Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 – Day 242.Aug 31 – Needed Grace

Passage of the Day: Job 15 … Linked for study …

My Journal for Today:
Chuck Swindoll closes his devotional entry today with the words from John Newton’s wonderful hymn, “Amazing grace – how sweet the sound.” But that’s certainly not what we read from the words of Eliphaz to Job in today’s highlight passage. No, Eliphaz now gets downright hostile in his tone toward the same man whom he had grieved with and sat with patiently just a few days earlier.

It’s remarkable to me how human feelings and understanding can be so fickle. At one time the three “friends” of Job had been so patient and loving and seemingly supportive; but then in their advice and counsel with Job, they seem to turn into graceless ogres. It is so, so true that we all need God’s grace; and this would especially be true when we are hit with a series of calamities like those which Job was enduring. But here are Job’s close friends somehow blinded to what he needs, trying to give him a pompous set of dogmatic reasons why Job is going through these trials. Job needs grace; and all he gets from his “friends” is folly.

We need to remember that the person we sit next to in the pew at church may be going through trials about which we have no clue; and what they need is grace, not groundless information on social doctrine or speculations about why God does what He does. That dear one needs grace. And if I read the truth of Romans 3: 23 correctly, we “are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God.” Therefore, we ALL need God’s grace. How and when and to whom God gives it out is God’s business. So, … when we need grace; and we humble ourselves before our loving and merciful God, as Job was doing, God’s agents of grace, His church, needs to be there to help our suffering friends, doling out as much of His grace as we can.

So, when you need God’s grace, be willing to set aside pride and ask God and your friends for grace. When you see someone needing grace, give grace. How much intelligence would it take you, seeing Job’s loss and his horrible pain, physical and emotional, to see that he needed grace, not explanations, and certainly not harsh accusations as we read from Eliphaz in today’s passage.

Now I remember why I like to call these three pseudo friends of Job “the three stooges.” I don’t claim to know God’s full intent when He, the Holy Spirit, guides His writers to tell the stories of the Bible. And I may be a bit pompous to say that it seems clear to me that God is giving us examples of the exact opposite of grace in Job’s three companions. This, to me, is a lesson which screams, “Don’t do it this way, fool!”

So, from this I learn to ask God to give me the sensitivity to see when a friend needs grace; and then to dole it out as much as I’m capable of giving it. And then, … to give even more grace; because there’s just no giving too much when it comes to being the agent of grace for God.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, bless me by being able to give Your grace to someone today who needs it. Amen

Sunday, August 30, 2009

2009 – Day 241.Aug 30 – A Disappointing Discovery

Passage of the Day: Job 14 … Linked for study …

My Journal for Today:
If you go back and read Chapter 13 of Job, as well as today’s focus passage in Chapter 14, we read Job weighing in on some pretty heady theological and emotional issues. Probably one of the heaviest of these issues is found in Job 14,verse 14,which reads …
If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my hard service I will wait,
Till my change comes.
If my readers are Christian, I hope you have this issue totally settled in your mind/heart. These are two of the ultimate questions of this life, which are … “Where am I going after this life; and … is what I’m doing in this life worthwhile?”

Poor Job’s perspective on this life at the point of our reading today had changed drastically because of the horrible set of circumstances which had been set in motion by the interplay of God and Satan. However, here is Job, contemplating the value of the rest of his life in light of where he will be in the afterlife.

Do you know, that you know that you know, where you’ll be if this life is no more – maybe even today? I hope you KNOW, absolutely know, the answer to that one. Job knew that he would be with God after his life was over; but now he was contemplating what the meaning of the remaining portion of his life would be like in God’s scheme of things. And Swindoll, in dealing with this meaning for existence and living by faith, points his readers to a New Testament verse – 2nd Cor. 5: 10, which states, … For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

So, here we have poor Job, with nothing from a human point of view to show for his life. Where are you in your life? Has all you’ve done to this point been meaningful and directed toward God’s glory? Because if all seems but a loss, now is the time to make a decision to move forward and make the rest of your life pertinent and powerful in God’s eyes.

Once we have the “heaven verses hell” question settled, which, of course is the most important pre-death question, the only thing left before us lies the answer to what we’re going to do to lay up rewards for ourselves and for God in heaven. And the answer to that pointed question will determine how we live the rest of our lives.

Job was in a pretty crucial place in his life; and we can certainly understand his confusion and vexation. However, he too was in the place of pondering the meaning of the rest of his life. And so do we? This very morning, I can choose to seek God’s will and purpose for my life, or I can lay down with a defeatist attitude and do little or nothing for God’s glory. Only I can determine what my answer will be to that old platitude, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

I can only pray now - right here - that what I will do today will bring honor and glory to my God; and I will begin to forge the rewards that will await me in glory. How about you?

My Prayer for Today: Lord, forge me into an instrument of Your purpose. Amen

Saturday, August 29, 2009

2009 – Day 240.Aug 29 – God Is In Control

Passage of the Day: Job 12 … Linked for study …

My Journal for Today:
Don’t you just love our hero, Job! And what Job brings to the table in Chapter 12 is a model for any who’ve had to deal with the contentions or claims of legalists, … those who claim that they have a corner on understanding and wisdom but who represent darkness and doubt. And that is what Job had to listen to in the previous diatribe by Zophar and his other so-called “friends.”

Chuck Swindoll points out that LEGALISM often presents its ugly head in the form of cohorts of believers who act like bullies on the playground trying to take over the basketball court by intimidation. And it’s always interesting to see that a few loud bullies can draw a crowd of weaklings to themselves; and they can take over the playground unless someone is willing to stand up to them.

And that’s exactly what Job did here in Chapter 12; and don’t you just love the sarcasm of his open rebuke of Zophar, where he says, poetically and powerfully, in verse 1, “No doubt you are the people, … And wisdom will die with you!” And then Job goes about taking a stand up for what he believes is truth; and that is what we are commanded to do in God’s word by 1st Peter 3: 15 … to have an answer for those who challenge the truth of God’s word or misrepresent His truth. Now, I don’t exactly know if Job’s retort of Zophar fit into the latter part of Peter’s exhortation to confront our adversaries in “meekness.” However, he did have an answer for his three friends who were trying to place the legalists finger-pointing blame on Job, questioning his faith and his past life.

But as we can read here in today’s passage, Job didn’t let the legalists have their day. And I love the word picture Swindoll presents in explaining the importance of not letting legalistic bullies have their way. He says legalists are like roaches. They crawl around in the darkness and proliferate by feeding on the ooze of distrust and misunderstanding with gossip and half-truths. And if they are not brought out and confronted with the light of truth, they will gain strength and numbers. But Job, in Chapter 12, gave these three bully boys a dose of truth and light with his argument that God is the source of all truth; and that even when the circumstances of life seem out of control, God is in complete control. And Job shined the light on these roaches in the darkness of innuendo and doubt with forcefulness and truthfulness.

And Swindoll is right by extending the word picture of legalist bullies. When they are confronted with the light, you will see them run and hide. And that is when you often see splits in churches which are caused by legalists who, when they can’t get their way, will take their numbers and run to another church with their dogma of doubt and despair. But God will bless those who stand for right and righteousness, which is what good Christians must do when they are confronted by legalism in the church. And Job becomes a good model for this by his arguments today.

So, my friend, when you are confronted by the darkness of legalism, stand for God’s truth with love and with as much gentleness as God’s grace can give you; BUT … STAND and be heard and counted for truth. For, dear one, the light always dispels the darkness; and God’s will, which is found in His word, will always help the believer find God’s way to lead his people through that “valley of the shadow of death.”

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to shine Your light into the darkness of misunderstanding and doubt. Amen

Friday, August 28, 2009

2009 – Day 239.Aug 28 – Skimming The Surface

Passage of the Day: Job 11 … Linked for study …

My Journal for Today:
Okay, … here in Chapter 11, Job is confronted by the least sympathetic of his three friends, Zophar, the so-called Naamathite, who takes a theological approach much the same as the other two advisers … that Job is where he is because of some hidden sin from which Job has yet to have confessed and repented. But Zophar gets more specific in his counsel; and it is ironic that much of what he says has a basis in truth.

And Swindoll in his book, Great Days With The Great Lives and his devotional for today, brings out one segment of Zophar’s argument which bears some application study for us all. Verses 7-8 of Chapter 11 ask some very poignant questions for Job – and for us – to ponder. They are these …
7 “Can you search out the deep things of God?
Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?
8 They are higher than heaven— what can you do?

Deeper than Sheol— what can you know?”

Now, ... Zophar came at Job with a very unGodly, haughty, and better-than-thou attitude. However, his questions are deserving of consideration as we isolate them as to their truth in the context of today’s world and life.

Don’t we have a tendency these days, as Christians seeking meaning in this world, to do what I call “Christianity lite.” By that I mean that we try to reduce our Christian existence to a “to do” list of surface performance items. In other words, Christianity means …
1. Go to church on Sunday and put something in the offering plate.
2. Do a Bible study once a year.
3. Don’t smoke, drink, or cuss.
4. Provide for my family; and stay married. [and others]

And if I do these things, and probably a few more on my own list, I’m a “good Christian believer.” And in making sure we have the Christian “to-do” list covered, we’re not answering Zophar’s very pertinent questions. Job’s friend was trying to get Job to go deep and look at his life to see if Job was really living for God in the way God would have us live. And though Zophar’s approach was one of self righteousness, his questions are heavy-weight in their relevance.

