Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Now Its God's Turn!

The men fall silent.
Now it is God's turn!



Job 38


The Lord Challenges Job

1 Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:


2 “Who is this that questions my wisdom

with such ignorant words?

3 Brace yourself like a man,

because I have some questions for you,

and you must answer them.



4 “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?

Tell me, if you know so much.

5 Who determined its dimensions

and stretched out the surveying line?

6 What supports its foundations,

and who laid its cornerstone

7 as the morning stars sang together

and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?



8 “Who kept the sea inside its boundaries

as it burst from the womb,

9 and as I clothed it with clouds

and wrapped it in thick darkness?

10 For I locked it behind barred gates,

limiting its shores.

11 I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come.

Here your proud waves must stop!’



12 “Have you ever commanded the morning to appear

and caused the dawn to rise in the east?

13 Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth,

to bring an end to the night’s wickedness?

14 As the light approaches,

the earth takes shape like clay pressed beneath a seal;

it is robed in brilliant colors.[b]

15 The light disturbs the wicked

and stops the arm that is raised in violence.



16 “Have you explored the springs from which the seas come?

Have you explored their depths?

17 Do you know where the gates of death are located?

Have you seen the gates of utter gloom?

18 Do you realize the extent of the earth?

Tell me about it if you know!



19 “Where does light come from,

and where does darkness go?

20 Can you take each to its home?

Do you know how to get there?

21 But of course you know all this!

For you were born before it was all created,

and you are so very experienced!



22 “Have you visited the storehouses of the snow

or seen the storehouses of hail?

23 (I have reserved them as weapons for the time of trouble,

for the day of battle and war.)

24 Where is the path to the source of light?

Where is the home of the east wind?



25 “Who created a channel for the torrents of rain?

Who laid out the path for the lightning?

26 Who makes the rain fall on barren land,

in a desert where no one lives?

27 Who sends rain to satisfy the parched ground

and make the tender grass spring up?



28 “Does the rain have a father?

Who gives birth to the dew?

29 Who is the mother of the ice?

Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens?

30 For the water turns to ice as hard as rock,

and the surface of the water freezes.



31 “Can you direct the movement of the stars—

binding the cluster of the Pleiades

or loosening the cords of Orion?

32 Can you direct the sequence of the seasons

or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?

33 Do you know the laws of the universe?

Can you use them to regulate the earth?



34 “Can you shout to the clouds

and make it rain?

35 Can you make lightning appear

and cause it to strike as you direct?

36 Who gives intuition to the heart

and instinct to the mind?

37 Who is wise enough to count all the clouds?

Who can tilt the water jars of heaven

38 when the parched ground is dry

and the soil has hardened into clods?



39 “Can you stalk prey for a lioness

and satisfy the young lions’ appetites

40 as they lie in their dens

or crouch in the thicket?

41 Who provides food for the ravens

when their young cry out to God

and wander about in hunger?

God is God.
And no one else.
Let Him speak.
And all the earth be silent.

Fierce Conversations


There is a new term now - fierce conversations. As when people disagree strongly and present their position boldly. I think we used to call it arguing...

Job and his friends are in fierce conversation. We don't know how long this goes on. They take turns presenting their thoughts. Job answers 10 different times.

Here is part of his last presentation.

Job 31
Job’s Final Protest of Innocence


1 “I made a covenant with my eyes
not to look with lust at a young woman.
2 For what has God above chosen for us?
What is our inheritance from the Almighty on high?
3 Isn’t it calamity for the wicked
and misfortune for those who do evil?
4 Doesn’t he see everything I do
and every step I take?

5 “Have I lied to anyone
or deceived anyone?
6 Let God weigh me on the scales of justice,
for he knows my integrity.
7 If I have strayed from his pathway,
or if my heart has lusted for what my eyes have seen,
or if I am guilty of any other sin,
8 then let someone else eat the crops I have planted.
Let all that I have planted be uprooted.

9 “If my heart has been seduced by a woman,
or if I have lusted for my neighbor’s wife,
10 then let my wife belong to[b] another man;
let other men sleep with her.
11 For lust is a shameful sin,
a crime that should be punished.
12 It is a fire that burns all the way to hell.[c]
It would wipe out everything I own.

13 “If I have been unfair to my male or female servants
when they brought their complaints to me,
14 how could I face God?
What could I say when he questioned me?
15 For God created both me and my servants.
He created us both in the womb.

