Innocent

There are many TV shows that trace a fledgling law firm which seeks to help those who are less fortunate navigate the judicial system. Some come out with what seems perfect justice but sometimes the evidence seems rather sketchy and even a stretch. Only God knows the truth and only an individual who will stand before God knows his heart.

Psalm 16-18 Innocent: When you see this word what comes to mind? The Hebrew defines that word as what is right, rightness, justness. Hmm, seems kind of a muddy definition and especially so when we look at David’s life and see his sin of adultery, his faithlessness in disciplining his son for rape. We cry foul! God cries innocent! Does that seem rather contradictory? It is then that we must stop pointing fingers and look at what David and we know if we are believers.

Truth: God looks not at outward appearances but at the heart. We judge by what we see, God judges by what we do not see.

Outwardly we see a failing individual but inwardly God sees a man fully consecrated to Him. Outwardly we see a man who seems to be faltering but God sees a man who chooses to reject worthless idols because of faith. Outwardly we see a man who pours out his heart to the living God but God sees a man who chooses to trust Him. We see a man who reveals his heart but God sees a man who allows Him to examine him during the night hours while the world swirled around him.

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No matter how the world sees you, (or you see yourself), know this, the Everlasting God sees you and your heart.  Our question then is when He looks into our heart what does He see?

 

 

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Facts or Feeling?

Psalm 13  Into thy hands I commit my spirit we somberly say but do we really mean it? What does it mean? David has been in some sort of conflict but in the quiet, he pens the words of his heart to the Everlasting God. Four times he asks God “how long?” It is as if we are re-reading the book of Job where he too asked God “how long?” It is so much like us. When facing a situation that seems that it goes on forever, we hear ourselves say “how long? We can relate having walked that road many a time and may even now be walking that road. We feel adrift with no answers, no solutions, and no help from man or God.

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It is in these times we must determine that our emotions are not led by our feelings but the facts. And the fact of the matter is this: God promises He will never leave us nor forsake us. He is faithful even when we rail and pound our hands crying out for His answer. He delivers—in His perfect time for His plan is greater than ours. It is then that we fall upon our faces and commit ourselves to Him who knows the end from the beginning and say “I trust you Lord!” You have not failed me in the past nor will you fail me in the future. Therefore, I trust, I rejoice, I sing for You are my God and my Savior.

 

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Spending Time with God

Psalm 9 -12 I don’t know about you but life seems to be at warp speed these days. The internet keeps us focused for a fraction of time and authors come and go with lightning speed. We name a name and others look at us with eyes glazed over and ask “Who? Who? Who?” When that happens, come apart and sit with the psalmist. Let his words speak to you, not like the storm-tossed sea, but as a gently rolling wave bringing new truths with each wave. Let the beacon of His lighthouse sweep across you and reveal His love.

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We don’t know where or when the psalmist wrote these words of scripture but as we slowly ponder them we come away knowing that the God we have chosen to serve and worship knows each of us. He knows us because we are crafted in his image. He knows those who will bow the knee and serve him as and he also knows those who will rebel at each argument and command. Yet, in His mercy and for His name’s sake he has chosen to allow the righteous and the wicked to live side by side much like the parable of the tares and wheat.

Today as you live and move in this world be refreshed:  God provides safety for the oppressed. God does not abandon those who reach out for help. God hears our cries for mercy. God rules forever. God’s words are absolutely reliable, untainted as silver that has been refined and purified in the furnace.

 

 

 

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From Job to the Psalmist

I never saw the connection. Psalms follows Job, why not before? In Job, we wandered for months while he suffered on the sidelines knowing full well the onslaught Satan was given permission to do. He was ruthless and we should expect the same. Job sought counsel from God and with God, but in the end face to face with God, he saw how unworthy he really was. The psalmist is suffering too, some of it self-inflicted, other times from the outside. He struggles, like Job, to understand and like Job he comes to the conclusion that God is God and man is man.  So what are we to glean from all of this? Suffering is part and parcel of this life. We can try to avoid it but it is there nonetheless. Satan is our enemy and sometimes, as in the case of Job and Peter, he has demanded…not asked politely but demanded we be sifted. But, also sometimes we bring it about on ourselves. What is a body to do? The psalmist has the answer.

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Who would have thought that our study in Job would prepare us to face our enemies – whether they are ourselves or others. Job was understandably confused most of the time but the psalmist facing these two enemies: himself and men; has victory over both. He knew that God saw his heart and knew his pain. God was his answer. He is asking us to answer this question: how do you handle the darkest moments of your life? Jesus said walk with me and learn and the psalmist says the same thing.

