Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Day 227 - Before Honor is Humility

Today's Reading: Prov. 15-16 and 1 Thes. 1

You know, in the last few chapters, I've noticed a lot mentioned about pride and the dangers of pride.

Back in Proverbs 13:10, from yesterday's reading, this really stands out to me: "Only by pride cometh contention."

Hmmm.... consider the contention going on in your relationships today, or perhaps in our church.... Could pride and our lack of willingness to humble ourselves be the root of the some of the struggles we are facing?

I don't think we realize how dangerous and deadly is the sin of pride, especially spiritual pride!

In today's reading I see sobering passages like the following:

"The fear of the Lord is instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility." (Prov. 15:33)

"Everyone that is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord..." (Prov. 16:5)

"Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud." (Prov. 16:18-19)

Why is pride so deadly in our lives today? Why is pride so deadly spiritually?

I'm reminded of a quote that I share often in my messages when I talk about my own struggles with spiritual pride. Consider the following:

"Man’s judgment is partial, imperfect, but God estimates all things as they really are. The drunkard is despised and is told that his sin will exclude him from heaven; while pride, selfishness, and covetousness too often go unrebuked. But these are sins that are especially offensive to God, for they are contrary to the benevolence of His character, to that unselfish love which is the very atmosphere of the unfallen universe. He who falls into some of the grosser sins may feel a sense of his shame and poverty and his need of the grace of Christ; but pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give." (Steps to Christ, p. 30) 
"God does not always choose for His work men of the greatest talents, but He selects those whom He can best use. “Before honor is humility.” Proverbs 15:33. The Lord can work most effectually through those who are most sensible of their own insufficiency, and who will rely upon Him as their leader and source of strength. He will make them strong by uniting their weakness to His might, and wise by connecting their ignorance with His wisdom. If they would cherish true humility, the Lord could do much more for His people..." (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 553)

Let us humble ourselves before the Lord today and ask Him to take away our pride. Let us humble ourselves before our fellow man. There is no limit to the usefulness of one, who putting self aside, makes room for the Holy Spirit. And this is what we desperately need, to put self aside...

Tomorrow's Reading: Prov. 17-18 and Ps. 91

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Day 226 - The Way Seems Right

Today's Reading: Prov. 13-14 and Col. 4

Some spend their lives trying to get rich, but in reality they have nothing. Others make themselves poor, but have great riches. How true of those who dedicate their lives to serving for God's glory!

I also think it's interesting how in Proverbs we are told, the wealth of the sinner is being laid up for the righteous.

I remember hearing a preacher talk about the storehouses of heaven, storehouses of unclaimed blessings. There is enough for all, but many of them are unclaimed. The sinners don't realize the reward waiting for the faithful... In the end, the faithful will inherit all.

This passage strikes me afresh today though: "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end there of are the ays of death." (Prov. 14:12)

There is a way that seemeth right....

You know, from human standpoint, many ways seems right.... with human wisdom, many ways seem logical and the best way to take... but God knows the end of the story. "In deciding upon any course of action we are not to ask whether we can see that harm will result from it, but whether it is in keeping with the will of God." (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 634)

Let us not follow the path that seemeth right, but follow God by faith, even when we are walking a path that does NOT seem right... Remember the just walk by faith and not by sight.

Tomorrow's Reading: Prov. 15-16 and 1 Thes. 1

Monday, August 13, 2018

Day 225 - A Crown to our Husband

Today's Reading: Provbers. 11-12 and Col. 3

Again, so much awesome wisdom in these chapters in Proverbs, and Colossians as well.

Here's some of the highlights:

  • A wise person knows how to keep their mouth shut
  • In many counselors there is safety
  • A gracious woman does not lose her honor
  • A giving person receives much more than he gives
  • Those who win souls are wise
  • The ROOT of the righteous shall not be moved - because our root is JESUS! (Prov. 12:3)
  • The ROOT of the righteous yieldeth much fruit - because our root is JESUS! (Prov. 12:12)
This is so profound, because we would bear no fruit except for our ROOT, which is Jesus. "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." (John 15:4-5)

But here's my favorite: 
  • A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband! (Prov. 12:4)
I think this is a beautiful illustration of what a godly woman should be to her earthly husband. But even beyond this, do we recognize the fact that we are Christ' bride, and when we are faithful, we are actually a CROWN to JESUS!

Listen to this corresponding Bible passage: "Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God..." (Isa. 62:3) Wow! Too beautiful for words...

I want to be a crown in the hand of my Lord! How about you?

Tomorrow's Reading: Prov. 13-14 and Col. 4

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Day 224 - Infinite Possibilities

Today's Reading: Proverbs 9-10 and Ps. 90

Many beautiful thoughts in today's reading...

Especially meaningful to me is, "The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich and he added no sorrow to it." (Prov. 10:22)

In the past, I remember thinking about certain things, "I don't understand....If this is of the Lord, why does it cause so much wounding and pain?"

However, a little further down the road I realized it was NOT of the Lord, I just thought it was of the Lord. The reality is, when it is of the Lord, it will not cause needless pain and wounding. Pain of growth, pain of death to self, YES, but not torturous wounding pain... So this promise is a real comfort to me as I look to the future waiting upon the Lord for His best plans...

In Psalm 90:17 we are told, "And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it."

Ellen White writes regarding this passage: "In every human being He discerned infinite possibilities. He saw men as they might be, transfigured by His grace—in “the beauty of the Lord our God.” Psalm 90:17. Looking upon them with hope, He inspired hope. Meeting them with confidence, He inspired trust. Revealing in Himself man’s true ideal, He awakened, for its attainment, both desire and faith. In His presence souls despised and fallen realized that they still were men, and they longed to prove themselves worthy of His regard. In many a heart that seemed dead to all things holy, were awakened new impulses. To many a despairing one there opened the possibility of a new life." (Education, p. 80)

When He sees infinite possibilities, let's not settle for less! Our God is good and He knows what He's doing in our lives. He knows where He is leading...

Tomorrow's Reading: Prov. 11-12 and Col. 3

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Day 223 - As You have Received, so Walk

Today's Bible Reading: Prov. 7-8 and Col. 2

"As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." So how did we receive Christ Jesus in our life? We received Him by faith... We confessed our sins, we surrendered control of our life to Him, and we accepted by faith that He has forgiven us and that He is walking with us. So it is logical to conclude then, that this is how the Christian walk continues.

