Posts Tagged “Job”

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
Psalm 40:1 (NIV)

Hope

There are many words translated “hope” in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, but all the words used in phrases like “put your hope in the Lord” or “our hope is in the Lord” mean more than the wish-washy way the word hope is used in contemporary English. In modern usage, the word “hope” means something like “I wish” or “it would be nice if.” For example, when we say “I hope it doesn’t snow tomorrow” we mean “it sure would be nice if it doesn’t snow tomorrow.”

But that’s not what the Bible means when it uses the word hope. When scripture talks about hope, it’s not talking about some folly or wish. In the Bible, the word “”hope ”means a deep-seated confidence. The words that are translated as “hope” are also translated as confident, trust and rely upon.

So when we talk about having hope in the Lord, it’s not the kind of hope of wishful thinking. No, we’re saying “I have a confident expectation. I am fully persuaded of what I put my hope in. I have full trust in the Lord.”

Perhaps you’ve heard that explanation before. I know I had. I learned something interesting about one of the words translated “hope” in the Old Testament, however, that brought the definitions to life. The word we’re looking at is tikva, and it literally means “cords,” with the implication being “bound with cords.” In other words, we are bound to that which we put our hope in.

Let’s look at Scripture. We’re going to start (and end) in Psalm 40. In my last blog, I wrote about listening for the Lord each morning and some of the things He wants to say to us. Today, we’re turning the tables a bit and looking at what happens when God listens for us.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
Psalm 40:1 (NIV)

Those fourteen words fill me with such excitement. First, the words translated “waited patiently” is actually the same Hebrew word repeated twice. The word is qawa (pronounced kaw-vaw, accenting the second syllable). It is the root word from which tikva – hope – is derived. It literally means “to bind together (perhaps by twisting)”.

The first half of the verse could also be translated “I bound myself to the Lord – I put my hope in Him.” David then went on to write that two things happened when he trusted God.

The first thing is that the Lord turned to him. When we trust in God, He moves closer toward us. Another translation says He “inclined to me”. You could say He stretched out toward me. Friends, there are many things I don’t understand about Scripture, but I am increasingly coming to understand that when we actively believe and trust God, it activates something in the spiritual realm. It moves God closer to us so to speak.

The second thing that happened is that the Lord heard David’s cry. The Lord is always listening for our cry. He always hears it. God is always listening – and when we put our trust in Him, He turns and responds.

In verse 2 David explains how God responded:

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
Psalm 40:2 (NIV)

You know, when we forget to listen to God, we make a mess of things. We fall into the slimy pits that Satan puts in front of us. We fall into the muck and mire and get sucked in by our own self confidence and pride. We make a mess of things.

But when we cry out to the Lord, He lifts us up. He sets our feet on a rock. He doesn’t set me on the edge of the pit where the mud is still a bit slippery. He sets my feet on a rock and He gives us a firm place to stand. As I was thinking about this, the picture of a small child learning to walk came to mind. Their parent helps them to stand and they wobble a bit back and forth. The parent doesn’t let go until the little one has firmly planted his feet and stabilized himself a bit. Then, the parent lets go, but keeps his arms loosely around the child ready to catch the child when he falls. God is like that. He makes sure our feet are firmly planted – the word can also be translated “established” – before he gives us a bit of freedom. But He is always there to catch us when we cry out to Him.

Rocks

“He set my feet on a rock.” A rock is solid. It is immovable. And throughout Scripture, God is described as a rock.

30 God’s way is perfect. All the LORD’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection.
31 For who is God except the LORD? Who but our God is a solid rock?
Psalm 18:30-31 (NLT)

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock. My refuge is in God.
8 Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge.
Psalm 62:5-8 (HCSB)

God is our solid rock. When we put our hope in him, we are secure.

How secure are we? Remember, the word hope comes from a word that means bound by cords. When we put our hope in Jesus, we are bound to him. Imagine the strongest cords you can and then imagine them wrapping around you and the Lord. And every time you choose faith – every time you choose to put your hope in God – those cords are wrapped more securely. It’s like they encircle us again and again each time we choose to trust God, with each layer of cord making us more and more secure.

