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Friday, January 29, 2010

The Dark Night

Week Five readings are listed at the end of this post.

Job 35:1 thru Job 37:24

It's Friday!  And it is the last day we hear from Job's friends.  Over our weekend we will hear from God. Job has been asking many questions and he is about to get his answers.

We all have them, questions that is, when we go through the midnight of life filled nights of sorrow, nights of persecution, nights of doubt, nights of bewilderment, nights of anxiety, nights of oppression, and nights of ignorance.

Today I want us to focus in on one verse from our reading.

Job 25:9-10 says, People cry out when they are oppressed.  They groan beneath the power of the mighty.  Yet they don't ask, 'Where is God my Creator, the one who gives songs in the night?...'

It is Well with My Soul is one of the most famous hymns of all time.  But most people are not aware of the circumstances surrounding its origin. 

The hymn was written by a Chicago lawyer, Horatio G. Spafford and you might think to write a worship song titled, It is Well with My Soul, you would indeed have to be a rich, successful Chicago lawyer.  On the contrary, they came from a man who had suffered almost unimaginable personal tragedy.

Horatio G. Spafford and his wife, Anna, were pretty well-known in 1860’s Chicago. And this was not just because of Horatio's legal career and business endeavors. The Spaffords were also prominent supporters and close friends of Evangelist D.L. Moody.

In 1870, however, things started to go wrong. The Spaffords' only son died of scarlet fever at the age of four. A year later, in 1871, every one of Spafford's real estate holdings was wiped out by the great Chicago Fire.

Aware of the toll that these disasters had taken on the family, Horatio decided to take his wife and four daughters on a holiday to England. And, not only did they need the rest, D.L. Moody needed the help. He was traveling around Britain on one of his great evangelistic campaigns.

Horatio and Anna planned to join Moody in late 1873. And so, the Spaffords traveled to New York in November, from where they were to catch the French steamer Ville de Havre across the Atlantic. Yet just before they set sail, a last-minute business development forced Horatio to delay.

Not wanting to ruin the family holiday, Spafford persuaded his family to go as planned. He would follow on later. With this decided, Anna and her four daughters sailed east to Europe while Spafford returned west to Chicago.

Just nine days later, Spafford received a telegram from his wife in Wales. It read:

Saved alone.

On November 2nd 1873, the Ville de Havre sank in only 12 minutes, claiming the lives of 226 people. Anna Spafford had stood bravely on the deck, with her daughters Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta clinging desperately to her. Her last memory had been of her baby being torn violently from her arms by the force of the waters.

Anna was only saved from the fate of her daughters by a plank which floated beneath her unconscious body and propped her up. When the survivors of the wreck had been rescued, Mrs. Spafford's first reaction was one of complete despair.

Upon hearing the terrible news, Horatio Spafford boarded the next ship out of New York to join his bereaved wife.

Bertha Spafford (the fifth daughter of Horatio and Anna born later) explained that during her father's voyage, the captain of the ship had called him to the bridge. A careful reckoning has been made, he said, and I believe we are now passing the place where the de Havre was wrecked. The water is three miles deep.

Horatio then returned to his cabin and penned the lyrics of his great hymn.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

The sweetest songs often come from nights of affliction. 

Anybody can praise God when times are good.  Spafford's song reveals a man whose trust in the Lord is as unwavering.

It would be very difficult for any of us to predict how we would react under circumstances similar to those experienced by the Spaffords. But we do know that the God who sustained them in the night will also be with us.

The Spaffords went on the have more children and moved to Jerusalem and helped found a group called the American Colony whose mission was to serve the poor. The colony later became the subject of the Nobel prize winning book, Jerusalem, by Swedish novelist Selma Lagerlöf.

God's unfailing love enables us to be masters of our circumstances and not victims and the Spaffords' refusal to give up on God and life is an inspiration to us all. 

I love what Jennifer Rothschild remarked upon learning she was losing her eye sight at age 15.  She said, It is well with my soul, even when it is not well with my circumstance.

Job has been a victim of his circumstances for quite some time now. God is about to turn it all around.

In his dark night, Job is about to emerge with a song.

Week 5 Readings

January 29
Job 35:1 thru 37:24

January 30
Job 38:1 thru 40:5

January 31
Job 40:6 thru Job 42:17

February 1
Exodus 1:1 thru 2:25
1 Chronicles 6:1-3a
Exodus 3:1 thru 4:17

February 2
Exodus 4:18 thru 7:13

February 3
Exodus 7:14 thru 9:35

February 4
Exodus 10:1 thru 12:51

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Friends to the End

Job 32:1 thru Job 34:37

We had a new character step forward today that we did not even know was there and listening to Job and his friends banter.

Elihu is young but wise beyond his years.  I kind of like this new dude.  One reason is because I feel he is the only one who was really listening to Job's words and heart because he is the only one who quotes Job verbatim. 

Elihu gives insight in chapters 32 and 33 illustrating through three examples what is the 'meaning' if Job's suffering.

Job 33:14 he says, For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it.  Then he illustrates three ways that God may speak to a person and to Job.

#1 Through dreams and visions (Job 33:15).  Job thought that the dreams he had in the night were examples of divine torment (7:14).  Now Elihu is gently suggesting they may be the occasion of God's talking to Job.

#2 Through the chastening of sickness (Job 33:19-22).  Job lamented his suffering, feeling that it was an example of how God 'hated' him (16:9).  We know that was not the case.

#3 Through the voices of a mediator or a friend (Job 33:23-25).

Elihu's major point here in chapter 33 is that God may be trying to get Job's attention through his current condition.

