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Children of the Father

Job 42:10 “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

Hebrews 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled”

Matthew 5:44-45 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.  And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”

Even through Job’s fair-weather friends, God teaches us a lot about important practical and spiritual truths (see the previous post for an example).  This is especially true about our response to adversity, and while we would never want to face the likes of Eliphaz, Zophar, and Bildad in the midst of our trials, we can learn much from Job’s ultimate response to them. 

As Job endured defeat and derision, he rightfully spoke up for himself.  Yet, he did not strike back in a mean-spirited or spiteful way.  He also guarded against bitterness that would have further compounded his hardships and exacerbated his situation.  In the end, Job did something remarkable based on the Lord’s prompting – he prayed for his friends.  In fact, the turning point in his circumstances was at the very moment that he prayed for those whose arguments could have created lifelong adversity.

Loving your enemies isn’t easy.  Nor is blessing those who curse you, doing good to those who hate you, and praying for those who despitefully use you and persecute you.  Doing these things is the exact opposite of the traditional ways of this world that are all too evident in a carnal culture that is feeding off of negativity and witnessing a vicious spiral of distrust, division, and divisiveness.  Yet, the counter-cultural response of love, blessing, service, and prayer is what Jesus directs us to do; it is what Jesus shows us to do; it is what Jesus did for us!

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO RESPOND TO ADVERSITY AND ATTACK IN A BIBLICAL WAY THAT IS DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT FROM THE EXAMPLES WE SEE ALL AROUND US IN OUR SOCIETY TODAY.  It is in this way that we show ourselves to be children of the Father.

For a related thought, please see:

Walking Circumspectly

Job 18:5-21 “Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine.  The light shall be dark in his tabernacled, and his candle shall be put out with him.  The steps of his strength shall be straightened, and his own counsel shall cast him down.  For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.  The gin shall take him by the heel, and the robber shall prevail against him.  The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way.  Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet.  His strength shall be hungerbitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side.  It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the firstborn of death shall devour his strength.  His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.  It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his: brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.  His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.  His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street.  He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.  He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any remaining in his dwellings.  They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.  Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God.”

Ephesians 5:15 “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”

This second scathing condemnation from Bildad to Job is as harsh as it gets.  It is a pile-on opportunity by a supposed friend to kick a man when he is down.  Yet, there are some important doctrinal truths contained herein about the path of those who fail to follow after God or who diverge from His carefully laid path, though this was not the case in the life of Job.

Such individuals shall live in darkness, fall into looming traps and pitfalls, be plagued by terrors on every side, face imminent destruction, and endure persistent weakness and insecurity.  Such a life is characterized by instability, a lack of enduring impact, and an absence of credibility.  All the while, these individuals struggle through life missing a true and reliable support structure.  Certainly, no one would enter into such a situation willingly and knowingly – they must have gotten into their situation through no fault of their own. 

Except, the root cause of wickedness often comes from within – a thought perfectly aligned with the PLUS post from mid-March entitled “Concerns on the Inside.”  In verses 7 and 8, Bildad points that “his own counsel shall cast him down” and “he is cast into a net by his own feet.”  What a powerful and poignant warning to all of us to carefully watch where we walk, what we think, who we follow, what we watch, and where we go.  If we fall, it won’t often be someone else’s fault.  Instead, it will likely be by the failings of our own counsel and through a pitfall of our own making.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO LIVE OUR LIVES WITH GODLY CARE AND WISDOM.  May we think wisely and walk circumspectly.

“Concerns on the Inside” can be found at:

America the Beautiful

Psalm 33:12-22 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.  The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.  From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.  He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.  There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.  Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.  Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.  For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.  Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.”

Katharine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful” after a journey across the country in 1893 and following a time of reflection on the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.  It was first published on the 4th of July in 1895 and has become an iconic American hymn:

 O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America!  America!
God she His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America!  America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
 
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America!  America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!
 
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America!  America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

May this be our prayer.  That God would crown our good with brotherhood.  That He would mend our every flaw.  That He would refine us so that our success would be nobleness and our gain would be divine.  That our pursuit of liberty would be undimmed by the tears of our shortcomings.  

PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR LAND … AMERICA! AMERICA! GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE!  “Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” 

Unexpected Blessings

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

Ephesians 3:17-21 “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God, Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.”

Hebrews 4:15 “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

Job 42:11 “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

Several years ago, I had a speaking part on a single episode of the TV show Monk.  It was an opportunity that fell into my lap – I was in the right place at the right time, with the right background and the right connections.  While it was something that I would have paid to do for an interesting life experience, I actually got paid to say my brief lines.  In fact, even a decade and a half later, I still get regular though small checks in the mail as residual payments.  Each one of those envelopes is a blessing, as they remind me of a fun day and a unique experience.  While the money is now minute, even the tiniest check is above anything that I originally expected.

God’s gifts to us are amazing.  These blessings don’t come by being at the right place at the right time, with the right background and the right connections.  They come from a loving Christ, whose love passes all our knowledge as it demonstrates a combination of characteristics of breadth, length, depth, and height that are on the ragged edge of our understanding and comprehension.  They come from a personal Lord who desires to provide an answer to our stated needs by showing us great and mighty things that we know not.  They come from a great God who is able to constantly surprise us with an outcome that is exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.  They come from a compassionate Christ who knows our struggles because He has walked in our shoes.  They come from a healing Lord who can transition our pain into progress and our struggles into successes. 

They come from a risen Saviour!

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO EMBODY A CONFIDENCE, REGARDLESS OF OUR CIRCUMSTANCES, THAT GOD IS POISED TO POUR OUT HIS LOVE ON US.  As He does, may we recognize those unexpected blessings as gifts from God that are above anything we could even imagine.

Missing the Message

I Kings 19:11-13 “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD.  And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.  And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.  And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?”

In June of 1812, the United States of America declared war on England.  The main reasons for the conflict were the British closure of its markets to American merchants and major restrictions by the British on U.S. maritime trade.  Yet, President Madison and the U.S. Congress were missing one major fact as they supported and approved the conflict – the British Parliament had just rescinded those restrictions.  The six-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean to transmit any information caused the message to be missed.  “Presidents of War” by Michael Beschloss describes it this way: “As he planned the American invasion of Canada, Madison could not know that he was launching a conflict – which would consume many American lives – for which the principal cause of war had just vanished.”

In the case of the situation in 1812, the message was missed because of a simple but costly time delay.  In our situation today, God’s messages get missed because they are drowned out by the chaos of the noise that surrounds us – noise that we welcome into our lives to fill a void perfectly suited for God’s calling.

The loudest voice is not always the best.  It is not always right.  The high-volume winds, earthquakes, and fires of talking heads, media moguls, and social influencers might capture our attention and our imagination, but they may actually be causing us to miss the real message.  God’s still, small voice is beckoning for a yielded ear and a sensitive spirit.  The neon-sign messages of our world may be blinding us to the subtle messages that the Lord reserves for squinting eyes and humble hearts.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO BE INTENTIONALLY SENSITIVE TO GOD’S CALLING IN THE MIDST OF OUR CHAOTIC LIVES.  May we never miss a message from God!   

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