Now I don’t want to mislead you. It only takes one cord to make us secure – because it’s God who is holding us. He is the one wrapping us in His arms. When we turn to Him, He is the one who turns toward us and hears our cry. He’s the one who picks us up out of the muck and mire. He’s the one who says “I gotcha.” God’s protection doesn’t depend on how strong our faith is. It depends on how good and how mighty God is. (And He is those things to the nth degree.)

But, I find that the more I trust God, the more I sense the cords that hold me secure.

God is the rock to which we’re bound. Hallelujah! When David thought about this, He wrote songs of praise.

The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!
2 Samuel 22:47 (NIV)

Spider Webs

As I was studying hope, I was surprised to find myself in Job. Many people consider Job to be a pretty depressing book, so I was surprised to learn so much about hope from it’s pages.

Scripture describes Job as a man who was blameless and upright. A man who loved God. He was also a very rich man, described as the greatest man in all the east…Until Satan took everything from him. He lost his house, his children, his animals, his livelihood, and eventually his health. He was left to sit at the gate and beg while dogs licked the sores from his body. Even his wife encouraged him to curse God and die.

After he had lost everything – after he was no longer the richest man – no longer the man that everyone looked up to and even envied – no longer a man who could provide for his family…After he had lost his children and his money and had no ability to care for himself..After his wife told him to give up on God, to curse God and die…After all that, Job made an astounding declaration of faith.

25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:25-27 (NIV)

Job was securely bound to God. His hope was secure. He was fully confident in God. He knew that when his body was destroyed, he would still see God. Job knew that nothing was going to separate him from his rock.

Job knew that a hope that was secure was one that was in God. He also knew that a hope that was in anything else was not one you could put your trust in. Not something you could rely on. Listen to what he wrote about those who forget God:

13 This is the destiny of all who forget God; the hope of the [person without God] will perish.
14 His source of confidence is fragile; what he trusts in is a spider’s web.
15 He leans on his web, but it doesn’t stand firm. He grabs it, but it does not hold up.
Job 8:13-15 (HCSB)

The hope of those who forget God will perish, Job wrote. Their hope will fail. If their trust is in anything other than God, their trust – their confidence – is fragile. It is like a spider’s web. When they lean on the web, it doesn’t hold them up. When things in life come at them and they try to grab onto their hope, it falls apart in their hands.

Now remember a time when you’ve walked into a spider web (or perhaps a cob web if the spider web has too much of an eeoow factor). If you’re anything like me, you begin to scream and thrash around, trying desperately to find the web (and the spider that lives in it) and get it off of you. But there’s nothing to grasp. It’s there, but it’s not there. It doesn’t hold up.

Friends, if our faith is in our strength, our youth, our wisdom, our finances, our friends, our spouse – anything other than Jesus Christ, the holy Son of God – our hope will perish. Perhaps I should write “when” our faith is in any of those things, our hope perishes – because I find it easy to slip into trusting those things sometimes. When our faith is in any of those things, we will fail. We will reach for our faith and it will disintegrate in our hands. We will try to lean on it and we’ll fall over. It is like a spider’s web.

But if we trust in Christ – when we trust in Christ – we know that the object of our faith is sure and true and strong. We have a firm foundation. We know that it will never fail us.

Hope and Joy

Now let’s go back to Psalm 40 and look at what happens when we put our hope in God and He turns and hears our cry.

1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD.
4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.
Psalm 40:1-4 (NIV)

David, a man that God described as a man after God’s own heart, wrote that when he waited patiently for God, God turned and heard his cry. Then God reached down a lifted him out of the slimy pit he had found himself. He lifted him and put his feet on a rock. God gave David a firm place to stand. But God didn’t just leave him there to stand. He put a new song in David’s mouth – in other words, he filled David with joy and song. And the result is that others will see and put their trust in God.