We continue to stay repentant at the foot of the cross... when/if we knowingly commit sin, we immediately confess. We continue to surrender afresh to God each day. And we continue to walk by faith trusting in His strength. We don't have what we need to be strong. We don't have what we need to be saved. We didn't in the beginning and we don't now... but in Him we have all things!

I love Colossians 2:9-13: "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses."

Ellen White writes: "We can receive of heaven’s light only as we are willing to be emptied of self. We cannot discern the character of God, or accept Christ by faith, unless we consent to the bringing into captivity of every thought to the obedience of Christ. To all who do this the Holy Spirit is given without measure." (Desire of Ages, p. 181)

So let us stay emptied of self that He can fill us, that He can live through us, that our lives will truly be for His honor and glory!

Tomorrow's Reading: Prov. 9-10 and Ps. 90

Friday, August 10, 2018

Day 222 - Ravished by His Love!

Today's Reading: Prov. 5-6 and Col. 1

I find it interesting that right after Proverbs 4:23, "Keep the heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life," we have a chapter on avoiding adultery! But how fitting because adultery, infidelity, and all that comes with these roads of destruction always start in the mind. That's why it's so important that we "keep our heart" that we guard our mind, that we protect the avenues of the soul. Because God knows if our heart wanders, soon our body will wander after our heart...

In Proverbs 6:27 the question is asked, "Can a man take fire into his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?" In other words, what a dangerous path to walk in lusts...

But I love the encouragement back in chapter 5 - Be satisfied with the wife of your youth, be always ravished with her love. Being a romantic at heart, I think the term "ravished" is awesome. When you look it up in the dictionary it means:
- to fill (someone) with intense delight; enrapture. "ravished by a sunny afternoon, she had agreed without even thinking" 
synonyms: enrapture, enchant, delight, charm, entrance, enthrall, captivate
And isn't this the way true love should be? If we are ravished in love (with our spouse), why would we desire fake superficial lovers? Why would we go looking for short-term thrills in the arms of another when our heart has been captivated by our one true love!

While this is speaking of marriage, I believe this is the way it should be in our walk with God and with our Savior Jesus Christ! When He has captured our heart... we have no desire to have adultery with the lovers of the world. In fact, our mind/thoughts don’t even go there. Our heart belongs to Him and Him alone!

I love the parallel of Song 4:9, "Thou hast ravished my heart with one look of thy eyes..."

I am also reminded of the verse in Jeremiah 15:16, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts."

In Proverbs 15:15 we are told, "He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast." And I think this is so awesome because if we have fallen in love with Christ, HE is our CONTINUAL FEAST. (John 6:51, Ps. 34:8, Song 2:4).

So let our hearts be RAVISHED by His love today!

Tomorrow's Reading: Prov. 7-8 and Col. 2

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Day 221 - Let God Plan for You!

Today’s Reading: Prov. 3-4 and Ps. 89

These chapters are pure gold… I could read them again and again!

So many beautiful lessons in the book of Proverbs and Psalms.

It’s difficult to decide what I want to comment on…

I think I’m going to mention two verses that speak afresh to me today….

First… Prov. 3:5,6 – This is one of the first verses I remember memorizing!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path.”

EGW comments… "Many are unable to make definite plans for the future. Their life is unsettled. They cannot discern the outcome of affairs, and this often fills them with anxiety and unrest. Let us remember that the life of God’s children in this world is a pilgrim life. We have not wisdom to plan our own lives. It is not for us to shape our future. “By faith Abraham, when he was called togo out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Hebrews 11:8. Christ in His life on earth made no plans for Himself. He accepted God’s plans for Him, and day by day the Father unfolded His plans. So should we depend upon God, that our lives may be the simple outworking of His will. As we commit our ways to Him, He will direct our steps. Too many, in planning for a brilliant future, make an utter failure. Let God plan for you. As a little child, trust to the guidance of Him who will “keep the feet of His saints.” 1 Samuel 2:9. God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him." (Ministry of Healing, p. 478-479)

Second verse: Ps. 89:15, "Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance."

When we walk closely with the Lord, this verse will be our experience! And it will be natural to turn to Him for every step and every move.... When He directs our path, it truly is beautiful!

Let's allow God to plan for us just as He planned for Christ...

Tomorrow's Reading: Prov. 5-6 and Col. 1

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Day 220 - The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Knowledge

Today's Reading Prov. 1-2 and Phil. 4

I really can’t make adequate additional commentary... these verses in Proverbs are so profound and speak so deeply all by themselves. Basically... fearing the Lord, seeking the Lord, crying after the Lord is where all true knowledge and wisdom come from.

Prov. 1:5,7 - “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels... The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Prov. 2:1-6, “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.”

If we want to be truly wise, it starts with the Lord! Let us not settle for a superficial relationship, a superficial filling, a superficial walk… Let us dare to go deeper… to seek after the Lord with all our hearts, like searching for hidden silver. Imagine if we prized the Lord as much as we prize the earthly glitter... where would we be?

Ellen White writes the following sobering statement!

"Most professed Christians have no sense of the spiritual strength they might obtain were they as ambitious, zealous, and persevering to gain a knowledge of divine things as they are to obtain the paltry, perishable things of this life. The masses professing to be Christians have been satisfied to be spiritual dwarfs. They have no disposition to make it their object to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; hence godliness is ahidden mystery to them, they cannot understand it. They know not Christ by experimental knowledge." (Counsels for the Church, p. 186)

Let's not be content to be spiritual dwarfs... let's seek after Him as hid treasure... He is the Treasure! And He tells us, "If you seek me, you will find me, when you search for me with all your heart!"

How can I skip over Philippians 4? So many practical tips for godly Christianity... In fact, Phil. 4:8 has become a mainstay verse to evaluate different things that come across my path... if it doesn't measure up to these principles, what part should it have in our life?

Anyway, before I close these notes, let me just look at Phil 4:19.... "But my God shall supply all your NEED according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (This is a very popular quoted verse...)

But do our hearts recognize our great need? If we aren't in NEED, what can God supply? Nothing, because we don't feel our need....

Ellen White writes, regarding this passage: "Let your heart break for the longing it has for God, for the living God. The life of Christ has shown what humanity can do by being partaker of the divine nature. All that Christ received from God we too may have. Then ask and receive. With the persevering faith of Jacob, with the unyielding persistence of Elijah, claim for yourself all that God has promised." (Christ Object Lessons, p. 149)

Tomorrow's Reading: Prov. 3-4 and Ps. 89

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Day 219 - Job passed the Test!

