Consider Jesus

Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,  Hebrews 3:1  (ESV, bold mine)

Today the two names of Jesus we will focus on are Apostle and High Priest.  But, before we do, let us consider the word consider that is in our text for today. 

The word consider (katanoeo in hebrew) means literally to put the mind down on something and so to observe or consider carefully and attentively.  The idea is to think about something very carefully consider closely which denotes the action of one’s mind comprehending certain facts about a thing so as to give one the proper and decisive thought about the thing considered.  (preceptaustin.org)  In Hebrews 3:1, the focus is on the action of the mind comprehending certain facts about Jesus.

In this passage, the word consider is a command.  It calls for them to “Do this now!  Don’t delay!  The need is urgent!”  We are so distracted by other things in life, we need to turn our gaze to Jesus and consider Him.

Today lets focus and think upon Jesus being the Apostle and High Priest.  What does it mean that He is the Apostle?  

This is the only time that Jesus is called an Apostle.  We are used to thinking of Paul or James as the apostle.  The word apostle means “one sent as a messenger.”  When applied to the twelve apostles, it means that they were chosen by Jesus and sent into the world in His name and bringing His message.  When applied to Jesus, it means that He was sent from the Father to be the Savior of the world.

Jesus is also our High Priest. The office of priest was an important one in the Old Testament.  In many OT readings we see that the priest mediated between the people and God.  Most importantly, it was the high priest who entered into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement.  Only the high priest could enter and, before doing so, he was required to make a sacrifice for himself.  When he did this the high priest was cleansed and could then go on to offer the cleansing sacrifices for the people.  

Rather than a yearly (or daily) atonement as in the OT, Jesus’ sacrifice is once and for all.  Jesus, like the high priests of the OT, stands in the gap between us and God.  He made the necessary sacrifice for us.  Those who have put their faith in Jesus have been made righteous by Him and are now able to enter into God’s presence.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.                               2 Corinthians 5:21

The most important thing for us to consider is that since Jesus is our High Priest, we can approach God with confidence.  

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.                                             Hebrews 4:15 & 16

We no longer need to go through earthly mediators.  Jesus has broken the barrier, made the sacrifice, established a new covenant, and reestablished our relationship with God.  Because of our High Priest, we are free to come to God.

Today, let us consider Jesus, our Apostle and High Priest.  When life gets rough and problems seem to have no solution, we need to put our gaze on Jesus and keep it there.

One Day at a Time

I find myself pondering many thoughts the week between Christmas and New Years.  

What went well this past year?

What were the highlights?

What did God teach me?

What does next year hold?

What does god have in store for me?

I could go on and on with these questions.  And especially this year as we enter into a new decade.  I hear people focusing on the past 10 years and the next 10 years.  That is a lot to take in and process, especially as an internal processor.  

And then add to it a word for the year.  Do you have your word ready to go for 2020?  And how about last year?  Did you have a word and what did that look like?

Although this is such a good time to reflect and plan, it can be overwhelming and we can get caught up in the planning and scheming of what next year might bring.

The quote in the above picture brought me such peace at this time of year when I get thrown into the rat race of trying to figure out my New Years Resolution and new Word for the Year.

“The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it is has to be lived – not always looked forward to as though the ‘real’ living were around the next corner.It is today for which we are responsible.God still owns tomorrow.”                                 Elisabeth Elliot (Dec 1926-June 2015)

It is fun to dream and think about 2020 and what may come.  But often, in the dreaming we might forget to live in the present.  These 3 Bible verses below can help us to live in the present:

Matthew 6:33-34 — Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.  “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Philippians 4:6 – Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Isaiah 41:10 – Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

As we plan for 2020, let us let God guide our future.  As we think about the new Year and the new 365 days in 2020, we cannot forget whose hand needs to be in our future plans.  We may not always understand the plans God has for us, but these verses may remind us:

Proverbs 3:6 – Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Joshua 1:9 – This is my command – be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

This time of year is so good to reflect and ponder, but don’t forget that only today is what is in front of us and what we are responsible for.  

Have a Blessed final Saturday of 2019:) Make the most of today and everyday, one day at a time.