We are seeing how Elihu is intelligently interpreting Job's dilemma in a way that will ultimately lead Job to see things differently.

Job has been viewing his suffering as punishment but God is trying to get his attention through all three of these points and Job is still not getting that.

How many times has God tried to speak to us through our stuff to teach us, stretch us and mature us but we were so tuned into our situation that we tuned God out?

We end our reading today with Elihu telling Job, ...you speak angry words against God.

God is the one who is for Job and yet Job is speaking against God.  Elihu tells Job he is speaking out of ignorance and his words lacked insight (34:35).

Job has had so many voices speaking to him that he cannot hear the voice of God.  Elihu is a voice of reason.  I need friends like that.

You need a friend like that; people who do not just tell you what you want to hear but what you need to hear.

I want to give you a way to know if someone is a true friend in your life or not.  Ask yourself this question, Am I a better person because of their presence in my life?

Better yet, is someone else a better person because of your presence in their life?  Just food for thought for us.

So in closing today I really want to us to learn to view our troubles in life a little differently.  Let's ask ourselves... What is God teaching me?  How is this making me a better person?  How can I use this time wisely? 

Sometimes what we think is punishment from God is actually His protection, correction and stretching.  And when our perspectives are correct, we can walk through anything.  And a little help from our friends goes a long way.

So let's allow our prayers today be to hear God's voice through my friends, my dreams and even my sicknesses.

See ya tomorrow friend,

p.s. Yesterday I ended the post saying Friday we will hear from God.  Well, actually we have one more day with Elihu first.  So I am correcting myself.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Job's Final Speech

Job 30:1 thru 31:40

Today was Job's final speech before God comes on the scene.  Well, actually, God has always been on the scene listening in and Job is about to find that out.  I can't wait for us to get there.  It's like the great climax of a movie that you know is about to happen and you wish it would hurry up and get to the good part.

Did you notice Job is still focused on himself?  He shares one last time how horrific his suffering is and then he gives his final protest of innocence; forty verses full of declaring how he has been just, fair, giving, honest, and trusting throughout his life.

In Job 31:4 he says, Doesn't he see everything I do and every step I take?

It's as if he is saying, God, haven't you seen everything I have done?  You know that I do right by everyone.  I am a good person.  I have done nothing deserving of this suffering.

Tina Johns Translation: If you were a fair God, I would not be going through this because I did nothing deserving of this.

My theology may be off here and I may be putting words in Job's mouth but that is not my intention.  This is just what I am gleaning from our verses today.

With that said, I want to agree.  God is not a fair God.  If God was fair and we all got what we deserved, we would have to pay the price for our own redemption. 

But thankfully, Mercy and Grace came down for me and for you.

But God's mercy is great, and he loved us very much. Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God's grace.  Ephesians 2:4-5

I am saved not because I have performed good deeds.  I am nothing.  And my works are worthless.  I could never do enough for God to pay the price for my sin and shame.

Let's read on...

You have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8

We struggle with just accepting this gift so much because all throughout our lives we were rewarded for doing good.  We got stars in kindergarten for learning our ABC's.  We got money or ice cream from our parents when we brought home A's and B's in middle school.  When we studied hard and furthered our education we got rewarded with great jobs.  And on our jobs when we excel we get rewarded with a promotion.

In life our success all boils down to how hard we work.  But with God that's not the case.

The next verse in Ephesians says,

It was not the result of your own efforts... Verse 9

So it does not matter how good we are or are not, we will never be able to earn His favor, grace or love.  You cannot earn what has already been given.

So God's unfairness can be explained like this...

It's like going to kindergarten and getting stars on your first day before you learn anything.

Or getting ice cream and money before coming home with your report card.

Or getting a job you don't have the education for and a promotion you never worked for.

No, God is not fair and for that I am eternally grateful.

It does not matter how good or bad my works are I still get the greatest of gifts, eternal life and salvation.

And because I have those gifts, it makes me want to do everything in my power to work as hard for the Lord as I can.  Not to be deserving of the gifts I have, but to be a good steward over them.

On Friday Job is going to get God's take on all this.  He has listened in long enough and if Job feels humbled now, he better hold on.  He's about to be called into the principal's office.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Those Were the Days

Job 26:1 thru 29:25

I had one of those, Well, back in my day, conversations with my daughter a few months ago where I was explaining that when I was her age there was no internet, cell phones or instant messaging. 

Her response, How did you survive?

Survive I did.  As a matter of fact, looking back I see where life was so much simpler as I am sure my parent's teen years were as well compared to mine.

Job did some looking back today too.  But not only did he look back at the years gone by, he was longing for those years. (Job 29:2)

He said in verse 7, Those were the days.

Some of us have a painful past and our conversations are consumed with occurrences from 10 years ago. 

On the other hand, some of us have a past reminiscent of Job's, filled with prosperity, life and hope and today our conversations are consumed with longing to go back to our Those were the days days.

Like the days before my kids, my husband and when my responsibility level was so great.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my present, but my present gets dictated by job, cooking, cleaning, tending to the hubs and an 18 and 16 year old who know it all. 

But back in the day, my money I earned went to me.  If I wanted to go do something there was no census that had to be taken with a majority rule.  I was the majority.

If we look at Job's speech in chapter 29 we see him getting a little self-focused as I was at 17.

From verse 2 through 25 he uses the word 'I' 16 times, 'me' 9 times and 'my' 7 times.  He was thinking only of himself with no knowledge of what was going on in the heavens.  He had no idea what God was planning for him.  He was just self absorbed thinking only of his great past that is no longer in existence.

