January 20, 2010–If I Were You, I Would…

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Job 5:1 through Job 7:21

Have you ever had someone say to you, “If I were you, I would…?”   Have you ever gone through some tragedy, loss, or difficult time and had someone say, “I know how you feel,” when you knew they didn’t know.  It just does more harm than good doesn’t it?

“If I were you, I would” is exactly what Job’s friend Eliphaz said to him (Job 5:8).  There was no “I’m sorry for your loss”, “this is such a tragedy”, “I have no idea how you must feel” or “what can I do to help you?” 

Nope.  There was nothing but condemnation and “If I were yous.”

Have you ever been an Eliphaz to a family member, friend, or co-worker? Have you ever been an Eliphaz to someone in your church family?   I’m sorry to say that I certainly have.  There have been times when I have kicked someone when they were down–put my foot in my mouth and swallowed it!  Most of the time I didn’t do it on purpose; I just didn’t realize how my words were affecting them. Many more times I didn’t say anything  but I sure had Eliphaz thoughts. 

So many times we completely avoid people who are grieving because we don’t know what to say.  I sort of think it would have been good for Eliphaz to have stayed home and avoided Job that day.  He certainly didn’t encourage Job.

 Job said it best in chapter 6, verse 26:

 Do you think your words are convincing when you disregard my cry of desperation?

 Job needed someone to…

  • Cry with him
  • Acknowledge his pain
  • Connect with him at the heart level
  • Grieve with him
  • Help him rebuild his life
  • Comfort him
  • Encourage him
  • Let him talk

 Job did not need someone to…

  • Preach at him
  • Criticize him
  • Tell him what to say to God
  • Say silly clichés like: “your loved ones are in a better place,” “God must’ve needed them in heaven”, etc
  • Accuse Job of sin

 

At the church I attend, Niceville Assembly of God, our Foc[US] statement addresses our desire to NOT be an Eliphaz…

 Our commitment to love, acceptance, and forgiveness allows God to bring people to wholeness through restoration and spiritual formation. 

 Eliphaz was trying to bring Job to wholeness. While his intentions may have been to help, he actually did more to push him down than lift him up.   All Job needed was someone to grieve with him.  God and God alone is the only one who can bring us to wholeness. 

As I bring this post to a close, my prayer is that I never become an Eliphaz to you as we take this journey.  The fear of making that mistake could have kept me from starting the journey.  But with the urging of the Holy Spirit, I stepped out on faith!  My desire is to encourage you and lift you up in your relationship with Jesus Christ! 

Blessings!

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Tomorrow’s Scripture Reading:  Job 8:1 through Job 11:20

January 19, 2010–What I’ve always Feared has Happened to Me

Today’s Scripture Reading:  Job 1: 1 through Job 4:21

Hang on to your hats folks; we’re moving into deep waters as we enter the book of Job.  We must stick together or we could get lost!

We were introduced to evil in Genesis 3:1 in the form of a serpent. Now in Job 1:6, we are introduced to the invisible world of evil through Satan.

After observing Satan talking to God about Job, it made me wonder…

  • Did Satan talk to God about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
  • What about Joseph?
  • Did Satan ask to test Joseph?

It almost seems like God allowed us to see all the sin, rebellion, greed, and deception in Genesis and then He takes us to the book of Job and draws back the curtain and shows us where all that evil really came from through the story of Job.

Let me share excerpts from two commentaries to help set up our trip through the book of Job:

1. The Book of Job does more than raise the question of the suffering of the righteous. It also, through Satan’s words, deals with the motives for godly living. Will anyone serve the Lord if he enjoys no personal gain from it? Is worship a coin that buys a heavenly reward? Is piety part of a contract by which to gain wealth and ward off trouble?[1]

2. This accusation also attacked the integrity of God, for it suggested that the only way He can get people to worship Him is to promise them wealth. Perhaps this indictment against His character is one of the reasons God let Satan buffet Job. Surely God knew Job’s heart, but He used Job as a demonstration to silence Satan. In addition, God wanted to deepen Job’s spiritual insight*.[2]

********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

In Job 1:1, the scripture tells us that Job feared God and stayed away from evil. Job even purified his children (v 5) just in cased they had sinned. Fearing God is healthy, but Job also feared disaster.  In Job 3:25, Job said, what I always feared has happened to me.  What I dreaded has come to pass.  Was this the area in which God wanted *deepen Job’s spiritual insight?   Maybe, as Satan was patrolling the earth, he saw and heard Job worrying and fretting and just put what Job had been worrying about into motion once God gave Satan the okay to test Job.

