Thursday, February 2, 2012

January 31

Job 38 and 39 are fantastic glimpses into God's knowledge. Sometimes we think we know everything. We were even told that if we ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we would know what God knows. But we are so far from that. Job's only response to this is:
Job 40:3-5
Then Job replied to the Lord, I am nothing--how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.
Who are we to complain to God about what He is doing in our lives? We know nothing so why would we even try to "discredit [His] justice and condemn [Him] just to prove you are right?" (Job 40:8) God reminds us of these magnificent creatures He has created (did anyone else think dinosaurs and dragons?!) and that He is so much BIGGER than these.
Job replies: "I know that you can do anything, and no one can stop you...I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me." (42:2-3)
Because Job never spoke about God in ways that were untrue and was humbled by God to the point of ashes and dust, God blessed him. He ended up living a long, full life.

So Job: don't ask God why He put a trial in your path because He is bigger than anything we can ever imagine and He can do whatever He wants regardless of whether we are "good" or "bad" people. And sometimes our friends may have the best intentions when 'helping' us through trials, but that doesn't always mean they are correct. You and God know what is going on and it is important to stick to that. When in doubt: open your Bible and get to know your Creator a little bit more.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

January 29

Sorry that it has been a while since I have commented on anything. I have been contemplating Job and his friends responses to his situation.
So we see the beginning of the story: that Job is blameless and righteous in the eyes of the Lord. Job does not understand why things are so bad for him and he complains to God and asks him why. It seems that Job's friends are eagerly trying to help him and they may have the best intentions and sometimes they may even be correct in their wisdom and knowledge in the character of God, but they have completely missed the mark in Job's case. This shows me that even in our best intentions and in our knowledge and wisdom, we can still be so wrong in our actions and advice we give to others at times.
In this story and dialogue, we can learn that bad things happen to good people and it isn't always a result of sin. Job learns a lessen through this even though he doesn't actually sin and is innocent in his actions. God was testing Job.

Job 23:10-14
But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God's paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside. I have not departed from his commands, but have treasured his words more than daily food. But once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.

At this point, Job still doesn't understand what is going on. He only sees a portion of the puzzle while God has the whole picture. Tomorrow we see God's response to Job and how humble Job becomes. Take away your pride in trying to understand or get the answers to "why". Look more at how we can continue to serve Christ through our trials.

Monday, January 23, 2012

January 23

Job 16:5
But if it were me, I would encourage you. I would try to take away your grief.

We have all been in situations where we have been in pain or grief. Maybe it was because we have lost a loved one, or maybe we have struggled with something in our past, or we are going through a tough time in our lives. But we have all been there. Our friends reach out to us to "help" us and sometimes it seems like they are just putting the blame on us. They give us reasons as to why this happened or they attempt to explain the situation which in reality: they know nothing about it.
Occasionally, we get the friend who is just a listening ear. That friend will do our chores for us, will speak encouraging words, will tell them stories that makes them laugh. This is the type of friend that Job was wanting in his grief. He said that if it was him, he would be encouraging and attempt to take away the grief instead of answering why it is happening.
My question is which type of friend are you? Which do you think should we be? Let us encourage each other through our trials.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January 22

Job cries out to God. He is confused and angry. He wants to know what he did to deserve such pain and suffering. In the next few day, we find God's response to Job. It is definately humbling.

Job 12:10
For the life of every living thing is in his hand, the breath of every human being.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

January 21

So the recorded conversations of Job and his friends are interesting. It seems to be very much like those that we have today with our Christian friends.
Whenever someone is suffering or going through trials, we wonder what they did to deserve such pain. God must have a reason for causing trials and tribulations.
But what about what we read in chapter 1 about God saying that Job was blameless? So...Job didn't 'deserve' this? Well, we know that it wasn't a cause of some un-confessed sin lingering in his life.
Job recognizes who God is.
Job 9:2b-4
But how can a person be declared innocent in God's sight? If someone wanted to take God to court, would it even be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times? For God is so wise and so mighty. Who has ever challenged him successfully?"

Thursday, January 19, 2012

January 19

It's weird to think that Job could have been around the same time as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You mean to tell me that they were not the only ones on earth at the time!? It is fun seeing how everything in history connects when you read it chronologically. (I still picture Job being around sometime near the exile...which is also a possibility.)

Job 1:8
Then the Lord asked Satan, "Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless--a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil."

