Tag Archives: God

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

Job 5

Termite

Much effort, time and money has been spent in this country and others to rid ourselves of termites. They are a relentless destructive force that can silently destroy entire neighborhoods before the residents even are aware of it. They are regarded as a menace nearly everywhere.

I think Job’s ‘friend’ Eliphaz the Temanite, while meaning good, has shown himself to be a rather destructive force. Job needed someone to simply grieve with him. He did not need a lecture, or ‘counsel’.

However, even termites it seems can have a useful purpose. One very surprising discovery is that termites can produce nearly half a gallon of hydrogen from digesting a single sheet of paper. Thus, these destructive little insects could prove to be our fuel-supply salvation. That which seemed evil and destructive may be incredibly beneficial.

And I see that even Eliphaz the Termite did have some good counsel mixed with his windbag diatribe.

But consider the joy of those corrected by God! Do not despise the chastening of the Almighty when you sin. For though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal. – Job 5:17-18

I know that it is good counsel because God chose to have it repeated in the New Testament.

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always right and good for us because it means we will share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. – Hebrews 12:10-11

Wisdom and good can be found in the most unlikely places. Upon seeing it, my responsibility, as with any truth of God, is to choose to live by it and accept it. Or I may find myself fighting against God. And that my friends is a bad place to be. Because, as we’ve just read, he does discipline his own.

Father, may I listen for your rebukes and do what you say so that I don’t need your chastening. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Peace. Jan

Job 4

Encourager

One of the things that I have been gifted with by God is the ability to encourage people. I see that Job is described as a being likewise.

In the past you have encouraged many a troubled soul to trust in God; you have supported those who were weak. Your words have strengthened the fallen; you steadied those who wavered. – Job 4:3-4

But who encourages the encourager when he is down?

But now when trouble strikes, you faint and are broken. Does your reverence for God give you no confidence? Shouldn’t you believe that God will care for those who are upright? – Job 4:5-6

Job’s friend Eliphaz was off to a good start with the few statements he made above. Sadly, he continued to speak.

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. – Proverbs 10:19

It makes me wonder though, how many times have I been like Eliphaz or even Peter on the mount of transfiguration? When they had nothing to say – they spoke anyway.

Father, please give me the wisdom to know when to refrain from speaking. I need to know when someone simply needs me to sit with them. Conversely, Lord please let me know what to say and when the time is right. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Add courage, don’t subtract it. Jan

Job 3

What I Always Feared

I wonder if Satan perked up and started dancing a little evil jig when he heard Job utter the following words.

What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come to be. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; instead, only trouble comes. – Job 3:25-26

As a Christian I know that perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). But when you are in the crucible, in the time of trial, it certainly doesn’t feel like love is anywhere nearby. My wife taught me an expression early in our marriage. It is, “Our fears reduce us to lunatics.” From that lunacy all sorts of bad things follow.

Job was starting to despair. Thankfully he had his friends there to sit Shivah with him. There is a very old saying, “Joy shared is double joy, sorrow shared is half sorrow.” At least his burden was lightened for a little while.

Lord, I pray that I never go through anything like Job’s testing. Please continue to guard over me an my family. And may I be sensitive to those who are undergoing trials. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Then his ‘friends’ spoke… Jan

Job 2

Mrs. Job

I think most people who read the book of Job, specifically the second chapter, see Mrs. Job’s outburst and immediately label her as some shrew or heathen.

His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” – Job 2:9

How quick we are to forget what she had just endured.

Women were prized for two things in that culture, beauty and their ability to bear children. Their righteousness was measured by the amount of children God blessed them with. Just look at the two passages below.

Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.” – Genesis 30:1

After these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, “This is the way the Lord has dealt with me in the days when He looked with favor upon me, to take away my disgrace among men.” – Luke 1:24-25

Notice the passion regarding children “or else I die!”, “my disgrace among men”. Having children was vital to the existence of a middle-eastern woman.

Unless she was some sort of monster, Mrs. Job loved the 10 children she gave birth to, 10 children she’d just buried. So, put yourself in Mrs. Job’s sandals for a moment. Nearly everything your husband owned has either been stolen or destroyed – you’re broke. Your children are all dead, meaning that you have no future security since poor older women were taken care of by their children once their husband died. Your husband is very sick, not to mention pretty repulsive looking with all of the oozing sores, and is likely to die soon. And since you are an older woman, you’re probably not given much of a second glance by the men of the area. Meaning you have very little prospect for remarriage. Therefore, when Job dies, she may as well have them bury her with him.

Notice however, that Job does not call her a Godless woman. Even in his own distress and pain he speaks carefully selected words.

But Job replied, “You talk like a godless woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong. – Job 2:10

He said she is speaking like, not that she is, a Godless woman. This is a key distinction. I like how the Rotherham translation worded the verse above.

And he said unto her, As one of the base women speaketh, speakest thou? Blessing shall we accept from God, and, misfortune, shall we not accept? In all this, Job sinned not with his lips. – Job 2:10 (Rotherham Emphasized Version)

The translator phrased it as a question. In modern parlance I’d phrase it, “Are you going to speak like a woman who doesn’t know God?” It wasn’t a slap in the face. It was a reminder of who she was, a Godly woman.

She was not unrighteous. I challenge you to look up God rebuking her, or Job needing to sacrifice to atone for her sin. It isn’t there. In fact God blesses her in the end. Job doesn’t get a new wife, he still has the same one when the following is written.

So the LORD blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand teams of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys. He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. He named his first daughter Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-happuch. In all the land there were no other women as lovely as the daughters of Job. And their father put them into his will along with their brothers. – Job 42:12-15

Remember how women were prized? Job’s daughters had a triple-blessing; they were beautiful, rich (put them into his will), and they bore him grandchildren. And yes, Mrs. Job was there to enjoy all of the restored blessings too.

Father, may I not be quick to judge. There is often much more going on than meets the eye. Thank you for lessons from Mrs. Job. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A blessing, not a curse. Jan

Job 1

There was…

Six thousand years ago a guy named Job (pronounced Joe-wb) was imortalized with the following words.

There was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless, a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. – Job 1:1

I could stop right here. What an epitaph! It doesn’t get any better than that does it.

But it does!

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

God himself said the exact same thing about Job and added that in all the earth he was the best. Wow!

I’m left wondering, would I like my name inserted into that sentence? And would I have enduring faith like Job’s when in the crucible as a result?

Lord, I truly want to please you. Please forgive me for my frequent lack of faith and occasional lapses in integrity. May I have the wisdom to foresee and to stay away from evil. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

… a man named Jan.

Titus 2

God, Jesus, the Bible

Most Sundays, as we drive home from church we’ll ask the boys what their lesson was about in the youth service. Their answer is usually something like, “God, Jesus, the Bible.” Informative huh? Well at least the 40,000 foot view is the correct one. A bit more detail would be nice.