David confirms that the man or woman who puts their trust in the Lord is blessed.

So friends, I want to encourage you to put your hope in that which is firm, that which is the solid rock. Put your hope in the Lord. Let’s not trust in our own efforts because they’re like the spider web. Jesus is the rock.

Is there an area in your life where you need to put your hope in God? Is there an area in which you’ve fallen into the pit of self-reliance or trusting in anything other than God? Spend a few minutes with God right now and ask Him to forgive you for trusting in that spider web and then place your situation in His hands. Put your hope in Him. He’s the rock to which you want to be bound.

Footnote: Word definitions and discussions are based on Strong’s Talking Greek and Hebrew Dictionary.

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2013

While fall doesn’t officially start until about three weeks into the month, the beginning of September always feels like the beginning of fall to me. And it’s always a time when routines are adjusted to the change in schedules. Be sure to keep your Bible reading in your schedule! Our Resting at the River’s Edge schedule will help you stay on track, reading four or five chapters each weekday. If you fall behind, don’t worry about it! That’s why we only schedule readings on weekdays – so we can use the weekend to catch up. And if you can’t catch up on weekends, still don’t worry about it! Just keep reading at a pace that allows you to enjoy God’s Word. I’m confident that God will reveal Himself to you as you take time to get to know Him.

Click on one of the following buttons to open a PDF file of the September/October bookmark or all bookmarks. After the file has opened, you can print it or save it to your hard drive from your browser’s file menu.

Click here for the Sept/Oct 2013 recommended reading bookmark. Click here to download all bookmarks for 2013.

The September Reading Schedule also appears at the end of this blog.

I look forward to hearing from you about how God is speaking to you through His Word during the coming month. Email me, leave a message on our Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Blessings, Friends!
Sandy

The recommended reading schedule for September is below.

Resting at the River's Edge Reading Schedule for September 2013

Here’s how the Resting at the River’s Edge reading schedules are organized:

  • The first two columns of the schedule allow you to read through the Old Testament once and the New Testament twice over a two-year period. You will typically read about three chapters a day if you follow this reading plan.
  • The “Additional Readings” column put you on a plan to read through the entire Bible in one year. You will read between four and five chapters a day if you follow this plan.

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I have a dear aunt who is dying. [Footnote: My aunt has died since I wrote this. Thank you for your prayers for her family.]

Death is such an affront to us. It’s a slap in the face even when it is expected. When unexpected it’s a punch in the gut. Actually, it’s a punch in the gut even when it’s expected.

God didn’t intend it to be this way. And He makes it possible for death to be only a temporary separation from our loved ones. For those who accept Christ as their Savior, death is simply an entry way into the full presence of God and His eternal Kingdom.

Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT)

When faced with death I am reminded that God uses all things – even death – for His purposes. Several things become clear to me when I meditate on the end of someone’s life.

Life and death are in the hands of the Lord. That is sometimes a harsh reality, but it is a reality. We are often tempted to ask God why a loved one is taken from us. Often too young. Always too soon. I can’t answer those questions, but I am convinced that life and death are in His hands (Deuteronomy 32:39, 1 Corinthians 3:22). He determines the times and places we are to live (Acts 17:26) and He has our days numbered before we are born (Job 14:5).

God is present at every death. Whenever it occurs – or perhaps I should say each and every time it occurs – each and every time someone dies, God is there. I don’t have lots of answers but I know my God and I know His compassion and I know that the One who values life so much that He knows the number of hairs on each person’s head (Matthew 10:30) and the One who loved each one of us so much that He willingly died for us (Galatians 1:4, Titus 2:6, 1 John 3:16) – that God is present at the point of death. He grieves over sin if the death is untimely, but He is there for the dying. He is even there for the dying one who has spent a lifetime denying His existence. He gives them one last chance to recognize the reality of the One True God and submit their life into His hands.