Many, many people; Christian people live in fear, just like Job. That is not God’s plan. In Timothy 1:7, the Word of God says, For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Job did many things right and we are going to learn a lot from him in the next few days.  But today, let’s learn from something  Job did wrong—fear and worry, we’re sending you packing!  You can’t live here anymore!  In Jesus’ Name~

Amen and Amen

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Tomorrow’s Reading, January 20th:   Job 5:1 through 7:21


[1]Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 1:720

 

[2]Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 1:720

January 18, 2010—When God Comes to Help You

 Today’s Scriptures:  Genesis 47:28  through  Genesis 50:26

Before I read today’s scriptures, I “thought” I knew what I was going to write about.  You see Genesis 50:10 is one of my top five favorite scriptures…

But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me.  Am I God, that I can punish you?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.

The last sentence of this verse has helped me to make sense out of things that haven’t made sense in my life.  It has also helped me to understand some of the crazy stuff we’ve been reading in the book of Genesis.  We’ve seen of so much evil and deceit, but now as we come to our last verses of the book, Joseph ties a bow on it all and shares his God-given wisdom on “why bad things happen to good people”.  Personally, I could not have made it through my life without this verse.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen God use things that were meant to hurt me for my good!  I would not be writing this blog today if it weren’t for the painful times in my life.  Thank you Lord for putting this sentence in you Word!

But, today I found another jewel!  It’s like the sequel to Genesis 50:10…how did I miss this all these years?

Right before Joseph died he was talking with his brothers.  He said to them in Genesis 50: 24:

soon I will die, but God will surely come to help you and lead you out of this land of Egypt.

Then in verse 25 of that same chapter, Joseph actually made his brothers swear an oath

… and he said, “When God comes to help you and lead you back, you must take my bones with you.”

Joseph knew that he knew that as sure as God had precisely-down-to-the-last-detail arranged to use his thirteen years as a slave to rescue the Israelite nation God would, absolutely, positively rescue them from Egypt and return them to their promised land.  There was not one doubt in Joseph’s mind; it was so real that made his brothers promise to take his bones with them so he didn’t miss the trip!

As I look back on my life (here comes that 20/20 hindsight), I am so thankful that I had some serious trials very early and that through God’s grace, I ran to Him in my pain.  Because now, in my 50’s I can say with Joseph, surely God will come to help you and lead you back. I know that I know, just like Joseph, that He will make a way to take the evil, sadness, and pain that has been done to you, by you, or through you and use it for your good AND GOD’S GLORY!  If he did it for Joseph and he did it for me; he will do it for you!

Praying for you!

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 Tomorrow’s Scriptures:   Job 1:1 through Job 4:21

January 16-17, 2010- Open Blog Week-end

This week-end’s scripture reading:

January 16: Genesis 42: 1-45:15

January 17:  Genesis 45:16-47:27

Happy Week-end to Everyone!  Harry and I are so excited; his sister Debbie is coming to spend the week-end with us!  We only get to see her about once a year, so this is a big deal!  We’re not offering her the greatest weather– stormy in Florida this week-end, but at least it’s not 20 degrees like it was last week-end!  Actually, I think a rainy week-end sounds great!   Rain or shine we will be taking a drive to the beach.  There’s nothing more majestic than a storm over the Gulf of Mexico. 

This weekend’s  scriptures are some of the most amazing in the Bible–don’t miss a verse!  If you have a chance, please post a comment; I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

Thanking God for the Journey!

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January 15, 2010—What a Difference a Day Can Make!

Today’s scripture reading: Genesis 40: 1-23; Genesis 35: 28-29; Genesis 41:1-57

Sometime later (Gen 40:1) + quite some time (Gen. 40:4) + two full years (Gen. 41:1) = a  l-o-n-g  time!

In Genesis 37, we are told Joseph was seventeen years old when he was sold by his brothers.  From the sources that I checked, he was approximately 30 years old when he got out of prison.  THIRTEEN YEARS!

