Q and A With Job

I’m up to Job in the yearly Bible read. (Side note, this is the first year I’m doing a 100% iPad read) and I was struck this morning by Jobs questioning of his misguided buddies with regard to the source of wisdom.

He says in 27:11 “I’ll learn y’all a thing or two.” (Little known fact: Job was a redneck)

He then goes on a bit of an extended discourse that centers around the source of wisdom. His central question is “what is the true source of wisdom?” (28:12 and again in 28:20) there is a mine for silver, copper, and iron, but where is the mine for wisdom? (28:1-2)

He answers his own question – and starts by saying that there is only one who knows its place – God.

“God understands the way to it, and he knows its place. (Job 28:23 ESV)

How true this is. How much time do we spend looking elsewhere for what can only be found in God?

The answer is to press into knowing more of God and reflecting Him in our lives. God can satisfy us in ways that nothing else can. Why? The answer is totally logical: that’s how he created us. I was reminded by Tozer this morning of the great quote by Augustine: “Thou hast formed us for thyself….and our hearts are restless until we find our rest in Thee.”

As Job makes his summary point and answer to the main question:

And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” (Job 28:28 ESV)

Looking to live a wise life? Looking for true and lasting satisfaction? Gods word tells us what to do: Consider God the utmost in our lives, submitting to Him in all areas, and moving away from sin. There is only one way to do this – the way He provided for us in Jesus.

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What is Man?

Psalm 8 asks a very important question rather bluntly-

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3, 4 ESV)

When we look at Gods creation the proper response is awe. We then think, like the Psalmist, who am I? Not that this should lead us to despair and feeling like we are worthless – just the opposite. Consider two points:

  1. God has made us to rule over his Creation as his image bearers. We are all full of worth, dignity, and glory as He created us to be very special and to reflect Him in everything we do. The Psalmist continues – “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:5, 6 ESV)
  2. If that isn’t great enough, consider now he has lavished His love and grace on us thru Jesus. You see, We turned from our “specialness” and rejected his command for us to reflect His image. Instead, we chose to live for ourselves and reflect our own image – whatever we decide that is to be. Gods response? Not immediate punishment for our rebellious treason against our Creator King, but instead, grace for today, and the chance to escape the future penalties for sin in Jesus. My friend Ryan posted this passage on Christmas and it is a fitting summary of Gods response “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4, 5 ESV)”

Our response to this gift is to then renounce our agenda for our lives and devote ourselves completely to living as God intended, for a His glory, not our own. If you haven’t done this yet, or are a believer who isn’t living like it, this seems like a great New Year’s resolution!

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What Did Jesus Come To Do?

Jesus-Wall

If someone asked you to tell them in one word “What did Jesus come to do?” what would you say?

 Maybe “die on the cross” or “help people”?
 I want to read 1 verse from Luke 4:18 which may help answer this question.  To set the scene a little, this is Jesus himself speaking publicly probably for one of the first times in the synagogue on the Sabbath…
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,”
(Luke 4:18 ESV)
Do you see any common ideas in this passage?  Liberty – literally a ‘release from captivity’ or a ‘release from a punishment or guilt’
I would suggest that this passage is telling us that the one word we could use to answer the question of what did Jesus come to do is “freedom.”   Jesus came for freedom.
The undeniable fact is that since the Fall, since sin entered the world, everything here is under the curse of sin. We are totally unable to fix the situation by our own power, and are only trapped in it. Trapped.  Prisoners.  Captives.  In need of being released – whether we realize it or not it’s true. Christmas is a great time, usually a happy time with family and presents – but for some it highlights the brokenness of this world – family drama happens a lot around Christmas, conflicts, hatred, bitterness, sins against family. Maybe you have been sinned against by your family and friends and being forced to be with them on Christmas just makes you more aware of that.
Will it ever be fixed? Can we just encourage you — all along, it has been God’s plan to provide freedom in the Messiah – the one who came on a mission to be the payment that is required to purchase our freedom.   You see, this verse, even though it’s in the gospel of Luke, it is really Jesus himself quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah – who hundreds of years earlier wrote about the Annointed One, the Messiah, the Christ will come for freedom. Jesus himself makes a bold claim and says “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled…”  meaning – “Hello…I am Him — – The Messiah.”  Talk about your controversial statements – the crowd was so angry after hearing him say this, that the Bible tells us they literally wanted to throw him off of the nearest cliff. (Luke 4:28-29)
The message that we celebrate at Christmas is the message that the long foretold Messiah has come to bring us freedom from sin, guilt and shame and live the abundant life he created us to by finding our true joy and purpose in our Creator – God.   You can be free this Christmas, and wouldn’t that be the greatest gift ever?