Blameless does not equal sinless. Job was still human, he was just a person of high integrity. He made sacrifices for his children just incase they may have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. God singled Job out and GOD called him blameless. This was before Christ came and sacrificed himself so that we could all be blameless before God.
So Satan tells God that if he took away all Job's possessions and family, he would curse God. So God gave Satan permission to do what he wanted with Job except harm his health. That almost seems like God is playing with is that fair to Job? Basically, God can do whatever He wants and who are we to say what is fair or not fair. I don't claim to know the reason's why God does the things he does, but we do know this fact: nothing surprises God. God didn't wake up one day and say 'Oh no Satan! What have you done to my people?!' He has a role in everything whether we see it as good or bad. Job tells his wife: "You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?" Job 2:10

He also recognized that God gives and God takes away.
Job 1:21
He said, "I came naked from my mother's womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!"
He never blamed God for the things that happened to him. We have a long way to go in this story and I'm interested to see how his friends react and the advice they give him. Job can be difficult to get through, but it is rich with lessons and applications.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January 18

Before Jacob dies, he blesses each of his sons. I wonder if all these 'prophesies' came true? Why did they always bless people back then and why don't we still do it now. Were the blessings a prophecy or was it just wishful thoughts towards the person being blessed?

Genesis 50:19-20
But Joseph replied, "Don't be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people."

How many of us want to seek revenge on the people that have hurt us in the past? We need to remember to let go of our bitterness towards those people and look at the big picture. Look at the positive side of all that happened or is happening. God always has a purpose bigger than we can see. So instead of focusing on who did you wrong, look at the ways God is working in your life and in the lives of others.

January 17

So, I have been doing the reading. I just haven't had much to comment on. If you have questions or comments about this day's reading, please leave them! :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

January 16

So today's reading isn't my favorite Bible story. When Joseph's brothers meet him to buy grain, it seems he still resents them for what they did so many years ago. He keeps his identity hidden, throws them in prison, and demands them to bring their younger brother. Two years go by with Simeon still in prison when they visit again and when they are leaving, Joseph tries to con Benjamin in being his slave!
For all that has supposedly changed for Joseph, it seems he still is holding onto bitterness. Maybe he was testing his brothers to see if they had really felt sorry and repented of what they did to Joseph. Was he making sure they would protect his younger brother and do whatever they could to spare his life and make sure he returned safely to their father.
In the end, he tells them who he is and also lets them know not to feel bad for what they did because everything was in God's plan for him to be there. So even in Joseph's bitterness and resentment, he recognized that he was in God's plan for him. And it is important to see that he let go of that bitterness and graciously welcomed his brothers and their families to Egypt so that he could take care of them.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15

Genesis 41:38
"So Pharaoh asked his official, 'Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?'"

How amazing would that be to be labeled as someone who is so obviously filled with the spirit of God?! Joseph was not some 'old person' at this time. He was the same age as me! I look back at the story to see what Joseph did to 'deserve' such a title. When the cup-bearer and baker were thrown into prison and had the dreams, they said that nobody could interpret the dreams. Joseph says that is because interpreting dreams is God's business. They told him the dreams and he interpreted them for them. He pleaded with them to not forget him when they cup bearer got out so that he would be able to get out of prison. When Pharaoh had his dreams about the fat and skinny cows and the fat and withered grain, the cup bearer remembered that Joseph had interpreted his and the baker's dreams and his predictions came true. So when Joseph was brought before Pharaoh to interpret these dreams Joseph tells him "'It his beyond my power to do this,' Joseph replied. 'But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.'" Joseph put all the attention on God's power to interpret the dream and Joseph was only a tool used to give Pharaoh the message.

Sometimes I get so caught up on the things that I'm doing that I forget that it is not me that is doing these things. I am so selfish and self-absorbed that I, too often, take the credit when it should always go to God. I think of the things that I am doing instead of the things that God is doing through me. Lets not forget who to give the glory to. We cannot do anything apart from God.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

January 14

So Joseph flaunted his fathers approval and his promised blessing in front of his brothers. He also was a tattle-tale on his brothers to his father. No wonder his brothers hated him so much (I can relate...I was--still am--the favorite ;p). But the Lord was with Joseph during everything he went through. Nothing surprises God because He has a plan for us even though it looks like things are swirling out of control. Even though Joseph made some mistakes in the past by flaunting things he shouldn't have, he kept his values in the midst of temptation. He explained to Potiphar's wife why he wouldn't sleep with her, said no on several occasions, and eventually ran in the other direction. How many times have we been in a tempting situation and literally RAN away? I have felt like I needed to do that a time or two, but I didn't. In today's readings, we are continually reminded that the Lord was with Joseph. I think I read it 3 or 4 times. Joseph wasn't perfect, but he did follow the Lord and he was blessed by succeeding in everything he did.