Todays reading: Job 41-42 and Phil. 3

There’s a few interesting thoughts that stood out to me in today’s reading...

I loved the following verses especially:

God says: “Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.” (Job 41:11)

That’s a good thing to remember when we start feeling possessive of personal property...

“He is king over all the children of pride...” (Job 41:34) Hmmm... Interesting... The proud tend to think they are the best... they tend to think that they are “king.” But God knows how to keep the proud in their place...

So in today’s reading we see that God has made His case clear and Job repents in dust and ashes. Then God calls Job to pray on behalf of his friends .... and while Job prays for his friends, God begins to turn the captivity of Job. (Good lesson for us today… instead of whining and complaining about our present circumstances, what if we prayed for others… and went to work serving others…)

Job looked above his circumstances and prayed for his friends... it's not easy to pray for others when you are in the dumps yourself and when your own life seems like it's falling or fallen apart... but Job didn't focus on his feelings but on God's word... What profound lessons for us today!

Ellen White writes the following encouraging statement: “Are you tempted to give way to feelings of anxious foreboding or utter despondency? In the darkest days, when appearances seem most forbidding, fear not. Have faith in God. He knows your need. He has all power. His infinite love and compassion never weary. Fear not that He will fail of fulfilling His promise. He is eternal truth. Never will He change the covenant He has made with those who love Him. And He will bestow upon His faithful servants the measure of efficiency that their need demands." Prophets and Kings, p. 165

“So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning...” (Job 42:12)

What a testimony.

Tomorrow's Reading Prov. 1-2 and Phil. 4 

Monday, August 06, 2018

Day 218 - Who can Instruct God?

Today’s Reading: Job 39-40 Phil 2.

[Greetings en route from Montana back to Maryland! What a fabulous last several days of reading that I’ve had. I’ve been enjoying it so much, even though I haven’t been able to get online and post, what a blessing just reflecting afresh on the beautiful Word of God. Now that I’m back in the land of the Internet world, I’m going to copy and paste over notes that I took on my phone these last several days.]

In today’s reading of Job, God puts Job in his place as He speaks more about His amazing creation and majesty... and Job is completely humbled. When God finally gives Job a chance to speak, his first words are, “I am vile! What more can I answer thee...”

I expect that’s probably what all of our responses would be if we truly confronted the majesty of God face to face.... For when we truly recognize who God is, and when we truly see his glory... all we can do is fall in the dust and cry... “Woa is me!”

Job’s response reminds me of Isaiah’s response when he beheld the glory of God. “Woa is me! I’m a man of unclean lips.”

However, it is at the point of recognition of our great utter deprivation and need that Jesus can bend closest, for our greatest argument for His great mercy is our great need. And Job recognizes that at last… it’s not that he’s lived a perfect and upright life… apart from Christ that is still nothing. All our righteousness is still as filthy rags….

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 41-42 and Phil. 3

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Day 217 - God Answers Job out of the Whirlwind!

Today's Reading: Job 37-38 and Ps. 88

For the past 6 chapters (including today's reading) Elihu has continued to rebuke Job for judging God. I love his final words today.

"Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God. Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine? Dost thou know the balancing of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge? How thy garments are warm, when he quieteth the earth by the south wind? Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass? Teach us what we shall say unto him; for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness. Shall it be told him that I speak? if a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up.... Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict." (Job 37:14-20,23)

Finally.... after much silence, the Lord speaks. It is as if HE is agreeing with Elihu's rebuke to Job.

"Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast though when I laid the foundation of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding." (Job 38:1-4)

And God continues to question Job... 

"Where you there when the morning stars sang together? Have you entered into the treasures of the snow? Did you bind the sweet influence of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? Can you number the clouds in your wisdom?"

And God continues to ask many questions that Job has no answer for...

I expect Job was left speechless after this... what could he say? How could he question God? And yet... isn't it interest that today we still try to instruct God, we think we are wiser than He...

[ASI is over and I'm headed back to Montana to spend several days of vacation with my family. What a blessing though this past week has been! God has worked in many beautiful ways!]

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 39-40 and Philippians 2

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Day 216 - He Giveth Songs in the Night

Today's Reading: Job 35-36 and Philippians 1

Today a couple things really encourage my heart. First, I love Job 35:10, "Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night."

Yes, even in the dark night seasons, God can continue to put songs of joy in our hearts. He has done it for me and I know He is doing it for many others. Actually, to be honest, I have found that singing, especially when I'm afraid or discouraged, is great at helping me feel calm and that He is near.

"When the enemy comes with his darkness, sing faith and talk faith, and you will find that you have sung and talked yourself into the light."  (Mind, Character and Personality, vol. 2, p. 650)

Secondly, I also enjoyed starting Philippians 1 today: And being reminded that the work God has started in us, He will be faithful to complete. 

Paul also reminds us, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." I actually gain when I die... 

As long as we are in Christ, we lose nothing in those night seasons, or in the valley of death. And the songs we sing reminds us of the morning that is coming. For to die, truly is gain. To die to self is gain, to die in Christ is gain... 

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 37-38 and Ps. 88

Friday, August 03, 2018

Day 215 - Allow God to be God!

Today's Reading: Job 33-34 and Luke 24

Basically in the last few chapters of Job, Job has been saying, "I am clean without transgression, I am innocent, there is no iniquity in me." And so his friend Elihu, the youngest in the group finally speaks up in anger that Job has justified himself rather than God. Basically he says to Job, "Who do you think you are to speak like this? Do not charge God with injustice, God is greater than man... and He's certainly greater than you! Far be it that Goad should do wickedness or that the Almighty should commit iniquity!"(Paraphrase of thoughts from Job 32-34)

How often we are like Job, trying to reason and rationalize and come up for some explanation for why things have happened as they have. But many times there is no explanation. We can't explain life and we can't explain God. So why don't we just allow God to be God... He doesn't need to explain everything to you or I. Can we trust that He knows what He's doing?

I know I've shared this quote multiple times already, but I think it is applicable again here as I read about Job trying to make sense of his life of no sense.

