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Category Archives: Job

Just a Prayer

Dear God, sometimes I forget to just spend some time with you. I was sitting here this morning trying to think of what scripture/song/image/story to use as a starting point for my journal and then I thought, “What if you just talk to God without any of that stuff?” Hmm. Interesting concept.

Of course, there are concerns on my heart, but I don’t want to start this prayer there. I want to start by simply saying that I trust you. And when I don’t trust you, I really intend to trust you. I have said this many times before, but I’m like that father asking you to heal his son: “I believe. Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) Father, I trust you. Help my distrust. Help me to accept the fact that you are doing things I cannot see and that your plans are good. When I am disappointed that my prayers are seemingly going unanswered, help me to let go of what I think the answers should be.

I’d also like to say that I’m sorry for my hubris. I’m sorry that I think too much of myself and what I have to offer you. I’m sorry for sinning. I’m sorry for coveting, lying, lusting, and lethargy. I’m sorry that sometimes I feel sorry for myself. I’m sorry that, even for brief moments in my heart, I complain to you. I’m sorry that I don’t always bring my burdens to you, but try to solve things on my own. I’m sorry for judging others instead of trying to see them with your eyes and loving them. I’m sorry for being downright selfish. Thank you for making a bridge for me to reach you through all of my pain and using that bridge to make me a better man.

In talking about trusting you and complaining about my circumstance, I’m reminded of your words to Job in Job 38 when you say:

It’s funny, but after praying all of that about trust and repentance

“Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man, because I have some questions for you, and you must answer them. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? “Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, ‘This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!’ “Have you ever commanded the morning to appear and caused the dawn to rise in the east? Have you made daylight spread to the ends of the earth, to bring an end to the night’s wickedness? As the light approaches, the earth takes shape like clay pressed beneath a seal; it is robed in brilliant colors. The light disturbs the wicked and stops the arm that is raised in violence. “Have you explored the springs from which the seas come? Have you explored their depths? Do you know where the gates of death are located? Have you seen the gates of utter gloom? Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know! “Where does light come from, and where does darkness go? Can you take each to its home? Do you know how to get there? But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced!
Job 38:2-21

Oh, how I hope you never have to speak that way to me (again). I know you’ve had cause to in the past because I have grumbled against you. I am truly sorry.

It’s interesting how starting a prayer talking about trusting you regardless of my situation and repenting changes the rest of the prayer. Yes, I have a list of supplications I’d like to bring to you, but they seem wrong now. I have children, nieces and nephews, siblings, and parents on my heart. I have work. I have friends. All of these things are on my heart. Some of them are tragic and some are in life-threatening situations. But in the grand scheme of your sovereignty and your plan, the prayers for solving these various issues seem wrong. No, what I want to pray for is that you will bring all of us into perfect relationship with you, and that you will make any pain that is being suffered by someone count. Don’t let it return void, but use it for your glory.

Father, that is my prayer today. It’s largely the Lord’s Prayer. My Father in Heaven. Hallowed be your name. May your kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give me this day my daily bread, and forgive me of my sins as I forgive those that sin against me. And lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours forever and ever.

It is in Jesus’s name and the power of what he did that I dare to approach you and pray,

Amen

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Psalm 56:3-3; Job 40:6-14

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 56:3-4

Dear God, this is one of those psalms that I don’t like to read because of you read this whole Psalm 56 in context it is one of those, “Kill all of my enemies,” psalms. Yeah, I’m not a big fan of that, although I can see where David would have these feelings come out of him when the Philistines had seized him in Gath. His life was threatened and he had enemies in ways that I never have and probably never will. So I’ll cut him some slack and just say that I don’t feel like the overall message of Psalm 56 is for me.

With that said, these two verses within the psalm are truth for me. The line, “what can mere mortals do to me?” strikes me this morning. What is the actual list? Starting with the most extreme:

  • They can kill me
  • They can arrest and torture me (my least favorite option)
  • They can do numbers 1 and 2 to my wife and/or children (my new least favorite option)
  • They can take away my job, money, home, reputation, etc.