Just think about Joseph waking up that final morning.  It was like any other morning.  He went through his same routine, was just doing his job, when in an instant—it was all over.  Can you imagine the thoughts that were running through his head as he was shaving to go before Pharaoh? I wonder if he had lost hope of getting out of that prison.  He probably thought the cupbearer had forgotten him…

…He probably thought God had forgotten him.

One of the many things that amaze me about Joseph is his commitment to excellence.  Yes, God was with him but Joseph could have missed his destiny by having a bad attitude, but he didn’t.  He did a great job without a salary, a day off, or any future hope of getting out; because it was the right thing to do!

Not only did he do the right thing, he said the right thing! In Genesis 40:8, Joseph says to the cup-bearer and the baker, “Interpreting dreams is God’s business.”  Then in Genesis 41:16 he told Pharaoh, “It is beyond my power to do this.  But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”

Wow, thirteen years made a big difference!  No longer was Joseph a self-righteous, self-vindicating teenager.  Now wisdom so exuded from Joseph’s countenance that Pharaoh was willing to turn his whole kingdom over to him after brief conversation.  But it’s like Pharaoh said, “Can we find anyone like this man so obviously filled with the Spirit of God?” (Genesis 41:38)

Somewhere in those thirteen years change occurred.  I love R.T. Kendall’s commentary on this chapter, “If God puts his finger on you, it is enough to change you, your family, your church—even a nation and the world.  The highest compliment a man can ever have is to be tapped on the shoulder by God.  When that happens wonderful things are at hand.  Yet, when that happens it means that a time of preparation is also at hand.”

Joseph had thirteen years of preparation and then in one day God moved him into the role planned just for him.  In Jeremiah 29:11, God tells us he has plans for us, just like Joseph.  No, we may not be the second in command of a nation and saving the Jewish race, but God is preparing each of us for what he made us for; so get excited!  Today could be the day you’re called upon to do what the God of the Universe made you for!  Don’t miss it!  And if you have to wait another day; follow Joseph’s example and live today with excellence!

 

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This week-end’s scripture reading:

January 16: Genesis 42: 1-45:15

January 17:  Genesis 45:16-47:27

January 14, 2010—When Our Dreams are Shattered

 Today’s Reading:  Genesis 37: 1-38:30; 1 Chronicles 2:3-6, 8; Genesis 39: 1-23

  Joseph is one of my favorite Bible heroes.  He became my best friend a few years ago when I was going through the hardest trial of my life.  I had known about Joseph and his coat of many colors since I was in elementary school but thanks to a book someone recommended, God used Joseph to bring healing to my shattered dreams. “God Meant it For Good” by R.T. Kendall is a book on the life of Joseph.  Other than the Bible this  has been the most impactful book of my life.  It helped me to lose my bitter attitude and look to the future with joy and expectancy. 

 I  pulled out my tattered and worn copy of “God Meant It For Good” today.  I thought I’d share some of my underlined (starred, highlighted, etc) quotes that carried me through my difficult time.  I pray that they bless you as much as they’ve blessed me.

  • God gave the dream.  Joseph did not have to talk about it, but he probably thought he would see if fulfilled shortly. When God shows us that he is going to use us (and he can do that), we usually tend to think that we are going to see this happen in the next week or two. It may be a good while indeed before God’s greater purpose in us will be realized.
  • Joseph wanted more than anything else to have everybody admire him, especially his brothers.  But he went at it the wrong way.  It was not too unlikely that this became an obsession with Joseph.  When God shows us that he will use us, there is almost always a certain appeal to our own self-esteem. Though God speaks to us at our own level in order to motivate us that very self-esteem to which he appeals needs radical surgery before he can in the end actually use us.
  • Even if God does something in an undoubted way, it doesn’t make us exempt from Satan’s subtle temptation to suggest, “This was you.  You did that.  God wasn’t in that at all.”
  • Even though we abuse the gift God gives us, he doesn’t take the gift away (Romans 11:29).
  • There comes a time when self-interest must be swallowed up by God’s greater glory.
  • When God’s purpose is at work, you can expect others to be jealous.
  • Dr. Lloyd-Jones used to say that the worst thing that can happen to a person is to be successful before he’s ready.  Joseph wanted to be successful, but he wasn’t ready.

 

This is just one chapter of “nuggets.”  I’m sure I’ll have to share a few more before we leave Genesis.