Jesus, Our Kinsman Redeemer

 

As we prepare for Christmas in this advent season it is amazing to look back through the Old Testament and see that God was already foreshadowing the coming of Jesus.  He was setting the scene and timeline for when our True Redeemer would come for us.  The stories we read teach us about faith and encourage us to know that God provided for His people even before Jesus entered the world.  This past week I have been studying the book of Ruth.  I had no idea that this book would foreshadow the coming of Jesus!  In this book we see the redeeming work of God in the lives of Ruth and her mother Naomi.

Ruth was a Moabite.  She married the son of Naomi and Elimelek, who was originally from the tribe of Judah in the City of Bethlehem.  Because of  famine in the land, Elimelek and Naomi went to live in Moab where they had two sons who married two Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah.  Then, Elimelek died, leaving Naomi a widow.  And, both of his sons died, now both of the daugher-in-laws were both left widowed.  

The plight of a widow in that culture was bleak.  Now there were three women from the same family with no husband.  Naomi decided to go back to the land from which she came, Bethlehem.  She gave her daughters-in-law the option to remain in Moab, the land in which they were born.  Orpah decided to stay, but Ruth said, 

“Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back.  Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live.  Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.  Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried.  May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!”  (Ruth 1:16 &17)

I imagine how hard it was for Ruth to leave her life in Moab.  The Bible does not tell this part of her story, but she left the town she was born, her family, friends, and all that she knew.  She was willing to give it all up to go back to Bethlehem with Naomi.  This decision took great conviction and courage.

In God’s perfect timing, Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem at the time of harvest.  Back in those days God’s people were commanded not to pick or harvest the outer edges of their fields, but to leave food for the poor to eat.  (Leviticus 19:9 & 10)  So, Ruth went out to pick leftover grain for her and Naomi.  

So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters.  And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.   Ruth 2:3

Boaz was a relative of Elimelech.  We see that God already had a plan, it was no coincidence that Ruth ended up finding food in this particular field.  When Boaz sees Ruth in the field he asks who she is.  The foreman tells him that she was Naomi’s daughter-in-law, a Moabitess.  Boaz told Ruth that she should stay in his fields to find all the grain that she could.  He told his workers not to harm her and whenever she was thirsty to drink from the water jars in the field.

Boaz did not have to treat her so kindly.  Ruth was an outsider and a Moabite, she was not one of God’s chosen people.  Boaz chooses to show her great kindness because of her devotion to Naomi.  (Ruth 2:10-13)

At the end of a day in the field, Ruth went home and gave her roasted grain to Naomi.  She told her of all that the day held in the field of Boaz.  Naomi responds,

“May the Lord bless him!”  Naomi told her daughter-in-law.  “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband.  That man is one of your closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”Ruth 2:20

A family redeemer is a kinsman redeemer.  Kinsman means family or relative, a man who is one of a person’s blood relations.  A kinsman redeemer was a relative that would buy the property of his deceased family member and marry his widow if she had no children.  This was a law that God had given His people to provide for widows so they would not be destitute.  A widow without children would have no one to help provide for their needs. 

We read throughout Ruth chapter 3 and 4 of how Ruth became the wife to Boaz.  He became her kinsman redeemer.  

At the end of chapter 4 we see that God blesses Ruth and Boaz with a son.  They named their son Obed.  When Obed grew up he had a son named Jesse and Jesse later had a son named David.  Through David many years later the true kinsman redeemer was born.  JESUS!!  

We are all like Ruth.  We are outsiders.  We all have sin and reasons that we do not belong to Christ.  Because of this sin we are separated from Christ.  Our sin leaves us lost and destitute, just as Naomi and Ruth were when the returned to Bethlehem as widows.  With out a redeemer we will face death and punishment for our sins.  BUT GOD!  Jesus came to earth!  Christmas!  Through Jesus we have our ultimate kinsman redeemer!  He came to earth to die in our place to pay for our debt of sin.  He bought us back to be part of God’s family and save us from all sin for all eternity.

We have 11 more days to prepare for Jesus to be born as our True Kinsman Redeemer.  Thank You God for your plan of salvation through your Son.

John Mark

Can you recall a time in your life when you failed?  Did you rebound from that failure and learn from it?  Or did you let it dictate your future and decide that you would never amount to much?