Yes, there are things that can happen and they have happened to others including Job and Paul. But the lesson they taught in how to respond to that is worth learning. Better said, the lesson you taught through them is worth learning. I think it is summed up in this passage in Job:

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm: “Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at all who are proud and bring them low, look at all who are proud and humble them, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you.
Job 40:6-14

Father, help me to simply accept this day as you bring it to me. Love through me. Help me to not be needy, but to be at peace. I’ll take the road you have for me. Help me to walk it.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2019 in Job, Psalms

 

John 19:25

Job 19:25
“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last.
Dear God, you talk about taking verses out of context, this “verse of the day” from Bible Gateway is a great example. Job 19:25 is plucked out of the middle of a chapter in which Job is just going off on his friends and even you. Job was in the middle of a terrible trial. He couldn’t think straight, pray straight, or argue straight. In fact, this one verse is probably the only correct thing he says in the whole chapter. Everything else is muddled, confused, and sometimes just downright wrong.

I have a friend who is in a nursing home right now in terrible physical pain. When the pain was at its worst, he was not really capable of making good decisions. Then his wife was stressed and worried about him, and she was struggling to make the right decisions. No, when someone is in the midst of crisis it is rare that they can be on their game. It’s been called the “fog of war.” When my wife and I were really struggling with some things a few years ago, that’s the phrase we used over and over again.

The good news from this verse is that it is always true. In the midst of a trial, it is our tent pole. Our anchor. Our comfort. My Redeemer lives, and you will stand on the earth at last.

Father, in the midst of the storm, help me to simply be comforted by this knowledge. Help me to see you as my tent pole. Help me to feel you as my anchor, holding me in place against the rushing water. The water might push against me, go over me, and buffet me around, but it will not move me as long as you are my anchor. And in the end, I know that you will stand on the the earth, and I will be one of your worshipers.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2019 in Job

 

The 6 Stages of Faith – Learning from Job

  1. Intuitive – Projective Faith: Associated with the child’s faith, based upon fantasy and imagination.
  2. Mythical-Literal Faith: The family faith of the early school years, which is sustained by moral rules and either/or thinking.
  3. Synthetic-Conventional Faith: Adolescent phase that conforms to the tradition of the community and creates the “kind” of person of faith it models or rejects.
  4. Individuative-Reflective Faith: The faith of the young adult who is capable of critical thinking, independent reflection, and comparative reasoning.
  5. Conjunctive Faith: A mid-life and old-age faith that integrates self-identity with a comprehensive world view to see the order, coherence, and meaning of life in order to serve and be served.
  6. Universalizing Faith: The rare faith of the world citizen who incarnates a transcendent vision into a disciplined, active, and self-giving life.

(source: James W. Fowler, The Stages of Faith (New York: Harper and Row, 1976), chap. 14.)

Dear God, some time back, I was trying to journal through the book of Job and I was lost. So many people were talking, and some of them seemed to be making good sense. Then I’d read on a little and see that they were wrong. I finally gave up, but it became a bit of a white whale for me. I was going through a personal struggle unlike anything I had known before, and I wanted to learn was you had to teach me through Job’s story.

I remembered that I have a complete set of biblical commentaries that was done by Word back in the 80s. The Old Testament commentaries are called Mastering the Old Testament, and Lloyd Ogilvie was the general editor for all of them (he is a Presbyterian pastor who was chaplain for the U.S. Senate at one point). The commentary for Job was written by David L. McKenna (there’s a bio of him on the Asbury Theological Seminary website here), who was president of Asbury Theological Seminary at the time he wrote it. I think the most useful part of the commentary for me was the Introduction. That’s where I found a reference that McKenna made to Fowler’s Six Stages of Faith. I wrote them down in my notes, and they stuck with me.

So now I’m at a point where I’m going to be preaching about this tomorrow and I want to make sure that 1.) I’m getting this theologically correct 2.) I am giving these people (and myself) the truth you want us to know.

One of the big dangers for tomorrow is to try to answer the why question. Why did God take away my loved one? Why does God allow bad things to happen? I’m not even totally sure that Job gets at the whole truth of this. I don’t think the author was a witness to God and Satan conversing so I don’t want to push the idea one way or another that God set Satan loose on Job. But he or she did want to communicate the fallacy that our blaming God for the bad things that happen is foolishness. As Rich Mullins once said, “We all have it better than we deserve.”

When you look at Job, chapter 38 just scares the heck out of me. It’s when all of my theology and philosophy burns up and I am face to face with you, hearing your words for me. It is easy to sit here and pontificate in my own wisdom and try to lift up my complaints about my life, but to hear you say to me, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?…” It goes on and on for four chapters.