 I’d like to encourage you to take today’s reading and these points from the book and make it personal.  You may feel your dreams have been shattered.  You may feel you’ve been betrayed by someone who was supposed to love you. You may feel as though you’re in the pit with Joseph.  Look up—pray to your God; ask Him to restore your dreams and to make you the person He planned for you to be.

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

I pray that you rest in the faithful love of your Lord today!

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January 15’s  Reading:  Genesis 40:  1-23; Genesis 35: 28-29, Genesis 41: 1-57

January 13, 2010–It’s a Choice: The Promise Land or Edom

Today’s Reading: Genesis 36: 1-19, 1 Chronicles 1: 35-37, Genesis 36: 20-30, 1 Chronicles 1: 38-42, Genesis 36: 31-43, 1 Chronicles 1:43 – 2:2

In Genesis 31:3, the Lord told Jacob to return to the land of his father and grandfather and his relatives, and the Lord said He would be with him. Jacob did just as the Lord told him to do.

Today we find that Esau decides to leave the Promised Land and Jacob.   He took his wives, his children, and his entire household, along with his livestock and cattle—all the wealth he had acquired in the land of Canaan—and moved away from his brother Jacob.  There was not enough land to support them both because of all the livestock and possessions they had acquired. (Gen. 36:6-8)

This story sounds like Abraham and Lot in Genesis 13, except there was no discussion between Jacob and Esau recorded.  I wonder if there really wasn’t enough land for them both, or did Esau just not want to be near his brother, or maybe Esau did not want to be in the presence of the Living God.

Today’s reading was mostly genealogy.  Yes, it’s was a little boring, but my one take away from the day was worth digging through all those names I can’t pronounce.  So here it is:  When Esau left the Promised Land he made a conscious choice to leave God out of his genealogy. All of those names we read were real people—think of the lives they lived, the children they bore, and the things they accomplished.  Think about this:  They never knew the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because of the decision of one person—Esau.  The decision Esau made not only affected the descendants listed in Genesis 36 but that decision affected future generations that reach into the 21st Century.

I don’t about you, but I have had times when I just wanted to run away from conflict.  I wanted to move away and get a fresh start.  I didn’t want to have day-to-day contact with someone who had hurt me; I didn’t want to hear their name around town and stay intertwined in their life.  But God had a better plan, he wanted me to stay in the midst of the hurt and pain and work through it, not run away from it.  True freedom doesn’t come when you run away from your problems but when you stay and face them head-on. When trouble and conflict come, we have a choice, we either move toward God or away from Him.  It’s a daily choice—the Promised Land or Edom.

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January 12, 2010–But You Promised!

 

Today’s Reading:  Genesis 32:1 – 35:27

But you promised!  How many times have you said this to your parents, your spouse, or a close friend?  If you’re a parent, how many times have your children said this to you?

People break promises.  It’s gotten so bad in today’s culture that no one wants to make a promise/commitment because they don’t want to limit their options; they don’t want to feel bad for breaking a promise, so they just don’t make one.

In today’s reading, Jacob has just heard that his brother Esau was on his way with an army of 400 men.  Jacob immediately went to prayer:

“O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, you told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And you promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly.’  I am not worthy of all the unfailing love and faithfulness you have shown to me, your servant.  When I left home and crossed the Jordan River, I owned nothing except a walking stick.  Now my household fills two large camps!  O Lord, please rescue me from the hand of my brother, Esau.  I am afraid that he is coming to attack me, along with my wives and children.  But you promised me, ‘I will surely treat you kindly, and I will multiply your descendants until they become as numerous as the sands along the seashore—too many too count.’”   ~Genesis 32: 9-12

In this prayer Jacob was quoting back what God had said to him.  Jacob said to the God of the Universe, “YOU PROMISED.”  What do you think about that?  Can we say to El-Shaddai—God Almighty, “You Promised”?

I think so, if we don’t mis-quote Him or take His promises out of the appropriate context.  This is why we are taking this journey.  How can we say to God, “You Promised” if we don’t know what He promised? 

Over my last 20 years of Bible reading, I’ve always read with a pencil in hand.  When I find a promise from God, I underline it and sometimes put a date beside it.  Many times I write something back to God about that promise in the margin of my Bible.  I can’t begin to tell you how this has helped me believe “God will do what he says he will do.”

