Well, the lecturing has come to an end for Job. I reached the chapter where God is now speaking to him. I’m saving this for tomorrow. I love the fact that no matter how devastating the circumstances, God speaks. He doesn’t do it in our timeframe, but He is the One who knows when the message from Him is ready to be heard and heard well. All the chatter we make ahead of God speaking looks mighty “puny” when God speaks.
The world today is so filled with “man’s messages”. When man has turned to himself to find answers, which seems to be where we are today, there is turmoil and we find it everywhere. God’s Word has lost its place for leading our moral behavior and so much more. We know what God says about this–it is the decline of a nation. We clamor to be heard, when God asks us (waits for us) to turn to Him and listen in unity to His Message for us.
When God speaks it is never without clarity. What is unclear is what we do with the message. Lets join together staying true to God’s Word–don’t judge but do discern. We can know discernment through our intuition–not our emotions. Sit on the screaming messages of man’s emotions until the voice of God is heard. One cannot deny this Voice for the voice of emotion bows to the Voice of God.
Today’s lesson for our Step Study is Daily Inventory. Boy, is it a good reminder of how to daily live. Spend time with God as we start each day, address any troubling spots from the day before–making amends as needed. As you go through your day, be a good listener to those who may need to share with you, ones who are overly anxious and then give encouragement and blessings rather than any judgment. Going through this lesson is such a good reminder. It is also a good assessment to see where one needs to place some attention.
The area that hit me squarely in the face comes from Mark 14:38. It says, “Watch with me and pray lest the tempter overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak.” No one can watch with me and pray if I haven’t shared what I’m struggling with. If I do this daily my sponsor can be very specific about how to pray for and with me. I in turn can be this kind of a sponsor for those who have asked me to do so. For me personally, I hear this message, “Oh, you can’t share that temptation, you’re a leader so you have to be beyond that.” It always paralyzes me too when I hear it. I literally have to make myself tell. It never comes naturally. My sponsor and I touch base daily to do this for one another, yet, it takes sheer discipline to confess. I’m sure this has to do with pride, but nonetheless, the sharing always helps and that is why it is critically important to follow these steps.
There has been a troubling item some people close to me have been dealing with and I’ve wanted to help but didn’t know how. I’ve been praying about it and leaving it with God (as best I could). As I drove into town yesterday morning to get an oil change for my car I was being nudged to take a step I “just knew” I shouldn’t be taking. Yet, while I was at the dealership I took the step and sent an email. Within a few minutes I was being called. We talked through what was troubling me for the others involved. Within an hour the issue was being addressed in a way I had never thought possible–all for the good.
This morning as I was journaling I was telling Jesus how easy it is to live for Him when I know what to do and how difficult it is when I don’t know what to do. As I was writing it I was nudged to remember what TRUST is all about. When I don’t know what to do I’m then to TRUST. It was at this point that God reminded me that yesterday when I was “trying to trust” He nudged me and I obeyed. He then did His work. I learned a big lesson in this. When we don’t know what to do, we are to TRUST. If there is something God wants us to do while we are trusting, He will nudge. That seems like a simple set of directions, but if you are like me, it is a set that I struggle to do every time it occurs.
As I was reading in Job, I was awakened that this lesson I’m talking about is one Job had in place. No matter how big the issue he faced, he trusted God. I know now what important lesson God was wanting me to get from reading Job–TRUST. What a good teacher our Father is!
Have you ever pondered on the magnitude of decision making which took place in heaven when God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit decided to have Jesus come to earth as man? Jesus would literally become a man, God would commune with Him as He does with us as we give Him voice, and The Holy Spirit would dwell within Him giving Him wisdom, nurture and a guiding Spirit to do the will of the Father.
I was journaling as I started my devotional time about my relationship with Jesus. It was at that point I was reminded that God and Jesus made this decision together so we could have a Savior. They recognized there was no hope for man to “save himself”. Our flesh is just too weak. As I finished my journaling and began to read my devotional I found the message to be just as I’d been journaling. The difference was that Charles Spurgeon wasn’t pondering this, he was explaining it with great clarity. He writes, “Someone who truly knows the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as they should be known will never set one before the other when it comes to love. Instead, he see them at Bethlehem, Gethsemane, and Calvary, with each equally involved in the work of salvation.”
As I finished this devotional reading I began my bible reading continuing with Job. Job seems to be a tremendous example of one who knew his Father God ahead of Christ coming and allowing us the opportunity to have the Holy Spirit within us. I have much to learn about living a life totally surrendered ahead of time so I shed God’s Light throughout the day.
My devotional time was interrupted this morning by a phone call. One of the young men in our Celebrate Recovery (CR) is having a most difficult time. He needed to process and vent. I had finished reading my Bible reading in Job by the time he called. Each day when I finish in this book I have to sort through my emotions. I have such a difficult time with these “friends” of Job. They don’t back off and amazingly, Job doesn’t give in to their accusations of him. As I listened to the caller this morning I found myself thinking similar thoughts which looked like Job’s friends. When the call ended we agreed we’d see each other tonight at CR.