But you know, life is not all about us.  It is not all about whether or not I get to spend my money on me, or going where I want to go for dinner.

When we are so focused on ourselves we forget where our focus should be and that is on God.

Now I have to say, Job has lost almost everything; his sons and daughters, his livestock, his homes, and his health so if I were him I'm certain I too would be longing for the past.

And today if you find yourself in the same boat with Job sailing through the stormy seas of life I have a great scripture for you...

But forget the past and do not dwell on it, it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.  Isaiah 43:18-19

Job has no idea God is about to do a new and great thing for him.  He could not perceive it.  And sometimes we cannot perceive it either. 

But when we can't perceive it, that's when we just have to believe it.

You have no idea what is going on up in the heavens on your behalf.   But God is getting ready to do a new thing in you and for you.  And if you can't perceive it, just believe it.

You will never move into your future until you are willing to walk away from your past, whether it was good or bad. 

Job is reliving the greatness of days gone by.  In order for him to move forward he will have to quit looking back and look to where he is going.

Mike Murdock says it like this, Start using your imagination instead of your memories.

Job's past was good. 

His present is bad. 

But his future is going to be great.

And like Job, our eye's, or should I say I's, have to be focused on God or we will not be able to see our new thing.

Oh I don't want to miss not one thing God is going to do for me. 

How about you?

Monday, January 25, 2010

God Sees Your Future

Job 22:1 thru 25:6

We are in the home stretch with Job and his friends so don't give up your reading just yet.  I sure would hate for you to miss how this all ends.

Did you catch in today's reading where Job said, I go east, but he (God) is not there.  I go west, but I cannot find him.  I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden.  I look to the south, but he is concealed. (23:8-9)?

It so ministers to me to know that although Job is going through the most difficult and trying time of his life he is still searching for God with all his might. 

So many times I have seen when people need God the most it is at that moment they make the tragic decision to walk away from Him.  They feel it is easier to give up on God than to go through their hardships with God.  

But not Job.

Although he cannot find God, read what he says in the next verse (10), But he knows where I am going

Oh Job gets it.  

Even though I may not know where God is in this dark hour of my life, God knows right where I am.  He is El Roi, the God who sees.  Remember, we learned that in Genesis when Hagar ran away from home and was lost physically, emotionally and spiritually.

God saw her and... 

God saw Job and...

God sees you.

Never give up on Him because He will never give up on you.  Even though we may not see Him, we can trust Him.

Job said he knows not just where I am, but where I am going.  God knew Job's future and more important, Job knew God knew his future. 

And because we know the rest of the story, we too know Job's future and it is looking pretty bright. 

Job did not have Jeremiah 29:11 to connect his faith too but we do.

For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord. 
They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

No matter what your present is, God has a future for you that is pretty amazing.

One final thing that Job said makes we want to stand in my chair and shout is in verse 14 of the same chapter.  Job said, He controls my destiny.

There is a song that is probably one of my most favorite, In Christ Alone.  In this song is a line that is so powerful to me and if I could tattoo my life with anything it would be these words...

Jesus commands my destiny.

Here are a couple definitions of the word command- to have or exercise authority or control over; be master of; to direct with specific authority or prerogative.

If Jesus alone has authority, control and is the master of my future and destiny, then trust me, he will always know where I am, and will command where I am going. 

He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

And He will never leave nor forsake you either so hang on and don't give up just yet. 

Blessing beyond measure is on the way for you, and for Job too. 

See you back here tomorrow,


Friday, January 22, 2010

Who Am I

Week Four's readings are listed at the end of this post.

Job 12:1 thru 14:22

I pray you are hanging in there with me. We have a few more days of the bantering back in forth with Job and his friends who mean well.  So keep going my friends, we are going to come out on the other side, and so is Job.

Whereas I had tons of nuggets from yesterday that leaped off the pages, today I had to dig for them.

But there was one verse that really made me cringe when I read it and that was Job 12:5...

People who are at ease mock those in trouble. They give a push to people who are stumbling.

My heart ached at the thought of this and I wrote in my Bible, Please don’t let that ever be said of me.

We are in a series at Christ Central Alachua called Quest and each Sunday my husband is taking our vision, Love God, Love People and Serve Others, and teaching what each of these mean and how we here at CCA are going to flesh it out.

Last week was Love People and Mark shared the story of the Good Samaritan which most people in the church world are very familiar with.

A lawyer is questioning Jesus as to how to enter heaven. Jesus answers, You know the law, what you do think? The lawyer responds, You have to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus tells him he has answered correctly.

Just so the lawyer is clear as to who he has to love and who he does not have to love he asks Jesus, Well, who is my neighbor then?

Jesus shares the story of a Jew who was beaten, robbed and left for dead on the side of the road. A Levite passes him by, a Priest passes him by, but the least likely of persons is the one who stops, a Samaritan.

This is shocking to everyone listening because the Jews hated the Samaritans and the Samaritans hated the Jews. And yet it is the Samaritan who helps save the life of this person who hates him so vehemently.

So Jesus turns it on the lawyer and asks him not who was neighbor of the man beaten up on the side of the road. But asks him, Which of the three men passing by are YOU?

What matters is not who they are but who we are and when our hearts are right, we will see everyone as our neighbor.

But there is a fourth character in the story; the man beaten and left for dead on the side of the road.  And that is who we all were before we were ever someone’s neighbor or friend.

Therefore when we see someone in need we should be compelled by compassion to help them, not hurt them; to pray for them, not push them when they are already on their way down.