God did keep his promise to Jacob.  His brother Esau welcomed him with open arms.  It looks like God was working in Esau’s life as well as Jacob’s.  Esau sure came a long way from the days of planning to kill Jacob in Genesis 27:41.

We can trust God.  He keeps His promises.  He cannot lie.

This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began.     ~Titus 1:2

As we move through this journey to know God more, let’s also be on a daily promise hunt.  Having the promises of God written down and memorized helps us to resist the discouragement that the enemy of our soul tries to use to get us down.  I would encourage you to write down the promises that are particular to you in this season of your life in the blank pages in the front and back of your Bible and then refer to them often.

Jacob has come a long way from stealing his brother’s blessing. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

May all God’s Promises be yours!

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January 11, 2010—The Lord Has Blessed Me Because of You

 

 

Today’s Reading:  Genesis 30:25-31:55

The Lord has blessed me because of you.  Tell me how much I owe you.  Whatever it is, I’ll pay it. (Gen 30:27)

Laban, Jacob’s father-in-law spoke these words to Jacob when Jacob asked to be released to go home to his own country.

Just imagine…  you walked into work and your boss calls you in his office and says, “There’s something I need to tell you.  The Lord has blessed me because of you.  I would like to give you a raise.  How much would you like?”

You’re laughing aren’t you?  I know this sounds crazy, but I really believe we can find favor with those in authority over us IF we do what Jacob did.  He had an amazing work ethic. Let’s look at some of the high points (I’ve included some of yesterday’s reading so we can get the whole picture):

  • Jacob was always looking for more efficient ways to do things (Gen. 29:7)
  • Jacob saw the need and took care of it.  He didn’t wait to be asked or told. (Gen. 29:10)
  • Jacob began working for Laban before his salary was discussed. So when Jacob asked to marry Rachel for his wages, Laban agreed because he knew Jacob was someone he could trust to take care of his daughter.  (Gen. 29:15)
  • Jacob respected Laban’s authority when he was forced to marry Leah before Rachel.
  • Jacob worked fourteen years for the woman he loved.
  • Jacob was decisive.  When Laban asked him how much his wages should be, he immediately had an answer.  He thought about this ahead of time. (Gen. 30:31-33)
  • Jacob found creative ways to work around Laban’s deceitful ways. (Gen. 37-43)
  • Jacob knew God had been with him. (Gen. 31:4)
  • Jacob listened for the voice of God and to the voice of God, and then he obeyed the voice of God. (Gen. 31:10-13)
  • Jacob was honest about his feelings.  “I rushed away because I was afraid.” (Gen 31:31)
  • Jacob treated Laban’s business like it was his own for 20 years.  (Gen. 31:38-39)
  • Jacob was a hard worker. (Gen. 31:42)
  • Jacob showed as much respect for Laban on their last day together as their first by making a covenant to always respect their boundary lines. (Gen. 31: 45-54

 

Jacob was living out the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 12: 2-3

I will make you into a great nation.  I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.  I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt.  All the families on earth will be blessed through you.

 There’s some really good news for those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior; Abraham’s promise is for us too!

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  Galatians 3:29

On this Monday, January 11, 2010, let’s go out and live like we’re Abraham’s kids by being a blessing to others!

Have a great week in the Lord!

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Welcome to Our First Open Blog Weekend January 9-10

What is an Open Blog Week-end?  Throughout the year, I will post each day Monday-Friday.  On Saturdays and Sundays, I will not be posting; but I will be reading and I hope you will to!  I will use the week-ends to have a little extra time with my husband and family. On Saturday mornings I will add a page (like this one)  for you to add your comments throughout the week-end.  Please feel free to post a comment about your week-end scripture reading, something fun you’re doing , a prayer request or a praise report. 

Today, (Saturday) my daughter Krista, granddaughter Ayla and I will be traveling home  from Tennessee. We had a great visit with my daughter Allsion, son-in-Law Eric, and grandsons Gavin and Nolen.  We got to attend Nolen’s birthday party.  He was three years old yesterday! Please pray for God’s protection as we leave the snow-covered roads of Knoxville to head back to Florida. 

 Sunday is the first day of our new Connecting Points semester.  All you folks who attend Niceville Assembly, please check out the list of CPs on our website.   You can either register on line or just show up in class on Sunday.    Here’s the link to the CP Catalog:       http://www.nicevilleag.com/464401.ihtml

Stay warm!  Thanking God for you!

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