Christians, We Must Become the Light of the World

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:11-12

“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” 1 Peter 2:16

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:8-11

We can spend our days worrying about what is wrong with the world. Fighting over what we think our politicians should do. Complaining about the cost of college and complaining about what is taught to our children in college. We fight with people on Facebook about politicians, sports, and anything else we can imagine. And worse yet, many of those complaining and fighting are Christians. We act as though we are powerless to do anything, yet we claim to follow the Creator of everything.

Do we believe there is only one God? Do we believe he is all powerful? Do we believe that He is the answer? If so, it’s time we start serving him and understand that simply believing He exists is not enough for James wrote, “You believe there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” James 2:19

For so long we have sat back living scared and acting powerless when God gave us all the answers through the pages of scripture. So many will pound the pulpits telling us what we should not do. Not that they are wrong, but what is so often not taught is what we should do, and it starts with loving God with all your heart mind and soul, then loving your neighbor as yourself.

Together, if it is God’s will, there is nothing that we can’t do. It’s time that we believers be the “light of the world….” (Matthew 5:14) And, live “doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility, VALUE OTHERS ABOVE YOURSELVES.” (Philippians 2:3)

There has never been a time in history when His light through us can shine brighter. A time when the whole world can see!

You Have to Love the Game

Years ago I was having a conversation with a friend of mine. We were reminiscing about high school baseball. He grew up in Kansas and I grew up in South Carolina. In that conversation he said some things that didn’t make sense to me. Let me tell you what he said.

He told me that he didn’t play his senior year of high school and his reasoning was, “he couldn’t stand the coach.” The thought of not playing the game I love because some coach was a jerk was and still is not something that I can comprehend.

Last summer, I had the privilege of coaching a group of young men in a season that I will never forget, and I hope they feel the same. But, it didn’t start that way. In our very first weekend, we lost a game 1-0 and I noticed something. The kids looked as if someone had died.

That night, I couldn’t stop thinking about my boys. Suddenly it hit me. They were putting so much pressure on themselves and what was supposed to be fun looked more like work. My question to them the next day was, “Do we play baseball or do we work baseball?” The obvious answer to that question is we play baseball, and the word “work” was eliminated from our vocabulary and it actually cost a quarter every time we said the word.

Why do I tell that story? Because I believe we are failing these kids at early ages. Not just in baseball, but probably in all sports. We don’t teach them to love the game. How can they love the game when they see coaches of 10 year olds cutting players? Anybody can cut their 2-3 worst players, and steal the best 2-3 players from another team and win. That’s not coaching, it’s recruiting and anyone that is cutting and recruiting 10 year olds is a disgrace to the game.

How is a kid supposed to learn to love the game when there is a possibility of him getting cut at 9? If you want to recruit, coach in college, otherwise teach the game.

Parents, let your kids play! Does it really matter if they went 0-4 with four strike outs when they are 7? Keep that in perspective. Is your relationship with your kid dependent on how they perform on an athletic field?

Play catch with your kids. Pitch to them. Teach them to love the game. If they love the game, they will not quit because of a coach. Every player that has made it beyond high school has played for someone that they didn’t like.

As a player gets older, the most successful learn to control what they can and not get caught up in what they can’t control. Most importantly they learn to enjoy the process. When you enjoy the process, it doesn’t feel like work. A great player learns to compete with him or herself. If it’s lifting weights, they learn to push and they are never forced to lift. The thrill of getting stronger outweighs the pain.

Getting in the best possible shape that you can be in can never be about impressing a coach or it will eventually feel like work. If you wait to start hitting when the high school practice begins, you’ve waited too long. Every day you have to push yourself to get better.

One of the worst things I have said and I’ve heard it said thousands of times. “You should hustle because you never know who’s watching you.” That sounds good on the surface, but I will not say this again, rather, “If you hustle all the time, then it doesn’t matter who is watching you because your effort is a habit.”

If you’ve learned to love playing the game, the process becomes enjoyable. If don’t love the process, you are not a player, you are a fan.

If you’ve done all that you can do to become stronger, faster, a better hitter, a better fielder, and in great shape, that’s all that you have control of. If you haven’t, only you can change that.

World More Like Jesus? Greatness

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:1-5

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must become your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28

Greatness? What does that look like today? Athletes are the first people that come to my mind. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Walter Payton, and Babe Ruth are all legends from sports. People enjoy debating on who the greatest of all time is in their particular sport. Then there’s Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Warren Buffet who represent some of the greatest business people in the world. Actors and actresses are heroes to many people.

Then there are the popular slogans that lead us to the greatness that is inside of us. One soccer t-shirt says “Greatness has been found.” Another shirt says, “Dream big, Play hard, live strong.” Other slogans that I found are: “Girl Almighty”, “Eat Sleep Yoga Repeat”, “Skilled in Every Position”, “Just Do It, “The One and Only.”