When we consider what our lives are all about, are we going deep with our relationship with Christ? Or are we doing what the world deems as “successful” and “righteous” as Christians? And right now I’m thinking about the Joel Osteen or “word of faith” brand of Christianity, where believers are being lulled into pursuits of self esteem and self actualization rather than into disciplines which truly glorify God or develop us as Christians in ways Jesus Himself commanded in Luke 9: 23. Are we denying self, taking up our crosses daily, and really following our Lord? Or are we merely trying to do “good stuff,” thinking that what we think and say about ourselves is enough to be within God’s will? In other words, if we think better about ourselves, does that really make us more like Christ? Or do we need to go deeper and discover God’s will through His word and live out His way in this world?

I think Zophar has asked many of the $64,000 questions; and though Job was not getting the attitude he deserved from his friend, we all need to answer these question in light of how we’re living these days to see if we need to dig deeper into our relationship with Christ so that we might know Him more intimately and to follow Him more closely.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to know You more deeply so that I might serve you more deeply. Amen

Thursday, August 27, 2009

2009 – Day 238.Aug 27 – Futile Search

Passage of the Day: Job 10 … Linked for study …

My Journal for Today:
Well, here we are back again with Job who is still confused and reeling with the desire to understand and find clarity for his loss and pain. Chapter 10 is like a replay of Chapter 3, isn’t it? But in the intervening time, Job has received feedback from Eliphaz and Bildad … to no avail. These men, whom we’ve seen are really friends of Job; and they are men who earned the right, by their grieving with Job and spending time being at his side, to share their ideas with this beaten friend.

BUT (again, it’s a big “BUT”), what they shared didn’t help. And we need to learn a lesson from that. And the lesson is that no amount of human or worldly wisdom, … scientifically based, historically sound, or culturally accepted, is going to be of help when a Christian friend feels abandoned by God. Job needed understanding for his dilemma; and when no man, even a caring friend, could explain his dilemma, all he felt was further separation from God.

What Job needed was truth; and my friend, that can only come from God, … not from man; and most certainly not from our own self. Sure, it’s okay to listen to friends, … especially Godly friends you trust – as did Job. But don’t expect them to be able to tap into God’s mind, … UNLESS they are quoting or exposing the one, true source of God’s mind; and that is something we have in God’s word, but something which Job had no access. Oh, what an advantage we have over poor Job. We not only have God’s truth to lean on when life goes awry; but we have the Mediator Whom Job sought but had not been a part of Job’s belief system.

Job’s God never left him or forsook him; but Job didn’t have that truth from Deut. 31: 6. Nor did he have the tradition of Joshua 1: 5 to lean on. And most certainly the concept of a coming Redeemer, “a Messiah,” was not part of his conscious belief as yet. So, all Job had was three friends with very human, and very imperfect, ideas about WHY all this was happening. Therefore, Job returns to God and he re-voices his confusion and angst here in Chapter 10. And therein lies a second lesson, we can learn from Job’s dilemma; and that is to keep going back to God when there is confusion or pain which we simply cannot understand from our human hearts/minds.

If you’ve been following along with this study in Job, we’ve seen Job persistently going to the one – and only – place he knows to go, in faith, for answers; and that is to God. And here in this Chapter we see our downtrodden hero doing just that - AGAIN. So, we learn that if – or I really should said WHEN – we are in a place of utter confusion and even doubting God’s presence or power, we must GO TO HIM. And we must keep going to Him to get answers. And yes, prayer is one way; but I’ve found that the best way is to go deeper and deeper into the word of God, and finding God’s promises and His perfect insights to lift us up when we feel separated from God due to our feelings.

Feelings are so very fickle, my friend. Don’t trust them for a moment! Don’t rely on them at all!! The only answers we’ll ever get to explain things or lift us up are found in The Bible. The only place we can go with our feelings is to God. And when we do, we’ll find what is promised in the Bible and what our relationship with God will produce … and that is to trust Him – in faith – with the truth of passages like Deut. 31: 8 … Joshua 1: 8 … Proverbs 3: 5, 6 … Romans 8: 28 … 1st Cor. 10: 13 … or Phil. 4: 13. And all of those are truths which just bubbled up into my mind from my heart/mind as I was sitting here writing this. I hope you know them – and others as well; and I hope that you lean on those truths when God has led you into “the valley of the shadow of death.”

My Prayer for Today: Lord, You are with me always; and Your truths, they do comfort me. Amen

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

2009 – Day 237.Aug 26 – An Arbitrator

Passage of the Day: Job 9 … Linked for study …

My Journal for Today:
Wow! After reading Chapter 9 of Job’s book, don’t you just want to reach out and tell Job about Jesus? Here is poor Job, who (in Job 8) has just been exhorted by his friend Bildad to repent because, as it was Bildad’s argument, Job must’ve had some sinfulness in his life for God to allow all that evil stuff to prevail in Job’s life. It’s a bad argument; but one with some truth in it.

And Job, here in Chapter 9, doesn’t necessarily disagree with Bilbdad. However, Job laments that he needs a mediator to be his advocate before God, especially now that he is in such a weakened condition. Job rightfully defines the power and majesty of God in this passage from Job 9; and he knows that he needs a mighty arbitrator to intervene on His behalf. And it’s here that I, as a Christian, would like to jump in and give him the same word that Paul gave to his protégé Timothy centuries later.

We read that treatise in 1st Tim. 2: 3 – 6 (linked here); and Paul tells Timothy about the only One Who could be Job’s mediator before God; but unfortunately the Messiah was not even in Job’s belief system at that time we read of in today’s passage. And poor Job is left to go to God on his own; and in the shape he was in at this time, poor Job doesn’t see any way that he could do that.

Now, we know from fast forwarding the tape that Job finds out that His God will intervene; and The Lord has not left poor Job dangling without a personal savior. God will show Job that He is not only the Judge of the evil in our hearts; but He is the redeemer of our lives as well. Oh, that Job could have known what I know from the truth of not only Job’s history, but also from the truth of my access to Jesus and His promise of John 14: 6, our Lord, being the “the way, the truth, and the life, “ .. the One Who will save anyone when that one comes to Him as The arbitrator and mediator before God’s throne of grace.

My friends, we do have THE Mediator Whom Job sought, …THE One Who can and will plead our case before God, the Father, … the Almighty and all-in-all Judge of all mankind. We have Jesus; and thankfully, when God looks at me, a wretched sinner, like Job, the One He sees is not me, but my Mediator, Jesus, The Christ. God doesn’t look upon my sin. He only sees the pure whiteness which comes from the cleansing of Jesus’ blood on my behalf. Oh, praise God for that!

Wouldn’t you like to have been there after Chapter 9 of Job to witness to this poor man; and tell Him of Your Savior, Jesus? Well, perhaps you know of a wretched sinner in your life, one who struggles with life and needs to know Jesus. We probably all do. Well, … we need to tell that lost soul about THE Mediator Who has saved us and given us all Eternity. Let us declare, to any Job in our lives, that we have THE ONE Whom has come to save us all from ourselves. He is the Man, the Mediator, … the Lord, Jesus!

My Prayer for Today: Lord, You bless me as my Mediator and the only One who pleads my case before The Father. Amen

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

2009 – Day 236.Aug 25 – Now I Know

Passage of the Day: Job 3: 1 - 26 … Linked for study ...

My Journal for Today:
Okay, one last go around with Job, Chapter 3. And I have to admit, I think I’ve had enough with Job’s lament; and I want to move on to see how Job – and I – need to march forward after life cascades downward to the point where I’m confused or depressed. I get the idea that Satan had brought our hero to a place of utter despair. And I can see that he has admitted that he doesn’t even know why God let him be born. But Swindoll wants to make one more sweep through this topic to drill home the reality that we understand that God is not under any obligation of promise to insure that we understand His plan or His purpose for our lives. And I can see that it’s an important point!

God’s desire is simple; and it’s all wrapped up in the words, “Trust ME!” And we simply must grasp – while we can - the foundational truth that faith has no meaning if we’re always able to understand all that God will allow into our lives to help us become more like His Son. But the one thing I can fully bank on … eternally; and that is the ultimate promise which is found in our Lord’s death for us on the cross. We can bank everything on that one … that God sent His Son to live, die, and be raised again for our sin. We can trust that … and really that’s about all we can trust.

My wife’s favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 3: 5-6, which I hope you can just rattle off responsively from your memory. You know it, … “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understand. In ALL your ways acknowledge Him; and He shall direct your paths (or “will make your paths straight).”

Do you really believe that, friend? Do you live it, … especially when devastating circumstances befall you? You know … that passage in Prov. 3 makes all kind of sense now; but I don’t know that my attitude would be any different from Job’s in Chapter 3 if I had lost my whole family and everything temporal in my life and I was sitting there covered in painful boils. So, right now, while I can discern the truth, in my castle of safety and security, I need to declare – for the record – AGAIN – that God is God and I am not! And I need to say to you that He will always be in control and He always knows what is best for me. And now that I’m safe to say this, I declare to anyone here that whatever my God chooses to do for or with His church – and yes, with me – is for the best. Did you get that? Do you believe it?