Today in our reading, Acts 13:1-13, we see how John Mark recovered from a failure.  We have to read beyond our reading for today to see the full story, but it is sure nice to know that his story does not end at the end of Acts 13.

John Mark was brought up in a prayer filled home.  In Acts 12:12, we read that after Peter was miraculously rescued from prison                          

“he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer.”  

As a young man, he was surrounded by the greatest men and women of the New Testament church.  He grew up listening to these men and their stories of the times they had spent with Jesus.  All of their prayers and struggles would have been shared with him.

John Mark may have grown up dreaming of the day that He too would be able to travel throughout the world preaching the gospel.  His uncle was Barnabas, and so when Paul and Barnabas were appointed to go on their missionary journey, John Marks’ opportunity to preach the gospel came to be.

There, in the town of Salamis, they went to the Jewish synagogues and preached the word of God.  John Mark went with them as their assistant. Acts 13:5

He would accompany them on their trip to take care of the work behind the scenes so that Paul and Barnabas could focus on their ministry.  John Mark had to be so excited to be doing what he had only dreamed of!

But, only 8 verses later in Acts 13:13 we read

Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga.  There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.

The word translated as “left,” in the original means “to desert”.  It means to leave in a negative way and to willfully abandon.  We do not know exactly why he left.  Maybe he was homesick?  Possibly he missed his wealthy lifestyle at home with servants to meet his needs.  Maybe he found he preferred to be served rather than to serve.  Or, maybe like many of us, he had unrealistic expectations.

No matter the reason he left, sometime later we read,

Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark.  But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work.  Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated.       Acts 37-39

Paul thought that he had messed up too bad the first time and was not prepared to give him a second chance.  John Mark probably thought that he had messed up so bad that he ruined his chance at ever being used by God on a missionary journey again.  

Thankfully John Mark did not give up even after a failure.  In the years ahead, John Mark proves himself over and over again.  Paul forgives him and goes on to recommend him to others.  We see this in Colossians 4:10 and 2 Timothy 4:9-11.  

John Mark had wondered if he would ever have another chance to fulfill his calling and be involved in ministry.  Now we see Paul confirming this, “He will be helpful to me in my ministry.”  From John Marks life we can take encouragement that failing at ministry or at anything in life does not erase the possibility of future use.  People may give up on us, but God never will.

The Samaritan Woman

Jesus is waiting for you to come.  He is sitting, waiting.

Have you ever had to wait for someone?  Did you know they were coming?  My chauffeuring days are over, but I can vividly remember the years of dropping off and waiting on my children at one of their activities.  The longest wait was always the pick-up line after school.  You either had to get their super early to get a good spot in the front or be late and avoid the line.  My kids always let me know that they hated to be the last to be picked up.  So, I was always in the first 10 cars of the line, waiting patiently (20+ minutes) for them to walk out of the school.  But why did I sit there that long each and every day of the school year?  Because my most beloved children were going to be walking out of those doors and I wanted to be there to greet them each and every day.  I love them so much that I would sit and wait patiently for them each and every single day.  

Today in our reading of the Samaritan woman, John 4:1-42, we see Jesus, sitting, waiting.  I do not believe it was coincidence that Jesus was sitting at the side of the well when the Samaritan woman showed up to get her daily water.  Jesus knew she would be coming at that time.  A time when the well was empty of people, she did not want to be around others for she was ashamed.  Ashamed of her past and who she was.  

Can you imagine the face of Jesus as she walked up to the well?  As He was waiting for her, he probably smiled knowing that He was going to offer her her true hope and life.  He knew everything about her already.  He knew she had 5 husbands and was living with a man whom she was not married.  He knew she was a Samaritan.  

The Samaritans had once been Jews, they knew all about the coming Messiah and the Jewish law.  But, they had intermarried with people of other faiths.  They had brought new gods into their land, and as a result, they knew that they would be excluded when the Messiah came.  They also knew where they stood in the eyes of the Jews. 

All of the above matters made it even more unbelievable to the woman that this Jewish man sitting on the side of the well would speak to her.  

Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 

John 4:7

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.  How can you ask me for a drink?”  Jesus answered her, “if you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you the living water.”  Because she was not a jew, she knew that salvation would not be coming for her.  That was, until this moment in time, when Jesus spoke to her.

Jesus told her about all that was going on in her home.  He spoke to her about all that was heavy on her heart, all of her shame, he knew.  At this moment she knew he was different.  How did he know so much about her?  How did He know exactly what she needed to hear? 

The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming-the one who is called Christ.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”  Then Jesus tole her, “I Am the Messiah!”

John 4:25&26

As soon as the Samaritan woman hears these words, she leaves her jar of water and runs back to the town to tell the people everything that she just experienced.

The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did!  Could he possibly be the Messiah?”  So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

John 4:29&30

The whole village came to see what she was speaking of.  She did not hesitate and was not afraid to tell what had just happened at the well.  And because she shared her story, others came to check out Jesus and see what He was really about.  When they met Jesus they asked him to stay in their village, and he did so he could tell His message and more could believe.

Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves.  Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.”

John 4:42

This is our calling!  Not to make others believe, but to tell of what we have experienced with Jesus.  To tell our story of what He has done for us.  Then let Jesus minister to them and so that they will know He is the Savior of the world.  

Jesus is waiting on us to come to Him.  He sees each of us coming and is waiting.  We may not have to walk to a well to get water, but we have so many tasks we have to complete in a day.  Maybe it is walking to the washing machine to put in another load of laundry.  Maybe it is walking from the parking lot into our building where we work or go to school.  God is right in front of us waiting for us to come to Him.  He knows all of our past and shame.  But, just as He did with the Samaritan woman, he looks past it and wants to offer His love and Salvation.  Then He wants us to share our story!

 

Simeon and Anna

 

What is something that you have had to wait for in your life?  Or maybe there is something right now that you are waiting for? Is there something you are asking God to do and are waiting for Him to answer?  Are you praying for someone you know to become a Christian and waiting for it to happen?  Are you praying for God to heal someone you love and waiting for God to answer?  Waiting is not always easy or fun, but if we believe that God hears and answers our prayers, we have faith that He will answer.  Sometimes His answer is yes, no or wait.  The answer wait sometimes takes a few days, months or years, but God will always answer in His own timing.  Today we will focus on Simeon and Anna, found in Luke 2:25-38 and see how they waited on God for His promise of a Savior.

Long before Jesus came to earth as a baby, God gave Moses laws for people to obey.  One of the laws was that any family who had a firstborn son had to take that son and have him dedicated at the temple.  

In Luke 2, we see Mary and Joseph obey God’s law.  They began their travel from Bethlehem to Jerusalem so that the Son of God could be dedicated to the Lord.

Meanwhile, a Godly man named Simeon was in Jerusalem waiting on the Promised Christ.  Simeon had the gift of the Holy Spirit before Jesus died on the cross and rose again.  Earlier in his life God told Simeon that he would not die until he had seen Jesus with his own eyes.

At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon.  He was righteous and devout and eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel.  The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Luke 2:25&26

We have no idea how old Simeon was or how long he had to wait for the day that God would fulfill His promise.  Simeon never gave up hope that the promise of seeing the Messiah would be fulfilled.  Every day of his life as he worshiped and served God he kept his eyes open for God’s promised Savior.  He believed that God would do what He said.

One day the Holy Spirit told Simeon to go to the temple.  Simeon listened and did as he had been instructed.  When he arrived at the temple he saw a young woman holding a baby with her husband by her side.  God’s Spirit told Simeon that this baby was the Promised Savior.  Immediately, Simeon went to Mary and reached out so that he could hold the baby.  As he held him in his arms he began to praise the Lord.

“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you promised.  I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people.  He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

Luke 2:29-32

As Simeon was praising God and blessing Mary and Joseph there was another person in the temple, her name was Anna.  Anna was a widow, her husband had died after they had been married for 7 years.  After her husband died she began serving God full-time in the temple.  She was now 84 years old and was known to all as a prophetess.  She spent her days in the temple fasting and praying.  Anna had a very close relationship with the Lord and she knew that God had promised a Savior.  As she heard Simeon’s praises she walked over to him to see what was going on.