We must never forget where we came from or should I say, where God brought us from.

I love what Jude says, And some have compassion, making a difference.

So, today a good question for us to ask ourselves is not, Who is my neighbor?  But rather, Who am I? 

May I never forget that you were my Good Samaritan.  You were the one who reached down to me.  Fill me with compassion so that I may reach to others and make a difference in their life today.

Week Four Readings
January 23
Job 15:1 thru 18:21
January 24
Job 19:1 thru 21:34
January 25
Job 22:1 thru 25:6
January 26
Job 26:1 thru 29:25
January 27
Job 30:1 thru 31:40
January 28
Job 32:1 thru 34:37
January 29
Job 35:1 thru 37:24

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Get By With a Little Hope from My Friends

Job 8:11 thru Job 11:20

Life humors me sometimes. Yesterday I wrote about sleepless nights and guess what? I had a very sleepless night. Tossin’ and Turnin’ was an understatement.

Even though I may write these blogs and they may just really hit home and minister to you, they are ministering to me too because I needed to read and take heed to the words I wrote yesterday. I am thankful that God knows what we need even before we know we need it.

Any ole’ who, let’s get to today’s reading why don’t we.

I hope there were many things that just leaped off the pages to you as they did me. I did a lot of underlining and writing in my notebook today.

I want us to look at and contrast the words of Job’s friends Bildad and Zophar today.

Here are some of the words of Bildad in Job 8 starting in verse 11.

Can papyrus reeds grow tall without a marsh? Can marsh grass flourish without water? While they are still flowering, not ready to be cut, they begin to wither more quickly than grass.

The same happens to all who forget God.

I am always forgetting things. If I don’t write something down, I will not remember it. But the things I do remember are things that are important to me. I don’t ever forget when my house payment is due, or that February 6th is my birthday (hint, hint LOL).

So the fact that people forget God says that somehow He no longer was important to them. That breaks my heart and I am sure I crushes our Daddy’s heart more.

The hopes of the godless evaporate.

I am struggling here because I want to dig out the word hope for you soooooo bad. Please, at some point take time to look up the word hope and study it out in the scriptures. Let me just say, Christ is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1) and those who forget God, lose Hope.

Picking up in verse 14…

Their confidence hangs by a thread. They are leaning on a spider’s web.

Those who forget God and lose hope have nothing strong to anchor their lives to. When one little issue arises they have nothing stable and strong to secure them.

They cling to their home for security, but it won’t last. They try to hold tight, but it will not endure.

Material things will not fill the void in our lives forever. Homes, cars, possessions are just hollow and empty.

The godless seem like a lush plant growing in the sunshine, its branches spreading across the garden. Its roots grow down through a pile of stones; it takes hold on a bed of rocks. But when it is uprooted, it’s as though it never existed!

The thought of leaving this earth and not leaving a mark, that is scary to me. I don’t ever want to have the look of God on my life. I don’t ever want to seem to have a relationship with God. The thought of that makes me want to lay my life before Him every day, every moment and say purge me out of me oh God so that only You remain.

Now, I want us to now look at Zophar’s response in Job 11 starting in verse 13.

If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer!

Remember, they are assuming Job has forgotten God and when Zophar is saying this to Job he is not being passive. He is trying to shake Job with his words.

Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you.

Then your face will brighten with innocence. You will be strong and free of fear.

I love If-Then statements in the Word of God.  I would love to dig that one out for you too but just remember, every action has consequences, good or bad. This action is a good action.

You will forget your misery; it will be like water flowing away.

Bildad spoke of what happens to those who forget God, but Zophar is speaking of what happens when we remember God; we forget our misery.

Your life will be brighter than the noonday. Even darkness will be as bright as morning.

Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and rest in safety.

Ah, here’s the word hope again. Having the Hope of Glory, Christ Jesus, will give you courage, protection and rest.

I am sitting here breathing that in. I need courage. I need protection. I need rest.

I need Jesus.

You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help.

Job is going through some stuff. I have a dear friend who went through some stuff too. She was so amazed how many women sought her out for advice and encouragement. She never announced, Ok, I survived this, come to me and I’ll help you survive too.

We all watched her go through her stuff with hope. And people want hope. And she gave them her Hope.

I pray today, that when we come through our stuff, that we will never forget God. But that our misery will be like water flowing away, and what we are left with, is...


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tossin' and Turnin'

Job 5:1 thru Job 7:21

Aren’t you beginning to feel the depth of the pain in Job’s life right now?

It is so consuming for him that in chapter 6 and verse 4 he says, Lying in bed , I think, ‘When will it be morning?’  But the night drags on, and I toss till dawn.

Have you ever had a night like that where your mind is just bombarded with questions, concerns, anger or worry; sleepless nights where you just pray for daylight to come?

That is where we see Job today but we are going to gain so many truths from his life and struggles.

After yesterday and today's readings I hope you are seeing that Job’s trial, and every trial of ours for that matter, has two purposes in operation: Satan has his purpose, and God has His.

Satan’s purpose here was to use the pain of Job’s illness to make him physically and mentally weak. Next, he wanted to use his friends to try and convince him he must have sinned and is deserving of his predicament. Lastly, he wants to use the silence of God to assault his spirit and to break his faith.

But God’s purposes are to teach Job some truths that he may have never learned otherwise, to deepen Job’s trust and faith in God and to provide a demonstration for all who suffer through the ages that God is in control of everything.

My friends, the purpose for suffering is not always punishment. The purpose for our trials is never because we are not deserving of God’s blessings and grace. Sometimes it’s to give us a more real experience of God, who He is and what He’s like. 