I just pray that when push comes to shove, I will be able to declare that truth again and live in the faith of God’s promise of eternity in heaven. My hope is in Christ … and really nothing else. Oh, may I live that out for the rest of my life.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, hold me in your graceful arms, especially when I’m shrugging “Why?” Amen

Monday, August 24, 2009

2009 – Day 235.Aug 24 – Good And Bad Advice

Passage of the Day: Job 3: 1 - 26 … Linked for study ...

My Journal for Today:
Once again we focus on the feelings of Job as he deals with his personal questions of ill being in Chapter three of Job’s book. He is so rocked by personal loss and pain that he doesn’t know where to turn for help or counsel; and as we know from Chapter 2, there sit his three friends who have earned the right to be heard because they have shared his grief. They even sat with him for seven days and nights sharing the solitude of Job’s loss. So, it’s only natural that Job would hear the counsel of these men, which begins, if you read ahead in Chapter 4.

And we all know what it’s like to seek counsel from another when we’re down and out or confused. And I’m sure that we’ve all had times when the advice we sought was helpful, … maybe even life saving. As we know, from the book of Proverbs, seeking feedback from persons we trust is a wise move. For example, Swindoll quotes Prov. 12: 15, which says, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” Following good advice from wise or experienced counsel can help to bring clarity or release from our confusion or pain.

However, sometimes we get counsel and it seems like our counselors are hitting us between the eyes with even more pain. We know our counselors love us; but what they say is tough to hear, maybe even highly confrontational. It’s the working out of Prov. 27: 6, which states, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” It’s what we now often call “tough love.”

So, here is Job, wracked with pain and dazed by confusion over why God would visit his life with such devastation; and Job has three friends who have earned their way to be trusted as counselors. And I’m sure you know that one of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, in Job 4-5, gives our hero some feedback as to why God may have wrought or allowed Job to experience such horror. But is it bad or good advice; well that was what Job had to decide; and any time we get advice from someone, even if that person seems trustworthy or capable of being our counselor, we need to test that advice. That’s the truth of 1st John 4: 1 or 1st Thes. 5: 21; and that’s what Job had to do with the feedback he would received from his friends.

My friend, what this illustrates is not necessarily a bad thing, though we know that the advice Job will get from his three friends is less than sterling. It is still a good thing to seek out and listen to trustworthy and loyal servants of God, … Godly men or women, who have earned the right to share their thoughts and wisdom with you. However, following the counsel, it is also wise to evaluate what they say in light of God’s truth and, above all, to seek The Lord’s peace before moving on with any decision or clear direction. That is the advice I always use from Paul from Phil. 4: 6-7 [link provided] when I have need to make an important and Godly decision. That teaching would take some time here to clarify; but I’ll leave it to you to grasp the powerful advice of this latter Bible passage to help you understand where God is leading you.

And as we know, that’s where Job ultimately goes, checking all the counsel he receives from friends with God to make sure His relationship with God is were he receives the ultimate guidance and wisdom. I hope we all know to go deep with God and find God’s peace when we’re confused or lacking clarity. God’s peace, which passes all understanding, is really the only absolutely trustworthy way to get direction we’ll ever get to tell us where to walk in the minefields of life.

My Prayer for Today: Show me the way, Lord, … Your way. Amen

Sunday, August 23, 2009

2009 – Day 234.Aug 23 – Expressing Grief

Passage of the Day: Job 3: 1 - 26 … Linked for study...

My Journal for Today:
At the end of Job’s lamentation in Chapter 3, where we read the lyrics to Job’s sad song of hopelessness and grief, Swindoll points out a pertinent observation. There is this long lament from Job; and then there is silence from God’s word, … with absolutely no retort from God at this point, chastising Job for grieving so openly in this way.

Oh, sure, shortly we’re going to read from Job’s three friends about their input on the “whys and wherefores” of the circumstances; but God does not level any blame at Job at the end of Chapter 3, … only the solitude and silence of Job’s own heart for the time being. And that is what often happens when we take our grief to God. No, God lets us vent our feelings before His throne of grace as often and as deeply as we are in need. And as I’ve said in earlier journal entries here on the story of Job’s loss, God can take it. If we feel low and hopeless, God even invites us in His word to bring our burdens to Him. I’ve mentioned some of those truths in recent days, we NT Christians having the advantage of Christ’s intervention in time. We read in NT passages, especially words from Jesus’ invitation in Matt. 11: 28-30 or from an empathetic Peter, who had experienced the lows of acute depression himself, writing (in 1st Pet. 5: 7), “… casting all your cares on [God] because He cares for you.”

But Job didn’t know of the New Covenant truths. He only had the promise of His personal relationship with God; and as we’ll later learn, that was enough to keep our hero digging deeper into that relationship for hope and for answers to his queries. But at this point, he couldn’t see the WHYS of his loss. All he could feel was the loss and the pain. And as we have the advantage of long-term hindsight, Swindoll points out that our perspective should be finely tuned when we aren’t embroiled in the confusion of loss and pain. And I agree that we should allow ourselves to set the truth about God’s love and mercy into our hearts when we’re thinking clearly, as I hope/pray you are now. It’s like storing up the credits of God’s mercy for a future day when we’re going to need it … in a day where we’re feeling pain like Job.

In the search for understanding about God’s grace and mercy, Swindoll gives his readers a great quote from the Dutch evangelist, Corrie ten Boom, who wrote a marvelous truth after experiencing so much pain and loss in her life during WW II. She wrote, “There is no pit so deep that He (God) is not deeper still.” And that is a reality that somehow we must store up in our hearts so that we can draw upon it later when we need it. I pray, for me and for you, … that we hold on to that truth and the realization that God will never leave us alone in our grief. I pray that we have the promises of God which I’ve brought out today so piled up in our heart banks for a day when we’re going to need to withdraw those feelings of hope.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I now invest my hope completely in You, especially put away in these times of clarity for a day when I may have trouble remembering that my hope is always in You. Amen

Saturday, August 22, 2009

2009 – Day 233.Aug 22 – Words of Comfort

Passage of the Day: Job 3: 1 - 26 … Linked for study ...

My Journal for Today:
I read Chuck Swindoll’s devotional this morning; and it speaks to my life and feelings this morning. He writes about how Christians unsuccessfully dealt with the shame surrounding depression back in the 1960s. He recalls, as a young Christian student, that preachers just didn’t say much about “nervous” mental conditions back then; and Pastors would never even mention emotional or mental illness at funerals. It was as if they were ignorant of or oblivious to Chapter 3 of the book of Job as well as ignoring some of the giants of the faith, like Moses, Jonah, Elijah, Peter, or Paul, all of whom witnessed to crises of depression in the Bible.

And above I said that I can understand these feelings of confusion and quandary today; because yesterday a dear brother in Christ, who had been separated from his wife, who was suffering from bipolar waves of depression, could not raise her by phone yesterday and went to her apartment where the security people at the apartment and my friend found her dead. I don’t know all the particulars even yet; but I do know that this dear Christian lady had suffered from severe bouts of depression and very low self esteem. And apparently, 40-50 years ago such conditions were likely to cause Christian people to question the faith or the salvation of the declared Christian suffering from these mental conditions.

Swindoll is right. We have no right, as Christians, especially Christian leaders, to get on a high horse, like a couple of Job’s friends will be in subsequent chapters, by questioning the faith or behaviors of someone who is confused by life and depressed by its circumstances. Job was given the latitude, and we read it in Chapter three of his story, to cry out to God … to rail with his depression and express his feelings of remorse and anguish. So, why shouldn’t we give our depressed brothers and/or sisters in Christ the opportunity to do the same thing without judgments or self-righteous counsel?

This next week my wife and I will be going to the funeral of our sister in the faith who died while in the pits of depression. They don’t think suicide was involved; but even if it had been, we must ask ourselves, as the body of Christ, if we were there to do all we can to help our depressed friends to walk through the “valley of the shadow of death.” We need to be Christ for them, showing that all the love and grace our Lord has for them, … being there with them, … walking with them, … listening to them, … hugging them, … and listening more to them. And yes, if we need to help them get competent, CHRISTIAN, counselors, psychologists, or psychiatrists, then we must do just that too.

In the case of this dear, departed friend of ours, we happen to know that this sister got all of that from the body of Christ; and yet, somehow, for some reason, she is now with God; and her husband and the rest of us who loved here are here to ponder how her passing had meaning. That was the position of Job in this Chapter 3; and we may have to deal with life in much the same way, now or someday, when we can’t explain why we are in the pits of life or why we’re having to deal with such circumstances.

But we do, or we should, know that God either allowed or led us into the valley of darkness for a reason – His reason. And, He will be there with us and lead us through that valley because of His love and mercy and grace. If you’re in a dark valley, my friend, maybe even as you read this, hold on to truths such as those in Deut. 31: 8, Psalm 23, Matt. 11: 28-30, 1st Cor. 10: 13, 2nd Cor.12: 7, and 1st Pet. 5: 7; and I’m going to ask to look those up and meditate upon them if you don’t know them by heart; because in them we can know that our God is always in control; and He will never allow us to be anywhere, involved in anything, where we – with His help – cannot walk with God through to the other side.