In the darkest of times, the psalmist chooses to seek the God who is omniscient. When we feel like we have failed or when men fail us, there is only one place to find peace and it is in the presence of God in prayer. We must remain in a mode of prayer throughout the day and night. Do as the psalmist and Paul;  pray without ceasing.

There is only one path to victory when we face our enemies and it is by knowing that God sees all and knows all. He knows every part of our being from the hairs on our head to the innermost depth of our hearts. The psalmist trusted the God of righteousness to walk with him and show him the path to victory for his name’s sake. And we can do the same. So we are back to this question: Do we, like the psalmist, seek the face of God in prayer, fasting and weeping for His name’s sake? Do we pray upon our bed and when we are walking about?

Something to think about isn’t it?

 

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Seek God while He may be found…

Job 35-37 We have been following Job and his friends as they respond to his suffering. The young Elihu continues to wax eloquently and finally near the end he poses a question that has been asked for centuries: whom or what do you seek when you are in distress. The world seeks to find help in themselves or other avenues but often leaves God out of the equation. Sometimes they never seek God…read to the end…. It is disheartening when that happens but again we present the truth but the results lay in the hand of the receiver and God.

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Elihu says it really doesn’t matter, God is God and He is not at all bothered about whether we do good or bad. At that, we want to stop and say “whoa!” Not affected? Doesn’t care? What presumption! Elihu is wrong on both accounts and we need look no further than Ezekiel chapter 20 and you get a very different picture. There the elders come to Ezekiel inquiring about life and wanting to know when this exile will end. What they got must have been a deafening wake-up call. God answers their inquiry with this: “I will not allow you to inquire of Me.”  God was definitely affected.  He told Ezekiel that when men leave God out of the equation He is grieved and broken-hearted—especially when He has called you. Rejecting God has serious consequences and without Him, you are bereft as a boat without a sail.

Elihu is right about one thing: Storms come that we may seek His face and His understanding. He is also right in his description about God: He is all of splendor and more. We cannot attain to Him. God is God and man is man.

The question is will you seek Him or will you be like my neighbor who said, I never needed God in all of my life and I don’t need him now—as he breathed his last.  I thought it was hard enough to hear my grandmother say that but then when my neighbor said that my heart felt like it had been run over with a bulldozer. Men choose their destiny…don’t ever forget that. When you need God don’t be like these two examples. Seek Him while He may be found!

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1Tim 4:12 Reminds us…

“Let no one look down on you because you are youngbut set an example for the believers in your speechconductlovefaithfulnessand purity.”  Today many of our young people are getting a bad rap. There are many who are wise, intelligent and love the Lord…just as Elihu did. So let’s listen in on his words and see why God never said a word against him…but I digress…

Job 32-34  We have been waiting to hear another voice to answer Job’s questions and to respond to Job’s self-imposed innocence and God does not disappoint. Enter in young Elihu who respectfully refers to the others as elderly. Elihu in many ways is like the anxious young people who want to take the world by storm and solve all the problems. There were others like he: David, Shadrach, Daniel; voices God used in their youth. But also there is a reminder from Solomon we need to heed: “let your words be few because God is in heaven and he hears all you say.” Elihu seems to have missed that point—or has he?

He is at the “boiling point!” with righteous indignation. He wisely notes that it isn’t the number of years that bring wisdom; it is the spirit and the inspiration of the Almighty.  Elihu is right. Paul agrees: “let no one despise your youth, ” We should take care to listen to the voice of the young if for nothing else; they are living life in the here and now! They see life differently.

So why was he angry and boiling over? He was angry because Job justified himself rather than God. Elihu is passionate about God’s glory. Oh that we might have young people so on fire for God that they are willing to stand up and be counted.

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Take time today to listen to the young. Encourage rather than discourage those who are ‘on fire’ for God. Remember this: The youth of today will be our leaders tomorrow.

 

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God Doesn’t Need to Speak if…

Did you ever stop to think that as long as you are speaking, God doesn’t need to? It is the same way in human conversations. If we are talking the other person has to be silent unless they interrupt. That is what we call a “no-no.” As we blather on about this and that, the other person’s eyes glaze over and inside they are wondering when we will just be quiet and listen to them! It is the same way with God but Job hasn’t learned that yet. So let’s drop in on Job’s most recent conversation which takes up four full chapters! (Job 28-31–I encourage you to stop here and read them.) Here’s the principle you want to glean ahead of your reading. Look and listen for that!

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Job:  wisdom is not something you can purchase or find by digging beneath the earth. You can search for it but it is only found when you submit to God in fearful reverence. If you want to have understanding, shun and turn away from evil. Pretty simple thoughts yet people today as then reject that simplicity in favor of digging, buying, storing up in hopes of understanding the answer to Pilate’s question; “what is truth?”