His purpose is to lead us to endurance, stronger faith and trust in Him.  And, when all is said and done, ALL will see that God, He is the Lord and He was... is... and will forever be in control of every situation in our life.

But there might be a few restless nights before then.

Don’t resist God.

Rest in God.

Job does not see this yet, but... God is in control. 

Sleep well tonight my friends,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Meet Our New Friend Job

Job 1:1 thru Job 4:21

We are turning a corner today.  Job is going to be our new friend for the next 13 days.  We are going to know a lot about him by the time we reach chapter 42 and verse 17.

But the first thing we learned today was that he was blameless.  How can that be because we know there was only one perfect person and his name was not Job?  And... he's not born for another couple thousand years.

When you study out the word blameless you will find out it means here that Job was a man of integrity, just as the rest of the verse stated.  (The word perfect is used in other translations as well.)  

So we see Job is an upright man.  A man that honored and reverenced God and stayed away from evil. 

Note, it did not say that evil never came to him, it said he stayed away from it.  It was a choice he made and it is a choice we have to make.

We also learned that Job was quite a wealthy man so I'm sure he had great influence in the land.  Why is that a big deal?  Because when he loses everything and everyone, but one nagging wife, the world was watching. 

People probably expected to see him blame God, curse God and walk away from his God.  But what did they see?  

Job worshipped.

Only someone who is close to God, trusts God, honors and loves God could do that in a time of such loss. 
I have seen a mother stand over her son moments after his tragic death and declare the greatness of God and worship the Lord.  It was something I will never forget.  Her relationship with God was real, authentic and everything to her.  She worshipped Him even in the midst of immence suffering.  What a testimony.

Also we see another character come on the scene toady and that is Satan, the Accuser.  The name is so fitting isn't it?  I really want to go there but I want to share something else with you. 

Satan, the Accuser comes to God and God says, Have you noticed my servant Job?  And God declares for the second of three times in our reading today, He is blameless- a man of complete integrity.  He fears God and stays away from evil.

Here is what I want to say as we end our precious time together. 

Are we living a life that would get the attention of God?  Would He have enough confidence in our lives to say, Have you considered my servant (insert your name)?

I know what just happened, the Accuser just hopped up on your shoulder and whispered, No.  No you are not good enough to get the attention of heaven.

And he's right.  We are not good enough and will never be good enough.  But Jesus was.  And His blood covers our sin and our shame and you and I overcome not because of who we are, but Whose we are.

I have read the back of the book and I don't want to give the ending away but I just have to...

Revelation 12:7-12

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,  but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.

So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Genesis

Genesis 47:28 thru Genesis 50:26

We have made it all the way through Genesis and today we lost two great characters of the Bible, two men who held a great steadfast belief in the God of Abraham.  I will miss Jacob and Joseph.

But one of the greatest scriptures we love to quote and hook our prayers to was in our reading today. 

Jacob is dead and the brothers are fearful that Joseph is now going to take his revenge on them.  After all this time, their past is still haunting them. 

Joseph reassures them all is forgiven and says in verse 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. 

Someone I follow on Twitter posted this today, Joseph's rejection drove him to his destiny.  What a revelation.  

His brothers rejected him, intended to harm him, but God turned it to good, for all of them.

Nobody likes rejection.  As a matter of fact that is why peer pressure has so much power.  We don't want to be the outcast so we become the conformist. 

There will be a point in everyone's life when rejection will come.  As hard as it can be, don't take it personally.  God may be pushing you into your destiny. 

Keep your head up.  Guard your heart, because you will have plenty of chances to become bitter.  And know, that if God is for you, it does not matter who is against you.

Joseph had a choice, forgive or take revenge.  The future of the nation of Israel was literally in his hands.  

There may come a day when someone comes to you and apologizes.  Their future may be in your hands and if you have grown bitter and stayed angry, reconciliation will not be possible.

I want to leave you with this... Did you notice in verse 25 that Joseph said, When God comes to help you and lead you back...?

The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,  and (insert your name here) is not an If God but a When God!

So don't worry about your rejection, heartbreaks and disappointments because when God comes he will help lead you into your destiny, and it will all turn for your good!!

Which we are about to see in the life of Job starting tomorrow.

Happy Monday,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Doing Time

Week Three's readings are listed at end of this post.

Genesis 40:1-23, Genesis 35:28-29, Genesis 41:1-57

In today's readings we see the Dreamer became the Interpreter.  But I want to go back to some of the last verses from yesterday. 

Genesis 39:21 says But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him His faithful love.

This week has been heartbreaking for me for two reasons.  

First, the devastation coming out of Haiti is just horrific.  There is nothing we can do tangibly, but we can support them with our prayers and monetary efforts.

Second, I have had a couple of very close friends go through some of the most difficult dark days.  There is nothing I can do but pray for them and love them.  And I have.

When I look at the situation with the people of Haiti and my two friends I see that they are not of their making.  Nothing they have done warrants their situations. 

Sometimes, even when you do all things right, you will find yourself in a prison.

Which is why I want to go back to yesterday's reading... 

But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him His faithful love.

When in the prisons of life people ask Where is God now?  Where is God in Haiti?  Where is God in my hardship?

I am happy to report God is on the ground in Haiti.  He is there in the form of doctors, nurses, missionaries, the Red Cross, World Vision.  Oh yeah, God IS there.

And in my friends' lives, and in your life?  God is there too.

There is one point I want to make today and that is this, Don't waste your time while in the prison. 

We saw today that Joseph didn't.  How easy it could have been to host his own pity party.  After all, he is doing time for doing the right thing.