There is a spiritual realm. That might seem like a strange statement to follow the first two, but my experience and the experience of others who have lost loved ones attest to the reality of a spiritual realm. I wrote about it this way in a blog a few months after my dad died:

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is some kind of spiritual connection among the living and when someone dies that connection is broken. When Phil’s mom died, he came up with this analogy: when a computer network is turned on, the system is always sending out impulses to other computers, checking to see if they are still connected. This is called “pinging” and it’s a continuous process. Without us being aware of it, it seems that our spirits “ping” for the spirits of those we love constantly and we receive an unconscious knowing that they are there. When someone dies, that ping goes out from us but is not returned. At an unconscious level there is a brokenness, a void, a missing connection that pushes itself into our consciousness and alerts our brain that “something is very wrong here.” Our brain then transmits that information to our emotions.

Birth and death are “holy-days” in a very true sense – days to set aside for reflecting on their purposes. Of course the fact that God is present makes them holy-days, but there is more:

  • The wonder of a newborn. The awesome creative power of God given to humans enabling us to create life. The instant and intense love that binds the newborn to his parents.
  • The crash of death. Reminding us that life has its limits that we cannot outwit, outlast or outplay. Reminding us that life is for the living and we ought not to waste time on petty, insignificant differences – or even the big ones. Life is for loving and bring glory to God. That’s the earthly side. There is a heavenly side for believers making it the most holy of holy days. It is the day in which we meet our Savior face to face. It is the day in which we worship as we’ve never worshiped before. It is the day of our true and final birth.

Lord, death is hard. Help me to introduce others to you so that they may experience not only a second birth (John 3:3-7), but a final birth into Your heavenly kingdom.

LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered — how fleeting my life is.
Psalm 39:4 (NLT)

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Track your reading along with us using the table below, the downloadable half-page PDF or the May/June bookmark.

Share what God is teaching you with otherse. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog.

Enjoy God as you watch spring unfold!
Sandy

Download All 2012 Bookmarks Here

Download only the May/June 2012 Bookmark Here

Download a Half-Page PDF of the May Reading Plan Here

Here’s May’s reading plan:

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Resting at the River’s Edge provides an opportunity to participate in reading through the Bible in a systematic way. Here’s more details about the plan and our schedules.

Join the conversation as we read together each month. E-mail me, leave a message on the Apprehending Grace Facebook page, or post a comment at the end of any blog. Let’s share the treasures God drops in our spirits as we read!

Also, NEW in 2012 are our RARE bookmarks. Click on the link below to download them.

Use the tracking method that works best for you – the schedule provided in this blog, the downloadable half-page PDF or bookmark. All provide the same schedule.

Above all, enjoy God as you read! Let Him speak to you!
Sandy

Download All 2012 Bookmarks Here

Download only the March/April 2012 Bookmark Here

Download a Half-Page PDF of the April Reading Plan Here

Here’s April’s reading plan:

April 2012 Resting at the River's Edge Reading Schedule JPG

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“Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.”
2 Timothy 1:12b

As I read that Scripture today, my mind drifted to the topic of needless worry. Even as I type the phrase, I realize that the word “needless” is…well, needless. It’s not necessary – because it is true of all worry. It’s not like some worry is needed and some is needless. All worry is needless. There is no worry that is justified.

What captured me about this verse is that it gives me both:

  • the reason that worry is never justified, and
  • the method for achieving a “don’t worry” lifestyle

The reason – He is able

“He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.”

God is able. Period. He is able to guard whatever we’ve given to him. What value is worry? It doesn’t add one inch to my height (Matthew 6:27) and it doesn’t make me happy or content. More likely the weight of the worry slumps me over, gives me gray hairs and wrinkles, and fills my day with negativity.

You already know lots of verses about God’s faithfulness and capability, but let me remind you of just two:

My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory. (Philippians 4:19)

5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  6So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

The method (1) – Entrust your life and life situations to Him

“He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.”

What is He able to guard? That which I have entrusted to Him. What are you worred about today? Have you entrusted it to Him? Have you cast your cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7)? Or are you holding them in your heart…so that they leave no room for God? God’s perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18)! Use that perfect love to cast your fears back upon the Lord.

