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May the day perish on which I was born…May that day be darkness.”  Job 3:3,4

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?”  Job 38:4

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”  Matthew 5:5

I have to admit, from a human perspective, at least from my perspective, the Book of Job is a tough book to get my arms, really my spirit around.  It is the basic premise or should I say set up that I find most confusing.  For, from my human perspective, Job seems to be basically a pawn between two spiritual titans; Satan accuses and God then allows.  Job shouldn’t be treated like that.  Job is entitled to better.  Hmmm, maybe I should be treated better? Maybe I’m entitled to not have earthly negative things happen to me?  As difficult as this book can be to understand, to take the time to read through, I can see, at least for me, it has the potential to be, except for the four gospels of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the most powerful book of the bible.  Why would I say that?  For the following reasons:

1.  God is the Supreme Sovereign.  God is over all.  Both in the beginning of Job and toward the end, when God answers Job from the whirlwind, God’s supreme nature, supreme wisdom, supreme power,  are never in question.

2.  God did not bring the harm.  Job’s possessions are destroyed.  Job’s loved ones are killed.  Job’s health is destroyed.  Yet none of those things come by the actual Hand of God.  It is true God allowed them to happen.  It appears, at least to my judgement, that they could not have happened without His allowance.  However, they were not His direct actions.

3.  God does not condemn His own.  Job loses hope.  Job curses his own life.  Though throughout most of the book, Job does not humble himself, Job appears to accuse God of not being fair, Job’s friends seem to feel it is okay to speak for God; God, in His infinite patience and mercy, neither condemns Job, nor his friends.

4.  God restores.  When Job is finally faced with wisdom, the power, the truth, the perfection of God, he freely confesses, he repents, he understands he lacks the wherewithal  to truly grasp and understand the Nature of God.  God in His Grace, restores Job, not only from an earthly nature with things and family, but most importantly spiritually.

The power of the book of Job is in its reflective properties.  This book is a mirror.  This book boldly and without apology exposes the process of human thought, human judgement used against Our Heavenly Father.  In the end, it also shows the folly of that human thought, that judgement as compared to the perfection of God.

What human thought; what human judgement you ask?  Let’s take a look.  First let us consider before the terrible things befell Job.  Job was prosperous.  Job was healthy.  Job was happy.  God, Himself call Job upright.  Now is when our human logic jumps in.  No where, again no where in this book does it say that Job’s prosperity, health and happiness were a direct payment owed to him because of his being upright.  No, what is directly said is that God has blessed the work of his hands.  What Job has is a gift from God.

Then worldly events impact Job.  Horrible things happen to the things he has, his family, even his health.  Once that happens, again human judgement kicks in.  What is left of his family, his wife, deserts him; “Enough with your complaining, curse God and die”, she tells Job.  Job’s “friends” then come; to “comfort” him.  “You get what you deserve,” they tell him in one way or another.  The human logic is, if earthly things are going wrong, then you must have done something wrong.  If things go really bad, you must have become truly evil.  Thus become good and good will happen.  Do good and you will be entitled to good things.  Sounds reasonable.  Sounds fair.  I will go out and do good based upon what I deem is good and how much is good enough.

Then God enters in; and in an interaction to amazing to truly grasp; He doesn’t condemn, He doesn’t destroy, He asks some questions.  Who are you, man to question me?  Did I need to consult you when creating the earth and heavens?  Did you give Me insight into creating the life on earth?  Did we discuss on an equal basis what is good in this life and what is evil?  If none of those things happened; on what grounds do you judge Me about what is fair or not?, God asks Job, God asks each of us.

When faced with God, if we are truly going to believe in God, then we are forced to come to the conclusion Job did.  We utter things about which we do not understand.  God’s things are things too wonderful for us, that we can truly, completely never know.

What is our response then to be?  Jesus Christ told us.  To inherit the earth, we must be meek.  The only way to come into the presence of God is to be humble.  To allow the all powerful Will of God to work within us we must set aside our will and the pride of power that we think we have.  We must understand, what I have is a gift, a blessing from God and not a payment, not an entitlement for my good works.