January 13

I didn't have anything on today.
Most of the reading was on Esau's lineage.

So I thought I would just talk. :) Many of you know about my struggles with going into missions full time. If not, now you do. This journey I have been on for over a year has been life-changing (really...) and knowing that we all have a part in fulfilling the Great Commission is so humbling. I know that not everyone is called to overseas living, but we are all called to spreading God's Word. I never thought that I would ever consider being a missionary. I always said that there is too much need here in our own country, but I never did anything about that need here. I love the group of friends I have here where I live and I wouldn't be the person I am now if it had not been for the encouragement, prayers, influence, and accountability that came from each of you. I encourage y'all to reach out to your communities. Where do people need God's love? Where can you infiltrate to share Jesus with someone. We have a prison ministry at our church. Have y'all ever considered going as a group to something like that once in a while? Growing together spiritually is a huge blessing. Game nights have been a ton of fun and it has been a great way to help each of us get to know one another better, but how are we growing in Christ? Lets encourage each other and challenge each other in our faith. If it means stepping outside our doors and reaching out, lets do it. Lets get uncomfortable together to bring others to Christ. :)

January 12

Genesis 32:28
"'Your name will no longer be Jacob' the man told him. 'From now on you will be called israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.'"
I am confused as to how Jacob "won" his fight with God. I see how Jacob has mended broken relationships between people and this encounter seems to be a place of a strong spiritual battle. Jacob actually walked away injured (which is another reason I feel a lot like Jacob) so I believe this "wrestling" actually happened. I am sure God was teaching him something, but I still struggle with this passage a lot. Jacob is really concerned about how he left his home and his brother. He wants to make amends, but he is afraid his brother won't accept him and try to kill him. Instead, Esau greets him and his family with open arms. :) Jacob met God 20 years later in the same spot God blessed him when he was running away from Esau and blessed him again. A lot had changed for Jacob and his relationship with the Lord has grown even stronger.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

January 11

While Jacob was working for his father-in-law, he kept up a good work ethic. Even though he was 'tricked' into working for Laban much longer than the original deal, Jacob did not complain or take things out on Laban. Jacob continued to grow in his faith and in his spiritual journey and God kept his promises to him. While serving Laban, he was successful in everything he did. He became very wealthy, but still was afraid Laban would try and take everything away from him. After he took his family and his flocks and fled back to the land of Canaan, Laban ran him down in anger to stop him, but Jacob kept his honor. They ended up renewing their relationship and set up a treaty to not cause harm on each other.

Genesis 31:52
"They stand between us as witnesses of our vows. I will never pass this pile of stones to harm you, and you must never pass these stones or this monument to harm me."

Jacob probably felt some resentment towards Laban for the unfair treatment he received from him. I believe God wants us to mend broken relationships so that we don't hold grudges against other people. How can we truly love God when we don't truly love and forgive His creation and our brothers and sisters?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

January 10

Genesis 28:8
"It was now very clear to Esau that his father did not like the local Canaanite women."
Esau seems to be learning something here about his family. It took Jacob taking away his birthright, taking his blessing, and fleeing for his life because Esau threatened him--all for Esau to realize where he went wrong. I see the act of him marring Ishmael's daughter almost as an act of repentance.
Genesis 28:16
"Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, 'Surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn't even aware of it!'"
God spoke to me once when I wasn't even aware He was there. I was caught up in some of the worst ways of living, but God still cared about me enough to speak to me. That moment changed my life drastically. I feel a lot like Jacob in many ways. I think that this encounter with God was just the beginning of his spiritual growth. This story shows how he was still doubtful because he says if this, this, and this happen, then the Lord will be my God. I praise God for that one moment that I will never forget when He spoke directly to me. I pray that won't be the last time either.

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 9

Genesis 26:5
"I will do this because Abraham listened to me and obeyed all my requirements, commands, decrees, and instructions."
Like father, like son in this story of how Isaac deceived the Philistine king the same way Abraham did. Isaac told them that Rebekah was his sister (when that wasn't even halfway true as it was for Abraham). Isaac also 'ignored' God's blessing to Jacob before he was born by attempting to give his blessing to Esau before he died. (Remember God told Rebekah how the older will serve the younger while they were still in her womb?) I find it interesting that God reminded Isaac of the promised blessing, but he also reminded him that he was receiving this blessing because of Abraham's obedience--not his own.