Remember, as you meditate on those scriptures above, those are God’s promises, not mine. Those are the words coming right from God; and I can only hope you believe them and can be uplifted by them.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help us to ministry to the husband and family of this dear friend who now is with You and suffered so while she was with us. Amen

Friday, August 21, 2009

2009 – Day 232.Aug 21 – Raw Reality

Passage of the Day: Job 3: 1 - 26 … Linked for study

My Journal for Today:
If you’re a parent these days; and you have small kids or grandkids, do you find yourself using the remote control to edit out or change the channels when the raw reality of some of raw commercial or violent program hits the screen and you don’t want your little loved ones to see scenes which are just too raw for them at their age? Well, as Swindoll points out after we’ve had the character of Job built up in Chapter 1 and 2 by Job taking all he did from Satan’s two knockdown punches, here we come to the raw reality of a man who is so deeply depressed he’d rather not have been born.

Chapter Three of Job’s account is a lamentation of desperation. It’s a song of depression. It’s a cry of “WHY am I here?” And here we were, thinking Job was above all that. Didn’t God set him up to be the Lord’s example to Satan of character strength? And here our hero is setting out a song of self hatred and a lament, questioning why he was born in the first place. … Well, my friends this, to me, is the beauty of God’s truth in His word. Because God doesn’t tell in His Bible an edited, goodie-two-shoes, version of Job’s life. No, in God’s word we see the raw reality of a man, who needs to express to God that he’s reached the end of his life’s intended rope. And in this plea for understanding, we can all identify with being in that place called by David in Psalm 23, “the valley of the shadow of death.”

Well, the raw reality for Job in Chapter 3 is that he’s down about as far as his mind/heart can go; and he needs to let these feelings out. And he does just that. As Swindoll calls it, we are at the place of “raw reality.” Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re there right now. You know, and Chuck Swindoll rightly points out that we humans, as fallen creatures, have a wildly distorted view of life. It’s like we feel entitled to the “good life.” Some how, we, as Christians, come to the understanding that, as Swindoll writes, “God loves (us) and He has a wonderful plan for our lies.” Well, that’s true; but our idea of “wonderful plan” and God’s idea can be – and often are - vastly different.

We think that God’s “wonderful plan” should include good health, financial security, happy marriage, and well-behaved children. And when things go south into the valley of the shadow of death, some how we get the idea that God has abandoned us for this reality of desperation; and this just couldn’t be God’s plan; … could it?! Well, that’s where we find our hero, Job, right now in Chapter 3 of his life story. And it’s not a pretty sight. But then again when situational depression coming over us, it’s never a pretty thing to experience, is it?

And Job is not the only Bible hero, whom we read about in Scripture, who comes to a place of desperate confusion and depression, questioning their very existence. Moses was in that valley, as was Jonah, and Elijah and King David in the OT. And then there was Peter after having denied Jesus as well as Paul’s lament in Romans 7 in the NT. No, the Bible doesn’t gloss over our human weaknesses as being part of His grand plan, … His schema for redemption. And right now we’re reading of Job’s raw reaction to his raw reality.

So, as we read Job, who truly is one of the biblical models for Christlike character in the midst of horrible trials, Chapter three give us the reality that we can bring our laments and our cries to our God. And we can keep crying out, as we’ll see Job doing for many chapters in this book. And as it will be for Job, it may seem like God is silent as we hear from the world or from others; but God’s word is clear and we can bank on it with our faith … that God will never leave us, nor forsake us. And I hope you know where to find that truth by this point. If not, try Deut. 31: 6, 8 or Joshua 1: 5 or Hebrews 13: 5, all of which are promises from God that He’s the one, not only leading us, as David said, through the valley of the shadow of death, but He’s leading us to the place of peace and rest and restoration on the other side.

But right now, Job is being given the opportunity to vent; and vent he does. And in this we can realize that God doesn’t expect us to remain silent with our feelings. No, God can take it if you’re mad at Him? Let Him know about it; but as we’ll see, we must keep on keeping on, doing all we can to see God’s way and His will, … seeking out His light to follow through the darkness.

He’s out there my friend. So, you when feel down, let Him hear your cry … but keep moving toward Him; and He will be found.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, right now I am in that peaceful place; and I’m feeling okay; but I know you’ll be there too when things may go awry. Thank you for your unshakable love and promise for tomorrow. Amen

Thursday, August 20, 2009

2009 – Day 231.Aug 20 – God’s Presence In Suffering

Passage of the Day: Job 2: 11 – 13 … 11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. 12 And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. 13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.

My Journal for Today: As I sit here and meditate and contemplate on this passage for another day’s devotional, listening to soothing contemporary worship music, I can feel God’s glory being expressed in the music and this scene where Job’s friends shared Job’s grief and sat quietly with him for several days. And I agree with Pastor Swindoll, who expresses the message from this, that this scene is much more expressive of a true relationship with God rather than what will transpire when these same three compassionate “friends” become the voices of isolated religion and worldly wisdom.

You’ve probably read the upcoming speeches of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, where they move from contemplative compassion to intellectual speculation. To illustrate the difference between these two approaches to our witness when we, as Christians, happen upon a friend who is suffering, Swindoll relates the story told to him by a friend of his, one Joe Bayly and his wife, who were grieving the loss of their third child. They had lost a baby years before, a second child at five to leukemia, and, at the time of the story, their 18 year old boy had died in a sledding accident, from complications of hemophilia. Joe related to Swindoll that one Christian friend had come to him and waxed as eloquent as he could, speculating as to the reasons God would allow all of this to happen. Joe said that he understood, in his head, that everything the friend shared was true. But, after some time, the man left; and Joe reported that he was glad to see him go. But then another friend came to their home and just sat with Joe and his wife. They shared tears. They shared prayers. And they just shared togetherness. Joe said when this friend left, he was sorry to see him go.

And that my friends is the difference between Christianity where a relationship with God is shared, … where God’s love is shared with His grace and mercy being the empowering element of fellowship. However, when religion is the motive for sharing, Swindoll reports that the fellowship shares, “… answers without personal relationship, intellect without intimacy.” And Chuck extends this word picture with a poignant sentence about today’s passage and the sharing Job would get from his three friends. Swindoll writes, “The answers [that Job’s friends would give to Job] are slapped on Job’s ravaged life like labels on a specimen bottle.” And that is very expressive of religion without relationship.

When we share God’s love with another, especially one who suffers, it becomes hollow and meaningless to the one with whom we’re sharing, if they cannot feel the love being offered through the personal relationship we have with that person being shared through the empathizing grace of who we are in Christ. At the moment our story for today ended, Job was likely feeling the love and grace of God being administered by these three friends. However, as we move into future passages in Job’s book, we see Job’s questions of God’s wisdom being sparked by the hard, speculative answers which these same three friends would offer to Job thereafter.

These three had done enough at the point our story ended today. They should have shut up and left Job to seek his “WHY” answers directly from God, which, as we know from the book of Job will ultimately transpire. When we offer religion to a friend who suffers, we offer them nothing. But when we give a suffering friend relationship and the dignity of silence in sharing time in empathy, we share God with another. Let us take this lesson from God’s book on the dignity of suffering and make it reality the next time we encounter the suffering of a friend.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to be a real friend and share the tears of my sadness rather the words of my head when I find a friend who suffers dearly. Amen

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

2009 – Day 230.Aug 19 – Without Asking

Passage of the Day: Job 2: 11 – 13 … 11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. 12 And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. 13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.

My Journal for Today: In restudying this passage the last couple of days, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to apologize to Job’s three friends. Because of what I’ve read on ahead and what they say to Job, trying to explain his horrible condition and misfortune, over the years I’ve come to label these men as “Job’s three stooges;” and now it has come to my attention, with the help of my devotional Pastor, Chuck Swindoll and a friend of mine, that these men may have had opinions which were very human and very fallible; but I need to apologize to their memory because these men were truly FRIENDS of and to Job.

Yesterday, when I posted my journal entry, a dear Sister in Christ, who follows my blog, pointed out to me that she was impacted by the fact that these three men showed great compassion and friendship to Job as they tore their robes, sprinkled dust on their heads (a sign of mourning in the day), and they sat quietly and lovingly with their friend, Job, for seven days. Those are not things a casual acquaintance or a social critic would do. No, those are things only a true friend would do.

Swindoll points out today that when someone is down, a real friend does not need an invitation to come and be there. No, they just come, identifying with the pain of their downed friend and showing sympathy and compassion. A true friend is not turned off because of the bad smells in a hospital room or the distasteful sight of their friend who’s lost a lot of weight and looks horrible. No, the friend sits with, prays with, and loves on their hurting loved one in spite of all that.

