Tag Archives: Jesus

Judges 12

Ibzan

After Jephthah, Ibzan became Israel’s judge. He lived in Bethlehem, and he had thirty sons and thirty daughters. He married his daughters to men outside his clan and brought in thirty young women from outside his clan to marry his sons. Ibzan judged Israel for seven years. When he died, he was buried at Bethlehem. – Judges 12:8-10

What an interesting passage. Bethlehem, the place Jesus was born. God’s perfect number – seven. Intermarrying his children with other clans – that sounds familiar.

The name Izban is defined by Strong’s dictionary as, “their whiteness”. Ok, not very interesting. However, I stumbled upon the following translation too, “father of a target”. Whoa! That is interesting! Then I see the following from the Jewish Talmudists.

The Talmud (Bava Batra 91a) asserts that Ibzan is to be identified with Boaz from the story of Ruth, who lived in the Bethlehem of Judah, and that he consummated his marriage with Ruth on the last night of his life. – (Source: Jewish Encylopedia and Wikipedia)

It would appear that this Izban might have been Boaz. If that is the case, then he would be an earthly ancestor of Jesus. Cool.

Father, thank you for interesting forays into your word. Whether this is truly what happened or not, it made me think. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Father of a target… hmm – Jan

Judges 3

Rescue Them

I have a pretty good overview of the Old Testament history of the Hebrews. Frankly if I was God I would have abandoned them and started over with a people a bit more receptive to obeying his commands. He certainly had plenty of nations to choose from. But no, he remained faithful even if they didn’t. However, he did discipline them.

Since they wanted to live for themselves, God withdrew his protection and allowed natural consequences to take effect. Soon they were conquered by their enemies and enslaved.

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 12:11

Once they experienced the discipline, the consequences of their actions, they cried out for relief. Funny how we always seem to remember God once we are in trouble, but never when we are getting into it.

But when Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a man to rescue them… – Judges 3:9

And again.

But when Israel cried out to the LORD for help, the LORD raised up a man to rescue them… – Judges 3:15

And again.

After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath rescued Israel… – Judges 3:31

And the same sad story continues through the entire book. They do evil. God lets them have their way. They are overcome, they are enslaved. They cry for help. God sends rescue.

Isn’t that our story? It is my story.

If I was God, I would have abandoned me long ago and left me to rot. But he didn’t and he doesn’t.

He considers me infinitely valuable.

How do I know that? His Son Jesus created infinity and God allowed him to die to pay the penalty for all of my sins: past, present and future. He rescued me.

Heavenly Father, please continue to create in me the desire to be holy. I want to love the things you love, hate the things you hate. Help me to see everyone through your eyes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I’m Rescued

Judges 2

Resistance

What does it mean to resist?

re-sist
–verb (used with object)
1. to withstand, strive against, or oppose: to resist infection; to resist temptation.
2. to withstand the action or effect of: to resist spoilage.
3. to refrain or abstain from, esp. with difficulty or reluctance: They couldn’t resist the chocolates.

I really like the third one where it adds, with difficulty or reluctance.

If you are one of the 1% of men who have no struggle with visual purity, or are female, go ahead and stop reading. You just don’t understand. But, if I am speaking to you, those of us who have difficulty or reluctance, then read on.

As I was reading in the second chapter of Judges I encountered something I’d seen many times in scripture, but never investigated before. It was the relation of Baal and Ashtoreth. Both of these pagan deities are well documented. And both of them, among other functions, are fertility symbols. One reference wrote of “the orgiastic nature of Baal worship.” Part of the worship of Ashtoreth involved “Ashtoreth Poles”. You don’t need too much imagination to conjure up a mental image of their probable appearance. “Archeological excavations in Canaanite locations have uncovered temples with chambers where sexual activity took place. Also, many iconographic representations of the fertility goddess, Asthoreth, with exaggerated sexual features have been discovered.” So, suffice it to say, worship of these gods was at least partially sexual in nature.

As I read this today I noticed some words that connected some interesting dots for me.

They abandoned the LORD to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. – Judges 2:13

Men are such visual creatures, we see something, we want it. We are hard-wired for visual stimuli. So, the men abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth.

Images!

