Monthly Archives: January 2020

Knowing God (Job 40-42)

“Well, when you put it like that, Lord…”

After months, maybe years of heartache and loss, with questions unanswered, God finally speaks to Job. But God doesn’t answer one of Job’s questions. Instead He asked questions of Job (and us) which we should not ignore. In those questions is exactly what God wants us to know about Him.

I hope you’ll read Job 40-42 today. And instead of wondering what a behemoth was, or if a leviathan was a fire-breathing dragon, hear what God wants you to know about Himself. Don’t just see bronze-like bones, or lightning-producing sneezes. See God! See the God who is more powerful than anything He created.

Then, I hope you will respond like Job responded. Don’t miss 42:5-6.

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

Job had thought he knew God. But his knowledge about God wasn’t enough. When Job finally was faced with WHO GOD IS, he could only fall on his face before Him, despise himself for things done and thoughts thoughts, and repent of it all.

My prayer is that all of us will do the same.

 

The Audacity! (Job 32-37)

It’s one thing to speak God’s Words. It’s another thing to speak for God. A young Elihu had the audacity to claim he spoke for God. He had all the answers, and was determined to “enlighten” the others with his superior wisdom. In the end, he was as much a fool as the rest of them.

There are way too many people who have the audacity to speak for God: TV preachers who claim to have a special message from God telling us we should be healthy and wealthy; The young woman involved in the Bethel Movement who claims she got a special word from God through a giant angel, and therefore can speak for God; Joseph Smith, who claimed he received special glasses from an angel so he could read magical scrolls, and therefore speak for God.

The audacity! Sadly, millions of people fall for the lies.

Yet the Apostle Paul said this:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unreachable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

Paul knew we need to let God speak for Himself – because He alone is able. None of can come close to having the mind and knowledge of God. We are NOT His equals.

I always cringe when, at the casket of a person who has met their eternal fate, someone says, “It was God’s will,” or “God needed another angel,” or “Now you have someone looking down and watching over you.”

The audacity! How dare anyone speak for God, especially at such a vulnerable and critical time in someone’s life.

Do you really want to claim you know God’s will for anyone’s life and death? Where in God’s Word do you read about Him not having enough angels, or that a human ever looks down from heaven onto this sinful world? Or are you claiming God has visited you with an extra-Biblical message? Be careful.

Doesn’t the Bible tell us that in heaven, God wipes away our tears. (Revelation 21:4) I’ll tell you right now, if my mother was still watching over her children these past 24 years, God would have needed to dry bucketsful of tears as her heart repeatedly broke over the sins her five daughters have committed since she was here. Does that sound like heaven to you? It certainly is NOT the heaven Scripture describes.

Warren Wiersbe says this:

“No matter how smart you think you are, you never know enough to ‘play God’ in somebody’s life.” (With The Word; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; p 300)

God has spoken for Himself in the pages of Scripture. Let’s not assume we can speak for Him beyond what He revealed in the Bible. Let’s determine to only speak God’s Words as recorded there.

God. doesn’t need any of us to speak for Him. In fact, we can’t.

 

 

 

 

The Good Old, Bad Old Days (Job 29-31)

In Job’s final speech to his friends, he talked about the past, the days he enjoyed a prosperous life, when he was able to help the poor with his material wealth. He remembered the strangers who found shelter in his home, and the respect he received from everyone who knew him.

“How I long for the months gone by,” he said in 29:2, “for the days when God watched over me.” In verse 4 he said, “Oh for the days when I was in my prime…” (Well, actually I have said the same a time or two myself!)

Job looked at the past with longing. And many of us do that, too. We remember the good old days, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing…

  1. unless we allow our memories to paralyze us. The truth is, life was easier for me before my back problems. Life was more exciting when I had more energy and the future was promising. But today the days of my past outnumber the days of my future. The days of the past were innocent and full of new things to learn. Today my look at the world can be jaded. So, do I sit in my recliner and remember the good old days while ignoring my present and future? Do I find more comfort remembering the past than I do embracing the present and looking ahead to my future?  Isn’t it a waste of precious time to live in the past?
  2. unless our memories are not true. Our minds have a way of inflating the good while diminishing the reality of the ugliness that existed, too. The opposite can be true as well, and can be so destructive if all we remember is the bad. No past is all good, or all bad.

My dad loved being a dad. We five girls were his everything. That is, until we became teenagers, and then adults with minds of our own. That was hard for Dad. And I think he always longed to go back to the days when his little girls were still his little girls. I’m not saying we weren’t able to enjoy a good relationship with him once we got through those awkward teenage years. But I think he was always a bit disappointed we grew up. And I think that colored the relationships we had with him as adults.