All over the place is how you can be the best you can be, and most of it is focusing on self. Christ came to serve, not to be served. Paul wrote often about placing the interests of others above yourself. Jesus and others said to love your neighbor as yourself. He also told us to be like little children in our faith.

How does that compare to the popular slogans of our day? Think of little children. Think of yourself when you were a child. For most boys, their dad is their hero. If not their dad, it was someone else. When we were small, we trusted these people. What they said was always right at least before we became teenagers. That’s the trust and faith that Jesus is saying that we should have in God. The same faith that a young child has in their hero.

Today’s slogans, especially in sports and fitness, typically focus on self. How to get 6-pack abs. How to get those biceps you’ve always wanted. Billions of dollars are spent every year on gym memberships, DVDs for home workouts, fitness equipment, supplements, and many other things that are designed to make us look better. Am I saying that you shouldn’t workout? Absolutely not! I have been exercising consistently for over 13 years, and Lord willing, I will continue, (James 4:15). But I also know that my health and fitness can disappear in the blink of an eye. Despite that one day I will be completely fit.

Jesus came to serve and he is our example. He didn’t have to because he is God’s to Son. He could have struck those Roman soldiers down at any moment, but he chose not to because he loves us so much that his sacrifice gave us hope and the Way to salvation.

Are you blessed financially? Is that so you can “get what you deserve” or can that be used to help others?

Are you blessed with health? Is that so you can like what you see in the mirror, or can you use your health to help others who aren’t healthy?

We are all blessed with something. We can use that blessing to serve others or we can serve ourselves. Christ chose to serve others. So, does the world need more Jesus?

World Need More Jesus? Adultery

“You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

I’m just looking at the menu, I’m not ordering. I’ve never cheated on my wife or my husband, but Jesus says I can cheat by what I think? I can’t speak for women, but I can speak as a married man, by Jesus’ standard, I am guilty. For most married men, following this definition of adultery will be a challenge for the rest of their lives.

Thoughts are the unseen if no action is ever taken. The problem with thoughts is if we think those same thoughts for too long, they may very well lead to action. Imagine if your husband, wife, or best friend knew your every thought. What about your mom or dad? Or, the attractive man or woman that you just walked by on the street? They can’t, but there is one that can, God!

In our world, it is increasingly more difficult to have pure thoughts when it comes to the opposite sex. You can’t watch a sporting event on television without seeing at least one commercial about erectile dysfunction, usually with an attractive woman talking in a seductive tone. Click onto almost any website, and somewhere on that site is an advertisement about something sexual. “Sex sells” is not just a slogan.

How is it possible to go through the rest of our lives without having an impure thought? It probably isn’t possible which is why we need a savior, but there are steps that each of us can take. Jesus went on to say Matthew 5:29-30, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body do go to hell.”

Jesus is saying, whatever causes you to have those thoughts, get rid of it or don’t do it. If you can’t control yourself on the internet, get rid of it. What about Facebook or other social media websites? Unfortunately, through Facebook, I almost made the worst mistake of my life. By the Grace of God I didn’t. I’m still on Facebook, no longer do I entertain anything close to what almost happened.

Some will say that Jesus really didn’t mean to cut your hand off of gouge your eye out. I personally believe he meant it. He was saying whatever it is that causes you to stumble, get rid of it.

If going to a bar tempts you, don’t go! If your customer wants to go to a strip club, refuse. Even if it means losing the account or even your job. Is the sale or your job worth your soul? Try to never go somewhere alone with someone of the opposite sex that isn’t your spouse. If you are tempted by someone via social media, unfriend them. If that isn’t enough, get rid of it.

We all know where and who brings temptation. Avoid those places and those people if possible. Pray constantly for God to purify everything in your life, especially your thoughts. While everyone can see your actions, God can see your thoughts. People think they know you because of what they can see, whether what they see is real or not. You may be able to fool those around you, but you can never fool God. He know who you really are and here’s the most awesome thing. He loves you anyway! He knows we are going to struggle. Turn your thoughts towards him because he promises, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7

Prized Possession

“So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.” James 1:16-18

What a statement! Out of all creation we are His prized possession.

It’s appropriate that I’m writing this on the day that I am. I had just texted co-author David Hill that I needed an attitude adjustment today. Some days, for whatever reason, are more of a challenge than others, and from day to day my mood can go from high one day to low the next. I still have food, a home, income, my health, and my family, yet I struggle to stay off of the roller coaster. Then I read in James that God never changes which is more proof as to why I need Him!