The method (2) – Know God

“I know whom I have believed, and am convinced…”

Do you really know God? Do you know Him well enough to be convinced that He is able? Further, do you allow that knowledge to convince you of it? Knowing something is different from being convinced of it. Being convinced of something generally requires either a testing of the knowledge we have to prove it as fact or an overwhelming stack of evidence that make the knowledge irrefutable.

I’ll be honest – the first time I said “yes” to God I didn’t know him very well. I knew the central points of the Gospel:

  • God was a reality (a major stepping stone for me because I had rejected that point most of my life)
  • That the Bible was the Word of God (not a book of Grimm’s fairy tales as I had been referring to it)
  • That I was a sinner (that was a pretty easy one)
  • That Jesus paid the penalty for my sins by dying on the cross
  • That I needed to accept Jesus’ gift of forgiveness of my sins in order to spend eternity in heaven (I didn’t quite know what this meant, but the alternative wasn’t at all appealing)
  • That if I rejected Jesus’ gift I would spend eternity in hell

For about a month before accepting Jesus as my Savior, I was convinced of all of these central points except the first one! I had read enough of the Bible and enough about the Bible that I was convinced it was not a book simply written by men to tell a story we wanted to hear. It was too full of fulfilled prophecies and the realities of life for that. The evidence was stacked up so high that I could no longer deny that Scripture is valid and true. Once I was convinced of that, the points that follow were no-brainers.

Yet still I struggled with that first point – truly believing that there is a God who existed before time began and will exist forever. Such a concept was (and still is) outside my ability to comprehend. It took an experience with God for me to be fully convinced that He existed and that He cared for me. I found myself in serious danger one night – in a situation in which I was totally defenseless. When I emerged from the situation totally unharmed, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God had intervened. At that moment I became convinced that He was real and that He had intervened in my life, even if I didn’t understand or acknowledge His existence. (It has since dawned on me that if I could comprehend this God I serve, He wouldn’t be worth serving – duh!)

Since that time God has shown Himself to be real and alive and strong over and over again. Each experience I have with Him enables me to say as Job did “I know my Redeemer lives and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.” (Job 19:25) Often when this verse is quoted, the last half of that verse is left off. Let’s not do that! It is an affirmation just as Paul’s affirmation in 2 Timothy. Job knew that no matter what happened on this earth that one day his Redeemer would “win.” Paul says that he is convinced that His Redeemer is able to keep everything that he entrusts to Him – in other words, that Jesus will win over any and all that the devil throws at Him.

Do you know Him well enough to know that He will hold what you have entrusted to Him? I hope so. Yet we all have times when our faith waivers. Whether you’re just getting to know Him or have known Him for years but find your faith waivering, the process of knowing God and becoming convinced of His awesome power are the same: Spend time with Him in many ways every day.

  • Read His word.
  • Talk to Him.
  • Listen for His response.
  • Worship Him.
  • Serve Him.
  • Talk about Him with your friends.

Frends, I challenge you to give God a chance to further convince you of His faithfulness, power and great love by entrusting your biggest concern in life to Him today. Yep, today.

  • Stop for a moment here and consider what is the most pressing issue in your life.
  • Now take a few moments to entrust God with that issue. Go ahead – say it out loud so that you hear yourself giving it to God.
  • Now, rest in your confidence that He is able and begin to look forward to watching God move in that area of your life.

I think I’ll close and do that myself. Let me know how it goes for you!

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Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
Job 38:1

I am mesmerized by the picture God painted of Himself when He answered Job. Read some of the verses from Job chapters 38 through 40 with me. To make the passages more readable, I’m not going to include verse references and I’m going to treat the passages as prose rather than poetry. My intent is to hear what God has to say when He spends three chapters describing Himself. In all these passages, it is God speaking.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?…Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone — while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
Job 38:4-7

Almighty God, the Creator of the universe. We say those words, but do we really understand the tremendous wisdom, knowledge and power  encompassed in them? Do we think of God as architect and builder of this vast world? What knowledge beyond all the knowledge I can imagine is required to do such a thing? From nothing, He imagined the earth, then brought His imagination into reality.

