Tag Archives: Job

Job 42

Focus

Focus changes things. If you focus the rays of the sun they transform from merely warmth and light to something quite powerful. When you concentrate and focus water-drops, they can cut through steel. When you focus eyes using corrective lenses (glasses), you see clearly. When Habitat For Humanity focuses dozens of construction professionals and willing amateurs in one location, a home can be built in as little as one day.

When my eyes focus on something far away, the things that are near lose their clarity – they lose focus. Conversely when I focus on something nearby, that which is far away loses clarity and becomes peripheral noise.

Today I noticed something about the book of Job I had not noticed before. I was focusing on the verses, individually, intently, trying to find hidden nuggets of truth in them. However, if I shift my focus to the entire book I see another picture. I see a macro view vs. a micro view.

The character of Job is introduced as follows.

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

That tells me two things, he had no unconfessed sin in his life, and he lived his life righteously. A little later there is another aspect of Job’s character revealed.

Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice. – Job 1:4b

Job regularly prayed for others.

Then calamity came on him. He cries out to God, but where is the praying for others? It does not reappear until the last chapter.

Now take seven young bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not been right in what you said about me, as my servant Job was.”

So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite did as the LORD commanded them, and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer. – Job 42:8-9

Notice that God essentially told the trio of discouragers to ask Job to pray for them. He didn’t want to hear from them. (Sorry, I started down a bunny-trail.)

Look at the result of Job’s prayer.

When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before! – Job 42:10

It makes me wonder; what if Job had prayed for his friends earlier? What if he had continued his practice of doing good for others, instead of sitting and moaning? What if he had refocused? What if by doing as much as he could, with what he had left, on behalf of others, he would have altered what he saw around him? And what if he had prayed for…?

Lord, my I remember to pray for others. Please forgive me for focusing on myself and my issues as often as I do. May I live my life in a way that does not block the path of your blessing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Re-Focus. Jan

p.s. Another interesting thing in this chapter, and the preceding few, was that God only reprimanded four out of the five. Elihu, Obviousman, was not addressed by God at all. Apparently, even though he was quite redundant, he was right.

Job 41

Dra-gon!

In the Disney animated cartoon Mulan, one of the characters is a feisty red dragon by the name of Mushu. He has a big heart, a tiny brain, and a body to match. When he first appears on the scene, Mulan, her cricket, and her horse are rather unimpressed. They think he is a lizard. Mushu responds.

“Dra-gon! Not lizard.” – Drawing out the two syllables of the word dragon as much us possible, and with as much contempt as possible. He also lets Mulan know that he is “Travel sized for” her “convenience.”

In reading in Job I ran across what can only be a dragon, not travel sized for my convenience.

No one is brave enough to provoke Leviathan… I will not be silent about Leviathan’s limbs, its strength, or its graceful form. Who can skin its hide? Who can approach it with a harness? Who can open its closed mouth? Its teeth are surrounded by terror. Its back has rows of scales that are tightly sealed. One is so close to the other that there is no space between them. Each is joined to the other. They are locked together and inseparable. When Leviathan sneezes, it gives out a flash of light. Its eyes are like the first rays of the dawn. Flames shoot from its mouth. Sparks of fire fly from it. Smoke comes from its nostrils like a boiling pot heated over brushwood. Its breath sets coals on fire, and a flame pours from its mouth. Strength resides in its neck, and power dances in front of it. The folds of its flesh stick to each other. They are solid and cannot be moved. Its chest is solid like a rock, solid like a millstone. The mighty are afraid when Leviathan rises. Broken down, they draw back. A sword may strike it but not pierce it. Neither will a spear, lance, or dart. It considers iron to be like straw and bronze to be like rotten wood. An arrow won’t make it run away. Stones from a sling turn to dust against it. It considers clubs to be like stubble, and it laughs at a rattling javelin. Its underside is like sharp pieces of broken pottery. It stretches out like a threshing sledge on the mud. It makes the deep sea boil like a pot. It stirs up the ocean like a boiling kettle. It leaves a shining path behind it so that the sea appears to have silvery hair. Nothing on land can compare to it. It was made fearless. – Job 41:10, 11-33

I won’t belabor the point. But If God can create something as improbable as the Platypus, he can certainly create a fire-breathing dragon named Leviathan. I don’t know why there aren’t any around now. Perhaps they went extinct. But I clearly see one described in the verses above.

Lord, thank you for interesting mysteries in your word. I look forward to learning about the rest of the story when I finally get to see you face-to-face. Your works truly are too marvelous for words. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If I was my real size… Jan

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 39

Pent Up Warrior

I love God’s description of a horse’s qualities.

Have you given the horse its strength or clothed its neck with a flowing mane? Did you give it the ability to leap forward like a locust? Its majestic snorting is something to hear! It paws the earth and rejoices in its strength. When it charges to war, it is unafraid. It does not run from the sword. The arrows rattle against it, and the spear and javelin flash. Fiercely it paws the ground and rushes forward into battle when the trumpet blows. It snorts at the sound of the bugle. It senses the battle even at a distance. It quivers at the noise of battle and the shout of the captain’s commands. – Job 39:19-25

He’s pretty proud of it isn’t he?

And look at what he’s primarily touting about the horse. It is not the horse’s size, speed, or ability to save man labor. No, it is the warrior attributes.