"God never leads His children otherwise than they would choose to be led, if they could see the end from the beginning, and discern the glory of the purpose which they are fulfilling as co-workers with Him.” (Desire if Ages, p. 224)

[The last couple days I've been here in Florida attending the ASI international convention! Love this convention and connecting with so many wonderful people and ministries. God has really been blessing. I've also enjoyed leading the morning prayer time and devotionals for another year. Even more people are coming than last year and I can see that God is really stirring the hearts of His people for a deeper walk with Him. How this thrills my heart! He is working in a mighty way!]

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 35-36 and Phil. 1

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Day 214 - A Covenant with the Eyes

Today's Reading: Job 31-32 and Ps. 86-87

In today's reading, I love how Job 31 starts off....

"I made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?" (Job 31:1)

Further down a few verses, Job says again: My heart has not walked after mine eyes... My heart has not been deceived by a woman... It's like he is re-emphasizing his stand against lusts.

What a powerful lesson and reminder for the men and women of today: and what a rebuke against the  temptations to lusts. Oh that we could take this passage to heart and also make a covenant with our eyes, not just to avoid thinking or looking at impure objects but to avoid looking at sin in any fashion--whether the magazine rack at the check-out counter, worldly signs and billboards, curiosity to browse strange news, or look at strange or worldly things on social media... we all need to make a covenant with our eyes for we live in a day of visual bombardment....

I love Psalm 101:3, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me."

May this be our prayer!

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 33-34 and Luke 24

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Day 213 - Pictures of Jesus in Job!

Today's Reading: Job 29-30 and Luke 23

In Job 29 we find Job grieving over his former prosperity... A friend of mine absolutely loves this chapter as he talks about this being a model for what godly manhood should be.

"Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; When his candle shined upon my head and when by his light I walked through darkness." (Job 29:2-3)

Look at some of the qualities and activities of this man of God:

  • He delivers the poor and the Fatherless
  • He caused the widows hearts to sing for Joy
  • He was eyes to the blind
  • He was feet to the lame
  • He was a father to the poor
  • He searched out the cause of the less fortunate
  • He broke the jaws of the wicked
  • Men listened and headed his counsel
  • Men opened their mouth and waited for him as for the rain!
Actually as I look at Job's self-description, I actually see a fresh description of Christ! I love the fact that He is eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. He is truly healing to the broken hearted. When we open our mouths (Ps. 81:10), He truly does fill to overflowing! 

Luke 23 is sharing the somber scenes of Jesus stand in the judgement and then His crucifixion. "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." What a life He lived... and died... This is why He can truly be the deliverer of the poor and needy. Through death He broke the jaws of the wicked, of the enemy -- forever! 

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 31-32 and Ps. 86-87

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Day 212 - Job Perseveres in Faithfulness to God!

Today's Reading: Job 27-28 and Luke 22

"As God liveth... while my breath is in me, my lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit." Job cries!

Life still isn't making sense, but Job continues to hold on. "Where is wisdom?" he goes on to ask. Wisdom is not found in the land of the living, and it can't be purchased with gold. It comes only from the Lord.

"Behold the fear of the Lord is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding." (Job 28:28)

It would be so easy for Job to curse God, for Job to give in to his feelings and the circumstances around himself that seem so grim... but the more time that goes on, the more he seems emboldened in his faith.

Ellen White writes, "He who lives in accordance with the creator's will is securing to himself the truest and noblest development of character... There are few who realize the influence of the little things of life upon the development of character. Nothing with which we have to do is really small. The varied circumstances that we meet day by day are designed to test our faithfulness and to qualify us for greater trusts." (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 222, 223)

Job is proving faithful to his test! Are we staying faithful in ours?

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 29-30 and Luke 23

Monday, July 30, 2018

Day 211 - Give, He will Give, Watch and Pray

Today's Reading: Job 24-26 and Luke 21

In my thoughts this morning, I'm going to focus on Luke 21. I love this chapter and there are three lessons in this chapter that speak so deeply to my heart.

Lesson 1 - GIVE: The widow who gave her last mite... She gave from her poverty... her gift was worth so much more than those that gave from their wealth. EGW writes, "To make her offering, the widow had deprived herself of even the necessitates of life, trusting God to supply her needs for the morrow. .... Thus He taught the value of the gift is estimated not by the amount, but by the proportion that is given and the motive that actuates the giver." (Acts of the Apostles, p. 342)

Lesson 2 - HE WILL GIVE: "For I will give you mouth of wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist." (Luke 21:15) This promise means so much to me, knowing that God will give me the wisdom I need when I'm called to speak. We don't have to stress or meditate about it too much before, but our Job is to stay connected, to stay faithful... and God will give us what we need in the appropriate time of time. Beautiful promise!

Lesson 3 - WATCH AND PRAY: We are living in serious times in earth's history. That's why Luke 21:34-36 speaks to all of us in a very personal way today. "And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkeness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares... Watch therefore and pray always..."

Regarding this passage we are told: "Sad will be the retrospect in that day when men stand face to face with eternity. The whole life will present itself just as it has been. The world’s pleasures, riches, and honors will not then seem so important. Men will then see that the righteousness they despised is alone of value... There will be no future probation in which to prepare for eternity. It is in this life that we are to put on the robe of Christ’s righteousness. This is our only opportunity to form characters for the home which Christ has made ready for those who obey His commandments. The days of our probation are fast closing. The end is near." (Christ Object Lessons, p. 318-319)

Love this chapter!

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 27-28 and Luke 22

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Day 210 - When He Hath Tried me...

Today's Reading: Jon 22-23 and Ps. 85

"But He knoweth the way that I take. When He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary food..." (Job 23:10-12)

Is this how we respond when trials come? His Word is more than our necessary food? When it seems like everything is going wrong, will we remain faithful? The enemy of our souls is constantly trying to get us to doubt God or to turn away from Him when storms arise, but let us like Job remain faithful. Let us vindicate God's character that He is good and we trust Him no matter what comes... knowing He is making us like gold....

We are told that regarding Job, this is what came to pass. "By his patient endurance [Job] vindicated his own character, and thus the character of Him whose representative he was." (Education, p. 156)

Currently here with my family in Montana. Had a crazy afternoon yesterday driving around the mountains looking for some old hiking trails my parents use to enjoy. We never found the trails although we drove for miles and miles and miles down old bumpy back logging roads. Then we came home and we found that one of the members in our friends other hiking group (we had separated and gone two different ways for the afternoon) had fallen and broken her ankle... And what timing as she (the one who fell) is overseeing a huge blue-berry farm and the season is just starting... As everyone scurried around last night getting her ready to go into the hospital and possible surgery, my dad stated calmly, "Well, once again, everything is going wrong just right. God is in control."

