Thursday, March 29, 2007

 

Shhh, did you hear that?

In my readings today I saw how God answers Job and I read Peter’s description of how God produces salvation through faith and perseverance. Job has always fascinated me for several reasons. First, his sheer audacity and boldness in challenging God is amazing. Sure, his circumstances were not so good, and yes, God could have stopped them. Yet, Job was determined to have God hear his complaint.

I know I do that myself, though in my false humility I tend to think that I’m not as arrogant as I perceive Job to be. That lie is obvious in God’s response to Job in chapter 38—“Where were you, Job?” It’s a question that reverberates throughout Scripture. God asks a similar question to Adam and Eve, to Moses, to the prophets (especially Ezekiel), and in many ways to other people.

It is a legitimate question—where were you when God was planning things and making provisions for all the events of your life? Were you on an ash heap, scraping sores and complaining to your “friends?” Or were you hiding in the fig trees, covering up the sin that has been uncovered by your sinful acts? Or were you hiding in a cave, depressed because you were the only child of God left standing for the truth? Where were you, o Job?

God never sleeps, he watches over his creation to provide grace and provision for it every day. While we were nodding off, God was providing. While we caught 20 winks, God made it rain, brought the sun up, set up circumstances for your life so that today his grace would abound to you. God, how foolish of us to think we somehow had better plans than you. We all believe that sometimes, and it is as stupid as it is audacious.

The second thing I like about Job is his humility. Oh, he could be bold in complaint, but when accosted by the truth, he was humble enough to shut up. God shows up and essentially tells Job—“Child, I’m God and you’re not.” God speaks to Job out of a whirlwind, and I wonder how he and his friends felt when it showed up. Were they morbidly curious, frightened, excited, or just downright confused? I think sometimes that I want God to “give me a sign,” to show up and do something amazing. Yet when he appears, often it is in the quiet whisper or in the whirlwind life of everyday activities. And, here is the really odd part, that is the time I tend to miss him.

Yes, I miss it when God whispers to me because too often I am complaining too loudly to listen. Then he comes when life is hectic and I’m too busy to notice. Lord, give us the wisdom of Elijah and Job to sit still when you show up. Teach us to listen in silent adoration as you speak words of life to us. How we need your Spirit to protect our hearts and minds, to guide us in the way everlasting. Father, be the center of our activity today. No matter what ash heap or cave we find ourselves in today, help us to be attentive to your communications and to your presence.

Pay attention today--God may be whispering to you.

He may be shouting.

Listen.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 23, 2007

 

Faithful in hard times

1 Thess 5:23-25

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.
25 Brethren, pray for us. NASU

Job 5:17-27

17 "Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves,
So do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
18 "For He inflicts pain, and gives relief;
He wounds, and His hands also heal.
19 " From six troubles He will deliver you,
Even in seven evil will not touch you. . .
27 "Behold this; we have investigated it, and so it is.
Hear it, and know for yourself." NASU

Faithful--God is faithful to finish what he starts.

Faithful--God is faithful to stand with us in our hour of desperation.

Faithful--God will not fail, he will not give up.

Faithful--if God has called us, he will complete that calling in us. He finishes what he starts (see Isaiah 66:9).

Think of Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Gideon, Samson, Deborah, Barak, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Habakkuk, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Jesus, the apostles, James, John, Peter, and Paul.

Think of poor young Timothy--his spiritual "father" Paul just died--he had his head removed by the Romans for preaching Christ. And there sits Timothy. He arrived at the prison, the final home of Paul, but Timothy arrived just a bit too late. "Come before winter" Paul requested. Timothy hurried to Rome with parchments and supplies, only he arrived too late. Paul was dead.

We might be tempted to ask Timothy--"Is God really faithful? Does God finish what he starts?"

Tear stained eyes look up at us. A smile shows on a face that was just a moment ago contorted with grief.

"Is God faithful?" Timothy responds incredously. He looks at us like we had three heads. "Of course God is faithful!" the disciple of Paul exclaims.

But, we might ask, you just lost your friend, your spiritual father. He is dead, gone, his life ingloriously snuffed out by the mad man Nero. Where is God's faithfulness in all of that?

Remember, dear reader, that God's constant faithfulness is not a guarantee against harm or even hard times. Paul knew that, and he knew the risks. But Paul was confident that God would empower him for the task at hand. He even wrote to dear Timothy--"If we are faithless, God is faithful" (2 Timothy 2:13).

Why is God faithful? Paul tells us it is because God cannot deny himself! God is always true to his own character.

Paul also reminded his disciple that hard times would come since "those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:2). In the midst of the storm, God is unable to deny his own essential nature of covenant love, of covenant fidelity, of faithfulness.

If God suddenly became unfaithful, the universe would literally fly apart at the seams, the world would cease spinning, the moon would crash into the ocean, life would cease, the sun would be snuffed out, the universe would cease its almost infinite growth. God can no more be unfaithful than a human can sprout wings or develop gills. God IS faithful because he is God! God does not change!

So, friend, what trial of darkness are we experiencing? Is it one of our own making, the result of mistakes and missteps in life? Is it an accident, simply the ebb and flow of life? Is it the result of righteousness?

I'll tell you a secret--it doesn't matter where it originated--God is faithful still! Romans 8:28 is still in effect.

Have we blown it? Hundreds of times no doubt! We need to make things right and remember--God works all things together for good.

Have you been treated badly for some good thing you've done? Be glad and remember that all things work together for good. Your present circumstances do not hinder God's faithfulness. God does not falter because your situation is too BIG.

GOD IS FAITHFUL!

For God to be unfaithful, he would have to deny himself. And that, dear friend, will never happen.

Thank you, God, for your steady commitment to us. Thank you for being constant and unmoving in your love for us. Thank you for your kindness that leads us to repent and for your faithfulness that calls us to faith. Thank you for the life and example of Jesus. Teach us to live as he lived. Thanks for listening to us!

Thank you, dear reader, for reading!

Monday, March 05, 2007

 

A reality TV show reminds me that God will turn mourning into dancing, ashes to beauty . . .

Last night my wife and I watched with anticipation as the TV show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition built a home for the Tate family on Davis Island in Floriday. The Tates lost their home in a tragic accident last June when a plane crashed into their home and burned it down. They had no insurance and could not rebuild. The new home built by ABC is no doubt a blessing, and I think the Tates not only appreciate it but deserved it.

What was not well covered by ABC, however, is the fact that another family suffered loss in that tragedy. The Huisman family lost husband and father, Steve Huisman. His wife, Sonya, was left a widow with four children to raise. Although I know that Sonya does not expect ABC to do anything for her, I think it would have been a good thing for Ty and the crew to at least attempt to bless this family that lost a breadwinner, a father, and a husband all in on tragic event.

Of course, I am kind of biased because Steve Huisman was a good friend to me. One of the best friends I have ever had. I wanted my new readers to know his story, so I'm linking two posts form last June to this entry. They pretty adequately sum up how I am feeling today as I remember the loss of my friend.

Please pray for the Huismans as you read these posts. They can be found at these URLs: http://beyond-the-wardrobe.blogspot.com/2006/06/in-memoriam.html and http://beyond-the-wardrobe.blogspot.com/2006/06/and-now-song-from-jennifer-knapp.html.

Thanks for reading!

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