Sometimes though we don’t need much more detail. We just need to look in the Bible to see what is plainly written there. One question that has often been asked is why do we say that Jesus is God? One very clear answer is in the verse below.

We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. – Titus 2:12b-13

Who’s glorious revelation is Paul telling Titus to look forward to? Our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ!

What do you know? I guess the answer is God, Jesus, and the Bible; because Jesus is God, the Bible told me so.

Father, thank you that Paul spelled it out so clearly to Titus. May I not get too bogged down in details of unimportance, and truly look forward to your glorious appearing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

What was your lesson about? Jan

2 Timothy 4

Dance of Joy

A few months ago we added a tiny bundle of energy to our family, a  puppy. Tanner has quickly grown into a rather large bundle of energy. From the start we wisely decided to train him to be in a dog-crate when we are not around to supervise. I say wisely because he chews on nearly everything. The bottom of crate is a plastic which makes an interesting clicking, scraping sound when Tanner’s paws move around on it.

In March of 1986 a TV series named Perfect Strangers premiered. One of the characters was a guy named Balki Bartokomous from the Mediterranean island of Mypos.

I bring him up because he was very much like Tanner, the lovable clueless friend to everyone. One other thing they share is the Dance of Joy.

Whenever something good happened in Balki’s life he would dance the Dance of Joy, a mix between the Dosado and the Hokey Pokey. Similarly, whenever Tanner hears someone approaching, he exuberantly dances the Dance of Joy in his crate. The plastic floor amplifies his padding paws and makes it sound almost like a tap-dancer’s shoes. In fact he is so happy at our appearing that his entire body is dancing.

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return. – 2 Timothy 4:8

I was struck by the phrase eagerly look forward.

Do I eagerly look forward to my Lord’s appearing?

Do I dance the Dance of Joy at the thought of it?

If I’m honest, I’ll have to admit that I’m not. The enemy of my soul has convinced me deep-down, in the core of my being, that the here-and-now is somehow better than Heaven, the Kingdom restored, the New Heaven and the New Earth. What a filthy thieving scumbag! And I’ve let him do it…

I see that I have a lot to learn from my dog.

Lord, I want to receive the prize. Not because I look for acclaim, but because I truly want to want you more than anything else. Please forgive me for not taking back that which you’ve already given me – the glorious hope of the eternal future. May I do better. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Let your soul dance! Jan

2 Timothy 3

Exposed

Recently I was in a local courtroom where a man who asserts that he is a Christian, that he does not lie, and that he reads his bible at least one hour every morning, was testifying.  When you first meet him you think he is a holy man; he says the right words and even performs many of the right actions. He spends a lot of time on the internet in various forums and blogs trying to teach other Christians “the truth”. He does not get away with it for long. If you spend any time with him you quickly recognize him as a fool with a depraved mind and a counterfeit faith.

During the 15 minute hearing he was proven, with evidence, that he was lying under oath at three separate times! When caught, he countered that he didn’t have his calendar with him. Yet he was the one who instigated the court action because of dates, times, and places. He stated his lies quite authoritatively and didn’t make the calendar excuse until he was proven to be lying. Court was exactly where his calendar should have been, he knew that. Truly pathetic.

I think the following verses, and parts of the ones that I didn’t list, explain him. Paul predicted to Timothy that in the last days there would be guys like him.

They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good.
They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.
And these teachers fight the truth just as Jannes and Jambres fought against Moses. Their minds are depraved, and their faith is counterfeit. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as happened with Jannes and Jambres.
– 2 Timothy 3:3, 5, 8-9

They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good.

They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.

And these teachers fight the truth just as Jannes and Jambres fought against Moses. Their minds are depraved, and their faith is counterfeit. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as happened with Jannes and Jambres. – 2 Timothy 3:3, 5, 8-9

His mind is so depraved that he thinks he lost the court case because the judge was a woman. He does not connect the fact that he perjured himself and could have been sentenced for that crime as contributing to his loss. He is a fool and everyone recognized him as such, including the judge.

Lord, please have mercy on this man. He needs to truly come to know the real Jesus, not the one his warped mind has fashioned. Please do whatever it takes to save him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Please stop fighting the truth. Jan

1 Timothy 6

Foolish Questions

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? This question can actually be found in a slightly modified form in Richard Baxter’s tract, “Reasons of the Christian Religion” written in 1667. I think the following is my favorite answer to this foolish question.

“Nowadays only four angels can dance there. Formerly there was no limit, but OSHA passed the Angel Safety Law recently, which also requires that the pin must be inspected twice each year for structural defects.”

As Proverbs states, answer a fool according to his folly.

One of my favorite foolish questions is, “Can God create a rock so heavy that He cannot move it?”

Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. – 1 Timothy 6:20

In my experience, questions like the one about the rock are thrown out by knaves who lack a true desire for a relationship with God. They merely want to talk about him rather than with him. As Paul wisely told Timothy, avoid those types of foolish discussions. They are a waste of time.

Father, please give me the wisdom to see when I’m being baited into a foolish discussion. May I know how to either move it into a more fruitful area of conversation or end it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And for the record. God cannot make a rock so big He cannot move it. There can only be one absolute. Either God is all-powerful, or the rock is. You can’t have both.

Don’t waste time, you never get it back. Jan

1 Timothy 5

Don’t be hasty

“Haste makes waste.” I’ve heard this expression most of my life. As an adult I learned the phrase, “Measure twice, cut once.” It is referring to carpentry and directly ties in to “Haste makes waste”, since if I don’t measure something right before cutting it, I may end up with something too short, have to throw it out, and then need to purchase another piece of wood.

Earlier this year I helped my cousin purchase a large-screen TV for his home. He had picked out a vacated bookcase shelf for the new plasma or LCD unit. Unfortunately I trusted his measurements rather than checking them myself. The TV that we purchased was about 10 inches narrower than the shelf. There is a lot of wasted space on either side of the unit that could have been filled with viewable screen. Sigh… I guess it could have been worse, it could have been too large. Pity though that we were not more careful.

Last year in my men’s group, Wildmen, there were several guys eager to have a young Christian step-up to more leadership responsibility. The following principle kept rattling about in my brain and I voiced my concerns.

An elder must not be a new Christian, because he might be proud of being chosen so soon, and the Devil will use that pride to make him fall. – 1 Timothy 3:6

Never be in a hurry about appointing an elder. Do not participate in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. – 1 Timothy 5:22

Despite my reservations, he was put into a position of leadership. I’m not saying he was engaged in any open sin, but his immaturity exposed some wounds, offense resulted, and damage control had to be performed. All because we were hasty. It has taken some time, and things are now better. But it was a situation that should not have happened in the first place.