But instead he chooses to work hard and is faithful to those over him and favor finds him... even in the deep dark prison.

I love how Joseph handles himself with integrity and does not waste his time while doing his time.

If you find yourself in any kind of prison today, use your time wisely.   Refuse to be a victim of your circumstances. 

Today we also saw that the baker and the cup-bearer forgot Joseph.

When others forget you God is always with you.

The people of Egypt did not even know who Joseph was until Pharaoh put him in charge of everything.  He who was once nameless is now famous.

Joseph was faithful with little and now, he is ruler over everything.  That is just what God can do. 

He can take you from a prison to a palace in an instant.  But I believe the key was Joseph's honesty, faithfulness, and integrity while doing his time.  

AND I believe if you do the same things too, you who were faithful with little will become rulers over so much more.

Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord!
Matthew 25:23

Week Three
January 15
Genesis 40:1-23, Genesis 35:28-20, Genesis 41:1-57

January 16
Genesis 42:1 thru 45:15

January 17
Genesis 45:16 thru 47:27

January 18
Genesis 47:28 thru 50:26

January 19
Job 1:1 thru 4:21

January 20
Job 5:1 thru 7:21

January 21
Job 8:1 thru 11:20

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Deceit, Disaster and Disillusionment

Genesis 37:1 thru 38:30, 1 Chronicles 2:3-6, 8 & Genesis 39:1-23

Today was so much easier, wasn’t it?

Where I wondered what to write yesterday, today I wondered what not to write. There are so many great lessons to learn from these couple of chapters.

I love to study the life of Joseph. He is a picture of Christ, our redeemer. Like I said, I am struggling with what not to write because we could stay on these verses of scripture, digging out truths until the cows come home, or sheep in Joseph’s case.

I may come back to Joseph a little later. But one of his brother’s is where I want to focus today.

Did you notice how quickly Judah ran away?  We seem to have a lot of runners in this family don't we?

I am sure watching the pain of his father day after day only reminded him of all they had done to Joseph. Jealousy is so deadly in more ways than one.

So Judah leaves home, marries and has three boys and what did it say about them?

The first one, Er was wicked and because of that dies.

The second, Onan was selfish, and dies. He was not about to have a child with Tamar so Er’s name could live on. Not to mention with Er gone, Onan would get his portion of the inheritance too.

Judah left home hoping to find peace, hoping to leave his past and heartache behind. But sadly, his life was only more wrenched with pain.

With only one son left he sends Tamar back to her father’s with no intention of giving his third son to her. That was the worst thing that could have ever happened to a woman. Her value and future was wrapped up in her ability to marry and give birth to sons.

So we see her with no future and no hope. She devises a plan to get Judah to sleep with her. He does. She’s pregnant. He finds out. And what a great convenience it was for Judah. Now Tamar has committed a crime. She will be stoned. He will be free from his obligation to her.

So he thinks.

Did you notice that when his staff, seal and cord were brought to him he was asked Whose are these?   (God never condemns us, only confronts us.)

This was a crossroad for Judah. He could have answered with a lie about his wrong doing and in essence ran away and tried to hide, again. Or he could face the truth of his sins for the first time, in a long time.

Proverbs 28:13 says People who cover their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy.

We see that both Tamar and Judah found forgiveness and mercy that day. And God is going to work a great purpose through both of their lives; things that they could have never imagined.

Not only does Tamar give birth to one son, but two sons.

God is the only one who can bring blessing from deceit, disaster and disillusionment.

God took what was meant for evil and turned it not only for Judah and Tamar’s good, but your good and my good too. 

I know you may be tired of reading about descendants.  But humor me with these three verses.

Matthew Chapter 1

1 This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham:

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Judah and his brothers.

3 Judah was the father Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar.)

From Tamar and Judah’s one-day-stand would come the Promised One, God’s anointed, the Messiah.

The Loin of the Tribe of Judah!!

So, don't ever think your sin is so great that greatness can't come from you. God, the Holy of of Israel, is waiting on us to just confess our sin so He can take what was once a disaster and turn it for our good too. 

See ya tomorrow,

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Lineage of Grace

Genesis 36:1-19, 1 Chronicles 1:35-37, Genesis 36:20-30, 1 Chronicles 1:38-42, Genesis 36:31-34, 1 Chronicles 1:43 thru 2:2

Wow. Today’s reading was a little tough.

We read about some descendants. And then we read about some more.

After I finished our reading I went to find a study Bible to see if it had a little nugget I could share with you regarding all of Esau's descendants.

I did not find the Bible I went looking for, but I did find something else. My grandmother’s Bible.

As I opened it up I saw where she had recorded all of my ancestors, the dates they were born, and the places they lived.

It was my family tree. My ancestors. My history.

I am so blessed to have a Godly heritage. I know not everyone does. But my grandmother was truly a woman in love with her God. She talked it and she walked it, so much so that when I was 11 years old I was moved to ask for her Bible when she passed away. It was the Word… her Word she lived her life by.

October 30, 2006 she went home to be with Jesus. A few months before she left us, she called me into her room and reached down and picked up her Bible and gave it to me.

I remember it like it was yesterday. She was so happy to finally pass it on to me.

I opened it and read these words that were penned by her on November 18, 1984; the day I shared with her I wanted her Bible.


Always live just as the words in this precious book says. And be sure to meet me in Heaven.


I miss Ma. I miss hearing her yell Whoopie!! when her beloved Braves hit a home run.