Last night I didn't sleep well... kept checking text messages and phone to see if any news from those gone to the hospital. Mind was also busy with many things... which means I'm exhausted this morning... oh my... what a night.

But I take comfort in God's promise: When He has tried us, we shall come forth as gold... although the road of life may at times be bumpy, much more bumpy than the logging roads that we were driving yesterday, we can trust Him! Although our physical steps slip, He still upholds us and will carry us through...

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 24-26 and Luke 21

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Day 209 - God Seeks not to Punish but to Redeem

Today's Reading: Job 20-21 and Luke 20

In today's reading of Job we see a lot about the punishment of the wicked and how often the candle of the wicked is put out... and yet in all of these we see that God is not a vindictive God, as Inspiration tells us, but He wounds only to heal, to draw hearts back to Himself. It is not His desire to destroy the wicked... but they bring these things upon themselves.

Listen to these two powerful statements from EGW that I just read this morning. Puts things in perspective...
"God is Himself the source of all mercy. His name is 'merciful and gracious.' Exodus 34:6. He does not treat us according to our [sins]. He does not ask if we are worthy of His love, but He pours upon us the riches of His love, to make us worthy. He is not vindictive. He seeks not to punish, but to redeem. Even the severity which He manifests through His providences is manifested for the salvation of the wayward. He yearns with intense desire to relieve the woes of men and to apply His balsam to their wounds. It is true that God 'will by no means clear the guilty' (Exodus 34:7), but He would take away the guilt." (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings, p. 22)
Yet there comes a time when He says, "NO MORE!" And He will vindicate His people from the power and oppression of those who stubbornly refuse to be drawn by His love...
"God’s judgments will be visited upon those who are seeking to oppress and destroy His people. His long forbearance with the wicked emboldens men in transgression, but their punishment is nonetheless certain and terrible because it is long delayed. 'The Lord shall rise up as in Mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.' Isaiah 28:21. To our merciful God the act of punishment is a strange act. 'As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.' Ezekiel 33:11. The Lord is 'merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, ... forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.' Yet He will 'by no means clear the guilty.' 'The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.' Exodus 34:6, 7; Nahum 1:3. By terrible things in righteousness He will vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law. The severity of the retribution awaiting the transgressor may be judged by the Lord’s reluctance to execute justice. The nation with which He bears long, and which He will not smite until it has filled up the measure of its iniquity in God’s account, will finally drink the cup of wrath unmixed with mercy." (Great Controversy, p. 627)
Let's stay tender to the voice of God and the Holy Spirit. And when it seems we are being chastened by the Lord, may these trials turn our hearts closer to Him.

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 22-23 and Psalm 85

Friday, July 27, 2018

Day 208 - Lessons from Zacchaeus

Today's Reading: Job 18-19 and Luke 19

In Today's reading, we find Job's friends continuing to talk discouragement to Job. "How long will you keep talking," he asks them. Then Job speaks the following words, which are for us as well, especially when going through the darkness of affliction.

"For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin works destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." (Job 19:25,26)

Can we boldly say the same, even if it seems like life is falling apart around us?

Moving to Luke 19 we read the story of Zacchaeus. This story is usually relegated to the children's story department but what profound lessons it has for all our lives today.

I love Zacchaeus earnestness to see Jesus! (He had no idea that Jesus would stop and talk to him... He just wanted to catch a glimpse of the Savior, and he was willing to go out on a limb and step out of his comfort zone, he was willing to appear odd and to do the unusual JUST to catch a glimpse of Jesus!) Are we that desperate today to see Jesus? I fear pride and respectability too often holds our earnestness in check... especially in the sight of men...

Inspiration shares the following:
"Before Zacchaeus had looked upon the face of Christ, he had begun the work that made him manifest as a true penitent. Before being accused by man, he had confessed his sin. He had yielded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and had begun to carry out the teaching of the words written for ancient Israel as well as for ourselves. The Lord had said long before, “If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.” “Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God.” Leviticus 25:35-37, 17. These words had been spoken by Christ Himself when He was enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, and the very first response of Zacchaeus to the love of Christ was in manifesting compassion toward the poor and suffering.

.... no sooner did Zacchaeus yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit than he cast aside every practice contrary to integrity.

No repentance is genuine that does not work reformation. The righteousness of Christ is not a cloak to cover unconfessed and unforsaken sin; it is a principle of life that transforms the character and controls the conduct. Holiness is wholeness for God; it is the entire surrender of heart and life to the indwelling of the principles of heaven." (Desire of Ages, p. 555)
Tomorrow's Reading: Job 20-21 and Luke 20

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Day 207 - No Good Thing will He withhold...

Today's Reading: Job 15-17 and Ps. 83-84

[Greetings from Northeastern WA where I'm speaking for camp meeting at Sheridan Meadows. It's been such a busy week that I pretty much completely forgot to post the last two days, for which I apologize. As things usually work with this Bible journaling, I read each day and take my notes -- which I have  done -- and THEN I put some highlights of my notes online for you all to read, and that's where things have fallen between the cracks. Anyway, I pray that these brief thoughts can still be a blessing although they are posted late!]

I love the promise of Psalms 84:11 -- This promise alone has given me such courage especially when things in my life didn't always work out as I thought or hoped they should, yet I was reminded, "No good thing will God uphold from them that walk uprightly." In other words, if God is withholding something, it's because it's NOT for our best good and we can trust His wisdom. So rather can crying and complaining and being angry, we can rest assured that He's got our best interest at heart. Such peace this brings.

Regarding this passage, Steps to Christ shares the following:
Another element of prevailing prayer is faith. “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6. Jesus said to His disciples, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24. Do we take Him at His word? 
The assurance is broad and unlimited, and He is faithful who has promised. When we do not receive the very things we asked for, at the time we ask, we are still to believe that the Lord hears and that He will answer our prayers. We are so erring and short-sighted that we sometimes ask for things that would not be a blessing to us, and our heavenly Father in love answers our prayers by giving us that which will be for our highest good—that which we ourselves would desire if with vision divinely enlightened we could see all things as they really are. When our prayers seem not to be answered, we are to cling to the promise; for the time of answering will surely come, and we shall receive the blessing we need most. But to claim that prayer will always be answered in the very way and for the particular thing that we desire, is presumption. God is too wise to err, and too good to withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly. Then do not fear to trust Him, even though you do not see the immediate answer to your prayers. Rely upon His sure promise, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” (p. 96)
Beautiful promises... so rather than crying about something that God is not doing in our lives, let our hearts join the Psalmist in crying out for more of Him: "My soul length, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart ad my flesh crieth out for the living God." (Ps. 84:2)

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 18-19 and Luke 19

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Day 206 - Keep Persevering! Keep knocking at the door...