This does not relate to the situation above, but in looking at the second passage a bit further, it appears to me that Paul is tying the not being hasty to sin and purity. I suspect it is because if someone is put into a position of leadership too quickly, there has not been sufficient time to determine who he really is inside. What is lurking in there? And by putting him in charge of others, we make them participants in his sin if there is any.

I believe that is why Paul gave the following instruction.

Before they are appointed as deacons, they should be given other responsibilities in the church as a test of their character and ability. If they do well, then they may serve as deacons. – 1 Timothy 3:10

In our microwave, fax, text-message, cell-phone, culture, we want things immediately. Rarely are we required to wait for anything; and when we do wait we are annoyed, or outright angry at being forced to do so. However, haste does make waste. We need to be like another metaphor of Paul’s.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. – Hebrews 12:1

The key is endurance, persevering. This is a long-term perspective, not a short term one.

Father, may I think twice and act once. Please give me the wisdom needed to not be hasty. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Slow and steady wins the race. Jan

1 Timothy 3

Fulfilled Service

I noticed an interesting relationship while reading the following verses.

It is a true saying that if someone wants to be an elder, he desires an honorable responsibility. For an elder must be a man whose life cannot be spoken against. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exhibit self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home and must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, peace loving, and not one who loves money. He must manage his own family well, with children who respect and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?

An elder must not be a new Christian, because he might be proud of being chosen so soon, and the Devil will use that pride to make him fall. Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not fall into the Devil’s trap and be disgraced.  – 1 Timothy 3:1-7

There are several areas of life being written about; they are, church, family, and world. Even though many of the attributes overlap the various spheres of influence, how the elder relates in each is a bit different. Two of them stuck out to me. They are home and church.

In the home the elder is to manage. In other words, he is in charge of discipline, directing and delegating.

However, in the area of God’s church he is to take care of.

These are two rather different job descriptions. It seems to me that there is a very good reason why he needs to manage his family well and have them respect him. If the man is fulfilled at home, then he will have the ability to care for and to serve others, to be able to give of himself selflessly, despite how church members might treat him.

Being fulfilled at home means that he will not be serving, caring for others out of emptiness. He will be giving out some of what he has received.

Father, please help me to be fulfilled at home so that I do have something to share with those outside of my home. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Fulfilled at  Home = Cared for Church. Jan

1 Timothy 2

Deluded

I wonder, are you among those men who seem surprised when a police officer pulls you over for speeding? After all, it isn’t like your car doesn’t have a speedometer, and it isn’t like the speed-limit isn’t posted. Perhaps since so many others break the law, you have been deceived into thinking that it is not enforced and thereby moot.

In reading the following scripture I wonder if something similar didn’t enter Adam’s mind.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. – 1 Timothy 2:14

However, Paul omits a key piece of information in this brief passage. Look at the account of this transgression in Genesis.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. – Genesis 3:6

Her husband, Adam, was with her!

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. – James 4:17

When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. – Ezekiel 33:8

Adam was right there. He knew what the right thing, the good thing, to do was. He did nothing to stop Eve from sinning.

Eve might have been deceived, but Adam was deluded into thinking that God was not going to act. Perhaps Adam even used her as the food-taster. “Hmm, she didn’t drop dead. I guess it is OK to eat the fruit after all…”

Frankly, Adam sinned first, and in greater measure. It was his responsibility to care for everything in Eden, including his wife. He stood right there, watched what was happening, and did nothing!

How often am I deluded into thinking that my actions don’t have consequences simply because they are not immediate? How about you?

Father, please forgive me for my presumptuous sins. May I live my daily life with an eye to eternity, doing what brings you glory and pleasure. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Don’t be deluded. Jan

1 Timothy 1

Unsealed Orders

During WWII my grandmother, then in a German slave-labor camp with her family, was given sealed-orders to bring to the commander of a different camp to which she and her family were being transferred. Her maiden name was Hoffman and she was trying to convince them that she was of German descent. Non-Germans were often worked to death, whereas those of German origin were treated less harshly.

Prior to arriving at the other camp my grandmother carefully steamed the envelope open, unsealing the orders. They stated that if the commander was not fully satisfied that she and her family were German, they should be taken out and immediately executed.

In reading Paul’s letter to Timothy I noticed some unsealed-orders.

Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they give you the confidence to fight well in the Lord’s battles. – 1 Timothy 1:18

Paul gave him instructions that were going to be crucial in aiding Timothy in the great war in which he was engaged. So what were those orders that inspired confidence to fight well?

  • Don’t let people waste time in spiritual arguments. – 1 Timothy 1:4
  • Cling tightly to faith in Christ. – 1 Timothy 1:19
  • Always keep a clear conscience. – 1 Timothy 1:19
  • Pray for everyone. – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Plead for God’s mercy for everyone – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Give thanks. – 1 Timothy 2:1
  • Pray with actions, not just words. – 1 Timothy 2:8
  • Pray free from anger and controversy. – 1 Timothy 2:8
  • Be faithful. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be self-controlled – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Live well. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Cultivate a good reputation. 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be hospitable. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be a capable teacher. – 1 Timothy 3:2
  • Be temperate (not a drunkard). – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Be gentle – peace loving. – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Not motivated by money. – 1 Timothy 3:3
  • Manage your family well. – 1 Timothy 3:4
  • Don’t be prideful. – 1 Timothy 3:6
  • Have integrity. – 1 Timothy 3:8
  • Be responsible. – 1 Timothy 3:10
  • Receive everything with a thankful heart. – 1 Timothy 4:4-5
  • Don’t waste time in arguments. – 1 Timothy 4:7
  • Exercise both physically and even more spiritually. – 1 Timothy 4:8
  • Work hard, suffer if you must. – 1 Timothy 4:10
  • Teach others; insist they learn. – 1 Timothy 4:11
  • Your youth is not an obstacle. – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Be an example in; life, love, faith, and purity. – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • Encourage others by teaching them from the scriptures. – 1 Timothy 4:13
  • Be enthusiastic in your mission. – 1 Timothy 4:15
  • Let others see your progress. – 1 Timothy 4:15
  • Check regularly to ensure you don’t stray from the truth. – 1 Timothy 4:16
  • Never speak harshly to elders. – 1 Timothy 5:1
  • Speak to younger men as you would your own brothers. – 1 Timothy 5:1
  • Treat older women as you would your mother. – 1 Timothy 5:2
  • Treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. – 1 Timothy 5:2
  • Ensure that true widows’ needs are met. – 1 Timothy 5:3-7
  • Those who work hard for God should be paid for their work. – 1 Timothy 5:17-18
  • Unless there are 2 or 3 witnesses, do not listen to accusations against leaders. – 1 Timothy 5:19
  • Publicly rebuke those who sin. – 1 Timothy 5:20
  • Be impartial, no favoritism. – 1 Timothy 5:21
  • Take your time in appointing leaders, don’t be hasty. – 1 Timothy 5:22
  • Don’t take part in other people’s sin – stay pure. – 1 Timothy 5:22
  • Take your medicine. Being sick doesn’t help anyone. – 1 Timothy 5:23
  • Workers should honor their employers by working hard. – 1 Timothy 6:1-2
  • Teach these truths to others and encourage others to obey them. – 1 Timothy 6:2
  • If your material needs are being met, be content. – 1 Timothy 6:7-8
  • Don’t let money tempt you and derail you. – 1 Timothy 6:9-10
  • Run from evil things. – 1 Timothy 6:11
  • Pursue, run after, a godly life. – 1 Timothy 6:11
  • Continue to fight God’s battle. – 1 Timothy 6:12
  • Hold tightly to what you’ve come to believe. – 1 Timothy 6:12
  • In purity obey Christ Jesus’ commands! – 1 Timothy 6:13
  • Trust the living God. – 1 Timothy 6:17
  • Know that God richly gives you everything you need for enjoyment. – 1 Timothy 6:18
  • Tell the wealthy to use their money to do good. – 1 Timothy 6:17-19
  • Guard what God has entrusted you with. – 1 Timothy 6:20
  • Avoid foolish godless foolish discussions with those who think they are wise. – 1 Timothy 6:20

