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Monday, January 30, 2012

Got Questions

Job 38:1 thru Job 40:5

We are winding down our time with Job.  I hope you picked up on the fact that we have read countless questions Job has had for God over the past 11 days and yet when God answered Job in the whirlwind (38:1) that He didn’t really answer Job’s questions at all.  In fact today alone we read over 50 questions God had for Job.

Job did not have his favorite verses in the Bible (seeing as it was not written yet) to tie his faith in God to, so God has taken Job on a little tour through creation; from cosmology, oceanography, meteorology, astronomy and zoology. 

Here’s how Robert J Morgan sums up our reading today…

God just said, “Job, you are boxed into your limited perspective of suffering, but lift up your eyes.  Look at the earth beneath you, the world around you, the stars above you.  I created all these things, and I do all things well.  I know what I am doing.  I know how to take care of you, and you can trust Me even if you can’t understand My ways at any given moment.”

All Job has wanted was for God to speak to him and explain why he was going through such difficult times.

God does speak, but He has not said even one word about Job’s suffering or problems.  Instead God tells Job to look around at the wonder and the mystery of the universe; all that God governs and has made. 

God is trying to get Job to see that if He can create and sustain all that Job's eyes are seeing, then surely he can trust God enough to know that God knows what He is doing and has his best interest at heart.

Jesus said it like this in Matthew 6,

 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?...

Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.

Job is now beginning to realize that he needs more than answers; he needs the God who holds the answers.

So do we.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Songs in the Night

Job 35:1 thru Job 37:24

Today is the last day we will hear from Job's friends and over the next couple days 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 dark nights of life filled with sorrow, persecution, doubt, bewilderment, anxiety, and oppression.

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?...'

The well known hymn It is Well with My Soul is one of the most famous songs 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  song entitled, 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 propping 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 if 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.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Job's New Friend

Job 32:1 thru Job 34:37

We had a new character step forward today that we did not even know was there 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 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 might God's speaking 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.

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

Our reading ended 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 one voice that matters most, God’s.  Elihu is a voice of reason.  We all need friends like that, people who do not just tell us what we want to hear but what we 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?

Another great question is, Is someone else a better person because of my presence in their life?

We have almost come to the end of our time with Job and his friends.  I really hope we are learning to view our troubles in life a little differently.  

When we go through hard times let's ask ourselves... What is God teaching me?  How is this making me a better person?  How can I use this time wisely? 

When our perspectives are correct, we can walk through almost 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 our friends, our dreams, and even our sicknesses.

Hope you have a great Saturday friend,

Friday, January 27, 2012

Not a Fair God

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.  

Did you notice that 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 have done 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 a stellar 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 Monday 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.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Days Gone By

Job 26:1 thru 29:25

I had one of those, Well, back in my day, conversations with my daughter a couple years ago where I was explaining that when I was her age there was no internet, no texting, 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.

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 memories 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 hearts are consumed with longing to go back to our Those-were-the-days days.

But if we look at Job's speech in chapter 29 we see him getting a little self-focused.

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 in Job’s defense, he 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.

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

How about you?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mad Hatter's Tea Party Recap

We had an amazing night at our second Leading & Loving It event, The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party!

A few highlights from the night were...

The Hats

The Laughs

The Sharing

One night with 14 seeking-God's-heart-women from 5 cities and 6 different churches coming together for a night of fun, LOTS of GREAT tea, and conversations surrounding our dreams, hopes, struggles, and calling.

One of the highlights for me was at the end of the night while we were saying our goodbyes and cleaning up, I overheard (we women eavesdrop quite well you know) some ladies encouraging another new-to-the-ministry wife who is trying to find the balance between marriage and ministry.  I shutter to think what would happen in her life and marriage without women who have gone on before helping guide her steps.

Another exciting fact is since that night we have had many more women asking to be a part of Leading and Loving It North Florida (of course we said YES!!!!) and another church is asking to host our next event!!  How cool is that?
God is up to something big and it is exciting to have a front row seat in the lives of ladies being used for His glory!!

p.s.  Thank you Lisa Hughes for calling and praying with me before our meeting!!  That was VERY sweet of you to take the time do to that!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Getting by with a little HOPE from my Friends

Job 8:11 thru Job 11:20

I hope there were many things that just leaped off the pages to you as they did me as we read more from Job today.

I want us to take a moment and contrast the words of Job’s friends Bildad and Zophar.

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).

So the fact that people forget God says that somehow He no longer was important to them.

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 making 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 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 Hope (Christ Jesus,Col 1:27), 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 in their own lives. 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 when we come through our stuff like Job, that we will never forget God. But that our misery will be like water flowing away, and all that remains is...


Friday, January 20, 2012

Restless Nights

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?

This 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’s and God’s.

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 an example for all who suffer through the ages that God is always in control of everything.

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

His purpose is to lead us to endurance and 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 in between.

Don’t resist God.

Rest in God.

Job does not see this yet, but... 

God is in control.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hello 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.

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 worshiped.

Only someone who is in close fellowship with God could do that in a time of such loss. 
We also see another character come on the scene today and that is Satan, the Accuser.  The name is so fitting isn't it? 

Satan, the Accuser comes to God and God says, Have you noticed my servant Job?  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.  Because 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...

Yes!!  And Amen!!

God has made us more than conquers (Romans 8:37) and we will soon see if Job is one too.

See you back here tomorrow.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Faithful and Just

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.

We also read one of the greatest scriptures we often hook our prayers to in difficult times. 

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. 

What the sons of Jacob still could not see was that Joseph's rejection drove him to his destiny. 

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

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 and guard your heart because you will have plenty of chances to become bitter.  And know this, that if God is for you, it does not matter who is against you.

Joseph had a choice, forgive or take revenge. 

Today you may be faced with that same choice.  Or even more difficult, you may be faced with the choice to forgive yourself of the thing you did to another.  

Either way, God is faithful and just forgive us, we need to be faithful and just to forgive others, including ourselves. 1John 1:9

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.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wrongful Imprisonment

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

We often reference the difficult times of life as feeling as though we are in prison.  Maybe it’s because we are feeling trapped, bound and chained, and have lost all hope.

Whatever the reasons, if we are honest, some of our prisons are of our own making… but some of them are not.  Someone who can relate to the latter is Joseph. He knew exactly what the words wrongful imprisonment meant.

I'm not going to recap his entire prison story but I do want to point out for us today that he did not waste his time while doing his time.

Yes, he truly was a victim but he chose not to live like one and continuously honored God in everything. 

And it was through his lonely years of slavery and then imprisonment that he learned...

God is faithful when others aren't...

God will never leave you when others do...

God never forgets you when others have...

No matter what excuses you could use to take a back seat in life, honor God, even in dark days, for He's the only one with the power to not only bring you out, but elevate you to heights you never dreamed possible.  

Not just for your sake, but for the sake of others as we will learn tomorrow.

So my thought for you today is this, redeem the time no matter where you’re doing it.

God's faithful.

God's here.

And God's not forgotten you.

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