Finally, Job speaks with words of self-vindication; I have done all I can to be found as a man of integrity. Thus I rest my case before the Lord God Almighty.

As Ray Stedman points out; our self-vindication explains the silence of God. As long as we continue to justify ourselves God does not need to answer. He is waiting for us to ‘be ye still and know that I am God.’ So now as Ch. 31 comes to a close God is ready to enter the scene …ahbut not yet. There is yet another character that will enter this group of men to add his “2 cents.” Tomorrow we will listen in on his thoughts to see if he has any more to say that will unearth the why answer. Until then, may we be quiet before Him so we can hear His still small voice.

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God was right after all….

Job 25-27 Chapter 25 is a very short summary of what Bildad has discerned and it is this: he has no personal relationship with the God Job believes in. He uses the word “might” to show us his uncertainty in all of life both present and future. There is nothing to base life on if you have no God. Life is futile and without substance. You believe you were conceived, lived and died; end of discussion. That in itself is more than tragic. Job comes back to him saying you don’t realize who God is and then proceeds to extol the attributes of God. He, in essence, says what Paul said in Romans 1:20

“For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.”

And Job says these are only a few of the ways God is God and why people who deny Him are without hope. Yet I serve the living God and I know that my Redeemer lives. I will never ever set aside my integrity and I will maintain my righteousness in my suffering to my very last breath.

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Are you more like a Bildad living without hope? Or are you more like Job who will stand firm until the very end no matter what comes your way?

And now we see why God called Job his blameless man.

Let’s talk about this if you are a Bildad. Send me a note or comment below.

 

 

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Is it true that there is no hope???

Job and his three “comforters” have been dialoguing back and forth on the points of wickedness and righteousness. The three, Bildad, Eliphaz and Zophar are sure Job is in the camp of the wicked. As their words show they believe the contrast to Romans 8:1!

Listen in to the dialog between Job and Eliphaz In Job 21 to 24  to get the whole story and then go and read Psalm 73 to see another person who faces this same conundrum.

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Job responds to the next challenge by asking the same thought Asaph pondered. Why do the wicked seem to prosper and the righteous seem to falter and many times fade away. Asaph wondered if he, like Job, had remained faithful for no reason. We often say the same thing as we watch all of our life’s savings eaten by moths and our bodies suffer from disease and harm by others. God is not in a box, closed and secure from all of life; He is omniscient!  So Job’s three friends and Asaph himself have to look at life from another viewpoint.

Asaph returns to the Temple where he says: I entered the precincts of God’s temple and then I understood the destiny of the wicked. But, Job has no temple yet to attend so he is left with his thoughts and trying to piece them together. He says the “counsel of the wicked is far from me!” I just don’t understand and if only God would come and we could talk about this it would all be made right. Eliphaz remains steadfast in his critical argument against Job but Job tells him: He knows the path I take and if he tested me I would come forth as gold. As we read those words we must decide if that is true for us. If God would come and stand in our presence would He say that? Job and Asaph looked at life without that confirmation but if you are a born-again believer you can attest to this truth because of Roman 8:1:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

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Seeing Beyond

Facing Death in the face is hard for the person facing it and the person beholding it. No matter what, it is harder than hard. We do not want to lose our loved ones or our most precious friends but the author of Hebrews reminds us, death is certain. In those difficult moments, we want to be sensitive, not harsh. Unfortunately, there are the Bildads and Zophars who think they know what we should do to prepare. Ever met them or experienced them? Or worse—-are you one of them? 

Bildad offers his take on wickedness in hopes that Job will see himself in that light. He seems to know that the “king of terrors,” a.k.a. Satan is behind all of this and if Job doesn’t change he will go the way of all wicked men. All of his descriptions are true and graphic. We should stop and wonder why Bildad is so sure that Job fits this category?  How often do we act like Bildad when we can’t get our friend to face “facts?”

Job responds that yes he understands the ways of the wicked and yes he understands that the Almighty weighs in and yes that is the way all of this happens…BUT… you fear the sword—I do not. I know this that even in my deepest moment of crisis, God is my Redeemer and I will see Him face to face one day.

You remain in your fear; I will trust Him who holds my destiny in His hand.

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When a dear friend is suffering and they are asking “why,” and you think that death is imminent employ love, not fear.  Don’t assume you know the plan God has for them. Instead, help them cross the great divide by having them look to the Redeemer not the “king of terrors.”  If you aren’t sure of how to do this, take the letter from the Redeemer himself and read it:

He is life, He knows the beginning from the end. He is the resurrection and the life. He has crossed the great divide and He has the answers.

Even in this darkest of times, Job sees the light; he is sure of his vindication but not the when or how.

Send me a note if you don’t know who the Redeemer is; let’s talk. 

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