Wow, what a list! And I’ve probably missed some.

Father, thank you for inspiring Paul to write this. Please help me to make this part of my life as Timothy did. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

And yes, my grandmother did convince the German commander. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Jan

Romans 16

Mission Possible

I used to watch the TV series Mission Impossible. I think every episode started with a tape recording device playing an assignment for the team to undertake. The last thing you would hear from the tapes was, “This tape will self-destruct in 10 seconds. Good luck Jim.” Jokingly, I used to change that to, “This tape will self-destruct, you have 10 seconds to reach minimum safe distance of 3 miles. Good luck Jim.”

I’ve been entrusted with a secret mission. One that my creator planned from the founding of the world.

God is able to make you strong, just as the Good News says. It is the message about Jesus Christ and his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. – Romans 16:25

My mission is to tell the world about Jesus. Yet some people won’t believe. In fact some people will oppose me and even lie about me and the message. Just like the self-destructing tape, these people are destined for self-destruction. I’m commanded to keep a safe distance from them.

And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things that are contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. – Romans 16:17

Unless you want to be in the blast radius when God deals with them, follow Paul’s instructions and stay away.

Father, thank you for entrusting me with the mission. May I do my part well. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Good Luck, Jan

Romans 15

Just as I am

The hymn “Just as I am” is a salvation classic (if there is such a term). I would venture to guess that more people have come to Christ hearing that song play than any other in all of recorded history. It was written by a woman named Charlotte Elliot in 1835.

“An elderly man asked Charlotte Elliott if she were a Christian; she felt insulted, and told him to mind his own affairs. But after the man left, she could not get the question off her mind, and she went back to ask the man how to find Christ. He told her to come just as she was. She did, and wrote the beautiful song, “Just As I Am.” – By B. A. Scherr”

I wonder if Charlotte Elliot had any idea of how far her song would go when she wrote it ?

The title of that song came to me as I was reading the following verse from Paul.

So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified. – Romans 15:7

What kind of person was I at the point Christ accepted me? What kind of person were you? Did you have your life cleaned up, no issues, no problems, no hangups, no idiosyncracies, no prejudices, no sins, no faults?

Or were you like me, a person deserving of hell?

If we’re honest, we all were. Yet Christ accepted us.

Paul very clearly says in the verse above, that just as Christ accepted me, I’m to accept others. That means before they are clean, whole, and holy I am to accept them. Just as they are. And when I do, I bring glory to God. Why? Because I’m behaving like his son; I look like his son and thereby reveal God’s glory.

Father, may I be more like Jesus every day. Please give me that desire deep within that cannot be contained. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Without one plea… Jan

Romans 13

Love

I know a man who recently posted the following on his web blog. It was about the subject of love.

“What is the TEST” to see if they are really Christians…? Or Not…? Is it ‘Love’… or is it… “Truth?”

Is it “Love”… or is it… “Belief in the Total Authority of the Word of God… that Identifies a “Real Christian”… a believer in “Christ Jesus”…?  I believe that the Teaching of the Word of God… identifies that one… by their… “Validity of the Authority of The Word of God!”

Yes, the strange capitalization and punctuation are his; I did not embellish or alter anything. He is a rather unusual man who, whether he knows it or not, revealed the true problem with his belief system in the above sentences. He does not understand love, nor does he truly intimately know the author of love. If he did, his relationship would not be based on works of law, but on works of love. Paul wrote about works of love in Romans 13. In fact he called it our debt.

Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting—and any other commandment—are all summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God’s requirements. – Romans 13:8-10

Did you catch that last statement? Love satisfies all of God’s requirements. Period.

Jesus said something very similar.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. – Matthew 22:38-40

I used the King James Version because I love the symbolism of the word “hang”. Loving God, and Loving People are like two nails, or pegs which up hold the entirety of the law on a shelf or dangling from a rope. If you pull a nail or peg out, the shelf comes crashing down. Now, notice that it isn’t just some ephemeral love. It is specific. Jesus said to love God with all we’ve got, heart, soul, and mind. And we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

We don’t serve God out of duty or a compulsion to fulfill the obligations of the law. No, we serve out of love for him. Likewise, if I love someone in the same way I love myself, I do not want that person harmed. I want to see good for them, which includes knowing Christ as their savior. By doing this, I’m upholding all of the law in the process.

Father, may I show love, your love, to everyone. Please give me the grace and courage to do so. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Love, and love some more. Jan

Romans 12

Value by Faith

There is a famous Bible quote about the subject of faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1

Sort of cryptic isn’t it?

In a nutshell, it says that faith is the tangible part of the expected, what you don’t have yet. It is the thing that you can sort-of touch, the thing that you have some control over.

In reading today I noticed that we are to measure our value by our faith.

As God’s messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. – Romans 12:3

Hmm, I find that a strange statement… measure my value… I was under the impression that we are all equally valuable to God. After all, Jesus died for me. That means that God placed the highest value on me he could when he allowed his son to be sacrificed in my stead. So I guess that means that this passage in Romans is referring to something other than personal worth. But what?

I think the section that follows it brings that to light. Notice the operative words that I’m italicizing below.

We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.

God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. – Romans 5b-8

Everything that follows (all the way through the end of the chapter) is in the context of others.

How is your faith lived out? What is your value? How do you know how much faith you have?

It is in the context of how others benefit from it.

Prophecy is for the benefit of others. Teaching is for the benefit of others. Sharing means others benefit. Leadership is helping others get to where God wants them. And the list goes on; honor others, be helpful, be hospitable, bless, share in joy and sorrow, live in peace, do good.

Why?

Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically. – Romans 12:11

Because when we do this we are actually serving the Lord.