Today's Reading: Job 13-14 and Luke 18

There's several things that really spoke to me from today's reading...

First in Job 13:15-18 we see Job rise from the depths of discouragement to implicit trust in God. "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him... I know that I shall be justified," Job cries.

EGW makes the following comforting statement: "God is acquainted with all this is misunderstood and misrepresented by men, and we can safely leave our case in His hands. He will surely vindicate the cause of those who put their trust in Him..." (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 520)

The point is, even when we don't understand what God is doing, we need to persevere in faith.

Luke 18 really has some powerful thoughts as well, and I love the story of the unjust judge and where the widow keeps coming back again and again and again for help until help us given. Then we are told, "And shall God not avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:7-8)

Again we see the importance of perseverance... and holding on and continuing to ask and not letting go. God hears, He sees, He understands... Although all may seem silent, don't give up! Keep believing, keep asking.

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 15-17 and Ps. 83-84 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Day 205 - There will Always be More to Learn!

Today's Reading: Job 11-12 and Luke 17

In today's reading Job's friends raise some important questions to Job as they observe the things of nature.... "We may try to figure out God and what He's doing, but can man really find out God?"

The answer is "NO, we cannot!"

In Patriarchs and Prophets, we read, "The mightiest intellects of earth cannot comprehend God. Men may be ever searching, ever learning and still there is an infinity beyond." (p. 116)

I love that... There will always be an infinity beyond.... we are told even when we get to heaven, there will always be more to learn, new discoveries to make! The following are a few of my favorite quotes talking about what it will be like in heaven as we continually learn MORE about our Amazing God!

"All the treasures of the universe will be open to the study of God’s children. With unutterable delight we shall enter into the joy and the wisdom of unfallen beings. We shall share the treasures gained through ages upon ages spent in contemplation of God’s handiwork. And the years of eternity, as they roll, will continue to bring more glorious revelations. “Exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20) will be, forever and forever, the impartation of the gifts of God."  

"Do you think we shall not learn anything there? We have not the slightest idea of what will then be opened before us. With Christ we shall walk beside the living waters. He will unfold to us the beauty and glory of nature. He will reveal what He is to us and what we are to Him. Truth we cannot know now because of finite limitations, we shall know hereafter." Adventist Home, p. 152

"All the treasures of the universe will be open to the study of God’s redeemed. Unfettered by mortality, they wing their tireless flight to worlds afar—worlds that thrilled with sorrow at the spectacle of human woe and rang with songs of gladness at the tidings of a ransomed soul. With unutterable delight the children of earth enter into the joy and the wisdom of unfallen beings. They share the treasures of knowledge and understanding gained through the ages upon ages in contemplation of God’s handiwork. With undimmed vision they gaze upon the glory of creation—suns and stars and systems, all in their appointed order circling the throne of Deity. Upon all things, from the least to the greatest, the Creator’s name is written, and in all are the riches of His power displayed."(The Great Controversy, 677, 678)

"There every power will be developed, every capability increased. The grandest enterprises will be carried forward, the loftiest aspirations will be reached, the highest ambitions realized. And still there will arise new heights to surmount, new wonders to admire, new truths to comprehend, fresh objects to call forth the powers of body and mind and soul." (Education, p. 306)

"And the years of eternity, as they roll, will bring richer and still more glorious revelations of God and of Christ. As knowledge is progressive, so will love, reverence, and happiness increase. The more men learn of God, the greater will be their admiration of His character." (The Great Controversy, 678)

Wow! Looking forward to that heavenly school...

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 13-14 and Luke 18

Monday, July 23, 2018

Day 204 - Little Things Make a Big Difference!

Today's Reading: Job 9-10 and Luke 16

Two things spoke to me personally in today's reading. The first was in Job 9 where we find Job talking about how great God is as he describes the wonders of nature. He talks about how God commands the sun and it doesn't rise and how He sealeth up the stars... and how God's wonders are without number... Isn't that true? I often wonder how could one who studies nature really be an atheist, for creation testifies of an amazing Creator...

Referencing these passages of Job, Ellen White reminds us:

"He who studies most deeply into the mysteries of nature will realize most fully his own ignorance and weakness. He will realize that there are depths and heights which he cannot reach, secrets which he cannot penetrate, vast fields of truth lying before him unentered. He will be ready to say, with Newton, 'I seem to myself to have been like a child on the seashore finding pebbles and shells, while the great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me.' 
The deepest students of science are constrained to recognize in nature the working of infinite power. But to man’s unaided reason, nature’s teaching cannot but be contradictory and disappointing. Only in the light of revelation can it be read aright. “Through faith we understand.” Hebrews 11:3. (Education, p. 134)
The second thing I appreciated in today's reading is the reminder in Luke 16, of "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." How much this speaks of the character of someone, how much this speaks of our own character. Do we do our best even in the small jobs, even when no one is looking but God? We should! Faithfulness does not matter when it comes to the size of the task. True faithfulness is seen when even the little things or the least things or the least people are reached and served for God's glory.

Again EGW writes:
There are few who realize the influence of the little things of life upon the development of character. Nothing with which we have to do is really small. The varied circumstances that we meet day by day are designed to test our faithfulness and to qualify us for greater trusts... By faithfulness in that which is least they acquire strength to be faithful in greater matters.  
An upright character is of greater worth than the gold of Ophir. Without it none can rise to an honorable eminence. But character is not inherited. It cannot be bought. Moral excellence and fine mental qualities are not the result of accident. The most precious gifts are of no value unless they are improved. The formation of a noble character is the work of a lifetime and must be the result of diligent and persevering effort. God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 222-223)
God's details of love are seen in Creation... and our love is also shown in how we treat the details of life! Little things truly do make a big difference for the kingdom...

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 11-12 and Luke 17

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Day 203 - Open Your Mouth Wide!

