Have You Considered?

We know the passage.  We have heard the teaching.  It’s right in the fabric of God’s Word, nestled in the Book of Job.  It is hinted at and located within other segments of Scripture.  Here it is:  “Naked I came from my mother, and naked I will return.  The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away!  May the Name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1, v.21).  We look at the context of what is going on in Job’s life: He woke up one day, and unknowingly to him, the bottom of his entire life was going to be pulled out from underneath him.  He didn’t give pre-approval.  He didn’t get the Memo.  Nothing in the Word indicates he had any preliminary visions, or dreams, or notices that on this day all of this was going to unfold.

One messenger after another delivers heartbreaking news.  Catastrophic.  Devastating.  We read through it an imagine what our response would be.  How would we react?  Would we hold it together?  Could we even process it?  I remember coming across this passage and the deep teaching that is behind it, for the first time.  I recall thinking that Job could have (in my estimation) responded in a great litany of ways and been justified.  I mean, consider what this man lost (it’s listed in vv.13-19, of chapter 1).

Yet, on the heels of it all, when Job acts and responds, before he even speaks, this is what is recorded:  “Job stood up, tore his robe in grief, and shaved his head.  Then he fell to the ground and worshiped” (v.20).  Pow! – right to my face. Note here:  This is what he did prior to speaking ~ he acted, he responded, he worshiped God.  At this point, he said:  “…The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away!  May the Name of the Lord be praised” (v.21b).

I think anyone who reads this post can say, “I have seen and been through a lot, in my time.”  Loved ones have passed ~ there is separation.  Disease and illness ~ some have witnessed decay to incredible levels.  Children have terminal diseases ~ much uncertainty can exist and seemingly prevail.  There are lost jobs, spouses who leave, financial hardships, eviction notices, repossessions, outright abandonment and rejection ~ all being dealt with, processed, and lived through in real time.  And these are just scratching the surface.  We live and breathe, and therefore, we deal with heartaches, challenges, and pains day-by-day in life.  Sometimes things make no sense.  Why, Lord? – we ask.  I know about that ~ and you probably do to.  And the fact is, we will know about it again because we live and breathe.

But may I suggest that we adopt, live, and practice as Job did?  What did he do?  He worshiped God.  He acknowledged God.  He held reverence for God.  And through it all, even through the 3 friends that visited Job, sat with him, and tried (although ineffectively) to get him to confess, Job was drawing closer to God and learning something new about Who God is.  Do we do the same?  When we face issues, and problems, and catastrophes – do we draw closer to God and to His revelation, or, do we drift further away?  Do we let go and let God, or, do we try to do it on our own?

Job still had a lot to learn about Who God is and how God works.  We do to.  In time, and throughout the rest of the book, this unfolds and a dialogue ensues.  Toward the end, we see this plainly as Job repents (in chapter 42) and as Job sees his erroneous ways.  By the end of the account ~ everyone else is gone ~ it’s just God and His servant, Job.  But it doesn’t eliminate the reality that Job started, from the get-go, worshiping God and acknowledging that God can do all things (again, Job 1, vv.20-21).  Do we start on that premise?  With worship and affirmation of Who God is and What He can certainly do?  Even in the middle of a battle, do we continuously converse and commune with God?  Are we teachable?  Do we speak less and listen more?

The record of Job is a great reminder for me, personally.  It gets me back to the essence of what God seeks and is looking for, in me.   Am I quick to worship, to listen, to pray, and to seek God – first?  Lord, help me to realize that You are in control and You have my best interests at heart!

Blessings and Peace,


Why So Rare?

Last Sunday we kicked off a series that has been burning on my heart for a while now.   It aims to get at the heart of what love really is and what God means for it to be.  Not an easy undertaking but one that is so needed in these days.  In our “pop” culture the term, word, and endearment of love is thrown and tossed around in trivial, lustful, and incorrect ways.  People love those who love them.  They relate love to what they get.  Advertising and marketing campaigns don’t help.  People who are in love “for better and for worse” and who profess this love to one another before their family and friends in wedding ceremonies are signing the divorce papers quicker and at even higher percentages.  Those inside the church have virtually the same divorce rates as those who have never crossed the threshold of any Church.

So, we started last Sunday (on 2-2-14) with these statements:  “I love pizza!”  “I love football!”  “I love my new job!”  “I love my dog.”  And how can be forget this one:  “I love God.”  So the question is and has to be:  Is the word “love” overused?  How can the same word apply to all these things and hundreds more?  It’s really no wonder or no great mystery on how people get tripped up and how we can miss (not in part, but entirely) the action-oriented, present-tense, servant-focused type of love that God calls and commands us to express toward not just our faves and fams but to all…the whole world…even those we perceive to be enemies.

Yes, the love that God commands us to have for others is so radical that it includes loving our enemies and persecutors (Matthew 5, vv.43-48) and loving without expectation of receiving love in return (Luke 6, vv.26-37).  But the most challenging call to love is the Command of Christ (found in Matthew 22).

To truly love, we must first know God.  Love starts with God and ends with Him because God is love.  We see this when John writes:  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4, vv.7-8).  God acts, and operates, and directs out of His love.  His display and demonstration of love is the purest and truest there is; He loves perfectly.  And because we are made in God’s image, we too can love.  We have the capability and the power to love as His presence lives and dwells in us through the Holy Spirit.  Not of our own accord; not because of who we are or what we do; not because we think it is our ‘religious’ duty.

Love isn’t something that is derived from within us.  It is radical.  It is supernatural.  The kind of love that God calls us to ~ the love that loves our neighbor as much as we love ourselves ~ that must come from Him.  We cannot love like that without first being born of God.  God’s common grace allows for all men made in His image to love, but there is a love that is set apart for the Christian.   And it is also God’s enabling Spirit that allows us to love God.  We love God because He first loved us (see 1 John 4, v.19).

This should cause us to pause.  If we are enabled by His Spirit to love and if this love is set apart, we should be seeking to express it and to know it.  Our love for each other has great implications.  Jesus states that, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13, v.35).  This command to love is essential and foundational.  It isn’t a haphazard imperative to be tossed around.  God never says, “if you feel like loving, then love.”  It’s also challenging in that the entire world and those who are staunchly opposed to God, who don’t believe, would see something in us, something, that would demonstrate the fact, reality, and presence of His love.

Christ died so we might live for Him, and we die to ourselves as we learn to love others in both practical and non-practical ways.  This includes ways that sometimes makes no sense and seems risky.  We have to move past how we feel about a situation or a person and ask God to give us His genuine love for others.

Through the Word, the Holy Spirit puts within the people of God a conviction to love people and to ensure they know that they are loved.  We fail miserably at this when we try to love in our own strength.  We will never love God or anyone with our whole heart if the love we have is in our own power.  It will fail.  But with God, all things are possible!  I don’t always want to love, but I can choose to.  Let us thank our Lord and Savior Who came and died for our half-hearted love – now we can love in His power and victory.  Yes, we can love lavishly and generously, and we must!

Grateful for the love that came down, remained, and is here today!  His love remains!  It’s the love that can change the world, one life and one heart at a time!