Father, may I live in such a way as to be valuable. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Faithful one, are you valuable to others? Jan

Romans 11

Little Flowers

Today as I was reading I was reminded of the book, Little Flowers by St. Francis of Assisi. In it is the following account of a trip he took with a fellow friar.

CHAPTER VIII
HOW ST FRANCIS, WALKING ONE DAY WITH BROTHER LEO, EXPLAINED TO HIM WHAT THINGS ARE PERFECT JOY

One day in winter, as St Francis was going with Brother Leo from Perugia to St Mary of the Angels, and was suffering greatly from the cold, he called to Brother Leo, who was walking on before him, and said to him:

“Brother Leo, if it were to please God that the Friars Minor should give, in all lands, a great example of holiness and edification, write down, and note carefully, that this would not be perfect joy.”

A little further on, St Francis called to him a second time: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor were to make the lame to walk, if they should make straight the crooked, chase away demons, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and, what is even a far greater work, if they should raise the dead after four days, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Shortly after, he cried out again: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor knew all languages; if they were versed in all science; if they could explain all Scripture; if they had the gift of prophecy, and could reveal, not only all future things, but likewise the secrets of all consciences and all souls, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

After proceeding a few steps farther, he cried out again with a loud voice: “O Brother Leo, thou little lamb of God! if the Friars Minor could speak with the tongues of angels; if they could explain the course of the stars; if they knew the virtues of all plants; if all the treasures of the earth were revealed to them; if they were acquainted with the various qualities of all birds, of all fish, of all animals, of men, of trees, of stones, of roots, and of waters – write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Shortly after, he cried out again: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor had the gift of preaching so as to convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Now when this manner of discourse had lasted for the space of two miles, Brother Leo wondered much within himself; and, questioning the saint, he said: “Father, I pray thee teach me wherein is perfect joy.”

St Francis answered: “If, when we shall arrive at St Mary of the Angels, all drenched with rain and trembling with cold, all covered with mud and exhausted from hunger; if, when we knock at the convent-gate, the porter should come angrily and ask us who we are; if, after we have told him, ‘We are two of the brethren’, he should answer angrily, ‘What ye say is not the truth; ye are but two impostors going about to deceive the world, and take away the alms of the poor; begone I say’; if then he refuse to open to us, and leave us outside, exposed to the snow and rain, suffering from cold and hunger till nightfall – then, if we accept such injustice, such cruelty and such contempt with patience, without being ruffled and without murmuring, believing with humility and charity that the porter really knows us, and that it is God who maketh him to speak thus against us, write down, O Brother Leo, that this is perfect joy.

And if we knock again, and the porter come out in anger to drive us away with oaths and blows, as if we were vile impostors, saying, ‘Begone, miserable robbers! to to the hospital, for here you shall neither eat nor sleep!’ – and if we accept all this with patience, with joy, and with charity, O Brother Leo, write that this indeed is perfect joy. And if, urged by cold and hunger, we knock again, calling to the porter and entreating him with many tears to open to us and give us shelter, for the love of God, and if he come out more angry than before, exclaiming, ‘These are but importunate rascals, I will deal with them as they deserve’; and taking a knotted stick, he seize us by the hood, throwing us on the ground, rolling us in the snow, and shall beat and wound us with the knots in the stick – if we bear all these injuries with patience and joy, thinking of the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which we would share out of love for him, write, O Brother Leo, that here, finally, is perfect joy.

And now, brother, listen to the conclusion. Above all the graces and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ grants to his friends, is the grace of overcoming oneself, and accepting willingly, out of love for Christ, all suffering, injury, discomfort and contempt; for in all other gifts of God we cannot glory, seeing they proceed not from ourselves but from God, according to the words of the Apostle, ‘What hast thou that thou hast not received from God? and if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?’ But in the cross of tribulation and affliction we may glory, because, as the Apostle says again, ‘I will not glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Amen.”

I was reminded once again that there is nothing that we can give to God to compare with what he has given us.

For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor? And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay it back? For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory evermore. Amen. – Romans 11:34-36

The only thing we have that we can give God, that has any worth whatsoever, is how we respond to circumstances of this life. Do we bring him glory through it or not?

Father, may I bring you glory in whatever comes my way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Practice Perfect Joy. Jan

Romans 8

Not an absence of war

I noticed something today while reading in the book of Romans that I’d not seen before.

If your sinful nature controls your mind, there is death. But if the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life and peace. – Romans 8:6

The word peace jumped out at me. It is the greek word “Eirene” it means; peace, quietness, rest, and an additional thing, one.

What I was struck by was the difference I’ve seen in people who truly are controled by the Holy Spirit and those who are not. Those who are controled by the Spirit not only have peace, they are peace. They bring it to wherever they go. That peace is tangible, they exude a quietness and gentleness that brings a true oneness to those of like mind – those controled by the Spirit.

Lord, may I exude peace. Please give me the grace to truly allow the Holy Spirit to control my mind. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Be peace, Jan

Romans 7

My Debt

I have a debt I can’t pay. The debt is solely mine. Even if I could borrow and beg from every one of my friends, even dare to steal from those not so friendly, I can’t come up with enough. The bill is gathering interest continually. There is seemingly no way out, and Lex, the collection man is getting closer each day.

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin?  – Romans 7:24

There is an answer. If I die there is nobody to collect from. Since this debt is mine alone, the only thing that can be done with it is to write it off as uncollectible after my demise.

So this is the point: The law no longer holds you in its power, because you died to its power when you died with Christ on the cross. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, you can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God. – Romans 7:4

Yes, I’m refering to my debt of sin. And when I willingly chose to die with Christ Jesus on his cross, accepting his payment, in full, for my sin-debt. It immediately became uncollectible.

Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 7:25a

And now as a result of having the unpayable debt lifted from me, I am free to produce fruit that goes toward Christ and his kingdom, not toward a creditor – the law – that I could never hope to pay off.

Father, thank you for the gift of new life, a fresh start. In Jesus’ wonderfilled name, Amen.

Paid in full. Jan

Romans 6

Live for the Glory

St. Ireneus said that, “The glory of God is a man fully alive”.

In light of that statement I found the following verses of particular interest.

He died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God. So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus. – Romans 6:10-11

What an unique way of looking at how the glory is revealed. I suppose we are like a seed planted in the ground. The seed, while fascinating, is not something glorious to behold. However, let it germinate and then flower; what glory bursts out! We too, are dark crusty seeds. Only when planted in the death of Christ, can the resurrection of our souls happen. Only then is the husk of our sinful nature shed to fully reveal the glory concealed within, a glory that was placed there at our creation.

You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old. – Psalm 139:13-17

God made you and me to reveal his workmanship, his glory to the world. He knew exactly what type of unique flower would burst from the dead husk of my sin to grace a dying world with his beauty and fragrance. He made me come alive for his glory.

