Monthly Archives: December 2017

Job 1-2; It’s Not The “Why” You Might Think

Have you ever asked the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I think most of us have at one time or another questioned why a God-loving, church-going, volunteer at homeless shelters, a giver to charities, and an all around nice guy gets ALS, or loses his job, or has a child addicted to drugs. Why does a godly church secretary find herself fighting cancer diagnosed late, effecting her major organs, in great pain, and having a severe reaction to chemo?

Why do you suffer? Why do I?

If you read the book of Job hoping to get those answers, you will be disappointed. Job never finds out “why” those things happened to him. Oh his friends think they know “why.” But they don’t. Not really.

If you read the first two chapters of Job you’ll discover the deeper question that Satan asks of God: “Do people follow You, God, because You bless them? Do they worship You so they can feel good? Do they obey You for what’s in it for them?”

Satan’s premise is that as soon as hard times hit, people turn their backs on God. Is he right to think that?

What about you? Have you given God an ultimatum: “I’ll serve You, God, as long as you don’t mess with my health, or my family. I’ll worship You, but don’t touch my career. If you do, I’m outta here.”

The question isn’t “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The question is “What do good people do when bad things happen?”

I am looking forward to spending some time in Job. I want to hear what the world has to say about worship. I want to define the “why” of my worship of God. And I want to hear from God about why He deserves my worship in every circumstance of life.

When all is said and done, I want to say with Job:

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised,

and mean it.

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Esther; An Edict Not Revoked

Whenever I read this book I wonder, when I get to the part where the king who condemned all Jews to death, why he doesn’t just rescind his order and let them live once he discovers the truth. Why doesn’t he send out an updated edict and let the Jews off the hook? Instead, he gives the Jews a way to survive the death sentence.

Today Warren Wiresbe (With the Word Bible Handbook) put a light on the subject that helps me see things a bit more clearly. If you have read other posts of mine you know my strong conviction that all Scripture is given us by our loving Heavenly Father for the expressed purpose of revealing Himself to us. So what can a book that doesn’t even mention His Name teach us about God?

His Sovereignty. His dealing with prideful people. The fact He blesses obedience. And this:

JESUS!

Dr. Wiresbe reminded me God, from the time of Adam and Eve, has proclaimed an edict: Sin requires a death penalty. ALL sin, every sin comes with a deadly price tag whether we think that’s fair or not. And God is not going to revoke that edict.

Every impure thought, every vulgar word, every unkind action, all disobedience condemns you. You’re not going to talk God out of it, either.

Just like the Jews in Esther’s day were condemned to die, we are condemned to an eternity of death, separated from God.  But God provided a way for us to survive. He didn’t revoke the edict – He FULFILLED it! Jesus died so we don’t have to. That was our death sentence Jesus took on Himself.

Now here’s the other thing: The king didn’t write the new edict allowing the Jews to be saved, then lock the paper up in a vault. He sent couriers out into the land to tell the good news to everyone!

We need to be doing that, too. Your neighbor, your brother-in-law, your co-worker might need to know that they have a death sentence hanging over their heads, and that salvation is their’s for the asking! Jesus paid what they cannot pay. And they can have eternal life through the precious blood of their Savior.

Our Holy God cannot rescind the edict. Sin=Death. But Praise God that He Himself provided a way of salvation from the penalty of death my sin requires. I live because Jesus died. Praise God.

He did the same for you!

Nehemiah 10-13; Worship and Obedience

Well, that’s a downer. The wall had been built agains all odds. There was a revival among the Jews, hearts once again turned toward God. People were determined to obey the Word of the Lord. And a joyful ceremony was held to dedicate the completed wall that so many had worked so hard on.

The enemy defeated! The wall restored! Sins forgiven! Choirs singing! People worshiping God together. Now that’s a happy ending.

Then there is chapter 13. Things aren’t always as they appear to be. The emotional worship experience didn’t translate into real life obedience.

