Sunday, September 30, 2012

Job 27 - False Witnessing

Job remains adament that he is falsely accused and that his enemies will falls by the hand of God.  Our jails and prisons are full of men and women who insist that they are innocent.  Sadly, the truth is that some of them are.  They have been falsely accused.  Witnesses, for whatever self-motivated purposes have come against them and have falsely accused them.  The accused will spend many days or years and maybe a life-time behind bars because of the injustice of others. 

Apparently, in their own righteousness, Job's friends do not fully comprehend the eighth commandment: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."  This commandment does not just mean that you can't go and lie in court about someone.  The greater meaning is that we should not lie about them ever.  We should also not betray slander or defame him, but speak well of him. (Small Catechism).  As I teach our young people:  No Gossiping, no telling stories about their friends that make them look bad: particularly because most stories are taken out of context and exaggerated. And.. No, accusing them of stupid stuff and then claim they were just kidding is not an appropriate form of fun!  Lieing about our neighbor is not appropriate in any circumstance.  False witnessessing, defamation of character, disrespect are not funny or fun activities.  These things can break a person. Support your neighbor.  Oh, but it would be nice if we could learn to love and respect not just God, but our neighbor, as well.

God's Peace - Pr. J


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Job 26 - Outer Fringes

Job is being just a bit facetious.  He rebukes Bildad - you think you're wise?  LOL!!  His words are a reminder that we are nothing in comparison to God.  In fact, even the things we know (or think we know) about God are nothing in comparison to whom God actually is.  As Job put it, these things "are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” (vs 14 NIV)

Those things that we do know about God are pretty great.  Just think, there are even more marvelous things about Him that we can't even begin to comprehend!

I have to share a little of my flight back from Austin, TX today, with you. First off, that is why this blog is so late.  Flights were booked back to back and there was no time for connecting to wifi anywhere.  Then, when I did get home, we went to a fund-raiser supper for our new roof and furnace at the Aura Lutheran Church.  I enjoyed being in Texas.  It has been very dry (until last night).  The landscape is definitely unique - rough - but - beautiful in its own way.  It was also a sad time, as I was there for the funeral of our friend and brother in Christ, Pat Whelan.  On the flight home today, though, I tried to make time fly, by watching the landscapes below.  I kept looking for that green stuff on the surface of the earth.  But, about all that I saw was brown, patchwork pieces in various shades of brown.  The view began to change the closer we got to Green Bay and then as we crossed the line between Wisconsin and Upper Michigan it was like crossing into another world.  Beneath us, there appeared a magnificent flower garden.  So far below, the fall leaves appeared as a vast and vibrant garden, as far as the eye could see.  The multitude of sunlit lakes and rivers were of various shades of blue as the wispy clouds cast shadows over them.  It was absolutely amazing!  I have never been on a color tour like that!  And all that... is but the outer fringes of His work, just a faint whisper of His glory!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, September 28, 2012

Job 25 - God is God

OK.  So I gotta tell you.  Today, I am really thinking like Bildad.  The whole chapter is Bildad's reply and Bildad's reply is basically this: God is God.  He's all it!  We're not! Simple stuff.  Lucky thing for us this God loves us.

Make sure you read the chapter today :)  It is very short! 6 verses! I am pre-writing.  I will be somewhere around Austin, TX when it gets posted. But, as my mind begins to fade after this many hours in one day and I will be getting up in 4 hours, I think I'll try to figure out how to write Saturdays on Saturday! 

Have a blessed day!  God's Peace - Pr. J


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Job 24 - Day of Judgment

“Why does the Almighty not set times for judgment?" (vs 1 NIV)

I think maybe Job is not thinking very straight in his pain.  He's looking way to forward to God executing His judgment on the world. Sure some of us might look forward to it.  But, what about those who are not prepared for it? I don't think we have to rush it because, I've got a pretty good idea that God knows what He's doing and has picked an appointed time for judgement.  Actually, that idea is backed up by scripture.  See Zephania 1; Malachi 4; Matthew 10, 11; 2 Peter 2, 3; 1 John 4; and Jude 1. God has a plan.  Everything is in His time.  Just because we can't figure out the date or the time, doesn't mean God hasn't ordained it.

The Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem writes in Ecclesiastes (3:17 ):
“God will bring into judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time to judge every deed.”
I know there have been days when some of us wished that day would hurry up and get here, just like Job.  But, let us remember that none of us are without sin.  I know that there is no way that we can show the mercy and grace and the patience! that God has shown us.  But, how about if we give it a try? 
May God help us, to have patience, quit worrying about others are not helping those in need, and help them ourselves.  :)  God's Peace - Pr. J.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Job 23 - God Knows The Way

"But he knows the way that I take..." (vs 10 NIV)  God knows.  This morning, I forgot that it was Wednesday and at 8:40, after sitting around drinking coffee and reading; something triggered my memory and I realized that I needed to be at a Bible Study in 20 minutes. I made it in time, but barely! Even when we can't figure out what we're suppose to be doing, where we are heading, God knows. 

We may not be aware of His presence all of the time.  But, He is there, with us, all of the time.  And... he knows everything that we do and say and think, all the time.  Nothing can stay hidden from him.  We may try to hide the reality of ourselves from ourselves, but God knows.  He knows the way we take and He knows the way we should take and is willing to lead us in that way. If we would, but listen, we would know. 

It can be a pretty scary when we realize that even though we think we've buried our skeletons in the closet so deep that no one can find them, that there is someone who knows.  That someone is our Creator and our Redeemer.  Thanks be to God, that He was/is aware of all our darkest secrets and sent His only begotten Son that in Jesus the Christ, that in spite of the paths that we have sometimes followed, we would be found righteous on that day of judgement.

Let us give thanks that God is aware of the way we take and loves us enough to intercede, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Job 22 - Search Our Own Heart

Eliphaz makes some very good points here.  But, we don't know Job.  Even if we were there, we wouldn't truly know Job. Like Eliphaz, it's not our place to figure out why Job is enduring such hardship, but to help him in his time of need.  It not our place to judge Job.  We can't know Job, what is in his heart.  But, we can know ourselves.  Do we demand interest from our relatives, adding hardship to hardship?  Do we leave the hungry without food and the thirsty without water?  How are we treating the widow and orphan these days?  How are we helping?  How are we hindering?

At Zion, our annual Toys 4 Tots Concert will be held on the last Sunday of October.  We have so much fun at it - bringing toys and raising funds so that all of the children of Baraga County (one of the counties with highest unemployment in the country) will receive gifts this Christmas.  This will be our 10th Concert for the children.  In all that time, I have never seen or heard of any strife coming out of the concert or in the organizing of it.  It is, for those who participate (the music is great!) and attend, a joy to be able to reach out and give to the children. 

As we search our own hearts, and maybe our pasts.  When was it that you were most happy?  In giving?  In reaching out to others?  Or in serving yourself? It is not in our job descriptions to judge our neighbors.  We can only search our own hearts and following in the footsteps of Jesus reach out to our neighbors in need.

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."  (Matt 35:36 NIV)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, September 24, 2012

Job 21: ICU - I See You

Job reminds his friends that a lot of wicked people flourish.  He reminds us that you cannot judge whether one is good or evil by the circumstances that they live in.  It is not what one has or does that determines whether God loves us or not.  Seeing the true character of man is not dependent upon what our physical eyes see.  The heart of man is not worn on the outside, but within. 

One of the modern miracles of technology is the cell phone.  I know a lot of people think that they're over used and misused, including myself.  However, it is an invaluable tool for me to be able to keep track of my granddaughter who spends a lot of time with me.  It has a GPS tracking device on it so when she goes to a friends, her dad and I could actually check to make sure she is where she says.   When we're out shopping together, when it's time to leave, all I have to do is text her the register number and she's there in a moment - no running around looking for her.  And, when we go to football games and she thinks I can't see her I can remind her, without embarrassing her in front of her friends, that she needs to take some corrective actions.  (My eyes aren't so bad that I can't see across the football field.)  If her behavior is starting to escalate, I text something like:  "Come here now" and if I see an attitude beginning to build within her, I text "ICU."  I see you - I know her well enough to see right through to her next move and the next move better not happen!  Texting ICU is way worse than texting, come here now, because it uncovers what one would like to keep covered.  It's like opening the closet and the skeletons falling out.  My sons use to say this was assuming on my part, since they hadn't actually done anything, and they weren't thrilled with it.  Funny how now her father sees her, too, just like I use to see him.  When we know and love someone, we are connected to them in a very strange way and we can, in a sense, see the stirrings in their hearts and minds.     