Father, may I reveal your glory in the way you intended. Please give me deep roots and plenty of nutrients – your word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Push deep roots into his word and push high toward the son. Jan

Romans 4

I can’t break it

Just yesterday I went home for lunch and was informed that our “precious” puppy had torn a huge hole in my pool screen-enclosure, and had munched down on one of my hats. Aargh!

It reminded me of the joke, “If you want to see if something is truly unbreakable, give it to a 6 year old boy.” I don’t know of much that we creations of God cannot find a way to break. In the computer industry we have a saying that states, “If you make something foolproof, the world will simply invent a bigger fool.”

Today as I was reading in the book of Romans I came across the following passage in The Message version of the Bible.

If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. – Romans 4:14

My bundle-of-joy puppy doesn’t know anything about contracts or business deals. He simply knows that I provide for his needs, discipline him when needed, and give him affection. If there was a contract outlining expected behavior and consequences for infractions, he would be living somewhere other than my home by now. But, when we brought him home, he became a member of the family not of a corporation. We promised to care for him for the term of his natural life.

A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise–and God’s promise at that–you can’t break it. – Romans 4:15

So, since no contract full of fine print exists, merely our promise; Tanner, our puppy cannot break it.

Likewise, no contract exists between me and God. His love letter to me – the Bible – is not a book of fine print. It is a promise.  And since God has accepted me into his family, I know that he will never break his promise to care for me for the term of my eternal life.

Father, thank you for loving me despite the fact that I keep breaking things. Thank you that I cannot break a promise that you made. It is not mine to break. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

You can’t break God’s promise. Jan

Romans 2

Revealed Truth

Ouch! Paul pulls no punches in this second chapter of Romans. He started out in chapter one by praising the Roman Christians, and then spoke about how sinful the world is. Now he lowers the boom on the Roman Christians.

You may be saying, “What terrible people you have been talking about!” But you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Do you think that God will judge and condemn others for doing them and not judge you when you do them, too? Don’t you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin? – Romans 2:1-4

I have to wonder, does he know about something specific, or is he simply laying out a foundation for more later?

As further chapters will reveal, that is exactly what he is doing – establishing groundwork for a discussion.

But, what about the Romans reading this letter. Would they have known nothing of Jewish laws and customs that Paul would write to them as if they were wholly ignorant?

In his Antiquities of the Jews, Flavius Josephus mentioned that in about 40AD 8,000 Roman Jews had sided with someone in a lawsuit. Since women and children were not permitted to take part in a lawsuit, that would mean that there were upwards of 40,000 Jews living in Rome around the time Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome. From inscriptions on ancient tombstones in the Jewish catacombs it can be determined that there were at least 12 different synagogues in and around the city of Rome. So it is not like there was no knowledge or awareness of Jewish laws and customs among the Roman Christians. Further, statistical probability would indicate that not all of the new converts were of non-Jewish origin.

From this evidence it is clear that there certainly should have been knowledge of Jewish laws among the Roman believers.

I think the following verse supports my thought that Jews were part of the Roman church.

If you are a Jew, you are relying on God’s law for your special relationship with him. You boast that all is well between yourself and God. – Romans 2:17

Paul is clearly working on ensuring that the foundation of the Roman Christians’ belief system is one that conforms to what he understands to be the truth as revealed to him personally by the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters, I solemnly assure you that the Good News of salvation which I preach is not based on mere human reasoning or logic. For my message came by a direct revelation from Jesus Christ himself. No one else taught me. – Galatians 1:11-12

Therefore, since Paul knew exactly what it was to be a Christ-follower, he wanted to ensure that these converts, that he had no personal involvement with, would receive the truth as it was revealed to him; not as Jewish converts would have them believe.

For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the Jewish ceremony of circumcision. No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body but a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. Whoever has that kind of change seeks praise from God, not from people. – Romans 2:28-29

The truth is that an inward change, a change of heart produced by God’s Holy Spirit is the mark of being a believer.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Paul’s tenacity. It is because of his determination to ensure the complete truth was shared that we know what it really means to believe in your son Jesus. In his name, Amen.

Shalom, Jan

Romans 1

Miracle Grow

The first chapter of Romans is such an interesting chapter of the bible. Paul is writing to a church of non-Jewish believers that he personally had not started. He was somewhat pleasantly surprised to learn of their existence. He writes about hearing of their faith, praying for them, being proud of them. Then he writes the following:

One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can share a spiritual blessing with you that will help you grow strong in the Lord. – Romans 1:10-11

Miracle_Grow

I find it fascinating that he assumes, no he knows, that he possesses some spiritual blessing, some spiritual gift as other translations state, that they have not already received. This gift, when delivered will help them “grow strong in the Lord”.

I’m definitely curious as to what this miracle grow that Paul has to deliver is all about. What about you?

Well, hopefully as I continue reading in the book of Romans it will come into clearer focus.

Father, thank you for spreading your gifts among your people as you see fit. Please help us to willingly share them so that we can help others grow strong in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Do you have a delivery to make? Jan

2 Samuel 24

It stopped where it started

I’m still confused a bit about what really happened with God getting angry at Israel and the whole he “caused David” to sin thing.

The LORD became angry with Israel again, so he provoked David to turn against Israel. He said, “Go, count Israel and Judah.” – 2 Samuel 24:1

There is an alternate reading that blames Satan.

Satan attempted to attack Israel by provoking David to count the Israelites. – 1 Chronicles 21:1

No matter whom was to blame, God was not pleased with David having chosen the sin of pride and not following God’s way of conducting a census.

Whenever you take a census of the people of Israel, each man who is counted must pay a ransom for himself to the LORD. Then there will be no plagues among the people as you count them. – Exodus 30:12

As a result God sent word that destruction would result.

When David got up in the morning, the LORD spoke his word to the prophet Gad, David’s seer. “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I’m offering you three choices. Choose the one you want me to do to you.’”

When Gad came to David, he told David this and asked, “Should seven years of famine come to you and your land, or three months during which you flee from your enemies as they pursue you, or should there be a three-day plague in your land? Think it over, and decide what answer I should give the one who sent me.”

“I’m in a desperate situation,” David told Gad. “Please let us fall into the LORD’s hands because he is very merciful. But don’t let me fall into human hands.” – 2 Samuel 24:11-14

In response, God sent the “three-day plague”. I wondered about this event, so I checked what Flavius Josephus wrote about it. Here is his description:

When the prophet had heard this, he declared it to God; who thereupon sent a pestilence and a mortality upon the Hebrews; nor did they die after one and the same manner, nor so that it was easy to know what the distemper was. Now the miserable disease was one indeed, but it carried them off by ten thousand causes and occasions, which those that were afflicted could not understand; for one died upon the neck of another, and the terrible malady seized them before they were aware, and brought them to their end suddenly, some giving up the ghost immediately with very great pains and bitter grief, and some were worn away by their distempers, and had nothing remaining to be buried, but as soon as ever they fell were entirely macerated; some were choked, and greatly lamented their case, as being also stricken with a sudden darkness; some there were who, as they were burying a relation, fell down dead, without finishing the rites of the funeral.