Anna saw the Child and immediately thanked the Lord for sending the Savior who was going to take away the sins of the world.  She then spread the news of the Savior to all who were looking for Him.

Both Simeon and Anna saw and believed that Jesus was God’s promised Savior.  They chose to praise and thank God for allowing them to see His Promise come true.  The both waited for this promise, we don’t know exactly how long they waited, but it sounds like they waited many years and never gave up hope.

What promise are you waiting for?  Have you given up hope that God will answer?  Simeon and Anna are examples of two Godly saints.  They waited for what God had promised and then proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah.  

Just as Simeon and Anna were waiting for the promise of the Savior, we today are waiting for His Second Coming.  The day Jesus returns in great power and great glory.  We are waiting for this promise to come true.  How are we going to wait for this promise?  Are we living each day learning more about God by studying and reading our Bibles?  Are we praying for our friends and family that don’t believe in Jesus?  Are we living a life that is pleasing to God?  We need to wait just as Simeon and Anna did believing everyday that today might be the day we see the promise fulfilled.

 

Peter

Matthew 26:20-75

1 Peter 1-2

I began preparation for today’s post as I always do.  First, I thought about what I already knew of Peter.  I remembered that Peter was a fisherman, that his name means “rock” and he was a disciple of Christ.  I also recalled how he denied Jesus 3 times before Jesus was crucified.  

Next, I read through Matthew 26:20-75, which sets the stage for Peter’s denial.  After the disciples had finished The Last Supper, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him 3 times. Then it actually happened, Peter denies Jesus 3 times and the rooster crowed!

Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying-I don’t know the man!”  And immediately the rooster crowed.  Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind;  “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”  And he went away weeping bitterly.    Matthew 26:74 &75

Peter, the “rock” of the church and a close friend of Jesus denies Him 3 times.  I read this and think how could Peter do this?  But, then I think of myself and times I have also done what I don’t want to do or think that I would ever do.  Just as Peter, I am sorely disappointed in myself and what I have done and what I never thought I would do.

But then, I go on to read 1 Peter 1 &2.  What a difference.  We go from Peter denying that He knows Jesus to then Peter actually writing encouraging and helpful words to believers that were suffering persecution.  

How did Peter go from weeping bitterly from denying Jesus to writing  encouraging words to believers?  

As soon as Peter heard the rooster crow, his heart fell.  He felt the depth of his own failure.  He realized that he had just done the very thing that Jesus had said he would do.  The thing that Peter insists he would never do.  It was perhaps the worst moment of his life.  

Jesus is now dead.  Peter’s last encounter with him was denial.  There is not time for apologies.  No time to ask Jesus to forgive him.  Can you imagine the guilt that he felt?

Jesus was dead.  Peter stayed with the other disciples.  On the third day after Jesus’ death, the disciples get a message from Mary Magdalene that the tomb where Jesus was put is empty.  

Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee.  You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”                                Mark 16:7

Can you imagine how Peter felt when he heard this?  How nervous he must have been to maybe meet Jesus face to face again after denying him?  

But Peter ran to the tomb and pushed right inside the tomb.  He saw that Jesus’ burial cloths were neatly folded.  Where is Jesus?  

Notice that the message was to “go tell the disciples and Peter”.  Peter was singled out because Jesus had a message for Peter.  Peter, who denied Jesus three times, would be given another chance.

Jesus still loved Peter.  Jesus was going to show mercy and forgiveness to Peter.

He does the same for you and me.

Peter went to Galilee to meet Jesus just like the angel told him too.  Where do you go to look for Jesus? 

As believers in Jesus Christ, we can cling tightly to the promise in Romans 8:1 that says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”.

Peter was forgiven and given an amazing ministry.  

Daniel

As Usual!

What is something you do as usual??  Something that is part of your normal day?  Something you never skip or forget?  Is it working out, eating breakfast, having a cup of coffee, watching a favorite show, checking your phone, or having a daily quiet time?  Today we read about Daniel and learn the most important thing he did as usual.

When I saw that my assigned post for this week was Daniel, I thought about what I already knew about him.  The first story I recalled is Daniel being thrown into the Lion’s Den.  I remembered that he interpreted the kings dream. I also remembered how he and his 3 friends got thrown into the fiery furnace (thank you to a church musical I participated in back in the day, the song of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will always be in my mind).  The last story that came to mind is that Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall.  