16 “Have I refused to help the poor,
or crushed the hopes of widows?
17 Have I been stingy with my food
and refused to share it with orphans?
18 No, from childhood I have cared for orphans like a father,
and all my life I have cared for widows.
19 Whenever I saw the homeless without clothes
and the needy with nothing to wear,
20 did they not praise me
for providing wool clothing to keep them warm?

21 “If I raised my hand against an orphan,
knowing the judges would take my side,
22 then let my shoulder be wrenched out of place!
Let my arm be torn from its socket!
23 That would be better than facing God’s judgment.
For if the majesty of God opposes me, what hope is there?

24 “Have I put my trust in money
or felt secure because of my gold?
25 Have I gloated about my wealth
and all that I own?

26 “Have I looked at the sun shining in the skies,
or the moon walking down its silver pathway,
27 and been secretly enticed in my heart
to throw kisses at them in worship?
28 If so, I should be punished by the judges,
for it would mean I had denied the God of heaven.

29 “Have I ever rejoiced when disaster struck my enemies,
or become excited when harm came their way?
30 No, I have never sinned by cursing anyone
or by asking for revenge.

31 “My servants have never said,
‘He let others go hungry.’
32 I have never turned away a stranger
but have opened my doors to everyone.

33 “Have I tried to hide my sins like other people do,
concealing my guilt in my heart?
34 Have I feared the crowd
or the contempt of the masses,
so that I kept quiet and stayed indoors?

35 “If only someone would listen to me!
Look, I will sign my name to my defense.
Let the Almighty answer me.
Let my accuser write out the charges against me.
36 I would face the accusation proudly.
I would wear it like a crown.
37 For I would tell him exactly what I have done.
I would come before him like a prince.

38 “If my land accuses me
and all its furrows cry out together,
39 or if I have stolen its crops
or murdered its owners,
40 then let thistles grow on that land instead of wheat,
and weeds instead of barley.”

Job’s words are ended.

But his friend's words are not.
Fierce conversations...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Plea


Throughout history there has been human misery. Suffering you and I can hardly imagine. But when we have our difficulties, they are real enough. From the preteen who got snubbed by a friend, to the agony of late stage cancer, the pain is real to the one experiencing it.

Job expresses his agony. First is the emotional, financial and physical pain he is enduring. Then on top of that is the pain of friends who are accusing him instead of encouraging him.

People have suffered more than he, but his eloquent description and plea serves as a voice to all who suffer...

Job 6

1 Then Job spoke again:

2 “If my misery could be weighed
and my troubles be put on the scales,
3 they would outweigh all the sands of the sea.
That is why I spoke impulsively.
4 For the Almighty has struck me down with his arrows.
Their poison infects my spirit.
God’s terrors are lined up against me.
5 Don’t I have a right to complain?
Don’t wild donkeys bray when they find no grass,
and oxen bellow when they have no food?
6 Don’t people complain about unsalted food?
Does anyone want the tasteless white of an egg?[a]
7 My appetite disappears when I look at it;
I gag at the thought of eating it!

8 “Oh, that I might have my request,
that God would grant my desire.
9 I wish he would crush me.
I wish he would reach out his hand and kill me.
10 At least I can take comfort in this:
Despite the pain,
I have not denied the words of the Holy One.
11 But I don’t have the strength to endure.
I have nothing to live for.
12 Do I have the strength of a stone?
Is my body made of bronze?
13 No, I am utterly helpless,
without any chance of success.

14 “One should be kind to a fainting friend,
but you accuse me without any fear of the Almighty.[b]
15 My brothers, you have proved as unreliable as a seasonal brook
that overflows its banks in the spring...

21 You, too, have given no help.
You have seen my calamity, and you are afraid.
22 But why? Have I ever asked you for a gift?
Have I begged for anything of yours for myself?
23 Have I asked you to rescue me from my enemies,
or to save me from ruthless people?
24 Teach me, and I will keep quiet.
Show me what I have done wrong.
25 Honest words can be painful,
but what do your criticisms amount to?
26 Do you think your words are convincing
when you disregard my cry of desperation?
27 You would even send an orphan into slavery[c]
or sell a friend.
28 Look at me!
Would I lie to your face?
29 Stop assuming my guilt,
for I have done no wrong.
30 Do you think I am lying?
Don’t I know the difference between right and wrong?

On top of everything else, Job has to wrestle with those who he thought would give him support...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Good Intentions - Bad Result


In times of severe trouble, friends are indispensible.

They are always well meaning.
They can also come up with the strangest and weirdest solutions. When they apply pressure to accept those solutions, they can become bigger than the burden itself.