Today's Reading is Job 7-8 and Ps. 81-82

Job recognizes the depravity of sin, the depravity of life and the wonder that God would stoop to visit us... But God doesn't just stoop to visit us.

In Psalms 81:10, I am reminded of another of my favorite verses... "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it." God has so much that He's longing to do for His children... so much spiritual strength and food He longs to give... but we are not ready, or our mouths are stuffed full of junk food and other distractions. Or we are just plain satisfied and we aren't hungry for more...

That's why He tells us in Jer. 33:3, "Call unto me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knows not." It's because we don't even recognize what He longs to give us...

Let's put the distractions aside and ask God to give us fresh appetite and a fresh hunger for His Word, and most of all for Him!

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 9-10 and Luke 16

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Day 202 - Questions and the lost Prodigal Comes Home

Today's Reading: Job 5-6 and Luke 15

In today's reading Job is asking lots of questions... and who wouldn't having experienced what he has... When trouble and tragedy strike sometimes those questions turn inward. "Is it me God? Have I done something wrong? Is it because of my sin that I'm experiencing this?" I know I have asked those questions over the years sometimes when things haven't gone as I hoped... but it's all part of God's plan.... We must trust Him in the dark as well as the light! (As I'm learning afresh even now!)

I really do love the story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15. I love the part where "he began to be in want." (vs. 14) In other words, he recognized his NEED! When we recognize our need is the point we begin to go home to our Savior. The remaining space here this morning, I'm going to share a series of quotes on this story from Christ Object Lessons as they reflect our own journey of repentance.
What a picture here of the sinner’s state! Although surrounded with the blessings of His love, there is nothing that the sinner, bent on self-indulgence and sinful pleasure, desires so much as separation from God... Whatever the appearance may be, every life centered in self is squandered. Whoever attempts to live apart from God is wasting his substance...  
The love of God still yearns over the one who has chosen to separate from Him, and He sets in operation influences to bring him back to the Father’s house. The prodigal son in his wretchedness “came to himself.” The deceptive power that Satan had exercised over him was broken... The young man turns from the swine herds and the husks, and sets his face toward home. Trembling with weakness and faint from hunger, he presses eagerly on his way. He has no covering to conceal his rags; but his misery has conquered pride, and he hurries on to beg a servant’s place where he was once a child...

But while he is yet “a great way off” the father discerns his form. Love is of quick sight. Not even the degradation of the years of sin can conceal the son from the father’s eyes. He “had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck” in a long, clinging, tender embrace... 
In his restless youth the prodigal looked upon his father as stern and severe. How different his conception of him now! So those who are deceived by Satan look upon God as hard and exacting. They regard Him as watching to denounce and condemn, as unwilling to receive the sinner so long as there is a legal excuse for not helping him. His law they regard as a restriction upon men’s happiness, a burdensome yoke from which they are glad to escape. But he whose eyes have been opened by the love of Christ will behold God as full of compassion. He does not appear as a tyrannical, relentless being, but as a father longing to embrace his repenting son. The sinner will exclaim with the Psalmist, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.” Psalm 103:13.

In the parable there is no taunting, no casting up to the prodigal of his evil course. The son feels that the past is forgiven and forgotten, blotted out forever. And so God says to the sinner, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins,” Isaiah 44:22. “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:34. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7. “In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found.” Jeremiah 50:20.

Do not listen to the enemy’s suggestion to stay away from Christ until you have made yourself better; until you are good enough to come to God. If you wait until then, you will never come. When Satan points to your filthy garments, repeat the promise of Jesus, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. Tell the enemy that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. Make the prayer of David your own, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7. 
Arise and go to your Father. He will meet you a great way off. If you take even one step toward Him in repentance, He will hasten to enfold you in His arms of infinite love. His ear is open to the cry of the contrite soul. The very first reaching out of the heart after God is known to Him. Never a prayer is offered, however faltering, never a tear is shed, however secret, never a sincere desire after God is cherished, however feeble, but the Spirit of God goes forth to meet it. Even before the prayer is uttered or the yearning of the heart made known, grace from Christ goes forth to meet the grace that is working upon the human soul. (Christ Object Lessons, p. 203-206)
Such a beautiful passage with such hope for each one of us, for we've all been prodigals in some way or another.

[Greetings from Lumby British Columbia where I've come to visit a dear friend from high school days. Also speaking here in the local church! Next week I drive back to WA to speak for Northeastern WA Campmeeting at Sheridan Meadows!]

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 7-8 and Ps. 81-82

Friday, July 20, 2018

Day 201 - Why was I even Born?

Today's Reading: Job 3-4 and Luke 14

In today's reading we see Job overwhelmed with discouragement. And so he begins to curse the day he was born. He's not cursing God, mind you, but he's asking, "Oh if only I had never been born. It would have been so much better."

Why does he feel this way? He has lost all it seems... as the Scripture says: "For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid is come unto me." Job 3:25

Job's experience is not unique as he struggles to grapple with such overwhelming pain. We've all asked the same questions during certain dark moments of our life. "Why am I even alive? Why did God even bring me into the world if this was going to be the result? Oh... if only I had never been born."

In Prophets and Kings we find the following, encouraging and comforting thoughts:
"Into the experience of all there come times of keen disappointment and utter discouragement—days when sorrow is the portion, and it is hard to believe that God is still the kind benefactor of His earthborn children; days when troubles harass the soul, till death seems preferable to life. It is then that many lose their hold on God and are brought into the slavery of doubt, the bondage of unbelief. Could we at such times discern with spiritual insight the meaning of God’s providences we should see angels seeking to save us from ourselves, striving to plant our feet upon a foundation more firm than the everlasting hills, and new faith, new life, would spring into being." (p. 162) 
"Despondency may shake the most heroic faith, and weaken the most steadfast will. But God understands, and He still pities and loves. He reads the motives and the purposes of the heart. To wait patiently, to trust when everything looks dark, is the lesson that [all] in God’s work need to learn. Heaven will not fail them in their day of adversity. Nothing is apparently more helpless, yet really more invincible, than the soul that feels its nothingness, and relies wholly on God." (p. 174, 175)
We may falter in our faith.... we may cry out in discouragement, "Why was I even born?" but God still pities and loves... although sometimes we fall in heaps of discouragement, He has not forsaken. He is bending very near even when all we see is darkness...

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 5-6 and Luke 15 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Day 200 - And Job fell down and Worshipped...