Daniel was a faithful man of God.  He faced these incredible situations and managed to live through them!  

Out of all these amazing stories about Daniel.  There is one verse that stands out to me the most.

Daniel 6:10

But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem.  He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.  (NLT, bold print mine)

AS USUAL!!  This is what Daniel did!  He prayed!  Just as he had always done!  Giving thanks to God.  That is it!  We don’t read about his worries or his complaints about the incredible situations he was put in.  Can you imagine standing in a fiery furnace or amongst hungry lions and not wavering in your faith?  Daniel looked to God to provide an escape, and He did.  Every.  Single.  Time.  We see that Daniel did what he usually did – PRAYED!  

It seems so simple.  Pray – as usual.  Do we trust God’s promises as Daniel did?  

Daniel’s habits of prayer were known to all the people around him.  He prayed as usual openly before all who saw him.  There was no question of Daniel’s faithfulness to God.  Daniel glorified God by the life he lived.  His faithful walk allowed God to give him power and wisdom.  Daniel took a stand for the Lord and the Lord used his faithfulness to magnify His own name.  

Pray – AS USUAL – and see how God will magnify His name through you.

Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar

When you are suffering or enduring hardship, where do you turn?  Do you have friends that you immediately pick up your phone and call?  Where do you look for encouragement?  Do you have friends, neighbors or a small group that show up when you are suffering?

We all have heard the story of Job and all he suffered and endured.  Job had 3 friends that showed up for him in his time of need.  

When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him.  Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.  

Job 2:11 (NLT)

At first, I can imagine Job being so relieved that these men, his friends, showed up for him.  He surely assumed they were there to support and encourage him.  But, it wasn’t long before he realized that they did not bring him any comfort, they only criticized and accused him.  

These three men were jealous of Job because he was a godly man, a rich man and everything was going well for him and his family.  The three knew about God, but they didn’t know God personally.  They could not truly understand why Job suffered as he did.  In Job chapters 4-7 we read the dialogue between Job and his three friends.  The friends point out various reasons of why Job is suffering.  Each time Job responds with a speech of his own.  

The first to speak was Eliphaz who was the oldest and considered the wisest of the three friends.  He starts out by complimenting Job, but soon begins to accuse Job of being impatient.  Then Eliphaz told Job that according to what he himself had experienced and seen in his own life, those who do wrong suffer (even though he had never experienced or saw the same suffering Job was experiencing).

Don’t we sometimes do this in our own life?  When a friend is suffering, we try and relate an experience we have similarly had?  We try to explain why this might be happening to them based on our experiences.  Eliphaz thought he had wisdom because of his personal experiences.  But, our personal experience does not give us sound wisdom.  Sound wisdom only comes from the Bible.  Bible doctrine gives us a divine viewpoint, personal experience gives us a human viewpoint.  

The next to speak is Bildad.  He was pretty harsh with Job.  He accused job of being a windbag and not having anything worthwhile to say.  He told Job to look at past generations to see what happened in their lives.  Bildad took the stand that if Job was upright or had not sinned, God would not be punishing him.  He wanted Job to repent so God would restore his blessings.

Then Zophar talked to Job.  He was the most critical.  He told Job he should be grateful that he wasn’t getting what he deserved.  He used sayings of that day to get his point across.  They didn’t even relate to Job’s sufferings.  Zophar did not use correct Bible doctrine for the situation.  He too thought Job sinned and was being disciplined.  He also wanted Job to repent so God would restore his blessings.

Now, on top of all Job’s sufferings, he was getting tested from Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.  He had great patience and unconditional love for his friends, but he knew their advice was not good advice based on God’s word.  They were doing just what the enemy wanted, giving advice that had no value and not based on Bible doctrine, they were using their own standards instead of God’s standards.  Satan wanted Job to keep debating with his friends so he would get off track and begin to agree with their false standards.