Just yesterday a friend was sharing how her daughter had non stop migraines. The group started jumping in with medicines and remedies. She explained that, although she appreciated the suggestions, they were on a plan with a medical team.. thank you very much.

My father fell years ago and ended up partially paralyzed. We all believe God has the power to heal - both miraculously and naturally. In fact, all healing is from God. But the pressure to go to this faith heaaler, and the other one was intense. Dod did try every option to gain the ability to walk again. But in the end, it was a more natural way - physical therapists and a WHOLE lot of hard work - that brought him his mobility back.

In our story Job's friends are very well meaning.

But in the end, their advice is all the same. You must have sinned. Repent and God will forgive you...

1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied to Job:

2 “Will you be patient and let me say a word?
For who could keep from speaking out?

3 “In the past you have encouraged many people;
you have strengthened those who were weak.
4 Your words have supported those who were falling;
you encouraged those with shaky knees.
5 But now when trouble strikes, you lose heart.
You are terrified when it touches you.
6 Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence?
Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope?...

27 “We have studied life and found all this to be true.
Listen to my counsel, and apply it to yourself.”

When trouble strikes, your friends may help carry your burden.
But some of them may add to it instead!

Anguish


Here is a poem I started composing.
It will probably be entitled,

"Ode to Old Oh Nine"

2009 is dead and gone
Makes me want to sing a song
The year was hard the year was long
Praise God its dead and gone...

Well, today we hear the first outburst from old Job.
Was his anguish real? You be the judge...

Job 3
Job’s First Speech


1 At last Job spoke, and he cursed the day of his birth. 2 He said:

3 “Let the day of my birth be erased,
and the night I was conceived.
4 Let that day be turned to darkness.
Let it be lost even to God on high,
and let no light shine on it.
5 Let the darkness and utter gloom claim that day for its own.
Let a black cloud overshadow it,
and let the darkness terrify it.
6 Let that night be blotted off the calendar,
never again to be counted among the days of the year,
never again to appear among the months.
7 Let that night be childless.
Let it have no joy.
8 Let those who are experts at cursing—
whose cursing could rouse Leviathan[e]—
curse that day.
9 Let its morning stars remain dark.
Let it hope for light, but in vain;
may it never see the morning light.
10 Curse that day for failing to shut my mother’s womb,
for letting me be born to see all this trouble.

11 “Why wasn’t I born dead?
Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb?
12 Why was I laid on my mother’s lap?
Why did she nurse me at her breasts?
13 Had I died at birth, I would now be at peace.
I would be asleep and at rest.
14 I would rest with the world’s kings and prime ministers,
whose great buildings now lie in ruins.
15 I would rest with princes, rich in gold,
whose palaces were filled with silver.
16 Why wasn’t I buried like a stillborn child,
like a baby who never lives to see the light?
17 For in death the wicked cause no trouble,
and the weary are at rest.
18 Even captives are at ease in death,
with no guards to curse them.
19 Rich and poor are both there,
and the slave is free from his master.

20 “Oh, why give light to those in misery,
and life to those who are bitter?
21 They long for death, and it won’t come.
They search for death more eagerly than for hidden treasure.
22 They’re filled with joy when they finally die,
and rejoice when they find the grave.
23 Why is life given to those with no future,
those God has surrounded with difficulties?
24 I cannot eat for sighing;
my groans pour out like water.
25 What I always feared has happened to me.
What I dreaded has come true.
26 I have no peace, no quietness.
I have no rest; only trouble comes.”

Sometimes life is easy.
Sometimes it aint so great...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Friends


OK. Its time for a joke. (On the fourth grade level)

Who is the shortest man in the Bible?
I dunno...
Knee high miah!
Hahaha...
Who was even shorter?
I dunno...
Bildad the Shoe height!
Hahaha.

Bildad was one of Job's friends.
Get the connection?
Job - the guy we are reading about?
He had some friends?
They came to visit him?
Oh well... Here is the story.

Job’s Three Friends Share His Anguish

11 "When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him.
Their names were
Eliphaz the Temanite,
Bildad the Shuhite, and
Zophar the Naamathite.
12 When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him.
Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief.
13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words."

These guys get a bad rap from people. You will see why later.
But these were grown men. They had jobs. Businesses. Families.
They dropped all of that to come and console their friend.
Don't miss the fact that they just sat with him for a week without saying a thing.

How many of your facebook friends would do that for you?

How many of your twitter friends?

These people knew the real meaning of friendship!