It’s frustrating! I don’t want to be in this mood! And, I have no reason to be in it. I/you are His “most prized possession.” God is our rock! He doesn’t shift with our moods. It’s us that change, and I pray that we all can learn from the Apostle Paul, “I know that I can live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”(Philippians 4:12-13)

We are God’s prized possession and our ultimate reward isn’t here on this earth. It’s in eternity with Him. He is perfect. Everything that is good comes from Him. Let James 1:16-18 be a passage of scripture to fall back on. No matter what you are going through, you are His prized possession and through His son, Jesus Christ, you will get through anything, even death.

Job and His Friends (Part 3)

“Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:

Would a wise person answer with empty notions or fill their belly with the hot east wind? Would they argue with useless words, with speeches that have no value? But you even undermine piety and hinder devotion to God. Your sin prompts your mouth; you adopt the tongue of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, not mine; your own lips testify against you. Are you the first man ever born? Were you brought forth before the hills? Do you listen in on God’s council? Do you have a monopoly on wisdom? What do you know that we do not know? What insights do you have that we do not have? The gray-haired and the aged are on our side, men even older than your father. Are God’s consolations not enough for you, words spoken gently to you? Why has your heart carried you away, and why do your eyes flash, so that you vent your rage against God and pour out such words from your mouth? What are mortals, that they could be pure, or those born of woman, that they could be righteous? If God places no trust in his holy ones, if even the heavens are not pure in his eyes, how much less mortals, who are vile and corrupt, who drink up evil like water! Listen to me and I will explain to you; let me tell you what I have seen, what the wise have declared, hiding nothing received from their ancestors (to whom alone the land was given when no foreigners moved among them): All his days the wicked man suffers torment, the ruthless man through all the years stored up for him. Terrifying sounds fill his ears; when all seems well, marauders attack him. He despairs of escaping the realm of darkness; he is marked for the sword. He wanders about for food like a vulture; he knows the day of darkness is at hand. Distress and anguish fill him with terror; troubles overwhelm him, like a king poised to attack, because he shakes his fist at
God and vaunts himself against the Almighty, defiantly charging against him with a thick, strong shield. Though his face is covered with fat and his waist bulges with flesh, he will inhabit ruined towns and houses crumbling to rubble. He will no longer be rich and his wealth will not endure, nor will his possessions spread over the land. He will not escape the darkness; a flame will wither his shoots, and the breath of God’s mouth will carry him away. Let him not deceive himself by trusting what is worthless, for he will get nothing in return. Before his time he will wither, and his branches will not flourish. He will be like a vine stripped of its unripe grapes, like an olive tree shedding its blossoms. For the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes. They conceive trouble and give birth to evil; their womb fashions deceit.” Job 15

The “expert” says, “listen to me and I will explain to you, let me tell you what I have seen.” Eliphaz thinks he knows, yet knows nothing.

“Then Job replied:

I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you! Will your long-winded speeches ever end? What ails you that you keep on arguing? I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you. But my mouth would encourage you; comfort from my lips would bring relief. Yet if I speak, my pain is not relieved; and if I refrain, it does not go away. Surely, God, you have worn me out; you have devastated my entire household. You have shriveled me up – and it has become a witness; my gauntness rises up and testifies against me. God assails me and tears me in his anger and gnashes his teeth at me; my opponent fastens on me his piercing eyes. People open their mouths to jeer at me; they strike my cheek in scorn and unite together against me. God has turned me over to the ungodly and thrown me into the clutches of the wicked. All was well with me, but he shattered me; he seized me by the neck and crushed me. He has made me his target; his archers surround me. Without pity, he pierces my kidneys and spills my gall on the ground. Again and again he bursts upon me; he rushes at me like a warrior. I have sewed sackcloth over my skin and buried my brow in the dust. My face is red with weeping, dark shadows ring my eyes; yet my hands have been free of violence and my prayer is pure. Earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest! Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend. Only a few years will pass before I take the path of no return.” Job 16

Job continues:

“My spirit is broken, my days are cut short, the grave awaits me. Surely mockers surround me; my eyes must dwell on their hostility. Give me, O God, the pledge you demand. Who else will put up security for me? You have closed their minds to understanding; therefore you will not let them triumph. If anyone denounces their friends for reward, the eyes of their children will fail. God has made me a byword to everyone, a man in whose face people spit. My eyes have grown dim with grief; my whole frame is but a shadow. The upright are appalled at this; the innocent are aroused against the ungodly. Nevertheless, the righteous will hold to their ways, and those with clean hands will grow stronger. But come on, all of you, try again! I will not find a wise man among you. My days have passed, my plans are shattered. Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near. If the only home I hope for is the grave, if I spread out my bed in the realm of darkness, if I say to corruption, ‘You are my father,’ and the worm, “My mother’ or ‘My sister,’ where then is my hope – who can see any hope for me? Will it go down to the gates of death? Will we descend together into the dust? Job 17

Are we Job’s friends? Do we assume to know why someone is going through something? God only knows and when we assume, we act as if we are God!