The three friends agreed that god’s ways are far above their ways.  However, their words to Job did not go along with the doctrine of the Bible.  They judged Job because they were fearful.  They knew Job was righteous and they also thought they were righteous.  (Much like we see in the Pharisees later in the Bible.)  They saw the suffering Job had and they were worried that maybe they would also suffer.  They saw that the righteous do suffer and they didn’t want to believe that.  They wanted Job to repent so his suffering would disappear.  They were fearful that they also might have to suffer at some point in their lives.

You, too, have given no help.  You have seen my calamity, and you are afraid.   

Job 6:21

Satan’s favorite way to control us is through fear.  Fear is an emotion and moves us away from the promises of Christ.  Satan loved that the three friends were in fear.  He hoped their fear would rub off on Job and Job would eventually turn away from God and lose hope.  But, this does not happen.  Even though he suffered, he was able to have courage and not fear.  He was able to concentrate under pressure from the friends.  

The main difference between Job and his friends is not that Job suffers and they do not.  And it is not that Job understand suffering in a way that they do not.  The main difference is that Job fears God and they do not.  

Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence?  Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope?

Job 4:6 (NLT)

The main message of Job is not so much about how to deal with suffering as about learning how to fear God, even through suffering.  Because we all will suffer.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 (NLT)

This example of suffering and friends coming to the rescue is such a great example for us today.  We all suffer and have friends who may rally around us.  We need to take every word they say and apply Bible doctrine to their words.  Are they pointing us to Christ or causing us to doubt and turn from him?  The devil would like nothing more than for us to turn from Christ in times of hardship.  

We give great honor to those who endure under suffering.  For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance.  You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.

James 5:11 (NLT)

Josiah

For the first time ever, I am attempting to read the Bible from beginning to end this year.  I might be a little behind, but my goal is to finish by the end of 2019.  I am reading the One Year Chronological Bible so at this point, I have read through much of the Old Testament.  Many times over the past months I have read about the people constructing and then praising “asherah poles”.  To this day I still can’t fully comprehend why people might stand around a carved pole of some material and worship it.  It seems kind of silly that they think an object could change their life.    Only when I put it into today’s context do I understand that what people put their time and energy into, becomes worship.  In my house and in my life I have an asherah pole.  No, you will not come to my house and see some crazy sculpture in my yard. But, you will see me sitting in a chair in my house with my phone in my hand.  I am not proud to put this out there, but my phone has become my asherah pole.  I spend too many minutes looking at it, living through what I see other people doing.  Thinking that it is motivating me and giving me ideas.  But guess what?  I never put those ideas into motion, because I run out of time from spending too much time worshipping my phone. We barely have our TV on anymore, and normally that would be a great thing, but it is only because we have replaced the TV with a phone.  How can we truly devote ourselves to serving God when we might be distracted by all that is going on with our phone in our hand?

2 Kings 23 is about King Josiah and his life.  Josiah was the King of Judah from approximately 640 to 609 B.C.  He is known as one of the world’s youngest kings, beginning his reign at age 8 after his father King Amon died.  Josiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 22:2).  When he was just 18 years old, Josiah raised money to repair the temple.  During the repairs the Book of the Law was found.  Josiah tore his clothes as a sign of mourning and repentance after reading all that the book contained.  

King Josiah then called for a time of national repentance.  Many reforms followed this time.  The temple was cleaned from all objects of pagan worship.  All idolatrous places and asherah poles were demolished. 

The king removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s Temple and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley, where he burned it.  Then he ground the ashes of the pole to dust and threw the dust over the graves of the people. 2 Kings 23:6

He got rid of priests who were leading people astray from the one true God.  Josiah moved further out of the city, ridding all areas and land of all pagan shrines and altars.

Josiah also got rid of the mediums and psychics, the household gods, the idols, an every other kind of detestable practice, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah.  He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the Lord’s Temple.  Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses.  And there has bever been a king like him since.                                      2 Kings 23:24 &25

Josiah’s zeal pleased God.  God desires us all to have a desire to rid every trace of sin in our life.  We have replaced asherah poles with phones, altars with food, and we worship our time more than we worship God.  

Josiah was the first and only King to please God and keep continuous devotion to Him.  What is it in your life that you may be worshipping a little too much?  I challenge you to rid that time consuming thing from your life.  See what God can replace it with.