The Bible demonstrates that our emotions are engaged in worship. We see accounts of people dancing in the streets, shouting praise, singing songs. We also see people grieved over sin, tearing their clothes, falling on their faces, and wailing as they worship.

We don’t turn off our emotions when we worship. But if experiencing worship is your goal, if going to church to get your weekly shot in the arm is your motivation, stay home.

First of all, worship is about God. It’s not about you. But secondly, we need to be reminded that those worship services end, and the daily grind begins. That worship service is meant for us to stop, focus on God, set aside self and care and heartache, and give what is due our Holy God. Then we continue our worship as we obey Him in the day to day.

It’s Christmas morning. I pray you and your family will be blessed as you celebrate Jesus’ birth. And I hope you’ll take time to set aside the busy-ness of the day, the laughter, and presents, and worship that baby who grew to be the man who died for you.

And may your worship translate into obedience for Jesus’ sake and for His glory.

Nehemiah 7-9; It’s Not Just History

God inspired the writers of Scripture fairly often to recall the events surrounding Israel’s exodus from Egypt, their forty year wilderness experience, and their occupation of the Promised Land. This time Nehemiah is praying as he takes us through those historical years.

Last week I watched the video of a lecture David Arthur gave on these chapters, and a lightbulb went on in my brain. I will never look at passages such as these the same ever again. Because  David Arthur did not spend time talking about the history of Jews. He referred to it as the history of God.

Of course!

God doesn’t want us focusing on the people, the nation of Israel. Lots of people write history books. God wants us to SEE HIM in the events and lives of the people He chose for that purpose. We think God chose Israel because somehow He loved them more, wants to bless them more. The reality is He chose the Jews to be an example to the world of who God is, and what He can do for those who obey Him. He chose that people group to reveal Himself, first through the Jewish people, and ultimately through Jesus. (Read Exodus and notice how often God tells us He does things so that the nations will know He is God)

So what does God tell us about Himself through the words of Nehemiah’s prayer? Here’s a quick list:

He alone is the Lord. He is the creator. He is faithful. He is righteous. He is compassionate. He has power over nature. He is present. He is holy. He forgives. He leads His people. He provides. He blesses. He is the victor. He must be obeyed. He is patient. He punishes sin. He is gracious, great, mighty, awesome, keeps His promises, answers prayer. He is just. His loving kindness is real.

I believe with all my heart that this is what God wants us to take away from the way He worked through one people group. The Bible is not about the physical nation of Jews. It’s about God.

It’s all about God.

Do you know Him? There is no better time than this season when we celebrate the birth of His Son Jesus. Read God’s Word and allow Him to reveal Himself to you. That is exactly what He longs to do.

Nehemiah 4-6; Fighting the Good Fight

The Jews worked fervently to get the wall built. But they never took their eyes off the enemy, and were always armed for battle. They recognized the enemy’s cunning attempts to thwart God’s work. But the wall was built in 52 days, in spite of the enemy’s best effort to stop it.

I think Christians working in churches are doing a pretty good job of getting things done. Outreach programs, inviting atmospheres, Bible studies, and child-care. I’m not so sure we’re doing a great job at arming ourselves against the enemy.

Read these chapters in Nehemiah and you will see Satan’s tactics; the offer of friendship, deception, fear, lies, etc. The enemy even “got in” to the inner circle by marrying the daughter of a prominent Jew. The Jew’s enemy was relentless.

And so is ours. God seems to be asking me to check my own battle stance. Am I busy doing things for the Lord, with one eye on my enemy? Or am I assuming that the enemy can’t touch me as long as I’m working for God? Have I put on the armor of God, do I wield the Sword of the Spirit? Am I studying God’s Word so that I understand Satan’s battle plan, can recognize his tactics, and fight when his arrows are pointed at me?

I must remember that Satan’s goal is to destroy the Church one soul at a time. May I fight the good fight as I do the things God asks of me. May you do the same.