Job has a short reply in chapter 40, but his real reply is in chapter 42: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

Satan’s thesis in Job 1 is, God, “stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” Job, in his limited knowledge of you is ultimately driven to that place of bitterness and desperation, but then he comes face with you in chapters 38-42 and he realizes just how small and foolish he is. His faith goes to the ultimate level of seeing a world bigger than himself and deciding that your role for him is to simply serve in whatever way you call him to serve, without complaint.

Father, I want to ask you to teach me this lesson, but I’m afraid to. I know you love me, but the truth is, I’m afraid of you. If a prophet knocked on my door right now (a real, verifiable prophet), I would be terrified of what you might have to tell me. I’m sorry for how I’ve complained. I’m sorry for how I’ve doubted. I’m sorry for my selfishness and my lethargy. Help me to see what you see and know what you want me to know.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2018 in Job

 

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Job 1:1,6-12

Job 1:1,6-12 NIV
[1] In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. [6] One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. [7] The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” [8] Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” [9] “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. [10] “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. [11] But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” [12] The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Dear God, I don’t want to get into whether or not this is a literal story of what happened to someone or a fairytale, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is the author’s thesis for this book—if you allow bad things into our lives, we will walk away and give up on you. The idea is that we don’t get it. In the story, Satan knows that we are small minded. Even some of our national theological leaders make stupid statements about you sending punishments to entire cities with hurricanes and wildfires because they are in sin. Now, they might be able to convince me that some of these areas might have lost a hedge of protection from you with their disobedience, but I also know that there were plenty of faithful people in those situations who suffered. We can be so myopic!

This Sunday, I’m going to be talking about the faith that grows beyond this carrot and stick view of you. We are not donkeys. We are sheep. Our lives are not our own any more than a lamb’s is. We are here for your worship and to be your tangible source of love on earth.

Father, help me to articulate all of the thoughts that you are putting on my heart this week. Help me to have just the right message for this weekend. In an election season, help me to also speak your peace to this group. Help us to all do away with fear and embrace you and your individual call on our lives.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2018 in Job

 

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Job 19:21-27

“Have mercy on me, my friends, have mercy, for the hand of God has struck me. Must you also persecute me, like God does? Haven’t you chewed me up enough?

“Oh, that my words could be recorded. Oh, that they could be inscribed on a monument, carved with an iron chisel and filled with lead, engraved forever in the rock.

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!

Job 19:21-27

Dear God, these verses make me think of a few things.

  1. Sometimes friends don’t give good counsel because they don’t understand. And sometimes I am that friend that gives bad advice because I don’t understand. We mean well. Job’s friends meant well. But we are just wrong. So counsel should always be given gently.
  2. Job’s words were better than chiseled in stone. Here I am thousands of years later praying over and through them.
  3. Job realizes and acknowledges how small his life is in the grand scheme of things and that one day it will be over.
  4. He proclaims his faith in what he believes. You live. You reign. You will always reign. And just the thought of it overwhelms him.

Father, make me mindful about how how small my life is and how big you are. You are my God. You are THE God. These daily struggles are in front of me and they make me better. Some days are easier than others. But I know that you use all of them to transform me into the man you are making me to be.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2018 in Job

 

Job 23:1-11

Then Job spoke again: “My complaint today is still a bitter one, and I try hard not to groan aloud. If only I knew where to find God, I would go to his court. I would lay out my case and present my arguments. Then I would listen to his reply and understand what he says to me. Would he use his great power to argue with me? No, he would give me a fair hearing. Honest people can reason with him, so I would be forever acquitted by my judge. I go east, but he is not there. I go west, but I cannot find him. I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed. “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold. For I have stayed on God’s paths; I have followed his ways and not turned aside.

Job 23:1-11

Dear God, the verses of the day were actually 10 & 11 (“But he knows…”), but I couldn’t look at those without looking at 1-9 as well. Those verses show the frustration in Job’s heart and his commitment to you. He loves you. He believes in you.

Yesterday, I prayed for three friends who are facing difficult situations. I have to say, it looks like two of them had very good days. I was very grateful for them. One of them moved completely through the stage of stress they were in and into a new light. I pray that that one will continue to look to you as Job did here. One seemed to settle into the situation they are facing. I pray that that one will find you in the midst of the struggle. As for the third, I think the struggle continues. Please be with that person and help them move to the next level of development in their lives.

Father, finally, help me. I have some situations in my life that require wisdom, discernment, compassion, and toughness. Please guide me. Help me to be your servant and to represent you well for your glory’s sake.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2018 in Job