How many of us have abandoned our principles, our morals, our purity, because of an image, a picture – be it moving or still? Thank you very little Mr. Hefner.

When we do, what happens?

This made the LORD burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to marauders who stole their possessions. He sold them to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. – Judges 2:14

Have you had your purity stolen? How about your finances, job, or even family? Have they been given over to the marauders because you were no longer able to resist?

re-sist
3. to refrain or abstain from, esp. with difficulty or reluctance:
They couldn’t resist the images.

What have we allowed the marauders to steal because of reluctance?

Every time Israel went out to battle, the LORD fought against them, bringing them defeat, just as he promised. And the people were very distressed. – Judges 2:15

Distressed yet?

Every time (insert your name here) went out to battle, the LORD fought against him…

Don’t be misled. Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it. You will always reap what you sow! Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. – Galatians 6:7-8a

OK, I get it, I’ll buck up. I’ll resist. I’ll never let the Ashtoreth images into my life again.

Fool.

You can’t do it alone. As the old expression states. “The man who has himself for a lawyer has a fool for a client.”

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

In this battle there are but two courses of action. The first is to be open and honest with at least one other man who can help you if you should start to stumble. The other is RUN.

Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. – 2 Timothy 2:22a

There is another part to the verses about reaping and sowing.

But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time. – Galatians 6:8b-9

One name for the Holy Spirit is Counselor. That word translates as Lawyer. If the Holy Spirit is your lawyer, you are definitely not a fool. He will never lose in court against the devil.

If we are truly living in a way where we desire to please the Holy Spirit, it is he who gives us everlasting life! We are told not to become discouraged, not to give up the fight. If we resist spoilage of our purity, we will reap a harvest of blessing. It isn’t easy. We refrain, we abstain with difficulty. But it is worth the harvest.

Lord, this battle is one where our enemy knows our weaknesses much better than we ever could. Please give me the desire and ability to surround myself with men who will both hold me up, and hold me accountable – as they have been doing. Give me fleet feet. Please bless the men in my life and give them the same. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who brings the harvest. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Resistance is not futile!

Job 40

Critics

It is so easy to be a critic.

“If I was in charge…”

“No, you should do it this way.”

“Well, if you ask me…”

Yeah right. Walk a mile or two in my shoes, or the one’s of the person you are criticizing, and see how well you do.

Job has been busy criticizing God’s dealings with him. God responds and lets Job know that he is still indeed in charge. Then he challenges him.

Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers? – Job 40:2

It reminds me of the movie Bruce Almighty. Bruce is critical of God. So God shows up, puts Bruce in charge and then goes on vacation.

In one scene Bruce decides to answer everyone’s prayers with a yes. The results are a hilarious disaster. There are hundreds of lottery winners all from one local area, people losing weight on the Krispe Kreme diet, people getting taller, and unlikely sports teams winning.

Yes to all, was not the answer. Some prayers needed a wait, and some needed a firm no.

It doesn’t take long for Bruce to realize that his answers are not going to work. The only thing that works is self sacrifice, continually giving of yourself.

If we could see perfectly into the future, and know all possible outcomes, and weigh every nuance, then, and only then could we even think about criticizing God about his dealings. But even then, only he knows what is best for us. He knows that sometimes, no, most-times, it is the suffering that produces the necessary changes in us; changes that make us like his son Jesus. Left to our own devices, we would never experience pain, hardship, or suffering. And as a result we’d never change.

Lord, thank you for all that you allow into my life. May I remember that when I am in the midst of the hard times. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jan, not-so-mighty.

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 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

Job 28

Fully Understanding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John Godfrey Saxe (1816 – 1887)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whose eyes are you seeing with? Jan

Job 27

Whirls Down

Katrina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lift Up. Jan

Job 25

But a Worm?

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

Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformed, a friend. Jan

Job 24

Trust in The Light

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

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

The Apostle Paul called Christians Children of the Light.

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus later identified himself as the light of the world.

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

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

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

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

Come into the Light. Jan

Job 18

Broken Chain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linked to eternity. Jan

Job 10

Painting behind me

Dash

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

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

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

Which brings me to the idea of the dash.