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Going Beyond

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In Matthew 5:43-48 is another well known passage where Jesus is teaching on loving your enemies.  Matt 5:44 says “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Bonhoffer in “Cost of Discipleship” clarifies enemies are those who have hostility against us, not necessarily those against who we have hostility against.   How we treat people in those situations says a lot about where our hope is based and how much we understand we have been loved by God in Jesus.

v47  is pretty key in understanding this concept – “and if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?”

Christians are called to go beyond what others do and say.  We are called to be different.  Called to stand out.  In all situations, we are called to glorify God.  This is different, “extraordinary.”  The temptation is to blend in, to not stand out from others.  Yet we see from the Word of God that we are called to “do more.”  This isn’t an effort based system of earning God’s favor, but if you are disciple of Jesus you are already accepted by God.  Now, we work to go beyond the norm, we avoid sin, we love our enemies — because of who we are in Christ.

If we are truly living our lives according to God’s word – we will stand out.  Sometimes this will be hard, as anyone who desires to live a Godly life will be persecuted.  (2 Tim 3:12).  We are not promised an easy, financially prosperous, and healthy life – no matter what the false teachers on the “Preachers of LA” say.

But, what we do know, is that a life lived for God’s glory is the most fulfilled life that one can have, because we are walking in obedience to our Creator, and living a life of love, and in that is the blessing of growing in Christ and being more and more filled with the knowledge of Him as we go thru life.  Only in that is true peace and joy.

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Remembering 9/11

9-11-Tribute-In-Light-MemorialGod does not cause evil, sinful men do evil as an act of rebellion against their Creator.  Yet, God is not helpless and unaware of the evil men do, he is sovereign over it…using it for the billions of reasons that we will never understand because we are not Him – yet we may catch a glimpse of a reason every now and then.

Twelve years ago, God used an astounding act of evil to spin my head around, get my eyes off of myself, and return to my Creator.  He used 9/11 in my life as a giant wake up call, that my life without Him at the center is ultimately empty.

God is also the God of all comfort.  And so, while today I’m very thankful for God using 9/11, I’m very aware that there will always be people who still mourn the loss of loved ones.  We remember them, hug them, pray for them.  We encourage them that the only true comfort is not found in this world, where I was searching for it in my pre-9/11 self-centered fog – it is in a person – Jesus Christ, who came on the ultimate rescue mission to provide a way for a rebellious people to be reconciled to their Creator, by his selfless act of taking our punishment on the cross.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.””

(Mark 10:45 ESV)

 

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Seeking Joy and Trusting

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5, 6 ESV)

This is part of Psalm 13 where David is lamenting to God “How Long? Will you forget me forever?!” We’ve all been there, and as Chandler says if you haven’t, it just means you haven’t lived long enough. No one is immune to hard times when we feel alone and abandoned.

We see the resolve that David has – he has trusted in God’s covenant steadfast faithful love, an he will take joy in Gods salvation. On this side if history, we know that God has provided salvation in Jesus, so in our lives we should be rejoicing in God providing us Jesus.

That doesn’t stop our hearts from trying to find joy elsewhere, but whatever that is it is ultimately a joy thief, not a joy giver. Horton writes “the more passionately we search for happiness as and end to itself, the less happy we actually are.”

God created it this way. We need to find our joy and worth and value in God, not in other people or other things.

Psalm 13 rightly reminds us to trust in Gods love, rejoice in Gods salvation.

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You Think He Doesn’t Know?

He who planted the ear, does he not hear? He who formed the eye, does he not see? He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke? He who teaches man knowledge— the Lord —knows the thoughts of man, that they are but a breath. (Psalm 94:9-11 ESV)

Sometimes I think we convince ourselves that God isn’t aware of what is going on. This verse says otherwise. In fact it takes it to a whole new level. Not only does he hear and see, but this text reminds us that he is the Creator of our very ears and eyes so of course he knows.

Not only that but he also rules over the world, all the nations. All knowledge we have us taught by him. When we rebel against him we actually are using the mind that God gave us to decide to not obey.

God knows even our deepest thoughts. That’s scary, as for me I have some pretty sinful thoughts. How does he still then love me? What does he think of me? If we are his adopted sons and daughters by faith in Jesus, he sees Jesus in us and by faith alone we stand justifies before him. Each day then is lived in grace as we grow, fail, grow some more, fail some more…yet always under the all knowing all powerful and all loving, eyes and ears of our Heavenly Father.

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