Just because someone looks good on the outside, it doesn't necessarily mean they are good on the inside and just because someone looks bad on the outside, it doesn't necessarily mean they are pure evil on the inside.  Good and bad survive in this world together.  It would behoove us to learn to connect to the real person within, to the spiritual person, so that we're not busy condemning people because of the not so good circumstances that might surround them.

Oh, maybe you think that I am judging my granddaughter.  I am not.  I am trying to train her up in the way that she should go, because I love her and that love is unconditional.  It may not always be comfortable for her, but I'm pretty sure she "sees me" enough to know how much I do love her. I want her to learn how to see people and not just what she see's with her eyes, but the whole person.  And.. yes, I want to protect her and teach her to protect herself by being able to observe the world around her.  There is good and there is evil in this world.  And... not everything is as it appears on the surface.  Sometimes evil looks, on the surface, very good (like the freinds) and what looks bad (Job) is actually very good.

Well, sorry I rambled a bit this morning - hope it makes sense.  Have a blessed day and may the peace of the LORD be with you always.  Pr. J.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Job 20 - Pride

Seems Zophar is a little confused.  First off it appears that he assumes that he is righteous and Job is not.  But, there's a problem here.  He is disturbed with Job's rebuke.  He says, "I hear a rebuke that dishonors me, and my understanding inspires me to reply." (vs. 3) He goes on to say: "Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever, like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he? (vs 6, 7)

Is not hearing a rebuke that dishonors him and entices him to reply not his own ego, his own pride. Seems to me that Zophar can't see his own pride in what he says. He cannot comprehend his own sin.  Only the sin of the other, of Job.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" (Matt 7:3)

In all reality there is only one without sin and that is the one who gave himself for us, that even though we sin, yet, we may live in the eternal presence of God our Father, our Saviour Jesus the Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we read Zophar's response, remember that Zophar is concerned with the outcome of our actions (our works) in this world.  Whereas, Job yesterday, reminded us that we will see our Redeemer face to face in the kingdom to come.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and it's righteousness.... (Matt 6:33)

God's Peace - Judy


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Job 19 - Class System

I woke up this morning from this really strange dream.  I can't remember it all, but it had something to do with kings and queens, dukes and duchesses, lording it over the peasants.  I woke up wondering what right any one thought they had treating each other in this manner.  The dream may have been triggered because we've been reading Job for 19 days now or maybe it had something to do with the homecoming at Baraga School last night.  At homecoming they crown the kings and queens, dukes and duchesses and princesses.  I, as I usually do, watched youth lord it over others. Oh, the games they play with each others lives! I wonder about the pain those who are lorded over suffer.  This morning I am wondering if this ritual that schools all over the country inflict upon the youth supports a "class" system. Does it encourage, dare I say it, even bullying?  I am certainly glad that I am not a young person today.  Way too much drama, way too much strife...  And... they suffer inside as they are pushed aside by their peers.

Job, too, was pushed aside by his peers, his friends.  But, he still had hope.  His hope was seeing his redeemer, knowing is redeemer, being with his redeemer.  I sure wish that our children would know such hope.

May God grant that eyes would be opened so that all could know that our Redeemer lives!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, September 21, 2012

Job 18 - Respect and Love?

Job's getting accused, again.  Pretty much, Bildad is saying that the wages of sin is death and you are a sinner and you have received what you deserve... repent.! 

Now, I don't know about you, but reading all these accusations against Job is getting just a little much.  I'm imagining what it would feel like to hear all of this law thrown at you when you are at your lowest.  Instead of help, accusations and persecution.  There are good purposes for the law, but there comes a time when a little good news; when a little loving compassion would go a whole lot further.