Now there perished of this disease, which began with the morning, and lasted till the hour of dinner, seventy thousand. Nay, the angel stretched out his hand over Jerusalem, as sending this terrible judgment upon it. But David had put on sackcloth, and lay upon the ground, entreating God, and begging that the distemper might now cease, and that he would be satisfied with those that had already perished. And when the king looked up into the air, and saw the angel carried along thereby into Jerusalem, with his sword drawn, he said to God, that he might justly be punished, who was their shepherd, but that the sheep ought to be preserved, as not having sinned at all; and he implored God that he would send his wrath upon him, and upon all his family, but spare the people.

When God heard his supplication, he caused the pestilence to cease, and sent Gad the prophet to him, and commanded him to go up immediately to the thrashing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite, and build an altar there to God, and offer sacrifices. – Antiquities of the Jews, Book 7 Chapter 13

Wow, what a nasty horrible way for the people to die!

Stay with me, here is where it gets good. The angel stopped his destruction of Israel at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David quickly goes there and tells Araunah that he wants to purchase the entire property.

Araunah said to David, “Take it, Your Majesty, and offer whatever you think is right. There are oxen for the burnt offering, and there are threshers and oxen yokes for firewood.” All this Araunah gave to the king and said, “May the LORD your God accept you.”

“No!” the king said to Araunah. “I must buy it from you at a {fair} price. I won’t offer the LORD my God burnt sacrifices that cost me nothing.”

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for 1¼ pounds of silver. David built an altar for the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. So the LORD heard the prayers for the country, and the plague on Israel stopped. – 2 Samuel 24:22-25

Thus ends the book of Second Samuel. However, that is not the end of the property that was formerly Araunah’s! This land was one where an angel of the Lord was stopped from his destruction of Israel. If he had been allowed to go on for the full three days it is likely that nobody would have survived. After all, just four angels are enough to eradicate one third of the population of our planet (Revelation 9:15). Suffice it to say, this ground is pretty special now. It was set-apart to sacrifice to the Lord. It was now hallowed ground.

Then David said, “This is where the LORD God’s temple will be. Israel’s altar for burnt offerings will also be here.” – 1 Chronicles 22:1

Israel was saved here. This is the place where the Temple would one day stand. At this spot, at the rebuilt temple, Jesus was judged and mankind was saved. But there was one more salvation at this location. One that Josephus wrote about when he described what David did.

And when he had built an altar, he performed Divine service, and brought a burnt-offering, and offered peace-offerings also. With these God was pacified, and became gracious to them again.

Now it happened that Abraham came and offered his son Isaac for a burnt-offering at that very place; and when the youth was ready to have his throat cut, a ram appeared on a sudden, standing by the altar, which Abraham sacrificed in the stead of his son, as we have before related.

Now when king David saw that God had heard his prayer, and had graciously accepted of his sacrifice, he resolved to call that entire place The Altar of all the People, and to build a temple to God there; which words he uttered very appositely to what was to be done afterward; for God sent the prophet to him, and told him that there should his son build him an altar, that son who was to take the kingdom after him. – Antiquities of the Jews Book 7 Chapter 13

The birth of the nation of Israel came about through Abraham’s trusting of God; on this very spot his trust was proven. It was a foreshadowing of what our redemption would look like – a lamb being sacrificed in Isaac’s stead. Centuries later on this very spot, the Lamb of God would be condemned to be sacrificed in all of our steads.

Father, thank you for the sacrifice of Abraham, David, and Jesus. May I honor you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Special spot, ain’t it? Jan

2 Samuel 23

Rules Righteously

I read the following passage with some interest.

The God of Israel spoke.
The Rock of Israel said to me:
‘The person who rules righteously,
who rules in the fear of God,

he is like the light of the morning,
like the sunrise bursting forth in a cloudless sky,
like the refreshing rains that bring tender grass from the earth.’ – 2 Samuel 23:3-4

As I look at this I realize that this does not just apply to David and the kings of Israel, this applies to anyone in a position of power. So what does it mean to ‘rule righteously’?

The Hebrew word for righteously is “Tsaddiyq”, pronounced “Tsad-deek”. It means to be; just, lawful, correct, vindicated, righteous – in both conduct and character. It is derived from the root word “Tsdaq”, pronounced “Tsa-dawk”. This word means; to be just, to be righteous, to declare righteous, to be justified.

It reminded me of another scripture verse.

We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away. – Isaiah 64:6

So if Isaiah said that we are all infected, how then can David speak of his righteousness?

It is because the same Isaiah also wrote the following.

“Come now, let us argue this out,” says the LORD. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.”  – Isaiah 1:18

This came true for me when Jesus’ blood cleansed my sins away.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21

Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also share his new life. – Romans 6:6-8

Just a few sentences later the writer of Romans also wrote the following.

Now you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness. – Romans 6:18

Since that new master is in charge of my life, and the fact that through Christ I am declared just, I am able to rule righteously. It is not my righteousness that makes it possible, it is his. And this brings great power.

We have faithfully preached the truth. God’s power has been working in us. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves.  – 2 Corinthians 6:7

As the scripture says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Father, thank you for declaring me righteous because of Christ. May I rule with the wisdom that you supply. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Rule Righteously. Jan

2 Samuel 22

Cringe Before Me

Pathetic earthlings. Hurling your bodies out into the void, without the slightest inkling of who or what is out here. If you had known anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would’ve hidden from it in terror. – Ming the Merciless, Flash Gordon Movie 1980

We recently adopted a puppy in our home. Tanner was a 3 month old bundle of energy when we got him from the local animal shelter. We quickly found out that he has a rather strong will and absolutely no knowledge of what is proper decorum for a member of our family with his status – a pet. Tanner would recklessly hurl his body into whomever and whatever lay ahead of him. He had no inkling about the true nature of his existence or his new universe. He had to learn.

Tanner responds very differently with me vs. other members of my family. He is surprisingly observant and is aware that I am given deference by all as head of my household. Having had some experience with dogs in the past, I quickly established myself as the “Alpha Dog”. If I “growl” at him or shout a stern “No!” at him, he immediately stops what he was doing, often rolling on his back to demonstrate submissiveness. Observing this behavior I was struck by the similarity of a verse I read today.

Foreigners cringe before me;
as soon as they hear of me, they submit.

They all lose their courage
and come trembling from their strongholds. – 2 Samuel 22:45-46

The true nature of Tanner’s universe, and ours is that someone else is in charge. And unless we learn to submit to the authority over us we are in trouble. But, when we do submit as we are designed to do, we are blessed both in the here-and-now and in the life to come.

