Archive for June, 2007

Satan’s plan in attack (Job 1:13-19)

June 25, 2007

        Though God gave the go-ahead for Satan to attack Job, Satan chose the methodology. Notice how strategically Satan buffets Job. Satan begins with an assault on Job’s family farm. Job could bounce back from this setback, for he still has his fields, just the beasts of burden were destroyed. Satan starts small. But just then, Satan escalates to taking out his ranch and livestock. He then goes for Jobs international export and trade business and finally wipes out his household. Satan began with the small things and progressed to the more costly and the more personal.

     Isn’t that like the many times you have been up against the wall? It starts with little irritations that snowball by days end affecting your personal relationships. How many times has your significant other caught the brunt of your anger for a days worth of misery to which they did not contribute? Satan’s plan of attack is to get you with the little things, to bug you and get your mind off kilter. Then, he goes in a little harder and a little closer. His plan, you see, is to set you off so that by the time he has you in the thick of it you are no longer in your right state of mind and your spirit is sulking. Then, just maybe, you will be too focused on the problem, or on your own frustration that you will raise your hand to heaven and curse God, or at least, forget God at the time you need Him most.

        When you see the beginnings of a bad day, do not allow Satan to steal your spirit. Don’t allow Satan to be right, that you worship God only for the reward, and if pushed, you would surrender your eternal relationship with God for a bit of temporal bliss. The attacks may continue, you may not have control over that. Bad days may not always be avoidable, and quite possibly may be in our Lord’s heavenly agenda. However, our reaction to it will determine our relation with God.

Faith “In” God… even when it hurts

June 9, 2007

        There is, I believe a progression in our faith. First, we must remember that faith is not the object. The “object” is that which we have faith in – namely Jesus Christ. My disbelief that a basketball does not bounce has no effect upon the bouncing ability of the ball. The amount of faith you have in Jesus will not affect His divinity, ability or personhood. It will, however, affect your relationship with Him.

        In the Bible, a book containing the testimonies of ordinary people believing in an extraordinary God, we have examples of levels of faith in God. Jacob pictures for us a “faith if” mentality. He declares he will believe “if God will be with me and watch over me…” (Gen 28:20-22). He strikes a deal at the beginning of his faith journey. His faith is based upon experiences. Jacob is, in all actuality, saying that if God does not perform to his satisfaction, Jacob will recant.

        Paul in the New Testament takes us to another level. Here he does not ask God to perform to his satisfaction, but to give meaning to the suffering one endures. This is a “faith when.” Affliction is easier to swallow if we know that God is “using it for the good” (Rom 8:28) or that is produces perseverance and character development in our spiritual journey (Rom 5:2-3).

        On to the faith of the three Hebrew boys who refuse to bow to the idol of Nebuchadnezzar. They, in the face of immanent death, still believe in their God though there is no lesson to learn, and nothing to gain in their suffering and death, but the honor of believing to the very end. They have “faith even though.” They declare before the king that their God can save, but even if He does not, they will serve no other God then Him (Dan 3:17-18).

        Before I come to my last hero of faith, I would like to make one important observation. God met each and every one of these people of faith where they were, though, I believe, He desired that they grow in their faith. God is delighted with mustard seed faith, but I believe the purpose of mustard seeds is to be planted and grown into tall and effective mustard plants. And what better place to be encouraged in our faith, whatever level we may be on, then by those who walked before us with the Lord. Remember, it is God who is changeless – our faith will not affect Him, it will affect us.

        Lastly, we come to Job. Job was a man who was blameless and upright (Job 1:1) and yet suffered greatly. He suffered not knowing why. He suffered not needing to learn a lesson. He never learned of the reason for his suffering, even after his deliverance, which he never knew he would receive. Job believed. He understood that God gives and takes away (1:21). He understood that just as our marriage vows declare, we should not waiver in plenty or want saying we should be able to accept the good and the evil from the Lord (2:10).

        I do not know if I could ever have the faith of Job. But I do know that I must grow in faith, not just believing when it is well in my world. I know that I must believe even if I cannot find a lesson in my suffering. I must believe even when my situation is not equal with martyrdom for my faith. I must believe God, not because of His gifts, but because He is God. I must learn to believe in God, even when it hurts. May God meet me where I am, and help me drop my mustard seed in the ground, die and grow into the grand plant that glorifies our Father. Amen. Amen.

The Superlative Life (Job 1:8)

June 9, 2007

        My wife and I were just blessed by becoming parents a couple weeks ago. I didn’t know it at first, but by becoming parents, my wife and I have just stepped into the land of superlatives. This is the first grandbaby for my parents, and the first granddaughter for my in-laws. What I did not know was that upon Evelyn Noel’s entrance into the world that she would be entering the superlative life. You see, grandparents get their eager mitts on these tiny wonders and begin to exclaim that their grandchild is the cutest, the brightest, and the one child far beyond her hours in development. She is not just average, not just cute, but the cutest. Every little thing she does is recounted as a glorious feat. And so maybe it is for a day old child. I must confess, the superlative fever struck me as well, as I encouraged the behavior by giving my mother a sweatshirt imprinted with bears and words, “The Beary Best Grandmother.”

        I guess I follow in the pattern of God as well. You see, at the beginning of creation God spent days making the world and declaring after each feat, “This is good.” And then, he came to humankind. Here he carefully crafted man and women, took a step back to admire his work and declared boldly, “These guys are very good.” We come to the opening of the book of Job, and God just cant help but gloat over his servant Job. God too, dwells at times in the land of superlatives. “Have you seen my servant Job,” He asks the Satan. “Oh, my, there is not one person like him on the whole earth! He is blameless and upright, he fears me and avoids evil! He’s my man!” You see, God, just like parents, sometimes is blinded by love and remembers the joy, more than the bad times.

        Let’s face it, we have sinned, we will sin again. But, in repentance and the forgiveness we find God forgets the bad and remembers the superlatives in our lives. We, though, often focus on the negatives. Take a look at those in Hebrews chapter 11. These are those great ones of faith, and yet as God remembers them as pillars of faith, the first thing we remember about each person is their great sins as recorded in the Old Testament. Now, we must also remember that for those who live without true repentance are also remembered in the superlative land of God as well. Remember the kings epitaphs. Take for instance Omri who, “did evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him” (I Kings 16:25). My prayer, is that I may be found faithful, live a life of repentance and be remembered by my God in the positive superlative life, like Job. May you be God’s greatest asset and a person of his pride as you journey this way of faith.

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