Not long ago, one of my sermons was about respecting one another.  Now, respect, I think, is usually earned.  It is earned by one's actions, by one's position, by many things.  But, love is not earned.  Love just is.  Job, according to the story, has lived a life that should have earned his friends respect.  He receives none.  And, as a friend of these men, one would think they would show a little more loving compassion.  He receives none.  Sadly, this story is not only a story from history.  It is the story of today, as well. Where in this world can we turn so that one can be treated with both love and respect?  Hopefully, it is the church.  Again, sadly that isn't always so.

May God help us to treat one another with respect even as the love of Christ, who abides in all who believe, loves our neighbor, loves our friends.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Job 17 - Christ, Our Security and Saviour

"Who else will put up security for me?" (vs. 3)

In the darkness of the night, when we are lonely and persecuted who indeed will put up security for us?  Who will save us?  There is none other than our Lord, Jesus the Christ, who is our security, our comforter, our saviour. 

When all else fails; when we finally figure out that humankind cannot save us; where do we turn?  We turn to our Lord and Savior.  In Christ alone will we find rest and security.

God's Peace - Pr. J

A very short devotion for this morning - my mind is working on a devotion, sermon, newsletter, stewardship, etc... all at the same time!  Oh, yes, and I need to catch up with the speaker for our retreat coming up next month to do some planning.  The later along in the week we get, the further behind it seems I get. May God bless the work of our hands, the words of our lips, the meditations of our hearts and minds, every step that we take, that all that we say and think and do will be acceptable in His sight and glorify Him, our Rock and our Redeemer.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Job 16 - Are You Sick or Something?

Are you sick or something?  Something has to be wrong with you to speak to me with such hurtful words and tones when I, myself, am sick?  What is wrong with you? Job questions his tormentors, his "friends."  He's not only been afflicted by Satan, but now he's afflicted with "friends" who attack him.  Ever been there?  When trouble strikes, your friends or family turn on you?  I know most of you have, might even be now.

It is a sad day when our friends accuse us falsely so that they can look good in their own eyes.  We are left deserted.  The feelings of loneliness can send us to a sickbed as quick as any physical disease.  When will we learn to care for and support one another in time of need?  Is it really too much to ask to love our neighbor?  How can we possibly love our enemies, when we can't even love our friends?

I was on the Voice of the Martyrs web-site yesterday reading stories about how our brothers and sisters in Christ, all around the world, are being accused and thrown into prisons.  It seems, just as Job, who was faithful to God, was accused of being unfaithful; those who follow in the footsteps of Jesus will also reap accusations of being unfaithful. Yet, when we are accused of not following the one true God, we have one who will intercede for us (that is the one true God).  We have one who is with us in these times of sorrowful loneliness.  We have one who was deserted by all and truly went to the grave for us.  We have Jesus the Christ. 

May the peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ be with you now and always.

Pr. J

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Job 15 - Politics and Wisdom

Job's friend, Eliphaz, responds to Job.  He pretty much tells him that he is arrogant, thinking that he is wise, when there are men that are much wiser than he.

The story goes on with Job's friend accusing him, attacking him.  It is pretty amazing that anyone would do this to an enemy, let alone a friend.  But, is that not what we do?  Is that not what humanity does? That is, man attacks man.  Who is wise?

I have been watching more news lately than usual.  It just amazes me that instead of addressing issues.  Instead of informing voters what a politician stands for, politicians accuse their opponents, informing us all of what they think their opponents stand for.  There is very little truth in any of it. Who can possibly figure out the truth with so much slander be slung? Way too much slander, way too many false accusations.  This is the wisdom of the age:  to fund-raise so politicians can tell lies to the public rather than raise funds to help the country feed it's people, rather than to help small businesses, teachers, children.  Would it not be wiser to spend less money on slander and tearing down one's opponent and use the finances to help a world in need instead?  How about if the candidates had to tithe the campaign funds they raised to the national treasury?  The scandal of it all is that we continue to contribute to this poor stewardship.  We continue to support a system that allows candidates to run on a platform to help the people while they are slandering their opponent and using funds that could genuinely help the nation for their own agendas. 

One (plus) out of every three years spent in campaigning rather than doing the jobs they were elected to do doesn't sound that wise to me.