Job’s friends are finished with him yet!

“Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

When will you end these speeches? Be sensible, and then we can talk. Why are we regarded as cattle and considered stupid in you sight? You who tear yourself to pieces in your anger, is the earth to be abandoned for your sake? Or must rocks be removed from their place? The lamp of a wicked man is snuffed out; the flame of his fire stops burning. The light in his tent becomes dark; the lamp beside him goes out. The vigor of his step is weakened; his own schemes throw him down. His feet thrust him into a net; he wanders into its mesh. A trap seizes him by the heel; a snare holds him fast. A noose is hidden for him on the ground; a trap lies in his path. Terrors startle him on every side and a dog his every step. Calamity is hungry for him; disaster is ready for him when he falls. It eats away parts of his skin; death’s firstborn devours his limbs. He is torn from the security of his tent and marched off to the king of terrors. Fire resides in his tent: burning sulfur is scattered over his dwelling. His roots dry up below and his branches wither above. The memory of him perishes from the earth; he has no name in the land. He is driven from light into the realm of darkness and is banished from the world. He has no offspring or descendants among his people, no survivor where once he lived. People of the west are appalled at his fate; those of the east are seized with horror. Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man; such is the place of one who does not know God.” Job 18

Did Bildad just say Job doesn’t know God? The same man God said is blameless? There is no one like him?

“Then Job replied:

How long will you torment me and crush me with your words? Ten times now you have reproached me; shamelessly you attack me. If it is true that I have gone astray, my error remains my concern alone. If indeed you would exalt yourselves above me and use my humiliation against me, then know that God has wronged me and drawn his net around me. Though I cry, ‘Violence!’ I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice. He has blocked my way so I cannot pass; he has shrouded my paths in darkness. He has stripped me of my honor and removed the crown from my head. He tears me down on every side till I am gone; he uproots my hope like a tree. His anger burns against me; he counts me among his enemies. His troops advance in force; they build a siege ramp against me and encamp around my tent. He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have gone away; my closest friends have forgotten me. My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner; they look on me as on a stranger. I summon my servant, but he does not answer, though I beg him with my mouth. My breath is offensive to my wife; I am loathsome to my own family. Even the little boys scorn me; when I appear, they ridicule me. All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped only by the skin of my teeth. Have pity on me, my friends, have pity, for the hand of God has struck me. Why do you pursue me as God does? Will you never get enough of my flesh? Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! If you say, “How we will hound him, since the root of the trouble lies in him, you should fear the sword yourselves; for wrath will bring punishment by the sword, and then you will know that there is judgment.” Job 19

More from Zophar:

“Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:

My troubled thoughts prompt me to answer because I am greatly disturbed. I hear a rebuke that dishonors me, and my understanding inspires me to reply. Surely you know how it has been of old, ever since mankind was placed on the earth, that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever, like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’ Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found, banished like a vision of the night. The eye that saw him will not see him again; his place will look on him no more. His children must make amends to the poor; his own hands must give back his wealth. The youthful vigor that fills his bones will lie with him in the dust. Though evil is sweet in his mouth, and he hides it under his tongue, though he cannot bear to let it go and lets it linger in his mouth, yet his food will turn sour in his stomach; it will become like venom of serpents within him. He will spit out the riches he swallowed; God will make his stomach vomit them up. He will suck the poison of serpents; the fangs of an adder will kill him. He will not enjoy the streams, the rivers flowing with honey and cream. What he toiled for he must give back uneaten; he will not enjoy the profit from his trading. For he has oppressed the poor and left them destitute; he has seized houses he did not build. Surely he will have no respite from his craving; he cannot save himself by his treasure. Nothing is left for him to devour; his prosperity will not endure. In the midst of his plenty, distress will overtake him; the full force of misery will come upon him. When he has filled his belly, God will vent his burning anger against him and rain down his blows on him. Though he flees from an iron weapon, a bronze-tipped arrow pierces him. He pulls it out of his back, the gleaming point out of his liver. Terrors will come over him; total darkness lies in wait for his treasures. A fire unfanned will consume him and devour what is left in his tent. The heavens will expose his guilt; the earth will rise up against him. A flood will carry off his house, rushing waters on the day of God’s wrath. Such is the fate God allots the wicked, the heritage appointed for them by God.” Job 20

Will they ever stop?!