I get so upset when reading this story because of all the deception and lies here just for Rebekah and Jacob to get their way. I almost feel bad for Esau, "but Esau's wives made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah" (Gen. 26:35). Esau married Hittite women who did not obey God and His commands. He made things miserable for his family because of the women he decided to marry. I see this as Rebekah being a typical woman and trying to take things into her own hands instead of trusting God to keep His promise. The name Jacob means 'deceiver' and what a fitting name. He had moments where he could have not lied and told Isaac who he really was. I wonder if Isaac would have blessed him if he had reminded him of God's promise that Esau would serve Jacob instead of all the lies and deception. We know he suffered the consequences of his actions by having to flee the country or his brother would have killed him.

So let us put our trust in God that He keeps His promises and follows through on them. We don't need to step in and take over because He already has a plan. That's a hard lesson I have had to remember the past few weeks. Things could have gotten really bad for me if I had attempted to take control of this situation.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

January 8

So Sarah dies when Abraham is 137 years old. He remarries and has MORE children (at his age). The blessing is still given through Isaac, but I am blown away at the fact that he had more kids!

Genesis 25:23
"And the Lord told her, 'The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.'"

Before Jacob and Esau are even born, God tells Rebekah that the blessing will continue through the younger son. This is a beautiful example of God's knowledge and how it extends beyond our own. I am thankful that God knows the whole story of my life. He knows what I am going to do before the thought is even in my head. He knows the type of person I am becoming before the changes even begin to start. He knows how and when and why and where and who will come into my life. And He doesn't only know this about me, but He knows this about every single person that has ever lived and will ever live. How is that for an Almighty God.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

January 7

Genesis 22:4
"On the third day of their journey, Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance."
Abraham and Isaac were on their journey to sacrifice to God for three days. I can only imagine the thoughts and prayers running through Abraham's mind as he traveled with his son, his only son for that long knowing that he will obey God's command to sacrifice Isaac. I can imagine him praying for strength, courage, obedience, and most of all a way out. I haven't had the pleasure of experience parenthood, but I can imagine it is the closest thing we have as humans to experience God's love for us. Abraham went on that journey and, I am sure, was in pure mental torture the entire time. But Abraham knew fully that God will provide, even as he probably struggled with his confused son as he bound him and as he raised the knife to pierce Isaac on the alter, Abraham knew God was there with him. He also knew that he and Isaac would both come back down from the mountain. "'Stay here with the donkey,' Abraham told the servants. 'The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.'" (vs. 5) What do we hold to so dearly (such as a son, or a hobby, or an heirloom, or our job)? Would we be willing to give it up without batting an eye, truly trusting that God will provide in one way or another? I know I wouldn't be able to just like that. I would be more like Lot's wife: looking back at what I'm leaving behind...and turn into a pillar of salt. A question I have is how do I get faith and obedience like Abraham's? How did he get to that point?

January 6

Genesis 18:2-5
"He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground. 'My lord,' he said, 'if it pleases you, stop here for a while. Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. And since you've honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.' 'All right,' they said. 'Do as you have said.'"

Have you ever openly invited someone you didn't know into your home? You didn't know they were coming, you haven't cleaned your bathroom or vacuumed your carpets. You don't have any food prepared and your kids (or animals) are running amuck. But you see people in need and do you open up your home to them? Do you let them into the privateness of your life? Do you feed them the only food you have left in your pantry? Do you consider yourself their servant?
I have no doubt that Abraham's visitors were actually angels and Christ, but Jesus even said "I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!" Matthew 25:40

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 5

There is so much to learn from Abraham that it is almost hard to take it all in in such a short amount of time. I love how Abraham was known for his faith--he was found righteous because of his faith--yet he had disbelief! When God tells him that he will have a son with Sarah (in their old age) he laughs because he doesn't see how he or Sarah could have a child and tells God to make the blessing go through Ishmael. God tells him NO!--that Sarah will have a child with him and that is who he will carry His blessing through. Even though we occasionally have our doubts about things, we can still put our trust in God to carry out His plan and He will still honor our faith.

Genesis 17:1
"When Abram was ninety nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, "I am El-Shaddai--'God Almighty'. Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life."
Genesis 17:3
"At this time Abram fell face down on the ground."

I have recently been reminded how "BIG" God is. I tend to make Him too personal sometimes and that takes away from his 'grandness'--in my eyes anyhow. God is reminding Abraham that He is El-Shaddai--God Almighty. There is no limit to God. There is nothing outside His power. I am reminded that God not only cares about our 'trivial issues', but He also wants us to take the time and stand in reverence to Him and His power and glory. He wants us to worship Him. He doesn't only want us to ask things for Him to do for us. This is how my prayer life is going to change. I need to recognize God for what He is more often instead of asking Him what will he do for me. I need to get on my face before God and see Him.