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

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

Todd Wilson

1972-1986

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Womb – Tomb – Infinity. Jan

Job 9

Daysman

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

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

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

According to the Easton’s Bible Dictionary,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game over, all three of us win. Jan

Titus 3

Not doing, Yes doing

I found the following scripture an interesting Möbius loop.

He saved us, not because of the good things we did, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins and gave us a new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us because of what Jesus Christ our Savior did. He declared us not guilty because of his great kindness. And now we know that we will inherit eternal life. These things I have told you are all true. I want you to insist on them so that everyone who trusts in God will be careful to do good deeds all the time. These things are good and beneficial for everyone.Titus 3:5-8

Notice what I highlighted.

We were not saved because of the good things we did. But we are now ordered to be careful to do good deeds all the time.

The difference is the reason. It isn’t about us. It is about others. Even our salvation is about others. We could not do it, someone other than us, Jesus, had to do the good deed for us. Now we are free as a result of his good deed to do good deeds for others too.

Father, may I do good deeds all the time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For everyone. 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

Titus 1

Steadfast

Paul instructed Timothy to be sure that he doesn’t make a new believer a leader (1 Timothy 3:6). I think the following verse, where Paul is telling Titus how to choose leaders, gives some more insight as to why.

He must have a strong and steadfast belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with right teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong. – Titus 1:9

If the believer does not have a steadfast belief, one that is fixed, unwavering, unchanging, firm, and unswerving, he can be discouraged into wrong teaching. He could even be moved off course into a rejection of his faith.

Like trees, we must have deep roots to withstand the onslaughts of the enemy. There is a reason our Lord sent his disciples out two-by-two.

Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

When one wavers the other can help steady his frail friend. But pity the man who is alone – especially the inexperienced acolyte.

Father, may we be wise in whom we promote to more responsibility. Please grant us the wisdom needed and the courage to say no when it is best. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Steadfast is a firm foundation. 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 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 9

My Purpose

I used to joke with people that the purpose of my life was to serve as a warning to others. The statement comes from a de-motivational poster.

However, today I read this from the Apostle Paul.

For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you, and so that my fame might spread throughout the earth.” – Romans 9:17

Um, kinda sounds like the poster. The purpose of Pharaoh’s life was to serve as a warning to others.

But imagine knowing your purpose, knowing exactly what you were built to do and then following that path unwaveringly. Appealing isn’t it?

My family and I have been watching a SciFi channel program on DVD, StarGate Atlantis. In a recent episode, Dr. Rodney McKay created an artificial human using nano-technology – a Replicator. This machine’s sole purpose for existing was to serve as a weapon against an enemy comprised of other sentient nano-technology Replicators. In the fulfillment of her purpose she would be destroyed.  As they are approaching the time and place where she would deploy a very interesting exchange of dialog occurs.  “Fran” is the name Dr. McKay gave her – Friendly Replicator ANdroid.

(Fran the Replicator is gazing out of the window as hyperspace rushes past. It turns and looks at Rodney as he types on a computer tablet.)
FRAN
: This is quite exciting, isn’t it?
(Rodney looks up at it awkwardly.)
McKAY: It’s a bit nerve-wracking, yeah.
FRAN: I quite look forward to it.
McKAY: You do?
FRAN: One always wishes to fulfill one’s purpose.
(Behind Rodney, Radek is frowning at Fran in surprise.)
McKAY: … Right. And you’re fine with all this?
FRAN: Why would I not be? It’s my reason for being.
McKAY: Well, I know. It’s just that you’re … you’re gonna cease to be.
FRAN: Yes.
McKAY: Well, I just … I just imagined you’d rather keep being than, uh … uh, than not.
FRAN: Certainly you’re not worried for me, are you, Doctor?
McKAY: No, no, that would be silly.
FRAN (smiling at him): Yes, it would.

One always wishes to fulfill one’s purpose… Am I doing that? Or do I complain or try to avoid the things I feel, or even know, that my creator has ordained for me to do? Wouldn’t that be silly?