Living in the past, whether real or imagined, is an act of futility. Life will never be the same as it was when we were kids. We can’t go back. Time marches on. And if I am honest, my past has been fun and blessed and amazing; but it has also been painful and lonely and hard. Would I really want to relive all of it?

Warren Wiersbe says this:

“The good old days are are often a combination of a bad memory and a good imagination.” (With The Word, Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; page 298)

Yep. That pretty much describes it, doesn’t it? But Wiresbe also said something that hit me this morning on page 297 of With The Word:

“The past must be more than a memory; it must be a ministry.”

I am thankful for the gift of memory, even though not all my memories make me happy. So, what am I doing with that gift of memory? Am I sitting on it in the privacy of my own home, wishing, longing, regretting, or obsessing? Or am I using my past experiences to help someone today, January 11, 2020? Am I remembering my blessings so to encourage others, my mistakes to challenge or to warn someone who needs a reality check?

The past is the past, there is no going back. But our past can also be a tool to be used on behalf of others, for their sakes and God’s glory. Let’s remember the good old, bad old days, and allow it to minister to someone who needs our wisdom and experience to help them along the way.

Flabbergasted (Job 21-23)

I feel bad for Job on many levels. He was a good man. He thought he was doing everything right, and like most, seems to have thought that following the rules should lead to blessings, or at least to the absence of trouble.

Now, after losing everything, he has no answers to his questions. God is silent. His friends are miserable counselors. Job really has nowhere to turn.

Do we know how blessed we are in this day and age? When hardship and loss hit us, when we have questions, God need never be silent. We have His Word right at the tips of our fingers. We have His answers, His counsel, His assurance, His direction any time we need it.

What Job wouldn’t have given for a glimpse at the Bible on your bookshelf.

Yet so often we don’t even pick it up when we have questions, when life gets hard and we don’t know where to turn. We might go to Dr. Phil. We might read any number of self-help books. We might even Google our questions.

I think Job would be flabbergasted at our squandering of the amazing gift we have in the very words of God, written and easily accessed any time, day or night. All the man longed for was to hear from God.

Don’t miss hearing from God today. Pick up your Bible. Whether you are in a difficult season of life, blessed out of your mind, or somewhere in between, pick up your Bible. God need not be silent today.

Eternally Important (Job 14:10-12)

I know there are people who believe in reincarnation. There are whole religions based on the hope they’ll do better at life next time so eventually they’ll reach that blissful nothingness, or euphoria they are working toward. I have a friend who firmly believes she lived during the time of Henry VIII. She didn’t. Do you know how I now she didn’t? Let’s look at what God has said in His Word about death.

Starting with Job. Job says, in chapter 14:10-12,

But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As water disappears from the sea, or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so man lies low and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, men will not awake or be roused from their sleep. (emphasis mine)

Job knew that when a person dies, he is dead. We know there will be a day when life on planet Earth is no more, when the heavens will be no more and Christ returns to take His children home. I don’t see anything to indicate a second or third life on earth in what Job says here. But he’s not the only one with a word on the subject.

The Apostle Paul said this:

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8, emphasis mine).

Paul has no doubt. Death ushers the soul into the presence of God.

The writer of Hebrews tells us:

Just as a man is appointed to die once, and after that to face judgment… (9:27, emphasis mine).

We get one go ’round in this life. Just one.

And maybe the most important fact concerning this topic is what Jesus Himself said to the thief while both men faced death on the cross:

Today you will be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43, emphasis mine).

Now, some might argue that the thief had lived his best life after several tries, and therefore had earned his Nirvana. Umm… he was a thief. Is that the best he could do? I wonder what he was like in a previous life.

Why is this topic important? It’s eternally important. The fact is, you can’t earn heaven, no matter how many times you think you have to try. You can never be good enough, give enough, or bring yourself to a place of perfection.

You are a sinner. And the God of Creation tells us your sin has earned you one thing only:

Death.

But the God of Creation also tells you there is a way to escape that death, the eternal separation from Him. You have got to go through the blood of Jesus. That’s it. That is the only way.

And you have these few measly years on this planet to choose Jesus. Don’t wait. Don’t assume you’ll do better next time.

There is no next time. Only now. You may have  just today before life on this earth is over for you. Are you ready to face the God of Creation? I pray so.

Funeral Arrangements (Job 1-5)

I’ve never known anyone who suffered the same devastating losses Job did in one day. I certainly haven’t come close to that magnitude of loss. But I have experienced loss. And so have you. And there is something we can learn from Job’s example.

After hearing that his crops, livestock, and children were all suddenly gone, Job affirmed his trust in God. Most of us are familiar with Job’s response to this great loss. He said, “I came into this world with nothing, and I’ll leave here with nothing. Everything I’ve ever had was given to me by God, and it’s up to Him whether I keep them or not. May the name of the Lord be…

praised!”