Are real friends perfect and say all the right things? Well these three friends of Job are evidence that this may not be the case; because as we’ll see, they ultimately said a lot of the wrong things. But they were the ones who were there for Job in the midst of his grief and unsightly physical pain. And they were the ones who stayed in there with Job. They were friends; and way down the road, through they were to give Job some pretty dicey advice, Job learned to love the misguided friends who were real friends. He learned to choose to love these FRIENDS; and Job learned to pray for them; and when Job did that (see Chapter 42 of Job), God restored all to Job, … physical health, family, and fortune.

I hope we all have friends who would be there when we go down into the valley of the shadow of death even if they don’t say all the right things. And the best way to cultivate friends like that is to reach out, go to, and sit with someone you choose to love enough to ignore their distasteful looks or smell and just to be there with them. You don’t have to say much. In fact, it’s probably best you don’t. Job’s friends would have been much better off just staying with and being with Job. But I hope we’ll all take a cue from the good things these three men did; and we go out from here and be a dear friend to someone who needs us.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I pray that you’ll make divine appointments for me to be a friend to someone in my life who might need me. Amen

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2009 – Day 229.Aug 18 – Raising Faith to New Heights

Passage of the Day: Job 2: 11 – 13 … 11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. 12 And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. 13 So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.

My Journal for Today: There is one point which needs to be emphasized before we launch into an exposé of the three friends who came to Job with great intentions and a lot of bad advice. Over the years I’ve come to call these three, “Job’s three stooges.” And it is true that when things go bad in life, concerned friends will often show up with “advice,” much of which may be well intentioned, but may be far from what the damaged party, which may be you, needs to hear.

But before we explore that dimension of Job’s three stooges, let’s look at a principle which could explain why we, as humans, get it wrong at times when it comes to our explanations of how God operates. And Swindoll quotes an unnamed source to explain this. He writes about our need to explain away how God can allow such bad things to happen to a good person, like Job, writing, “It is easier to lower your view of God than to raise your faith to such a height.” And that pretty well nails the advice that Job is about to get from his three stooges.

We just seem to have this natural drive in us to try to explain away how a sovereign God will allow really bad stuff to happen to really good people. We try to rationalize the actions or control God can – and often does – exert in our lives by bringing God down rather than raising our faith up to be able to deal with God’s sovereignty. You know what they say about rationalization (not knowing whom “they” might be). It is said, “When we rationalize, we tell ‘rational lies’ to ourselves.”

So, on the front end – before we hear of the attempts by Job’s three stooges to help him with explanations, we need to cut them a bit of human slack with the understanding that it’s very human for us to feel really bad for someone who’s down and out; and we’ll have the tendency to explain away the circumstances by bringing God down to human ways of explanation rather than helping our friends to raise their faith to God’s way of allowing life to reshape our character and our way of looking at life.

I hope we all can glean from this point in Job’s trials that he may listen to friends like Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar; but it’s only by raising his own faith to new heights that he is going to be able to accept God’s intervention and to be reshaped by it. We’re simply going to have to do what Job will ultimately be seen to do; and that is to go deeper into his relationship with God than ever before and to learn to raise his faith to Godly levels rather than lower his God down to his level. That’s always tough, and really “super” human; but it’s what we must do in life to handle many of the circumstances which come our way.

My Prayer for Today: Raise my faith up, Lord, to see You rather than me lowering my view of You to my level of thinking. Amen

Monday, August 17, 2009

2009 – Day 228.Aug 17 – Complete Acceptance

Passage of the Day: Job 2: 9 – 10 … Then [Job’s] wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But [Job] said to [his wife], “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

My Journal for Today: Well, yesterday, influenced by the seminar my wife and I had attended this past weekend with Emerson, and his wife, Sara, Eggerich teaching on the marriage implications from <u>Ephesians 5: 33, I took Chuck Swindoll’s devotional study in a different direction than he had taught. I wrote, with some criticism yesterday of Job’s communication to his wife in Job 2: 10, indicating that I thought he reacted somewhat harshly with his choice of terms, calling her “foolish.” As it turns out, I should have read ahead one more day; because that’s the exact point that Dr. Swindoll makes in his devotional for this date; and so let me expound on it one more day, helping to imbed the material my wife, Elly, and I learned this past weekend.

In the materials Emerson Eggerich and his wife use in their seminars, they teach about what they call “the crazy cycle,” which is the downward spiral of communication which can result when a wife ignores her husband’s need for respect and/or a husband ignores his wife’s need for love. In other words, when a wife communicates (either by her choice of words or his misperception) that she disrespects her husband, as may have been the case with Job’s wife in Job 2: 9, his perception of being disrespected can, and often does, cause him to recoil with an unloving response. And when she perceives, by his silence or his harsh, reactive words, that he is being unloving, the wife will react with words or actions which are perceived as disrespectful by the husband. And, as we learned this weekend, a wife won’t give respect to a husband when she FEELS unloved; and a husband won’t be loving to his wife when he FEELS disrespected. And so goes “the crazy cycle” of damaging communication downward which flows against God’s commands in Ephesians 5: 33.

What Job and his wife communicated to one another by words and feelings in today’s highlight passage is an illustration that “crazy cycle” communication in a marriage has been going on for over 3000 years. And that’s why the Apostles addressed this matter so pointedly, Paul in Ephesians 5 and 1st Corinthians 7, and Peter in 1st Peter 3. But as the teaching, more specifically in Eph. 5: 33 teaches, we can avoid the crazy cycle and move into what the Eggerich calls the “energizing cycle,” by one or the other of a couple CHOOSING to go against nature and communicate what God commands us to speak into our spouse.

And here is how that goes. When a wife FEELS loved by her husband’s communication, she will have a tendency to treat him with respect. And visa versa, when a husband feels respected by his wife, he can – and often does, respond by giving her the love she needs. Therefore, when a husband feels disrespected, he will have to consciously and intentionally break through his feelings of disrespect and communicate love to his wife. OR … when a wife feels unloved, she needs to break through the crazy cycle by consciously communicating respect to her husband. And when this happens, by God’s grace being doled out through their love choices, the spouse who has been mature enough to give his/her spouse what they need, will note that this spouse will respond with what initiator desires from their mate, love for the wife or respect for the husband.

Elly and I came away from the “Love and Respect” Conference this past weekend feeling that it would have been so good for us to know these marital dynamics 45 years ago when we got married. We could have avoided many situations where either of us caused the other to feel unloved or disrespected; and our crazy cycles of communication could have been broken and we could have energized one or the other in our marriage by choosing to go against what comes natural by giving the other needed to energize our marriage as God has commanded in Eph. 5: 33.

And as we can read in today’s marital interchange, even Godly Job and his wife needed to learn this lesson as well. So, as I wrote yesterday, if you’re reading this perhaps you should go to the Eggerich, Love and Respect, website [link provided] and purchase one of their books to help you learn how to break the crazy cycles of communication in a marriage and getting the benefits of the energizing and rewarding effects of going against what is natural by communicating messages which give your spouse what he/she needs in your marriage.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, give me the enabling grace to speak love to my wife because she needs it from me; and help her to overcome what I probably deserve by giving me, with grace, what I need in the honor she shows to me. Holy Spirit, energize our marriage with Your grace. Amen

Sunday, August 16, 2009

2009 – Day 227.Aug 16 – Truth Spoken In Love

Passage of the Day: Job 2: 10 … But [Job] said to [his wife], “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

My Journal for Today: When you consider how Job heard what his wife had to say (in verse 9 of Job 2), where she had spoken in horror for her husband to curse God and die, Chuck Swindoll posits that Job spoke the truth back to his wife in love. But I don’t think I agree with Pastor Swindoll completely here.

I do agree that Job rightfully and correctly confronted his wife with the truth as he saw it; but don’t you think he could have shown here a bit more consideration in avoiding labeling his wife as a “foolish woman?” Actually, I love scripture for many reasons; but one of them is the way it doesn’t hide human weakness; and here was a man who was covered in painful boils, a man who had just lost his 10 kids; and his wife blurts out that he should commit suicide and end it all.

Yes, Job listened to his wife; and he appears to have considered her input. However, when he responded to her, I think he could have done a better job of showing that he loved his wife with his response. Wives need to hear love from their husbands. My wife and I just returned from a Christian marriage seminar conducted by Emerson and Sara Eggerich, which was based on the truth about marriage found in Ephesians 5:33. You may know the verse, where the Apostle Paul tells married believers, “…let each one of you [husbands] in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Personally, I think Job’s wife could have shown her husband a little more respect by saying something like, “Oh, my dear, you are such a Godly man; and I can’t stand seeing you suffer like this. Let’s just end it all right here together.” And maybe Job could have said something like, “Dear one, I can understand what you say; and I know you love me; but it’s foolish to think that God doesn’t love us just because of the bad things which have happened to us.”

But I will say that Job and his wife at least confronted what was happening … head on; and they did not hide their feelings. And that is something that many married couples are unwilling to do. How often in a marriage do we leave the truth unsaid or try to avoid confrontation in love? Most of us tend to stuff our feelings and leave the truth unspoken. But this couple at least brought their feelings out into the open. I’m just saying that I think they could have done it with a bit more love (on his part) and respect (on her part).