Father, thank you for being a just and righteous ruler, one who is not arbitrary. Please give me the grace to have proper fear of you, to understand the true nature of the universe. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If God is for me, who can be against me? Jan


2 Samuel 21

Nexus

nex⋅us [nek-suhs] – noun, plural nex⋅us⋅es, nex⋅us.
1. a means of connection; tie; link.
2. a connected series or group.
3. the core or center, as of a matter or situation.
4. Cell Biology. a specialized area of the cell membrane involved in intercellular communication and adhesion.

In reading second Samuel chapter twenty-one I came across a familiar name – Rizpah. I first saw her in second Samuel chapter three.

One day Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, accused Abner of sleeping with one of his father’s concubines, a woman named Rizpah. – 2 Samuel 3:7

Abner was a faithful righteous man. The accusation offended him so badly that he left Ishbosheth and pledged loyalty to David. It was this event that triggered David’s ascension to rule a unified Israel. Rizpah was at the center of it. She was the nexus.

Today I read that God was withholding rain from the land as punishment for Saul trying to eradicate the Gibeonites. David enquired of God as to what he should do. God instructed him to do whatever the Gibeonites required of him.

What they required was seven male descendants of Saul to pay for his crimes against the Gibeonites – a death sentence.

Two of the men were sons of Rizpah, the same Rizpah who was at the center of David’s receiving the full kingdom.

It is clear that she loved her sons.

Then Rizpah, the mother of two of the men, spread sackcloth on a rock and stayed there the entire harvest season. She prevented vultures from tearing at their bodies during the day and stopped wild animals from eating them at night. – 2 Samuel 21:10

What I found of particular interest was that the rain did not return, God did not stop his chastisement, until after David did the right thing for Rizpah and Saul’s family.

When David learned what Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, he went to the people of Jabesh-gilead and asked for the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan. (When Saul and Jonathan had died in a battle with the Philistines, it was the people of Jabesh-gilead who had retrieved their bodies from the public square of the Philistine city of Beth-shan.) So David brought the bones of Saul and Jonathan, as well as the bones of the men the Gibeonites had executed. He buried them all in the tomb of Kish, Saul’s father, at the town of Zela in the land of Benjamin. After that, God ended the famine in the land of Israel. – 2 Samuel 11 – 14

Twice Rizpah was a nexus in David’s life. Once in establishing his rule, and the second time in ending a famine.

How many nexuses are in my life that I fail to notice? How about you? I suspect there are many more than we’ll ever guess.

Father, may I be mindful of those times when a choice presents itself, those that once taken shape the course of all that is to follow. Please give me eyes to see and wisdom to know the correct path. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

When at a crossroad, stop and pray. Jan

2 Samuel 20

Sons of Zeruiah

When I wrote about second Samuel chapter nineteen I noticed how the phrase “Sons of Zeruiah” seemed to be used by King David as an epithet. As I was reading a little while ago I noticed another example of why their moniker should be considered as something derogatory.

Absalom’s rebellion had been crushed. Due to Joab’s harsh treatment of David in regards to his grief over the death of Absalom (2 Samuel 19:5-7), David had appointed Amasa, Joab’s cousin, as head of the army instead of Joab (2 Samuel 19:13).

David then sent Amasa to mobilize the army to suppress a growing revolt led by a guy named Sheba. He gave him three days to do so and return to him. On the fourth day David got nervous and sent Joab, his brother Abishai, and some elite guards to hunt down Sheba and stop the rebellion before it got traction.

So Abishai and Joab set out after Sheba with an elite guard from Joab’s army and the king’s own bodyguard. As they arrived at the great stone in Gibeon, Amasa met them, coming from the opposite direction. Joab was wearing his uniform with a dagger strapped to his belt. As he stepped forward to greet Amasa, he secretly slipped the dagger from its sheath.

“How are you, my cousin?” Joab said and took him by the beard with his right hand as though to kiss him. Amasa didn’t notice the dagger in his left hand, and Joab stabbed him in the stomach with it so that his insides gushed out onto the ground.

Joab did not need to strike again, and Amasa soon died. Joab and his brother Abishai left him lying there and continued after Sheba. – 2 Samuel 20:7-10

Amasa was on his way back to King David with the troops, as ordered. Joab murdered his own cousin so that he would regain control of the army, and his brother Abishai did nothing to stop him.

Sons of Zeruiah indeed!

Several times King David expressed that these “sons of Zeruiah” were too powerful for him to deal with. However, that does not mean that they got away with their crimes. No, God’s justice may be slow (he gives us time to repent), but it is sure.

Many years later, after David’s rule came to an end, he set his son Solomon up as king in his stead. Solomon dealt with Joab’s treachery and meted out justice.

Benaiah went into the sacred tent of the LORD and said to Joab, “The king orders you to come out!” But Joab answered, “No, I will die here.” So Benaiah returned to the king and told him what Joab had said.

“Do as he said,” the king replied. “Kill him there beside the altar and bury him. This will remove the guilt of his senseless murders from me and from my father’s family. Then the LORD will repay him for the murders of two men who were more righteous and better than he. For my father was no party to the deaths of Abner son of Ner, commander of the army of Israel, and Amasa son of Jether, commander of the army of Judah. May Joab and his descendants be forever guilty of these murders, and may the LORD grant peace to David and his descendants and to his throne forever.

So Benaiah son of Jehoiada returned to the sacred tent and killed Joab, and Joab was buried at his home in the wilderness.” – 1 Kings 2:30-34

There is a definitely a difference in being a son of Zeruiah and being a son of David. The one exhibits grasping, jealous, self-serving behavior. The other exhibits wisdom in service to his subjects.

Father, may we too live our lives as sons of David. Thank you for adopting us into his royal lineage through the death and resurrection of your son Jesus. In his name, Amen.

Be a son of God. Jan

2 Samuel 19

Epithet

We have a rather colorful derogatory expression in modern English that compares a person’s maternal lineage to that of a female canine.

“You son of a bi…”

In reading the book of second Samuel I notice King David using a certain phrase quite a bit. 

And even though I am the anointed king, these two sons of Zeruiah – Joab and Abishai – are too strong for me to control. So may the LORD repay these wicked men for their wicked deeds.” – 2 Samuel 3:39

“No!” the king said. “What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah! If the LORD has told him to curse me, who am I to stop him?” – 2 Samuel 16:10

“What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah!” David exclaimed. “This is not a day for execution but for celebration! I am once again the king of Israel!” – 2 Samuel 19:22

It makes me wonder if David didn’t like his sister very much.

And Joab, the son of David’s sister Zeruiah, led the attack, so he became the commander of David’s armies. – 1 Chronicles 11:6

“Sons of Zeruiah” certainly sounds like an epithet to me. How about you?

Lord, may my name be one that is honored; not one that is used as a curse. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Make your name an epitome of righteousness. Jan