It would just be really nice if in our election processes, there would be less arrogance and less slander of one another and not just within the presidential campaign, all of them.  BTW - I did have a local politician stop by the other day to let me know where he stood as candidate.  He did this without slandering his opponent, rather he spoke quite highly of him.  I know his opponent and neither of them have slandered the other.  This is a refreshing break!  It is quite wise of both of them!

I'll try to keep the news off today...

God's Peace - Judy

Monday, September 17, 2012

Job 14 - Life is Short or Not

“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble."  (vs 1)  Job is being just a little pessimistic here.  He's in a lot of pain and wants out.  But, the truth is that we have more hope than the trees!  They indeed will sprout again if you don't dig the roots out and burn them.  But, so will we.  Our days on earth are truly very short.  But, for those who believe in the Lord, Jesus the Christ, they shall inherit eternal life.

There are so many scripture verses in the New Testament to support our eternal life, where can I point you.  Probably the most well known verse is from John 3:16 (NIV). "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

" Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life."  (John 12:23-25) 

Life in this world may be short, but for those whose hope is in the LORD, even though we die at age 100, we are young, for we have inherited the eternal kingdom of God, through Jesus Christ, our LORD. 

God's Peace - Pr. J.

P.S.  For those who have not heard:  Our dear brother in Christ, Chuck Mink died this past week.  His funeral will be in Wisconsin where he has been on hospice for the past few weeks.  We will have a graveside service and committal for him at the Skanee Cemetery next Sunday (Sept 23rd) at noon following the Worship Service.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Job 13

Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless person would dare come before him! (vs 16)

Indeed no righteous person can stand before God.  However the one who is righteous can.  And... none of us our righteous, unless God the Spirit of Christ dwells (abides) within them.  If Christ abides in you, then you are not godless.  You are not without God. 

And... how does Christ come to abide in you?  By faith.  By God's grace. Christ comes to abide in you by what is called the means of grace - by hearing the Word and receiving the Sacraments. It is the Living Word, who died for you, that has made you righteous. Christ is the righteousness that abides within us.  Without His abiding presence, we are indeed godless through and through.

Job tells Zophar, that he will not be judged by Zophar.  He will bring his case before the LORD, God.  His hope is in the LORD. 

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Job 12 - All Wise, All Knowing God

It is all in God's hands. 

Job responds to Zophar.  Job reminds Zophar that he is not all knowing and all wise.  "Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you!"  (vs. 2)  He reminds Zophar and us that all is in God's hands.  It is a reminder that God is the only all knowing - all wise - and He is in charge.  Even though we may claim to know that God has done mighty and marvelous things, that is not the same thing as trusting God.  Acknowledging that there is a god is not the same as trusting Him with our lives and indeed all that exists.

There is a difference between acknowledging that a God greater than ourselves exists and has brought the world into being and actually trusting our lives to God's hands.  Usually, my response to someone who says "I believe" is one of two things: 

     1.  What is it that you believe?  That usually stumps them.  Most often I am told what they don't believe.  Things like:  You don't have to go to a church to know God.  You can know him by just being in his creation.  Well, that is not what scripture says.  Scripture tells us that faith comes by hearing.  When was the last time a tree told you that Jesus died so that you might live?  Creation might give us a glimpse of His glory and indeed Romans 8, tells us that all of creation groans in anticipation of the glory of God to be fully revealed.  Yet, creation cannot tell you of how much God our Father loves you and is with you, for you, always.
     2.  My second response (and this usually goes out to those who I am closest to) is from James 2:19.  "Even the devils believe and tremble."  The demons know that God exists and they know enough to tremble before Him, because they do not worship Him above all things.  This response usually ends the conversation.  But, I use it, anyway, and let it in God's hands for the Spirit to do the rest. 

Just because you acknowledge that a god, higher than you exists, does not mean you have knowledge and wisdom.  The only one who is all knowing and all wise is God, our Creator and Redeemer.  Get to know Him.  Have a real relationship with Him.  Trust your life in His hands.

God's Peace - Pr. J. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Job 11 - No Good News

Isn't this exactly what we want to hear from our friends when we're down and out:  accusations, blame, all law and no gospel?  Not!

