometimes the elders are not wise. Sometimes the aged do not understand justice. – Job 32:9

And sometimes you can recognize those who have wisdom and those who don’t by the affect they have upon the hearers.

A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook. – Proverbs 18:4

I don’t think any of the Job’s companions had true wisdom from God. They had lots of acquired knowledge, but their logic was faulty. They did not have the spirit of Christ living in them. Thankfully I do. And with that comes a wonderful promise.

If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. – James 1:5

So, ask. God invited you to do so.

Father, I need wisdom. Daily, I need to know what steps to take and which to avoid. Please guide me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sometimes being old simply means you’re an old fool. Jan

Job 31

He was blameless, a man of complete integrity

As I read Job’s final defense, I couldn’t help but compare his righteousness against my own…

He didn’t: lust, lie, cheat others, treat others unfairly, ignore people no matter who they were – friend or foe, withhold his attention and material possessions to those in need, treat others unkindly, trust his wealth, worship other gods, gloat over others misfortune, curse anyone – even enemies, steal, or hide his sins.

Man do I fall short.

Job was truly perplexed, and with good reason. Even God himself had declared him “a man of complete integrity”. He could not understand why calamity was upon him. He thought he was being unfairly punished and wanted an opportunity to plead his case.

Job is thinking, “Surely there must be a clerical error Lord.”

I would face the accusation proudly. I would treasure it like a crown. For I would tell him exactly what I have done. I would come before him like a prince. – Job 31:36-37

What about me? There certainly would not need to be clerical error to convict me.

Thank God for Jesus!

But our High Priest offered himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down at the place of highest honor at God’s right hand… For by that one offering he perfected forever all those whom he is making holy… Then he adds, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” – Hebrews 10:12, 14, 17

In and of myself I definitely fall short of the mark set by God, even the one set by Job. But, because of Jesus, I am perfected forever. And he is not done with me yet, “he is making” me “holy.”

Lord, may I continue to let your Holy Spirit work in my life and make me holy, like your Son Jesus. In His name, Amen.

How do you measure up? Jan