Really? Not questioned? Not accused or discarded? Not shaken a fist at or maligned?

The Bible tells us that in all his losses, Job didn’t sin by charging God with doing anything wrong. Later, in 2:10, Job even says: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job didn’t sin by anything he said, even when most of us would say we’d understand if he had.

Are you experiencing loss? Maybe not even a recent loss, but a loss from your past that has kept you at arms length from God? I pray you will read what God would say to you today through these chapters in His Word.

I think Job’s example tells us to go ahead and mourn. Tear your clothes, shave your head, or scrape your skin with broken pottery (figuratively, of course). But in that period of mourning don’t sin, don’t make matters worse by cursing God when all He wants is to be your comfort and strength. Job praised God in the depths of deep pain and suffering. We can praise God in the depths of ours.

I want to share something I heard yesterday at the funeral of a young woman whose life was cut short as suddenly as Job’s children’s lives were cut short that awful day. One of the pastors, this woman’s cousin, reminded us that her death came at no surprise to God. And he assured us that God welcomed that precious woman home the moment her spirit left her physical body. We can trust God even in our mourning and through the “what ifs.”

We mourn. She rejoices. We weep. She sings. We are paralyzed with grief. She is dancing before the Lord. And she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

One day, because this girl at the age of six made her funeral arrangements by accepting Jesus as her Savior, we will see her again if we have made the same confession, accepted the same forgiveness for our sin, and placed our funeral arrangements in the hands of God. Death has no power over those of us who know the Savior.

That’s not wishful thinking. That’s not some fairytale made up by weak people to get us through hard times. It’s a fact. You and I will both die one day. We came into this world with nothing, and we’ll leave here the same way.

Except for one thing. I’m leaving here with a robe of righteousness placed on me by Jesus. I’m leaving here with confidence that my sins are forgiven by the precious blood of my Savior. My funeral arrangements are made. And when I leave this life, I’m going to go live with Jesus. Forever.

I’d like you to come with me.

Unequally Yoked (Genesis 4-6)

I was talking to my sister the other day about these very verses. Who were the “sons of God,” and the “daughters of men,” anyway? So today I did some digging.

There seems to be two schools of thought on this. One is that the sons of God were angels (some think demons, although not sure why anyone would think a demon would be called a son of God) who had sex with humans. The other is that the sons of God referred to the line of Adam’s son Seth, those who followed God. The daughters of men were from the line of Cain, who did not follow God.

Matthew Henry (Commentary on the Whole Bible in One Volume; 1961; Zondervan Publishing House; page 16) takes the second viewpoint without giving a thought to the angel idea. R.C. Sproul, Jr. (ligonier.org; Who Are the Sons of God and Daughters of Men in Genesis 6:1-5?) addresses both views but ends up agreeing with Henry’s interpretation. With good reason, I think.

First, Sproul points out angels are spirits without flesh and blood bodies. They can’t morph themselves into human form.

Now, there are times in the Bible where we see God sending angels looking like humans to perform some task, but never to have sex with a human. And looking like a human doesn’t make an angel human nor does it suggest their bodily functions would be human-like. The idea of an angel having sex with a woman has no foundation.

Second, Sproul reminds us these verses in chapter 6 come after the account of two groups of people alive at the time; those who followed God, and those who did not.

In chapter 4 we read about the line of Cain, who killed his brother Abel, and whose claim to fame was building a big city he named after one of his sons. His line also is recorded to have yet another murderer in its midst. This group of people seem to be more concerned with “number one” than with obeying God. In fact, there is no indication that following God was on any of their minds at the time.

Then in chapter 5 we read about the line of Seth, the son born to Adam and Eve after their son Abel was murdered. In this account we read about Enoch who walked with God, and Lamech who said that son Noah would save the people from the Lord’s curse. Seth’s line contains people who followed God.

Even though we see chapter 6 as a division point, remember the Bible wasn’t written in chapters and verses. The account of the sons of God and daughters of men immediately follow the genealogies of Cain and Seth. We see believers, sons of God through Seth, marrying daughters of men, daughters through Cain, simply because they were pretty. 

Unequally yoked with unbelievers.

That is a recipe for disaster. In fact, by chapter 6 in Genesis, sin is so rampant God is going to destroy the world.

I believe this account in God’s Word isn’t here to suggest some super-human race existed because of the sin of angels and women. I believe this account is here to remind us the consequences of sin, the seriousness of being linked to non-believers.

I think that is what God would have me hear today. We are to go into all the world, be all things to all men in order to win some. But we must never, NEVER, compromise on sin. We must never deviate from the holiness God demands of us. And we must never marry, or go into business with, or attach ourselves to non-believers in any way.

Matthew Henry says this: “The bad will sooner debauch the good than the good reform the bad.” I believe that’s the lesson here today.