That is exactly what Job is hearing.  Who can stand under the law?  No one.  No one can stand.  I can't. You can't.  Job can't.  He's going to need to hear a few words of grace-filled good news soon!

When was the last time you felt like everything was coming against you?  That your world was falling apart?  What was more beneficial to you - to be reminded how many mistakes you made - how many sins you committed - or - to be reminded that you are a child of God and God loves you and forgives you for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ?

The law is necessary for a variety of reasons (mainly for our own good and the good of the world).  But, so is the good news of God's grace poured out for you.  Without this good news, we would be lost.

God's Peace - Pr. J


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Job 10 - Dark Night

Job continues with his lament.  But, he is now confronting God.  Why?  Who can save me?

We ask these questions a lot through our lives.  At least I have.  In fact, these questions and the circumstances leading to them are, at least, in part what has lead me to follow (as well as I can with the help of God) in the way of the LORD.  It's not an easy journey.  I know that, as to the answer to the whys, I will never know.  But, I do know who can save me.  My life, your life, is in God's hands.  We may suffer in this world, but there is hope.  There is always hope in the ultimate - the reconciliation with God our Father and Creator - in His eternal Kingdom - through Jesus Christ our Lord - by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As long as we have breath, we will journey, at times, through the "Dark Night of the Soul."  But, when the night is darkest, that is when the light is most bright, that is when the Son shines the brightest.  That is when you will feel His presence most securely holding you.

God's Peace - Pr. J.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Job 9 - His Mercy is Great!

If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more." (vs 33, 34)

Thanks be to God, since the time this story of Job was written, God in his mercy, has sent us a mediator, someone to remove God's rod from us. 

Job presents the awesomeness of God.  God is so awesome that Job cannot dare to stand before him and present a defense of his innocence.  All one can do is beg for God's mercy.  All we can do is trust in His mercy.

And, that mercy is seen in the giving of His Son, Jesus the Christ, for the world.       

Thanks be to God, for His mercy is great!

God's Peace - Pr. J


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Job 8 - Friends and Children

Now there's a slap in Job's face.  He has not suffered enough so his "friend" Bildad comforts him with these words:  "When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin."  (vs. 4 NIV) 

These words were spoken to the man who loved his children so much and worried about them so much that after his children had celebrations (feasts) together, would make arrangements for them to be purified. He sacrificed a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” (Job 1:5)

Now, I don't know about you... but, I tend to go on the defensive (actually more like the offensive) when anyone points out my children's or grandchildren's faults to me. I know my children and grandchildren, probably better than they think I do.  I know they are not perfect any more than I am perfect.  I pray for each of them daily, usually more often than that.  But, go ahead and make accusations about them to me and you will see fire in my eyes.  That is a guarantee!  Can't help it.  It is within human nature to act like a mother bear when people I love are attacked and from my experience that is how most parents react.

So, when I hear about this man, Job, suffering the loss of all that he had, including his physical health, being told by his friend, that God gave his children over to the penalty of their sin, implying that is why they died, well... it just makes me a little more than uncomfortable. 

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"  (Matt 7:3)   

May God help us to have a greater understanding of our own inability to do what is right and that is to love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Job 7 - Depression

Have you ever been there?  I mean, where Job is at in today's reading?  Just totally depressed?  I'm thinking that probably most of us can recall at least a day or two, if not a year or two, when we prayed for relief, when we prayed in the anguish of our spirits, and complained in the bitterness of our souls.  It is not a pleasant place to be.  Yet, it seems that we all end up there at one time or another.  Hopefully, we don't spend our whole lives there.  I mean that seriously!  God never intends for anyone to spend their whole lives in depression, without hope.  If you spend and have spent all of your days in depression, please seek help.  This is not the way that God intended you to live or for those around you to live.  Yes, our depression affects those who love us as well.

It would do us all well, I think to step back and take a look at the whole story - to view the whole story of Job.  The story begins with Job living a life blessed by God and it ends with the Lord blessing the latter part of Job’s life more than the first part of his life.  The center of it was not so good, but the part that is not is surrounded by that which was.  There is always hope, if we trust in the LORD, for His will is for the good of all who love Him. 