“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?

Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place,…Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail?

Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs?

Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?”
Job 38:8, 11-12, 22, 31-33, 35

What power this God has to say to the waves “This far and no farther!” – the power to command the stars in the sky and the weather patterns on earth. What we benignly call “mother nature” is actually at God’s command. Further notice the questions “Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?” There is more to this than God’s command over the physical world. He has established laws that govern the heavens and earth. He has dominion – supreme authority and absolute ownership – over earth. This isn’t parental authority that we can buck when we don’t like it. This is supreme authority that will rule over all and we buck it at our own peril.

“Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?”
Job 38:36

All wisdom and understanding – even the ability to gain wisdom and understand – come from the mind and hand of God. Our intelligence is not our own – it is a gift from a gracious God. All scientific discovery has been a gift from God.

“Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food? Do you know when the mountain goats give birth? Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn? Do you count the months till they bear? Do you know the time they give birth?”
Job 38:41, 39:1-2

This powerful God, continues to be intimately involved in His creation. He lowers Himself to provide food for the bird. He responds to the cry of a young bird. This Being that is beyond our comprehension is also the author of compassion. He watches over it like a young couple about to have their first child. He counts the months with anticipation, waiting for the time He knows they will give birth. (How much He must care for me if He cares for the mountain goats and deer!)

“Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Will he stay by your manger at night? Can you hold him to the furrow with a harness? Will he till the valleys behind you?”
Job 39:9-10

The wild animals agree to serve our mighty God. He is safe with them. We may buck His authority over our lives, but they willingly bow to serve Him.

“The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully, but they cannot compare with the pinions and feathers of the stork. She lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand, unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them. She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers; she cares not that her labor was in vain, for God did not endow her with wisdom or give her a share of good sense. Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider.”
Job 39:13-18

I love God’s description of the ostrich. It reinforces to me that (1) God has created each of us with our own strengths and weaknesses and (2) He takes great joy in our strengths and our weaknesses don’t detract from them. Some of us have ostrich feathers, and some have stork feathers. Some run like an ostrich and others like a horse. Some have the intelligence of an ostrich (or lack thereof), to others He gives more understanding and wisdom. I love the way that God rejoices in the ostriches joyful flapping of her wings.

“Do you give the horse his strength or clothe his neck with a flowing mane? Do you make him leap like a locust, striking terror with his proud snorting? He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength, and charges into the fray. He laughs at fear, afraid of nothing; he does not shy away from the sword. The quiver rattles against his side, along with the flashing spear and lance. In frenzied excitement he eats up the ground; he cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds. At the blast of the trumpet he snorts, ‘Aha!’ He catches the scent of battle from afar, the shout of commanders and the battle cry.

Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread his wings toward the south? Does the eagle soar at your command and build his nest on high?

Look at the behemoth [translated hippopotamus in the NLT], which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength he has in his loins, what power in the muscles of his belly! His tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are close-knit. His bones are tubes of bronze, his limbs like rods of iron.”
Job 39:19-27, 40:15-18

Unlike the ungainly ostrich, the horse is a powerful and beautiful animal. Created by God for strength and speed and courage. Contrast that to the wisdom of the hawk and the eagle’s ability to soar. And make a final contrast to the hippopotamus – powerful vegetarian that he is! Do you see the vast variety in God’s creation, even from this limited sample He sights? He hasn’t even touched upon the sea anemone or killer whale (two of my favs).

In these three chapters, we see a God who is immensely – perhaps infinitely is the better word – creative, powerful, intelligent and caring. What an amazing God we serve!

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13One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14a messenger came to Job and said…

16While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said…

17While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said…

18While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said…

20At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;

may the name of the LORD be praised.”

Job 1:13-21

With each messenger, a worse calamity, with the last being the death of his children.

Have you ever had a day in which you lamented “What else can go wrong, Lord?”