  • Strength
  • Agility
  • Snorting (aggressive sound)
  • Hooves stomping the ground (eagerness)
  • Charging into war unafraid
  • Not retreating
  • Eager anticipation of battle

I makes me wonder if that isn’t the sort of qualities that God expects in me? After-all, the horse is not going to go into battle alone. By itself the horse is nothing but a cannonless tank. It might run over a few people, but that is all. But, if you place a warrior astride that same horse, you have heavy armor.

As a child of the King, I am automatically enlisted as a soldier of Christ; I am part of a vast army that is engaged in a conflict that transcends time. Do I live in that knowledge on a daily basis? Do I embody the attributes that God so highly vaunted about the horse? Or am I simply doing my duty, trudging along, pulling the plow, head down, eager only for my bag of oats and a nice night’s sleep?

Lord, forgive me for allowing myself to be lulled into complacency so often. May I lift my eyes while plowing and be consciously aware of the battle, and may I jump in eagerly when you shout out your commands, when the bugle sounds. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Charge! Jan

Job 36

Life Interrupted

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you suffering?

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

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

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

This echoes a verse from the New Testament.

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

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

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

Restart your life. Jan

Job 35

Sin’s Effect

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

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

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

But is that really true?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ride the current of God’s will. Jan

Job 34

How Great?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was also expounded upon in James’ letter.

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

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

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

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

Only me – Jan

Job 33

Am I Listening?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you listening? Jan

Job 32

Sometimes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, ask. God invited you to do so.

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

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

Job 31

He was blameless, a man of complete integrity

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

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

Man do I fall short.

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

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

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

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

Thank God for Jesus!

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

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

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

How do you measure up? Jan

Job 30

Kal’Hyah

It has been many years since I’ve watched Star Trek the Next Generation, but the memories of Worf and the Klingon warriors is still pretty vivid. I think because it is in such stark contrast to the world in which I live, a world full of gray areas, of cowardice, situational ethics, and increasing loss of rights due to governmental intrusion. However, I don’t think I’d trade my world for theirs. It was after-all rather brutal.

What brought the Klingons to mind was the anguish of Job; the trials and tests that he was enduring.

My heart is troubled and restless. Days of affliction have come upon me. – Job 30:27

Job has experienced six different trials.

Deprivation – He lost everything

“Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”

While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” – Job 1:14-17

Blood – His family was destroyed

While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the desert and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” – Job 1:18-19

Anguish – He was in mental agony of losing everything and everyone

Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God. – Job 1:20

Pain – He was now mentally and physically in anguish

So Satan left the LORD’s presence, and he struck Job with a terrible case of boils from head to foot. Then Job scraped his skin with a piece of broken pottery as he sat among the ashes. – Job 2:7-8

Sacrifice – Despite the circumstances he worshiped, sacrificed

Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God. He said,
“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The LORD gave me everything I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!”
In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God. – Job 1:20-22

Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him. – Job 13:15

Death – He knew the path he was on

And I know that you are sending me to my death—the destination of all who live. – Job 30:23

Perhaps Job understood the path of the warrior better than we do.

From the Star Trek Encyclopedia.

Kal’Hyah

A mental and spiritual journey that a Klingon man and his friends traditionally share during the last four nights before his wedding.  The ritual was made up of six trials: deprivation, blood, pain, sacrifice, anguish, and death.

Job experienced the journey with his friends. Unfortunately as I’ve seen, they were not there to share in it. Instead they made the journey more difficult.

Father, when my friends must undergo a trial, may I go with them rather than throw rocks from the sidelines. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

R’uustai – Jan

Job 29

Respect

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

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

The key words are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serving, Jan

Job 28

Fully Understanding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By John Godfrey Saxe (1816 – 1887)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whose eyes are you seeing with? Jan

Job 27

Whirls Down

Katrina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lift Up. Jan

Job 26

Empty Space

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

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

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

Click to Enlarge

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

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

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

He made it all for us! Jan

Job 25

But a Worm?

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

Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transformed, a friend. Jan

Job 23

God’s Commands

I read something today that made me stop and think.

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

What commands?

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

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

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

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

Then there is the famous code of Hammurabi.

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

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

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

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

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

Read it, Live it. Jan

Job 21

No Need

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

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

Job described a similar situation.

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

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

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

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

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

I need Him. Jan

Job 20

Epitaph

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

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

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

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

In Georgia:
“I told you I was sick!”

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

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

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

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

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

How will you be remembered?

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

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

“That is all”

Jan

Job 19

Disqualified

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m qualifying. Jan

Job 18

Broken Chain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Linked to eternity. Jan

Job 17

Hope

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

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

I see Job falling into the same line of thinking.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The first is past experience.

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

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

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

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

The second thing which makes hope more tangible is grace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopeful, Jan

Job 16

Relentless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press on! Jan

Job 15

Trust

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

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

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

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

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

Then there was war in heaven. Michael and the angels under his command fought the dragon and his angels… This great dragon – the ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world – was thrown down to the earth with all his angels. – Revelation 12:7,9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can God trust you? Jan

Job 13 & 14

Doldrums

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

Doldrums – 1. a state of inactivity or stagnation.

Yeah, that would be pretty accurate right about now.

I’m am focusing on a few verses.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pause. Jan

Job 12

Number 15,431

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Job 11

Expectant

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

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

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

It reminded me of the following passage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palm up and open. Jan

 

Job 10

Painting behind me

Dash

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

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

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

Which brings me to the idea of the dash.

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

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

Todd Wilson

1972-1986

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Womb – Tomb – Infinity. Jan

Job 9

Daysman

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

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

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

According to the Easton’s Bible Dictionary,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game over, all three of us win. Jan

Job 8

Shoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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