Job said it: “I am vile.”  Yet understand this; God was not going to leave Job in his vileness.  God had a better plan for Job.  God has a better plan for us.  God does not want to leave us in our earthly thoughts, our earthly judgements, our earthly sins.  In His amazing mercy and love, God longs for, God is desperate for, us to be in His peace and joy and relationship with Him.  How can we know? How can we be sure?  He sent a savior.  God sent His Only Son Jesus Christ to die for us; to wipe away or vileness that we may live anew with and in Him.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father we live in a world where the feeling of entitlement is paramount.  Forgive us Most Merciful Father when we fall victim to that feeling and no longer see Your blessings as gifts but as entitled rewards for our good deeds.  Hear us when we humbly repent, strengthening us to overcome the trials and tribulations of this world.  Provide us with the spirit of meekness that we may see the Power in You and call upon Your Power to change this world.  In Praise and in the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

 

“And from the roof he saw a woman bathing and the woman was very beautiful………”  2 Samuel 11:2

“Then David sent messengers, and took her and she came to him and he lay with her……”  2 Samuel 11:4

STOP!  If you do not plan to read this post all the way through then I ask you to not go beyond here.  It is my hope that at the end this message will be uplifting and very positive.  However, if you stop part way through you may come to a completely different and unintended conclusion.

David, a brief recap to this point.  Youngest son of Jesse, he is said to possess a heart that belongs to God.  Time and time again David calls on God and praises God.  David, defeats Goliath, survives King Saul’s murder attempts, wins victory after victory, brings the Ark of God into the city of Jerusalem dancing widely in the streets.  David has many wives and is adored by the people.  A man that seems truly after God and what God wants.  Seemingly he can do no wrong.

David, it was spring.  David got up one warm night when others were normally resting.  He was on his splendid roof of a palace that he has earlier declared comes from a blessing from God.  David saw a woman; Bathsheba.  She is bathing.  It was not that she was being immodest but that from David’s vantage point he could see many things.  We are told that she is very beautiful.  David wants her.  David is so smitten with her that he does not wait.  He immediately inquires and finds out two things; who she is and that she is married.  David, King of Israel, a man after God’s own heart, a man who has received so many blessings from God; this same David, does not care.  He can’t even wait until the next day.  David immediately sends for her and then sleeps with her.  His sin produces a son which will cause David to eventually have Bathsheba’s husband killed to try and cover up his crime.  There can be no doubt.  David is Evil.

“Hold on just a second Doug!”: the world exclaims (and perhaps you).  It’s not his fault.  It is a result of the stress of battle.  It was the bullying of the Philistines.  It was really Bathsheba’s fault; she lured him into it!  Some others are reacting smugly.  Darn right David is evil.  No good kings, you can’t trust anyone one in power.  Some are saying: “If I had been David, I would not have done that!”  So two worldly responses; one, that evil doesn’t really exist.  The other response, yes there’s evil but it is always the other guy who does it, I’m certainly not evil.

God sighs.  For the bible is very clear; evil does exist.  And the bible is equally clear, we all succumb to it.  We all think and do evilly (remember please don’t stop at this point).  The world blasts back: “Not true! Not true!”  Let’s take a look.  In so many parts of the world; that a person is a woman means it is acceptable to perform horrible mutilations on her body.  To stop people from having basic freedoms it is acceptable to slaughter hundreds of thousands.  “Not in my country!” You say.  All over the world, children are killing children, senseless acts of violence are perpetrated over sporting events. Neighbor prays upon neighbor.  “Not me, I’ve never done that!” is the last vestige of our argument.  Jesus asks: “In your mind, have you ever been angry?, have you ever wanted someone or something that wasn’t yours?, have you ever passed by someone in need of help and completely disregarded them?, never once?” Well…….maybe.  Sadly, we are all fallen.  As in David, even the seeming best of us are capable of terrible things.

Wow Doug, way to go, really uplifting.  But wait here it comes.  If nothing else please, I implore you, let these next two statements sink in.  Our Heavenly Father knows me.  Our Heavenly Father loves me; just as I am.  Say those two statements out loud and take a moment or so then to be silent and let them soak in.  My Heavenly Father knows me.  My Heavenly Father loves me; just as I am.

You mean even in my evil state, with my fallen nature; My Heavenly Father loves me? Yes! A hundred thousand times yes!  How do we know?  How can you say that?  Look at the bible.  It’s not just David; Abraham lied, Peter denied, John pridefully argued about being great, Moses stumbled.  On and on, each person committed some evil.

What was God’s response?  “I have a plan.” He said.  “I will make you my people and give you laws about how you should treat one another to live in harmony.”  His plan was not a failure in that He knew and He spoke through His prophets that we as humans would not be able to follow them.  So what is Our Heavenly Father to do?  After a while people would turn throw up their hands, turn their backs and frustratingly exclaim: “I’m done with them!”