Or perhaps you’ve had the day when you become gun shy of the ring of the telephone. What more bad news can it bring?

You probably have. I sure have.

But none have been as bad as Job’s bad day. Never within the span of five minutes have I received four separate “messengers” each with a tale of destruction in my life worse than the one before it.

And yet, I’ve found many opportunities to respond much less gloriously than Job. I’m guessing you have, too.

Lord, help me to apprehend the kind of grace that Job had. Help me to meet all calamities (and minor irritations) with the proclamation “May the name of the Lord be praised!”

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2010-2011

Why do the Righteous Suffer?

That’s the theme of the book that will occupy most of our attention this month – Job. Acknowledged by God as a righteous man, Job finds his family and his wealth taken away. Then his health deteriorates and his friends leave him.

His wife tells him to curse God and die. His response is one you’ve undoubtedly heard before –

“Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
(Job 2:10b)

He has three friends who don’t desert him – although at times he wishes they had – these three friends accuse him of great sin to be suffering so severely. They urge him to admit his sin and repent. I’d quote a verse here, but I’d have to quote about thirty chapters. Imagine yourself in Job’s position – how long could you put up with your three friends’ accusations?

Yet Job doesn’t sin…for a long time anyway. Eventually, he is warn down and shakes his fist at God…and eventually God shows up with what I call His “where were you” speach. Here’s just the beginning of it:

1Then the LORD answered Job from the whirlwind:

2“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? 3Brace yourself, 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. 5Do you know how its dimensions were determined and who did the surveying? 6What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone 7as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

8“Who defined the boundaries of the sea as it burst from the womb, 9and as I clothed it with clouds and thick darkness?
Job 38:1-9

I love the “where were you” speech. I find it to be the clearest statement of God’s sovereignty and awesome power in Scripture. I’ve quoted nine verses here. God’s speach goes on for three great chapters. Before He’s finished, we see His awesome power, His great wisdom in creation and His tender care of created beings.

Job can seem a hard book to slog through sometimes. Stick with it. The payoff is more than worth it!

Blessings as you read this month.

The recommended reading schedule is below.

To download a PDF of October’s recommended reading plan, click here.

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2010-2011

The History of a Nation and
Guidance for the Newly Formed Churches

Kings, Kings and More Kings
We will spend the bulk of our Old Testament reading First and Second Kings. Don’t lose sight of the message in the succession of kings and their exploits. The two overriding messages in the books of Kings are:

  • God is faithful and His people (i.e., us and our forefathers) continually turn away from Him. In the book of Kings, we see his judgement ultimately play out in the exile of the Israelites to Babylon.
  • Nations follow their leaders. We will see again and again that the spiritual climate of the Israelites very much followed that of their leader.

We’ll follow up our reading in First and Second Kings with the book of Ruth – a book that is all about courage, faithfulness and redemption. Many see it as a love story, but it is so much more than romance. It is the courage of a young woman, the faithfulness of God and the redemption of God’s people. That makes it a great book to cleanse our palates after reading Kings.

Forming a New Nation of Believers
As we read the books of Kings, we’ll also read what is commonly referred to as the “Pastoral Epistles” – the last writings of Paul, which are letters to Timothy and Titus. These letters provide instruction and guidance about caring for and protecting the newly born churches. The letters focus on church life, as well as leadership qualifications and responsibilities. The recurring themes in these books is keeping true to sound doctrine and living a life of godliness.

While it may seem that we are reading these books out of order (we’ll read 1 Timothy, then Titus, then 2 Timothy), this is the order in which they were written. 2 Timothy is widely believed to have been written shortly before Paul’s execution in AD 66-67. As you read this last letter of Paul’s keep in mind what he penned in chapter 4:

6As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return.

There was a time when I didn’t much like the Apostle Paul. Now, I want to be like him when I grow up. How about you?

Blessings as you read this month. May God speak to your heart and spirit.

The recommended reading schedule is below.

To download a PDF of September’s recommended reading plan, click here.

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