What my wife and I learned yesterday at the Eggerich seminar, was the power of speaking love to a wife from a husband and respect from a wife to a husband, which has everything to do with how marital relationships will transpire. If a wife doesn’t feel loved in what a husband says or does, she will react with disrespect. If a husband senses or perceives disrespect from his wife, he will recoil and reactively avoid showing love to his wife. And it all leads to what Dr. Eggerich calls “the crazy cycle,” where communications go reactively negative and the wife becomes unwilling to communicate respect for her husband and the husband is unwilling to communicate love to his wife. However, when one of the couple is willing to break this cycle by showing the other what that one needs, the cycle can turn around and become positive and affirming where the wife feels loved and the husband respected.

Here’s where Job and his wife could, I believe, have done a better service to each other, even though they both, under great stress, were willing to share their real feelings. … Perhaps I’m being a bit presumptuous by criticizing this God-fearing couple in the midst of their horrible circumstances; but we all can learn from the reality of scripture, especially when we consider other parallel passages in God’s word about related matters; and this is what I’m trying to do by bringing Ephesians 5 to bear into our look at this highlight passage from the book of Job. We, who are married, can - and must - learn how to communicate openly and honestly. But we must do it with love and compassion for the needs of the other when we share our feelings in our relationships. And when we do, we can move forward, in love, knowing that we’ve honored God with our expressions while we consider the needs of our spouses as we share together.

PS: Any married readers of what I have shared here today may want to go to the website at this link [link provided] and learn more about the “Love and Respect” approach to marriage communications. It could change the way you view your spouse and bring your marriage into the focus of God’s instructions in Ephesians 5.

My Prayer for Today: Thank you, Lord, for a wife who respects me and one whom I love so dearly. Amen

Saturday, August 15, 2009

2009 – Day 226.Aug 15 – Watch and Wait

Passage of the Day: Job 2: 10 … But [Job] said to [his wife], “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

My Journal for Today: Swindoll says today, “Job’s response to his wife’s suggestion that he curse God and die is magnificent.” And of course, Chuck is right; but don’t you just about gag when you read that verse. I do. I’m the type that says, “No way I could ever be able to respond like that if I had just lost my everything, including my kids; and I’m sitting there covered with boils.” And, … of course, … that’s the point, isn’t it?

Job’s response is not human. It is superhuman. It is Christlike in its faithfulness.

I have no doubt that this scenario is truth; because long ago I realized and resolved that all in the Bible is truth. Oh, you may ask, “Is it allegorical truth; or is it actual truth?” And to that I’d say, “Does it matter? … Truth is truth!” So, if we read it in God’s book, we are reading truth which God wants us to read so that we can be shaped by God’s Spirit, the Author of His truth, into the likeness of The Christ, the arch type of so many of the characters of the Bible, men or women like we have been studying, … Joseph, Moses, Elijah, Esther, or Job. In these character studies we see modeled elements of the character of Christ; and we can glean from them who or how we should grow to become in life.

That is why I gag at the prospect of being like Job in verse 10 of Job 2. I’m not that strong; and right now I have trouble identifying with Job’s trust in God. But I do see that this kind of strength is way more that we’d expect from any of us. It’s simply way more than human. And there in lies the lesson. It’s the character traits of faith and trust in God to which we should aspire. It’s the path of character development to which we must commit our lives to become. It’s the prayer, as I will shortly, to become more like Christ today than yesterday; and even more like Him tomorrow than today.

So, join me, my dear one; and let’s make a covenant to grow into the statement we read in today’s passage … to become more like Job as we read this account today. And perhaps one day, down the road of life, when we face some horrendous set of circumstances, we’ll respond by thinking and acting more like Job than we could today.

My Prayer for Today: Father, grow me into the image of Your Son, Jesus; and I pray this in His Name. Amen

Friday, August 14, 2009

2009 – Day 225.Aug 14 – A Plea for Understanding

Passage of the Day: Job 2: 1 – 10 … Linked for study …

My Journal for Today:
Chuck Swindoll’s devotional this morning is a good one and it’s needed to gain perspective on “Mrs. Job,” the wife of our hero, Job, who has been felled by physical affliction. Pastor Chuck is right that we have a tendency to think ill of Job’s wife, especially when we read Job’s heroic exhortation in verse 10 of Job 2.

Here we have the hero, taking all Satan has to dole out; and when Job’s wife can’t take any more, she would rather see her husband, whom she loves dearly, being taken to heaven by God rather than having to suffer the way he is suffering. Remember, she too has lost everything they, as a couple, had together, … INCLUDING her ten kids. Shouldn’t we have some sympathy for Mrs. Job? And this is especially true when Job seems to call her down for speaking as a “foolish woman.”

I totally agree with Swindoll that the characterization of Job’s wife is way out of the ordinary; and Swindoll depicts truth when looking at most human marriages. It is usually the case, and it is certainly the case in my marriage, that the wife can take on adversity more readily than her husband. As the good Pastor writes it, “… going through sustained hard times weakens most men. [But] For some reason, hardship seems to strengthen most women.” And he goes on to point out that in most instances men lose their objectivity and balance when confronted by material loss and/or physical pain. Yet, when they’re sustained by a strong mate, a dedicated and loving wife, they can hold up to the pressure. Without that kind of spousal support, however, most men will crumble. And here, in this mutual scenario in the life of Job and his wife, it is Job who holds on to God’s perspective and remains strong; and his wife is the one who seems to crumble. My fellow readers, Swindoll contends, and I agree, that this scenario/example is not the norm; and we shouldn’t be too hard on Job’s wife.

Recently I had a prime example of what we’re speaking about here. A dear brother in Christ, a dear friend of mine, is waning in pain and agony from cancer. About seven years ago he was given a prognosis of less than a year to live with kidney and lung cancer. But he is still with us. And during all of the horrible and painful radiation treatments and devastating chemotherapy he has endured, fighting his disease, this man has retained a smile on his face and has witnessed to God’s love and sustaining power. And he will readily tell you, as he did to his church elders this week (I, being one of them) that he could not have taken all of these toxic treatments if it hadn’t been for the strength and support of his little, but powerful, wife. And I believe, having the same kind of wife, this is the normal scenario.

BUT, that’s not the picture we see in Job and his wife; and I hope we can all see that Job had been given, by God, an extra dose of sustaining, enabling grace; and he becomes a super-human example of how we must intentionally choose to follow God through “the valley of the shadow of death,” as David wrote about in Psalm 23, leading us to the peaceful valley on the other side, that place where Job’s wife lovingly, I believe, wanted for her husband, seeing him suffer with all those boils and after having lost, together, their ten children.

Well, as we know, Job comes through round two of this beating from Satan in the ring of life; and somehow he’s able to have an unusually strong constitution for a man when compared to his wife. And so, let’s give Mrs. Job a break here and cut her some slack. Job is right in stating that they both needed to trust God in all that then had encountered. But I think that Job, being weakened by his physical condition, was a bit harsh is calling his wife “foolish” in what she declared in wanting his suffering to end.

Let’s just all learn that God can, with our humble faith, pour all the sustaining power we need to handle the adversities of life. And as I’ve said, that is the joint message of 1st Cor. 10: 13 and 2nd Cor. 12: 9, which are two verses I hope you know, believe deeply, and can recite in prayer when you face adversity as our hero Job has faced. God simply won’t put us into any tribulations or temptations which we can’t handle with His faithful help; and His grace is truly sufficient to allow Him to give us what we need from His power to cover our own weaknesses.

My dear one, I hope you can hold onto that truth as our role model Job does. We are going to face trials and troubles in our lives; and we need to follow our model, Job, and build a deep/abiding relationship with God which will sustain us when we face the troubled times in life. That’s why I come here to this place, my quiet time in God’s word, EVERY DAY. I’m not there yet; but I will keep going deep with God each day so that when I must follow my God through that valley of the shadow of death, I will come out the other side and find the valley of living waters and the peace of my fellowship with my Lord.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to be sustained when I must walk with You in troubles. Amen

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009 – Day 224.Aug 13 – Round One

Passage of the Day: Job 2: 1 – 9 … Linked for study …

My Journal for Today:
Okay … in this cataclysmic battle between the lightweight, Job, and the heavyweight, Satan, the fallen angel had won round one. And the damaged and defeated Job went to his corner, reeling from the beating by Satan and not having a clue as to why he had been beaten up so severely. And while Job was likely lying with his wife that night processing all that had happened, round two in the heavenlies was taking shape.

Satan encountered God a second time, once again unbeknownst to Job; and the license to attack this faithful and Godly man was extended. Satan, the accuser, tries to convince God that Job may have lasted round one; but if Satan were allowed to attack the man himself, without killing him, Satan was sure Job would curse God. And so the bell rings on round two; and Satan does a pounding on Job again, felling him more personally leaving him in pain and agony, but this time the damage was directly to Job’s body.

And then to add insult to injury, the only person left in Job’s corner, his wife, wants Job to throw in the towel, to curse God, and die. Round two and it looks like Job has had about as much as he can take. But like me, you’ve no doubt read ahead; and you know the story, which is far from over. And we keep asking ourselves, “WHY, God?” And Swindoll uses a more recent time in our own American history to explore our feelings about such seemingly unfair attacks. He takes his readers, like yours truly, to the consideration of all the innocent men, women, and children who were injured or damaged from the 911 tragedies. They all went to work that morning or maybe took their kids to daycare, not having a clue that their lives were about to change forever. And then those planes crashed into the twin towers, and then the Pentagon, and the final one in a field in Pennsylvania. And the survivors who lost their loved ones, many of them spouses or children, were reeling from asking, “Why, God?”