God's Peace - Pr. J


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Job 6 - Take My Life, LORD

Job cries out in anguish.  He has lost everythig.  His friends are of no help.  He asks for nothing, but for death.  In all this pain, his one request is that God would take his life.  He does not even consider that he should take his own life - shed his own blood.  Job, it seems, accepts full that his life is in the hands of God.  It does not belong to himself.  It belongs to God.  The LORD gives and He takes away.  (Job 1:21)  Job stays consistant in his faith throughout his misery.  It is up to the LORD whether he will live or die.

At the beside of so many faithful Chrisitans, I I have sat, hearing this same lament, as they lay dying! Oh, but, if the LORD would only take my life!  Why will God not let me die?  Sound like they've given up hope?  No, to the contrary, they are expressing their hope and their faith in eternal life promised to them through Jesus Christ. They place their lives in God's hands.  They would have their lives ended, but they wait on the LORD for His will to be done. 

May God grant that our hope for this world and the next, should be strengthened through the Word, Jesus the Christ.

God's Peace - Pr. J


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Job 5 - Mountains Out Of Molehills

Job's anguish is just beyond...  He has lost so much... He endures so much.  Every day we encounter people who complain about little things - at least they are little to us.  And, sometimes the complainer is us.  "Mountains out of molehills," making ourselves even more miserable as we emerse ourselves in our own little pits of despair.  It astounds me sometimes that there is such a lack of faith in God, that He is and will be with them through it all.  I do not mean to say that there are not legitimate reasons to grieve.  But, I think it would truly help if we remembered that their are others in this world who are starving, they are in serious pain as they suffer from diseases, as they grieve the loss of family and friends.  Not being able to afford the newest and latest "toy" is not a reason to despair.  That is just spoiled and self-centered.  The next time we complain and pout because we're not getting what we want when we want it, let's take a moment to consider Job's situation, our neighbor's situations.  Let us take a moment to consider the suffering that Christ endured, and that he endured for us.

Job's friends are of no help to him.  Since he is in such great despair, they try to encourage him to figure out how he's sinned.  They blame him for being sick.  They blame him for his losses.  Sometimes, there just is no reason that can be fathomed by human beings.  It just is.  At times like these, all that is required of friends and brothers and sisters, is to just be there; sitting silently, listening and praying.

God's Peace - Pr. J


Friday, September 7, 2012

Job 5 - The Poor Have Hope

Job's friend, Eliphaz, reminds Job who God is and what He has done and can do.  God is God.  The line that strikes me most this morning is "So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth." 

Throughout history, it seems, that when God's children are brought down low, when a people is dealt injustice, that is when they seem to have the most hope.  After all, when we have everything that we want, when everything is going smoothly for us in life, how many even consider what good might come in the future.  Who looks to the future, with hope, when we are satisfied with what we have today?  The poor who have nothing have hope.  If there is nothing else, there is always hope.

Job had everything and he lost it all.  He was brought down low.  We will see for how long he will hope in the LORD.  We will see what kind of justice God has in store for Job.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Job 4 - Sit in Silence

Eliphaz' words are a reminder, to me, this morning that maybe, if we truly want to help, we will keep our mouths shut and either listen or sit in silence with our friends.  Just be there for them.  In fact, Eliphaz and Job's other friends had just sat there for seven days in silence.  But, when he opened his mouth, it was just garble.  I'm not sure if the way to comfort a friend is to encourage discouragement.

So many times when I have been trying to comfort someone, I have wondered if I was actually helping or making things worse for them.  It is way too easy to get caught up in the negative and bring them even further down than they were when I got there.

Sometimes, the best thing one can do is to be still - say nothing - do nothing - except to be there for them - to walk beside them (silently praying) in their days of trouble.

God's Peace - Pr. J


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Job 3 - Succumbing to Despair

Job is succumbing to despair.  He wishes to die.  He wishes that he had never been born so that he would not suffer what he now suffers.  Yet, even as he curses the day of his birth; he does not curse the name of the LORD.