As I began to pray over my prayer list I was praying for this young man and also bringing to God my own petitions for him. I was thinking I need to talk to him about praising God in the midst of the storm. Then it seemed God nudged me with the message–you praise Me. As I began to praise God I suddenly realized it was easy for me to Praise God–I know Him! This young man is very new to God. He is just now learning to pray and believe. So, I thanked God for already having a great plan in mind for this young man. The issues of the present are not abandoned by Him. I know He will use all of this to His Glory and I praise Him already for what He will do with it.
As I write this I am awakened that there were people praying such prayers as this for me so many years ago when I was in the midst of my own divorce. Today it is easy to see how tenderly, yet diligently, God was working. I will PRAISE God throughout today and each day for what He is doing even though I and my young friend cannot see it at this point in time. I would love for you to join me in praying for him.
I found it interesting again in my reading of Job where there seems to be so much judgment of him by his friends, my devotional was about judgment. Charles Spurgeon writes in the devotional that we are free of God’s justice because Christ paid the price of sin for us. We are in debt not to justice, but to Christ’s love. He brings out that Peter said he’d die before he’d ever deny Him. Yet in the same evening he denies Jesus 3 times. Spurgeon goes on to ask, “Rather than dying for Christ, are we willing to live for Him?”
As I am reading Job it is so easy to step into judging the friends of Job. This morning I asked God to show me what I am to learn from this book? He then showed me what came out in the devotional–“Live for Him”. Living for Jesus doesn’t look like judging others. We can learn from the book of Job just how ugly judgment is. These friends came to console Job who had lost everything and now his own health was sorely at risk. Yet, what did they do? I don’t want my friendship to come across this way–ever.
The challenge to live for Jesus is our challenge. The friends of Job had never experienced Jesus or been given The Holy Spirit. In Living for Jesus, we have The Holy Spirit within us to lead us each and every step of our days. I know how my humanness wants to step in at times, but I also know that when I stop for just one moment the Voice of God speaks. I may have to wait for the message, but the first thing is to stop the stepping into what my humanness would do. OK, this is lesson number 1 from Job.
I don’t think there is any other book in the entire bible quite like Job. It is sad from the moment you begin reading the first chapter. How many of us think about the fact that Satan is bartering with God about any of us? Job’s wife, his supposed best friends are all trying to get him to respond to their human wisdom. I know how the book ends but I’m only a quarter of the way through it and I want to punch his friends! One of my darkest times in life was my divorce. I thought I’d done everything humanly possible to live a life for God, be a good dad to my kids and try to be a good husband. Yet, I was told I wasn’t loved and I was going to be divorced. This was bad enough, but I had several close friends and acquaintances who did just what Job’s friends did–accuse him of needing to straighten out my life. It was obvious Job had done something wrong or God wouldn’t be punishing him as he was. I needed to confess my wrongs just like Job’s friends were trying to get him to do. I knew in my own mind that I was being punished for even thinking I should ever marry. A person with my background should never think he is worthy of someone’s love. My kids should be taken away from me so I wouldn’t end up hurting them as I was hurt. I couldn’t say any of this out loud. It would only add fuel to the judgments I was already receiving.
There were a few very kind people however that gave me a glimmer of hope. One older lady in our church told me that God must love me a great deal in order to allow me to experience such hurt. I clung to this even though I couldn’t find any substance for her statement. All of these years later I have learned so much about living life. Jesus tells us to not judge one another. He does so for very good reason. We can support one another and let Christ be the Judge.
As I arose this morning I talked to my friend’s wife. He is still in the hospital but his vitals are closer to normal. They are working to determine the cause of this attack before they release him. God is taking care of him which I knew He would. I simply pray this cause can be known so my friend can join his family. God is using our prayers!
Today is the day of Betty’s celebration service. Her family is gathering this morning at the gravesite and then the celebration will follow at 12:00 noon. I was asked to say something before the song I’m to sing. There are so many things which come to mind, but all of them bring immediate tears. I don’t want to breakdown while I sing her requested song either. I know to trust Jesus to take care of all of this but my humanness screams other messages at the moment. As I write this I am reminded of yesterday’s message–turn it over to Jesus and look up to Him as I do so–“Jesus, this is YOURS! I thank you too!”
As we had our step study lesson yesterday we were discussing the worthwhileness of journaling. What was becoming very clear to me is that journaling is what has kept me in the present all of these years. My life was spent denying my past and any effects it had on me. They were buried and sealed. I use to hate having to write about them, but over the years in doing so, I not only faced the memories, but I’ve also been able to find God’s presence and handiwork in them. I was never the orphaned, abandoned child I thought I was. In fact, God has always had a plan and was always present in my living it out. Today I praise God and thank Him for using all of my past to offer HOPE to those who are still in the midst of confusion and struggle.