And I don’t think we’ll ever by able to answer those questions; because the answers have to come from God; and as with the case of Job, he was left with the choice of cursing God and maybe committing suicide or trusting God that His Lord must have something from all this pain which he, this damaged warrior must fight on to explain. And as we’ll see, that is what Job did. He chose to live and to fight onward.

And that is what we must do. Last night my psyche got beaten up pretty badly. I’ll not go into the circumstances; but I came away from a meeting of church leaders with an attitude of “why, Lord, must we deal with all these feelings?” And then I’m here this morning I’m reminded that I may not be able to explain it all; but I must fight on because I do believe in the truth of Romans 8: 28; and I do believe in the reality that God has called me to fight on, trusting Him, and following Him into battle. So, here I sit; and maybe I’m not damaged as much as was Job; but I will fight on nonetheless; because like Job, I believe that my God is in control and He wants me to fight to know Him and to serve His mighty Name.

My Prayer for Today: Thank You, Lord for being My Savior and the One I must pursue to know more and serve more. Amen

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

2009 – Day 223.Aug 12 – Hold Everything Loosely

Passage of the Day: Focus on Job 1: 21 … 20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: “ Naked I came from my mother’s womb, … And naked shall I return there. …The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; … Blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

My Journal for Today:
Chuck Swindoll indicated that the title he used for today’s devotional, Hold Everything Loosely, could be a summary title for the entire first chapter of the book of Job. As I have studied this chapter with Swindoll these past days, I have been asking and challenging myself with the question, “How would I react if I lost everything, … including our daughters and their families?” Would my kneejerk response be to worship my God, … the One Who has given me all the blessings of this life I lead?

I know what it says in 1st Thes. 5: 18 and Eph. 5: 20 … that we are exhorted by God’s own word to thank our Lord in all things. But honestly, … I don’t know if I’m mature enough as a Christian to thank my Savior if He chose to take our children suddenly and without any apparently earthly or humanly understandable reason … as He did with Job. I’m afraid my flesh would react by crying out to God, saying something like, “Why, God?! It’s so unfair!!!”

But here I am safely able to read of Job and his worshipful reaction to all this horror brought upon him by Satan and allowed by God; and I can safely see that Job’s response was and is the model of our faith and trust in God. As Swindoll alludes, one can just imagine Satan seeing Job’s response to all the calamity he had wrought upon Job and having to admit to God, “Well, You were right, this man Job was more dedicated to You than I thought he would be.” So, without realizing it, Job’s response to all the horrible things which transpired was an “in your face” statement to Satan about the sovereignty of our God.

Job honestly and reactively was saying to anyone who observed his witness, “God is in control. He brought us into the world; and only He has the right to take us from it.” As Swindoll very aptly points out, and in his words, "We enter this world with our tiny fists clenched, screaming; but we always leave the world with hands open on our silent chests.” … Wow! What a word picture reminding us of the need to learn in life the ability to hold the valued things loosely, allowing God’s ownership and control to be acknowledged and exercised.

I hope we can all see from this first chapter in Job’s story, that God owns it all; and He can use it for His glory in any way He so chooses. … Hold it loosely, my friends.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, You are God. You gave it to me; and You can take it away. Help me to remember and live by that truth. Amen

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

2009 – Day 222.Aug 11 – On Loan

Passage of the Day: Focus on Job 1: 21 … 20 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said: “ Naked I came from my mother’s womb, … And naked shall I return there. …The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; … Blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.

My Journal for Today: Chuck Swindoll begins today’s focus on verse 21 of Job’s entry chapter, … that incredibly powerful and poetic response of Job to all the grief and horror which had beset this man. And what Satan heard from the man he had wagered would curse God had to have been the worst words he could hear. And these words, praising instead of cursing God, were truly incredible, weren’t they? And I think, after yesterday’s study, looking at verse 20 and reading of Job’s grief response to fall down and worship God, avoiding the “WHY, ME!” reaction most – if not all – of us would have, we be awe stricken, even as was Satan, by our hero’s, faithful reaction.

And now we read, in verse 21, Job’s powerfully poetic response; and it’s worthy of repeating …
“ Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

And when we analyze this grief stricken response as Job worships his God, we read some astounding theological truths. And as Swindoll points out in his devotional study, we cannot deny that we come into the world as helpless, naked little babes; and in the normal course of life, we leave the world as wrinkled, helpless corpses. And, in between, everything we gain or have in life is on loan from the hand of God. Swindoll, uses a quote from a New Testament truth, to help explain this statement from Job, writing from James 1: 17, “… every good and perfect gift if from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.”

However, we ask, how could a man who had lost everything God had loaned him, remember this truth and reflexively respond to the terror of this moment by praising God in his horror stricken realization? And my friends, I cannot explain it … other than it coming from God pouring His own enabling grace into the mind and heart of the man Satan had undertaken, as a prideful project, to show up God.

Somehow, my dear one, we must learn that God can, if we will but surrender to Him, give us the enabling grace to handle even the most desperate challenges in life. Yesterday we looked at Paul’s exhortation in 1st Cor. 10: 13 about how God will not allow us into any trial we cannot handle without His faithful help. And today, God helped me remember a tandem truth, from 2nd Cor. 12: 9, which I often call up from memory, which always seems to go with that one from 1st Cor. I hope you know it, as it reads, as Paul’s only direct quote from Jesus in his letters. And these are red letters, if you have such a Bible. In Jesus’ own words, “My grace is sufficient for you; for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

And there you have our Lord’s promises as to how a man like Job, or a weakened believer like you or me, could worship and praise God in the face of horrible grief. It was for Job, or it is for us, because we can be able to surrender our own will to God’s. Job was able to let God’s grace cover his own weakness; and it was God’s grace which responded to the horrible circumstances, not Job’s desire to be compensated for the grief which had befallen him.

My friend, may we all pray, as I will now, that we understand and remember that all we have from God is on loan and we ALWAYS must praise our God for what HE has given us in this life.

My Prayer for Today: LORD, You are the giver of life and all things we have. May our surrender to You in life ALWAYS be thanks and praise, … yes, even when all is taken from us. Amen

Monday, August 10, 2009

2009 – Day 221.Aug 10 – Humble Submission

Passage of the Day: Job 1: 20 … Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped.

My Journal for Today: Just one sentence from the first chapter of Job is provided today to help us reflect on the reaction of Job when he learned, in rapid succession, of the devastation to his life which had be wrought by Satan who had been allowed by God to do what we read having been done to Job. However, from this one sentence, when one studies the Hebrew text, as my devotional guide Chuck Swindoll has done, we see our Godly hero responding in a series of actions to indicate his absolute and humble submission to God’s will in what had transpired.

Job’s first two actions were to arise and tear his robe, which was the way in the Hebrew culture of the day to public announce a state of horrible grief or utter anguish. For anyone who has unexpectedly lost a close loved one, especially a child, that person would be able to empathize – somewhat - with the grief of Job’s loss. But to lose ten children in one perceived “act of God;” well, that would be hard for any of us to imagine the level of grief being expressed by Job by the tearing of his outer garment.

The next action on Job’s part was to shave his head, which was another cultural expression of grief. The hair for a Jewish man, usually grown long, was an expression of personal glory; and when one shaved his head it was a way of declaring that that one had lost all things dear to him; and most certainly that is what had happened to Job.

Job had lost almost all which was had been given to him by God. Really, only his wife remained from his immediate family; and all of God’s blessings from the Lord’s providence had been taken from Job. But the loss of ALL of his children in what had to have been perceived by Job as an “act of God,” was certainly a total devastation to all that Job would have considered his glory; and shaving his head was his way of expressing, “it’s all gone!”

But then we have the final action from Job; and this intentional action speaks volumes as to how Job surrendered to God responds as he sees God allowing such devastation into his life. And let me emphasize that this final action was a very personal and intentional choice which demonstrated the attitude of Job toward the God Whom had given him all which had been taken away on that day of horrors. Our hero, Job, falls to his face, prostrate before God, and worships. As Swindoll put it, “He [Job] doesn’t wallow and wail; … he worships.” And if one reads on, we see the extent of Job’s humble surrender in worship. But we’ll explore that tomorrow as you can read that Job refuses to choose to be angry with God.

At this moment, however, Job has chosen to worship God rather than ask “WHY” of his Lord. And I maintain that this response was way beyond the realm of natural. No, … this response – and it was an intentional response – was an expression of super-natural faith and trust in God. And I speculate, and believe, that God, who had given Satan the right to do what he did to Job, foreknew that He would be giving Job a super-dose of enabling grace.