“Then Job replied:

Listen carefully to my words; let this be the consolation you give me. Bear with me while I speak, and after I have spoken, mock on. Is my complaint directed to a human being? Why should I not be impatient? Look at me and be appalled; clap your hand over your mouth. When I think about this, I am terrified; trembling seizes my body. Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power? They see their children established around them, their offspring before their eyes. Their homes are safe and free from fear; the rod of God is not on them. Their bulls never fail to breed; their cows calve and do not miscarry. They send forth their children as a flock; their little ones dance about. They sing to the music of timbrel and lyre; they make merry to the sound of the pipe. They spend their years in prosperity and go down to the grave in peace. Yet they say to God, ‘Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways. Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?’ But their prosperity is not in their hands, so I stand aloof from the plans of the wicked. Yet how often is the lamp of the wicked snuffed out? How often does calamity come upon them, the fate of God allots in his anger? How often are they like straw before the wind, like chaff swept away by a gale? It is said, ‘God stores up the punishment of the wicked for their children.’ Let him repay the wicked, so that they themselves will experience it! Let their eyes see their destruction; let them drink the cup of the wrath of the Almighty. For what do they care about the families they leave behind when their allotted months come to an end? Can anyone teach knowledge to God, since he judges even the highest? One person dies in full vigor, completely secure and at ease, well nourished in body, bones rich with marrow. Another dies in bitterness of soul, never having enjoyed anything good. Side by side they lie in the dust, and worms cover them both. I know full well what you are thinking, the schemes by which you would wrong me. You say, ‘Where now is the house of the great, the tents where the wicked lived? Have you never questioned those who travel? Have you paid no regard to their accounts – that the wicked are spared from the day of calamity, that they are delivered from the day of wrath? Who repays their conduct to their face? Who repays them for what they have done? They are carried to the grave, and watch is kept over their tombs. The soil in the valley is sweet to them; everyone follows after them, and a countless throng goes before them. So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!” Job 21

The patience of Job!

The World Needs More Jesus? Judging

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5

What would happen in your church if a known murderer walked in? Would you want to be seen with a man who had an affair with the wife of one of his best friends? Would you let a prostitute into your church? Would people stare at someone covered in tattoos? You are hosting a party for the wealthiest people in your town, what would be your reaction when if homeless person wants to come in?

Would the murderer who also committed adultery be allowed to lead your church? Probably not! Yet, I’m describing David, who was described by the author of Acts in chapter 13 verse 22 like this, “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.”

The Apostle Paul wrote much of the New Testament, yet at one time he was one of the most zealous persecutors of Christians. Rahab from the Old Testament was a prostitute that protected the Israelite spies in Jericho.

Would we have recognized Jesus? Would we today? Jesus is the homeless person that I asked about earlier. Matthew 8:20 shows this when Jesus replied to a teacher of the law, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

We are all guilty of judging others. Many like to justify their judgment based on the severity of sin according to men.  Are there people who live lifestyles that I disagree with, and are their actions sinful? Yes, but then I’m reminded of this, “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

God gave Moses 10 Commandments, and my pride puffs up that I have broken all of them. Ask yourself these questions:

Have I ever put anything before God?

Have I ever misused His name?

Do I keep the Sabbath?

Have I ever dishonored my parents?

Have I committed murder? Some of you say absolutely not, but have you according to Jesus in Matthew 5 starting with verse 21?

Have I ever committed adultery? Again, I defer to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 verse 27

Have I ever stolen anything or told a lie?

Have I ever coveted anything that anyone else has?

It is not our place to judge. Jesus said to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus didn’t say love your neighbor unless. He did say, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the same measure you use, it will be measured against you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

The only people that Jesus scolded were the pious religious teachers. When we judge others we risk being those same pious people that Jesus scolded. I’m humbled when I think about his love for me despite all that I have done wrong and all that I will do wrong in the future.

“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgement on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor.” James 4:11-12

Job and His Friends (Part 2)

“Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind. Does God pervert justice? Does the Almighty pervert what is right? When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of sin. But if you ask God earnestly and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your prosperous state. Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be. Ask the former generation and find out what their ancestors learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. Will they not instruct you and tell you? Will they not bring forth words from their understanding? Can papyrus grow tall where there is no marsh? Can reeds thrive without water? While still growing and uncut, they wither more quickly than grass. Such is the destiny of all who forget God; so perishes the hope of the godless. What they trust in is fragile; what they rely on is a spider’s web. They lean on the web, but it gives way; they cling to it, but it does not hold. They are like a well-watered plant in the sunshine, spreading its shoots over the garden; it entwines its roots around a pile of rocks and looks for a place among the stones. But when it is torn from its spot, that place disowns it and says, ‘I never saw you.’ Surely God does not reject one who is blameless or strengthen the hands of evildoers. He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Your enemies will be clothed in shame, and the tents of the wicked will be no more.” Job 8

Bildad’s words sound good and familiar, yet he has no idea what is really going on. God will let him know soon. We should be very careful not to assume what God is doing.