But mostly, I miss hearing her bring every one of her family members every night to the throne room in prayer. What Godly woman. What a heritage.

You too are blessed if you have parents, grandparents and great grandparents who passed on the love of their God.

But if you don’t, then YOU can be that voice for your family. You can start today and leave a lineage of grace for your descendants. And they too will point back and remember how you were a woman, or man, who was in love with their God.

p.s. Does anyone have a Kleenex?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

What's in a Name

Genesis 32:1 thru 35:55

As Jacob started on his way again, angels of God came to meet him.  Genesis 32:1

I loved that our reading today started with this verse.  Anytime God instructs us to leave one place and sojourn to another, we will never take the journey alone.  Psalm 34:7 says, For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.  And Jacob was definitely about to need some surrounding and defending.

He fled his home and family 20 years earlier because he deceived his father for his brother Esau's blessing.  I can just imagine that every day since Jacob dreamed of returning home. Dreamed of seeing his parents again.  But each time his dream would turn into a nightmare when he pictured Esau's face.

Jacob's conscience, on more than one occasion, probably awakened all the wrongs he committed in his past... the past he ran away from.

And now... he's coming home.

Every step was a step closer to uncertainty.  Was Esau still angry?  Did he still want revenge?

Jacob sends messengers ahead to inform Esau of his return hoping that Esau would be friendly to him.

After the messengers return to Jacob they said We met your brother and he is already on the way to meet you... and he is bringing 400 men with him!

Now if you were going out to meet someone and took 400 men with you, it's not going to end well for somebody.  And that is exactly what Jacob knew. It is at this point Jacob does what he should have done first. 


But not just a now-I-lay-me-down-to-sleep prayer.  Oh, no. It was a please-rescue-me-from-the-hand-of -my-brother-because-if-you-don't-God,-he-is-about-to-kill-me prayer!

Even though Jacob knew he was told by God to go home (Gen 31:3) and he knew the angel of the Lord was with him (Gen 32:1) he still panicked.

But this was a good thing.  How?  Because Jacob, the great schemer and deceiver, was about to realize that in order to truly win in life, you first must lose.

Everyone wants great victories in life.  But very few people want it badly enough to endure the discipline and struggle that a victorious life requires.

And here is the first step: Recognize who you really are.

In verse 22 it says that Jacob got up during the night.  (I am sure that sleep was eluding him.)  He sends his family and all his possessions to the other side of the Jabbok River.

And now Jacob is alone.  

Sometimes you have to get by yourself to really see yourself.

God comes and wrestles with him all night and He asks Jacob What is your name?   God knew what Jacob's name was but He wanted Jacob to know his name.  So he answered Jacob is who I am. In other words, I am a  deceiver.

God says yes that is who you WERE but you are no longer Jacob, a deceiver.  From now own you will be called Israel, one who strives with God.

Jacob's name no longer defined his past.  It now defined his future.

So many times we let our past define us.  But when we come to Christ, although it may not result in a name change here*, our future is now defined by the cross.  So my name still is Tina today.  But you could say it is now Tina the Forgiven, or Tina the Redeemed.  I actually kinda like that.  Wonder if the bank would send my checks back if I started signing with my 'new name'?  

Just kidding.  Sorry, back to today's reading.

Before... Jacob was a self-reliant man.  Now... he was God's man.

After that night Jacob had a permanent limp.  God touched his hip, and wrenched it out of socket forever crippling him from that night on.  There are so many lessons in just that one point, but one thing I want to leave you with is this...

The result of this spiritual crisis in Jacob's life was obvious to all who observed him for the rest of his life.  It literally resulted in a change in his walk.

When God touches us, it should forever change our walk and anyone who gazes on our life should always be able to notice... That is a person who has been truly touched by God.  

Happy reading,


*Revelation 2:17 says To him who overcomes... I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lessons from Laban

If you are new to this blog, we are reading through the Bible this year.  The last few posts, including this one, are regarding that day's readings.

Genesis 30:25 thru Genesis 31:55

Wow did we have a roller coaster ride this weekend. 

So much happened over Saturday and Sunday...

*Esau sold his birthright because he was hungry.  Man our stomachs can get us into trouble can't they?

*Isaac lies about Rebekah being his sister.  Like father, like son.

*Jacob deceives his own father and steals Esau's blessings. There was so much regarding that one.  I'll just say one thing on this and move on.  Abraham made a decision based on what he felt instead of what his head was telling him.  If something in your life 'feels' wrong, most likely it is wrong. 

Moving on.

*After Isaac blesses Jacob instead of Esau, Jacob flees for his life. 

*He goes to his Uncle Laban's where he works for him for the next 20 years.  There he marries Labans two daughters, Leah and Rachel and has many children.  And all the complexities that go along with marrying two sisters... well there just isn't enough space on this computer screen to go there.

So... (taking a breath) we land on today's reading. 

Poor Jacob.  He had worked so hard building another man's wealth.  He is soooooo ready to get out on his own.  It was just time for him to move on.

Have you ever been there?  Have you ever had to make a tough decision to leave comfort and security? 

You see, it was all good for Jacob for a while, but things started to shift.  Laban's sons were grumbling about Jacob and even Jacob could sense Laban's attitude toward him changing (Genesis 31:1-2).

So Jacob packs everyone up and sneaks away.  When Laban discovers this he pursues him.

God stepped in though and warns Laban to not harm Jacob. And we see them make a treaty to live in peace.  Laban made a wise decision, wouldn't you agree?

We can learn from Laban.

Lesson: We need to live in peace with our family, friends and enemies to the best of our ability. 