Nehemiah 1-3; It Starts At Home

The conditions of Jerusalem grieved Nehemiah. His reactions to the news of that great city, reduced to rubble, was to fast and pray. His sorrow was a “sadness of the heart,” as observed by King Artaxerxes.

Nehemiah left the comforts of living in the palace of the Persian king, and went to Jerusalem to see what could be done to rectify the situation there. There are so many spiritual truths tucked into this precious book: How to go about beginning a project, how to handle opposition, what a healthy church looks like. This book is rich.

Here’s what came to mind this morning as I thought about these three chapters: So often I hear people lament the condition of the world, the corruption in our government, the immorality, the blatant sin, the disrespect for God in our society. I hear people grieved at the condition of the Church, bemoaning the fact the Church is losing its influence. I believe some are as grieved about the state of things today, as Nehemiah was at the state of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah went to Jerusalem, rallied the people to action, and the job got done. And here’s how:

People took care of the conditions in their own back yards.

Yes, the wall was rubble all around Jerusalem, an overwhelming task for any individual. But each person picked up a shovel and cleaned up the part of the wall closest to them.

Yes, the world is in sad repair. Yes, the task of cleaning it up seems too monumental. But I believe God would have us understand if we want our world repaired, it has to start at home.

You aren’t responsible for the world’s condition. But you are responsible for the condition of your home, which occupies a portion in the world.

Parents, do you hold your children to a Biblical standard of behavior? Kids, do you read the Bible and long to be right before God? Are you obedient? Adults, do you participate in drunkenness, pornography, vulgar language? Are you a watered-down version of what God demands?

Let’s not just shake our heads at the depraved condition of our world. We can change this world, one back yard at a time.

Ezra 4-10; Seriously Seeing Sin

What do you do when you are forced to face a wrong you have done? Do you accept the reprimand thankfully, do you take responsibility, ask forgiveness, and try to rectify the situation? Or do you get angry, place blame elsewhere, or blow it off?

Adam blamed Eve. And for most of us, that is our first inclination, too.

Not so Ezra and the Jews we read about in these chapters. Ezra prayed, and wept, and threw himself down on the ground in front of the temple. He met the truth of sin with agony and sorrow. The Jews followed his example.

With their repentance came drastic action. How do you correct the effects of a grave sin? Do you commit a “lesser” sin to rid yourself of the “greater”?

I’ve read several sources and their’s are varying opinions of the actions taken by the Jews. Some say, “Yes, of course. God commanded they not marry foreign women. Anyway, it was merciful to divorce them. The law provide for stoning them. They got off easy.”

Others say, “No way. God hates divorce. Marriage is forever. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

Honestly, I think both sides are right to a degree. Which makes this a very confusing passage in my mind. I notice Scripture does not use the words, “God said…” in reference to this drastic action. It seems to come as a response to a great revival, but not a direct order from God.

And I notice that each case was reviewed individually. Each marriage carefully examined before sentencing. I think that might imply there were some foreign wives who abandoned their idols and worshiped God with their husbands. Those marriages may have survived the cut. (purely my opinion)

What is undeniable is the seriousness with which God looks at sin. God inspired Ezra to name names. Every man who had married a foreign wife is listed here at the end of Ezra’s book. Name after name of the guilty is recorded for us to read thousands of years later.

What this Scripture says to me is that first of all, I need to be careful about going off half-cocked following an encounter with God. I want to be led by the Spirit, and not get ahead of what God is doing in my life.

Secondly, I need to take sin as seriously as God does. Sometimes He requires drastic action to purge sin from our lives. But if we never commit the sin in the first place, the drastic acton won’t be necessary.

Remind me of that truth, Dear Lord. Make me so in tune with You that I recognize sin before I commit it, and run! But when I sin and You point it out through Your Word or through the voice of one of Your children, help me to accept it graciously, and repent. Father, if there is drastic measures You need to take to purge sin from my life, do it. But I’m going to need You to help me every inch of the way. I only know I want to be a woman who sees sin as seriously as You do