Who are you, a mere human being, to criticize God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who made it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? God has every right to exercise his judgment and his power, but he also has the right to be very patient with those who are the objects of his judgment and are fit only for destruction. He also has the right to pour out the riches of his glory upon those he prepared to be the objects of his mercy—even upon us, whom he selected, both from the Jews and from the Gentiles. – Romans 9:20b-24

God has a purpose for each of us. If there is a conviction of sin in you, if you feel the weight of wrong when you do it, that means that God has given you the gift of being able to receive his mercy. Otherwise he would not torment you with guilt that cannot be assuaged. And if you know you are not right with God there is always hope. I know, I’ve read ahead to the next chapter.

For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They all have the same Lord, who generously gives his riches to all who ask for them. For “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:9-13

The word anyone means just that, anyone. If you believe (not an intellectual exercise, but one of obedience too) then you will be saved.

Father, thank you for making me. May I fulfill my purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I quite look forward to it… 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 5

Triumph in the Air

Many years ago, when Christian Rock was still somewhat of a novelty, I discovered an artist who had a unique operatic, epic quality to her vocals. Her band members were all accomplished in their own right, and together they made for an amazing presentation. They even had lights, lasers, and smoke generators! For a teenager it was all very exciting.

Now days most people know this person because of her involvement with Women of Faith or possibly with her past involvement with the 700 club on Christian TV.

As I read the following passage I was reminded of her.

The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over us, but all who receive God’s wonderful, gracious gift of righteousness will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ. – Romans 5:17

What specifically brought her to mind were the words “triumph over sin”. One of her songs was entitled “Triumph in the Air”.

Yes, it is Sheila Walsh. And she is still living in the triumph that Jesus provided for her. It is because of another item that stuck out in that same passage of scripture, the word righteousness.

You see, righteousness in the context above, is a gift; it is not something that we work toward, or somehow arrive at. No, God gave us righteousness.

That means that when he looks at you and me he see us as right in his sight.

Yes, Adam’s one sin brought condemnation upon everyone, but Christ’s one act of righteousness makes all people right in God’s sight and gives them life.  – Romans 5:18

And since we are right in God’s sight – righteous – we have eternal life.

So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. – Romans 5:21

Because we know that we will have triumph in the air, we can rejoice in all hardships. We can endure all scorn, shame, and deprivation. For we are friends of God.

So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God—all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God. – Romans 5:11

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus and his reconciling of us to you. Thank you for your kindness, for making this possible. May I never cease to be amazed by this gift. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Triumph indeed. 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 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 14

Run out like water

In July of 2007, in a rare loquacious moment, I had the opportunity to sit with my dad at his kitchen table. Fortunately on this occasion I had the presence of mind to pull out my trusty Garmin iQue3600 handheld and recorded nearly the entire thing. I recorded about 58 minutes worth of what is one of the few, if not only recordings of his voice. I now have, in his own words, some wonderful stories about his past.

Today I read about an old woman who came to King David and told him a story about her sons. But what jumped off the page to me was the following verse.

All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. That is why God tries to bring us back when we have been separated from him. He does not sweep away the lives of those he cares about—and neither should you! – 2 Samuel 14:14

My father at one point in the conversation was talking about all of the things he’s seen, places he’s been. And then he said;

“80 years, that is a lot to live through. And many many different changes. But what can you do… it has run out like water.” – Viktor Broucinek

“Our lives are like water spilled on the ground…” – Woman from Takoa

Life is truly short. But God is good. We are all separated from him, that is why he sent his only son to pay our ransom so that our separation from him could end. His greatest desire is for fellowship with us. He wants to sit at the table with us and welcome us into his home.

Father, please give me the strength, wisdom, desire, grace, whatever is necessary, to bring others to you. Help me to show them The Way, The One who bridged the separation, before their lives run out like water. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Like water held in a fist, our lives will eventually run out.

Jan

My father’s memorial video

For more information about my dad visit http://www.tinybeetle.us/dad

2 Samuel 7

Getting to know you…

In 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote a song for the Broadway musical The King and I entitled “Getting to know you”. In this song Anna sings about getting to know the king of Siam, whose children she is tutoring. In the process of getting to know him, he also gets to know her. 

Likewise there is someone that knows me. It is my King, Jesus. 

What more can I say? You know what I am really like, Sovereign LORD. – 2 Samuel 7:20 

He already knows everything about me. 

 I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. – Jeremiah 1:5a 

My job is to get to know him. 

Father, may I get to know you more and more. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

…all about you. Jan