But there are those times you will just have to leave it all behind, draw a line, walk away and move on.  That can be tough.  But if you remain where you are not suppose to be, that can be tougher. 

Could it be that God is using this difficulty to move you out and into greater blessings?

Yes, you may lose some things in the process, but you will gain so much more. 

And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great!  Job 8:7

I remember in my twenties going through my first real conflict with a group of people.  My dear mother-in-law gave me this scripture and I have tried my best to live by it ever since.

Do all you can to live in peace with everyone.  Romans 12:18

Although to this day they have not wanted to make amends, it's ok.  I did what I could to make the wrong right.

And that is all we are told to do.  

But oh how much sweeter life is when we can agree to disagree and love one another in spite of our faults and failures.

Not to mention, the world gets to see a glimpse of Jesus when we truly love one another on that level. 

And that, my friends, is what we are called to do.

Love God.

Love People.

and Serve Others.

Remember, we would love to read any nuggets of truth you are finding too!  Just click on comment and click away.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Our Decisions Matter

In Friday's readings we lost the Father of the Faith (Genesis 25:7). I loved that Isaac and Ishmael came together to bury their dad, Abraham.

I am sure that it had to be extremely awkward and difficult for them. But truth is they had nothing to do with the decisions and actions of their parents. But they did have to live daily in them. And to this day Isaac and Ishmael’s descendants are still living with them.

But we also see in Genesis 26:5 that Isaac was blessed because Abraham obeyed God.

Although Abraham did not do everything right, did not obey every time, he was a man of God, that sought Him, loved Him and worshipped Him. As a result, Isaac lived in blessing.

This is the take-a-way truth I wrote in my notebook regarding this: Tomorrow my children and grandchildren’s lives could be blessed or they could be cursed based on the decisions and actions I make today.

When they see us love, obey, worship and honor the Lord we are giving them a strong foundation to build their lives on. And no matter where life may take them, they will always know who to anchor their life on, Christ.

Sadly though, I have seen way too many adults whose parents did not love, obey, worship and honor the Lord. Although they may have found God for themselves later in life, they have so much baggage, hurt and scars requiring much prayer and counsel to move their past, into their past.

My children are almost grown and gone. Oh, how I would love to do so many things differently.

One thing they will know… their mom and dad love God, obey God, worship God and honor God with every part of their being.

My prayer today is that Tyler and Chrissy’s lives will be forever blessed, just as Isaac’s was, in spite of their parent's shortcomings.


Friday, January 8, 2010

God will Provide

Week Two's readings are listed at bottom of post.

We have completed week one of our readings.  I do hope and pray that you are gleaning and growing from our daily readings.  I know I am.

I want to encourage you to not just pick up your Bible each day, read and then put it down and go on your way like we are checking something off our To Do list.

I starting underlining verses that were speaking to me or that I wanted to really study out in more detail and writing notes in the margins.

Well, that has moved to now having a notebook, pencil, computer and my Bible.  There are so many truths and verses speaking to me that I am wanting to unearth all the goody out of them that I can.  This is what we call "Bible Study."

So, if you have ever wanted to 'study' the Bible but always thought there was some hidden key to it, there's not.  Just get you a notebook and when you read a scripture that really sticks out, or one that you don't understand, write it down for further study and meditation.

The internet provides a plethora of information where you can study scripture and dig a little deeper.

Two great resources are BlueLetterBible.com and BibleGateway.com.

Before I leave today I want to share one nugget from yesterday's readings.

Chapter 22 and verse 14 we see the fourth name of God listed in our readings thus far and it is Yahweh-Yireh, meaning the Lord will provide.  We know it more commonly as Jehovah Jireh, My Provider.

Oh I love this name of God.  If there has ever been a time that we needed Yahweh-Yireh it is now.  Many are losing jobs or getting their much needed pay cut back and what provided security, stability and everything needed to sustain has been taken away.

Abraham knew God would provide the sacrifice.  He was totally confident and trusted God.  He told Isaac that in verse 8 and in verse 14 God did it.

I wonder, if Abraham would not have trusted God completely, would God still have provided?

How many times have we not trusted God to meet the need and we put our confidence in our paycheck, our doctor, our spouses... the things we can see and touch.  Man things.

When Mark and I stepped out into full-time ministry he was 21 and I was 20.  No college degrees.  No long list of accomplishments to put on a resume.  No savings account to fall back on.  We were two 'kids' with two babies and he left a great job with security and insurance and stepped out into nothing.  Literally.

For those first 6 years of Mark's itinerate speaking my kids NEVER got sick and needed to see a doctor and we NEVER had a bill we could not pay. 

GOD PROVIDED when we put our trust and confidence in Him and not man.

So I want to encourage you today.  If you are struggling in any way, God will provide.  He is your source.

He is your Yahweh-Yireh.

Until next time,


Week Two Readings

January 8
Genesis 25:1-4, 1 Chronicles 1:32-33, Genesis 25:5-6 & 12-18, 1 Chronicles 1:28-31 & 34, Genesis 25:19-26 & 7-11

January 9
Genesis 25:27 thru 28:5

January 10
Genesis 28:6-30 thru 30:24

January 11
Genesis 30:25 thru 31:55

January 12
Genesis 32:1  thru 35:27

January 13
Genesis 36:1-19, 1 Chronicles 1:35-37, Genesis 36:20-30,  1 Chronicles 1:38-42,  Genesis 36:31-34,  1 Chronicles 1:43 thru 2:2

January 14
Genesis 37:1 thru 38:30,  1 Chronicles 2:3-6,8,  Genesis 39:1-23