At one time or another, I think that most of us come to a day when we consider that death would be preferable to the life that we live.  For some this may come in the prime of their lives and although they may have no hope at the time, they will live through those days and even grow in them.  For others it may be in the last days, weeks, years of their lives, when the old tent that they reside in is worn and ready to collapse.  How do we find hope when we can see no light at the end of the day? 

There is only one place to find hope in times like these.  Hope can be found in the light and that light is Jesus Christ.  When all is dark, the light shines.  "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:5 NIV)

"Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near."  (Isaiah 55:6)  "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."  (Psalm 46:1)

Have a blessed day and may the peace of the LORD be with you all. 

Pr. J


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Job 2 - Curse God and Die

All that he owns has been taken from him, even his children.  Satan is still not happy.  He wants to test him even more and God gives him permission to inflict Job's flesh - his health.

Job is miserable to say the least; yet, he continues to praise God.  His wife tells him he ought to "Curse God and die."  (vs. 9)  Essentially she is telling him that it is better to get it over with - curse God because God deserves to be cursed because of the misery He has brought upon you.  Curse God, so that he will take your life and put you out of your misery.

But, Job will not.  Instead he says: "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak.  Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?"

Shall we, indeed?  Most of you have probably heard of the "prosperity gospel."  That is a gospel that says if you do this or that or give this organization money or... or...  God will bless you with everything you every wanted.  Hog wash!  You cannot earn God's blessings.  God give and he takes away.  God is God and He gets to do what He wants- He gets to give what He wants to give.  You cannot manipulate God into doing what you want or giving you what you want.  There will be times that you are tested and/or refined with fire.  That's just the way it is.  If it wasn't, would Jesus have had to face those temptations Satan brought before him?  Would Jesus have had to suffer excruciating pain as he hung on a cross until he died? 

I've been told from time to time, if your God allows these kinds of things then I don't want your God.  Guess what!  There is only one God!  You either worship Him or not.  If bad things happen you don't get to disown God.  Well, I guess you can if you want.  But, it doesn't make God less God. 

The thing about God is that He is just that - God.  And... He desires to be in relationship with you.  Even in the most dire times, God is with you.  It is His presence that helps you through those trying times, in peace.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S.  Sorry I'm late and it was a little rushed today.  Telephone repairman was out this morning - trying to speed up the internet and make it so I could hear on the phone.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Job 1

We are up to one of my favorite books:  Job!  I have read Job probably more than any other book of the Bible.  It helped me immensely when I was much younger to get through some pretty tough times.  Job's were tougher times!

I can relate well to Job's praying for his children.  For Christian parents, it comes as naturally as breathing.  If anything will keep you in perpetual prayer it will be your children and their children!

But, Job has lost his and yet he does not blame the LORD.  Rather, than blame God, Job praises Him, saying:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”     (Job 1:21 NIV)

I also can't count how many times I reminded my children and now my grandchildren of this.  The LORD gives us life and He can take it.  Live the life that He has given to you.  I usually add something like "Use it or lose it."  Yes, I can be kind of a crabby grandma! 

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy Job.  It is one of my favorites. 

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Esther 10 - Esther

Mordecai ends up second in the kingdom next only to King Xerxes.

The end of the story.  Esther and Mordecai have saved their people and have exposed the self-serving Haman.

The story of Esther, when looked at as a whole is a wonderful story of a woman who was willing to do anything not just for her husband, the king; but, for her people as well.

I wonder what the world would be like if we all cared about one another to be willing to give our whole lives so that others might live...  Isn't that what Jesus did?  And... the world did change because of him.  May God help each of us to be less self-serving and more inclined to be of service to others.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Esther 9 - Deliverance!

Purim is to be celebrated annually in remembrance of the Jews deliverance from their enemies, from Haman and those like him who wanted the Jews exterminated.

Every Sunday (and hopefully more often) we gather to celebrate our own deliverance - deliverance from the power of sin, death, and the devil.  Do you remember your deliverance?  Do you celebrate the gift of deliverance, given you through the death of our LORD, Jesus the Christ, every Sunday - even every day? 

May God help each of us to more fully comprehend this precious gift of life through His Son, Jesus Christ. 

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S.  See you tomorrow at Worship!