“Then Job replied:

Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God? Thought they wished to dispute with him, they could not answer him one time out of a thousand. His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, and Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be counted. When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him. If he snatches away, who can stop him? Who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ God does not restrain his anger; even the cohorts of Rahab cowered at his feet. How then can I dispute with him? How can I find words to argue with him? Though I were innocent, I could not answer him; I could only plead with my Judge for mercy. Even if I summoned him and he responded, I do not believe he would give me a hearing. He would crush me with a storm and multiply my wounds for no reason. He would not let me catch my breath but would overwhelm me with misery. If it is a matter of strength, he is mighty! And if it is a matter of justice, who can challenge him? Even if I were innocent, my mouth would condemn me; if I were blameless, it would pronounce me guilty. Although I am blameless, I have no concern for myself; I despise my own life. It is all the same; that is why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’ When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent. When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it? My days are swifter than a runner; they fly away without a glimpse of joy. They skim past like boats of papyrus, like eagles swooping down on their prey. If I say, ‘I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile,’ I still dread all my sufferings for I know you will not hold me innocent. Since I am already found guilty, why should I struggle in vain? Even if I washed myself with soap and my hands with cleansing powder, you would plunge me into a slime pit so that even my clothes would detest me. He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more, but as it now stands with me, I cannot.” Job 9

Wow! We have what Job didn’t have. We have a mediator in Christ!

“I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul. I say to God: Do not declare me guilty, but tell me what charges you have against me. Does it please you to oppress me, to spurn the work of your hands, while you smile on the plans of the wicked? Do you have eyes of flesh? Do you see as a mortal sees? Are your days like those of a mortal or your years like those of a strong man that you must search out my faults and probe after my sin – though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand? Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit. But this is what you concealed in your heart, and I know that this was in your mind: If I sinned, you would be watching me and would not let my offense go unpunished. If I am guilty – woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction. If I hold my head high, you stalk me like a lion and again display your awesome power against me. You bring new witnesses against me and increase your anger toward me; your forces come against me wave upon wave. Why then did you bring me from the womb? I wish I had died before any eye saw me. If only I had never come into being, or had been carried straight from the womb to the grave! Are not my few days almost over? Turn away from me so I can have a moment’s joy before I go to the place of no return to the land of gloom and utter darkness, to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.” Job 10

The pain and agony that Job must have been going through is unimaginable. Even though he was called blameless by God, he doesn’t understand what has happened. He still doesn’t know that it isn’t God doing this to him.

“Then Zophar the Naamathite replied:

Are all these words to go unanswered? Is this talker to be vindicated? Will your idle talk reduce others to silence? Will no one rebuke you when you mock? You say to God, ‘My beliefs are flawless and I am pure in your sight.’ Oh, how I wish that God would speak, that he would open his lips against you and disclose to you the secrets of wisdom, for true wisdom has two sides. Know this: God has even forgotten some of your sin. Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above – what can you do? They are deeper that the depths below – what can you know? Their measure is longer that the earth and wider than the sea. If he comes along and confines you in prison and convenes a court, who can oppose him? Surely he recognizes deceivers; and when he sees evil, does he not take note? But the witless can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human. Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him, if you put away the sin that is in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear. You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than the noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor. But the eyes of the wicked will fail, and escape will elude them; their hope will become a dying gasp.” Job 11

To say we know why God is putting someone through something is arrogance. Yes, we may be able to look back and see with understanding. These guys spoke with eloquence but without wisdom.

“Then Job replied:

Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you! But I have a mind as well as you; I am not inferior to you. Who does not know all these things? I have become a laughingstock to my friends, though I called on God and he answered – a mere laughingstock, though righteous and blameless! Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune as the fate of those whose feet are slipping. The tent of marauders are undisturbed, and those who provoke God are secure – those God has in his hand. But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food? Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding? To God belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his. What he tears down cannot be rebuilt; whose he imprisons cannot be released. If he holds back the waters, there is drought; if he lets them loose, they devastate the land. To him belong strength and insight; both deceived and deceiver are his. He leads rulers away stripped and makes fools of judges. He takes off the shackles put on by kings and ties a loincloth around their waist. He leads priests away stripped and overthrows officials long established. He silences the lips of trusted advisers and takes away the discernment of elders. He pours contempt on nobles and disarms the mighty. He reveals the deep things of darkness and brings utter darkness into the light. He makes nations great, and destroys them. He deprives the leaders of the earth of their reason; he makes them wander in a trackless waste. They grope in the darkness with no light; he makes them stagger like drunkards.” Job 12