Our Heavenly Father instead said: “I love them so much, they are so important to me, that I will do for them what they can not do for themselves.  I will lay down something so precious, that it will once and for all remove the evil that they will do from my sight.”  So a star rose in the east and a virgin gave birth.  Our Heavenly Father calls out to us proclaiming:  “Out of love for you; yes you: (insert your name here) My Son Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ,  God, Perfect, came down to die for you.  So that I will see your sin no more, your evil will no longer separate us.”  And if that is not joyously reaffirming enough He adds: “What do I want in return?  Simply that you believe.  That you believe that I love you and that I sent my son Jesus Christ to die for You and having been resurrected, He is now here with me.”

Dear brothers and sisters, in the end it is no downer.  The world is evil and yes without Christ we would be left to the world and its evil.  Yet Christ proclaims that we while we may be in the world we are not of the world!  We are new in him.  We are loved and in our best attempts we will try to live in that love but we will fail.  We will do evil.  We are imperfect.  But be of great cheer, He who is perfect has taken our punishment for us freely and out of love.  We have a sure promise of redemption and eternal relationship through the flesh and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We shall go forth in Joy, Peace and Confidence loudly proclaiming we are not better in and of ourselves, but we are saved in the Name of Jesus Christ!

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, hear this simple prayer.  Give us the strength to carry forward the message of Your Love, Your Redemption, Your Salvation, Your eternal victory over evil, to all people.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

Then some of the scribes and the Pharisees answered saying:  “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.  Matthew 12:38

Likewise the chief priests also………..Let the Christ, King of the Israel, descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.  Mark 15: 31-32

First let me start out by saying this is not a debate concerning religion versus science or faith versus the scientific method.  I don’t personally see science as satanic any more than I see religion as always virtuous.  Where man is involved the answer is always going to be; it depends.

But we sure spend an incredible amount of energy  in justifying our beliefs through proof.  Think about the debate going on concerning how old the planet is.  Or the significant amount of effort being put forth to find Noah’s Ark.  If we are not careful we will elevate ourselves (at least in our own minds) to the highest judges in the universe.  We will only surely believe that which we can prove and/or at least seems logical to our thinking.

So man confronts God.  That is what was happening in Jesus’ time.  Give us a sign; show us by what authority, come down off the cross and then we will believe.  First, I truly wonder, had Jesus come down from the cross ( a crushing defeat for us, as our salvation came from His sacrifice), would they have believed him anyway?  Did they not call him in league with Satan, so they would have said he had the power to save himself from the devil?  Who knows?  How about today; would those who have made up their mind the there is no God be truly swayed by the finding of the Ark or some new scrolls seeming to authenticate the life of Jesus?

And here is a more important question: when called on to discuss or justify our belief  with provable facts (that at least the other person accepts), do we start to question ourselves when the proof for those facts don’t readily come?  What has been shown throughout man’s history is that in so many cases, the facts at hand are irrelevant to the truth.  For most of man’s existence, up to 1903, it was the general fact that man could not fly.  Did it change the fact that we could and do? No.  That atoms were only recently discovered doesn’t mean that they didn’t exist before.

That God is real is not dependent on man’s say so that we can prove it.  We are in no position to make the call.  That it impacts God or His plan that we believe is also irrelevant as shown by Jesus Christ’s admonition to the Jewish leadership, that the stones would cry out themselves, if man was not praising Jesus arrival into Jerusalem.

Who it is pivotally relevant to, is us.  We may indeed withhold our total following and committment until we “see” the proof and then believe.  We can expend much mental energy and perhaps physical and financial resources attempting to justify our faith with rational evidence.  To the extent that we do that, I fear we are falling into Satan’s trap and will find ourselves disappointed with a feeling of despair and loss.

Look around at creation, there is so much evidence of the beauty and perfection of God’s majesty.  Read the bible, Jesus, time after time, performed miracle after miracle.  Why? Just to prove who he was?  I don’t think so.  To show loving compassion, to show to what lengths God will go to heal are more in line with the intent of those miracles.

For us it is time to enter the Peace and Joy of belief; pure simple faith.  Like Jesus Christ many in the world will mock us and call us crazy.  They will continue in an existence of “prove it” before I’ll do it.  And God will sigh at them.

And by the Grace of God that surpasses all understanding and yes proving, we will be blessed.  As Jesus Christ said:  In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.  He who has overcome will not leave or forsake us.

Amen

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