Today's Reading: Job 1-2 and Ps. 80

Now we begin the story of Job... a man that was perfect and upright in all his ways. So Satan taunts God. "He only serves You and honors You because You bless him.... because You protect him." "Okay," God says. "You have permission to remove the blessings, but don't hurt him..."

And so, one tragedy after another begins to fall upon Job and his family.

Something really struck me and jumped out to me in my reading this morning. It was Job's initial reaction to the pain, loss and suffering that came upon him.

Here's the passage that comes after Job has received all the horrible news, even that his children have been killed:
"Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and WORSHIPPED, and said, 'Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.' " (Job 1:20-21)
So this is the question that pricked my heart as I read this passage... When pain and suffering come, is our initial reaction to WORSHIP and bless the Lord? Or is to cry out in anger and questions, "Lord, how could You allow this to happen! How could a good God let this happen?"

Job's response reminds me of something similar I read about in Matthew 15:21-28. A Canaanite woman has come to Jesus desperately pleading for the healing of her daughter. Yet it doesn’t appear that Jesus is listening or cares. (When He finally does speak He says, the bread He has is not for her.) But does she walk away in discouragement? Does she curse His name? No, instead she falls at His feet in WORSHIP?

 Just like Job and the Canaanite woman, we too sometimes feel forsaken and forgotten and wonder why God isn’t answering our desperate prayers. Tragedy strikes and it seems He is silent. Life doesn’t make sense. But will we WORSHIP Him still? Will we praise Him still, believing that He is good, and that He works all things together for good in the end?

A couple days ago, our family lost a very dear friend... a young man we've known for years was killed in a tragic car accident just a few miles from his home. He had been happily married 14 months and had a three-month old daughter. Now his wife has been left to continue her life alone, and his baby daughter will never know her daddy. The news has been devastating for all of us... but most of all, I ache for the wife and daughter he left behind. In fact, I've struggled sleeping the last several nights praying, hurting, and thinking about the heartache that she must be going through. Yet, even in this time of suffering, God is sending comfort to this young mother and to each of us.

David often read specific passages from Scripture during church and this last weekend, one of the passages that he shared with his congregation was the following:
"A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation." (Ps. 68:5)
David would be killed in the tragic car accident the very next day. And yet without even realizing it, he was sharing comfort from the Scriptures that would be just what his family and friends would need and could look back and cling to as they coped with this terrible loss. Yes indeed: "God is a father to the fatherless, and He takes care of the widows."

I don't know why God allows beautiful love stories to be broken, why He allows loved ones to be lost in death when life has barely begun. But one thing I do know is that God is good, and He doesn't waste our tears or pain. Already I can see that there will be souls in the kingdom as a result of this tragedy. Our young friend was such a witness and already many have been convicted to seek God with fresh zeal as a result of David's testimony. Of course, that doesn't take away the pain… but as we cry, let us WORSHIP, for God still sits on the throne.

NOTE: Friends of the family have set up a Go-Fund me account to help David's wife Katie and baby Abigail as they move forward without their husband/father/provider. I'm encouraging those who can to GIVE something to help. Even if you don't know this family like we do, God sees each gift and you are laying up treasure in heaven! Your giving would mean the world to me and my family!

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 3-4 and Luke 14

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Day 199 - From near Tragedy to Triumph!

Today's Reading: Esther 8-10 and Luke 13

In today's reading, we find Mordecai basically gets the red carpet rolled out for him. Haman's house is given to Mordecai, and Mordecai is promoted to the position next to the king. God also opens the way for letters to be sent throughout the kingdom giving the Jews the right to fight for their life. As a result, everyone feared the Jews and some even became Jews.

Did Mordecai seek this elevation and honor? Not at all. He was just being faithful to his duty. But God took care of him and the promotion came of the Lord. And what had nearly been a tragedy for the Jews and Israel turned into a triumph...
"Mordecai was given the position of honor formerly occupied by Haman. He “was next unto King Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren” (Esther 10:3); and he sought to promote the welfare of Israel. Thus did God bring His chosen people once more into favor at the Medo-Persian court, making possible the carrying out of His purpose to restore them to their own land. But it was not until several years later, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes I, the successor of Xerxes the Great, that any considerable number returned to Jerusalem, under Ezra. 
The trying experiences that came to God’s people in the days of Esther were not peculiar to that age alone. The revelator, looking down the ages to the close of time, has declared, “The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. Some who today are living on the earth will see these words fulfilled. The same spirit that in ages past led men to persecute the true church, will in the future lead to the pursuance of a similar course toward those who maintain their loyalty to God. Even now preparations are being made for this last great conflict.  
The decree that will finally go forth against the remnant people of God will be very similar to that issued by Ahasuerus against the Jews. Today the enemies of the true church see in the little company keeping the Sabbath commandment, a Mordecai at the gate. The reverence of God’s people for His law is a constant rebuke to those who have cast off the fear of the Lord and are trampling on His Sabbath." (Prophets and Kings, p. 602, 605)
Interesting and sobering parallels to the end times that will soon be upon us... May God give us strength to stand as faithful witnesses no matter what lies ahead.

Tomorrow's Reading: Job 1-2 and Ps. 80

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Day 198 - God's Divine Timing and Haman's final Banquet!

Today's Reading: Esther 6-7 and Luke 12

I really have to chuckle as I read this story again... seeing how the very night that Haman comes to ask the king permission to hang Mordecai, the king is reading about how Mordecai saved his life and wondering how he can honor him. Then... of all people, who should walk up but Haman!

Talk about adding insult to injury for Haman... now he has to parade around the city before Mordecai (all dressed up in the king's robes) saying, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!" He's barely finished licking his wounds when the second banquet with Esther comes which brings his death warrant.... where? Not anywhere, but on the very gallows he built for Mordecai! How does God do this? How does He so masterfully turn the tables on the enemies of His people time and time again? I don't know, but He's God and it's amazing to see His divine providence and His divine timing. When we look back at these incredible stories, may we never doubt the ability and power of our God.

In today's reading of Luke 12 we are reminded:

"There is nothing covered, that shall to be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness all be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops." (Luke 12:2-3)

And that's exactly what happened with Haman.... He had secret plans, but God revealed them to the world and used those very plans to reward his own wickedness.

Sobering words for those that work against God's children...

Tomorrow's Reading: Esther 8-10 and Luke 13