Job continues:

“My eyes have seen all this, my ears have heard and understood it. What you know, I also know; I am not inferior to you. But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God. You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you! If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom. Hear now my argument; listen to the pleas of my lips. Will you speak wickedly on God’s behalf? Will you speak deceitfully for him? Will you show him partiality? Will you argue the case for God? Would it turn out well if he examined you? Could you deceive him as you might deceive a mortal? He would surely call you to account if you secretly showed partiality. Would not his splendor terrify you? Would not the dread of him fall on you? Your maxims are proverbs of ashes; your defenses are defenses of clay. Keep silent and let me speak; then let come to me what may. Why do I put myself in jeopardy and take my life in my hands? Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless person would dare come before him! Listen carefully to what I say; let my words ring in your ears. Now that I have prepared my case, I know I will be vindicated. Can anyone bring charges against me? If so, I will be silent and die. Only grant me these two things, God, and then I will not hide from you: Withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors. Then summon me and I will answer, or let me speak, and you reply to me. How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin. Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy? Will you torment a windblown leaf? Will you chase after dry chaff? For you write down bitter things against me and make me reap the sins of my youth. You fasten my feet in shackles; you keep close watch on all my paths by putting marks on the soles of my feet. So man wastes away like something rotten, like a garment eaten by moths.” Job 13

More from Job:

“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble. They spring up like flowers and wither away; like fleeting shadows, they do not endure. Do you fix your eye on them? Will you bring them before you for judgment? Who can bring what is pure from the impure? No one! A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed. So look away from him and let him alone, till he has put in his time like a hired laborer. At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant. But a man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more. As the water of a lake dries up or a riverbed becomes parched and dry, so he lies down and does not rise; till the heavens are no more, people will not awake or be roused from their sleep. If only you would hide me in the grave and conceal me till your anger has passed! If only you would set me a time and then remember me! If someone dies, will they live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait for my renewal to come. You will call and I will answer you; you will long for the creature your hands have made. Surely then you will count my steps but not keep track of my sin. My offenses will be sealed up in a bag; you will cover my sin. But as a mountain erodes and crumbles and as a rock is moved from its place, as water wears away stones and torrents wash away the soil, so you destroy a person’s hope. You overpower them once for all, and they are gone; you change their countenance and send them away. If their children are honored, they do not know it; if their offspring are brought low, they do not see it. They feel but the pain of their own bodies and mourn only for themselves.” Job 14

Job is tired of his friends’ blather and simply wants to plead his case before God. Many good lessons from Job about our opinions.

Job and His Friends (Part 1)

Recently I wrote a post that I titled Know the Truth! We Will Be Without Excuse. If you haven’t read it, please consider doing so because this post will make more sense. Sometimes we speak without knowing. Sometimes we judge without understanding. Job’s friends did, and their speaking without understanding should be a lesson for all of us.

This is the beginning of a series of posts about Job and his friends. There is very little in these posts that have been added by me, and I hope you will enjoy and let God speak to you as you read. God Bless!

Job Breaks the Silence

“May the day of my birth perish, and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’ That day – may it turn to darkness; may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it. May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more; may a cloud settle over it; may blackness overwhelm it. That night – may thick darkness seize it; may it not be included among the days of the year nor be entered in any of the months. May that night be barren; may no shout of joy be heard in it. May those who curse days curse that day, those who are ready to rouse Leviathan. May its morning stars become dark; may it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn, for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me to hide trouble from my eyes. Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb? Why were there knees to receive me and breasts that I might be nursed? For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep and at rest with kings and rulers of the earth, who built for themselves places now lying in ruins, with princes who had gold, who filled their houses with silver. Or why was I not hidden away in the ground like a stillborn child, like an infant who never saw the light of day? There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest. Captives also enjoy their ease; they no longer hear the slave driver’s shout. The small and the great are there, and the slaves are freed from their owners. Why is light given to those in misery, and life to the bitter of soul, to those who long for death that does not come, who search for it more than for hidden treasure, who are filled with gladness and rejoice when they reach the grave? Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in? For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.” Job 3

I can’t say it any better than Job did. How miserable it must have been to have lost everything and be in so much pain with no relief. Somehow, Job never cursed God. How quickly would we turn and curse God with sayings such as, “I’ve tried to live a good life and follow you. And, this is my reward?”

Job’s friends now start to speak.

“Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:

‘If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient? But who can keep from speaking? Think how you have instructed many, how you have strengthened feeble hands. Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees. But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed. Should not your piety be your confidence and your blameless ways your hope? Consider now: Who, being innocent, has ever perished? Where were the upright ever destroyed? As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it. At the breath of God they perish; at the blast of his anger they are no more. The lions may roar and growl, yet the teeth of the great lions are broken. The lion perishes for lack of prey, and the cubs of the lioness are scattered. A word was secretly brought to me, my ears caught a whisper of it. Amid disquieting dreams in the night, when deep sleep falls on people, fear and trembling seize me and made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face, and the hair on my body stood on end. It stopped, but I could not tell what it was. A form stood before my eyes, and I heard a hushed voice: Can a mortal be more righteous than God? Can even a strong man be more pure than his Maker? If God places no trust in his servants, if he charges his angels with error, how much more those who live in houses of clay, whose foundations are in the dust, who are crushed more readily than a moth! Between dawn and dusk they are broken to pieces; unnoticed, they perish forever. Are not cords of their tent pulled up so that they die without wisdom?’” Job 4

Eliphaz Continues:

“Call if you will, but who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn? Resentment kills a fool and envy slays the simple. I myself have seen a fool taking root, but suddenly his house was cursed. His children are far from safety, crushed in court without a defender. The hungry consume his harvest, taking it even from among the thorns, and the thirsty pant after his wealth. For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. But if I were you, I would appeal to God; I would lay my cause before him. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He provides rain for the earth; he sends water on the countryside. The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He thwarts the plans of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success. He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away. Darkness comes upon them in the daytime; at noon they grope as in the night. He saves the needy from the sword in their mouth; he saves them from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth. Blessed is the one who God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal. For six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you. In famine he will deliver you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword. You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes. You will laugh at destruction and famine, and need not fear the wild animals. For you will have a covenant with the stones of the field, and the wild animals will be at peace with you. You will know that your tent is secure; you will take stock of your property and find nothing missing. You will know that your children will be many, and your descendants like the grass of the earth. You will come to the grave in full vigor, like sheaves gathered in season. We have examined this, and it is true. So hear it and apply it to yourself.” Job 5

How many times to we repeat what others have taught us, say it is true, and you should apply it to yourself?

“Then Job replied:

If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the seas – no wonder my words have been impetuous. The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God’s terrors are marshaled against me. Does a wild donkey bray when it has grass, or an ox bellow when it has fodder? Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the sap of the mallow? I refuse to touch it; such food makes me ill. Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand and cut off my life? Then I would have consolation – my joy in unrelenting pain – that I had not denied the words of the Holy One. What strength do I have, that I should still hope? What prospects, that I should be patient? Do I have the strength of stone? Is my flesh bronze? Do I have any power to help myself, now that success has been driven from me? Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty. But my brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow when darkened by thawing ice and swollen with melting snow, but that stop flowing in the dry season, and in the heat vanish from the channels. Caravans turn aside from their routes; they go off into the wasteland and perish. The caravans of Tema look for water, the traveling merchants of Sheba look in hope. They are distressed, because they had been confident; they arrive there, only to be disappointed. Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid. Have I ever said, ‘Give something on behalf, pay a ransom for me from your wealth, deliver me from the hand of the enemy, rescue me from the clutches of the ruthless’? Teach me, and I will be quiet; show me where I have been wrong. How painful are honest words! But what do your arguments prove? Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat my desperate words as wind? You would even cast lots for the fatherless and barter away your friend. But now be so kind as to look at me. Would I lie to your face? Relent, do not be unjust; reconsider, for my integrity is at stake. Is there any wickedness on my lips? Can my mouth not discern malice? Job 6

Do I have the power to help myself stands out!

“Do not mortals have hard service on earth? Are not their days like those of hired laborers? Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired laborer waiting to be paid, so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn. My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering. My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again. The eye that now sees me will see me no longer; you will look for me, but I will be no more. As a cloud vanishes and is gone, so one who goes down to the grave does not return. He will never come to his house again; his place will know him no more. Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Am I the sea, or the monster of the deep, that you put me under guard? When I think my bed will comfort me and my couch will ease my complaint, even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions, so that I prefer strangling and death, rather than this body of mine. I despise my life; I would not live forever. Let me alone; my days have no meaning. What is mankind that you make so much of them, that you give them so much attention, that you examine them every morning and test them every moment? Will you never look away from me or let me alone even for and instant? If I have sinned, what have I done to you, you who see everything we do? Why have you made me your target? Have I become a burden to you? Why do you not pardon my offenses and forgive my sins? For I will soon lie down in the dust; you will search for me, but I will be no more.” Job 7

Job is worn down. He doesn’t understand and he’s pleading with God to forgive him if he has sinned. If Job has, he doesn’t know what sin he has committed.

Will We Never Learn?

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana

“But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.’

Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king. He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and yourselves will become his slaves. When the day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and go out before us and fight our battles.’

When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, ‘Listen to them and give them a king.’ 1 Samuel 8:6-22

1 Samuel 8