And herein we learn one of the most powerful lessons which I was taught years ago by my mentor, a biblical lesson which I have burned into my memory and heart from the New Testament; and that is the lesson of 1st Cor. 10: 13. And I pray that you have memorized and internalize this truth … that ... “No temptation (also translated ‘test, tribulation, or trial’) has overtaken you except such is common to man; but God is faithful, Who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able; but with the temptation will make the way of escape that you may be able to bear it (i.e.,, the trial, test, tribulation, or temptation).”

And we see that truth lived out and modeled here as Job is confronted with as an extreme of a trial or test as one could or would ever encounter. And his response was humble worship! Let me pray that this will be our response or reflex when we are tried in the fires of life.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, give us Your strength to allow us to worship You through any trial which comes our way. Amen

Sunday, August 09, 2009

2009 – Day 220.Aug 09 – Necessary Consequences

Passage of the Day: Job 1: 13 – 22 … Linked for study …

My Journal for Today:
Today Chuck Swindoll does a little renewing of purpose from the latter half of Job 1. He reminds those of us who’re following his devotional book that many of us may be able to empathize with Job, the man of God and Godly man we study in the Scriptural account by his name. And if you’re reading along with me, you may be one of them. Certainly I am one.

And so Swindoll reiterates that God has a perspective on time and events which we do not have. Swindoll didn’t quote from it; but I have pointed to Isaiah 55: 8-9 and Romans 8: 28 the last few days to let God’s word tell us that there are just some circumstances in our lives which God cannot or will not explain which He imparts or sanctions in our lives which are for our good. And we often become like rebellious teenagers who just don’t understand what a caring father is doing as we experience a severe grounding or some harsher privation.

Right now in my life I have some serious shoulder arthritis which is keeping me from the one form or exercise which I’ve used in the past to help control my diabetes, which God likely allowed into my life to help me deal with my gluttonous nature. So, I get into the habit of swimming to control my blood sugar; and I had become quite disciplined at it to be able to avoid taking harsh medications to control the diabetes. Well, now, along comes this shoulder pain and I’m not able to swim laps anymore. And I’m here wondering why God would bring this life limiting pain into my life which keeps me from doing something very positive (i.e., swimming) to be a good steward of the body God gave me to glorify Him. What’s this all about, I wonder?

Do you have anything like that in your life; … some issue in life which you can’t understand the “WHY” behind it? Maybe you just wonder why God would allow the world to fall apart financially the way it has. Perhaps you have been a good steward of God’s providence and you are perplexed to see why the government would do what it has, bailing out companies and throwing the country into debt which you know will come crashing down around your family in the future. Why has God allowed this to happen?

Yes, my dear one, there are just some things we cannot, nor likely will not, ever be able to explain; but we can do what Job did. And in today’s passage we see Job following the advice of a man he never knew, … a man who would live centuries later, the old Apostle Peter in 1st Peter 5: 7, when he wrote to Christians, “… humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, … casting all your cares on Him Who cares for you.” It’s all we really can do, my fellow believer, when things have run amuck and we are totally unable to see why God has allowed into our lives what has transpired.

God may seem absent; and it may seem like He doesn’t care; but I will pray for us today to understand and believe that God is never absent; … and He always cares.

My Prayer for Today: Oh, dear Lord, help all of us who love You to see that You have our backs and You are working all things together for our good. Amen

Saturday, August 08, 2009

2009 – Day 219.Aug 08 – Walk By Faith, Not By Sight

Passage of the Day: Job 1: 1 – 12 … Linked for study …

My Journal for Today:
Okay; here we are. It’s day number four in my study of Job and Chuck Swindoll has us locked into a study of this same passage from the first twelve verses of, Job’s book. And he seems to be drilling home one overriding point that he wants his readers, whom he assumes are Christians, to hold onto; and that truth, in his own words, reads thusly: "We never know ahead of time what plans God has for us."

You know we accuse teenagers of being too “here-and-now” oriented. They think of themselves as indestructible, never imagining that anything bad could happen to them. And we see them making here-and-now decisions, not thinking ahead what bad things might happen. BUT, are we, so-called mature adults that much different? Job went to bed one night thinking that all was right with the world and with his faith in God; and within a few short days, because of this deal in the unseen heavens between God and Satan, he’s totally busted, losing everything. He didn’t have a clue that his life was to take a horrible turn and that his life, … the life of a man who totally trusted in his God, would be totally turned upside down without him being able to see it coming.

I woke up today, and I profess to totally believe in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And, my dear ones, I don’t anticipate anything really bad will happen to me today. I just came here to my quiet place to pray to my God and to read Chuck Swindoll’s devotional entry for today, which is titled “Live By Faith, Not by Sight,” which, of course, is a reference from the Apostle Paul in 2nd Cor. 5: 7 where he was reminding believers that if the worse happens and we suddenly lose our earthly lives, we may be absent in the body but we will be present with the Lord.

Folks, … Chuck Swindoll is absolutely right. I have no idea what will befall me today. Oh, I have plans. I have my “to do list.” But I really don’t have a clue what God has in store for my life in HIS BIG PICTURE. And I’m glad! How would I live by faith if I knew, without any doubt, exactly what was to befall me for the rest of this day or week or year? The concept of FAITH would be meaningless, wouldn’t it? And that’s one of the biggest lessons we glean from studying the life of Job; and we’ve only dipped into the first twelve verses.

We simply must live by faith and not by sight; because we have no clue what is going on in God’s plan and purpose for our lives. Oh, we know, from God’s word, the truths which we can bank on everyday to guide our lives; but as I’ve said by referring to God’s truth in Isaiah 55: 8-9 the last few days, God’s dealings with regard to our specific lives are unknown to us. And, really, … that’s as it should be so that I can simple TRUST GOD by faith – not by sight.

Chuck Swindoll, closes out his devotional today with these word. … "We never know what a day will bring, whether good or ill. Our heavenly Father’s plan unfolds apart from our awareness. Ours is a walk of faith, not sight. Trust, not touch. Leaning long and hard, not running away. No one knows ahead of time what the Father’s plan includes. It’s best that way. … [But] … We can be certain of this: our God knows what is best.”

My Prayer for Today:
Yes, Lord, I’m walking today, not by sight, but following You, in faith, knowing that You’re leading me no matter what I might encounter. Amen

Friday, August 07, 2009

2009 – Day 218.Aug 07 – The Unseen Enemy

Passage of the Day: Job 1: 1 – 12 … Linked for study ...

My Journal for Today:
Yes, we revisit the same passage in Job for the third day; and our devotional shepherd, Chuck Swindoll, is trying to drive home a point that we simply must not miss; but it is one which is hard to accept. And that point concerns our acceptance of the fact that there are times when we simply cannot explain the WHY behind the license God gives Satan to do what he does to us or with us.

Yesterday I quoted from Isaiah 55: 8-9 [link provided], where we read a powerful, but perplexing, truth. So, Swindoll is saying that we are going to have to decide to refrain from reacting to trials and tribulations by going through the “WHY, ME, LORD” routine. Swindoll’s point is that if we allow ourselves to fall prey to what Satan is trying to do with us by being allowed to lead us through the “valley of the shadow of death,” we can easily become angry at God, which will ultimately lead to bitterness and even depression. And at that point we’re in a place where our witness is damaged and useless; and that’s exactly where The Accuser wants us.

Yes, I know it’s hard to avoid the “WHY, ME, LORD” syndrome. It’s just so natural to take the knee-jerk route of anger when things don’t go our way. It’s hard to realize that we have unseen forces working out of sight and way above our realm of daily action, who are plotting to bring us down and damage our testimony to the point where we become ineffective in the public arena. And yes, it’s very hard to take it that God would allow this. And it’s even easier to go to God, lamenting “WHY, ME, LORD!” It all just seems so unfair, especially when we’re serving God as He’s called us to do; and Satan is given the opportunity to drag us through what David wrote about in Psalm 23 as “… the valley of the shadow of death.”

But David also captured the truth of today’s message when, following the exclamation about the valley, God had David write, “But [God] You are with me.” And you probably can quote the rest of it from memory as to how God, our Good Shepherd, will guide us through this dark path and lead us to the peaceful waters on the other side. And while this is going down, this walk through the darkness, we must believe and recognize the truth of the NT message of 1st John 4: 4 (and I hope you can quote it from memory, too), which states, “Greater is HE that is in you (and that is Christ) than he (Satan) who is in the world.”

No, we may not understand or be able to reason why God has given Satan the license to lead us into the valley of the shadow of death; but we can bank on the truth that God has a very good reason; and according to Deut. 31: 8, God is not only going to be with us as we walk through that dark valley, He has gone ahead of us (see also 1st Cor. 10: 13) to insure that we’ll walk out the other side of the valley into the light and the peace of God’s love. And this process , as we read of Job going through all he’s going to go through (if you read on ahead), is for God’s good and perfect reasoning; and as we know from another NT passage (Romans 8: 28), it’s all for our good, just as we’re going to see it was for Job.

So, my friend, if you’re being buffeted by our unseen enemy, know that our God hasn’t lost control. He is still our sovereign, all-knowing, all-powerful, ever present, but unseen God. And He’ll never leave us, nor forsake us, as we are being allowed to enter and walk through the dark, scary valley where we may be right now. Keep walking, dear one; and walk in the promise and hope of Christ.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, though I may not see You, I know that I walk with you. Amen